The Birth of Thamar Linnet

An unassisted homebirth…

The due date was 22/03/11 but Thamar Linnet (my first and preferably only child!) was born at 37 weeks.
I went to antenatal appointments up to 25 weeks (for the paperwork, e.g. MATB1) but told my midwife I wasn’t coming back. I agreed to a consultant appointment. Listened to what both of them had to say and ignored it all and reiterated that I planned to have an unassisted homebirth.
I had several reasons for this – firstly I’m not a sociable person and I don’t want extra people in my house (even if they’re not in the room) during what could be a stressful time. Also, I believe that in a healthy, well-informed woman, pregnancy and childbirth are normal physiological events. Sex is also risky (e.g. some people die of heart attacks), but nobody calls a nurse for the event. Plus I don’t see what it has to do with anyone else; they weren’t present for the conception and I didn’t want them at the birth! Besides, I live 5 minutes from the MLU/A&E.
I had been doing Optimum Foetal Positioning from 34 weeks, and was fairly confident the baby was LOA (which she was).
My husband split up with me last April (actually before the baby was [accidentally] conceived, so not a clean break to begin with!) but didn’t move out till two weeks after she was born. He was in the living room, not actually watching the birth.
My waters broke some time in the early morning of 28/02/11, so I cleaned up and went back to bed. Had a normal morning; nothing else happened until mid-afternoon of that day, when contractions started. I went to meet my husband at the bus station at about 5pm as he’d forgotten his coat that morning and it was cold. The rest of the evening I spent on the computer, including watching the newest episode of One Born Every Minute on 4oD. I found it quite amusing as it was so far from what I was doing!
Mid-late-evening I went into the bathroom to labour, walking around and swinging my hips. I took in an old chair cushion (one that covers the entire chair so fairly large but thin and flexible). At about 22:45 I told my husband that I was having the baby (he hadn’t noticed anything, even though I’d been in the bathroom so long!) and to just stay in the living room and not disturb me.
From this point the contractions were more intense so I slept on the cushion (lying on my left side) between them as it was late and I was tired. Then as they became closer and I felt the baby descending I stayed kneeling on the cushion, leaning on the sink.
I didn’t push till right at the end – I know this is when they usually advise not pushing, to prevent tearing when crowning, but I felt it was the right thing to do, and I think that was correct (even though I got a 2nd degree tear). Because as soon as her head was out the rest of the body just slid out immediately, and I noticed that the cord had snapped. It was about half the normal length (~25cm) altogether, so it probably had to break (which is why the pushing helped) for her to get out. She was pink from the beginning and the cord didn’t leak blood at either side (apparently they seal themselves faster when torn rather than cut) so I wasn’t worried about her or myself. She was born about 00:20.
Then she started crying and I called my husband in to meet her. I held her for a while, then we both got washed and my husband cleaned up. While I was in the shower the placenta slid out.
Then we got into bed and she had some colostrum.
I didn’t have pain during the birth; I would describe the sensations as discomfort. Somewhat like when you go for a long run and are out of breath with aching muscles.
We had problems feeding as she wasn’t good at latching, so I had to express and cup feed for several days once my milk came in. Despite seeing plenty of NHS staff after the birth (midwives, nurses, paediatricians etc) none of them spotted that she was tongue tied, it was only diagnosed by a lactation consultant from La Leche League who I called. So although she was breastfeeding directly after a week, she wasn’t very efficient and it was painful for me. We finally got the tongue tie divided at 10 weeks, so she was then much better at eating (although it wasn’t stopping her gaining weight)!

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Baby Benjamin

Big baby born without intervention!
Baby Benjamin was born at 15:15 yesterday afternoon just the way I was hoping for – no interventions, no drugs! 🙂 he’s 10lb10oz, looks an awful lot like his big sis and seems to be very snoozy. Long may this last!
He was six days “overdue” and the past week I’d been tying myself in knots stressing about a) having a dreaded ‘stretch and sweep’ which was booked for this morning to try and kick start labour and b) that failing and then having to be induced – he arrived just in time to avoid a) and came on his own accord, both of which I am very happy about!
Yesterday morning I woke up with vague crampy feelings but not at all in pain and had a massage with a lovely midwife who also practices shiatsu massage in pregnancy – it was heavenly. About 20 mins after she left, my waters broke and I started feeling some mild contractions so I decided to get in the bath and asked my husband to go and get some things just in case we ended up needing to go to the hospital. By the time he came back half an hour later I realised we needed to go to the hospital immediately. In the ten minutes it took him to call the delivery suite, call the babysitter and throw things in a bag to go, I was starting to feel like the baby was going to come within minutes and was fighting the urge to push. My friend, who had randomly stopped by in the middle of all this chaos to say hello, bundled us all in the car and drove us to the hospital at top speed while I crossed everything I could and tried not to moan too loudly in the back as Izi was sitting right next to me a tad freaked out by the noises coming from mum!
We arrived at the hospital and I had three contractions between getting from the car to reception – about 30 feet apart – and walked in announcing I needed to push. Was given a room in the birthing suite with two lovely midwives within a couple of minutes of arriving – I completely credit their skill to getting such a huge baby out without intervention. Although everything progressed quickly initially, the pushing stage lasted almost two hours because he got stuck at the same point his sister had. I had a moment of absolute blind panic thinking that everything was going to go horribly wrong and I’d have another forcep (or worse) delivery. Thankfully the midwives knew what they were doing and talked me through several positions till we found one that worked, and eventually out he came (yes, very painfully). The whole thing took three and a half hours from start to finish, I reckon if he hadn’t got stuck it would have taken less than two.
I’m still a bit sore in places, but in comparison to last time, I feel amazing. Within a couple of hours of the birth I was walking about and eager to go home. The lovely midwife who gave me the massage yesterday was on duty today and came and gave me a big hug as I was being discharged and said all the midwives were raving about me getting Benji out on my own, that the hospital hadn’t seen a baby so big in months! So I think I am feeling a bit high at the moment from all the compliments.  And did I mention, he’s gorgeous?  🙂

The Birth of Rachel!

A Relaxed Hospital Birth
I was 20 when I found out I was pregnant with “the snuggleberry”. We had just finished our first year at uni, and all my friends were out getting wasted, and I was stuck at home being fat and sick.
Being pregnant was a bit stressful. We didn’t find our flat until Rachel’s due date (which I think may have helped in us securing it!) but she gave me a bit of extra time to get settled, unpack and be comfortable.
She even waited until I had a lift to the hospital, my aunt and uncle were visiting when my contractions started. When I was sure it was happening, I rang round my friends, “she’s actually coming now. It’s actually happening!” I was petrified before going into labour, only having heard bad stories. I was the one sticking my hand up in antenatal classes, worried about ripping and such!
They drove me in to hospital, but next time I don’t think I’d go so early. All I wanted to do was walk a million miles. Which I did, round the tiny room!
A few hours later, they came in to check what was going on. They told me my cervix was really thin, but I hadn’t dilated much. Not being very sure on the biology front, I thought all this pain was for nothing and I wasn’t getting anywhere. So I decided to have some pethidine, to ease it off, as I thought I would be there for days!
After I had had the injection of pethidine, I fell into a stupor for about 6 hours. I felt about ten contractions, but her father said my body tensed hundreds of times. When I woke up, I started on the walking again. I asked them to check me again, to see what was going on, they said they didn’t want to cause they didn’t want to check too many times, due to infection. But they had a look, and I was 9cm dilated! We had almost done it!
I went to the toilet, and finally my waters broke. Well “broke” is a bit of an understatement, they exploded across the room! I showed the midwife, and she said that I needed to move from the birthing suit cause Rachel had done a poo inside me (thanks snugs)
Then it was my turn to have a poo, or so I thought. I was saying to the midwife, “im just going to go to the toilet, cause I have heard about people pooing on the table whilst giving birth and I don’t want to do that” and she said “no dear, it’s the babys head” me “no no, I’ll just have a poo first… oh maybe it is the baby’s head” (it feels exactly the same!)
Then I lay down on the bed, and pushed. It felt really natural, like my body was doing it without me trying. I made noises I wasn’t even really sure were coming from me, they sounded really animal! Then I pushed her out in about 15 mins. As soon as her head left my body she started crying, which was weird cause her body was still inside! (her dad said the whole experience reminded him a bit of alien. Im glad I couldn’t see what was going on down there!) Then when they laid her on my chest, she fell silent instantly, like she was back where she belonged. When she went for her first feed, she latched on straight away and started suckling. I remember saying to the midwife “oh she stopped!” and her saying “she’s allowed to” then she started again.
The most painful bit was the stitches, but luckily that was when I remember I had gas and air on tap, so it wasn’t so bad. Then the midwife had to rush off to surgery, and I was left with just  me and my beautiful baby, sleeping in my arms J
I had a funny surprise when I got my yellow book back. There was a section crossed out saying “Helen is successfully feeding her baby… both mother and baby are sleeping”. They had thought I was someone else, and not known I was there, doing my thing! Which just goes to show, there is something to be said for leaving well alone and letting your body do what it’s going to do!