After the birth of my first daughter Eleanor in hospital I knew I never wanted to go back. It wasn't a particularly horrendous birth, everything went well I just hated the feelings I had throughout the whole thing.
I had a long (23 hours) and tiring labour that ended with an epidural and ventouse delivery. Being only 19 and never having been through labour before I had no idea what other options I had.
After Ellie's birth I decided to look up the details of homebirths and after reading many birth stories I knew a home birth was what I wanted next time.
When I discovered I was pregnant with baby number two when Ellie was 3, I was thrilled. However as my first appointment loomed I was very nervous about the reaction I would have when I told them I wanted a home birth. I had all the facts and was ready to fight my corner.
Luckily the need to fight never arose. My midwife was incredibly supportive (having delivered 2 of her own at home) even the hospital were completely fine with my decision. So nothing stood in my way of the perfect home birth. Or so I thought.
When I was 36 weeks my midwife discovered that my baby was breech and a scan was booked to check. The scan was arranged for 1 week later. I never made it there though.
3 ½ weeks before my due date I was laying in bed at talking to Robin (my husband) I was saying that I really ought to go shopping to buy all the bits and pieces I needed for labour. As I hadn't even bought anything never mind got it ready. At around 7.30am the baby suddenly started making huge movements and I got a very sharp kick at which point I suddenly started to feel wet. I ran to the toilet and at first I couldn't understand why I was sat there when I didn't even feel like I needed the toilet. I don't know if it was denial or shock but it took me a few minutes to realize it was my waters.
We eventually decided to call the hospital as even though Robin had been supportive of the homebirth, now the event was here so early he felt a little concerned. The hospital told us to come in for a scan to check the baby's position.
We arrived at the hospital and had the scan where we found out that the baby had turned (I think that was the movement I felt and the reason my waters broke). Obviously once I stepped foot in the hospital there was no way I would be getting my homebirth due to how early I was.
Note from Angela: You do always have a choice, even though it may not feel like it at the time! Even if you find yourself in hospital in early labour, you can still go home. If you do not fall within the hospital's guidelines for a homebirth then you might have an argument on your hands - eg most recommend hospital birth before 37 weeks, although it wasn't so long ago that births were generally regarded as 'low risk' from 36 weeks onwards! It is always your decision - but sometimes it may be presented as if you don't have a choice, and for many women, conflict in labour is the last thing they need... Often mothers may decide that the benefits of hospital birth genuinely outweigh the disadvantages at this stage of pregnancy, but the point is that it is the mother's decision - not somebody's guideline. See 'Homebirth before 38 weeks' for more discussion of the issues surrounding 'early' homebirth.
Back to Melanie:
Throughout the first few hours of Labour I spent my time walking up and down the ward whilst Robin ran around the town centre like a madman buying all the labour essentials.
Despite being in hospital there was no way I was having a birth experience like my first. I was adamant that I was going to be as mobile as possible.
All throughout that day I walked up and down and during each contraction I swayed back and forth and used a yoga breathing technique I had learnt at my active birth class a few days before. At around 10pm I decided to go for a bath to see if I could speed things up. We had no idea how far along I was as for some reason they wouldn't examine me. (which was a pleasant change after being prodded and poked constantly last time)
As soon as I entered the water my contractions came thick and fast. The midwives heard me and called to see if I wanted to get out and they would give me some gas and air. I received my first breath of the magic stuff at 11.30pm
I was finally moved onto a delivery suite at midnight. I was so happy to be there as I thought things were finally happening. I continued breathing the gas and air and stood leaning across the bed rocking back and forth. Robin tried to help by rubbing my back but at this point I hated being touched so he just gave me his hand to squeeze into mush every time I had a contraction, which was pretty much all the time now.
By 1.30 I was worn out. I had been on my feet all day and I began to feel I couldn't cope anymore. The pains now seemed to be concentrated at the top of my legs. I was ready to give in. Luckily my husband and midwife were fantastic; they encouraged me to try pethidine before resorting to an epidural.
We still had no idea how far on I was or how much longer we had to go. I still don't really understand why they didn't want to examine me but I'm not complaining :-)
None of us could have known how close to the end we were though.
At 2am I climbed onto the bed to be given the Pethidine, and due to the pain in my legs making it unbearable to stand I stayed on the bed laying on my side and breathing. I was incredibly light-headed due to the mixture of gas and air and pethidine, and have got to say that I wasn't entirely fond of the pethidine. The midwife had left the room when I suddenly began to feel the baby moving down. I shouted to Robin that the baby was coming and he buzzed for the midwife in a panic. She came back and told me that she couldn't see anything and just to relax. I think that I may have been a little rude when I told her she was wrong and that my baby was on its way.
She got the shock of her life when the head suddenly appeared and a second midwife was called for. The contractions were constant now and I got the unmistakable urge to go to the toilet. I knew it was almost over. I felt the ring of fire everyone mentions (and boy are they right!) and I managed to deliver half of baby's head before she got stuck and I got tired. The midwives kept telling me to push as baby wouldn't like being half in and half out. I looked down and saw lots of hair and managed to push the head out. A few minutes later another contraction hit and at 2.51am Alice was born.
Due to the pethidine Alice had a few breathing difficulties at first and was extremely groggy. I delivered the placenta whilst she was being weighed. She weighed in at a huge 8lbs - not bad for over 3 weeks early! I held her for the first time when she was 10 minutes old. Robin told me how proud he was of me.
Despite missing out on my homebirth, I still feel I had a very positive experience. I can honestly say I have never experienced anything as amazing as this labour. My midwife was lovely and my husband gave me great encouragement. All in all I loved the whole experience.
I'm still having a homebirth next time though.
Home Birth Stories
Homebirth Before 38 weeks - 37 weeks is officially "full term", but a few hospital trusts now advise hospital birth up until 38 weeks. What are the issues if you go into labour before then?
Home Birth Reference Page