Jo's story of the birth of Harry, her third child, is hilarious and witty, and also very touching: "How lovely to be given the chance to have my baby the way my body wanted to, without someone bossing me around, I just kept thinking this is how childbirth was meant to be and it felt a million miles away from the hospital birth of my first baby." Jo was so relaxed, she had no idea that she was in advanced labour until her baby's head was born!
When I had my first baby I did every thing I thought you had to, I went into hospital as soon as my contractions were coming every 5 minutes, I got onto a bed to be examined and there I stayed, flat on my back, for the next 8 hours! Nobody told me I could get up and move around and I didn't think to ask, I thought that was how child birth was. I felt I needed permission for anything, to go to the loo, change position and it felt like I was on a time limit to give birth. It seemed like every five minutes I had an internal, my waters were broken for me, then when I was told I was fully dilated and to push, I pushed for 1 and a half hours even though I didnt really feel that urge to push, What a lot of hard work! But that was how child birth was for everyone else I knew, so I figured that was just how it was. When my lovely son finally arrived I felt terrible as I was sure I would never go through that again and felt sad he would never have a brother or sister!
When I was pregnant with my second baby five years later, I decided I would stay at home for as long as I could before I had to go and lay flat on my back to do all those hours of pushing, so I stayed at home with a TENS machine until I decided I really needed that gas and air! When I arrived at the hospital I was told I was fully dilated, my waters were broken and five minutes later my lovely 9lb 2oz daughter arrived in just one push and one puff of entonox! No tears or stitches, just euphoria. How very different from my first experience of child birth! 3 hours later we were home and it had hardly seemed worth going into hospital all.
At my booking in appointment with my third pregnancy my midwife asked me where I was having the baby. 'At hospital of course' I answered puzzled 'Have you considered a home birth?' she asked. This had never crossed my mind, I just assumed you HAD to go to hospital, I didn't know anyone who had given birth at home, but the more I thought about it the more it appealed to me and I didnt need much persuading.
I'd been drinking raspberry leaf tea since 34 weeks thinking that this would make the baby arrive on time, as when I read the box it said it made the uterus contract efficiently (what does that mean? I wondered) but my due date came and went and everyone kept advising me to have a hot curry but I'd say "oh no, I'd be worried it would sent me in to labour and affect my bowels as well" because my biggest fear ever was (and still is!) pooing in labour! But after nine days of people hassling me about when I was going to be induced (people seem to be obessed with this!) I said to my husband "oh well lets go for it, order me a madras!" (Boy would those words come back to haunt me!)
At 3pm the next day I felt my first twinge and called first my mum then the labour ward just to let them know things were moving and so they had plenty of time to inform the on-call midwife. Then my husband made me a sandwich and I sat comfortably munching and reading the paper, contracting every 10 minutes or so. At 4.30pm Mum arrived, my contractions were about every 5 minutes apart but they were really bearable so we decided to go upstairs to make my bed birth-proof.
As we were doing that, Mark, the on-call midwife, (Thats what how he introduced himself, but thinking about it, shouldn't he be a midhusband?) arrived. He observed me for a bit, asked how the contractions were, I told him I felt great, really relaxed, I was using my TENS machine but they were still bearable as those early contractions are. We had a bit of a chat sat there on my bed, he made a few notes, listened to the babys heartbeat and then asked if I wanted him to stay. I said No, I'll be fine, I was planning to just potter about, watch a bit of telly, chat with mum etc. He said he had a few visits to make, I probably had a few more hours to go so he would pop back later to check but in the meantime if I needed him we could call his mobile. Ha! He had been gone five minutes when I had a contraction that really stopped me in my tracks! It must have shown on my face because Mum asked "Bad one?" but I could barely answer because almost as soon as that one ended another started! Mum asked "Do you want him to come back?" "Yes please!" I really wanted that gas and air now!
It seems silly to say but these contractions were like nothing I had experienced in my last two labours- they were far more painful ("so thats what an efficient uterus feels like" I thought to myself) and I started to panic. "Calm down Jo" I told myself "Its only labour, you've done it before and you can do it again" Looking back, I think that was the last sensible thought I had, after that my common sense kind of upped and left! Mark arrived back just before 6 with the gas and air and, with my permission, examined me, only to tell me I was 1cm dilated! 1cm! I could have cried! He tried to reassure me that he had seen women go from 1cm to 10 in an hour, but it didn't help much! The contractions were now coming thick and fast and I found that I could cope with them by going into my own little world with just the gas and air and my own (rather silly) thoughts.
It was lovely to be in familiar surroundings and to be able move freely and I soon found a comfy spot standing at the end of my bed holding on to the rail. Every so often Mark would check the baby's heartbeat with his sonicaid but it was so unobtrusive, other than that he sat on the end of the bed just observing and to be honest I kind of forgot anyone other than myself was there, it was so peaceful. As I had been told I was only 1cm (wish I hadn't had that VE!) I honestly thought that this relaxed calm atmosphere was because it was very early stages in the labour and was expecting that later in active labour on I would be bossed about more - lay on the bed now, Im going to break your waters now, you have to push now etc but for now was enjoying my own little world!
I needed a wee so I went across the landing to the loo and noticed a small spot of blood, I put my hand down to feel, I felt a bit 'bulgy' down there and could also feel something hard, smooth and shiny about the size of a 2 pound coin but didnt think much of it (told you my common sense had gone!) so didn't say anything to Mark. I went back into the bedroom to continue standing at the end of my bed and Mark suggested a bath so Mum went to run one. "Do you want your candles lit?" She called from the bathroom and I growled "F**k the candles" mid-contraction, gripping the bed rail, "Did you say something Jo?" asked Mark. I repeated my growl through gritted teeth - "No, no candles Thankyou!" Mark called out sweetly!
It's just then I felt that I just can't go on any more "This is too much and I bet I'm not even 3cm" I tell myself. I need to lie down and I'm thinking to myself 'God Jo, pull yourself together and stop being such a wimp, you've got 9cm to go yet!' So I go and lay on my side with (I'd have been horrified to realise at the time) my backside exposed in the air for all to see! "I feel like I want to push" I whimper to Mark, still feeling I need someone's permission (!) and he replies "your body will tell you." I'm still trying to work out whether this means I can or can't push when I realise that I'm doing a big poo! So thats what my body was telling me, I think to myself, all I needed was a poo! well why couldn't it have told me that 5 minutes ago when I was on the toilet?!
My husband leaps over me to the other side of the bed, Mark is snapping his gloves on and Mum is frantically dialling the second midwife and I'm thinking 'OK guys I feel pretty embarrassed enough about this without you all acting like there's some sort of emergency!' I hear mum say "Is it in its water sac?" and thats when I realise the baby's head (in his caul) is out! My baby was being born and I was so relaxed I didn't realise it!
I find it amazing that my body instinctively knew to stop pushing whilst Mark broke the waters and untangled the cord from the baby's neck and the rest of 8lb 6oz Harry was born at 7.08pm.
No stitches, tears or even the famous burning ring of fire, just burning cheeks of shame!
After that he was handed straight to me and I just kept thinking "I DID IT! I DID IT! I did a great big bloody poo in front of my husband, Mum and a relative stranger just as I've always dreaded! The embarrassment!" but these thoughts were quickly replaced by " I DID IT! I DIT IT! I gave birth to a beautiful baby in my own home! I'm so proud of myself!" How lovely to be given the chance to have my baby the way my body wanted to, without someone bossing me around, I just kept thinking this is how childbirth was meant to be and it felt a million miles away from the hospital birth of my first baby.
Within an hour everything was cleaned up, the bath Mum had run was finally put to use and we were cuddling our new addition in our own front room. I didn't even feel sore and this must be because Harry came out when he was ready to, not because a midwife thought it was time to start pushing him out. I could've done it all over again straight away, and I'm looking forward to a home birth for baby no.4 due 12.12.07!
I would recommend a home birth to anyone; I think the reason I didn't realise just how advanced my labour was was because I was at home and felt so safe with my midwife. I would not, however, recommend a curry the night before!
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