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Chelsea's homebirth, by Jo-Anne

Chelsea

Chelsea was born in January 2004 in Birmingham. I was over 3 weeks overdue but in the end she came very quickly, with my husband as midwife!

I had heard so many stories about women being told they weren't "allowed" a home birth or had to be induced or have a caesarean that as soon I found out I was pregnant with Chelsea I decided to book with an independent midwife, Sarah Montagu. I was intending to have a natural home birth with TENS, aromatherapy and homeopathy for pain relief. I'd always liked the idea of a water birth but the flat I was in wouldn't have been able to accommodate a birth pool.

Towards the end of the pregnancy people used to say "I bet you're fed up with being pregnant now aren't you?" Other women who were due around the same time as me were saying they were fed up and wanted the baby out now but at the same time were worried about the birth. I, on the other hand, was really excited about the birth, kept saying "I can't wait", but at the same time didn't want to go into labour yet as I was enjoying being pregnant so much.

It's a good job I did enjoy the pregnancy because, although my midwife came out at 37 weeks when I had bleeding and pain and she thought I may be in early labour, my due date came and went with Chelsea still happy to be inside.

I was so glad I had an independent midwife because it meant that there was no pressure from health professionals to be induced, although I did receive some negative comments by well-meaning acquaintances about the risks of going overdue.

Sarah did do a stretch and sweep though, and said my cervix was ready. The next day I was in quite a lot of pain so I got excited, but still nothing happened. Sarah also arranged for me to attend hospital for a biophysical profile. I was glad she accompanied me to the appointment as I had visions of being admitted and induced, but the consultant who performed the scan was lovely and the scan reassuring, so Sarah went home with me to do another stretch and sweep.

Two days later, at 43 weeks and 2 days, I woke in the early hours in agony. I thought it was so painful it must be labour, although I hadn't been expecting it to be that painful that early on. It was so unbearable I needed support already, but couldn't wake my husband straight away as I was in too much pain to talk. I thought I'd wait until the contraction was over and then tell him. But the contraction didn't go, although there were peaks when it was even more painful. I rolled onto my side, which seemed to make the pain a little more bearable but then decided I should be up and about so I got up and got dressed as it was freezing. I thought contractions aren't like this, labour isn't one continuous pain, so it can't be labour. As I also felt I needed the toilet I put the pain down to my IBS (it's surprising how painful that can be), although the IBS pain isn't constant either. I thought I may be imagining the pain and thought I should try and get back to sleep so I wasn't too tired later in the day.

I went to the toilet and had some bleeding so I got excited again, but still thought I should rest for now so I lay down. By now my husband was awake because of the screaming and I asked him to put my TENS machine on for me, hoping that with less pain I might get a bit more rest, but he put the pads in the wrong place and they were so cold, I didn't fancy having them put on again so I took the pads off and decided not to bother with it.

I didn't get to lie down as I again became convinced I needed a poo, so I got back on the toilet. On the toilet the pain seemed much harder to cope with, but I stayed on there as I was afraid I would poo on the floor. By now I was screaming like a banshee, and feeling really embarrassed as I knew the neighbours would be listening to be and thinking what a wuss I was for making such a fuss, and they'd always said how quiet I was! I kept saying "I want to go to hospital, I need an epidural, there's no way I'll be able to do this without pain relief".

I couldn't believe it was so painful so early on and there was no break from the pain at all, it was still like one long contraction. I feared it would get much worse. I asked Tony to call the midwife. Then after he'd dialled her number I said "No, don't wake her up, it's not labour" so he put the phone down after 3 rings.

I was jumping around in agony screaming "Help me, do something". The toilet seat came loose and so I slid around every time the pain peaked. I got Tony to help me up and I ripped off the seat and threw it out of the bathroom door. I screamed "Ring Sarah", then heard Tony tell her he was going to get the vacuum cleaner out. "Never mind the crumbs on the carpet, get back in here and hold my hand you stupid man" I shouted, although I wasn't able to stay still for long enough for him to even get near my hand.

Then all of a sudden I said "I'm pushing" then felt stupid for saying that, how could I be pushing when I wasn't in labour and even if I was in labour, it was too early to be pushing, it had only started an hour ago. Tony started panicking, I said "It's okay, I'm not pushing, I'm pooing". He said "That's a very hairy poo!" He phoned the midwife back to say the baby was coming and when he got back to the bathroom, the head was out. Now it was Tony's turn to scream; I had stopped screaming when the pushing started. Two or three more pushes and Chelsea was born. The midwife arrived before the placenta but I am still really upset that she missed out on the birth. I still can't believe it was such a quick labour. I guess Chelsea suddenly realised she'd been in there for a very long time and wanted to hurry up and come out!

Jo-Anne Berry

Oxford

Update: Jo-Anne had another baby, Kalonice, in 2005, and Jordan in 2007.

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