Kirsten tells us about her experiences of having two home births.
We’d gone to the pub with some friends to see a friend who lives in Columbia and was visiting Leeds for one night, the night before my due date. We’d told him beforehand that if the baby was early he’d get to meet it, but if it was late he’d only meet the bump. By 10.30ish I was ready to go home so we started the 10 minute walk home. Halfway back I felt a painful ‘pop’ sensation and my waters broke standing in the street! I waddled back home with very wet jeans and joked to my husband about my boots being full of amniotic fluid as we excitedly started getting ready to meet our baby.
My contractions started as soon as my waters broke and were every two to three minutes lasting about a minute each time. My husband started getting the pool ready and I walked around the house stopping to lean on something and breathe deeply at each contraction. We called the midwives and they asked if I could feel the baby moving, I couldn’t at that point so they said if I hadn’t felt any movement within an hour then it would be best to come in to the hospital for monitoring. We hadn’t thought about going to hospital at all and so rushed around in between contractions getting a hospital bag sorted just in case. After the hour was up I still hadn’t felt any movement so we got in the car and made the 10 minute drive to the hospital. Just as we arrived at the car park I felt the baby kicking, so we turned round and went straight back home!
The contractions were getting gradually stronger and more intense and I felt like I was getting to the end of just being able to breathe through them. During each one I kept saying to myself “3 2 1 relax” and trying to remember all the visualisations from the hypnobirthing cd I’d been practising. My husband rang the midwives to ask them to come with gas and air. They took quite a while to come and I just stayed very focused and kept breathing through each contraction. When they arrived they did an examination and told me I was 4 cm – I was really disappointed as I felt like I’d been labouring for ages and it felt like it was getting more and more difficult to cope with the contractions. They gave me the gas and air mouthpiece but I couldn’t use it as it interfered with my breathing pattern so I gave it back at them.
By this point I was in the pool and the contractions were getting really difficult to deal with. I kept thinking ‘just one more and then I’m going to have to tell them that I can’t cope with them anymore’. But after each one I managed one more. Then I felt like I needed to push. I asked the midwife if it was ok as it wasn’t that long since she told me I was only 4cm dilated. She said to do whatever my body was telling me to do, so I started pushing and within a few pushes I could feel the baby’s head descending. A few more and her head came out, in between that contraction and the next I felt her twist around inside me and I remember saying to the midwife ‘tell her to stop moving!!’ On the next contraction her body came out and the midwife brought her up into my arms. My husband and I were just amazed that we had a baby and forgot to look at what sex she was for a few minutes. The midwife eventually asked if we wanted to move the cord to check if she was a girl or a boy! I stayed in the pool for about 15 minutes with towels around me and Josie to keep us warm and then when I got out the placenta came pretty quickly. I had one very small tear, which the midwife stitched for me. Once all the checks had been done, and everything was cleared up the midwives left and we snuggled up on the sofa with our new baby. She was born at 5.19 in the morning so my labour was about seven hours from start to finish. At around 8am we called our friend who was about to leave for Colombia and he came round before he left the country to meet Josie.
Having had Josie arrive quite quickly (seven hours in total) on her due date at home in the pool with no problems or interventions, I was hoping for a repeat performance from baby number two. I’d had a bit longer off work before number two than I did with Josie and was getting some jobs done and getting the house sorted, expecting that I had at least until my due date… But one week before my due date I’d been looking after my friend’s little boy for an hour and after she picked him up I decided to have a nap before getting Josie from nursery. As soon as I lay down in bed I felt the same painful pop that I had when my waters broke with Josie. I hopped out of bed and into the bathroom and my waters broke over the toilet! I rang my husband and told him that the baby was on its way and could he pick Josie up and get home as soon as possible. He asked if he could still go to his 4pm meeting – obviously I said no!
I carried on with some of the jobs I’d been doing like chopping veg for dinner to keep me busy and my contractions were just like my first labour – every two to three minutes, so I just leaned on the worktop and breathed through each one. I consciously thought about relaxing and opening up at each contraction and tried to remember the hypnotherapy CDs telling me that it was all useful sensations and tried to just go with it rather than tense up and fight it.
By the time Jimmy got back with Josie the contractions were really intense and I was on my knees leaning on the hallway stairs in front of the door – they had to climb over me to get in the house! They started setting up the pool and Josie stroked my back and brought me a cushion for my knees. By the time the midwife arrived at 5.30pm the contractions were really intense and I hardly had any time in between each one. I remember hearing her say to Jimmy that she wasn’t sure where everything was in the bag and me thinking that was a bit odd, but I was just concentrating on breathing so couldn’t say anything. Within 15 minutes of her arriving I felt like I needed to push. At the same time Jimmy said that the pool was ready so I quickly got in. Josie had got bored of waiting for the baby by this point and was watching Charlie and Lola in the living room while Jimmy made her a cheese toasties. I’d not been in the pool long before I could feel the baby coming, I tried not to rush pushing and just let it happen as I didn’t want to get a tear again. The midwife called through to Jimmy in the kitchen that he’d better come in if he wanted to see his baby being born and at 6pm Leo was born. We spent a bit of time in the pool cuddling with me saying over and over ‘that was such hard work! I think I’m in shock it was so quick!’ The placenta came soon after I got out of the pool and then the second midwife arrived. It turned out that the midwife who was there for the birth was actually a hospital midwife as all the home birth team were already out (which is why she didn’t know what was in the bag).
The midwives had left by 8pm and Jimmy put Josie to bed, then we sat on our sofa and ate pizza before going to bed with our new baby.