Monty's Birth by Juliet

Juliet's first baby, Florence, was born at home in a birth pool, in the summer of 2003. Juliet planned a homebirth for her second baby, who was born in March 2005, but the arrangements were far from straightforward...

Monty's birth story will be of particular interest to women whose husbands are in the armed forces since he was born at our home on an army base in Cyprus after considerable opposition and bullying from the MOD, who are completely against home birth - they threatened us with social services and even spoke to the army legal team to see if they could court martial me over it!!!!

Beverley Beech of AIMS is aware of at least one other service wife who is based in Germany and has faced similar opposition from the MOD. I would be really happy to share my experiences of battling with the MOD over this issue with any other service wife going through the same thing and I am going to be helping AIMS to try and change the MOD's policy on home birth.

My husband is in the Army and for the last 18 months we have lived on a British Army Base in Dhekelia, Cyprus. The healthcare facilities are all provided by the MOD, which employs British community midwives. Since the closure of the military hospital at RAF Akrotiri the MOD have demanded that the wives of all servicemen based in Cyprus deliver their babies in the local Cypriot hospitals in Larnaka, Limassol or Nicosia. These local hospitals have very different standards of care from UK hospitals; women are often told that they must deliver flat on their backs on a bed, some of the staff still prefer to shave women and give them an enema and episiotomies are routine. In addition the pain relief is limited to pethidine only.

I had my first baby Florence at home in the UK so right from the start of this pregnancy I knew that I wanted another home birth but I hadn´t reckoned on how strong the opposition from the MOD would be. From the moment I told the health authorities that I wanted a home birth I was subjected to numerous meetings, letters and was eventually threatened with a visit from Social Services when I was 38 weeks pregnant. However I stuck to my guns and, with the support of AIMS and the Homebirth UK Yahoogroup, I went ahead and had my baby at home.

I noticed my first contractions at 9pm on Sunday night but I wasn´t 100% sure so I didn´t mention anything to my husband Stuart until about 11pm when I felt sure that I was in labour as the contractions were coming regularly every 15 minutes. Stuart and I went to bed to try and get some rest, Stuart managed a few hours sleep but I was too excited and couldn´t sleep at all.

By 3am my contractions were getting a little bit stronger and were coming every 5 minutes or so. At this point I put on my tens machine and called the midwife. The midwife arrived at about 3.30am and checked me and told me that I was about 4cm dilated. Because the MOD don´t support home birth she then stayed with me although in a normal situation she would have gone away and come back a few hours later.

At 6.30am the midwife felt my tummy and suggested that Stuart and I went for a walk to help the baby move down. Stuart got our 19 month old daughter Florence out of bed and gave her breakfast before taking her over to the neighbours who had agreed to look after her whilst I was in labour. At 7.30am Stuart and I went for a little walk whilst the midwife went to pick up the rest of her equipment from the medical centre. I carried on labouring with my tens machine until about 10am when the contractions started to get much stronger.

At this point I got into the birthing pool that we had set up in our dining room and I stayed in there until I was through transition which only lasted about 15 minutes. I had gas and air for the last 40 minutes or so but I felt that I didn't want it when I was ready to push as it was making me feel too light-headed and out of control.

As none of the midwives were trained in water birth I got out of the pool and delivered Monty on a mattress on the lounge floor in front of a nice open fire. Monty came in only a few pushes and I didn´t need any stitches – I think being in the pool for so long and doing perineum massage in the last weeks of pregnancy must have helped.

Monty arrived at 11.59am on Monday 28th March (our wedding anniversary) and weighed in at 7 lb 4 ½ oz and he yelled to announce his presence as soon as his head popped out! The midwives stayed with us until about 1.30pm and after that Stuart and I were able to sit out in the garden with baby Monty and a well-earned glass of bubbly!

I would be happy to share my experiences with any other service wife who is planning a home birth and facing similar opposition from the MOD;

JulietBrowse _homebirthsite_ @
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