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Episode 435

Caitlin – precipitous labour, accidental home birth

In today’s episode Caitlin details her two very different labours - her first was 40 hours long, her second only two hours. She was accepted into an MGP programme and while she did a hypnobirthing course for preparation, she admits she wasn’t prepared for the intensity of labour. Her early labour stage was long and painful because of her baby’s posterior position and she admits she went to hospital too early. After opting for an induction she later requested an epidural which was a really positive experience for it; it allowed her to sleep, relax and dilate to 10cm. In her second pregnancy she embraced all the education and preparation, hired a doula and planned to birth at her small local low–risk hospital. But….her baby had other plans.

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“It was a surprise pregnancy and while my period was late it wasn’t uncommon. It was only when I noticed my nipples were really sensitive and sore that I thought to do a pregnancy test. We were living in a share house and I was studying and my partner had just started a business but we knew we wanted babies in our future so we didn’t question it. I applied for the MGP programme but I didn’t know much about birth…I was 24 and it wasn’t planned so I hadn’t prepared for anything.

“I was quite sick in the first trimester and lost about 5kg. At about 16 weeks I started to feel better and was able to stomach more than hot chips so from then on I was trying to eat all the right foods. We did hypnobirthing but I don’t feel like it adequately prepared me. I had a feeling throughout my entire pregnancy that I would go past my due date. At 41 weeks my midwife offered me a stretch and sweep because I was starting to struggle. That night I lost my mucous plug which was exciting but I was still pregnant a few days later so my midwife suggested another stretch and sweep. I had a couple of niggles but they didn’t kick start labour which was quite deflating. I remember thinking: why is this baby punishing me? In hindsight it’s so silly but in the moment it’s really hard.

“At 41+ 2 I started getting regular but mild cramps. That evening they hadn’t really intensified so my midwife came over for a home visit but she didn’t want to do a vaginal examination because she could see I was still in early labour. Stone had been in a posterior position from 35 weeks so my midwife suggested a few different positions to do while I was contracting and then she encouraged me to have a bath and try to sleep. My mum came over about 10pm and at around midnight I felt like I needed to call the hospital because I was keen to go in. The midwife encouraged me to try and sleep and I just burst into tears but I think it was because I was tired more than anything. I just wanted to go to hospital at that stage so we made our way there and got there at about 1am.

“The midwife did a vaginal examination and I was only 1cm and I just couldn’t believe it. She gave me two options: go home or be induced. At 2am the midwife broke my waters and there was meconium so I couldn’t use the shower and had to be closely monitored. Once the drip started my contractions were 2-3 minutes apart. By 6am I was only 2cm so I opted for the sterile water injections; it was like someone had lit my back on fire. It was so painful and it only gave me 20 minutes of relief; I don’t think I’d do it again. The gas + air helped me to breathe through the contractions but by midday I was still only 4 cm so I completely broke down and asked for an epidural. It took two hours for the anaesthetist to come and it was an instant relief and I was able to sleep for a few hours. I lay on my side using the peanut ball and I woke at 4pm and I was 10cm. I think for me, the epidural did what it was supposed to do and allowed me and my pelvic floor to relax.

“I tried a few positions to push but lying on my back was actually the most effective. I pushed for over an hour and my midwife did mention that if it went for much longer the obstetricians would want to come in. As soon as she said that it ignited a power in me and I did one big push and his head came out and then a second push and he was born. The paediatricians were there because he was quite floppy and they were looking at him for a while – about 20 minutes – because he’d inhaled some of the meconium. He was breathing on his own and he came back to me and the midwife helped me latch him and he started feeding and did pretty well from there. We went home after four days and it was so helpful living with my inlaws.

“I was still breastfeeding Stone and hadn’t got my period back but when it did return I conceived straight away. Even though we were trying it was still such a shock. I knew I wanted to do things differently in preparation for the birth so I hired a birth doula and opted to go to my small local hospital that was for low risk women and I knew I couldn’t have an epidural there so I really started getting educated and prepared. I knew I wanted to stay at home for as long as possible because the hospital was only 500m away.

“I was very surprised to wake up at 39+5 to light, regular contractions and I lost my mucous plug over about 3-4 days. Over the next few days I kept having false starts; the contractions were coming and going and my midwife told me it was prodromal labour. One afternoon I started getting lower back pain and I had lots of pressure on my bladder.

“I got off the phone to my midwife and all of a sudden my contractions were back to back and I started feeling sick, I was hot and clammy and there was only 10 seconds between them. I just started screaming; there was no low, primal moaning. All of a sudden I lost control and my doula was there encouraging me to leave for the hospital. My waters broke and I could feel the head and I couldn’t move. Caleb caught him and passed him to me and we looked at each other in shock. It all happened in under two hours. It went from being so manageable to not.”

Topics Discussed

Doula, Epidural, Induction, Posterior, Prodromal labour, Two Babies, unplanned homebirth

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