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My Unassisted Birth Story




                        I never worked out an EDD (I was travelling at the time of
                        conception and did not take note of periods) nor did I have any
                        tests or ultrasounds etc. to work out my due date so I estimated
                        it to be sometime in April/May. During my pregnancy, I took
                        exceptional care of myself to avoid the need to see a doctor. I
                        always knew I would never have my baby in a hospital so the
                        obvious alternative was a midwife attended homebirth. I loved the
                        idea of an unassisted homebirth and so did DH but simply did not
                        think it was 'done'. So, at around 4 months, we interviewed a few
                        midwives who were concerned that I did not know my EDD and
                        did not want an ultrasound (or any other tests for that matter) as
                        she would not know whether the baby is premature or not. I was
                        not too happy with the overall attitude of the midwives, they
                        advertised themselves as 'giving you the birth you want' but behind
                        the scenes it read: 'within OUR guidelines'. I asked a few if they
                        would be happy to wait in another room during the labour and
                        actual birth and just come if called but they could not due to
                        liability restrictions (professional indemnity insurance etc.). I did
                        not want any of the pre-natal visits (perhaps one) or the post-natal
                        care for recommended ten days though they insisted on this also.
                        On account of this, DH and I decided to do it on our own as, at
                        least, we could do it the way we wanted to do it. We researched
                        unassisted birth and were pleasantly surprised to find it was
                        relatively common. We set out on our mission which was to have
                        the birth WE wanted. It was a little difficult convincing family that
                        this was 'ok' but they eventually came around (my mother seemed
                        okay with it since she gave birth to me in a hotel with a few
                        non-professional attendants although, she too, had some
                        concerns).

                        We had a birthing pool delivered towards the end of March (just in
                        case) which we made very good use of. I found it was incredibly
                        relaxing being in the pool visualising the birth with candles and
                        some light music on. Every time I saw the pool I would wish that
                        the birth would come soon, I was so looking forward to the final
                        days of pregnancy.

                        After waiting and waiting for the birth, I finally decided I would try
                        to enjoy my time alone with DH before we introduced our first
                        child into the family. On Thursday 13 May, just after I got into
                        bed, a huge gush of water spilled onto the sheets. DH grabbed a
                        towel, held it under me as I walked to the toilet. There was so
                        much water I could not get of the toilet for at least an hour. I was
                        becoming very excited (relaxed at the same time) but I felt it was
                        going to be a while yet. DH was wanting to fill the pool already but
                        I told him we should go back to sleep as I couldn't feel any signs
                        of labour yet. I could hardly sleep, I was so full of hope and
                        excitement. I woke at 5.30am (very unusual for me) and took
                        some digital photos of the sunrise, birds and trees so I could
                        show it to my baby as the morning she arrived. Well, I still felt
                        nothing so decided that it wasn't going to happen for a while and
                        went back to sleep. I awoke 6 hours later still not in labour. I knew
                        it wasn't going to be Friday either so, disappointedly, I waited until
                        Saturday. I had heard that most doctors insist on induction if the
                        membranes have been ruptured for 24 hours maximum. I was so
                        pleased that I didn't have any 'professionals' concerning me over
                        this. By Sunday, I started to get a little concerned about the
                        'supposed' increased risk of infection so I did some research on
                        the Internet. I found that a Danish study had been conducted that
                        said there was no increased risk from PSROM (for four days)
                        providing hygiene standards are high…. what a relief ! Anyway,
                        Monday crept up quickly and still no sign, it was now the fourth
                        day and I was getting more concerned. I had taken my
                        temperature every day and had seen no sign of infection and,
                        although I trusted that I would be fine, I did not know how much
                        longer I could keep this up.

                        I went to bed feeling that this would be the night as I had a few
                        pains, I fell asleep at around 3am Tuesday 18 May and awoke at
                        5.30am with medium level pains and was unable to lie down
                        anymore since it was too uncomfortable. I wandered around the
                        house for a while, checked my e-mail, then woke DH as I could
                        hardly keep quiet anymore and wanted to share my experience
                        with someone.

                        He wanted to fill the pool though I was concerned that if he filled it
                        too early, it would not be warm enough later and we'd have to refill
                        it as we didn't get a heater. I told him to wait at least an hour.
                        After an hour of walking around the house (after only 2.5 hours
                        sleep), DH decided to fill the pool. I was still concerned so I asked
                        him to just do it half way and to add more water later. I was
                        hoping he would hurry as I enjoyed his company at this time,
                        once it was half full (about 20 mins) we added 4kg of natural sea
                        salt as this is supposed to make a smoother transition for the
                        baby and it's also a natural chlorinator. During this time, I made a
                        phone call to my parents to let them know that I was finally in
                        labour. They had a friend of there's over who happened to be a
                        midwife and, before I had the chance to say 'no', she was on the
                        phone. This annoyed me a little as I had spent so much energy
                        trying to get away from 'expert' advice yet it was rammed down
                        my throat at the last minute when I was in the most vulnerable
                        position. The midwife told me that the labour should be around 15
                        hours (which is the average for first births) and that I should try to
                        conserve my energy as long as possible.
                        Unfortunately, she neglected to tell me that since my waters had
                        already broken, it was likely that I could have a quick labour. I
                        could hardly talk anymore so I hung up and went out to the office
                        where the birthing pool was.

                        We had not timed contractions (even estimated) as we were too
                        busy appeasing my pain which was becoming more and more
                        intense. Whenever I experienced a contraction, DH would press a
                        hot washer on my lower back and another on my abdomen as I
                        leaned over the office desk. The hot washers were extremely
                        soothing. Poor DH was running back and forth to the hot water
                        bucket with hardly a chance to rest.

                        As time went by my contractions were becoming more and more
                        painful and I was unable to rest despite my exhaustion which
                        became quite emotionally and physically draining especially
                        considering I had no idea how much longer I would have to feel
                        this way. Anyway, I turned on some powerful music (Conan) and
                        walked around the house with good posture and strong thoughts.
                        DH tried to feed me some fruit, all I could have was a tiny bit of
                        orange and pear which made me feel much better even though it
                        was unpleasant to eat.

                        Unbeknown to me at the time, I was now going into transition. It
                        was the most exhausting part of the entire process. I became very
                        stressed as all I wanted to do was rest between contractions but
                        it was absolutely impossible to get comfortable in a horizontal
                        position. I tried jumping in the pool for pain relief but the only
                        comfort I could find was in standing which is also, unfortunately,
                        the most tiring.

                        After a while the stress of not being able to rest between
                        contractions made the tears flow (I didn't know that I was in
                        transition and part of my reason for crying was thinking that I had
                        another 10 hours + to go after the midwife's comments). DH
                        offered to zoom down to one of the pharmacy's that stocked a
                        TENS. I did not even really think about it and automatically
                        answered 'yes'.

                        Meanwhile, I spoke on the phone to my parents again
                        complaining of the intensity of the contractions but, eventually, I
                        couldn't talk
                        anymore so I hung up and went to the bathroom where I
                        automatically began pushing. I let out some loud screams (more
                        like a release that I was taught to make in Karate, not a scream
                        of pain as such). I knew that she was going to be here soon, DH
                        was not there to ease the pain as he had been earlier. I wished
                        out loud for him to return NOW, almost sobbing! Realising that my
                        body was beginning to push at regular intervals, I tried to feel the
                        head and there it was… almost ready to begin crowning. I felt her
                        head, it was so soft I wondered whether it was really a head J.
                        Many thoughts were rushing through my mind at that point. I tried
                        to see whether she was visible in the mirror but it was too hard. It
                        was the most wonderful feeling to touch her on her way out
                        though I was trying to slow labour so DH would be home in time.
                        After trying to slow for a few seconds, I knew it was impossible so
                        I put one leg up on the bath to see if that was comfortable for
                        delivery but decided to move to the pool at once.

                        While in the pool (still only half full), I called Adam (my brother)
                        and asked him to get my parents to call me back. He sounded a
                        little panicky and offered to come over, I didn't really want him over
                        but didn't know how long DH would be and thought I might need
                        some help (he works a couple of minutes away so he was able to
                        just run over).

                        My parents called me back within a few seconds and I explained
                        to them that the baby was crowning and that Justin was not home
                        in a very emotional voice. They were talking away trying to
                        comfort me (I can't remember what they were saying, wasn't really
                        listening anyway) as I felt the baby's head beginning to crown. I
                        was squatting in the pool with the phone resting on my shoulder.
                        DH had planned to support my perineum during crowing so I was
                        a little concerned about tearing.

                        My body automatically began pushing and as she descended, I
                        could feel the burning sensation and wondered whether I was
                        tearing but as I knew it was going to be over in seconds, didn't
                        care about the pain anymore. It was the easiest part of the labour
                        as I prepared for her to enter the world. I caught her head in my
                        hands and wondered how long it would take for the rest of her
                        body to emerge and then, in the next contraction, her body landed
                        in my arms. I made sure I was very careful that her head didn't hit
                        the bottom because of the half filled pool, we were very close.
                        Anyway, she opened her eyes and looked straight up into mine.
                        This was the most beautiful moment I can remember of the entire
                        experience.

                        I noticed the cord was around her neck so kept her under water
                        while I gently unravelled it. At this point I was so happy I
                        exclaimed 'I've got a baby!' My parents couldn't stop laughing and
                        nor could I! I brought her to the surface and held her in my arms.
                        She began crying so I calmed her down by talking to her and put
                        her to the breast.

                        The door bell rang so I said good bye to my parents, got out of the
                        pool and walked to the door with the placenta still inside to let
                        Adam in (it did not occur to me at the time that I would have to let
                        Adam in). He saw me in the hall and nearly had a heart attack J
                        but pretended to be all confident and in control J

                        I walked back to the office, sat down on the ottoman and nursed
                        Isabella while Adam got some blankets to wrap us in. Now he is
                        on the phone to my parents asking for advice (I don't really know
                        why since everything was under control). He was very loud when
                        talking to them (he gets a little loud when nervous) and I
                        remember thinking 'please, just shut up'.

                        About 10 minutes later I started experiencing labour pains again
                        (Adam got concerned, my parents had to explain to him that the
                        placenta was on the way) so I squatted over a towel in front of the
                        ottoman and delivered the placenta while still holding Isabella in
                        my arms. Adam was making silly comments about it looking like
                        some sort of alien.

                        I decided to get back in the pool where it was warm and stay
                        there for a while. I was feeling very drained by this stage, I could
                        barely think of what to say, I simply looked at this new girl
                        examining every inch of her still shocked at how quickly it all
                        happened.

                        I heard the keys in the front door, I was so happy to hear this
                        sound. DH opened the door, saw the splatters of blood down the
                        hall (I heard him muttering something to himself), came directly to
                        the office to see Isabella and I in the pool. I didn't know what to
                        say so I just smiled and so did he. He examined her to make sure
                        she didn't have 3 legs etc. and also looked around to make sure
                        there were not two. I could see he was disappointed that he
                        missed the main event but that was soon forgotten when he held
                        her for the first time.

                        Our daughter was born at 10.30am Tuesday, 18 May 1999
                        weighing 4.2kg after 5 hours of labour and thankfully, no tears.