Beatrice Rose was born at home after a beautiful, undisturbed labour. I was supported by my husband who was fantastic throughout and who seems to have some kind of 'intuition' when it comes to the needs of the labouring woman. He knew I was ready to push before I did!
Due to a deep vein thrombosis when pregnant with my first child, I was advised to take a prophylactic does of Clexane, (anticoagulant) throughout subsequent pregnancies. I did a lot of research to make sure this wouldn't cause any complications with the pregnancy or birth and from what I read I couldn't see any justification for having my baby in hospital. I knew, however, that the midwives would panic as soon as I mentioned home birth in case of post partum haemorrhage (PPH), so before going to see them I wrote a letter to the HOMs (Head of Midwives) telling her that I would be birthing my baby at home and that I knew there was no additional risk of PPH from the tiny does of Clexane I would be injecting daily.
The HOM rang me to say she was supportive of my plans, not that it mattered. I knew that I wouldn't be going to hospital.
Most antenatal appointments went very well. My blood pressure started to rise from about 30 weeks onwards. I think this is because I put so much weight on during the pregnancy, a total of 5 stones since conceiving my first child. There were no signs of pre-eclampsia at all so I refused any intervention at this stage.
At 38 weeks a midwife said, we've got another couple ladies due to have their babies at the same time as you so if they phone for a midwife before you, you'll have to come into hospital.
I had a feeling this might happen as I'd read a lot about it on the AIMS website. I wrote to everyone I could think of - the Chief Executive of the NHS Trust, our local MP, the HOM and several other cabinet members telling them that I WOULD be birthing my baby at home, and that the hospital WOULD be sending me a midwife when I called in labour. It is my right, by law, (and humanity, surely), that a labouring woman is attended to at this most vulnerable time in her life, if she wants someone with her.
I was happy to have an unassisted birth, however, Mark was not comfortable with this at all.
At 40 weeks, the midwives started to chatter about induction. I made it clear that this labour would not be induced, however, I did feel very pressured and uncomfortable with the confrontation so I agreed to a membrane sweep at 40+9.
From 40 weeks onwards I'd been having a lot of niggling pains which felt like very mild contractions, however, they weren't regular and faded very quickly.
The week before I gave birth the contractions started to feel a lot more uncomfortable and would wake me during the night. I was sure that my baby was on her way on more than one occasion and sat up, excitedly going downstairs to fill a hot water bottle and watch re-runs of Casualty at 2 in the morning just to be disappointed when the contractions ceased!!!
The midwife called at 3pm on December 29th, (40+9) to do the membrane sweep, (please note, I would decline this with all future pregnancies and allow birth to progress as and when the baby is ready). We went upstairs and I lay on the bed, which felt very intimate and a bit uncomfortable. It seemed like such a clinical, unnatural thing to be doing in my own bedroom. I suppose it's not every day you have a stranger's fingers up your vagina whilst lying on your bed, is it???? !!!! Anyway.... It turned out that the work my uterus had been doing the week previous had paid off as I was already 3cms dilated.
Almost immediately after the sweep I felt my uterus starting to contract, gently and gradually. There was no rhythm, but there were definitely contractions.
We went to the supermarket to buy some goodies and to keep me upright and mobile in the hope that labour would build up pace.
When we got home, I knew that I was in labour but it had progressed so gently, so naturally, that it just felt right. I had no anxiety at all. I was loving every minute of it and felt elated to be at home, having my baby; it was the most exciting thing that had ever happened. Not once did I think my body might not be able to push the baby out. I knew how capable my body was she'd already proved it when I was strapped to a hospital bed, this time, the world was her oyster!!!!
As labour progressed and the contractions grew in intensity all I wanted to do was stand up and walk around the house. I couldn't bear sitting down; it made everything so much more intense. After each contraction I had to empty my bladder so I was up and down stairs like a yo-yo.
By about 7pm I was clearly in active labour. The mood in the living room had changed. I no longer wanted to watch TV or talk through contractions with Mark, I wanted to concentrate. I was absorbed in the overwhelming feeling of my labour; I was still totally loving it.
Contractions became even more intense and I kind of danced about, stamping my feet, leaning forward on the kitchen benches etc.
By 12 pm, I was hanging out of the bedroom window loving the feeling of the cold December air on my face; I couldn't get enough of it. Things were really happening and I knew I was nearing transition. I started to shake when I walked down the stairs and I also started to think about pain relief, which prior to this I hadn't wanted at all. I wanted to really feel birth - to feel my body opening and to feel my baby moving down ready to greet us. Having a baby is such a huge shift both physically and mentally and I didn't want to miss out on a single second of it.
I had done a lot of preparation before the birth - positive affirmations about my body and some excellent visualisation and breathing exercises which I used throughout the labour. I was in control from beginning to end and I knew that my body wouldn't give me anything I couldn't deal with. I was focussed and very happy.
Mark had called the hospital at 11.15 and the midwife arrived at 12.15. I was so disappointed to see her - I wanted to do this on my own! I'd never even met her before. I didn't want any interference so I went upstairs for a while.
I lost a little bit of confidence when the midwife arrived and I think it's because of this that I agreed to a VE. I hadn't wanted any internal examinations, however, I suddenly thought, 'what if I'm only 3cms - I'll need some pain relief'. As I'd initially anticipated I was, according to the midwife's fingers, 9cms dilated.
I went upstairs one more time, huffing and puffing through contractions and then suddenly I felt the need to push. How exciting.
Second stage was totally different to my first labour. It was really hard work and very painful. I didn't enjoy it at all! Not like first stage. I felt overwhelmed by the work my body was doing and was desperate for it to be over.
Mark was sitting on the sofa as I leaned forward into his lap, turning my head, shouting, panting, getting on with the business of having my baby.
The second midwife turned up - I just ignored her and got on with what I was doing. I hadn't even realised she'd walked in until Beatrice was out.
The midwife was great. She kept well back and didn't speak to me. She could see that I was coping well and she trusted my body to do what it needed to do - which it did!
I can't remember how long it took, but I can remember the sensation of Bea's head being born. After my first child's head had come out I remember feeling a great deal of relief, but it wasn't like that with Bea, it suddenly became more painful! The shoulders seemed to really drag inside me; it turns out that I had a second degree tear and I'm sure that must have happened with her shoulders. OUCH!!!
Anyway - out she slithered. I'd wanted Mark to catch her, but he was sat in front of me giving me excellent support so the midwife caught her and passed her straight to me.
I took off all of my clothes and sat skin to skin on the sofa with my new baby, who didn't make a sound. She was weighed a while later, (7lbs 9) and she gave out a little cry but when I called her name, she quietened at the sound of my voice. The joy of that moment is bringing tears to my eyes right now.
She had a head of thick black hair and was really swollen but I fell in love with her straight away.
She was so calm and took to breast feeding really well. She knew what to do alright; none of this business of babies having to learn how to breast feed! What rubbish! We've survived as a species for a heck of a long time, just a shame that it's only now after so many women have been scolded into bottle feeding that Suzanne Coulson has written about biological nurturing - baby led attachment.
I had an excellent support network to help with the breast feeding after it went so heart breakingly wrong the first time round and after six weeks of perseverance, I managed to position her properly and we've never looked back.
My children are the love of my life and I can't wait to have more at home!!!!!
Homebirth on anticoagulants: more stories and links on 'Can I have a homebirth if...?'
Fathers and home birth - fathers' feelings about the birth, and how they can help.
Fast Labours - is quicker always better? What do you do if your baby is arriving faster than your midwife?
Overdue - but still want a homebirth? When is 'postdates' risky?
Post-Partum Haemorrhage - what can be done if you bleed heavily at home?
Home Birth Stories
Home Birth Reference Page