“I really had to follow my heart”

A positive hospital transfer story

Here Sarah tells us the story of her first born and how she turned a planned home birth with a hospital transfer into the natural birth experience she had prepared for. She went on to achieve the home birth she had hoped for with her second baby.

Past my due date, I went into labour on Boxing Day. My husband Dave and I were all set for the home water birth we had planned. I had a show at about 6.30a.m. and mild contractions started around 7.00a.m.

Throughout the day I had more ‘show’ and intermittent contractions so we called our Doula, Stephanie and then the hospital to let them know. The midwife came round at about 2.00p.m. and said that this stage of labour could last a while so I should take a bath, rest and call them if anything changed.

Around 5.00p.m., after I’d had a bath, my contractions started to get closer together and more intense. I sat on my birth ball, bouncing/twisting and inhaling lavender oil whilst watching bits of the film ‘ Madagascar ‘!

By 8.00p.m. the contractions were coming 3 minutes apart so we decided to call Stephanie and the hospital to prepare to attend. The midwife arrived and examined me at 9.00p.m. and I was 3cm, things were going well and she said she would stay as the baby would be born that night. I was coping really well and managing my contractions with breathing, inhalation of lavender oil and movement.

At about 12.00p.m., Dave started to fill the pool as I was beginning to feel the need to get into the water. Jenny the midwife examined me at 1.00a.m. and I was 6cm so she agreed it was time to get into the pool. However, as I got up to go downstairs my hind waters broke and they had meconium in them.

We decided to transfer to hospital to be under consultant care. Upon arrival I was hooked up to a monitor and brought a rather flat birth ball to use. It was really difficult to move around as I had at home and every time I changed position the monitor fell off. After an hour and a quarter the midwife asked if she could examine me again, I was still 6cm and they discovered that the fore waters hadn’t yet broken. The consultant wanted to break my fore waters and give me syntometrine to speed things up, expressing they were concerned that our baby may swallow meconium. As she appeared fine at this point, I politely refused the interventions and my waters broke on their own 5 minutes later.

From about 4.00a.m. until 7.00a.m. I found that my breathing and lavender oil weren’t quite enough so I requested gas and air. It appeared things weren’t progressing and due to my need for constant movement the staff were struggling to keep track of the babies heart, it was suggested that I was examined and a monitor put on the babies head. I agreed to examination but again politely refused the monitor, Dave and Stephanie offered to try and hold the monitor in place as I moved around. The examination showed that things hadn’t changed and I was starting to get tired and stressed at this point. Once again the consultant offered me syntometrine and we were given time to discuss things.

I was certain I didn’t want the intervention and so Stephanie suggested we ask to be taken off the monitor and move into the bathroom to try and regain some focus, hopefully taking my mind off being in hospital which was potentially why I was struggling. Although the consultant was very unhappy with this decision, our midwife was very supportive and spent a lot of time sat on the bathroom floor listening to baby with a sonocaid.

During this time, Dave worked with me to talk me through the contractions with visualisations and breathing techniques we had learned through our hypnobirthing course. This really helped, however after about 3 hours the consultants were very insistent that I needed to be constantly monitored as they couldn’t fully assess the baby.

We moved to the bed and Dave continued to talk me through my contractions. (The monitor still wouldn’t stay in place as I was moving so it had to be held on!). About half an hour later, the midwife asked if she could examine me again. I had reservations as I’d had quite a few since my waters had broken but I also knew that we needed to know how I was progressing as I had been told that if things hadn’t moved along by 1.00p.m., a caesarean section may be the next option.

I was beginning to feel the need to push and when the midwife examined me she found that my cervix was fully dilated and the babies head had started to move down. I began pushing, during which I continued my breathing and visualisation exercises. Apparently just before Molly was born I was beginning to have enough and as her head crowned I asked for ventouse to get her out! However a couple of pushes later both her head and body came very fast. I had a physiological third stage and delivered the placenta about 15 minutes after Molly was born.

Although I didn’t get my home birth, I still managed to have the totally natural experience that I had hoped for, although I really did have to stand my ground and follow my heart!