A letter to mummies who almost had the perfect birth....

First of all, this is a post about my most recent birth story, so if you're due to give birth imminently, I'd advise you to scroll on by. Not because it is negative, but because every woman has the right to peace of mind and space to visualise HER ideal birth.

I haven't had chance to fill you in on the birth story for the most recent Milkivore with all of the hubbub going on but it almost felt like this should be a letter to all those mummies that almost had the birth they wanted but just missed out.

I planned a home birth with the Little Inspiration but said I would go with the flow. People said I was crazy having a home birth with my first baby but I wanted to at least try. I don't like hospitals and felt that I would be more comfortable at home. It was a good birth. I pretty much got my ideal labour and she was born at home in the birthing pool in eight hours from my waters breaking. It was hard work but text book, apart from a near retained placenta but my midwife was experienced luckily for me.

This time I planned for a home birth again. Why wouldn't I? Noone questioned it having had one before they left me to get on with it. But there were differences this time.

I had zero continuity of care from the midwife team. I never saw the same midwife twice despite asking for it. You get less checks generally with your second baby anyway so it felt like weeks went by without so much as a check in.

Once again I organised a birth pool and rounded up the equipment we would need but I coudn't put it anywhere because my home was a building site. We were in the middle of renovations which went on far longer than we had planned. The stress of thinking I could go into labour any time and there would still be builders in my house did not create the calm environment I craved and had last time.

I fretted that it would happen, I'd be in labour giving birth and someone would turn up at my house, peering through my windows. Almost funny but not when it happens to you.

When they eventually cleared out, enforced by me, the week before his due date, I could put out my birth pool and try to start visualising myself giving birth here. Being so busy with everything I had little time to do my hypnobirthing this time around but tried to remind myself of the ever so important breathing exercises and mantras. I listened to the hypnobirthing tracks whenever I could (not often) and took them in half heartedly through complete exhaustion.

Everyone told me with my second baby I'd be early, so from 37 weeks I was convinced I'd go into labour any time but I actually went well over a week overdue. I went to my 41 week appointment with everyone, including me, completely surprised that I'd gone over. When another new midwife performed her checks and said she couldn't feel the head, I was worried. She could not determine baby's position and sent me for a scan to see if baby was breach.

They discovered baby was head down but back to back, and so hence why they couldn't feel the head but noone said anything about baby's size. I tried all of my Daisy Birthing exercises to try and turn the baby and looked up Spinning Babies but I didn't know if it had worked. I only knew I felt different to my first pregnancy.

To get things moving I tried all the old favourites, curry, pineapple, tincutres and teas but it turns out its the thing that got baby in there that gets them out, if you catch my drift.

I went into labour that evening, after having had stop start contractions for weeks, and went to bed hoping for progress in the night. I thought perhaps my waters might break in the early hours like before but they didn't. I was up at 5 with intensifying contractions but no sign of my waters. I got a bath, put on my tens machine, all like before, but this time knowing that my baby girl was asleep across the hall and wondering when I should call for Nannie to pick her up. I text my mum around 6.30 saying I wasn't sure if this was it and she set off for work. By the time she reached her desk I was getting the Carnivore to ring her to come home.

Much the same as last time I used movement, slow breathing and visualisation to get through each contraction as they ramped up. By 9.30 the Carnivore had rang the home birth team to get the midwife along and as my previous labour had been relatively quick and noone would take me seriously until I was in transition, this time they sent a midwife quickly.

When she arrived I was disappointed to see it was another completely new midwife and who although lovely, seemed very inexperienced with home births. I had no internal checks or unnecessary interventions with my first labour but this time I felt pressure to be examined and observed.

I walked upstairs between contractions, stopping in my bedroom to breathe as they intensified each time, as that's where I felt most comfortable. Downstairs felt very alien to me still since all of the building work and I think that added to my unfamiliarity and feeling of uncertainty this time.

Soon after the second midwife arrived, which is customary, and they whispered between themselves, letting me get on with it and go into my zone. After a couple of hours they suggested I move downstairs to the pool and although I didn't feel I was ready yet, I went with it trusting their experience.

I felt the urge to push, despite my contractions not being at their peak as they were the first time, and so they encouraged me to bear down. I pushed for a long time, an hour, two possibly, before they asked me to reach down and check for babies head. I felt nothing so they asked me to get out to examine me. I was getting tired and demotivated by this point so I let them check only to find out that I was only 7 centimeters and my waters hadn't yet broken.

They said the water temperature had dropped and I had to get out. This was the moment that things started to change as I could no longer see the light at the end of the tunnel and I started to worry about why things weren't progressing when the contractions were now as intense as they were the first time. I was getting a lot of back labour and feeling the need to push and nothing was happening. Turns out it was because baby was back to back and a bit stuck.

Although they were trying to be encouraging, their worried looks and whispered calls and conversations further added to my lack of confidence in them and therefore myself.

At around 2pm, about 18 hours after my first contraction, they said they wanted to break my waters. I was so demotivated and tired after all of the walking around and pushing by this point that I didn't question it. I laid down, they broke my waters and then immediately there were more hushed conversations as my contractions went up to the next level. Baby had passed mecconiam or poo'd inside and they had concerns about baby's heart rate, so it immediately escalated to a medical emergency. They called an ambulance and within 10 minutes I was being walked down the path to the ambulance puffing on gas and air to help control the near constant contractions washing over me like waves and nearly pulling me under.

The Carnivore was told to follow behind in the car and I was strapped up to a monitor in the back of the ambulance and sent off to the nearest hospital which is normally a 40 minute drive away at least.
We flew through with the blue lights and sirens but it felt like an eternity to me. I could feel baby's head descending fast and as each contraction came I felt baby get nearer. They told me to hold on. I told them to not be so ridiculous. It is not a thing you can stop. I was convinced I would be the woman who gave birth in an ambulance at the side of the road, as the midwife told the paramedics to get ready for baby's arrival.

The thought of the Carnivore missing the birth of his baby flashed through my mind but I was powerless to stop baby coming. I was worried but tried to remain calm and continue my breathing as I'd learned and practiced during my previous labour and it helped enormously. In that situation I could have easily panicked and lost my cool, but even in spite of a less than ideal situation, I kept a degree of control to help breathe through the contractions.

We pulled up outside the hospital, they stretchered me in with my baby almost earth side, and hooked me up to monitor in the birthing room. Things happened fast - the Carnivore was ushered in a few minutes later and a few minutes after that I roared baby into the world, after his little shoulder had become stuck. He was born still back to back, face up. I did it. Unmedicated. Raw. Powerful. Vulnerable.

I've never been more glad for it to be over. For my baby to be here, For the Carnivore to be present. For them telling us it was a healthy baby boy weighing 9lb 12 oz. I wished they'd let me carry on labouring at home....it was 30 minutes from when they broke my waters to when he was born. He could have been born in water, in a calm environment and then we could have gone in. But I was not in a place to question it at the time and I'm sure the midwives did what they thought was best.

Although the birth wasn't exactly what I wanted it to be, it so very nearly was. If I look at the whole thing on balance, I can make peace with it. If I just looked at those last 30 minutes, I would be disappointed at best and perhaps traumatised at worst.

It just goes to show that every birth, every pregnancy is different. They thought he would be early, he was late. They thought it would be fast, it was twice as long as my first labour. They said it would be easy, it was no harder or easier than the first birth - labour is called labour for a reason. Perhaps if they'd warned me he was back to back earlier, or told me he was going to be a big baby I could have made different decisions. If I'd been able to build rapport with the same midwife over time, or had confidence that the midwives attending my birth were experienced home birthers, who knows if things may have gone a different way.

It's so important that us mums get the respect we deserve. Birth is natural but consuming. We need the tools to bring our babies into the world in a way that we can make peace with. We often hear 'at least you're all healthy' and that is true, but what if we could be happy too. I certainly felt better following my first labour and I put this down to feeling in control, supported and content with my labour.

The best advice I can offer is to do hypnobirthing - it is not just for 'hippie' births, it is useful for all births, Cesarean, elective or emergency, medicated, and unmedicated births. It is a mode of being during labour that helps you feel in control. The different breathing you can use is invaluable to helping labour progress, letting oxytocin flow, which is what we all need to feel comfortable to let go and allow labour to happen.

Also remember the BRAIN acronym. Always ask questions when a medical professional is advising you what to do. They cannot tell you what to do, just advise you. It is always YOUR choice.

B = benefits - what are the benefits to what they are advising you.
R = risks - what are the risks for the intervention
A = alternatives - can they suggest any alternatives
I = intuition - be guided by what your gut is telling you
N = nothing - what would happen if you did nothing.

Also bear in mind with that last one that it doesn't have to mean nothing full stop. Just what if you did nothing NOW. In 15 minutes. Or one hour. Birth can progress very fast if oxytocin is flowing and is left to progress naturally.

I hope this is useful or just an interesting read. I still really love home births and would recommend them to anyone. Would you consider one?


No comments

I love to hear from people so please don't be a stranger and say hello!