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Joanne's Story

Drew was born on 22 December 2009. He was 11 days late. I was so relieved when he finally came. Drew is my second child. I already have Dylan now 4. Dylan was induced 3 weeks early due me having obstetric choleostasis. Although a safe delivery and positive overall, it was very medical due to being induced, being therefore attached to drips and monitors. I wanted this time to have a very different experience. We planned to have a water birth at home which was fully supported by my community midwife. All the way through my pregancy I was sure (with the suggestion from the midwife) that Drew would be born early as Dylan was. I was also told by the midwife that Drew was a small baby, 6lb ish she said. Anyway as I said at the beginning he was late. He was due on 11 December and I was hoping he was not going to be too late purely to cope with christmas with a 4 year old! As time went on past my due date I became increasingly anxious that if he did not arrive i was facing being induced at Christmas. I'd had a few days where I had period type pains and hoped that this might be a sign, but this would usually be at night and by the morning was gone. I had heard that reflexology can help bring on labour so I had a session when I was 40 weeks and 6 days (thursday). I saw the midwife at 41 weeks (friday). She did a membrane sweep which was uncomfortable and did result in a 'show' but no baby. Arrangments were made for me to be induced if he did not arrive of his own accord. Because I would be 42 weeks on christmas day, i was told to go in to the hospital on christmas eve. I was anxious about this believing I would end up in hospital over christmas (when I was induced with dylan I ended up being in hospital 3 days, 2 nights). However the midwife at this time she was saying I think this baby will come over the weekend. I also had a second reflexology session on the saturday, still no baby. By monday I was getting very anxious that I would again be induced so I rang the midwife first thing. She came out and did another membrane sweep which was very painful and resulted in me bleeding quite heavily and being in pain most of the day. On this occasion she said that she beleived the baby was small and was not pressing on my cervix and was unlikely to stimulate labour of his own accord. I said that I did not want to go into hospital on christmas eve as there was too much chance I would be in hospital over christmas and that I was not prepared to leave Dylan. Arrangements were therefore made for me to go and be induced on weds 23 December with the hope that i would be home on christmas eve on the basis that second labour is usually quicker. I pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I would not get to have a home birth and would face being induced. I went about the day as planned visiting friends and thought little more of it. It is probably worth saying that I had been using clary sage oil in the bath, on pillows everywhere since my due date to try and bring on labour and had tried all the old wives tales about activities that bring on labour!!

On Monday night I went to bed feeling uncomfortable and ignored it as I'd been uncomfortable all day due to the sweep and with the words of the midwife in my head that the baby was too small to stimulate labour. However lying down made me very uncomfortable indeed. After a little while the discomfort was not a straightforward dull ache, but was more like waves of cramp. I got a little excited but did not believe I was in labour. I said to my partner I would walk around to relieve the pain but that he might as well get some sleep as he was on an early shift the next day. This was at midnight ish. By 1am the cramps were more rythmic but i still did not belive I was in labour so I looked on the internet at various things, paid bills, read books and generally pottered about still ignoring the signs of increasingly regular contractions. During this time i was able to walk around and manage the contractions easily. By 3am I was having very definite contractions every 5 minutes lasting 1 minute each. As I had reached the point of no longer being able to walk around during the contraction I finally accepted that I was in labour and perhaps should wake my partner and phone the midwife. I coped with the contractions at this stage quite easily by just standing still and breathing. I found blowing the most effective, 'as if blowing hot soup' as Nerissa would say. I woke my partner to tell him the good news and to get him to fill the birth pool up. I rang the bed bureau to say i thought I might be in labour 'but wasn't sure' I know that sounds daft given the regularity of the contractions and the fact that I was no longer able to walk around when they occured but I was still hearing the midwife's words and was fearful of them saying oh no you're not in labour! Thankfully they agreed it sounded like I was in labour and they would get a midwife to ring me to assess whether she should come out or wait. When the midwife rang I was mid contraction and unable to speak, this to her was a sign of labour being established and she was on her way. She arrived at 3.30 am.

The midwife was fantastic. I hadn't met her before but she made me feel I was in safe hands. She explained she would need to examine me, take blood pressure and listen to baby's heart beat. I was aware that any complications would result in a transfer to hospital and that I was not able to get into birth pool until it was established that everything was ok. She took my blood pressure with a wrist cuff which indicated that my blood pressure was high, too high to stay at home. I asked if she would do it again with a 'proper' guage, as when I was pregant with my first child the wrist cuffs never gave a reliable reading. She obliged but after many unsucessful attempts we concluded her sphig was broken. The midwife was so patient though and did not make any impulsive decisions to transfer to hospital. She instead said she would do all of the other checks and then decide together. She did an internal examination and said I was 5 centimetres dilated, progressing to more than 7 during each contraction. She also said my waters were likely to break at any point and that she expected if this happened that the labour would progress quickly. She said that she would get the second midwife to come out, bring a working sphig and make a decision then about whether it was safe to stay at home. Contractions were becoming more intense during this time and I had reached the point where it was unbearable to stand up when they occurred. I found lying over the birth ball the most confortable moving back and forth, still using the blowing breathing during contractions. When the second midwife came she said my blood pressure was still high, they said that they would work with me to get it down and helped with some visualisation. I have to say I did not feel anxious before but the visualisation, but perhaps the support of the midwives did something to help as the next time they took my blood pressure It was down to a safe level and they said I could get in the pool - hooray!!!! You may wonder why I have not mentioned my partner before now - well that is because the poor bloke spent all of his time filling up the pool - it takes a long time!!! He popped in every now and again to use the shiatsu techniques we had learned on the course. These were helpful early on but at the contractions became more intense were not helpful. In fact him touching me just irritated me (sorry!!). Don't be put off tho. In labour with my first child, the shiatsu was invaluable - so each pregnancy and labour is different.

Anyway - I was relieved at finally being able to get into the pool. However the pool has to be at 37 degrees for labour and the water in the pool was too cold. I was devastated and have to admit I burst into tears. The midwives and Luther were great tho. They worked so hard boiling kettles and pans of water to get the temperature right. (what a night for our boiler to fail us!!) Whilst they were working on the water temperature I used a bit of gas and air. However I over heard the midwives discussing how long the cylinder of entenox would last - half an hour. I remember thinking well that's no good, what if I need it later? what if I don't like the pool? So I refused to use it again just in case i needed it later!! I just rocked on the ball and breathed as best I could. The midwife was great, reminding me to breath slowly if I seemed to be getting worked up. My waters finally broke too, funny sensation like a balloon being blown up and popping. I was already feeling a need to push quite strongly with the contractions resulting in increase pressure in my bottom!

When the pool was finally ready it was such a relief. The water really does provide instant pain relief. It was amazing, contractions became strangely bearable. I just lay in the water thinking 'Yes, this is easy'!! time progressed to 7 am and I sent my partner next door to ask our neighbours to have Dylan when he woke up. Whislt Luther was next door the widwife expressed her concern about my contractions, they had pretty much stopped and I was lying almost horizontal in the pool, feling realy quite spaced out. In my head I was releived they had stopped and would have happily laid there all day!! She said though it was not good and that i would either need to move or get out of the pool. There was no way I was getting out so I did as she suggested and came up onto my knees. Almost immediately I had a contraction and could feel the baby's head coming. I'd be lying if I said this didn't hurt, but the water helped and so did blowing . One of the midmives ran out into the street to find Luther who was still at the neighbours!!! Drew's head emerged, it was an amazing event, I could not beleive my eyes. It is weird looking down and seeing the head, moving too. I asked repeatedly 'is he ok'? 'are you sure, he is moving'?. I was reasurred repeatedly that he was fine and that so long as I did not touch him or lift out of the water he would not breath under the water. I was just encouraged to push as hard as I could at the next contraction and push him out. The next contraction seemed to take forever and I was mesmorised by this little head turning from side to side. I remember the midwife saying 'are you going to lift the baby to the surface when he comes out'? and thinking to myself 'who is she talking to, no one is touching my baby except for me'. She asked me again and I suddenly realised she was talking to me!! It was a bizzare sensation. The next contraction came and I pushed as hard as I could, this wasn't so much painful as frustrating - I desperately wanted him out. I was making a very strange growling sound but was told by the midwife to take a deep breath, hold it and push as hard as i could. This seemed counter to what the yoga had taught me but believe me at this stage it worked. Next contraction Drew was fully out. I brought my beatiful snuffly baby to the surface. I had been prepared by the community midwife that often babies born into water don't cry because it is a calm arrival for them and as she said, Drew did not scream and cry - just snuffled. It was an amazing emotional experience and he just lay on my shoulder. With that one of the midwives spotted that Dylan had arrived down stairs so he met his brother within minutes of his arrival. It was perfect!!!

The midwives suggested that i get out of the pool to deliver the placenta. They said this would be warmer as the water temperature was dropping. My living room was covered in shower curtains and towels. They estimated that the placenta would take 20-30 mintues to come away. However no sooner had I got out of the pool and stepped onto the kitchen floor, it literally fell out!! what a mess. Amazingly (to me anyway) before this happened there was no blood at all, the pool was perfectly clear i could not beleive it. I'd imagined it would be very messy.

The midwives took me into the living room and weighed Drew, remember I said I was told he was a small baby 6ish lb, well he was 8lb 9!!!! A bit of a shock. My community midwife was apparently the butt of many jokes as the midwife who delivered Drew is in the same team and ribbed her about it.

I was examined and encouraged to use the gas and air at this point which made me rather giddy. Thankfully I did not need a single stitch. That raspberry leaf tea and perineal massage really does work!!!!!

The birth of Drew was a truely amazing experience for me, for him and for his dad and brother meeting him so soon. Very calm. Although I did not see a lot of my partner because he was busy with the pool I was in my own world a lot of the time and just needed to really concentrate on my breathing. I was fairly clear I did not want anyone else present but if you want your partner to be more involved if you choose a home water birth then you might want someone else to fill up the pool (and make sure your boiler is working effectively!).

The midwives were amazing, they could have taken the easy option on that very cold and frosty night and transferred me to hospital when my blood pressure was high. They didn't tho, they worked with me and fully supported me. I think being able to be clear about what I wanted helped too, saying I did not believe the wrist cuff was reliable too helped - have the confidence to say what you think.

I've only ever wanted two children and now have my two beautiful boys, but you know what, I've considered a third because the experience was so amazing, so watch this space......

Joanne