The home birth of Percy includes many incredible chapters. These first time parents had a precipitous labour (less than four hours) at their home during the early hours of December 28th, 2020. With the help of their midwife, these parents welcomed their son Percy into their world after a fast, unmedicated three hour home birth during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Choosing to birth at home
As if expecting parents don't already have enough to plan for, the COVID-19 pandemic adds another element. At the time of writing this, the hospitals in BC have limited the number of people allowed in the delivery room to just one. This means that for safety reasons, people giving birth at the hospital can only bring one support person. Very different compared to normal times when you can have as many people in the room as you want.
For this mother, being limited to only one support person was not an option for her because she did not want to choose between having her partner or mother there. Fortunately though, this led her to look into home birth and to discover that it was the right option for her.
A Precipitous Home Birth
Statistically, you are not very likely to have a precipitous labour. Especially when it's your first baby. Normally, labour depends on several factors such as the position of your baby and your previous childbirth history. Most pregnant parents can expect their early labour to last 6-12+ hours and active labour to be 4-8+ hours.
However, they do happen! Even though it was their first baby, a precipitous labour was the case for these parents. So it actually worked out very well that they planned a home birth. Once her water broke and woke her up in the middle of the night, she called Golden BC's midwife right away.
Birth Photographer Point of View
As a birth photographer, I am on call for parents 24/7 starting at 38 weeks until the baby is born. Similar to medical professionals, I am on standby for you day or night.
The grandmother called me on her daughter's behalf at 4:30am. She let me know that the water broke, the midwife was on her way, and that things were starting. Even though it was early in the morning, her tone was excited and buzzing. I thanked her for the update and laid back in bed. I made a mental note that I would likely be there later that afternoon or evening. However, just one hour later at 5:30am, my phone rang again.
This time it was the dad to let me know that she was already at 9.5cm and I should probably get there quickly.
Whilst on call for a birth, my bags are always packed ready to leave at a moments notice. Even though I left for the home birth as quickly as possible, I had a dreaded feeling that I was missing it. Once I walked into their home, the grandma let me know the baby's head was already out. It felt like in the minute it took me to put a lens on my camera and turn it on, baby Percy was born!
Grandparent Golden Hour
Precipitous labours happen and it's something we talk about beforehand when you hire me as your birth photographer. My protocol is to arrive as quickly as possible and to photograph your birth story just as it is. In this case, their birth story was an extremely fast labour.
Fortunately, the very first interactions between the new baby and their family are some of the most beautiful moments to photograph. Sometimes referred to as golden hour, lots of parents hire a birth photographer solely for those lovely postpartum moments together.
For this mom, one of the reasons that she chose a home birth was so that Percy's grandparents could meet him right away. Her own mother was there throughout the labour and her partner's dad came shortly after Percy was born. Seeing two grandparents happily fuss over their new grandchild is a beautiful thing. I can't say I didn't cry a bit behind my camera.
Home Birth FAQ From The Mother:
Did you always know you wanted a home birth?
No, when I imagined how my first baby would be brought into the world a home birth was not on my radar. All I knew was that I wanted both my mom and partner with me, and to have a birth photographer. It was the pandemic hospital restrictions that led me to look into having a home birth.
Would you plan for a home birth again?
Yes! I originally met with the midwife just in case. But then as my estimated due date approached I fell more in love with the idea of having my baby at home. Now that he is here and I think back to his birthday, I would definitely plan for a home birth again.
What was your favourite part about having your baby at home?
During my labour I was surrounded by loved ones, his grandparents could meet him right away, I could have a birth photographer there, and I got all of the medical care I needed.
The very best part about having my baby at home though was being able to sleep in my own bed afterward!
Is there anything you want other parents considering a home birth to know about your experience?
I guess what might deter people from home births is not having access to the same pain management options as you would in the hospital. For me, I was already in the mindset that I wouldn't need any pain meds.
Once the contractions started, there was a short time where I got scared because it was my first birth and I didn't know what to expect. However, I am happy that I chose to stay at home, wait for my midwife, and to trust my body. I kept reminding myself that every minute of pain was one minute closer to meeting my son and that I could do anything for one minute.