Although the birth of my lovely daughter Isabella was not the homebirth I planned I feel that my experience was positive because I had planned a homebirth, knew my choices and felt informed.
Firstly I want to say that the following experience has reinforced my belief in homebirth and although mine did not work out this time I fully intend to plan the same again next time.
I was given the 3rd Jan as my EDD by hospital even though I had worked it out as the 30th Dec. I never argued though as I knew that this being my first baby I may well go past the date given and that by going by their date I would buy myself 4 extra days without any pressure from them.
As I thought my date came and went. I had done a Hypnobirthing course and used this as well as Clary Sage and every other method in the book to get things going. Eventually on Thurs 10th Jan I had a show. I was already booked in with my MW that morning and so I went to the appt and she told me I was 1 cm dilated but the head was high and the cervix long. She thought I would have a baby by weekend.
I went home and started to get the house ready. We had bought a Birthpool In A Box (BPIAB) and we had set it up already so all we needed to do was fill it when the time came. I was happy enough on Thurs and things seemed to be going well. Overnight the contractions started getting closer and at 0700 on Fri 11th we rang the MW. She arrived and examined me and told me although I had progressed it wasn't much and that I was still in the early stages. She went away and called back after lunch but things were still the same.
I have to say at this point that the community MW's were fantastic and were all really supportive. None of them were worried about me taking so long and were detrmined for me to have a homebirth, which was lovely. By Saturday things had really started to pick up and on Sat evening my contractions were 3 mins apart. The mW came and had a look at me and again although things had changed very slightly nothing significant was happening. Still nobody mentioned hospital and everyone was really positive that I could do this.
Early Sunday morning my contractions were on top of each other and the MW returned. I was so glad it was a MW who I had seen a lot during my pregnancy and I felt a real bond with her. She examined me and I was now 3cm. She told me to fill the pool and get in if I felt I needed to. I did and it was magical. Oh my god - I never felt relief like it! She said she wanted to leave me and observe me for 4 hours and then if I would let her she would examine me again. I agreed. I had been in labour almost 3 days by this point and was tired. The pool helped me rest and I even managed to fall asleep in between contractions.
At 1200 we cracked open the gas and air and the she examined me. Nothing had changed even though I had been contracting as though I was almost ready. She asked if I would go to hospital and I could tell that she was worried so I agreed. I knew she would never ask me to unless she thought it was necessary. My contractions had gone off a little.
On the way to the hospital I had three contractions and I felt a little bit of fluid leaking. Once there they hooked me up to a monitor and examined me. I was now 4 cm.
They offered me syntocinon (to 'augment' the labour, ie bring on stronger contractions) and I said no. I said that I would consider it in an hour. After being on the monitor for about 15 mins my husband noticed that the baby's heartbeat seemed to keep going down. He went to get the MW and she came to see me. The community MW stayed with us in the hospital, which was great, and so in the end I had 2 MW with me all the time.
After monitoring me they said that Isabella was struggling with the contractions but seemed to be recovering. Good job I refused the syntocinon then!! (Syntocinon can make labour more stressful for the baby). The Dr was really good and was really determined that I would have a natural birth. He explained everything to me and felt that every decision was mine to make and that because I had planned a homebirth I was informed enough to know what he was talking about and knew enough to make the right choices.
After a while though her heartbeat changed and she was no longer recovering so well. They said they could either do a section now or take some blood from the baby's head to check what was wrong. I opted for the test. After three attempts they were unsucessful and after about 10 mins the atmosphere in the room changed. They told me they really wanted to do a section and I agreed.
I got very upset but the staff were really good. Everything went really quickly then and I was rushed into theatre. Five mins later Isabella appeared. I was in some pain and so had some heavy duty drugs and the only thing that I really remember is someone saying 'Bloody hell she is 10lb 4oz'. My husband went to see her and brought her over to me. He sat with me holding her while the team sorted me out and then I was taken to the post natal ward with Isabella in my arms.
I know some of you may be reading this and thinking oh my god! I have to say though that I feel really good about it. It turned out that she had the cord around her neck twice then the cord started to prolapse. She passed meconium in the womb, she was OP (occiput posterior, ie facing mum's tummy - this can make labour more difficult - see 'Optimum Foetal Positioning') and her chin was up - oh and she had no water around her at all so my waters must have broke at some point without me knowing. The trickle in the car was the last of it. Basically everything bad!
What it has proved is that for any of you that are worried about things going wrong during a homebirth I am an example of that if things do go wrong it will be ok. You can get to hospital and although it may not end up exactly as planned you can still have a positive outcome - ie a healthy baby.
I will be planning a homebirth VBAC for my next one and have already discussed it with my MW. If I had not planned a homebirth the hospital would have kept sending me home thinking I was a first time mum who was in early labour, but because of my homebirth I had a great support team and had done enough research to know what they were saying to me.
I used the birthpool and will be keeping it for next time. I would encourage anybody to go for a homebirth. Those days I laboured at home were fantastic and I coped with only a tens machine. I was relaxed and felt really comfy.
They allowed me home after less than 48 hours as I was up and about and doing things myself. The hospital staff were brill and I have no complaints about any of the care I received.
Good luck to everyone out there and I will continue to read all the posts so that I will continue to be informed for my next birth - which I have every intention of being a homebirth!
Transferring to hospital - why it might be advised.
First Babies and homebirth
Big babies and homebirth
Meconium in the waters - what does it mean? Should you go to hospital?
Pain relief - what are your options at home?
Waterbirth at home
Get Your Baby Lined Up - what it means when your baby gets in an awkward position, and what you can do about it.
Hypnotherapy for childbirth
Homebirth UK email group
Home Birth After Caesarean
UK VBAC/homebirthAC (Home Birth After Caesarean/ Vaginal Birth after Caesarean}) group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ukvbachomebirthac
Home Birth Stories
Home Birth Reference Page