Haneefah's birth, by Rafeeqah

I have really wanted to share my experience after reading the birth stories on the Homebirth website; I found them very uplifting. During my pregnancy I read a lot and felt well prepared and was excitedly looking forward to the experience of labour and birth.

I had been booked with my midwife for a homebirth for most of my pregnancy. My midwife was nice but didnít seem very confident about homebirth. Towards the end of my pregnancy she seemed quite twitchy, sending me up to the hospital a couple of times for monitoring. I felt confident that my baby was fine and the monitoring showed up no problems.

My midwife came round to my house about a few weeks before my due date to go over my birth plan. I said I didnít want any vaginal examinations at all and we discussed it extensively with her trying to convince me that they were necessary to assess progress of labour. She also informed me that if I went into labour between 5pm and 9am I would be assigned a midwife from a team of ten, so I probably wouldnít get her as my midwife.

My baby's due date,19 May, came and went. Seven days later I agreed to a stretch and sweep. I was disappointed that there were no signs of anything happening and I didn't want to face the prospect of induction. The stretch and sweep was a bit painful and felt very strange but the midwife knew I was very uncomfortable with the idea of being examined and she was very kind. When she pulled her hand out it was full of blood and she said that was the show and I might have some more later, which I did. She said my cervix was very soft and stretchy and I was already dilated two to three centimetres! Later that day I had some mild period pains, hardly anything at all really and I hadn't been able to see any pattern or regularity.

The next morning at about 6:40 I was woken by contractions. They were about twenty minutes apart and I kept dozing off and then being woken up by them, they were uncomfortable, so I got up and started doing housework. Throughout the morning the contractions got more painful, requiring more of my attention but I carried on working. My dh went out at 1:30 not intending to be very long, but rang me to say that a friend had passed away and that he wanted to attend his funeral prayer and burial. I knew that first labours are usually long and I was still moving around so I said okay but hoped he wouldn't be too long.

Things must have started to develop from then on because I decided to set up the bedroom ready for labour and birth and settled down to concentrate on, and breathe through, contractions kneeling over the computer chair swaying my hips from side to side. I was timing the contractions and they were about four and a half minutes apart. I remember worrying because I thought it was about time for me to ring for a midwife and my dh wasn't back. I rang him twice to say "Come back, I'm in labour" and he got back about half-threeish. I also rang the hospital and so I suppose the midwife arrived about four o'clock or some time shortly afterwards.

The midwife was one I had never met during pregnancy and we really didn't hit it off. She really poured scorn on my informed consent and I am still angry and upset by the way I was treated by her and the second midwife that came. I agreed to a vaginal exam which I really didn't want because when I initially refused she said she would leave and I could ring her later when I felt my labour had progressed further. I found it very unpleasant especially since while she examined me she did another stretch and sweep. I was at that point 5cms dilated.

My dh and I did brilliantly together, with him massaging my back whenever a contraction came on. It seemed that despite being Occiput Anterior (OA) throughout pregnancy the baby had turned for labour so it was just backache all the way. After a while I changed position from leaning over the chair to standing up leaning over a chest. The pains were getting worse and I was breathing quickly through them and vocalising a bit as well to get through them.

The midwife asked on a few occasions if I would like to try the gas and air and I kept saying, "No not yet, maybe after the next couple of contractions." By the third time she asked I was struggling with the pains so said Okay and she started trying to put it together. I could hear the midwives talking in the background, in fact they had brought two cylinders of oxygen and didn't have any entonox after all, so the second midwife left to get some.

Dh and me carried on and coped well, it didn't matter that the gas and air wasn't available. The midwife suggested a few times getting in the bath to help with the pains, but I wasn't convinced it would help, however, eventually I agreed and the bath was run.

In fact, the bath was absolutely fantastic. The contractions were very intense at this point and I was finding them hard. I was supplicating to God and was very focused. The water helped immensely - it seemed that the pains spaced out and got more manageable and I had started to get a pushing urge. I didn't believe I could have reached full dilation yet so I resisted the urges to push as much as I could, however, in retrospect I believe I had passed through transition and reached the second stage.

While I was in the bath the second midwife got back from the hospital with the gas and air. She came straight into the bathroom and started questioning me about transfer to hospital, had I discussed it with my community midwife and when because they couldn't find any record of it in my notes. They even brought my notes into the bathroom to get me to show them the relevant appointment.

This is the point that I totally gave up my control (if I hadn't already) and things got bad. The midwives said they wanted to put in a catheter because they were concerned I hadn't been to the toilet recently. I agreed and got out of the bath and lay down on the bed. I really needed the entonox for having the catheter inserted, I was afraid and found it painful. There was no urine from the catheter and I think in hindsight they were hasty in wanting to insert it.

After that I stayed on the bed for a while lying on my side, breathing in the gas and air. I had told the midwives that I was having pushing urges and they hadn't taken any notice so I asked the midwife if she thought I could be in the second stage yet because I was having pushing urges but she said she didn't think so. About ten minutes later she had a change of heart and came into the bedroom to say they recommend women follow their instincts so if I want to push I should. I told her I was worried about pushing before I was fully dilated and she offered to do a V.E, which I agreed to. When she examined me I was fully dilated and the baby's head was some way down the birth canal, she proceeded to sweep her hand behind the baby's head which was very painful and for which I can still find no good reason for and declared she could feel an ear!

I was a little out of it at this point because I had been taking the gas and air, but I realised I didn't want to be lying down on the bed for the second stage of labour. I stopped sucking at the entonox and manoeuvred myself into a kneeling position over the end of the bed, and I reinstated my husband as birth supporter; he had seemed to disappear for the previous horrible ten minutes or so.

The midwife at this point started very actively coaching me to push. She was literally shouting at me to push. "Push, Push, I want four or five good pushes with this contraction...don't be afraid to push". I didn't want to push like that (I had envisioned breathing my baby out) but I did. At some point I changed my position to standing up against the corner of the wall with dh next to me to lean on. I squatted down with each contraction and pushed as hard as I possibly could.

Blood was coming down in drops onto the pads laid out on the floor. The midwives found this very concerning but I hardly even noticed; I was really concentrating on pushing. The second midwife rang an ambulance while the first midwife kept exerting me to push.

The baby's head was at the perineum and I felt the midwife take hold of it and try to ease it out, then she said she would have to do an episiotomy. I just obeyed and lay down on the floor. I had the gas and air. I really, really didn't want her to cut me and I was screaming out between gulps of entonox "NO, DON'T" Everything after this point is pretty hazy - my husband wasn't in the room because the second midwife sent him to open the door ready for the ambulance men. I remember being cut and the baby slithering out and she was put straight onto my belly, it was 10:15. She was healthy and alert, 7lb, with apgars of 9 and 9.

I had a physiological third stage (I think!)- the placenta came out almost immediately. The midwife wanted to pull it out; I said don't I need to get up and push it out and she said no she could tell it was detached and she pulled it out.

The paramedics were sent away without me even having seen them, thankfully, and I lay on the floor where I had given birth to have stitches put in while my husband held our daughter by my side. I had local anaesthetic for the stitches but I still kept sucking away for dear life on that gas and air. It seemed to take a long time and I felt the last few stitches, they were painful. The time having the stitches put in was horrible too, I felt really horribly drunk with the gas and air. I felt really out of it, like I was in a parallel universe, and I kept apologizing to the midwives in my slurred drunken speech. I gave my daughter a cuddle and a little feed, she seemed really hungry sucking away on her thumb and then I had a very quick bath.

Looking back, I really, really don't like those midwives, but I sincerely hope I've learnt my lesson to be more assertive. I feel we, my dh, dd (dear daughter) and I did brilliantly despite them. I didn't find labour pains awful, and only used the entonox when having nasty things done to me by the midwives. I found water wonderful for pain relief but hated the feeling of being drunk on gas and air. I am looking forward to my next labour and have every intention of having a home birth, but hopefully a nicer one.



First baby - is homebirth a sensible option?

Pain relief options at home

Using water for labour and birth

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