My little boy was born at home in 2002 and we wanted another home birth for my second baby. The midwife we had used before wasn’t available and we thought at first we would use the Homerton midwives and simply ask for a home birth when the time came. Its funny how things work out, we ended up having a hospital birth and using Elke as our independent midwife.
We decided to use Elke when the hospital midwives were not very enthusiastic about supporting us with a home birth. I was told that the possibility was that there wouldn’t be a midwife available to send out to us for a home birth and that if they did send one out she might have very little experience of home birth. Since this didn’t fill us with confidence we were very happy to find Elke and lucky she was available. We knew that paying for an independent midwife was a lot of money but we also know that you get a huge amount of support for that and the chance to build a one to one relationship with your midwife, and its very nice to know who will be delivering your baby.
I have had rotten pregnancies both times round. 3 months of morning sickness to the extent that I was in hospital on a drip and then later on itchy skin. Lots of people get itchy skin but in my second pregnancy I was diagnosed with obstetric coliastasis, which is quite unusual and means that your liver isn’t working properly. Elke and I had several trips to the hospital for blood tests and scans etc and the information we were getting from the hospital made it all sound increasingly serious for the baby and I was told that they wanted to induce and therefore wanted me to have the baby in hospital. This was all at about 37 weeks. Elke was brilliant at this stage, very very supportive, letting us know that we still had choices about how things could progress and deciphering information for us. We were upset that we wouldn’t have the baby at home and scared about how things would turn out. We were told that Elke couldn’t be our midwife for the delivery and that was a real blow, but of course she was going to be there with us supporting us which was some consolation. All the uncertainty that we thought we had avoided by using a private midwife was back with us.
Elke and I decided that she would do a couple of cervical sweeps to see what was what and see if the baby was ready to come and if labour could be jumpstarted in order to avoid chemical induction. Labour started after the second sweep on the Friday (the day before I was booked in for an induction). Elke had arranged with the hospital that I could use the mothers’ suite if it was free and it was. My son had been born after 4 hours of labour and so I was prepared for this one to be quick too and I was keen to get into hospital, so after about 2 hours Elke drove me in. The consultant had told us that I had to have continuous foetal monitoring for 15 minutes and this was hard as the equipment was awkward to keep in the right place especially when I wanted to move around to deal with the pain. There is a birth pool in the mothers’ suite and I went in that for the pain relief of the water and came out just before the baby was born. I think labour was about 4 ½ hours I didn’t use gas and air this time as I couldn’t get on with it. Elke and Jaqui who she works with were there and my husband and a Homerton midwife who kept popping in to check on me. When the baby was born all three midwives were there, it was great really all the worry about Elke not being able to deliver the baby in the Homerton was forgotten because as far as I was concerned she did, really she had been supporting me and doing all the checks and things all the way through so who actually caught the baby was immaterial. It also meant that we were able to discharge ourselves quickly after the birth; we were home 2 hours later with Elke promising to visit first thing. It all happened overnight so when my son woke up in the morning we were all there with our new baby .
Elke and Jaqui visited every day initially and then every couple of days to see me through the first month. They gave me lots of useful advice with the breastfeeding and did all the mother and baby checks. Again it was great to know who was coming and the advice was consistent and good.
I don’t know if I’ll have more children but if I do I would certainly contact Elke and use her if she was available, even though chances are we wouldn’t decide on a home birth for the same reasons as last time. I think it’s the consistency of the support you have with one person when you use a private midwife that is so important.