Zainab and Justin

I woke up at about 3am on 27th January with surges and downloaded an app to time them. When I got out of bed I let go quite a lot of liquid (enough to wet the floor) and thought that my waters may have broken. By 7am the surges were coming 3 every ten minutes and my husband called the midwives. After a night awake I managed to fall asleep around 8, and when the midwives got to me at 9 the surges had slowed right down to one every ten minutes. They checked me and I wasn't even dilated so they left. Apparently my waters had not broken, and this was more likely to have been the show as a result of the sweep that I had been given. 13 days past the due date I was not thrilled at the prospect of more waiting. I had quite bad nausea since I had woken at 3am, which was worse than the contractions themselves. This reminded me of the hyperemesis I had experienced in my first trimester and was not a symptom of labour I was prepared for, but on the advice of the midwife I had spoken to that morning, I tried to make myself eat so I wasn't being sick on an empty stomach. The hypnobirthing breathing got me through the rest of that day and night. My husband helped me walk up and down the stairs in our house, and at one point I even tried camel walking!  I found sitting on my birthing ball didn't help the pressure on my lower back but leaning forwards on it or my husband was better. He got tired of rubbing my back after a while though! 

By the early hoursof the 28th the surges were much stronger and more regular again. My husband called the midwives again and when she first came I was only 2-3cm dilated so she left and came back again around 6am I think. Then I was 5cm so she stayed and my husband helped fill up the birthing pool. She told me the baby had gone back to back so I tried to make sure I stayed stomach down (e.g. on all fours) to encourage him to move back. It worked as when the next midwife checked me he was back to front again. That morning was spent in the pool (with a couple of breaks caused by leaks in the pool which my husband kept having to fix..kept him busy). I used a lavender soaked cloth (gifted to me from my pregnancy yogi) from the freezer to keep me cool in the warm pool and focused on the positive birthing statements that I had stuck on the walls, when the surges got stronger. At about midday (33 hours into labour) I told the midwife (a new one following another shift change) I might take a couple more paracetamol, as I had taken a couple earlier on. She laughed and said she didn't think they would help much at this stage, so I was offered gas and air. The gas and air, coupled with the hypnobirthing breathing and the water I was nesting in, got me through that final stage of labour. 

 

The most difficult thing was having to get out of my "zone" to be regularly checked by the midwives. In hindsight, I was at home, being watched over and supported by women who were very respectful of the little sacred space I had created, and it was much less intrusive than having to be hooked up to a machine. But at the time I just wished they would leave me alone until it was time to push. I remember that being the most vocal point for me during the labour, as I began to breath harder and ask where my mother was. After a while I felt like I needed to go to loo, but it wasn't happening. The midwives said that if I felt like pushing I should just do what feels right. So, I began to push. At this point my waters still hadn't broken. Then suddenly there was a big "whoosh" as my waters broke in the pool all at once. I was told I had to get out of the pool as there was meconium in the waters, so we went on to my bed. I was very wary of not lying on my back so as to allow as much space as possible in my pelvis for the baby's exit (arrival) so I laid on my side instead. My husband stood by me, holding onto my leg (I remember them saying he should let me hold it myself, he remembers them saying he should hold it). At that point my mother turned up and began some renegade coaching from the bedroom door - much to the disapproval of the midwives present as she'd be like "push! push!" when they were saying "wait for the next contraction"; but perhaps it was the extra nudge I needed to push harder (maternal pressure has always been a big motivating factor in my life. Ha). The midwives had called an ambulance as a precaution and I was desperate to get him out before they arrived. When I looked up to the midwife holding a needle and saying "I think we're going to have to do an episiotomy," I didn't need any more encouragement. I pushed as hard as I could and then another "whoosh!" I had managed to do it myself. The chord was round his neck but I could hear him start crying straight away. Mukhtar Justin announcing himself to the world. Though they had to cut the chord soon as he came out and make sure he was fine due to the meconium, I knew from the first moment he was just fine and couldn't wait for them to pass him to me. Once he was in my arms, the first thing he did was latch on and start feeding and it feels like that's what he's been doing ever since!

So, in short, after a 36 hour labour I gave birth at home having taken a couple of paracetamol in the morning and other than that just used gas and air. Despite the scare caused by the meconimun and the chord, everything was fine with the birth - not even a tear so no stitches needed. The hynobirthing relaxation, breathing, positive statements and all the learning I'd done about birthing really helped it to be an amazingly positive experience and I'd be happy if I can give birth like that again in the future. I feel really blessed that I was able to give birth, at home, as planned, without any major complications. I know how lucky I am to be able to provide my birthing story as another example of how a low intervention home birth can go right.