Helen had a home birth with a birthing pool for her first baby, Jet, using visualisation. Her story has inspired many other women to have a homebirth. Here is her story:
I had been in early labour since the Monday morning. I’d woken up at about 5am having small contractions that just felt like period pains every few minutes. These carried on and off for the rest of the day, but never really amounted to anything.
By about 1am on the Tuesday morning, I decided that the contractions were becoming quite difficult to cope with, so I started timing them properly. I woke my husband at 2.20am. My contractions were averaging about 1 minute long and 5 minutes apart and it didn’t seem fair that he was asleep whilst I was working away!
We called Delivery Suite at the hospital by 2.30am. Our midwife, called us back about 5 minutes later and arranged to come round. We felt very fortunate as we had both met her before and liked her very much.
The midwife arrived at 3am and gave me an examination to see how I was getting on. My cervix was 4 cm dilated so she went off again to pick up some equipment from the hospital. She was back within the hour.
Between this time and about 6.30am, I stayed in bed using a TENS machine. My husband sat by me on the floor and helped me remember to breathe properly through my contractions and the midwife sat just outside of the bedroom on the landing floor. No-one really talked that much and I was trying to rest as much as I could between contractions as I was feeling tired and I was worried that I would become exhausted during the later stages of labour. I remember saying that I was finding it really boring having to lie there and deal with the contractions every few minutes!
At 6.30am I got up to go to the loo. My husband came with me and the midwife came and sat outside the bathroom on the stairs. Once I was sat on there, I found I didn’t want to get up and I ended up staying there for the best part of half an hour. I had a big show – which was the first sign of anything like that and the midwife had said that was a really good one(!).
When I finally got off the loo and went back to bed, I tried to lie down again but found that I couldn’t manage being in that position through any more contractions. The midwife said that this was because the baby had moved down quite a lot further into my pelvis whilst I was on the loo and moving around. I tried to get through my next contraction whilst sat on the birthing ball, but this just felt really uncomfortable too. The midwife wanted to do another examination to see how I was getting on. I really didn’t want one as I hadn’t enjoyed the first one at all and my contractions were much stronger by this point. I did agree to the second exam though and I was glad I did as it turned out my cervix had got to 8cm! She suggested that I went downstairs to get in the birthing pool.
It was about 7.30 by the time I got in the pool. It was great, but I had been a bit worried about it as it meant that I had to take off the TENS machine. I still hadn’t decided exactly why I liked the TENS machine, but it had done a good job of distracting me through the contractions and had obviously been doing something.
The midwife called her colleagues to say that they needed to come quickly as I was doing really well. She was worried about having to leave me whilst I was in the pool, so she went and opened the front door so they could come straight in when they arrived.
As I got into the water, the midwife had said that I should let her know if I felt like pushing at any time. I thought this was a bit of an odd thing to say as I still had 2cm to dilate, so I wasn’t expecting to want to push for a long time. However, when my next contraction came, I did feel like pushing – I couldn’t believe it! Apparently the walk downstairs and the action of me lifting up my leg and opening my pelvis whilst I climbed into the pool may well have been enough for me to fully dilate.
I spent most of this time on all fours in the pool and the midwife and my husband both sat on the side in front of me. My husband got me a cold wet towel and we put that on the edge of the pool so I could rest my face on it. It was really refreshing. My contractions were getting really strong at this point and I was really relying on the others for support to get through each one. I felt the need to do a big push at about 7.45 and then two other midwifes (one who was there as a student midwife) arrived shortly after that. I had my eyes closed for most of this part, so I barely even noticed anyone had even come in! I was glad to know that their arrival meant that the front door would be closed as I had been making quite a lot of noise by this point and I knew that this was about the time that people would be up and walking past the house!
I couldn’t believe how fast it was all going. I still felt very much in my own mind and aware of what was going on, which I hadn’t really expected (although I was very pleased about this!). It was not like I had imagined at all and I had not gone though any transitional stages of doubting myself as I thought I would. I remember making a joke about when the bit came when I had to tell everyone that I wanted an epidural and that I thought I was going to die! There were a couple of minutes at this stage when I was asking myself exactly why it was that I had opted for a labour without pain relief. The midwife reminded me that there was gas and air available to me whenever I wanted it and I could see it from where I was in the pool. I was so pleased with myself for having got that far without any drugs though, that I knew I would be able to do the rest on my own and it just spurred me on.
This was the first time during the whole labour when I remember feeling a bit distressed. I could feel that the baby was coming and I started to really worry that I was going to injure myself whilst trying to push it out. I had expected most of the pressure where the baby was coming out to be at the back, but I felt as though I was maybe going to tear up the front. I pushed a few times through contractions and could feel the baby coming down really really low and then slowly going back up again after each push. Although I knew this was a good thing as it meant that I was less likely to tear, I decided that I was going to make every push really count as I wanted to get this baby out!
I pushed and pushed as hard as I could through the next few contractions and when I felt between my legs, I could feel what I thought was the head. It turned out this was actually the amniotic sack as my waters still hadn’t broken at this stage. The midwife reached round and broke my waters for me, as she knew this would make the delivery easier. Soon after this she announced that she could see a hand – which confused me very much. My husband reached down into the water to feel the hand and the baby grabbed hold of his finger! When the next contraction came, I pushed really hard and the head came out. Then I pushed out the rest of the baby with the next contraction.
I had been concentrating so hard on the job in hand and the pushing, that I was really shocked when I was handed a baby – I had completely forgotten that that was what I was there to do! It was much bigger than I had imagined (the midwife had predicted that she would be a whole pound and a half smaller than she was) and the first thing I said was “Oh my God, it’s MASSIVE!!”. I held the baby for a couple of minutes before the midwife asked if it was a girl or a boy. My arms were so shaky that I couldn’t move her away from me to have a look as I was worried that I would drop her in the water. My husband helped me hold her away from my body so we could have a look. When I looked down, I was still in so much shock that I couldn’t work out if it was a boy or a girl even though I could see perfectly well for myself. I couldn’t believe it when I was told that she was a girl – It’s not that I had specifically thought it would be a boy, but I just couldn’t believe that I had just had a baby girl!
She was very purple and was covered in vernix. She still had her left arm up above her head where it must have been whilst she was inside me. When the cord had stopped pulsing, it was clamped and my husband cut it. We had to do all this whilst I was still in the pool as I didn’t feel as though I was able to safely get out of the water whilst we were still attached to each other.
When I had got out of the pool, I went over to the living room where the other midwives had laid out a shower curtain on the floor to protect the rug. The baby was handed to my husband who had taken his top off to get skin to skin contact with her. I sat on the floor and after a few minutes was asked to push to get the placenta out. It was really difficult as I was so uncomfortable that I didn’t feel as though I could sit on my bum and I had to sit on my side. The placenta finally came out about 45 minutes after the baby had been born. It was a real relief to get that bit over. The midwife checked me over and found that I had got away with just a couple of grazes and a small tear – no need for stitches – YAY!
The midwives stayed with us until about midday. There was a lovely atmosphere in the house and we all had tea and toast. Our little girl had lovely dark hair and she had made such a speedy entrance into the world, we decided to call her Jet. Her middle name is Reiko, which means ‘beautiful child’ in Japanese. She weighed in at a healthy 8 lbs 7oz.
She is absolutely lovely and we feel so fortunate to have such a perfect little miracle in our lives!
Helen and Jet with their team of midwives.