Melanie's first child, Sophia, was born at home in 1998. She said: "I want to share my experience of homebirth with other first-time mothers who may not be getting the support from their doctors, midwife or partner and are feeling frustrated. I thought my story might give them some hope."
I knew right from the start that homebirth was what I wanted for the baby and myself. However my view was not shared by anyone. My GP thought I was irresponsible and refused to listen to anything I had to say on this subject. I then tried to change my GP for antenatal care, only to find that not one GP in my area would support me because I was a first-time mother and they did not want to take the risk. (Even though the GP doesn't have to take any risk! - Angela) In addition to this my partner and family thought I was crazy, and my midwife had never done a homebirth before and there were very few in my area who had, and she couldn't guarantee that when I went into labour I would get a midwife who wanted to deliver my baby at home.
I became very sad and frustrated over this. I did lots of reading on the subject and knew that planned homebirth after a normal pregnancy was just as safe, if not safer than hospital birth. I agreed with my midwife that I would be willing to transfer to hospital if there were any problems but she told me to wait until I was 37 weeks pregnant until booking a homebirth because she didn't want to raise my hopes just in case there were problems.
I waited until I was 37 weeks pregnant. I looked after myself as well as I could and had a normal pregnancy. During the time I was waiting I became aware through talking to many midwives and the Director of Midwifery at my local hospital that there were hundreds of women in my area that had requested a homebirth but did not have one due to pressure from medical staff to conform to "the norm" and that no first time mother in my area had ever had a planned homebirth. This made me more determined than ever to be the first and lead the way for others.
I got to 37 weeks and finally got my homebirth kit delivered to my home. I was delighted. A few days later I went into labour in the middle of the night. I called the hospital to inform them and they told me to wait and to come to the hospital in the morning so they could monitor the baby. I had to insist that I was having a planned homebirth and somehow I knew that the baby wasn't going to wait until the morning!
A midwife came out to check me and told me that I was not in established labour yet and I could hold out until the morning. Also as I was a first time mother I could be having small contractions for days. Days? Days! She had to be kidding as even though I was not having strong contractions they were coming every three minutes or so.
As she walked out the door I felt confused but decided to wait and see. I had a bath and the contractions quickly got stronger. As I had no pain relief I said to my partner that if it wasn't real labour I was in then I was going to end up in hospital as there was no way I could spend days like this. I kept wanting to push by now so my partner called the midwife back.
The midwife came back and realised to her suprise that I was in the second stage. I remember thinking "yes!" I heard her on her mobile telling the other midwives on shift what was happening and before I knew it my flat was full of excited midwives all wanting to experience a homebirth! Sophia was born after just 90 minutes of what they called "established labour" without any problems.
The midwives told me that they really enjoyed participating in the homebirth (and there was a really nice party atmosphere afterwards.) I was so glad I got my wish and I know everything went smoothly because my home environment was so familiar and relaxed. I would recommend it to anyone who is absolutely sure it is right for them.
I would like to pass my story onto other mothers and to reassure other mothers-to-be experiencing negative attitudes towards homebirth that, with a bit of determination, you can get what you want eventually.
I would be especially interested for other mothers-to-be experiencing the problems that I did at first to get in touch via email so we can share experiences and start to pave the way for more women to have more choices and control over their bodies and their birth experiences.
Melanie (Birmingham UK)
Melanie's second daughter, Romany, was also born at home, after a very fast labour.
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