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Angus's Birth by Jeanette Archer

On Friday 15th March at 39 weeks pregnant, while watching 'Gardeners World', I had some very strong Braxton Hicks contractions, brought on by the baby moving his head down very hard, and having a good old wriggle. On investigation I noticed the mucous plug was coming away, although it wasn't bloodstained as it had been with both of my girls.

I thought finally something was happening. I was huge and tired, and desperately wanted to meet this baby!

I had a sudden burst of energy and mopped the kitchen floor (I so wanted the house to be tidy while I gave birth; I thought I might be distracted by unfinished housework!)

Then the contractions stopped and I realised nothing was going to happen immediately and I went to bed hoping to wake up in labour. I didn't!

I was disappointed. There was no more mucus, and I just felt very pregnant again.

By Sunday I had resigned myself to thinking that I might even go to 40 weeks this time and I waddled off to Tescos with Woody and the girls.

That night I went to bed and slept fitfully, finally waking at 11.30 to a strange kicking from the baby and a slight pop, followed by a small gush of fluid! I rushed to the bathroom, where there followed another small gush of what looked like very runny mucous. I thought this must be my waters breaking, as I had not had that happen before. I had my waters broken for me with the girls once I was in well established labour, and had never really noticed anything!

I changed my undies, and went downstairs to tell Woody what was happening and decided to phone the hospital to warn my midwife team that things might now start to happen. That was a mistake!!!

The midwife I spoke to on the phone asked me if the liquid was clear, it was, Was the baby still moving? Yes! Was I having contractions? Yes although quite mild!

She then informed me that although I was booked for a Home Birth, I would have to come in immediately to be monitored as that was 'Hospital Policy'!!! I told her I would rather not go in, and I would call back if there were any further developments.

Then I got very cross and stomped about the house for a while before making a plea for help from the Homebirth UK list! I got lots of replies straight away all backing my decision not to go in to Hospital. I took some Rescue Remedy, and had a big mug of Raspberry Leaf Tea, and sat on my Birth Ball trying to calm down. I was still having mild contractions, but nothing I couldn't cope with.

At 1.15 I sent Woody to bed for some rest. Eden, my youngest had already woken up and was in our bed.I said I would wake Woody if there were any developments.

For the next hour or so I just pottered about, watched some T.V, ate a bowl of cereal, and rotated my hips on the Birth Ball when I had a contraction. Eden woke again at 2.30 and wouldn't settle, so I sat with her a while, having stronger contractions every ten minutes.

By 4.00 am the contractions were stronger and closer together, but not unbearable.I was lonely though and worried about how long it would take to fill the pool, so I rang the Hospital for a second time, and did not mention that I had already spoken to a midwife earlier. This time the response to my call was much more positive, and one of my favourite midwives, Julie, was called to come and see me.

Julie arrived by 4.30, Woody had started to fill the pool, and Eden was awake and lying on the sofa. Suddenly everything calmed down. The contractions were still coming but not so intense.I was having to breathe through them, but it wasn't difficult. Woody made coffee for Julie and Raspberry Leaf tea for me.

Julie offered to do an internal examination, but we discussed it and decided not to. We thought we would wait to see what happened over the next hour. During that hour Eden decided she wanted to wake her sister up and when we said she couldn't she had a stamping-her-feet tantrum! I began to think the reason my contractions were not getting any stronger was because I was distracted by Eden, who by that time was also throwing her 'Sarah Rabbit' at me!

Then I felt the baby move down very quickly and had a very stong contraction.

India had now woken up and Woody took her and Eden into the kitchen for some breakfast.

I decided I needed the loo, and stood up from my birth ball and there was a sudden gush of liquid. Now my waters had broken! It was 6.00 am. The fluid that had come away earlier was in fact a 'show' albeit a very runny one! The contractions immediately got much stronger, and I told Woody he had better phone his Dad and Stepmum to come and collect the girls very soon!

I changed my position then to all fours leaning on my birth ball for a few contractions before Julie suggested I get into the pool.

Once in the pool I found I could open my hips out further and continued to kneel with my legs wide apart leaning over the side of the pool. The contractions became stronger still, and Julie phoned the hospital for a second midwife. My named midwife, Mary was due to be on call from 8.30 so Julie asked for her to be called earlier.

Meanwhile Woody had fed and dressed the girls, and Grandma Helen had arrived to take them away.I said goodbye to them from the pool.

I began to feel uncomfortable in the pool. I didn't feel it was deep enough for the position I was in. I tried changing my position between contractions but there wasn't enough time. I also felt cold, the pool was 37 degrees, but I am the sort of person who gets out of the bath very pink, and so the water felt cold to me.

Julie could tell I was uncomfortable and suggested I get out, so I did. I went back to leaning over my birth ball. The contractions were now very strong and I was beginning to lose control of my breathing, but Julie talked to me and helped me to focus again.

I could feel everything opening up now and the baby moving down.I started shaking and wondered if I was in transition. I took some rescue remedy and the shaking stopped.

During each contraction now I could really feel the baby moving down and felt a little like I wanted to push. I concentrated on relaxing my pelvic floor with each out breath. I told Julie I thought something might be happening, she lifted up my dressing gown and said to Woody, 'this baby is going to be born now', and she asked me if I was in a comfortable position to deliver, and I said that I was.

Mary then arrived, and I decided I wanted to change position and sit on the birthing stool.

I also asked for some entonox as I was really losing control of my breathing and thought it would help.

Julie then told me not to push, but to just breathe, as the position I was in the baby was going to come very fast, and he did, crying on the way out! I didn't actually feel I wanted to push, I could feel that he was coming on his own!

I never really believed birth stories when the mother said she just breathed her baby out, but I did it!!!

So at 7.30 am my beautiful baby boy was passed up to my knee,huge (9lbs 12ozs), pink and crying!

I was bleeding heavily and Julie asked me if she could inject syntometrine and I agreed.

I had a small second degree tear and no stitches.

Having thrown on a man's shirt that I had worn to deliver my girls, and wrapped my baby in a soft towel we sat together on the sofa. He didn't want to feed straight away, but rested his face against my breast, while Woody brought me tea and toast.

Woody phoned the girls at Grandmas to tell them they had a baby brother, Angus Spike Wood.

I then had a shower and was tucked up in bed with my little boy!

Having Angus at home was so fantastic. My midwives were wonderful, discussing each option with me and following my lead at all times.

Angus is now 16 days old and is calm and happy, and so am I. I am sure a large part of how we feel is due to having a calm and happy birth at home.

Jeanette, Mum to India 6, Eden 3, and Angus, born at home on 18th March 2002.

jeanette.archer [cut this out to dodge spam ] at ntlworld.com

Jeanette had another whopper of a baby, Sidney, at home in 2005.

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