Jodie's Home Waterbirth

By Nicky Heppenstall

Nicky's third baby, Jodie, was born in March 2004 in an idyllic home waterbirth. Her story is especially moving because Nicky's second baby, Kim, died shortly after her breech birth at home. Nicky also has a son, Oliver, whose hospital birth left her deeply traumatised.

Here's the full story of Jodie Sarah Kim's wonderful birth - get tissues first!

Jodie went quiet over the weekend and I had been nesting like mad, so I wasn't that surprised when she was even more quiet on the Monday - moving just enough to let me know she was ok - and I was restless, couldn't settle to anything, even got up after a 15minute lie-down because I couldn't just lie there.

So, I went to bed early and was up for the loo as usual around 2am and the hind waters broke when I was comfy back in bed again. I had a little adrenaline rush and my heart was going like the clappers as I lay there thinking "OMG...this is it, something's definitely happening... shall I wake Mark now or wait a while? Shall I move or will that make the puddle worse? Has it all gone on the care mat or is the mattress ruined??"

I waited about 10 minutes and then prodded Mark and told him, he was wide awake in a nano-second, asking should he phone S, (the IM)? No, I said, lets wait for a regular pattern of cxs., and has the puddle stayed on the care
mat under the sheet? Yes, good.

By 3.30 the cxs. were about every 4-5 minutes and lasting just less than a minute so S was on her way and Mark began to fill the pool. I was having occasional small gushes of fluid with some of the cxs. so stood on a care mat
in the kitchen while I put Oliver's lunch box ready for later. Then I switched on the PC and e-mailed the homebirth e-groups to say 'it's started', and Mark's work to say he wouldn't be in today as I was in labour, and the secretary at Oliver's school who had implored me to let her know once this baby was on the way!! This was around 4 a.m.

S arrived at 4.30 and put the TENS on for me. I moved around, knelt leaning over the ball, stood rocking hips from side to side, things were going along very steadily, coping well, no worries, excited not anxious, a bit nervous. By 5.30 we were debating how early we could phone a friend to collect Oliver. We decided 6 a.m. and woke Oliver then. Dawn collected him at 6.20 and took him home for breakfast with her boys and then school. As the front door closed behind them S said that the cxs. may step up a gear now he was off my mind.

And they certainly did! The next one was much more intense and I turned the TENS up a notch. By this time I was focusing all my attention on each one. S rang M, the second mw at 6.30 to say come over. By 6.40 I felt some downward pressure and felt I needed to get in the pool. S unwired me from the TENS and it was bliss to get into the warm water at 6.45. (S sent a text to M to say better hurry!) It wasn't as deep as it should have been because Mark had been worried about needing hot water in the tank for a shower. He'd held back on running the hot tank down, using kettles and pans instead! (Ye olde 'boil water' thang!) At some point Mark had suggested putting some music on and I remember S commenting that she hadn't heard Pinball Wizard (Elton John) for years. I think I was in the pool by then, but you know how your perception of time goes weird when you're in labour?

The cxs. became pushy quite quickly and S was encouraging me to go with the flow. I was kneeling and leaning my hands on the integral seat of the pool. I felt like I'd probably got at least a half hour before the birth, and Mark later said he'd expected an hour or two going by Kim's labour. But I was pushing by 6.50! Suddenly (it seemed) S was saying 'gently gently gently!!', so I panted and was amazed to feel the head crowning!! This was new for me as Oliver was ventouse after all urges to push had long gone, and Kim, of course, had been breech. This was something I'd been hoping to experience! A few pushes more, accompanied by grunting & mooing, and there she was, S guided her up through the water and I held my girl in my arms, alert and breathing, crying, eyes open, at 7.00 a.m.! We were all smiling and laughing and I know Mark was crying!

The cord had loosely looped around Jodie's neck on her short journey up through the water so S untangled her. I
held Jodie with her body mainly in the water as I expect she was feeling a bit chilly by this time! I remember the elation and joy and just laughing and laughing, and kissing S, who was beaming, and I must have been crying too
because I now remember having to blink away tears to see Jodie clearly. S pointed out that Jodie had been born in the caul - there was a white filmy thing floating in the water - this is supposed to be good luck but I'm not superstitious. I prompted Mark to get the camera and he took a few pics of us in the pool. Then he rang his Mum and was crying on the phone telling her Jodie was here, safe & sound. Her Apgars were 9 & 10! Ace!

S held Jodie close to me while Mark helped me out of the pool and we sat on the settee wrapped in big towels for a while until I felt cxs. and needed to deliver the placenta. Those of you familiar with my previous labour will
remember that I had spent some time labouring on a spare loo (unplumbed) and subsequently delivered the placenta into it... well as we're having a new bathroom soon in an extension I had ordered a new loo and had used it to labour
on again! Mark brought it next to the settee and I shifted onto it to deliver the placenta into a care mat, a natural third stage - at last! This was 7.30, half an hour after she was born. Then S tied the cord with cotton tape and cut it. I moved back to the settee and Jodie latched on for her first feed at 7.40. The second mw, M, arrived about 8-ish we think! (She had a long way to come and morning traffic was bad!) and put the kettle on!

Mark went outside to lift an access hatch in our deck to drain the pool and our elderly neighbour asked him if everything was alright over the fence - evidently she had opened her rear bay curtains just after I'd entered the
pool and saw me and S in our conservatory, so knew something was afoot. Mark was chuffed to tell her I'd just had a baby girl, would she like to come and see? She said ooh no, you'll be busy, but 2 minutes later was tapping on the
door! So Mrs. N saw Jodie at about an hour old and was quite choked.

While Mark sorted out the pool the 2 IMs ran me a bath, dressed & held Jodie, and dried me and got us both into bed. S identified an internal graze and when I went to the loo I identified a second labial graze (ouch) and later still, I identified the internal graze to be my original episiotomy scar having split slightly, Anyway, no other damage and no stitches needed, just a bit tender. Excellent! All well healed in no time.

So isn't it just wonderful to be at home, own bath, own bed, own kitchen, cuddling the most wanted and awaited baby girl, just watching her breathing, me smiling like a Cheshire cat, and feeling like I'm dreaming because its
just too good to be true? Wow... and 2 days later it was my 39th birthday, so I had Jodie while I was still 38, and she was the best possible present in the whole world!

I have not really felt that I have revisited any grief for Kim so far ( 6 weeks at time of writing); we shed a little tear on April 6th which should have been her 3rd birthday, but mainly I have thought more about Oliver's birth and his early weeks - how different that experience was (traumatic) and how relieved I am that I've achieved the 2 home waterbirths I have, and finally got my 'full monty' - home, water, natural 3rd stage and a beautiful healthy baby, and a girl to boot.

Jodie is feeding well and gaining weight - the feeding has settled down brilliantly, in a fraction of the time it took before, and we are very, very happy and contented. I haven't really had 'baby blues'… more like 'baby pinks'!

I will be eternally grateful for the healing gift that was Kim's birth, without which I would not have come back to my husband and could not have considered trying again. I will be eternally grateful for the support of my husband, Mark, throughout the whole 6 years of trying to achieve the family we wanted and good birth experiences but suffering traumatic birth, stillbirth, and miscarriages. I will be eternally grateful for the dedication and loving care of S, the most 'with woman' midwife I know, who has shared so much hope, sorrow, and joy with us. Jodie is her 300th independent delivery!

I shall also be grateful for the support of family, friends, NCT friends and former colleagues, neighbours, and the folk on the homebirth e-group list - it has been wonderful to be able to share our joy with everyone.

Nicky Heppenstall

Mum to Oliver (12.5.98, hosp.), Kim (stillborn at home in water 6.4.01), & Jodie (23.3.04. home water birth)

I finally got my girl…

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