Suzanna is a member of the Home Birth Support Group and our freebirth and preparing for birth without a midwife group. This is her freebirth story in her words and pictures.
“Marley James, My 3rd baby, born at home in water birth pool, 40 + 6, 6th July, 2.18am
So after a very traumatic labour with my 1st baby girl after premature rupture of membranes, induction, 72 hours later ending in emergency caesarean for foetal distress. Despicable treatment at the hospital and a year of PND, meant I decided and vowed I’d never birth at hospital again, 2 years later I had my 2nd baby girl at home on dry land (VBAC) but it empowering however it was against NHS guidelines of course with me being a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean) …
So here I was with my 3rd baby – pregnant during a pandemic and found NHS Antenatal care extremely stressful, I moved house in March to a different trust and felt it was appointment after appointment with me being was told no homebirths due to pandemic and I began campaigning trying my hardest writing emails taking with Aims, Birthrights and talking to so many other ladies who were in the same situation.
I felt so upset I wouldn’t be able to have a Homebirth but kept confident by June 30th my due date things may change…Samantha Gadsden who runs the, Home Birth Support Group UK on Facebook and makes the group possible, was an absolute amazing positive light and I can’t thank her enough, I also through this group came across the most amazing local independent midwife from IMUK – Amanda. She was like an angel when everything else seemed very dark and negative.
She helped me put together an email to write to my DOM and gave me contacts, then I spoke with DOM (director of midwifery) who assured me homebirths would be reinstated, however at every antenatal appointment, I was told more and more negativity and it was demanded I see consultant or go for extra scans as baby was suspected breech at 32 weeks!
Or baby measuring small and so I “couldnt” have a Homebirth.
I was, told if they did attend my children couldn’t be, in the house, as we had no other childcare thus wouldn’t have been possible either, I was fed up of being told what I could and couldn’t do so after a life changing chat to Amanda, I decided I was going to walk away from the NHS and she offered to take over my antenatal and postnatal care, and birth if he came before IMUK insurance ran out, which unfortunately he didn’t so she also did freebirth prep.
(More on supporting the Independent Midwives campaign HERE).
Amanda was so lovely and made antenatal visits something I really looked forward to, she became a friend and she was full of positivity never in a rush, she became one of the family… I will never forget what she gave to me!
Unfortunately my little boy decided to come after his ‘due date’ and on that day IMUK insurance ran out, I knew I would freebirth at this point but I felt prepared and confident and Amanda assured me she could come straight after placenta had been delivered…
The Birth ❤️
For about a week I had been in a latent phase of labour, having surges daily that would drift off, but the cramps were strong and quite tiring, I had lost part of plug and had a show but I was becoming despondent as to why I wasn’t going into active labour, however I tried to keep active and happy and went on walks, watched funny films with the kids, did things I enjoyed, although I was extremely hot and sticky with the heatwave and I do think he was waiting for the cooler weather…
On 5th July me, my partner and our 2 girls went for a lovely walk in the countryside (the pic in collage of two girls hugging) and had a picnic about 12.30pm it was lovely, peaceful, the air was cool but with occasional rays of sunshine warming our backs.
Surges were definitely picking up as we walked further in to the countryside. I didn’t think much of it as I’d been having them all week but my partner, Marv was getting a bit nervous being in the middle of a field, lol, so suggested we headed back home.
We got back and I cleaned the house, hoovered from top to bottom, (Marv was behind me carrying hoover upstairs asking me to take it easy ?). I made a lamb dinner, bathed the girls, did their hair and got them in bed.
Surges were picking up and I was smelling clary sage on a cotton ball which was lovely. As they fell asleep, I walked out their room and I think it was about 8.30pm as they’d taken a while to settle, my waters broke all over the place, there was a towel in the bathroom, just as I was going to grab a bath I had put the clary sage in the bath and then they just all came tricking out with lots of show…
I told Marv and he started filling pool up as surges were pretty consistent put bearable but as there was loads of bloody show and waters I was pretty convinced it was the real deal finally haha…
My youngest woke again so I settled her again cuddling up to her for a bit in our bed through surges and then I left her I came down.
Marv had put my birth music on and diffuser in lounge and got my labour snacks we were chatting for a few hours just riding the surges, he was rubbing my lower back with each surge as I held the counter and swayed and breathed with Freya app which I found useful and then things ramped up so got in pool as it had actually filled pretty quickly but I was coping…
Things quickly seemed to get intense, I had a few jaffa cakes to keep my energy up and some water and then Lucozade sport, I was struggling at this point and I was groaning which I believe was transition.
I had a cool flannel on my face and clary sage. I was trying to breath but was finding each surge really intense at this point I could feel my body wanting to push and so just let it happen and I could feel baby moving down.
We then heard my youngest woke up about 2am just as I was pushing I think I was making A LOT of noise lol!
My partner had to get out pool as he’d got in to support me he ran and got her then as he came back in she just looked at me smiled and snuggled in to her daddy, he sat holding her at the edge of the pool and I then felt an almighty urge to push, 2 more surges and I could feel his head coming out and that ring of fire was intense.
I was shouting and swearing and struggling to keep calm as I roared, my daughter was looking at me like I was mad, haha.
I roared “OMG I can’t do this I can’t fu***** do this” to which my partner reminded me, “yes, I could”, then I guided the baby out gently, the feeling when I was holding his head was just amazing and I remember thinking omg I’m going to meet my son now, I was full of adrenaline …
At 2.18am my son Marley James was born in to my arms and I pulled him up gently to me, as I did I noticed his chord was around him so detangled it, we stayed cuddled up for a bit whilst I rubbed his feet and back, I was overwhelmed with such elation I couldn’t believe was baby had been born at home after such a battle!
Marv kissed me and kissed baby and held our youngest daughter over the pool as she was amazed and said “oh wow its a baba, it’s my Mar Mar” and “hi baba”… we waited a while, then my partner Marv tied and cut chord.
I got out of the water and he called our midwife. She said she’d come over and wait in the car until placenta had come out, I lay down snuggled up with my baby boy and breastfed.
I cuddled up to my daughter too with towels all on me and baby and we had skin to skin. After about 20 mins I felt a surge and partner caught placenta in a bowl.
My midwife came shortly after, she bled the placenta as we needed chord blood and blood from me as I am RH negative so would need antiD if baby positive which he was.
She checked me and baby over and weighed baby and we all had a chat about how it went! Amanda was so happy everything went to plan but I was sad that because off their insurance issue I couldn’t have her there with me as she’d been a big part of my final weeks of pregnancy!
I got Marley changed and Amanda took bloods from me, made sure I had passed urine, took my temp, baby’s temp, blood pressure and so on.
Amanda advised I had something to eat as my blood pressure was a bit low so I had a tea and some biscuits and then she said she’d come later in the afternoon to check us over.
My partner called the delivery suite to inform them of birth to which they said congratulations and asked if we were all OK and did we need medical assistance to which we joyfully said no!
We then got into bed snuggled up, my daughter was quite hyped as she’d snuck herself some jaffa cakes and Lucozade too haha!
She was so taken with her little brother and kept saying “ah he’s a baby my brother!!”.
At about 8am my eldest 4 year old daughter came in to the room half asleep, I said to her guess who came last night, her eyes lit up as she said did my brother come?? Oh my gosh, she saw him and jumped up and down her eyes filled with joy she came in bed and cuddled with her new baby brother she was just so surprised and she kept saying she couldn’t believe he was here, she told him he was gorgeous and my three babies snuggled together in bed!
Suzanna fought and fought for her home birth, she led the activism that has continued through the Home Birth Support Group UK and was never prepared to accept the medicalised, hospital birth the Trust had planned for her.
The cancellation of home birth and forcing of women into hospital setting throughout Covid has been deplorable in English Trusts. Birth Rights have been set back decades and in some areas are showing no signs of returning.
I applauded Suzanna’s decision to invest in herself and her birth while she could and fully supported her decision to hire an IM, women and birthing people deserve to be able to make this choice and the removal of their insurance is another disgraceful move and why I am involved in the Childbirth Choices Matter campaign to ensure a solution to this issue for Independent Midwives and women and birthing people and find a new way of birthing outside NHS care.
This was such a beautiful, family centred freebirth and I am really very proud of all that Suzanna has achieve on behalf of herself and all birthing women. Thank you for sharing this Suzanna.
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Samantha Gadsden walks with women on their life’s journeys. She is an experienced Doula, based close to Cardiff in South Wales, mother to 4 children and wife to Eddie, more information can be found on her facebook page, Samantha Gadsden Doula and her website, Caerphilly Doula. Virtual, SOS Doula, Virtual Telephone and online support is always available.
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“Your Journey, Your Body, Your Baby, Your Birth“