After five children and a vasectomy, I was not expecting any more children. I was also not expecting to end my marriage and meet a new partner. However, in 2017 this is exactly what happened. I found out I was pregnant with baby number 6 on 11th June, my daughters 11th birthday, and both myself and my partner, Barry, were very shocked but equally excited.
I used One to One Midwives for my last birth so contacted them only to be told that their service was no longer commissioned in Wigan.
After numerous negative experiences with NHS midwifery I could not imagine my experience being anything other than challenging and traumatic. I appealed to the CCG with no success, yet, through word of mouth I discovered a loop hole. I transferred my GP to a different borough, so I could access One to One Midwives. I managed this early enough to book with them straight away. One to One accepted me and the relief for me was immense!
I was, as expected, deemed ‘high risk’ due to my age, number of babies, BMI, very old heart issue that had been resolved, a DVT that was never confirmed in 2006, and the fact that I had gestational diabetes in my last birth. I did my research, weighed up the risks, and still decided to plan for my 4th homebirth.
I have always been more relaxed at home but would never take unnecessary risks. One to One supported my choice and a care plan was devised to suit my individual needs. I was never once told that I was ‘not allowed’, I was provided with information every step of the way to make informed choices. My pregnancy progressed well but despite two clear GTT tests I did develop Gestational Diabetes again. I decided to be proactive and test my own blood sugars as baby had a larger head on one of the scans which is an indicator. I managed to control my blood sugars through dietary changes. Baby was growing well, I was well in myself and there was nothing hindering my plans to birth at home.
My waters broke spectacularly on Friday 16th February 2018 at 7.40pm. I jumped out of bed, my partner started to get the pool up, and I rang my midwife who gave me advice. As I had not started with contractions I got back in bed to try and get some sleep. Nothing happened overnight apart from my waters leaking significantly. Debi, my midwife, arrived on Saturday morning to do my blood pressure, urine, and temperature, all was well with me and baby apart from he was lying back to back and ‘star-gazing’. A discussion was had over the recent changes to the NICE guidelines over induction following premature rupture of membranes. The time scale had been reduced from 96 to 48 hours. At this point I wasn’t concerned, I was confident that my body would do what it needed to do. I spent all day Saturday moving about and resting, focusing on the impending birth. Another night followed without contractions and on Sunday morning I asked Debi to give me a sweep and check the position of baby. She happily obliged and we found that baby had moved into the optimum position!
Barry and I went for breakfast at Frankie and Benny’s and at 10.40am as I pulled into the car park I felt my first contraction! These continued throughout our meal and for several hours to follow. Although they were mild surges, I felt they were a definite sign of labour. When Debi returned Sunday evening, I was examined again to find that baby had moved position again and I wasn’t dilating. Induction was discussed as we were at the 48-hour stage, but I knew my body was doing something and I needed more time. Baby and I were well, so I opted to stay at home and re-assess in the morning. Debi left at 7.30pm and I had a relaxing bath. I did start to have a wobble about the possibility of induction if contractions didn’t start but I decided that if baby and I continued to be fine then I would not consent to induction. I have been asked why I did not want to be induced and there are many reasons, hospital policy would be for me to be on I.V antibiotics due to the risk of infection from my waters breaking, however, this risk was only 0.5% higher than for other women, they would have also pushed for an insulin pump on a sliding scale due to the gestational diabetes, yet, I was diet controlled and believe that pumping me full of insulin unnecessarily, just in case, would almost guarantee baby to be born and his blood sugars crash, needing special care. This could be avoided. I would also be on a syntocin drip to induce labour. All this intervention would likely lead to further intervention as the natural birth process had been interrupted. I only wanted to put myself in that position if mine and baby’s well-being was compromised.
I calmed myself down and got into bed at 10.20pm and had a very strong contraction. As Barry got in bed, I got up to sit on my birth ball. By midnight the contractions were stronger, so I decided to give Debi a call. She said to fill the pool up and ring her back when that was done. I woke my partner up who helped me fill the pool whilst the surges came quicker and stronger. I got myself into the pool at 00.55am whilst it was still filling as I needed the water for pain relief. Barry rang Debi back to tell her I was in the pool and she arrived at 1.20am. We agreed I wasn’t in active labour as I was still talking and coherent. However, by 1.30am I felt a shift in my mood as baby was pushing down and I turned away to focus. The contractions came incredibly strong and much closer together, so I shouted Debi back in the room. I remember swearing with each contraction and when I felt the head coming down I did panic briefly that it was stuck! Debi had a look and reassured me that his head was about to be born. My body birthed his head and I Instinctively knew to pant whilst the shoulders were born before my boy was born completely in the pool. I had skin to skin whilst I had a physiological third stage. Once the placenta was out and the cord stopped pulsating I got out of the pool and into my bed with baby for the magical golden hour where we had skin to skin and his first breastfeed.
Birth does not scare me, it empowers me. I trust my body and knowledge is power. Women should be well informed but surrounded by positivity when it comes to giving birth, so she feels supported in her choices. Gianfranco Joseph Lucas was born on Monday 19th February 2018 @ 02.52am.
Thank you so much to Debi and Dani, my wonderful midwives.