Sometimes I have pregnant women come to me who want to birth their babies in their homes but have some kind of medical condition that increases their risk of complications. I've had women come to me with twins, breech babies, previous cesarean section, bleeding disorders, diabetes, high blood pressure and more. With most of these, according to the restrictions of my license, I have to find them an OB that will provide them care in the hospital. For some of these women it is safer for them to birth in the hospital.
Last year a wonderful couple came to me wanting a home birth and this particular mom-to-be has a bicornuate uterus. Her uterus is heart-shaped with a partial septum in the middle starting at the top. In my years as a midwife I have not had any clients--that I know of-- that have had a bicornuate uterus. I wanted to be able to provide the opportunity for this couple to have the birth they'd always hoped for--only if it was safe of course.
I had the couple see an OB (Dr. Safarik) that specializes in treating high risk pregnant women. He gave her an ultrasound and cleared her to continue in my care. He educated the couple on their increased risk of preterm birth, incompetent cervix (cervix won't dilate) and miscarriage. He also told them that many women can have normal, natural births often without even knowing they have a heart shaped womb. This information definitely didn't ensure this momma would have a successful home birth. We weren't sure if she would carry to term, if her baby would grow un-inhibited, if she would have a normal labor... but this didn't stop her. We made a plan to cautiously proceed together towards her home birth. As time passed, her pregnancy progressed without any complications and her ultrasound showed her beautiful baby growing normally. Finally she passed the "pre-term window" of pregnancy and our hope grew toward her having a successful birth.
A few days before her due date she started having contractions and quickly was in full blown labor. I went to her home cautiously early at which point she was already progressed to 5 centimeters! She was coping well, although contractions were close together and intense. Shortly after I arrived their wonderful doula came to offer her support and expertise. Within a few hours the momma was 10 centimeters and ready to birth. This powerful warrior woman pushed out her baby within an hour--her husband and my assisting midwife caught the baby together and delivered her to the arms of her mother. They quickly discovered they had a daughter and were overjoyed.
What an amazing birth!! What a powerful woman and amazingly strong heart shaped uterus. Thank goodness she put fear and doubt aside enough to pursue her desire to have an unimpeded and natural birth. I'm so grateful I was able to support this family and witness such a wonderful birth. I hope this woman and her experience can give others faith and hope to pursue their birth plans. I hope women can find midwives, doulas and doctors that support them and help them have memorable and safe births.