After her first baby, Jayne Jones was a nervous about going through labour again. Feeling she needed to be better prepared this time, she did everything possible to get herself and her body ready for what was ahead.
Little did she know, it would be an accidental home birth.
Lead up to an unexpected home birth
Jayne and her husband Matt welcomed their first little boy, Jack, into the world two years ago, and the birth was a mixture of uneventful labour to unbearable. Jayne was booked in for an induction after going nine days overdue, but went into labour just in time.
“My water broke spontaneously at home so we laboured slowly, naturally and uneventfully at home until contractions picked up at about 11pm, went to the hospital at 1am and he was born at about 11am,” Jayne told Mum’s Grapevine. “I had a first degree tear, a few stitches and felt like I had ran multiple marathons. I remember being in so much pain I was sucking on the gas like no tomorrow and being disappointed in myself as I felt I needed an epidural which wasn’t in my birth plan (though I didn’t end up having one, I was just disappointed I ‘felt’ I wasn’t coping). I remember clearly thinking I may never have another baby again as the pain was so unbearable.”
When she fell pregnant for a second time, she was understandably concerned about the birth.
“I was nervous about damage to my pelvic floor, nervous about the possibility of needing forceps and generally felt I needed to be better prepared this time. I saw a women’s health physio and listened to some calm birthing/hypnobirthing tracks.
“The pregnancy was much harder than my first. I felt like I was complaining all the time – my back hurt, my ribs hurt and I also had become quite emotional. I was so relieved once I hit 38 weeks as I remained convinced they got my due date wrong, so I believed from 38 weeks I was due any day.”
Jayne was familiar with Braxton Hicks after experiencing throughout both pregnancies. From 38 weeks, they became a daily occurrence, particularly in the evenings.
“On the Wednesday (five days before my labour) the Braxtons didn’t ease off once I sat down and they came every 10 minutes from 8pm-10.30pm. Something similar happened on the Friday (two days before labour). It was for these reasons I didn’t expect what happened on Sunday, as I assumed it was going to be just another evening of Braxton Hicks.”
But what happened next was anything Braxton Hicks.
Diary of an accidental home birth
Sunday – 10am: “I went for a walk to the park with Jack. We got home around 11.30am, had lunch and then we napped. Around 3pm, we made some biscuits together and my usual evening contractions kicked in with some regularity (though no consistent pattern) around 5pm. Although the contractions were stronger with physical activity, I felt physically better than I had for a few evenings so I vacuumed and did a few chores. I was joking with Matt about how they say women get a burst of energy before labour so maybe this was the real thing, and we joked about how I might get checked by the midwife in the next couple of days and imagine if I was dilated to 5cm or something.
We got Jack down around 7.30pm and started eating our dinner around 8pm (which was spicy chicken wings, but we eat a lot of spicy food so I don’t attribute this to the labour), during which time I was having contractions around every 8-15 minutes.
8.45pm: Matt left to go to work as an ICU nurse (around 45 minute drive away). We joked that it would suck if he got to work and had to turn around but for now I couldn’t be sure so encouraged him to go.
9.00pm: I sat down to express some colostrum. I stopped at about 0.3ml (I normally stop around 1ml) as I was too uncomfortable and I wondered if it might be making the contractions feel worse.
9.10pm: While watching TV I messaged my sister Bec as I had most evenings to discuss the contractions. I said that I felt it could be labour but it might also go away like it did last time. Then I said it kind of felt like I needed diarrhoea or to pass gas, similar to my first labour, so maybe this time it was real. I swung back and forth between thinking it was real and just false labour. From here my memory gets a little fuzzy, but I have logs on my phone that help me remember.
9.36pm: I text Matt that the pains weren’t going away, they felt like I needed to do awful diarrhoea similar to last labour. I said I was not yet asking him to come home but alerting him that the contractions weren’t fading.
9.40pm: Text Bec that Matt isn’t home and that’s the most nerve wrecking thing.
9.44pm: Text Bec the contractions were between 3-10 minutes apart.
9.49pm: Text Bec that ironically, the fact the contractions kind of aren’t going away (in between contractions) makes me wonder if they’re actually real. As in, I was also having poo/stomach pains and the contractions were coming so quick they sort of sometimes rolled into each other so it didn’t seem real, like maybe it was just a tummy ache, rather than individual contractions as there was no break in between. In fact I now know it’s likely the contractions were just indeed very close to each other.
9.51pm: Messaged my sister in law Anne, who usually lives 3.5 hours away but was coincidentally visiting her family in town and staying about 15 minutes away; to check her phone wasn’t on silent in case I was in labour as I was having pains but I still wasn’t sure it was definitely real. She confirmed her phone wasn’t on silent and I could message either her or my brother.
9.57pm: Text Bec it was starting to feel pretty real.
10pm: Sat on the toilet and did a poo which was a relief initially and temporarily eased the pain, which again made me wonder if it was more of a tummy-pain than contractions. I then found I couldn’t get off the toilet as I did about three poos over the next 10 minutes. I barely managed to get off the toilet and wipe my bottom, but as soon as I was off I needed to get back on. I text Matt to say I had done more than one poo which felt relieving but also could indicate labour was imminent.
10.07pm: I text Matt – ‘if this isn’t real it’s pretty f*&^%g bad for false.’
10.10pm: While on the toilet doing a poo, my waters broke. It felt like a small gush came out my vagina that was similar to doing a big wee, but I had already emptied my bladder and it was involuntary so I suspected it was my waters. When I stood up to wipe I noticed I had a little blood trickle down my thigh.
10.11pm: Matt messaged me saying he hopes it settles down so I can get some sleep and we can get Jack to daycare in the morning before going to hospital. I knew at this point that wasn’t going to happen and he didn’t realise how serious it was getting, but I still didn’t want to 100 per cent confirm it and cause him to drive home in case it ended up being false – or at least that labour might take many more hours.
10.12pm: Text Matt- ‘I think my water broke while doing a poo; just waiting to see if more comes out think I am bleeding a bit too as it’s tinged pink’. I had put on a liner and after walking around a bit I saw that it was definitely coming out with a slight pink tinge.
10.18pm: Text Matt – ‘I’m definitely leaking and it’s definitely not wee as it’s tinged pink and I think you need to come home’.
10.19pm: These contractions are coming at least every 10 mins, usually like 5-8 minutes. It’s hard to know what’s contraction vs needing to do a poo. I made it into the bedroom to get a new liner however then had a couple of fast contractions and the liner was soaked. My pads were at the other end of the house packed in my hospital bag. I barely made it up there as it was really starting to hurt now. I put a pad on and as I got another contraction it was immediately soaked and I could feel fluid coming down my legs and my pyjama pants were soaked.
10.24pm: Text Matt – ‘It’s definitely broken I’m definitely in labour you need to come home’.
10.26pm: I rang my sister to discuss when I should ring my mum to tell her I was in labour. I knew she would be in bed and wouldn’t get much sleep if I rang her now, but also knew she would want to know so she could get in the car early the next morning to come visit and care for my son as she lives 3.5 hours away. While we were on the phone for five minutes I contracted twice (was contracting as the phone call first started and then also at the end) so they were coming around every two minutes. We decided I should ring her and I hung up to do so.
10.26pm: Matt texted asking what are the contractions like. I replied: ‘I just had two in five minutes while on phone to Rebecca; they are pretty strong and bad. Can’t talk through them’. I was trying to time the contractions on my App however I was really struggling by myself and at times couldn’t find the app or I would open the app and press the wrong button, or the contractions were coming so fast I couldn’t really tell one from the next so wasn’t pressing the timer properly. I wasn’t sure how quickly the contractions were coming but I knew it was quick.
Things here were really starting to pick up as I started to make a bit more urgent contact with people, but I still didn’t tell anyone to hurry as I still didn’t realise how close I was. I was also starting to become frustrated as in between contractions I was trying to do the last minute packing such as phone charger and wallet as well as tidying around the house – and I just couldn’t manage it anymore.
10.32pm: I messaged Anne to say I would definitely need her to come over for the night.
10.33pm: I text Bec to ring mum as I wasn’t able to. Bec text back that she rang her and mum was going to sleep for a while and would get on the road in the morning.
10.38pm: I asked Matt if he was on the road and he said he was just walking out of work (45 minute drive away). I remember distinctly at this point really starting to struggle as I was trying to write a text to my midwife and this was really hard to do.
10.42pm: Text to my midwife – ‘Hi K I’m in labour. The contractions are pretty bad and close together. Not sure on time yet but sometimes two mins sometimes five. Had the poos, waters broke. Leaking pinkish now. Started around 6pm but were my normal sort of come and go. Then from 8pm about every 10 to 15 minutes.
Sometime around this point, while I was in the kitchen I began to feel like I needed to vomit. I couldn’t bear the thought of making my way to the laundry where the buckets were and picked a mixing bowl up off the kitchen bench which we had used at dinner time. I gagged into the bowl a couple of times but didn’t actually vomit. Though I remember it was comforting carrying the bowl around as from here I always felt close to vomiting. This bowl was later found on my bed, I’m not sure at what point I left it there.
10.43pm: Text to my sister: ‘I’m in serious labour ; need Matt home ; leaking water everywhere can’t do anything’.
10.47pm: Text to Kadia the midwife: ‘I’m home alone just waiting for hubby to get home and can’t even concentrate on timing them so I don’t think we’ll be far off hospital.
Bec then sent me a few messages saying I need to tell Anne to come now, which I had but I couldn’t reply to Bec. She asked if Matt was coming and I replied at 10.48pm he was coming.
I somehow remembered to walk down the hallway and get the front door unlocked then I tried to phone my midwife. It turns out she wasn’t on call so the call was diverted to the maternity ward who said they would try to locate somebody from maternity group practice and get back to me. While waiting for the return call, I remember trying to walk back down toward the kitchen again to finish off a couple of jobs but I just ended up standing behind one of our lounges with my hands on the back of the lounge and swaying my hips. I remember thinking maybe I was closer than I thought but still didn’t know how close.
I know maternity phoned back seven minutes later at 11.07 because of my call log, and here is where things got really crazy.
The midwife could hear that I was in transition and asked if I had anybody there with me, I said my brother or husband should be here soon. She asked how close the contractions were and I said I wasn’t sure but I thought a couple of minutes apart. Whilst on the phone I heard my front door open and I let her know my brother had arrived. The midwife said they would be waiting for me and hoped to see me soon. I later learned that she knew I was very close by how I sounded.
As my brother and Anne were coming down the hallway I started to have another contraction and I was trying to take my pants off as by now they were soaked with amniotic fluid as the pad wasn’t close to containing it. I recall yelling to my brother that he “doesn’t want to come in here” as I was now pantless. I sat on the toilet and contracted again. Anne figured by the sound of me that things were quite serious so she walked into the toilet area and once the contraction ended asked how close they were.
I said I don’t know. She said, “ok it’s 11.08”, I was then trying to wipe my bottom when I had another contraction and Anne said “that’s two in under two minutes. How far away is Matt?” I replied I don’t know, so she took my phone to ring him. Anne then made a phone call to Matt and he said he’s about 20 minutes away. Whilst on the phone I have another contraction and he hears how I sound in the background and then tells Anne they don’t have to wait for him to get there, they probably need to get me to the hospital.
Whilst still on the toilet I could hear Adam and Anne discussing getting me to hospital I had another contraction and I found the thought of sitting in a car unbearable if not impossible. I knew at that point I would need an ambulance though saying this aloud to Anne felt like a joke – I had never called for an ambulance in my life and I briefly wondered if I was exaggerating. Anne must have sensed my uncertainty as she said something like, ‘I’m not joking I’ll call you one’. I had another contraction and couldn’t answer her. This contraction causes me to stand up from the toilet seat and now I feel pressure and I say aloud to Anne that I feel I need to push, so she dials 000.
11.10pm: I recall hearing the ambulance operator asking Anne some of the introductory questions about phone numbers and address and then they are instructing Anne on what to do for me to assist with birth, starting with lying a towel down for me, which Anne grabs from the bathroom. I think the operator then heard me yelling that I feel I need to push and she tells Anne to tell me to get off the toilet and onto the floor on my back. I was still trying to wipe my bottom, which seemed impossible as the contractions were coming so fast they were on top of each other. Anne was telling me not to worry about it but I did the best I could. I then I got off the toilet and went down pretty fast on my knees.
Again, I can hear the operator saying about getting on my back but I said no and I could hear Anne telling the operator I was refusing. I was on my knees in a little thoroughfare between the bathroom and toilet, with one hand up on the linen cupboard door. I could hear the operator asking Anne if she could see the baby’s head and Anne was replying no. I had another contraction and felt myself pushing. I yelled to Anne that the baby was coming. I knew I was yelling and felt it sounded like I was panicking, but really it was more that I wanted to alert Anne that it was really happening as I knew she was telling the operator she couldn’t see the head. I yelled out ‘is the ambulance coming?’ and Anne said yes.
I recall seeing Adam as he was trying to help get towels for Anne, and I said something like, ‘you can come in’ (as I remembered I had told him to not come in). As I was in between the linen cupboards I pointed in the direction to get towels. While on my knees, I had a couple more contractions, during which I was now bearing down. I reached between my legs and felt the bulging around my perineum that told me the baby was extremely close.
I yelled to Anne again that the baby was coming, and again asked ‘is the ambulance coming?’ To which Anne said yes and also reassured me to stay calm and tell me I was doing good. While kneeling, I had a few breaths using ‘horses breath’, and briefly wondered if my brother would think I’m crazy but as I did it it really felt like it helped with the pain so I didn’t care how weird it must have seemed. I also had a moment of thinking ‘wow, this is really happening’ and then on the next contraction I was actively deliberately pushing.
Over the next three contractions I pushed down and delivered the head of my baby. The contractions came quicker together and I have very little memory of experiencing pain as his head came out. Once his head came out, I actually experienced a moment of pure joy and relief. I knew the hardest part was done. I had flashing thoughts about how worried I had been that I would have another lengthy birth and now here I was, with this one over within minutes of pushing.
Although delivery of the head happened quickly in contrast to my first, I remember practising some techniques and doing my best to slow down the delivery and not to heave him out in one big push. I paused after delivery of the head and breathed for a while, with elated thoughts rushing through my mind. Then with one final push Isaac’s body came out quite quickly, I saw him shoot out and Anne reached and caught him to glide him down onto the waiting pile of towels at 11.20pm.
Once Isaac was born, Anne rubbed him with a towel at which point we confirmed he was a boy. Anne untangled the cord from around his shoulder and passed him through between my legs. I recall the operator saying several times not to pull on the cord which was quite short so we didn’t pull him up too high on my chest but he was near my breast. Adam had got a blanket and pillow for us and I lie there breathing and rubbing Isaac’s back, who was quite quiet, as Anne continued to answer the operator’s questions and check on my and Isaac’s health.
As I lie there I started to feel a bit more pain, especially the ‘ring of fire’ pain. The stinging at this point was worse than when I was actually delivering the head, though it wasn’t unbearable. I asked my brother to take some photos at this point and he did so on my phone. About 8 minutes after Isaac arrived, so did the ambulance and Matt about 40 seconds after that.
He told me afterwards that as he came into the house Adam met him in the hallway and said, ‘she’s had it, don’t worry they’re OK’. It was such a relief looking up to see Matt. I really felt for him, having missed the birth and that is the only thing about the experience I would change. Matt kissed me hello, quickly had a look at the baby and then he went into nurse mode.
He told me afterwards he couldn’t really relax, he didn’t even think to ask about the baby’s sex as he just wanted to make sure we were both OK. He checked Isaac was breathing and then checked my bleeding with the paramedic. The paramedic then did a couple of quick checks on Isaac and asked if the placenta had yet been delivered. He asked me if I had discussed whether I would have the Syntocin shot with my healthcare provider and I said I had planned on not having the shot and delivering naturally but given the circumstances had changed I was OK with having the shot, due to the risk of haemorrhage and if it would speed things up and get me to hospital.
First the paramedic gathered the appropriate equipment and helped Matt to clamp and cut the cord. Then they gave me the Syntocin shot in my thigh. All the while, they left Isaac on my chest and didn’t once try to remove him until it was time for me to stand and they lifted Isaac up and passed him to Matt. The paramedics then supported me to stand up, and when I did what seemed to be quite a lot of blood came out from between my legs. They supported me to walk to the stretcher. Once on the stretcher we took a couple of quick photos of bub with Matt and Anne and then I was stretchered out to the waiting ambulance. Matt packed the car and followed.
11.56pm: Once I was inside the ambulance I sent my mum a message asking her to ring me and she did, and I told her I have had the baby at home, Anne delivered it and I’m in ambulance heading to hospital.
The paramedic checked on me during the drive, asking if I felt any more contractions to push the placenta out, but this didn’t happen for a while until we nearly reached the hospital (about seven minute drive from home). I had a contraction and told the paramedic and I bore down and partially passed the placenta. It wasn’t fully out and as we were so close to the maternity ward the paramedic was happy for me to pause and wait until I had been rolled up into the ward.
Getting rolled out of the ambulance on the stretcher with my baby was the weirdest thing. There were staff standing around watching me smiling at me, which made it all seem a bit more real. Wow, I had really just delivered a baby at home. Once we got to maternity the midwives (including the one I had spoken with on the phone) greeted me with beaming faces and finished delivering the placenta and did all the required checks on myself and baby.
A doctor was called in to check me and thankfully I didn’t require stitches, I just had a small graze. Isaac was weighed and he was 3.65kg, half a kilo heavier than his big brother. We stayed overnight in hospital and were discharged the next morning. My recovery overall was so much smoother, I didn’t feel anywhere near as worn out as I did for Jack’s birth. The surprise fast birth was definitely a blessing in disguise and the only thing I would change would be for my husband to have arrived in time to deliver himself.”
Talk about a nail-biting birth! We’re in awe of you Jayne, what a superwoman.
(Images: Rebecca Van Dyk, Adam Sanson)
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