Catherine's Birth - by Laura

Catherine, Laura's third baby, was born at home on 10 May 2001, 12 days past her due date.

Having had my first baby in hospital and my second on the Domino scheme, both without major incident, I decided about 4 months into my third pregnancy that I wanted to avoid hospital if at all possible and opted for a home birth. My (female)consultant was fairly negative, stressing that there is no obstetric or paediatric flying squad in my area, ("If my baby needed resuscitating I'd want it done by a paediatrician, not a midwife") but the GP and community midwives were supportive, other than expressing a few worries about the white bedroom carpet, and also informing me that if I needed stitches I might need to wait for a midwife to come on duty who did suturing as they're not all trained in this apparently.

Notes from Angela:

The lack of an obstetric flying squad is often mentioned by doctors who do not support home births, but in fact such squads have been discontinued largely because research has suggested it is more effective to simply transfer to hospital in an ambulance. This is noted in The GP's Guide to Home Birth, published by Bandolier.

White carpets should not be a problem for anyone planning a home birth, as Laura's experience shows - see 'Blood on the Carpet?' for more details!

Back to Laura:

However by the time I got to 11 days overdue I was giving up on the whole idea and resigning myself to being induced. Surprisingly my consultant said I could go to 18 days over with her blessing, but fixing the date did the trick and I woke up at about 12.45 with an urgent need for the loo quickly followed by several fairly insistent period type pains about 5 minutes apart. Not wanting to get my hopes up after a false start a few nights previously I wasn't going to wake anyone up but the pains were clearly progressing so I kicked the husband out of bed at 1.15 and rang the midwives' office.

I was very lucky that Margaret, the midwife who has looked after me throughout the pregnancy, was on duty and she arrived at 2 am by which stage I was "enjoying" an aromatherapy bath (clary sage) which seemed to be keeping the contractions manageable. I had to get out eventually to be examined but on being told I was only 4 cm, with the pains stepping up quite fiercely, I was wondering how long I'd hold out.

A few contractions later I was thinking about the pethidine stashed away in the back of the wardrobe (on prescription from the GP, just in case) when I started feeling the need to bear down and realised it was probably too late. I didn't have a clue what position I wanted to be in except that I couldn't stand being on my bottom, so Margaret suggested piling all the pillows (about 8, I'd stocked up) and going on all fours resting my upper body on top of the pile. I gave it a try and fortunately it was comfortable as the baby then started moving down quickly and I couldn't have moved if I'd wanted to. My husband's role from then on was simply to stop me toppling off the pile. He took the opportunity to bury his face in the pillows next to mine (bit squeamish, bless him).

Margaret was telling me to breathe through the contractions but there was nothing I could do to avoid bearing down and my daughter was born with no pushing as such at all, at 3.10am, 2 ½ hours after I'd woken up.

Margaret politely didn't say what sex the baby was, so that we could discover this for ourselves, but I couldn't turn round and I knew there was no way my husband would be looking, so I had to ask!

I had an injection (probably syntometrine) and the placenta arrived soon afterwards, as did the second midwife who had got lost on the way. I had a slight tear (caused by her coming out with her hand up) which Margaret was happy to stitch herself. My mother was able to come in and cuddle her first granddaughter whilst I got cleaned up, and I toddled off for a shower while the mess was dealt with. As it had all been a bit quick we hadn't got properly organised with the plastic sheeting, and had just thrown a few Pampers Care mats around, but the carpet remained untouched.

My younger son woke up about 4.30am and was a bit unsettled by the to-ing and fro-ing, so he got taken off to watch Teletubbies. The older one wandered in about 5.30 and was delighted to meet his baby sister. Clearly the pile of pillows did the trick in muffling my groans as they had slept through the whole thing, despite being in the next room.

Catherine is a hungry but relaxed baby (8lb 2oz). I am delighted to have finally managed a natural birth, and I'm sure the speed of the labour must have been due in part to the fact that I was able to stay upright the whole time rather than on my bottom strapped to a monitor as I was with my previous babies. The whole experience was exactly the kind of birth I had hoped for, and could not have gone any better.

Laura

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