I think I have always been homebirth-minded, but I didn't want to inconvenience anyone and therefore the births of our first two children took place at the local midwife-led maternity unit, which was very home-from-home and just 5 minutes from us. Neither of these were bad experiences, but when I was expecting our third, our local unit was being remodelled into a birthing centre, which wasn't going to be ready for my due date, so I simply stated I would have a homebirth. This had become quite common because of the local situation, so the midwives were all geared up for it, but there were lots of people booked for homebirths around my due date, which made things a bit uncertain as they said they would only cover one at a time.
I was having daily regular contractions from before my due date, which was ambiguous as I'd had two early scans due to bleeding and they'd given dates 10 days apart, but we'd settled on the earlier one. I had an induction (assessment) appointment on the Friday morning (about 9 days overdue), but having woken with a bit of a show, by the time I'd been "checked out" I'd missed the appointment. At 10:45pm one of the midwives phoned to see how I was getting on. I was still having contractions regularly, less than 10 mins apart, but the weather had turned really bad, and being in Cumbria, both midwives felt it was actually unsafe for them to get to me, and suggested I get myself to Carlisle. As the contractions had stopped every other night, I decided I would hang on a while longer. At 1:30am, wandering round trying not to wake dh, I began to think I'd made a bad decision as the contractions were more intense than other nights, but as Carlisle flooded that night, I was glad I hadn't gone, as the hospital was stranded in the flood and had a power cut!
They had made me another induction appointment for Tuesday, but my wonderful midwife, Sarah, who I'd never met til then, turned up at my house at 2pm on Monday, and said she'd been told to get this baby out even if she had to sit on me! She did a sweep, which appeared to do nothing until I stood up to show her out, at which point the contractions really kicked in!
My parents had been hanging around for days, but for the first time in weeks, dh was uncontactable at work and my Dad had disappeared somewhere without the phone! The older children were already with an auntie as we'd been thinking for days that tonight it would carry on! Mum asked if I wanted the midwife; I said it hurt but I knew I wasn't far on yet. She said she thought she wanted the midwife! So we called the unit and a couple of midwives came round and observed me while they had a cup of tea, but said that as the sweep had started things, they only gave it a 50/50 chance of continuing. They left at 5pm, dh got home, Dad turned up so he and Mum vacated to the in-laws.
It was getting quite painful, so I went and got in a hot bath, which we just kept heating up. About 6:30, dh rang Sarah just to keep her informed. She lived about 40 minutes away and she decided she ought to come back, but would just feed her family first, so she came back about 7:30 and came and sat on the loo and we chatted while she sorted paperwork etc. I had been losing it a bit, but she helped me sort my breathing and it all became much more manageable. About 9:10 (still in the bath, now wrinkly!) I remember asking her if it was going to stop, she said she didn't think so. Shortly after that I suddenly felt I couldn't stay in the bath any longer, waited for the next contraction to be over and then got out. Going vertical brought another on immediately and I just grabbed a towel and lay down on our bed as quickly as I could!
It became clear I wasn't going to get downstairs to the sitting room where we had planned to have the birth, and all the stuff was! Between contractions I hopped off the bed and dh and Sarah spread out a plastic sheet over the bed and I think a few incontinence pad things over the top of that, and I lay back down again. Sarah asked in the next contraction if I was pushing; I really didn't know!! Then I decided I couldn't stay on my side and so I sat up and was sat on one of the pads with my legs apart, thinking how ridiculous it was because how could a baby be born if I was sitting on the exit? But I could feel her moving down without any contractions at all. The next contraction I flung myself forward on a beanbag and pushed really hard, screamed a lot and the next contraction she was out (9:31pm). Sarah passed her up through my legs and I just sat back where I'd been before and we contemplated each other while I got my breath back and found my glasses (I think I might have thrown them across the room in transition, along with the entonox mouthpiece, which I just couldn't get the hang of!).
Somewhere in the middle of the screaming/being born episode the second midwife had come in, so I said hi and then Sarah got the scissors to cut the cord, which I did. We wrapped Miriam in a towel and I turned round and delivered the placenta while dh cuddled Miriam. Then I gave her a feed and MIL called in to "see how things were going", so she ran me another bath and cuddled Miriam while I had a quick wash, then I got dressed and we all went downstairs to weigh her. A few other people called in and we all sat around being sociable and examining the new arrival. The midwives had remade our bed with some protection (not required but I really appreciated their attentiveness), everybody left by about 10:30 and we all went to bed! Dh picked up the older children after his early morning job the next morning and they went running up to visit their new sister asleep in our bed.
I found being in my own home so different to the hospital environment; it felt more as if the midwife was there to help us do what we had to do, rather than me being required to do as I was told. Sarah said it was a lovely evening and she is now my named midwife for our fourth baby. I was very grateful to my previous midwives, but never really made friends with them in that way. My blood loss was minimal - I don't remember any mess at all, and in fact the dr who checked Miriam over said he wouldn't want the mess in his house, and when I said there hadn't been any, conceded that "they do say homebirth is less messy, I wonder why?".
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