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Casper's birth story, by Liz

Morgan, my oldest son, was born at the end of September 2000. I had wanted a homebirth but had been told this was not advisable for a first baby (for alternative views on this, see Homebirth for first babies!). He was born on his due date in a local birth centre. Sadly, this was a birth centre in name only and I was left alone in labour for long periods of time, given pethidine and forcibly encouraged to go through the whole of the second stage lying on my back with no pain relief. Luckily, the whole labour took only five hours and I discharged myself a few hours later.

When I was pregnant for the second time, I was absolutely determined that I was not going to the birth centre again. Indeed, I felt panicky on the day of my 20 week scan which was along the corridor from the birth centre!

Casper was due on 27th July 2003 and it seemed a very long wait until I started feeling uncomfortable on the 4th August. It was an extremely hot day and I had mild, niggling tummy ache from 4am onwards. My mum came to pick up Morgan (then 2 years 10 months) but by 3pm I was bored, decided I was not in labour at all and phoned for her to bring him back. Mum said she would keep him there to have some tea - and it's a good job she did!

At 3.20pm I had a proper contraction at last! 7 minutes went by and then I had another. The next was 5 minutes later then they kept coming every 2 minutes. Things were obviously happening quickly so I ran upstairs at top speed during one of the gaps between contractions.

My now ex-husband put an old groundsheet on the bedroom floor and I knelt on two pillows on that. He phoned the midwife, who came very quickly considering we live 10 miles from the hospital. We later discovered she had guessed I would go into labour soon (she had seen me earlier in the day when I was having occasional twinges) and was sitting at her colleague's house just down the lane waiting for our call! Her name was Kirsty; she was very sensible and although I had not met her before that day, I liked her straight away.

Basically, all we had to do whilst waiting for Casper was try and keep cool! It was the hottest day of the year at 36 degrees and we had the window open and 2 fans blowing and it was boiling! Ex-husband had to keep getting glasses of water for everyone, then getting fresh ones because the water would warm up.

At 4pm or so a 2nd midwife (Ellie) arrived with 2 minuscule cylinders of gas and air which I drained very quickly. She went off to get some more but did not reappear until 5 mins before Casper was born as she got stuck in traffic. So I did the painful bit with no pain relief!

Anyway, the first stage went from 3.20 until 5.40pm and was not too bad. I spent the whole time kneeling on the floor. Pushing started at 5.40 (although I did not push myself, my body did it for me). I could feel the head inching down which was not painful and, at the last minute, I thought I should tell someone as I was still fully clothed! I got my trousers off 2 seconds before my waters broke and Casper was born 5 mins after that.

He was 50cm long and 7lbs 6oz. He had been breech until 36 weeks and we had thought perhaps he was tangled in the cord which is why it was so hard for him to go head down. But, when he was born, the midwife could not hand him to me because the cord was too short. We both just lay on the floor in a bit of a heap!

The placenta came 20 mins later without syntometrine. Because the cord was so short it was impossible to pick Casper up/cuddle him etc so the cord was cut before that. The waters had contained old meconium so the midwife took him off for a bath and Martyn had to mop up and throw both of our pillows away! I wish I had used some old ones!

I had no stitches and was up and about 10 minutes after the placenta dropped out.

I would really recommend homebirth. There is no pressure or hurry and you can potter around the house afterwards without feeling you have to do everything right with midwives watching you. It was a tremendous experience.

Liz

Morgan and Casper

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