My pregnancy had gone really well. I had SPD from 15 weeks into my pregnancy, but I saw a chiropractor regularly and it had been kept under control. I did find I was much more tired the second time as I had a toddler to run around after, so I didnt spend time resting with my feet up!
I was due on the 4th September, and I remember all the way through my pregnancy not wanting the baby to be early as it might mean that it would be a very young child going to school! I was two weeks late with my first, so I hadn't even considered being early!
We had decided on a home water birth as we had had a positive first birth with water in hospital, but we felt that we really wanted to be in our own environment this time. Even though our pregnancy, labour and birth had been positive first time around, we had felt very 'managed'. For example, I was not 'allowed' in the pool until my waters had broken, so I requested that they broken them so I was 'allowed' into the pool. When I was in transition, I wanted to be submerged under the water and I was again not 'allowed'. When I was pushing and I felt the water was my pain relief, they took the plug out!! This was really upsetting to me as I had wanted my baby under the water and there was no reason for this not to happen. The third stage had not gone to plan and I ended up having my placenta manually removed, which had been a rather traumatic experience for me. For this pregnancy I did not want a repeat of feeling managed and my opinions not listened to.
We decided to have independent midwives this time as we felt strongly that we wanted to have the birth of our choice, and we felt at the time knowing our midwives throughout the pregnancy was really important to us.
My waters broke in the evening of 31st August. This had not happened first labour, so it was very unexpected and quite a strange feeling. I realised that this must be what it was and then noticed that the waters were not completely clear. I phoned my midwife as my waters were a pea-green colour. She came to see me and we decided that we needed to go to the hospital to have a fetal monitor put on my tummy to check was all well with the baby. At this time I was not having any contractions.
We got to the hospital and the baby was monitored for half an hour. The monitor did not show any problems with the baby's heartbeat or any sign of contractions. The hospital's policy was to induce labour 96 hours after your waters break if there is no sign of labour commencing. They offered for me to stay in hospital to be monitored. But this would mean going onto the ward and being monitored the next morning (over 12 hours later).
I decided to go home as there was no sign of fetal distress and I wanted to have my baby at home. They were very concerned that I wanted to go home as in their eyes mecomium in waters means fetal distress. This meant again in their eyes that I could not have a natural birth; I would not be 'allowed' a water birth and certainly should not be at home. The registrar tried everything to try and prevent me from going home, even suggested that I was putting the life of my unborn child at risk. I kept asking If they could show me evidence of fetal distress, and they could not. I did suggest that maybe my baby had been frightened by the huge thunderstorm we had had hours before my waters broken. I think they thought I was a bit strange!
If I had not had the amazing support of my midwife I would have been frightened into staying there. I had to sign various forms to say I wanted to leave, and left. By the time I got home, had something to eat, it was about 4am. I was not tired as I wanted it all to start! We went to bed and at about 6.30am I was woken up by contractions. They weren't that bad and about every 6 minutes apart, but I did have to 'breathe' through them, so I knew it wouldnt be long. My husband woke up about 7.30am to see me hanging onto the bed breathing... he was a little surprised that he hadn't woken up earlier!! I phoned the midwife and she decided to come over and to bring the second midwife with her.
I then sorted my son out and my parents took him to the park. He was very excited about going in their car in his PJs; he thought it was a very exciting adventure! They left as our birth partner arrived. We had a friend with us for the labour and birth as we felt that we wanted her to look after the midwives, myself and my husband. It was very valuable to us as she knew where everything was, down to extra towels, baby clothes and cups of tea! She made sure me and my husband drank plenty, and gave me homeopathic remedies when they were needed.
I was contracting every 4 minutes or so and having to stop talking and concentrating on the contractions. I was leaning over a birthing ball, which really helped. My midwives arrived. I remember talking to everyone, and my friend said to me, so are you going to have this baby today or what?! I decided it was time to get into the birthing pool. This was amazing. I wanted my husband to be there with me so he also popped his trunks on and got in. This was about 9.20am. The contractions got stronger and much closer together very quickly. Labour was definitely progressing well. I decided that I didn't want any internal examinations, so I do not know how dilated I was, but I could tell that it was going well as the contractions were getting much stronger. Before I knew it I was at transition. I was very emotional and fearful at the time. My friend gave me some water and a homeopathic remedy and, within a couple of minutes, I was having the urge to push.
My midwives came into the room. My husband was supporting me in the pool, and so was the warm water. There was plenty of room for us both to move around and for the midwives to look in the water to see if they could see anything. By using a mirror underwater they could see the baby's head crowning. I remember hearing the midwife saying that the baby's head was there, then I pushed twice and the midwife caught the baby under the water, passed the baby through my legs and to my husband and he brought the baby out of the water onto my chest. It was a beautiful little girl. She was born at 10.14am, less than an hour after my labour really started progressing! It was a bit of a shock to me having her so quickly, but I think being in my own private space at home in my pool really helped this. I think that my natural endorphins really helped me here, especially as the only pain relief I had or wanted was the birthing pool and my homeopathic remedies.
We stayed in the pool for a while then got out onto a 'nest' which we had made on the floor. My placenta took another 45 minutes to come out. I didnt have my cord cut for about 30 minutes after the birth as I wanted it to stop pulsating first. I could then enjoy breast feeding my little girl, and we went upstairs and had a lovely bath together. The midwives cleaned up everything downstairs; I got into my comfy PJs and led on my sofa with my husband and new baby. It was an amazing experience which I would share with anyone who is considering a home birth. The best thing about it all is being in your own space and inviting people to share this wonderful experience with you rather than having to go into a space which is unfamiliar to you to have your baby.
Mara was 6lb 11oz, born at 10.14am on 1st September 2005, and was very happy when she was born. She was able to have a cuddle with her brother at home an hour after she was born, which was great for him too!
Rachel has a business offering birthing pools for water birth to rent in Bath, Bristol and nationwide. See Born In Water (www.borninwater.co.uk)
Home Birth Stories
Meconium in the waters - what does it mean? Should you go to hospital?
Fathers and home birth - fathers' feelings about the birth, and how they can help.
The Third Stage of Labour - what are your options, and the pros and cons of each?
Waterbirth at home
Independent Midwives - what they do, and where to find one.
Transferring to hospital - why it might be advised.
Home Birth Reference Page