I planned a homebirth for the birth of my second child, Annabelle. When I reached 40 weeks I became increasingly nervous as I was using the NHS Midwifery team and had been told that I could not have a homebirth after 42 weeks. At 41 weeks and 10 days I was encouraged to go into hospital to be induced; I decided that I wanted to put off being induced as long as possible. I was asked to sign a form that released the hospital from any responsibility should my baby suffer due to being post-dates. (this was practice at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in November 2004; they have now changed the recommended induction date to 42 weeks exactly as studies found it was safe...on receiving this information I felt quite smug!)
I was encouraged to attend hospital every day to check that everything was ok. At 42 weeks and 1 day I reluctantly agreed to an induction. Two attempts later... the contractions started, at which point the staff insisted on sending my husband home. They did not call him back in time and I had to deliver my baby without any support; my midwife was no where to be found so another midwife quickly helped deliver Annabelle.
After that experience I was determined to have a homebirth for my next baby. During my third pregnancy this website was recommended to me. After reading the information available on the site I was very determined to stand firm and request a homebirth, even if I was 42 weeks plus!
At 40 weeks and 10 days I personalised the letter from this website and took it in to the Supervisor of Midwifes. At 42 weeks and 2 days I spoke to her and she explained that she could not force me to do anything. If I was expecting breech twins (her exact words) she would strongly advise me not to have a homebirth, but she could not refuse to offer me care.
If only I knew this when I had Annabelle!!! She had looked at my notes and was more than happy for me to have a home delivery. I cannot express the relief I felt; it was as if the thought of being forced to return to the maternity ward was making me keep Imogen inside of me.
We left the hospital and went to visit my sister for lunch, at which point the contractions started. As it was Midday we left our two daughters with their Aunty and were home by 1pm. Jay (my husband) started to fill the pool that had been on stand by for several weeks (which the kids loved, I caught my husband playing boats with them too!!!) By 4pm the Supervisor of Midwives who I had seen that morning arrived with a Midwife and her Student.
Three people to look after us…..what a difference to when Annabelle was born, it was a struggle to have one!!!! Annabelle’s birth was unpleasant due to the fact that I was alone and she had some problems after birth. However, it was not difficult. Painful of course but, manageable! She popped out, as they say! I thought that if the 2nd popped out the 3rd would pop out too; I was wrong!
The midwives examined me and judging by my previous births I would guess that I was 7cm dilated, so you can imagine how disappointed I was when she said I was 3cm dilated. I had another 2 cms to go before I could even get in the pool. Suddenly terror struck as it dawned on me that these lovely midwifes might leave me. To my relief they agreed to stay another hour and see how things progressed.
We sat together and talked between contractions while Jay made tea and his homemade cake for the Midwives. Then came the most embarrassing part; I had the most horrendous pressure which they thought was Imogen’s head, but it was a very upset tummy! I found myself on the loo with my gas and air beside me and the midwife outside timing my contractions.....great!!!
Another hour passed and when the midwife examined me I was thrilled to discover that I was 5cm dilated and could enter the pool....Hooray! It was incredible, what a relief! I always find that the contractions are bearable but the dragging pain in my legs is intolerable. This was my first water birth and the water really helped.
The midwife lit my candles and suggested that Jay should put some music on. We had planned candles and music but, I completely forgot about it when the pain took over.
A few hours later and my body was telling me I was ready to push. My midwife encouraged me to try to urinate as my bladder was full and could be preventing the baby's head from passing.
I couldn't go, so she asked me to get out of the pool to have a catheter administered. She then suggested that I try and mobilize so my husband and I had a very slow dance in the kitchen. I then laid back on the settee in the dining room. The pressure was so strong that all I wanted to do was lie flat on my back with the gas and air, at which point to my horror I ran out of gas and air.
I have HUGE admiration for all those Mums who deliver without gas and air. I tried breathing techniques and they were very helpful but, the pain was so much more intense than with my first two births. Fortunately my body took over and helped me escape the pain; I blacked out.
As I was coming to all I could hear was someone saying, "Emma....Emma...if you want to have your baby in the pool you must get in now.". I had longed for a water birth since I was pregnant with my first baby but, at that time the only place I wanted to be was flat on my back on the settee.
(If only we were more prepared!!! As I had not planned to be out of the pool we had no towels or sheets down so poor hubby had some very unpleasant cleaning up to do after!!!)
At 8pm a midwife arrived to cover the next shift. My husband was getting increasingly concerned and secretly asked them if they felt everything was okay as I had wanted to push for quite some time and it was not progressing. Shortly after my belly suddenly flipped and with a few pushes...there she was, all 8.15bs of her. (I am used to a 7lb baby so this was quite a shock). The placenta followed shortly after. Six of us were in my dining room which must sound terribly unpleasant but, strangely enough it wasn't. It was wonderful! What contrast to the clinical intervention that I had received during my previous birth.
By 9pm I was tucked up in bed with Imogen, on the phone to my Sister.
I then had some heavy bleeding which concerned our Midwife and she urged us to go into hospital. I was mortified; I had my homebirth and now I had to take my perfect little baby out into the cold, polluted night. She agreed to monitor my blood loss and an hour or so later she was happy for me to stay at home providing I phone the hospital immediately if I had any concerns. She also advised me to lay on my back until the morning when the new midwife arrived.
By 6am I felt desperate to move and as I stood up I felt like my insides had dropped out. Two large clots had made their way out, which explained the heavy blood loss. After that the blood loss started to slow down and everything was fine.
There is only one very trivial thing I would change if I had the chance and that would be, to have a bed or settee next to the pool prepared so that if I wanted to deliver outside of the pool we would not create quite so much mess! (Oh and if we are going for perfection I wouldn’t have missed the upset tummy either!!!!)
Imogen is now 5 months and having a home birth has made a huge difference to us both. I have been so much happier than I was after Annabelle’s birth and Imogen is so happy and contented.
Emma has a website selling some clever, and unusual, baby products - www.mummasandbubbas.co.uk
Home Birth Stories
The Third Stage of Labour - what are your options, and the pros and cons of each?
Pain relief - what are your options at home?
Waterbirth at home
Blood on the carpet - How much mess are you likely to encounter at a homebirth, and what can you do about that carpet?!
Overdue - but still want a homebirth? When is 'postdates' risky?
Homebirth UK email group
Home Birth Reference Page