The home birth story of my youngest, who's now six.
It seems to me that all babies give us an insight to their personalities when they are still in the womb. Connor was never still and kicked me in the ribs till I was sore – now 15 he is a mad keen sportsman. So it should have been no surprise to me that Ben would be born in glorious sunshine as I used to call him my sunshine baby as the thought of baby number five made me so happy. Like the last two times I saw no reason to see a GP and contacted a midwife directly (which anyone can do); previously I went straight to the community midwife but I had reasons for not wanting any care from the current one so wrote to the Head of Midwifery asking to be assigned a midwife. As soon as the lovely midwife called me I felt a weight off my shoulders. From then on I had all my antenatal care with the same midwife, at home!! It is worth complaining! Every pregnancy is different and every birth. I had had four straightforward labours and births – the first in hospital in Hampshire and the next three at home. The last had been a water birth. Again I was planning another home birth with a birth pool for pain relief and maybe for the birth – depending what I wanted on the day. I was planning to have my hubbie Merlin and my friend Jenny as my birth partners. My sister was on standby to come and look after the children (then aged 14, 12, 8 and 5) who had the choice of being around or not. I was planning on using water, breathing, relaxation and visualisation to cope with contractions as I had done with the others. With each baby I have felt more twinges and Braxton Hick’s contractions than before, and sure enough I thought baby was on its way about half a dozen times from 37 weeks, keeping my legs crossed on the days Jenny was working. However the baby sets the day and in the early hours of 40+2 I was having twinges that were a little uncomfortable but I could sleep, waking occasionally, thinking that hurt a little. At 4am the twinges were too uncomfortable to sleep so I read. By 4.45am I could no longer read through the twinges so had to concede they might actually be contractions. At 5pm I woke Merlin and we went to the kitchen to time them – every 15-20 mins lasting 50 secs – this was it! Jenny arrived at 7.30am and my sister an hour later. As the children woke and came down it was wonderful to see the realisation dawn on their faces. I was coping by sitting on the birth pool or leaning on Merlin or the breakfast bar and focusing on my out breath with Jenny rubbing the small of my back. I rubbed a little Clary Sage and oil into my bump to help keep contractions going; be warned, it is powerful stuff. Contractions gradually became more regular – about every 10 mins - and at 9am I called the delivery suite for a midwife and she arrived at 9.30am. The lead midwife Libby used to sit on the Maternity Liaison Committee with me. The second midwife, Ursula, I hadn’t met before but had heard good things about her from the home birth group. Indeed they were both fab – quiet, supportive, followed my birth plan to the letter, even when I was so far in birth land I had forgotten. It felt so strange labouring in the morning and the bright sunshine as my other labours had all been later in the day. I did enjoy being in the garden. By this time I was singing through contractions as for some reason this was helping! It made sense as the baby had always moved more when there was singing going on. I can honestly say that yes, the contractions were very painful but while I was relaxing, breathing out or singing, having my back rubbed and all the things that helped, it took all the pain away. As soon as I stopped doing those things it was painful. So it is possible to reduce and even eliminate the pain of contractions – just try lots of things and relax into them. About 10.30am the contractions were stronger and about 5 mins apart, and I wanted to get into the pool. We had started filling the pool at the beginning of labour and had filled it two thirds full of hot water, so now I waited as some cold was added and then a little more hot to get the right depth and temperature. Ah bliss!!! Now I didn’t want my back rubbed but water poured on my back. I was losing heart as it was getting harder. I was getting frightened but Jenny and Merlin were so supportive and encouraging. That was probably transition – but I was still asking if I was really in labour! I did feel a ‘pop’ as if my waters had gone, but none seemed to come into the pool. Looking back we think the head was so far down it acted like a plug. By 11.30am the pool was no longer working as well as I couldn’t find a comfortable position – and I needed the loo. Sitting on the loo was so comfortable I didn’t want to get off. I sat there for quite a few contractions till the midwives persuaded me I didn’t want to have the baby on the toilet. I still didn’t believe I was that close – I had only just started to accept that this was actually labour! I didn’t know what to do or where to go. I wandered over to the living room. I had earlier practised a birthing position with Merlin – him sitting on the sofa with me squatting between his legs and him supporting me under the arms. However I thought it was too early to do that so I just knelt on the floor, leaning on to the sofa during contractions. I could feel what felt like a poo waiting, and as everybody seemed to be looking elsewhere I thought I would quietly push it out, but it wouldn’t come and I pushed again and the midwife said ‘There’s the head’. I looked at my friend Jenny in disbelief and said ‘Not yet?’ ‘Yes’ she laughed. I stopped my hard pushing and let my body do it slower.
At 12.10pm Ben was born with a whoosh of waters. Libby pushed him through my legs to me and he was all slippery and wet. Connor told everyone the sex and I had a long skin to skin time with a little suckling. Adam cut the cord and I had a natural third stage, pushing the placenta out while Ben was being cuddled by his siblings. He wasn’t weighed till over an hour later (7lb 12oz) and not dressed till later in the afternoon. We used a ribbon to tie the cord but later put a clamp on as the cord stump oozing. By 2pm we were all sitting on my bed eating delivered pizza, as I counted my many blessings and breast fed my fourth boy!! I asked my sister what she thought of the birth (her first to witness) ‘It’s not like it is on the TV, is it.’ I said. ‘No’ she said ‘It was so peaceful and calm’.
Ursula did all my postnatal care except for a phone call on day 4 from another midwife on the team to see if I was ok. She said she’d heard about my lovely birth as the two midwives had come buzzing in the office full of the joys of birth. ‘We do like doing homebirths’ she said. Amen to that.
I am a doula and antenatal teacher. I am doing a free online 'webinar' about Home Birth on Monday 20th March, 7.30-8.15 Please message me for log in details.