2012- A massage client gave birth in my home:

This is one of my favourite birth stories [written with permission by the mother] A woman [I'll call her N] came to see me for a pregnancy massage at the Active Birth Centre therapy clinic a few years ago, when she was 40 weeks pregnant with her 2nd baby. She knew exactly what she needed and that was to relax so she could give birth, she told me that she wanted a homebirth but as they were having major building work done in their home it wasn't going to be possible. N was upset about this as she had given birth to her first baby at home, she also mentioned that she wasn't getting on very well with her partner, not surprising really given the stresses of being heavily pregnant whilst living in a building site ! At the end of her massage N asked me if she could come for another massage in a couple of days time if she hadn't gone into labour...I said yes of course and then I added something that I've never said to anyone before, I said " I don t think you'll need to , your body is so ready for labour, i'm sure you'll have given birth by the end of the weekend" this was Friday evening...

So N called me the next day and asked if she could book another massage, she d started to have surges after the massage but had gone to her mother-in-laws that evening, she was stressed by the visit and her surges had stopped. We arranged for her to come to my home for a massage on Sunday evening, N drove herself to mine but didn't tell me until after that she d had a few surges as she was driving over.... She had a few surges during her massage, half way through she went to the bathroom and had a big surge on the way downstairs...I suggested that she called her partner to come and pick her up as I wasn't going to let her drive herself home or to the birth centre [the birth centre was in Islington so not far from my home] I simply thought well this is good, she s in early labour now so she can go straight to the birth centre after her massage...N asked me to continue her massage and she'd call her partner after, I asked my husband to go and get her phone as she d left it in her car , her waters broke while she was still on the massage couch after calling her partner ! She shouted "take my pants off, take my pants off!" as of course they were wet, so I helped her take them off and at that point it dawned on me that she was about to give birth and there would be no time to get her to the birth centre after all. She called her partner back to say hurry up and then I called 999 just in case we needed help, I'm totally confident in a woman's ability to give birth and i know that if a baby is coming quickly, at term, that s it's not a problem, it's just the body working super efficiently and giving birth. But I do feel nervous after the baby is born in case the baby has any trouble breathing as i'm not trained in resuscitating newborn babies, so calling the paramedics is for their safety.  The woman I was speaking to asked me all sorts of strange and sometimes hilarious questions " how old is the mother ?...is the mother breathing...?" how she could nt hear the woman groaning and yelling "catch my baby, catch my baby" I will never know!

So I tried to get N back on the couch and into the knee/chest position to slow things down but she wasn't going to move anywhere, she was standing and leaning over the couch so I pulled some of the towels off the couch onto the floor in between her feet [I knew how hot and slippery a baby is from a previous BBA] as I think i was worried about dropping her baby- crazy thoughts go through your head in these moments- she literally gave 2 grunting pushes and you could see some of her babies head so I suggested that she breathed slowly and her baby's head was born a few minutes later, then she shouted "catch my baby" and her baby boy was born, amazingly hot and very wet, I managed not to drop him and I passed him to her through her legs as she sat down. I wrapped a big towel around her shoulders and covered her baby with other towels to keep them both warm. Luckily as she'd been having a massage the room was warm and dark and there were plenty of towels to hand ! N looked at her baby and then looked up at me and apologised for giving birth in my house...I certainly didn't need an apology, I thought it was amazing, a complete blessing and the most exciting thing to have happened in our home for years !

The paramedics arrived and I managed to get the second paramedic and their student to wait in the kitchen while one of them came in to check that the mother and baby were ok, I wanted the least disturbance possible as her placenta hadn't come yet. He wanted to cut the cord and mum said no please don t as she wanted to wait for her placenta to come first. He was suprised by this and not very comfortable so I gave him a brief explanation of why optimum cord clamping is a good idea and then he was happy to wait, amazingly N didn't bleed at all, it was the "cleanest" birth I d ever seen. About 10mis later her partner turned up, a bit in shock that he missed the birth but happy to meet his son. It was interesting to find out how the emergency services work in this situation, they stayed on the phone until the ambulance arrived, then the paramedics stayed until the midwife arrived. So N was actually booked for a homebirth after all and luckily we live in the same borough so one of the Islington community midwives came to see her and helped her birth her placenta [into my salad bowl, which I let them keep...] 

The reason i love this birth story is that it shows perfectly how environment and atmosphere are so important. N was very relaxed as she was having a massage, the room was warm and cosy, candles and fairy lights were on, calm, relaxing music was playing and even though we didn't know each other well, N knew I was a birth doula and as she reminded me very much of a good friend I felt like I knew her and she must have felt safe enough to let go, she was like a cat looking for a warm, dark, safe place to give birth! N said a few days later that my massage room felt "womb like" and it does have one soft dark red wall and red fairy lights in it but i'd never thought of it before !

Mum, Dad and baby left our house a few hours later [with the placenta in the salad bowl] healthy and happy and we  sat down and had a glass of wine...