I was going to do a post about breastfeeding but for you to understand my breastfeeding journey I would first need to tell you about LP’s birth.
Whenever anyone speaks about labour and birth it usually consists of pain, indignity and quite often trauma. I had never heard of labour and birth being a positive experience. It was always a means to an end and an inevitable horrendous experience women go through.
Why did we decide to have a home birth?
Dave and I had some friends who had a baby about three years ago. I remember going to visit them when Baby was a couple of weeks old. Mum and Dad were exhausted, as is to be expected, so we stayed for just an hour or so. They told us about the birth and they were the first people I had ever heard of to plan having a baby at home. I don’t remember the details of the birth but I remember how they spoke about labour and birth as such a positive experience, how they were so relaxed and how nice it was to bring Baby into the world in the comfort of familiar surroundings.
That conversation stayed with me and soon after Dave and I found out we were having a baby I told him that I’d like a home birth. Dave is very laid back and easy going and basically said that he would go along with what I wanted as I was the one giving birth. I asked frequently through the pregnancy whether he had any concerns and I read up about home births so much that I feel we definitely made an informed choice.
We told the midwife at our first appointment that we’d like to have a home birth and she was very supportive.
How did we prepare for a home birth?
The pregnancy flew by with no complications, no morning sickness, no hiccups at all! I made sure over this time that I researched birth pools and bought the one I wanted ‘Birth Pool In A Box‘ from Boots of all places! I also bought some cheap shower curtains to protect the floor and gathered together all our old towels! I also packed a hospital bag with things for myself and the baby in case we had to be transferred to hospital, or if I ended up being induced, in which case I would have to have a hospital birth.
At 37 weeks the midwives brought round 6 canisters of gas and air, telling me that usually they only bring too but as I’m Ginger I’ll probably need more! They also brought tubing for the gas and air and vitamin k for baby when it arrived and something to inject me with to help the placenta be delivered.
We put everything into storage and I started doing all I could to get the baby to make an appearance. I’d been on maternity leave since 34 weeks so spent every day from 37 weeks bouncing on my birthing ball, having curry for dinner, pineapple for pudding and drinking raspberry leaf tea. I desperately wanted to avoid being induced. I can now say, in hindsight, nothing works. Baby will come when it’s ready.
On the day after my due date I started getting pains in the evening. Nothing regular, and not very painful, so I thought nothing of it and went to bed. When I got up the following day, I had the same dull pains every couple of hours. It didn’t occur to me at all that I may be in labour. I went to bed for a nap at 5pm and when u got up at 6pm I realised that the pains were now every twenty minutes, so getting more regular. Dave got home at 8pm and we ordered Pizza Hut delivery for dinner and watched X-Factor!
It got to 11pm and I was bouncing on my birthing ball watching TV when I decided to ring the hospital to let them know that I was in labour. By this point my contractions were every three minutes lasting thirty seconds.
The hospital contacted the on call community midwife, who rang me back immediately. She said that I sounded like I was dealing with the pain and to take a couple of paracetemol and ring her when it got unbearable. So I did exactly that.
I took paracetamol, put my tens machine on and carried on bouncing on my ball watching TV! I sent Dave to bed as I thought at least one of us should get some sleep! Unfortunately about ten minutes later I was physically sick and called Dave down to be with me. I couldn’t take any more paracetamol as wasn’t sure whether the first lot had been digested, so I just carried on bouncing on the ball watching TV whilst Dave dozed on the sofa.
I had it in my head that the midwife would come out when the pain was really unbearable and I’d only be 1cm dilated, so I focused on getting through the pain for as long as possible! I just kept focusing on the next hour in the clock and trying to get to that hour. In the end I got to 3:30am and rang the midwife. She said she’d come straight over and it would take about 20 minutes. She said to inflate the birthing pool but not to fill it up until she’d examined me. I also wasn’t allowed to use the gas and air until she arrived.
I focused on those next 20 minutes and they came and went. The midwife got lost en route and arrived at 4:30am.
She then examined me. Looked confused and asked if she could examine me again. I obviously agreed and she said I was 8cms dilated!! 8 whole cms!! At this point my waters went, I’d completely forgotten about my waters!
So Dave filled the birthing pool, which takes an hour! I carried on bouncing on my ball and at 6am I was allowed in the pool and I started on the gas and air.
The midwife rang for a second midwife to come from the hospital as she said that I sounded ‘pushy’, and I started pushing near enough immediately.
Strangely, when the second midwife arrived she said she’d been to our house before. Turned out that the previous owners had also had a home birth.
It got to 8:30am and baby still hadn’t made an appearance, although the midwives assured me that it had a lot of hair! So they got me out of the pool and made a make shift bed on the lounge floor and told me that baby needed to come put or they’d have to transfer me to hospital. After 12hrs of labour that was the last thing I wanted! So I pushed and pushed. Still nothing. The midwives threatened me with an episiotomy and so I pushed some more and at 8:50am on 28th August 2011 our Little Pickle was born weighing 6lb 4ozs.
The midwives gave me an injection and the placenta came out with another push. The midwives left LP laying on my chest and examined me, where we were all surprised that I didn’t have any tears and so didn’t need any stitches.
I was helped onto the sofa and LP was again put on my chest but she had no immediate urge to feed, just lay there snuggling into me. Before we knew it, the midwives were leaving, insisting one would be back at midday and that if LP fed before they came back it’d be great.
So LP was born at 8:50am and by 10am Dave and I were alone with this tiny little helpless thing. Baby and I were both naked on the sofa with a towel over us and Dave was tidying up after the birth and making me tea and toast!
I then gave LP to Dave and took myself off for a shower. In hindsight a very bad move! No- one should shower alone after giving birth! I felt faint and exhausted but somehow managed to have a shower, wash my hair and get dressed.
I went back downstairs and Dave and I managed to put a nappy on LP and get her dressed – as neither of us had done either previously! First time for everything!
I then sat on the sofa and managed to get LP to feed. As a first time Mum I didn’t really know what I was doing, all that mattered to me was that LP had eaten.
The midwife came back at midday and gave us LP’s little red book and made sure that she’d fed.
This is really where my home birth story ends and my breastfeeding story starts, so really this is to be continued!
All I will say in closing is I know that home birth isn’t for everyone. I had an amazing birth experience, I felt in control and loved giving birth. I can’t imagine having LP in a hospital and I love the fact that her birth certificate has our home address on it as place of birth! I was very relaxed about labour throughout my pregnancy and had a very positive attitude – the way I saw it was that women are made to give birth and that everything will be fine. I was very lucky that everything went as well as it could have and I was able to have the labour and birth I had hoped for.
I hope that I am as lucky next time around!