The Freebirth of Pixie – The Surges That Rocked This Unassisted Homebirth

The freebirth of Pixie.The surges that rocked this unassisted home water birth.

28th November 2015

It all started early on a Saturday morning. I had gone to bed early on that Friday but was restless, so I watched some stuff, pissed about on facebook and read some Ina May before passing out around 1am. Oscar, my 3 year old, woke a lot so I had to keep going in to settle him. I was sore and achy all over from all the climbing in and out of bed before I finally went to sleep myself. When I awoke with a really strong back cramp a bit before 3am, I dismissed it as usual pregnancy pains. Until 10 minutes later when another cramp woke me. Then they kept coming every 10-15 mins. Between the cramps and Oscar waking, I gave up trying to sleep by 4am.

I still thought, and hoped, it may have been my body practicing before the real thing. We had planned to go get our Christmas tree that day, there were still a few things left to prepare for a new baby, and I simply wanted to enjoy a bit more of my pregnancy.

However, as soon Roo, my fiancé, got back from his nightshift at 8.30am, I had him get all the birthing supplies prepared for set up and hang up fairy lights downstairs. I hid upstairs stroking my bump for a bit, then came down to wash up, tidy the house a bit, smudge the house with sage and prepare all the essential oils, crystals and tinctures.

Before 10am, despite contractions still being 8-10 minutes apart, the surges were incredibly intense. There seemed to be no point in denying that the birthing of baby Crumbs had commenced. We called Dave (the photographer) to give him a heads up that things were starting and we’d be needing him later.

The freebirth of Pixie.The surges that rocked this unassisted home water birth.

Much like my first, it was a back labour, so it was already very testing at this stage. I was expecting the labour to be quite long, like my first, so I sent Roo to bed, as he was tired after his night shift. I spent my time pottering about getting stuff ready.

Oscar was becoming quite a handful and with surges coming every 4-5 minutes, I had to wake poor tired Roo at 11.30 am so he could help with Oscar while I focused on not freaking out. He rang Dave to tell him he’d better make his way to ours. Dave turned up 20 minutes later.

It seemed quite typical that once he came, things didn’t seem to progress as quickly anymore. The surges were now quite irregular. They’d come every 2 minutes or so for a bit, especially after Roo rubbed me with some clary sage oil, then they would fizzle out a bit. They were still incredibly intense and testing.

We tried some abdominal lifts and rebozo sifting for a while, but it didn’t change much for the back labour. I just had to get on with it. It felt easier to be on my knees leaning on the ball, but that seemed to slow things down a bit. I decided to just walk around and be active for as long as I could. We had slow relaxing music playing in the background. I kept asking Roo to find something slightly more lively, as I wanted to dance, but everything else annoyed me. We ended up putting the original tunes back on and I just swayed my hips to them.

When a surge came, I would breathe through it while hugging Roo or a wall, or dealing with an excited Oscar. With every rush, Roo rubbed my back with black pepper oil. I don’t think it helped the intensity much, but it felt nice and was distracting.

Rubbing Black Pepper Oil. The freebirth of Pixie.The surges that rocked this unassisted home water birth.

Around 2pm we began filling up the pool. This excited Oscar very much. He wanted to hold the hose the whole time and checked the temperature with the “monitor” every two minutes before announcing the water was 12 o’clock! The hose adapter for the tap kept slipping off, so Roo had to hold it constantly. It was hard to cope with the surges without his support. I walked around and leaned on the edges of the table, wall, pool or door, breathing through them and doing some relaxation techniques. I held on to the bead bracelet my dear friends had made for me at my blessingway ceremony; feeling their love with me and drawing lots of energy and strength from each bead.

Once the pool was filled up, I didn’t feel like getting into it yet. I was worried the water would slow things down a bit. I was starting to feel a bit bad for dragging Dave here. I worried it could still be many hours, or maybe even not until the next day, before baby would come. I continued standing, walking and leaning on things while Roo rubbed my back during surges. Sometimes he’d be in the kitchen getting a drink for me or finding something else that was needed and I’d have to beckon him to me to rub and put pressure on my back. It was much easier to cope when I felt his support.

Filling up the birthing pool. The freebirth of Pixie.The surges that rocked this unassisted home water birth.

After a bit, I think around 4ish, my legs started getting a bit wobbly and I felt really tired. I had a little whimper on Roo’s shoulder in the bathroom. I felt like I’d been doing it forever and it was getting overwhelming. I was scared my strength wouldn’t last much longer. That I’d run out of calm and WOULD start panicking. The surges, while a lot more intense with each one, weren’t getting much closer together. They were still about 2-4 minutes apart, lasting around a minute each. I remembered my previous birth and at a similar stage, it was still at least 12 hours before Oscar was born. I really wasn’t sure I could last that long.

As I couldn’t really stand up any longer, I went on my knees and leaned on the birthing ball. I was worried it would slow things down like before, but I needed to preserve my energy and it felt better to be in this position. By that point, I kept apologising to Dave and Roo for being so slow and holding everyone up. I felt like I was keeping them there for no reason. I considered sending Dave home and asking him to come back later when my body stopped being so slow!

Breathing through. using the ball. The freebirth of Pixie. The surges that rocked this unassisted home water birth.

The surges still weren’t more frequent, but they were getting even more powerful by now. I knew I couldn’t let the fatigue get the better of me; I had to be stronger. I thought, if I’m there for ages, I’d have to do my best to give it my all. I spent months being positive and believing I could do it, I couldn’t be weak now. I put my hypnobirthing tracks on the headphones and tried to zone out as I rocked my hips and did some very deep hip circles while leaning forward on the ball. Roo pressed an ice block into my back with every rush. It felt good. I found my focus again and felt the love and purpose of it all, again. Every wave, while incredibly testing, felt more satisfying.

I felt my baby working with me. We were one; a beautiful team. I could, and would, rock this birth thing like the fucking goddess I am!

With every surge, I could feel baby moving lower. After a while, I decided it would finally be best to get in the pool. I went for a wee and came back to get undressed. It was 5.20pm. As soon as I got in, Oscar started taking his clothes off and joined me! I should have expected that. He was so excited about the whole thing, bless his little heart.

He kept bouncing and splashing around and I had to ask him to calm down a few times. I felt his kisses on my body. It was adorable, if a bit overwhelming. I put my headphones back in, but after a while the sound of the track started annoying me and I took them out. The background music sounded more comforting. Roo poured water over my back for a bit, but I asked for the ice block instead, as it felt better.

The freebirth of Pixie.The surges that rocked this unassisted home water birth.

The surges were amazing now. They felt like the whole energy of the universe was driven through my body. I wanted them to keep coming, and by then they hardly stopped. I felt a lot of pressure in my bum and kept warning everyone that I would poo at any moment. I didn’t. Instead, I felt my waters go. I felt down with my hand and could feel the head. My baby was coming to me. I gently breathed down with the next surge, feeling the head with my hand as it came out. A few seconds later, with the same wave, I gave one more breath and caught the baby as it slid out of me. It was 5.43pm.

Oscar exclaimed excitedly, “It’s a baby!” Baby cried straight away and we cuddled for a few moments. I was laughing and crying. We checked baby’s genitals and I was surprised to see we had a girl! Roo, on the other hand, mistook the labia for a little testicles and spent the next few seconds believing we’d had another son before I corrected him with amusement! Meanwhile, Oscar was still amazed it was a baby.

The freebirth of Pixie.The surges that rocked this unassisted home water birth.

After a few minutes, I got out of the pool and was helped to the sofa. Roo covered it with towels and I sat down and cuddled Pixie. I offered her my breast, but she didn’t seem bothered yet.

Around 6 pm, with a gush of blood, I felt the placenta come. Roo caught it in a container we had prepared beforehand. We waited a bit longer for the blood to stop flowing through the cord and Roo tied it off and cut the cord. He put the placenta in the fridge for me to encapsulate later and we sat staring at Pixie. Oscar kept saying how tiny she was and as she started trying to latch on, he helped himself to some boob too.

Soon after, we thanked Dave and he left. Roo held Pixie while I went to clean myself up a bit. I had the dreaded first wee, but was delighted to discover it didn’t burn at all. I had a quick wash and had a look in the mirror to see I hadn’t torn whatsoever this time. I put comfy pyjamas on and made myself some placenta smoothie before joining my family. We ordered pizza and all stayed on the sofa until midnight, talking, laughing and welcoming our girl with love and cuddles.

The freebirth of Pixie.The surges that rocked this unassisted home water birth.

We took it easy for a while and enjoyed our babymoon. My milk came in on day two. The afterpains were a real shock, but finally eased up after three days. Bleeding pretty much stopped after a few days. Pixie is a little darling and we are mesmerised by her. Oscar adores her with his whole heart. He serenades her when she grumbles and cuddles and showers her with kisses.

I am still on a high from the whole experience. It was so incredibly hard and testing, but at the same time, beautiful and empowering. It was amazing to trust myself and my instinct and let my body do this primal thing. It couldn’t have gone better. It was just perfect <3

Alicja is a feminist mama to Oscar and Pixie. She lives in Buckinghamshire with her two kids, their dad Roo and a cat. Alicja is a strong believer in gentle parenting, vegan cakes, unschooling and natural therapies. She is a natural term breastfeeding advocate, avid baby wearer, utter foodie and a lover of baking shows and murder series over a good cup of tea. She is passionate about birth and helps mothers in the fourth trimester by preparing their placenta remedies.
All photos by the incredible David Isaacson
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  1. Hello! I am pregnant with my 2nd child and this time at 13 weeks its really painful. I havnt had a dr visit yet but she said its normal. Any ideas? Also, You mentioned here a placenta smoothie? What is that? I am always looking to try new things.

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