Ottilie’s Birth Story- Baby girl #3 joins the Mind Body Mother family!
Updated: 6 days ago
This blog post has been a month in the making since my 3rd daughter, Ottilie, arrived in the world. I have slowly been documenting her birth story during our many middle of the night cluster feeds and reminiscing over another amazing and empowering birth experience. I absolutely love reading and listening to women’s birth stories so I relished in the opportunity to write my own labour story again- I just forgot how hard it was to capture such a huge experience in written words! Before I begin, here is a sneak peak to the ending of this story (Spoiler Alert!)
Ottilie Robyn Churchill- Born 12th April 2022 at 10.45am
How it all started...
During the second half of week 38, I had started to get little hints that my body was preparing for labour. I was experiencing period like cramps most days, in the evening in particular-which would come and go in irregular patterns.
On Monday 11th April my 2 daughters went to spend the day with my lovely Mother-in-Law, so I could have a day to myself in preparation for what was to come over the coming days/week/month! My due time was in the middle of the Easter half term break so I knew my chances of rest and quiet were going to be limited- so this day of alone time was like gold dust for me!
I started my day with a very long walk with the dog and then did lots of relaxing at home- listening to my affirmations and relaxation tracks, harvesting some colostrum and pottering around the house.
That evening around dinner time the period like cramps returned at a more regular pace and at a slightly greater intensity than the previous days. I sat on my birth ball while watching TV with my husband- and we started to keep a casual eye on the regularity and intensity of the cramps I was feeling. While more noticeable than previous days, they were very manageable and they came at very varying intervals over the next few hours.
Despite feeling hopeful that if I stayed awake- staying in my calm, darkened environment on my ball, that labour may progress- something in me told me to just go to bed while the cramping was so inconsistent. It felt like my body knew what was coming and was sending me the message to rest up, and trust in the process. So I did just that, I went to bed at around 1am and slept soundly and pretty uninterrupted (for the first time in weeks) until 5.30am, when a surge woke me up. Unlike the night before, a surge followed around 7- 8 minutes later and continued in this pattern for a half an hour or so, before they started to get closer together (around 5 mins apart) over the next hour. I decided to take myself downstairs and keep mobile in the kitchen doing my usual jobs (emptying the dishwasher, preparing the girls breakfast) all while keeping the lights dim and the room nice and quiet, in the hopes that things would continue. By around 7am I knew this was ‘it’ so I called the home birth team to let them know that I was in labour and the approximate timing of my surges. My previous two labours had been pretty quick so I was advised to call when I was sure labour had started to give the team the heads up that they may need to come soon.
Building up the oxytocin with some sofa snuggles
By 8.15am my children has been collected by my mother in law and minutes later the 1st midwife arrived. I had observed that while on the phone to the midwives, and when helping my daughters get ready to leave the house- my surges had been getting further apart. I knew I needed to get ‘in the zone’ and restore the calm in the house now that the children were gone. As much as I adore my children, they are a distraction!
After the midwives ran through some quick observations with me (listening in to baby’s heart rate and checking mine too) my husband popped his shoes on to take our dog for his morning walk. My midwife asked if I’d like to join him for the walk if I felt up to it, as the walking may help keep things progressing. The walk worked wonders for getting my surges going at a greater frequency again, and by the time I arrived home 10 mins later, the intensity was picking up.
I took myself into our family room where we had set up our birth space with twinkly lights, candles and the birth pool. I put on my headphones to listen to my favourite relaxation track (the ‘Ocean Relaxation’ for any Calm Births Mama’s reading this) and focused on breathing through my surges in my own quiet space. I found standing tall and gently rocking my hips from side to side the most comfortable position during surges and enjoyed being on my own. I had asked my husband, Andrew to keep an eye on my posture and face from a distance so he could gently guide me if I was holding unnecessary tension in my body, (the jaw and shoulders particularly).
With me being very quiet and insular during surges, the midwives and Andrew found it tricky to identify when I was having a surge and how often they were coming. I started to need to use the toilet a lot- a common signal for me during all my labours that things were progressing nicely and baby wouldn’t be far away. As my surges started to come closer (3 in every 10 mins) I hit a moment where some slight anxiety crept in, and I started to feel a little scared. Instead of letting this feeling take hold of me, I observed what was going on and recognised that I was probably in transition- and decided to embrace this feeling as a sign that I was approaching full dilation and baby would be here soon.
I decided it was time to get into the birth pool and found a position that felt most comfortable- on my knees, leant forward, leaning my forearms on the edge of the pool.
Despite preferring my own space during labour and not seeking much reassurance from my husband or midwives, once I got in the pool I had a sudden need for Andrew to be right with me and took great comfort in just holding on to his arm from the edge of the pool. All I wanted was him by my side.
The midwives continued to give me my space, watching on from the edge of the room, providing me with support and reassurance when I needed it.
With what I think was my second or third surge in the pool, my waters burst and things very quickly picked up from there. The subsequent surge was much more intense and brought with it a bearing down feeling. With the next surge that followed after, I felt my body start to push naturally.
Within around 2 surges I could feel the head coming down. As I was working through my birth breathing I recall the midwife saying ‘you can do this’ and I repeated back to her something like "yes, I can do this". Just saying it out loud felt like a really powerful moment for my mindset, reminding myself that I knew I could do it! And it was with the next surge, that my daughters head was born.
In the pause between the head being born and the next surge, my husband recalls that I lifted my head from being buried in my arms to say ‘oh my god, I am so excited’! I just knew that it would be moments and I’d be meeting my new baby for the first time.
With the next surge, out she came! I recall so clearly how she looked under the water, arms stretched out wide ready to be scooped up into my arms. And there she was, our third wonderful girl, Ottilie Robyn Churchill born at 10.45am on Tuesday 12th April.
That first embrace, snuggled under a towel in the water together was blissful. A huge mix of elation at meeting my new daughter for the first time, and a feeling of immense pride and strength in what we had just achieved together.
We stayed in the birth pool until the cord stopped pulsating (delayed cord clamping) before moving to the sofa to wait on the physiological birth of the placenta. Ottilie latched on pretty quickly for her first feed, and we enjoyed lots of skin to skin together while waiting on the placenta (which took almost an hour).
Ottilie’s birth was my second Home-birth and I genuinely couldn’t fault a single thing about either birth experience or the support I had from the amazing RBH Homebirth team. There were 3 midwives with me in total throughout- Homebirth midwife, Lorraine; Community Midwife, Naomi and Student midwife, Jade. After Ottilie was born they stayed with us for a couple of hours to ensure both Ottilie and I were well and helped me get showered and dressed. There are so many things I love about a home birth- and being able to get showered in your own bathroom and get right back on the sofa in your jammies is certainly one of the perks.
After spending a few precious hours just Ottilie, Andrew and I, we then welcomed home our 2 older daughters to meet their new sibling. We have always kept the gender as a surprise with each pregnancy so it was a lovely moment being able to reveal to Thea and Edie that they had a new baby sister (which they had specifically requested funnily enough).
If you have managed to get to the end of this story, well done- I have gone on a bit! I do hope you enjoyed it :)
Mumma to Thea, Edie and Ottilie and Founder of Mind Body Mother Hypnobirthing.