Two homebirths, by Cate

Cate planned a homebirth for her second baby, Ethan, but transferred to hospital. Her third baby, Tabitha, was born at home, in water, as planned, but Cate found the second stage very difficult. After giving birth to Ethan in a three-hour 'empowering' labour, her 10-hour labour with Tabitha was clearly hard work. She planned another homebirth for her fourth baby, Martha, but kept an open mind about transferring to a birth centre and planned how she would manage if her second stage was tough again. As it happened, she didn't have time to put any of her plans into action....

Tabitha Jess, born in water 23.11.01

Tabitha's was my third birth. My first, Bethany, was a painful posterior labour in hospital, but still a positive experience. I planned a homebirth for Ethan, but 2 weeks after his 'due' date I had very high blood pressure and agreed to go to hospital when I went into labour, which happened naturally and I had an empowering 3 hour labour with no time to think about pain relief. It was a very positive experience and I left the ward as soon as possible. Tabitha's birth was planned at home again.

We hired a birth pool from the Active Birth Centre and after my due date had passed I took a homeopathic treatment to encourage my body to go into labour. Five days later the labour kicked in and contractions started very conveniently just after the other children had gone to bed. Paul (my hubby) called his sister to come to be on call for the other children if needed.

The first stage was very stop/start all evening and I was able to deal with contractions leaning on or sitting and rocking on my birth ball. Paul sorted filling up the pool, which took him longer than he thought it would! Coping with the first stage of labour was okay and I found I just wanted to be on my own in the living room with my Enya CD, birth ball, candles and Paul sleeping on the sofa next door, ready if I needed him. My community midwife was someone I knew quite well, which was fantastic and she left me to get on with it and give her a ring when I felt I needed her, as she lives round the corner from us.

Around 11pm I lay down and had a sleep, but then on getting up the contractions became very forceful and full on and Paul called the midwife back. She examined me and I was pretty much fully dilated and got into the pool for some relief. I enjoyed the warmth and feeling in my own space. Then I felt a definite transition period when I was panicking, couldn't go on, was weepy and wanted it all finished.

I found the second stage of pushing really intense and painful and I didn't like it at all! I was very noisy and then felt Tabitha moving down to be born and after a last push she emerged through the water and up for a cuddle. She was born after a 10 hour labour and I was very tired.

After an hour of trying to get the placenta out I had syntometrine to help the placenta deliver. Then I snuggled up to enjoy my new baby. The birth was another positive experience but I felt really overwhelmed by the second stage and my husband and sister-in-law also found it hard listening to me during it! However, it was fantastic to be at home and the best moment was a few hours later when Bethany and Ethan came down to meet their new sister, their eyes shining with wonder and adoration. Lovely!

Martha Angel Marianne, born in the same living room 23.9.04

Martha is my fourth birth, planned as a home birth. Having found the second stage of Tabitha's birth so hard, I spent a lot of time at the end of this pregnancy talking it through with my midwife. This was such a valuable thing to do and she gave me some strategies for dealing with this birth which I put on my birth plan. These included me looking up and being more aware of what was going on this time, not so 'into myself', using Entonox to help me through and using positions that would help me to have a gentle delivery. I had already decided not to use water this time as I associated it with panic (mine!). My midwife suggested that I may feel safer delivering on land as it was familiar -the first two babies were both delivered out of water.

Having dealt with my hang-ups from last time I felt ready for labour but not surprised to go into labour after my due date as all my others were late babies. Nine days over I dragged my older two kids out to walk briskly to school (2 miles each way) as I was ready to encourage my baby into the world. The midwife on call came and gave me a vigorous cervical sweep and said that everything was ready to go and baby was in a great position for labour. All afternoon I had niggles and little contractions every half hour or so. I rang my Mum and she arrived in time to do the school pick up and help out. She didn't want to be involved with the birth, but was happy to be there for the other children. I put Tabitha and Ethan to bed and then the moment Mum took Bethany up, a very excited 7 year old, the labour got into gear.

Contractions literally picked up to every 5 minutes straight away and I could manage them by leaning on walls and stairs or cushions. I didn't want to use the birth ball at all this time but at times I did use Paul to lean on. I rang the maternity unit shortly after 8pm and my midwife range me back to say they had just delivered another home birth and would be a while before they were available. If I felt I needed to I could ring the local Birth Centre and go in, a journey of about 15 minutes. Paul was about to go out for a meeting with our vicar but just as he put his coat on I changed my mind and told him not to go. Mum popped out to the supermarket with me saying it would be ages yet, no hurry, but I just wanted Paul around to support me. Mum was back around 9pm and now I felt I needed to be with a midwife. I rang the Birth Centre, ready to go in if necessary, but then my midwife rang back and said they had finished and were on their way to me and would be here in half an hour.

I was still 'with it' between contractions so thought it would be a while yet before I was fully dilated but I also felt I could do with some Entonox, so I was glad she was on her way. Half an hour later I went to the loo and whilst there felt the baby move down -inside my mind I knew she was ready to come out but I was in denial because there was no midwife yet! She walked through the door at that moment - hoorah! I went into the living room and the next contraction was definite second stage.

The midwife was trying to get me to lie down to slow things down, but I couldn't move. I clung on to Paul, bent my legs and with the second contraction my waters broke and I felt Martha moving further down and with the third contraction she was born! So much for a gentle second stage - BUT although it was fast, I actually felt in control this time and was so amazed she had been born.

My Mum was called to help receive Martha as the other midwife hadn't got here yet. Afterwards Mum said it was a privilige to help and be around for the birth and she was amazed by it all! Coping with the first stage was okay, lots of leaning and breathing and saying to myself 'your baby will be here soon' reminding myself of why I was doing it. I also paced a lot and was restless, couldn't settle at all, and not interested in my music or candles or even where I was. Second stage I was very noisy but not for very long. Mum brought Bethany down (it was about 10pm, very sociable!!) to meet Martha whilst I delivered the placenta. The second midwife arrived and whilst they did all their their stuff I had a lovely bath and then settled down to enjoy my new baby. Martha's siblings were so delighted to see her and her birth was the most straightforward one I have had, as easy a labour as I could hope for!

Cate

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