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Homebirth after Group B Strep, by Leighann

Five and a half years ago I had my first child; half way through my pregnancy I was told that I had group B strep. At first I worried and wondered what this was, but was told that it was not serious and would just have to have intravenous antibiotics when I went into labour and that a hospital birth was my only option because of this. I had never heard of group B strep before and thought nothing more of it because the midwife had been so natural about it. So when I went into labour I was straight up the hospital and the IV was inserted. I also had to stay in hospital for two days and they still tried to push for a further day's stay, which I refused.

When I was expecting my second child, 3 1/2 years ago, I assumed the same protocol would be taken but was told because I had the IV antibiotics in my first labour that they had cleared up the group B strep and there was no risk to this child. I was thrilled but was told that I was to late to arrange a home birth. Looking back I was very trusting of the word of these midwives at the time but now realise they were after an easy life and took advantage of my näivety.

When I went for one check up I asked the midwife how I had got group B strep and she replied that it could have been contracted from bacteria on the equipment they use for smear tests, but it was nothing to worry about as it was not a risk to my health.

When I finally did go into labour I left it as long as possible to go into the hospital. When I arrived the midwife looked at me and told my husband I did not look like I was in that much pain so I couldn't possibly be that established in labour, but they agreed to check the babys heartbeat after protest from my husband, and sent me home. Luckily for me the hospital was five minutes' walk from my home. My husband took my son and his aunt, who was going to watch over my son while we was up the hospital, downstairs to the shop to by some dinner. Half an hour after arriving back from the hospital I felt the sudden urge to go to the toilet. Sure enough I had to push, my waters broke and 10 seconds after out she came out clean as a whistle.

After this experience I knew that I would never have another child in hospital again, so when I found out I was expecting my third child the decision was already made to have a home birth. The time came for my first midwives appointment, ( a different midwife team as I had moved by this time ), and I told her I was having a home birth. She loved the idea, but two issues were raised. The first was I was out of the hospitals boundaries by about a mile so a midwife would not be able to come out to me for a home birth, and secondly the group B strep was a problem.

I told her the information I was given about it being cleared up and she told me that it never clears up, but it can come and go. Luckily for me she was the nicest midwife I had ever come in contact with and told me that she would do everything in her power to get me my home birth. She referred me to the community midwife at the hospital and also to another hospital in my area to see if they could assist with my home birth.

When I went for my appointment I was about six and a half months gone. The midwife was very rude and told me that the hospital policy was a hospital birth and IV antibiotics administered at the onset of labour. I explained that I did not want a hospital birth and that my midwife had told me there was other ways around this. She got very uptight and stuck to her guns, and I stuck to mine. She then wrote all over my pregnancy notes GROUP B STREP - IV ANTIBIOTICS IN LABOUR AS PER PROTOCAL. This really annoyed me but then she applied stickers on the front of my pregnany notes saying NEONATAL ALERT and GROUP B STREP ALERT GIVE INTRAPARTUM IV ANTIBIOTICS. This embrassed me the next time I went for my midwife appointment because the stickers were illuminious yellow and attracted alot of attention.

My midwife told me I had caused quite a stir between the midwives and her herself had received a talking down to in a recent meeting about me. This made us both want to have a home birth even more and she contacted the other hospital in my area. They informed her that they would give me a home birth if they could swab me on two occassions and that group B strep was not present. I agreed and had the first swab done. After a week I recieved a call telling me that no group B strep was present. A midwife from that hospital came to visit me and went over the information about home births. A second swab was taken at 38 weeks.

Two days later my contractions started. They were quite mild but was told to contact the midwife as soon as I thought anything was happening. When she came she checked me over but told me third babies were notorious for long and slow deliveries.

The next day came and the contractions slowed down, I tried bringing them on by walking round the park and up and down the corridor of our home, but they only got slower. The next day the contractions had stopped. I kept an eye on the baby's movements and everything seemed fine with him although I was getting very impatient. That night I went to bed and managed to get some sleep.

At four in the morning I woke up as the contractions had started again and I did not want them to go away. I walked up and down the corridor over and over again and check the times of each contraction, 7 minutes apart, 6 minutes apart, 4 minutes apart, 3 minutes apart!! By this time it was seven o'clock so I decided to wake my husband to let him know it was definitly happening this time. He rung the midwife and she said she would be straight over. My two children and my husbands aunt woke up and started to get excited.

The midwife arrived and I opened the door. She looked at me and said she thought I was in labour. I told her I was and she checked me over, she told me I looked so calm even though the baby was ready to come out. The second midwife arrived and they casually talked as I breathed through my contractions.

Breaking the waters

Suddenly the pain started to get really intense; I couldn't remember this much pain with my other two, but the midwife examined me and said the baby was coming. She told me she could see the amniotic sac and that could be slowing the labour so I agreed for her to break my waters.

Face presentation

As soon as she had done this she had a worried look on her face. She said as she inserted her finger to break the waters she felt the baby's mouth. This meant the baby was in an unusual position - he was coming face first. She said I may have to go into hospital if anything went wrong and that I would have to push to hurry him out. After three pushes he was out.

The midwife told me the reason why I felt so much pain was the fact he was born face first. I still shudder when I think about it and try to explain to my husband, even though he was there holding my hand through it all, by demostrating with a jumper. I push my head through the opening normally first to show him how relately easy ( easier !!! ) it is then I show him the way our son was born by pushing my face through first. There is more akwardness, stretching and alot more pain. The midwife couldn't believe I didn't tear and that I managed with only gas and air.

Even though the contractions started three days before, it only took an hour for him to arrive. After they cleaned him up a bit, my two children came in to meet him and fussed over him instantly.

Forty five minutes later and the midwives had cleaned up and gone leaving me to relax in the comfort of my own home surrounded by my family. That is definitely the best part of a home birth, how quickly normality returns and how comfortable and relaxed you feel in familar surrounds and sharing those first few moments of a new child's life is spent with your other children. My son is now four months old and I will definitely be having another home birth the next time round, much to the dismay of my husband who can't believe I am already planning the next child.

Leighann Parker xxx

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