In 1993 I gave birth to my daughter Jessica, in a birthing pool in my living room in a village near Oxford, England.
I was 2 ½ weeks early. The labour was 2 ½ hours from when my waters broke to when the placenta was delivered.
In 1990 I had a 26 hour labour ending in a venteuse assisted delivery at the local teaching hospital in Oxford. When I found out I was pregnant this time I decided that the last place in the world I wanted to end up was in that hospital.
Fortunately my husband, one of three children, all born at home, couldn’t have agreed more. Together we fought the system until, exhausted, they gave up on us and left us alone.
While the rules are clear in the UK – if you want to birth in a field in the dead of winter, its your choice as long as the midwife turns up to deliver the baby.
But that doesn’t mean your GP won’t give you a hard time first. In my case my GP (a female and mother of four) had a panic when I suggested a homebirth and sent me up to the hospital so the obstetricians could tell me the same. They spent a wasted meeting trying to convince me that my choice was dangerous because I’d had a long first labour. We’d checked all the facts – we knew that a study done at that very hospital had shown that planned homebirths had statistically better outcomes than hospital births.
We knew we would still be in the NHS system in any emergency and that I would tracked on the white board the same way all the moms were while in labour. Mary Smith – room 1. Jane Jones – Room 2. Sue Anello – at home.
Giving up they wrote WE SAID NOT TO HAVE A HOME BIRTH in giant red letters in my file and sent me on my way. The GP fired me from her charge. Another, older, male GP in the practice phoned and said – “I know I’m not officially your doctor, but I love to watch births at home so I’d be happy to come”.
At 37 weeks, many weeks after it felt like her head was engaged, my husband and I decided to head to London to pick up our pool.
Good thing we did because the next night, as I was watching a bad British soap at 8.30pm I suddenly realized my waters had gone. I rang the midwife and she told me she’d go get the kit (from the hospital – then you’re put in the system) and in the meantime I got in the tub and kept calling for my husband to fill the pool.
Convinced he had another 25 or more hours to go, he mowed the lawn. He did call my friend and yoga teacher and ask her to come over and she arrived a half hour later to find me writhing in pain and in a panic around the living room fireplace while the pool was filling. The pain was caused by the fact that I was having a posterior labour.
My friend gave me one homeopathic remedy – Aconite 30c – and I was immediately better.
I got in the pool, the midwife returned about 15 minutes before the birth. I went through transition pretty much in silence – politely asking to have my face sponged occasionally!
The GP arrived 5 minutes before. And at 11.20pm Jessica was born. “It’s a boy!- I mean a girl!” exclaimed the GP. I didn’t tear. The pool and the aconite were my only pain relief. I got out of the pool and delivered the placenta a few minutes later.
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