I gave birth to my daughter Nirrimi five and a half years ago (in 1992). Fifteen months later I gave birth to my son Zake, with Nirrimi present. Both births were at home and in water. I chose homebirth because I liked the idea of giving birth in my own personal space, a familiar environment. I wanted to have an established rapport with my midwife, and indeed she became a friend as well as being my medical professional!
Waterbirth appealed to me because of its gentleness. As I enjoy long baths, I thought it would be soothing during labour, which indeed it was. I cannot imagine giving birth out of water! I learned that the baby is stimulated to breath mostly by a drop in temperature, so I was confident that it was safe. The tub also seemed very personal and protective, almost like an extended womb for me!
The most important thing for me was education - childbirth classes, reading as many books as I could and talking with other mothers. I had confidence in knowing what would happen, including if any complications arose.
With both labours I didn't get into the tub until I craved it, which was in the last stage, and I was in the tub for a few hours. Those moments afterwards, of nursing my newborn infant, supported by the water, were magical! During the labour, the water was very soothing and warm, and it was easier for me to remain in a squat position due to its buoyancy. The salt we used prevented wrinkling and I also added lavender oil for aesthetic pleasure and it's aromatherapeutic properties.
I loved birthing at home. For the early stage I chose to be alone in the garden, breathing in the flowers and green life. These moments were precious and incredibly personal. When I needed company, I called my midwife, partner and friends. It was wonderful to be surrounded by loving people. I had made a birth plan and they all worked very hard preparing the pool and supporting me.
With Zake's birth, Nirrimi was just learning to walk. I had prepared her as best I could through communicating with her in very simple terms about what would happen. I also would give practice groans and moans, so she was familiar with the sounds I would make.
Zake was born at around 3 AM and Nirrimi awoke at 11 PM, so she had been awake for a long time for a little child. She coped with it well, and when Zake was finally born she pointed at him and said 'baby.' We put her in the tub with me afterwards and although tired, she was fascinated with her brother - it was beautiful.
I highly recommend home and waterbirth as a safe, enriching experience. Birth is such a momentous experience and each birth is the creation not just of a baby and new mother, but of life-long held memories which will forever be cherished and reconnected with every birthday. I felt totally safe, supported and in tune with the process. Both my births were wonderful experiences and I look forward to doing it all again!