Kia ora Benji

Born 5th April 2023

8lb 7oz

Home birth

We welcomed our son Benji earth side on the 5th of April at 41+2 weeks gestation. 

I am not the most patient of people, so at 40 weeks I absolutely wanted my baby in my arms. With my midwifes approval, at 40+1 weeks I decided to take the ‘midwives brew’. That evening I had ‘false labour’, you could call it Braxton hicks but it was pretty dramatic as it felt like real labour. Contractions started at 10pm, the escalated quickly, by 12pm contractions were a minute a part lasting for a minute but I was still managing them fine and didn’t need my midwife at this point. From 12 - 12:30 my contractions moved from my lower abdomen to my upper abdomen, around my lungs and rib cage, this became very painful but was not an unfamiliar pain for me. I had experienced these type of contractions in my upper abdomen in the later part of my pregnancy which my midwife put down to an ‘irritable uterus’ and acted like Braxton hicks. At 12:30 all contractions subsided, so by 1:30 we hopped in to bed, and more mild contractions kicked in at 4:30am - 11am. They then completely subsided, I chatted with my midwife and we concluded that I can now continue with my day-to-day life as it was, baby was not coming. That was somewhat disheartening, but I concluded that my baby was not ready and that he would come in his own time, when he was ready. The first part of the video was captured during this time of labouring. 

I desired to have a home birth so made a plan with my midwife that I’d start natural methods of induction at 41+2 to try have this baby before school holidays arrived… if baby wasn’t ready by 42+2 we had booked in an induction in the hospital. After the false labour I wanted to make sure I was giving him the time he needed to continue to grow in the womb, and I’m thankful for a midwifery team who were so supportive yet offered so much knowledge and wisdom when it came to decision making. 

At 41+2 our first plan was to try the midwives brew again in the evening. It was such a lovely day, I was able to attend my 5 year olds cross country where she WON! I t was so special I was able to be there for that!

5PM: In the evening my daughters went out with their Nana and Dad to pick a big bunch of flowers at Moon River Flower Farm, meanwhile I stayed home to have my brew. 

6:15PM: my family arrived home and my first contractions kicked in. They started long and close together, so I messaged my friend Marna, who I had invited to be at my birth (she is also a midwife). I updated her on the contractions, they were lasting for 60-90 seconds and were a minute apart - that was at 6:40pm! She said she would come say hi, but I wanted to give it another 20mins in case it was another ‘false start’.  By then my 3 year old had jumped in to bed with me and nodded off to sleep, that was a special quiet moment as I was managing my contractions in bed. The rest of the family was having dinner, I decided to txt Andrew at 6:55pm to let him know I was having regular contractions but not to mention anything as I didn’t want to alarm anyone too soon. Andrew came and put the tens machine on me and then started to get the lounge warmed up, candles lit, diffuser on, crock pot on etc.

7:30PM: I messaged my friend giving her the thumbs up to come. I relocated to the lounge, curled over my Swiss ball and continued to labour there. I asked Andrew to fill the pool, he seemed slightly alarmed, the look on his face said to me “already!?” and he politely said “now?”, it was a firm “YES” from me as contractions were getting stronger  quicker than I expected. I had made a home birth ‘to do’ list a few weeks earlier, so Andrew could just refer to the list and knew exactly what he needed to be doing without asking me and I was able to focus on labour.

8PM: Marna arrived  - she came with hot water bottles filled and popped one on my lower back for me which was a great pain relief, she then prayed for me and then went on to support Andrew with what he was doing so that Andrew was able to be be with me through my contractions. She was an incredible help and I’m so glad she was there! 

8:10PM: Andrew called my midwife as I knew I would need her soon. 

8:12PM: Andrew called our photographer

8:30PM:Kate (my midwife) arrived around now… I think. Marna updated her with where things were at, she said hello to me and then got herself set up.  I needed to hop in the pool as I was feeling the pressure of his head coming. This is the first time I have tried for a water birth, the instant feeling when I hoped in was such relief, my back floated off the ground and it took a lot of pressure off my body. I also really enjoyed the privacy the pool gave me.  I held on tight to my pressure balls which I had in my hands the entire time of labour. Andrew had a bucket of ice water and was rotating cold cloths on my forehead and upper shoulders, also very helpful! 

Contractions were incredible painful at this stage. I don’t recall much between here and Benji birth but I’ll let you know what I do remember. I was whimpering ‘Owww’ through each contraction and trying to breathe through them as steadily as I could, but not doing so well at that by this stage. I glimpsed up at one stage between a contraction to see Andrew with tears running down his face, he was feeling the pain I was experiencing. He was the best support person, so present! By the time it came to push his head out I really yelled the house down, and as we waited for the second contraction to push the body out he started to wriggle and I announced to everyone “he’s moving!” (it felt so weird).  It was about 2 mins before the next contraction came when I was able to pushed his body out (much less painful than the head). 

Woman birthing baby in to water

8:56PM: BENJI was born. I let him float in the water for a few seconds and just looked at him, Kate then said gently, “there’s your baby Emily, pick him up”. Kate then stepped in to unwrap the umbilical chord which was double wrapped around his neck. I held him in my arms, telling him “we did it! we did it!” as I rubbed him and waited for him to take his first breath. It was a good 30 seconds before he coughed and bellowed out his first cry. He didn’t stop crying for the next hour! Haha. That time flew by as I sat in the pool holding Benji and waiting for my placenta to come. Each contraction for my placenta was excruciating, just as bad as active labour, and it was distressing having Benji cry full noise in my ear as I went through these contractions. By the hour we decided to clamp his umbilical chord and handed him to Andrew for some skin to skin, he then settled down. I was now able to focus on getting my placenta out.

Cutting umbilical chord

[Above 2 photos by Gemma Wilson]

10PM: I was out of the pool and got comfortable on the couch. Marna delivered about half a loaf of toast to me with peanut butter & banana (my favourite) and a hot team. 

We struggled for the next 2 hours on and off trying to get Benji to latch. We even expressed some colostrum to get us through the night in case he didn’t latch. It wasn’t until I was settled in to bed that right before Kate left that he latched on, thankfully!

I will leave it at that, thank you for taking the time to read my birth story. 

A huge thank you to my lovely midwife Kate & Sheena from Rata Midwifery who are experts in their field, love their job passionately and empower their clients - they were incredible through my entire pregnancy, birth and postnatal journey and I want to honour them, their time, and their sacrifice in such a demanding yet rewarding job.