Tag Archives: Manchester

Rebecca’s homebirth story

I woke up at 12.47am on Monday to a contraction. Another one followed 8 minutes after.  I was 38 weeks and 3 days pregnant and I thought “this is it, here we go…”

I had a ‘show’ at around 8.30 that morning, and I continued to have irregular contractions all day Monday.  At times they would be regular for an hour or so, and then become irregular again.  We burnt clary sage oil, and I spent a lot of time bouncing on my birthing ball, or later pacing the living room.

For most of the day I was excited and happy but by early evening I began to feel a bit tetchy. I had a feeling things would possibly ramp up once Toby, our son who was almost 2 at the time, went to bed and sure enough, they did.

By 9.30 that evening I was contracting every 3 minutes and my partner Chris started to inflate the birth pool.  I decided to give it an hour to make sure this was definitely ‘it’, before calling the midwives.

At around 11pm I called the radio room, and about an hour later, a midwife P and my case-loading student midwife H arrived.  P read my birth plan (H had seen it a couple of weeks before), and took my blood pressure.  Initially it was high but I was contracting at the time, plus P had taken it using a portable electronic machine, so she suggested H repeat it with the manual sphygmometer and as I expected the reading was then much lower!

I agreed to a VE, mostly out of curiosity, and H declared my cervix to be “2cms and stretchy”. They both left shortly after, recommending that I try to rest or have a warm bath and call them back if I needed anything.

More or less as soon as I heard their car pull away I had my strongest contraction up to that point, and had to grab on to the bookcase for support and moan through it.  I almost felt like running to the front door and yelling “come back!” but felt like I was possibly being ridiculous.

It was clear that the plan to relax, either in the bath or in bed wouldn’t work, so Chris ended up watching cbeebies in bed on the laptop with our son whilst I knelt on the bedroom floor, leaning over the side of the bed, contracting regularly and moo-ing into my balled-up t-shirt.

Time quickly lost all meaning.  I was listening to natal hypnotherapy on my ipod, but the rythym of the speech didn’t match that of my contractions, so quickly began to annoy me.  I switched to listening to the “relaxing birth music” tracks without speech instead, and that was much better.

At some point Chris hooked me up to my tens machine and fetched me a couple of paracetamol and a glass of apple juice.  My friend Emma made her way over and when she arrived she took over from Chris looking after Toby, so that he could go downstairs and start filling the birth pool.

At some point I told Emma that I wanted Chris to call the midwives, and at 2.20am he did. Around the same time, I decided I’d better get down the stairs or I never would, and once down there I found a comfortable spot kneeling on the sofa, leaning over the back.

I didn’t really experience transition as such but I did have a brief period of time where I suddenly felt very hot and then very cold, and slightly queasy, so asked Chris for a bucket, which he put by the side of me, although by then the feeling was gone.  I also got a bit annoyed briefly, because my headphone cables were tangling with my tens machine cables, so in the end Chris put my relaxing birth music on the hi-fi instead.

Most of the time, Chris was busy filling the pool but every now and then I would call him over and he would massage my lower back as a contraction built, but if he was too late and tried to touch me at the height of a contraction I would shoo him away again.

Finally, the pool was ready, but I was aware the midwives were on their way back and that they’d probably want to examine me when they arrived.  I detested the idea of getting in the water and then having to get out so decided to stay put, unaware of how advanced things were.

Chris told me afterwards that he knew things were happening quickly because he recognised the noises I was making from Toby’s birth, and that he was really anxious that not only were the midwives not there yet, but that I hadn’t even taken my pants off at that point.

The contractions were strong and steady now, and took all my concentration but I was still perfectly happy and lucid between each one, and could hold a conversation (arguing with Chris that if I took my pants off, my bare ass would be the first thing to greet the midwives as they came through the door).

At 3.05am I heard car doors slamming, and knew that P and H were back.  They said they could hear me contracting from the street (oops, sorry everyone!) and asked if they could examine me and check baby’s heart rate before I got in the pool, which I agreed to, although they had to wait for a sufficient gap between contractions for the VE.

Baby’s heart-rate was fine, and P estimated my cervix at 8-9cms so went out to the car to get supplies (I was feeling quite happy at the prospect of some gas and air at this point) whilst H started removing my tens machine so I could get in the water.

At which point I told her to stop, because “the baby is coming”.

Both her and Chris thought I meant in the wider “the baby will soon be here” sense, and were all “yes, yes…we know…we’re getting you in the pool now…” to which I replied “No, I mean, the baby is coming NOW”

H thought perhaps the pressure I was feeling was my waters about to break but she looked anyway and lo and behold, there was a head (told you so!)

Chris said she seemed kind of panicked and out of her depth at this point (he was at my head end, she was at the other, so they were facing each other, but all I could see was Chris’s face and the living room wall behind the sofa) but I didn’t pick up on that at all, I thought she sounded really calm as she told me that baby was being born in his waters, which was considered lucky.  She asked me to “blow” the contraction away.  I shook my head but tried it anyway.

Rebecca and Rudy immediately after birth

Rebecca and Rudy immediately after birth

There was nothing to be done for it though, I understood then what people meant when they’d described the second stage of labour as being like vomiting downwards- you know it’s about to happen and there is nothing you can do to stop it!  P came back from the car and was greeted by a crowning baby, Chris said she didn’t even have time to get her gloves on.  I don’t think I even pushed, there was just one mighty contraction and then there he was- born at 3.16am.  Apparently his waters broke as he was born- I so wish I could have seen it from the other side!  I still couldn’t see him, but everyone assured me he was fine, and then helped me to sit back without squashing him, and we had skin to skin.

P confirmed what she’d read in our birth plan- that I wanted a natural third stage, and I said yes.  H then said she thought the placenta had already detached, and asked me to give a little push.  I did and sure enough, there was the placenta.  The cord had already stopped pulsing so Chris cut it, and then Rudy had a feed.

Just a few minutes after the birth, with Toby meeting his brand new baby brother (although he was more excited by the giant pool in the middle of the room to be honest!)

Just a few minutes after the birth, with Toby meeting his brand new baby brother (although he was more excited by the giant pool in the middle of the room to be honest!)

At some point Emma, who had been stunned to hear a baby crying came down to confirm she hadn’t lost her mind, and Chris went to fetch Toby downstairs as well, so he could meet his baby brother.  Both P and H completed their paperwork whilst me and Rudy snuggled and Toby played with his toy cars on the side of the birth pool (occasionally dropping them in).  There was some lighthearted discussion about what to record the times as, since things had progressed so quickly.  In the end they settled on:

1st stage: 5 hours, 46 minutes
2nd stage: unrecordable
3rd stage: 4 minutes.

Before the midwives left Rudy had his vitamin k injection and was weighed, I was checked for tears (1st degree- no need for stitches, which I was truly delighted about!) and I went upstairs for the obligatory pee and to get a fresh nightie on.

Emma brought me a glass of water and some paracetamol for the afterpains, which I remember thinking were far more unpleasant than the labour itself, and much stronger than I remember them being after my first birth.  Then she had a quick snuggle with Rudy before heading home to bed.  Rudy had a good feed and then at about 6am we all went to bed too.

Rebecca's almost-2-year-old having some fun in the (unused!) birth pool later that morning (we figured someone should enjoy it, after all that time spent inflating and filling it!)

Rebecca’s almost-2-year-old having some fun in the (unused!) birth pool later that morning (we figured someone should enjoy it, after all that time spent inflating and filling it!)

Toby was up a mere two and half hours later and so began our life as a family of four!

People think I am joking, or crazy (or both!) when I say that I enjoyed my second labour and birth.  A lot of people ask “didn’t it hurt?” and the answer, for me, is that yes, it was intensely painful.  But at no point did I ever feel frantic or panicked and although the sensations were definitely strong, they didn’t feel wrong.

I knew that each contraction meant my body was working hard to birth my baby and that my job was just to let it and not fight it, which meant that In the whole 26 hours and 33 minutes- from first contraction to birthing the placenta, I never once felt frightened, scared, or even worried.  In fact, I felt very calm, with the exception of perhaps one contraction just before he was born when my tens cable came unplugged and I bit Chris’s hand in panic! (Sorry!)

Baby Rudy fast asleep a few hours after the birth

Baby Rudy fast asleep a few hours after birth

Throughout the whole experience I felt confident that everything was happening as it should, and that both me and my baby were safe, and I think being at home helped massively with that.

I can’t honestly say it was my “dream birth” or even that everything went to plan, as clearly we had inflated and filled a birth pool for a reason!  BUT it was awesome, and in a way it sort of was perfect, because everything just happened, without me needing to think or act- it just was what it was, and I genuinely loved every minute!

Rebecca – Levenshulme, Manchester

Rachel’s homebirth story

Rachel's daughter

Rachel’s daughter

I had a home birth with my first baby, born in June 2013. I decided quite early on that it was the right choice for us, despite always thinking I’d have my baby in a more medicalised setting. We chose HypnoBirthing for our antenatal classes, and watched many amazing HypnoBirths, the majority of which were at home. My mum had a home birth in 1984 with my younger sister, and talked about it so positively in contrast to her hospital birth with me. And as my pregnancy progressed I decided I wanted my daughter’s birth to be as natural and intervention free as possible, and I very much wanted to use a birthing pool, which is of course not guaranteed in a hospital or midwife led unit.

I did a great deal of research and found that far from being a risky option, as it is often perceived, the close care and attention you receive from dedicated midwives during a home birth makes it extremely safe, and it is less likely that you will require medical intervention. However, I did receive negativity from some friends, who believed that home birth would be dangerous, and that it was a ‘selfish’ choice. Finding the Greater Manchester Homebirth support group and attending their meetings gave me the support I needed, and it was great to hear many positive home birth stories. The community midwives based at Wythenshawe Hospital were also very supportive, and immediately put me down for a home birth.

I went into labour two days after my due date. Around 11pm I started to feel what I can only describe as ‘a bit funny’! We decided to go to bed and I listened to my rainbow relaxation in bed but after about an hour of dozing I felt I needed to get up and walk around. After that my surges started and were, from the beginning, long and close together. I woke my husband up and got him to start timing them and we soon realised we needed to call the hospital. I spoke to the midwife and had a surge while on the phone – she sensed from the call that she needed to send someone straight away. It’s all a bit hazy as it seemed to happen quite quickly but I remember my waters breaking around 2am which was just before the midwife arrived. I was quite taken aback by how quickly it all happened and my husband really had to keep me focused on my HypnoBirthing breathing and keeping calm.

I had planned to ease the contractions by using different positions but in fact all I wanted to do was sit on the toilet, it seemed to ease the discomfort. I would describe the contractions like very strong period pains which I felt mostly as pressure in my lower back and a band of tightening around the bottom of my bump. I got into the pool at around 3am. I had meconium in my waters but my midwife was very pragmatic and said she would monitor the baby’s heart rate rather than preventing me using the pool or transferring me to hospital.

I found the pool really helped and I was a lot more comfortable in there. I was listening to the rainbow relaxation and breathing through the contractions, also my husband was doing some exercises to take me into deeper relaxation, and the time seemed to pass very quickly. I had a very quick transitional stage where I momentarily wanted to get out of the pool but it soon passed and I moved into the second stage. This is where I get my body really took over and I felt the natural expulsive reflex really working. Far from being in pain I actually found the second stage a relief and was in no pain or discomfort between surges, and I was happily chatting to the midwives (the second midwife arrived at this point) and my husband. The surges themselves were not painful either, just a very strong downward expelling feeling. I really felt my body was in control and could feel my baby descending. I kept telling the midwives that she had almost arrived and I could feel my daughter’s head! It was very peaceful, and my husband says I was gazing out of the window, mesmerised as the sun rose. The midwife noted that the second stage took fifty-five minutes.

Rachel's daughter just after her birth

Rachel’s daughter just after her birth

My daughter was born at 5.41, around six hours after I realised I was in labour, and I had no tearing or need for stitches (so we were surprised to discover she weighed a hefty 9lb 3oz – thank goodness for perineal massage!) I caught her myself in the pool and the midwives respected my wish for skin to skin contact, delayed cord clamping and oral vitamin K. In fact the midwives had both followed my birth plan to the letter, they were very respectful and just let my husband and I get on with it! I didn’t even need to use my gas and air which the hospital had delivered just in case.

Relaxing in the pool

Relaxing in the pool

I had to get out of the pool for the third stage (delivery of the placenta) which I also did naturally without the injection. I must say I found this more uncomfortable than birthing my daughter, possibly because I had to get out of the pool!

My midwife stayed for around four hours after the birth and looked after us completely, ensuring I was washed and in fresh clothes, and that breast feeding was established. They cleaned everything up except the pool, however it was not a messy process at all, I know the thought of the mess puts some people off the idea of home birth. I had a further midwife visit later that day so I felt very well looked after. This is in contrast to friends I know who have had hospital births and have been left alone for hours without seeing a midwife. It was lovely being at home, in my own bed, with all my home comforts and not having to disturb my newborn daughter. Visitors were at our own convenience and my husband was there with us the whole time.

Alert and looking around after birth

Alert and looking around after birth

All in all my birth experience was a wonderful one. I know that being at home, in a safe and familiar environment, was one of the major contributing factors to this. I would not hesitate to have another home birth if I was lucky enough to be expecting another child, and I would recommend it to anyone as a very safe and comfortable birthing choice. And it is completely magical to walk into my dining room and think: “that’s the spot where my daughter was born”!

Rachel – Chorlton, Manchester

Sarah’s homebirth story

I became pregnant in March 2013. I have a severe needle phobia and believe that birth is a natural thing to do and wanted as few interventions as possible. At my booking in appointment I was told I was classed as high risk purely based on my BMI which was 35 (bear in mind that I’m 5′ 7″ and have K size breasts). I was told that I’d have to have consultant led care and would have to give birth in hospital whilst being monitored continuously. I was also told that if I didn’t have my blood taken they wouldn’t do a scan (12 week scan). I was upset and immediately started looking into other options. I was made aware of One to One midwives and emailed them asking them to take over my care.

One to One midwives were a world of difference to NHS midwives, I felt listened to and respected. We decided on a homebirth and was assured every step of the way.

Sarah's homebirth

Sarah, her partner and baby Isabelle shortly after birth.

Now to the good bit: my waters went at 14:15pm on Thursday the 14th November, I was 37+5. I phoned the midwife and my partner. My friend had just come round for a visit so helped me into the shower and stayed with me. There were no contractions to start with but I felt them start to build up and at about 21:30 we asked the midwife to come out. I had just been walking around and getting in and out of the bath and shower, I was calm and relaxed and practising my hypnobirthing breathing. I requested a vaginal examination at about 22:30 and the midwife said she couldn’t feel my cervix and that I had ages to go so try to get some rest and eat something to keep my energy up. She left at 23:30. I went to sit downstairs in my rocking chair, we had the lights off and continued with my breathing and visualisations. At about 01:30/02:00am I felt a difference in the surges, they changed to a downwards pressure and I felt like I needed the loo. My partner text the midwife to say I was panting so I didn’t push and was feeling a lot more pressure. She said that it was because the baby was back to back and was normal and to try and lie down. Lying down was the uncomfiest thing I have ever done so I got back into the bath. My partner was texting the midwife as I was pushing at this point, she said she was on her way. I was kneeling up in the bath and was feeling intense pressure. I suddenly felt different and felt between my legs and baby’s head was out!! Then I felt the rest of her come out. The cord was round her neck twice but not tightly so I unwound it and lifted her up and to my chest. This was at 04:26am. The midwife arrived 5 minutes later by which time baby was pink and breathing fine and had her eyes open looking around. We named her Isabelle and she was 6lb 13ozs.

I absolutely loved my birth and I don’t remember pain or pushing at all, it was just pressure. I know it sounds corny but my body totally took over and we ended up having an unintentional unassisted birth. I had opted not to have the injection to bring on the placenta because of my needle phobia. Unfortunately it didn’t come away and I ended up having a removal under general anaesthetic but even this didn’t take away from my experience!

Sarah – Swinton, Manchester