I knew I was pregnant with my first child Accalia, before any test was taken. I woke up one day around about a week after conception and just felt pregnant. My husband matt didn’t believe me and made me take the test about 5 times. It was our first “try” for a baby.

We are a bit alternative and my first thoughts were to arrange to have the baby at the birth centre. Seeing our alternative inclinations, my very experienced midwife Allison asked if we had considered a home birth. I was a bit dubious at first but the big geek in me got researching various birth stories on the internet.  After reading spiritual midwifery and a lengthy chat with my grandma (who has had 5 natural births) I agreed that a home birth would be best for us.

My pregnancy was pretty straight forward up until the 32nd week. I had some nasty morning sickness and a bit of pelvic pain but I was healthy and everything was ok. I bought the hypno birthing book and also the natal hypnotherapy cds. I also read up on everything I could about natural birth and breastfeeding.

At 32 weeks I woke up in the night with regular pains and tightening that until morning. I wasn’t in agony but I certainly couldn’t sleep. That morning  we went to triage at Calderdale royal who monitored me and confirmed I was having contractions but was not in labour. The doctor advised me that I the pain could be coming from the position of the baby lying low. She did a couple of tests sent me home and advised me to take some paracetamol. After 24 hours the pain and contractions went away.

 After a week or so I had a phone call from my doctors surgery advising me to call them. I contacted my GP and was advised that my test results showed I had an infection. I asked what it was but they said they were unable to disclose over the phone and the usual nurse would could disclose had gone home for the day. They advised me the doctor had left me a prescription at reception. Matt and I went to pick up the prescription from the doctors just before the doctors closing time. We thought it may be thrush medication. I was very surprised when I got there that I had been prescribed antibiotics.  I asked the receptionist again if she could tell me what I had been prescribed the drugs for she advised me she was unable to disclose that information.

When I got home I was furious, giving me medicine without explaining what it was for seemed truly patronising! I called the doctors surgery again and demanded to speak with a doctor . they put me through to one of the doctors who hurriedly told me I had a staph infection and that I had to take the medicine before baby was born to prevent the baby catching my infection. I started taking the antibiotics and did some research online regarding staph infections in pregnancy. It brought up a mix of information. The next morning which happened to be a Saturday, I telephone the community midwife to ask some questions about a staph infection in pregnancy. The  midwife advised me from looking at my notes I DIDN’T have a staph infection, I had group strep B, she informed me of 3 things:

Strep B can be dangerous for newborn babies and is a major cause of infant death

oral antibiotics will not prevent transfer of this bacteria to the baby

I would be having intravenous antibiotics at hospital when I go into labour as this has the highest success rate of preventing the child getting Strep B infection

It was highly unlikely I would give it to Matt.

I was really annoyed now I had been given antibiotics unnecessarily and I politely informed the community midwife that I had planned a home birth. She advised me that I would not be unable to have one. I was devastated and spent the entire weekend researching GBS and homebirths. I loaded myself up on facts, figures and information to take to my midwife that week, expecting a battle.

When I got to my midwife she was really annoyed that the doctor had called me and got me worried, she was also very annoyed that they had prescribed unnecessary antibiotics. And she assured me I could still have a homebirth if I wanted one, and, that intravenous antibiotics are a consideration not a necessity.  I was so relieved! Allison explained that she would do all she could to ensure I got the birth that I wanted and she would have a chat with the consultant to look at different options.

After careful consideration of the facts (I found a lot of information on homebirth.org). We decided that I at the start of my labour once “active” (4cm plus) id be given intravenous antibiotics and then return home for my labour. If I felt I couldn’t travel home at the point and wanted to stay I would be welcome to go downstairs to the birth centre. Following dosages of the antibiotics would be given every 4 hours, (initially the midwives were to do this but their management wouldn’t allow them to administer intravenous drugs at my home birth, hence it was decided that the community nurses would be called at the start of my labour to come to my home to administer the further doses of antibiotics). Both the consultant and a hospital director signed off my birth plan and the apparently I my prescription for intravenous vials (to be kept with my homebirth kit) had been made out and signed by the highest person possible at the hospital. This led to a few raised eyebrows when I visited later on.

I had painless contractions that kept me awake a week before I gave birth, they were quite intense especially the day before I gave birth. The day before my due date 1st august 2011, I got up early at about 6am really needing a big poo. I had a bit of a nasty poop and told matt that I thought today would be the day. Straight after being on the toilet I had contractions they felt like moderate period pains. I put my tens machine straight on. We timed them and they were coming every 5 mins, but were bearable. We went to the birth centre at about 10 am to get checked out. I was shocked to find out I was only 1cm. The midwife gave me a sweep and said baby wouldn’t be coming for a few more days. I begged to differ I knew she would be out that day. We set about going for a walk around town, driving over cobbles and watching TV the contractions got more intense, remaining at every 5 minutes. At about 4pm we called the midwife team out (same lady that had examined me that same morning) she rolled her eyes when she saw me and I said she didn’t think I was in active labour. She examined me and told me I was 5 cm. Time to go to hospital and get my antibiotics. We went to the labour ward and after a few very nasty attempts to get a canula in my arm with no gas and air offered whilst I was trying to sit still during the contractions, the iv was in and the antibiotics administered. Off home we went again.

As soon as I got home the contractions intensified dramatically, at 6.30 pm matt called the midwives to come out to deliver the baby. I still just had my tens machine. At half past 8 there was no sign of the midwives and I had a particularly intense contraction. I felt something come out. Matt called the midwives again (the only time he appeared to get mildly flustered), they had got lost and were on their way. As I was so calm the  midwives thought I was only 6cm, when they examined me I was fully dilated and my intact forewaters had come out of my cervix. They then came completely out of me and hung between my legs intact for the whole birth and even the delivery of the placenta.

The midwives advised me I was ready to push. I told them I did not have an urge to push and I would wait until I got the urge before I started.  It was at this point I looked down and realised I was only using 1 of the 2 pads on my tens machine! I was pretty annoyed with myself for not reading the instructions properly. 2 hours passed and I had no urge to push. The midwives checked babys heart rate and baby was fine but they told me I had to get the baby out soon and start pushing. I told them I would not be pushing but breathing the baby down. I breathed the baby down for about half an hour and Accalia was born at 10.40. No tearing, a little gas and air at the end weighing 7lb 1.5oz all healthy no problems. placenta shortly followed, Accalia immediately latched on. I was up off the bed and in the bath within half hour of giving birth. Whilst I having bath the midwives took away the myriad of toddler bed pads covering my bed and floor, changed my sheets and tidied up. No stains, no mess you wouldn’t have know what had happened half an hour before hand. I had good look at my placenta. All of us had cups of tea and toast and good chat, and within an hour the midwives were off. Matt was exhausted I couldn’t sleep. All I could say is “holy shit ive just had a baby!”. No real medical intervention, no need for top ups of antibiotics, no problems, I just did what women do and have done forever. We had a watch and wait policy regarding the GBS I had to take her temperature every hour or two for first 24 hours, she was fine and did not develop an infection.

I’m pregnant with baby number 2 and have declined testing for GBS and have agreed to a watch and wait policy with the new baby same as before. Ive hired my tens machine again and will read the instructions properly and this time im hoping we will have a more chilled out birth as I won’t be travelling to and from the hospital every few hours. Hypnobirthing did not take all the pain away, but it did keep me calm in control and able to express my wishes during the birth. Also not having any pain relief meant I was up and about very quickly after. From this experience I’ve learnt to trust my body and listen to how it feels and what it wants to do, and to also call midwives out earlier rather than later. Most importantly I’ve learnt that birth isn’t scary its actually quite funny in places, when you have a sack of water swinging between your legs that looks like a giant scrotum. Keeping that sense of humour always helps.