This is one of the best birth stories I have read in some time. The absolute trust that Charlotte had was wonderful, but the rawness of it…how much she enjoyed it and wanted to be part of every moment of the birth of her son was captivating.
I guess it’s pretty unusual to have this sort of birth as a single 21year old, but I had an all-natural herbal water birth and it was the single most gorgeous experience of my life! ~Charlotte Webb, Medical Herbalist
Birth Story of Rowan James Hayes-Webb, 22.51 19th February 2010.
I have newborn baby boy, and his birth was absolutely beautiful. People ask me ‘how was the labour?’ with this pained/sympathy look on their face, and I tell them that the birth was wonderful! They tend to look shocked and don’t believe me. They keep talking about pain, whereas I talk about the powerful rushes of energy which got me really excited. I wish I could do it all over again!!
I used herbs and a birth pool to help me manage the energy best. I got so high off the heat of the room, the endorphins and the support of my 3 birth partners. I have never felt so happy in all my life as when sitting in that water surrounded by people doing the best for me and my baby. I kept myself loose and open by saying ‘I love you’ to my baby, and thanking him for all the hard work he was putting in. The two highest emotions I felt were ecstasy and immense gratitude, more than I’ve ever felt them before.
It was a gorgeous adventure in learning what my body is capable of and I am still in awe. I have such a calm, contented little baby, I didn’t really believe this kind of birth and motherhood experience was possible, but now I’ve had it. I can honestly say it was the most empowering, emotional experience of my life. From start to finish I felt so excited, happy, grateful and loving. Here’s what happened:
It was 5 days after my ‘official due date’ when I woke up at about 8am to my waters breaking in bed. I had been using herbs to encourage labour for the last few days as I wanted desperately to avoid a medical induction at 42 weeks. I felt so excited and rushed to tell my parents, with whom I am currently living. I was having cramps, like period pains, and had been all night and on/off for several days. They didn’t hurt – I used to have horrifically painful periods (all the ladies in my family do), so I always anticipated being able to cope naturally with the sensations of birth (note I won’t use the term ‘labour pains’, as I didn’t feel this way about my birth – that sounds too negative!).
I called my birth partners and arranged for them to meet me later at the birth centre 30mins from my house. I ate some breakfast even though I felt sick with excitement, and pottered around the house, bounced on my birthing ball, chatted to friends on the internet, and played on the PlayStation! I had 3 rushes (contractions) about 25 minutes each apart, lasting about 30 seconds, and I got the urge to kneel over my bed, close my eyes and breathe deeply through them. I wouldn’t call them painful, but they increasingly demanded my full attention.
My sister arrived (one of my birth partners) and I decided to have a bath. I hated being in there, as I had to lie down, and I had 3 rushes in the 20 minutes I was in there. I got out and didn’t say anything to my family about the increased rushes as I thought they might wane again whilst out of the water. But my sister noticed while I was getting dressed, and said she thought we should go to the birth centre now! It was lunchtime and they were indeed coming every 10 minutes, so we grabbed our bags and got going. We stopped at a supermarket so I could wee and it was really funny waddling slowly through, being stared at by shoppers! We joked to my dad that we might stop to buy snacks and he didn’t see the funny side!
It was snowing, and everything felt so magical, knowing I would meet my baby very soon. I felt hugely positive about everything and was so excited to have started naturally and be going to the lovely birth centre I’d chosen, not a hospital. I sat very still in the car and breathed through my rushes, asking my parents to turn the radio up so they couldn’t hear me – I closed my eyes and went into myself.
Once at the birth centre, the baby’s dad arrived and the midwives settled us into a side room. My sister unpacked the many bags I’d brought and we made the room our own. A midwife observed my rushes every now and then and late afternoon, she checked my cervix once, at my request – I was 3-4cm dilated and she said to expect 1cm an hour from then on. I personally thought it would be quicker than that (I turned out to be right!). My doula Becky (birth partner) arrived at the centre and things really got going then. I think it was because I felt so safe with her.
I started having stronger, longer rushes, and needing to bend over a birth ball or the back of a chair. I breathed deeply and Becky massaged my back with oils, which felt amazing. Adam (the baby’s dad) held my hand and made me laugh, my sister offered water and food in between rushes and took lots of photos as I requested. At one point I had a glass of orange juice and was instantly sick into a bowl Adam held! Puking felt amazing, I literally felt myself open up and let go all inhibitions. I think the way a person pukes says a lot about how they feel about their body – I just did it, not caring or apologising for the mess – it was helping get my baby born!
From that moment on, everything intensified, and it wasn’t long before I decided to get into the pool – I wasn’t sure I’d like it because I hated being in the bath earlier, but the warm deep water felt great. I was 7cm dilated when I got into the pool. We put a meditation cd on, low lights, and Adam got into the pool with me. I lay on my side next to him, closing my eyes through rushes, breathing deeply and making low, moaning sounds – these help to open up the pelvis. My legs were trembling and crampy, and I was slightly ketonic, so kept being fed salty crisps and bits of gingerbread between rushes. I asked people to be quiet during rushes, not to waste energy nattering, and I made sure to keep the atmosphere sweet by still saying please and thank you when asking for things – the sweeter you can keep it, the more gracious you can be, the higher you can get off the birth.
I started to use the herbs more to help manage the energy and keep on top of it. I felt really ‘high’ happy, teary, but at one point I panicked about how quick everything was happening, and felt myself tear at that exact moment – it didn’t hurt cause I was so high, but it bloody did after!!! (2nd degree tear, loads of stitches, couldn’t sit or walk for a week and was sore for weeks after that!) The crowning took a while, as he had his hand up by his head and he was bigger than anticipated (estimated 7lbs, actually 8lb 10oz!), I put enormous effort into the last few pushes. My birth partners literally cheering me on, really made me believe we could do it. The burning feeling of crowning was intense – still, not what I would call painful, but really overwhelming. It felt great because I knew so much progress was being made, and it was all so expulsive and felt gorgeous…
Rowan James was born at 22.51, I was absolutely ecstatic and as I cuddled him, felt like I’d known him forever. Adam sat behind me and cuddled us both, my sister took pictures and my doula made sure the midwives knew how I wanted the rest of the delivery/aftercare to go as I was in no position to care at that point (but I would have done after)! I delivered the placenta about 10 minutes after and Adam cut the cord (after people had to run round the unit to find him, as he’d gone to change out of very messy swim trunks!).
I was helped out of the pool, practically carried to be honest as I just couldn’t walk for trembling, Rowan and I had skin to skin and breastfeed briefly, gazed at each other and had pictures. I asked the midwife to see the placenta and she examined it and explained it in front of me. It was amazing! I’m really interested to see this organ that nourished my baby for 9 months and helped him get so fat and gorgeous.
Then Adam, Rowan and I went back into our side room for me to get repaired! I was shaky, trembling, couldn’t walk or move from hunger and (happy) shock and the sheer emotion of it all. Not to mention the massive, apparently ‘difficult’, tear. I chose to have no anaesthetic or gas and air while being stitched up (I was curious to see what it felt like!) and just breathed my way through the pain – the midwives thought I was barmy, they said it would hurt. I said, ‘does it hurt more than childbirth’ they laughed and said no of course not. So I said, ‘well I just did that without drugs so let’s get on with it…while I’ve still got pain-killing endorphins floating around my body!’ Yes, it was sore, but I didn’t really care, I was glad to be feeling every single sensation of my baby’s birth and the way my body felt after. I wanted to savor it, and I’m so glad I did it all my way. Adam and Rowan sat in an armchair next to me cuddling and falling in love, it was lovely to see and made me cry loads!
After the repair work, baby checks were done (no Vitamin K though), baby was washed and dressed, mama had a brief wash and put a nightie on with much assistance and difficulty, we had a proper feeding session, Adam fell asleep, and I sat staring at Rowan all night, falling in love!
* Recently Charlotte lost a court battle against her ex-parter and now must vaccinate Rowan. A dear friend of hers (Angela Henry) has collaborated with Arnica (natural immunity group) to set up a fund for Rowan to receive homeopathic treatments and supplements which she can’t afford. This is to help Rowan through the vaccination schedule by minimizing his risks of adverse effects.
If you would like to help her protect Rowan, you can go to the Arnica website and donate money to help buy the supplements and remedies to aid in protecting Rowan from vaccine damage. Please say you are donating to help Rowan. Thanks in advance for your help. Please forward this info to anyone you think might be up for helping.