Matthew Parsley's Home Birth

By Shirley Parsley

I had given a great deal of thought to how I would ideally like my second pregnancy to go. As soon as I confirmed my pregnancy (with myself!!), I approached the local midwife team to see if they could help me achieve the holistic, natural experience I hoped for. I only wanted medical involvement should it be necessary and not as a matter of course. This meant every decision would be down to me and my husband, Len, in consultation with my support team. They were really helpful and were pleased to offer me the service I wanted.

We set the ball rolling and I was booked for midwife care only, home based antenatal care and a home delivery. I felt extremely content as my first pregnancy seemed to have been "done to me" rather than me being in control. The first decision was on routine blood tests, offered blood tests and routine scan. After much research, journal reading and discussion we decided to have blood tested for iron levels only. I was happy to have any other test or scan should it be indicated by problems or worries arising from my antenatal care.

No problems with mum or babe until 29 weeks when mum started feeling contraction-like pains. After examination and discussion it was decided to see how things went overnight with bed rest. The next morning after early examination and concerns about continued pain and decreased foetal heartbeat, we decided to go to the Royal Gwent Hospital. I was admitted and over the following two days monitored, scanned, probed and generally prodded. On release we were none the wiser but the pain had gone and babe was well. I was happy to have had medical support as it had been necessary.

The late stages of pregnancy were hard work, especially caring for and entertaining a boisterous toddler, but uneventful.

I had carefully planned for possible labour and delivery scenarios but hoped to be at home and cope myself. My son, James, had special carers staying on the week prior to my due date and several days after it. I had been 5 days early first time and expected things to be much the same this time.

I was wrong!! 5 days early came and went and, as my due date approached I felt fed up, uncomfortable and overdue even though I wasn't!! My friend was due to stay until my parents arrived on the Friday evening (my due date) to change shift as it were!!

At 4pm on the Friday I noticed a very slight show and began to wonder if things may be moving. I carried on and made tea and tried not to think about it too much. Then at 5.55pm I felt a slight twinge and told my friend that I hoped this was a sign! I noted the time to get an idea. Sure enough there was another at 6.20pm, 6.40pm, 6.50pm and 7.00pm. They were not enough to stop me and had I not been expecting it I probably wouldn't have noticed them!!

Len arrived home just after 7pm and my friend put James to bed. I popped next door to mention to my friend and midwife not to make any plans for the evening as I thought babe may be on the way! She suggested a hot bath so off I went plasticine in hand! My parents arrived at 7.30pm with two dogs! My mum thought I was joking when I said I was just about to have a hot bath as I thought I may be in labour. We chatted and my friend packed up her things ready to leave.

At 8pm I was in the driveway waving my friend off. I had to lean on Lens car as a slightly stronger one hit but it didn't stop me waving with the other hand!!

I went up for my bath which felt lovely. After a fifteen minute soak and no pains I thought it must have been a case of a hopeful imagination! As I got out, however, another one hit and it was only then that I really knew - Here we go !!!

Downstairs Len was working - on the phone to Canada- my dad was watching the sports channel and my mum was feeding the two dogs. I asked Len (when he was finished!) to wire me up to my TENS machine and informed all that I was in labour. I sent Len next door to tell Rachel that we were off and running.

I was having to concentrate now as contractions were every 5 minutes and were double ones! I asked Len to set up the sitting room as we had planned and my mum and dad helped although my mum wondered if it was a bit early!

By 9pm when Rachel arrived things were hotting up. After a chat with Rachel and a few contractions she collected her equipment from home (just next door!) and telephoned Susanna who said she would make her way over for 10-10.30pm.

Rachel examined me at 9.20pm and I was 4cms dilated. It was encouraging to know how things were progressing. I was moving around using upright and squatting postures during contractions but by 9.30pm these postures were too painful and I was having difficulty holding a conversation.

The telephone rang and Len answered it (amazing in itself!!). It was work - Ten minutes later he was still on the phone!! Well I wouldn't want to stand in the way of problems at the office!!

Rachel was helping me focus inwardly now and I found all fours was a good position for pain relief and control. The room was covered with candles and a lavender fragrance from my oil burner. My seashore music was softly playing and my double contractions were every minute. Susanna arrived quietly at 10pm.

My mum brought the ice I wanted and I leaned on all fours, head onto Susannas lap as she kneeled on the floor. By 10.15pm I felt I was beginning to lose control but I listened to Rachel's strong, firm words of encouragement and focused. Somehow I stayed with it - just!!

My waters broke with some force at 10.20pm and as I pushed I could hear Rachel directing me. The babe was coming fast and I wanted to control so I wouldn't tear. Holding back that force was the most incredible experience - hard work but strangely empowering.

Matthew Thomas eased into the world at 10.26pm in his new home with his family all around him. The scene was perfect.

After a cuddle and a slurp of champagne, I set about pushing out the placenta. Having opted for a physiological third stage we were able to wait until the cord had stopped pulsating (about 15 minutes) before Len cut it. I put Matthew to the breast to encourage contractions to help expel the placenta. I had no idea what to expect as first time I had been given Syntometrine and didn't even notice third stage. Not so this time - it took 56 minutes and a lot of hard work to complete the job!!

I was pleased to get into the bath that Rachel had run for me after all that effort. Matthew was dressed and settled into his crib by our bed and the sitting room was put back to normal.

By 12.30am all was quiet Rachel and Susanna had left, my mum and dad were in bed, the dogs were settled, Len, Matthew and I were all tucked up and James was fast asleep blissfully unaware that a surprise would greet him the next morning.

Not a bad evening's work, or should I say labour !!!

Shirley Parsley.

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