Braxton Hicks contractions had become a familiar friend for Rachael Theunissen over the last few weeks of her pregnancy. So when she started to feel regular tightenings on her due date, she wasn’t exactly sure things were really happening.
But the Northern Territory mum was about to have the ‘craziest experience ever’, with her baby in a big rush to be born. After a bit over an hour of labour, Rachael birthed her baby in her bathroom, with her husband catching the eager arrival.
Rachael told Mum’s Grapevine she’s incredibly proud of her accidental home birth.
Braxton Hicks or the real deal?
Rachael and her husband Josh began trying for a second baby when their little boy was 18-months-old. And they were lucky enough to fall pregnant after just one month of trying. Fast forward nine months and Rachael had finally reached her due date.
“I had been having Braxton Hicks for a few weeks nothing consistent at all would go days without and randomly have a few in a row,” she told Mum’s Grapevine. “On the 21st of February (my due date) I had been having trouble going to sleep and was having some uncomfortable feelings in my tummy. I then thought to start timing them at 12:50am they were lasting about 40 seconds and two minutes apart. After a while, they started to feel a bit more uncomfortable.
“I called the maternity ward at 1:16am just to get their opinion as they were pretty close together. The midwife said because they haven’t been going for long to just take some Panadol and try to go to sleep.”
Having been through birth once before, Rachael knew there was no way popping a Panadol was going to help her sleep. Her contractions were now coming two minutes apart. “I knew I was in labour and wanted to have an active birth so I just walked around the house and breathed in each contraction as they came.”
The labouring mum called her cousin just before 2am to come and sit with her toddler, just in case they needed to head to the hospital in the near future. “The contractions were getting worse but I was handling them really well just focusing on my breathing! They started lasting nearly a minute with only a minute in between each. I tried to sit on the couch but was like, ‘No I need to poo!’ I made it to the toilet and at 2am I had a contraction that lasted a bit longer and my body started to involuntary push.
“I called to my husband get the towels – ‘I’m pushing!’ He was a little caught off guard but went and got towels. I asked him to call an ambulance as I knew baby was coming now! Sure enough I made him check and babies head was right there. Going off my last birth he was like, ‘Nah I saw the head for ages last time. I’ll just call the maternity ward, we will get the toddler up and rush there’.”
‘We’re not going to make it to hospital!’
Even though the family lives just five minutes from the nearest hospital, Rachael knew she wasn’t going to make it. “This baby was coming now! I’m just standing in the bathroom saying call the ambulance! He called the maternity ward and as he does I have another contraction and her head is out. The maternity ward talked him though how to catch the baby and what to do once she is here, while they call the ambulance for us.
“Looking back I’m so glad he called the maternity ward rather than the ambulance as they were able to talk him through everything. It helped once we got to the hospital as well as they had already knew what had happened. Another push and our baby is earthside, born with me just standing in our ensuite with hubby catching her. It was the craziest experience ever and it just all happened so quickly.
“My husband was quite concerned as there was just blood running down my legs and during my last birth I lost a lot of blood. I lost less this time and all was okay. After one hour and 18 minutes of labour Skylah Rose Theunissen was born at 2:08am on February 22, 2021. She missed her due date by two hours and eight minutes! It was such a quick labour I really didn’t even think I was close to pushing.
“My cousin made it a few minutes later and was so sorry she didn’t make it in time for us to go to hospital but I wouldn’t have made it to the hospital anyway. The ambulance crew make it about 10 minutes later and they checked bub over everything looked good.”
The paramedics decided to take Rachael to hospital for her placenta delivery, so after Josh cut the cord they headed to hospital. All while their toddler peacefully slept through the whole ordeal.
“We get to the hospital at about three o’clock to birth the placenta. I told the midwife that her pushing on my belly was worse than giving birth, it was awful! I then had to wait about two and half hours for the doctor to come to stitch up my second-degree tear. My first time getting stitched up was horrible, so the anxiety I had building and waiting around was horrible, so much so my whole body was just shaking in fear. It was much better this time but still horrible and I still think worse than pushing bub out.
“Bub was checked by a paediatrician and we both got the all-clear, so we decided to go home. We were back home before 7am to start life as a family of four. I’m so incredibly proud of myself. I handled the situation so well and was really calm during the whole thing. I feel so empowered that I was able to birth my beautiful baby unexpectedly at home with the support of my absolutely amazing husband. I’m so proud of him and what he helped me achieve.”
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More birth stories from the Grapeviner community…
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- Birth Story: ‘My baby was born at 27 weeks’
- Birth Story: Melbourne mums heartbreaking lockdown stillbirth
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