Real births: Second try to have a home birth

Hayley didn't quite have the perfect experience with her first home birth and was hoping she'd have more luck second time round


Hayley may have wanted a straightforward at home with the birth of her first child but after a third degree tear, she reluctantly went off to hospital in the back of an ambulance. Not to be put off, she decided to give it another go when baby number two was expected.


With hubbie on hand with the TENS machine and the birthing pool at the ready –  she was hoping things would be little less eventful (and stressful) this time.

Here’s Hayley’s story in her own words:

Would the Braxton Hicks ever end?

“Woke at 5am on Sunday 29th December with dull aches and the odd tightening. I wasn’t sure if this was “it” as I’d been getting loads of Braxton Hicks for weeks & weeks – which I never did with baby-no-1. I put all the Braxton Hicks down to baby being OP (back-to-back) since going head down at 32 weeks.

“7am rolled around and I decided that perhaps something might be happening as the contractions seemed to be coming just over 10 mins apart – so I woke my husband and asked him to sort out the TENs machine for me.  His first words?  Couldn’t baby wait till he was feeling better? (He has a cold … umm sorry man-flu). Men!!  Lucy also woke at this point, so I ended up getting up and pottering about with her – changing her nappy, breakfast etc.

Getting the birthing pool ready

“The contractions weren’t particularly painful, more like a nuisance. Then all of a sudden around 9:30 am they went to 4 minutes apart.  I practically forced my husband to start filling the birth pool as he had been faffing round all morning.  He couldn’t get the liner to fit (we should really have done a test-run!) so just filled the pool.  

I phoned the delivery suite who said the on-call community midwife would phone me back.  I got the impression I wasn’t in “enough” pain to be phoning them! A midwife called Linda called me within a few minutes, said she wasn’t far away and would pop by and see me.

“At this point my husband decided he was feeling “so terrible” he was going to our local Tesco express for Lemsip. I suggested paracetamol (as we had some in the house but no, not good enough apparently) so off he went, leaving me alone to amuse toddler.  Seriously!!

The midwife arrives…and leaves

“The midwife arrived whilst he was out.  She checked my blood pressure, baby’s heart rate, read my notes and my birth plan and offered me a VE (vaginal examination).  I wasn’t planning on having one but I wanted to know if anything was happening, so I agreed. 

“It was 10am by now (and hubbie had returned).  It turns out I was 3 cm dilated but the contractions had dropped off to 5 minutes apart. We chatted about the fact that baby was OP and initial contractions would probably be ‘turning him’ into a better position for birth rather than dilating my cervix.

She suggested she go off on her rounds and onto her clinic at the local health centre from 11-1 and that she would phone me at 1pm to see how I was getting on. This sounded okay, especially as the contractions I was getting weren’t particularly painful, nor lasting more than 30 seconds – and I was feeling quite relaxed.”

‘I swear the minute the midwife stepped out of the door the contractions ramped up.’

“After this my timings are a bit hazy, but I swear the minute the midwife stepped out of the door the contractions ramped up to 3 minutes apart and were gradually getting more tough to breath/TENs my way through.  I had to keep walking away from Lucy as I didn’t want her to see me in pain. 

It felt as though my husband was running back and forth between me and her and I decided we should call my friend Clare to collect Lucy. She lives just round the corner but typically was out walking her dog so took 35 minutes to arrive. Contractions were now 2 minutes apart, lasting a good 40-50 seconds.

“As soon as Clare and Lucy left, the contractions ramped up again. I have to say despite feeling relaxed and in control they were very intense and painful. I was beginning to wonder if we should call the midwife back early …. but I was worried I was being a total wuss!”

The return of the midwife

“At quarter to 12, I ‘caved’ and got my husband to call her. When he described the contractions, he said he could literally hear her packing up at the other end of the phone. This convinced me things must be progressing, so I decided to take the TENs off and get into the pool. 

“At this point it felt as though I needed to push and I was beginning to panic a little bit that the midwife wasn’t going to make it. This was probably the only time I got a bit grumpy. I can distinctly remember asking my husband “where the hell is the midwife?!” and my husband replying that “he only called her 10 minutes ago,” to which I replied “but I’ve had 10 contractions since then”.

“The relief of that knock at the door. She started to bring her equipment in – delivery pack, gas and air etc  – chatting away all the time. I was quite happy to chat when I wasn’t having a contraction but during them… well it required all of my powers of concentration. She speeded up noticeably when I said it felt very “pushy”. Then I noticed H approaching the pool with the sieve. I glanced behind me – poo everywhere. I was totally mortified!

“I asked the midwife if she would mind doing a VE as I didn’t want to be pushing if I was only 5cm. (In fact if I was only 5cm, we were going to hospital for an epidural). So she prepped some towels and the gas and air. I got out – not easy – one step then BAM another contraction. I gripped the edge of the dining table to breath through it. I whipped my tankini off as it was wet and cold, then started on the gas and air. What fab stuff. 

“I somehow managed to get down onto the floor and my Midwife did the VE. It was total agony as I was on my back.  She couldn’t find any cervix at all – yay, lets have a baby!”

And then there were two

“She helped me sit forward again and was trying to find baby’s heartbeat when a 2nd midwife appeared from nowhere. Oh and like a zillion contractions whilst all this was happening.

“Then suddenly I needed to lean forward and push. I was desperately concentrating on not pushing as I was very very keen not to tear again. The midwives said they could see “membranes bulging” and I asked if the baby was crowning.  They said they couldn’t tell but they could see waters and reckoned they were about to get a ‘shower’.  Next thing “pop” my waters went like a waterfall as his head was born and the body shot out immediately (that was a bit of a surprise!).

“This was 12:47pm, so less than 3 hours from being 3cm at 10am.” 

The enormous placenta

“He breathed and pinked up immediately, and I managed to get myself into a reclined position – he lay on my chest whilst the cord pulsed.  I decided to opt for the injection to speed up the delivery of my placenta – mainly because the contractions had been so intense and the thought of more contractions and pushing was a bit daunting. My husband cut the cord whilst one of the midwives took photos.

My placenta was massive!  The midwifes were amazed. It was so massive, it wouldn’t fit in to the ‘standard’ bag they had in their delivery pack, which made us all giggle. They managed to cobble together some bags to contain it!

“Then they checked me for tears. They were both umming and ahhing about stitches. They said baby hadn’t had time to fully turn round and had come out sideways in the end. As a result the birth canal was bruised and I had a small tear along my old scar line. I needed more gas and air for the poking and prodding than I’d had for labour. They decided against stitches as it was just a surface scratch.”

Time for tea

“Baby was weighed and measured whilst my husband made me tea and toast, and we talked through the list of names we had. We decided on Toby William. He was 8lb 8oz. 

“Less than 2 hours later the midwives had written up their notes, had a cup of tea, cleaned everything up and departed. They could have left a bit earlier but they wanted me to do a wee before they left and my bladder was a bit reluctant!

“It was so brilliant and so much better than my first birth, and both midwifes were so lovely.  

“It was so awesome to sit on my own sofa (albeit on a stack of towels and pads!) and phone/text all the important people in our lives and then climb into my own bed that evening.” 

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