Bel came a long way to have this birth. Her first baby was born in hospital, and this time she was determined things would be different. However, problems kept cropping up, and Bel became like a one-woman example of the "You can't have a home birth, because..." page! First she was anaemic, then her baby was breech, then was told her baby was small-for-dates, and then she developed gestational diabetes. Bel was a member of our local homebirth support group and it was wonderful to see her beautiful, healthy baby, born at home, head-down, to a healthy mother, after all of that hassle!
Bel has given permission for some of her emails sent to the Homebirth email group during her pregnancy to be reproduced - you can read them on the page about Diabetes and Homebirth, and I think they help to show what a triumph this birth was.
The night of wed the 7th I left for my homebirth support group at about 7:30pm. Literally as soon as I got in the car I had a contraction. I continued to get contractions every 10 mins or so all night. When I got home they jumped to every 2 mins. Now, because my daughter was slow going for 15 hours and then everything happened all of a sudden, I thought I better ring the midwife at this point. She came out and said I was dilating, but my cervix wasn't a laboring cervix and to ring back when they got more intense or when my waters broke. We had by this point set the pool up and packed all my daughters things. I even rang my friend who was going to watch Lena(my daughter). I decided to get some sleep. The contractions started to get quite bad, but they must have worn off cause I fell asleep.
The next morning they were weaker and not regular and despite walking around town for 3 hours they died down by evening, but my plug went that night so I was hopeful.
Friday they had all, but disappeared, but started to get going again in the evening. Once again went to sleep and they died off by morning. Same on Saturday.
Sunday night they started coming every 5 mins and I decided I was NOT going to sleep that night. So I stayed up and did what I could to get things going. They continued to get stronger and finally at around 4am I called the hospital. The midwife from my case load had rang in sick and for a second I thought I was gonna get the "not enough midwives line", but they sent out a different caseload. When she got there she checked me and said I was 3cms, but still not quite there and that she'd wait half an hour to see what happened. She gave me a stretch which I probably wouldn't have had except this had gone on for 4 days and I was so sick of waiting. The MW seemed really keen to do a HB. She told me to hurry up and establish so she could stay for the whole thing instead of calling one of my MW's.
My husband got up and on this of all days my daughter decided to have a lie in and we had to get her up ourselves eventually. Then he took her to our friends and I think Berny showed up while he was out. (Bel's labour was being filmed for a TV programme produced by Bernadette Bos). I had blown the pool up while he was out. So around 7am when Berny came the contractions started to get REALLY bad and this is where they recorded my labor as established from. I made some tea and coffee and after that that was it. I never got to drink my coffee. I had to get on my knees and rock. The contractions started to run into each other and the MW (Justine) asked to check me so I had her check and I was 5cms. She asked if I wanted her to stretch me again and I said no as I could not have stood the pain at that point. Then I got back on my knees and I was clutching the tarpaulin under the pool and just twisting it. Ven (my DH) was filling the pool by now and I kept looking up to see the water level and it seemed like it was NEVER going to fill. I think this is the point when my Ocado came.
FINALLY the pool was full enough to get in so I got in. One of the independent midwives at my HB support group has said to me that she can literally see the relief on a womans face the second they get in the pool and I could just picture the relief on my face. I could talk in between contractions now. I had to use Ven's hands instead of tarpaulin now which I don't think he enjoyed too much. By the 2nd contraction in the pool I started to push. I screamed like it was going out of fashion! I cannot believe how loud I was. I grunted a lot with Lena, but I was really going for it this time. According to Ven I pushed for about 45 mins, but it felt more like 20 to me. Probably about 7 or 8 contractions. I think I felt her crowning after about 4.
I gave birth to my Lena on my back, but this time I was on my knees leaning over the side of the pool. I think if you watch Berny's program when it's on you'll notice one REALLY REALLY loud scream where the 2nd midwife, Vanessa, had to come over and calm me down because I thought I was tearing up towards the front. It was just the pressure being in a different spot than last time. I think the next push after that her head was out and then one more push for the body. I turned round and they passed her to me and we all sat for a bit in quiet. It was so lovely. The midwives were really good about everything. They asked me how I wanted to deliver and said if I delivered in the position I was in that they'd have to put their hands in the water so they were willing to just completely back off. I didn't want to move though cause of the pain so they did deliver her for me.
After the cord stopped pulsing they noticed the temp of the water was dropping so they asked to clamp the cord and I said fine. They asked if I wanted syntometrine and I said no. Ven cut the cord and they took baby to dry her up. I got out and sat on the floor leaning back on the sofa to deliver the placenta. After a while it wasn't coming so I knelt up over an old washing up bowl they had been using for the floating bits in the pool and just pushed a bit and it came out. I was really squeamish about the 3rd stage this time, but it was totally fine when it came to it.
Then I tried to breastfeed. I had a HORRIBLE time breastfeeding Lena. It was such a trauma for me. The breastfeeding was worse for me than the birth or the after care. I had to have the midwife help me this time, but she got her on first time and she fed for about 20 mins. Then I went to have a bath. When I stood up I created the only single bit of mess for the whole thing. I gushed a lot of blood and a small spot about an inch in diameter got on the carpet. I couldn't even tell you where it was now. It cleaned right out.
So, Persephone Xandra Judith Batista-Pedro was born at 9:07am. She weighed 7lbs 3oz.
The midwives kept saying how wonderful and lovely the whole thing was and how much they enjoyed it. Vanessa only showed up in the last half hour or so, but she said even that small bit was lovely for her. The midwives who've been here since have all said they heard how good it was and the breastfeeding counselor rang me and said she had heard it was really nice.
I was so proud of myself. I fought for this birth and I stood my ground. I stuck to my guns in every aspect and I did it with no drugs of any kind. I barely even used the pool as pain relief. And I did the physiological 3rd stage and breastfed. I can even breastfeed laying down already!
I don't know how much credit can be taken by the homebirth, but if I'd known it could be this good the first time I would never have let anyone talk me into going to hospital. Every single aspect has been 100% better. I feel better. My tail bone didn't get pushed out. I had a bigger baby by quite a bit and didn't tear. I don't feel depressed. I don't feel numb. I LOVE my baby. I don't care how I look (found the body changes very hard last time). Breast feeding is easy, let alone do-able. And this baby is a DREAM. She's SO content. She sleeps for like 3 hours, feeds for 20 mins and then does it all again.
Thank you SO much to everyone on the email list and in my local support group. I will be recommending HB to everyone and the list to everyone as well. I will also be telling anyone who is considering HB to find their local support group and go. I don't know if I could have done it without that support. Thank you all so much.
7 Secrets of Being a A Home Birth Dad', has been written by Ven Batista, Bel's husband, reflecting on his experiences.
Home Birth Stories
Diabetes and homebirth
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?
Fast Labours - is quicker always better? What do you do if your baby is arriving faster than your midwife?
Homebirth UK email group
Home Birth Reference Page