Amber Elizabeth’s Birth 18 - 12 - 2010
Our beautiful baby girl, Amber Elizabeth, arrived at 12:03 lunchtime, 18 December, in the lounge of our own home. She weighed 8 pounds 12 ounces and arrived healthy and full of beans, little arms and legs moving about like mad after being squashed up inside my belly. She’s having a little snooze in my lap as I write this.
I had no thoughts of home birth when I fell pregnant with my first baby, but I knew I really wanted to avoid an epidural and a c-section. It quickly became apparent that these are the norm in hospital and avoiding them was going to be hard. Then I found out about the chart where I would be expected to dilate approximately 1 cm per hour, which really worried me; Would I progress quickly enough to avoid intervention? The more I looked into it, the more I felt that home birth would be the best option for me.
I was very late in my pregnancy contacting Colette Donnelly, and I was very lucky that she was able to take me on. With so few private midwives it can be difficult to arrange a home birth.
The few people I mentioned my home birth to were worried that it wouldn’t be safe, but my research showed the opposite - less intervention and less complications on average. And being my first baby expectations are that things progress more slowly so time for transfer if I was unfortunate enough to need it. I could be comfortable in my own home (or as comfortable as is possible in labour!), have the best chance of avoiding an epidural and/ or a c-section, and be given much more time to labour - time, as it turned out, that I didn’t need.
I had a very quick, strong labour. I woke about 1:30am with contractions. I went and had some cereal, then came back up and woke my hubby to tell him baby was coming. As advised in our antenatal class, and in the books, he told me to get back into bed and to get some sleep, but there was no way I could go back to sleep. I couldn’t even remain lying down for contractions, which was rather scary for me. If the first ones were hard what would they be like in 12 hours time I wondered? I never had any practice contractions. My hubby started timing them; they started at about 7 minutes apart, and moved down to 5 minutes apart by 4:30am when my waters broke. By this stage I had the tens machine on. It was a distraction from the pain, which was still manageable for me.
When my waters broke the contractions started coming every 3 minutes and much stronger, but shorter. By 5:30 hubby was putting the pool up, while I phoned Colette, who said each contraction needed to last longer.
By 6:30 I was in the pool, but struggling with the pain. Then I started to be physically sick and hubby phoned Colette who got her kit together and headed over, arriving shortly after 8am. I was desperate for pain relief but she wanted to see how my contractions were progressing. She examined me to find I was already 2cm dilated. She spent a while discussing me with my hubby, encouraging me to relax as I was tensing during the contractions which of course I shouldn’t have been doing. She got him to put on some mediation mp3s which helped. Against her wishes I got out of the pool for a few minutes and lay down on the couch between contractions, which helped with the tiredness. I’m very tall so was unable to stretch my legs out in the pool. After a while she persuaded me to get back in the pool and after some more painful but irregular contractions she gave me gas & air. I had a strong urge to push which she advised against. At some point in time – it felt like a long wait – she said it was okay to push. Time got rather confused while I was in labour. It did not feel long then before I could feel baby’s head inside me. I told hubby, who knew the time and didn’t believe me, figuring it was much too soon!
I felt too shaky to get out of the pool, so baby was born under water, which hadn’t been my plan, and scared me somewhat - I saw her head, but it took another two contractions for me to push the rest of her out. I spent some time in the pool just holding baby Amber before the cord was cut and then hubby had his turn to hold her.
Colette had to work hard to get me out the pool in order to birth the placenta and check me out. I did not want to move because I felt faint. I birthed the placenta as soon as I sat down, with absolutely no effort. I was bleeding too much, so I had to get an injection. I also had a 2nd degree tear which required stitches. Both of which would surely have happened in hospital, but the difference was, rather than being separated from my baby and taken to theatre, I lay on one couch in my lounge with Colette stitching me up, while hubby held baby on the other couch where I could see her the whole time. Then I took baby back while my hubby quickly cooked up some delicious – and much needed - food.
We got to know Colette well before the birth as we were seeing the same person for all the antenatal visits. Colette was wonderful at taking care of me after the birth, helping us get breastfeeding established and giving us lots of help and advice during her visits over the following two weeks, coming out to us despite the snow. An added benefit of having a private midwife was having just one person’s consistent advice, rather than it changing as shifts change at a hospital.
I’m so glad I choose to birth baby Amber at home, and thankful that Colette was able to be my midwife.
First birth and born at home, Midwife Colette, birth pool, Second degree tear