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  • Writer's pictureTomoko Holloway

Your Birth Story 6 - A Magical Unmedicated Home Birth With A Gestational Diabetes Diagnosis






Where did you plan to have your birth, and why was it your chosen place?


From the beginning we planned for our baby to be born at home. It is my belief that birth is sacred and I wanted our baby to be born into a gentle atmosphere of love and safety without any unnecessary fear or violence. I wanted them to be born when they choose to initiate labour (without any induction of labour, natural or medical) and physiologically with no drugs or medical interventions.


I knew that to have the best chance of any of this happening we would birth at home. After listening to so many of my friends' birth experiences, I personally did not feel safe in a hospital setting.




How did you prepare yourself for the birth?


We both started following the ‘Nourishing Traditions’ pregnancy diet (from the book by Sally Fallon Morrel) about 6 months before Merlin was conceived. I carried on with it throughout my pregnancy and am still following it now while I breastfeed.  I genuinely think this is why I had such a happy healthy pregnancy, and such easy postpartum healing. 


I drank special herbal teas and stayed really active the whole of my pregnancy, daily yoga, working on our small holding and walking miles each day. I felt amazing and had so much energy. 


We attended a birth preparation course with our lovely doula Tomoko. These were invaluable to us to further our understanding of the birth process, to know our rights, learn what we could expect on the day etc. These sessions made us feel really prepared and confident. My husband especially found them useful as it made him feel included and really prepared for what to expect and gave him confidence for communicating our wishes with the midwives. 


Our midwife hosted a free hypnobirthing class (through the NHS) which we attended, I found this really useful in creating and practising the ‘anchors’ she taught us, especially using aromatherapy and affirmations to create a safe space. We used to go to sleep listening to the birth affirmations, and played them again when I was in labour. 


I wrote out my dream birth scenario, with all the details described really clearly and read it back to myself every single day. 


I also read every ‘natural/ home birth’ book I could get my hands on, along with listening to podcasts and watching videos of free births. Even though I wasn’t planning to free birth, I found them really inspiring and a fantastic resource for empowering me and helping me gain confidence in my body's ability to birth, and to better understand the physiological process.







What challenges did you encounter, and how did you handle them?


There is a history of type 2 diabetes in my family and because of this I was offered the GTT test for Gestational diabetes. I declined the glucose test, but agreed to self monitor my blood sugar for a week (which happened to coincide over Christmas).. this is something that I now regret. In hindsight, (following my own research) I should have declined Gestational Diabetes testing altogether because of the unnecessary stress & anxiety it caused me.


I was diagnosed based on borderline fasting level readings, and because my ‘after food' blood sugar levels were always well below the threshold I asked the diabetes team to provide me with ‘evidence based research’ to back up their diagnosis guidelines from their NICE protocol. 


This is something they were unable to provide me with. 


So after hours and hours of my own research into ‘The dawn phenomenon’ and Gestational Diabetes in general, based on my findings & after a lot of consideration and thought I decided to contest my diagnosis. I declined all Obstetrics care, GD treatment, growth scans and offers of induction. ~ I continued to monitor my own blood sugar levels (to be on the safe side), and despite them continuing to be well below the ‘threshold' for the rest of my pregnancy (which meant I was no different to a non diabetic pregnant woman)..  I was still told that because I had already been diagnosed and the protocol is to be induced and birth in hospital my home birth would be ‘against medical guidance’. 


Thankfully I had the most amazing and supportive Midwife & wonderful home birth team who supported my decision to birth at home. I made an informed choice to go ahead with our planned home birth because I was so well informed on the risks of GD vs hospital interventions, and induction, I knew that both myself and my baby where perfectly healthy, I did not have high blood sugar and that for us, the safest place would be to birth at home. 




Where did you actually have your birth? Tell us the details of your birth.


I birthed at home on our smallholding which is nestled in the woods so it was really peaceful and quiet (apart from me!). The day my labour started I was exactly 41 weeks (by NHS dates), and it was pretty much to the day that we thought he would arrive based on our own conception date (we didn’t know he was a he then). 


Just after midnight I went to the toilet and saw that I had a bloody show. My sensations then became progressively more intense as the night went on so I knew I was now in labour. I tried to get as much sleep as possible.

 

I was so excited which made it really hard to sleep, so the following morning I tried to just take it really easy. Andrew, my husband went out to do the smallholding chores which is something I usually help him with but because I hadn’t slept much we decided that I should stay and try and get some rest.

 

When he came back we set about getting the birthing space ready. I hung up my favourite affirmations, defrosted the herbal ‘labour aid’ drink and flapjacks that I had made, I did my pregnancy yoga, and just generally tried to stay calm and get my oxytocin going. My waters broke around lunch time. The whole time Andrew was timing my surges, as they got closer and closer together. They were uncomfortable but not painful yet. 


We had dinner that evening, which I did manage to eat but I remember not having much of an appetite because the surges were becoming very uncomfortable at this stage. We put on a nice film to try and take my mind off them, but my surges started to become established and more regular so at this stage we asked Tomoko, our Doula to come over. 


We filled up a birthing pool in the living room, lit lots of candles and had all the wood burners blazing. We used frankincense essential oils, which has been part of my hypnobirthing anchor and played my affirmations. The whole atmosphere of the room was so peaceful, loving & warm. I felt so safe. 







As my surges became more and more powerful I started to use the breathing techniques I had learned and put on the Tens machine, I also had my acupressure comb. I used a birthing ball to lean over as Tomoko massaged my back. The whole time our dog Luna ‘guarded’ me, she did not leave my side, it was so sweet. 


Tomoko gave me the homeopathic remedies that I had asked for and both her and Andrew kept me hydrated with the herbal labour aid drink and coconut water. 


I remember that with every surge I repeated my favourite affirmations ‘Power not pain’ and ‘I love you baby, I love you Andrew’ ‘I have no fear I have only love’ over and over in my head, they kept me in a state of gratitude and that helped me so much.  I swayed my hips and moved around a lot.


Once my surges had reached three in every ten minutes we called the midwives to come over. I was already in the pool by the time they arrived. They mostly stayed in the kitchen as I had asked to not be disturbed, it is an open plan so they were able to listen to how I was progressing without interfering.


The only intervention I had consented to on my birth plan was permission to listen to the babies heart beat which they would come over at intervals to do. They were so respectful and kind to me, and I remember thinking how lucky and grateful I felt to be at home surrounded by people I trust and incredibly respectful midwives who made me feel very comfortable & at ease. 


I naturally started to vocalise through my surges as they become more and more powerful. This is something that I remember thinking I would feel so self conscious about but honestly the noises just came out of my mouth unconsciously, and they made me feel so much better that I just surrendered to them. In the end I was roaring like a lion. 


I declined any cervical examinations so it was hard for all of us to know how far I was progressing, but after working through surges in the pool my body started pushing and ,my vocalising changed, it became ‘pushy’ as Emma the midwife said to me, it really felt like it was helping to give me the power I needed. I was in such an altered state by this time, that I just surrendered to what my body had to do and it just did it. 







After a while of working through these pushy surges, I started to feel desperately like I needed the toilet but I just couldn’t go. I mentioned this to the midwives and they said that it could be that my bladder was keeping the baby from moving down. I consented for them to quickly put a catheter in to drain my bladder. It was such a relief, and after that things seemed to progress really quickly. 


I didn’t move from the pool after this as the water was so soothing. Tomoko continued to massage my hips and my back, which was just incredible pain relief, it also felt as if she was making room for the baby to move down. 


I was getting really exhausted towards the end, the surges and the pushing was intense. I remember at one point I asked my husband to ask the midwives for gas & air… he gently reminded me that I had briefed him previously, that if I did that, he was to ask me again in ten minutes as I really didn’t want to have any form of allopathic pain relief.


This is what he did and by that point I really felt like I was past needing it, so in the end I laboured without it. I am so grateful for him respecting my wishes in that way because I know it was really hard for him to see me so exhausted. 







I remember so clearly the moment that I heard our roosters crowing for the second time during our labour, that meant that I had been birthing Merlin over the space of two dawns! Thankfully it was not much longer until he made his arrival. I was pretty glued to the edge of the pool at this stage, but on all fours, Emma suggested I move to a forward facing sitting position for the next surge, and then out he came! He slid out into the water and Andrew caught him and passed him to me. 


28 hours later, weighing 8lb 9oz 


I will never ever forget that moment when he found it was Merlin, our little boy, bathed in candle light and with the roosters crowing in the background, we got to greet our son. The room was filled with the most beautiful, loving, electric energy. It was incredible. I felt on top of the world. 


We had asked for a partial lotus birth, so for the cord to be left attached until it was white and Merlin had received all his stem cells and iron etc. I managed to birth the placenta half an hour later, on my own without any injection or intervention. We were all in our tiny toilet huddled around as I pushed it out over the toilet bowl and my hero, Polly the midwife, caught the placenta whole before it dropped into the toilet! I had asked for it to be kept clean so that I could tincture it, and I'm so grateful for her and her fantastic catch. 


Andrew cut the cord a little while later, using a cotton cord tie. 


I had asked Tomoko to give Yarrow tincture to stem any unnecessary bleeding, and I am so grateful that after all this we did not have to transfer to hospital for any reason. We were left alone in our little love bubble to rest and get to know each other. The midwives got a selfie with our donkeys on the way out. It was perfect. 


The birth of Merlin was truly the most profound, magical  experience, it was exactly as I hoped it would be, and I am so grateful everyday for how it happened. I have never felt more proud of myself, and am so grateful that he got to have such a loving, gentle entrance into this world. 







How did your birth experience impact your life afterward?


It has given me so much self confidence. I can't put into words how proud I am of myself and how relieved I am that I achieved the gentle loving experience that I had hoped for Merlin’s entrance into this world. 


I put so much faith in myself and my body and it paid off. I overcame my fear and believed in my heart that we would have a positive experience. It made me realise that so much of it is about your belief system and your mind set. 


I have always been such a people pleaser, but this whole experience has helped me to find my voice and to finally start speaking my truth. Even more so now Merlin is here. 




Message for mothers/parents currently expecting and those aspiring to have a baby.


If you would like a physiological birth then I would highly recommend researching, reading and preparing yourself as much as you can. Educate yourself on the interventions you will be offered during your pregnancy and your birth.


Hire a lovely doula who will help support and advocate for you, this is genuinely one of the best decisions we have ever made. I really don’t think I would have had such a magical and positive experience had it not been for all the Birth preparation Tomoko helped us with and for her energy and support on the day. 


Guard your pregnancy experience as best you can. I was so aware that my baby was soaking in everything I did and experienced, so I was really careful about what I consumed, both physically (through nutrition) and energetically by trying to avoid negative opinions, fear mongering etc. I had the most beautiful, happy, healthy pregnancy because I was so careful to protect those precious months.


This is something I had to remind myself often: Please remember your bodily autonomy. It is your legal right to choose where you give birth, no one ‘allows’ you to give birth. The NHS is a wonderful service that we are all so grateful for, but it is a service nevertheless, that we get to choose whether to opt in or out of. We are customers, and all information should be given to you as advice that you can choose what to do with. No one has authority over you, or your baby.


If you find yourself in a similar situation, with gestational diabetes, I can highly recommend the Home Birth Facebook group by Samantha Gadsden. There is a GD group on there with so many birth stories from women who have successfully had home births with gestational diabetes and Type 1/2 diabetes. It's a great resource.


Also I can highly recommend the books and websites of Dr Sarah Buckley, Dr Sara Wickham, Dr Rachel Reed, Dr Michele Odent and the ‘Midwives Cauldron’ Podcast. There you will find links to all the most recent research and studies which will help you to make an informed decision for yourself one way or another. 







Kelly-Marie Blyth 2024

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