Monday, May 2, 2011

Confessions of a Mom who had Nice Hospital Births

© Mairi Kerr 2011. Mairi provides perspective on how even mothers with “nice” hospital experiences can deepen their relationships with a peaceful homebirth:

“The births of my first two sons were ‘nice’ experiences. They were both born in my local community midwife unit, which is attached to the Royal Alexander Hospital in Paisley.  I had never considered that a home birth would be an option. I just assumed that babies were born in hospital.  Then about 21 months ago while suffering from thrush breastfeeding my then 4 month old I stumbled across the ‘Hey Facebook, breastfeeding is not obscene!’ group on Facebook: (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2517126532).

It was here where I gained access to all sorts of birthing and parenting information.  During that time two women who I have came to admire and respect very much, Alison and Emma (of the Human Milk 4 Human Babies Global Network: http://www.facebook.com/hm4hb) shared their wonderful home birth experiences.  This made me realise that there are alternatives to hospital. Although my previous experiences and been nice, the idea of giving birth in my own home made a lot of sense to me. I was really excited at the idea as Roan is my last baby and I wanted the best experience possible for everyone involved. My mum and husband who had been present at my previous births very much opposed to it at first worrying about what could go wrong.  I had plenty of information at hand to prove to them that it was the safest place to have a baby and my midwifes were also very good in explaining everything to them and were also very excited as they don’t attend that many homebirths. 

Roan was due on Sunday the 11th of April and as I had given birth on my due date both times before I was expecting to do the same again.  My birthday is the 10th of April so I had planned to go for a birthday lunch with my husband and then a nice long walk to bring on my contractions.  Alex, my middle son, contracted chicken pox on the 7th of April so being at home made even more sense as I didn’t have to leave my poorly boy and go to hospital and it also meant I didn’t have to get him up and out to babysitters in the middle of the night if I went into labour.

On Thursday the 8th of April my mother in law had taken Ethan (my four year old) out for the day and I stayed home with a very poorly toddler.  In the afternoon Alex was very distressed and uncomfortable with his chicken pox.  I decided to put him in his buggy and take him for a walk to try and cool him down and get him to sleep.  I must have walked for about an hour pushing him around.  My midwife actually drove by me on her rounds and joked that if I kept walking I would go into labour.

I went to bed around 9.30pm that night but at 10pm, Alex woke up and came into bed with me.  His chicken pox made him very restless and he kept kicking my bump.  I went down stairs with a duvet to sleep on the couch.  I lay on the couch for about an hour when I started getting a backache.  Unable to sleep, I switched on the laptop and messed about on Facebook for a while.  At this point I thought it was just Braxton hicks as it was not that painful, so I was not thinking I was going into labour.  At 12.30pm the twinges were 4 minutes apart so I decided it was time to switch off the computer and think about waking up my husband.  I woke him up and told him I think something might be happening but I still wasn’t convinced it was the real deal (you’d think 3rd time round you’d know!!)

We put a CSI on the TV but I kept losing the story line because of the contractions.  At 1am I decided to call the midwives to let them know I was getting regular contractions.  I called the hospital and spoke to Yvonne, one of midwifes in my team.  She asked if she should send out the two midwives who were on call for me and I said, “Perhaps we should leave it an hour.” She knew better and said that 3rd babies are fast and that she should send them now. 

At this point, I was walking through the contractions, but they were completely bearable.  At 1.30pm the contractions started getting slightly stronger and I started rocking on my birthing ball in the living room while Anton massaged my back with oils prepared by the midwifes which contained lavender, orange and rose essence.  It felt really good and helped me mange the contractions. Around this time we also turned the telly off and put my ipod on to listen to the Rolling Stones.

At 2am the midwives and my mum arrived. They got all the equipment out and listened to the baby’s heartbeat.  Anton then made them a cup of tea and they sat back and allowed me to continue rocking through the contractions with Anton massaging my back.  It felt really good that I was listening to my body and doing what I felt I needed to do while in labour.  From 2am till 3am I walked, rocked and breathed through the contractions with the midwives listening to the heartbeat and checking my pulse but not intruding in any other way. 

At 3 am I wanted my pajama bottoms off so at that point we put a plastic sheet and a duvet on the living room floor.  Alex also woke up again because of his chicken pox and my mum was able to go up to my bedroom and look after him, which was great.  My contractions were becoming more intense and I told the midwives I was ready to start on the gas and air.  They started getting the equipment out and discovered the regulator was missing and they had to get another one sent from the hospital so there was no pain relief for me for the next half an hour!

At 3.30 am I was sick, which I knew was a good sign that it was nearly time for my baby to be born. About 15 minutes after that my waters broke and there was grade one meconium in it. This is the least serious meconium and the midwives were not concerned about it, so I had no pressure to transfer. At a quarter to 4am, I started getting a lot of pressure in my bottom and I started losing a bit of control. I swore at Anton a couple of times and told him I hoped his balls would hurt when he got the snip! 

I started on the gas and air at this point, which helped my focus on using my contractions to birth my baby. I also stopped rocking on the ball and went on my hands and knees to rock.  I sort of lost it and fell into it. My body took over and I was involuntarily pushing. I could feel my son moving down the birth canal and I knew he’d be here soon. I pushed a couple of times while Anton continued to massage my back. 

At 4.12 am Roan came out in one push and landed between my legs. I looked down, saw my baby boy for the first time and picked him up.  It was an incredible moment and I felt totally euphoric.  I held my son as my placenta was delivered shortly after. Once the blood had stopped pulsing, Anton cut the cord and held his son for the first time. 



At around this point my mum came down with Alex and he met his new brother, which was brilliant.  My mum made tea and toast for everyone and the midwives sat back and had a cup of tea.  They then cleaned everything up and left at 6am. Everything in the house looked normal except now a new member of my family was here.  

Ethan woke up shortly after 6am and came down for a cuddle with Roan and my whole family sat on the couch not really sure what to do except just stare at my new little miracle.  I think I announced it on Facebook around then. After that Roan and I went to bed. It felt so nice getting into my own bed with my newborn. We stayed in bed until 10 am then I got up and hung out my washing and shouted over the fence to my neighbour that the baby had arrived. It was surreal!

Roan’s birth was the most magical, perfect experience. Anton is a complete convert to homebirth. He said he felt so much more involved and useful then at the hospital were there he had felt a bit of a spare part and in the way of the midwives. 

It felt so natural and right having Roan at home and I felt very much empowered by not having any internal exams and not being told how I was progressing or when to push.  As the midwives took a step back it felt very intimate between Anton and I, almost as if it was just the two of us. 

If I ever did have another baby I would be tempted to have a free birth (unassisted birth) as I can now certainly see the appeal.  Listening to my body and giving birth on my terms in familiar surroundings is one of the best things I have ever done.  I wish people could understand this instead of thinking I’m crazy.  A woman’s body is designed to birth our children and I truly understand that now.”

3 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your story! I just had my first child eight months ago. Thanks to my doula’s encouragement I switched from an OB to a Midwife. My hospital experience was “nice” too. After having my son, and realizing what my body can do, I want to have a home birth for my next child!!! Thanks again for your inspiration!

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  2. I so know how you feel! I have had three perfect textbook hospital births, but I can't help but feel like something is missing. I think it's the hormones and endorphins! and the rest afterward (bothersome nurses). I can't wait to have a home birth!

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  3. I had a "nice" hospital birth as well, and instantly saw the value in a home birth, even unassisted births. Unfortunately our plans to DIY with our second did not work out due to complications, but thankfully I had a second "nice" hospital birth. I will never have my home birth, but someday I hope to support home birthing moms either as a doula or midwife.

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