I decided quite late into my first pregnancy (32 weeks) that I would like a homebirth. I live in Exeter, Devon, and I asked my midwife and she said 'yes ok' - as if wasn't something she would suggest, but was quite happy to support it when I asked.
I ordered my birthpool and my husband and I laid blue tarpaulin over our dining room floor before building the pool. We filled and sat in it and had a beer 3 days before the birth!
Friday 12 March 04 - I had my first contraction at about 1am (I was out with my husband and his band at a gig) but didn't realise at the time - it was just a bit stronger than the Braxton Hicks - I had to sit down while it passed. Contractions became gradually stronger throughout the night, but I was able to sleep in between them and wasn't concerned enough to tell my husband. I tried to time them, but kept falling asleep before the next one would start.
Saturday 13 March 04 - I woke my husband at 10am to tell him I thought I was in labour. I had this magic rule in my head of 'contractions must be 5 minutes apart' - I had been told many times not to call the community midwives until they were. I decided to have breakfast and a bath and then call the midwife if I was still having contractions.
I never did eat my breakfast - I sat up in bed and had a big contraction and laid down again. I think I spent the next 4 hours just laying in bed and squirming. I called the midwife and she said she'd be there at about 3pm. I had to stay calm through all the contractions because my husband's daughter (aged 8) was being very concerned about the pain I was in, so I had to demonstrate that it really wasn't that bad! My husband took me to the toilet for a pooh! I was really pleased to have done a pooh as I didn't fancy poohing during labour.
My husband set about sterlising and filling the pool, the midwife arrived at 4pm and said I was almost fully dilated - yippee! I felt so happy about that. So I got in the pool and laboured in there - it was lovely having so much freedom to move. The second midwife arrived about 4:45pm. I had some gas & air although I didn't feel it was making me dizzy or light headed - I don't think I was really using it properly.
Waters broke in the pool at 5:30pm but I was so far into the second stage that I didn't feel the contractions got any worse. I felt my baby's crowning head with my fingers and remember it being quite squishy. As her head crowned I felt as though I might split and I pushed hard near my clitoris to stop it tearing! Not that it would have made much difference.
Roxy was born at 6:50pm and brought up out of the water by the midwife, and handed to me. She had been delivered with me in a sort of sitting position. I wanted a natural third stage but there was quite a lot of blood in the water so my husband cut the cord, and the midwife pulled the placenta out of me (it had already come away from my womb) while the other midwife cleaned up my baby and I got out of the water.
As I stood up on the floor blood poured out of me and everyone (apart from me!) started looking concerned. The midwives examined me (they had to borrow a torch - there should be one in the home birth kit!) and decided they couldn't work out why I was bleeding so much and that I ought to go into hospital. A catheter was inserted (I really didn't want one of those) and an ambulance turned up to take me in.
Meanwhile, my beautiful baby girl was given an Apgar score of 10, and weighed in at 8lb 3.5oz.
I was in hospital overnight and was monitored in the recovery room. The level of bleeding slowed and I never had to see a surgeon, which was a relief. The midwives later decided that because the second stage was so long (almost 3 hours), my womb was knackered and didn't have the energy to keep contracting after the placenta came away, so all the blood vessels stayed open.
I was allowed home at lunchtime on Sunday 14 March after proving that I could walk to the bathroom and wash myself and produce two good urine samples.
Over all, my homebirth experience was fantastic. The midwives were excellent - they just sat in my dining room and watched and gave me encouragement - perfect. It was so good that I have another homebirth arranged for number two baby - due in 5 weeks.
Update: Lucy's second baby, "Scrunchy", was also born at home.
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