A.W’s Birth Story

E and K Birth Story. A.W born on the 25th August 2015 – Home birth / Pool Birth. Story told by E.

Ok this is like the longest birth story ever. But this was our successful home water birth on the 25th.

After more than 2 weeks of false starts my 3rd little man A.W showed up at 41 weeks (plus 2 by my dates). Weighing 9lbs 14oz at 3.35am.

My third labour and birth was a really positive and pretty empowering experience. After a quite upsetting booking in appointment at the hospital we made the decision that we would book a home birth. I started attending the monthly positive birth meetings which were a tremendous source of support and felt I was really growing in confidence and knowledge.
We had 4 hypnobirthing sessions which really helped relax me and my husband/birthing partner and gave us lots of ways to focus on calm and meditative technique for the birth and run up to labour.

We focused a lot on comforting ritualistic and meditative activies particularly in the last few weeks. We burnt certain oils, played relaxing music, lit candles, coloured birth affirmations, massaged, did gentle exercises, sat on the birth ball and got beautiful natural bump henna done. We practised setting up for the birth and putting everything away, made a birth plan and a separate one for husband so he could refer to it for anything we might need and when to get it.
We were incredibly fortunate to get a doula booked for the birth who was also accompanied by a lovely newly qualified doula, and I have the honour of being her first birth.

In short I just really wanted to make sure I’d prepared as much as I could to work towards a really lovely birth. Everything that was within my control felt taken care of and if there was a reason things weren’t going to plan I wanted not to blame myself and to be able to accept the change in circumstances and approach them as positively as possible.

The midwife who had seen me throughout labour was one who was at my birth, of which continuity of care doesn’t get much better. I felt very comfortable with her, she knew my home and my family and she’d been very supportive right from the start about having the baby at home. She had also a good idea of my stubbornness and didn’t push me too much, as well as assuring me she’d get me into a good position for birth (my previous two had been on my back) and would do all she could to coach me through pushing to avoid a tear. She succeeded!

Overall though there is a massive luxury to a planned homebirth of really getting to know your midwives. I think everyone on my rota took the time to come and meet me and go over any points of my birth plan they were uncertain about. I felt respected and at ease throughout my pregnancy and never pressured into tests or appointments I didn’t want or need (with perhaps the exception of the glucose tolerance test). My children got very excited when the MW visited and the relief in not having to pack them up and drive somewhere was brilliant.

So by the hospitals EDD I was 40+6 when I woke up getting contractions at around 6am. I’d been up late the night before and after more than 2 weeks of false starts (including a day I kept my husband off work and two times when I’d had my doulas set to leave) I didn’t really clock that things were different and properly happening for an hour or so. Contractions coming about every 10 mins and mostly mild, given that this was how my previous labour started and we had a baby 6 hours later I wasn’t taking any chances!
The children went to a friends house until later when their grandparents could take them.
We got everything set up and alerted doulas. By sheer coincidence my MW rang me to say she’d read I was considering a sweep tomorrow aand what time would suit for that, so I updated her just to let her know where we were.

Contractions were very irregular, although they didn’t stop they varied in intensity (though at that stage I could still easily breath through them all) but were all about 1 min long coming every 8-25 mins or so. It was pretty disheartening that no progress seemed to be happening and I knew I mustn’t be in active labour.
Around midday we did have our doulas arrive after a more intense contraction and as soon as they did progress seemed to end. We chatted for a bit, K dropped the kids off to his parents whilst I wasn’t on my own and after a while we decided I should try and rest and they should get some lunch when Kevin got back. I actually felt so bad having asked them here and started to question if perhaps it wasn’t a good idea to have extra support at the birth as I felt like I was letting people down.

I attempted to rest but within 10 minutes of lying down I was getting absolutely awful contractions that lasted twice as long and that I struggled to breath through. I think perhaps this was just my body affirming ‘don’t lay down! That’s a bad idea!’. As soon as I got up they resumed the previous pattern which was very frustrating as I was really tired.

We sat together and relaxed, watched a bit of TV, ate some food and tried not to worry. The same ‘pattern’ pretty much continued and I was getting a bit worried and disheartened that the baby was in a bad position and this was holding off me progressing. K was reassuring but at this stage I was really doubting myself.

The children got returned to us late at 9pm or so having had their tea and a bath so went straight to bed. We made arrangements on what to do with them tomorrow if we had to redistribute them again.

We decided at this point we would see if the MW would do a vaginal exam just to see if we were more progressed, I’d said if the labour lasted a longer time I’d probably have one. I was very much expecting what we were told, which was that I was at 2cm but stretchy. Baby’s head just wasn’t down far enough to help with dilation. I didn’t feel too disheartened apart from how tired I was feeling.

We attempted to go to bed about 10.30 but I only lasted 30 mins or so as my body was very determined that I was not allowed to lie down. This time when we got up however the intensity stayed (even though contractions never really closer than 10 mins). I was needing a bit more support with each one and to be reminded to focus on my breathing.
Despite the irregularity I now felt it was time for the additional support, and went ahead in calling our doulas again.

This time we started to try a few different things to help the baby descend. I tried to stand for contractions (which made them a lot more intense) we tried a few oxytocin techniques with touching and head massage (which seemed to increase the frequency for a time). We tried a few rebozo techniques for support (I was so tired standing) and various different smells like clary sage and frankenscence to help relax me. Because it was dark we got our candles out and the room felt very tranquil again. K got the pool back to the right temperature whilst I had continued doula support.

The room was warm so I was cooled gently and offered water (I drank a lot of water throughout labour, probably due to all the deep breathing and horse-lips). I felt very reassured and comfortable.
The frequency of contractions was still completely inconsistent although I’d now had some that were only 4/5 mins apart (sometimes followed by a 12 minute wait till the next one) and I was needing increased support with some of them, being touched and reassured throughout really helped me belief in myself and to keep focus and control of my breathing.

After one particularly intense one I said I was starting to regret not letting the MW set up the G&A when she was here earlier! (As she’d offered!) but knew I needed more relief at that stage so opted to get into the pool.
We had our relaxing music on now and I got the most lovely 15 mins where I was contraction free and got to rest in the pool.
Then out of seemingly nowhere I had an absolutely massive one that completely took me by surprise. It was like nothing I’d had the whole time and I suddenly I knew that we were close to the end, and also that I sooooo wanted the gas as I just hadn’t been able to focus at all and had instinctively started to bear down slightly.
I very clearly instructed K that he needed to call the midwives. It was about 2.45am.

I continued having contractions, again irregular and again varying a lot in strength. Baby was moving around loads which was really reassuring (don’t remember either of my other two moving in labour). Some I was ok to get through with focus and a hand to hold, others were a struggle to contain myself. Some were still as long as ten mins and others were no closer than 4.

The midwives arrived about 3am and went about unpacking everything and writing stuff in my maternity file. They immediately wanted to listen in to baby which I declined as he was moving around and I’d just felt him. I said in a while.
I consented after a couple more contractions and all was well with baby and my blood pressure. I requested the gas and air.
At some point around then I was asked if the MWs could do a vaginal exam which I declined, saying there was no point as the baby would be here soon (no way was I getting out of the pool).
Then all of a sudden I started on the gas and started getting contractions and pushing sensations on top of each other. I felt a big ‘pop’ under the water of my waters bursting and knew it was almost over. I was encouraged to lean forward to give the baby lots of room and to pant rather than push. The time on the gas was blurry for me but I knew at that point I needed it to weaken my inhibitions. I heard little bits of conversation and occasional words but could only focus on breathing the gas. Luckily this was a short time (about 15 mins of my labour) and after three or so contractions and little pants and pushes baby A.W came out at 3.35am.
I was then told to catch my baby and came off the gas and tried to find him in the pool! It seemed like ages but I’m assured it’s the quickest I moved all labour and I got him up onto my chest where he started screaming. Got a towel to cover him and come back to earth to try and take it what just happened! I found myself checking for bleeding but saw the water was clear which made me really happy. I was fine to have a natural third stage and within another 10-15 mins had successfully delivered the placenta which it was still attached to my baby. I am aware of this strange image of my placenta bobbing about on the end of the cord whilst trying to hold my baby. It was extremely surreal. The cord was cut as that point by K and I got out of the pool, we could see there was a bleed now and I became extremely thankful that the entire floor and sofa were covered in plastic sheets, inca pads and towels. I was bleeding steadily but not dramatically and it was brilliant that we didn’t get any blood on the carpet or furniture. There was also huge amounts of meconium seemingly everywhere and me and K both got covered during our skin to skin time!
Midwives had a good look at me and I was not in need of any stitches, having had a very minor tear and a small graze. However they weren’t sure of the location of the bleeding.
Having had a fairly traumatic ‘bleed search’ last time I wasn’t able to tolerate very much (even back on the gas) and asked them to stop and leave it a bit whilst accepting a shot of syntometerine in the hope that would sort it.

I wasn’t feeling faint at all and felt reassured that the bleed wasn’t that bad and that I knew I had good haemoglobin levels. I gave baby A.W his first feed, I had really liked the idea of an uninterrupted breast crawl but he was very shouty and sad so I quickly assisted and he calmed down.
They wanted to look for my bleed again as it was gushing occasionally and they weren’t happy it was stopping. I didn’t feel they had given it very long and didn’t think it was a huge amount of blood (and still felt fine) so I took a second shot of syntometerine to try and ease their anxiety about it.

I really needed to wee but couldn’t. I had some inca pads put under me so I could try and wee but it wasn’t getting anywhere so I went off to the toilet to try and wee there.
Unfortunately I was followed by my worried midwives and still totally unable to wee, they kept asking was it blood or wee and could they take me into the bedroom to check me again. I said I’d rather do it back downstairs with the gas and air if it hadn’t eased up.

After that I had a placenta smoothie and felt the bleed was definitely starting to slow (smaller gushes less often). As I really wasn’t sure if I’d got anything out of my bladder I consented to a catheter and said I was ok for the bleed check after that. They emptied about 650ml of urine so I was extremely relieved, at this point the bleed had virtually stopped. They did they check (which wasn’t nice but much better than the check I’d had at my last birth) and concluded that it was coming from higher than they could search and I wasn’t bleeding from anything visible. They were happy it had stopped but very concerned that if it started up again I make my way to hospital to have it fixed. Luckily it didn’t and even my loss seemed pretty minimal compared to other births (and continues to do so).

It was definitely nowhere near as bad as my previous bleed (where they insisted on keeping me in and checking my iron levels etc) but lasted longer than my first (which when they’d checked me they couldn’t find where it was coming from either). I’m pretty sure all three have had the same origin but I’ll never know.

Then everyone headed off home, K put lots of things in the wash and a lot of bloody inca pads in the bin (and it was bin day yay) whilst I settled down with baby in bed to try and get some rest.

And things have carried on lovely