My Home Birth Story

Local Mum Suzy Doyle describes the birth of her daughter Sophie, at home in Sutton.


I gave birth to my daughter, Sophie Charlotte Doyle (pictured), at home with no drugs. It was completely natural and it felt amazing! Here’s what happened:

Labour started at 2.30am on 31st July 2009, just a day before my due date. I'd been up a few hours before to the loo several times with 'stomach ache' (I’d had a curry and a long walk the day before!) and just couldn’t sleep. So by 2.30am I could tell it was 'the real thing'.... It felt like a dull ache, very much like mild period pains. I timed them - every 20 mins...

I thought I'd let Steve sleep (he'd need his energy for later!). I felt totally calm yet excited. I just sat on the edge of the bed practising my breathing. An hour later I woke Steve to tell him. He shot up out of bed a second before I opened my mouth because he'd slept on his arm and was in pain! 

We went downstairs to the lounge and Steve asked me lots of questions. Did I want the TV on etc. I just wanted calm and quiet, stillness, no distractions or noise as I felt I really needed to concentrate. At one point I did have my birth music on low.

Steve played Mafia Wars on the laptop and I was on my knees leaning over the leather sofa as that felt the most comfy position. I stayed like that with my eyes shut, resting my hands on my head for hours but I wasn’t looking at the clock.
I had a shower at 4.30am which really soothed the surges, at this point I remember looking in the mirror telling myself to remain calm and positive saying 'I can do this'. Around 5am the surges were every 4 mins, lasting around a minute. Steve kept asking whether he should call the midwives or Natalie my doula, but I said no. I felt more in control on my own and wanted to wait until the last minute. Somehow I just knew it would all change and become 'real.’ My show happened at 5.30, my waters broke an hour later.

Eventually just before 8am Steve called the midwives and Natalie and they both spoke to me between contractions. I said I'd be ok for another hour. What Steve didn’t tell me was that the midwives had said they were at another home birth and wouldn’t be able to come straight away!

Meanwhile Natalie got stuck in terrible traffic after being delayed sorting her kids out and arrived at 9.45ish. The midwives at 8.30am. I had two community midwives, Julie and Salem, and Annie replaced Julie around 10ish.

By this point the surges were very strong. Steve had been pushing on my lower back with each surge since 5am so Natalie took over. Natalie also gave me some lavender in a hankie which I drew in each time I had a surge, this worked really well with my slow breathing.

As the surges got stronger I really felt the need to 'bear down' and it was harder to concentrate. Natalie kept me focused on my out breath and literally 'shook' the tension out of my body between surges. 

All of this time no one knew where I was in terms of dilation as I hadn’t let the midwives examine me. In fact I couldn’t even get into the right position for them; all I wanted to do was remain on my knees slumped over the sofa. They checked the baby's heartbeat frequently, which was fine, and that was it. 

The midwives were brilliant, as soon as they arrived they'd read the birth plan (see below) and completely followed it. They were silent and just stepped back allowing me to go with the flow.

The pressure became very intense and I did mutter to Natalie that I might like to ‘try some gas and air'. She distracted me brilliantly and I focused back on dealing with each surge. That is the only way to not get overwhelmed, deal with each surge on its own, not looking further ahead.

I was glad she had distracted me as what would have happened if it hadn’t of worked? I would have found it very difficult to get control back. Thats the key really, do you trust your body and believe in the natural process or not? For me, it’s all about taking on the responsibility for the birth you want, not handing it over to someone else, expecting a cocktail of drugs or people to 'make it better.’ This is especially true when you don’t even know what’s going to happen. I felt I owed it to myself and my baby to give nature a chance.

Steve had spent hours and hours filling the birth pool (because the tap shape and hose didn’t fit). At 11am the pool was finally ready and I was so looking forward to the water. Unfortunately I didn’t like the water at all! I just couldn’t get into a comfy position as I couldn’t sit down. Plus the room was really bright, I felt too exposed and not in control.

I was in the pool about 20 mins, leaning over the side. At this point I really felt the pressure in my bottom. It felt like it was going to explode and literally took my breath away. 

I could feel my whole behind 'rear up' into the air with each surge! We now know that this was because baby was moving down and close to being born but as I hadn’t been examined  no one knew how far dilated I was. I did hear the midwife whisper 'if she gets out of that pool now she'll have the baby in the lounge' and it was moving 'really fast'.

I kept visualising blue satin ribbons and rose petals unfolding whilst repeating 'totally loose, totally limp' and 'I approach the birth of my baby with confidence, baby is coming to me'. 

In my head I did have several moments of 'I can’t do this' but I never said it out loud, that would have 'broken the spell'. Natalie said she had never seen anyone so calm.
Although very painful, it was a different pain, only bearable by believing in how and why your body is changing, and I kept thinking I have to do this for my baby. 

So I was now back in the lounge in my original position on my knees, with my head resting on the cool leather. A few moments later the midwives shouted Steve into the room and I knew 'this was it'. 

My body seemed to go completely still for a few minutes and I felt very calm. Then within 3 or 4 huge surges Sophie was born. First she crowned, then her head, arm and body came out. It felt good, and I knew I'd only had a small tear. The midwives caught her and passed her to Steve and I. 

I rocked back onto my bum, sat down, amazed at discovering our little girl at last. I just kept looking from her to Steve and back again. Steve was in tears. I didn’t cry, I just felt so happy and shocked and proud that I'd done it and that she was ok. 

Steve named her Sophie straight away and it suited her (we hadn’t been able to agree on any other girls names). Steve cut the cord and she went straight to the breast. She was really alert but calm with only a tiny cry. She scored 9 and then 10 on the apgar test. 7lb 6oz. 

It then took 1.5hrs for the placenta to be delivered. In the end I had to sit on the loo and blow into a bottle to get it going. Two massive surges later it was out. Hardly any after pains and I felt great! The midwives confirmed I had a tiny tear, so no stitches!

After a bath I sat on the couch and had tea and toast. The sun was shining brightly. It was a perfect day!
For me a successful birth encompasses:

1.Knowledge and practice

2.Belief and positivity

3.Comfortable, safe surroundings

4.Trusted birth companions

And here was my birth plan: 

Our ethos is to encourage a natural childbirth experience and empower Suzy to be in control at all times. We are both aware of the need to be flexible however, and should unforseen complications arise during labour that require emergency medical attention in hospital then we will approach any changes positively together. We have employed Natalie Meddings as our doula, please speak with Natalie in the first instance.

The environment:

•Peace and quiet

•Relaxed and positive

•Subdued lighting and soft music

•No lengthy 'observing' or chatter

Natural Birth

Suzy will be using the following techniques (with Steve): self hypnosis, breathing, deep relaxation and visualisation.

•Please do not offer any drugs

•Please do not ask to perform internal examinations

•Please do not give 'updates' on how labour is progressing/dilation/time scales

•We would like our baby’s heart to be monitored by a stethoscope

•We would like our baby to be born in water

•Suzy would like Steve to tell her if it is a boy or a girl 

•Suzy would like an active labour - Leaning forward, Standing/Using the birthing pool

•Suzy will be quietly 'breathing down' her baby, please do not ask her to push.

•Immediately after our baby is delivered we would like skin to skin contact (Steve if Suzy can’t)

•Please do not cut the cord until the pulsating has stopped

•Please allow the vernix to be absorbed into baby’s skin so there is no need for any cleaning or rubbing

•Suzy would like to deliver the placenta naturally

•Please help Suzy to immediately begin breastfeeding our baby 

•We would like all checks of the baby to be done as late as possible after birth 

•We would like the Vitamin K injection to be given

Emergency situation/intervention/changes: 

Please discuss any changes/medical requirements with Natalie and Steve in the first instance. They will then discuss the options with Suzy and we will take a few minutes to make a decision together as to how to proceed.
Thank you for your support.

For more information about having a home birth in the Sutton area, call Maria Mills Shaw, home birth lead for Epsom and St. Helier: 07975 232101

 This article was first published on

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