Caitlin Jane

Home Birth, Natural, Two Panados and a Hot Bath

In my heart I had always wanted to have a natural birth but the horror stories and negativity around giving birth had frightened me into believing it was not possible. It was Deon that asked if I would consider a home birth. So somewhere between my heart and my head lay an opportunity to experience a natural birth in the beauty of our home.

Naturally, in an Oscar winning performance, I had a fearful melt down. In floods of tears, ranting and raving, I threatened to have an immediate Caesar with as much medical intervention and drugs as possible. I phoned my sister, called my girlfriend and swallowed a handful of Rescue Remedy tablets. Red eyed and very quiet a few moments later, I let go of my terror and resistance. I was having a natural home birth. I had to believe that my body would know what to do.

Monday, the day before my waters broke in our lounge, we had an antenatal consultation with our Midwife and Doula, Angela and Keryn. I wanted reassurance that I was a natural home birth candidate without any sign of danger or complication at this stage of the pregnancy. After a thumbs-up-lets-do-this agreement from all of us I took myself and my daughter-to-be off to a photo shoot. When I look at the pictures now I light up inside with love realising that she came the very next day.

My first thought was that I had wet my pants. I remember standing up after making two very important phone calls. One to my pregnant girlfriend and the other to the guy who hired us the birth pool. The pool was paid for and we exchanged some funny birth stories about babies coming unexpected. I told my girlfriend that I was ready. We had also officially moved the last of our stuff into the garage of our new rental home the day before. When the fluid ran down my legs without so much as a warning and hit the bottom of my fluffy boot shaped slippers I knew: I was giving birth today.

Elated phone calls to Angela and Deon, two more gushes of fluid and evidence of a mucus plug signalled I was in the early stages of labour. And our birthing pool was waiting to be collected! There was a flurry of activity around me and yet I felt completely still, tall, confident and excited. I was going to become a mother. I would be holding a daughter and we would become a family. I knew my body would know what to do, I had to just follow. I had a competent team of people to support me, I had to just trust. It was my moment of surrender.

The cramps came soon after my waters breaking. It began as a mild contraction and soon became an unrelentingly ache like the lower part of my body was being squeezed in a vice. Remembering to breathe, staying committed to trusting and surrendering was a challenge. When I felt fear and pain I went back inside myself and coached myself into believing that my body was designed to give birth. My midwife suggested two Panados and getting into a warm bath. A wonderful idea!

The birth pool had arrived and was being pumped up. I remember seeing Deon on all fours inside the pool blowing up the little step with his mouth. His bum in the air and breathless curses echoing from the dining room which had been cleared out for our big day. A dedicated father already who would be blowing up many more baby pools, arm bands and plastic toys in the years to come.

From the bath I called out to Deon who was monitoring the time between contractions: “Another one!” This aching feeling lasted for about 45 seconds and returned every one to two minutes. Other than that I began to lose all concept of time. Every feeling came in waves and seemed to last forever and end swiftly all in the same moment. It was a dance between immense pain and immense bliss. I was fully dilated. The calm flurry of activity around me intensified and I became even more still while my body did what it is designed to do.

In the kitchen everything that could boil water was steaming and spluttering in an attempt to get the birth pool at the optimum temperature of 37 degrees. The geyser had run cold. Deon was bucketing excess cold water from the birthing pool out the front door. Slipping and sliding on the plastic sheeting in his Crocs all the while maintaining an air of chaotic control of the situation.

It was the strangest most powerful feeling I have ever experienced in my body when an  incredible ache was accompanied by a deep pushing sensation. I welcomed it and feared it at the same time. Surrendering to it; I felt my baby girl move towards the birth canal. Every muscle around my stomach and back felt like one thousand strong rubber bands contracting simultaneously. Pushing her towards the exit. After a moment of release I felt another heaving sensation beginning. Every contraction brought us closer to becoming a family.

I was alive with sensations and felt every muscle fibre, rush of warm fluid and pulsation within my body and yet I was only remotely aware of my surroundings. I remember clutching the edge of the cold bath; the strong delicate hands of our midwife and doula that held mine during a contraction; the warm water being poured into the bath; the shivering coldness of the air; the soothing voices around me and the sunlight streaming into the lounge where she would be born.

Supported out of the bath and exhausted; I collapsed on a heap of cushions and towels on top of a plastic sheeting in the lounge. I heard myself cry out during another contraction, still painfully powerful and blissfully beautiful and felt the strong arms of Deon as he held me during the final stages of labour. The moment was soon as I bore down with each contraction and transformed the cries into a silent powerful push. We were close to the end and the beginning.

The moment that Deon called out that the water in the birthing pool was ready was the same moment that Angela called out that our daughter was crowning. I felt the exhilaration of her arrival and then a stinging sensation.  Angela’s confident strong voice jarred me back into focus as this excruciating burning feeling signalled the near end. Oh my dear sweet Mary, Mother of God! I say this with the greatest of respect. I had to slow down, breathe and hold it or I would tear. I remember feeling incredibly alert and wide eyed. Suddenly everything came into sharp focus. I could feel Deon supporting me from behind, see Angela holding my attention and Keryn poised ready for the next moment. She was nearly here. With some gentle support, holding my breath and a final push our baby girl entered the world. Breathing deeply, staring at my chest at my daughter a moment later; I had become a mother.

Caitlin Jane Marais was born in our home in Noordhoek on the 16th of August 2011 at 17:14 and weighed 3.74kg.

After delivering the placenta, Deon cutting the umbilical cord and smiling for the first family photograph; I bathed in the birthing pool with my little girl while her father recorded the moment on film. It was a magical moment of realisation for me that I was now a mother to this little person.

Floating in the water as Midwife and Doula attended to Caitlin I was mesmerised by the feeling of softness. I gently ran my hands in the water and over my body that had just given birth to a long awaited little girl. I did it. I gave birth…naturally. My body knew exactly what to do. And all I had was two Panados and a warm bath. What a sensational experience!

I remember Angela asking me at some point during my labour if I wanted to see what was happening in the hand held mirror she used for examining me when I was in the bath; I recall saying no thank you and hearing her response: Are you feeling your way through this? Yes. I knew at the level of sensation that my body had taken charge of this experience, knew what it had to do and was doing it beautifully. I felt it with a confidence I cannot put into words.

Lying in bed after being gently taken out of the birthing pool, I was filled with a soft loving jelly feeling. I looked at Caitlin on her father’s chest and felt an amazing sense of inner peace with the way our lives had turned out. And as for giving birth naturally at home…the only thing I would do differently next time is pay attention to perineum preparation tips in antenatal class!
tobogan hinchable
Tonia Koegelenberg


Angela The Midwife