Home Birth – Our story
My second son was born en caul at home in water at 8:38am on Sunday 13th April, this is the story of his amazing home birth.
I had planned a home birth for my first son but unfortunately things had not gone to plan and I ended up with a blue light transfer at 10cm and pushing due to meconium in his waters. It was the most horrendous ride of my life and subsequently I ended up with a horrible memory of a bad birth experience. I also had a retained placenta, which I always wonder if it was a result of having gone from the peaceful environment of home to the adrenaline fuelled ride to hospital where I was threatened with all sorts of intervention and eventually they tried ventouse. I look back and wonder if my body went into shock and decided to hold onto the placenta, so after a trip to theatre post baby arriving I was separated from my husband and left on a ward in the middle of the night to fend for myself, which is where I stayed for 2 nights.
Home Birth the Difference
This time I knew things had to be different, despite thinking I was prepared last time I hadn’t factored in not knowing the two midwives who attended my birth and them not knowing me. We were very lucky and blessed that when we decided to try for baby number 2 we conceived the first month of trying. It came as a shock to us both but I knew before the tests were even dry that I wanted to make contact with One to One midwives. I had read so many positive things about the service and had attended an open day information session they had held. I am extremely lucky that I live in an area that is covered by the One to One service. I referred myself to them and within a few days I had been contacted by our allocated midwife who phoned me to arrange a booking in appointment.
All my appointments were held at home where I never felt rushed and had time to discuss all my concerns and worries. At my first appointment I chatted with my midwife about my previous birth and how much I was still angry thinking about it and the way I had been treated. She was amazing and took the time to listen and reassure me that things could be different. Over the course of the pregnancy I saw the same midwife at each appointment and was able to form a bond with her so that she knew all my wishes and hopes for the birth.
As the weeks flew by and we drew closer to my guess date, I talked through with my midwife all the options I’d have if things during the birth didn’t go the way I hoped, I really wanted a home birth. I had questions about what would happen if there was meconium in the waters again and if I had a retained placenta. We chatted through all the scenarios so that I knew exactly what would be available to me should that happen. I trusted that my midwife had given me all the pros and cons of each option and if the time came where I had to make a quick decision I knew I would be making an informed choice for myself and baby.
With my first pregnancy I had not known which day or cycle I had conceived so had to trust that the scan date was accurate, I happened to go into labour naturally 8 days after the EDD with my first son. This time around I knew exactly the day I ovulated so was able to work out my own guess date. I was so sure I would go over that date again this time around that I made plans for roughly a week following it to keep myself busy while I waited for baby to decide when to be born.
The day before my ‘guess date’ I woke at 4:30am in the morning with what I thought were trapped wind pains, so I went to the toilet to see if I could make myself more comfortable. I returned to bed only to become uncomfortable again just a few minutes later, so I got out of bed to stand up again. This happened a few more times before my husband woke up to see if I was ok. Up to that point I hadn’t even thought that it could be labour, I began to realise though that the pains were coming and going and the only way I could get comfy with them was by standing up and rocking my hips. I think my husband realised before I did that, in fact this could be labour. We began timing the pains and they were roughly every 3 minutes at this point. Not wanting to bother anyone too early I waited until about 5:30 to ring my midwife. As I dialed the number my call was redirected to another midwife who I’d previously met at one of my scans. My midwife had told me that the other midwife would probably be my second midwife at the birth so I felt happy that we had already met her. She explained to me that my midwife had been off call for the night but was back on later in the morning. She listened in while I had a contraction and as I wasn’t able to chat during it she told us to start filling up the pool and that she was on her way. My husband immediately rang my mum to come and pick up the boy as she was going to look after him whilst I was birthing because we were nervous that I’d end up in hospital and if that was the case then we wanted to be fully prepared to leave at a minutes notice.
We moved downstairs and the second midwife arrived about 20 minutes later and we had already started to fill the pool. She looked at my notes and chatted with me, she told me that she had rung my named home birth midwife too and she was on her way. She asked if I’d like to be examined but I declined as I had already discussed with my own midwife not wanting any internal examinations unless I asked for them. At around 6:30am my mum arrived to collect the boy shortly followed by my usual midwife. By now I had put on the tens machine to try to help with the pains and was rocking through each contractions on all fours propped up on the birth ball. The atmosphere was peaceful, I had my labour playlist on random playing in the room and I got through each contraction by zoning out and rocking on the ball. I could hear myself gently moan through each contraction as it helped me to remember to breathe slowly and steadily. I remember my midwife asking me if I wanted to get into the pool but I’m not sure what time it was by then. I took the tens machine off and got into the pool, which by now was ready. The warmth of the water was blissful, I was able to move around freely through each contraction getting into a position that suited me each time. My midwife commented that my purple line was by now quite long and she joked that she thought the baby would be here in time for her to get a McDonalds breakfast. I wasn’t convinced! I had been in labour for 24 hours with my first son, so naturally assumed that although this time may be shorter, as it had only been a couple of hours so far, I thought I was in for the long haul still. I felt down myself at that point to see if I could feel anything, but there was absolutely nothing there.
20 Minutes before he was born
Not long after that I felt that the baby had moved down considerably and my midwife also commented that she thought she saw him drop down a lot lower. Sure enough just a couple of contractions later I knew I had started to push, I couldn’t help myself, my body wanted to do it so I just went with it. It was at that point I recognised the signs, I felt suddenly quite sick, like I needed to open my throat up, I could also hear myself change vocally from a gentle moan to what I can only describe as a “mooing” noise! At that point although I had my eyes shut and my head down on the side of the pool I knew the midwives had moved from sitting on the sofa where they had been for most of the birth so far, to much nearer the pool. One of them said that he’d be with us soon. By this point my waters still hadn’t gone, or at least I didn’t think they had. My midwife saying she could see his waters, so I felt down again and sure enough there was a bulging sack just on top of his head, which I could also feel.
I moved my hand back to the side of the pool so I could grip onto my husband and with one more push as ‘Fix You’ by Coldplay was playing he was born en caul (inside his intact amniotic sac) at 8:38am, at that point I reached down behind me as that’s where I thought he was but in fact he had swum up to the side and slightly in front of me. At that point even though it was only seconds it felt to me like minutes as I tried to locate him in the pool! I picked him up in total shock and turned around to sit down and cradle him, I remember just looking at my midwife and exclaiming ‘I did it!’ I couldn’t believe how quickly things had changed from contractions to him being here.
We waited for the cord to stop pulsing before it was clamped and my husband cut it, something he missed out on first time round. I sat in the pool with him on my chest, offering feeds and waiting to see if my placenta would come without any form of intervention. We discussed the birth and the midwife explained that he was born with his membranes intact and as he swam up he had popped them himself with his hand, I wish I had seen that! The second midwife mentioned that it is thought to be a sign of luck. After an hour it was suggested I stand up to see if the placenta was just sitting there waiting to come out, so I handed baby to husband who sat on the sofa and had some skin to skin time with him while I stood up.
Sure enough as I stood up the midwife gently touched the cord and out plopped the placenta. To me that was an amazing moment as I couldn’t believe I’d done everything myself without intervention or pain relief. It was the icing on the cake to see the placenta!
I was made comfortable on the sofa where I was examined and found that I would heal naturally given time. I took the baby back in my arms for skin to skin time and just sat staring for the following few hours, thinking about the amazing home birth experience that I had just had!
For the rest of the day I had skin to skin time with him under a blanket on the sofa until I finally got him dressed at 5pm. We couldn’t believe that out of all the songs on the playlist it had been ‘Fix you’ that was playing as he was born. That song has always been special to us as a couple and one of the only singles I had ever bought on CD and kept, I don’t own many CDs anymore now that everything is digital. We had even been there when Coldplay had filmed the video for the single, so although you can’t spot us on the video I know we are in the crowd! It was also poignant as this birth really has fixed me after such a traumatic time first time around. His home birth song is fix you and I love it just as much as I loved my home birth.
I truly loved every minute of the positive pregnancy and birth experience and would do it again in a heartbeat if I could!