First-time mum Laura shares her incredible home birth,why being mentally strong matters and the importance of having the right team
I woke up Sunday morning with minor period pain and cramping. I remember thinking to myself “is this the start of it? What ride am I in for?”.
The cramps went on for the day coming every few hours. The cramps just felt like a dull ache for 30 seconds or so. I messaged my private midwife Kathleen around lunch to let her know. She told me that I’m probably in early labour and to ignore the pain and go about my day as per normal, which is what I did.
My husband’s parents came over that night for homemade pasta night. At this point, my cramps were intensifying. I would have to take a few breaths through the cramping and hold my stomach. I contacted Kathleen again letting her know how things were going and too asking her at what point do I contact her to come over. She told me when my contractions were 2-4 mins apart lasting 1min. My husband Michael and I got an early night going to bed at 7pm. I remember Michael saying are we going to have a baby in the next few days and I responded with ‘I think we are going to have a baby early tomorrow morning as surely these contractions won’t last a few days’.
After getting into bed they intensified even more. I would need to pull my belly up, breath deeply through them and move around. I tried to sleep between the surges but couldn’t sleep. I got out of the bed and onto the floor on my pregnancy pillow to let Michael sleep as I was moving a lot in the bed. I put my headphones in with relaxing music. At 11 pm Michael woke up and asked how I was- at this point my surges were getting quite uncomfortable and intense. I asked him for a heat pack and to time my contractions as I felt we would need to call Kathleen soon. My surges were 2-4 mins apart and lasting 1 min. I got in the shower to help with the deep burning feeling in my lower abdomen on each surge.
Michael called Kathleen just after midnight and she listened to me have a surge in the shower- at this point I was starting to groan through my surges. Kathleen came over arriving at 1am. When she arrive I was in our theatre room were we had set up with a diffuser, affirmation cards and fairy lights.
I had the ten machine on at this point and a heat pack on my lower abdomen. I then started to vomit after each contraction. I laboured in the theatre room for a few hours then decided to get into the shower at 3 am. At 330 am I got out of the shower and put the tens machine back on. My surges slowed to 5mins apart and I was able to have small naps in between. At 5 am I was using the fit ball to lean on during surges. At 530am I got back into the shower and had a large mucous loss. My midwife told me to leave the pool as late as possible and treat it like an epidural. At 630am my surges were that intense I decided it’s time for the pool. I laboured in the pool for hours and started to get a feeling of pressure like I wanted to poo and bear down I trusted my body and went along with it. I was very vocal moaning and groaning through contractions- my poor Neighbour’s!
My midwife called the second midwife Vanessa as she felt birth was close with the things I was experiencing- so did I! But were we wrong! Vanessa arrived at 9am Monday morning. I remember kneeling in the pool with my arms on the border holding Michaels arms tightly- groaning through contractions and Kathleen was massaging my back. After laboring in the pool for hours until 11am I wanted to change things up and get into the shower. In the shower, I started to feel very intense lower back pain this was awful as I had no break between surges now as I was left with the back pain! It was that intense I wanted to get into the pool again. My surges were regular and intense. I felt the need to bear down at times through my surges.
At 1230pm I got back into the shower. My surges started to space apart so Kathleen suggested I lay down on the mattress and try some side-lying releases to help open my pelvis. Kathleen tried to do an abdominal palpitation to see where baby was sitting but it was too difficult due to my contractions. The side-lying release I was unable to bare it was really uncomfortable so I positioned myself in a squat position propped up by pillows trying to rest in between surges
We put my tens machine back on. At 2pm Kathleen had a chat with me about a plan as birth didn’t seem to be progressing. I’ve had no sleep overnight, I was constantly vomiting between contractions so there was the risk of dehydration and my body was getting fatigued. She gave me the option of going into the hospital for assistance and/or to have pain relief or to stay at home and wait and/or to have a vaginal examination to see where things are at. I chose to stay at home and to have a vagina examination but I don’t want to know the outcome as I didn’t want to be discouraged. The thought of getting into an ambulance and going into hospital while having such intense contractions scared me more than just staying home and letting my body do it.
Kathleen told me after my birth that at that vaginal examination I was 8cm dilated but they couldn’t feel the position of babies head as my water sack was still intact.
For a few more hours I moved from the shower to walking around to the pool. In the pool I kept feeling the urge to bear down – Kathleen suggested I insert my own fingers to feel what was going on- I was able to feel my water sack on each contraction move down
She then suggest I sit backwards on the toilet so I did- after a few surges my waters broke at 5pm. I was so thankful as we thought it wouldn’t be long now. I got off the toilet and labored the rest of the time in our spare room on the mattress. After an hour there was no sign of baby and when I inserted my own fingers I couldn’t feel a head.
Because baby did seem to be coming down Kathleen discussed with me my options- go into hospital to have assistance or stay at home and wait and/or have another vaginal examination to see if babies head was in the right position. I decided to stay at home and have a vaginal examination. Again I asked they not to tell me the findings. After my vaginal examinations, I saw her face looked positive so I asked ‘is it good’ and she said ‘yes you’re fully dilated’.
We decided to try some directive pushing through my surges to get baby down which after a few hours showed little progress. We did another vagina exam which showed things were progressing slowly and I was confirmed fully dilated. My midwives then suggested an in and out catheter as if I had a full bladder it may be stopping baby from coming down- so we did this at 7pm.
At 730pm there was still little progress and my midwives discussed going into hospital to have an assisted birth by vacuum or I could stay home and wait. I wanted to stay home and wait for a little longer. After this conversation, I remember thinking I need to get things moving! I don’t want to go into hospital! The midwives helped me try different positions like assisted squatting where my husband sat in a chair and put his arms under my armpits for me to sit in a deep squat and push- this position really helped me get baby down!
In this position the top of babies head came out and all we could see is brown hair😍
It then took me another few hours to move her down even more. My midwives were a little concerned about the pressure on my perineum and the time it was taking to get her out. Mine and babies heart rate was fine. My midwives discussed with me at 830pm the option of having an episiotomy as there had been no movement- I declined and asked for more time.
I really put my mind to it and pushed through my surges to get her out. I was exhausted!!
I was still vomiting after every contraction- so I had no food or water that had been kept down for 24 hours, I was so tired and I just kept thinking when will this be over! Surely babies coming out soon! I remember thinking I just need to do this- there is no easy way out and there is only one way out so I need to power up and push baby out! Over the next 20mins I changed to a few different positions and then got back into assisted squat as I was making the most progress in this position- within a few minutes in this position babies head came out and Kathleen asked me to drop to all fours to protect my perineum. The whole time they had a warm compress on my perineum.
I dropped to all fours and babies body was born through the next surge at 9pm!!
I remember Kathleen saying pick up your baby- I was in such a daze- relieved, excited, tired, emotional and ‘thank f*** that was over’!!!! I remember my husband Michael saying it’s a boy! But when I picked baby up and looked I said it’s a girl!
The midwives helped me lay down on the mattress. It was sooooo weird to hold my slippery baby! I felt so awkward and unco! I had her laying on me- I couldn’t pull her up too high as my cord was short. My placenta came easily within a few surges. We did delayed cord clamping and Michael got to cut the cord.
My midwives wiped me over and helped me breastfeed. They got me food and a drink. They then assessed my downstairs- I was VERY swollen! They saw I had a stage 2 internal vaginal tear and a few graves. They offered me stitches and explained the pros and cons of having them or not having them. I decided not to have them. I think I was just soooo exhausted and over it and I couldn’t imagine going through more pain to get it stitched. I was also so swollen that it was going to be very hard for them to stitch it. They also discussed putting an overnight catheter in as they didn’t want me getting up out of bed until the morning. I said ok to this. About midnight my midwives left and left me with my husband and my beautiful baby girl. Kathleen would be back in the morning to check on us again
I was so happy with my efforts and so pleased I was able to have a homebirth drug free. It was definitely a mental battle more than anything
The pain is one thing but the hardest thing for me was not knowing when it would end! I never asked for pain relief and I never even considered transferring to hospital- the only thing I ever said to my midwife Kathleen was ‘when do we call it’ and she replied ‘whenever you want to’.
After that I didn’t ever question again I just went with it and stayed mentally strong. My midwives were so supportive through the whole thing they always discussed my options with me and put no pressure on me to make any decisions. They were by my side my whole birth helping and encouraging me! They were constantly supporting and answering Michael’s 101 questions too! We were all a great team! I’ve already told them I’m booking them in for my next births.