I have been missing in action recently, but I do have a really good reason for that – newest addition to our family, our baby girl was born on January 23, 2014 at 8:45pm weighting 3.910kg and measuring 50cm. And she was born at home.
I am normally quite a private person, but I can’t help but share this life changing experience and really hope it will help and encourage other women to embrace maternity, trust themselves and their bodies and know that they CAN do it. It doesn’t have to be a home birth, but a natural stress free birth with a great support system is definitely possible.
I am often asked lately: HOW did you do it? Many women do not realise this is even an option. How and why did I have my baby at home? Because my first was born in the hospital. Don’t get me wrong – it was the best decision then, plus he was my first and my husband and I both felt more confident knowing we’d have medical help if needed.
So with my first, my blood pressure started creeping up 2 days prior to my due date. It was so high, that I had to go to the hospital for triage and was checked 4 times a day at home by my midwife. When the action actually started my blood pressure was still high so I could not even labour at home and had to go to the hospital right away. Over there, I was hooked up to monitors to make sure baby and myself were doing ok. I was really struggling with pain. Now I know that it was a back labour. Prior to the birth I was hoping to do it naturally without epidural, however, it didn’t go as planned. My waters broke a short while after we got to the hospital and that’s when contractions became unbearable. To the point that a bath and back rub didn’t help at all. According to my husband, I wasn’t even making sense when they tried to talk to me. I caved in and after 9 hours of active labour with irregular contractions and not much progress I asked for epidural. After all, I wanted my baby to have a sane mother. Since my contractions were very irregular and my waters broke, I had to get IV with meds to make my contractions more regular. I had a few hours of much needed sleep and then my baby’s heart rate indicated he was in distress. Plus it was X amount of hours after my waters broke, so I had to have him then, otherwise we risked getting an infection. Even though I had epidural, I could move my lefts and would probably be able to walk if they let me, but I did not have any idea when it was time to push, so I just went on with the help and guidance of my midwives. Needless to say, after nearly 2 hours of pushing and no luck we were told our baby needed to be delivered by vacuum. Everything ended up being all right with both myself and our son, although my recovery was long. I think it took me nearly 6 month to get back to normal. My son was waking up every 2-3 hours and he didn’t sleep through the night until after he was 1.5.
So when it came to my second pregnancy, I was really mindful of my previous experience and of the experience I wanted this time around. First and foremost, I read Ina May Gaskin’s book “Guide to Childbirth”. I highly recommend it. It really gave me a positive outlook and confidence that I could do it, despite a more severe case of symphysis pubis dysfunction (severe pain due to misalignment of the pelvis, I could not get off the couch, get in and out of the car or turn in bed without excruciating pain, but thankfully osteopath and chiropractor really helped me to feel better at 38 weeks pregnant compared to 16 weeks pregnant), despite previous tailbone injury and despite my previous birth experience. I also tried to maintain a positive outlook, tried visualisation techniques, surrounded myself with positive people and avoided stress as much as possible. I also went to MAMA for continuity of care – it was crucial that I was surrounded by like-minded people every step of the way. I wasn’t sure I was going to have a home birth and I was quite concerned with possible blood pressure issues I had last time, but I was desperate for a natural birth. Thankfully, Kirsty, Jacqui, Jan and the rest of MAMA team were on the same page with me, supported us in every way possible and really helped shape my decision to try home birth. Another reason why I ended up being at home was a white coat syndrome (my blood pressure would go up the minute hospital was mentioned) – and I really really wanted to avoid medical interventions this time.
About 4 days before I went into labour, my blood pressure went up to 150/110 so that I had to go to the hospital for monitoring. As soon as I got to ER, it was down to 145/96. 5 minutes later once I got to Labour & Delivery, it was down to 140/85. Needless to say the nurse laughed at me and confirmed Jan’s white coat syndrome diagnosis 🙂 At that point I was 100% sure I’d try to have a home birth.
So on the morning of January 23, being 39 weeks along, I woke up at 7am with regular contractions. I went to take a bath knowing that they’d either slow down or keep up. I timed them and they were 5 minutes apart, about 40 seconds long. They didn’t slow down, so I called my midwives. I have to add that this was also the day my mom was arriving and my husband had to get her at the airport at 10am. Needless to say, my husband stayed with me and our 3 year old and our friend went to the airport. Contractions were regular this time around, I felt in complete control of myself and the situation unlike my previous labour and birth. When Jan arrived, my blood pressure was normal, I was 3-4 cm dilated and was managing pretty well. I continued to labour walking around the house, jumping in and out of the shower. I wasn’t timing contractions any longer – I was just trying to breath through them, concentrate on myself and listen to my body, trying to conserve all the energy I had left. 6 hours later I was getting exhausted and a little discouraged as it didn’t seem like things were progressing much – I was about 4-5 cm dilated and nearly out of energy. I didn’t feel like taking a shower any more and I was too tired to walk. I couldn’t drink or eat. So I continued to labour on a bed. Kirsty called Jan to update her on my progress and I overheard her saying that I was getting tired and there was not much progress… And then my waters broke. This is when stuff really started to happen. If I was able to remain relatively quiet and composed earlier, now I really felt the baby descend and suddenly knew what ring of fire is! Contractions were unbearable at that point and I remember being loud. As soon as I got into the rhythm of my body I regained my composure and pushed her out. I did it. I couldn’t believe myself! One of the midwives put her on my chest and they didn’t cut the cord for about 2 hours. Apart from delayed cord clamping on my request, they were waiting for placenta to birth, but it wasn’t happening, so the cord was attached for over 2 hours. Kirsty and Jacqui also mentioned hormones that are produced after birth and how important it is for the baby to get them through the cord while its pulsing to complete a birth cycle so to say. And I can see quite a difference in my babies. My daughter, she’s 2 months now, sleeps better than my son. And I firmly believe this is not only because each baby is different – I am sure the birth experience we both had was a contributing factor to the experience we are living every day. I didn’t have baby blues either and I was working 6 days post partum.
There are no words that can describe everything I’ve experienced and everything I’ve been feeling. Working with newborns, I can also sense the difference the birth experience can do for the baby’s stress levels. I can’t thank MAMA enough for supporting and helping me as much as they did. I also can’t stress enough the importance of surrounding yourself with people who support you or at least do not discourage you.
And finally, meet Eliana: