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Shaun's birth, by Tina Redford

Born Monday 9th October 2006 at 8.17pm

A little background – The build-up to labour

My edd date was 4th October 2006 and as my second daughter was born 3 days early by my dates (6 by the hospitals dates) I was expecting this baby to be born early too. About a week or so before my edd (on a Thursday) we had been discussing in my church group about receiving God's guidance and how some Christians hear voices or thoughts from God to guide them. If I am honest, I thought “how nice for them – they must be really good Christians. Obviously my faith isn't strong enough because I really can't imagine anything like that happening for me.’


I'm not 100% sure if it was the same day or the following day but I was feeling particularly tired so I asked my mum to look after my 2 daughters whilst I had a rest. I took the time to listen to my hypnobirthing cd and then decided to try and get an hours sleep. As I was just about to nod off I heard a very clear voice saying “Tina’ as if someone was trying to get my attention. It wasn't a male voce and it wasn't a female voice it was just a voice. As I closed my eyes and tried to get back to sleep the word “Monday’ kept going through my mind. I put 2 and 2 together and thought that maybe it meant baby would be born on Monday, but if I am honest I did also think “yeah right!’  I decided only to tell my husband about this in case it was just wishful thinking and I ended up looking like a complete nutter!
The Sunday before my due date I went to the usual church service and it was Holy Communion. The sermon was based on what we had been discussing in our groups – basically trust God and everything happens when God chooses. It certainly helped me get things in perspective and I felt a lot more positive – especially as when it came to taking communion I went to the queue of people on the opposite side to where I usually go and the curate's wife (who is in training for ordination) asked if she could say a prayer for my baby and laid her hands on my bump as she prayed.

Monday came and went.


On Wednesday I had my 40 week appointment with a different mw to my usual one who started to discuss the hospital's policy of them “letting you go to 10 days over now’ (gee thanks) and that I could have an appointment for a chat and a membrane sweep soon. When she examined me though she shook her head and said “no chance’ – the head was too high and baby was in the posterior position (back to back). She said they wouldn't do a sweep whilst it was in this position anyway and once she realised that I was planning a homebirth (and was actually the second mw for my last homebirth) she agreed to hold off making a hospital appointment until my next mw appointment at 41 wks. Phew!
I felt very disheartened after this appointment and whilst I was pleased to have another week's grace I was not looking forward to having to face telling the hospital I would only be induced if they could find a good medical reason (which I am sure they would have done their utmost to find). I was also feeling frustrated that I was still pregnant and hadn't delivered early as I did my previous baby, even though I knew baby would come when he was ready and that he was blissfully aware of my edd…….and I should trust God!!!!
I woke up that night at midnight and just couldn't sleep at all so came downstairs for a Chamomile tea – and discovered that my husband had obviously decided that I wasn't giving birth for a long while yet as I found 6 empty beer cans discarded around the house.


I spent the next few days trying really hard not to think about it but the more I tried not to the more I did!!!
On the Saturday (7th Oct) I decided to take my eldest daughter Juliet to the Trafford Centre to buy some new shoes to see if a walk on hard floor would help (I spent the day before my previous birth walking up and down the Trafford Centre). Nothing, not even the tiniest Braxton Hicks! So I decided that whilst she was in her ballet class that afternoon I would go for a walk to the local town centre and back. If nothing else I hoped that the walking would help move baby into a better position. Again, nothing.

 On the Sunday (8th October) I took my 2 daughters to church. As I had thought I'd be looking after a new baby by now I hadn't really taken much notice as to what the service would be and felt really bad that it was the Harvest Festival Service and I hadn't brought anything at all! Fortunately my elder daughter was too busy colouring in to notice that most of the other children were taking their offerings to the front of the church during the first hymn and my youngest daughter was busy in crèche. Phew! During the service I felt 3 contractions which were painful enough to very calmly breathe through but not enough to cause any panic………it did make me wonder about the Monday theory though.
Later that afternoon I convinced my husband to go for a long walk with the dog with me whilst the girls were at my mums. We walked for a good hour or so through the park and round the block and I could feel pressure in my pelvis but nothing else. About an hour after we got home I had about 5 or 6 “twinges’ at about 5 minutes apart……but then they stopped.  Andy was getting impatient as he was desperate for time off work and the phone calls of “has she had it yet’ were starting!!!!

The labour

I awoke on Monday 9th October at about 6.15am and had a strong “twinge’ which felt very real. I joked with Andy that maybe this was it and I'd saved him from work but no more contractions came. I complained that I really couldn't face the school run as I was sick and tired of being asked “are you still here…..when will you be induced’ to which I'd smile and say “yes’ and “no I don't want to be induced’ whilst mentally thinking “no I am scotch mist and no-one is inducing me without good reason’ Stroppy mare I am!!!

Andy left for work at about 7.15am and I cam down to get the girls ready for playgroup and school. At about 7.25 I felt another twinge and not so long later another one. It didn't take long for me to realise that they were more painful than yesterday and becoming very regular. I didn't time them properly as I was busy getting the girls ready – and it seemed they were playing up more than usual that morning. I went into a mild panic as I couldn't find my mobile phone with all my phone numbers on it – mum's mobile and work number, the midwives number in case anything happened whilst I was out. I was having to breath through the contractions but I knew it was very early doors as I do long labours and they had only just begun – IF they had begun and it wasn't a false start!
I sent Andy a text message on his phone (he would still be driving) to ask him to phone me when he got to work. He asked if I wanted him to come home but I wasn't 100% sure that it would be worth it at this point. By about 8.15am they were still coming so I phoned Andy again and asked if he'd get into trouble if I made him come home for a false start – he said he wouldn't so I asked him to come home and start filling the pool whilst I took the girls to school and playgroup.
Getting the girls out of the door that morning seemed an impossible task – in between breathing through these mild contractions Juliet had decided she didn't want to wear her coat or her cardigan despite the fact that it was chucking it down outside and we couldn't find Georgia's “Dora Backpack’ for playgroup and there was no way we could possibly go without it. I confess to losing it and shouting at them both at one point although I quickly apologised and explained why whilst being careful not to promise that baby would defiantly arrive that day.
I pushed Georgia in the buggy and took Juliet to school first trying to manage a polite “good morning’ and “no not yet’ to familiar faces on the way without getting involved in any long conversations.  At playgroup one of Georgia's friend's mothers offered to pick her up for me when she spotted I was breathing through my contractions and the playgroup leaders seemed a bit concerned that I was walking home alone – I was more concerned about the rain!!!!
When I arrived back home Andy was dutifully filling the pool. I tried to phone my mum to put her on standby for looking after Georgia when she got home from playgroup and picking Juliet up from school but her work number was out of order and she had left her mobile at home! I had a shower and the warmth of the water on my back was amazingly comforting.  When I got out Andy suggested it may be a good idea to phone the midwives and warn them that I thought something may be happening. I wasn't convinced and felt I had a very long time to go as although the contractions were quite painful they weren't lasting very long. I agreed to phone them but I played it down and said that I thought it was the very early stages and could possibly be a false start.

I waited for a phone call back from the on-call mw and sat on my birth ball whilst I had a piece of toast and watched the previous night's episode of Coronation Street on Sky+. I had eaten half a slice and watched about 10 minutes of telly when the mw arrived at the front door. She did all her usual checks and gave me the one internal examination that was on my birth plan and found me to be 3cm dilated and thinning quite nicely! The downside was baby's head was only just dipping into my pelvic brim and was in the posterior position – she said she didn't see this as a concern yet and said baby would probably shift as labour progressed. She then asked to read my birth plan – which was a complete first for me – despite it being my third baby no-one had ever asked to read it. After reading it she said the only problem with it was I said I wanted to touch baby's head as it crowned which wouldn't be possible if I gave birth in the water.

Note from Angela: This midwife had a very unusual attitude to waterbirth - it is ridiculous to suggest that a mother will not be able to touch the baby's head as it crowns in water, as most waterbirth mothers do this! I can only think that the midwife is thinking of the midwifery guidelines on birth in water, which say that the midwife should not 'over-handle' the baby while it is being born in water as this is rarely necessary, and in case the stimulation might cause the baby to breathe. However, there is no evidence to suggest that any harm has ever occurred from a mother touching her own baby's head as it is born, and indeed many mothers instinctively use their hands to guard the perineum or to help to ease out the head in water. Most waterbirth advocates believe the mother herself will only touch the baby's head in a gentle way, whereas some midwives prefer to be very 'hands-on' in a birth and use varying amounts of traction (pulling) on the baby's head. Either way, this is the mother's choice; it's important to be clear that any risk from handling the baby is purely theoretical, and given the many thousands of waterbirth babies who have been born into their mother's own hands, it's very, very unlikely to be a genuine problem. See waterbirth for more discussion of birth pool issues.

Back to Tina:

She left to finish off her morning visits and returned about 45-60mins later. By now my contractions had begun to get more painful and I was starting to have to concentrate on my breathing more. I leant over my birth ball with each contraction in a bid to get baby to shift into a better position. The mw suggested that I thought about when would be a good time to get into the pool as she was just a bit concerned that I would get too involved with the labour and not get full benefit of the pool. Knowing that I just don't labour that quickly and I like to take my time, I just didn't feel ready and declined.

In the meantime Georgia came home from playgroup and we gave her an egg sandwich for lunch (her favourite) and tried to contact my mum again to look after her – but her work number was still out of order. Georgia seemed quite happy and wasn't in the least bit fazed by me leaning on the ball – she tried to climb on my back to play horses at one point! As she was coping so well we agreed that she could stay around for as long as she was happy.
At around 2pm I decided that maybe I would get in the pool and see what happened. Georgia wanted to put her costume on and get in and got quite upset when we told her she couldn't so we phoned my brother to come and take her till my mum got home from work at around 4pm. My brother would also have to pick Juliet up from school.
My brother arrived and I gave him instructions on what he had to do and he took Georgia back to my mum and dads.
Before I got in the pool I had the bright idea of phoning my dad – but his mobile was switched off – so I left a very un-diplomatic message saying something along the lines of “you and mum are bloody useless’!!!!
Andy removed my TENS machine and when he pulled off the self-adhesive pads I let out my biggest scream so far! OMG did that hurt!!!! I put the oil burner on, switched on some classical music, got towels ready and got in the pool and it felt amazing. The downside was the contractions did slow down but I was secretly pleased as I got a bit of a rest!!! The second mw arrived shortly after I had got in the pool which surprised me as I know my labours just don't happen this fast and I did then feel a bit under pressure to perform.
My dad returned my phone call and spoke to Andy and arranged that he would leave work early and go and pick my mum up from her office! Phew – one less thing to worry about!


After a good half hour it was clear that the contractions had really slowed down so I decided to get out of the pool and took up the second midwife's suggestion of taking the dog for a short walk with Andy to see if being upright got them going again. So, with tens machine re-attached (how brave am I!) we took our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Barney out for the shortest walk of his life! We made it to the end of the street where one of the neighbours just happened to be at her garden fence and she called us for a chat. I carried on the conversation as well as I could and let Andy take over when a contraction came. Just as we were about to head back home my mum was walking across the road at the edge of our cul-de-sac on her way to pick Juliet up from school and the look on her face was priceless…..’What are you doing out’…was all she could say….and then strangely asked if I was going to pick Juliet up! Er…no…. can you imagine the gossiping at the school gates??!!! They all think I'm mad enough anyway!


When I had got back the midwives had taken a very keen interest in my homeopathic birth kit and were reading through the instruction book and were soon prescribing me a cocktail of remedies and the contractions soon picked up again. As the contractions grew stronger they had a few jokes about the instruction book suggesting certain ones for when I got irritable!
They asked if I was ready to get back in the pool and I wasn't sure so I asked them to do a quick examination to check progress and felt a bit disheartened to discover I was only 5cm but very thin with very bulging waters, baby's head STILL high up and STILL posterior. I was also annoyed with myself for asking for the internal as one of the reasons I didn't want one was because I knew “lack of progress’ would put me off my stride. I was also feeling quite frustrated with myself as the contractions at this stage were about as painful as they got with my second birth and I couldn't understand why I wasn't feeling as relaxed about things.
As the day had now turned into a bright autumn day the midwives suggested that I went for a walk round the garden with Andy carrying the gas and air canister. This was my favourite part of labour. It was just Andy and I pottering round the garden on our own, stopping when I had a contraction for me to lean against Andy and puff on the Gas and Air. Bliss. Our dog, Barney, following us and getting under our feet!
As the contractions became more intense I decided that I should go back indoors and get back in the pool. This time they kept coming thick and fast and for the first time ever I got to the end of a canister of gas and air – last time I used less than a third of one. There was some slight amusement as we decided to see what would happen if I got my birthing ball in the pool to lean over (it helped on dry land) and it kept bouncing off with the buoyancy. We did eventually get it into a position where I could use it and it was helpful.
Also, for the first time ever I got annoyed when they were trying to fix the next one up and they couldn't attach the nozzle correctly- even Andy had a go at fixing it. I had to breathe through a good 5 or 6 really painful contractions on my own and when they finally sorted it I think I nearly broke the midwife's hand as I snatched the nozzle off her…..and then after another 2 or 3 contractions the damn thing stopped working again. I was NOT happy!
It must have been around 5.30 – 6.00pm by now but to be honest I was trying not to look at the time because I didn't want to start putting pressure on myself and get annoyed at how long it was taking. One of the midwives decided to go for a drive to the chippy for chips and gravy. The other one decided to ask me during a very painful contraction if I wanted her to light some candles and I tried to nod my head to say yes but I just couldn't – things were getting very intense – Andy later said (after they had gone) that he nearly shouted at her himself then!
I remember looking at 2 cut-out crucifixes that the children had made at church last Easter and reminding myself that Jesus went through much worse than this for us which gave me strength – especially when I remembered that my children had made them and I would do this time and time again for them. There was also a point where I thought perhaps it would help divert my attention if I counted the curtain rings – I got as far as about 4 and gave up!!! I then had a couple of “I can't do it’ contractions before they started to become expulsive and I started to grunt through the ends of them. I tried to keep quiet about it though in case the midwives told me not too – why I thought that I don't know because I have to say they were great – they told me what they were thinking but always gave me options and let me make any decisions and didn't put any pressure on me in any way shape or form – if anything just the opposite,
As the expulsive contractions got more…erm….expulsive (!!!) I confessed and the mw came back to the pool to join us. With the next contraction I firmly told Andy to get the sieve!!!!! The other mw returned with the chips and after the both quickly tried to shovel a handful of chips down promptly decided to put them in the oven to keep warm.
At this point I was just letting my body do what it had to and was only doing short involuntary pushes as the contraction peaked – I wasn't putting any effort in at all. This went on for a while and I decided that maybe it was time for me to actively push now. I was pushing for a good while (again not looking at the clock) and I heard the midwives whispering “maybe a lip’ which I took as meaning a cervical lip. I continued pushing and was told off a couple of times for pushing from my diaphragm – I have always been useless at pushing (which was why I was hoping my body would do it itself if I left it) my quickest second stage was my second labour and that still took 50mins (she did have a big head though!).
I asked a couple of times if they could see anything yet and each time the answer was “no’.  I'm not sure how much later but at one point the mw said “ok, I think we should have a couple more contractions and if nothing is happening we should think about getting out so we can have a proper examination and then if all is ok you can get back in.’ By now I was feeling a bit despondent and I had visions of scary green curtains and men in white suits with scary instruments. I sat in the pool waiting for the next couple of contractions feeling almost defeated but still determined to get this baby out on my own. By the time I'd had the next contraction I was ready to get out to see what was (or wasn't) going on anyway so I happily got out.
When I got out the mw asked me how tall I was – 4ft 11inch and how big my previous baby's were – 6lb 5oz and 6lb 10oz. The examination showed I was fully dilated and baby had gone down but was still back to back. I had another contraction almost flat on my back and pushed through it and the midwives got all excited because there was finally movement. I tried the next contraction with one foot on the floor and one on a dining chair (they later told me they were suspected the shoulders were stuck at this point) but nothing happened and they then gave me the choice of getting back in the pool or back on the sofa where I'd been examined. The sofa was only a step away so the sofa won!
I sat up on the sofa and pushed for my life and this time with each contraction the midwives were more positive and said they could see a lot more. Eventually one mw told me to put my hand in my vagina and feel the tip of my baby's head – it was great – all squidgy and soft but it was there and it gave me the motivation to keep going. Next minute they told me it was there now and wouldn't go back. Next contraction I could feel it moving further down, and the next it was finally crowning and I said “oh here we go ring of fire’ This stage seemed to take forever as the midwives made me go really slowly with it, which I was pleased about in one way as I was scared of my scar tearing from my episiotomy from my first birth and my second degree tear from my second, but in another way I was just desperate to get it out because it was really stinging and very uncomfortable and I knew that once this bit was over I would be holding my baby – and I wanted it NOWWW!

Finally I felt baby start to slip from my body and the mw said “Tina, do you want to catch it’ and I quickly put my arms down around my baby's body and slowly pulled him to my chest. We were covered with a towel and enjoyed some wonderful skin to skin contact whilst my little blue alien pinked up really quickly, stared into my eyes and gave the tiniest sweetest whimpery cry in the world. After a good 5 minutes or so I remembered that no-one had checked that he was a boy so I lifted the towel and confirmed it!

The mw left us alone – cord still attached – and started to write some notes. I had originally planned to not cut the cord until I had delivered the placenta but changed my mind and asked if Andy could cut it once it had stopped pulsating. Andy missed out on cutting the cord for our previous birth as the cord had been tight round baby's neck.
Andy phoned my mum and handed me the phone so I could speak to Juliet and Georgia who were very excited that they could hear their new baby whimpering down the phone.
The placenta came out without any drugs although the mw did pull VERY gently on the cord after it had taken a while to come (just like the baby!). I then spent time admiring the placenta as well as the baby! I decided to see if Shaun was ready to try his first breastfeed and was expecting the usual awkward newborn attempt at latching but he got straight on and hasn't looked back since.
Eventually I was persuaded to be parted from my new son whilst he was weighed and checked. The midwives said he looked a good size and one guessed around 7lb 8oz and the other said 7lb 10oz. They both went over to the scales and I heard one of them say “Oh my God’ and the other one came back and asked me to guess what he weighed. I said “I've never done an 8lber - I only do 6lb babies’ She then called over to the other mw who said “8lb 5 ½ oz’ to which I replied “Flippin heck – is there anything in my homeopathic kit for shock???!!!’

I was checked to see if I needed stitches and was amazed to find that I only had a couple of internal grazes and my scar was completely intact – I'm not sure who was more amazed – me or the midwives.
The midwives cleared everything up and Andy made me a cup of tea and emptied the pool whilst I sat breastfeeding and enjoying my new son. The midwives ran me a bath and got everything and got my nightwear and towels ready and wanted to get me settled into bed but I insisted that I wanted to be downstairs when my daughters came home so they “allowed’ me on the understanding that I put feet up on the sofa and didn't move.
My Mum, Dad, and two brothers brought Juliet and Georgia back and we finally cracked open a bottle of 1993 Vintage Moet (which I brought as already vintage when I went to stay with my best friend who lives in Paris before I got married) and shared it amongst ourselves and the midwives who had been fantastically supportive.  
Juliet and Georgia climbed on the sofa next to me and their faces were beaming as they admired their new baby brother.

On reflection

Although I got really frustrated with myself for feeling like I wasn’t coping as well as I did with Georgia, I am pretty damn proud of myself for managing to bring an 8lb baby in a posterior position into the world with only a canister and half of gas and air and water for pain relief and NO stitches or tears! It has totally reinforced my belief in homebirth as I am certain had I been in hospital I would have at best had a forceps or ventouse delivery as even the midwives said that they would expect a 3rd baby to be pushed out in 30mins max and it took me a good hour and a half. It has not only reinforced my belief in homebirth but in women’s ability to grow and birth babies under their own steam and in their own time, and possibly more importantly my belief in God – I knew he’d get me through it and I truly do believe he spoke to me. Monday 9th October it was!

Tina Redford

Related pages:

Home Birth Stories

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

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

Pain relief - what are your options at home?

Waterbirth at home

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


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