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Sally's Birth Story, by Sarah H

As soon as I knew I was expecting Sally, I began mentally preparing for a longer pregnancy than is conventionally accepted. I have passed the 42 week mark with my second baby, Eva, and was in no doubt that I would be somewhere around there with this baby. It was interesting to hear the language of the professionals and family around me who were "optimistic" that I would have a shorter pregnancy. Given I had actually felt as well at the very end of my pregnancies than at any point during them, meant I wasn't unduly bothered accept of course that having longer pregnancies means you have to endure a mental battle with everyone around you about how long you can 'let it go on for'.

My pregnancies have all been fine. I have had SPD in the past with both the first, quite mildly, and more severely with the second. This time I had no problems. I felt fine given I had a three year old and a two year old to contend with.

40 weeks came and went as expected and I had advised my MW whom I had had for both previous pregnancies and Eva's homebirth, that I did not wish to discuss being postdates until at least 42 weeks. I had mentally decided not to subject myself to any 'natural' forms of induction either. With Will, my first born, who arrived at 41+4 weeks, I had been booked in for an induction at 41+5 but I was desperate not to have one, having heard nothing but horror stories and feeling very much that as a late baby myself, that there really wasn't a good reason to. However, as a first time mum, I was nervous and bowed to policy in agreeing to the date. I bless Will for arriving just in time, in a very smooth water birth.

Having had such a great birth with Will, I planned to have Eva at home and expected her to be late but as the 'go' date for a homebirth is 37 weeks, foolishly expected her anytime after that. At 42+4 it was a long wait. I was seen by the consultant at 42 weeks as I had refused induction as I was expecting a later arrival and having an induction ruled out homebirth and waterbirth. I asked for evidence as to why I should be induced and the information he provided was that more babies died after 42 weeks than before. However, he couldn't confirm that induction reduced the risk of these babies dying, nor could he give me any strong evidence that the risks associated with induction in a healthy pregnancy would be less than those associated with having a longer pregnancy. So we agreed to leave me alone for another week with monitoring. When Eva arrived it was at home, in water in an hour and a half. She was not showing any signs of post maturity and was very well. The placenta was also fine.

At 42 weeks with pregnancy number three, I was offered a scan to assess the condition of the placenta, the volume of water and the size of the baby. Everything was fine with the exception of the baby's size. She was measured at 6lbs 14 oz and I was advised that she was 'growth retarded' and that continuing with the pregnancy would put the 'foetus at risk'. The grounds for this suggestion was that small babies tolerate labour poorly and that the baby could die at any time. I considered 6lbs 14 oz to be a reasonable size for a baby, although granted smaller than my previous who came in at 8lbs 2 and 8lbs 12. I was exceptionally doubtful that the baby was in fact this small. My other feeling was that induction is harsh on a baby and I wanted the least stress for it and if it had stopped growing then maybe there was a reason for that, good or bad that being born early wouldn't help resolve. The baby remained active and well as did I.

I did request sweeps and tried all known induction methods apart from castor oil but nothing helped. The cervix wasn't making much effort in terms of changing but it was soft and ready to go. I was seen again the day before 43 weeks and given another scan and was monitored for baby's wellbeing. All was fine and they declined to remeasure the baby as the results would be 'unreliable'! That evening things started to stir a little more than before.

That night before I had started with tightenings or braxton hicks which, although exceptionally mild, were starting to form a pattern. I had had them for weeks but they had been random and irregular as well as weak. I called the MW and as I had had a fast and furious labour last time, both of them charged out and everything stopped!

They told me to call them again if things started up. I spent the next hour or so marching around feeling irritable and despondent. At around ten I decided to get some rest. I fell asleep swiftly. At around 5.30 I woke uncomfortable but with no real action. However, I needed to get up. I came downstairs and walked around quietly in the dimly-lit conservatory. David, my husband, must have sense something as he got up at around 6.00 am and prepared for the kids' breakfast even though normally they wouldn't surface until gone 7 am. He kept turning lights on and putting on the TV and radio and I just followed turning them all off. In the end Will got up at around 6.30 and wanted the TV on so I returned back to my room and hid in the dark. David called the midwives and asked that they send only one. They both arrived at sometime after 7.00 am and I accepted a VE. No change. However, they too seemed to sense something, that I was convinced would never happen, and began to unpack.

Somewhere between 7.00 am and 8.00 am my mother arrived and David started filling the pool downstairs as well as feeding the kids and generally making brews. Mum massaged my back with aromatherapy oils and it was very relaxed. At 8.00 am all changed. The conx (contractions) started and I could feel each one achieve something. They were no more than a minute apart and continued like this for an hour. The kids popped in and out to see what was going on and seemed very relaxed with everything. I could even hear Will discussing what kind of animal I sounded like with my mum and the midwife!

At just before 9.00 am David came in and said that the pool was ready. I stood up to go but just as I did the midwife asked if something had changed as I was behaving differently. I said no as all I wanted to do was get to the pool but as soon as I was fully standing I felt the overwhelming urge to push. Kneeling back down over the bed I pushed with the contraction. With the first push my waters went, with the second the head was born and the third the rest of her. I think it was all one contraction. The midwife passed her to me straight away and I visually checked her over including discovering the she was in fact a girl. She was perfect.

The third stage followed soon after with maternal effort. I had wanted to leave the cord intact however I have short cords for some reason and I was unable to hold her comfortably. I figured that was more important and once the cord had stopped pulsing it was cut. The placenta was intact and in good condition.

Sally is lovely in every way. She did have a tongue tie which I diagnosed myself after horrid BF problems. That has been repaired and all is well.

Sarah H

Related pages:

Sarah's first two birth stories, and her fourth baby, Benedict's story.

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

You may be expecting a small baby - what are the issues regarding homebirth?

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

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