The scenic route

It’s not always a straight road to birth but seeing this lovely couple welcomed their little girl in to the world was just as breathtaking

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Homebirth After Caesarean

My first labour with my son was a 3 day back to back, including 6 hours of the syntocinon drip due to slow progress and only dilating to 4cm, when he got into distress and it ended in a category 1 Emergency Caesarean.

Whilst I was delighted that he was fine and healthy, I found the recovery after the C section hard as I developed an infection, and 2nd time around I was keen to try something different. 

I kept going back and forth between wanting a planned C-section due to the ease of organising and at least not having to go through labour again, and then wanting to try for a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Caesarean) because it was an experience I really wanted to have and because for me I felt it was the braver decision.

At about 6 months I decided to go for it – I saw a statistic that said 90% of people are eligible for a VBAC but only 10% try, and I wanted to be part of that 10%. As a coach, I support and challenge my clients to take smart risks, and giving it my best shot was in line with my values and who I want to be.

In the end my birth story was pretty straightforward. I had minor contractions from mid afternoon, and in the evening we settled down to watch a cheesy Christmas film. The contractions started to ramp up about 10pm when I found the need to lean over the sofa for some of them. I decided to sleep in the other room to let my husband get some rest and the contractions continued through the night whilst I breathed.

At about 1am we called the midwife and she said to continue doing what we are doing, as they weren’t yet long enough in length. Around 3am I noticed a shift in contractions getting much stronger and felt like I was entering a different phase. I think one of the books talks about first room and second room and I did really feel a change. 

My little boy woke up around 6.30am and was collected by his grandparents around an hour later. Suddenly then everything ramped up, I felt like I could really let go and I started being much more vocal with more primal noises.

Our doula, Zara (www.doulabud.co.uk) arrived and said to call the midwife, Heather, as it sounded like I was bearing down. She arrived after 8am and from there on in she just sat quietly and enabled me to get on with it myself, in hindsight by doing less, she actually did more.

Zara massaged me with aromatherapy oils and my husband came in and let me squeeze his shoulders for the tougher contractions. After about an hour or so I started pushing and also felt a need for more energy. Zara gave me a couple of spoonfuls of honey which was just the boost I needed.

I continued to push and Heather suggested I get up from the all fours position I had been in the whole time and stand up over the bed to help use gravity, and open my legs wider. This was the only intervention she suggested the whole time, and it was very much offered if it worked for me.  

Zara used a rebozo scarf wrapped around my tummy to help shake from side to side and help ease her out also.

EJD was born at 10.09am in the superman position – with her arm up by her head. She came out all in one go and literally flew into the world! 

After the birth I held her in my arms whilst we waited for the placenta to come, I was happy to have the injection but Heather advised as I hadn’t bled much to wait a little longer. Within 20 minutes of sitting of the loo it was out and we’d managed to have a birth without any medication at all – it hadn’t occurred to me to put the TENS on or ask for gas and air at any point as I didn’t feel I needed it.

During the birth there were times I doubted myself – I felt like the pushing stage was taking too long and I wondered if I would need intervention, and to be honest I had doubts all the way through pregnancy if I would be able to do it.

However, I felt amazing afterwards, like I could honestly do anything I put my mind to – quite like wonder woman! It made me realise again the power of listening to my body and intuition and I couldn’t quite believe I had done it – it felt so surreal.

Surrey Hills Client November 2018

Supported Choice

I had a slightly more complex route to choosing homebirth as whilst my first baby was a spontaneous and easy birth in an MLU, my second daughter had to be a section at 34 weeks due to antibodies causing her anaemia and her needing a transfusion.

I was therefore under consultant care for this pregnancy, both due to the repeat risk of antibodies affecting the baby, and due to being a VBAC.

Reasonably early in the pregnancy we were sure the antibodies weren’t going to be a factor, so the VBAC was the only concern. However, my consultant was very keen for me to have a medicalised birth with monitoring in the delivery suite, and potentially an early induction.

I contacted the home birth team – initially to discuss whether use of the MLU was an option for me. Tanya helped me understand my options and talked through all of my concerns, and I made the decision that a home birth would be my preferred option.

The home birth team supported me excellently through my pregnancy – especially as I continued to need consultant check ups and was faced with a lot of negativity about my home birth decision. Almost every possible risk factor was raised to try and persuade me out of my homebirth (my age, VBAC, baby size, specific blood tests needed for the baby after birth, post dates, speed of my first labour etc) so Tanya’s support to stand my ground was very much needed.

I attended an appointment with my consultant at 41 weeks, which resulted in a section being booked for 42 weeks – I was concerned my home birth was not going to materialise after all; it was hard to stay positive with a looming deadline and multiple hospital appointments booked to prepare for the section. I booked some reflexology and acupuncture appointments for the coming days and tried to mentally stay in a positive mindset.

 In the early hours of Saturday morning, whilst resettling my daughter back to sleep, I started to have more regular Braxton Hicks. I spent a few hours awake, but decided they were tailing off so returned to bed at 4am. A few minutes later I realised they were actually getting more intense and woke my husband to start setting up the pool.

As we were getting things out downstairs I thought my waters had started to trickle, but realised it was actually blood so I rang the midwife – Jodie was on call, who was comfortable it was nothing to be concerned about. We had a bit of a chat about whether it was worth her coming out yet, as I wasn’t feeling any pain, and could talk happily through the tightenings. We decided she would come and check me over as she could always go back home if I wasn’t close to active labour.

My waters went shortly before Jodie arrived at 5:15 – at this point I was still helping set up the pool and comfortable with the tens machine and walking through any discomfort. Within fifteen minutes everything suddenly leapt up a gear. 

Jodie was amazing at helping me as my contractions were very frequent, with barely any gaps between, then Tanya arrived at 5:50, and ten minutes later I was feeling a lot of pressure.

They coached and supported me brilliantly as I struggled with the intensity of transition and the speed of contractions that I was experiencing, and then helped me into the pool. My daughter was born minutes later, at 6:05, within 3 pushes. We spent a magical hour in the pool with my eldest daughters there, fascinated by their new sister. 

I had felt doubts about my homebirth decision at times during my pregnancy, especially when faced with so many people who only talked about the risks, and with strong opposition to my choice voiced regularly by my consultant.

I am so very glad that I trusted my instincts, and that I had the support of Tanya to make this experience possible for us as a family.

There is something amazingly special about bringing a baby into the world within the safety and familiarity of your own house, with the support of midwives you know and trust, and to be able to get comfortable in your own bed once it’s all over.

I can’t thank the Home birth team enough as this will be an experience we treasure forever as a family, and without Tanya this birth would have happened in a very different environment.

Homebirth January 2019

Note from the team: Have additional considerations in your medical or pregnancy history? We will work alongside our multidisciplinary colleagues to support you to balance up your individual benefits and risks of homebirth so that you can come to a decision that feels right for you. Contact the team to arrange a 1-2-1 chat at Tanya.ashton@nhs.net

Full of Grace

Another brilliantly busy start to the week with two mums birthing their babies at home on Monday. Meanwhile another strong mummy, supported by the team and cared for by our lovely @RSCH_Maternity colleagues, birthed her baby this morning! #Continuity #Teamwork #choice