I’ve hit the proverbial brick wall a bit this week and it all started after a trip to the birthing centre last Sunday that I’ve been wanting to write about but struggling to know/articulate how I’m feeling. I’ll give you the back ground…
When my brother’s little boy, Rowan, was born back in February at home with no pain relief, I thought they were mad! Rowan was Diane’s first baby too and after spending some time with Diane and hearing her experience (and also reading the accompanying hypnobirthing pamphlet, which was just up my street as it was nice and short), I did a total u-turn.
What really struck a cord with me from the hypnobirthing pamphlet was that if a woman is frightened her body will actually slow down or stop the progression of labour until she feels safe again. To my mind hospitals can be quite scary places. All my life, I’ve only ever been in a hospital to visit people who are dying. And, everything about hospitals, to me, is unnatural (i.e. you are surrounded by foreign things that you would never normally see). So I was seriously thinking about a home birth and had read some interesting articles that both from a scientific/research point of view and anecdotally supported home birth and suggested it was no less dangerous (and in fact in some cases it was safer) than a hospital birth. For example:
In the Netherlands, 30 percent of births take place at home — which show home birth to be equally safe for the baby.
And this article from Boots, states the following advantages to having a home birth:
- You may be more relaxed in labour and while giving birth, as you are in familiar surroundings.
- You may not have to interrupt your labour with a journey to hospital
- You’ll hopefully know your midwife team
- You’re less likely to have medical interventions
- You won’t have to leave other children or be separated from your partner
- You’re less likely to pick up an infection
However, despite an initial desire to not go into hospital, I’ve lost my bottle. Firstly, anyone you speak about home births almost immediately, without fail, says, “what if something goes wrong” and some add “you’d forever wonder what if I had been hospital”. After a few months of that, I’ve got a bit jaded. But what really was the nail in the coffin was speaking to my midwife. I wouldn’t say she couldn’t have been less enthusiastic but it was down there. And, coupled with the “if something goes wrong it could take 40 minutes to get you to hospital” and the fact that I wouldn’t know my midwife team, I just thought forget it.
So, back to the Birthing Centre. We decided to go look around after this meeting with the midwife, as a kind of halfway house between home and hospital. Firstly, after remembering all day that we had the appointment, we both promptly forgot in the last hour until our phone alarms went off 10 minutes before (and it’s at least a 20 minute drive). We were completely unprepared to leave so I burst into tears thinking we’d have to go another day and I wanted to go TODAY (I hadn’t realised it was that important to me!). Fortunately, they were fine for us to arrive a bit late. Pregnancy panic averted!
Secondly, the Birthing Centre is no halfway house. It is a hospital but just without the doctors. So I spent the first part of the tour feeling uncomfortable and a bit disappointed. Then when I saw the room you would deliver in I was beside myself (I managed to hold it together but I did burst into tears as soon as we left!).
I’ve been trying to work out since what caused me to react in such a way and basically it was the first time I had ever REALLY thought about the birth . Seeing the room made it feel extremely real and for the first time I could imagine it and felt utterly terrified.
I shall come back to that but I should say that the Birthing Centre did win me over. We had a lovely midwife show us around who was amazingly informative (I wish I had taken a pen and paper), and the centre was really quiet and relaxed. When I think back on it now, I’m sure all the midwives were skipping around singing zip-a-de-doo-dah. There are many perks to being in the Birthing Centre including private rooms, extended visiting hours, birthing pool, plus the extra equipment to resuscitate your baby should it need it. The aftercare looks amazing. When I had originally wanted to be in and out of hospital as quickly as possible, the prospect of staying in a bit longer until I find my feet is now a really tempting one.
So, back to the actual birth…what I think really bothered me when I saw the room, was that it represented the complete lack of control I feel about the birth. Like I said previously, it felt completely foreign and that coupled with the fact that I don’t know the person who will be helping me through this life changing experience, must have sent me in to a bit of a panic. I don’t know what to expect and rather than trusting my body (and the experts around me – who I don’t know) to know what to do for a natural delivery, I feel more like I’m walking towards something that is entirely unknown. I guess I’m worried that it will become a long drawn out procedure because I’m terrified, and therefore I’ll end up have any number of interventions that I wouldn’t have needed if I was more relaxed and at ease with my surroundings.
Anyway, I’ve found a really interesting article, thanks to @BelevationMom on twitter, called “Mommy Wars: The Prequel, Ina May Gaskin and the Battle for at-Home Births”. It’s about a hippy-midwife who has been delivering babies the au naturale way for decades. With no formal medical education, she relies entirely on nature, experience and common sense and has successfully delivered even the trickiest of babies (including breach and very over due).
As we know, I’ve now settled on a birth at the Birthing Centre, however, there’s still lots that can be applied from this article, for example:
Ina May and the midwives believed that a woman’s body would open more easily when the energy in the room was relaxed and she had sorted out her fears. The midwives saw themselves as putting birth back in women’s hands and showing them their true power.’
Yes, it’s hippy as hell but there are 2 key things here. Firstly, we need to sort out our fears and secondly, we have the power to do this…this is what our bodies were made for, isn’t it?! Like breathing, drinking, and eating. Nobody showed us how to do those things so surely our bodies should work it out on its own? So from a ‘facing my fears’ point of view there’s no need to feel out of control or frightened by the prospect of birth. She also suggests the following:
She has found that upright positions, dim lights, eating and drinking and fewer vaginal exams speed women’s labor — none of which tend to be encouraged in a hospital.
The good news is this can be achieved in the birthing centre, so long as I am in control…
I’ve been told by other pregnant friends that I’m reading and thinking about it all too much. What will be will be and all that. But to be honest I’d rather deal with all my fears now (thanks to Ina May!) rather than in the middle of delivery when I wished I’d found out more. So, while this isn’t a complete post (I haven’t even discussed hypnobirthing, water birth vrs the more active birth positions, etc, etc) , it’s at least the start of me dealing with any issues I have. I have 2 more months and I plan to do a lot more reading so that I can, in theory, go into labour feeling in control and prepared. Hippy Hannah!