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Sam’s homebirth story

River’s Home Birth Story 16th May 2013.

I was coming up to two weeks ‘overdue’, I felt huge, in so much pain with SPD (Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction) and the midwives were starting to talk about induction, sweeps, monitoring etc (why couldn’t they just leave me and my baby alone! I was thinking) anyhow, to show willing I let them do a sweep.

Sam's mum helps look after her 3 year old daughter

Sam’s mum helps look after her 3 year old daughter

I had realised I had worked my dates out wrong and I was actually more like 3 weeks ‘overdue’ , but I knew by now that was best kept a secret!

I found the sweep incredible painful! And started contracting straight away, low, deep, grating period pain style cramps which went on and on into the evening and through the night. By 5am they were getting stronger so I decided to have a bath (as people always seem to in birth stories!) while everyone slept.

As hubby woke I informed him of my progress, but he didn’t really believe me it would be today and went to work anyway. By lunch time I had called him back, I knew it would be today and with 2 kids to look after and a birth pool to fill, I wanted him home. I called my mum too to come and help with the littlies. She brought roast lamb for after.

Sam smiling between contractions

Sam smiling between contractions

It was a sunny day, I took some time out in the garden barefoot, feeling very alive, connected, real, excited and so so happy my baby was coming and I was in my comfy track suit at home!
It was green and bright and warm and wet and full of hope I was so desperate for this baby to come out safe and well. I remember posting on Facebook that I was in labour and please wish me well.

I contacted my doula to let her know things were picking up about 4ish, and that I’d let her know when it started getting heavy. By 5ish the rushes had started to get strong. I had to stop to breathe through them, and was cross with hubby for doing stuff instead of being with me through the surges! By 6 I was stressed that the doula wasn’t answering and hadn’t arrived, and I was snappy with everyone, then apologising for being snappy between contractions.

Sam's daughters having fun in the birth pool

Sam’s daughters having fun in the birth pool

The photo of me smiling on the sofa was between 2 strongish contractions. My mum was feeding my 3 year old on the other sofa and I took a picture to capture the moment. The girls were excited and happy helping fill up the pool and having a splash in it. They didn’t want to get out!

As it got stronger I wanted attention and help! I felt I needed the pool, the doula (who still wasn’t answering!) and I knew I couldn’t get in the pool without the midwife telling me I was ‘far along enough’ although I knew I was…

So we called the midwives who arrived in a flurry and started to irritate me straight away! The doula arrived too, full of apologies her little boy had switched her phone off, and suddenly there was a lot going on.

The rushes had gotten intense and I was trying to find a comfy place to cope with them, while the hullabaloo of the midwives setting up in my living room went on. Lauren (doula) took me outside, I had liked it earlier.

It was no good any more! I stayed for 1 or 2, then we went back inside. I wanted to lean on something so leant forwards onto the table while Lauren rubbed my back and pushed on my hips. This really helped. I liked it there for a bit.

I still wanted to get in the pool though, as I was sure it would help (it had been immense relief in my last labour).

Sam is monitored in the pool

Sam is monitored in the pool

Finally I was allowed in the pool, and although nice it wasn’t as lovely as I’d expected it to be! Perhaps as it was a summer labour instead of winter like my last, but I couldn’t get comfy, found the rushes hard to deal with and kept feeling too hot. The nurses were annoying me with their constant chatting/questions/wanting to monitor me and baby, and nattering about the water temperature/ height. I wanted them out!

My doula was lovely, helping me, talking to me, telling me I was doing so well, I was so beautiful etc. but I remember her words were not soothing. I just felt uneasy and impatient that it wasn’t happening quicker. I had an underlying worry about something going wrong and me being transferred. Perhaps I was in transition. I kept saying, why is it hard? Why isn’t she coming out? I’m doing all the right things! It felt like ages, but in reality was less than 3 hours from when I got into the pool to her birth, so I guess I was just feeling anxious.

Sam's 6 year old holds her hands and helps her through contractions

Sam’s 6 year old holds her hands and helps her through contractions

The nicest, calming part for me, was when my 6 year old came to help me. I straight away got a grip and stopped panicking. Her hands were warm and sure, and she said well done mummy, there you go it’s ok, just breathe. Talking me through each contraction like a pro!! I was stunned, amazed and grateful all at once, she was way more soothing than hubby or doula!

Eventually she morphed back into a 6 year old and with a grumpy, why is it taking so long?! Stomped off upstairs to watch the iPad, not to return until her sister was born.

The midwife kept insistently monitoring us, kept making me move into different positions to check baby’s heart beat. I like to be only on my hands and knees, leaning on the side of the pool, breathing through each contraction with my partner in front of me to tend to my every need! They kept making me turn over, sit up, get out…so annoying. I kept refusing and quietly telling the doula they were really annoying me and I wanted them to go out the room!

I was finding the labour really hard going and couldn’t understand why. My previous labour had been so lovely! This felt like tough, overwhelming hard work. Why? I kept asking everyone…Is it because I’m older? Are 3rd births harder? Why isn’t she coming out? They didn’t really answer me!

The doula was great, pressing on my hips constantly during each surge as it was the only thing to relieve the pressure. Feeding me energy drinks and water through a straw.

Soon I gave in to the gas and air. It was good! I’d hated it in my previous labours but this time it took the edge off and got me through the blurry, crazy, painful animal bit before birth! By now I was mooing and moaning through the rushes, I knew it was soon.

Head midwife was obviously getting impatient as she ‘unintentionally’ broke my waters as she checked me. I didn’t care though, I’d had enough! I was ready for it all to end. There was meconium in the waters. This resulted in a huge change of atmosphere, I was instructed to get straight out of the pool. There was an air of panic, which I knew was totally unnecessary, but went with it anyway.

Sam meets River for the first time

Sam meets River for the first time

I dutifully went over to the sofa (thinking to myself, I need to get this baby out now or they’re going to start interfering with me (trying to get me to go to hospital!) so I sunk into deep, dark pushing. Once it started my body took over and I couldn’t stop. I pushed and pushed and I felt my baby move down and out of me. I pushed so so hard and out she came, head first. Then another push and fast! Out she burst.

Apparently I bled quite a lot so by the time they passed her to me and I managed to wrap her in a towel and turn us over (a matter of seconds!) her cord was cut! I was a bit disappointed, it was done so quick I didn’t even know! But apparently was necessary due to my blood loss. (I still don’t know why)

I had to sit in a wierd position for a while, bright lights on, on the edge of the sofa, holding my new born, shocked and getting shaky, naked and covered in blood while they all worked on my nether regions trying to stop the blood and ascertain from where it was coming! (I still knew everything was fine and I wanted to lie down!)

Eventually it was decided it was just a little tear! And I was allowed to lie down and cuddle my babe. They were bugging me about placenta, so I think I had the injection and it came our pretty easy although I don’t remember much from this point.

They all fussed and nattered as I wished they would go away, someone would feed me and I could go to sleep!

Sam snuggles up with River

Sam snuggles up with River

Baby latched straight on and was happy and snuggly, before they decided they had to take her off me to measure and weigh! I wish I’d said no to this. I remembering them being shocked I was already feeding her under our birthing blanket a few seconds after she was born, they were all “oh! She’s Already feeding? Oh!” Like they expected me to wait for them to tell me to!

They also hung around for hours after cleaning up and wanting to keep doing checks on me. Apparently I didn’t look too well! (Yes I was shaky and wheezy, but I always get like that when I’m tired and I was absolutely knackered!) Cheekily they confessed to hubby they didn’t want to go back to hospital before the end of their shift as they’d be given more work to do!

Eventually (around midnight and River was born just before 10) They finally all went away and left us all to go to bed in peace. Thank goodness my mum presented me with a roast lamb sandwich in the middle of all the fuss! Just what I needed. And energy drinks. Thanks mum.

I felt ill and shaky, very drained, but in time it got better. River was 8lb 13oz, and a dream baby from the start. She was heaven. The next day life carried on as normal! No hospital, no stress. She breasfed well from the start.

Even though I found it really hard with 2 older children to look after, and I couldn’t walk properly for a couple of weeks And Hubby went back to work after 5 days!! I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Looking back it was a good home birth, about 5 hours in total from when it really started to kick in. If I did it again, I would hire a more experienced and competent doula, and refuse any interference from midwives, or get my own 121 one that knew me and what I wanted. I think this would have stopped a lot of anxiety and helped things progress quicker ; It’s outside interference and stress to the mother that slows or complicates labour. It really is just a natural process that needs to be left to it!

Sam – Bramhall, Stockport

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