When I was pregnant the first time, it was a huge thing to me. To say that I am Doctor phobic would be an understatement. It is only recently that I have got used to blood tests and injections and I used to get the most awful panic attacks at the prospect of going to the GP, let alone engaging with the hospital.
When I found out, in 2012, that I was pregnant I had decided that, for me, a home birth was the best approach. I thought that being at home, away from the realities of hospital would be the best thing to keep me calm. I was already anxious about labour so after reading around and speaking to others who had opted for a home birth decided it was the route for me.
I was under the consultant due to an historical thyroid problem and at my Midwife had said that as long as the hospital were fine, she was happy to support a home birth plan. All was well until, almost as an after thought at my 36 week appointment, the Doctor checked my urine sample. It was found to be showing the maximum amount of protein. A signal of pre-eclampsia. My blood pressure was normal, so they asked me to come back the next day. The next day my blood pressure was high and I was admitted until Mr D was born. I found the whole experience stressful and felt like I had to keep re-iterating my desire to have a non medical birth. At the point I was in labour I remember being hooked up to the monitoring machines and being cross that they just felt wrong – it is so clearly an unnatural position to labour in. I was lucky in that my labour progressed really quickly and Mr D arrived around three hours later.
Roll on to the second pregnancy and I was even more set on a home birth. Because of the pre-eclampsia and historical thyroid issue I was again under the hospital as well as my midwife and considered a high risk pregnancy. That said, they were content to sign me off for a home birth, providing my blood pressure stayed normal. (which it did). At 18 weeks I had a slight bleed and had to go to the antenatal day unit to be checked out. They checked that all was OK and said that ‘whilst we are here we will take a swab and check for infection, but we think all is fine’. Lo and behold the swab showed that, at that stage, I was carrying Group B Strep (GBS). I was told that a home birth was off the cards as I’d need to be given anti biotics whilst in labour.
To say I was devastated is an understatement. My dream of an intervention free birth were slipping away from me. I did my own reading and found that, to be effective, two lots of anti-biotics needs to be administered at four hourly intervals whilst in labour. Given my first labour was less than three hours I was concerned about how that would work. I spoke to the consultant who was very pragmatic and quite clearly told me the following:
- Just because at a specific point in time I had GBS does not mean it is still there. It could have cleared by the time the baby was born
- She didn’t think it likely that I would be in labour for the requisite fours hours given the speed of first labour and the gap between births being 16 months.
- If the anti biotics could not be administered they would keep me in for 12 hours whilst they monitored the baby hourly for an signs of GBS infection.
I was reassured that once the baby arrived we would know what to look for, and, as it was, Miss E arrived in rapid fashion surprising even the midwife who opened the hospital doors to me.
So, number three…
I am really hoping beyond hope that I can be OK’d for a home birth. My current midwife is a little more cautious than the midwife I had for Mr D and Miss E. But I really hope that, as long as all my blood samples, urine samples and blood pressure stay normal then they will give me the go ahead to have this one at home. I’m concerned it could be another quick labour and how I will get to the hospital, I am also concerned about if things happen in the daytime how we will get parked! Stepping Hill is notoriously terrible for parking – I always try to book my appointments for 9am so I have a shot at getting a parking space. Otherwise I have to leave it the car a good walk away from the hospital – not so bad now but not what I fancy doing when I am in labour!
I’ve read up on the GBS issue and the advice is that, if it was detected in a previous pregnancy and the baby was not infected then I would not routinely be offered anti biotics in labour. My blood pressure is all normal and I am hoping to begin some initial talks with my midwife at my appointment tomorrow to see if she will agree a home birth. I am back at the hospital mid May for what I hope will be a last routine check with the consultant and then I hope we can plan to be at home. I have already booked a birth pool from a wonderful community based organisation close to home. They provide birth pools in return for a donation so I am really hoping that I get the go ahead.