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Ever considered a homebirth?

2 CommentsWednesday, 27 March 2019  |  Admin

Over my threshold

 Home Birthing There's no place like home

And there I was, on all fours on the downstairs bathroom floor looking at the dial on the radiator and my husbands socks, the soles wet through by my waters. My whole body shaking uncontrollably, “Oh its a boy” my husband beamed as they passed up a pink crying bundle between my legs, my baby bear, my son, Caleb. It's strange when I first found out I was pregnant with Reuben, my first born, labour didn't even cross my mind and as we sat in our first midwife appointment and reached the question “Have you thought about where you'd like to give birth?“ it actually dawned on me that I would be experiencing labour and what did I actually want? See for the younger me like the majority of people the first visual encounters of labour were scenes on soaps or films - Mildred squatting in a broken lift for 10 minutes and then holding a 10 week old baby in her arms whilst still managing to have not taken her tights off. High five Mildred!

Admittedly one born every minute came along - the good, the bad and the hold on to your vjay moments and gave an accurate insight of what bringing life into the world really looked like. As I sat watching the episodes which people told me not to do I found myself eagerly awaiting the arrival of my baby but still hadn't planned the delivery other than my husband to announce the sex of our baby and cut the cord. Turns out I was right to do so, decisions and choices were taken out of our hands (hopefully you'll be enticed to read them in another post) meaning when it came to our second pregnancy I had experienced labour, I was a mother yet I felt like a first timer facing a list of birthing options, plans, scenarios and an overload of other people's opinions. When our community midwife brought up the option of having our baby at home I suddenly felt excitement overflow just as I heard “I'm not keen…“ I could hear the subtle panic pang in my husband's voice. The shutdown felt like a blow but I wasn't going to give up (or go on a rant about whose genitals were about to stretch to unknown territory). I knew the comment came from fear of the unknown so as long as I didn't go on the defensive and put my reasons forward I knew there was a good chance I would end up having the homebirth which I suddenly had my heart set on.

I set off on my mission of home birth information overload, luckily for me Emma Willis delivering babies showed an amazing home birthing experience - the birthing mother was so relaxed, having a back massage and delivered her baby with such ease. Her other children got to meet their brother immediately after the delivery, one even cutting the cord! I was in, until the next clip showed a potentially life and death situation (should have pre recorded and subtly hit 30x when that clip came on..) his concerns were rightly so. What was the likelihood of something going wrong, was I putting myself and baby in danger by choosing to birth at home? Was my pain threshold good enough to only potentially have gas and air?! Looking at studies, stats, watching which? clips and speaking to our midwife stopped myself from doubting my gut instinct to birth at home. We were a low risk pregnancy, I had laboured naturally without issue with my first baby, if there was an issue or if during labour I changed my mind we would be at the hospital in no time. Statistically 12% of second births result in transfer to Midwifery Led Unit or Labour ward, taking into consideration that a percentage of those mothers will have been transferred down to choice rather than medical emergency and knowing I was in safe hands with the midwifery team we both felt that birthing at home would be for us. Then came other people's views- “why when you can birth at a hospital?“, “It's a stupid idea due to risks”, “you’re brave doing it on your own”, the negatives - the people who due to fear unfortunately ended up annoying the hell out of you (polite term). Women have laboured at home from day dot, today's research and well trained medical midwives ensure this process is as safe as can be. Most home births require little to no intervention in comparison to hospital births, so doesn't that count for anything? A few people were more positive and in fact shocked me with their reactions (I was pretty much expecting the above) simply stating it wouldn't be for them however it was my choice and they respected that. So with an ear bashing, information overload and excitement for our new arrival we started planning the details. You know the major things like where the baby was actually going to be delivered; pretty big one! I'd always fancied a water birth as I used water to help with my endometriosis pain so it seemed pretty natural for me to want to labour in water and seen as I didn't get to do this first time around I was adamant I wanted to be able to at least give it a go.

Birthing pool bought, extra towels, plastic coverings, energy snacks, a shed load of biscuits, extra tea and coffee for midwives and another tap adapter after one failed attempt at filling up the pool in the bag we were set (nearly…) At 36+5 I pushed the dining room table out of the way (nesting the hell out of the house) and the pool sat in the dining room under the light fitting, we placed fairy lights around the room, lanterns, wrote a little message on the light box - I was ready to give birth in my home apart from the birthing pack not arriving and with 37 weeks approaching I was slightly freaking out. My first baby was early and I had been having signs that labour was impending, contractions waking me in the early hours of the morning for them only to suddenly stop like I had imagined them, they then started through the day and it was tiring. I was counting down the days to hit 37 weeks, if we hit that then the home birth would go ahead (if the equipment from the hospital arrived!) all I could picture was going into labour being full term and then having no equipment so ending up in hospital anyhow and having wasted £160.00 on a pool that I had begged for. I was hormonal and the anxiety of not having everything here and sorted sent me into the crying pregnant woman frenzy… Yep I needed a chocolate bar and someone to stroke my hair! Luckily for us a porter at the hospital stayed after his shift to deliver the pack (woo woo) and the confusion regarding it all? Basically because I turned 37 weeks on a Saturday and they don't deliver on a Saturday.. (eye roll moment right there). Once the pack arrived I was settled knowing we had everything in place, now it was just time to wait for baby… As I had been niggling everyone was on tender hooks. I was on a cleaning mission, hoovering multiple times a day, steam mopping the shower glass and cringing when guests used my downstairs toilet - I didn't want anyone but myself to use it (pretty ironic…). The waiting game, the one I had never experienced seemed to last forever. Bending down to do Reubens nappy, carrying him and excess walking had made the pain in my pelvis get increasingly worse. The start stop labour pains continued, I'd tried all the usual recommendations of moving things along (even put pineapple in my curry) all of which I knew was silly as baby would come when ready, I just was wishing it wouldn't play painful games!

On the Friday before he arrived Rich had printed a door sign off stating “Home labour in progress please do not disturb” to make sure the amazon delivery driver didn't end up with more of a view than he had bargained for! We went on a walk into the centre of our village and on the way back I was struggling, I couldn't wait to get home and sit on my gym ball. Saturday was pretty much the same ball game, feeling like I was walking whilst attempting to keep a bowling ball from falling in between my legs, you know the feeling as if your baby would fall out and be like “Hey” but nope nothing… Even attempting to get it on wasn't an option, it was like a game of hungry hippos whilst looking like an overturned beetle (sexy imagery right there). Sunday came and “hello there bloody show” finally more than just on off niggling and bits of plug, my show must mean that labour isn't far off! The side walking on the stairs and stupid cleaning positions had paid off and now there wasn't much more waiting to do… We put Reuben to bed that night and he gave me the look, like he knew I was going to go into labour. Not long after due to feeling rough I got on the sofa and cuddled up into our faux fur throw, I did exactly the same thing the night before my waters went with Reuben… Monday morning 2.30 I woke with the usual morning pains except this time after an hour they didn't stop. I started to time them and they were constantly every 8 minutes apart, I gently shook Rich to tell him I was in labour, his response “Are you sure this isn't just another false start” this sounded quite like the disbelief when my waters broke first time round. Second go to for Rich, prompt showering to ensure he is labour ready! I sat bouncing on my ball and timing the contractions, we were excited and called the midwives to let them know that today was the day. We were told to contact them when contractions were 4 minutes apart or if the pain became unbearable and they would send someone out to have a look at progress. The next couple of hours consisted of me contracting naked in the front room whilst watching Piers Morgan getting irate at the pure existence of a guest whilst for the first time in his life Reuben decided to have a lie in that went past 7am… I attempted using my tens machine but I didn't get the relief I had first time round, this time the contractions were in my back and the tens made them feel more intense. I decided to get into the bath as my contractions became erratic and much more intense, after throwing up on myself and in my hair I asked Rich to call the midwives for advice. He was told to get Reuben up and out of the house as it was likely to be my concern for him causing me anxiety. I began focusing on my contractions and pouring hot water into the bath with each one that passed. And it worked, my contractions became more regular and I was managing them with ease. Don't get me wrong, I was being pretty damn vocal in comparison to my first birth however being in my own home I was a lot more relaxed and in control so whatever means worked in coping being noisy, stamping around, scratching the herringbone on the sofa it really didn't matter. The urge to go to the toilet, I remembered it well and now knowing what to expect I was also aware that I wasn't going to poop or pee I was in fact likely to be 10cm dilated and ready to push.

Not wanting to freak my already white as a sheet husband out I asked him to call the midwife as I was nearly 4 mins apart, I won't apologise for the language that then occurred within the next 34 minutes. After the call whilst filling the pool with water I was told the midwife was 30 minutes away… “they can't be, I haven't got 30 f#*ing minutes!! I exclaimed”. I was sat on the downstairs toilet pushing, not wanting to tell Rich I just held onto his jogging bottom pants like my life depended on it, peeling my hand off he went into the other room and I heard the front door go. Midwives had arrived and after being asked if I wanted any pain relief I shouted “gas and air” whilst knowing there was no way I would get it as I was too far gone.. As soon as they stepped into the dining room I confirmed that fact by feeling a head covered by waters, everyone rushed in and I heard the following discussion “the pool isn't ready as the temperature needs confirming, is there anywhere else we can go?”. Well the answer was no, I wasn't moving far in fact I made it from the toilet to in front of the toilet. Yep my water birth wasn't quite as I had pictured it, with the water supplied being my own that is but considering I had already been pushing before their arrival and knowing my body I knew I was nearly at the stage of meeting my baby. Without any prompting I was pushing on contractions, visualising the descent of my baby. Within 10 mins of pushing the head was born, I heard Rich telling the midwife he was just taking a quick picture (hold it just there, that's the shot) and then with one final push and a little shrug my baby had arrived within just 12 minutes of the midwife and student midwife arriving. “Oh its a boy” I heard the emotion in his voice as he revealed the gender of our baby, he had been adamant I was carrying a girl (apparently I was that moody it had to be a girl…) so was happily shocked. My whole body at this stage began to shake uncontrollably whilst I attempted to hold my baby for the first time, this was apparently due to the quick delivery. My body was in shock, the second midwife arrived which is normal practice at the stage of delivery (missed all the fun!) and looking at our tiny bundle they wanted to double check his weight as it looked like he was on the small side so we would possibly require admission to the ward. I was lead upstairs in order to deliver the placenta and get comfortable in our second bedroom whilst the necessary checks were completed, weighing an unexpected and respectable 6lb 11oz .

Caleb was returned to me for skin to skin and his first feed and oh my did this boy want his first meal… The after pains this time were a lot stronger, I would 100% be taking pain relief for these as I knew they would get stronger as my uterus returned to its usual size. This however didn't seem to want to make my placenta make a move and attempting to push felt lame with nothing to push against, and an hour had passed and it was time to admit it wasn't budging on its own accord. I was given the injection and within seconds the placenta finally made an appearance, I was then checked over and happy to be reported that I wouldn't require stitches and they would now be leaving us to it. We sat in the spare bed, the 3 of us in complete amazement of what had just occurred. Our little boy was actually here in our home, Reuben would be coming back to meet his brother for the first time within hours of his arrival and we would finally all be together as a family of four. So did everything go to plan? No it didn't. Would I change it? Hell no! Everytime I go into the downstairs toilet I have a little grin on my face, knowing right there was where our lives changed again in the best way possible! The question isn't about how brave you are or are you doing the right thing, it's merely does Home Birthing feel right for you and if so do you fancy purchasing an unused pool in a bag?

Gail Clarkson
Saturday, 13 April 2019  |  12:52

Fantastic article on home birthing. As you said Natalie if a home birth feels right for you then there is no reason not to go ahead with it.

Emma Hibbert
Wednesday, 17 April 2019  |  20:57

Great read natalie! Had me on edge. Comgratulations on your beautiful family x