Really happy to publish this birth Story.
Having had her first baby by a Caesarean Section despite starting off as a home birth, Nthenya Haynes decided to follow after what she wanted for her second birth. She had a HBAC…Home Birth After Caeserian.
Here’s the Birth Story by Nthenya.
” I knew I wanted to have a hospital birth this time around because my first experience with childbirth was a planned homebirth which developed an emergency. We ended up transferring to hospital and we had to have an emergency caesarean section . My first labour had begun naturally and I was at about 3cm dilation when we left for hospital.
For my second birth, I wanted a vaginal birth after caesarean which medical people abbreviate as VBAC spoken as ‘veebak’. I therefore wished to make sure I was at a hospital just in case I needed medical intervention. I visited three well known hospitals and saw three Obstetricians who came highly recommended. They were all making the right noises regarding VBAC but I felt they were putting a lot of emphasis on the risk of uterine rupture and other complications. Two of the doctors told me I would need a pelvic X-Ray done at nine months of pregnancy to check the diameter of my pelvis and if the diameter was less than 10cm (one said 11cm), they wouldn’t allow me to deliver vaginally.
I felt quite harassed by the medical talk. I rationalised that they needed to make me aware of all the eventualities but it was done in such a manner as to make me feel like opting for a VBAC was dangerous. They were also charging quite a lot of money to deliver our baby. The hospitals were very costly too and I didn’t really warm to any of them. By the second trimester, I knew I didn’t want to have our baby at a hospital with a doctor and that was when I decided I would have to try to have a home birth after caesarean which as I later found out is abbreviated to HBAC.
I wanted to have a midwife with me so I looked for and found one. Lucy Muchiri was the perfect person to guide me through a HBAC. She had not had a HBAC with any of her patients before but she had assisted a lady who had a VBAC. She is confident, soft-spoken and easy to talk to. I just knew she would manage to have my baby safely delivered. My family and friends were reticent about the plan at first but after explaining the benefits of a HBAC and introducing them to Lucy, they gradually became less uneasy and more reassured.
My EDD was 7th November 2012 and labour started with a bowel movement and contractions at mid-night on 27th October, just over a week earlier than expected. At first, I thought I was having a bad tummy ache and started rattling off in my mind all the food I had consumed in the last 24 hours, trying to find out what it was that I had eaten that wasn’t agreeing with me. I got up from bed and went to the bathroom. While on the toilet, I felt what was most definitely a strong contraction and as I got back into bed a few minutes later, there were more strong contractions and the baby started to shift a little. The contractions combined with the baby’s movement caused a gush of fluid to rush out of my nether regions. I rushed back to the bathroom to check whether it was amniotic fluid. It was. I folded up a towel, stuck it between my legs and calmly went back to bed. The contractions were 7 to 5 minutes apart, lasting between 40 to 50 seconds.
Once I established I was in labour, which was easy since I knew what real contractions felt like, I called Lucy who told me to time the contractions and call her back. I called her back with the timings and she told me she would be with me soon and also to keep an eye on the fluid, have a bath and try to sleep. I had another bowel movement and prepared a teapot of Red Raspberry Leaf (RRL) tea which I drank unreservedly. I tried to go back to sleep but the contractions were too strong for sleep, I decided to do some laundry. Lucy arrived at 2.30am. We had a long chat, drank some RRL tea and timed my contractions which were getting stronger by the minute. By this point they were too painful to speak through. Lucy told me they were regular and strong. I sat on an exercise ball she had brought for the purpose and continued to leak amniotic onto a towel. Lucy said it was fore-waters. At 4.30am I took some rescue remedy and motherwort drops. At 5am, I went back to bed, stripped it and laid out, an old sheet, some dark towels and ‘lesos’ to lie on. I intended to try to have a nap and didn’t want to mess the bed as I was still leaking amniotic fluid. I tried to sleep but the contractions were really hard.
I got up at 6 am and had a cold shower, stuck a thick pad in my knickers to avoid leaking amniotic everywhere then called my parents to come pick up our two year old daughter. She had woken up by then and I got her ready for the day. My husband wasn’t around so our daughter had to be looked after by her grandparents while I was busy with childbirth. Lucy checked my progress at 6.30 am and found I was 4cm dilated. She was sure the baby would be delivered in a few hours. I made breakfast and brewed some more RRL tea. I also started brewing herbs for a sitz bath. All the while, I had to stop to breathe through the contractions which were still regular and strong. I had some breakfast but every time a contraction started, the food in my mouth would turn to cardboard and it took all the focus in the world not to retch it all out. I had to have my breakfast fast, in between contractions while standing up in the kitchen. I pottered around making myself busy to distract from the contractions. I prepared and used a comfrey leaf compress on my perineum to prepare it for the stretching it would experience. After our daughter had finished breakfast she was picked up by my parents at 8am.
I went back to the bedroom, got out the oil burner and mixed a couple of drops of jasmine essential oil in some coconut oil, drew the curtains to darken the room and tried to sleep. My mum came back with some supplies at around 10am. I took some more motherwort drops and tried unsuccessfully to have a snack. My contractions were coming fast at that point. I tried to distract myself by reading the Saturday paper but the pain was starting to become mind numbing. Lucy was with me at all times, preparing her equipment and monitoring my blood pressure. I had asked her not to check my progress again because I wanted to focus on the end rather than the getting there. She massaged my lower back with some jasmine essential oil mixed with coconut oil. It felt lovely having my back massaged but I had stopped drinking the RRL tea so I was quickly dehydrating and becoming anxious. My mum came back at around 1pm with a packed lunch but by that time I was already on my knees, naked and starting to feel tired from the pain and lack of rest. I did not want any food. I was in active labour according to Lucy and the contractions were becoming unbearable. I felt that the teas and herbs I had taken were not helping on that end. What I realised with hindsight was that I should have continued to take them. It was because I stopped after breakfast that the experience became unbearable.
Lucy prepared lots of warm compresses to hold against my perineum to help keep it supple and the warm flannel felt good against my skin. The contractions were harder now and the respite in between was too short. I was leaning back against the headboard, dozing in between contractions and jumping up to the floor to kneel through a contraction. I must have done that so many times because I eventually became too tired to get back onto the bed which was now gradually becoming more and more covered in blood. I decided to remain on the floor with a pillow to kneel on and I would fall asleep on my knees with my head resting on the edge of the bed in the few seconds between the contractions then wake up in hot pain to moan through another contraction. Lucy tried to massage my lower back again but it was too painful so I asked her to shake my bottom during a contraction and it offered some relief. The bloody and mucus show came out and it was followed by a mild sensation of wanting to push. Lucy and my mum helped me to squat each time a contraction started and she would urge me to push.
I tried to remember that pushing out a baby was akin to having a bowel movement. The pushing needed to come from the bottom as though I was having a poo and not from the front as if I was having a wee. I also needed to relax but it was too painful to relax my pelvic muscles and allow the baby through. I was bearing down with all my might and voice, wasting precious energy so nothing was happening but pain. During a particularly hard contraction I vomited the little that was in my stomach. I had never been in so much pain in my life, it made me vomit. Lucy told me she could see the baby’s head but she could see I was not pushing properly. The dozing in between the contractions was also slowing things down. She gave me some plain water to drink and made some cold compresses to keep me awake. I was fighting sleep and fatigue. She asked me to stand up and talked me through breathing and keeping focus. I took some pulsatilla drops in some water and it seemed to help. Mum made me some ginger in hot water with sugar to help revitalise me but I only managed a few sips through a straw because I was still quite nauseous. The contractions were now almost back to back (no defined pause in between) and I recognised that this was now the transitioning phase because I could feel my confidence waning. Lucy suggested we leave the confines of the bedroom so that we could have a change of scenery.
We went outside in the garden. I asked for the time and was told it was 5pm. I had been pushing since lunch time but time had ceased to exist for me. It was raining a little and I walked barefooted on the wet grass, with only a ‘leso’ for modesty. I walked round in circles and looked up at the grey skies and it felt good. I started to feel better for the fresh air. The contractions slowed down. Lucy was now insisting I try to breathe through contractions rather than pushing. Pushing was the only way I felt I could ease the pain in my back. But I resolved to try and she held my hand as I breathed through a few contractions. It was very difficult not to push through a contraction but Lucy felt that the pushing was tiring me out. It started to rain harder and I stood there for a minute to let the cool drops cleanse me then I asked for help from our creator and guardians. Back in-doors, I tried to breathe through contractions but I just could not so I went down on my knees in the sitting room and went back to ineffectual pushing. I started to wonder whether it was too late to make a dash for the nearest maternity hospital. All I wanted at that point was to sleep and I was fed up with the pain. I started asking Lucy how fast would we be able to get to a hospital and have me hooked onto an epidural. My mum wanted us to go to hospital but she didn’t want to go against my wishes. I tried to imagine the 45 minute car ride to the hospital and I was horrified. My contractions just would not allow it. Lucy insisted it was up to me to decide. I sat in silence, in the sitting room, thinking things through. I asked for a blanket as I was shivering from the shock of pain and the cold rain. Mum had made a cup of normal, sugary, milky tea for Lucy but I asked to have it instead. I also took some rescue remedy. I told my mum to go home and told her Lucy would drive me to hospital if need be or we would call her back to drive us to hospital.
Once my mum had left at 6pm, and had I had finished the tea, I felt recharged. I got out from under the warm blanket, got on my knees and breathed deeply through the contractions. Soon a strong urge to push engulfed me. Lucy told me to take a deep breath then push gently in small pushes rather than long ones to prevent tearing. The deep breaths were keeping me alert and I knew it wouldn’t be long. The contractions at this point were coming with strong urges to push, they had ceased being painful. With every push I felt relief and could feel the baby’s head inching out. Lucy was wearing a head light as the room was darkening and she never left me other than to write down my progress in her journal. As the urges came faster, in between I communicated with the baby, asking him/her (I didn’t find out the baby’s sex until after birth) to help come out and how much I wanted to hold him/her. Lucy was getting quite animated, urging me on and pushing back my perineum as the baby’s head appeared. Drops of sweat were running down my face and neck. I started enjoying pushing the baby. The crowning stung a bit but it was a joyous sting because I knew the pushing was working this time. The baby’s head was a warm ball as it passed through my vagina. The head was out. Lucy asked me to make a very strong push to get the body out as she quickly untangled the cord from the baby’s neck. I gave one mighty push and the body slid out followed by lots of hind waters and poo that baby had just done. Lucy handed me our son and helped me up to an armchair. He was born at a few minutes past 7pm. She covered both of us with the blanket and left us alone for a while. He was looking up at me, alert, not crying, with his hand holding on tightly to the cord. Lucy told me later that he was holding it when he was born. I talked to him. I welcomed him home and that was when he made a lovely newborn cry.
It felt heavenly to hold him against my skin. He was so soft and had the scent of newness. As we waited for the placenta to be born, I was helping him root for a nipple to suckle. I asked Lucy to give me some angelica drops under the tongue and I also took some more rescue remedy. She also monitored my bleeding and blood pressure which was all normal. Within a handful of minutes after taking angelica, I felt a most painful, hard contraction and an urge to push and the placenta came out in hurry. The cord had stopped pulsating by then so Lucy clamped it and helped me to sever it. She showed me the placenta, told me it looked fine and wrapped it up in a ‘leso’ then placed it in a cooling container to deal with later. She helped us up to bed and checked me for tears. She found I had one in the vagina and told me we would check it the next day to see whether it needed stitching. It never did. It healed up nicely and I made sure I sat in my herbal bath every day to help heal my body and prevent infection. I was feeling quite bruised so I took some homeopathic arnica and some more rescue remedy. She also weighed our son and found him a healthy 3.2kg. She dressed him while I had a quick shower. Lucy had also called my mum who came to be with us as she cleaned up the mess of the day. I got dressed then sat down to feed the baby who fell asleep after a long feed and I had a meal and a much deserved sleep after a long day at work. “