Rebecca’s fourth babe was born at home

Where do you live? Queensland
How many homebirths have you had? 1
Why did you birth at home?
Because I feel it was the safest option for me and my baby

Did you homebirth your first baby or subsequent babies? my fourth
Have you used a publicly funded homebirth scheme in any country in the world?
no
Have you experienced hospital or birth centre birth? yes I had 2 hospital births and one at a birth centre. the birth centre one was wonderful and but i did not realise how wonderful until my second hospital birth.
Have you experienced trauma around birth? yes with my third hospital birth.
How old were you when you were birthing at home?
29 (12 days before my 30th)
With what ethnicity do you identify?
Caucasian
Have you had a caesarean? More than one? no
Have you had a breech homebirth? no
Do you identify as disabled/temporarily ablebodied? no (though weight would have been a factor in hospital)
Have you had a midwife-attended homebirth? no i free birthed with my husband.
Are you in a relationship? yes married
Are you single? no
How did you pay for your homebirth? just bought a birth pool (absolute heaven)
Do you work at home or in the paid workforce? both
Does your family have a history of homebirthing? nope

Belinda will have her next baby at home

My name is Belinda and I live in a town in the Southern Highlands of NSW.

I have only had one child, and she was born via emergency c section at my local hospital. I had always wanted a very natural, very calm birth and when I was pregnant with my daughter asked my husband about home birthing, but he brushed off my thoughts with a simple “the hospital is the place to be, what if something goes wrong?”

My birth story is one that I have since heard repeatedly. I was late, my daughter was in the right birthing position, was induced, daughter turned a little, nasty midwife, waters broken, put on the drip, told to stay laying down, labour stalled, drip turned up, gets to lunchtime on a friday, doctor (who hadnt seen me at all) declares I need an emergency c section due to failure to progress. (I was told afterwards by a doula I met that the failure to progress was simply the doctor deciding he wanted to go home early on a friday)… After my emergency c section I didnt get a chance to hold my baby, and she was taken away by the nurses to be checked over, where later I learnt that before I got my cuddles she had already been held by nurses, the midwife, her father, my mum and my in laws.. This broke my heart, with feelings of guilt over the way the labour had gone, and the fact that I should have been the one to hold my daughter first..
My stay in hospital was long (over a week) and was treated horribly. I was upset, (which they thought was depression and brought in a psychologist), I couldnt feed, and was forced to shove my screaming daughter onto my breast, and no one would listen to me.

I still feel guilt, and sadness over my birthing experience, and it has taken me a while to realise that I cant do anything to change what happened, but I can learn from it.

I know that next time will be different, I want to have the choice to birth at home, with caring professionals who are responsive to my needs. I know the Government wants to take this choice away from high risk mothers like myself and that makes me mad! I dont care about the cost, I want to birth like it should be, no induction, no drugs, no drip, just me, my support team, in a comfy environment where I am relaxed and the baby is too.

Jade was born at home in the bath

My name is Jade Farmer, I am 26, and was born at home in the bath in Eudlo Queensland (Australia) with midwife, Jane Ferguson.  My sisters were born in Brisbane with midwives Jane Ferguson, Judy Thompson and Vicki Chan.  One of my mother’s births was in hospital after 63 hours labour but Vicki still delivered her 9lb 6oz baby.  I was in attendance at part or all of 3 of these births.

At 19, I delivered my first child in the Royal Brisbane Hospital, It was a 26 hour labour, with a posterior bub who was approx 3 weeks early (apparently).  I dilated very slowly to begin with but refused all pain relief other than gas.  A nurse attempted to catheterise me part way through my birth but “missed” 3 times at which point she was told in no uncertain terms to go away.  I found it very frustrating to be able to look at tubs but be told that they were not qualified to use them.  My mother and my husband were in attendance.  I was spoken down to, intimidated and taken advantage of, in the middle of a particularly painful contraction a nurse gave me a pethidine injection (which i had not agreed to) stating that it would be a long time and it would be fine as I was only 5 cm dilated and my membranes were intact.  Approximately 40 minutes later i told my mum that i needed to push, so just to be sure she asked me to try not to push through one….this was impossible! So by now, mum and I both know that it is nearly time to have this baby.  Upon telling the nurse this she told me that i wasn’t! so mum told the nurse that she had been there done this and would be more than happy to deliver it herself.  A short time later my membranes ruptured.  After about 20 minutes, of pushing (on my back at hospitals insistence) i delivered my son.  He was not breathing, the hospital then proceeded to make sure it was emergency by cutting his cord. bad move.  His apgar scores were 7 and 9 and he weighed 6lbs 7oz. I was then discharged from hospital 2 days later, unable to yet feed my baby.  Overall this was a horrible and scary experience

I fell pregnant again at 21, feeling like i had no choice i attended hospital appointments until 30 weeks.  My mother then told me that she was terrified of coming to the hospital again with me and that she would pay for me to deliver at home.  I jumped at this chance, although it took a little more to convince my partner, he was pretty much told what was happening :). So at 32 weeks, I met Dee.  Went into labour at 35 weeks, but that was quickly solved with some prompt zinc drinking at Dee’s advice.  I made it to 40 weeks, and 41 and 42….. So at 41.5 weeks Dee did a little stretch and sweep but it had little effect, i also started attending acupuncture every 2 days and went to the naturopath to get some serious labour herbs happening.  I finally went into labour at 1 day short of 43 weeks (again, apparently)  Again she was posterior.  this labour lasted about 13 hours.  I was not dilating evenly so i was walking up stairs sideways so shift bubby’s head, mum was cooking soup for after the birth, my partner was watching the world cup soccer.  At one point i was getting pushing contractions but was not ready to push yet, so we told Steve (my hubby) to go have  a lie down and we would do it, so mum breathed through the most painful contractions I have ever experienced with me.  i was finally able to push.  we called Steve in, he sat on the edge of the bed with me standing facing him, he supported my weight while i semi squatted.  my membranes ruptured all over his lap.  he asked to go wash but i said no :D.  Johanna was born with the cord loosely around her neck (the midwife and my mum had known this the whole time and was monitoring it, I did not know)  her shoulder also got somewhat stuck but Dee fixed it fairly easily.  Her apgars were 6 and 10  but unlike with Alex, I was never scared for her.  Johanna weighed in at a healthy 9lb 3oz.  She took to breastfeeding wonderfully although we did need some help with getting a good position for large breasts, this was no problem for my midwife of course.

In addition to having to convince my husband to birth at home, we then faced an additional challenge.  Our chosen midwife got deregistered for attending homebirths when I was about 37 weeks.  Dee did give us the option to continue with our planned homebirth with her in attendance or to transfer to hospital care.  Although it concerned neither my mother or I, we were very worried about how Steve would react to this news.  He took it in his stride, announcing “but you still know how to deliver babies!”.  We continued on our homebirth journey with an unregistered midwife.  So although we birthed with a midwife, if we had needed to transfer, Dee would have had to be our doula or friend.  We also had to tell Births Deaths and Marriages that we had in fact had an intentional unassisted childbirth and hence had to get statutory declarations from everyone who was in attendance (ie just me, Steve and my mum)  as well as my GP who had seen me shortly before the birth and also examined me within 24 hours of birthing.

Kathy wanted autonomy, freedom and privacy for her second birth

“Who homebirths?  I do, a 30 year old woman with a postgraduate degree, living in Adelaide, having previously had a normal and uncomplicated previous vaginal birth.  I made the choice to homebirth out of a desire to have more personalised care, to have greater autonomy about the decisions I made about my care, to have greater freedom and privacy during my labour and birth, and to give my baby the very best chance at having an optimal start to life in our family.”

The Birth of Sasha Joy MacKay

 

Like most birth stories, this one begins long before Sasha came into the world, even before her conception.  My first daughter, Hannah Katherine MacKay, was born at 40 weeks, 4 days into water at the Flinders Birth Centre after a 5 hour spontaneous labour.  I felt very happy with Hannah’s birth, very proud of my ability to labour and birth without any drugs, and satisfied with my choice of birth location and care providers.  I didn’t enjoy my stay in the postnatal ward in the hospital after Hannah’s birth – in particular, the hospital food, the noise and disruption of being in a busy hospital, the constant visitors and interruptions and yet the feeling of being quite alone and isolated.  I felt like a little cog in a big, impersonal machine, even though the staff were friendly and generally helpful.  Several months after Hannah’s birth, I found myself reflecting and thinking about her birth often, and wanted to be able to talk to other women about their birth experiences.  I wanted to share what had been a life-changing event for me with others and to learn more about pregnancy and childbirth.  I didn’t feel traumatised or upset about the birth, I just needed an avenue to share with other women about pregnancy and birth.

 

Through my yoga group, and with the encouragement of a friend, I attended my first Birth Matters meeting and was instantly hooked!  Here was the place where I could talk about my birth experience, hear of other women’s experiences and get to learn so much about pregnancy and birth through talking about research, media articles and hearing of the experiences and expertise of midwives.  I began attending meetings regularly, wrote up Hannah’s birth story, and started to devour all the Birth Matters library had to offer.  I discovered there was a whole other world of books on pregnancy and birth beyond “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” and “Up the Duff”, and that these ‘mainstream’ books often didn’t have a lot to offer in terms of evidence-based research and support for women who wished to avoid unnecessary interventions.  I read some more scholarly texts, like “Guide to Effective Care in Pregnancy and Childbirth” which summed up all the latest research results, and “In Pursuit of the Birth Machine” which discussed how pregnancy and childbirth has become so medicalised without improving outcomes for women or babies and my eyes were opened up even more.  I began to question the policies and practices that the hospital system imposed upon me in my pregnancy and birth, even within the ‘low intervention’ approach of the Birth Centre.  I started to realise that there was often a large gap between what the research evidence demonstrated and what hospital policy was.  I understood that even for an educated woman who thought she knew quite a bit about pregnancy and birth, it was very difficult to argue against hospital policy, and that I was only given the amount of information on procedures, practices and tests that the hospital staff felt I needed to know and that this was a long way from being genuine informed consent.

 

In all of my research, I began to hear more about homebirth and independent midwives.  Up until this time, I had naively thought that homebirth was only for people who were ‘hippies’ or for those who were more interested in an experience than in the safe birth of their baby.  I had never even known that homebirth was an option when I was pregnant with Hannah and the only person I knew who had homebirthed was a woman with a tattoo – confirming my exceedingly stereotyped and judgemental beliefs.  A member of Birth Matters gave me a pile of research articles about homebirth (thanks, Lareen!) and I read them all and showed them to my husband, Robert.  I talked to independent midwives about how they worked, talked to women who chose homebirth, and started attending Homebirth Network SA meetings regularly.  I read dozens of birth stories (home and hospital births alike) on the internet.  I also joined Joyous Birth, an internet homebirth community and read more and talked more about homebirth and the research evidence about it.  Both my husband and I have postgraduate degrees in the social sciences, so examining scientific studies and following the research evidence is very important to us.  For me, the information I gained here was what I needed to feel comfortable about choosing a new path for my next pregnancy and birth.  I became, and remain, convinced that homebirth is at least as safe as hospital, and probably even safer for healthy women and healthy babies.

 

And so, Robert and I conceived Sasha and another wonderful pregnancy began.  From the first moments of knowing I was pregnant, this was a different journey of trusting that my pregnancy and growing baby were normal unless there was evidence to the contrary.  My belly popped out very quickly, and I began talking to women who had chosen independent midwives as their care provider in their births to help me choose the right midwife for me.  In talking to others, I learnt that as well as getting the ‘right fit’ with your midwife with regards to your views on intervention, tests etc, you also had to get a ‘fit’ in terms of your personality.  The relationship you have with your midwife is vitally important, and every woman I talked to felt that their midwife was their ‘midwife for life’, forever to be an integral part of their family history.  I had met Wendy Thornton through Birth Matters and Homebirth Network SA long before I became pregnant, and had felt instinctively that she would be the midwife for me.  At around 13 weeks, I ‘formally’ rang her and started asking her the questions that were important to me – about transfer rates and outcomes, interventions, tests and ‘routine’ procedures, and what would, in her view, rule out a safe homebirth.  After that discussion, I felt completely satisfied that what I knew to be true from the research was how Wendy practiced.

 

Being cared for by an independent midwife in pregnancy highlighted for me what was lacking in my care in my first pregnancy.  I got premium, one-on-one care from a midwife I had already come to know, and who knew Hannah and Robert.  Wendy visited me in my home, for at least an hour each appointment, and she answered all my questions with honesty, expertise and a positive attitude.  I was able to (and did!) contact her 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to ask questions as various issues, minor ailments and concerns came up through the pregnancy.  She lent me books on pregnancy and childbirth, and knew the research on testing in pregnancy so I was able to make genuinely informed consent with regard to ultrasounds, iron tests, blood sugar tests, amniocentesis etc.  This time around, I chose not to have any routine testing at all because the research evidence is clear that, in the absence of signs that the pregnancy is not normal, routine testing does not improve outcomes for mothers or babies.  At each visit, Wendy would have a feel of my tummy to assess the baby’s growth and position, and listen to the heartbeat with the Pinard and we would talk about what she discovered.  There was always complete openness about these examinations and never the feeling that Wendy knew more about my baby and my pregnancy than I did – there was no sense that I wasn’t ‘qualified’ to know what she knew (in stark contrast with how I’ve heard other women describe their relationship with their care provider).  We were on this journey together, my family and my midwife.

 

Even though I’d been through one drug-free vaginal birth, I still had some of the usual concerns about how I’d cope with the pain of contractions again, and about how my labour would progress.  As my last labour had been much quicker than most first labours, I also felt quite a bit of trepidation that this labour would be ‘too quick’ as I’d heard lots of women describe very fast labours as being quite overwhelming and frightening in their intensity.  I had also noticed that I could feel ‘more’ baby on the low right of my abdomen than on my left side – just as I had with Hannah, and Wendy felt confident that this baby had a hand up next to its face, just as Hannah did.  I had felt that Hannah’s nuchal hand had contributed a lot to the pain I’d experienced late in the first stage of my labour, and so I felt some anxiety about facing that pain again.  To deal with my fears, I prepared my support team for the birth: Robert, Wendy, Michelle (my sister, main support for Hannah who may be present at the birth), Heather (my other sister, to take photographs), my Mum (a further, practical support for me), and a midwifery student (to allow her to observe the work of an independent midwife at my antenatal visits, birth and postnatal visits).  Although this might seem a lot of people, it was the same number as had been present at Hannah’s birth, and I had felt very comfortable with my family members and others there.  The midwifery student (who will remain anonymous to protect her candidacy in her university degree) I met through Birth Matters, and I agreed to her unofficially and secretly‘following through’ with me in my pregnancy, as midwifery students are prevented from officially following through women who choose to birth at home due to concerns at the universities about independent midwives being uninsured.  I feel very strongly that student midwives, who are being trained to be the experts in normal birth, should be able to formally follow through women who have chosen care providers who are most likely to ensure they get normal birth.

 

With my birth team organised, I set about writing my birth plan.  There were a few things I wanted to do differently this time, and some things I wanted to repeat.  Most important of all was that I birth at home as long as it remained safe, that I birth in water again, and that I catch my baby as it is born.  I also wrote up a transfer plan in the event that we had to go to hospital.  I met with my support team and went through my birth plan, and had their unflinching support.  I had thought long and hard about my birth plan, and while I knew that events don’t always go as you expect, I knew that I had people around me who I could trust to protect and work towards getting what I wanted.

 

In spite of me organising my birth support team, over the final weeks of my pregnancy, several people had to step down – my sister Heather moved to Kangaroo Island for her final university work placement and knew she’d be unlikely to get over to the mainland for the birth, and my midwifery student was unable to follow me through due to unexpected changes in her family circumstances.  My Mum would also be travelling from interstate for the birth (due to arrive on my due date), so I also knew that it was possible she wouldn’t be present.  As the weeks rolled on though, I didn’t feel any concern about having less people to support me.  I felt that it was all meant to be, and that I didn’t need to do anything to ‘replace’ those who wouldn’t be able to be there.

 

At 35 weeks, I held a MotherBaby Blessing with a number of friends, asking them to bring a candle, a bead for a necklace, and a blessing for my birth.  The day was blissful, with a friend painting a lotus flower in henna on my pregnant belly, and I was so touched by the creativity and effort people put into their choice of candle, bead and blessing.  I made up my birth necklace and bracelet, and planned to write up all my blessings onto large cards to look at during my labour.  I also had a long list of things to do in my final weeks of pregnancy pinned up on the fridge, fully expecting that my labour wouldn’t start until at least 40 weeks, or even later given that I wouldn’t be under any pressure to be induced (in contrast to my last pregnancy).

 

On Friday, 26th October 2007, I was at 37 weeks, 2 days gestation.  I was feeling good, with lots and lots of Braxton Hicks contractions each day, just as I had experienced every day for the previous 5 months or so.  I had a full day of activities planned with Hannah and got home from all of that in the late afternoon.  I pegged out the last load of newborn clothes on the clothesline, watched some TV with Hannah and thought about having a nap on the couch.  Robert came home from work at 4.45pm, an hour earlier than usual and we chatted in the lounge.  At 4.55pm, I suddenly felt a strange sensation in my lower abdomen, a pinging/twanging sensation and I thought “That feels weird, I wonder if that’s my waters breaking?”, and then GUSH…down my legs flowed warm, clear liquid.  I asked Robert for a towel, placed it between my legs and then we both said “This isn’t meant to happen yet!!”  As I squelched off to the toilet, I grabbed the cordless phone and rang Wendy.  “How are you?” asked Wendy.  “Damp!” I replied.  I sat on the toilet as I talked to Wendy.  She told me that 60% of women go into labour within 12 hours, and 90% of women begin labour within 24 hours of their membranes rupturing.  I wasn’t having any contractions, so Wendy said that she’d see me tomorrow if my labour hadn’t begun before then.  I ended the phone call, pooed, and Robert started setting up the birth pool.  I phoned Michelle, who was finishing work in the city, and told her I’d let her know when my labour began but to be ‘on alert’.  I moved about the house, changed my clothes and got a few bits and pieces together for the birth.  I was having strong, painless, Braxton Hicks contractions, and wondered when my labour might start.

 

At 5.20pm, I had to go to the toilet again to poo, and I thought that the colour of the amniotic fluid I was leaking was slightly tinged with green.  I knew this wasn’t necessarily anything to worry about, but I rang Wendy again and asked her to come around to listen to baby.  Wendy said she’d be there in 40 minutes.  I felt my first contraction a few minutes later – strong enough to make noise through, but very manageable and fairly brief.  Robert had got the birth pool set up, but we realised we didn’t have the hose attachment for our tap.  I got three pots of water onto the stove to boil and Robert rang Michelle to ask her to stop at Bunnings to pick up a hose attachment as well as some batteries for our cameras.  During their 3 minute conversation, I had two contractions and Michelle could hear the familiar sounds of my labour beginning.

 

Hannah was very excited about all the goings on, and was telling Robert she would get in the pool now, and when she wasn’t doing that, she was asking me “Mummy, whatcha doin’?”  I told her the baby was coming soon, and kept on moving about the house, getting a drink, finding some nappies, putting on lip balm, pinning back my hair etc.  My contractions were quite erratic, coming 6 minutes, 2 minutes, 4 minutes apart and I don’t think any lasted longer than about 40 seconds.  I managed them by leaning forward and making a long “HAAAA, HAAA” sound and rocking from side to side.  I took deep breaths during each contraction to make sure my baby got plenty of oxygen, something I hadn’t managed to do well in my last labour as I’d felt quite overwhelmed by the feeling of the contractions.  The sensations this time were quite bearable, and I was pretty sure I was in early labour.  I stripped off my clothes as I was feeling hot, leaving just a folded towel in my knickers.  I was upstairs by myself at this time, and took a moment to talk to the baby and tell it that we would work together to bring it safely into the world.

 

As it approached 6.00pm, I decided to run the bath.  I debated with myself about doing this so early, worrying that I might use up the hot water before we started filling the pool, but I rationalised that the hot water system would have enough time to refill before the pool was needed.  As the bath filled, I went to the toilet again and decided that I might just have a feel inside my vagina to see what was happening.  I’d never felt comfortable with that idea during my labour with Hannah and had felt that I needed an ‘expert’ to tell me what was happening in my body, but this time, I felt completely comfortable.  At the full stretch of my fingers, I could feel the edge of my cervix, and the head of my baby, soft and wrinkly and about the size of an apricot.  I wasn’t sure if I was fully dilated or not, but could tell that my cervix had obviously dilated a lot and my labour was much further along than I had suspected.

 

I didn’t feel any concerns about my labour progressing quickly, particularly as the contractions were so bearable.  I got into the bath as it filled, sitting cross legged, then lying on my side for a contraction.  I then turned around, kneeling in the water and resting up on my elbows on the edge of the bath.  With the next contraction I suddenly felt this enormous, unstoppable urge to PUUUUUUSSSSSHHHH, and could do nothing but surrender to its intensity.  I let out a shriek as I pushed hard (and pooed some more) and heard Hannah run out of the bathroom.  This was the only contraction where I felt that I ‘lost it’ and felt overwhelmed by the sensations in my body.  I reached into my vagina and felt that my baby’s head had moved down about halfway into my vagina, and I could now feel a kiwi fruit amount of head under my fingers.

 

Robert ran up the stairs on hearing the noise I was making and asked me what I needed.  He went up and down the stairs in response to my requests for my water bottle, some of my candles, a bucket for the placenta etc.  Wendy rang to let us know she was stuck at the railway lines and was on her way – she could hear me in the background and knew she’d have to hurry!  I wasn’t feeling afraid of giving birth without Wendy there, and never felt a moment of panic or fear for my baby’s safety, but I knew that I wanted the emotional support of a woman who had birthed before.  I wanted to say to someone that “this was hard” and to hear someone say truthfully “I know it is”.

 

Wendy arrived at 6.15pm and as she came up the stairs, Robert asked if she thought I was fully dilated; Wendy looked at me in the bath and said she could see the baby’s head!  I agreed to Wendy having a feel of the baby’s head, and then she started adding more warm water into the bath to get the level higher for my baby’s birth.  Wendy asked if I wanted anything, and I said I wanted my poo out of the bath.  Wendy replied that babies love this environment, and I shouldn’t let it worry me.  I put my head on her shoulder and swore a few times, expressing the intensity of the sensation of pressure on my perineum.  I initially felt I wanted some counter pressure on my perineum from a flannel, but changed my mind within a few seconds as I wanted to keep my hand on my baby’s head as it was born.  I gave small, grunty pushes as I felt I needed to, and felt more and more of my baby being born under my hand; the top of her head, her ears, her face, her shoulders, then her tummy and then all of her warm, wriggling body slipped into my hands and I lifted her up out of the water onto my chest.  What a joyous moment!  I was stunned, in shock, relieved, excited, overwhelmed and amazed.  My baby was born, into my hands, in my home, and after only one hour of labour (6.23pm for those playing along at home!).

 

I gently turned my baby over and saw that I had given birth to a second beautiful daughter, Sasha Joy MacKay.  Hannah and Robert had witnessed the birth, and Hannah immediately asked to get into the bath with me and her new baby sister.  As she splashed about, Robert took some photographs and Wendy supplied me with homeopathic remedies.  Michelle arrived 10 minutes after Sasha was born, bringing her son Seth with her (as it happened, that day was Seth’s 3rd birthday!).  Michelle was very disappointed she’d missed the birth, especially as she’d put a great deal of effort and thought into how she’d support Hannah during my labour.

 

I cuddled and welcomed Sasha in the bath for 20 minutes, experiencing strong, aching afterpains.  As the bath cooled, I got out and onto my bed which had been lined with old towels and plastic sheets.  The afterpains were unpleasant, and (frustratingly) lasted longer than my labour pains, but I didn’t want to interfere with the birth of my placenta in order to ease them, especially as I wasn’t bleeding at all.  I laid Sasha on my tummy and let her crawl up to my breast and self-attach.  She began breastfeeding as if she’d always done it, and I rested as my family moved around the bedroom and Wendy began writing up her notes.  As the afterpains continued, Wendy suggested I try squatting to birth the placenta and ease the pains, so I squatted over a bucket next to the bed and gave two big pushes to birth the placenta, 45 minutes after Sasha’s birth.  I had wanted to keep Sasha attached to the placenta until her cord had stopped pulsating, and was prepared to not cut the cord at all (allowing the cord and placenta to dry up over 3-5 days; a lotus birth), but we chose to cut her cord 14 hours after her birth as I found carrying her placenta around with her was impractical and meant I couldn’t cuddle her like I wanted.

 

I had a warm shower to wash Sasha’s meconium poo off me (like mother, like daughter!) and then Wendy examined my perineum – I had no tears (even though Sasha did have her hand up next to her face as she was born), a minor graze, and no bleeding at all.  Sasha weighed 3.68kgs, or 8lbs 2oz, was 49cms long, and had a 34.5cm head circumference.  Michelle’s partner arrived soon after, and entertained Seth and Hannah with PlaySchool and balloons downstairs, and then organised dinner for us all to share.  Everything felt so normal and personal and yet extraordinary and universal.

 

My experience of Sasha’s birth was everything I dreamed of in that I birthed safely at home, in water, and caught my daughter myself.  While my labour was much earlier and quicker than I expected, it was wonderfully relaxed, bearable and safe.  Sasha’s birth has given me enormous additional confidence in my body and its ability to grow and birth a baby perfectly.  I am completely satisfied with my choices this pregnancy and birth and would do just the same if there’s a next time (except I’ll give up on the birth pool; the bath does just fine!).

 

Nico wants to shout it to the world!

I live in the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne, I was 33 when I had my home water birth. I have had one hospital birth (my first, Noë) and one home birth (my second, Myla). I chose to birth at home for many reasons. Firstly my experience with my hospital birth the first time round although it wasn’t bad, (I had a wonderful supportive midwife at the actual birth) ended up with my son being suctioned out, whisked away and then picking up some unspecified infection and subsequently having to have two courses of antibiotics for 8 days. I wanted my second birth to be a personal journey which I could look back on with a smile on my face. I also wanted my partner, Tony and Noë to be an integral part of that journey. And finally I wanted to feel comfortable and at home and the only place I felt that would be possible would be at home!

Initially I was booked into a hospital as I was worried about the legislation that was due to come into effect (they seem to not want to deal with this one way or another and keep postponing it!). But once I’d found out that I would  definitely be able to birth at home we chose two wonderful midwives from Midwives Naturally, a private midwifery practise as well as a mature-age student midwife. I decided that I wanted a student midwife at the birth because I want as many students out there to experience a home birth and also being a teacher in a past life I used to love having student teachers in the class room, so why not at my birth! Also not having any family at the birth meant that an extra pair of hands wouldn’t go astray in dealing with Noë!

It turned out to be the most amazing experience of my life.

Myla was born into water after a short two hour labour at 10pm on 23rd October 2010. I’d had pre labour contractions since 3am the previous night. (This was very different to my previous experience which ended up going on for 3 days!) And we spent the day quietly preparing Noë and getting the birthing pool ready and going for slow walks around the neighbourhood. By the time actual labour kicked in it went much faster that I ever thought it would and in the end the midwives only arrived about 45 minutes before Myla arrived. I love the fact that my space was my own. The midwives were monitoring me and the baby, but I had no internal examinations and all the interference that had happened during my first labour and birthing experience didn’t happen. Noë got to jump in the pool with me once Myla was born and meet his new sister. I stayed in the pool with her breast feeding for about three quarters of an hour, before we got out to birth the placenta and cut the cord with Noë’s help. It was all so relaxed and although the midwives had left by about midnight Tony and I were on such a high we didn’t fall asleep until about 5am! He was right beside me the whole time.

I felt so prepared for this birth, I had done so much reading and research and the midwives ran wonderfully helpful information sessions on optimal foetal positioning and water birth. I’d talked about it a lot with Noë (who was just over 3 at the time) and we’d watched a number of home/water births on dvd and youtube/vimeo. So he was as prepared as he could be. Thankfully I have a partner who is incredibly supportive and believed as long as I was happy and felt I was making the right decision then he was happy. In fact he commented to me after we’d made the decision to have a home birth that I seemed really content within myself, my whole demeanor had changed.

I think what annoys me most about our society is our intent to make child birth appear to be the most painful experience we will ever have (which is how I thought before I had Noë). But I do believe if women are supported and given all the information we are able to have a wonderful birth that we can look back on with fond memories.

Although I treasure the birth of Noë with all my heart, I dont look back on his birth with the same amount of pleasure in the way I do with Myla’s. In fact I think about her labour and birth every single day with a smile on my face. I want more women to have that experience.

Thank you for allowing me and other women to share their stories. I want to shout mine to the whole world 🙂

Andrea had her third baby at home

Where do you live? Geelong, Victoria
How many homebirths have you had? 1, my 3rd son. My first two boys were hospital births.
Why did you birth at home? Because my rights and wishes weren’t being respected by the hospital, because I didn’t feel SAFE there anymore, because I was lied to several times and because I was treated like a child. Because I wanted a waterbirth which the hospital denied to me.
These are some other things to consider:
Did you homebirth your first baby or subsequent babies? I had hospital births with my first two and my third was my home birth.
Have you used a publicly funded homebirth scheme in any country in the world? No
Have you experienced trauma around birth? Yes. My first birth was horrific and it wasn’t the pain from the 53 hours of labour that i found to be horrific, it was the way i was treated by the staff throughout my labour and afterwards. There was so much wrong doing that I wouldn’t even know where to start. With my second child, I was denied a water birth because he was measuring big and because I refused the GT test. I was told that if I had the test done and it came back clear, that I would be ‘allowed’ to go back to midwifery care (I was told that until I had the test done, I was going to be seen by the GD obstetrician). I had the test done, it came back clear and I was still denied my water birth and I was ‘allowed’ to have a vaginal birth only if an OB was present.
With my 3rd child, I started off in the hospital system and I was shocked at how disrespectful they were, yet again with my very well informed choices only because they did not meet hospital policy. I was again denied a waterbirth despite the fact that I was measuring ‘on track’ and I birthed my previous 10lb2 child with no issues at all. After my assigned midwife rang me at home and yelled at me like a child for refusing to have the GT test and refusing my water birth, I looked into my options. At 28 weeks pregnant, I pulled out of the hospital system and met with my midwife whom I continued my pregnancy with and had my perfect home birth with.
How old were you when you were birthing at home? I was 27 years old.
With what ethnicity do you identify? Caucasian
Have you had a caesarean? More than one? None, thankfully although I ticked several boxes with all three of my birth for ‘needing’ one.
Have you had a breech homebirth? No
Do you identify as disabled/temporarily ablebodied? No
Have you had a midwife-attended homebirth? Yes
Are you in a relationship? Yes, married
How did you pay for your homebirth? Tax return
Do you work at home or in the paid workforce? No but i do study full-time
Does your family have a history of homebirthing? No

Tami was only having a second babe if she had a homebirth

My name is Tami White. I live in central Victoria. I’ve had one homebirth. I am a 30 year old Caucasian woman. I am self-employed as a psychologist. At the time of my son’s homebirth I was employed part-time as a counsellor by another psychologist.

When I homebirthed, I was a woman in my mid-20s. I had one 2-year-old girl child who was born in a hospital, and my condition for my husband of having a second child was that it would be a homebirth. My daughter’s hospital birth had left me shattered mentally with no faith left in my body, and fragile mentally with no faith in my abilities as a parent. I didn’t ever want to go back there again. Given that Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different outcome, I was determined to not behave as though I were insane.

I have hypermobility syndrome, a ligament disorder that means my ligaments are too lax at the best of times. During pregnancy, the increased levels of the hormone Relaxin render my ligaments non-functional. By the end of both of my pregnancies, I could not walk more than 10 meters without assistance. I needed full time care from my husband, who is supportive but could not earn an income due to my needs. My pregnancies are technically classified moderately dangerous. I was offered a caesarean section at 38 weeks with my first pregnancy due to my condition, although I went on to ‘successfully’ birth vaginally (if a vaginal birth is the measure of success, and not the health and wellbeing of the infant and mother).

I hired a midwife when I was 10 weeks pregnant with my 2nd baby. I knew from interaction with some homebirthing women online that my midwife was reasonably priced at $3000, inclusive of pre-, ante- and post-natal care from 10 weeks pregnancy to 6 weeks post-partum, which I paid for at approximately 10 weeks post-partum with the ‘proceeds’ of the Baby Bonus. I could not think of a better investment than ensuring that my baby had an un-traumatised mother.

I did not know much about hiring a midwife, so hired the first midwife who was willing and with whom I was able to forge a connection. Unfortunately as much as I came to adore my midwife, she had a great deal of self-doubt and brought her insecurities into my pregnancy space and later to my birth space. I believe she is a hospital-at-home midwife. Whilst I have a great deal of respect for her, I wouldn’t hire her again. However, having said that, she and I were able to work together (with a few hiccough) to get me the birth that I wanted.

In the end my son was born on his own terms and in his own time frame. I had a very long pre-labour ‘warm-up’ – approximately a week of gentle warm-up contractions, culminating in a home water birth after 12 hours of established labour. My son was ‘big’ by mainstream standards at 9lb 10oz and was born into my arms just before dawn on a Saturday morning. It was the most empowering day of my life, the day that I learned what true strength and endurance means to me.

Up ’til that point, I had thought of myself as being fairly mainstream. I still do to a large extent. The rest of the world views me as something quite different – but funnily enough I still feel like ‘just’ me, just so much more self-aware.

A 3rd baby is still a possibility, although somewhat remote. If that baby became a reality, homebirth would just be a no-brainer for my family. It’s just normal here now, as is breastfeeding, baby wearing, and co-sleeping. Those are just the cornerstones of a healthy mother/baby dyad. One that, thankfully, my family now understands if only for *my* wellbeing and not in a larger sense for all women.

So that’s my story – one of a mainstream woman who had no interest in being butchered again, or having my baby hurt again. Homebirth was not a radical choice for me, not a ‘brave’ choice, not something done to make a political statement, nor yet to prove a point. Only one made out of the best interests of my baby and my family – and myself. One I’m so glad I came to have faith in. One that changed my life, and changed the one people judge me, but one that, having had the strength to make has lent me strength when I’ve needed it.

Emma has had eight homebirths!

Who homebirths? ME!

My name is Emma and my eight children have all been born at home. My oldest child was born when I was 20 and my youngest when I was 35. The land of my birth is England and I have Welsh, English and Irish descent.

I have travelled extensively and my first two children were born ‘on the road’ in England: the first with a midwife, through the publicly funded community midwife scheme, and the second with a lay midwife who was a Lakota Elder. My subsequent babies were born under publicly funded midwifery care in four different areas of New Zealand.

I have never had to pay for a homebirth or even any related costs ~ extra towels, sheets, a temporary nappy service, home help and osteopath visits were funded by the midwives (in New Zealand) out of the additional payments they receive to care for mothers who birth at home.

I have been living in Australia for four years, and I am in a long term heterosexual relationship. I work in and from home, and within the local community, for love only.

I do not have an immediate family herstory of home birth, and went against the grain of all my living family, friends, colleagues and peers by birthing at home.

I birth at home simply because it makes perfect common sense and subsequent independent research, as well as experience, has consistently confirmed this.

Any difficulties I encountered along the way ~ such as my losing my first born’s twin at 12 weeks, a babe who was transverse until the final moments of labour and another with true shoulder dystocia ~ have been handled gently, respectfully and successfully at home. Although I would of course transfer to hospital in the case of any genuine medical need, I know home is the best place for the best welcome to this world my children could possibly receive.

Nyree wants her next birth to be at home

Although I have not had a homebirth yet, I certainly plan on it next time.

Here’s my story that I included in the Senate Committee submission:

I miscarried my first child at 9 weeks – a devastating time for me, but the main trauma that lingers from that event was going to hospital & being placed in a cubicle next to the room with the sick, crying babies. I don’t know who was crying more – them from being sick or me from being reminded of what I’d long waited for & had just lost.

When I got pregnant with my daughter several months later, I went to my GP to have the pregnancy confirmed, get a check up, etc. When talking about care options, she mentioned the hospital, birth centre or shared care. Home birth was not even suggested (and she is supportive of it). I planned on going to the Birth Centre at the Royal Hobart Hospital, wanting as natural a birth as possible, with back-up close by if required. I had a lot of fear being my first (full-term) birth & we were living an hour from the hospital at the time. When I attended my booking-in appointment, I mentioned my preference for the birth centre. After taking my medical history, the midwife told me I’d be excluded from the Birth Centre because of a history of depression. Ironic, considering less intervention reduces your risk of PND. I have since found out that other women with depression have been allowed to birth there – and many others have been given conflicting excuses as to why they’d be excluded. It just seems to be more about who you get on the day than anything resembling evidence. As it turned out, I also had early stage cervical cancer, so it was suggested I attend the Doctors’ Clinic throughout the pregnancy for ‘closer monitoring’.

So many looooong hours waiting at the clinic during antenatal appointments! Not being able to choose who I saw became problematic for me in later months as there was one Obstetrician I strongly disliked. As luck would have it, I usually got him. My daughter was breech = instant caesarian in a hospital. I was given the option of an ECV to turn her, which I took up on the proviso that a different doctor was to do the procedure. Thankfully, they were able to accommodate me & the Ob was great.

When I went into labour, we did the trek up to the hospital. After initial checks, I was taken to the Maternity Ward. I asked if there were any birthing suites available, figuring that would be the next best thing to the Birth Centre. They asked if I was in a program (eg KYM), to which I said “no”. After a bit of umming & ahhing, they said because my blood pressure was elevated (went up a couple of days before the birth – whole other story), they wanted me in a delivery suite (standard room) to keep a better eye on me. Mind you, this was the room right next to the birthing suite that was available.

When I got there, they placed a IV line in my hand (telling me “yes” when I asked if it was compulsory), followed by 10 minutes of having to sit still for a CTG (again, compulsory). At that point in labour, I wanted to move. Sitting was the worst position for me. Had I been more informed, I would have known that nothing is compulsory, but I am angry that protocol was more important than my needs.

Labour progressed & I did what I could to manage. At one point when I was kneeling on all fours, a different midwife came in & said I was having back pain because the baby was posterior. She wasn’t, but having a stranger walk in & break my focus like that was the last thing I needed. I recall about 4 different midwives in the 7 hours I was labouring. When the last one realised I was already pushing, she got me on the bed into a semi-reclined position to do a vaginal exam. She said I could push anytime – but I was in the worst position possible to give birth, especially with a bad back. She was trying to coach me to push, but it was contradicting what I was feeling. When my daughter was born, I was given prophylactic oxytocin & the cord was cut before it stopped pulsating – both things I didn’t want, but was in no state to verbalise. After the birth, I had to wait 2 hours for a doctor to come & check the grazing – legs in stirrups, having raw flesh poked & prodded – intensely more pain than the birth itself.

When moving from the delivery room to the main ward, bub HAD to be moved in a plastic crib – I wasn’t “allowed” to carry her across the hall. I ended up sharing a room with a woman who’d had a caesarian the day before. When my daughter screamed all night, every night, I felt extremely guilty that the other woman was not getting the rest she needed. I had little support from family or friends as they couldn’t stay the whole time. When a midwife told me to try expressing, it was expected that I’d just know how to do that. When I wasn’t successful, she grabbed my breast & essentially started ‘milking’ me (the same MW that said bub was posterior during labour). When another midwife showed us how to bathe our child, the water was cold. I was MORE than ready to go home on day 3, but it was suggested that I stay until the milk came in. Thankfully, the next morning I was nicely engorged & I got out of there as soon as I could.

My story is nothing compared to the trauma some women experience in a “clinical setting”, but it was enough for me to know it was far from an optimal birthing environment. I have spent the years since researching homebirth, working through any residual fears and talking to some fabulous midwives. The thought of having to birth in a hospital again is not something I want to entertain. I have a contingency plan in case of emergency & I trust the midwife I have chosen with my life & the life of my child.

However, if this legislation is passed in its current form, my midwife faces probable deregistration, if she can get registration at all. I, like many women across the country, will still birth at home, but I won’t have access to a midwife. It is unsafe to force a woman into a decision that she does not want to make (hospital or freebirth) and that contradicts the purpose of the legislation, which is to protect the public.