On Monday 23rd September we welcomed our final bit of the puzzle to our family. Beatrice (our little Bea 🐝) born at 5:57am weighing in at 8lb 2oz. This is our home birth story…
My first was a hospital birth which was assisted by forceps, episiotomy and just distressing entirely so I home birthed my second and had a speedy unassisted birth which was just perfect and it was of course my intention to birth our 3rd little one at home again.
The hurdles I jumped over and barriers I came up against to birth at home in my safe place were coming thick and fast from the start of the pregnancy.
Having had 2 fairly strait forward pregnancies before I had no idea things could be so tough.
At 28 weeks I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. The scan was showing a supposedly big baby. As the weeks went on the baby was looking large at all the scans and talk of early induction and intervention from consultants kept coming at me.
I tried to find evidence, answers and support in groups like this [Gestational Diabetes UK Mums Facebook group] and making friends with Mums who had similar issues. But finding ladies who birthed at home with GD and potentially big babies who also gestated to full term were few and far between.
I was determined however, to have my baby at home and I weighed up the risks and made informed choices.
The decision was difficult at the time to decline scans, appointments (not all just some) but I remained diet controlled until the end. I had never worked at something and fought so hard in my life to keep my baby healthy and to birth where I knew where I’d birth best.
I was judged by people on groups, friends and family and also supported too. My husband remained my rock through it all and he never doubted we could do this. I had supportive friends too.
At 36 weeks the consultant was happy to let me go to 40 weeks then she said she wanted me to be induced. She also advised me that I was going against medical advice to birth at home and the risks were yet again presented to me. I listened of course and felt pretty devastated. I let her book my induction and went away to make my own plan and check the risks and weigh it all up.
The potential big baby still on the cards, looking like I might have a 9lb baby, plus the issues faced during labour and after with the GD and babies blood sugars was so overwhelming. I can see why so many women with a GD diagnosis just go to hospital. But this wasn’t for me at all.
My community midwives we’re supporting my decision to birth at home. They came to do my homebirth assessment and together with myself, them and the hospital, a plan was formulated for my homebirth and what to do if things didn’t go to plan.
I decided I would choose to accept early stretch and sweeps from 38 weeks. In total I had 3.
Looking back to my last sweep on the Saturday, I really had started to become doubtful they might work to be honest. As I had been getting strong contractions which started and stopped since the first sweep at 38 weeks.
Come Sunday late evening, I started to get stronger pains which radiated down my legs like painful cramps. I decided to get an early night and in the early hours of this Monday morning I awoke at 2am to feel very strong contractions coming every 5 mins.
Still doubting myself that this could be the real thing I tried to get back to sleep till 3am when I suddenly got the urge to go down stairs and start preparing.
I didn’t want to wake my husband just yet as I wanted to be alone and concentrate on breathing out the pain. I have house cats so popped them into there outdoor enclosure so I knew they would be safe and out the way.
I popped my oils into my oil diffusers and lit my candles . I tried to relax and use the relaxation techniques I’d taught myself. I reminded myself that with each surge it would bring me closer to the end when I would finally meet my baby. I tried to stay calm and breath the pain out but it started to get a bit overwhelming.
I had been sat on my birthing ball but I moved myself onto my knees on a cushion on the floor and leaned over my sofa. I must have been there only a few mins when I herd a pop sound! Almost instantly I felt a massive dropping sensation and the most painful contraction I’d had since things had started. I shouted for my husband at his point. He was down the stairs very fast and began to prepare the pool and called the labour ward as we knew I’d labour fast like before.
At this point it was 4:30am and contractions came think and fast. It seemed to take forever to get through to the ward. When he did they called 2 midwives to attend . I didn’t have any issues with them sending anybody, but the midwifes were not very close by to get to me straight away and it became apparent that I needed to start to push.
My husband called the labour ward back just after 5am and told them I was pushing and asked where the midwifes were? They put a midwife onto the phone from the ward while they chased the community midwife.
The midwife on the phone had an amazing calm voice and started to give instructions to my husband on helping to deliver the baby. I was so grateful for her talking me through things as I started to panic a bit.
Having had an unassisted birth before I tried to remind myself I can do this but then the doubts of big baby getting stuck kept popping into my mind.
At this point I lost all concept of time but just after 5:30am I delivered the head. I remember thinking about the burning sensation and how I might tear but relief the head was out. At this point of crowning the 1st midwife arrived. I felt instant relief to see her although my husband had been amazing.
The midwife then coached my husband through the next part as he was the one I wanted to catch the baby. Unfortunately baby appeared to be stuck. Not because of size but due to the arm being in a funny position. The midwife asked me if I could change position and get onto the sofa with my legs up. What she did next to help was awesome! She had to insert two fingers inside to move the arm back into place so I could birth the rest of my baby.
Within seconds baby was in position and with another few pushes my husband caught our baby and passed her to me.
He told me we had a baby girl! She started to cry straight away and I instantly knew everything was going to be okay. I felt instant relief.
I then waited 30 mins to birth the placenta naturally. Baby fed after a few minutes and instant euphoria set in. We had done It 🙌 We birthed in the place we felt safe. We made informed choices and went with our gut instinct. Bea 🐝 also passed all her sugars which I did myself after birth which was part of our plan. Had she not I would have transferred to hospital.
My blood sugars also went back to normal and I enjoyed the best bowl of fruit salad and yogurt plus toast. Something I could not eat for 3 months! My girls came down dresses for school to welcome a new sister they were so excited to meet her!
So that’s the end of my birthing journey to fight for a choice and set a presidency to women who want to birth at home when the risks are presented as high. What a journey it’s been!
Thank you to everyone who’s supported me in this group [Gestational Diabetes UK Mums] from start to finish. I hope any other ladies who are diagnosed with gestational diabetes will not be told they are not allowed to birth at home, but no doubt they will be and I want them to realise they can make decisions about their care and that it’s not just black and white if you have GD. Or no matter what issues you come up against during your pregnancy always find out as much info as you can you help you make a choice. Ladies, we got this!! Louise, Lincolnshire
For more information on home and/or water birth with gestational diabetes and more birth stories please read more here.