Hannah's home birth

by Maria

Maria's first baby, Hannah, was born at home, with support from a midwife and a doula. Maria had a long labour - 40 hours in total - and spaced-out contractions in second stage. Despite this, she managed to give birth to her baby naturally. Maria, her midwife and doula are all from the USA, so there may be elements of her care which would not be typical for women in the UK.

From the very beginning I had decided I want it to be home birth and not go to hospital. My due date was June 15.

During late May and early June I began having light cramps like menstrual cramps. They were there for couple of weeks, and then at one time I even got quite strong cramps and loose bowel movements for about one hour, but then rain started and the atmospheric pressure or something changing made those cramps to stop. That stopped the cramping almost totally for over a week, and so my due date came and went and I was almost getting impatient a little maybe.

But then early Wednesday morning June 26th those cramps began again. Hannah was eventually born Thursday evening 9:35 so it was about 40 hours of labor, total, but the beginning was so light that I didn't know I was in labor. I thought maybe it was still some of those practice cramps. All day Wednesday those cramps kept on going but only around 6 pm was I kind of thinking that it might be labor. Well, even then it was my husband who said we should go to where my doula lived. That is where I had planned to give birth since she had more room than our place. She lived near, about 10 minutes walking distance.

I had an enema and we walked on there. While walking I had several contractions, stronger than during the day but still light enough I could walk through them. The midwife was there right afterwards to check me. I was dilated 2 cm as I had been for the last several weeks.

That night the contractions kept on coming and got some stronger but didn't increase in frequency too much. Actually they slowed down so that around 2-3 am they were 15 minutes apart and I slept in between them from maybe 3 till 6 am.

I remember we tried hastening them by walking so we went for an evening walk with my hubby for a while, and I did have several contractions during that time, while visiting some neighbors, but they didn't really speed up from that.

I tried different positions but for the most part I was liking just standing and leaning against my husband or my doula. I also leaned against the armchair's back side (still standing). I was quiet most of the time, just concentrating on the contraction until it got over. They felt pretty yucky, very unpleasant with dull pain. It was different from what I had expected, because in my mind I thought the pain would be sharp, but no, it was more like a dull pain but very unpleasant.

Then all day Thursday the contractions kept on coming maybe 10 or 15 minutes apart, not really coming closer together. It was just very slow going in that sense, but the contractions were effective, and I was getting dilated. We tried herbs and essential oils and walking but they didn't speed them up. I ate several times - a friend of ours was providing meals for our little team. And I was hungry too, as you can imagine.

Then by suppertime Thursday finally the contractions became stronger so I could only eat one piece of bread. I was almost at the transition stage then. They were quite strong contractions there in the early evening, 6 - 7 pm, and the midwife checked and said I was totally dilated. So pushing began, and that lasted couple of hours I think. I don't have track of time for those hours. Even in pushing stage the contractions were 15 minutes apart, and I was eagerly awaiting them to come each time. But this way I got to rest a lot in between contractions. The midwife said that because of that, the baby probably wasn't extremely stressed by the birth. And true, Hannah was very alert for a long time after birth, from about 9:30 when she was born till 4 am when I finally got to go to sleep.

At a certain point my waterbag bulged outside, and the midwife ruptured it. Seemingly if she hadn't punctureded it, Hannah would have been born inside the water bag.

I was pushing on the bed, side-lying, with hopes that that would give the camera a good view (we were having the birth videotaped by a family member). Then I would get up for a time, and get back down on the bed whenever they wanted to check the baby's heartbeat. I tried the birthing stool, but felt funny sitting on it. All this pressure down there made for such a confused feeling that I felt I was sitting on baby's head or something, though intellectually I knew that wasn't the case. But I didn't feel comfortable enough on it so I changed again.

Finally I tried half-kneeling, leaning on the bed with one knee. I remember the midwife again told me she wanted to check baby's heartbeat so I would have to get on the bed. I disliked the idea of changing the position very strongly, but didn't say anything. I just wanted to work on the pushing in peace and get it over with, so when the next contraction came, I don't know, maybe I subconsciously pushed real hard or something, but she popped out down to the waist quite suddenly. She was born from behind, so to speak and I didn't see it. They said it is a girl, and I felt something wet and squirming against my behind. Then they helped me and the baby on the bed and the hardest part was over.

She was crying some, but calmed down fairly quickly when she got to be on my tummy and be warm there. My helpers cleaned the baby, and soon I got to nurse her. I had not much idea how to do it, but seemingly she did since she had such a strong suck and was able to latch on immediately!

I truly feel she was and is a wondrous baby, and I love her so much! However, at that moment, right after birth, I think everyone else present was more emotional and excited than me. I was just too tired for that. I guess everybody is different!

The placenta took a long time to be born, over two hours. I was given a herbal tincture to speed it, but it only came out when I finally got on my feet and then got a good contraction. With hindsight I should have done that earlier. I think the reason it didn't come out earlier with my earlier contractions was because some blood had bled into it forming a pouch of blood inside placenta, and so it was quite big to come out.

Also I had a little artery broken inside and it was bleeding for quite a while there. At that point I was too tired to worry about it but the midwife seemed concerned somewhat. You don't just stop an artery from bleeding just like that. We tried cayenne pepper and white willow bark. Something worked and eventually it stopped. All total I lost between 1 and 2 pints of blood, which is a lot. But I recovered all right afterwards, taking lots of blackstrap molasses once again.

Then finally the midwife was able to check me for tearing. You know, all through the pushing and birth process, I had no idea if I was tearing anywhere or not. At least I had not felt any pain of tearing. I guess either the pain of contractions just took over or the tearing was so little that it didn't hurt much when it happened. It ended up that my perineum was totally intact, probably thanks to the warm rags, but I tore in the lip and then some inside the birth canal. The midwife did the suturing, and I was surprised how little it hurt to put those stiches in, just like little pricking. That took quite a while, and so after all was done, it was near 4 am.

I breastfed my baby somewhere along in there before the placenta was born, and she had such a strong suck!

If I had been in a hospital, I don't know what all interventions they would have done since the labor was so slow going with contractions so far apart, but I'm happy I got to do it my way.


Maria has a website 007 Breasts that encourages breastfeeding by objecting the view of breasts as taboo & sexual objects.

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