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Josef Etienne's birth, by Naomi W

Josef, newborn

I have been meaning to write this birth story for a while, especially since it was not a typical labour, and may be able to encourage others in this situation to persevere and achieve their home birth. It's not the first atypical labour I have had, or the first OP (occiput posterior) baby but it is the most confusing one I have had! I have 5 other home birth stories, but am going to have to tackle them one by one!

My baby was due on May 11th, though I warned everyone not to expect him yet, as all my babies have been late apart from the 6th, who was born on his due date. Josef was my 7th. My husband had been very careful not to be too far away for what seemed like months, cancelling foreign business travel, and going into panic mode when the car went up in flames 3 days after my due date (!), and taking a week off work until he had a new car to ensure he could reach me quickly, as returning from work by public transport takes him 1 and a half hours.

In the event Josef was my latest baby, at 12 days over! And my husband still managed to miss it!

I used all the usual things people use to get their labour going - rasberry leaf tea and tablets, homeopathic caullophyllum, aromatherapy clary sage (even though I dont like it much!) and, when I get really desperate, 2 teaspoons of castor oil. This amount of castor oil doesn't make you ill by the way, contrary to what a lot of people tell you, and can send you into labour if you are ready.

My midwife attempted a stretch and sweep at some point, but it didn't really work as Josef was lying in the OP position.

At 10 days over, me and my husband decided to do a DIY stretch and sweep..... Maybe my husband was a little too enthusiastic as after this I started bleeding.....I bled quite a bit, which worried me quite a bit, as I have never bled with any of my previous labours. I had also started to have irregular contractions. After some thought, I decided to take a trip to the hospital, just round the corner, as I worried about the possibility of anything like placental abruption. I had also had a fall this pregnancy, so wasn't sure about the bleeding in relation to that. So off I went in the taxi.

(Note from Angela: some bleeding after a stretch and sweep is quite normal and is often taken by midwives as a sign that it was an effective sweep. But how much is too much? If you have a sweep, ask your midwife for guidance on how much blood loss she would consider normal.)

I was examined - no dilation, due to baby still lying OP, and monitored - baby was fine, also showing contractions. I knew these contractions would be doing something, if baby was positioned differently, but was coping with them just fine.

Having spoken to several different health proffessionals, and ascertained that the baby was perfectly ok and from a medical point of view the bleeding was not significant, I started to tell each professional that if there was no problem I would prefer to deliver at home. I was also worried I would deliver suddenly and my husband would not make it, so was anxious to be home. I experienced no real resistance and was "allowed" home some time in the afternoon. I continued to experience strong, but very irregular contractions. Now this makes sense to me, as what is the point in contracting regularly, with no result until the baby is positioned correctly? My body was waiting for more favourable conditions! Yet in a hospital, a drip would probably be used at this point, which would result in a tougher labour for both mother and child.

Contractions continued in the night, though with plenty of chance for sleep in between.

Tuesday morning I was feeling a little concerned our baby was stuck, as I knew this sort of contraction could turn into transition and second stage at any time. It was more the psychological strain than the pain that was wearing, as I kept expecting to be meeting the new arrival very soon! This baby was taking me into new territory, and I worried that this time I really would miss the chance of my natural delivery. Although I could have done with some gas and air! Contractions with the baby in this position were more demanding than normal.

I didn't phone for a midwife, as I a) didn't think they would take it seriously due to my contractions being irregular b) didn't see how they could make any more sense out of it than I had!

At this stage it was my husband who was strong, confident and supportive, that I would get there. He took the other children to school etc.

During the course of the morning I started wondering if the baby could have turned, as it felt lower and delivery felt more imminent. We took the little ones to a friend's, I think. At around 2pm we phoned the on-call midwife and asked if she could check the position of the baby, as I felt sure that once he turned delivery would be rapid. (This turned out to be even more accurate than I thought!). She said there was no point if I was "only" having irregular contractions, and encouraged me to go for a walk.......You would think a woman having her seventh would listen to her instincts but no, off I went to the school, by car I hasten to add, hobbling from the car to the school, stopping to have a contraction en route!!

After this my husband took me for a drive for an hour. When we got back I had a couple of very strong contractions followed by a strong desire to go to sleep..."If I feel like this after 2 contractions, how on earth am I going to give birth.." I wailed to my husband.

Hubby told me not to worry, to have a rest and he would take the children to the large Tesco in town to buy some madras curry paste to move things along. He left my 8 year old daughter and 5 year old son amusing themselves downstairs, and left.

I think I had a brief rest, then I was up on all fours, groaning a little. Then suddenly, I felt the head move down, and thought it really might not be long now....My two older children came in the room, and I asked my daughter Abigail to take my son downstairs, as I didnt know if I would be noisy for the second stage, which I normally find the hardest.

I started panicking as I needed a wee, but was worried the baby would be born in the bathroom; I rang my husband, sort of hoping against hope he would be closer than I thought he should be. He was at the Tesco checkout, and said afterwards he could tell dlivery was imminent from my tone of voice, and obviously having a little freak out! He phoned the midwife, and according to the children "drove home like an ambulance".

Back at the ranch I felt the baby's head descending, the "point of no return", and braced myself for the pain of second stage, gripping the headboard hard and hoping this would stop me being noisy. I pushed, could feel the head coming down and within one push the head was in my knickers(!) though I had to feel to be sure. I awkwardly pulled my knickers off and then the rest of him slithered out onto the bed and started cying. It can't have taken more than 5 minutes.

Euphoria, relief and happiness overcame me. Second stage had been so easy! And here he was at last! I leaned over and closed the window so he didnt get chilled and said to him "You're here, you're here at last". I picked him up and kissed and cuddled him. My husband phoned to say the midwife was on her way and I told him not to worry, the baby was here and we were both fine.

After a few minutes I thought my son and daughter may as well come and meet their new brother, and called them up. They very cautiously peered round the door, I think my daughter was worried about having to help with the delivery! I said "the baby is here", and they came in to meet him, and Abigail was able to pass me over the blanket and towel I had placed ready for wrapping the baby up after delivery, so he didn't get chilled, which is the main reason for admitting babies born very quickly to hospital I believe.

Naomi and Josef

Next to arrive were the other children and my husband, all very excited. It felt like a real family affair; a little while after the midwife arrived. She weighed Josef, who was 8lb 9 (and very chubby), my daughter Bethany cut the cord and I opted for syntometrine since the placenta still wasn't out. She dressed Josef and cleared up and went. We were left to cook tea for all the children and eat! Usually the children go to a babysitter but this time there was no time.

So a challenging labour, but after nature had taken its course it all felt just perfect, and I know I am so lucky things were allowed to follow their narural course, I felt rested and well afterwards, because the contractions were so spaced out. I would feel completely differently now if it had been managed, sped up, or ended in a cesarian. As it was, it was a perfect family affair. Although obviously the icing on the cake would have been to have my husband there.

We have put the birth story and a number of our pictures on our website:


Naomi W

Related pages:

Grand Multiparas - mothers of 4, 5 or more - how does it affect your labour?

Overdue - but still want a homebirth? When is 'postdates' risky?

The Third Stage of Labour - what are your options, and the pros and cons of each?

Siblings at a home birth - what to do with your older children? Should they be present?

Fast Labours - is quicker always better? What do you do if your baby is arriving faster than your midwife?

Get Your Baby Lined Up - what it means when your baby gets in an awkward position, and what you can do about it.

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