I'd had a very positive home birth experience when my son, Gabriel, was born in September 2003, so when we found out I was expecting another little bundle of joy, there was no doubt in my mind that a home birth would be the right choice again.
"Home Birth – the sequel" took place 8 days later than scheduled but I wasn't surprised by this as my son was also very comfy and didn't arrive until 9 days after his due date.
Seeing as I was a week past my due date, Libby (my midwife) came to visit me at home to carry out a stretch and sweep. I'd had one of those with my son and so I wasn't looking forward to it. However, amazingly, it was absolutely fine – "well, that wasn't so bad" I commented to which Libby replied "I have no idea why your baby hasn't been born as there is nothing there to sweep – no wonder you didn't feel it!" on that note, she added that it would be extremely prudent to stay put as she was certain that by the same time tomorrow, we'd have our new member of the family with us in person. She told me to call if I felt 'anything' because as a second baby, there was a good chance things would go along at a good pace.
It was early evening and I just didn't feel quite right – couldn't put my finger on why exactly but I just had a funny feeling (no pains or contractions, just a 'feeling') so I called Kath (the midwife on duty) who called by and said that everything was fine but to be vigilant. By 11pm I'd had enough of being vigilant and decided to go to bed but I just couldn't get comfortable and so after tossing and turning for a while and having some definite twinges, I decided to get up and sit myself on my gym ball whilst watching the TV in the hope that something would happen – it did!
I rang Kath again at around quarter past midnight to tell her I was now definitely having contractions that were pretty sharp considering they'd just got underway. I recall 'dithering' about with on/off contractions for ages with my son but there was most certainly nothing dithering about these. She said she'd log all my details and to call again in about an hour with an update – an hour? I was back on the 'phone again within half an hour in a most breathless state as things were progressing very rapidly. Clearly, the baby had decided that it might be nice to put in an appearance.
About a quarter of hour after that, my husband rang her back to ask her to please hurry up as I was now upstairs laying over my gym ball concentrating on controlling my breathing and having very strong contractions. It was my husband's turn then to concentrate on his breathing as she said she was mid-delivery at the hospital and not to worry as she could get someone to talk him through doing a delivery if necessary! Thankfully, the hospital delivery went well and she and her colleague Mary were able to make their way over to the house before my husband had to roll up his sleeves.
Now, the weird thing was that I was having very strong contractions but I had the strangest feeling that nothing much was happening – with my son, it felt as if he was travelling down but this time it felt different. I tried various positions – kneeling forwards and all fours for instance and then we decided maybe lying on my side with my leg raised might be useful. I had a big pillow to support me and I was all set for some action when I seemed to get a little breather – my husband was astonished to see me lean into my pillow and nod off for a few moments! Then I woke up again!
I still seemed to be putting in a fair bit of effort for little return so I stood up and leant forwards using my husband and Mary for support and really gave it some stick (this position is excellent and I'd used it to great effect with my son so I was probably feeling very positive about being there) then lo and behold we discovered why I seemed to be a bit 'blocked' in my efforts. Kath by now was stood behind me earnestly monitoring the proceedings when....whoosh an enormous gush of water shot out – all over poor Kath!
I'm not exaggerating when I say that we were literally paddling and Kath was absolutely soaked, but true professional that she was she simply said 'well done, I can see the head' (classic line!) In fact, I was certain I could feel the baby's head actually outside me and the reason for this was that the baby's head WAS outside but there seemed to be a bit of a sticking point so the midwives had to rotate the baby's shoulders. They later told me they were thinking about maybe needing to do the McRoberts manoeuvre but just as they were considering it, would you believe it but another enormous gush of water came out and with it, surfing on the crest of a wave came our beautiful little mermaid, Phoebe.
Of course, Kath got the brunt of it again and was now dripping and squelching around the place trying to make sure Phoebe was breathing OK – there was a tiny little delay and then goodness, did those lungs open up! They weighed her and she was a very healthy 8lbs 15oz. The whole thing took about 4 hours and there we were in the early hours of the morning with our new baby daughter. My three year old son had slept through the whole thing – my husband had just popped back and forth a few times to make sure he was OK but that was all that was needed – what a star.
I had been much bigger on this pregnancy (I stayed nice and compact on my son) but having seen the small ocean that was now lapping around on the bedroom floor I fully understood why! Kath had to 'phone her husband to bring around some fresh clothes for obvious reasons. Meanwhile, Phoebe had decided that all that surfing merited some food and was busily breastfeeding, but not until she had made herself fully heard with little gurgles and babbles.
I was once again very lucky with the third stage of labour. With my son it was just about 5 minutes and this time it was more or less instantaneous – no drugs, it just seemed to pop out all by itself.
So, that's what happened second time around and I was once again, very glad I had chosen to have a home birth. This time I used a different TENS machine to the one I'd used with my son, and I have to say it was very good. Last time, the TENS I used was good novelty value up to a point but then I didn't feel it did much good and it really irritated me – so I pulled it off. This time though, I used it all the way through and just balanced it out with some controlled use of gas & air as needed. The model I used was called 'Gem' and I hired it from www.tens.co.uk
Note from Angela: McRoberts Maneouvre is used if the baby's shoulders are stuck after the head is born (shoulder dystocia). The mother is put on her back and her knees are pushed up under her armpits. This causes movement in the pelvis which usually frees the trapped shoulder. For more, see Shoulder Dystocia.
Vivienne has also written a lovely, inspiring story of her first baby, Gabriel's, birth at home. Vivienne's midwives suggested that she plan a homebirth, and gave her excellent support throughout her labour. Some good examples of ways to move the second stage along.
Siblings at a home birth - what to do with your older children? Should they be present?
Fathers and home birth - fathers' feelings about the birth, and how they can help.
Fast Labours - is quicker always better? What do you do if your baby is arriving faster than your midwife?
Home Birth Stories
Home Birth Reference Page