Catherine's first baby was born in hospital, weighing 6lb 7oz. Her second and third were born at home, weighing 9lb 1.5oz and 9lb 14oz.
Catherine with Alexander, just after his birth
Alexander is my second child, but the first home birth. We decided to have him at home because our first child's birth had been very straightforward and quite quick, and also because we didn't have anyone to leave him with in order to go into hospital (25 minutes drive away). My midwife was very pro-homebirth and my sister-in-law had had a good experience of home birth with her "number 2". However I hid the fact that I was having a home birth from my mother because I knew she would have freaked!
So, I started contracting at 00.30 on 9/3/99. I was 3 days overdue and had gone to bed with no sign of anything happening and feeling quite fed up. I can remember lying in the bath the previous evening wondering how long overdue I could go before being made to "go in" to hospital. The first contraction woke me up and I timed the next few. They started off 10 minutes apart, then 8 minutes, then 6 minutes - it was all very classic textbook stuff. I woke my husband at about 02.30 when the contractions were about every 5 minutes and we put my TENS machine on.
I rang the midwife at around 03.15 when I was contracting every 4 minutes and she said she would come. I knew she had quite a long drive over here but it seemed like an eternity! Things were really building up by this time and I was growling into the pillow when she arrived at 04.30! I can remember saying to her "get the entonox" before she'd even hardly got through the door, and to be fair she did! She examined me and said I was 5 cm dilated. My membranes were still intact, and she asked me if I wanted her to break them. I had had an artificial rupture with my first labour, and it was fine, so I said yes.
45 minutes later I was fully dilated. I was standing up hanging round my husband's neck when what felt like a bowling ball dropped between my legs! I sank onto my knees and had a very strong urge to push. As I started to push with the next contaction I could really feel my baby coming down and his head came out very gently. I put my hand down to feel - what a wierd sensation! A hot wet slimy football was sitting there! His body was born with the next contaction and Anne (my midwife) put him into my arms. I could not believe how massive he was!
I had asked to have a natural 3rd stage, but I did start to bleed a bit more heavily than we would have liked, so I had syntometrine injection and the placenta was delivered without any problem. Midwife number 2 arrived then, rather too late! Alexander was born at 05.30 weighing 9 lb 1.5 oz. Rather a step up from his brother who had only been 6lb 7oz! I did not need any stitches. He breastfed straightaway and by 07.00 we were both bathed, dressed and cuddled up in bed waiting for the world to wake up so we could ring everyone to tell them our great acheivment!
PS. Anne had just settled herself back into bed when her phone rang. it was another lady booked for home birth who had gone into labour! Glad I was first!
Catherine with William, just after his birth
2 years later on 12/5/01 I was ready to do it all again. Baby number 3 was 2 days overdue, but that was quite good because we had literally just finished our new extension; the paint was hardly dry! I really did not want to be delivering a baby at home with builders wandering in and out!
Anyway, all was well apart from this labour beginning with my waters breaking in our new bed - only 3 days old! Ooops! They broke at 01.00 (yes I did it in the middle of the night again) and at 01.05 I started contracting VERY strongly! I woke my husband and told him to get the bag of equipment out of the cupboard and then phoned Anne who said she would come (she heard me having a contraction on the phone and must have thought I sounded genuine!). My husband rang our friend and neighbour, Ellen who is also a midwife who we had arranged would come and support me and Anne. Sadly she had been at work when I had had Alexander, but this time she was free. Ellen arrived at 01.20 and I was really going hammer and tongs. My husband was very glad help had arrived!
Anne arrived at 01.30 ( she must have hurried a bit more this time!) She examined me and I was 5-6cm dilated. I started with the entonox (somehow the TENS machine had been abandoned or forgotten in the excitement) and by 02.30 I was fully dilated. So nothing to fully in 1 hour 30 mins! Phew! However I was having trouble pushing because I didn't seem to have anything to push against. I could really feel the baby rotating round inside and eventually I did get the urge to push. Despite being number 3 it was the longest 2nd stage I had had but William arrived at 03.17 - all 9lb 14oz of him! Again no stitches, he fed straight away, and we were all bathed and dressed and back in bed by 03.30.
I do wonder if had I been in hospital whether someone might have been getting twitchy with the ventouse bcause a 3rd time mother "shouldn't" take 45 minutes to push the baby out.
After both births at home we had our own facilities to hand (loo, bath, kettle, phone, bed etc.) There were no disturbances, I could move around freely, I had well known and trusted people with me and I didn't have to leave my own front room. My oldest child remembers his younger brother being born (I just hope he doesn't have a rose-coloured view of birth ie. babies just appear in the night!) he got up in the morning both times with Mummy still around and a new baby in the carrycot. There was no need to be separated from him. I have asked my husband which he preferred and no question - he's all for home! It also meant I wasn't separated from all my family, who live quite a distance away. We could have visitors at whatever time of day suited us, and my husband wasn't having to fly around visiting me in hospital and dealing with a toddler, or two.
I really cannot think of a reason for going to hospital to have your babies if all is straightforward and quick. Clearly hospital is the right place for some, but not I believe, the overwhelming majority. Oh and by the way, I am a midwife!
I have just read through the other birth stories and I just wanted to say how saddened I am by people's negative experiences of NHS midwives. I can't believe how insensitive and unprofessional some of them seem to be. I would like to reassure mums that we are not all like that. Every birth I attend is special and I always feel really priviliged to be part of it. Having had 3 good experiences of birth myself, I try really hard to help those women in my care have positive experiences too. It is not (or should not be) necessary to spend £X000 on an independent midwife to get a home birth. I certainly didn't. If we continue to have a generation of women believing that the only option of birth is a surgical one, then I dread to think what the maternity services of the future will be like. If women give up on the confidence to deliver their babies naturally, either in hospital or at home, then the role of the midwife will become redundant. You won't find me spending my working day happily "scrubbing for section" - I'd rather sweep the streets. Some of the stories on your site made me feel really sad that I won't be doing it again. It was great! Hurrah for Home Birth!!
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