Sophie's Birth Story, by Sian Lupton

Sophie was born at home 2 days before my 37th birthday. The midwives never mentioned my age as a potential negative. They were also never 'concerned' that my first baby was a forceps delivery, although I thought they might be!

It was Saturday July 15th, 2 weeks before my due date. My first daughter, Harriet was born 2 days early so I wasn't expecting anything to happen yet. My Mum was due to fly down from Scotland on the Monday…

I had prayed and planned for a home birth. I'm not keen on hospitals and last time it was stressful just getting there! My birthing pool arrived on the Friday and I was allowed a lie-in the following morning while Harriet (age 3 and a half) helped Daddy erect the birthing pool. My husband, Jim, took Harriet out to play while I did a Tesco's shop in the afternoon. I was having a bad day and feeling like an elephant. We went to friends for a barbecue late afternoon. I felt uncomfortable, but put it down to 'practise' contractions. My discomfort was obvious to everyone at the barbecue, but I assured them it was just 'a bad day'.

We left at 8.30ish with a very sleepy daughter in the back. Came home and watched TV for half an hour before going to bed. I kept telling Jim it was just a false alarm until my waters went at 9.30ish. It all happened a bit quickly after that. I phoned the hospital and the contractions started to kick in - I was apologising for having to breathe through the contractions.

The community midwife on duty, Jan, phoned back to say she was coming from Fleet and would pick up help at the hospital on the way. (The midwives prefer to have two of them present at the delivery stage - one each for Mum and baby.) She asked if I would mind a student attending and I said no problem. I am very pro- being able to choose a home birth and students need the experience to maintain our choice.

In the meantime, Jim was filling the pool. I was trying to issue instructions and he just wanted me to keep still. I leant over my Pezzi (birth) ball and breathed through the contractions as they came. I was paranoid over the baby's position this time, because Harriet had been posterior (my back to her back). This resulted in a long labour in the birthing pool at North Hants hospital with a final forceps-aided delivery. My midwife was Carol Axon - her passing comment when it was all over stayed with me. "It will be much quicker next time." My assumption was that nearly 14 hours would be reduced to about 7. Oops!!
I had visions of spending the early hours of labour sipping Pimms in between relatively mild contractions.

The pool seemed to be taking ages to fill. The midwives arrived about 10.30pm.They could see I was busy and just let me get on with it. In between contractions they asked where we had stored the equipment. The thought of gas and air for the increasingly strong contractions came clearly into my head and I sent Jim off to fetch the gas bottles and various boxes and of kit that had been left the week before.

After a couple of whiffs of the gas and air I felt my insides collapse. Jan investigated and said that if I wanted a water birth I had better get in the pool now! Jim was worried, as the pool was a bit cooler than it should have been, but Jan assured him that neither the baby nor I would be in long. I was desperate to get in the water. I was helped into the pool and felt a deep sense of relief as I relaxed and the water supported my weight. A few more contractions and Sophie decided to start making an appearance. She arrived officially at 11.32pm. As I got up to get out of the pool there was a cry from upstairs. Jim went to get Harriet. She looked at Mum in the pool of yuck, was introduced to her new sister and went back to bed with some milk. She went straight back to sleep!

I got out of the pool for the third stage and then gave Sophie her first feed. I wanted to feel her skin next to mine. I felt she needed warming up anyway. She seemed scrawny compared to Harriet (8lbs3oz) despite being 7lbs6oz. Jim got the champagne and tea.

The midwives were brilliant at clearing up while I went for a quick bath. We made the phone calls to the parents' etc. My Mum was upset she missed the birth but happy we were all OK. Jim and I were in bed for about 1.30am feeling rather stunned that less than four hours earlier there had been only two of us in the bed. At 6.00amish Harriet bounded in to see her little sister and the hard work really started! Jim emptied the pool on Sunday morning with Harriet. I never did get to use it for a family bath, but received an unexpected refund on the birthing pool as I only had it for less than a week.

Having Sophie at home was a wonderful experience for the whole family and much less stressful for me personally. I have established an NCT home birth support group for the Basingstoke area, and would encourage all women to consider the option and get in touch if they want more information.

Sian Lupton

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