Maisy-Jo and her big brother Connor
My name is Mandy R. I'm 25 and live in Kent. My first baby, Connor, was born in hospital in 2005. I had Pregnancy-Induced Hypertension and was booked in for induction (though I now believe this was unecessary). Luckily Connor decided to arrive naturally 2 days before the induction. It was a quick and smooth labour at home but when I reached the hospital I was encourage to push before I felt ready and as a result, spent 3 hours pushing and ended up with a deep tear. So I decided I wanted to have my next baby at home where I would feel more in control. The baby was due on Christmas day.
The evening of Thursday 21st December I had been experiencing some cramping but kept it quiet because we had people over for dinner and I didn't want to make a fuss if it turned out to be nothing. Joe was working away at the police college and had only come home for dinner. When everyone had gone, I told him about the cramping and joked that I might be calling him back home again during the night. I wasn't really serious and was fine about him leaving. He called me before he went to bed and asked how the cramping was, but it seemed to have stopped anyway. I went to bed feeling pretty certain that nothing was going to happen in the next 24 hours and we would probably still be stuck waiting on Christmas Day (my due date).
At 6.30am on Friday 22nd December I was woken by a really cramp which also made my back ache. I tried to go back to sleep but a few minutes later I felt another one. I thought it might be an upset stomach so I went to the toilet, but when I got back into bed I had another strong cramp. I started timing them and they were about 7 or 8 minutes apart.
By 7am I was pretty sure I was in labour but didn't want to set off a false alarm, so started pottering around the house, tidying up and generally wasting time. At 7.30am I gave in and called Joe. He had to pack up his things and check out of the college (it was their last day before Christmas) but said he would be home as quickly as possible. I also asked him to call his mum who was going to come and look after Connor. I pottered around the house again, the pains still coming every 7 minutes.
At 8am I called the labour ward and told them I was in labour and that I had booked a homebirth. They told me that it was changeover at the moment and that they would get a community midwife to call me back as soon as they had finished being briefed for the day. I then called my parents because my mum was going to be joint birth partner with Joe. They had been to a Christmas party the night before and were still at the hotel (fast sleep!) but they said they would be at my house in an hour or so.
Joe got home at 8.30am and got Connor up for me. He made me some breakfast because I felt hungry but I couldn't actually stomach anything so gave up. By this point the contractions were every 5-6 minutes. The phone rang and it was my allocated midwife. She was on duty that day and said she would come and deliver the baby for me. She had a couple of home visits to make and said she would try and fit them in before coming to me, but that I should call her if the contractions became less than 5 minutes apart or if I just felt I needed her there. I was more than happy to labour on my own because I'd done the same thing with Connor and had arrived at the hospital nearly ready to push. I prefer to deal with the pain by myself without lots of people fussing around me.
At 9am the contractions were quite painful and I was sure I was in established labour. I ran myself a bath which was bliss! The warm water was really relaxing and I was able to just breathe my way through each contraction while swishing my hands in the water, or gripping the sides of the bath. But by 9.30am I realised the contractions were coming every 3-4 minutes. I called to Joe and asked him to phone the midwife back. It turns out that she was parked outside our house anyway, having finished her home visits. She came upstairs and asked if I'd like her to examine me (I was really pleased that she asked rather than just ordering me to be examined). I was curious to know how far along I was so agreed and got out of the bath. She examined me on the bed and found I was already 7cm. I got back in the bath while she called for a second midwife to attend for the birth.
My mother-in-law arrived at 10am and took over Connor so Joe could be with me. I was really glad because I was just getting to the point where I needed him there. The midwife told Joe to splash water on my bump during each contraction and this really helped. The contractions were coming every couple of minutes and were really painful, but I did the same as I did during labour with Connor and just closed my eyes and hummed through each one.
At 10.30am the second midwife arrived. At this point the contractions were almost constant and were becoming a bit unbearable, so I asked for gas and air. The second midwife went off to get some, but as soon as she returned to the bathroom I felt the urge to push! I hadn't experienced this with Connor so it was quite a surprise. I told the midwives and they helped me out of the bath and into the bedroom. I got on the bed on my hands and knees and it felt really comfortable so I stayed in that position. I got Joe to stack the pillows up in front of me and between pushes I used the pillows to rest on.
It had taken 3 hours to push Connor out so it was quite a shock to feel Maisy-Jo coming out so quickly. It took around 10 pushes until her head crowned and then it was one big push (and a lot of panting) for the head, followed by another big push for the body. My waters broke just before Maisy crowned.
Maisy-Jo was born at 10.44am on Friday 22nd December weighing 7lbs 6ozs. She had a really short cord so the midwife couldn't pass her to me straight away, they had to clamp and cut the cord first. But while they did that I could still see her lying underneath me (I was still on my hands and knees!). I remember Joe asking "Is it a girl?" and I realised I hadn't checked that bit! I looked and told him it was. The midwife told me to turn over and she passed Maisy-Jo to me. It was such a lovely moment and I was so glad to be in my own home without all the horrible medical equipment everywhere. My mum arrived a few minutes later! It was a shame she missed the birth but she came straight upstairs and met Maisy-Jo.
I had the injection to speed up delivery of the placenta and there was a bit of messing about as the midwife tried to remove a bit of membrane that was left inside me. But I was relieved when she declared there was no tearing!
My mum helped me back into the bath and the midwife brought Maisy-Jo in to share the bath with me. It was really nice to hold her and wash her myself. With Connor I had been too sore to give him his first wash. The midwife dressed Maisy-Jo for me while my mum helped me to get out and get dressed. Then Joe took Maisy-Jo downstairs to meet the rest of the family while I settled back in to bed (which my mum had made up with fresh bedding).
Maisy-Jo with her dad
I still can't believe I managed the whole thing with absolutely no pain relief. But I'm glad it was so quick. The midwife recorded established labour as just 1 hour (because that's how long she was there before the birth) but I think I probably woke up in established labour, so it was more like 4 hours.
Mandy and Maisy-Jo
I would highly recommend homebirth to anyone. It was amazing – so relaxed and peaceful. It was lovely to get back into my own bed afterwards with my family around me. I stayed in bed with Maisy-Jo for a couple of days afterwards and let everyone wait on me while I bonded with her. It was a lovely experience.
The Third Stage of Labour - what are your options, and the pros and cons of each? How does it affect the baby if the cord is cut immediately after birth?
Fast Labours - is quicker always better? What do you do if your baby is arriving faster than your midwife?
Pain relief - what are your options at home?
Siblings at a home birth - what to do with your older children? Should they be present?
Home Birth Stories
Home Birth Reference Page