A Positive Home Birth Story: With previous Group B Strep

I promised to share my positive birth stories a while back, and I’m finally doing it! (Gives self a pat on back). Click here to read Ernie’s birth story – which was in a consultant led unit in hospital. Read on to hear about the arrival of Gus, who was born in a birth pool at home!

Group B Strep & Homebirths

Ignoring the horrendous SPD I was experiencing (which pretty much left me housebound and I think was the catalyst that started off my struggle with depression), everything was heading in the right direction and I felt very supported in my decision to birth at home. However, I hit a bit of a bump when a midwife popped round at 35 weeks to do my home birth assessment. She was a midwife I had not met before, and whilst flicking through my notes she discovered that I had tested positive for Group B strep during my last pregnancy. Apparently this was enough for me to be denied my home birth. I was distraught, I wept and wept in front of her and she left clearly feeling terrible that I had not been told this earlier. I managed to talk to my regular midwife who was all a bit confused about this, and it turned out that different midwives had quite different opinions on Group B Strep and how to manage previous positive results from it AND the official recommendations differed in different regions. This was all super confusing. My midwife did assure me that they couldn’t actually deny me a home birth, and would support me no matter what, but it might be that they just  couldn’t “recommend” I go through with it.

I don’t want this to turn into a blog post about Group B Strep as otherwise it’ll be EXTREMELY LONG. So I’ll try my very best to keep things brief! Group B Strep is very serious, babies can be severely poorly and some tragically die after contracting it. However, if you do look into the risks, although heartbreaking, they are very, very small. If you are GBS positive your baby may or may not become colonised it, then only a small percentage of baby’s colonised with it will go on to develop an GBP infection, then only a small percentage of these babies will sadly die. We can screen pregnant women for GBS but your results can change from week to week. So someone that has tested positive for GBS in week 36 could be negative by the time they are in labour. This is why we do not screen for it in the UK. And I for one am ok with the fact that we don’t (which seems like quite the controversial opinion if I go by comments on the internet). I do think that if we did a lot of people would end up having to take strong antibiotics for no reason. I do think we should be very aware of symptoms, and should equip ourselves with the right information. So should our babies become poorly, we know exactly what to do. Let me be clear, I am in no way saying this will save all babies from GBS, but I do think it’s important, and could make a difference. Also, can I make it clear that you can screen privately should you so wish, and if a mother chooses to do so I can completely understand why.
I had retested for it, with negative results at the beginning of this second pregnancy. But this was of no interest to the professionals. Like I said, your results can change week to week – you might be positive one day, and negative a few days later. And once you’ve had a positive result, you are more likely to test positive for it in the future.
I spoke to my friends who were midwives, and I spoke to the Head of Midwifery at St Michaels Hospital, I spoke to women who had been GBS positive and had had treatment, as well as women who had refused it. I tried to educate myself as best I could and made a decision.

I was going to go through with my home birth. I think it helped that I was a mere 10 minute drive from the amazing children’s hospital in Bristol, and St Michaels. My midwives were respectful of my decision, I think half agreed with what I was saying anyway, but half definitely did not!
Although I had prepared myself to fight my corner, they listened to my opinions and I didn’t really need to “fight” at all. It wasn’t exactly the 100% full support I had thought I was getting originally, but it was pretty good!

Enough about GBS! Get on with the birth!!!

Am I in Labour?

So after Ernie almost getting to 42 weeks inside, I was pretty sure I was getting another late baby. I told myself over and over that it would be late, to prepare myself. I told no one what my exact due date was, and I pretty much tried to keep it a secret from myself too. (This worked almost too well, and I ended up thinking my due day was two weeks earlier than it actually was…oops!) Those who have experienced pregnancy with a toddler in tow will know that it just isn’t quite the same the second time around. You don’t google every single symptom every minute of the day, as you just don’t have time to! You don’t start eating pineapple by the bucket load, and curry everyday, because you are probably living off the crumbs of your toddlers meals.

The day before my due day I had a few friends over for a cuppa, and I started getting quite strong braxton hicks. My friend Lucy said, “are you sure these aren’t contractions?” but I just knew they weren’t, I KNEW this baby would be late. The tightenings had no pattern at all. I got on with my day. I’d planned to sort out the birth pool and get the room all ready. Towels stacked up, music at the ready. Soft lighting sorted. You know, so it was all ready for the birth in a few weeks time.

Ernie, had been with my mum that morning, and as my “braxton hicks” were continuing, I decided to just give her a ring and talk about it… should Ernie just go home with her? No, this can’t be it! The baby will be late! Bring him back. Ernie returns and my mum tells me I’m in labour. But I KNOW I’m not, and don’t they say you just know when you are? I’m definitely not in labour, this is all just practise. My mum takes Ernie back out for dinner to give me some space – just in case.

Once I’m alone I relax a little. Suddenly everything gets more intense. Wow! These braxton hicks are powerful! I time them and there is still no pattern, but they are getting closer together. I decide to crack out my tens machine and run a hot bath (obviously don’t mix these together!!!)

The Birth

The hot bath water soothes me instantly and everything feels easier to deal with. I have to lie on my front though and must look a right sight! My mum returns with Ernie, I am naked and don’t give two hoots – I think this is where I realised something might possibly be happening. It’s 6pm, but my partner doesn’t finish work until 6.30. I take the plunge and give him a call, “errrr, you might want to leave work early… only if you can though….”

I start breathing deeply, filling my whole body with oxygen, energy, light, warmth, life! My mum takes Ernie back to hers for the night, and my partner Lex comes home. His eyes widen and he goes into dad mode, looking to sort anything he can. He asks my permission to fill the birth pool, but I’m still unsure if this is really it. Plus, if it IS, what if I have another 30 hours of this – like my last labour?

When I start humming through tightenings he starts to fill the pool. I say hum, but it was like a deep hoooommmmmm, cavewoman choir humming. I am reluctant to leave the safe, warmth of the bath, and Lex basically has to drag me out. The cool air hits me, and I feel slightly unnerved as I fiddle with the tens machine. These feelings are deep, and the force is incredible.

Once the pool is filled I gingerly get in – thank god it has handles on the side! I feel a bit disappointed that it’s much cooler than my hot bath. But the thermometer says I have it at the right temperature. I grumble. We add a little hot. The feelings are intense. I can’t help but make noises. I try to keep my jaw loose and let everything ripple through my body. Even contraction I feel I visualise everything in my womb stretching, my cervix opening.

I use my hand occasionally just to see if I can feel a change, anything opening, anything stretching. I feel confused by what I find. Half of me is still in denial that anything is even happening. But.. that does feel quite wide? Should we be phoning the midwives? No, I definitely have 30 more hours of this. i don’t want them here that long!!!!

The contractions get stronger, and I feel almost I start to feel everything going down, all my insides, all my body pushing down. Am I pushing? Should I be pushing now? I think I should be! Lex phones the midwives and I try and hold back from pushing.

They arrive and are lovely. I refuse to be checked. They settle into the room and as everyone is busy I turn away and focus on me and my baby. I feel with my hand as I push. I can touch the head and I can feel the movement with every push I make. This helps me incredibly, as I can FEEL how far I need to push, and I can feel exactly what my pushing is doing (I hope that makes sense? In my previous labour I found pushing very difficult as it felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere. being able to feel what was going on made so much difference!)

The stretching, stinging skin makes me say OW! out loud, but the head is out. The midwife offers me to come towards her, but I back away and birth my baby into my own hands. This is what I wanted to do! I wanted to catch them!

We cuddle, I feel incredible, I feel cold, we get out. Wrapped up in towels I sit with my baby in my throne and the midwives sit at my feet. I check the sex – a boy! The cord stops pulsing and I cut it myself. I stand to birth the placenta, and we pop it in a tupperware container ready for smoothies (yes really!!)

The midwives stay for a little while, to make sure that there’s no symptoms that could be Group B Strep. Luckily there aren’t any. They have a cuppa and then leave us to watch Bake Off in front of the fire, eating dinner and holding our new babe. It took us about two weeks, but he was finally named August – or Gus for short.

Later I read my notes and realised that the midwives arrived four minutes before Gus was born!! My first tightenings began at 9am, and Gus was born at 9pm, so this was a much quicker labour than my first. But the actual labour, was probably a matter of hours. This birth was incredible, so empowering and totally amazing. It was hard, especially towards the end. There were a few moments, when I said if I was in hospital I would have asked for pain relief. But I worked through it was, and it was worth it.

blog comments powered by Disqus