Victoria had posted to the Homebirth UK email group when expecting her second baby. She was overdue and was considering whether to accept induction or not. She suffered from pre-eclampsia during her first pregnancy, but fortunately had no sign of it this time. Jocelyn was born at 40 weeks + 11 days.
Jocelyn Sarah - 7lb 6oz - 12th June 2006
My first baby Amelia was born in hospital, and though I had a generally good experience, I knew that I wanted things to be different this time. This pregnancy was emotionally difficult for me as it was overshadowed by the illness and tragic death of my sister, and this made me feel even more that I needed to be in safety and comfort of my own home. My community midwives were supportive of home birth and my pregnancy was uncomplicated so there was nothing standing in the way of my plans. Except that my baby didn't seem as keen!
Amelia had been born at 39 weeks, and I expected that baby number 2 would arrive at a similar time if not earlier, so from about 38 weeks I was very impatient, especially as I had a great big 'birth kit' from the midwives sitting in my wardrobe.
On the 30th May I had a show and started to feel very niggly in the early hours, so when my partner got up I asked him to stay home from work as I was feeling very uncomfortable and sure that I would be in labour that day. We took Amelia for a walk to see the goats and horses down the lane, and I kept having to stop and catch my breath during contractions. When we got home I went to lie down and everything stopped. I was a bit disappointed but still sure labour wasn't far off. Well I was wrong! This on/off false labour carried on for nearly a fortnight!
As I went further past my due date I got more and more fed up as I was getting really uncomfortable runs of contractions and began to get quite worried that I would end up being induced in hospital. I was very confident that my EDD was correct as it had been based on a scan at 9 weeks.
According to the notes from my previous pregnancy, when Amelia was born at 39 weeks my placenta had several large areas of infarction. I only had a limited understanding that this meant the placenta had started to stop working efficiently, so I was worried about the implications of going overdue and whether my placenta would pack up again this time. It was hard to find an explanation of this, but after I posted on a midwifery yahoo group I found some information. It seemed that placental infarction was linked to high blood pressure in pregnancy, and during my first pregnancy I had had very high blood pressure and was being monitored from 36 weeks. Knowing this enabled me to relax and reassured me that I could safely resist induction.
I'd had a membrane sweep at 41 weeks, and another 48 hours later. On both occasions the midwives had said they thought I'd labour that night, but they were wrong too! I was offered an appointment for induction on Tuesday 13th at 40+12, and I decided to accept the appointment knowing that I could still cancel at the last minute. I was emotionally very torn at this point because I REALLY didn't want to go into hospital but I also REALLY wanted this baby to arrive.
On Monday morning I woke up feeling really sore and tired, so I decided I'd ask my in-laws to take Amelia for me so I could have a rest. My partner Neil decided to stay home too, as he was worried about me; I really was very upset and exhausted and he didn't want me to be on my own. It was really hot and after lunch I decided to inflate and fill my pool so that I could have a relaxing wallow. I think it was having that safe space and time that 'allowed' me to go into labour.
Just as The Archers was finishing I had a contraction, and then during the afternoon play they were coming every 10 minutes or so. They soon speeded up and got stronger, and Neil decided to ring my midwife at about 3.30 as he knew she was going off shift at 4pm. Judy arrived at around 4, just as I was on the toilet! I was so pleased that she was able to come out, as we had developed a good relationship during the last few weeks of my pregnancy. Before I got back in the pool she did a quick examination, and swiftly got on the phone to call out the second midwife as I was 9cm dilated. She asked the hospital to send entonox by taxi, as the traffic was very heavy and the second midwife wouldn't have time to collect it en route.The two or three contractions I experienced while I was out of the pool were much more painful than they had been in the pool, so it was a huge relief to get back into the water. I was definitely in transition at this point because I was telling Neil and Judy that I didn't want a baby anymore and could I please go home! The gas and air hadn't arrived and I was not at all impressed, the contractions were very strong and I felt like I might be ripped in half by the pain. I was aware of David Essex singing 'Hold Me Close' on the radio and it seemed very funny for some reason.
Then suddenly I needed to stand up, and did so very quickly dispersing water all over our bedroom carpet (we hadn't had a chance to put down the waterproof sheeting). Neil asked me if I wanted to get out of the pool, and as I did I started pushing. It felt absolutely fantastic, and the pain was completely switched off. I stood with my arms round Neil's neck and after 2 big pushes my baby shot out to be caught by a rather startled Judy. She was laid on the floor between my legs while I sat back and picked her up. She passed meconium as she was born, and came out screaming, so I think she was as shocked by the speed of second stage as I was.
The second midwife arrived just a few minutes after Jocelyn, and the entonox a little while later. Neil had to go down to tell the taxi to take it straight back to the hospital and ended up announcing the birth to half the village!
Jocelyn's first feed
The cord wasn't cut until after the placenta was delivered about 20 minutes later, and in that time she had her first breastfeed (after she finally stopped screaming) and continued to poo all over me. As the pool was still clean we got back in to wash off after Neil had cut the cord, and then snuggled up in bed with a cup of tea.
Jocelyn Sarah had agpars of 9 and 9, and weighed 7lbs 6oz. There was not much amniotic fluid left and her skin was very dry and cracked so she was clearly postmature but perfectly healthy. Normally we would have been asked to go into hospital for her to be checked because she'd passed meconium, but Judy phoned the hospital and spoke to the registrar who agreed that it wasn't necessary (I think he heard her in the background and figured her lungs were alright!).
I hadn't torn and had lost only a small amount of blood, so I felt much healthier and happier after this birth than first time round. I was a bit shocked and shaky, but nothing some sweet tea and a few biscuits didn't sort out. Jocelyn was so much more alert than Amelia had been (I'd been given pethidine during that labour) and I was so proud of myself for having an entirely natural and drug-free labour.
Neil and the midwives cleaned up and within an hour the pool was emptied and away and the house back to normal. Amelia came home at teatime to meet her new baby sister, and was absolutely thrilled. Jocelyn is gorgeous, well worth the wait!
Amelia and Jocelyn
Meconium in the waters - what does it mean for homebirth?
Overdue - what are the risks and what are your options?
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