Ihad a home birth with Rory.
As far as labour goes, this couldn’t have been the better option for me. I was far more at ease than I was labouring with Arlo on that hot hospital labour ward with no soft furnishings or home comforts at all. Just a clinical hospital bed.
At home, I had everything set up. I knew where to go to make me feel most comfortable. There was no anxiety at not knowing where I was going to be (I have this even if I go away for just a night. I like to be able to picture where I’m going to be.)
Being at home, I felt in control. Not something I can remember feeling at any point during my labour with Arlo.
But Rory got stuck.
He had shoulder dystocia, and it was around four contractions after his head being born that I was able to push the rest of him out.
This has made me anxious for future home births. What if it had taken longer? What if I hadn’t been able to push him out?
Apparently it’s at around the 8 minute point after the head has been born that the midwives would start worrying about potential brain damage, etc. Rory was probably around 5 minutes. In the end, his body came out using the McRobert’s method . It felt like firing a cannon. But he was out and safe.
I know there is a trend for birth weight to get bigger with each baby. Arlo was 8lbs. Rory was 9lbs 4oz – a big jump up that we just weren’t expecting . If anything, I carried Rory far more comfortably than I did Arlo. I never had any indication that he was much bigger. If we have another big jump up in size with this baby, I am worried about the chances of shoulder dystocia happening again.
I know the statistics that you are better off at home if you have had uncomplicated births before, I know that I don’t feel I need to be in a hospital to give birth, it feels very much surplus to requirements, but yet I can’t shake the contradictory voice that tells me You had one home birth that was fine, what makes you think the next one will be too?
Added to that, I don’t have Sam’s support on the decision to have a home birth, not really. And that makes a big difference.
It’s not because of safety worries, but because he feels hospital or a birth centre is far more practical. We can walk away from the mess afterwards.
It was a long clean up job after Rory, Not because we weren’t sensible, but because we had to go to hospital straight after he was born, and the state of the house had worsened by the time Sam returned home – the condensation from the pool had done some damage, and areas that could have been quickly cleaned straight after birth now required a lot more elbow grease.
It is true that the practicalities of birth become much harder work when you are at home. I’ve written before that Sam had to do a lot, during labour and afterwards, he barely sat still for nearly 24 hours. I get where he’s coming from, but to me, all the practicalities and the clean up is very low down on the importance list, and I wish I had his support on this. Because same as when I was preparing for Rory’s arrival, I feel torn between what I’d naturally choose to do according to where I’m most comfortable, and where I will be less of a nuisance for other people.
One thing I am giving serious consideration to is hiring a doula – someone who’s main role is to give added support to me and to Sam too. I know Sam found it challenging being my birth partner, whilst also making sure the midwives had everything they needed, and all the other duties on top of that (chief of birth pool temperature regulation, etc). Perhaps if the load is shared, it will be easier on all of us.
Anyone know any doulas who happen to be handy with a camera? ; )
I also feel, having the experience of one home birth already, we would be even more organised this time and learn from our mistakes (mainly, we would get a cover for the pool to prevent condensation issues if we have to abandon it).
Although I am anxious about the potential safety issues of being at home – mainly the baby getting stuck again, but this time worse – I still feel that labour ward is not the place I need to be. Yes, I could grin and bare it for the sake of peace of mind, but I know my labour will be much more of a slog, and far less comfortable. (But at least Sam can drive me this time, which is an option we never had for my previous two labours. Oh, the luxury!)
Although I’d still feel much better having the full control of my surroundings at home, a birth centre is perhaps a good compromise. But the only one within a reasonable distance of us is severely understaffed and apparently not always open (according to the midwives themselves, plus several friend’s accounts of when they’ve tried to use it in the past and not succeeded). There is also, always the risk that it will be full, in which case I will be really annoyed at being forced on to labour ward rather than being at home.
Another added complication of having a birth at home, is uprooting the children. This was a consideration when we just had toddler Arlo and were preparing for Rory’s birth, but now it is even more of a consideration. We are now talking about turfing out two children, possibly in the middle of the night, and in which case disrupting school the next morning. If we are going to a hospital or birth centre, someone will have to come pretty promptly to look after the children, but at least if it’s in the evening or at night, they can remain sleeping in their own beds rather than Sam and I kicking them out to use the house for birth.
I’ve been wondering whether a doula might be the way forward. A doula would enable us to go ahead with a night-time labour at home, allowing the children to stay sleeping, but also providing us with an emergency plan B should Sam and I have to rush off to hospital – our doula could remain at home until family arrived to look after the kids. I am not entirely sure I’d want the kids around, asleep or not, and I’m pretty sure Sam would be a definite no to that idea, but at least this option gives us a bit of flexibility to decide that on the day.
If the kids could remain sleeping, and we had an uncomplicated night time birth, we could all wake up in the morning with the new arrival. And that would be just perfect, wouldn’t it?
Obviously, I know it doesn’t always work out the way you planned. With Rory, we had to go to hospital post-birth and stay overnight anyway, despite him being born at home. But I can definitely dream about my ideal birth scenario.
Through the process of writing this post, I think I might have found some potential solutions for the practicalities issues. But that doesn’t solve the niggles I have about getting stuck during the pushing stage.
At the moment, I’m completely undecided in what to do.
But there’s no pressure to decide right now.
I am continuing down the case-loading, home birth route. With a plan to fully chat through Rory’s birth and the exact procedures and timeline of action should shoulder dystocia happen again with baby number 3.
But if I still feel this niggling anxiety as we head towards the final weeks of pregnancy, if I’m not feeling confident about home birth at that stage, I know the hospital is always an option.
FURTHER READING //