Luca’s birth story
Tuesday 13 November 2001
I’ve had 2 homebirths, both births have completely changed the course of my life forever… this is the story of my 1st labour & birth. Still busy with the latest …
I worked in the medical field for some years (although I’m not medically trained) I had the opportunity to listen to other women’s birth stories and in almost all instances they ranged from mildly horrible to severely traumatic. ALL of the women had their babies in hospital so I knew that when I was ready, I’d have a home birth. I must also mention that my mom gave birth to me at home (a planned birth) and her positive account thereof helped cement my decision.
For my 1st child we had a lovely midwife who really made me feel like I was completely in control of my pregnancy & labour & helped us through a most awesome birthing experience. I remember looking forward to experiencing the surges unlike many other women who saw it as “something terrible to get through or avoid”
MY biggest fear was having the midwife see me naked!!!! Before my pregnancy I weighed 83k’s & gained a respectable 9kgs!! (Apparently overweight women do not gain as much weight as leaner ladies – extra weight is actually a safety feature in maintaining a healthy pregnancy) I considered hiring a tens machine and pool for pain relief but at the time I could not afford the extra expense of the tens (we’re not on medical aid) & the only birthing pool for hire at the time was a huge, shallow enamel contraption which was just too cumbersome. All through the pregnancy I was in a constant state of arousal (My husband eventually became sick of my insatiable appetite & would make up excuses to avoid me!!!)
I do think that our regular sessions are what contributed to me not tearing during the birth (so that advice is definitely true if you want to reduce your chances of a tear or episiotomy – get busy in the bedroom or kitchen or wherever you want to….)
I was 1 week overdue with my 1st child and on the 6th day had a rose-coloured “show” so I knew things would happen soon. The next day I potted around at home and at 2pm settled on the couch for my afternoon siesta!!
At 4pm I awoke with a strong tummy ache. I knew immediately that this was a contraction although it did surprise me how strong the sensation was. I toddled off to the loo as it felt like I needed to do a bowel movement but nothing happened. I phoned my husband and told him to leave work as today was labour day. I phoned my mom as it felt as though I could finally affirm that my baby was on her way. I was scared for a moment on my own & my mom offered to come over but I reassured her that I was coping (We had politely informed my mom that she couldn’t come to the birth as I knew her presence would inhibit me and possibly interfere with how involved my husband would be).
I sat on my bed absorbing all of this strange sensation happening. Just as I’d anticipated, it was really amazing to feel the hardening of my uterus as it worked without my effort to help my baby come. We called our midwife who came to visit at about 7 that evening to find me 4cm “delighted” (not a misprint) She made plans to go home & feed her family supper & said she’s join us afterwards. It was lovely just having my husband there, the 2 of us in silent awareness that this would really be our last few moments “alone” for the rest of our lives….(in hindsight perhaps we should have gone to some swanky restaurant that don’t allow kids….).
The surges were wonderful as I sat crossed legged on the floor alternating sitting “straddled” on the dining room chair. I found myself yearning to climb into the bath & the sensation of the warm water was like how babies must feel after being alone & being enveloped in the warmth of their mothers’ arms. This is where my midwife found me when she returned somewhere around 9 that evening. She poured warm water over my surging belly which was such a releasing sensation in comparison to the tightening of the surges. At some stage during the night while I was in the bath my husband was passing our lounge window to find my mother peering through!!! She had made my brother drive her through to check if I was alright!!! She didn’t even come in, satisfied that all seemed calm – Eish!!!
I climbed out after that & my midwife massaged my back, later on I got back in the bath which I just seemed to gravitate towards…..Oh how I wish I had gotten that birth bath.
Sometime around 11pm I was found to be 9 cm dilated with my membranes in tact. My m’wife offered to release them “to speed things up” (I now wish I had not consented to that – as I was ‘going’ at a good pace) The rupture of the membranes was completely painless as were all the (very few) internals my m’wife gave me.
At this point I knew I didn’t have long to go but I was very tired as I’m usually an early sleeper. From here on the surges were really intense, I also did some labour sitting on the toilet – then I ended up on my knees on the floor next to my bed resting my head on the mattress. By now all the m’wifes paraphernalia was set up, ready for the birth. She called the back up m’wife to come & with in 10minutes she was there (it was probably more than 10m’s but my sense of time was completely altered) She was just what I needed as I was now getting annoyed with not yet feeling the urge to push. She would vigorously wipe my face with a cold flannel that would get me fighting fit to deal with those hectic transition surges as well as offer me stern encouragement and 2 broad shoulders. Just when I thought I could take it no longer I remember saying ridiculous things like”I’m leaving now!!!” or “After this contraction I’m going to bed, I’ll carry on in the morning!!” To which my m’wife asked “where are you going? You’re already at home?” As soon as she said that I realized I was babbling nonsense. This is the part of my labour where I was on such a high from all my body’s natural endorphins that you end up saying the most ridiculous things. I liken it to that moment at the peak of orgasm where you shout out all sorts of weird & wonderful things…….yes, good old endorphins, got to love them!!
My knees were taking strain from all the kneeling & I decided to get up to get into a more comfortable position.
OMG!!! The action of going from sitting to standing completely separated my pelvic outlet as it felt as though my hips were moving in opposite directions. I could immediately feel my baby drop right down as more amniotic waters gushed out. Then came the most awesome feeling of the baby’s head. I had flopped onto the bed with my husband behind me supporting my back. The sensation of what felt like the baby coming out of my arse took me by surprise but my midwife reassured me that that was exactly the right feeling & I carried on pushing like a demon. It felt so much better to push into that feeling & before long I could feel the stretch of the birthing tissues – that was not so nice!! It really felt like a ring of fire & again I had to make peace with the sensation before I could make it work for me.
It really didn’t feel like I was making any progress with the pushing as my birthing team kept saying one more push, one more push!!! Then my m’wifes’ tone changed as she said “if you don’t get this baby out with the next push then we have to go to hospital”
I was having none of that!!!! ( I must mention that I was administered oxygen during the pushing stage as my baby’s heart rate had dropped – which is perfectly expected during the expulsion phase but my m’wife felt that the rate was too slow & hence the threat of transfer) With one final push she was out!!! I was so happy, I couldn’t believe that I’d done it!!! I mean I knew I could,… I just didn’t think it would be so awesome (this was IMMEDIATELY after she was out – endorphins!!)
She was wrapped in a warm towel to be handed to me but I was like – Nope, I need a moment. So my hubby held her sitting next to me on the bed. I very quickly birthed the placenta and at this time my m’wife announced I had no tears!!! Finally I wanted to hold my little child, she was even more beautiful than I imagined.
Naturally the warm bath waters beckoned me closer & it was then that I really studied her little face, she was so observant of me, the 2 of us getting to know each other. The midwives took her to be dressed & I just wanted to stay in that warm water…..So I did for at least another 15 minutes, just soaking in all that had happened. I was just amazed…..I climbed into bed & was keen to start our 1st breastfeed, which went smoothly without any major trials. No cracked nipples, milk came in on day 2(this is common in home births as you have constant access to your baby!!)
We resumed our marital relations on day 13 with lots of laughter & tenderness.
I’ve since trained as a doula & have absolutely loved the home births I’ve supported.
(photo of Lana and Luca, 2009)