Lora is still on a birth high after her home birth after caesarean (HBAC), here she tells Cambridge VBAC Friends about her labour and birth at home in July 2015…
I had been having prodromal labour for over a week and was struggling mentally and physically. I had amazing support from my husband, doula and mum and I was kept positive and well rested as much as could be. After several false alarms I went to bed on Friday night feeling a bit low and had been tearful all day, snapping at my husband and very emotional. I was starting to believe I’d never go into labour (40+5) and even though throughout pregnancy I had promised myself I could go with the flow and she would arrive when she was ready, you can’t prepare for the mix of feelings when you go ‘over’ and the pressure has already started from the midwife I saw at 40 weeks to have a sweep and discuss induction.
I woke at 3am with very strong contractions that got me out of bed, I tried sleeping through them but found I needed to be moving around. I spent a couple of hours on my ball downstairs in the peace and tranquillity of my birthing space before my mum came down to help rub my back. I was having lots of back pain and needed constant touch and pressure. This continued but I knew it could still take a while so I sent Rob to work but told him to finish early rather than work the whole day as he’d need rest too and I was hoping it wouldn’t be too long before she arrived.
I then contacted Katie (my doula) who arrived around Saturday lunchtime and we spent a lovely tranquil afternoon resting through contractions by eating, watching movies, listening to music and having massages and a pedicure! We did lots of walking round the field outside the house stopping every time a contraction started. They increased in frequency and intensity every time we did the walk but slowed down again to 5/6 minutes apart once I got back home which was frustrating.
I finally got into the pool later that evening and made the call for the midwife to come out. I was told they had all been called into the maternity ward as it was so busy. This was my worst nightmare and I freaked out a bit on the phone and told them I couldn’t come in to hospital and broke down in tears. Katie then spoke to them and they agreed to send someone out when the shift changed and to call an ambulance in the mean time if needed. Contractions were still five minutes apart at this time so we figured we had time and stayed home.
Once the midwives arrived my contractions had slowed but were still strong, in the meantime Taylor (age 4) arrived back home and wouldn’t settle for anyone so I had to get out of the pool and make it upstairs in between contractions to cuddle him to sleep. This was actually a very special time as I knew it would be the last time as just us two and I fell asleep with him cuddled into me while I had contractions.
Everything slowed down and the midwives offered an examination to see how dilated I was. I had an internal battle going on and pressure from my husband to have the VE as he was worried. In the end I decided to have it even though throughout pregnancy I was adamant I wouldn’t! The deciding factor was my husband’s concern; he had originally been very against me having a homebirth and one of the promises I made was to listen to his concerns. My worst fears were confirmed when I was only 2-3 cm dilated. All that work over the past week and the intense contractions of the past 24 hours has seemingly ‘been for nothing’.
The midwives decided to leave and let me progress on my own. As soon as everyone left at 3am they ramped up again and by 7am on Sunday I was being sick and struggling to manage the contractions. We waited and they soon got closer together so we called the midwives out again at about 11am. I got back in the pool and soon felt the urge to push. Nothing was happening though and I was getting tired and worried something was wrong as I couldn’t feel her moving down at all. I agreed to a VE and it was the most uncomfortable thing I remember! They told me I was 8-9cm and to try to stop pushing for a while. I was in tears and Katie’s suggestion I went upstairs to lay with Rob but it was so uncomfortable not to push and made the contractions so much more painful and they were on top of each other so no break. I somehow managed to fall asleep during some of them and was even caught snoring! It soon got to the point I couldn’t not push but again nothing was happening and I could sense a bit of tension from the midwives although Katie did her best to keep them away from me and hold my space. They noted my ketones were high and so I was trying to force down coconut water and chocolate rice cakes without being sick!
I took some time out to be on my own and gather my thoughts and found it easier to be on the toilet to push. I could sense the change in atmosphere and knew they wanted to transfer me into hospital. They wanted to do another examination and break my waters and I was starting to feel like I was failing.
I was doing everything I could to avoid having my urine tested further and every time they checked the baby’s heartbeat it pushed me on and motivated me. After another hour or so of nothing happening while I pushed Katie sent me upstairs again with my husband and she did some rebozo shifting.
I knew my time was running out to stay at home as everyone was concerned and I could sense the tension. I felt close to giving up and doing whatever it was they wanted me to. Being in my bed with my husband and Katie telling me I could do it really helped me to stay positive and within minutes I found a hidden energy and declared I was going to do it! I started on the toilet again and finally could feel her membranes and they were moving and getting lower! I kept pushing just me with Rob in our en suite and then the lovely midwife came to check on me and could see the sac! I quickly moved to the floor by our bed as I was determined not to have her on the toilet. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. She was born in the caul which felt and looked like I was laying a big golden egg and she had her arm up by her head which is why they think it took so long for her to descend and the pressure on my cervix was probably uneven hence the long dilation.
I birthed her at 9.45pm on Sunday 19th July 2015 leaning over the bed holding onto my husband being cheerleaded by my mum and Katie. She came out in the caul and the cord wrapped around her neck. I lifted her between my legs and cuddled her to my chest in shock she was finally here and amazed that I’d done it, I wasn’t broken! I then got into the bed and nursed her. We did delayed cord clamping and I waited over an hour for the placenta but it wasn’t coming and I was too tired so agreed to the shot. It took another 20 minutes to get it out as it really didn’t want to anywhere. I suffered a 2nd degree tear and was stitched up with the help of gas and air; this was by far the most painful part of the whole experience and seemed to take forever! We then all toasted with champagne and Eton Mess and got in bed for the night which was the best thing about it all.
I have no doubt that the time it took me to progress would have meant my experience would have been very different in hospital. I needed the safety of my own home and even the first visit from the midwives was enough to stall labour for me. I’m so thankful for my birth team, it really was a joint effort and I’m still on a birth high!
I hope sharing my story helps inspire other women to follow their heart and get the birth they really want.
There’s information about this hospital on The Rosie’s Hospital VBAC data page, including its VBAC guidelines, VBAC rates and care pathway for women planning a VBAC in the Rosie Birth Centre or home.
And for monthly face-to-face support, there’s the Cambridge Birth Choices free drop-in group, held on the second Friday of the month at Cambridge Women’s Resource Centre and the last Friday of the month at Stir Cafe.