Home Birth Reference Site

Daniel's birth, by Debbie Johnson

MY first son, Keir, was born in hospital in 1997 – naturally, and with only gas and air for pain relief, but I had an awful time. My waters broke two days before he popped out and I found myself lying on a bed strapped to a monitor for the rest of that time. I am convinced that the reason my labour didn't progress was because I felt so restricted and pressurised in a hospital environment. Only the encouragement of a superb midwife, Joyce, and my partner, got me through naturally – with less faith and support, after such a slow and exhausting journey to birth, I am sure I would have ended up with a C-section.

 I have no complaints about the hospital – for some women they are the right place to be. For me, it was an ordeal.

 I became pregnant with my second child seven years later and couldn't face the thought of another hospital birth, so opted for home delivery. I am lucky enough to live in an area with a fantastic team of community midwives – including, coincidentally, Joyce, who had delivered Keir all those years ago.

 I met with no cynicism, no doubts, and only a brief voicing of concern because Keir was large (9lb 2oz) – but even then the consultant simply looked at me and said ‘well, yes, you are large too, it's natural for you to have large babies', and common sense reigned.

 I was nervous, as the 'pushing' stage had lasted so long first time round – I was terrified of that stage of labour, which might explain why I tried to pretend I wasn't in it later on, with hilarious results!

 My waters broke two days after my due date. I was concerned I would have a slow labour again, and started taking a homeopathic remedy called caulophyllum, which is said to strengthen contractions. I went for a very long walk. I waggled about on a giant bouncy ball. My best friend came over, was horrified to hear I was in labour, and we drank coffee, chatted, and I ignored the pain. I'd done yoga throughout the pregnancy and found it tremendously helpful for dealing with contractions.

 Joyce came round in the afternoon, and joined in with the coffee drinking and chatting, all the time keeping a sneaky midwifey eye on how often those contractions were coming and how severe they were!  I had no idea how far dilated I was, and was coping stupidly well with the contractions, so wasn't too worried.

 In some ways I didn't even want to be examined in case I was only two centimetres and that would have made me cry! So I carried on strolling and squatting and chatting and coping until the pain got bad enough for extreme measures – I asked for my husband!

 After about two and three quarter hours of this rather laid-back situation, I uttered those fateful words: "I think I need a poo..." In response to which Joyce realised that perhaps the second midwife should be called now. She was, and arrived as I was still insisting that no, honest, I didn't think the baby was coming, I actually thought I just needed a poo! At one stage I was told: "Look, I'm a good midwife, but even I can't deliver a baby unless you take your trousers off!"

 I was so scared of the pushing stage, slight panic set in, but the lovely ladies kept me calm, got me down on all fours leaning on the sofa, and away we went. The marathon pushing stage I had feared last all of 10 minutes, with much shouting and hilarity from my rear end when the head emerged and then retracted again at one stage. Everyone's a critic!

 I needn't have worried – it all went so smoothly, my husband was even able to help with the delivery once the head was safely out. Another big baby boy – 9lb 3.5oz – but an absolute breeze of a birth that lasted around three and a half hours in total.

 Daniel fed straight away, I had a bath, a pal brought us all butties round, my older son came home, and by that evening, we were all tucked up in bed – no drips, no interventions, no doctors. It was blissful, and without a shadow of doubt the happiest night of my life. We bonded immediately and he was breastfed for 16 months, sleeping through from nine weeks old. I attribute much of this to his relaxed birth.

 After a long and strenuous first birth, I couldn't believe the difference second time round. Perhaps it was the yoga; the homeopathy; the fact that it was my second. Perhaps it was all of these – but I am convinced the main factor was that I was at home, in my natural environment, with nobody poking me and prodding me and hooking me up to machines. I am now expecting my third baby and, if all proceeds well and normally medically speaking, the living room will be seeing some more action in a few months time!

Debbie Johnson

Related pages:

Home Birth Stories

Big babies and homebirth


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