Some Birth Stories From our Mums
“I experienced that same hard to describe total joy when each of my three babies was born. So, to capture three very different experiences I wrote down the first 6 things that came to mind when I thought about each birth.
“Reading back over the lists below I was even surprised by how they differ, notwithstanding that the first labour will probably be the hardest, as it was not my intention to portray a negative view of hospital births. These are just my very personal recollections.
“Obviously the most important outcome of labour is a healthy baby and this is what every parent wants, so it may seem irrelevant where you have your baby, or if it is a happy experience. However, I reckon embedded images of the birth are left with you forever despite the outcome. Once I had a baby my own mother started to talk about her labours with some terrifying imagery after 40 years! My six recollections are:
“In hospital: Being squashed into a tiny toilet in a corridor
Being moved down the corridor while I was in transition phase
Being moved on to my back from a kneeling position to give birth
Watching partner holding our newborn baby, while I was been stitched
Over-ventilating on the gas and air while being stitched
Wanting to be home with partner that night
“Midwife-led in hospital, but home after birth:
Midwife’s hand on my stomach just before she was born
Asking what sex she was just after she was born, though I was looking at her face
Baby feeding straight away and being elated by this
Victory salute to partner and baby when I came out of the shower dressed!
Sitting in reception with new baby in arms ready to go home
Sisters meeting for the first time at home 4 hours after baby born.
“Home birth at 2 am:
Taking baby from the midwife as she was born
Lying on the couch with her just after she was born as the fire was being stoked
Sister coming down the stairs to see what was going on.
Two of us in the bath
Being tucked in by the midwives before they left
Second sister meeting new baby in bed next morning
“Looking back I do think where you chose to have your baby should be where you will feel most secure. I would not have been confident enough on my first to have a home birth and to be honest if I had another pregnancy I do wonder would I choose a pain-free last stage of labour because it is intense!
“Another thought in hindsight is that home births or home-after-birth schemes should be both mum and dad’s choice, as they are much more demanding for partners. I knew the birth was imminent at home as it was only then that the midwives took a hands on role! And afterwards they’re on call instead of hospital, and they have to look after all the domestic stuff as well.”
“I had always been very squeamish about childbirth, and knew very little about what to expect in labour, but for some reason was fixated on not being confined to a bed, or having to lie on my back. I knew about the Community Midwives scheme and decided that their approach – a natural active birth if possible - was the one I wanted. I had a wonderful first pregnancy – despite the nausea, heartburn and back pain – and enjoyed my visits to the midwives, who always had some little nugget of good advice for me.
“I got my first contraction on a Sunday afternoon. It was a full-on contraction. Just like it says in the books it stopped me in my tracks and I had to grab on to the table. I felt remarkably calm and even started burning lavender oil – I had read somewhere it was a good idea! I was just making a cup of tea when another one came, and three minutes later another… I phoned the midwife. I had met her for the first time when she came for a home visit the day before, and had felt at ease with her immediately. As I was talking to her, my husband walked in the door from work. I hadn’t even called him, because I felt so calm and didn’t want to fluster him while he was working!
“The midwife arrived within 20 minutes and took me upstairs for an examination. It was only about an hour after my first contraction and I was already 4 cms dilated. She told us to follow her on into the hospital at our ease. After she left the contractions began to come quicker, and we jumped into the car. I was so grateful there was no traffic because it was a very tough journey. When we parked I couldn’t get out of the car quick enough. My recollection is of stopping every few feet with pain as we made our way the few hundred feet to the hospital, and then up into admissions.
“The midwife met us as we walked towards the birthing suite, and I felt so safe and reassured when I saw her. After that it’s all a bit of blur, as I was beyond talking, but I can recall her urging me on when I felt I had hit the wall and knowing instinctively when I needed to be cooled down. She guided me down on all fours to give birth, and told me when to give it welly! Two pushes and our baby was born. She opened her eyes and stared up at us both. According to my file, it took 15 minutes from the moment I entered the birthing suite
“The baby was bathed. I showered. I fed the baby for the first time. Because it was late on a cold winter’s night I moved down onto a ward. However, I was up and anxious to go home by 9 a.m. the following morning. A midwife called that evening, and another calmed me down that night on the phone when the baby wouldn’t stop crying. They did a lot of reassuring during those first 10 days!”
A’s Home Birth Story
“From the moment I found out I was pregnant with my second child, I decided to attend the community midwives at the National Maternity Hospital. I was strongly contemplating having a home birth but hadn’t discussed this with my husband. Although I was slightly apprehensive myself, I was curious to know how it would be managed; what the criteria were; or if my situation was conducive to a home birth.
“I broached the subject with my partner who was very sceptical. He didn’t believe that a medical procedure such as labour could be properly managed anywhere but in a hospital. He argued that both the baby and I would be better monitored in hospital, that in an emergency situation we would be in a safer environment.
To help make our decision, we spoke to the midwives. They were extremely informative but did not try to influence our decision either way. They explained that our time under their care would not be any different whether we had the baby in hospital or at home.
“This took a great deal of pressure off our decision-making process. Having explained the procedure of a home birth to us, the midwives also ran through the emergency support system. As they are well supported, there was no longer any question or doubts in my mind. They also answered many of my husband’s queries.
“With the exception of two scans, my antenatal care was all carried out in my own home. A midwife would call during a scheduled window of time and do my check-up in my sitting room. My toddler was never excluded from these appointments and he was often allowed to hold the Doppler microphone as the midwife listened to the baby’s heart. I found the inclusion of both my husband and my eldest child to be comforting and natural.
“Late in the pregnancy when both mine, and my baby’s health were deemed suitable, we signed the consent forms presented to us by the midwives. It was explained to us that even though we were booked in for a home birth, we could change our minds at any time and have the baby in hospital. This ‘safety net’ gave us great comfort and encouragement.
“I worried about where in my home that the baby would be delivered. Logically, I thought the bedroom would probably be the most likely room in which the midwives would work. I was informed by one of the midwives at one of my home check-ups, that I wouldn’t know where I was going to have this baby within my home until the labour started. Then, I would ‘nest’, find a comfortable corner and stay there for the duration. She told me not to worry or fuss, that I’d know where I wanted to be when the time was right.
“To prepare, we bought a pack of plastic sheets in a DIY shop (usually used for painting and decorating). We weren’t sure when or where we would use these but thought they may come in handy. We also - under advice of the midwives - had a supply of linen (sheets, towels, etc.) that could be thrown out after the birth if necessary.
“On the days leading up to my due date, I was relaxed. I wasn’t worried about going into labour because I was as prepared as I could be. I wasn’t worried about when to leave the house to make it to the hospital on time, how to beat the traffic during labour, packing suitcases of just-in-case items. I had a small bag with essentials packed, just in case I did have to leave.
My labour began slowly during the night. It progressed in exactly the same manner as my first had done. I knew that I wasn’t going to have a dramatically quick labour so I tried to have as much rest as I could. My sister called during the morning to collect my eldest child and after this, my husband and I were alone to manage the labour. I phoned the hospital to inform the midwives that I was in labour but didn’t feel the need to have anybody present at that time.
“As the morning progressed, my labour became more intense. A midwife called to our house to check on my progress. She was happy that we were content and confident in our home and that we didn’t want to move to hospital. I reassured her that I was doing fine and that I felt I had a few more hours to go. She left, asking us to keep hourly phone contact.
“We did so and during these phone calls, the midwife would ask to talk to me during a contraction. They can tell a great deal by listening to the reaction to a contraction. By early afternoon, the midwife on-duty informed us that she was on her way with a colleague. A home delivery is always attended by two midwives – one to assist the mother and one to assist the infant.
“I had been managing my pain using a TENS machine, breathing, yoga relaxation exercises and visualization. I had indeed found my ‘nest’. The comfy old couch in the sitting room where I had had all my previous check-ups was where I felt I should be. When the midwives arrived, I was relaxed despite the contractions, which were about 4 minutes apart. Only one of the midwives attended to me for the remainder of my labour. She suggested that I walk more, to get the labour moving so to speak. She was in no way pushy – she was encouraging and motivating.
“Two hours after the midwives arrived, my son was born. My attending midwife immediately stepped back and allowed my husband and I to bond with the baby. We spent about twenty minutes in the exact spot where he was born, as I gave him his first feed. This encouraged the expulsion of the afterbirth, which was delivered shortly afterwards.
“The midwife that had attended to me then brought me to the shower and stayed with me while I got changed. The second midwife checked our new son, weighed him and dressed him. By the time I came back from the shower, the baby was dressed, my husband had helped to put the old linen into bin bags and the sitting room looked as normal as always.
“About two hours after I gave birth, the midwives left. I was happy for them to leave, as I felt strong and well. I wasn’t concerned about not having them there to attend to any events that may crop up. Again, we knew that emergency response teams were available should we need them.
“My elder son arrived back from his Aunts an hour later so meet his little brother. The new baby and I slept from 9pm until 8am the following morning. Nothing will compare to waking up in my own bed, with my new baby beside me.”