A few weeks ago you asked me to write up my birth story for the benefit of others who are told 'You have to come in as there are no midwives...' Please bear in mind this was almost five years ago but here goes:
My first home birth was fantastic and faultless under the care of The North Middlesex Hospital Homebirth team which was axed shortly after. My second home birth was under the care of The Whittington Hospital which then did not have a dedicated home birth team.
Whilst not openly hostile about home birth, towards the end of the pregancy my midwife started raising concerns about the baby being too small and insisted on me going in for monitoring every two days. This was stressful as I had to arrange care for my 21 months-old son and get there on public transport plus a walk.
When there I was kept waiting and then had to lie supine on a couch, which I did not feel was good for the baby or for optimal foetal positioning, and had a monitor strapped around my tummy so could not move for about an hour. I felt very stressed by the whole process. I also had to press a button every time the baby moved. I felt they were trying to find excuses to make me deliver in hospital or at least make me suffer.
I became quite worried about the baby's size and even went out and bought teeny size baby grows (subsequently only useful for dolls!)
I was two weeks overdue (my first son was born two weeks late so I think this must be normal for me) and they were threatening me with induction if I did not go into labour that night. I was desperate not to go in so had acupuncture and took castor oil and orange juice. This brought on labour in the afternoon but I don't think Daniel was really ready to come.
My first labour was rapid, about 5 hours and the midwives back then said my next labour could be even faster. So my expectation was quite high. I had mild contractions that evening but was not really sure I was in labour. At about 10pm I decided to call the hospital to get someone out to check me. The hospital said I had to go in as there were not enough midwives. I put the phone down and burst into tears feeling defeated. This is where my husband came to the fore. He rang the hospital back and was very assertive with them saying we had planned a home birth and they were aware of this. Their staffing problems were not our concern but having a home birth was our right and we demanded that they get someone out here. They agreed to send someone.
I was feeling very tense and stressed but a midwife did come just before midnight. She had just finished at another homebirth, poor thing. She said I was still quite a long way off and to try to get some sleep as would she. So I went off to bed wearing the TENS machine.
I woke about 1am and felt things were getting more painful. The pool was readied and the midwife called back. It was a great relief to get in the pool. From then on things were OK but I wasn't able to go into the trance-like state I had with my first son's birth. I think I had too many stress hormones going round my system. Consequently this labour was more painful than my first, but still manageable. I tried gas and air but felt out of control so stopped.
The first stage was officially 3 hours 15 minutes, second stage 7 minutes and third stage 43 minutes. It seemed harder to get out the placenta than the baby!
Daniel was a respectable 3.7kg, heavier than his brother! Proof the other midwife had been scaremongering. Thankfully it wasn't her who attended, and I felt safe with the one who actually came.
I realise that I am shaking after writing this even after 5 years. I am so angry that the hospital put me into an anxious state when I should have felt supported and relaxed. I am however very grateful I was able to deliver at home and feel that for my third baby I will be more assertive about refusing any monitoring that I feel is spurious.
Please feel free to post any of this that you feel might be useful to others.
Home Birth Stories
Home Birth in the UK - your rights, and what to do if you're told that staffing shortages threaten your birth plans.
Fast Labours - is quicker always better? What do you do if your baby is arriving faster than your midwife?
Get Your Baby Lined Up - what is 'optimum foetal positioning' ?
Homebirth UK email group
Home Birth Reference Page