My name is Cerys. I have 3 children Rosie is 4, Owen is 2.5 and baby Iris is just weeks old. I was riveted to your site during my latest pregnancy, so have decided to write my story for others to maybe get the same enjoyment/encouragement I did!
When I was pregnant with my first baby I knew right away that I wanted to birth my baby at home, mostly due to a huge phobia of hospitals. but at 26weeks pregnant I developed Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD) and was told by my midwife 'that I would never cope with labour without an epidural'. I now know this to be total horseshit (excuse my french) but at the time I was far more naive than I am now. The resulting labour at 40 weeks exactly was the stuff of my worst nightmares including 2 shots of pethidine I didn't want that made me sick, and an epidural that didn't even work properly! my beautiful daughter was born after 28hours of established labour, and I vowed that the next time, I would do this MY way.
Note from Angela: SPD is a painful condition which can occur when the pelvic ligaments soften during pregnancy. Pregnancy hormones cause these ligaments to relax, which allows movement of the pelvic bones during birth. Some women's ligaments soften more than others, and a great degree of softening can cause instability of the pelvic joints, and particularly the pubic symphysis, which is a joint at the front of the pelvis. While it can make pregnancy painful, it can certainly make labour easier as the pelvic ligaments stretch easily to allow the baby's head to pass through. It does not necessarily make labour more painful, although it can do. It is often recommended that women with this condition avoid having an epidural, because if anaesthetised below the waist, they may open their legs too wide, which can make the condition worse. For more info, see discussions on SPD from the UK Midwifery Archives.
Back to Cerys:
I became pregnant again when Rosie was just 8 months old, and as luck would have we had moved to a new area, and my community midwife was a huge homebirth supporter. I again developed SPD and, despite it being far worse than in my first pregnancy, there was no mention of hospitals or epidurals. I read a lot during this pregnancy and taught myself about the importance of fetal positioning (my daughter had been back to back). I also purchased a tens machine. We considered hiring a birth pool, but the house we lived in at the time was just not big enough to accomodate one.
At 37 weeks and 4 days pregnant, my husband and I went to do the monthly food shop and as we walked around the supermarket we joked about how if my waters broke while we were there, we would get free nappies for a year. I was feeling huge and uncomfortable, and at my ante-natal check 2 days before, the baby's head was 3/5ths engaged so we were half expecting something to happen soon as it turns out we were right.
We got home that evening, put our daughter who was then 17mnths old to bed, ate dinner and went to bed where we did 'what married couples do', lol (lots of laughs). We then both fell sound asleep.
I awoke at about 3am because my daughter was crying. I went into her room and she wanted a drink so I got her one and went to the toilet. As I sat down a felt a tightening/pain in my lower stomach, and thought 'ooh that feels familiar'. I went back to bed but couldn't get back to sleep so after about 30mins I decided to get up and watch TV and see if that would help me settle.
Downstairs I felt another of the tightening sensations and realised that maybe something was happeniing, so I just settled myself on the sofa and watched some baby programmes on Discovery Home and Health; at this point I was very excited that soon it could be my turn to be having my baby.
By 6.30 I was 99% certain i was in labour the sensations had increased to every 5-6mins and while manageable, were starting to feel like real pains. DH woke at 7am and came down, I told him that he wouldn't be going to work that day to which he replied 'why?' I told him i was in labour but he was most sceptical as 'I wasn't in enough pain??!?' and took some pursuading that he really did need to stay home that day, lol!
Rosie woke at this point and as it was her day at nursery DH got her dressed and took her as normal. At this point I decided to rimg my community midwife just to inform her of the night's events so she could plan out her day. She said she would come by before starting anyting else and see how things were. She arrived at 8am, watched me through a few comtractions and commented how they were pretty close but didn't seem very long or intense yet. She examined me and said I was 3-4cms and very strechy and said this was definitly a 'today baby'.
DH arrived home at this point and seemed very surprised that I wasn't making it up and I was actually in labour, lol! we then attached the tens machine and DH went to the shop to get some bits, when he got back, the MW decided to go and see a few people locally and said to call her when I felt I needed her back.
At 9.30 things suddenly stepped up a gear and the contractions were now every 3mins and lasting 40-60secs, at this point I asked DH to call the mw back as I felt I would relax more if i knew she was there. she arrived at 10am and said immediately these contractions looked more like they were doing something useful. We put on MTV and DH and MW sat and chatted while I wandered about breathing through each contraction as it came.
At 11am, I said I would like some gas and air, so at this point the 2nd MW was called and she came with a student MW who was lovely. Unfortuately the g&a cylinder she brought wasn't working, so the local ambulance depot was asked to bring out another (the depot was just literally at the end of the street) so that was done by 11.30 and i chugged away on that mouth piece like a woman possesed and immediately felt much better!I was still walking around, drinking lots, eating bananas and singing along to old Rock Music on the TV, feeling good and relaxed.
At 11.45am the MW said she would like to examine me, as we were very close to running out of gas (i told i was sucking it to death!) and she wanted to know if we were going to need more. So i lay on the floor which by this time was covered in a tent groundsheet. She said I was 7cms but stretching to 9 when the contraction hit (that one huuuuuurt, the only one that really did!!) and dp was amazed that we'd got so far and i was still lucid and with it, as during Rosie's birth by that point I was screaming like a crazy woman!
The next bit is a bit of a blur - I remember suddenly being unable to stand during the contractions, so i assumed a kneeling postion, with my arms on the settee. At this point i realised that the contractions had taken on a new quality, they would surge over me, then at the end the pain would suddenly disappear and my body would push involuntarily, exactly the same sensation as if i was doing a poo. I then kind of withdrew into myself and I don't remember much until suddenly there was a massive feeling of relief as my waters broke and the baby just slipped out in one push.
I heard my dp say 'its a boy' but I was so shocked at the quickness of it, that I couldn't move to look at him. I stayed with my head buried in the sofa for a few mins, then I turned over and saw my teeny gorgeous boy. Owen was born at 12.10pm weighing 6lb6oz with a shock of dark hair.
This labour couldn't have been more different from the horrible experience of dd's birth, and laid a lot of ghosts to rest for me, I COULD labour at home, I COULD cope with the pain even with SPD, and it was a totally positive experience, even though we had to transfer into the hospital later that afternoon as ds was having slight breathing problems which turned out to be very minor; we returned home the following day.
After the fantastic experience of my sons's birth, I was looking forward to a similar experience with the bith of my third child, but unfortunately, the fantastic community midwife who had been so vital in giving me confidence in myself to do this had retired and from the word go, my new mw had a very negative attitude and seemed to create problems where there were none as fas as i could see. She even objected to having to park across the road from my house, as there were yellow lines on our side, on the grounds she 'had too much equipment to carry'!!!
I feel this made a very negative attitude from the very start and the constant arguements with her drained me. ON the day I went into labour I woke at 6.30 am with my waters leaking and experiencing mild contractions. Again this immediately made my mindset negative as this was exactly how my laour had started with my daughter and brought back the meories of the horrendous time I had birthing her.
The mw arrived at 8am, grumbling cos she was 'very busy' that day and she would have to reschedule her day etc etc, making me feel as if i was being nuisance going into labour. She also immediately started talking about going in for monitering if there was no progress by that afternoon. She examined me and said i was 2-3cms but the cervix was very posterior. She stretched the cervix at this point, which was hugely uncomfortable, and I started to bleed. I agreed for her to leave while dh and I organised childcare and set up the living room.
This time around the contractions were painful right from the word go, and by 11am, it was hurting, feeling miserable and sore, and the tens machine was really not helping. It was bucketing down with rain which meant I couldn't go and wander about outside like I wanted to.
The mw returned at 1pm and examined me again, and it was at this point things went seriously wrong. She said I was still only 2-3cms though the cervix had come forward some. She did a second sweep, which again hurt like hell. At this point I asked if she could get some gas and air as I was feeling pretty uncomfortable, and she said the second mw was in a far out part of the district and it would probably be 2-3 hours at least before she would get there with it. I think thats when I lost the plot and just burst into tears. I just had images of my first labour in my mind and how long and painful it had been, and to me at that point this felt the same way; I knew that I just couldn't cope with that level of pain with no pain relief for 3 hours or more, and at this point DH and I agreed to go into the Birth Centre at my local hospital. I was depressed it hadn't worked out but DH reminded me that as long as the birth went ok, we could leave after 6hours so could potentiially be home that evening. So we left.
The trip to the birth centre would have been funny but for the fact I was in increasing amounts of pain, because for reasons best known to himself DH decided the quickest way to the hospital would be to go past our local supermarket. On a saturday afternoon. There were HUGE queues of traffic, and the gentleman in the car next to us at one point, rolled down his window and asked DH if he wanted him to ring an ambulance as with each contractions I was hanging out of the car window doing my deep breathing, lol! we attracted quite an audience!
On arrival at the birth centre I sprinted across the car park and would hang on the nearest available car for each contraction before setting off at a run again, trying to get inside to stop people staring at me! We went inside and were introduced to our mw, who kept asking me questions to which my answer each time was 'I need gas and air'.
Her: Have you had a normal pregnancy? Me: yes, I need g&a Her: this is your 2nd baby? me: No, I need g&a
This went on for a few mins before the feral side of me appeared and I growled "Look lady give me drugs and i will answer your half-arsed questions, now GIVE ME SOME GAS" i got my g&a, lol!
She then examined me and said i was 4cms (still!!) but the cervix had come right forward and was stretchy to 6 during a contraction. She asked if I would like to try the birth pool, which i thought sounded good. I got in the pool at 3pm. Almost immediately I felt the familiar sensation of 'hanging on' to the end of each contraction. The mw got pretty antsy at this point, telling me not to push as, if I wasn't ready, I would tear. But I coudn't stop it, and DH could see me getting upset and politely told her to just leave me to it.
The mw insisted I turn on my back so she could look to see if there was any outwardly visible signs. Again, I wasn't happy as I hate being on my back during labour, but I did. The contractions immediately were much more painful this way, but the pushing urge died right down. It took me about 6-7 contractions to get myself together to turn back onto my knees, and it was at this point I felt a huge urge to push. The mw said if i was going to push like that she wanted to examine me. How i managed to get out of the pool I don't know, but as soon as i was out I felt the baby's head appear and at this point things went a bit nuts.
I had my eyes closed but I heard my partner say 'erm head-HEAD!' and the mw say 'Oh' in a surprised voice before pressing the call button. while this was happening I squatted down on the mat at the side of the pool and my baby dropped out. I was scared that the baby would have been hurt as it fell, but dp says I instinctively squatted right down so it was not much of a drop.
I turned over and scooped up my baby, and told dh we had a girl. Baby Iris was born at 3.55pm weighing in at 7lb9oz, not bad for 12 days early! we stayed in the birth centre for less than 4 hours before discharging ourselves and was home eating chips on my own sofa by 9.30pm that night.
This birth experience was not the relaxed home birth I had hoped for, and I feel let down by the midwives involved. The community one because her negativity rubbed off on me, and the one at the hospital for not listening to me, I felt that as this was my third baby, she should have trusted me to know my own body and know when my baby was coming. But I'm still proud that I mananged without any drugs or intervention other than the g&a, and that I birthed my baby in the position of my choice, not being forced flat on my back as I had been during my first labour. And as DH points out, although Iris was born in the hospital, we spent less time there for her birth than we did for Owen's even though he was born at home!
Thanks for reading this!
Home Birth Stories
Pain relief - what are your options at home?
Transferring to hospital - why it might be advised.
Get Your Baby Lined Up - what it means when your baby gets in an awkward position, and what you can do about it.
"You can't have a home birth because... you have SPD"
Home Birth Reference Page