Home Birth Reference Site

Esme's birth story, by Angela Hennessy

My first daughter, Lily, was born in hospital. I had an epidural and ended up with quite a bad tear on my urethra, and had to wear a catheter.

I'm a gbs (Group B Strep) carrier, so we had a few trials throughout the pregnancy, a visit from the supervisor of midwives etc. Without the info. that I found from the the homebirth site I wouldn't have been prepared for the grilling.

I discussed with the midwife that I would take the independent ECM test (a highly accurate test for current GBS infection, recommended by the Group B Strep Support Society)(I'd already done lots of research before becoming pregnant); luckily it was negative, I'm not sure what her stance would have been otherwise. I'd been taking vitamin C tablets and Garlic capsules before taking the test, and being extra careful about hygiene. I did some reading that supported that these could help ward off the infection (I didn't tell my midwife about this though!!) I had a visit from the Supervisor of Midwives, which was basically to cover their backs, to make sure I knew what could happen if I had a baby born with GBS, and I suppose to make it clear that it would be my responsibility and not theirs. I also had to agree to check her temperature every 4 hours after birth. They said that they couldn't offer antibiotics at home, but I don't think I would have had them even if they did offer them. They did offer me antibiotics in the hospital and the use of the hospital birth pool, but I declined!!

Reading through the posts on the Homebirth UK email group really helped confirm my belief in having my baby at home.

Can't believe she's a week old already!!

I started last Tuesday (13th), 1am with cramps, got up about 2am and took some paracetomols and went back to bed.

Woke again at 5am with stronger pains, I couldn't get back to sleep so came downstairs and put the tele on, tried to get comfy on the beanbag.

6.30am I thought I'd better let dh (Dear Husband) know, and ring my mum to come and look after Lily (she lives a good hour and half away).
Dd got up about 7am, and was ecstatic to hear the news that the baby would be coming today, everytime I stopped for a contraction she'd ask 'Is the baby coming now mummy?'.

I decided to wait till 8.30 before ringing the midwife as the community office didn't open till then.
8.30 came and dh started ringing, but it was perpetually engaged and he couldn't get through for about 30 minutes.
When he got through they gave him the mobile number of a midwife on call, so he tried ringing her but got no answer.
So for another 30 minutes ( it seemed like forever), he was swapping between the landline and mobile to ring the community office and the midwife's mobile. He eventually managed to leave a message on the midwife's mobile, then we decided to ring the hospital, and they said they'd sort it out.

The community midwife finally rung us back and arrived just after 10am, we actually ended up with three midwives, one of them being the 'homebirth' co-ordinator and waterbirth 'specialist' from the LGI.

At the same time as being permanantly on the phone dh and L were filling up the pool with water. And my mum arrived (after a nightmare journey through rush hour traffic!!)

The first midwife examined me and said I was 3 cm, but the cervix was very thin and baby's head very low. I'm sure I'd had my legs crossed, while all these phone calls were going on (the thought of dh having to deliver!!). Contractions were fairly strong coming every 5 mins.

The other 2 midwives arrived, and the original one left, and the contractions really kicked in.
It was as if I could let go now I knew they were here, and put on the tens, and tried different positions, but pacing up and down the living room gave the most relief.

Lily was so cute, she kept rubbing my back and saying 'it'll be ok mummy'. She did start to get a little scared as the contractions grew, and I came more vocal. I'm so glad he had my mum to look after her (they disappeared upstairs).

Then the fun began!! 10:30 and I really wanted to get into the pool, but the water was too cold as dh had filled it up too far (he's not good at multi-tasking, making phone calls and filling the pool at the same time).

So they started trying to warm it up with kettles of water, but it just wasn't getting up to temp. Then it turned into a scene out of an old Western film, the pool just wasn't warming up, and our boiler emptied.

Dh literally had the hob full of pans on hot water, the kettle boiling, and the shower on filling buckets with hot water!! Dh and both midwives going backwards and forwards taking water out and adding warm water to get it up to temp.

Note from Angela: This happened to me too! While I was in labour with my fourth baby, the boiler turned out to have failed and the immersion heater was struggling to heat water fast enough, so my husband was kept busy in the traditional 'man at a birth' role of boiling water, while I felt sorry for myself in a few inches of lukewarm water, and kicked myself for not having had a trial run. Actually, boiling kettles and pans can make a real difference to the temperature, very quickly.

Guidelines for waterbirth suggest that, before the birth itself, and certainly in first stage, there is no lower limit for temperature - the mother's comfort should be the deciding factor, so there is no reason to stay out of the pool unless it's too cold to be any use to you. Women often find that they want the pool to be below body temperature in the first stage. It's much more important to avoid high temperatures, because very hot water can cause a rise in the baby's temperature greater than the rise in the mother's temperature - the baby has no way of getting rid of excess heat.

When birth is imminent (ie the baby might be born any time now), you are normally recommended to have the pool at 36 - 37C. The concern about the baby being born into a colder pool is twofold - one concrete, and one theoretical. The 'concrete' concern that it will lose body heat after birth, so if the pool is below body temperature, you might want to get out immediately after birth. The 'theoretical' concern is that perhaps cooler water might trigger the baby's breathing reflex, ie the feel of cold water on the face might stimulate the baby to breathe in while still underwater, whereas being born into water that's around body temperature is rather like remaining inside the mother's body, and so the baby does not attempt to breathe until it comes to the surface and feels air on its face.

For more discussion of waterbirth issues, see Waterbirth at Home.

Back to the other Angela H!

11.30 and I was now desperate to get in the pool, hanging over the edge, constantly checking the thermometer. By this time I'd forgotten about the tens and kept leaving it in boost. And I really started to lose it; I just needed to get in. The midwife reminded me to breathe through it and they felt better.

11.45 and finally I could get it - I've never stripped off so fast in my life, shouting at dh to get the tens off me.

I've never felt such relief in my whole life, it was magic, as if the contractions had decreased in pain by about 50%. Dh put the hypno cd on (Natal Hypnotherapy), and I went into a bit of trance. It's amazing what water and the mind can do.

12.45 and I started to get pushy feelings. 1.00 and my body took over and the pushing was almost like a convulsion or when you vomit uncontrollably!!, I've never felt anything like it. I got a bit panicky and scared, but one of the midwives reminded me to breathe again, and I concentrated on the fact that it would be over soon.

I've also never made so much noise in my life, I didn't realise I had it in me!

Lots of shouting and involuntary contractions later, at 1.40 Esme Fae was born. I was so shaky, and couldn't belive I'd done it (with no pain relief!! must have been mad). No tears, just a tiny graze, huge contrast to my first birth experience.

I had a physiological third stage. I got out of the pool after having a cuddle, and delivered the placenta 15 mins later.

I couldn't have asked for a better birth; it really makes up for the dissapointment I still carry about dd's birth.

We're doing well 1 week later, dd's a bit jaundiced, and we haven't quite got the feeding cracked! We think she's tongue-tied, which is causing a few problems. But we're happy as larry, and dd has been an absolute star!!


Angela makes beautiful baby slings - see www.sleepytoes.co.uk

Related pages:

Home Birth Stories

Group B Strep - your options for homebirth, and choices regarding antibiotics.

Waterbirth at home

Hypnotherapy for childbirth

Siblings at a home birth - what to do with your older children? Should they be present?

The Third Stage of Labour - what are your options, and the pros and cons of each?

Homebirth UK email group


Home Birth Reference Page

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