When I was pregnant with my third baby I knew that I would have another home birth. Plans were made, pool hire arranged and midwives chosen (yes, even on the NHS you can choose. When pregnant with my second the booking midwife said that I would be foolish to have a waterbirth as babies die when you do that! hummm - soon changed her!) The midwives on my rota all supported home waterbirth.
I got a nasty yeast infection for the first time in pregnancy, and a swab was taken to make sure it was only yeast. The results came back as GBS positive (as well as yeast) - and these were given to me at the hospital where I had gone for a scan as I was bleeding. The midwife who told me the results was very kind, and said she would get a consultant to discuss this with me, especially in relation to home birth. I immediately put on my battle dress and assumed I would be up for a fight.
A senior registrar actually came to see me. She just said the basic, unemotional facts. That many women have GBS, that few babies contract it, and even fewer get it seriously. I could opt for no antibiotics, antibiotics for risk factors, or, as was the recommendation, antibiotics as soon as I went into labour.
Well, I was gobsmacked and delighted - straight, honest talking with no scare tactics at all. When I discussed the homebirth issue - i.e. if I opted for antibiotics could I have them at home - she said of course, as long as the midwives were happy to administer them. So that, I thought, would be my next hurdle. When I next saw my midwife I talked it over with her, and she said she would give IV's at home, and she would see which of the other team members would - they all said yes! Now I am a well informed consumer - an NCT antenatal teacher - and I do wonder if their acceptance of my wishes was because they knew I would just do what I wanted anyway - but I hope this is the reaction anyone would have got from the same team. As it was I decided to treat only if there were risk factors.
I went into labour in the early hours of the morning. I called my mum to be ready to come and look after the other two children, and then the midwife as my last labour had been quick. I got into the already filled pool (I filled it every night as I didnt want to risk not having the time to fill it in labour), and wallowed.
My Mum came over and got the children ready for school, and then played in their bedroom for a while. It was incredible this time, as I was acutely aware of every contraction feeling different from the last, and that I was opening and the baby was coming down. I had not been this aware before - rather my last labour had just rolled up and hit me at high speed. The extra hour I got in labour this time was wonderful - and allowed me to really tune in and relax. I had no vaginal exams, and just started to gently push when I felt the need. My baby boy just glided out, staring up at me (which must mean I have a vagina like a bucket as OP babies are supposed to be hard to get out!!). I called the children in time to see him come to the surface.
My waters went, as in both the other births, just before I started to push. There were no risk factors for GBS disease, and my baby was, and still is, healthy.
There is no right or wrong decision for anyone in these circumstances. I was aware of all the benefits and risks of home birth - and for me the benefits far outweighed any perceived risks. The same for the GBS - I knew there were risks - but for all I knew I was GBS positive for my first 2 births.
Since this birth I have trained as a midwife, and I have seen what GBS can do to a baby; I am not in some cloud cuckoo land, but I do know that if I ever got pregnant again I would make the same choice.
Jane, southern England
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