Tuesday, 1 June 2010

The tale of an unplanned homebirth

This time last year, I was counting down my days until I could see my baby for the first time. My daughter was due on 11th April and on 9th, I was busy shopping and gardening the whole day. The day I go shopping, I really try to avoid cooking and prefer to eat out, but on that day, eating out seemed impossible and that made me very annoyed. I just realised how dependant I was on eating out! Anyway, like any other pregnant woman I was very hungry by the time I reached home and decided to cook a proper three course meal as if to prove that I can do better than the restaurants that I would have gone to! I cooked quite a lot which was going to last at least couple of days. At that time, I didn’t have a clue that my baby was going to arrive on the same day! Allah (SWT) makes things happen for a reason, Subhanallah.

By the time I went to bed which was around 11, I was having quite a lot of pain and was going to the toilet a lot and that is why I thought it was just tummy ache for some unknown reason. When the pain started to increase, then I thought maybe this is it but just started to use the breathing techniques I had learned watching endless pregnancy and birth programmes on TV. It was going quite smoothly and I thought I was in control. But by 12, I was pretty sure that it was labour pains and not indigestion. I woke my hubby up and sent him to get his mother as we had to leave our 16 month old son with her at home. I thought I had at least 6-7 hours in hand, as my previous pregnancy had been induced and was over in 3 hours. I thought that as this would be a ‘normal birth’ this time, I would have as long as most other people have. However, by 1 am, I started bleeding and my waters broke! I was in severe pain and I was feeling a tremendous pressure at the lower end as if the baby was almost ready to come out. The pain was so intense that I couldn’t stand or sit; I just lied down on my bedroom floor and started groaning. I wonder what the neighbours were thinking! My poor son was watching me from his cot and must have felt quite shocked seeing me behaving so unusual. Luckily I had my mobile with me so I called 999. This was the first time I had ever had to dial 999 in my life. I was really in shock thinking, is this really happening to me or is it just a nightmare!

Alhamdulillah my husband arrived with my mum-in-law just before the paramedics came. We were told that there wasn’t that much time left as they were able to see baby’s head so I stared pushing in accordance with the contractions. I was asking for gas and air. I was very scared thinking about the possibility of going through labour without gas and air! Alhamdulillah they were able to provide that for me. By 1:10 AM I was fully dilated and alhamdulillah our beautiful baby girl was born by 1:30. My husband told me later that she was all blue when she came out as the umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck. The paramedics remained calm though and massaged her chest a bit and alhamdulillah within a couple of seconds she started crying. It was such a relief Subhanallah! I still cannot believe it. With my first labour I had a bad experience with stitches. That’s why this time I strongly refused to have any stitches. Alhamdulillah I was healed very quickly. The trick is you have to keep the place clean and dry and try to have warm bath with a little bit of salt on a regular basis.

The whole process, from the first stage of labour to the third stage, lasted only two and a half hours! I felt like the luckiest mum in the world, alhamdulillah! I still think it was a miracle. I always thought this can only happen in movies. By 3:30, I had my bath and was enjoying my time with my newborn baby. Having an induced labour at hospital with my first baby, I was able to compare the two birth experiences. As it was such an unplanned sort of homebirth, I felt very scared as everything was happening so quickly. But when I compare this one with my induced one I think this one was far better alhamdulillah.

Watching programmes on homebirths and reading about homebirths, I was thinking about homebirth at the beginning of my second pregnancy. However, as midwives suggested not trying homebirth given my previous history of gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia, I had to change my mind. But now, alhamdulillah going through this accidentally I think it was the best way to have my baby. I felt comfortable being at home. Some medical experts do believe that giving birth in familiar surroundings can raise your confidence during labour, make us feel more in control, if all is proceeding well and make us feel less inhibited: all of which can help ease labour. Moreover, there's a far lower incidence of medical intervention in homebirths, whether that’s having our waters broken (with my first one I had it done), electronic foetal monitoring (I hated it), medication or episiotomies. In terms of privacy, homebirth can be really good. I was surrounded by ladies, which created a ‘sisterly’ environment mashallah. All the paramedics who came were women, as were the two midwives who came later to check everything was alright with me and my daughter. I was lucky that this happened as this probably would not have been the case if this was planned. A significant advantage of a home birth is that you can start your recovery process in the comfort of your own home straight away. After the hard work of delivery, it can make all the difference to be settled into your own bed and sheets, alhamdulillah. I was also very lucky to have my mum and mum-in-law cooking and helping me in almost everything.

My husband was there throughout the labour which I really appreciate. I strongly believe husbands should be birth partners as this can help them appreciate what their mothers and wives and hopefully one day, their precious daughters will go through. It also helps guys to create a better bond as fathers with their newborn. I was very lucky to have my families around. I didn’t need to go to the hospital and my daughter was doing very well too. I am very grateful to Allah (SWT) for making things so easy for me, alhamdulillah. Homebirth is on rise through out the world as more and more women want to have the birth as naturally as possible. But this is not an option for everyone as some women can have complications during their pregnancy and hospital is the best place for them. However, I am trying to learn more about homebirth, as I hope and pray that I can have planned homebirth in future INSHA-ALLAH.

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