First time Mothers can have home births.
Story by Tessa Hopson
The birth of our Toby.
The birth of our son, Toby has been what I can only describe as life changing in the most overwhelming and beautiful way possible. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, could prepare me for what motherhood has been thus far. Everything has taught me something new about myself, and I have had to dig to the depths of my inner warrior more times than I can count.
I will start from the start.
My first sign that I knew something could happen soon with the birth of our baby was when I lost part of my mucus plug on the Thursday afternoon. I noticed it when I went to the toilet, and I went to tell my husband what had happened. We were both pretty quick to be like, oh I’m sure it’s nothing to get excited about, it could happen anytime – not right now! I asked the group of pregnant women I am a part of on Facebook with babes due in May/June this year, what others had experienced in the past from previous pregnancies, and it ranged “I had baby 6 hours later” to “I lot mine 2 weeks ago and nothing’s happened”! Goes to show how different everyone is!
That Saturday I felt pretty tired and a little jaded. I had very small abdominal tweaks and just generally felt pretty average. I lay low and we cooked a big roast for dinner and had my sister-in-law and neighbour over for dinner. The next morning I thought, I’m not getting out of bed! My husband, Brendan came in about 10am from the farm and I was still in bed. If anyone knows me, they know I’m a morning person and lie-ins are very unusual. I just felt so cosy!
All day on the Sunday I felt slight period like cramps inconsistently. I figured this could be the start of something and to stick around home. Pretty easy to do since it was an average day outside and there was netball to watch on tv! I knew to have a good solid meal any chance I could because at this stage I thought it could really kick up a gear and I didn’t know when I would feel like eating again. Good thing I did this because it was the last proper meal I ate before some toast and fruit on Tuesday morning after the birth!
From about midnight Sunday night/Monday morning I was awake with regular surges about 3-5 minutes apart lasting about 45 seconds. It was 3am when I said to Brendan, ok I think you had better fill up the pool because these are pretty close together. I called my Mum who we had asked to help during the labour, and also called our midwife to let her know about the surges. It was all go from there – My mum turned up and started boiling water, Brendan got the hot water from the cowshed and our midwife Belinda arrived to check me over. Just before the Belinda arrived, I spewed for the first time and I thought Oh yeah here we go, it’s happening quick!
Well, it did not… The next 24 hours consisted of Brendan, Mum and Belinda taking turns putting steaming hot towels on my lower back while I walked up and down the hallway, giving me sips of water and orange juice, and asking if I needed anything while I breathed through surges on the swiss ball, leaning on the sofa and rocking back and forth in the kitchen. At 10am on the Monday Belinda went to see some of her other mums in town and then home to try and have a nap. I kept wanting to lie down to rest so we all decided to have a nap and see what would happen. I don’t think I slept at all, but lying on my side for a few surges seemed to really help. They seemed more intense lying down as walking was a relief, but I just didn’t have the energy to get up.
This carried on well into the night and by midnight we thought we would try getting in the pool. I perked up a fair bit then – kept some drink down and was quite happy talking to everyone until I just spewed it all up again. I was pretty exhausted by this point, and I started talking about our options of heading to the hospital. I had made it pretty clear numerous times to Brendan, that if I start talking about getting transferred that he was to talk me out of this and remind me that is not what we wanted to do if it was not an emergency. Our midwife gave us an option then. We could be transferred, and the first thing they would want to know was how dilated I was, and then hook me up to a saline drip to see if this helped. Our midwife said she can do all of that here, and then we would have an idea if things progressed. She encouraged the drip because of how much fluid I had lost through spewing and was sure I just needed hydrating.
Sure, enough I was 7cm dilated – thank goodness because I was so nervous about finding this out. It is only a number and is only a snapshot of that point in time, but it was reassuring that I was so far along. The internal exam hurt more than most of the surges I had been having! Belinda also said she could feel baby’s head which was pretty surreal. Once the drip was finished, I started to get cold in the pool so got out and had a hot shower. This was amazing! I then went back into my birthing space and the surges stepped up and intensified. Before I knew it, they were about a minute apart and really strong. At one point I remember putting my hand down there thinking shit I think the head’s coming out! It wasn’t – but baby must have moved.
It was about now that I thought I could not do this., this is way too hard. I even asked the two midwives and Brendan if they could do it for me! If they could just have a turn! And I kept thinking why can’t they just pull this baby out? This baby is right there – surely they can just pull them out?!
I pushed for what felt like forever. Since talking to my husband it was less than an hour, maybe more like half an hour but it dragged on forever it felt like. I remember the midwife saying if you put your hand down you will feel the head! At another point, when baby was crowning, our midwife said to stop pushing. I looked at her like are you bloody crazy? I can’t! Sure enough another push and my baby’s head was born. She thought I was going to tear, which is why she said stop so my skin had a chance to stretch. Pretty sure bubs slithered out from then and our midwife said do you want to reach down and lift them up? I placed my baby on my chest and held on so tight. I kept saying oh my god you’re here! I am sure I repeated this about 20 times before Brendan, who was supporting me through the pushing on the bed behind me asked, “Is it a boy or a girl?” We lifted up one leg and saw it was a BOY! I lay there for a while, when our midwife asked if I think I could do a little push for the placenta. I tried half-heartedly and then said no I am exhausted. They gave me an oxytocin injection in my thigh and sure enough it birthed easily.
We waited until the cord had stopped pulsing before cutting it. I had purchased a cotton green stone tie to use, so Brendan tied this on then he cut the cord. I loved using this tie and the cord eventually dropped off after only 5 days. Our midwife said not to use any products around the belly button so as not to kill any of the good bacteria. The belly button needs the healthy bacteria to do its job and it takes longer for it to fall off if the good bacteriadie. At this point the second midwife examined me and I had half a dozen or so stitches. They were very small skin tears and about 2 or 3 in my perineum, which were minor. These dissolved after about 2 weeks.
The midwife checked over my placenta and noted that it was almost heart shaped. The umbilical cord was coming out from the edge of the placenta, which was interesting, a variation of normal. All this time I had our wee boy on my chest with a towel and blanket over us. The midwives had helped me lean back on some pillows on the bed, so we were comfortable, and my mum made me a snack as I was starving! Bubs had latched on for his first breast feed of colostrum.
Once our baby, Toby was weighed, measured, and dressed – not washed as we wanted the goodies from the vernix to absorb into him – I had a quick shower. The midwives said don’t wash your hair and only wash from your waist down, as bubs needs to know your familiar smell. Toby was wrapped up and he slept for about 4 hours. I had a nap too and woke up when he did. From here the sleep feed cycle started and it has not stopped!
The labour and birthing experience is one I will never forget. Our hypnobirthing classes paid off big time, and I never once believed I couldn’t birth our baby naturally at home without any interventions. I had confidence that my body was opening and allowing our baby to move downwards. This confidence came from A LOT of positive thinking, visualisation, listening to positive affirmations, stretching and yoga. It also came from having an amazingly supportive network around me, particularly our midwife Belinda, Brendan, and our families.
I will forever stand strong and support women who wish to birth at home. I will be forever grateful that my hard work and the hard work of my support team I had around me allowed me the safe arrival of our little boy Toby.