I have a post today to add to my home birth stories from Sophie, who blogs over at Sophie is…. It’s such a lovely story! When I was pregnant with Reuben, my nephew’s mum had a home birth. I couldn’t believe it but then the more I talked to them about the experience, the more I wanted it. In the end I chickened out as we live a good 20 minutes away from the nearest hospital and apparently the ambulance can take a further 20 minutes to arrive. I do wonder if my story might have gone differently though, quicker and with fewer drugs, if we had chosen to stay at home? Either way, I love this tale, it’s what I would have hoped for…maybe next time?!
Home Birth Stories – Sophie’s Birth Story
I’d never been too keen on the idea of giving birth in hospital – I’m not a big fan of hospitals anyway, and I was concerned about the possibility of unnecessary interventions. Initially I never thought I’d have a home birth though – despite having read many blissful accounts of other women’s experiences I couldn’t help but worry about something going wrong. So up until a couple of weeks before I went into labour we were pretty set on the idea of a water birth at our local birthing centre: a non-medical environment, but with the hospital ten minutes away if we needed it. However as the birth got closer and closer, and the renovations of our house we’d been working on for the past 18 months finally neared completion, I began to think that maybe I would like to have my baby at home. I organised some supplies just in case, and on the day it turned out that home was exactly where I wanted to be.
My due date was 31st December 2012 – New Year’s Eve – but with this being my first pregnancy I was convinced we’d be looking at more like mid-January for the birth. I had a surge of energy in the last couple of weeks of pregnancy, and threw myself into festive celebrations with both sides of our family who’d come to join us for Christmas. As it happened it turned out that Arthur was way too keen to come and join the fun so we didn’t make it into 2013 after all!
Just before it all started!
My waters broke in the middle of an extended family outing on the Dartmouth-Paignton steam train at twelve thirty on the afternoon of the 28th December, and contractions started soon afterwards. We were home by about two, and decided that we definitely wanted to stay there if at all possible. The initial call to the midwife was met with a request to stay calm and call back when things were more established – which ended up being less than an hour later as things progressed pretty quickly. The tens machine was great at this stage, and in between pretty intense contractions I managed to wolf down some pasta to give me some energy.
By the time the midwife (Helen) arrived soon after three I was 4cm dilated, progressing to 9cm over the next three hours. I continued to use the tens machine over this time, taking it off to get into the bath – somewhere I’d imagined spending much of my labour – but found that I was actually much happier on dry land. The birthing ball was invaluable as a support for different positions, and there were also periods when I just wanted to sprawl out on my bed – the whole process was pretty exhausting.
About halfway through the first stage I started on the entonox – and that was amazing. It left me very spaced out initially, but really helped ease the pain as things progressed. The second stage started around six thirty, and Helen began trying to get a second midwife. It was a very busy night at Torbay hospital as we later found out, and it was two hours before Rachel, the second midwife, turned up. All in all the pushing stage lasted for about two and a half hours and there were various points when I really didn’t think I could do it, but Leigh and my mum were an amazing support, physically holding me up, pushing and breathing with me and generally keeping me strong. I ended up having to have an episiotomy as things were taking so long and I was at risk of tearing – and one minute later, at nine fifteen pm, Arthur arrived weighing 3460g.
We kept the cord pulsing for a while whilst Leigh and I marveled over this tiny human we’d brought into the world. I’d fully intended to go for a natural third stage, but the contractions were pretty painful and we were out of gas and air. Helen had ordered two bottles but had just discovered the second one that was delivered was actually oxygen – I’d literally taken the last breath of entonox just before Arthur finally made his appearance. So I asked for the syntometrine, and that got the placenta out straight away once Leigh had cut the cord.
Then followed a couple of blissed out hours of skin to skin as we got to know our new baby, broken only by the need to stitch up the episiotomy which Helen did under local anaesthetic using Leigh’s head torch and two kitchen chairs for my legs! Helen left at midnight, and we enjoyed a glass of champagne whilst introducing Arthur to his uncles and aunts, grandparents and even his great Grampa who’d all been waiting in the pub getting updates from my mum.
It turned out they’d all been downstairs for a couple of hours anyway – my youngest brother and his girlfriend hadn’t been able to contain their excitement and had snuck into the house to find out what was going on at precisely nine fifteen. They dashed out again pretty quickly when they heard me scream and a baby cry – they felt really guilty for invading our privacy but I actually think it’s kinda awesome that they were there!
I am so glad that we decided to go for a home birth in the end – and that we were lucky enough to be able to see it through. There’s something very special about Arthur having been born in our bedroom, overlooking the sea. And it’s certainly going to make a great story to tell him when he’s older!
I agree Sophie! Thank you for letting me share it on The Giving Birth Series xx