Sometimes I get a text that makes me stop, stare and then burst out in tears (one of the perks of the job) and the news of baby Katie's birth was one of those. Not only did her mummy have a pretty rapid labour with her second child, she achieved the home birth she wanted. Some people say birth preferences are pointless, but here even the baby adhered to them, ensuring mummy was not only unobserved, but nearly free birthed her little girl in to the world - eek!
Over to Elizabeth to tell the story in her own words:
So I started maternity leave on Monday 29th October. I went to meet my boss for a handover chat , but apart from that, the day was spent resting, cleaning, sorting. I hadn’t had time for much of this during my pregnancy and I was really looking forward to getting prepared for the baby and also having a nap everyday for a week or so while my two year old had his last full week at the childminders.
Our son insists on sleeping downstairs when he is a bit poorly and that Monday night was no different. I said I would sleep downstairs with him as I was up a lot in the night anyway (needing to pee or due to discomfort). At 5.20am on the Tuesday morning my little boy cries out for a cuddle. Moving at 38 weeks pregnant is not the easiest, so I tried to manoeuvre myself off the couch but landed on the floor, on my knees with a heavy thud. After doing this I literally felt the baby’s head move further down.
My husband was up and getting ready for work and I kept feeling the baby moving in my pelvis which was quite uncomfortable, so I made the off noise. It happened a few more times, when my husband asked if I was ok and I said it was fine, just niggles, and sent him off to work (a 16 mile bike ride). The niggles continued fairly frequently though and as I chilled with my son in the lounge, I began breathing through them. I messaged the community midwife who had told me to let her know when things were happening. I said I was having niggles, but I was still convinced that it was false labour and I wouldn’t give birth until November but I wanted to give her the heads up
I walked to the high street with my son, bought some food (including biscuits for the midwives), dropped him off at the childminders at 9.30, went to buy some more food and then went home. All the while the surges were coming, I was unable to talk or move during them: I leant over and breathed slowly, sometimes using my ‘up’ visualisations. I had planned to meet a friend at 10. At 9.40 I messaged her saying I was in early labour so would not be coming!
I got home and the surges were quite frequent and definitely not going away. I let my husband and midwife know, and I kept breathing through them. I made it up the stairs to get some stuff in case baby did come sharpish (clothes/ nappies, etc). We had everything needed for a homebirth ready. NB: Everything was in place but went unused!
I listened to affirmations to get through the surges and they increased in pressure and length, I put a comedy show on the tv and managed to put the shopping away whilst kneeling on the floor in between contractions. But by 10.25 I was lying on my side on the couch, then my waters suddenly went during a contraction. I was not expecting that!
I managed to message my husband and my midwife asking them to come now. At about 10.45 I decided I wanted a cup of tea and something to eat so I got to the kitchen in between surges and made them. Sadly I couldn’t managed to carry them back though and I needed to get back to leaning over the couch to manage the surges. A couple were very intense with massive pressure in my bottom; so much that I struggled to breathe through them. I really wanted to smell some frankincense at that point but it was out of reach. I just about managed to message my midwife saying ‘please come NOW’. Thank goodness she got the message and was only 5 minutes away.
A few more surges with the urge to push and I realised that I may give birth at home on my own with the midwife outside the front door. So in between, very powerful, surges where I was crouched on all four, breathing while making ‘uuuh’ sounds and involuntarily pushing, I made it to the front door to open it. I then shuffled backwards, had another surge with an intense need to push and Millie the midwife arrived! She said I was doing amazingly. I just thought ‘how do you know, you haven’t been here?!
I was literally blocking the entrance so moved about a foot into the house so she could walk around me. She was getting ready to check the baby’s heartbeat when I breathed the baby’s head out. My knickers were very swiftly removed (!) and out came the rest of the baby with the next contraction, while I was lying on my side next to the front door (and a big pile of shoes as I was in the middle of clearing the porch out). We got me to the couch and got my three tops off so baby could be skin to skin; she didn’t cry at all and just looked around, ridiculously alert. The second midwife, Lisa, arrived (who I had met once when I was pregnant the first time). We then checked gender (a girl, as I thought she would be). I was left to be skin to skin and chill out with baby. Lisa left and another midwife, Jackie, arrived.
I had talked about the third stage with Millie at my booking appointment - it had been awful with my son’s birth as I really didn’t want the injection and it was basically threatened and I was made to strain and push a lot. It was horrible and created a lot of pain for the month afterwards. This time, Millie knew what I wanted. She had to remind me at 55 minutes after birth that they would normally administer the injection but said it nicely as she knew I would not consent (I wasn’t bleeding a lot, the birth had gone smoothly, there was no need to). We decided gravity would help so I got up, felt pressure in my bottom and went to sit on the loo to cuddle baby and relax enough to breath it down. I had to let go of the thoughts of the previous third stage and managed to deliver the placenta an hour and a half after baby arrived.
My husband got my message asking him to come home after our baby had arrived and then I called him to say we have a baby girl and we are both ok (while she was doing the breastcrawl). He arrived home as I was being checked for tears. There was a shallow second degree tear that sat together perfectly. After a lot of checking and talking it through I declined stitches. Bloods were taken as I am rhesus negative and my husband had a baby cuddle while I had a shower.
My labour with my son was 38.5 hours from first niggle to arrival (with surges never stopping but only 6.5 hours of ‘established labour’). This labour was 6 hours from first niggle to arrival. And for half of that I still thought it was false labour and would stop. It was a massive shock that is happened so early and that she came so fast. It took a few days to get my head around it. Considering both were planned (and successful drama-free) homebirths they were incredibly different. Giving birth so smoothly wouldn’t have been possible without Jemma and hypnobirthing. The third stage wouldn’t have gone so well without Millie my midwife.
With both labours I did nothing to bring labour on, as I believe babies arrive when they are ready. My children had quite different gestation periods but both arrived completely healthy and a good weight.