Sophie Muller, 26, from Pembrokeshire, is married to Peter and is mum to Elijah, three, and Isaiah, 20 months. She planned a home birth for Elijah but ended up giving birth in an ambulance on the way to hospital...
When did you decide you wanted to have a home birth?
Almost immediately – I have an allergy to opiates (painkillers such as morphine, pethidine and codeine) and knew they played a big part in pain relief. So I decided that if I couldn't have them, I was better off at home. I also liked the idea of not having to go anywhere, or be surrounded by other people's crying babies, husbands and relatives.
What happened when you went into labour?
I was a week late, and I'd had a sweep the day before. I woke up around 7.50am with cramps in my tummy and decided to have a shower to ease the pain. Once I had dried off I knew something was happening, so I went downstairs and sat on the birthing ball. Within those few minutes my contractions became really close together. I didn't want to get in the pool that Peter had inflated for me, I didn't want my TENS machine – all I wanted to do was bounce on my ball and walk around. I found labour made me irritated and restless. My husband rang my mum and the midwife. I was panting and the contractions were so strong, I just kept concentrating on breathing and counting.
What happened when the midwives arrived?
Why did they decide you needed to be transferred?
The midwives left me to push for about 15 minutes and decided to ring for paramedics for gas and air, and to keep an ambulance close. They thought the baby was getting stuck: he kept coming up and slipping back and they only leave you so long in that position before they take you into hospital.
I didn't want to go, but it was my first labour so I relied on them to know what was best. So, the paramedics arrived and I went downstairs where I collapsed on all fours and announced, "The baby is coming!". I was ushered into the ambulance and given gas and air, which was amazing – finally a relief from the pain. I didn't want to hand the mouthpiece back.
When and where was Elijah born?
The nearest hospital is around 20 minutes away, driving at a normal speed. We had the blue light on though, so we were going pretty fast, out of our little town and along a B road that connects it to the next town where the hospital is. There was a lay-by by the side of the road in a tiny village called Jordanston and the ambulance pulled in – Elijah literally popped out in two pushes. He was born at 1pm and weighed 7lbs 8oz.
What happened then?
He wasn't breathing too well as the ambulance was freezing because it was the middle of winter, so they didn't cut his cord until we arrived at the hospital. Once we were there, Elijah was checked over: he was a bit shocked at being born so fast. They also checked if I needed stitches, which I didn't. All in all, I found the transfer a waste of time: if I'd been left to labour naturally or encouraged to stand up then the transfer wouldn't have happened.
What happened second time around?
When I got pregnant again, I was determined to have the home birth I wanted. We had just built our new house which is quite remote, so the midwives had to do some practice runs to get the timings right. On my due date, I had a bath and thought I was leaking fluid, so I rang the midwife and she said she would pop out the next day.
When she came, I was already 3cm dilated! I went to bed around 7pm to get as much rest as possible, but then woke at 2.40am. I decided to run a bath – but there was no hot water. Our brand new boiler wasn't working! We parents live in a neighbouring house so I ran across to theirs. My mum ran her bath, while Peter called the midwife who came within about 15 minutes with a trainee. She brought me some gas and air, handing me the nozzle while I was on all fours in the bath. Not long after that, I got out and onto a mattress Peter had prepared for me, with a plastic cover on. I went straight onto all fours and two pushes later out Isaiah came, all 8lbs 6oz of him. He was born at 4am.
How did this compare to your first experience?
The birth was relaxed and I felt more in control because I knew what to expect. The day I gave birth I sat on the sofa just holding him while Elijah went out with my sister and her children, and Peter caught up on some sleep. It was bliss: no hospitals, noise, rules... just me and my beautiful little baby boy.
Does Elijah know he had an unusual birth?
Not yet, but I suspect his birth certificate will give that away, as it says 'Jordanston'!
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