I attended a birth Saturday night/Sunday morning. It was the first home birth that I have attended and was quite an experience! The birth itself was amazing – calm, comfortable, peaceful, relaxed – all of the best things about giving birth at home. Mom had some trouble afterward and had to be transferred to the hospital. In the end everything turned out fine – mom and baby are doing well, but it was an experience I won’t soon forget. I have written my essay for certification purposes in 700 words or less, as required, but it was really hard to do! I left out many details, but you can get the overall idea. As usual, names have been removed for privacy reasons.
Mom and Dad planned to deliver their first baby at home. At 10:45 pm on June 25 Mom called – her water had broken but contractions had not started yet. We decided that she would lie down, try to get some rest, and call me when her contractions picked up and she felt that she needed me. At 1:20 am, Dad called to let me know that contractions had started, were coming fairly regularly and that they were ready for me to come. I arrived at their home at 1:40 am. Contractions were about 6-7 minutes apart and lasting 30-45 seconds. Mom felt most comfortable sitting on the toilet and labored there for over an hour. By 2:30 am contractions began coming 5 minutes apart, lasting 60 seconds. Dad was busy getting the birth pool filled, so I stayed with Mom, helping her to breathe deeply & steadily and stay relaxed. The contractions were becoming more intense, but Mom stayed focused and relaxed. I breathed along with her, verbally reminded her to keep her muscles relaxed and let the contractions do their work, kept her cool with cold, wet washcloths, and made sure that she stayed hydrated. At 3:15 am, we moved downstairs to the room where she planned to give birth. Dad supported her in a “slow dance” position for several contractions, but Mom decided that she wanted to go back to toilet-sitting. After about 15 minutes, she began feeling a lot of pressure and felt like she wanted to push. As the midwife had not yet arrived, I suggested a move to a side-lying position on the bed. This position change relieved some of the pressure, so we continued focusing on breathing steadily and keeping her muscles relaxed. Mom found that squeezing my hand during contractions helped her to keep her lower body relaxed and to remain calm and in control, so we continued with breathing, verbal relaxation cues, and hand-squeezing until the midwife arrived at 4:00 am, at which point contractions were coming every 2-3 minutes and lasting around 60-70 seconds. A cervical check at that point revealed that she was nearly complete, with a small lip of cervix remaining. We moved Mom to the pool – she was amazed and excited about how much the water reduced her pain and helped her relax. She began pushing at 4:20. She felt great relief to finally be able to push. She usually got in 3-4 good pushes during each contraction, changing positions frequently, from semi-sitting, to hands and knees, to squatting. She was able to relax and rest in between. Frequent checks of the baby’s heart rate revealed that she was doing well. We talked about how a longer pushing stage could be beneficial for allowing the perineum to stretch without tearing. Mom remained focused and in good spirits, laughing and joking between contractions. When she seemed to be tiring, we talked about how we could see her baby’s dark hair and that she would be here soon – that always perked her right up. After 2 hours of pushing, at 6:26 am, her 6 lb, 10 oz baby girl was born.
During 3rd stage, before the cord was cut, Mom had a seizure. The midwife quickly cut the cord and administered oxygen while Dad and other assistants kept Mom’s head above water. I tended to the baby and called 911 simultaneously. By the time paramedics arrived, Mom had regained consciousness. She was transferred to the hospital and was stable by the time she arrived.
This scary situation overshadowed the birth in my mind for several days. As I think back over the birth itself, I realize that it was a beautiful, peaceful home-birth, exactly what the parents had hoped for – up until the unexpected turn of events afterward. As this was my first home-birth, I was most struck by how the quiet, unhurried, comfortable atmosphere of the home was extremely conducive to relaxation, which I believe was key to Mom’s peaceful, joyful birth experience. The biggest lesson I learned during the seizure and transfer to the hospital was the importance of remaining calm in a potentially panic-filled situation, focusing on what needed to be done and remaining positive and encouraging for the family. I believe that one of my biggest roles at the post-partum visit will be to help Mom and Dad to remember the positive aspects of their birth experience.