Apologies in advance for a very dull, textbook birth story! I’m too sleep deprived to add any flavour or humour, either.
After an unsatisfactory hospital birth of my first son, I decided to home birth my second son with the help of an independent midwife.
After two weeks of light cramping and back pain, I started having regular contractions at about 9.30am on 16 September. I was 40+8. I first dismissed them as another false start, but they continued throughout the day at that regularity. I put my midwife on notice, arranged for my son to be collected and tidied the house, while my partner inflated the birth pool in my bedroom.
The contractions were painful but manageable, and I variously lay down, bounced on the fitball and tried the TENS machine.
My contractions shortened to about 5 minutes apart around 4pm, and my midwife arrived at 5pm. Labour didn’t seem imminent, but we started filling the pool and she watched me during contractions. We had agreed on no internals during labour so she just periodically checked the baby’s heartbeat with the doppler. Within a short period of her arrival, they really intensified and quickened, and I was having trouble managing them. I lay on the bed at some stage and my whole body started shaking.
At that stage (around 6.30pm), I stripped off and jumped in the birth pool. The warm water was an immediate relief. I lay on my side, and stopped shuddering and relaxed. However, within minutes, the contractions suddenly became so intense and quick. I started vocalising a lot during each contraction, and internally I started having the “I want drugs. Oh no, it’s too late to get drugs. ****!” dialogue, although I didn’t vocalise it. From memory, I was screaming like a banshee through each contraction and squeezing the life out of my partner’s hand who was sitting next to the pool.
At some point, the student midwife and the birth photographer arrived, making the bedroom quite full, however I was past the point of noticing who was there. I then complained to the midwife of a stinging pain. She sat by the pool and watched, providing reassurance where necessary, but left me to my own devices.
I felt an urge to push, and started pushing and the amniotic sac emerged (my waters had not broken). I was still lying on my side, and I put my hand between my legs to feel it and it felt like a squishy bubble protruding. I kept pushing, and they popped. I was in so much pain that I wanted the baby out, so I climbed onto my knees and held the side of the wall of the pool and started pushing intensely. I felt the baby’s head come out. I probably should have waited, but I was desperate to get him out so just kept pushing until I felt the body slide out. He had come out in two big pushes. My midwife grabbed him from behind, and I quickly sort of turned over and got over the cord, so I could lean against the wall and hold him. She had previously asked me if I wanted to catch him, but it seemed easier for her to grab him from behind. Apparently while I was turning around, she quickly unknotted the cord which was loosely wrapped a couple of times around his neck.
The realisation that labour was over and he was in my arms was incredible. Much sobbing and “I did it” and my partner was crying. I was struggling to keep him immersed in the pool and the water was quite red with blood, so the midwives (the second midwife had arrived just after he was born, as labour was quicker than expected) helped me walk the couple of metres to my bed.
We delayed cutting the cord, and waited for the placenta. After about 30 minutes, I was feeling really uncomfortable, and so much pressure down there. I tried to push out the placenta, but was struggling, so I asked for a shot of syntocin to expedite it. After a few minutes, I was able to lightly push while the midwife pulled, and the relief was immense, and I was able to just lie in bed and hold my son.
After a while, I gave him to the midwives for measurements. There was a moment of collective shock when he weighed in at 4.8kg (10 pounds, 9 ounces). He was 55cm and 37.5cm head circumference, with good apgar scores.
Unfortunately, I had a long second degree tear, but we decided to let it heal without stitching. It was very close to the sphincter, but thankfully not that bit longer. I probably pushed too hard and fast at the end but just wanted it over.
Talking later to the midwife, she said she calculated that active labour was from about 4pm to 7.30pm, was in the pool for under an hour, and pushed for 6 minutes. It was a world away from my neverending induced hospital labour.
Being in my own bed with my baby and my partner on the first night was amazing and so peaceful. The baby attached early on and fed regularly, which was novel for me, as my older son didn’t attach for 48 hours after his birth.
It was an amazingly safe and textbook labour, and I’m thrilled that I managed to do it at home. While the pain was intense, the feelings of fear and apprehension that I had with my first birth were not present. I felt the presence of other women who I knew gave me so much support and security, and now really appreciate the role of a known midwife in labour.
I can't say I'm in a rush to birth again, but would definitely birth in the same way if I do.