I think it shows how home birth can be made both safer and more accessible with more cooperation with both the government and emergency care. Food for thought.
Jacksons Home Birth
I have always known I wanted to home birth. My mum gave birth to my brothers and I at home, and I have never felt comfortable in hospitals anyway, so when I got pregnant with Jackson my husband and I contacted a home birth midwife straight away.
Fast forward nine months (39 weeks 6 days to be exact) and the day finally came. I woke around 9.00am after a long and blissful night’s sleep, the first I had had in a long time. After a quick trip to the bathroom I hopped back into bed hoping to continue the wonderful sleep, but this was not to be - as soon as I lay down my waters broke. I called my midwife Lynda to let her know and she warned me that it could still be up to 24 hours before my contractions actually started. She was on her way to visit another client so offered to stop in and check on me first. Everything was fine and as she left I planned to get in the shower and prepare myself for the day.
My contractions kicked in straight away and by 11.00am they were only 3-4 mins apart and very strong! I was on my own, my husband and mum were both on their way home from work, and I was feeling rather frightened. I had been told so many times that when labour started to take paracetamol and try to sleep – I kept wondering why nothing I tried was helping the pain, why I couldn’t lie down and why the pain of contractions had started so strong. I was too shaky to even time my contractions so I called Lynda again and she calmly talked me through a few contractions and timed them for me. At last my husband arrived and I felt a little better. My mum arrived shortly after and I headed to the bath for some pain relief. My mum was pouring bucketfuls of hot water over my back with each contraction which felt great. I have to admit that it was around this stage I was feeling very challenged by the contractions and sobbed a quick ‘I want the drugs’. However I knew I didn’t really want them and some calming words from my midwife got me through. After a while my knees started to get sore from the bath so we headed to the lounge.
My husband and mother worked tirelessly fetching cold flannels, ice cold water, and working to keep me as pain free as possible with hot towels. With each contraction they would place a steaming hot towel over my back and tummy, and then cover me with a blanket in the breaks. There was such a contrast in my needs for heat and cold, ice cold flannel on my forehead and cold water to drink, steaming hot towels over my back and tummy, and blankets over me between each contraction. This routine continued for a couple of hours, with some very brief trips to try sitting on the toilet, or standing in the shower, neither of which seemed to work for me.
The hours and contractions rolled on and by 4.00pm I was ready to start pushing! It was such a natural feeling for me; it was as if I didn’t have any choice but to push because the baby was ready to come out. The second midwife was phoned and arrived shortly after. As I pushed and the contractions kept rolling the baby’s heart rate began to drop a little so I changed position. This didn’t seem to help so we made the very quick decision to assist with an episiotomy. This had been on my birth plan as definitely not but at the time it was what we needed to do to get the baby out safely, so we did it and never looked back. An ambulance was called in case of emergency however I don’t recall the idea of not delivering my baby at home entering my mind at all. I kept thinking, I know I can do this, I’m pushing him out now! A few really hard pushes later Jackson was born and lifted into my arms. He was beautiful and strong and straightaway let out a good healthy cry.
We decided to make use of the ambulance (which had been waiting patiently in the drive) and make a quick trip to hospital so that I could get stitched up. As we packed our bags and made our way out, the ambulance drivers tried telling my husband that he and Jackson would have to make the trip separately – but one firm word from Lynda about separating mums and newborn babies and we were all in the ambulance together!
After a few stitches, a whole load of paperwork, and some lovely bonding and breastfeeding time in hospital we were back home and snuggled up on the couch together, with me enjoying the first bit of food I’d had in 24 hours. We decided to wait until morning to weigh and measure Jackson but he turned out to be a very healthy 8 lb 3 oz, a big surprise to everyone who was expecting us to have a petite wee baby.
We had our first visitors that night, the grandparents and new Aunt who were driving around the block waiting for the go ahead to visit! We were so lovely and comfortable in our own home, and spent the night sleeping in the lounge together.
Even though our homebirth didn’t go 100% exactly according to the plan we always look at it as a positive birth experience. Every decision was made by us, in consultation with our midwife, and we never regret any decision we made. I’m proud to be able to say I had a natural birth and that my baby was born gently at home, surrounded by those who loved and cared for him.