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)!