Thursday, 7 February 2019

My Home Birth Story - Baby Boy January 2019

You would think by my third child I would know when labour was coming. I had done it twice before so I should have been able to spot the early signs right? Well just like this pregnancy was different, Baby Boy's labour started differently and I wasn’t expecting it to start at only 39 weeks pregnant, a full week earlier than either of my other labours. When I started to feel a pressure at the front of my pelvis on Sunday afternoon I didn’t expect I would have my baby at home that night.

Sisters meeting baby brother being held by mother after a home birth
Siblings meeting for the first time


My baby felt low that day, but he had been moving in and out of my pelvis for weeks so the discomfort was no reason to expect impending labour, but it came with a strange new heavy sensation in my pelvis. I mentioned to my partner that I might suspect labour was starting if I was further along, but as the girls were born after 40 weeks I expected to reach my due date this time too.

At 5.30pm I messaged a friend to see if she had plans that evening in case I needed her and around an hour later the gentle aching started to develop into cramping and gentle waves. Around this time I noticed a little blood when I went to the toilet, but there was no other sign of my mucous plug and my cervix hadn’t started to move forwards.

Over the next couple of hours the cramping gradually got more intense and I was confident that the baby would be on his way soon. I had planned for a home birth, but I also needed to be prepared in case I had to go to hospital. I packed a bag with school clothes for my eldest and told her what was happening, mentioning that if there were any problems and I had to go to hospital I would take her over to a friend's house.  She was very excited that she might get to go for a sleepover, more excited than about the baby so I had to remind her that hopefully she would be staying here all night. 

Around 10pm I decided to go to bed for some rest, but with contractions coming every 5 minutes sleep wasn’t really an option. With all my labours, once the contractions kick in they have come quite close together and it is the intensity of them which is the indication of how I’m progressing. 

In labour shortly before birth
After my bath and less than an hour before Baby Boy arrived

A few minutes after lying down I called G and asked him to put my TENs machine on. I used a TENs machine successfully with my two previous labours; I don’t know how much they helped with pain relief, but they provided a distraction during contractions which seemed to help. This time I wasn’t able to use it properly because I was trying to rest. TENs machines work best if you get them on early in labour and they get a chance to build up. This labour the contractions seemed to ramp up more quickly and it didn't get a chance to work. 

I got up shortly after 11pm and decided I would get everything ready for my home birth while my partner, who had come to bed not long before, was snoring away blissfully. I went downstairs to make my “nest” which involved putting mats down in our kitchen and adding a waterproof covered duvet, birthing ball, a large bean bag and dimming the lights. I also prepared the dining room table with towels, changing mat, hot water bottle, the drugs which the midwives had previously left, nappies, clothes and wipes. The contractions by this point were very intense and coming every couple of minutes so I was struggling to get organised.  I went to wake G up and he helped finish setting everything up while I ran a bath in our downstairs bathroom. 

It was around midnight and I hadn’t been in the bath for long when we heard my youngest daughter wake up crying. G went up to her, but she got more upset because she wanted me so he brought her downstairs. We turned the lights off in the bathroom so it didn’t wake her up too much and managed to persuade her it was still early which was why Mummy and Daddy weren’t in bed yet. We agreed she could go sleep in our bed and she let her Dad take her up. Little went back to sleep quite quickly, but in the bath my contractions were pretty intense and I knew we should be calling the midwives. The trouble was I didn’t want to get out of the bath and my phone wasn’t in reach.

When my partner returned he called the maternity unit to tell them I was in labour and booked in for a home birth. They spoke to me and I explained my labours progress quickly and that I thought I would give birth soon even though I could still talk through my contractions. We were told they would contact the on call midwives. Shortly before 1pm we got a call back from the lead midwife who said she would be here in half an hour. I spent a bit longer in the bath before getting out so I could move around more.

I was counting down the minutes until the midwives were due to arrive. The contractions were more intense than I remembered at a similar stage in my previous labours and I began to get a little worried about if the midwives would arrive in time. Both midwives (you get 2 at a home birth) arrived at the same time around 1.30 am and at this point I was on all fours in my nest. The midwives got themselves sorted quickly and asked permission to check on me and my baby. Both of our heart rates were fine and I continued to try to remember to breathe through the contractions.

The contractions felt more intense and painful than I remembered from my previous birth. I remember Little’s labour a little rose tinted and I seem to think I quite enjoyed it. This time I remember thinking “why am I doing this again? It hurts” I remember with Little's labour I had mild contractions for most of the afternoon, but this time they felt more intense, faster. I haven't had pain relief (beyond paracetamol) with any of my labours and I don't know how much the difference this time was not using a TENs machine. The warm bath was nice though.

It wasn’t long before I knew it was time. My previous births I have ended up on my back (not through choice) and this time I stayed on all fours which made it easier to push. It was harder in some ways though because I had to support my body as well as focus on delivering my baby. I felt nauseous, which I hadn't in a labour before and there was a beautiful point where I had a bowl underneath me to catch my waters which were breaking, one underneath my head because I was being sick and another further back as I was pushing everything else out as well. When I say beautiful I mean that I was cringing even with the distraction of an 8lb baby on his way.

I felt my baby crowning and pushed and his head came out. I had to push again to get his shoulders out. At this point with my daughters the rest of them slithered out, but with Baby Boy he just stuck there and I was encouraged to push again to deliver the rest of him. 

Weighing baby boy after birth at home

He was born at 2.07 am in my nest on my kitchen floor. I moved to lie back on the bean bag, but I had to be careful because the umbilical cord was short. I held Baby Boy on my chest while the cord finished pulsating and the midwives cut it (G didn’t want to). 

With my previous births I didn't need an injection to deliver the placenta as it came away easily on it’s own, but this time the midwives were worried about the amount I was bleeding so they strongly encouraged me to have the injection. When the placenta came away it had a ragged edge and there were some retained membranes which the midwives worked to remove. They asked me if I had plans for the placenta, I didn't, but it was nice to be asked and the first time I had been given the option in any of my births.

While they poked around in my cervix I tried to encourage Baby Boy to feed, but he wasn’t very interested. I wasn’t too concerned as it was a fairly quick labour and I knew he would be ok for a while so we just cuddled. The midwives confirmed that I had no tearing and I was eventually able to hobble off for a quick shower and to put a maternity pad on while Baby Boy had skin to skin with his Dad and the midwives cleaned up all the mess.

After my quick shower the main midwife did a few checks on Baby Boy including weighing him, measuring his head circumference and checking his temperature. His temperature was 36 degrees celsius which is cooler than ideal so she encouraged skin to skin while wrapped in a warm blanket and a hot water bottle. The second midwife left while the lead midwife stayed and checked on Baby Boy’s temperature every 15 minutes. We cuddled and he fed a little bit. The midwife was very patient and let us keep trying to bring the temperature up. When it eventually reached 36.5 degrees shortly before 5am she left so she could get a few hours sleep before heading into work.

Cuddled up newborn baby

After the midwife left we decided to get Baby Boy dressed and we sat cuddling on the sofa trying to decide a name for him. Around 5.30am G (who had fallen asleep) was woken by a telephone call from one of the midwives. Her supervisor had looked over the notes and was concerned about the retained membranes. They wanted to check that I was ok and her supervisor would have preferred if I had been admitted to hospital. I felt fine and I was very  grateful they hadn’t asked me to go in.

After the phone call we decided to go to bed. I put Baby Boy to sleep in the Snuzpod next to my bed, placed a disposable potty training sheet on the bed to protect it from blood and we tried to go to sleep. Possibly minutes after our heads hit the pillow my youngest daughter woke up and came in for a cuddle. She often wakes up about 6 am and was unlikely to go back to sleep so G took her downstairs and I got a little sleep. 

My eldest woke up around 7am and I hear her go downstairs so I sent G a message to let him know he could bring both girls up to meet their brother. I held Baby Boy in my arms and as they came into the room they saw that I was holding a baby (Little hadn’t noticed him in the cot when she came in earlier). I had a cuddle in bed with all my children just 5 hours after giving birth which was a wonderful experience.

close up baby snuggled up in blanket

G took my eldest to school and we then took turns to look after the baby and toddler while the other slept. A midwife visited about 2pm to do Baby Boys newborn checks, but otherwise we were left to ourselves.

I love that I got to stay at home throughout my labour and afterwards. The midwives were respectful and helpful. It really felt that the balance of power was in my favour, which I never really felt with my hospital births, even in the midwife led unit. It might have been leaving it a little late that there was only half an hour between the midwives arriving and the birth, but this worked well to allow me to labour in private. A home birth isn’t for everyone, but it was perfect for me and my final baby. As well as having a birth I felt in control of it was really special that my children got to meet their Baby Brother just a few hours after birth.

If you like birth stories then you can read about Little's birth in a midwife led unit.
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