my birth plans [ part 3 ] – hypnobirth

I’m sitting on my birth ball, in the closing days of my 38th week of pregnancy.  Birth is on my mind a lot…in fact, about the only other thing in my head beyond that is housework (thanks nesting) and I know which of those two I’d rather write about.  I’ve written already about two elements of my plan for birth – that I want to have this baby at home and that I’ll be using a birth pool to labour and hopefully deliver this little man.  This final part is all about how I really want this birth to be as calm an experience as it can be.

As I mentioned previously, my last baby was born in the hospital car park in what was quite a fraught and distressing experience.  Whilst it makes a good story and I can tell it almost as a joke now, it was an experience that left a scar and from which it took me a long time to heal.  More than anything I want this, our final birth experience, to be on our terms and above all to feel calm and in control during it.  That’s why I don’t want to leave the house, and why I think water will be a great coping mechanism for me.

When my friend, who is a midwife, heard of my plans she suggested hypnobirth as a good tool to help me achieve the birth I hope for.  She is a trained practitioner, and offered to take Hubs and I through the course as a favour.  I also trained as a midwife ten years ago, and back then my only experience of a woman using hypnobirthing was not a particularly positive one.  This was more down to the woman being quite a difficult person to deal with rather than her preference for hypnobirthing, but something had stuck with me which left a bad taste in my mouth. However, my friend really sold the concept to me.  It turns out it wasn’t all hippie nonsense, or a fad just for stuck-up middle class madams.

 

What is hypnobirthing?

Hypnobirthing focuses on taking the body and mind to a deep relaxed state, so that the birthing muscles are free to do their job.   We have been conditioned to see birth as a scary and painful experience, and as a result most of us involuntary tense up and fight against contractions (or surges, if I use the hypno lingo).  But hypnobirthing theory says that if we remove the resistance caused by tension and fear we can work with our bodies rather than against them.  By using my contractions and natural pushing instincts rather than fighting them, I can retain that sense of calm and control that I want.

That’s the hope, anyway!

In fact, it had a lot of links with things I’ve dabbled with myself – yoga breathing, mindfulness and relaxation techniques.  More than that, it is based on what I know and believe about labour and birth – that it is not a medical event which needs intervention or lots of drugs as long as the mother and baby are healthy and things are progressing as they should.  It tackles the issues of fear and tension as being the two obstacles most likely to turn birth from a natural process to something more complicated.  It supports my belief that my body is perfectly designed to bring my baby into the world, and builds on the confidence my two previous fairly quick and straightforward deliveries have given me.

 

Making hypnobirthing work for me

I have to be honest about my own limitations and abilities though.  I’m quite a highly strung person with a ridiculously short fuse, so I’m worried that in the moment I’ll struggle to put myself into relaxation or to zone out enough.  But that’s exactly why I’m trying to apply hypnobirth principles in the first place, because the techniques give me some tools to use.

So far I’m finding the different types of breathing and the progressive relaxation to be the aspects which speak to me the most.  I struggle with a lot of the visualisation exercises, and find physical anchors work better to encourage me to relax – a touch from Hubs, or having him massage me, or even just triggering the relaxation through my body by loosening my jaw and the muscles around my eyes.

I’m going a bit rogue when it comes to my birth soundtrack.  I listen to my relaxation recording to practice putting myself into the relaxed state, and I will have it on standby during labour if I find myself struggling to get there.  But for the most part I will be listening to my own playlist.  Music is a huge part of my life, and I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to what I will listen to.  I think if I used “real” relaxation tracks I would actually end up less chilled out as they’d just annoy me!  Instead I’ve put together a playlist of some fairly calming songs which either have lyrics which speak to me or which have a wall-of-sound quality for me to focus on.

But above all, I’m just going into it all (labour, birth and hypnobirthing) with an open mind.  Whatever works is right at the time, and I’m not going to get too hung up on any one thing or doing something the “right” way.

 

Hypnobirth blogs

As I’ve done with home and water births, I’ve been reading birth stories where bloggers have been kind enough to share their experiences.  These ones were my favourites…

Fred, Ted & Company – a calm birth

Love Your Birth – my third hypnobirth

Bumps n Babies – Hannah’s birth story

 

Have you used hypnobirthing techniques?  I’d love to hear about your experiences!

 

 

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my birth plans [ part 2 ] – water birth

 

I recently posted about how I am planning on having a home birth this time around, and how I’d come to that decision after the slightly traumatic and quite public birth of my second baby in a car park.  I really enjoyed writing that post, and sharing the links to other bloggers I’d found who shared their home birth experiences.  So I wanted to write some more, this time about my hopes to birth (or at least labour) in water.

 

We finally got round to trying out our birth pool

This has been niggling at the back of my mind for a while now, as we had no idea how long it would take to set up, whether the hose would be long enough to fill it up from the bathroom if it was set up in the living room, and whether attachments we had all worked.  Thankfully it inflated fine, and the hose was plenty long enough.

We didn’t try filling it, as at the time I felt pretty confident – we have a great combi boiler which I’m sure will be up to the task, and calculated time based on filling the bath.  But now the nerves are kicking in and I’m thinking we should do a full trial run…I can’t wait to see Hubs’ face when I make that suggestion!  I did see someone else mention that it’s a good excuse to chill out in it with a Netflix binge, so that might convince him.

 

Why we bought a pool rather than hiring one

Our pool kind of fell into our laps – after making my wish for a home birth known, the midwife encouraged me to look at buying rather than hiring a pool.  She said there wasn’t a lot of difference in the cost, so I did some research and for some of the models she had a point.

I’d decided to go for the Birth Pool In A Box, based on reviews and the fact it came with everything you need, when Hubs spotted someone selling the exact same one at half the price on Facebook.  It had never been used, as the previous owner had bought it thinking she could have a VBAC at home only to find out this wasn’t the case.

It looks like a great bit of kit, with support handles and even a seat, so I’m excited to use it when the big day comes.  I can’t believe we were able to buy one cheap in our local area.  I’m not spiritual or superstitious, but it isn’t often you see something like that being sold on Facebook – that’s got to be a good omen.  It’s a lot bigger than I expected – when it was blown up the four year old was running around shouting “we’ve got a swimming pool!!”

 

Why a water birth?

To help me be active in labour…

I’ve already blogged about why I love swimming during pregnancy, and a big part of that is the freedom of movement and lightness being in the water gives me.  Being active during labour is so important, both to encourage your baby to get into the best position for a smooth birth as well as for your own comfort and sense of control.  Water helps you to change your position easily, because you don’t feel like a ten ton weight!  But it also helps you stay in positions like all fours or upright longer than you could otherwise, because of the support it gives you.

Being able to chose your position or move when your body tells you to is so empowering.   I was induced with my first baby, and as a result I spent my labour lying on my back in a bed, strapped to monitors.  It wasn’t an awful experience, but I definitely felt very much as if labour was something I had no control over.

I also think that being stuck in the bed meant I needed more pain relief and spent a longer time pushing.  There is loads of research that backs that up too*.  With my second baby, although our long journey to hospital meant he was born before we got there, before things went cray-cray I felt much more in control and part of the process.  That was maybe why I was able to labour to the pushing stage before needing to head to hospital – I didn’t feel desperate for pain relief.  It’s probably also why he was born so quickly, because he was in such a perfect position that nothing could stop him!

To help me chill the hell out…

Of course, you can be active in labour without a birth pool, so I want it for more than that.  For me warm, deep water is magical when it comes to relieving stress, tension and pain.  I’m actually more of a shower than a bath type of girl normally, but I know that when I sink into warm water something special happens.  As I’m also hoping to use hypnobirth techniques during labour, it makes sense to me that water would be the most peaceful and relaxing place to be.

To give my baby a gentle welcome…

I love the idea of my baby being born in water, it seems like a smoother transition into the world.  I always think it must be a bit of a shock to the system for babies, coming from the warm and muffled world they’ve known for nine months into the cool air and noise of the room (or car park) they’re born in.  Water births always seem a bit gentler, especially if the baby is brought up calmly and their body is kept in the water for some skin-to-skin right away.  Neither of my previous babies were delivered on to my chest and both were taken away before I held them (one because he was unresponsive thanks to diamorphine, and the other because we were in a cold car park), so I’d like to be the one to guide this baby gently up for snuggles and to be with him right from the start.

 

Water birth blogs

I said last time that I love reading other people’s birth stories, and like last time I want to share the ones I came across that touched me.  There seem to be less blogs with waterbirth stories in them, but these three are lovely.

Autumn’s Mummy – my waterbirth story

The Double Mamma – the beautiful birth of Ailbe Fox

My Tales from The Crib – my journey to motherhood: my water baby

 

Did you have a water birth?  I’d love to hear about it!  Or if you know of any other bloggers who have shared their stories, please let me know.

 

 

* The Royal College of Midwives summerise it all well in their Positions for Labour and Birth guidelines
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my birth plans [ part 1 ] – home birth

 

Things (finally) got underway in preparing for our little man’s arrival this weekend.  I’m due in six weeks so it’s high time we got cracking, but because this will be boy number 3 and we kept everything from last time (and some things from the teenager’s baby days too!), we’ve got a bit too relaxed about things.  I always go overdue, so it feels like we have so little to do and so much time.

But this weekend, a smidgen of nesting must have taken hold.  I blame it on the fact we spent most of Saturday volunteering at the nursery, helping them to refresh the gardens.  Painting fences and murals to get the place looking good for the summer clearly set off some sort of chain reaction in my head.  I came home and sorted our mountain of baby clothes into sizes, washed the 0-3 month stuff and went to town with the stain remover on the white items.  We dug out the cot, Moses basket and carry cot so we can get new mattresses ordered too.  I just need to clean the pram and car seat, and figure out how to work our new Perfect Prep machine…and then I think we’ll be pretty much good to go.

 

Looking forward to birth

With getting things ready, my mind has turned to the birth.  Ok, who am I kidding – I’ve been thinking about the birth for a while!  But things are getting real now, and I thought I’d do a few blog posts in the coming weeks about what our plans are.  I had swithered about telling people, either in real life or on the blog, as I’m conscious that plans change.  But I’m getting more confident about saying that we’re hoping for a water birth at home this time around, and I have an urge to write about it.  So this is part one, about why I want to birth at home.

 

Wanting a home birth doesn’t make me a crazy, placenta-eating hippie

(no offence if you ate/buried/painted with yours)

Reactions of those I’ve told that I’m planning a home birth have been mixed.  Actually, most people have been very positive.  But there are some who had a sharp intake of breath, pulled a face or made some sort of rather-you-than-me comment.  I suppose I can understand where they’re coming from – what with the only representation of a home birth you’re likely to see on tv being in a Call the Midwife 1950’s slum or as part of some shock-tactic documentary about women who are more interested in their placenta than their baby, a lot of people don’t have a reference point.  Rates are still low, sitting at around 3% of all births, so not many people will know someone who has done it.

But I’m hoping to be one of them.  And my placenta can go in the bin, for all I care.

 

A home birth wasn’t something I had considered until this pregnancy.

I was induced with the teenager so had him in hospital, and when we were having our four year old I was quite happy to deliver at the local birthing unit.  I don’t have anything against hospitals or birthing units, our old house was too tiny, we have a highly strung dog and I couldn’t be bothered with organising things, so a home birth just wasn’t on my radar.  All I wanted for my birth with my four year old was a relaxed atmosphere, hopefully a water birth and to use only the minimum of pain relief.  The where wasn’t really an issue.

That was, until the where became an issue, and left me with a birth experience that took me a long while to process and make peace with.

 

My last birth experience took me while to get over

At a routine appointment in my last pregnancy, the midwife thought she heard a missed beat in my baby’s heart rate, and without even seeing me to assess it themselves the powers that be medical staff decided I could no longer deliver at the birthing unit.  I would have to travel to the nearest hospital 35 minutes away, and when my labour started it became apparent how long 35 minutes in a car can really feel.

I went into labour naturally, and spent the day quite happily pottering about at home with intermittent contractions.  Unfortunately, my mum turned up at about 4pm and nagged me into going to the hospital before the rush hour traffic got too bad.  As I knew would happen, come 7pm I was on my way home having been sent away as my labour wasn’t established.  I was cautious about making another wasted and uncomfortable trip only to be sent away again, so I held out at home…

We were caught off-guard by how fast things progressed and just a few hours later Hubs had to bundle me into the car as I started to push.  We didn’t make it to the hospital.  After a panicked drive where I fought every contraction and urge to push, my baby was born in the car park while smokers standing at the entrance watched on.

For a long time afterwards I would wake up in the middle of the night in a panic thinking I was still in the car.   I’d then then lie awake and pick apart all the things I felt I’d done wrong – I didn’t fight my corner to deliver at the birthing unit, I stayed at home too long, I didn’t trust my own judgement, maybe we should have called an ambulance.  I blamed my mum for nagging me to go to the hospital too soon, I blamed the medical staff for their decision (they took a 2 minute look at my baby after he was born and said his heart was fine), but most of all I blamed myself.  Hello post-natal depression.

 

Why I want a home birth this time

Well, I think that’s kind of obvious – to feel relaxed and in control, to avoid any time in the bloody car, and to have some privacy to birth in.  I just want to concentrate on bringing my baby into the world with as few distractions and worries as possible, and for me that means being in my favourite place.

I am a “low risk” mum – no health conditions and no pregnancy complications which could pose an issue, and with two quick and straightforward births to my name already.  I’m healthy and confident in my body’s ability to give birth naturally and with minimal pain relief.  This all means that for me, home is just as safe (if not more so) than a hospital setting for welcoming my baby into the world.

Being at home also means I’m guaranteed a water birth or at least use of a pool in labour, without the risk of someone else getting in before me, as we have bought our own (I’ll talk more about that in part 2).  It means I can eat and drink if and when I want.  It means I can have candles and my oil burner to create the atmosphere I want, with my own comforts around me.  It also means that after the birth, Hubs wont have to disappear home and I wont have to spend a night in an alien environment.  It means being somewhere where I feel I can have my say and make my own decisions.  And I wont be freaking out about delivering my baby by the side of the road.

 

Home birth blogs

Although every birth is different, I  love to read about other women’s experiences and I’ve been really enjoying all the bloggers out there who have shared theirs.   So to finish off, I thought I’d link to my favourites in case anyone else wanted a read.

Rock My Family – a calming home birth

Gas & Air Blog – home birth stories (especially Annalise’s story)

Making Luna – birth story

Monkey & Mouse – birth story

 

Have you had a home birth – what was your experience?  If you know of any good blogs to read about babies who were born at home, I’d love it if you could share in the comments!

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