My first birth, although straightforward, was not how I had planned. I had always wanted a waterbirth and was promised that the new hospital in Swindon would be able to cater for it by the time I gave birth in January 2003. On a tour of the hospital in late pregnancy, it was clear that this would not be the case, so I attempted to transfer to a birth centre hospital with a pool. All was fine until I developed high blood pressure and wasnít allowed in. I refused induction for the day after my due date and agreed to be monitored daily until I gave birth, which was the next day. In the new hospital, I got my ankles wet in the bath but ended up having my waters broken and giving birth on my back. I was traumatised by the experience and was still screaming half an hour after the event! Still, I had a gorgeous baby girl, Holly, born 11/1/03.
For my second baby, I decided to return to the birth centre. I avoided Swindon and had all my appointments at the birth centre. I was much more relaxed and my blood pressure stayed normal. However, I went 2 weeks overdue (luckily I had lied about my dates by about 3-4 days) and narrowly missed induction. Lara´s birth was fabulous and I was still sitting in the pool having just discovered the sex when I said "fantastic it's a girl - that means we can try for a boy next time!" Lara was born 12/9/04. She was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis in January 2005.
Following Lara´s diagnosis, the decision to have a third baby was difficult. We ended up going for it (although it took longer than with the other 2) and had CVS at 11 weeks. This confirmed that the baby was fine, so much excitement has surrounded this pregnancy.
I knew it would be my last pregnancy, and I wanted the labour to be perfect. I discovered the homebirth website and plumped for a heated pool premium market. It was all booked months in advance and at nearly 38 weeks, the pool was delivered. To my complete surprise, it was 6ft! I was devastated and didn´t think I would feel comfortable in it. I hated the look of it (wood effect polystyrene panels), I hated the size and the amount of space and water it would take up. Because the supplier had changed the type of pool from the one I originally ordered and I had misunderstood how large it would be, they agreed to take it back. I can´t fault the service of Hello Baby, Lucy was brilliant and very kind.
I made the decision to go to the low-end market and buy an inflatable pool. I loved the look of the Made In Water one and ordered it. However, they had no hose in stock (special hose which hasn´t been coated with chemicals) so it wouldn´t be there the next day. So at 38 weeks, I had no pool and I had an appointment with the midwife who confirmed that the head was completely engaged! Luckily the hose arrived quickly and I was only left without a pool for a couple of days.
The day it arrived, I blew it up myself (with the electric pump provided). It took 5 minutes and I knew I would feel comfortable in it. My girls loved it and played happily in it all afternoon (without water). It was so simple and portable and we decided that it would go in our bedroom for the birth and be used in the garden afterwards.
The next few days were spent sourcing a hosepipe adaptor that would go over our mixer taps (we never did get one, my husband made something that would screw onto the shower in our en-suite).
Finally I was ready (even though the baby clothes weren´t down from the roof yet!).
When I was 40 weeks exactly (not quite as far as the midwives were concerned though, since the hospital tried to induce me on my due date with Holly, I have always moved my dates by 3 days to avoid this!), I went to pregnancy yoga in the evening in the hope that it would relax me I had had backache and was generally irritable all day.
Later that evening, I started feeling more uncomfortable and wondered whether this was it, although couldn´t quite believe it as with Lara, I got cramps for days before her birth. Still, I blew up the pool again and put it ready in our bedroom.
I went to bed and woke up with regular contractions at 1.30 and timed them until 2.30 when they were every 5 minutes. Then I got up, put the TENS machine on, and phoned the midwife who came over within 40 minutes. She examined me and I was 4cm dilated at 3.30am. We thought the baby could be here by breakfast! I put some bread on to cook in the breadmaker, put some make-up on and John started filling the pool.
However, by 5am, things had slowed down significantly. At some point near breakfast, I was examined again and was still only 4-5cm dilated so not really ready to get in the pool. I did get in later, but it slowed things down further, and I was strongly encouraged to get out again because the midwives didnít want to be here for too long! So I paced around the garden which was great as it was cold and the midwives didnít want to come near me out there. Contractions were still irregular, some coming every 5 minutes, some every 10. In spite of lying on my left side for the past 8 months and never slouching back on the sofa, the baby was pronounced OP (Occiput Posterior, ie facing mum's tummy - see 'Get Your Baby Lined Up'). From that point on, everything that happened was linked back somehow to the fact that it was OP. I got quite annoyed with the constant reference to this.
I took a few homeopathic remedies from the Helios kit I got for Christmas from my mum and kept the clary sage going in the burner. I donít know if itís coincidence or not, but every time I re-filled the burner with clary sage, getting a strong whiff of the stuff, I got a really good contraction! It kept me busy, anyway.
By lunchtime, I had a few unbearable contractions and got back in the pool Ė I was 7-8cm dilated (yet another internal, although I consented because I knew that things werenít going quite to plan). After a brief rest, things carried on hotting up, although by that time, the midwives were seriously unhappy about slow progress and OP presentation and wanted to transfer me to hospital for monitoring, even though the heartbeat had been perfect throughout. I refused saying that I was not leaving the pool just to give birth in an ambulance. I was asked to get out into the shower which I also refused to do. When they talked about taking me to hospital to break the waters, I told them they had already broken in the pool. They asked me to stand up so they could check. I refused this too!
A few minutes later, my third baby girl was born into the water. The midwives were taken by surprise and were still trying to get their gloves and aprons on when I pushed the head out. I was shocked to have to push again to get the shoulders out (Lara was only 6lb3oz so once the head was out, her whole body was out), but this done, the baby was on the floor of the pool. I asked if someone could catch the baby but they didnít, so I picked her up myself.
Holly, Lara and my mum all came to see her whilst the cord was still attached.
I stood up and pushed the placenta out into the pool. After this, the cord was cut and I was able to sit on my own bed. Fantastic. The baby was taken away for measurements (Iím not sure why measuring the head circumference should take priority over her first feed) and then she was handed to me for skin-to-skin and feeding. She was slightly cold, so the midwives had to stay for a little longer until she warmed up. Luckily they were out of my way though.
All in all, having a baby at home was a wonderful experience. A lot more work for John who was up and down stairs all day with kettles of water for the pool, but at least it kept him busy. He cleaned out the pool afterwards as well but there wasnít really much mess. He told me later that the second midwife (who was phoning her supervisor to try and get me to consent to transfer) had told him that she had never attended a waterbirth before. His reply to that was Ďwell Iím one up on you then, this is my second!í
My notes show the following timings:
Commencement of labour: 02/02/2007 01:30
Rupture forewater membranes: 02/02/2007 13:10
Full dilation: 02/02/2007 13:12
Date/time delivery: 02/02/2007 13:15
Completion third stage: 02/02/2007 13:20
Tamsin weighed 7lb6oz at birth.
Home Birth Stories
'Get Your Baby Lined Up' - Posterior and other awkward presentations.
Waterbirth at home
Transferring to hospital - why it might be recommended, and birth stories.
Siblings at a home birth - what to do with your older children? Should they be present?
Home Birth Reference Page