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Dawn is a good friend of mine who managed to give birth to her first baby naturally, in a birth centre, despite having a very long labour AND being an 'older mother'. This is the story of her second baby, who arrived at home, in water, after a labour of just around four hours.

I gave birth on Thursday 14th April 2005 to my second child, a perfect baby boy, Matthew George, weighing in at 8lb 3oz.

He was born at home, as planned, and I guess it was all relatively straightforward. I'd had a "show" on Wednesday then woke up at about 1am Thursday morning feeling mild contractions. I got up at 2am feeling very excited and put on my TENS machine. It was all very manageable at that stage so I didn't bother waking my husband, Pete for another couple of hours. It was a bit strange because throughout the night I found I could control the frequency of the contractions - if I sat down and rested they were about every 10 minutes, but if I walked around and adopted more active positions they were about every 5 minutes or even more frequent. They got gradually stronger and more intense and harder to deal with, but I found the TENS machine really helped a great deal.

We spoke to the midwife at 7.30am and told her that I could still, to some extent, control the frequency of the contractions. She said this meant it might all stop and recommended that, as I'd been up all night, I should go back to bed and rest as much as possible. Sure enough, when I went back to bed it all calmed down and the contractions almost stopped. Then at 9am my Mum took my 2 year old, Tommy, off to the childminder.

I knew I'd felt uncomfortable about having a baby with Tommy in the house - I didn't want him to hear or see me in distress. However I was completely unprepared for the effect his departure would have. AS SOON AS I HEARD THE DOOR SHUT AND KNEW HE WAS OUT OF THE HOUSE everything suddenly kicked off. I was still in bed but instantly the contractions came on thick and fast and I no longer had any kind of control over them. Unfortunately, like my first labour with Tommy, at that point they started to be accompanied by me being sick.

Shortly after 10am (so only an hour after things had really started in earnest) I started getting an occasional pushy feeling which alarmed me - it all seemed too sudden. I guessed it must be transition. At that point I took off the TENS and got in the birthing pool and things just carried on with the same intensity. The midwife arrived at 10.30am. I have to confess at this stage it was all EXTREMELY painful! The next couple of hours are a complete blur - I don't remember it at all - can't believe I was in the pool that long to be honest! The midwife just encouraged me to breathe as slowly as possible. I know I just focussed on taking each contraction one at a time and kept telling myself that it would all be over in due course! ("This too shall pass" was my mantra!)

Then about 12.30 I got overwhelmed by the "irresistable urge to push" - which was TRULY irresistable and totally different from last time. So I pushed and screamed (a lot - no refined mooing this time - just old fashioned yelling!) and Matthew was born in the pool at 12.44, my waters having broken about 10 minutes earlier. I didn't have an injection for 3rd stage so the placenta was delivered about 30 minutes later.

After a brief respite, I'm afraid I then started vomiting again. I think it must be somehow associated with uterine contractions because initially I was being sick quite regularly, but then it sort of settled down so that I only threw up when I breast fed Matthew. It didn't bother him though! I'd be lying down with him latched on, throwing up into a dish I was holding over his head and he'd just carry on sucking away!! That carried on all night and I finally stopped being sick some time on Friday morning. I must say I really appreciated being at home while I was being sick - having the support of my Mum and my husband. In hospital I think they would have been sent home so I'd have been left on my own during that first night. And the midwife later confirmed that, had I needed it, she could have put me on an IV drip at home, but thankfully it never came to that.

So to summarise it was all pretty quick, painful but I managed to cope without drugs, and although I had a small 2nd degree tear, I didn't need stitches. A "straightforward home birth" according to Matthew's medical records, and I think I'd have to agree.


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