We had planned a homewaterbirth for our first baby but didn't quite make it so here goes...
I was due on 18th but had a strong feeling that baby wasn't coming until the 21st. I always thought we'd have a solstice baby so wasn't surprised when nothing happened on monday. Tuesday morning went for long dog walk and practice contractions started to actually feel uncomfortable and by early evening they were definite contractions 4 minutes apart slowing to 7-10 minutes all night so didn't get any sleep, nor did partner who had to rub my back every contraction so I phoned labour ward wednesday to warn them that the midwives might need to come out. They came in the afternoon and I was 3-4cm dilated.
It was lovely to be at home with my family and mum, sister and partner all took turns rubbing my back and the dog was happy to be leaned on as well. The pool was prepared and I was looking forward to getting in later. Everything got pretty intense and I spent the whole time moaning and moving around, climbing on sofas, leaning over the pool and not really knowing what to do with myself.
Late on wednesday I got to the point where I felt a bit out of control and started to panic through contractions so we phoned Rose the midwife and she came to stay. She said I could get in to the pool so I did and it felt lovely, but the only position I felt comfortable was leaning over the side and the water wasn't quite deep enough and I kept shivering violently even though it wasn't cold in the room but I kept going, listening to Rose and my partner discussing allsorts while eating mincepies. Then suddenly I felt completely normal and clear headed and looked up and said wow I feel fine but this is wierd.
Rose thought I might be in transition and said I should maybe try and get the waters to break by squatting so I got out of the pool but this seemed to go on for ages and finally mum convinced me to let Rose examine me to see if I was fully dilated. I was and she asked if she could break my waters with her finger so I agreed but they were really tough and she broke them with that knitting-needle-like stick. I had felt at this point that I didn't want to give birth in the water as I just couldn't get comfortable so ended up on a futon mattress on the floor on my back. (not what I'd planned).
So for the next 5 hours we tried all positions and I pushed so hard, didn't really feel strong pushing urges though and I kept shaking violently and became so exhausted as I hadn't hardly eaten or slept. My legs just weren't strong enough squatting or standing and nearly broke my partners neck hanging off it so kept going back on my back and changing positions. The two midwives were really directing me in how to push but I was past caring and losing hope that baby was ever going to come as he seemed to be stuck on the bend but they kept shouting we can see the head come on push as hard as you can. They offered me a local aneasthetic in my perineum which I declined and eventually the second midwife said we had a time limit of 15 minutes and then we were going to hospital for forceps or ventouse. That just made me feel hopeless instead of making me more determined and I felt so bad that I couldn't give birth at home and the midwives seemed to lose interest a bit.
Baby's heartbeat was amazingly strong throughout, it was me they were concerned about so the ambulance came and I had to walk, stopping to push in the hallway on the stretcher, in the hospital corridor and while trying to get on the bed, feeling hopeless but kind of accepting the coming intervention.
So all the doctors piled in the room and started saying right we need to do episiotomy, put you on a drip and prepare forceps with me saying no I can do it and then my partner had an argument with the main doctor and a midwife, stating that we wanted to try to stick to the birth plan as the baby and me were not in danger and I just needed more time, got quite heated and the midwife walked out. They both apologised to my partner and he and my midwife said look next contraction just see how close the head is, so I pushed as hard as I could and they agreed that maybe I could do it.
So I declined an episiotomy and drip and Rose kind of held me open a bit with her finger, and within two contractions baby's head was round the bend and on the way out, hurray, then we carefully crowned the head and it was only because he had his arm round his neck with an elbow sticking out that I tore and baby was born. Thank god. That was all within half hour of arriving. I let them do the assisted third stage as they were very concerned about Hemorage which I accepted and we were left to enjoy baby Ash who came out with an almighty cry of strength as his heart beat never dipped all the way through.
We actually left the hospital within 5 hours of arriving after being stitched up and checked over. So even though we didn't quite make it at home I feel very proud of the fact that I still managed a natural delivery in hopsital, thanks to my partner who spoke up for me when I would've agreed to anything and my wonderful midwife Rose who believed that I could do it and directed me through it, and my mum who was there throughout.
I also feel proud that I never touched the gas and air which I never quite felt that I needed as my partners hand on my back seemed to be the best relief.
All in all an amazing, horrendous, emotional, exhausting experience and I have big respect for all mothers. Thank you so much to everyone in this group who gave such helpful advice and the homebirth website which gave me the courage to stick with my homebirth plans and I wouldn't have done it any other way as I know if we had started in hospital they definitely would've intervened. I will defintely plan another homebirth when I'm ready for the next one. Now I look at my beautiful son and know that I have the strength to get through anything because I got through the birth so good luck to all mothers to be, you have more strength and power inside you than you would believe.
From Laura, Roy and Baby Ash
Home Birth Stories
First Babies and homebirth
Transferring to hospital - why it may be advised, and experiences from women who've done it.
Homebirth UK email group
Home Birth Reference Page