Homebirth: The Afterbirth
Before and afterbirth. Pregnant no more. All of a sudden bump was now baby…
Boo had finally arrived, on his own terms. 12 hours after my waters broke his birth journey was complete. That was a pretty good rate of progress, especially with posterior labour. Not that it hadn’t seemed endlessly long in the midst of it all. After struggling to find energy reserves to get me through the past few hours, I was feeling fine with sitting peacefully in the pool and hitting pause. And because we were at home, there was no need to hand Boo off for medical checks or move somewhere else. Boo was somewhat disgruntled at the change in climate and seemed content to just breathe and take in his new surroundings for now. My body was also very happy to rest. There was no need to do anything but sit there and absorb the fact that we were now a family of four.
The Rascal was delighted to spend some time watching his brand new little brother. We spent an hour winding down from the intensity of giving birth. Just doing skin to skin and offering feeds. Boo was a large, hungry baby that was unimpressed that there wasn’t already a full supply of milk waiting to sate his hunger. He had surpassed even the midwives expectations of size and they were curious to weigh him. Had this baby really been able to fit inside my not particularly large bump? As for getting him out of there… well, it did explain a few things in hindsight.
By now the birth pool was getting a bit chilly. The relatively clear water that Boo had been born into was no longer looking very appealing either. Actually, it looked more like a slaughter had taken place, not a birth. And we weren’t quite finished with the business of giving birth yet. Post-birth options had been discussed in advance . My preference was delayed cord clamping and natural delivery of the placenta. With much assistance myself and Boo got out of the pool, cord still trailing between us. The cord was virtually drained, so Brodie did the honours and cut it. Leaving Boo free to be checked over and weighed. 4780g (10 lbs 8.5 oz). A big baby by any standard. A big baby that was almost 2 weeks overdue, and a posterior labour. That’s literally three strikes against having a natural birth had I still been in hospital care.
Time for the afterbirth. While Boo was getting a head to toe check up with Liz, I attempted to see if I could push the placenta out with Gail. Absolutely nothing was happening. We took a short break and tried again. This time there was a mad cramping sensation followed immediately by my body spontaneously quickly expelling it all out in one go. Finally – one part of the birth that was nice and easy. The placenta was out, and fully intact. I had looked into placenta encapsulation, but this was a step too hippy for Brodie. In the end the hard-working organ was dismissed and discarded. Its job was done.
We left Brodie with the two boys and finished up with the obligatory examination to check that all was in order for me. Clean bill of health apart from a 1st degree tear. A big relief for me. I chose to leave the tear to heal itself which would take longer than with stitches, but should be less painful. Now I was free to get into the shower and wash away all my cares. I had waited a couple of days to do this in hospital for a few reasons. A catheter that needed to be removed, an IV line they wouldn’t take out until they were sure I wouldn’t need it again, a lack of a minder for the Rascal, and also being barely able to move for fear my insides would fall out. It was a pleasant surprise to feel healthy enough to shower by myself and not find it painful. And I was ridiculously happy to be physically able to bend over again now that I had a saggy belly instead of a bulging one. Aside from a lack of energy (not having eaten all day) I felt pretty damn good for having just given birth.
In the meantime midwives had emptied the pool, tidied and written up their notes. There were a few minutes to actually chat with midwife Gail who was just as lovely and capable as Liz. Having ascertained that all was good with baby and me, the midwives were free to go home for a break after a long day, or on to other clients. Just another day/night at work for them. Another new life helped into the world. As for us – while bed did beckon, my first priority was a big cup of sugary tea and some chocolate. Never mind toast, there’s nothing like a good caffeine and sugar hit to boost your energy. Having confirmed that my stomach was feeling much more capable of digesting food again, we ordered in a big Indian takeout to fill us all up before heading to bed at last.
We would worry about the logistics of having two children tomorrow. For now we all deserved a few hours of sleep. Little Boo made it clear that he required skin to skin for the night, but once his needs were met he was ready to sleep for a few hours too. The calm before the sleep-deprivation storm that is a newborn and a suddenly needy almost-4-year-old…