Friday, November 02, 2007

Home Birth - Our Story

On the 16th of July 2007, Maggie was born to us at home. I had decided I wanted to have a home birth before she was even conceived, and am really delighted that I had the opportunity to do so. This is the story of Maggies birth, I hope it will encourage others to consider the possibility of giving birth at home.
My first daughter Molly was born in hospital. Having read Janet Balaskas's "Active Birth" I had planned and prepared for a natural and active birth in hospital. Unfortunately it wasn't to be. I went into hospital 10 days after my due date to have an induction, fortunately however I went into labour myself without the need for intervention. My labour was very quick (i had been drinking gallonfuls of raspberry leaf tea) and also very painful, and the baby was showing signs of distress apparently. As a result I was hooked up to a monitor, and so had to lie on the delivery table throughout the labour, thus making my plans for an active birth impossible. However Mollys birth continued quickly on and she was delivered without the need for further intervention. Mollys birth was amazing and it was the best day of my life. However the hospital experience left me disappointed. I found it intimidating and impersonal, and the clinical setting really offputting and even scary.
Secondtime around I was in a much better position. Having already had a baby I knew what to expect from labour, and just how painful it can be. As soon as I got pregnant I began to mentally prepare myself for labour. I decided I wanted a homebirth, and although my partner was slightly anxious about it, he supported me 100 percent. When I went to the doctor to confirm my pregnancy and book my midwife, I told her that I wanted to give birth at home. She was really dismissive of me and my decision, and insisted that I would probably deliver in hospital anyway so it was best to book me in. I was prepared for this sort of reaction anyway, but she really did shit me up and make me think I was making a dangerous decision. Luckily however when I met my midwife Aggie she was completely supportive and really up for me having a homebirth. As an NHS midwife she doesnt often get the chance to assist at a homebirth, so she was really positive about it.
I had a fantastic pregnancy. The first time around i had tried to prepare myself physically for birth by doing loads of yoga and excercise, this time I realised that the key was actually psychological preparation. Pain is such a psychological thing and I knew that I could conquer pain if I faced up to and conquered my fear. I read loads of fantastic books such as "Spiritual Midwifery" and "Ina Mays Guide to Childbirth" by Ina May Gaskin, "Birth without Violence" by Frederick Leboyer, "Home Birth" by Sheila Kitzinger, and also read lots of peoples testimonies of homebirth online. These books and testimonies were fantastic because they really show another side to birth. We hear so many scary stories about labour and pain and medical intervention, that it leads us to fear birth and expect pain, thus leading to more pain and more likely medical intervention. I read lots of positive birth stories about women and their partners delivering their children without the need for medical intervention at home. I determined that I would not allow people to scare me into fearing the worst, that I would look forward to my labour instead of dreading it and even if it did hurt that I would not allow myself moan and give out. I knew that my body would allow me birth my baby naturally and that my midwife and partner would support me in my task. Every now and again I did have fleeting moments of fear, where I'd worry about whether I was putting my child and myself at risk by not having the baby at hospital, but I would always push the negative thoughts out of my head with positive affirmations about the wonder and capability of the female body.
And so 2 days after my due date, I awoke to a dull ache in my back like a bad period pain. I knew that today was the day. I told my partner and we started to get the bedroom ready. He had a meeting at nine so I told him to go and to come back afterwards. So Matt went off to his meeting and i had a long soak in the bath. My contractions had started getting more regular, so I got out and lay on the sitting room floor with Molly and waited for matthew to come back. He was back just over an hour later and we began to time the contractions. The contractions were coming every three minutes and lasting for about a minute, so we decided to ring the hospital to see could a midwife be sent out. Fortunately Aggie was on duty and said that she would come straight over. I got on with things as much as I could, stopping every few minutes to lean against the wall to succumb to a contraction. I did not scream or shout at all, even though it was quite painful. I felt really calm and in control and just allowed my body to go with it. Aggie arrived with all her equipment. They bring loads of stuff to cover every possibility. She checked me over, confirmed I was in labour and that I was 4 centimeters dialated. She decided to stay as delivery was probably imminent, and rang for backup. Thats another good thing about a homebirth, because it is perceived within the medical perfession as being slightly more highrisk they insist that 2 senior midwives always attend each homebirth and unlike in a hospital where you are sharing your midwife with lots of other women, at home you have both midwives just for you. They layed out all their equipment and just let me get on with it. It was so good to be just left alone with Matt to deal with the contractions. He would just rub my back throughout each contraction and it felt really good. I did not need any pain relief. We laughed a lot throughout the labour and really helped me to deal with it all. Labour is such an intense experience and it really can swallow you whole, but Matts jokes and pisstaking ways really centred me and allowed me let go in a controlled way. I am so proud of myself that I didnt start moaning or feeling sorry for myself. Just before one o clock Matthew had to take Molly to her nursery which is just around the corner.Even though he was only gone for about 10 minutes, it was a long and difficult 10 minutes and i really started to feel overwhelmed and a bit scared. I think I must of been in transition at this stage, hence the fear. The pain increased tenfold and was almost constant now. I decided to ask for the gas and air, even though I wanted to do it without any drugs. Matt was soon back and then the midwife decided to examine me again. She checked me and told us that I was almost fully dilated but there was a small lip of cervix over the babys head. Aggie tried to push this back, and this was very painful. However as soon as she did it, I felt an enormous uncontrollable urge to push. I told them that I needed to stand up, which I did. Matt stood behind me and held me up from under my arms. I started to push but got paranoid that I was going to poo myself. I had thought the same thing the first time around too. After some reassurances from the midwives and Matthew that it was ok and just to let go, I let go and bore down. The urge to push really is mental. You cannot fight it, its such a strong feeling. So I did one big push, and my babys head appeared between my legs. Aggie turned the babys shoulder, I did one more push and my baby was born. I collapsed on my bed, so glad that it was over. I was completely knackered and totally fucked. I had asked for my baby to be given to me immediately after birth, so they put my baby on my belly and we just lay there. The baby began to cry. A blanket was put over us and we stayed there for a few miniutes. I didnt want the cord cut until it had stopped pulsating and the babys breathing had been established. Matt couldnt face cutting the cord so I did it. As I cut the cord that connected the baby to me, I had a right cheesy moment and said something like "go free little one, be free", which really made us all laugh. Then one the other midwife took the baby to clean her up and I delivered the placenta. Aggie checked me for cuts, and I did have a small tear. She told me I could get a stitch if i wanted, but this would have meant that I would have to go to hospital so I decided not to get one. Altogether I was in labour for about 4 hours and had delivered a healthy baby girl weighing 8 lbs 7 ozs. The midwives got us both cleaned up, tidied up the bedroom, changed the sheets and made us a cp of tea. then after an hour or two they went and left us to it. It was fantastic to be in our own home. Molly came back from school and we began our life as a family together straight away. I was buzzing for days. I was so pleased with us all that we had done it ourselves, our way. I knew that my body wouldnt let me down and it didnt. Womens bodies are amazing things and I am so glad that I have been lucky enough to have experienced the opening of my womb twice.
So thats it, my experience of birth at home. i would recommend it to every woman, it really is an empowering experience. If you are positive about pregnancy, birth and beyond then there is no reason why you cannot have your child wherever you want. Statistics show that if you do chose to have a homebirth, you are less likely to have an induction, an episiotomy, or any medical intervention and you are also less likely to need to use powerful pain relieving drugs. And at the end of the day most of our sisters around the world do not have their children in hospitals.
So if youre reading this post and thinking about having a homebirth, then just do it. Dont be scared, just do it.


witchy-woo said...

Congratulations! And welcome to the world little(?) Maggie.

And well done GG for persevering with a home birth.
This is a truly lovely post.

Anonymous said...

*sniff sniff* thank you, this was lovely.

Hi Maggie x

Sparklematrix here (blogger hates me)