The arrival of Johnny

A first and big baby born at home!

Johnny was born ten days overdue on 26 January at 10.21pm at home weighing 10 pounds 2 oz. This is the story of his birth.

I wanted to have my baby at home and intended to use a birth pool. I had begun to worry that I might need to be induced, in hospital, as the days passed. I had a stretch and sweep at my midwives appointment when he was two days overdue where they said I was around 1cm dilated. I had on/off aches in my pelvis for about a week prior to the birth, mostly triggered by going to the loo. However I had no noticeable contractions or braxton hicks that I was aware of.

I had a bloody show the day before labour began, nine days after my due date. I had an appointment at the hospital for checks the next day (Tuesday) so hoped that things would start before then so I wouldn’t have to go in.

My contractions began at around 5am on Tuesday 26th whilst I was in bed. It felt pretty painful from the start and I got up and put on my TENS machine which remained on for the duration. I also took paracetamol at the maximum recommended dose throughout. I went back to bed but couldn’t sleep. Contractions were pretty irregular and around 8 – 13 minutes apart.

Johnny had been back to back at some of my antenatal appointments so I had spent lots of time on a birthing ball and leaning forward to try to encourage him to turn. Unfortunately this wasn’t successful as I found out when my labour pains began and were all totally focused in my lower back.

I woke my partner at 8am and went downstairs into the lounge. I knelt on the floor and leant over the sofa. At 9am I phoned the midwives to let them know labour had started.

Over the course of the morning the contractions remained irregular and around 7 -10 minutes apart. All the pain was in my lower back and I was in pain between contractions. I felt unable to move around or be active as I had intended and just led over the sofa. I felt very demoralised as I felt scared that we were only in the early stages and that the pain would only worsen. The TENS and breathing were helpful but I felt apprehensive about what was to come. I called the midwives a couple more times and it was clear they were not going to come out until much later in the labour. At this stage I felt helpless and worried I wouldn’t be able to cope. I began to consider going into hospital and having more pain relief. However I knew that they would also tell me I wasn’t sufficiently far gone enough to go into hospital either. This was perhaps my lowest point in the labour – I felt helpless and in pain and scared.

I called the midwives at midday and said I was struggling to cope. My contractions were around 8 minutes apart. The midwife recommended I go to bed, lie on my side, and try to sleep. At the time I felt let down by this advice but actually it was just what I needed. I went to bed and was actually able to doze between contractions. I stopped timing contractions and was able to relax and calm down. At 3.15pm I went to the toilet and my waters broke. I went back to bed but could no longer sleep, though I continued to rest and time my contractions only approximately. By 4pm my contractions were around 5 minutes apart and we phoned the midwives again. They were reluctant to come out but I had two contractions on the phone, 4 minutes apart. They said they’d contact the duty out of hours midwife and ask her to call me.

Tracy phoned and said she’d be over in an hour or so. She advised me to think about getting out of bed and sitting on my birth ball. I felt reluctant to move at all but got onto the ball by the bed. At this point I was very grateful to be having a home birth as the thought of getting out of bed was bad, let alone leaving the house and travelling elsewhere.

Once on the ball things sped up and when Tracy arrived at around 6pm I was much more ‘in the zone’ with regular contractions. I was focused on my breathing which I feel was very helpful. Tracy immediately put me at my ease, being positive, encouraging and reassuring.

Kelly the second midwife arrived not long after. Tracy read my birth plan. I told her I’d changed my mind and wanted to know how far gone I was and wanted pain relief. She clearly wanted to respect my original wishes as best she could so they held off on a vaginal examination for a while.

They examined me at around 7pm and to all our surprise I was 7cm dilated. I was delighted. They told my partner to begin to prepare the birth pool and offered me gas and air.

I found the gas and air helped take the edge off the contractions. I continued with the TENS and breathing. I still only felt the pain in my lower back and had pain between contractions too. At some point I put on the music from my Natal Hypnotherapy cd which I’d been listening to during pregnancy. This was on for an hour or so and I think it helped add to me feeling ‘in the zone’.

Things continued in a similar vein for a couple of hours and then I felt an urge to push down, very much like needing to do a poo. I told the midwives and they advised me to follow my urges. I was still sitting on the ball though and pushing in this position felt odd. After a couple of contractions I felt like moving to kneeling on the floor over the bed. Doing this led to a big step change in the labour and the pushing urge got much stronger. I began to push with the next contraction. The midwives went to get my partner, who was still filling the birth pool, and advised him that it wouldn’t be needed and to come to the bedroom.

The pushing stage lasted around 90 minutes. Initially I was kneeling on the floor, leaning over the bed. However this was tiring and after some time the midwives suggested I lie on the bed on my left side. This probably slowed things down a bit but was more comfortable. This position also meant my partner could lay near me on the bed holding my hand. I still had the TENS machine going, now on ‘boost’ continuously, and was using gas and air and breathing.

The baby’s head started to be visible and I was offered the chance to feel it, which I declined. My partner did take a look at the top of the babies head emerging.

At a certain point the midwives decided that the baby needed to be born more quickly. I’m not sure why as they didn’t say anything and were careful to be positive and encouraging to me. They were monitoring the babies heartbeat frequently during this stage and perhaps this began to concern them. Tracey said that she would make a cut, to help the baby come more quickly, which they did. At this point I just wanted the labour to be over and the baby to arrive so I had no problem with this. I don’t remember feeling her cut me, but my partner says I screamed out. The midwives moved me from my side to my back and helped push my legs right back – almost a classic stirrups position.

After the episiotomy the baby was delivered in a few pushes – one for the head and one for the body. I had requested immediate skin to skin and to allow the cord to stop pulsating before being cut. However because they were concerned about the baby they cut the cord immediately and took him across the room to check him over (and I presume resuccitate him if needed.) Fortunately he gave a cry and began to breathe almost immediately. His colour changes from a grayish tone to pink and he was handed straight to me for skin to skin. His Apgar scores were all high. He was born at 10.21pm, on the bed, at home.

As the cord had been cut Tracy suggested I have the injection to speed up delivery of the placenta. I readily agreed to this as I just wanted to focus on my son and didn’t want to have to push anymore. She gave me the injection and the placenta was delivered about 15 minutes after the birth. She then checked me to see if I needed stitches, which fortunately I didn’t as it was only a first degree tear/cut. We were then left to spend some time with our baby.

The midwives helped me give Johnny a brief feed then carried out their routine checks, including weighing him and finding to all our surprise that he was 10 pound 2oz. They ran me a bath and showed my partner how to dress Johnny. They them helped me give him a feed again. We then tucked him into bed and they left and all three of us were together in the house for our first night as a family.

Amusing aside – our cat was present throughout most of the birth and was sat under the bed. At some point she left and later once the baby had been born one of the midwives came in from the bathroom and told us that the cat had left a dead mouse on the bathroom mat. She rarely leaves them there so we feel it was a gift to us and her attempt to help me get ‘better’ from whatever was making me sound so distressed. Johnny’s first gift!!

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