Wednesday, 24 June 2015

A positive home birth story

Whenever childbirth comes up in conversation, it generally involves horror stories with women trying to outdo each other about their life or death experience.

Well, it isn't always like that. Some women are blessed with truly positive experiences. I'm one of them. I gave birth to my fourth child at the beginning of April (hence the lack of updates recently) and it was another amazing and empowering experience.

O was 8 days overdue and I opted to have a stretch and sweep done to see if we could encourage baby to make an appearance. I wasn't particularly bothered about being overdue, but I was keen to avoid induction. My older three were beginning to get impatient though!

1 week overdue and waiting...

After the sweep, I took my 7 year old, 4 year old and 2 year old to the skateboard park, play park and we had an ice cream by the beach. I was a little uncomfortable, but I wasn't sure if this really would be 'it'. When we got home, we had tea and I decided to run a bath to see if it would ease up my niggling pains or even kick things off properly. It did neither. So I started getting the children into bed.

Finally, as I was nursing my 2 year old to sleep at around 8pm, I suddenly got some pretty decent contractions. They were coming every five minutes, so at around 8.30pm I decided to call for a midwife. I have a history of very quick labours, so I didn't want to hang around. I also called a student midwife friend who had expressed an interest in watching a home-birth (insurance issues meant she couldn't participate) and my mother.

I jumped in the bath again and had a cup of tea and a chat to my friend and then asked her to leave so I could relax and find the right headspace. The midwife when arrived at about 9.15pm and I invited my student midwife friend back in to observe what the midwife was up to. Things were all very calm and relaxed. The midwife did a couple of basic checks and concluded that I was 6-7cm.

The midwife was due to finish her shift at 10pm and just before she clocked off her replacement arrived. As they were chatting through the handover I could feel the contractions start to really intensify. I focussed on the music I had chosen and the candles that were burning around the bath and breathed through the contractions, allowing myself to moan, which helped to relax my body and ease the tension that was building up as the contractions peaked.

Just after my first midwife left I began feeling the urge to push, so I got out of the bath and eventually found a comfortable position on all fours, with my arms leaning on a stool, to deliver my baby.

As I felt him descend further (although I didn't know it was a he at that point), my waters went and with the next contraction his head crowned. I slowly breathed him down. I have a history of tearing so I needed to control this bit and let him out as slowly as possible. The next thing I knew, I could hear a muffled snuffly cry and then I felt something stick out. I asked, 'what was that?' and my husband replied, 'his arm!'. It seemed like forever until the next contraction came, but when it did I was able to deliver the rest of his head and then his body.

My beautiful son was then passed through my legs and I sat down with him on my chest. He seemed a little bit stunned and his breathing was laboured with some foam at the mouth, from where he had obviously swallowed some mucus while trying to cry before he was properly out. However, after some skin to skin he quickly recovered. I offered him the breast, but he wasn't particularly fussed so we just enjoyed more cuddles while we waited for my body to release the placenta.

Attempting our first feed.

I had opted for natural third stage because I don't see the point of taking drugs to deliver the placenta when I had managed to deliver the baby with no help at all. It took a little longer than it probably would have done had I opted for the injection, but I wasn't in a particular hurry and it meant my husband had plenty of time to wake up my oldest son so he could cut the cord.

My 7 year old has been around, pretty much, for the births of all his siblings. When he was two, he was downstairs watching Fireman Sam when his sister was born and when he was four, he came home from nursery, literally minutes after his brother was born. We had asked at the time if he wanted to cut the cord, but he preferred to watch daddy do the honours. This time round, he was determined that he would be the one to separate his new sibling from mum.

My eldest cutting the cord with the assistance of my lovely midwife.

So while I was enjoying some skin to skin with my gorgeous newborn, my husband went to wake up my eldest son to ask if he still wanted to cut the cord. He was overjoyed at the prospect and came through to meet his new brother and release him from me. It was an amazingly intimate family moment, despite the fact that it took several attempts for the scissors to actually get through the cord. Once the cord was cut and the placenta was delivered, my eldest and youngest son enjoyed some cuddles while I went to get examined and to double check I had not torn. And - for the first time - I had escaped with just a minor graze.

The midwife stayed on to do her checks on both mum and baby before checking I was OK as I showered and got cleaned up. I then sat in my own bed with my newborn son and a cup of tea.

This is likely to be my last birth and, I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a totally relaxed but empowering experience and I'm just a little bit sad that I'm unlikely to experience childbirth again. Still, onwards and upwards to the next stage in our lives.

Welcome to the world Baby O.

I'd love to hear your positive birth stories.

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