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Following my fairly quick and very positive birth of H, one of the midwives said to me “You might want to consider a home birth next time” to which I laughed and said “Next time I’m having an epidural”. Roll on next time and I find myself self-referring to our local home birth team as soon as I found out I was pregnant.
What changed? A close friend of mine, and home birth advocate, wisely pointed out - use of the pool isn’t guaranteed in the hospital and for me this was a must have.
In our area we are lucky enough to have the dedicated Lavender Home Birth Team and being under their care was a dream. I had a dedicated midwife I saw for all of my appointments, all of my appointments from 36 weeks took place at home, and I really felt listened to when I talked about wanting to avoid inductions or stronger pain relief in the event I had to transfer to hospital.
Fast forward to 40 weeks, I was now very much ready to meet my baby. Clare came to see me and offered me a sweep, which I declined. With H I only had two examinations, one at my 41 week appointment and one in the hospital, for both I was more dilated than I was expecting and I didn’t know how I would take being told labour doesn’t look imminent.
Over the next few days I lost my mucus plug, was having some pretty major mood swings and could feel some tightenings. I’d had a lot of Braxton Hicks over the pregnancy so chose to ignore these signs in an attempt to not get too frustrated about being overdue. The morning of 40 + 4, I'd had an awful night’s sleep and was experiencing some sharp pains in my pelvis assuming it was trapped wind and the baby pressing on it. I headed out to meet my friends as planned.
I ignored the pains for most of the day, but as the day went on, they got more painful and I started to wonder if they could actually be contractions. When I got home I decided to take a nap just in case. Now I had finally slowed down, I realised that the pains were fairly regular and I started to time them - they were every 16 minutes.
Daddy H, came home around this time and between us we set to tidying the house and changing the bedsheets. I called the Lavender Team number and spoke to Bev, who advised me that Rachel would be on at 7pm and to just give them a ring when I wanted someone to come. I picked H up from the childminders and between us we put her to bed. The contractions were now getting closer together and more intense so I settled down on my birth ball watching Frozen while Daddy H sorted out the pool.
Around half 8 the contractions were now every 3 minutes but I was still managing to breathe through them, at this point with H I was screaming in pain and sobbing, so I didn’t think I could be that close. Daddy H was keen to call the midwife, but sure we still had a while to go I decided to hold off. The most uncomfortable part was the pressure in my pelvis, I remembered this from H and knew it was my waters waiting to break. Once the pool was ready I decided to call the midwife, I’d been asked not to get in until they had seen me and I wanted to do anything to relieve some of the pressure.
I called and left a message, 20 minutes later the lovely Rachel called me back as she’d been helping on the labour ward. I told her my contractions were 3 minutes apart, but I felt fine, I just wanted to get in the pool. We agreed she would do her handover at the hospital and then come out to me - I told her not to hurry. Half an hour later, I asked Daddy H to call her back. I was suddenly feeling pressure in my back passage and felt like I might have been pushing! Rachel reassured him she was on her way and only 7 minutes away.
When Rachel arrived she quickly took my obs and offered me an examination. Initially I declined, still worried I would be told I was only a few centimeters, but after the next contraction I agreed to the exam as I wanted to get in the pool. Rachel quickly told me she couldn’t feel any cervix and was pretty sure I was fully dilated! So I hopped straight in the pool.
It was such a different experience, with H I went into myself, I couldn’t talk to anyone, I needed to focus. This time, I was chatting away between contractions, making jokes. Once I was in the pool I decided to give a little push on each contraction in an effort to try and break my waters. On the third or fourth contraction they suddenly went with a whoosh, I let Rachel know and then immediately yelled “HEAD”. Turns out my waters were all that was holding Baby in, before I knew it Rachel was telling me to look down and I could see my baby at the bottom of the pool.
According to my notes my waters broke at 22.42 and the time of birth was 22.44.
I scooped Baby out and brought her to my chest whilst I birthed the placenta. We checked for the sex and was surprised to learn we had another baby girl, I was so sure I was carrying a boy! Baby was so peaceful, it was a few minutes before she even realised that she had been born. We enjoyed lots of skin to skin in the pool whilst we waited for the cord to stop pulsing and turn white, at which time Daddy H cut the cord.
I got out of the pool and we all made our way to the lounge, at which point we heard H cry out from the top of the stairs. Daddy H went up, she could hear Baby crying and asked “Is that my sister baby?” (she was always adamant it was a girl) so Ollie brought her down to meet her.
It was like a dream, sat in my own home, watching my eldest meet my youngest less than an hour after she was born.
After this things took a turn, as I sat up I felt a sudden gush between my legs. The midwives checked me over and confirmed that there were a lot of blood clots and a constant trickle which was unusual. Donna, the second midwife, rubbed my tummy to try and encourage more contractions to contract my uterus, but after a short while Rachel advised we needed to do something more. She suggested I had the syntocinon injection, usually used to encourage the birth of the placenta, as it would help with contracting my uterus more quickly.
The injection helped to stem the bleeding but made me feel very sick and suddenly exhausted. Again the midwives were fantastic, they held Baby and kept her from crying while I rested on my sofa and Daddy sorted H out. Eventually we agreed it was time for them to leave and we made our way upstairs to bed. When I got upstairs and went to the toilet I found a very big clot on my pad, we called Rachel back, who advised she thought it was the last but was happy to arrange a transfer to the hospital if I wanted but was also happy for me to stay at home. We agreed I would stay at home but go straight to the hospital if I had any more clots.
Thankfully I did not, I tucked up in bed suddenly unable to sleep just wanting to embrace my amazing birth and my beautiful second daughter.
All in all, I can’t recommend a home birth enough, even Daddy H is a massive advocate for them now too. This labour was significantly easier and less painful than it was with H, this may be down to being my second and knowing what to expect, but I think being in my own home and feeling in complete control of my birth played a massive part too. I didn’t realise until this birth, how much anxiety I was holding whilst in labour with H about when to transfer to hospital, not wanting to go too early or too late.
If you are reading this while pregnant, have a chat with your midwife about having a home birth, it truly is an amazing way to give birth.