Suzanne's first baby, Amber, was born in January 2000 after transferring from home to hospital. Suzanne wrote this birth story just two days after the birth!
I came home yesterday afternoon and so far am adjusting slowly but surely to being a mum. My husband Tony has been wonderful.
After I realised that I was in labour, things began to happen a little more quickly. I held off the gas and air for as long as I could, relying on the TENS, which I didn't find that effective, and showers.
After a while my first midwife had to go, so another came. The new midwife was one who had been rough with me before and the minute she was here my blood pressure skyrocketed - she was all for transferring me to hospital immediately, but the first midwife pointed out that it had been fine up until now, and they just watched it carefully for a while, after which it returned to normal.
Suzanne had to fight hard to book a home birth, partly because this was her first pregnancy. One midwife in particular was extremely obstructive and unsupportive. Unfortunately this was the second midwife, who turned up on the day. See 'What if you don't get along with your midwife' for steps to take if you find someone similarly unhelpful in your antenatal care.
I started using the gas and air and found, with its help, I could sit down - a relief as I had been standing almost constantly since midnight. The midwife examined me and said I had dilated only 2cm in just over 4 hours, to a total of 7-8cm. She said this was due to baby looking upwards.
Suzanne later added: "I found out recently I'd had my waters broken by the midwife. No recollection of it personally but it all came about when Tony found the little tool they use on the floor, having fallen out of the homebirth kit and said 'do you remember this?'..."
The midwife suggested I transfer so I could get more pain relief. I discussed having Pethidine at home (Tony and I were both keen to stay where we were) but what with being so far on and the thought of baby having breathing difficulties (a possible side-effect if the mother has Pethidine/Demerol in labour), we decided to transfer. We did this mainly because, although I was still coping with the pain I was already physically very exhausted. Later it turned out we had been lucky to transfer then rather than later, as the baby passed meconium.
The presence of meconium, where the baby passes a bowel movement before or during labour, can mean that the baby is or has been distressed. Because of this, many health authorities recommend that home birth mothers transfer to hospital if meconium is detected. For more information, see 'Transferring from Home to Hospital'.
Anyway, the ambulance arrived and, as I was still coping I felt like a bit of a fraud! Especially when the midwife insisted the siren was used. The ambulance man and lady were terrific and had me fixed up to the gas and air, warning me when there were particular bumps in the road as I didn't want to be strapped in and so was being thrown about a bit!
Tony followed in the car and I was frantically worrying about him and other stuff (Did anyone check the cooker was off?!!).
I had insisted on being allowed to sit up the ambulance, as opposed to lying down, and so was able to deal with the pain well. Oddly, the most painful bit was as the midwife kept checking baby's heartbeat (she was worried about it at this stage) and the turns in the road meant I was thrown onto the device. I was violently sick in the ambulance, more to do with the ride than anything - midwife was also queasy!
The ambulance man did the journey in 27mins which I was very impressed with! He wished me luck and said he was glad I didn't deliver in the back - I would have been the 23rd mum to have done!
Suzanne had previously been told that, if she had to transfer to hospital in labour, she could not attend the local hospital, Heatherwood, only a few minutes away, because she had booked a home birth. The most generous interpretation of this is that the authorities there thought that anyone transferring would have problems, and they were a low-tech unit. She was told that she would have to attend a larger hospital, further away, and that a transfer would take 50 minutes. In the event it took 27 minutes....
When we arrived I was immediately encouraged that my care was being passed over to a midwife called Mary who I recognised and liked from doing the Heatherwood tour.
Contractions were more painful now and I was trying to play it down, which was immediately noticed and reprimanded! I was left in a labour room where I promptly pulled the Entonox machine out of the wall! Another ambulance lady walked by and helped me fix it.
Mary helped me with the gas and air, taking lengthier and more intense breaths. I was perched on the side of the bed when Tony arrived. I was feeling side effects from the Entonox and didn't immediately recognise him. When I did recognise him, Mary discussed with us our options in between contractions. She was very reluctant to interfere with any stronger pain relief as she said I was coping well, and she was very non-interventionist.
As the meconium had still not been disovered at this stage, Mary said she would just monitor the baby's heartbeat for a while and then I could use the pool. Having the heartbeat monitored made the labour more painful than it had been up until now as I was resticted to the bed and wanted to move around. I think I was there for about 15 mins, during which I remember Tony screaming and shaking me as effects of gas and air kicked in.
After this I knelt across the top of the bed and began to push - Mary showed Tony how to rub my back which he did really well and she wiped my face with flannels. Between cotnractions I croaked for water!!!
After a while I wanted to move so Mary put a beanbag down on the floor which I knelt over. The contractions were coming faster and harder now and they were screaming at me to push. In between I was able to cry "I'm sorry, I really am pushing" - I just didn't seem to be making any progress.
The ambulance woman who had helped me with the Entonox earlier had asked to be present to watch. She turned out to be a godsend as every time she caught my eye she smiled and mouthed I could do it.
After it became clear nothing was happening, Mary asked me to get up and I was so high on the gas and air I couldn't move (I later found this out from Tony). They both pulled me up as I was unable to get up. The midwife at this stage told me very clearly that she was worried about the baby, and that the Entonox could be impeding the pushing. I promptly dropped it and, even though it became more difficult instantly, I was also very much aware that things were happening more quickly.
I moved into a cross legged position on the bed, bearing down on my ankles, with chin to chest while I pushed. I remember mostly focusing on Tony's voice as he shouted out to encourage me. Eventually baby's head was crowning but I still could not muster up the energy to push that little bit further. I was somewhat panicky at this stage!!
Mary was terrific and managed to tell me very, very quickly that baby was in distress and unless she was born quickly I would need an episiotomy and Ventouse delivery - the doctor had been called out to do this and was on his way. I immediately put everything I had into a few more pushes and the baby was born fairly soon after that.
The cord was cut immediately and baby was whisked away - the relief I felt when she cried!!! Tony told me she was a girl and after only a few minutes being examined she was returned so I could cuddle her.
As we were concentrating on her the midwife told me she was concerned about the amount I was bleeding and that she would have to use Synometrine
Suzanne had previously decided to aim for a natural third stage, but to accept Syntometrine if the midwife thought it was necessary, rather than having the drug given routinely.
I agreed and after that the placenta was dispelled fairly quickly. I even made a point pushing it out which surprised the hell out of me!! No stitches though! Yay, those pelvic floor exercises....
Our baby was 8lb 15 1/2 oz and 57cm long. She scored an AGPAR of 8 after 1 min and 10 after 5. I showered and went up to the ward - and baby proved to be youngest and largest baby there...hehe!
Anyway, after a 1 day and a half stop in hospital we're back home and things seem to be going well - she was very reluctant to breastfeed initially but everyone was very keen to support me and she went from a few half hearted sucks to feeding well..
Suzanne and Tony's Homepage
Suzanne wrote this story two days after Amber was born - where on earth did she find the energy?! A month later, she wrote about her thoughts on having transferred from home to hospital birth.
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