This is my birth story for our third baby.
It is impossible to disassociate from my previous deliveries because they sure shaped my feelings and hopes for this one, so here it is how they went.
First time, I had an uncomplicated pregnancy, went into labour spontaneously and 39+6 weeks and headed to hospital, I laboured in water for most of it but baby who was on the occiput posterior position ( or back to back as it is commonly known) got ‘stuck’ in my bony pelvis trying to rotate. I was luckily fully dilated by then and was rushed into theatre, resulting in a high cavity rotational forceps delivery on my due date. Our boy was poorly, had very low Apgar’s, spent a few days in intensive care but made a full recovery and is now a healthy boy.
Second time, the pregnancy was uncomplicated again I was scared about the birth this time. I was celebrating our wedding anniversary one evening when spontaneously I went into labour at 36 weeks. I was in complete shock to be in labour so early but after the previous experience we rushed to the hospital very worried about it all happening again. But labour and delivery was a dream, within 2 hours from the start of contractions our healthy baby girl was born with 1 single push. Healthy and crying, she was taken to the high dependency unit for being slightly early but we came home after a few short days.
That brings me to my third pregnancy and the story I would like to share in more details. My pregnancy went very smoothly again but this time I didn’t feel scared. I understood that what went wrong first time round wasn’t likely to happen again and after a very straightforward uncomplicated second birth I believed my body would birth our third baby just fine.
I requested a homebirth, I felt safest in my own surroundings. I saw labour and birth as a natural event and my preference was for a homebirth that time.
But there was a slight issue, unlike the rest of the country, the local midwives don’t routinely go on call for a homebirth until 38 weeks of pregnancy, despite term being usually classed as between 37 and 42 weeks. Due to my last delivery being early I requested the midwives would be on call from 37 weeks for a home birth, to which they agreed. By 36 weeks I was getting very excited to meet our baby. I bought a birthing pool, I had waterproof sheets for our living room floor, I had washed and neatly folded dozens of towels in preparation for the birth and I was keeping everything crossed I would make it passed the 36 weeks mark and I DID!
But the midwives didn’t keep their promise, I was disheartened when the equipment for the birth (gas and air, resuscitation masks, instruments etc.) didn’t arrive by 37 weeks. I phoned them only to be told “sorry, but nothing can be done, the equipment will be at your house by 38 weeks and we won’t be on call for you until 38 weeks, if you go into labour before that , tough, you will need to go into hospital”.
I felt incredibly disappointed that they didn’t respect my wishes, despite me almost begging them to change their minds to no avail.
I am a midwife myself, I knew that in essence the midwives couldn’t deny assistance should I ring them and tell them I was staying at home when in labour and they would have to bring the necessary equipment with them. But I felt torn and unsure what on what to do should labour start prior to 38 weeks, I decided I would see how I felt if it did happen.
Yes, you guessed it, my waters broke at 1.22 am at 37+3 weeks. I was very excited when I was woken up by this trickling of water, I got out of bed and went to the bathroom to put a pad on, but I flooded the bathroom and realised a pad would not last 2 seconds. Instead I used a folded up towel to try and contain most of it. There were no contractions, I tried to sleep but was too excited to. My husband woke briefly but fell asleep when he realised nothing was really happening. At 3 am I called the hospital to let them know and told them at that point I wasn’t sure whether I would just stay at home should labour start or not. They asked me to ring them back in the morning to let them know how things were and they would liaise with the community midwives regarding the home birth. By the morning nothing had happened, I rang them and they asked me to see how the day went and to please go into hospital at 9.30 pm that night if nothing had happened for a bit of monitoring of baby, to which I agreed. If all was ok then I would go back home and await events.
For the rest of the day I cleaned the house, washed my hair, painted my nails, prepared my room for baby’s arrival and re-packed the ‘just in case’ hospital bag. We rang my mother and sister in law who came round in the late afternoon to look after the older children when I went in for monitoring. The pool was out, everything was set.
By about 7 pm I was starting to niggle, like very irregular mild period pain, nothing that stopped me doing anything but they were in the background.
By 9 pm the cramping turned into irregular but noticeable tightening, my body was starting to labour. I decided I would stay at home and ring the midwives to come to me.
We started getting the pool ready, the midwife arrived and found my pulse to be extremely high and in turn, the baby’s heart rate was also high. She advised I go into hospital to which I promptly agreed.
On our way to hospital I felt the contractions were getting stronger but still irregular. We arrived at the hospital at 9.50 pm, I was coping well and did not feel any need for pain relief.
We were taken to the labour ward, a place I am very familiar with through work. I felt in complete control of how things were going. I did not once feel disappointed for having had to transfer to hospital, it all felt very calm and relaxed. I was there just for them to keep an eye on mine and baby’s heart rate, which continued to be high but everything else was absolutely fine. I kept upright and mobilising in the room.
At 10.40 pm the very familiar regular labour contractions started, I recognised I was now into that zone of no return, my body just took over as the waves washed over me and I asked for some gas and air.
At 11 pm the midwife examined me, she found I was 4cm dilated but my cervix was still very thick… It would be a while until delivery she said. As I used the gas and air I thought to myself couldn’t possibly go on much longer, I wanted to doubt in my ability to cope but I kept calm and breathing my way through it all. My midwife was fantastic in talking to me and kept me calm. After a few minutes she informed me she was going for a break soon since things weren’t likely to happen too quickly and that another midwife would be coming into the room shortly whilst she was away. I soon heard the knock on the door, the second midwife came in and as she started to introduce herself my body went into overdrive and I just had to push. Both midwives started to put their gloves on and as they were still trying to do so our baby’s head was out. With one glove on, the shocked midwife managed to catch our baby girl as she came into the world pink and screaming at 11.15 pm!
My cervix went from 4cm to fully dilated in 15 minutes, I learnt I can trust what my body, I knew things were happening! I had the most amazing skin to skin time with our baby girl and I breastfed her as I delivered the placenta.
I had the most positive and wonderful birth experience in the hospital, everything was calm, relaxed and I felt in total control.
We came home only 5 short hours after she was born, in time for the older children waking up and meeting their new baby sister.
My heart rate has been high every time anyone has checked it, even 2 years on, it appears it is what is normal for me.
This is my story, as I write this I am 31 weeks pregnant with our fourth baby and still debating whether to plan for a home birth or a just go into hospital, last time I had such a positive birth experience despite not being at home, it made me realise that, home or hospital, I can positively birth wherever I am.
NOTE: Cecilia has since given birth to her 4th child, A little baby boy.
Guest Blog @ Relaxed Parenting by Cecilia, Mum to four living in the UK. Follow her at Instagram