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My post dates homebirth after a cesarean (HBAC)

Categories: Due dates, hbac, birth, homebirth, vbac, doula, hypnobirthing, waterbirth
Tags: hypnobirth, declining induction, hbac, vbac, homebirth, hypnobirthing, doula, Birth after trauma

And just like that, the fourth trimester is over and my (not so) little boy is 12weeks old!

It's so cliche but I have literally no idea where the time has gone, it went fast after H bomb's birth but this was a whole other level.

In that time we've moved house, Jay's been working away, we've had 2 hospital stays, 1 A&E dash, a last minute operation, H and C starting at new school and nursery and also starting a new job, now I write it down like this it's very clear to see where our time's gone!

Back to the title of this post though, Ioan Gareth Ruddock's birth. We'd planned homebirths for all of our children but only achieved it with Ioan's. I was classed as 'High Risk,' during pregnancy with Ioan as with C I'd ended up with an emergency cesarean birth and even though I'd had a successful vaginal birth with H (VBAC) a lot of trusts will class all births after a cesarean as high risk. This didn't bother me too much as I'd navigated the system before when pregnant with H, albeit it at a different trust.

The pregnancy was a dream, being pregnant during the second lockdown of 2020 had its challenges but it meant we had more time together as a family and to prepare our girls for a new baby. We also decided to do a refresher hypnobirthing course with Nicki from Bold Birthing . I've known Nicki since she booked in with me when she was pregnant with her second little one for her placenta remedies (she's a MASSIVE advocate of placenta smoothies!) and we gelled straightaway and loved talking about all things birth and birth rights related! Even though I trained as a hypnobirthing instructor and this was our third baby we still learned so much and were confident and positive about our little one's birth. Another thing we were adamant about was that we wanted to give birth with a doula. After searching for a few days and asking for recommendations we found Sian.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, working with a doula when you're pregnant is some of the best money you will ever spend. Sian was absolutely amazing, and from the first time we met at our house (I knew we were going to get on as soon as she walked in with a Betty Ratbag tote!) she created a gentle and calm atmosphere around us, just what we wanted for our homebirth.

Fastforward (which it really did!) to my due date. We'd booked in with the amazing Bedford Blossom homebirth team and all of my antenatal appointments had been at home with the wonderful Jessica, she knew I had a tendency to go postdates and never once brought up the issue of induction (C's birth had been a "failed" induction and H's was induced in hospital) as she knew it wasn't what I wanted. As I reached 42 weeks (as I knew all through pregnancy I probably would) doubt started to creep in and this was compounded when I went to the local hospital for monitoring (some trusts recommend you go for monitoring after 42weeks, you can decline if you want). Monitoring showed all was good with me and my baby but then the dreaded talk with the registrar.

"Why didn't you come in for a scan when you reached 41 weeks?" I hadn't even been invited for one.

"Why haven't you had another blood count done?" Again, I hadn't been invited for one.

And the suckerpunch "You weren't able to birth your other babies without induction drugs, what makes you think you'll be able to with this one?"

Bang. It was like he'd read my mind and knew the one thing I was doubting myself on. What if my body couldn't physically go into labour on its own? 

This broke me for a while, and I started contemplating the fact that our baby might be born in hospital. It was at this point that my village really came into force. They say it takes a village to raise a baby, well it also takes one to help bring a baby Earthside too. Sian who'd been an amazing support via Whatsapp the whole time I was at the hospital was on hand for a great pep talk, as were a few more people I've met and worked with in the birthing world (you know who you are!) And that was it, big girl pants were pulled up and we were back on track, I would not be being induced and my labour would start naturally, my body was made to do this.

1st August, 42+3, we decided to take the girls out and have a yomp around Hitchin Lavender (I love lavender, I was so obsessed with it in my second pregnancy that H's name was nearly Lavender!) It poured down, H had a tantrum because she didn't like the "wet grass touching her with its fingers," and C insisted that she and I had to trek to the top of the field (I'm sure a lot of people's day was brightened by seeing a VERY heavily pregnant woman chasing her 5yr old up the lavender field huffing and puffing!)

Back home and something felt different, not just physically but mentally too, like something was shifting. The pains down the back of my legs which I'd thought were from the walk were actually feeling like how I experience period pain. I didn't think much of it and carried on getting the girls ready for bed. The pains carried on and were accompanied by rhythmic pressure just under my bump. H decided she wanted me to read There's A House Inside My Mummy (the book we bought the girls to tell them they would be big sisters), the pressure continued throughout and while I cwtched the girls to sleep.

When the girls were asleep it was as if things kicked up a notch, like my body knew. I shouted down to Jay to get the pool inflated and get the dinner on (always remember to fuel for labour!) I had a shower during which the episodes of pressure seemed to be closer together and then went downstairs to fajitas and we watched Jojo Rabbit while I did figure of 8s on my birthing ball (quite a feat with a plate of fajitas in hand!) Once finished I thought it would be a good idea to time these surges so I downloaded the Freya app. After 20mins of timing them and having to breathe through a few of them, the app announced I was in active labour. No! There's no way I could be in active labour! With my other births I'd had days of this, only for me to wake up the next day to nothing. Jay thought it might be time to call the midwife, I wasn't so sure it was time yet so we compromised and called Sian. Sian arrived at 2230, I was still coping quite well, I must have looked a right sight though, an oversized Betty Ratbag tshirt, disposable maternity pants, bedsocks and wrapped in a blanket as I'd started having the shakes for some reason. Sian observed me having a few surges and then we all agreed we should call the midwife. The lovely Jess arrived not long after 2300 and asked how I was doing, I asked for a VE, I put in my birth plan that I didn't want them but after days of stop start labour with the girls I wanted to know whether I was progressing. When Jess said that I was 5cm dilated I burst into tears, I'd never got this far on my own before, I was actually doing this! My baby was going to be born at home! By now the birth pool was full, Jay lit some candles, put some music on and turned the projector on (I'd highly recommend getting one of these whether you're having a home or hospital birth). Time to get in the zone.

Timings get a little hazy from now (talk about time distortion!) as I concentrated on my hypnobirthing breathing, I know that Rebekah the on call midwife arrived and introduced herself but I was more or less left to it which is exactly what I wanted. Jess and Rebekah were so unobtrusive when they were monitoring me after surges that I hardly even noticed. As my surges got more powerful, I used gas and air and held Sian and Jay's hands as they gave me encouragement, fed me coconut water and lucozade and stroked my back. The weirdest thing was it wasn't the surges that were most painful it was a cramp I was getting in my groin immediately after a surge which made my leg shoot out from underneath me, it must have looked like I was trying to sprint out of the pool!

I felt a 'pop' and knew my waters had gone, this was another thing I was worried about as in my 2 previous births there had been thick meconium and I know that if that happened this time then I would be strongly advised to transfer in to hospital. Luckily Jess checked and said it was only very thin meconium which is quite common in postdates births and baby and I were doing really well.

After my waters had gone, I started feeling the urge to push towards the end of my surges and I was worried my baby was back to back, Jess told me not to worry and to go with what my body wanted to do. At that point all I remember thinking was that I needed a wee! I'm not sure how many people it took to get me out of the pool but I know it was a few! I have never been so happy to have a downstairs loo, there was no way on Earth I'd have been able to crawl up the stairs.

After going to the loo and not even being able to sit down I struggled to walk back into the living room and was very vocal about it (hello transition!) With every surge I instinctively put my arms round Jay's neck and squatted down, I could actually feel baby moving down with every push. After a while Rebekah recommended changing position so his head could navigate my pelvis, from somewhere, Jay produced the toilet step H used when she was a toddler and so in a weird half-squat-half-kneel I carried on pushing. All of a sudden I was being told not to push as his head was crowning and on the next surge at 0508am 2nd August, 42+4 weeks, 10lb 2oz Ioan Gareth Ruddock was born, at home on the living room floor. There was no feeling like it.