Throughout my pregnancy, I was told by my midwives that even if I booked a home birth, there may be no midwives available to attend me at home. I wrote a letter to the supervisor of midwives stating that I expected to be supported for a home birth and added that women in my family are usually pregnant at least 42 weeks. This began our empowering journey of advocating for our right to a home birth even if we went ‘overdue’.
I always knew my baby would be ‘late’. I disagreed with the due date predicted by my three month scan and thought my actual ‘forty week mark’ was about twelve days later. When I declined a ‘stretch and sweep’ and induction at 41 weeks, I was referred to a consultant who was surprisingly supportive and said that twenty years ago I wouldn’t have been induced, so it was my decision. The hospital offered additional monitoring which I declined since I felt going into the hospital would increase the pressure on me to be induced. I was constantly aware of every kick in the womb, which was more reassuring to me than any scan could be. My mantra (from an AIMS booklet ) was, ‘Right to support for birth at home or in hospital are unchanged no matter how long your pregnancy has been!’
When I was seventeen days overdue, my doula invited me to a zumba class. The instructor danced with me saying, ‘Let’s get that baby out tonight! Show off your beautiful bump!’
Act 1: The first stage of labour
The next morning, I had a bloody show. I felt sensations low down in my body, but it didn’t occur to me that I was in labour. I walked home that afternoon with all my shopping and felt the sensations each time I stopped at a cross walk.
By 5:30pm the contractions were every two to three minutes and we asked our doula to come over. She suggested we put the TENS machine on and I found it really helpful for feeling in control of the contractions.
Act 2: The second stage
At about 8:30pm, I knew it was time to call the midwives after I had a good cry and threw up. I’d been keeping the birth pool as my incentive for pain relief and looked forward to getting in. When the first midwife arrived our doula had her read our birth plan before entering the birth space. I was in the pool for about 45 minutes and then got out after the midwives said our baby’s heartbeat was getting high.
I kneeled facing our couch with husband holding my hands. I was there for about 35 minutes when the midwives announced the head was out. My first thought was, ‘No, it can’t be, it’s just gotten hard now so there must be hours and hours still to go’. I chose not to have vaginal examinations so I wouldn’t know how far (or not far) along I was and to have no directed pushing. I felt no distinction between contractions and pushing, so had pushed him out without even realising it! Our baby was born at 10:25 with his water sac unbroken. The cord was short so the midwife cut it once it stopped pulsating and I was able to bring him up to my breasts and look into his newborn eyes.
Act 3: The third stage
My husband and I were in such shock that the labour was over so quickly and the baby was here, that we let our guard down a bit and left things to the midwives. Everything became very rushed as I focused on delivering the placenta naturally which took about an hour. Thankfully our doula was there with constant support and encouragement.
After the placenta came out; I was examined by the midwives who said I had a minor tear. During this time my husband was with our baby downstairs having skin to skin time with him. The midwives said we needed to transfer to the hospital for stitches. In hindsight, I could have asked for them to send a midwife who was willing to do stitches at home, but after giving birth, we were tired and this didn’t occur to my husband and me. Finally around 2:30am, we went to sleep in our own bed, looking forward to sharing the long awaited news of our son’s arrival with our very patient friend and family.