As Aimee was our first baby I was very nervous about the pregnancy and birth so my husband and I decided to look into finding an independent midwife. We felt that continuity of care was vital. It was during this investigation that we started to consider the home water birth option. Our local hospital did offer this, however they couldn guarantee that two midwives would be available once I started labour which would mean I would need to go into hospital [which was something I was keen to avoid]. When we met Mal we instantly clicked. Mal addressed all our worries and concerns and made us feel very comfortable about the pregnancy and labour.

We booked with Mal immediately after the consultation, as I was already 26 weeks. The care was incredible from the start. Mal was on call for us 24/7 about any question regardless of how trivial we thought it might have been. Mal strove to ensure that my husband was constantly involved as he was very keen to learn as well. Our antenatal appointments always left us feeling on such a high as she had the time to explain the positions of the baby, answering all our questions, taking the time to listen to the heartbeat without rushing and so many other things, which you just wouldn have the opportunity to experience otherwise.
I was very fortunate that I had a healthy pregnancy, apart from the common complaints! Labour was something we discussed at almost every visit after all this was one of my major areas of concern! As Mal has so much experience of delivering babies at home in water we decided that this was the route we wanted to take. Mal guided us at every decision. She ensured that we had all the necessary information on whom to speak to, whom to hire the pool from etc.

As labour was approaching Mal spent time during one of our ante-natal appointments focussing solely on labour including my birth plan (which she helped me to write at my request). She provided full notes on what to expect at all the different stages . These notes were extremely beneficial as they included information on what my husband should expect during the labour too.

We kept these notes by the bed and ensured that during my last couple of weeks I had prepared by taking the advice given by Mal to get all my bits together and to ensure I had the correct energy foods at hand.

On Saturday 3rd June (our 4th wedding anniversary) at 3am I started labour. I can only describe it as an urge to empty my bowels. My husband had made a barbecue for dinner on Friday night and I was calling out to him that I thought he had given me food poisoning before I realized that I was in fact experiencing contractions!

We called Mal after making a note of the timings of the contractions and started to prepare ourselves for the fact that this could take hours or even days. However whilst on the phone to Mal she decided to come and see me to assess me.

When she arrived at 5:30am and examined me. I was 6cm dilated. She was amazed (I had gone to 6cm in 2.5 hours).

Once Mal had arrived I knew I could manage as she gave me the confidence to know I could deliver my baby at home.

Given I wanted a water birth, there was now the small matter about getting the pool filled and fast. My poor husband had to run around filling every spare kettle/saucepan in order to get the pool filled quickly. At this point I decided I needed my mum who came over to sit with me.

Finally the pool was at the right depth and temperature for me to get into and I cannot begin to explain how wonderful the water felt. I was given frozen ice-lollies and my head was cooled with flannels. I was comfortable in the water. By this time I had started to push. I was then offered some gas and air which I remember thinking wouldn help. I was completely wrong. It was fantastic and took the edge off the pain without making me feel sick which was something I was concerned about.

Amelia (a lovely midwife who works with Mal for support at the birth) arrived and from what I remember immediately began to administer aromatherapy oils and massage to me which felt fantastic.

After a short time it was noticed that the inside sterile seam of the pool had split. This I understand is extremely rare. Unfortunately it was necessary for me to get out of the pool due to the risk of infection. My waters hadn broken yet which was fortunate.

I continued to push outside the pool when finally my waters broke. Mal & Amelia who had been monitoring me and the baby frequently noticed that the baby heart beat was dropping slightly. It was decided that as the head was still quite high and that the baby had decided to rotate (which is common) it would be safer to transfer into hospital where the baby could be monitored continuously.

An ambulance was called and I was transferred to Whipps Cross where I continued to push as normal. Eventually the decision was made that some assistance would be needed so I was cut and Aimee Jessica was delivered by ventous after 3 pushes (still with me clinging onto the gas and air) at 9:33am (6 hours 33 minutes after the start of labour). Obviously this wasn my preferred choice of delivery, however, nothing was done until I had spoken to Mal, and I knew that if Mal agreed with the hospital decision then I would be happy to go with them.

Unfortunately my husband wasn able to cut the cord. All we were concerned about was the health of the baby and he didn mind in the slightest. Mal advised him to take his shirt off and hold our baby girl whilst I was being stitched and this created a tremendous bond between them.

I cannot begin to explain how amazing and positive I found the whole experience. I was terrified as I had heard so many horror stories and found very few people who were able to give me a good story but I cannot stress how positive I feel about my whole situation.

At the end of the day on paper my birth didn go as per my birth plan. The most important thing is the health of the baby and you. I was completely open-minded about the experience and even though on my plan there were many things I didn want, nothing was done without consulting Mal.

Mal helped me into the shower once I had started to recover and settled us in. It was having this support which we just found to be invaluable as she was not rushing us at all but taking her time to show me how to manage.

Mal care didn just finish once Aimee had been born and we came home. She came over every day if necessary to ensure that I was managing with the breastfeeding and she was always at the other end of the telephone in between visits.

My husband and I can stop talking to our friends about how amazing Mal has been during this whole experience. Everyone who has seen us comments on how well we are managing and I truly know that this is thanks to Mal. She doesn allow you to fret or worry and always has some advice to offer.

We fully believe that if you are able to afford an independent midwife then we believe it is essential for your first baby!