Birth Story - Jen and baby Bram

Jen Howard.jpg

Being a first-timer, everyone told us our baby was bound to be late. So I dedicated the week
surrounding our due date to do feel-good activities chosen to release oxytocin; my sister came
to stay 3 days before our due date and we set about relaxation and fun! We read stories,
cooked favourite foods and listened and sang along to favourite albums.

After the first day of fun I went to bed excited about whatever the next day would bring. I
awoke at 2am and went to the toilet and found a tiny red stain on the paper; I knew this
‘show’ can come a good while before the birth so I went back to bed. When I woke a few
hours later, I had some mild cramping. I got in the bath, which my sister had laced with
essential oils, and she read me stories, occasionally pouring warm water over my shoulders
and massaging my back.

The surges were feeling mild still, but I called the hospital as I hadn’t felt baby move much
that morning. They advised we come to the hospital to check all was OK. I hadn’t been
timing the surges because I was waiting for them to get more intense, and for my waters to
break; I didn’t consider myself to be in labour. Yet, as I stepped out of the bath, things
stepped up a notch and I felt a downward sensation. I got dressed whilst my husband hastily
packed the car and by the time we were ready to leave I was doing guttural moans loudly in
the street!

The 15 minute drive was speedy but calm, words of sisterly encouragement interspersing
my moans. We arrived at the hospital and a midwife at reception came out with a
wheelchair after hearing me from the car. I walked in refusing the chair and kicked off my
shoes at the door, perhaps subconsciously inviting the wild woman inside to step forwards
into her element. We were shown to a room and then left for a couple of minutes to let us
settle in while the midwives read my birth preferences; hypnobirthing, pool, etc.

The surges were now more intense. I stood hanging off my husband’s shoulders while my
sister massaged my back. It was at this point that I realised ‘this is happening now’. I felt like
our baby was about to come out down my trouser leg! Luckily midwives came back in and
asked me to get onto the bed to check my progress; I laid down on my back and was quickly
told that I was fully dilated and that the head was visible. However, being on my back
slowed the surges so nothing happened for a minute or two. I then turned onto my side and
our beautiful little boy Bram slid out with the next down-breath - 22 minutes after arriving
at the hospital.

There had been no time to run the birth pool, but Bram was born in his water sac (hence no
breaking waters), so he had a water birth after all (two days early). He was lifted straight to
my breast for skin to skin where he stayed for the next 8 hours, with just a brief weigh on
the scales interrupting after the first hour. During this time we relaxed and listened to our
playlist; we had only just started it when he was born!

Having invited the wild woman in to take control, moments after the birth I found myself
wanting to eat small pieces of the placenta. This isn’t something I’d been planning to do but
my body seemed to be asking for it. Interestingly, at the 3 day home visit the midwife was surprised by how quickly my body was healing, perhaps due to the supposed benefits of the

In the end, I stayed in hospital overnight with Bram by my side and had great breastfeeding
support from the midwives. We set off home 24 hours after he was born, on a whole new
journey! He’s now four months old and everyone, from day one, has commented on how
alert he is, which may be due to the chemical free nature of his birth. My husband and I feel
very grateful for the way Bram’s birth unfolded and, despite the inevitable onward
occasional anxieties, are very much enjoying being parents.


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