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Helen’s homebirth story

Our son Dylan aka ‘Diddy’ was born very quickly at 40+13 – just about having made the hospital in time. Birthing him felt so natural and went so according to ‘plan’ that the only thing we decided to do differently for number 2 was to miss out the ‘getting to hospital’ bit and to stay home… so here we were, planning a home water birth.

A lovely lady I met via a local homebirth group had given me an unused birth pool in a box a few months previously, on condition we ‘pay it forward’ and donate to another homebirth mama when we’re done with it. We’d had a trial run putting it up at 37 weeks, to check it would fit and see how long it took to inflate and fill – we estimated around 1.5 hours to set up and another hour to empty. Sorted! I needed to give the husband at least that much notice then.

As predicted, my ‘due date’ came and went without any sign of ‘homer’ planning an exit any time soon. I don’t feel Braxton Hicks and there was very little else happening except some backache each night. Strangely enough though on the Friday we’d gone to the garden centre to buy some fresh plants for the backyard (been giving it a bit of a makeover, nesting style as there was nothing left to do in the house!) and I had a real need to get them all re-potted the same day, even though it was absolutely chucking it down and husband thought I was crazy!
The night before Dylan arrived, when we’d exhausted every other avenue of natural eviction method, we just chilled outl and snuggled on the sofa with Disney films. For some reason, on Friday night I had an urge to do it again so we let Diddy stay up late and built a duvet den on the sofa, lit the fairy lights and had a Toy Story viewing marathon. My sister had sent me a text message earlier in the day asking if she might get a new niece or nephew for the weekend (she lives a couple of hours away and was wondering whether to come visit or not). I replied around midnight simply saying “who knows!? nothing happening but then it didn’t before Diddy arrived either” and so we all went to bed.

I woke up around 6am feeling contractions. I lay in bed just counting them and breathing through, realising they were pretty regular and getting painful. I counted 20 in an hour and a half. By 7.30am, I was struggling to lie down any longer and wanted to be up and about so went to the loo, brushed my teeth, put in my lenses, straightened my hair (giggling to myself at the déjà vu from my first labour). Woke up my husband Phil shortly after to let him know I thought we might be meeting Homer today – he rolled over and went back to sleep.

Came downstairs, sat on the fitball, posted a couple of messages online before realising we were at 4 (painful) contractions in 10 minutes. Diddy was stirring and I was nervous it might all stop with the distraction. I texted my mum to let her know things were happening and to see if she wanted to come get the boy (wasn’t sure initially if we’d want to keep him at home for the birth, but it was immediately evident that that wasn’t going to work). He was trying to ‘help’ daddy put the pool up by tipping his tools all over the floor! Turns out mum is in Liverpool & her car is at home, she’s in a hotel with friends panicking and waking up someone to drive her back so Dad comes round instead. I went back upstairs and resumed my position rocking while leaning on the banister rail whilst the husband called the midwife and started to inflate the pool. By now he was stressing with all the multitasking required! Midwife wasn’t answering her mobile so he called the labour ward who had someone ring us back. She ran through all the usual details and questions – contracting close together, waters still intact, no problems… she offered to come round now with the kit, or said we could call back when I felt I needed her. She had a couple of visits scheduled so I said to tell her we’d be fine and would let her know when to come. Typically right about then the pain shot up a notch and 10 minutes later she was summoned! Phil kept shouting upstairs for me to give him a sign I was alright. Every time he got chance, he’d dash upstairs, rub the bottom of my back, reassure me, bring me cold flannel/ice lolly/drink but I was just in my own little world, hoping the midwife wasn’t too far away and the pool would hurry up and fill. It all felt so familiar.

Community midwife Pat turned up around 9.30am with her gas and air. I had 2 contractions while she was introducing herself! She had a quick scan through my notes and birth plan and then asked me if I could get on the bed for a quick check over in between contractions. I didn’t want to be lying down so bless her she was quick. Felt baby was right down, heartbeat good, my pulse and blood pressure fine. She offered me an internal but I declined, feeling quite confident we were progressing just fine. When I stood up again the contractions were much stronger. I was still refusing any pain relief as, though I like the idea of Entonox, the surges were making me feel sick and light headed anyway and I needed to stay in control – plus, like last time – I thought it was going to get worse and should be saved for later.

Baby Lily May

Baby Lily May

By now I was groaning with every contraction, feeling very heavy pressure, still leaning over the banister and thinking my waters must surely go any minute (and probably soak the stairs!). As I got more vocal, the pool was finally at the minimum level and a comfy 36 degrees so the three of us went downstairs, I stripped off and climbed in. Phil had dimmed the lights and put on the same music we birthed Diddy to. Pat asked me to tell her when I felt the need to push – the first contraction in the water was very different, very pushy. I’d literally just got in in time. She grabbed her gloves and called Stacey, our second midwife, to come quick. I suddenly needed to move. I had to not be sat down but leaning on all fours over the side. With the next contraction came the most immense pressure, I was shouting “Ow! ow! ow! ow!” I wasn’t sure if this was the head coming or waters about to go – turns out it was both. Ouch, sudden flashback to that heaviness/ring of fire moment! Pat was telling me to get ready to receive baby while Phil reminded me to breathe and out flew our baby all in one big push. I opened my eyes and saw her looking up at me through the water, holding her as her body left mine. Amazingly surreal feeling! Lily May was born at 10.18am, 14th July 2012 (EDD 11th July). Second stage recorded as 2 minutes. We had a quick peek and discovered she was a litle girl! One of each! Just perfect. She was very alert, very calm – just looking around, didn’t cry at all but was clearly unperturbed by the experience. Apgar score 10 at 1 minute.

I opted for delayed cord clamping and a physiological third stage so stayed in the pool having attached skin to skin. She latched on right away, clearly a pro! Had a good long feed while Pat let Stacey in and filled her in on the birth she’d just missed. I couldn’t get over how much vernix there was. She had such a thick layer, it was like lard. Phil put some under his eyes this time!

Relaxing on the sofa while baby Lily feeds

Relaxing on the sofa while baby Lily feeds

By now the pool was getting rather red and murky and I was feeling a bit hot and wobbly. Since it’s harder to monitor blood loss in the water we felt it was probably time to get out of the pool. I lay down on a nest of towels on the sofa, while baby had another feed. Cord was cut after 40 minutes but I had to kneel up and use gravity to get the placenta out. It finally released at 55 minutes post birth. They both had a good look at it, fascinated by my plans to eat smoothie and encapsulate. Turns out the cord was a bit unusual, it had extra blood vessels that didn’t go anywhere and a few random air bubbles in the gristly bits. They said it was probably a very good thing I hadn’t had the syntometrin as there was a strong chance the cord would have snapped with pulling and I’d have needed to transfer for surgical placenta removal. Phew! Placenta was small, about one third the size of Diddy’s mega placenta. Stuck it in a box in the fridge for my mum to deal with later. Stacey checked me over, just a little graze and small 1st degree tear needing no stitches – same as last time but definitely not as sore. Lily was weighed (3.75kg = 8lb4oz), measured (37cm head) and checked over then both ladies left around 12, having taken my blood (and left enormous bruises!), had a cuppa, helped clear up and made sure we were ok.

Phil ran me a bath but every time I tried to get upstairs I almost fainted so we gave up on that idea and he carried me to the sofa where I had a wash, then snuggled up in my jamas with our baby girl while we let everyone know she’d arrived. We cracked open the bubbly and birthday cake and Mum brought Diddy round to meet his sister after lunch. He did a grand job of ignoring the elephant in the room, but was very happy with the new bike she bought him! Mum made me a placenta smoothie which really perked me up (and tasted really good!) then took the rest away with her to dry out and stick in pills for me. They were done within 24 hours and my placenta made 110 capsules. Seem to be working – we have milk within 48 hours.

Lily May is a dream child. A natural feeder, she just seems to instinctively know what she’s doing. Everything is just lovely. Dylan has started asking for boob when he sees his sister feeding, but tandem nursing is helping him to accept her so we’re going with it. It’s the only time he gets close and will stroke her arm, play with her feet etc. and ask me about her. It’s been worth every bit of the feeding journey to get here.

Homebirthing is just fantastic, recommend it to everyone! I feel so blessed to have had 2 easy pregnancies and births, not to mention 2 gorgeous babies.  Might have a little rest now though…

Helen – Rochdale

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