I am 30 years old and this is the story of the birth of my first child, born 25 Jan 2007.
When we started thinking about having a child I was strictly in the give me all the drugs you've got, preferably give me a caesarean camp. Now I know this was just because of all the scary stories I'd heard over the years without even taking much notice of them they had eaten into my subconscious.
Realising I actually knew nothing whatsoever about pregnancy and childbirth, I did some research and found the NCT. Through them I began to realise it was perfectly possible to have a natural birth without complications, and set about finding the best way possible to do this.
During my pregnancy I began to realise that, in order to have the best chance possible of a natural birth with no interventions, I should plan to have a homebirth. I came across various stumbling blocks to this which resulted in changing my GP and hiring an Independent Midwife. The latter I didn't do until 34 weeks, so a bit of a last-minute decision, but it became increasingly clear that this was the best chance I had of giving birth at home.
When I met Tracy with my husband and Mum, she brought another midwife, Jenny, who was shadowing her as she was about to start in Independent practice. I was more than happy for them both to be involved and they reassured me they could provide me with the care I felt I needed. Once I'd made the decision to go with them everything seemed like a breeze.
Throughout my pregnancy I also consulted a Cranial Osteopath. I have always had problems with my back so was concerned they would get worse. Not only did this keep my back under control, but alleviated my SPD (symphysis pubis dysfunction - painful joints caused by loose pelvic ligaments) and also turned my baby from being posterior to anterior in the weeks before my labour (hooray!).
I also listened to Natal Hypnotherapy CDs to help prepare myself. These CDs not only prepare you to cope with the pain but can also help towards a quick labour.
After employing an IM at 34 weeks due to unsupportive CMWs (Community Midwives), I was looking forward to a home water birth. I was going to a Cranial Osteopath regularly towards the end of my pregnancy to relieve symptoms of SPD and to help position the baby. She managed to predict the exact day I would give birth (8 days early!).
0400 Woke up with back ache, which felt strange as I usually only got back ache towards the end of the day! Then also realised my waters had broken. Crept downstairs leaving Graeme asleep in case we were in for the long haul, thought it would be better that he got some rest!
0500 Having what felt to me like Braxton Hicks contractions and was thoroughly bored with the TV by now. Got my birthing ball out and watched Mission Impossible while bouncing gently.
0630 Hunger kicked in, so off to find some cereal.
0730 Graeme still in bed, decided to leave him where he was, the more rest the better! Laptop out and browsing the internet, still bouncing away! Noticed my Dad was online so sent him an instant message to make sure my Mum didn't disappear for the day.
0830 Graeme appears and suddenly the Braxton Hicks felt stronger. I think I also called my Mum at this point and asked her to come round when she could as I thought today might be the day.
0900 Called Tracy to say I think I'm in labour. Contractions coming 3 in every 10 mins. Graeme started getting pool ready and I settled myself in the guest room with the pool, birthing ball, tens machine and oil burner.
0930 Called Tracy again to let her know contractions getting stronger. Graeme helped me put the TENS machine on. I'm guessing that my Mum arrived about now, but I'm not sure. For the rest of the day she looked after everyone, ensuring we were all fed and watered!
1030 Jenny arrived and thought I was coping brilliantly! She suggested a hot tummy compress which was lovely. I now had some lavender in my oil burner.
1045 Tracy arrived and started to get her things set up.
1110 Tracy asked if I minded her having a feel of my tummy to see how things were going. All seemed well and baby was still in a good position. I remember thinking the TENS machine was doing a brilliant job and that the boost’ button was a particularly great invention. I was sitting on my birthing ball most of the time and lent forward onto Graeme's chest during each contraction.
1120 I was now finding it hard to get comfortable between contractions so got in the pool. What a relief! I could now feel supported by the water and easily get into any position I wanted to quickly. For most contractions I was leaning over the side of the pool with Graeme massaging my lower back. The lavender oil was still burning and the curtains had been closed. I spent a lot of time doing the breathing I had learnt while listening to Natal Hypnotherapy CDs. We had the music from them playing in the background which helped me concentrate on breathing the pain away during each contraction.
1220 Each contraction was lasting a minute and I was getting 4/5 contractions in 10 minutes. I can remember very little of this part of my labour. Just that I couldn't speak, was in my own little world and every now and then someone was offering me a drink through a straw!
1245 My contractions were recorded as 4/5 contractions in 10 minutes and being strong & long! The Midwives suggested increasing the pool temperature to 37 degrees ready for the arrival of the baby.
1250 Now finding it hard to cope. I was grunting and shouting with each contraction.
1320 By this point I was feeling like pushing with some contractions. I do remember this was the time when I started feeling I couldn't cope and I wanted it all to stop! The pool now seemed very hot to me far too hot, but I knew it needed to be this warm for the baby.
1335 The midwives were surprised there were no signs of the baby yet, as from my appearance they had expected more to have been happening by now. They suggested I got out of the pool to see if a change in position would help. I lay on my right hand side on the bed and was pushing with the contractions. I wouldn't let go of Graeme's hand.
1345 Still no sign of baby so they asked if I minded an examination to see what was happening (so polite!). There was an anterior lip of cervix felt so they asked me to stop pushing to give this time to move. I do remember thinking at this point they must be mad, and pushing with the next contraction anyway! So they suggested I use gas and air to help me stop pushing. It is at this point I have my clearest memory of the entire labour. I remembered being told in my NCT class that the reason gas and air was now administered with a mouth piece rather than mask was so when the user took that much they were nearly passing out, the mouth piece would fall out and they wouldn't take too much. So .. I decided I would just have to nearly pass out with each contraction so I wouldn't be ABLE to push.
1410 Still trying really hard not to push so the midwives did another exam (after asking so politely again!) now they told me I was fully dilated and could push all I liked.
1450 Changed position onto all fours which helped a lot (still on the bed). The midwives asked if I would like to get back in the pool as they knew I was very keen to have a water birth if possible. I couldn't imagine being able to move despite the fact the pool was only 3 feet away! My Mum came into the room so she could witness the birth of her granddaughter.
1507 Rose Ellen was born, 7lb 9.5 with lots of dark hair!
AGPAR score at 1 min = 9, at 5 min = 10
1510 I was helped back in the pool with Rose, who had made a quick whimper and was now calm and collected. We sat in the pool keeping warm and I tried to breastfeed her but she wasn't interested. I had no clue what the time was and had to ask it could have been the next day for all I knew!
1540 Cord stopped pulsating, Graeme cut the cord and Rose was passed to him for some skin-to-skin contact while I delivered the placenta. At my request, Jenny showed me the placenta and all the different bits and what they did. It was amazing to see what had done such a good job at looking after Rose all these months.
1612 Shower and clean nightie on!
1635 Wrapped up in my fluffy dressing gown, in bed with the curtains drawn and Rose in my arms. Tried to feed again but she still wasn't interested! My Dad and Aunte had arrived so they joined myself, Graeme, my Mum and of course Rose in our bedroom for a glass of champagne.
1700 I was still loosing blood so the midwives gave me and examination to check all OK which it was. No tears or grazing. I took the homoeopathic remedy ipecac 200 to help with bleeding. Rose was with my Mum now and I think Graeme was emptying the pool!
1720 Midwives had another go at helping Rose to breastfeed but she still wasn't interested. They confirmed I was doing all the right things and suggested I just keep trying every now and then when Rose was awake. The rest of my family left to give us some peace and quiet.
1736 Midwives left with their phone numbers written clearly next to the bed in case I needed anything before they returned the next morning.
Then there were 3! Alone for the first time as a family. It was so calm and special. My Mum came back later that night to cook a hot nourishing meal for us both, and that night I slept like a log. I remember waking occasionally to see Graeme peering over the Moses basket watching Rose, so I felt confident to just go straight back to sleep knowing she was being watched by the next-best person to me!
The following day the midwives arrived early to check all was OK, my GP came to do the 24 hour check and Rose began feeding properly.
I stayed in bed for a good 3 days and only really ventured downstairs properly after about 5 days! I highly recommend homebirth to anyone who'll listen. The whole experience was magical.
Home Birth Stories
Pain relief - what are your options at home?
Waterbirth at home
First Babies and homebirth
Independent Midwives - what they do, and where to find one.
Get Your Baby Lined Up - what it means when your baby gets in an awkward position, and what you can do about it.
Hypnotherapy for childbirth
Home Birth Reference Page