Level 4 Lockdown homebirth

By Harriet Thomas


I had always liked the idea of a homebirth. Most people’s default option seems to be a hospital birth, and yet, I have never met anyone who has regretted their decision to have a home birth.

I was fortunate enough to have a very smooth and low risk pregnancy. As the weeks progressed, the idea of a home birth became more and more appealing. My husband, Scott, took a little bit of convincing, as understandably, he was quite worried about the mess. At the end of the day, he just wanted me to be happy whatever decision I made.

At 38 weeks pregnant the whole country went into level 4 lockdown. There was so much confusion and disparity between level 4 rules between DHBs, and even between staff within our hospital. If I’d had any doubts about having a home birth, they were suddenly alleviated, and I immediately knew this was the right decision for me. I felt totally at ease with this choice, began eagerly awaiting the birth of our baby.

At 3am, and at 39.5 weeks, I felt the first indications of labour. I had woken with mild contractions and lay, knowing I should do my best to go back to sleep. After half an hour or so I was still awake, excited for the day ahead. I rolled over and nudged Scott to let him know what was happening. We had a brief conversation about organising our 2yr old, Arthur, who we had planned to drop off with my parents when labour started, then we both managed to go back to sleep.

In the morning we tried our best to have a normal day. We got up and ate breakfast with Arthur, showered, and Scott dropped Arthur off at Mum and Dad’s. The rest of the stormy day we kept ourselves occupied by baking bread and a birthday cake, doing a puzzle, watching movies, painting my toenails, and trying to nap. Contractions very slowly increased in frequency and intensity during the day. Around 7pm I tried the TENS machine. At around 8pm contractions had got a little stronger and we called my midwife, Ange. As I lay over my Swiss ball by the fire, Scott put pressure on my lower back, and I breathed my way through contractions. A hypnobirthing course with my first baby provided me with a lot of skills and I felt very well prepared and completely at ease with how everything was going. It was so nice to be in a familiar space with dim lighting, and the fire crackling next to me. I had familiar music playing which kept me relaxed and focused on my baby.

Ange, and a second midwife, Deina, arrived at around 9pm. It seemed strange to see them wearing masks in my home, but thankfully I did not have to wear one. Scott and I were happily doing our thing in the living room, and they left us to it, occasionally coming to see how we were doing and chat between contractions. Ange could tell how things were going based on my breathing. We did not feel the need for any physical checks or exams as everything seemed to be progressing well, and we just wanted to go with the flow.

At around 11pm things ramped up and I began to feel uncomfortable kneeling over my Swiss ball. Ange suggested I stand up, so I leaned on Scott for support. My waters broke soon after, and I felt the urge to push. Ange had prepared sheets over the room and towels were warming by the fire. I knelt down on the floor with my head in my hands over the couch, a position I naturally wanted to get into. I knew the birth was close. Ange checked baby’s heart rate after each contraction, and it was good and consistent. I was so calm and content to know the baby was happy and safe on the way down. As my toes began curling with the intensity of each contraction, I kept breathing as steadily as I could. I felt completely in the zone and kept telling myself that each contraction was getting us closer to meeting our baby. Ange was amazing, gently encouraging me as each contraction came. After 24 minutes of breathing and pushing, Scott caught our beautiful baby and announced we’d had a girl. I sat up on the couch with our little girl, and Scott cut the cord when we felt it was time. Minnie.

I was feeling pretty drained, but at the same time I was elated, absolutely buzzing. I had such an amazing and calm experience, and now here we all were, happily chatting and laughing and drinking hot chocolate. It really was the dream birth. I was so proud of myself and could not get the smile off my face. We were so happy to be at home in our own space and getting into our own bed that night felt incredible. It was strange not to have the influx of visitors over the coming days due to level 4 restrictions. But it was great to have some good family time to ourselves.

I feel incredibly indebted to Ange. We developed a fantastic rapport during my pregnancy, and I had complete trust in her the whole way through. I was aware of all my options and always felt supported and listened to. It certainly contributed to such a happy and smooth birth for Minnie. I have such fond memories of that day and feel so grateful that everything played out the way it did. We could not have wished for anything more!