Helen Bird had always wanted a completely natural home birth, and that's exactly what she got. Here she describes the highs of the experience and explains what it was like...
Why did you decide to go for a home birth?
I'd always loved the idea of bringing my baby into the world in a comfortable, familiar environment. All the sterile equipment and harsh lights of a hospital ward weren't really for me. Besides, I knew that labour could take a long time, and I thought I'd be happier waiting for things to progress in the comfort of my own home.
What gave you the idea of using a birthing pool at home?
A friend of mine had hired one for her home birth, and I thought, why not? I knew I wouldn't have access to many of the kinds of pain relief available on a labour ward, so I wanted to line up as much natural help as I could get! Being in the water really did help me to cope with the pain. It was like an extreme version of taking a warm bath to help with period cramps.
Who was at the birth?
My husband, James, was there, and an independent midwife called Suzy. When we planned the home birth, we wanted to make sure that we would be able to see the same midwife throughout the pregnancy, and that she would definitely be there when I went into labour. I have friends who had lots of high-tech care in hospitals but never saw the same midwife twice during the pregnancy and birth. It was worth every penny to have that continuity of care. I felt that I had got to know Suzy and trusted her to help me through the birth.
It was Christmas Eve. My due date had been two weeks before, so I didn't think I'd be having a Christmas baby. But here we were. I had a lot of things on my mind that day, but I remember that the main thing worrying me was whether my daughter would get separate Christmas and birthday presents when she was growing up.
Did everything go according to plan?
It really was the perfect home birth. I know I was very lucky, and that if there had been any complications I would have had to be whisked into hospital, but nothing went wrong. At 10 o'clock on Christmas morning my beautiful baby girl, Peggy, came into the world. My husband cut the cord, the midwife cleaned her up, and by lunchtime we were all snuggled up on our own sofa watching Christmas telly.