Having 'birthed' my breech baby by C/S after a home birth plan through the whole pregnancy, I took a while to regain the belief in the power of women's bodies. We are designed for birht. Now I am happy to say that I KNOW WE CAN DO IT!! Here is the story of Zain's birth...born 7th Nov 06
The passage of Zain Isaac Dinwoodie into the world.
My birthing experience began at around 41 weeks with a small but steady drip of fluids and intermittent mellow contractions. As Ina May Gaskin says, I was very ‘juicy’. I kept my local midwife (lovely supportive woman) informed of this and she was keen to leave me alone and let things take their course, so long as we came in for regular checks on the amniotic fluid levels and the heartbeat. Both were great at each visit so we simply waited. It felt great to know that the baby would show up when he/she wanted to and not by some medical protocol (despite consultant’s wishes). I was excited to experience labour and the power of surges as my daughter had been born by elective C/S 20 months before.
During the following week my back went out and I found myself hobbling around with intense sacro-iliac pain. The visits to the osteopath did not work their usual magic what with the softened ligaments (a good thing when preparing to birth!) but did probably help to create room for the baby to pass.
My mum came to help out a lot that week with my 20 month old daughter, and offered to take her for the night to give me a rest from picking her up and entertaining her. I was glad of the rest (at exactly 42 weeks pregnant). Needless to say, I was getting a little fed up and bored with being indoors. My back pain had taken away my daily walks and even driving was impossible. About an hour after they left, at 5.15pm, I began to stimulate my nipples as an experiment. The pineapples, curry, reflexology, massage and acupuncture hadn’t helped so perhaps this would? PRESTO. About a minute into it, while embarking on a rare movie with my husband Stuart, I felt a much bigger feeling, and the urge to move to the toilet because a LOT of fluid was on its way out.
I just made it. And things were definitely now ON. Boy, I was so excited. Finally, the chance to experience labour, hormones, my baby’s passage through me and out into my arms- all at home in Stuart’s arms!! And all without fear.
So we called the midwife and I prepared to bake for the midwives, my friend and a very special experienced birth educator. I kept saying that I would begin baking “after the next contraction”. The oven was preheated for a couple of hours before we turned it off. By that time it was clear that baking was not an option – the surges were way too consuming.
The waters continued to flow. I was glad of the incontinence pants I had bought ‘just in case’. The’waters’were slightly reddish/brown, but the midwife, with her 24 years of experience (THANK GOD we got that one- we’d never met her or most of the team of 13) chose not to panic. She left us to it, and told us to call when things became too difficult to handle alone. For the next three and a half hours I thoroughly enjoyed my body and the journey to meeting my new baby. Surprisingly, I pulled out the birthing ball and took up a corner in my living room between a chair and the couch! I made good use of the TENS machine. Then, when I felt things were getting heavier, we called the midwife to come back. She arrived and despite the fact we didn’t know her before, became part of the furniture. She was very hands-off and yet there with her experience if we needed her. The TENS machine began to be ignored as I focused more and more on the building intensity. Between surges, conversation flowed as we all got to know each other. As a surge approached, I politely excused myself from the conversation and hung around Stuart’s neck, rocking with him form side to side. He was a rock (a rocking rock)! Then we would resume our chatter.
At 10pm our dear friend arrived. She is a very experienced birth educator whom we had asked to come in case we got inexperienced midwives. She also knew what to do. She melted into the furniture and only became visible when she was giving us words of encouragement or praise “You two are doing a perfect job, and look like you are having a lovely dance together”, “Daisy, you look so beautiful and powerful”, “Your baby will be here soon” etc.
Not once did anyone suggest an internal. It was irrelevant. The baby would be here when it was ready.
I was in such jovial spirits…so thrilled to be in labour. Sore yes, but powerful. And the pain was leading somewhere – down and out. All I had to do was stay loose and confident. That was easy. I had nothing else in my mind, and my body had its own prerogative. I had wondered how I would be in labour. I was surprised to feel so light in spirit, cracking jokes and loving every minute, breathing and loving Stuart being there.
During one particularly strong surge, I had a strong desire to puke. The midwife procured a vessel and I laughed to myself as I puked into my big soup pot. Bananas and toast. With that cleared out, my body went straight into serious work mode. Things became a bit blurry then.
What I can remember is that I became scared of my toilet: whenever I went near it, the surge was almost unbearable (perhaps my usual habit of eliminating in there?). And with my bathroom being so small, I was alone. So when I needed to pee, I timed it to happen right after a surge ended. At this stage it felt as though they never properly ended though so I was caught out a couple of times. Ouch.
I had a birth pool set up in our room (from 38 weeks) and Stuart had made it warm earlier. Now he was offering to fill it up with hot. I did not want to move from this perfect room with these perfect companions yet. I was waiting for the perfect moment. “After this next surge, I’ll go through to the pool”, I kept repeating. Then, the right moment came (11.30ish). After this one, I hurried through, whipped off the TENS machine (which had been ignored for a few hours now) and my nightie, and got in to the lovely water.
The second my foot was in, the BIGGEST surge took over, and everything changed completely. The baby was starting to move down already! No conversation now. No looking at the stuff I had put on the walls for the birth, no music, no smells – just work and breathing, and opening, and cold towels on my head to keep me cool. Just my husband and I, and the water. At some point the ladies came in and remarked that I was now moving fast. They were surprised when I was pushing. Stuart became my life line then. So long as his legs were in front of me, I did not look up. I gripped around the back of his knees and swayed in the water from side to side on my knees. Between surges he managed to get neroli in the aromastream and to keep cold water on my head. The midwife called the second support midwife and our friend became a wave machine. She was constant. Every second until the baby came, she gave my lower back a steady wave, and occasionally gave me a word. The word OPEN did the most. I repeated this word over and over, and each time became more and more open, allowing the baby to make its journey through me.
The only thing that almost broke my rhythm was when the midwife would put the sonic -aid into the water and push it against my belly, often moving it around, as the baby’s heartbeat was hard to find when it was moving. This was very painful (especially during surges), and distracting. I growled “OFF” at one point. She left it then. When I could feel the baby’s head a couple of inches inside and my pushing had taken on a VERY DEEP sound (like a bull elephant according to Stuart), she prodded me again for a heartbeat. I wondered why she was doing this as the baby would obviously be here very soon anyway. I managed something like “Why monitor, baby almost here”. Her reply during the next mega surge was “because the baby may be in distress”. The next prod gave us a heart rate reading of 104. She told me this and momentary fear led me into an almighty push and the arrival of our son’s head. (In retrospect, I realise that the heart rate may well have recovered after the surge). I ripped quite a bit but oddly, it felt good at the time. He had arrived. A boy. Our son. 9lb 5 oz… a big lad. The second midwife arrived less than a minute before this arrival.
What I felt then was that all was right with the world, that my body did as I knew it could (and would) and that I was now of the fellowship of mothers who had taken this rite of passage through labour. I had so longed for labour.
Zain Isaac was born beautiful. He is perfect. Stuart also remarked that ‘he is well-hung too’!! He began to feed immediately and had a smooth and easy latch. What bliss after my daughter’s difficulties after CS.
Then we hit some small difficulties. To cut a long (4 hour) story short, my body did not easily expel the placenta, despite my squatting etc and I eventually had syntometrin after an hour. I became groggy and listless. I was sewn up (comical at the time with the three ladies and their bright lamp between my spread legs) and while they all enjoyed a sip of champagne and cookies, we realised that I had lost around a litre of blood. There was no panic, just a request for me to go into hospital for ‘topping up with fluids’. I didn’t want to go. Not because it took anything away from our experience, but simply because I did not have the energy nor the inclination to put clothes on myself or Zain. However, we went. I was rehydrated and sent home with iron a day and a half later, where we had a joyful reunion with our daughter. She was delighted to meet her new baby.
Then the snuggledown began.