Sunday, 9 January 2011

In which my body read a different book to my midwife

When I was pregnant with my 3rd child, I mentioned to my midwife that I had an interest in having a homebirth. For a couple of panic stricken moments she simply stared at me. On that basis alone you would assume that she was anti-homebirth. But I happen to know she's not. Her reaction was purely to do with my birthing history. My first child was born by cesarean section.

When I got pregnant that first time, I was full of plans for a natural birth. My own mother had given birth naturally with no problems, 5 times. In fact of all the women in my life I only knew one who'd had a section and that was following severe complications.

So when it came about that I had to have a cesarean as a result of Jayden being in a transverse breech lie, I felt that my body had let me down without so much as a murmur of objection. They tried to turn him with an External Cephalic Version but no joy. I was booked to have him ejected through the fire escape a week later.

Incidentally I went into labour the day before my scheduled due date so I did experience some labour, and when my waters broke with meconium, it was a surprise all round when my elective cesarean turned into an emergency.

The feelings of inadequacy dogged me for months after Jayden was born, in fact for a couple of weeks I couldn't escape the feeling that someone would walk in the door and ask for him back... I hadn't given birth to him so therefore he wasn't mine to keep. I now know I'm not alone in those fears but at the time it was awful.

So second time round, I was delighted to have a natural birth, albeit in the hospital, rigged up to monitors etc as there is an increased risk of uterine rupture in a labour following a cesarean. I managed on gas'n'air alongside my TENS machine and Reuben made a fairly efficient entry into the world with 5 hours of established labour and 21 minutes of pushing. It was amazing and no lingering thoughts that I didn't give birth to him. In fact the borderline 3rd tear bore testimony to the birth itself. Eek.

So back to Daisys birth. My midwife basically said no to the homebirth. I absolutely appreciate I could have persevered and chosen to push on through (no pun intended) but I didn't really have the energy. Reubens birth had been incredible, I had no major objections to the hospital so I let it go. Also I was already worn down with SPD (symphysis pubis dysfunction, whereby in my case my pelvis started to come apart, excruciatingly painful) and I felt I didn't have that particular fight in me.

I was however sold on the benefits of homebirth which include feeling more relaxed in your own home environment, aided by an extra hormone dose of Oxytocin, the love hormone.

There's also a lower risk of intervention and subsequent cesarean. A real selling point for me. So as a trade off, I decided to stay at home as long as possible.

When Daisy was a week overdue, I was beginning to think she was taking me too literally and a sweep by my midwife got the ball rolling. I was very keen to avoid any other kind of induction due to the related higher risk of another section so I was very relieved when the contractions finally made a regular appearance at around 5pm.

They honestly were not bad at all, really manageable but I rang the delivery suite at 9.40pm to say that I was out here and labouring and I'd think about coming in in a couple of hours. A few minutes later, oops there goes my waters. I rang then back to say I was on my way as they're getting serious (the contractions that is, not the phonecalls) and I went to get off the sofa a couple minutes before 10pm. Immediately 'something' changed. I threw the phone at my husband, growling at him to ring 999, got into my knees and started to push.

The paramedics walked into my lounge at 10.09pm. Daisy had been born a minute before. It was the most extraordinary experience if my whole life. 20 minutes later I was sat cuddling my baby on my cushions with a cuppa.

Each of my births totally different. I'd recommend a homebirth to anyone who can see no logical reason why not. My only regret is not intentionally having my homebirth. It would have avoided that micro second of doubt when I yelled at Kev "I'm not having this baby here!". If we had got in the car sooner I would have given birth either in the car or at the roadside, which while might have been a cool story to tell post partum, was not in my list of ideal scenarios.

I love all 3 of my birth stories and this post could have been 3 times as long. Highly medicalised cesarean section, a natural hospital VBAC and a homebirth VBAC. Yes, even the c-sec because the net result was my beautiful boy.

Do I have a point? I guess I'd like to say to cesarean mothers a couple of things.1) The baby is yours. You gave birth and you are amazing (wish someone had said that to me) 2) a cushion post partum is your best friend.

To cesarean mothers expecting another child 1) However this baby is born, it is still your babys amazing birth and you'll still love the story 2) VBAC is worth a shot if medically possible, don't simply rely on your midwifes first reaction. If you want to give it a go, do your research and go for it.

It's your body, your birth, your baby.
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