Midwife Hanne is pregnant with her first child and very excited. A homebirth in a birthing
pool, that’s exactly what she wants. But since she is 41 weeks pregnant, time is running out.
I’m six days overdue, and I’m climbing the walls with impatience. Another eight days before I
have to be induced; I’m dreading it.
I just don’t like hospitals. Before I got pregnant, I already knew that I wanted to give birth at
home. As a midwife, I’ve attended many deliveries, both at home and in the hospital. I’ve
seen many beautiful hospital deliveries, but homebirths seemed a bit more magical to me.
And I wanted to have a natural birth. Being induced doesn’t match that description. I
experienced quite some stress, but it wasn’t about the pain. I was afraid things wouldn’t go
the way I planned. I put a lot of pressure on myself, maybe too much.
After a pep talk from friends and my colleagues, I was able to let it all go.
I decided to take my mind off things: I turned the music up loud and I cleaned my bathroom!
I scrubbed every nook and cranny. After that, I took it all out on my violin (sorry, neighbour)
and then I walked to my yoga class.
The yoga relaxed me. During the class, I met another lovely mom and without her even
realising it, this mom gave me so much strength! When I had just found out I was pregnant, I
accompanied her homebirth, and she did so well! She really radiated primal power. I
admired her then and hoped that I would be able to do as well as she did.
After the yoga class I decided to walk back home, about 7 km. Music in my ears, and in my
mind, I talk to my baby. I tell him/her that I am ready yet also very, very excited.
After a nice evening with my boyfriend, we go to bed early. And yes, the next morning I
wake up at 7 am with contractions! They are still very light, but they are there and they keep
My partner and I decide to go to the hospital for the scheduled monitoring and a check of
my blood pressure, as it had been too high the last few weeks. The monitoring is perfect,
except for a drop in my baby’s heartbeat the last 5 minutes. I am a little worried, but when I
feel movement again, I can put it into perspective. The gynecologist recommends moving my
induction up to Monday instead of Wednesday. In my opinion, that is nonsense. If it can wait
until Monday, it’s not urgent and it can wait until Wednesday. But it doesn’t matter, because
I have contractions and I’m having my baby tonight, I tell the midwife at the hospital.
Back at home, my boyfriend and I take a nap. Afterwards, we do some spinning babies
exercises and I listen to my hypnobirthing tracks. However, the contractions are not getting
stronger. And by 23 pm they stop completely. Disappointed, we crawl into bed.
But around midnight, I feel a contraction again, and what a contraction! That was a big one!
Keep them coming! With every contraction I feel so relieved! Phew, they’re not stopping!
They are following each other quickly, which is tough … but I’ve been waiting for this, so they
give me a lot of courage! My body is giving birth, my body can do this! Around 2 am, [my
boyfriend] Jeroen calls my colleague Elke. She arrives around 02:30. I am in labour, with
contractions coming every 2 minutes. I shake and rock my pelvis, both standing and sitting
on the ball. I work through several contractions on my hands and knees while Jeroen
massages my back. I try to breathe as calmly as possible, as I learned in the hypnobirthing
classes. At 03:45, I’m 3cm dilated and my cervix is fully effaced/thinned. I am disappointed,
because I was already at 2cm three days ago … Elke recommends taking a bath. So I take a
bath around 4 am.
Elke and Jeroen leave me alone for a moment. During my pregnancy, I had already told them
that it would probably help me be alone sometimes during labour. I’m able to completely
shut myself off from the world around me, get into my cocoon. I have no sense of time at all,
but it is still dark outside. In the bathtub, the contractions get very intense and my positive
vibe starts to disappear. “I can’t do this, how do other women do this, I can’t, maybe I’m not
ready to be a mom yet ….” I wondered how much more painful than this it was going to be. I
totally understand that some women want an epidural. But I can’t even imagine a car
journey to the hospital, I don’t want needles in my back, so I’ll just keep on going and stay at
Meanwhile, Elke has come sit next to the bathtub and encourages me. I felt a little pressure
now and then, but I didn’t want to acknowledge it yet. I was afraid this was a sign that my
baby was sunny side up [with its face pointing towards the abdomen, rather than the back of
its head as is ideal], so I tried to ignore it. Elke advises me to get out of the bath around 6 am
to see how my cervix has dilated. She examines me, and her face looks serious. “Oh, nothing
will have changed at all,” flashes through my mind. “It’s not good, is it?”, I ask desperately.
“Ssshh, I’m checking,” she says. Followed by “you’re at 8cm”. I answer something like “Okay,
because I feel like I’m pushing!” And shortly after, my water breaks.
I feel my adrenalin rising whilst Elke gets everything ready and Jeroen is setting up the
birthing pool. My colleagues Arlind and Eva, and the birth photographer are called. In the
meantime, I have a real urge to push and occasionally push a little. “Baby come out,” I beg.
In between contractions, I hear Jeroen swearing at the birth bath. “Leave it, come here” I
shout. Around 06:40, I am pushing intensely with every contraction I feel. I try to imagine
that the head is the size of a ping pong ball. I think I can get it out. “Come on baby, I’m ready
for you!” I encourage myself. Arlind and the photographer arrive around 07:00. Arlind
reassures me, I’m glad she’s here.
A few minutes later Eva also arrives. My delivery team is complete.
The pushing is actually going quite well! I hear Elke say to Arlind “How is this a first child?”
They reassured me and said that the head was already visible! A lot of hair! Now I can no
longer deny that the head is larger than a ping pong ball. It burns, it feels like I’m about to
tear open completely. The head is now almost out! As much as I want to push with all my
force, I try to do it gently to avoid tearing. The head is out and with the next contraction
comes the rest of the body. What a magical moment, Jeroen bursts into tears and I stare in
disbelief at the little person on my stomach. It was 07:20. Friday the 10 th of January, 07:20.
We did this, my body did it! So proud and so in love. Then came the surprise, it is a girl!
Cécile is here!
When I was completely ‘finished’, Cécile was able to lay skin to skin with Jeroen. He didn’t
need to be asked twice. Even before Elke could finish her sentence, his t-shirt flew off.
Meanwhile I tried to pee. Afterwards, we try to get Cécile to breastfeed. It takes a bit of
patience, but eventually we succeed!
Elke and Eva clean up everything, Arlind leaves for a few house visits. By the time Elke
leaves, our apartment looks like nothing has happened. The seat I gave birth in looks the
same as before. Truly magical. Eva stays for a while to keep an eye on my blood loss and is
busy with the laundry while the three of us take a nap.
What an experience! Giving birth is really the craziest thing I’ve ever done. Even weeks later,
it fills me with so much strength, so much confidence in myself. And so much confidence in
all women. I’m not the same midwife as before, that’s for sure.