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Tessa proudly births her 12lb baby

We were expecting our 2nd child in September 2015. We had already tried a home birth with our first before transferring into Poole because it wasn’t progressing. We ended up having pethadine, an epidural and eventually forceps. However, despite this, we were keen to have a home birth again and up until 37 weeks, everything was going well.

During our 37 week appointment with our NHS midwife for an antenatal check, the midwife told us that the measurement over the bump had measured larger than it should have by about 4 weeks as well as measuring over at our previous appointment. We were referred for a growth scan at Bournemouth which was booked for the next day. The scan estimate a 9lb 8oz baby and estimated that it would measure about 10lb 4oz by the due date. We were asked to see the consultant to discuss this straight away. The consultant was positive and agreed that a natural birth, without interventions would be best. However, when we mentioned home birth, the consultant advised us against this, telling us that we needed the support of a medical team should there be an issue with the birthing of the shoulders, but they could not guarantee the pool would be an
option or our choice of birthing centre.

Having left the consultant, we didn’t know where we stood or what was best for our baby. We were left with no future appointments or follow up. We went to speak with the midwives at Bournemouth who explained a bit more and provided us with a basic birth plan should baby arrive soon. We ended up reading webpages from the internet for information and studies into larger babies.

We arranged for a further appointment with the consultant at Bournemouth and were met by him and a midwife. The consultant discussed the risks of shoulder dystosia but could not prove any information on risk levels. His suggestion was that if it was him, he would not risk it with his child. We asked what the risks were around home birth and what could be done at home to counter the risks and he advised us that he had no experience of home birth so could not assist. We ended up having a discussion with the midwife after the consultant left and decided that Poole would be the better option. This was upsetting as we had lost our chance of a home birth before labour had even begun! We felt like our choice of a home birth had been taken from us, as we had no support from the consultants and that the midwives did not have the confidence or experience in dealing with the home birth of bigger babies. Also, we were advised that if the on-call midwife wished to refuse to assist, they could and the hospital would have to call numerous midwives to find one to assist.

My mum then spoke to me about an independent midwife. She suggested that a consultation may help us make the right decision, even if that decision was to go to Poole.

Erika came over one evening and we discussed what had been happening regarding the growth scans, our meetings with the consultants and our birth plans. Erika was confident that even with the predicted size of the baby, she had the experience and ability to assist with the birth and ensure that the concerns of the consultant could be met. Erika gave us the option of continuing with a home birth or going to the Haven Suite in Poole with guaranteed use of the pool. It also gave us the reassurance that even if we transferred into Poole, we would always have the same midwife in who we had already built trust and a relationship with. Within that meeting, our anxieties and concerns almost disappeared. Erika gave me the confidence that no matter what the size, I would be able to birth my baby. Following this meeting, we booked Erika the next day and began having regular visits and phone calls from Erika to check on the progress of baby and me. Every time I had a question I wanted to ask, I could freely ask Erika and she would always provide a reassuring and knowledgeable answer.

On the morning of the 13th September, I began getting twinges in my bump. As a precaution, I left my daughter with my mum and came home. I woke up my husband who had been working nights to tell him I think it had begun. I let Erika know that something may have begun and relaxed at home. At about 4pm, the twinges had become regular and stronger. I knew that it was starting. I called Erika and asked her if she could come over so she came over straight away.

Erika stayed with us for the evening, reassuring me when needed but allowing my husband and I to labour freely with minimal interference. Just having her present gave me the confidence that should any complication arise, I would have the best possible care for both the baby and myself.

When we booked Erika, we agreed that due to booking late, should another lady begin her labour that Erika would have to leave us but Caroline (who I have met previously) would come over and continue where she left off. As midnight approached, Erika advised us that another lady had called and that her labour had begun. She spoke with us about Caroline taking over and that she had already advised her of our birth choices. Caroline arrived shortly afterwards and took over our care from Erika.

As the labour progressed, so did the contractions. I was in pain and the gas and air was becoming less effective at helping. I hadn’t wanted a VE, however at this point I was really struggling and was giving consideration to transferring into hospital. I wanted to know how I was progressing so asked Caroline to check. Caroline did the VE and it appeared that baby hadn’t made much progress. Caroline helped me try different birthing positions and gave me a lot of encouragement to help baby move down and for me to remain at home for the birth. Despite this, I felt unable to deal with the pain and asked to transfer into Poole. Caroline remained with me throughout the journey to hospital with my Husband following behind in the car.

Caroline had already spoken with Poole to reserve the birthing pool for us. Upon arriving at Poole, I declared that I wanted an epidural and as such, I went to the delivery suite. I was allocated a midwife from the delivery suite however Caroline remained responsible for my care and remained by my side throughout. She was able to explain to me what was happening and even made sure my husband had tea and biscuits. 

The anaesthetists were tied up in theatre so took some time getting to us, in which time i was exhausted and asked for Pethadine, as i was really struggling with the contractions. I had pethedine in my last birth and didn’t like the feeling it gave so had previously said i didn’t want it, Caroline knew this and reminded me what id asked for and double checked with me that this was what i really wanted before I had it. When i had it I slept between contractions and this really helped me at the time.

After some time, the anaesthetists arrived to do the epidural, they tried several times but couldn’t do it as my contractions were too close and i kept moving through them. They went to get the consultant anaesthetist, while they were out Caroline said she thought the contractions looked like they’d changed and said it might be worth having another examination to see what’s going on, I agreed. She did the examination and said i was fully dilated now and my baby was about to come, so the epidural was no longer an option.

I spent the next hour pushing out my baby, about half an hour before he was born Erika returned ad was there when i gave birth. When he was being born I had Erika there guiding me, the hospital midwives monitoring my progress so Caroline asked my husband if we had a camera which he gave to her and she took pictures of the whole birth as well as our first moments together, with my husband cutting the cord (after it finished pulsaing of course), our first feed and him being weighed.

The midwives said he was a fair size and we all guessed his weight as being 10lb2oz – 10lb8oz, when we put him on the scales he ended up weighing 12lb 2oz, the biggest any of them had seen.

I can’t thank Erika and Caroline enough for all their support and encouragement throughout this whole process, they gave me the confidence to know i could birth my baby no matter what the size, and helped me reclaim the birth as my own. I believe without their support on my journey i could have easily had another traumatic instrumental birth and possibly ended up with a caesarean section. I would recommend Wessex independent midwives to anyone and everyone, it is brilliant person centred care and they support the choices you make for your birth and your baby.

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