My Birth Story, the Home, Water Hypnobirth of Dexter Louie, born at 21.55 on Friday 28th January 2011 weighing 8lbs 3oz
Our first baby was due 16th January 2011. I never quite felt ready for labour and birth. They both scared the hell out of me and I was relieved when my due date arrived and I was still pregnant! Due to my nervousness, we had done lots of preparation as I felt I needed to be ready for what was to come. I hate needles and hospitals so decided the best place for giving birth would be our kitchen.
We’d taken a Hypnobirthing course as I tend to panic about things so hoped it would keep me calm. We looked into having a Doula but decided against it in the end. I’d also had acupuncture from 37 weeks to ‘prepare’ my body for labour so didn’t expect that I’d go 12 days over my EDD.
I’d already discussed induction with my consultant at 2 days overdue and he agreed to not inducing me. He was relaxed about this but still I was getting more distraught, at the thought of not getting my homebirth. I’d practised so much Hypnobirthing breathing, kept myself fit and eaten well. Even though I realised I couldn’t be forced to go to hospital, I still felt the pressure, feeling like I was backed into a corner with the clock ticking. I’d been chatting and getting support from a lovely Doula called Lisa, mostly over Facebook and BabyCentre and at 41+2, she asked me to call her as I was getting more and more anxious and she gave me a good talking to! After speaking to Lisa for an hour, she had made me feel so calm that I texted her and said why hadn’t she made me use her as my Doula right from the start? She replied, saying I still could, as her January client had given birth a few days before and she sorted everything from there. She came over to visit us that night, talked about how we wanted the birth to go (although we’d spoken so much she pretty much knew anyhow), read our birth plan, answered our questions and reassured me I could still get the homebirth I wanted. From then on, I felt a whole lot more relaxed about it.
At 10 days overdue, just before a sweep with my MW, I lost my plug and at midnight on the beginning of Day 12 overdue (41+5), I knew something was happening. I started having surges and waters were trickling. They turned out to be hind waters. By 2am I decided that I couldn’t sleep through them and went to sit on the loo to help with the pressure in my lower back. I was still calm and shouted Stevie to let him know something had started.
My method of ‘breathing’ through them involved hanging out of the bedroom window, it was freezing but I needed it to be, then moving back to the bed for a rest in between. I was timing each one on my laptop. It got to around 5am and I decided that it would probably be a good time to text Lisa and let her know I was in labour. And around 6.30am I called my mum. They both arrived and Stevie and I carried on with hanging out of the window and moving back to the bed in between. Lisa and my Mum sat downstairs leaving us to it but checking on us from time to time.
I was meant to have an appointment at the Ante Natal Daycare Unit at 10am for monitoring and also, my own MW, who was working in the Midwife Led Unit just round the corner from the day unit, was coming to find me after my monitoring to give me another sweep. I was pleased to avoid both of these and Stevie called to cancel them and let my MW know I was in labour.
Surges began to come faster and harder and whilst hanging out of the window, breathing through another, I saw my MW and her student arrive. She did her usual checks and after giving instructions to not get in the pool until I’d been examined again, they left, telling us they’d be back in a few hours but to call if anything changed in the meantime. I’m sure she thought I was in very early labour.
Around 12ish, I felt I needed more help getting through each surge. They were really close together, as they remained through most of the rest of labour, so I thought that getting into the pool, which Stevie had filled a few hours earlier, might help. I asked Lisa if she thought this would be a good idea and she said to go for it, if I thought it would help and that I could always get back out if not. The pool was lovely and warm and comfortable, it seemed to regulate my long surges, they became much shorter and we carried on in the quiet, dark kitchen until around 2pm-ish when the MW and student came back. She wasn’t so happy that I’d got into the pool but after examining me and I think being a bit surprised to find I was a good 6cm dilated, that my BP and baby’s heartbeat were ok, she left us to it and sat in the living room with Lisa and my mum. I carried on being calm and quiet, breathing through the surges. Stevie used Light Touch massage and anchoring on my back and Lisa lit candles and put on music that I think gave me something to focus on. I felt quite emotional and upset at knowing how many cm’s dilated I was although I’m not sure why. I wished I hadn’t been told.
My MW didn’t seem at all comfortable with this type of birth and didn’t appear to understand the principles of Hypnobirthing either, as she was quite loud and refused to allow me to labour in peace. It seemed to worry her that I was calm and could cope quite well with only breathing to help me. She seemed worried that I needed to let her know when she could listen in to baby’s heartbeat as I needed all my concentration to get through each surge and stay in the zone. I asked for Lisa to stay in the room with us as I felt like I needed more support so the MW didn’t totally put me off my thing!
I didn’t know this at the time, but my MW had said that she thought it would all be over by the time she was due to finish her shift at 4pm.
She had to handover to a new MW though and things appeared to slow down due to the comings and goings of more MW’s, including the Supervisor of Midwives who announced her arrival by shouting “Oh what a lovely atmosphere” as she came through the door. Yes, it was lovely, until you walked in love! The timing of all the MW’s arriving couldn’t have been worse and I was aware of people coming in and out of the front door or going upstairs to use the loo. Stevie was summoned into the living room at some point, leaving me to breathe through my surges with Lisa helping me. He then stood up to 4 MW’s, who were suggesting that I’d said I didn’t want any monitoring at all, which wasn’t the case. I just needed to let them know when I was able to lift my bump out of the water to check the heartbeat and mid surge seemed to have been the time the MW had always wanted to check it.
It would have been so much easier if they’d brought a waterproof doppler as it was known I was having a waterbirth. I think this put me off my stride even though I wasn’t being harassed to be monitored as the new MW, understood what we were trying to do and allowed me to tell her when there was a tiny break in surges to allow her to check the baby’s heartbeat. Each time I shoved my bump up out of the water, Chris tried to find the heartbeat and I’d have to cut it short and bob back into the water as another surge came from nowhere.
Labour continued for a whole lot longer than we’d expected now. Kettles of boiling water were constantly being emptied into the pool to keep the temperature. And up until around 8ish, I couldn’t see an end to it. Then I felt his head. Or what I thought was his head. It was VERY smooth and rubbery and bald! As each surge passed, I carried on feeling for his ‘head’ and realised that perhaps it wasn’t his head afterall and decided my waters hadn’t gone. Waters kept bulging but I couldn’t imagine they were ever going to break as the pressure was so intense. I thought maybe it may speed things up a touch if my waters were broken and the MW had a feel and decided that baby’s head was in the right position to break them so didn’t bother and as she moved away I felt a trickle and knew they’d gone. I felt for the head this time and announced that “He has fur!!!” I had expected him to be bald as Stevie is!
The last couple of hours were lovely. His head moved down ready to be born quickly but he still wasn’t popping out. The pressure grew more intense and I felt like he was teasing me by coming further out and then as the surge passed, popping back. At this point, I turned on the comedy act as I was getting impatient and asked if everyone in the room just wished I’d hurry up! But everyone just chuckled and made me feel a bit better – I did feel a little bit guilty for keeping everyone waiting. I carried on breathing him down. Breathing became harder and I managed the exhalation ok but struggled to catch my inhalation. Lisa breathed with me and helped me focus each time. Eventually, I decided I needed some energy to make more progress as I’d not eaten all day. I asked for chocolate. My mum produced Cadbury’s Freddo’s and Lisa broke little bits off and fed them to me as I stuck my beak up and out of the pool!
I made more progress, slowly breathing down and eventually asked if they could see what I could feel. A little head! The Student MW held a torch and they could see the top of his head. I realised that he seemed to like the light and it actually felt like he was moving towards it so with the spotlight on him, I eventually breathed him out into the pool, his little face eyes open, his right hand up around his face, the rest of his body slithered out and Stevie caught him.
Not-so-little Dexter Louie was born at 21.55 and later when the MW’s weighed him we found he was 8lbs 3oz…NOT the tiny baby my MW had been expecting!
Lisa helped me to turn around as I’d been on my knees leaning on the side of the pool, we had skin to skin and Stevie jumped in too. He also cut the cord once it had stopped pulsating after around 20 mins.
The placenta delivered an hour and half later after a physiological 3rd stage into the loo. It hadn’t shown signs of budging until a walk upstairs. For some weird reason I was quite fascinated by the placenta and watched and asked strange questions about this bloody lump as the MW examined it.
Lisa had run me a bath and then I jumped in the shower, although I’d had quite enough of water after being in the pool for 11 hours. The bed had also been prepared, again by Lisa and all 3 of us could get in and have more skin to skin.
The MW’s, Lisa, my Mum and my Dad all left and we were left to figure out what to do with a little baby!