*Karen Squillino, 35, gave birth to baby Sofia.
*Length of labour: 14 hours
*Pain relief:Gas and air
*Scariest moment: Thinking I’d be too tired to see the labour through naturally
*Funniest moment: Because of the gas and air, I was sarcastic to the second midwife who arrived a bit late, asking her if she’d had fun down the gym!
*Advice for mums-to-be: Trust in your body, and get lots of little snacks and energy drinks to have throughout labour
“My husband, Anton, and I had planned a home birth as soon as we knew I was pregnant. So when I woke with dull pains 10 days before my due date, we were very excited. When the midwife arrived at 4pm, she said I was 3cm dilated.
“At first I used the TENS machine. Then, when my contractions got more painful, I moved to visualisation techniques I’d learnt on an active birth workshop. We’d been told that labour wasn’t about pain but an ‘intense physical experience’. This helped keep me focused.
“At 10pm I tried getting in the bath. It was so painful, I realised a water birth was not for me! I went back to the living room and decided I wanted to have our baby there.
“Anton covered the sofa with plastic shower curtains and lit an aromatherapy candle. I started to use the gas and air and got a liking for it. I used one canister so quickly another had to be sent over in a taxi! I felt as though I’d been in labour forever and began to doubt if I could carry on. Then the baby’s heart rate started to drop – any further and we’d have to go to hospital.
“I was determined to stay at home and this helped me to regain control. I was overjoyed when we were told everything was okay and our baby could be born at home, after all.
“The next few hours I felt like I was riding up and down on a tidal wave of my contractions. But the atmosphere was calming: I knelt on the sofa with music in the background and cosy lighting. I only had to give three big pushes and our daughter, Sofia, was born.
“Our little baby was still in her protective membrane because my waters never broke. After this was removed, I held her in my arms for the first time. It was a remarkable and memorable experience, and all in the comfort of our own home! It was all I hoped it would be.”
For more real birth stories, don’t miss Practical Parenting magazine each month.