Caroline Graham's Home Birth Story

Caroline had her first three babies in hospital, followed by Ayesha, her fourth, at home. Her fifth baby, Skye, was born at home on 6 January 2001, weighing 8lb 4oz.

I have to say that this is spooky as my first baby, Lee, was born on 6 January 1998, and if the baby was a girl, we were going to call her Skye! Here's Caroline's story:

My 5th child was due on 07/01/01 and I woke up at 2AM on Saturday 06/01/01 with what I thought were Braxton Hicks contractions. I managed to stay in bed and not wake Andy (my husband) till 6 a.m. when I realised that I was having proper contractions every 5 - 10 minutes apart. Today was the day!!!

While Andy went to make a cup of tea I rang Janet, my midwife, who said that she had been waiting for my call and would come round after she had had some breakfast!!! I also rang my parents to let them know what was happening as they had agreed to look after the older children.

Both my parents and Janet had arrived by 7.45 a.m. and Janet helped us position the TENS machine properly as we had it in the wrong position! The older children all began getting up and were excited to know that they would have a new baby brother or sister soon. Janet left at 8.30 a.m. and said she would be back later as she had some home visits to make. Andy and I decided to go for a walk to try and encourage the contractions, as although they were 5 - 10 minutes apart they were not very strong. I managed a short walk, stopping and breathing and boosting the TENS when I had a contraction, but they weren't too painful.

Janet returned at 11 a.m. and examined me. She said all was well and performed a cervical sweep to help it along a bit more (OUCH!!) She and Andy prepared our bedroom, as we had decided that was where the baby would be born. We felt that as it was during the day the rest of the family may want to use the living room. (Skye's sister Ayesha was born in the living room on 22/09/98 at 11.56 p.m.)

My parents decided to take Ayesha (2 ½), Enya (11) and Craig (12) to McDonalds for lunch; my eldest daughter Siobhan (13) had already gone out with a friend earlier in the day. Janet, Andy and I had a sandwich and talked. I was still having contractions every 5 - 10 minutes apart. They did not seem very painful or strong, but Janet said that the TENS machine was definitely masking the pain as she sat with her hand on my tummy for a few contractions and they seemed to last longer than I could actually feel them. Oviously she had positioned the TENS machine just right - well, she should know what she's doing!!!

I managed to breathe through the contractions and wonder about the house until 3 p.m. when we decided to go into the bedroom as I felt that it was nearer the time that I would give birth. The children and my parents arrived back and came in to see me. The children looked a bit worried that I was in pain but we reassured them that Mum would be OK, and I was glad that they saw me as it made them realise that having a baby is painful, but also a wonderful thing to do.

At 3.40 p.m. Janet did a vaginal examination and found that the forewaters were bulging. We decided it would be best for the waters to be broken (I have never had my waters break on their own with any of the children), and this was a tremendous relief. Janet told me that I was 8 centimetres dilated but my cervix was thick.

Note from Angela - Breaking the Waters:

In a natural labour, the bag of waters often does not break until the cervix is fully dilated. This is probably not a coincidence, as the membranes and amniotic fluid cushion the baby's head while the cervix is dilating - the waters have a valuable job to do. Sometimes the membranes do not rupture at all, and the baby is born with them intact - eg see Julie's birth stories.

If the baby's head is not in an ideal position - eg posterior, or tipped to one side (asynclitic), then breaking the waters can complicate matters as it is harder for the baby to move its head into a better position when it is jammed right onto the cervix, as opposed to moving in a balloon of fluid. Artificial rupture of membranes can also cause a sudden increase in intensity of contractions, which some mothers find hard to manage - eg see Wendy and Haydon's birth story.

However, like Caroline, some women describe a feeling of 'relief', often relief from pressure, when their waters are broken. Sometimes it does help the mother - and Caroline's story shows that it can be a joint decision ("we decided..."), rather than something which the mother is persuaded into. See discussions about breaking the waters from the Association of Radical Midwives for more information.

Back to Caroline:

Janet rang the second midwife, Ann, and she arrived at 4 p.m. I decided to start on gas and air at this time and quickly became distressed with the contractions. They were now very painful and I was a bit spaced out on the gas and air. I tried different positions but none helped.

Janet performed a really painful examination and found that I had a thick anterior rim. Both midwives felt that the baby's head had not been coming down straight (this would account for the anterior rim and the long labour). They got me to lay on my side to get rid of the rim. I screamed at the top of my voice for the next 15 minutes to get through the contractions and kept asking for a c - section, an ambulance to take me to hospital and an epidural!!!! I then felt the need to push so I got back into a semi - reclined position and pushed for England!!!

At 5.22 PM, after 7 minutes of pushing, Skye was delivered onto my tummy and Daddy cut the cord!! I was very exhausted but pleased it was all over. Ayesha (who had slept through the last hour of my labour!!!) and my parents came in and were over the moon. My parents could hear all the screaming from the bedroom and were worried about me!! My Mum went off to ring Siobhan, Craig and Enya as they had gone to stay with their father for the weekend (They are my children from my first marriage)

Skye was bathed, weighed and dressed and our bedroom was tidied up for me while I had a bath (BLISS). The midwives left at 6.50 p.m. and my Dad went and bought us all a Chinese takeaway for tea.

I really didn't expect my 5th labour to last so long (16 hours and 11 minutes from start to finish) but it was well worth it. The midwives said that it was probably due to the cord which had tangled up on itself and the thick bag of waters that had prevented her from descending properly.

Skye Marita Andi Graham was born on 6th January 2001 at 5.22 p.m., my second homebirth!!!

Caroline Graham caroline@grahama.screaming.net

Caroline wrote about her first home birth in Ayesha's birth story.

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