Homebirthing Lewie, by Karen

Karen's second baby, Lewie, was born at home at 42 weeks and 1 day. Her first baby, Harry, was also born at home, but Karen transferred to hospital after the birth when the placenta was slow to appear.

Shortly before Lewie arrived, Karen posted to the Homebirth UK email group about her worries. Her last post is reproduced here - or you can jump straight to the birth story.

Am I Mad?

--- In homebirthUK@yahoogroups.com, "Karen R" wrote:

It's funny, but when somebody posts to the list with a problem I can *usually* answer with clarity - but when you find yourself faced with the same situation it all seems very confusing, well it does to me. :-)

I am 40 +13 now and the pressure is really being applied. MW visited today and I have been asked today to take myself up to the hospital and speak to the obstetrician - who apparently is very nice and has assured me that he will do nothing to me, just talk - however, I have declined on the basis that I am still not a full 2 weeks over and additionally I am unable to drive that distance comfortably. I have requested that we discuss his concerns over the phone, but have been told that they are unwilling to do this as they feel they would be unable to document the conversation!!!

They have noted that I am well informed and to be honest, I really don't see what any further conversation with the obstetrician is going to yield, other than probably intimidation and scare tactics.

I had a good blub while the MW was here, the repeated statement of "uterine death" was enough to tip me over I'm afraid - I was so optimistic that last week the baby was coming, especially as I was informed that I was already 1cm dilated. Whilst the MW spoke to the hospital she told them that she would probably perform another sweep - nobody, however asked me -when we talked about it I declined another one at this stage, although may consent to another this weekend.

Baby appears fine, lots of lovely movements still, bp fine, although today after this discussion slightly raised for me at 125/80, urine sample showing a very slightly raised level of leukocytes (have had a slightly upset tummy last couple of days - possible reason). Head is nicely engaged and the baby seems to be favouring a LOL rather than the lovely LOA position he/she was in!

So am I mad to not accept some intervention? My neighbours, some friends and family have intimated as much. Certainly my MW is starting to feel less comfortable, but still quite supportive. I'm definitely outside of the norm for the local trust and as of Sunday outside of the norm generally! I was just reading the MIDIRS informed choice leaflet about prolonged pregnancy, which is quite good for anybody else overdue too.

I have provisionally agreed to visit the unit next week for discussion and possibly some monitoring - they were pushing for the weekend, but I have stood firm on this.

If anybody has some figures or anecdotal experiece of birthing post 42 weeks I would be really grateful. I would also be interested in any info on whether my mother's history has any bearing on my pregnancies - she was always 2 wks over.

Thanks for listening.

Karen

Lewie's Birth Story

Well, the wait is over and my little cherub is here. It was a real 'marathon' of a pregnancy - well, I have the weak knees and sore nipples to testify to that !

After much pressure from the hospital (via my mw) for inspection, induction and, in my mind, probably a section, I finally relaxed on the Saturday 24th July. I was due to see the consultant on the Monday for a "chat" which I presumed would be more of what I had already heard, terms used such as "intra-uterine death" etc. I was prepared to have a scan to monitor placental flow at some point later in the week, but nothing more.

I made a few phone calls to a herbalist and also a homeopath I thought they might be able to provide a few medicinal shortcuts. I also found another acupressure point (in the roof of the mouth behind the main ridge) and verily did I give it a good pressing!!!

My husband Keith and son Harry were camping out on Saturday, having a male bonding session! We decided that a BBQ would be a perfect accompaniment to this, although my son had predicted that the labour was all going to start today! During the preparation of the food, I was feeling little twinges and more Braxton Hicks contractions.

Eating time and I was ravenous, I'm pretty sure I ate enough for two adults my appetite was vast! More contractions bit stronger now, but I didn't want to say anything to raise DH's hopes.

With the BBQ over and the guys settled in their tent watching a movie on the laptop, I ran a bath to relax myself and added a good measure of clary sage. I nipped outside quickly with some midnight treats for the guys (organic baby rusks, so not too naughty) and then lounged in the bath. Prior to getting in the bath I had a show. I tried to read a book, but in between the hoots of laughter filtering up from the garden and stronger contractions I found I couldn't concentrate!

Waited for the next contraction to stop and got out of the bath, while I could. I had taken the mobile phone in there just in case I got wedged in the bath, but had left it on the window sill d'oh! Safely out of the bath, I went to the bedroom and bounced on the birth ball a bit I found I had more relief resting my chest on it and rocking.

Hmm, things did seem to be happening, so I sort of leapt into action and started covering the floor, scavenging old newspapers from the recycle bag and a knackered duvet cover. I already had a shower curtain down and I added a thick towel for good measure. I gathered an oil burner and matches, grabbed the lavender and clary sage oil, switched on the salt lamp and put on a very old t-shirt and considered myself ready to go *LOL*

I thought I would labour on my own for a while until it became intolerable. The contractions seemed strong and regular and I was coping well until one contraction the size of a tsunami hit me and I thought "that's it, time to call in the men!"

I sent a text to my husband to let him know that I thought it had all started. He sent me one back to ask if he should come in, I was about to text again and thought this is silly, I'll call! My not-so-happy campers came back to base and whilst Keith got Harry settled in bed I laboured on.

Keith came back in to the bedroom to see how I was doing and we started timing the contractions. They were coming every 7½ minutes with the occasional very strong one.

I needed to go to the loo, but this was a very protracted process, I would get to the bathroom and once sat down more contractions would come. We still were not completely sure that tonight was going to be the night, as we had had false alarms before, but the evacuation of my bowels seemed like a good sign! Unfortunately the main shower was broken and I couldn't face another bath, I remember when in labour the first time getting in the bath and feeling like the contractions were zipping down my legs ouch! I'll use the little tap attachment thingy to shower with later, I thought, I had plenty of time, I thought, before we called the midwife, so didn't worry too much.

Back in the bedroom I had been labouring with Keith from just after 11pm and the time was about 12:30 now. Keith asked when he should call the midwife. I said we'll see at 1am how I am doing. Another massive contraction hit just after my saying this and I managed to squeak out "call her now".

First midwife arrived just after 1am and we talked in between contractions which were 1:2-4. She wasn't the main midwife I had been cared for during my pregnancy, but she was utterly lovely and I felt at ease with her immediately. I had requested no Sonicaid unless necessary, so the Pinnard was used primarily, with some success.

I surprised myself this time by being a little noisier than I was in my previous labour. Lowing like a cow is the expression I think I used. :-) I coped by putting my head to my chest and inhaling deeply whilst pushing out my diaphragm and then a deep-toned noise on exhale it wonderful and worked mostly.

At 1.45am I asked to be assessed as I really wanted to know where I was, the contractions were intermittently strong and felt deep within me, unlike last time when I seemed to hurt around my back too. I had hoped, wished and prayed for these strong contractions was I mad??? ;-)

I felt a little disappointed to hear that I was 3-4cm dilated it felt like it should definitely be more. The midwife said that forewaters were bulging with each contraction and that I was fully effaced. Disappointment was overcome by the shame that I hadn't washed my bum!

I tried entonox, but I absolutely hated it. This time I tried the nozzle thing that you bite on, the correct name escapes me and I was left feeling dizzy ick, I thought I would just try and get by with the breathing, oh and macerating my poor husband's hand how that helped I don't know it just did!

I sucked on my raspberry leaf ice cubes; they were delicious, but it turned out to be a bit of a noisy messy affair! By now, nearly 2am I was craving sleep, just wanted to curl up someway and really rest, but knew the contractions would give me little respite.

I felt I didn't want to talk anymore or think even. I apologised for not being a good host I snuggled up next to Keith and we rested. The midwives left us to it and I didn't even think about what they might do with themselves. Fortunately they told me later that they made themselves a coffee and watched our family photo slideshow on the computer screensaver!

Unbelievably I fell asleep for a little while, think I just moaned automatically in my sleep, because midwives recorded this on my notes. The contractions now 1:4 lasting 45 seconds. Had a half hour sleep which was great and enough to recharge my batteries.

The midwives talked about leaving as they felt that things would take a while longer. It was difficult to monitor baby with the pinnards so with some reluctance I agreed to the sonicaid. Baby was doing well. I was happy for the midwives to leave as I felt I was coping okay and that the birth was some time away.

Had to use the loo again and it was an ordeal just to walk to the bathroom, each contraction felt as if it had seized me and I desperately tried not to gasp, but to go with it I kept imagining surfing a wave in my mind's eye and this really helped.

Felt lots of pressure while on the loo and couldn't get up for a while, but once back in the room, again the midwives asked me how I felt about them leaving. They were fairly local so I was fine with their departure. I did tell them that the contractions felt like they were getting stronger. They said they would stay for another 15-20 mins to assess.

Things felt as though they were moving on now, the contractions were definitely getting stronger and more regular 1:3 I remember alternatively between laying on my side in bed and rocking on the birthing ball whilst all the time squeezing poor Keith's hand. It was now after 4am.

Whilst on the birthball, the mw attempted to monitor using pinnards, but no luck, I consented to use of sonicaid (again), not successful in this position, so painfully moved to bed, it felt like a contraction for each step of the way.

Waiting for a contraction to be over, I asked that this be the last time the sonicaid was used. The second mw said she could not promise this.

I laid on my side next to Keith and held his hand through another contraction. When it finished the oddest thing happened, my knees came up to my chest (well as far as they could anyway) involuntarily and I (but it didn't feel like me) pushed three times. I was shocked - lots of things were going through my head, I'm pushing before I'm ready was the first thought, I felt a bit panicky because I imagined my poor cervix swelling! The first midwife was just fantastic; she whispered in my ear to listen to my body, it would tell me what to do.

It all happened quite quickly after this. I got to hands and knees with some difficulty and the midwife told me that the membranes were really bulging with each contraction.

I got it into my head for some strange reason that I wasn't ready to have baby yet, I was just going to break my waters.

I didn't want to have my baby on the bed, that's not the tradition in our household! So with energy found from goodness knows where, I got to my feet. I was supported by Keith behind me and I started pushing in a squatting position. The pushes always came in threes and they didn't feel instigated by me, they just came.

Again the midwife just whispered the same words to me and it gave me confidence to go on. I heard more whispering and looked around Keith was crying and the midwife was offering him a tissue!

I pushed again and oh my goodness I cried out "it stings". I didn't feel the ring of fire last time, but I thought everything was tearing this time. The midwife just quietly assured me that I was almost there. This is all to break my waters I thought what a twit!!! More pushing and I felt something warm on my inner thigh, I had my eyes closed for most of the second stage and thought that it was the midwife's arm. There was sudden realisation that it was baby's head. I reached down to touch it amazing! My waters had still not broken and baby was still in the caul. My midwife told me later that she was looking around for something to nick it with, but that baby popped through it.

More pushing and baby quickly plopped, slithered, I'm not sure what word to use to describe that wonderful smooth sliding-out of the baby. The midwife had been trying to doh-si-doh with my husband or so it seemed I had forgotten to update my birthplan to say that Keith no longer wanted to catch the baby, actually he never wanted to catch the baby that was my idea. The midwife had been using hand signals to tell him to move around and then whispering to him to move around or he would miss it!!!! Needless to say the midwife caught the baby at 5.10am.

Lots of excitement as we lifted the baby from between my legs, sat down and then scrabbled to lift the umbilical cord to discover baby's sex what a fantastic surprise - a little boy. There was a little cry from him as he came out, and then perfectly happy in his parents arms. Lots of hair, just like his brother, who incidentally had managed to sleep through everything!

Lewie latched on, for a little bit, but wasn't terribly interested I felt more contractions whilst he fed. It was noted that I did not want to birth the placenta, after the retained placenta of last time I quite dreaded this bit, and couldn't believe that I would have a normal 3rd stage. Quite a while later, about 40 mins, I said it would probably be a good idea to cut the cord, it had definitely finished pulsating. I was asked if I would like to birth the placenta, I thought I would disappoint the midwife team, but I barely stood over the plastic dish and the placenta and a huge blood clot came tumbling out.

This was fantastic - it was like giving birth again, and it laid to rest a few demons from the previous birth. Estimated blood loss was 150mls.

I was then examined for tears and had a small fourchette tear, which must have been tiny, because it only stung for a day. However, this examination was excruciatingly painful, blooming ouch!

I didn't cry; I didn't last time either. I felt in shock, I truly thought that the labour was going to continue for longer, but after the little sleep it all seemed to happen quite quickly. The intensity of the contractions almost had me admitting defeat, they were so strong, I wonder now whether it was the extra strong brew of raspberry leaf tea and honey ice-cubes that I was sucking on which may have helped to intensify them?

The first midwife was just lovely and while Keith and second midwife were sorting out the bedroom, she took me to the bathroom and ran me a bath. Once bathed she dressed me which felt very strange, but was actually very comforting. Then back to bed after waking up Harry, who was absolutely elated :-)

Now why on earth do I want to do it again? Probably because it is one of the best loves I'll ever experience in my lifetime.

Thanks for reading this.

Karen

Links to: PPH (previous retained placenta), overdue.

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