Saturday, August 2, 2008
Reflections of an unplanned Homebirth:
Jodie is a 32yr old woman in a stable relationship, and she is my daughter-in-law. She is intelligent, street wise, determined and very much the feminist. Jodie had read and watched everything possible about pregnancy and birth to be well prepared and make informed choices about what she wanted for her birth. I remember talking about a homebirth for her first pregnancy, but being a first baby you are always a little cautious and opt for what is perceived as the safest option. The next best thing then is a Family Birth Centre, home away from home. Jasmine was born after labouring at home (shower) and going into the Birth Centre at 7cm, a beautiful vaginal birth and perineum intact, no complications, baby breast feeding. Mother and baby where home again within 24hrs. Three years later along came Talia. This time things were more relaxed, everyone knows what is going to happen, not sure what happened to the idea of a homebirth it was floating around but never eventuated. Again Jodie laboured at home (shower/bath) and we went into the Birth Centre at 8cm, very much the same birth as previously. After this pregnancy it was decided that this was it, no more. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that before I wouldn’t have to work.
Needless to say Jodie was pregnant with no 3: and Talia was 4mths old. Did they have their work cut out for them!
Jodie contemplated a homebirth but it was all too hard to organise, she was tired of being pregnant, didn’t want to be pregnant again, busy running after two children, so organising a homebirth just did not happen. Also the thought of having to pay $3000.00 when you have reverted to a single income family was a serious consideration, as balancing finances is difficult. By now Jodie was very familiar with the process of childbirth; she was comfortable with her body and knew it intimately she had every faith the baby would come and everything would be fine. They booked into the Family Birth Centre and the pregnancy progressed normally. We had planned our long awaited holiday which coincided with the birth of two of our grandchildren. We asked them to wait for us rather selfishly really, but what the heck, you can only ask. Jodie’s babies always came a little earlier, so I was not surprised she birthed before we came home.
When we came home, Jodie told me her story, this is
The Birth of Samuel James:
Jodie had felt pressure for a couple of days and she knew she was ready, contractions were on and off. Jodie had sent a text message to us in York UK to say she thought that labour was beginning: from that text I was on tender hooks, I called her and she said “the contractions were irregular, but it was beginning” and so it did. Jodie felt the labour “started and stopped, started & stopped”, she could eat her dinner through the contractions. She decided to go to bed to try and get some sleep, she dosed but was uncomfortable.
The contractions were irregular up until about 20 minutes before Samuel was born. The last contraction that she timed was 13 minutes apart, before that one, it was 5 minutes, and before that 10 minutes. Then the contractions were overwhelmingly close together, one after the other with barely any break. Jodie woke Danny up, asked him to call her Mum (Nat) to come over to look after the girls. Danny went to put their bags in the car and move it. Jodie knew it was going to be a rush to get to the birth centre when she asked him to call her Mum. Jodie was sitting on the edge of the bed; “I thought, God I can’t get up, I need to push” She got up and walked into the bathroom. Danny came back inside, she told him to call the birth centre and she remembers saying, “tell her he will probably be born in the car, no, no don’t tell her that”. The Birth Centre midwife talked to Jodie for a while on the phone, this really did not reassure her. Jodie now felt the urge to push and told Danny to phone an ambulance and at this point opened the door for his mother-in-law. First push the waters went, Jodie sat down and pushed, the head crowned. Nat went straight into the bathroom, to find Jodie on the floor pushing, the head was crowing – Nat helped to make Jodie more comfortable. Jodie describes it as “first push the waters broke, second push half the head out knickers off, third push whole head out, fourth push body out then, he (the baby) peed and cried straight away” four contractions in a row, that was it!
Jodie, “I lifted him onto my chest, waited a few minutes to catch my breath” “I asked mum to hold him, as I moved upwards to get more comfortable, we both moved in different directions. The cord snapped like an elastic band, blood squirted in my face, when I realised what happened, I called out the cord and grabbed his end between my fingers, there was about 4 inches left, at no point did I think about the other end of the cord. I will never forget that sound - ping”
The ambulance crew had now arrived; Jodie felt they did not look at any blood loss. The placenta was still in “I could feel myself oozing blood”.
Jodie and the baby were then transferred to hospital.
Jodie says “I was surprised at my own reaction, Samuel, born in the bathroom, and that’s that”.
A rather nonchalant attitude of a woman who knew birthing is a normal process.
I asked Danny how he felt, “It scared the shit out of me” “I was disbelieving of the event, this can not be happening to me” “Pauline the only birth there is no midwife in attendance the whole time and we have him in the bathroom” Danny did say that he was “pleased how it turned out, spun out that Samuel was not intended to be born (as he was not planned), so it was apt that he was to be born at home”
I also spoke to Jodie’s mum Nat, about how she felt about the sequence of events, and on reflection Nat said “it takes 12 minutes from my house to Jodie’s, I thought, Ok, I just have to be around, I can do that” “I wish I had more time to prepare, blankets, towels, etc for the baby, it all happened to quickly, I didn’t even have enough time to take my coat off”. “Jodie was wonderful”, when I think about it now, I can smile, but at the time I just couldn’t believe it”. “It was good to have a glass of red and collect my thoughts after they had all gone to the Birth Centre” “thank goodness the girls slept through it all”.
Jodie’s birth reminds us of how important mental attitude is to the birthing experience. When women trust their bodies and the natural process of birth they are intuitive and sensitive to the process of birth. Women intuitively squat, or lie down in a quiet place and spontaneously push. Jodie believes that the birthing process is normal and that all will be well.
Congratulations Jodie for allowing Samuel to be born in the way he wanted to be born.
“Just as a woman’s heart knows how and when to pump her lungs to inhale and her hand to pull back from fire, so she knows when and how to give birth” Virginia Di Orio