Juliet and James’ homebirth by Juliet

Labour

I had a sweep on Friday (I was already 1cm dilated with a soft cervix) and some cramps that afternoon.  Then on Sat mid-morning, I started having mild irregular contractions. Rebecca had always suggested we just ignore contractions for as long as possible – so I went to yoga, then met James and his Mum for tea.

In the evening, the contractions started getting closer together; James was timing me – they were 4 or 5 mins apart.  We were watching TV, with me getting up to walk and breathe during the contractions.  I rang Rebecca to let her know, I had some food, a bath, listened to the hypnotherapy cd and went to bed.

I slept through til around 4.30am when contractions were about 10 mins
apart; I kept dozing til around 8am.  When I got up, I found my waters
had broken.I gave Rebecca another call.  The midwives request that you call if waters break because of the chance of infection, but I didn’t want a visit that early on, so I took my temperature every few hours instead.

Then James and I had breakfast and went for a walk in Clissold Park – walking definitely speeded up the contractions.  I did some rocking on the ball and the bucket and we watched a bit of TV, then I found that annoying, so we started baking cookies at around 2pm – this was the perfect distraction – contractions were 3/4mis apart, so when they happened I would stop baking, walk and breathe/shake them off.

At this point Rebecca joined us in the baking.  Then the three of us went for another long walk around the park.  This time, every contraction I would have to stop, close my eyes, hold James’ hand and rock/breathe out (I got some funny looks) – contractions were still manageable, but getting stronger.  As Rebecca had warned, every half hour or so there would be a step change in the intensity and I would have to add another technique to help get through it.

When we got home, I had another snack and more fluids – then I stated to make loud bellowing noises during the contractions.  James began to fill the pool and light the fires etc.  We put music on.  I found the noises incredibly helpful- I could make a noise louder than the pain. I would close my eyes, hold James’ or Rebecca’s hand and rock from side to side and bellow (my poor neighbours).  Once contractions were about a minute/minute and a half apart, we called the midwives (around 7pm)

They said they didn’t have enough staff and we would have to go in, but James just stood his ground – they are legally obliged to send someone so you just keep saying (nicely) that you understand, but that we will be giving birth at home and we would like someone to be there.

When I was 30-60 secs apart, at about 7pm, I got in the water, which was the best feeling ever!  I have never felt such a sense of relief, I was suddenly lucid again, I could talk, make jokes – it did however, slow my contrations right back down to 3mins apart. They did slowly speed up again, but I was there for maybe half an hour, then I got out, went to the loo and did some stomping around which speeded things up again very quickly.  The midwives took my
blood pressure and checked the baby’s heart rate, they wanted to do an
internal exam to check that I was dilated enough to be in the water (they like you to be more than 4cm), but I said no – Rebecca reassured me that there was no way I could be only 4cm dilated when my contractions were 30 secs apart. 

It was near their shift change (8pm).  Then we had a second issue with staffing, where they could only find one person to come and cover – they wanted us to transfer in, but by that stage, there was no way in the world I could go anywhere, so they got an extra midwife in from the hospital.

I spent the next 2 hours in and out of the water.  I hated being out of the water as it hurt so much! Midwife wanted to give me an internal exam to see how close I was, but I couldn’t lie on my back – just couldn’t – so refused the exam and got back in the water. I felt bad as has been advised to have an exam before pushing, but Rebecca reassured me that plenty of people give birth without exams – it was the right decision.

Then I had my ‘I can’t do this’ moment.  You read about it in the books and I knew it was a good sign that I was in trasition and near the second stage, but knowing it didn’t help!  I needed Rebecca to talk me down – “everyone has an I can’t do this moment, but you can do this, you are doing this – you are nearly there and a lot of women find the pushing stage a relief”.  I also needed James to tell me that he loved me that I was amazing – it really helped.  Both roles were essential: Rebecca offering experience, expertise and empathy; James offering love, support and sympathy. For those last few contractions, I needed to look someone in the eyes and make the noises together – either Rebecca or James – I didn’t want to close my eyes anymore.

The Birth

Then the noises turned into an urge to bear down – I was ready to to push.  My pushing stage only lasted 5mins altogether, but that was still long enough for two surprising things .. Firstly, I felt something pop out – but it wasn’t
the head, so I panicked and thought it was the cord, but it was just a
bubble of membrane sac being forced out by the pressue of the head,
but I had never read or heard of that happpening so it scared me until I was reassured by Rebecca. Secondly, I had read that it felt like you were doing a large poo and I needed Rebecca to do the technical explanation – “you’re not going to tear, you’re not going to poo, it is just that the baby’s head is pushing everything close together – it is safe to push”  And that was what I needed to hear – it is safe to push. 

So then I thought, right let’s do this – and I got into the widest upright squat I could and just bore down – two pushes and Alexander dropped to the bottom of the pool.  The midwife was actually looking behind me, so I scooped him up and there he was:wide eyed, alert, staring at us, one small cry, then just calm and curious.  Everyone left the room, and James and I sat at the side of the pool, keeping his body submerged in the warm water and we just stared at him – I was expecting a blue walnut cone headed baby, but he was perfect and pink and gorgeous.

After about 10mins, I wanted to get out because I wanted to get the placenta out and feed him.  Rebecca came with a warm towel for the baby, I put one leg over the side, then as I brought the over leg over, my placenta literally fell right out! Rebecca, with lightening reflexes, caught the placenta – thankfully, as it was still attached to the baby.  The midwife came in and said – oh, put it in a bucket – until we pointed out that it was still attached to the baby (!), so they did an impromptu cut and we had a really long cord while we settled on the sofa for his first feed.  Again everyone left us while we fed him for 45mins – he latched on no problems and we snuggled up on the sofa (everything was covered in towels, waterproof sheet etc).

Then they came and did the checks on the baby – weighing, measuring etc, none of which really bothered him.  Then they did the checks on me – I
had a small second degree tear but no stitches.

Then I had a snack and drink and Rebecca helped me into the shower, then the three of us snuggled up in bed.  Rebecca had prepared the room – towels, water etc.  The midwife came and gave us our notes and said someone would visit tomorrow.  Then we slept… Well, the baby slept and we just stared at him with a humbling mixture of shock and awe.

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