ALI & MAISIE
Maisie is our second daughter, coming 5 years after Effie, with two miscarriages
in between – so the early part of my pregnancy with her was a little anxiety-
ridden. My labour with Effie was induced at 41+6, resulting in a long and
exhausting 3 days in hospital – this time around, my main aim was to AVOID
INDUCTION and, ideally, to have a more natural birth experience.
planned to have Maisie in the Lewisham birth centre, despite knowing that
homebirth is just as safe for second-time mothers, and despite having several
friends who are brilliant advocates for home birth. I just didn’t have any
confidence in my ability to have a baby at home, having felt like I couldn’t cope
during my labour with Effie (and ending up with an epidural).
As time went on,
however, I began to be more drawn to the idea of home birth, being in my own
environment and avoiding the stresses of the postnatal ward! Having our friend
Becky as our doula gave me the final burst of confidence that I could do it (this
decision was made relatively late in pregnancy – around 35 weeks). My
experience with the Lewisham homebirth team was very positive, and my
midwives were supportive of my choices when my baby became ‘overdue’ – even
at the dreaded 42 week point. My lovely friend (Birthtale!) Anna was doing
acupuncture for me and giving me lots of advice and encouragement during this
time, and I felt reasonably calm and well-informed.
Fortunately, labour started
at home at 42+2, late on a Saturday night. The birth pool was up and running,
and my husband got on with the job of filling it up while I bounced on the birth
ball . In the early stages I used the TENS machine, and I found the ritual and
routine of having a button to press during contractions quite useful! I found
myself leaning against the wall and doing a lot of swaying to get through these
contractions. We called the midwives after a few hours, and I agreed to a vaginal
examination when they arrived (the only one I had during labour). This may
have been a bad call as I was rather disheartened to find I was only 4cm dilated
after 6-7 hours of contractions. Nothing else to be done but carry on!
Contractions became more intense and I vomited a few times. I got into the pool
which was quite soothing for a while, but decided to get out on the advice of
Becky and the midwives, to see if we could get things moving more. Obviously
the Tens machine was off by this point and instead I was using acupressure
(pushing combs into the base of my fingers of each hand!) to get through each
contraction. I did a lot of sitting on the toilet and walking up and down the stairs
at this point, and started to feel the pressure of baby’s head moving down, so I
got back into the pool.
Becky and the midwives were absolutely instrumental at
guiding me through delivering the baby’s head, which was slow and gradual.
There was a pause of a couple of minutes before the next contraction – and she
was born! I got to lift her out of the water straightaway, and I was the one who
cut the cord. I got out of the pool to deliver the placenta and after a few more
checks and formalities (and the essential postpartum cup of tea and toast), we
were left to enjoy our baby in our own bed, clean and cosy. It was an amazing
experience, and one that I only managed to achieve thanks to the support of so
many incredible women around me (and my husband too of course!).