First time mom, posterior home birth, post-partum hospital transfer – positive outcome
My journey to the midwives at MAMA started when I was 8 weeks pregnant and exploring birth options. I wanted to have a natural physiological childbirth, prevent unnecessary medical interventions, and build my emotional and psychological support team. After just one meeting with Jan, I knew that the MAMA group was the best option. Over the rest of my pregnancy, I collaborated with Rachel and a backup obstetrician to prepare for my home birth.
My labor started at midnight on Thursday 24th July. My husband (Ken), dog and I went for a walk around the neighborhood at 1am under the light of the full moon, and soon after my contractions increased to 5 minutes apart. By 4am the intensity had increased, the TENS machine was in place, and we called Jan as we thought we were heading towards a quick labor.
The rest of early labor is a blur…my surges felt very strong from the beginning, I was unable to talk through them. I remember vomiting a couple times and trying to rest as much as possible. My waters broke at 11:30am on Friday and slowly drained throughout labor. Despite a quick start, active labor did not begin until 8:30pm Friday night. Our midwives checked in throughout the day and joined us around 9pm.
Contractions were irregular but strong throughout the night. I was able to doze a little bit between them while the midwives tried to rest as we waited for the frequency to increase. I wore the TENS machine until 2:30am on Saturday (when the batteries died) and tried to distract from the surges in the shower and by constantly changing positions.
By 5am the surges had gotten more intense, and after some hot water tank complications, we filled the pool and I got in at 7am Saturday morning. I was hoping the pool would relieve the pain, but it didn’t help as much as I wanted. My contractions were the most intense at this point, I squeezed and shook the handlebars inside the pool during surges. I moaned loudly and breathed as deep as I could, telling myself it was normal “healthy, productive pain”. Any time I would get scared or feel my adrenaline kicking in, I would repeat affirmations in my head and say to myself “oxytocin, oxytocin, endorphins, endorphins” and imagined oxytocin pouring from my brain throughout my body (what we learned in Rhea Dempsey’s class).
Labor slowed a bit and I could rest my head on the side of the pool dozing/snoring between surges to gain strength. Ken put headphones in my ears and pressed play on my “birth” playlist which gave me more energy to keep going. I purposely didn’t look at my phone, so I didn’t know what day or time it was. All the blinds were drawn to keep my melatonin up, I wanted to trick my body into thinking it was nighttime, when most births happen.
By 9am, Sarah (our second midwife) arrived so Rachel and Maree (student midwife) could rest for the pushing phase. Sarah encouraged me to get out of the pool to get things going again. The pool was filling with bodily fluids and meconium, but she wasn’t concerned. Sarah brought me to the toilet (aka dilation station) and lightly rubbed my back and squeezed my hips through contractions, which alleviated the pressure. I could feel the baby moving past my tail bone, my sacrum popping out, it was an intense sensation. It felt good when Ken stroked my arms slow and steady. When I got uncomfortable sitting, I stood up and turned around, leaning over the top of the toilet while I felt the urge to bear down – finally!!
At 11am I got in the shower, leaning over a chair with hot water pressure on my back- that felt much better than the pool. I was squatting and bearing down with the surges, swaying my hips side to side. When the hot water ran out, I used our pull up bar to squat from a scarf that Sarah hung there. I got a burst of adrenaline and was enjoying pushing because I could feel the baby coming down through me, I was actually doing something!
The contractions were strong and I could feel my body pushing even more after I pushed, taking the wind out of me. By 1:30pm everyone was present and we could start to see the baby’s head. The midwives were checking the baby’s heart rate frequently to make sure she was not in distress, the baby was safe and healthy. I had no fear. I sat and pushed more on the toilet, that got her head down further. I reached down and could feel her head inside me, it was so encouraging!! I was the first person to touch her head, no vaginal checks were done during my labor, very pleased about that!
We went back to the lounge room where I kneeled on a mattress on the floor. I leaned over an exercise ball on my forearms, Ken sitting in front of me holding my hands (I squeezed them until they turned purple!). Once I got into position to start pushing baby out, my dog, Siena, sat calmly next to me on the mat, she knew it was happening.
Rachel was incredible at helping me push with my body. She whispered words of encouragement and offered position changes like lifting one leg. Through each contraction, she would tell me when to do a big or little push. I trusted her completely. She placed a warm compress and oil on my perineum as the baby was crowning to prevent any tearing. The ring of fire was brief, I was expecting it to be worse. I loved feeling every part of the burning and stretching sensation because it helped me control how fast she was coming. Once her head was out, I felt some relief and could rest for a minute, with the next contraction the rest of her body slid out at 3:18pm. After 40 hours, Aurora was born naturally direct posterior (forehead first)! She let out a little cry then was quiet, Rachel passed her to me underneath my legs so I could bring her up to my naked chest, she was warm, wet, and cooing. It was surreal! Ken was rubbing my arms and kissing me saying, “You did it!!”. Siena was excited, wanted to lick and smell her. The joy, relief, and disbelief after such a long labor was overwhelming. I birthed my baby at home like I planned. I felt so proud of myself, full of exhilaration and gratitude, the baby was healthy; that’s all I wanted!
After over an hour of family bonding bliss, baby breastfeeding with the cord still attached, and Rachel’s support, I had not yet birthed my placenta. She gave me a shot of syntocinon at 4:30pm to get my uterus to contract while Ken cut the cord and held the baby. The midwives tried cord tractions but unfortunately the cord snapped. Despite a catheter to empty my bladder of urine and another shot if syntometrine, Rachel calmly made the call for an ambulance to bring us to hospital for third stage support.
Rachel came with the baby and me in the ambulance, which was a huge comfort. The ride was quiet, the paramedics dimmed the lights, and I was able to hold my baby skin to skin the whole time. Our backup OB was waiting for me when they opened the doors and reassured me everything would be OK.
I ultimately ended up in theatre, under general anesthesia to have my placenta manually removed, due to a rare complication called “retained placenta”. There was no way to predict or prevent it, and it would have happened whether I was in a hospital or at a home. Rachel stayed in the hospital with my husband while he bonded with the baby until I came out, checked on me and even brought my placenta home to store in my freezer so I still have it! After 2 nights in hospital bonding as a family, a blood transfusion, excellent OB, physio, and midwife support, we finally brought our little girl home (again)!
I am forever grateful to my support team during my pregnancy and birth. Even with third stage complications and transfer I wouldn’t have changed a thing and will have another home birth if given the chance. The MAMA team fully supported my personal goal to have a natural physiological childbirth. They did not rush my long labor, which if in hospital likely would have resulted in unwanted interventions. I am lucky to have had such a beautiful, empowering, positive experience. Rachel was the best midwife we could have asked for, can’t recommend her enough! She spent hours discussing my fears and anxieties about birth, putting me at ease with her expertise and reassuring presence. Sarah was amazing at getting my labor to speed up, comforting me during the pushing phase, she was a doula and midwife combined!
The midwives at MAMA are angels who walk the earth. They gave me knowledge, confidence, and most of all trust and emotional support throughout the most monumental time of my life.