LW lives in America, where she had two induced hospital births, followed by a homebirth for Hannah Elizabeth. She gave birth in her large bathtub, supported by her husband and midwives who kept discreetly in the background for most of her labour. Dad has added his perspective on homebirth.
I was about 8 months into this, my third pregnancy. I'd been watching what seemed like hundreds and hundreds of births on discovery health channel, not to mention all the research from books and web sites. Deep in my mind I confirmed that I really desired a natural water birth.. The two previous births were done without pain meds. I felt that I went nine months very carefully monitoring everything that went into my mouth. Why couldn't I continue that last day. Surely my healthy baby was worth a little discomfort?. I did end up with IVs for pitocin inductions with the previous births. I would rather not have had medical inductions but when you are offered repeatably the control freak in me consented.
My insurance would never cover a birth center birth so I was left at having another birth at Alexandria Hospital. I delivered Gabriella there 19 months ago. The experience was overall a positive one although this time I wanted to make rational informed decisions about this birth. I didn't want to be accepting of protocol just because I was in too much pain to decide otherwise.
I'm a believer in positive thinking and intentions. Side note - If you have not seen 'The Secret' go out and get it today. http://thesecret.tv/
So as it happened, one day I was searching for doula to attend a hospital birth and also take photos. I came across Tammi. She was a licensed midwife. She did not do hospital births or take photos but she did do home water births and in a million to one shot, she happened to be approved by Tricare. http://naturalbeginnings.org/
I'm not sure if Todd thought I was kidding when I asked him about it but he consented and the next day the planning started.
Fast forward to week 39. Todd arrives from Ft Drum. My belly is larger than I ever thought it could stretch. I am ready to have this baby. The next day we visit an acupuncturist to help labor begin. He has a 90% success rate but he does caution me that if the baby is not ready the baby will stay put till it is ready. That is precisely what she did. The following Friday, which by the way is exactly 40 weeks from the day she was conceived, the contractions I'd been feeling all week turned and kicked into production mode.
I was one cm dilated and 50-80% effaced for over two weeks. That morning I went for my last appointment with Tammi. I was then 3 cm! Contractions weren't painful but enough to know something was going on. Todd picked up Tiffany from school and made a wonderful spaghetti dinner (which I would later regret but at the time it was marvelous).
After dinner I went up stairs to mentally prepare. I got out my child birth hypnosis CD's and retreated to let nature take its course. Hypnosis for child birth is a wonderful for relaxation and natural pain relief. I didn't get to listen to the CD's every day with a toddler running around but I highly recommend it. http://www.hypnobabies.com
Around 10:30 the contractions were getting stronger and about 10 mins apart. I let Todd know it was time to call Tammi. She said to monitor and call her back in 30 mins. They were growing stronger and closer so she was on her way. I decided it was time for the tub. I filled it and waited patiently till it was just the right temperature. It was like magic! Every time a contraction came the warm water would relax everything. I spent the first hour or so sitting on the edge of the tub. Contractions were coming and I would pop in the water for instant relief. At that time I did not know if the relaxing water would slow things down so I was perfectly content with the in and out. I chose to turn the lights out and work by candle light.
Tammi and the assistant arrived around 11:30. They set up and checked in on how I was doing. They listened to baby's heart, took my blood pressure and temp then moved back to the loft area and waited.
My first thought was "OK they are here now, shouldn't they be telling me how to get the baby out?" Then I figured out, it was my birth and I would be letting baby do its thing. Todd was there for me timing contractions and rubbing my back and shoulders. They came in on a regular basis to check baby vitals but for the most part were just outside the door unless I sounded like I needed them.
I did ask to be checked to see how far I was and learned I was at 7 cm. About that time things were too intense for my merrily popping in and out of the tub. I settled down in the water for good and the 'party' started. Contractions were about 4 mins apart and even the warm water was less effective, but comforting nonetheless.
Now things from that point get blurry. We set up the video camera but in the early stages only turned it on for a couple mins at a time, not knowing how long the process would be. We never remembered to turn it back on though.
The contractions were pushing me into that other world. Do you know the feeling when you are in so much pain that you are not really present? There was no turning back. Poor Todd - He was left to deal with the coping measures of the irrational 'labor moans'.
I would begin to doubt myself. I wanted to be anywhere but there. If the Dominoes guy offered to do a Cesarean section on the spot, I would have been willingly climbing on the table. Moaning is I guess an understatement, as my throat hurt all during the next day. Fortunately I did have the frame of mind to ask someone to close the window on the other side of the tub. Wouldn't want the neighbors calling the police.
I knew in my mind and my heart that I could do it and that transition was at hand. But in my mouth was an entirely different set of statements.
It HURTS, I can't do this anymore..
Then I noticed Tammi and Lori were in the room. I KNEW it would be over soon. Tammi suggested I try changing positions. Hey, that sounded like a good idea. I used the weightlessness of the water to turn my self over and lean on the outside edge of the tub.
I continued my rants and raves but felt much less pressure then I had been sitting down. I knew this position was better for allowing more room for baby to pass.
Tammi suggested I could try pushing and see if it felt like it was time.
Now here is the part where that fabulous dinner Todd prepared was not so fabulous. But if at anytime I were to ever doubt his love for me I just have to think back to this time. I'm lucky to have him, my best friend. He comforted me, we joked back and forth and I knew at that time like no other, he was for real, for ever.
Now I would like to think I'm somewhat strong physically. I've taken and received my share of physical tests and punishments with 5 years of Taekwondo. My first birth 11 years ago with Tiffany I was fearful of pushing with everything I had because the thought of having a BM was too much to imagine. The second birth 20 months ago I was fearful of tearing. That ring of fire thing is no joke.
I pushed because I wanted to be done. Out came the head, at least half way. Then I took a break and a breath. The head started to go back. Then before I knew it everyone was in the bath tub. Once head starts to come out baby needs to keep coming out and they were making sure she was coming out. A minute later it was over. Hannah was on my chest. I was back from that other world and here to admire our newest addition. She arrived at 2:35 am weighing in at 8 lbs 14 0z, 21 inches long.
Hannah was meeting her mommy and daddy. She remained in mom's or dad's arms at all times. I did not want her cord clamped too early as with the other births. I was too exhausted to really help in getting the placenta out. When it did come out there was no rush afterwards. The midwives took quick vitals and then retreated and we bonded with our baby. When they came back in the room an hour later we weighed baby then cut the cord, which had officially completed its mission.
We had a stack of warm blankets from the heating pad so when the midwives left around 5 we re-wrapped her and laid down for an hour or so. Gabriella was the first one awake at 6:30, like clockwork. I woke Tiffany and we headed down stairs for Hannah to meet her new family.
I look back on the entire experience and it's hard to belive what I accomplished, yet not hard as millions have done it before me. Overall I am pleased. I have a happy, healthy baby and we were surrounded by loving supportive people that care.
So what are the advantages and disadvantages of the home birth compared to the hospital births? I've been keeping a list...
I was really looking forward to getting another one of the water mugs from the hospital. I don't think we were really prepared for the clean-up task.
would take me another 9 months to list.
A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world.
When my wife initially informed me she wanted to have Hannah at home, I was not immediately sold on the idea. I gave it some long thought and came to the conclusion that a very important aspect of Hannah's birth was my wife's comfort. I had some apprehension initially because this type of birth is not a societal norm. In fact I can't think of one person I know who has had a home birth.
My wife had me prepare a list of questions and concerns I had and she set about getting them answered. I think one thing that made it easier to decide in favor of my wife's wishes was the birth of our first child Gabriella. She was born in a hospital, but she was delivered by a Midwife. I don't remember the Doctor seeing my wife once during the process. So, I thought if a Midwife could do it at the hospital she could do it at our home.
Now lets talk about BM. I was not expecting this. It was no big deal, however I just wish I would have known about it in advance. Besides, with her doing that in the tub, I surely have a green light to pee in the shower.....right Honey? Seriously though I highly recommend having a small fish net, like the ones you buy for an aquarium. This will make it much easier to clean up.
(Note from Angela: a kitchen sieve also does the job very well, and some birth pools are supplied with one! )
Overall the process was great and I will do it again for the next couple of kids we have...right Honey??? We could not have had better Midwives then Tammi and Lori. They really made my wife feel comfortable. They were great.
If you made it this far, Thanks for reading and sharing our story of the birth of Hannah Elizabeth
There are more photos of beautiful Hannah Elizabeth and her family on LW's blog
Fathers and home birth - fathers' feelings about the birth, and how they can help.
Hypnotherapy for childbirth
Blood on the carpet - How much mess are you likely to encounter at a homebirth, and what can you do about that carpet?!
Waterbirth at home
Independent Midwives - what they do, and where to find one.
The Third Stage of Labour - what are your options, and the pros and cons of each?
Home Birth Stories
Home Birth Reference Page