Our second child, born at home

My second baby was due on 13 December. The week after the due date, with Christmas fast approaching, was a frustrating time, but the home birth was well worth the wait. On Monday 19th Dec, midwife Angela Wakeford suggested a membrane sweep and stretch, which was painful, but got some irregular Braxton Hicks going. On Tuesday morning she repeated the procedure and I took a homeopathic remedy prescribed by Homeopath and student midwife Keryn White. On Tuesday night the surges were getting interesting, but then everything stopped after I went to bed. At 5am I woke up thinking ‘enough waiting, today is the day’ and I went for a 40 minute walk around the block, which at 41 weeks was strenuous for me. The day before Angela and I had discussed using castor oil  to help get labour going. I wasn’t keen, but on Wednesday it seemed like a good idea, so I knocked it back with a glass of orange juice after the walk. I was delighted when some proper, regular surges began around 11am. I called Angela and Peter took our daughter to my Mum’s house at lunchtime.

Angela was working at Birth Options that morning, so I told her not to hurry. But the surges were becoming more intense quickly and I called her again at 1.30, by which time she was on the road. The hypnobirthing course I did must have helped, as I was not  experiencing much discomfit and when Angela arrived and observed me for a while we initially thought she could go home and come back later. She then checked my cervix and we were surprised to find that I was 6cm dilated already. Just then Peter arrived back and the race was on for them to fill up the birthing pool, while I moved around the room and then began working through the more intense surges on all fours on the bed. Just when I said loudly, ‘I really want to get in the pool now’, they had it ready and I climbed in. The water gave me a great feeling of relief and helped me to ‘zone out’ and go into a deep state of semi-consciousness, so that time and what was going on around me receded and I could focus inwards. What seemed like a very short time after getting into the pool I felt some very strong surges that felt like my uterus expelling the baby all on its own with no help from me. I became overwhelmed by the involuntary and out of control feeling (but knew this was normal for the ‘transition’). Peter was wonderfully supportive during this period where I lost confidence and he talked me through my doubts and helped me to get past this stage when I was saying ‘I want it to stop’, ‘I need a break’ and ‘I can’t do this’. Unfortunately, I snapped out of the ‘zone’ at this point, as I decided to get out of the bath to empty my bladder and then became more aware of my surroundings. The surges slowed down while Angela urged me to push harder, and I became anxious that I wasn’t pushing properly. In retrospect, I should have talked through this pushing phase of labour more at the hypnobirthing classes and with the midwives and practiced the j-breathing technique more, as I ended up pushing ineffectively for over an hour and was in danger of losing my momentum altogether. If I could have kept in that  ‘autopilot’ zone for longer, I think the baby would have been born faster and more easily, so on my side, more hypnobirthing practice should have been done to achieve this. Eventually, Angela said ‘try to switch your brain off again’ – easier said than done!

Between 5-6pm I got out of the pool again and tried a number of positions, settling on squatting between Peter’s legs for support while he sat on the edge of the bed. This worked best in opening my pelvis and Angela was able to assist in flexing the baby’s head to allow him to crown (he had positioned his head at an angle, which may also be why he got a bit stuck on the way out and had bruising on the side of his head). Just when I thought I wasn’t making progress at all, Angela and Keryn showed me with a mirror that his head was visible at each surge. I was surprised, as I’d convinced myself that he was still way up in my uterus, so this gave me a boost of confidence and his head popped out shortly after. Our position was wonderful for Peter and I to see his birth at the same time – I birthed his shoulders as slowly as I could stand (these were the only painful moments of the eight hour labour) and then I saw and felt his long narrow body born onto a towel in front of me. Our beautiful boy was born at 6.45pm, 57cm long and 4kg, with a head full of dark hair – very much like his tall, dark and handsome dad.

I had slight tearing, needing three stitches, but the recovery has been much quicker and easier than my first birth by epidural and forceps. I have been really proud of achieving this natural, unmedicated birth in the comfort of my own home, with very little pain or discomfit – it was undoubtedly the best birth for Michael and myself and for Peter and I as a couple – we will remember the day forever. I could write on and on about it, but this is probably more than enough – thank you for the part you played in our birth, which gave me the best experience of bringing someone into life.

Angela The Midwife