My first labour was induced and was very speedy, but culminated in an emergency caesarean for foetal distress. My second child was a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean) in hospital after another quick labour (3.5 hours) I ended up with a Ventouse birth which could have been avoided with better care. With my third pregnancy I was determined to have continuity of care and this led to us booking a Wessex (Independent Birth Centre) Midwife, initially for a hospital water birth, but with planning (mental and otherwise) for the fact that with my short labours we might not have time to go anywhere...
Alex's birth - 20 January 2002 4:05am
I went to bed on the Saturday night somewhat despondent, as the contractions I had had on and off for the last couple of days had totally disappeared during the course of the afternoon. They had ranged from normal Braxton Hicks contractions to a different sort that I felt much lower down. They hadn't been unduly uncomfortable though.
At just after 2:30 am I was woken by a powerful-feeling contraction low down in my pelvis, then about 8 minutes later another came. I got up and sat on the loo for a while, wondering whether to wake Tim as I was becoming increasingly convinced that this was it!
I woke him at 3am when the contractions had increased to every 4 minutes. They felt powerful rather than painful, but were definitely pulling round my pelvis, and in my cervix. My tummy was tightening, but not feeling uncomfortable. We were booked with The Wessex Maternity Centre, an independent birth centre, and the plan was that our midwife from there would come to the house when I was in labour and come with us to the hospital. The plan was for a hospital water birth, and together we had agreed my birth plan with the consultant ahead of time (this was my second VBAC), but we were also prepared for the possibility of a homebirth as our second baby had been a very rapid labour.
At 3:15 Tim called the Wessex, and we spoke to L, the midwife there, who then called our midwife, E, out from home. She rang back at 3:25 and said she would be about 40 minutes - by this time my contractions were stronger, longer and every 2 minutes. I kind of knew at this point that it was unlikely that I would be going anywhere! I was breathing through what felt like very strong pulling sensations, but at no time did I think that it was painful or out of control. I was very aware of what was going on, and part of my mind was thinking that it was nice to be unclouded by anything, not even a tens machine and its wires! I was enjoying this!
At some point Tim got dressed. I carried on leaning over the bed. Suddenly at about 3:45am I wanted to be sick so he grabbed a bucket - I wasn't in the end, but I did feel incredibly sleepy and slumped on the pillows saying that I wanted to go back to bed. The awake part of my mind said "transition!" and then "oh no, I'm imagining it, just because I know what is supposed to happen in transition". However around this point the contractions had a new edge to them and a pushy feeling at the end of each one. This increased rapidly and I headed for the bathroom.
From this point there was no pain at all, only sensation - first that huge pressure in your bum which sends you rushing for the loo! Then my waters went with a pop and gush - I was standing up and looked down to see my legs splashed with meconium-stained fluid I asked Tim to call L to let her know, he did this and she said that E was about ten minutes away, so not to worry. My notes say at this point "Angi in the background sounds to be progressing well" - I think I was grunting noisily!!
As soon as my waters went (about 3:55/4am), I could feel the head moving down. I dropped onto all fours. I was making no conscious effort to push - it was all happening despite me. I could feel everything, but absolutely no pain at all; it was an amazing feeling. Tim got a towel under me and was rather perturbed when I informed him that the baby was coming "now!". I felt a slight stinging sensation as the head crowned, which disappeared as it was born; Tim told me later that he came out with his hand over his mouth and chin! The shoulders and body slipped out instantly and Tim caught the baby, repeating to himself over and over again "babies are born blue, babies are born blue". He says that the 2 seconds before he breathed were the longest of his life! Once he was out and breathing Tim passed him through to me. I could not quite believe it - here was our baby, in our bathroom, and no midwife in sight! Then the phone rang -it was L about to give us some advice "too late" said Tim " he's here!" notes here say "heard baby screaming in background"
I knelt on the bathroom floor for a while holding the baby, now called Alexander, then my legs were going dead, and Tim helped me to get onto the bidet - thoughtfully padded with a towel. I seemed to have not lost any blood bar a few drops which was great, and I sat there waiting for the midwife and the placenta and phoning my parents!
E arrived, and clamped the cord; Tim cut it and took Alex while I was helped onto our bed and the placenta arrived naturally, with minimal blood loss, less than 200 mls altogether. I just had a tiny tear on my old scarline, despite Alex's speedy exit.
It was wonderful to get all tucked up in our own bed eating toast and drinking tea as Tim, E and I chatted and E wrote up her notes. At about 5:45 the girls woke up and their faces as they came into meet their baby brother were absolutely priceless! I wish I had had a camera to hand right then. Alex was welcomed to the family with more tea, juice and a plate of chocolate biscuits!
Booking with the Wessex was absolutely the right thing to do. Although E didn't make it for the birth, we had confidence beforehand in having a known midwife who would be with us wherever we ended up, and in the event we avoided what would almost certainly have been a 999 call and a postnatal transfer to hospital. I honestly would not change a thing about the experience - though I have to say I was very glad to see E when she did arrive. I have now been thwarted in my plans for a water birth three times out of three, and Tim is under instructions to take a crash course in midwifery should we ever decide to have a fourth!
Angi Nutt, January 2002
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