Home Birth Reference Site

Áine's Birth Story, by Claire

Claire had her first two babies at home, and ten years later planned a third home waterbirth. However, this time she was living in Northern Ireland, which has the lowest homebirth rate in the UK, and which also has no independent midwives... a great example of a well-informed and assertive mother keeping control of her labour and birth wherever possible.

This birth story starts with some posts Claire sent to the Homebirth UK email group email group before the birth.


I heard this was a wonderful supportive group for home birth so here I am, having trouble getting support AGAIN! 14 years ago, I was pregnant with my first, aged 21. Wanted a home water birth, got struck off the doctors list and couldn't get midwife support without doctor cover - blah blah...threw the towel in and went independent - had the most glorious, simple, straightforward fabulous birth, 4 hour labour, no complications in my tub in the living room.

3 years later pregnant again, didn't even go near anyone 'medical' - just went straight back to the same midwife, who was so wonderful. It was all so hassle free. I went overdue and gem of midwife was due to go to Norway (as I remember) for conference I think..had sweep and along came no problem labour no 2, remarkably similar to labour one and out popped gorgeous son no 2! 8lb 11.5, no tears, no issues, although very short cord which made an amusing picture with me standing trying to get him to the breast but not quite managing to reach - hilarity!

Now, 10 yrs on and I am 39+3 weeks and living elsewhere. No independents or doulas in sight, so drew deep breath and booked in with community team who much to my delight were really excited about prospect of 1st home water birth in the area...this led me to believe I had support. But heck no, as it turns out, hardly any of the midwives have water birth experience and as time has gone on, potential problems have been focussed on. I have been repeatedly asked if I would not consider a hospital water birth, or a home birth without water etc. They constantly want reassurance that I will leave the pool if I am told too blah blah On top of comments such as, oooo the baby is large, you need to go for a scan, or we have to prepare for shoulder dystocia..' etc

My partner who is from the generation where men were not encouraged to enter delivery wards etc and paced the corridors outside, has subsequently not been with woman in labour/delivery before and is understandably a little anxious about his role and how it will be BUT does support my decision and is mostly excited! The midwife asked him what he thought about the home birth and he said he was excited but a bit nervous. The midwife immediately punced on this and said she was glad someone was on their side. I was RAGING!!!! My hubbie just said, 'Claire's the gaffer! She knows what she wants' hahahaha

The latest is that my Hb is 8.8 so consultant, doctor and midwife supervisor are saying that home birth is against medical opinion - that old gem eh?

Anyway, I just feel very sad that after all this time things are still much the same in some areas. I AM more anxious this time round as 10 years seems like such a big gap and I can't remember much of it all..I am just trying to trust that my body will know when it comes to it. I am not as fit as I was and worry that that will make a difference.

However, it is a lonely place to be, fighting this alone and I am annoyed that I am having to call on deep inner resources at a time when I just want to chill out and relax! Grrr

Claire x

PS - doc, consultant, midwife supervisor have had letter regarding all this and copy also gone to Beverley Beech of AIMS, Sheila Kitzinger and the UK NMC (Nursing and Midwifery Council - regulatory body for midwives)....

On Iron levels and Anaemia:

I had low HB levels with all three of mine, dropped to 8.8 in the 1st two pregnancies and never rose until after delivery. This 3rd pregnancy (I am 41+5 weeks) dropped to 8.8 and is now 9.6, I got stick over it but I don't FEEL anaemic. There's lots of stuff on the internet about haemodilution in pregnancy.

I was told yesterday categorically by my consultant that I am at increased risk of PPH, yet this is simply not true. I asked her for medical evidence of her statement and she didn't give me any.

I raised my HB from 8.8 to 9.6 in just under 2 weeks by:

For most people, it is iron absorption that is the issue, not iron intake.

Note from Angela: for more discussions on the significance of low Hb levels, see discussions on the UK Midwifery archive. Recently several women on the Homebirth UK group have had excellent results using Spatone iron tonic, which is absorbed more easily than most other supplements, and there is some very impressive research to back it up on the Spatone website.

2 August

I'm approaching 42 weeks (tomorrow) and have just received LOADS of hassle at the hospital this morning.

This morning, I turn up for fetal assessment:- Placenta is grade II, said it had matured a little more since Monday
Loads of fluid round baby
Cord blood flow, absolutely fine
Baby heart base rate 130bpm, with good variables and good fetal movement
Occasional uterine tightenings
My blood pressure - 128/71
Baby presenting head down
Cervix - very soft, 50% effaced, 2cms dilated

In the face of this, I then get, 'what are you going to do if the baby doesn't come out?'

I looked at her with a perplexed look on my face and asked,'what do you mean by that?' Well, she said,'how long are you prepared to let this go on for?'
I said, 'if nothing is wrong, why not wait?'
She said, 'well nothing is wrong now, but this afternoon it might be different..'
She said "you have a post-term baby and it might now inhale meconium causing problems for babies lungs.. Are you prepared to risk the healh of your baby. I'm all for natural and normal and I know that for you, hospital is not ideal for delivery but you are putting your baby at risk now."

I said, 'How would you induce me?'
She said, we would break your waters..
I said, then what? She replied, 'well hopefully you would then go into labour and if not, we would put you on a drip'
So I then said, 'and my movement would be restricted and I would be stressed and at risk of failure to progress' I would not be able to use the pool, making it harder for me to manage etc etc and so the conversation went on..about the risks as I see it of inducing.

The consultant then wanted to see me..I asked why? No-one would answer..

I ended up in tears, feeling the relentless barrage of their fears and comments, DESPITE everything being fine, healthy and normal...I know I could have left but just felt so deflated.

Consultant arrives and says, 'oh nothing yet then?' I didnt answer as that was just obvious..
She then says, the risk of stillbirth after 42 weeks rises significantly..are you still refusing to be induced? I said, 'yes at the moment.' Well will you sign this disclaimer saying that you will not sue me if you have a stillbirth?

I started laughing...so THAT is what all this hassle is about? I signed the paper and she said, 'are you OK?' I said, 'no, I rue the sorry day I ever came here and I'm feeling severely harrassed.'
Suddenly the whole tone of her conversation changed.
Well everything is fine, she said, nothing we can act on at the moment, baby is great, I'm sure the apple will fall when its ripe etc etc
Suddenly nothing was wrong and they chilled....all for a bloody signature on a bit of paper cos they were worried I would sue them.
For Goodness sake. Also the harrassment word worked wonders..

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr I think this baby is going to be some personality! LOL Keeping everyone hanging on... Claire

5th August

42+2 today, just back from hospital fetal assessment. Baby face up again, had discussion about why babe might not be moving down, its at -3 apparently but has bobbed up a bit. They reckon maybe big head, may be making it slower to move down.

Also heard that they had a case of a woman who refused to be induced, went beyond 42 weeks, did go into labour at home, but was failure to progress and refused to go into hospital until very late on, and baby died. This explains their reactions about me going past 42 weeks and wanting me to sign disclaimer.

However, should I go into labour and have failure to progress, there is no way I would hang around before going to hospital! At the first sign of compromise I would be calling on medical help as the birth would become a medical issue in my opinion.

I am however a little concerned about the head not moving down thing.I'm not sure on reflection if they were implying that maybe baby is too big.

Anyway, saw registrar too and he graded my placenta at I not II, said cord blood flow was perfect and said plenty of fluid round baby. Heart beat 128-130 base rate, no decelerations, good fetal movement. So once again, all well - phew..

Gonna scrub kitchen floor and try a walk..


6 August

Just briefly for now, had a little girl today at 4.38pm, hospital transfer but still got water birth, more details asap..a bit of a story but all went well in the end. She's a 10lb baby!! It was hard work but she is very contented..off to bed now.

The Birth Story

Here's all the story, sorry if typos and no grammar cos typing one handed, babe on the breast..

Woke up 3am for pee and noticed the usual period type pain and had my usual disappointment that not in labour. Had had a couple of wonderful conversations with fellow 42/43 weekers and decided not to go to hosp for monitoring that morning so looked forward to a wee lie in. HA...

At 5 I noticed cramps still there but couldn't think anything of it cos been doing this for weeks now.

At7, noticed cramps had evolved to mild contractions and assumed they would be regular for an hour or so but stay well spaced and mild.

By 8.30, they were every 10 mins and still there so called midwife to say that may finally something 'may' be happening. Sure enough at 9 they arrived to assess and prepare things and the contractions immediately dropped to every 20 mins. I was however 5-6 cms!

The midwives sat there and then at 10, the contractions got strong and fast, I could still talk but was singing, so they still assumed slow progress. At 2pm, I wanted to get in pool, so they examined me and found me to be almost 10cm, but no head to be felt at all. It had not even started to come down. I had massive bulging of waters. The labour ward water pool midwife was unhappy and suggested that this could result in cord prolapse and wanted me to go in.

This was the stuff of my nightmares...I agreed and was by this time in very stroing labour. The ambulance arrived and the journey was the most uncomfy. The doctor was called and they wanted to break my waters...I questioned the logic of this as this had been what they had been afraid of. I was told that if the cord came down I would be taken straight in for emergency section. I said I didn't want to labour only to be taken down, in an emergency. I was all over the place, lying flat on my back, in a hospital and finding calmness almost impossible. I reasoned it was better to have a calm section than a panic!!! Couldn't belive what I was saying. I also questioned my ability to cope without the water pool and just wanted it all to end. The disappointment at finding myself in this situation was just too hard to deal with at that moment...

Anyway, they talked me round, promising that if the head dropped I could use the pool. SO they did a controlled ARM (Artificial Rupture of Membranes); I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. It was horrid beyond imagination. They watched and waited; no cord, and the head started to descend. I demanded to go in pool immediately, even though it had only just started filling - LOL (Laughs Out Loud..). It was purely psychological. They umm-ed and arr-ed about letting me in but I just clambered off the bed and got in, went straight to the middle and stayed there. It was kind of instinctive really. I KNEW it was what I needed to do and suddenly I didn't give a fig about any of them.

Anyway, everything went brilliantly after that and was very very quick! The head came through the cervix and 2 pushes later emerged, although I breathed it out really. However, because baby was OP (Occiput Posterior, or face-to-pubes - see 'Get Your Baby Lined Up) they wanted me to birth her with me facing up, sort of sitting on my bottom. This is against what I need to do. I wanted to be up on knees leaning forward. They said they hadn't seen that before and this made alarm bells ring as to their experience.

They flipped me round!!!!!!! And lo and behold the contraction stopped and I couldn't push, so I stood up and leaned forward and her shoulders came out. I grinned and within an instant suffered the most unimaginable trauma. I saw them suddenly run out of the room with her!!! I started screaming and tried to run after them!

I was told she was blue and needed resus, but they hadn't even waited a minute with the cord pulsing. They cut it immediately as they said she was Apgar 4. I felt violated. They came back saying she had 3 inflations and spat the mask off. Boy was I glad to have her back... The midwives said thank goodness we were in hospital, as there was no resus at home! Didn't understand this as our back bedroom resembles a hospital with all the equipment including resus stuff?

Note from Angela: for an alternative approach to resus, see Aida's birth story.

Anyway, I refused to let her away from me after that. I got up and weighed her myself - 10lb. They tried to measure her in my arms and she was a rough 55cms. I made the doctor assess her whilst still in my arms, which they tutted about LOL! I said I was starving and 2 1/2 hours later received one piece of cold toast with spread. I realised we had to go and got up, got me and baby dressed and demanded we leave.

'Its hospital policy to do discharge after 6 hours' I don't give a stuff I said, I will be more comfy and actually looked after better at home thanks' So we upped and left, much to their chagrin. The paediatrician even said they were obliged to keep baby in overnight as it had had an apgar of 4 at birth!!!! Bloody hell!

Anyway, we got back and the a community midwife met us and was lovely. She checked me over and said, oh no tear at that size! LOL All was absolutely fine in the end but not the birth I thought I was going to get, especially after having had 2 textbook 4 hour labour, straightforward home water births.

I have to wonder whether with an independent midwife, things might have been different but its done now, and although I will have a lot of processing to do as to what turned out in many ways to be a very disappointing weekend (missing sisters wedding as well), I am grateful that all is well and we are all doing great!



I am really really struggling with what happened to me, despite the many positive bits. Áine is adorable but I am acutely aware that she did not have the gentle birthing of the others and I did not have the labour I wanted. I can't work out what was justified action on the midwives part and what was their fears in the way...

Related pages:

Home Birth Stories

Overdue - what are the risks? What are your options?

Independent Midwives - what they do, and where to find one.

Big babies and homebirth

Transferring to hospital - why it may be advised, and experiences from women who've done it.

What if...your baby needs resuscitation at a homebirth?

Homebirth UK email group email group


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