Home Birth Reference Site

Cally's homebirth, by Shona

I used your website a lot during my pregnancy and found it to be an invaluable source of information. I especially enjoyed reading the stories, and these made me want my homebirth even more. I am sending mine and hope it can help someone like others have helped me.

I had wanted a homebirth with my first pregnancy, however was told at the booking in that this was not advised (and I did not know my rights then and hadn't discovered this site). As a result I had a hospital birth, and long back-to-back labour involving lots of drugs and an overwhelming feeling that I was not in control. Sadly this feeling continued through most of the first year of motherhood and I feel this was a big factor in my postnatal depression.

As a result of my experience I was worried about having another baby but was very happy (and shocked) to find out I was expecting again. Immediately I decided that I was going to try for a homebirth and at the booking in appointment it was agreed that as long as everything was low risk then I could have this option. Sadly my midwife went on a long period of sick leave, and I saw different midwives throughout my pregnancy. Whenever I brought up the idea of a homebirth I was told to speak to my original midwife when she came back to work. However by 38 weeks I was getting really concerned and decided to push for it. After another week I was visited by my original midwife, who went through my birth plan, and I was again told that as long as everything was low risk I could have a home birth. However there was a massive list of situations where I would be transferred (such as meconium in my waters, high blood pressure, going overdue, staff shortages etc etc) and I felt very demoralised after the appointment as it seemed all so negative. I was also told that I would not be able to have a water birth as no-one was trained to do these, and whilst I know I could have argued I was very tired and quite low at that point. To make matters worse I had been put under consultant care due to my PND, and I had to get her to agree to a homebirth despite my pregnancy going well up to this point. She also gave me till I was 7 days overdue and then it would be reviewed, and that I would have to go into hospital to be induced if I went 10 days over (very reassuring as my first pregnancy went 13 days over).

Note from Angela:

Although women are often told that they must have the permission of an obstetrician to have a home birth, this isn't actually the case. You cannot be forced to have a hospital birth (with rare exceptions for people who lack mental capacity) and the hospital has a duty to provide you with a maternity service - see 'homebirth and the law' for more discussion. If, for whatever reason, your midwives or doctor do not recommend homebirth for you then they are supposed to explain why, but the final decision is yours; the Royal College of Midwives, for example, makes this clear in their guidance on home birth for midwives. Most women find that they get a better response if they put their decision in writing, stating clearly that they have decided to plan a homebirth, that they understand Doctor X has advised against it but that, having considered this and other sources of information and opinion, they have made an informed decision etc.

This still applies even if you are 2 weeks past your estimated due date. Your hospital may have policies on when they advise hospital birth, but this is not the law of the land and you are not bound by it. Consider their advice, and other sources of information, but remember that it is your decision. See 'Overdue - but desperate for a homebirth?'.

For more information, see 'Arranging a homebirth in the UK,' 'what if your doctor is against homebirth?' and join the HomebirthUK yahoogroup for advice from others who have been there, done that .

Back to Shona:

At this point I just felt as though my homebirth wasn't going to happen. I was told my baby was back to back, and it felt as though the midwives had been negative, (one had even said to me "how are you going to cope without pain relief given you had an epidural last time"). Unsurprisingly my blood pressure was high but luckily reduced before they admitted me to hospital.

My due date passed, and 3 days later I began to feel some pains on the Wednesday evening. I had been having strong Braxton hicks for the last 2weeks, so didn't think too much of it. However after a night of regular pains and the discovery my plug was coming away I thought that this could be the start of it. I said bye to my boyfriend as he went to work, telling him not to be too excited as my last labour had lasted ages.

I kept myself busy, cleaning the house and having a bath. This slowed down my contractions so I decided to go down town with my toddler and my sister to see if I could get things moving. I also took some homeopathic remedies, Caulophyllum to try and get my contractions stronger and more regular; and Pulsatilla to help with turning my baby into a better birthing position. My daughter decided to have a nap when we got home so I joined her and when I woke my contractions were 6 minutes apart. I still did not think this was the real deal so carried on as normal-ish but they were getting more intense. My boyfriend came home to find me on all fours groaning, which was a massive shock to him as I hadn't been in touch with him all day.

I had wanted my daughter to stay at home (she is 2 years old) but she was getting tetchy as it was bedtime and I couldn’t cope with that. So she went round her Nan’s. At 6.30pm I called the hospital to tell them I was having strong contractions and that I was having a homebirth. They told me someone would be out. At 7pm I went back downstairs to sit on the sofa only for my waters to break (I never had this with my daughter and thought I had wet myself until it gushed out). Just after the midwife arrived and checked me to find I was 3cm dilated but baby was lying with its head in the transverse position so she was still turning into the right position. Just after the midwife arrived a student midwife arrived too, and so did my best friend.

I was struggling with the pain at this time (had my TENs on but it wasn't doing much) so they decided to start the gas and air. However there was a right struggle to get it sorted, they couldn't get it to work for ages. Even with the gas and air I was not coping with the contractions so it was suggested I went into the bath. Getting into the bath was bliss. It had lavender oil in which helped calm me down and this really helped for a bit, boyfriend was splashing water on my back during contractions whilst I was putting it on my bump.

The gas and air was brought into me but it just wasn't doing anything (found out after that I wasn't breathing hard enough to take it in, thanks to my chest infection). However it gave me something to concentrate on but the pains were getting too much and I started begging everyone to let me go to the hospital. The midwife wanted to check me again at 10.30pm and I was 4cm, but my cervix had thinned out and baby's head was in the right position. I felt that I wasn't progressing and began to beg my boyfriend, sister and friend to take me to hospital but they kept encouraging me telling me I didn't want to go.

I went back into the bath for a bit but started to make a lot of noise so the midwife asked to listen to the baby's heartbeat. It was really hurting me to stand up so I got out the bath again, and onto the bed. I really felt heavy pressure and an urge to go to the toilet but no-one seemed to be taking me seriously (or so I thought), and I ended up going into the bathroom in a sulk. Have been told that all they could hear from the bedroom was a little voice saying "why won't anyone listen to me". The midwife told me I needed to get active but it was really hurting to stand up (I now know it was because baby was moving down).

I had another contraction and my friend noticed I was bleeding and that this was a sign that baby was coming. The midwife examined me and it was discovered I was fully dilated (4 to 10cms in half an hour) but there was a lip of cervix so I wasn't to push. However I couldn't stop it, I felt this overwhelming urge to push. I was on my hands and knees hanging on to my friend. The midwives were not ready as I had gone from 4 cm to 10cm in half an hour and they had to quickly phone for the second midwife and were rushing round getting stuff ready out of the home birth box (my sister had to rush out to their car to get the delivery kit). I couldn't stop though and was pushing my baby out, the student midwife was holding the head in but I remember my sister announcing that “the head is out". I had another big contraction and my baby was born at 11.22pm on the 28th February (just missing the leap year). In total the second stage lasted 12 minutes (my eldest took 2 hours to push out). I was just in shock, and was just on all fours on the bed.

My sister told the midwife not to tell me the sex as I wanted to discover this for myself. The midwife told me that baby was wrapped up in the cord so I was not to move, and after what seemed like a lifetime I was able to look down and see my baby and see we had another daughter, who we called Cally. I picked her up, and cut the cord myself. The second midwife arrived then, had missed the whole thing. I decided to have the injection to pass the placenta but my membranes snapped so it was a few minutes before I got to hold Cally to feed her. We phoned up my mother in law to tell her she had another granddaughter and she came round to meet her.

I had a quick shower then back into a clean bed with my newborn. My boyfriend brought up a glass of champagne for everyone, and my sister made me some honey on toast and a cup of coffee. The midwives cleaned everything up and said goodbye, my friend put on the washing and tidied up. At 3.30am I decided I was hungry and ate the rest of boyfriend's Chinese meal that he had earlier on that night. I couldn’t sleep as the adrenaline was still going, I could not stop staring at my beautiful baby.

It was an amazing experience and being at home really helped me. I felt more relaxed and much more in control; and although I did beg to go to hospital I was given great support and this helped me to stay where I was. I healed so fast, and whilst I put this down to the amount of arnica I took I do think the homebirth was a big factor in this. It also helped me to come to terms with my first birth, I had felt like I had failed and couldn’t do labour properly, but this shows I can and that at my first birth I made the right decisions for me at that time.


Related pages:

Siblings at a home birth - what to do with your older children? Should they be present?

Pain relief - what are your options at home?

Waterbirth at home

Transferring to hospital - why it might be advised.

Get Your Baby Lined Up - what it means when your baby gets in an awkward position, and what you can do about it.

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

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

Homebirth UK email group

Home Birth Stories


Home Birth Reference Page

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