May 6, 2010
Briar Hill Midwives
2nd baby - born in the caul

Benjamin’s due date was April 29th, but Sylvie was born two weeks after her due date and so I expected he’d be later too. To encourage labour I went swimming, took homeopathics and primrose oil, went for acupuncture, walked stairs and so on. As my midwives say, it’s all wonderful stuff and can help, but the baby will come when the baby is ready. And little Benjamin decided he was ready on Thursday, May 6th. I had been feeling increasingly uncomfortable all week, and had been having contractions on and off for a couple of days. Wednesday I had bloody show, and when he didn’t come that night I woke on Thursday feeling discouraged and exhausted. I told Steve I didn’t know how I was going to manage the day, as I was crampy and weepy and didn’t feel well enough to be on my own with Sylvie. He called work to say he wouldn’t be in, and we got up with Sylvie and had a mellow breakfast. Then they went off to her music class together while I stayed home with a cramps and infrequent contractions. We got a call for a 41 week ultrasound appointment for that afternoon, so after music class we dropped Sylvie off at Mom’s and went to the appointment. As we’d hoped and expected, everything looked good. They guessed his weight at roughly 8 lbs. and confirmed that there was lots of amniotic fluid and that all other measurements were within a normal, healthy range. I had a contraction as we were leaving the clinic and a couple more on the ride over to Mom’s, but they were fairly mild and not unlike sensations I’d experienced the previous two nights. At Mom’s house we climbed the stairs for a while to encourage the contractions to continue, and they did, although they varied in intensity and frequency. We decided to take Sylvie home and told Mom we’d call if things continued.

We weren’t home very long when I phoned Mom and asked her to come over. The contractions were coming every five minutes, and I was starting to feel more confident that this was truly labour. Around 6:00pm we called Carol to let her know that things seemed to be starting, and she said to call her back when I really needed to breathe through the contractions. Sylvie watched me when I was having a contraction and asked me if I was ok. Steve and I explained that I had pains in my tummy because the baby was getting ready to come out. She watched me breathe through the pain and breathed along with me a couple of times. She seemed quite calm and assured that all was well. When Mom arrived she helped put Sylvie to bed. I decided to lay down with a heating pad on my back, and Sylvie came into bed with me and I sang her a song and kissed her goodnight, then Mom tucked her in while Steve readied the pool downstairs. She fell asleep before long because she hadn’t had a sleep in the afternoon. While I lay on the bed the contractions spaced out from five to ten minutes. Even though I was comfortable and the heat on my back felt good, I didn’t want to slow labour down. I felt so motivated to keep things moving because I just couldn’t wait to meet my baby and didn’t want to endure a long night of labouring. So I got up and started to climb the stairs, up and down, up and down, up and down. This caused the contractions to pick up again: they came stronger and were back to five minutes apart.

I went downstairs and found a position on the floor that was comfortable for riding out the contractions: I kneeled beside the futon and rested my chest and head on it. When a contraction came I felt supported and could let my belly go. I decided we should call Carol. When I was on the phone with her I had a contraction and she listened and then said she’d be right over. Carol arrived, and Wendy soon after her, and they checked me to find I was almost fully effaced and four cm dilated. Wendy could easily stretch me to six cm, and they were confident I was well on my way. Wendy checked the baby’s heart rate often, and it was always strong and steady, even during intense contractions. They said I was progressing really well. The next while I spent mostly kneeling by the futon, while Steve rubbed gentle circles on my hips. This brought me great comfort because it helped me to relax and helped me focus on moving the baby down and out. Sometimes I would go to the bathroom to pee and then Steve would kneel in front of me and I would press my face into his chest when a contraction came. Mom and Wendy and Carol went upstairs for a while so that I didn’t feel too watched. When they came back down Carol said to let her know when the contractions changed so she could phone Mary. I asked her what she meant by changed, and then a couple of minutes later I said, “Call Mary.” Wendy half teased that I could do some stairs, so I went to try and Carol said, “Maybe not.” She was confident I was close.

At this point my water still hadn’t broken, and I wondered if I should be worried about that. Wendy said not to worry, that sometimes it doesn’t happen until the very end. She said it is possible for the water not to break at all: it’s called being born in the caul, and there are many myths across cultures that say it’s a good omen. Wendy said they weren’t keen to break my water because I had a GBS infection and the longer my waters stayed intact, the lower the risk of transmission to baby. She also said I was progressing so well there was no need to worry about taking that step. They asked me if I wanted to get into the pool, but I was comfortable at the futon and didn’t want to move from the position I’d found. And this is the position I was in when I first got the urge to push. The contractions had intensified, but I still had a break between them: they weren’t one on top of another like they were at the end of my labour with Sylvie. Because transition was so sudden and difficult during her birth, I was prepared for things to get harder this time. And so it surprised me when, at the end of one particularly intense contraction, I felt like pushing. The midwives hadn’t checked me again because they saw all the signs that indicated progression, so I hadn’t received the “you’re fully dilated, you can push now” go ahead that I had with Sylvie. After that first pushing contraction they were all very happy and encouraging, so I trusted everything was fine. I think we all kind of wondered at that point if I was going to birth the baby kneeling by the futon, but they asked again if I wanted to get in the pool and I said yes. I remembered how wonderful it was to birth Sylvie in water, and wanted to bring this baby into the world that way too. So, after another pushing contraction, I made my way to the pool and climbed in. I immediately went back to my hands and knees: this had been my favourite position for the whole labour. But the midwives were concerned that my bum wasn’t completely underwater, which it needed to be to push the baby out. I just couldn’t seem to lower my hips, so they suggested I change positions. And everyone, I think everyone’s hands must have been on me, everyone helped me get up and sit back. Moving during those pushing contractions was almost impossible, and I nearly pulled Wendy into the pool with me. But we did it. And I leaned against the side of the pool and Steve was in front of me. Mom was behind me outside of the pool, and I rested my head on her shoulder. The pushing was harder than it had been with Sylvie. The midwives had to encourage me to push, while with Sylvie they’d encouraged me to ease up on the pushing. When his head was out I put my hand down to feel it and the midwives said, “Push into your hand. Push your baby into your hand.” It was wonderful to feel his head and know how close I was. Two more pushes and he slid out and Steve and Wendy lifted him onto my belly. Sure enough, my water hadn’t broken. The amniotic sac was still intact, and Carol had to break it and pull it over his head and off. She did this immediately and he pinked up right away, so I rested back and held him, in awe. It was 12:43 am on May 7th. We c

hecked to see he was a boy, and I marveled at his big hands and feet! I felt the cord pulsing between my fingers and watched him as he hollered and kicked his strong legs. Almost right away he started rooting around for my nipple. He was very active and strong. Once the cord stopped pulsing I handed the baby to Steve and delivered the placenta with two quick pushes. Once it was out Wendy asked if Steve wanted to cut the cord or if I did, and I did. When we emerged from the pool and the midwives checked him out, he weighed at 7 lbs. 10 oz. It was an almost completely bloodless birth, and I felt exhausted but good. Now this beautiful boy is here and ours and wonderful.

 

Calgary homebirth with midwives - born in the caul