Motherlife Interview #4, A home birth story.
All mothers in this interview series are anonymous and so have been given nature names as their super heroine pseudonym. The nature names have been chosen from the list of nature words that have been deleted from a well known children’s dictionary.
This birth story was written by ‘Bluebell,’ and is part one of the Motherlife interview #4.
Our little boy was born at 40 weeks plus 8 days in London on the second of January 2017. I decided quite late in the journey to have a home birth.
I was a home birth baby way back in the 70’s in Melbourne, it was frowned upon then as it often is now, sadly, as I understand it, Australia still does not have good home birthing practices. Unfortunately I had misunderstood for years that I wasn’t a good home birth; that I came out blue with the umbilical cord around my neck and nearly died and so did my mother, choking on her own vomit. None of this was true as my mother clarified only about 6 weeks before our boy was born – I’ve no idea why I thought not to ask her sooner, but anyway, as it turns out, according to her it was a really positive (and rare) home birth (although she vomited a lot through it).
I had two friends who had both had very positive hypno/home birthing stories (one in London, the other in Paris) and another great hypno/hospital story in Melbourne. The rest were all hospitals and complications and trauma, none of it sounding particularly positive.
Suffice to say I was really nervous about giving birth.
We decided to do a hypnobirthing course with Kat Berry, near where we lived at the time in East London. Many other friends had done and recommended it. Afterwards I felt empowered to trust my body knew what to do, we are women, built to give birth. It was scientific information, at least I thought so. The media and negativity surrounding birth has a lot to blame for creating so much unnecessary fear around such a natural process.
I didn’t enjoy the voice recordings in the hypnobirthing course, but got a lot out of the information, I’d meditated a lot before so sort of understood enough about the state to enter to help the body birth naturally. I also understood the need for birthing mothers to be in a quiet & dark, safe place, not observed.
It still stuns me this information isn’t general knowledge taught to all expectant mothers/parents. The money and trauma it would save hospitals and people! But that’s another story.
We were very fortunate to live near the Homerton Hospital in East London which has a rare and amazing home birth unit. The midwifes at Homerton are incredible and I feel very grateful and indebted to them for our successful, uncomplicated & (relatively short) natural home birth.
The doctors were advising me not to birth at home as I was 40 at the time. They had also been worried I had gestational diabetes as I was huge, baby was big (we didn’t know it at the time but it turned out I had grown an enormous placenta too). Thankfully got the all clear just in time.
Statistically speaking for my demographic I had a 50/50 chance I would have to go to hospital or be able to stay at home.
I decided to give it a go.
The build up
Many Braxton hicks getting slightly more intense and regular for a week or two.
Baby now 7 days overdue, decided to have the sweep by the midwife administered at home.
The Home Birth
Intense deep cramp around midday, immediately threw everything up
Dozed all afternoon
7pm asleep on sofa and waters broke
7.30 contractions start
Throw up quite a bit, no solids inside me
Started tens machine, this maybe took the pain intensity back 10-15% in the beginning
Can’t keep much down
My partner counting contraction times
Used some shoulder acupressure points in the beginning
Tried leaning against wall
Watched time lapse flowers opening a little in the beginning sitting on birth ball
Horizontal on sofa made me feel nauseous
Had to either stand or lean
Contractions would slightly slow down when I got cold after throwing up – think I got cold only as had no energy supplies left after throwing everything up
Was thinking how challenging the pain intensity of the contractions were and how long it might last but very much in the moment and time did start to go very quickly or at least at a different speed
Contractions are getting very very intense, pretty painful but good pain as I know it is bringing baby closer
Unfortunately all of my partners pre made music playlists didn’t get played – We listened to Craig Pruiss heart beat music pretty much on loop the whole time, which was the perfect soundtrack
Even having my partner speak to my mum on the phone in background giving her updates was a bit annoying as it was distracting, think I told him to stop
Phoned my midwife around 11pm, she arrived around 12
7cm dilated by the time she arrived
Ask for gas, stayed on gas until birth, used the sound of sucking and breathing out into the machine as a thing to focus on my breath work
My partner said I sounded like Darth Vader
Did a lot of swaying with eyes closed in bathroom with gas, at least an hour or two like this whilst the pool was filling up in the living room
Finally got into pool around 2 am ish
Second support midwife arrived shortly after getting in pool
Physical relief once in water but forgot the heat of baths makes me feel sick
Couldn’t really keep liquids down and very hot
Couldn’t lie back without feeling more ill so leant forwards, arms and chin over the edge of the pool, legs behind me, kept eyes shut basically the entire time
This helped me block out everything else and focus
My partner kept swapping me between cold flannel on my forehead, sips of water and bowl to throw the water back up in
Contractions pretty intense but not for too long compared to the first phase until midwife started to suggest I begin pushing
Felt very odd to begin with as it was all internal and abstract
But then after some time I could feel something changing as baby began to move down the birth canal
Was visualising the downward J breathing
This seemed very helpful breath work
After some considerable effort I could really feel him inside me moving down
A lot of pushing and was running out of energy
Still occasional vomiting and intermittent sipping of water and cold flannels
Then serious pushing as his head started to crown
Initially felt a bit scared like he was going to tear the front of me apart
But the midwife gave good guidance, would tell me when to push and when not to
It really was one step forward, two back as he would crown and pop back up, so it was a slow stretching of the muscles
Still fearful I was going to tear open at front
And semi bothered that I was going to push my butt inside out…think must have done lots little pooh pellets but didn’t notice at time and midwives kept it from me using the dreaded sieve (aghast! But yes!) – thankful was already constipated hah!
Getting pretty tired but midwives encouraging and kept me going
They were checking his heartbeat every 10 or so minutes and he was fine the whole way, perhaps his heart beat slowed a little towards the end which was also normal apparently
Then finally the push of the head
Very very very intense sensations, it did take a few goes to get it all the way out – and he had a funny shape afterwards at the back of his skull for a day or two from the squeezed area
Ran out of steam for pushing the rest of his body (he was really long!) and his body didn’t want to come out…the midwifes got me to stand up and use gravity to help bring the rest of his body out
Then they said to be ready to take him
This was I think 4.15am
I said I would need help to sit back down as was so tired and not confident my body was going to do what I wanted it to do anymore
Lay back into the pool and the next second I know baby is on my chest
Just looking around like a little fish with his eyes open, no crying and his arms flopped out by his side
My partner was by this stage sitting nestled up to the bath behind us
I must have said something like ‘yah we did it!’ Gave myself a fright using my voice for the first time in a while… maybe I spoke very loudly
He was a little blue but he went pink relatively quickly as his blood and body got used to breathing oxygen
We stayed like this pouring the water in the bath on his body for a while to keep him warm waiting for the beating blood in the umbilical cord to slow down and for everyone to adjust to this new situation!
The midwives briefly clamped the cord to take some blood and then declamped it to finish draining out
They asked if my partner wanted to cut it, he declined and so they did
We waited in the pool for perhaps an hour for the placenta to come, but it didn’t so the midwives asked me to stand up
I think we gave my son to my partner then and he held him against his chest wrapped in a towel
I might have said something like ‘here’s your son!’ Can’t remember was quite delirious and words felt clumsy
I stood up and a large blood clot dropped out
Then went to the toilet to try and birth the placenta there whilst breastfeeding my baby for the first time
We tried this for a while, was very tired and out of it and everything quite surreal but beautiful
They administered vitamin k to my baby via injection, I think he gave a little cry and must at some point been weighed and measured, I don’t remember this
Placenta still wouldn’t come out so my midwife gave me the injection to help it and shortly after gave the cord a tug and it basically dropped into the catch area really easily
She said I probably didn’t need the injection, she could have tugged it free without it, but they’re not allowed to incase it could tear
She said it was a very large placenta
Then she wanted to check me for tearing so I lay back in the bed with little baby wrapped up in towels next to me
I had a tiny graze on the perineum and two tiny grazes on the front (where I feared and felt a little tearing) but nothing needing any further attention, just warned that it would sting a bit whilst I pee and to wash with water afterwards (it did for almost 2 days). As unpleasant as it was at the time, I was very very glad I did perineum massaging in the 4 or so weeks leading up to the birth. Maybe 3-4 times a week for a minute or two, took a while to get the hang of, and eventually I learnt to do it standing up with one foot on the toilet seat. I’m sure this combined with my midwife coaching at that critical time stopped me from seriously tearing. My baby was quite a big lad.
The midwives and my partner finished cleaning up and packing down the pool
This took some time, perhaps an hour or two
Baby and I resting on the bed, I couldn’t stop looking at him
Him occasionally blinking back like a little fish just out of water
Eventually around 7 or 8 am I think we all had a little sleep
And the rest is history. Or more like the beginning of after the prequel.
Next week I’ll share mama Bluebell’s postpartum story. xx
If you’d like to learn how to help your body heal better after giving birth, you can download my free postpartum body recovery guide here.