A home birth transferred to hospital but still really positive!
This is the birth story of my second son born at the end of February 2013 and weighing ten pounds 8oz. We had hoped for a home birth but he was born in hospital after a transfer by ambulance. However don’t worry it’s still a positive story!
By the time my labour started I was twelve days past my due date. In a last ditch attempt to kickstart things I went for a walk of about two miles mid-afternoon which with my pelvic pain (SPD) was no mean feat. This brought on lots of aches and pains, however it wasn’t clear if this was labour or SPD. I noticed my first discernible contraction at 6.30pm amidst feelings of general achiness.
Unlike Bub (who was back-to-back) this baby was in a more favourable position. However I still felt the contractions mainly in my lower back. But they were different to last time as there was a gap in between contractions where I felt no pain. The SPD achiness remained throughout though.
For a while I was a bit ‘is it? isn’t it starting?’ as the contractions were mild and sporadic. But we packed Bub off to my sister just in case, he left around 8.30pm. By this stage I was sat on my birth ball and knew this was it. Was trying to appear fine in front of Bub was really wanted him out of there before things became more intense.
Once Bub was gone we then called the midwives via the out of hours number. I said that I was coping fine at the moment but wanted to alert them that labour had started. My contractions were around 30 seconds long and coming every 3-5 minutes. I could easily talk through them and was doing fine – it definitely felt more manageable than the early stages of Bub’s birth. My partner started to fill the birth pool. I put on my TENS machine and lit a lavender and clary sage oil burner in the living room. I then went back to my trusty birth ball.
A little later the midwife, Ann, called me. She said she was happy to come out when needed. She was half an hour away and I should call when I felt labour was more established or if my waters broke.
At this stage I was mostly sitting on the birth ball. I was able to be much more mobile than with Bub and could also walk a bit and sometimes leant forward on the ball or over the sofa. I put on a film I’d been saving, Kick Ass, and watched that. Everything felt quite chilled and relaxed, I even had a cup of raspberry tea. My contractions still felt fine, though I now had to focus on them. I started doing my breathing – in for four, out for six. I continued this throughout my contractions from now on.
As the film ended (around 10.30pm?) I turned off the tv and sat in the darkened room mostly on the birth ball. My contractions got more intense and I asked my partner to time them on his iPad so we could inform the midwife. We did this for about an hour. They were mainly 45 seconds long but coming every 2.5-3 minutes. Occasionally they were longer and further apart but this was the general pattern. Changing position tended to lead to a gap and then some longer ones. This was all a bit confusing as I’d expected them to last longer but be further apart, coming closer together as labour progressed. But mine were already pretty close together, albeit only short. This made it quite hard to estimate how far along we were and whether to call the midwife or not.
We called Ann around 11.30pm and updated her on the situation. She said she’d come straight over. I moved position to leaning over sofa and the contractions immediately got more intense. Felt like moved up a gear to ‘challenging’ for first time and I was very glad the midwife was on her way.
Ann arrived around midnight and did various checks on me and the baby. Fortunately he was fine but my blood pressure was high. She said it was too high for a home birth. However Ann said she’d check again shortly and also maybe after a vaginal examination (VE) if I was far on enough I could go in birth pool for 15 minutes as this might help lower the reading to a safer level.
My blood pressure (BP) had been fine throughout pregnancy but rose to borderline at five days overdue. It stayed on or around borderline for the rest of pregnancy and I spent time in the hospital day assessment unit. Here it normalised enough for me to retain the ok for home birth. However in labour my BP spiked up from borderline to high. I’ve no idea of the cause for any of this though I wonder if my fears about labour and in particular being induced played a part.
A bit later (around 1pm?) Ann did a VE and said I was 6cm dilated. I did feel a tad disappointed about this as I had been 3-4cm dilated the previous day.
Ann then got out the gas and air to see if using this reduced my BP but it didn’t. All the BP checks she took were just as high. There was no more talk of using the pool and I have to say I felt no inclination to get in only to have to get out again if we were to transfer. Plus I didn’t want to lose my TENS machine which was proving helpful.
Ann said she’d need to call the delivery suite and get me transferred into hospital. The BP readings were too high. This wasn’t a discussion, it was going to happen. I wasn’t inclined to argue though. It would be a shame not to have Baby at home but I had been disappointed by only being 6cm dilated. If this was going to be a long haul then I consoled myself by deciding to request lots and lots of painkillers ASAP on arrival.
Ann called the delivery suite. However our local hospital was closed due to being too busy so they agreed I would be taken to the other big hospital across the city.
Ann updated my partner who had been upstairs googling high blood pressure in birth. He’d pretty much figured we’d be transferring into hospital and was packing a few things. I had done a hospital bag and baby bag but he had the foresight to grab stuff like our coats, purses and my glasses which weren’t packed. My main concern was whether my partner would be able to travel in the ambulance with me (he was).
The ambulance arrived in what felt like a quick time but was probably about 1.30am. I’d been using the gas and air and sitting on the sofa rocking back and forwards. The contractions felt strong and frequent. I was pretty sanguine about going to hospital, I resolved to seek an epidural as things were now very painful and I felt it might still be some time as I was only 6cm dilated and my waters hadn’t broken.
I walked to the ambulance between contractions. I felt a bit like I needed to use the toilet but I didn’t want the pain of trying to do this without entonox and things were all very efficient and bustling once the ambulance arrived so I had no real chance to do this.
In the ambulance I lay on my right side on a stretcher, sucking on entonox for dear life. Fortunately the ambulance was equipped and my midwife ensured the supply was immediately available. I couldn’t reach my TENS to boost it so I had to leave this and instead focused on the gas and air.
I had all kinds of odd thoughts on route in the ambulance. I was worried that when we arrived I’d have a long way to walk and that we’d have to go sit in a waiting room before being allocated a hospital room. I also worried I’d have to fill in loads of paperwork before being ‘allowed’ to labour. All a bit mad but there we go – in hindsight I think this was transition but also highlights the need to be informed about the home to hospital transfer process if only to put aside any worrisome doubts.
Throughout the journey I had a niggling feeling of needing a wee and poo. This wasn’t a pushy feeling but a vague awareness during contractions. I was aware enough not to want to soil myself in ambulance and felt unsure how I’d cope having to use loo very soon after getting to hospital.
The journey was very quick, I’m grateful that it was in the middle of the night. My partner had his hand on my head and was holding a lavender air freshener which was a smell I associate with relaxation. Imagine he looked like a bit of a banana wafting it about but it was very thoughtful of him to bring it.
Once we arrived (around ten past 2am) I was pushed straight into a delivery room on the ambulance stretcher. Still sucking on entonox this was all rather surreal as we rushed through a deserted waiting room.
In the delivery room I had to stand to move from the stretcher to the bed but just at this point my waters broke during a contraction. My clothes were all soaked and I was helped to pull off my trousers.
I lay on my right hand side on the bed and everything was all very intense now. I asked for an epidural and was told it was too late. I felt mortified – could I be pushing for ages or getting interventions with no pain relief? However the next push someone said I was going to have the baby very soon and lifted my top leg. They weren’t wrong. In no more than three or four pushes my baby was out. I was screaming. I was in a lot of pain but also euphoric it might be over soon.
Baby was born at 2.20am. It all happened so fast the ambulance men were still in the room for the birth, plus Ann my midwife who was only there to ensure successful transfer. My second stage was recorded on my notes as being four minutes long. I feel rather fortunate it didn’t all happen in the ambulance (or maybe at home if I had followed my instincts and gone to the loo before transfer!)
Baby gave a cry and was lifted onto my tummy. Because of the high blood pressure Ann had explained earlier that they recommended I have the injection to bring out the placenta. My partner cut Baby’s cord almost immediately and he was taken to one side for examination. I had the injection and my placenta came out quickly and easily. A little later my BP was taken again and was NORMAL! It remained normal for every check after this point.
Soon Baby was handed back to me (in a nappy, which I hadn’t requested and is actually the only bit of the process that I wasn’t happy about.) We had a cuddle and I soon latched him on for a feed. When weighed he was 10 pounds 8oz (this large size was anticipated as his brother was 10 pounds 2oz.)
All in all I consider this to be a positive birth story even if it did involve a hospital transfer. The whole transfer to hospital went very smoothly and wasn’t a negative experience at all. It would have been lovely if Baby had arrived at home but my experience of hospital was completely fine. We were there for about 14 hours and came home at 4pm on the day Baby was born. The only sad thing was that my partner had to leave us when we went to the ward so from 5am to 9am he had to hang around the waiting room downstairs.
Hope this birth story is of interest and shows that even hospital transfer doesn’t necessarily prevent a positive birth experience. I’m still very pleased I tried for a home birth as my early labour was no doubt helped by me being more relaxed (and I imagine my BP was helped a bit too.) But having to transfer was totally fine and I’m grateful to have had the assistance of the midwives, ambulance crew and everything else when required.