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Water baby

It's my #4's 16th birthday. Here's his birth story.

I was fed up. It was my due date. All of my previous three babies had come well before their EDD.

I was hot. It was a gorgeous August day. The birth pool had been up for three weeks. It was a rigid pool that had to be bolted together. For the past three weeks I had several hours of surges every day, so we had kept it up.

I thought, "Sod it! It's hot; let's all get in the pool." So I filled the pool and the children and I donned our swimming cossies and had fun splashing around in the living room.

An hour later the children had got out but I was still in, enjoying the relaxation. I started to notice that I was feeling sensations that were coming in waves. Could this finally be it?

I went and found my partner and he set about making dinner for the children and phoning around. We'd asked my sister-in-law to be my photographer, and my brother to look after the children. We had also invited my mother-in-law to witness the birth of, potentially, her last grandchild. (Baby number four, all previous births had gone smoothly so I was happy to have her around. And she was lovely, and fantastic postnatally.)

As baby number three had come in just four hours everyone rushed over, but as we know, each baby and each birth is different.

At the time I was chair of the Maternity Services Liaison Ctte, now Maternity Voices Partnerships, and I had written to the head of midwifery asking to be assigned to a water birth competent midwife. Only about a third of the community midwives in the area were signed off to do water births, and sadly that hasn't changed. A lovely midwife, Maureen, was put on call for me, a real advocate of home births. When I called her, early evening, to say that I was in labour she had just come off a 12 hour shift. However, she went home, changed, ate some dinner and came out. She arrived about 9.30pm.

She needn't have hurried. This one was taking his time. I was in the pool, out of the pool, walking around, in the bathroom. Contractions tailed off. Maureen suggested walking up the stair sideways. I tried leading with each leg in turn and then walking down. Walking down with my left leg leading and suddenly I felt a change. I had a huge contraction on the stairs.

Maureen was still concerned and I agreed to a VE (I hadn't had any before then, and none after). VEs can be helpful to know the position of the baby. The good news was that he was moving down. I can't remember if dilation was mentioned or not. It wasn't important. He was in a good position and moving down.

I got back in the pool and this time it felt stronger and more serious. I knew I was frowning. My two eldest were still up. It was now after 11pm. My daughter, 8, was stroking my back. I tried blowing bubbles in the pool which made my son, 7, laugh, and that made me laugh, and all of a sudden nothing seemed difficult.

A while later I felt my waters go with a pop. Such a crazy feeling. Suddenly I wanted the water warmer. Maureen said she was about to suggest this. When I said it felt the right temperature, Maureen smiled. I was spot on, just by instincts, to what it is recommended.

He was born with just a few pushes, with me leaning forward on the pool. Turned out that he had the cord wrapped diagonally around his body, potentially lifting his arm up, and his hand in front of his head. Walking down the stairs sideways created room for him to bring his hand out of the way. Maureen untangled him and all was well. Born 5 mins past midnight. My seven year old cut the cord. (The next day he had a great story for show and tell. The teachers loved it!)

All along I had felt the baby was smaller. I wasn't getting kicked as much and it felt like I had more room. So I had assumed I was having a girl. (I hadn't had any scans.) But no! Another boy.

My mother in law thought it was amazing and couldn't believe how calm the birth was, and how calm the baby was. It made her want to give birth. My sister-in-law went on to have a home birth that became an emergency cs birth, with a breech baby, and then a home birth for baby number two.

And my wonderful son just isn't as active as his sports mad brother. He was only 1oz smaller, at just under 9lb. Now he is almost the tallest in the house.

Home birth rocks! Water birth rocks!

I am a doula and antenatal teacher in Bedfordshire. I do online workshops and Luton and Dunstable home birth group and have a home birth info page.

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