Laura was planning a home birth when, at 37 weeks gestation, she was told that her liquor volume (amniotic fluid) was reduced, and that her baby was "very small" (below 3rd centile). She contacted the Association of Radical Midwives to get more opinions on how safe home birth would be in this sitation.
After I placed my plea for help on-line, I contacted a number of independent and fairly radical midwives, one of whom had delivered a small baby boy for a friend of mine (he was 5lbs 4oz and ten days early). The estimated birth weight for my baby was now 4lb, and even this particular midwife seemed reluctant to go through with this, especially as my liquor volume was depleted. My liquor volume was on the 0.2nd centile (I think, although the hospital now have my records).
I spent the last weeks of my pregnancy in a miserable and panicked frenzy, convinced that my baby was going to die etc etc. My original midwife told me all along that I could deliver at home if I chose to do so, and that legally she would have to assist me, but that she had done so before and that baby had died during labour. Eventually, I went to look at The Home from Home unit in Leeds General Infirmary, an NHS hospital. I decided that the midwives there were extremely grounded, and knew exactly what woman-centred care meant. The unit itself was nothing special but they allowed candles, music, total privacy, big bath, etc etc. We decided to go there in the end.
My labour was 26 hours long, 21 of which I spent at home, cooking, wandering around the village etc etc. I was determined not to panic and found this very easy once labour started - it was as if there was only one wasy for this to go, and it was going to happen whatever state the baby was in! So I went for it. The midwife on duty was amazing, let us get on with it, followed my birth plan to the letter. Even though the baby spent quite a long time in distress, the staff held back from offering me an emergency Caesarian.
I delivered a baby girl spontaneously and with a great big yell at 12.30 on November 20th 1999, with a bit of assistance from Helios Homeopathics (arnica - the miracle remedy!). She weighed 5lbs 1oz, 10 days late.
We were transferred to Transitional Care since she was fairly weak, unable to maintain her body temperature or blood sugar. The TC ward is meant to be somewhere in between Special Care and normal post natal, where babies receive 24 hour care but mothers are allowed to keep their babies with them. I was even allowed to take Martha into bed with me as soon as she was able to maintain her temperature. She was fed via a nasogastric tube, at first with formula milk (yuk) but as soon as my milk came in I was able to express it and feed it to her myself via her little tube. They estimated that we would be home in three weeks. It took four days!
Being in hospital was unpleasant in that it was not my ideal place to give birth, but given that my pregnancy had been somewhat complicated, and that my midwife had been so uneasy about it, in retrospect it was perfect. I was lucky in terms of both the midwife on duty and my labour.
We have called her Martha Chloe, and she is now catching up with all her NCT buddies. She is breast-fed.
It's nice to be able to report something positive about unplanned hospital births. All of the stories I heard when I was in the throes of my panic were very negative.
Anyway, I hope it helps at least one mum-to-be.
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