Kate Pavey's Home Birth Story

Isaac John Pavey was born on 14 March 2002, at home, but insensitive midwives left Kate feeling "cheated, robbed and confused".

 I think I'm at a place now to be able to communicate my home birth experience with little Isaac.

 He is now 6 days old and it has taken me this long to understand how I feel.

 I went into home birth full of expectation and the hope that I would have an unhurried, relaxed as near natural experience as possible. I wrote my birth plan thinking that I would be understood by those who were caring for me and that they would endeavour to cary out my wishes.

 I came out of my home birth experience feeling cheated, robbed and confused.

 After a couple of days of practice contractions, I finally went into labour at about midday on thursday 14th March. The contractions were mild and about 20 mins apart so we decided to take a trip out to the toy library to borrow a slide for my daughter. We then went for a McDonalds and headed home.

 My dh (dear husband) said something about going into work the next day and I told him that the baby was coming tonight and that we had better start getting ready for him.

 At about 4ish I noticed that I had a trickle begining below and put a pad in. Next thing mid contraction while kneeling on the floor my waters went. I said "My waters have gone," and burst into tears. I hadn't wanted them to go so early.

 Thinking we should inform the midwife, dh phoned the labour hotline. First mistake! I had no idea that the midwife would turn up 20mins later, giving us no time to talk and prepare the scene.

 Midwife 1 arrived quickly and I burst into tears again - she seemed lovely and reassured me. She then proceeded to spread her paperwork all over the floor in the lounge - mistake no 2. I sould have asked her to use the dining room table, then at least she would have had somewhere else to go and the relaxing scene I had anticipated wouldn't have been cluttered with paperwork. Still we had candles and music, the lights were dimmed and the pool was being filled.

 midwife 1 informed me that midwife 2 was to be arriving soon as she had only attended one waterbirth before. (I later found out that her one experience of waterbirth was where a baby nearly drowned!!!!!)

 Dh was attempting to time contractions and massage me through them as he did during my daugher's birth, but the midwife had started to get in the way. She went through the birth plan and told me that it was all fine and then went through several reasons where she would feel it necessary to transfer me to hospital. One of the reasons was if labour slowed down. When I questioned her as to why she gave me a look as if to say - Why are you questioning me! - She didn't really have a plausible answer but muttered something about the fact that my membranes had already ruptured.

 She wanted to examine me now even though I had requested to no internals - mistake no 3 I allowed her to examine me and endured a very painful internal which left me sore. 3cm dilated

 By now my dh and I had lost the flow - but persevered even so. From here on in things started to happen very quickly. The contractions got closer and closer together and I had very quickly gone from every 20 to every 3 mins.

 midwife 1 was reluctant for me to get into the pool and I assured her that I would wait until I really needed to - at that point she wanted to examine me again and also wanted to phone for advice. Mistake 4 I allowed her to examine me again - because I was now 5cm she "allowed" me into the pool.

 Thinking back now - she very quickly crushed my belief in myself - everything I said about labour and waterbirth she slightly contradicted always putting herself at a greater power differential. I am annoyed at myself that from so early on I allowed her to dictate what I should and shouldn't do - I allowed her to follow me to the toilet and I allowed her to partially snatch my dh's role away from under his feet.

 Once in the pool I felt calmer - but the contractions were now coming thick and fast and I was finding it difficult to focus. The atmosphere seemed caotic to me. midwife2 had now arrived with her *expert* knowledge of waterbirth. They talked loudly amongst themselves -inbetween contractions they chatted about insignificant nothings; they answered their seemingly constantly ringing mobil phones noisily within earshot. All these things I had outlined on my birth plan as no-nos. OK, I didn't specifically refer to mobile phones, but please.......

 I spent my contractions in the pool leant over the side moaning into dh's chest, more to block out the noisy background than to express pain. At one crucial point I shouted at someone to turn off the music - perhaps now they would realise - I even said shsssssh be quiet - but no-one seemed to hear me!

 I soon felt unable to cope with the intensity of each contraction and willed my body to stop - give me respite slow down. I was out of control and wanted to regain it. Soon the contractions had stared to wain slightly - but I could feel my baby moving down even between contractions.

 It was then when I first picked up on the panic - midwife 1 began to fuss, touching my tummy during contractions - talking to me asking me if the contractions were as strong - was this a real contraction? She checked baby's heart beat and it was fine - no distress. I knew why the contrations had slowed and I was glad - I didn't want to carry on - I wanted space and quiet.

 Then began the bullying - I suggested that I got out for a while - I was conscious that they might want to transfer me if this carried on. They began to make what seemed like frantic phone calls to ask for advice. Then they had me marching up and down the stairs.

 Mistake 5 - another internal might speed things up -OK I now felt useless totally unconfident in my body's ability to do its job - I allowed midwife2 to do an internal and while she had her hand up me in mid contraction she informed me that she was going to sweep my membranes. OUch!!!!!! To this I never even consented!

 Then the contractions took on knew fervour and I felt unable to cope - I reentered the pool and flailed around uncontrollably. They kept nagging me to tell them if the contractions were getting more pushy. Now I felt as if I was manufacturing everything and I was desperate for it to end.

 Eventually I could feel the head with my hand and they told me to push - I wasn't even aware anymore of where the contractions were at - I just pushed with all my might. His head was born quickly and sat there. After checking for the cord they nagged me further to get the body out. midwife 1 started pushing on my abdomen and then her hands went down to try to pull him out of me. At this point I turned on her and said "please leave it alone" - so they withdrew and instead instructed me to push and pull.

 My one saving grace was that I had pulled him out myself.

 I managed without pain relief until moments before the birth when I had had a few lungfulls of Entonox, which helped me relax if nothing else.

 When I got out - more nagging continued in regard to expelling the placenta and midwife 2 even resorted to squeezing my nipples - again without my consent - in an attempt to get baby to suckle!

 So you see how I must feel. It took me 2 days to finally feel some attachment to my son - after the birth I just didn't even want to hold him.

 Now my hormones and my emotions have settled down I feel a lot more positive. midwife 1 came to visit and I hid - I couldn't face her so dh explained to her how I had felt about the experience.

 Dh felt bad because he hadn't picked up on my cues and told the midwives to leave me alone. As I got out of the pool I told him "I never ever want to go through that again" - How different from my birth experience with my daughter.

 I can honestly say that we had more privacy in hospital than at home. I can fully appreciate now why people go for unassisted births.

 For me, if there is a next time, I will hire an independent midwife and make sure she fully appreciates my needs and wishes.

 Kate
katepavey@yahoo.co.uk

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