My Homebirth Story - bit long!!

Holly - posted on 08/10/2010 ( 2 moms have responded )

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The story of my home birth, no water, first baby, American living in the UK, 8lb 12oz, no tears! "Textbook birth" as the midwife said.

I think my labour began noticeably about three days before our little boy was
actually born, on Sunday, when I felt like I was having really bad period cramps that
wouldn’t go away. They weren’t come and go, like a contraction, so I just assumed
labour was on its way and it could be anywhere between a couple of days and a couple of
weeks. (The baby was born one day after his due date, on Wednesday.)

The next day, Monday, I had a bit of blood in my discharge throughout the day and
assumed that this was the “bloody show” I had heard all about. I still wasn’t getting too
excited though because it wasn’t a plug, like I thought it would be. I still thought the big
day wouldn’t be for about another week or so. All Monday and into Tuesday the period-
like cramps continued and by Tuesday evening they had intensified into ones that I could
recognise the beginning and end of, and time in between. I worked out that they were ten
minutes apart, all evening long. I instructed my husband, Ellis, to take a nap that evening
as I felt like this could be the night. At about 11pm that night Ellis and I watched a film to
try to get our minds off of it, but I wasn’t really able to concentrate on it. We tried to put
the TENS machine on but I wasn’t sure how to use it so I ended up taking it off. By
2:30am the contractions were 7 minutes apart and lasting about a minute and becoming
quite painful. I decided I was going to need some help coping with them so I called my
birth partner, Zoe, and she came over straight away. I was embarrassed to call her
because I felt like I was so early on with everything, it was the middle of the night, and it
may not even be real labour, but when she came she was really supportive and lovely,
and all three of us just snuggled in for the long night of contractions.

Zoe helped me put the TENS machine back on and showed me how to use it, and that I
was supposed to feel little tickling sensations in between boosts! From about 2:30 to 4am
I spent trying to find a position that was relatively comfortable during contractions and
found that I could not stand at all during them as my legs were too wobbly, and walking
around was out of the question. We finally found a comfortable position for me on the
cosy chair, with about three pillows behind me, a warm wheat pack on my lower back,
another one on my lower stomach, a hot water bottle under my feet to keep them warm,
and TENS booster in hand! What a sight. The lights were off except for a candle burning
and the Christmas tree lights flashing, and we put on some relaxation music which was
amazing.

During contractions Zoe would remind me to drop my shoulders and not tense
up, and breathed with me. She also timed them all along. In between contractions we
would chat and laugh. It was actually quite lovely. I was drinking water all the time,
wanting to keep hydrated, and therefore having to go to the toilet all the time, which was
not so pleasant as the act of going to the toilet seemed to bring on a contraction, even if it
wasn’t time for one! But I knew it was necessary to keep my bladder empty from my
research! I also ate whenever I was hungry, but only had a couple of pieces of bread, as
my stomach wasn’t too happy with the idea of much more than that, but I knew I needed
the fuel for the rest of the day!

At around 8am the contractions were to the point where I had to make sounds to get
through them along with my breathing. I was beginning to feel quite antsy at this point
and felt the need to stand up and move around, and was struggling to find comfy
positions during contractions. I soon realised there was no comfy position for those
contractions. You just had to breathe through them and get comfortable in between. At
about 10am Zoe and I decided it would be best to go ahead and call the midwife, as it
seemed like I was “in pain enough” to call! I called her and she listened to me through a
contraction to gauge how far along she thought I would be, and decided to come by. She
arrived about 30 minutes later and I had moved into the bedroom from the living room, as
Ellis doing the dishes was annoying me and Zoe advised that the midwives would be
setting up lots of stuff and I’d most likely be annoyed by it as well.

The midwife arrived with a student (I had put in my birth plan that I preferred no
students, mainly because our bungalow is so small) so she said she would send her away.
I remember being very apologetic but the midwife convinced me that it really did
not matter at all. She checked me over (blood pressure, baby’s heart, temperature) and
then said she’d do an internal exam to see how far along I was. I was kind of dreading
this as I’ve heard it was quite painful and I was also dreading she’d tell me I was only
2cm dilated. She told me to lie down on my back on the bed which was the absolute
worst pain I had felt so far. I had my TENS on boost the entire time but it really wasn’t
doing much at that point. The exam (my first vaginal exam of my entire pregnancy!) was
nothing short of awful, as it felt like she was reaching all the way up into my womb,
although I’m sure this was just because of the nerve endings responding to her touch. She
said to me then that it looked like she wasn’t going anywhere as I was 5cm. I was like,
Okay…as to me I felt like that wasn’t very much…little did I know that it takes a lot
longer to get from 0 to 5cm than it does to get from 5 to 10! She came out and told Zoe
and Ellis and Zoe said she was really excited for me to have made it that far without any
pain relief.

I asked the midwife at that point to please bring some Entonox (gas and air) as the TENS
had really done its job and was actually annoying me at that point. My contractions
continued and seemed stronger and more painful than ever after the examination. It’s
almost as if the exam set things into high gear. The gas and air arrived about 45 minutes
later, around noon, (which felt like an eternity) and I instantly started using it. I remember
being nervous about using it because I was afraid it would make me sick, and if I wasn’t
able to use it I was pretty nervous I wouldn’t have been able to cope without some kind
of pain relief! But after a few deep breaths I only felt good so I was very happy.

The mouthpiece was great as well for biting down on during contractions! Once they gave it
to me I was pretty much breathing it in on almost every breath, and it really helped me
get through the worst of the labour. I stood up (I was kneeling on the floor, leaning on a
soft chair) many times and declared that I could not do it and there must be something
wrong and something had to be done, and every time I was met with comforting,
encouraging words from Zoe on one side, Ellis on the other, and the midwife behind me,
telling me that I could do it, and was doing it. I hated hearing this but I know it helped
me, even to just get through that contraction. I stood up at one point and said that I felt
something happening “down below” and thought my water had broken, so I took off my
trousers and went to the toilet, and there was another “bloody show”. I was a bit freaked
by that but the midwife said that was a normal occurrence for being 7-8cm. At this Ellis
said the look I gave her was priceless, as I thought that I was for sure ten centimetres and
definitely about to push this baby out! Little did I know it wouldn’t be long…

At about 1:30pm my body started involuntarily pushing and the midwife called for the
second midwife to come, and she arrived ten minutes later. Zoe was so glad to know that
my body was telling me to push and I didn’t have to make a conscious effort to do it, as
apparently that is really hard! The pushing urges felt like they took over my entire body
and were quite scary at first, and I felt like I was going to throw up, so Zoe got me a
bucket just in case, but I didn’t end up needing it. There was a point during this stage
where I actually ran out of gas and air in the canister but no one realised it, and I was
dying with pain and felt very crazy. Finally they realised it, changed the canister and I
was back in the room, telling them I thought I was a goner there for a second. I pushed
for a while in the kneeling position, rocking back and forth, and felt like I wasn’t getting
anywhere (even though I was) so I decided to turn around and sit on the floor with my
knees up like I’d seen so many women push their babies out before. Unfortunately all this
did to me was make me poo and absolutely killed my hips so I was up and out of that
position as fast as I got into it. I turned back around and was on my knees leaning on the
couch. This would be where the baby would be born.

I was still puffing away on the gas and air (which by the way made me very thirsty so I
was drinking lots of water, which was good!) up until I knew the baby was actually
coming out and then I chucked it away on my own, as I really felt the need to concentrate
on pushing him out. The pain was very intense but it was almost a welcome change from
the intense contractions I’d had one on top of the other for so long, and I knew that the
baby would be born soon. I was feeling nervous at this point about tearing, the baby
getting stuck, cord being wrapped around his neck, etc, so I just really wanted to get it
over with! They checked the baby’s heartbeat in between every contraction and
sometimes during a contraction though so it was very reassuring and I felt like I could
keep going.

At this point I had Ellis’ hand in my right hand and Zoe’s in my left with her in my ear
telling me everything the midwives were quietly telling me to do from behind me…relax
in between contractions (not easy to do when there’s a head in your hoohah) and try not to
shout/scream when pushing (easier said than done). I heard Zoe ask the midwife if it
wouldn’t be better for them to break my waters at this point and the midwife said no, that
it would be best for it to happen on its own, and it was probably about ten minutes later
that there was a burst and a splash…they had broken on their own. I thought for sure
there must be a huge mess but the midwives were amazing and whisked away any sign of
waters breaking at all! In fact looking back they whisked away any sign that there was a
birth in our home full stop by the time they left that evening!

So after the waters broke I did feel quite a relief as the head seemed to feel a tad bit
smaller and I could feel it moving more with each push. It was only a few minutes after
the waters broke that he was born. I was told that the lovely round shape of his head after
the birth was due to the fact that the waters broke so late, and his head was protected by
the sac. People who saw pictures of him straight after the birth thought I had a C section!
I thought the crowning part would be the worst but to be honest I didn’t even realise it
was that far along if they wouldn’t have told me. I did have a distinct urge to just push as
hard as I could to get him out but made sure to slow myself and “do little pushes” as they
told me to do, so as to have minimal tearing. Suddenly the baby’s head was born and I
could hear his lips sucking away. Zoe said it was the strangest thing to see him pop out
with his eyes open and lips sucking! I’m glad I didn’t see it! It was only about 30 seconds
later that the next contraction pushed the rest of his body out. It felt like he was about a
mile long and was never ending, but I felt instant relief. In my birth plan I had written
that I wanted the baby to be placed directly onto my chest but because of the position I
was in that wasn’t really possible, and I think because I was at home, it wasn’t even that
important to me at the time. I knew the baby wasn’t going anywhere without me and I
could hear him making little sounds and coughs (he didn’t cry) and I just lay on the couch
for a minute to recover. I looked to my left at Zoe who was on the floor smiling and
crying, and to my right Ellis looked down at me and was crying as well. I wasn’t crying, I
was just happy and relieved! He was born at 3:01pm, about a 13 hour labour. Not bad for
a first time!

I turned around and they placed him in my arms and he was looking up at me with these
gorgeous deep eyes that looked so full of wisdom. His brow was wrinkled and his body
was lovely and pink. They helped Ellis to cut the cord and he and I sat and had a moment
as our new little family. I soon realised that the midwife was busy between my legs and
realised the placenta was about to be pushed out. I had opted to have the injection to
speed up the afterbirth, as I would not want to have a lovely home birth only to have to
go to the hospital for a retained placenta. The second midwife had given me the injection
as the baby was born and it was the first injection I have ever received that I had no
recollection of! The placenta was birthed with a very strange feeling, and it was much
larger than I could’ve imagined! It was a great, deep colour and all intact. An amazing
thing really, keeping my baby alive for all those months. I almost felt the need to say
thank you to it!

The midwife was then back between my legs checking for tears and I had only a small
internal cut from the baby’s fingernail on its way out. She decided to put a couple of
stitches in to help the bleeding stop and advised me to “get high on the gas and air for
this, no need to be a martyr now!” so I did! It did hurt to have the local anaesthetic and
the stitches weren’t pleasant but I was laughing during the whole thing, as I couldn’t have
cared what happened to me at that point, I had given birth to a beautiful baby boy,
looking at me from my best friend’s arms (it was Zoe’s turn to hold him ☺) next to me on
my living room floor.

The second midwife then weighed the baby (8lb 12oz!!!) and gave him the once over,
and gave Ellis and I a little “tour” of him, pointing out all his bits and pieces, fingers and
toes, and a blister on his had he had given himself from sucking on it in the womb! Silly
baby!

Once the stitches were finished, the midwife encouraged me to stand up and sit on the
sofa to have skin to skin contact with the baby and have a little breastfeed. This was a
very lovely time, although I did still feel in shock and a bit shaky from the whole
experience.

After a bit the midwife ran a bath for me and helped me into it, where she also helped
bathe me and rubbed my back. (I am normally a very modest person and this would have
embarrassed me to no end but the midwife was so incredibly lovely and caring that she
almost felt like my own mother.) After my bath I felt so warm and cosy and put on some
fresh clothes (and about a thousand maternity pads) and went back into the living room
where there were special absorbent sheets on the sofa for me to sit/lay on to protect it. I
sat down and held my baby again and had a cup of tea and a piece of toast. Zoe left soon
after this when she knew we were settled and the second midwife not long after her, and
then the first one once she’d finished her paperwork. I cried when I said goodbye to them
as I was so thankful for the wonderful, caring, professional work they’d done with us that
day, making our birth so special. The living room was just how it was before they arrived
and we were all settled in for the night around 6pm. We had a lovely evening in our home
with our new little arrival, oohing and ahhing over him, going in and out of sleep and
loving our first day as parents.

Looking back over the late stages of labour (from about 5cm on) I really felt like I was
outside of my body, and still in control at the same time, which is a strange feeling to
have. I felt very animalistic in that I found it hard to make eye contact with people and
making conversation was increasingly difficult. I could hear everything going on but
forming words and sentences was difficult. At one point, during the transition phase I
believe, I seriously looked at the door and thought that I would just leave and no one
could stop me, I would not have the baby today, I’d do it another time. That was the point
where stood up and looked at all of them and said “No one is listening to me!!” and they
all just looked back at me and waited for the next contraction. They knew it wouldn’t be
long. Zoe described me as a caged animal at that point…looking for a way out. I think
that’s pretty common for most women in labour at that stage.

I think the three main things that I feel were essential for me having a successful home
birth were 1. a supportive midwife who did my prenatal care (who wasn’t actually at the
birth), who encouraged me along the way and ensured me that if there was a problem at
all there would be an ambulance outside my door in no time (we don’t live far from the
hospital) and that the midwives knew well before hand if there was a problem. 2. a
confident, trusted birth partner (besides your husband/partner) who has had a baby before
and has been involved in your pregnancy. She was the voice of reason for me and I knew
she would look after me, and that she knew what I was feeling (Zoe’s had three very
different birth experiences!). I think she also gave Ellis a lot of confidence as well, as he
could just be there for me physically. And finally 3, confidence in your body to be able to
birth your baby. I very much felt like I was just along for the ride when labour began and
it stayed that way ‘til after he was born. I stayed out of my body’s way even when it came
to the pushing really, and it did exactly what it was meant to do. It is truly an amazing
thing.

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2 Comments

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Alison - posted on 08/23/2010

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wow!!! amazing!!! I had a little cry, you described it so incredibly. Such a magical experience. thanks for sharing

Becky - posted on 08/21/2010

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Holly thank you for sharing your wonderful experience i almost felt like i was there with you the way you have described your home birth.

Well done!

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