I lay in bed last night listening to the wind whistling outside and blowing the rain against the windows, I snuggled down and hoped that no one would go into labour. Fatal, as almost immediately the phone rang, it was labour ward ‘ Hi, we’ve got a lady for you.’ As usual I phoned the woman to find out what was happening so I could assess how quickly I should make my way there. R was quite relaxed and said that she didn’t think that she needed me yet, her ‘waters’ had gone (SROM, spontaneous rupture of membranes) half an hour earlier and she was having mild contractions. I told her that I would have a cup of coffee and then would make my way over, this was her 4th baby, things could happen quickly.
I braved the elements and went off to see what was happening and 45 minutes after labour ward phoned I arrived at R’s house. She was in bed, semi-recumbant and having what appeared to be mild, but regular, contractions. I introduced myself and sat and had a chat with R and her husband. Was she comfortable in that position? What had her other births been like? Just chit chat really to put her at her ease but to supply me with useful information. I looked through her notes, retained placenta with last baby, haemaglobin lowish but otherwise all well. After about half an hour I did all the routine observations, all within normal limits, contractions about every 2 to 3 minutes and R breathing quietly through them. As I was writing my notes R asked if I would examine her to assess how labour was progressing, I said that I would but cautioned her not be disapponted if it was still early on. Well, I need not have bothered as baby was very low and the cervix was disappearing as I attempted to estimate how dilated it was! I relayed the findings to R and her husband and congratulated them on how well everything was going. My next move was to ask labour ward to send he 2nd on-call and then suggest to R that she get up so that I could put some sheeting down to protect her bed. After the next contraction she got out of bed and immediately announced that she needed the toilet, hmmm. Her husband helped her into the en-suite, whilst I flung a plastic shee on the bed and then turned to open a pair of gloves, I was suspicious! As I tore open the packaging R said ‘ Baby’s coming’, her husband expressed his doubts whilst helping her back onto the bed, a quick look confirmed that I was right to be suspicious, baby’s head was advancing rapidly. ‘Slow breaths, slow breaths’ I urged as I fumbled to get my gloves on, and bless R, that’s what she did, brilliantly well-controlled. Baby’s head was born slowly, then a long wait until the next contraction, long enough for me to consider if I was about to encounter a shoulder dystocia, I was just starting to plan when R said there was another contraction and, with a little encouragement, out came their 4th baby, their 2nd boy. As I placed baby onto R’s stomach I saw something which had me really counting my blessings, a true knot in the cord –
Very scary, if that knot had tightened during the birth we would be having a very different experience now. I offered my thanks to whoever had been looking over me and then turned my attention back to R and baby. Labour had been 2 hours 5 minutes from the waters going and contractions starting to the delivery of the placenta, precipitate labour. R was delighted with the birth, she kept thanking me ( I told her that she had done all the hard work) and decreed that everyone should have a homebirth.
I phoned the 2nd on-call to tell her that she could go back to bed, she was nearly at the house so said that she would attend and give me a hand, bless her.
When I was home I lay in bed, the wind had died down but I couldn’t sleep easily, my thoughts were racing – should I have anticipated better, yes, but if I had I may have broken the relaxed and calm atmosphere. It would have been nice to have my birth packs open, but it didn’t cause a problem so I don’t think that I will beat myself up about it. That true knot though has nestled itself in my psyche, yet another thing to worry about!