Planning the type of birth that you want is something that every pregnant Mother thinks about. They weigh up options, they look at the options that are available and they decided what is right for them. In my opinion, there isn’t a right way or a wrong way to give birth, it is all very personal. Luckily there are lots of options out there!
Birth 1. The Plan
When I was pregnant with Dylan I had a few things in my head that I really wanted for the birth of my first baby. First of all, I was absolutely sure that I wanted no pain relief other than gas and air. I had heard a few horror stories about epidurals and the idea of being out of control like that really scared me, a lot more than the prospect of the pain. The other pain relief options like Pethidine were offered but I decided that I would prefer to go without. I decided to hire a TENs machine to help out as well. To start with I really really wanted to have a home birth. I had read a lot about it and felt that it would be a good option for me. I don’t like hospitals (who does?) and I didn’t want to spend much time, if any, in one. I also wanted to opt for a water birth because a) everything I read said that births in water are better for Mummy and Baby and b) it sounded a bit like a hot tub, haha.
I told various people about my plans and my Mum was very uncomfortable with me having a homebirth. Like really uncomfortable. She was worried that something would go wrong and that I and the baby would be put in danger. After a few conversations with her and Joe he started to say that he was also a bit nervy about having a homebirth. So I decided that I would plan for a hospital birth instead. After a tour of the brand new, beautiful midwife led suite at our local hospital. The rooms were large, private, with a little garden bit outside that you could walk around, each room had colour changing lights and are equipped with a birth pool, each has an en suite bathroom, DVD player, CD and MP3 Player and one of the room was painted purple. Bonus. After the tour I felt a lot happier about giving birth at the Midwife Led Unit.
Birth 1. What actually happened…
As talked about at length here the whole story of Dylan’s birth. In regards to the plan, it basically went out of the window. As I was induced due to my waters breaking and then not going into established labour I was classed as “High Risk”. I spent the majority of the labour in the induction ward which was basically a 4 or 5 beds with curtains around them. I wanted a birth ball but was told that they didn’t have one spare and then I was strapped up to a fetal monitor and told to lie on the bed. During all our birthing classes they hammered into us that lying on your back for labour was the worst and most painful way to do it and yet, I was being told to stay in that position, hrumph. I used my TENs machine which was really helpful. I am not sure how much it helped with the actual pain but the weird buzziness of it helped focus me. I tried to stick to my no drugs rule but towards the end of the labour, the final dilating bit, I was begging for drugs, any drugs, all drugs but at that point I was too far gone so I was denied. I gave birth to Dylan in one of the High Risk labour rooms which was very clinical with nothing but a bed and medical equipment in there. The “pushing” part of the labour was very stressful for me. I had been told over and over all afternoon that the baby wouldn’t be coming any time soon without having any physical checks done on me, the only checks were on the fetal monitor. When the midwife tried to put the pessary back in after it fell out after my bath and she found that I was 8cm dilated everything seemed very rushed and panicky. Everyone seemed to be caught off guard which really didn’t help me feel very safe or relaxed during the actual birth.
This wasn’t the birth I wanted at all but it all worked out in the end and I had my beautiful baby boy. I felt really out of control the whole time, I felt like I was quite often dismissed and that I wasn’t listened to at all. My overwhelming feeling was that the midwives spent more time concentrating on the fetal monitor and didn’t listen to what I was saying. After giving birth I really wanted to make a formal complaint about how I was treated during the labour, which with hindsight sounds a bit dramatic but I really did feel that I was treated badly. In the end, I didn’t as Dylan was born healthy and happy and maybe I just caught them on an off day. But now I am thinking that maybe I should have done.
Birth 2. The Plan
My plan the second time round was more like a wish list in my mind. I knew that anything that I plan wouldn’t actually happen, I felt a bit negative towards the whole planning side of things to be honest. I had the same things in mind, I wanted the midwife led unit, I wanted no drugs and I wanted to be as chilled as possible. But other than that I just wanted the baby to come out and be healthy. After having Dylan I piled a lot of weight on and part of the motivation for losing the weight was that I wanted to be able to have a “low risk” pregnancy. As pregnancy 2 progressed it became less and less likely that this would be the case. During one of our first scans we were told that as Dylan was “small” at birth that we needed to have extra scans and that the baby might need to be induced early if they thought that she wasn’t growing as well as she should. Which is what happened…
Birth 2. What actually happened…
This time round I was fully induced at 38 weeks. The baby was not ready to be born. Yet again, it was bye bye to the midwife led unit and the beautiful purple room. Oh well, again we just wanted a healthy baby at the end of it. I felt a bit more in control until we reached the (horrible) induction bay. I was told by my consultant on the Wednesday I wouldn’t have to be hooked up the fetal monitor this time round only to be told when we arrived at the hospital on Thursday morning that the consultant had told them to have me hooked up to it the whole time. I was gutted. I think I probably cried. The monitoring during my first labour was one of the worst bits. It didn’t pick up a good signal and Joe was told to push it onto my tummy for ages which really hurt. I didn’t want that again! I was a bit more assertive and tried to stand up for what I wanted. Eventually they found me a wireless fetal monitor so that I could walk around, yay me. I asked to have a birth ball to bounce around on and they found me one. I also said that I wanted to be as mobile as possible as they allowed us to go for walks as long as I was only 2 hours at a time. I know these are little victories but they did make all the difference. With Dylan I felt very caged and I didn’t like it at all.
In regards to the actual birth, this time I got my gas and air (magical stuff) but other than that everything was pretty samey. I tried some other birthing positions but ended up on my back on the bed but they was more due to be utterly exhausted than anything else. The midwives I had were fantastic and listened to me throughout and I felt very looked after by the which was fabulous. Even though I still didn’t get the birth that I wanted it was a negative experience. I felt good about the choices I was able to make and the end result was my beautiful Eilys and she was out after very little fuss. This time round I really didn’t want to have to stay in hospital overnight and after waiting HOURS to fulfil the rather ridiculous request that I did 350ml of wee before being allowed home, I was able to leave.
All in all my birth with Eilys was ok. It hurt like hell, a lot more than with Dylan but I think this was due to my body not being ready for the labour at all. Also with Dylan I was quite worried about the pain side of things and had built it up in my head and then it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be but with Eilys I had downplayed it in the build up and therefore it actuality of it was way worse (if that makes sense). Even though I didn’t want to be in the high risk room again, the midwives made the whole experience a good one as they actually listened to me and we even had a laugh, in between all the screaming.
Birth 3. The Plan.
First of all, this time round I have decided to go with a different midwifery service other than the NHS. I have chosen to go with One2One Midwives. I’ll explain more about this in another post but all you need to know for here is that they are not part of the NHS but they are funded by the NHS and they are home birth specialists. To start with I wasn’t thinking about having a homebirth at all. In my head I figured that there was no point even thinking about being low risk this time round and just admitting defeat early on and planning for a hospital, high risk jobby again. But after a few chats with my Midwife (side bar, I love my midwife this time round…) she is very much on my side and wants me to have the birth that I want. I have reconsidered and now I am thinking that a homebirth might me for me. There are a lot of pros. It means less stress, anecdotally women who have home births have babies quicker, it allows Joe to have a more hands on experience as he’s not just sat in a corner, I can see Dylan throughout the birth (this is a biggie, with Eilys I was away from him for over 48hrs and I hated it) and I’ll be at home, surrounded by my things and I can relax more. I realise that there are risks of a homebirth but I live a 10min drive from the hospital and if anything was to go wrong a labouring mother goes to the top of the emergency services list. One2One will bring me the birthing pool, they’ll tidy up all the gubbins and hopefully, all will go well. Drugs wise I am aiming to just go with Gas and Air again but the midwives do also bring Pethidine with them should I need it (I would have to go to hospital for an epidural though). I am feeling very positive this time round and I am looking forward to having the birth experience that I want.
My plan this time round is basically to stick to the plan! Haha. But I am also not kidding myself into thinking that my plan will be what happens. I know that things are necessarily going to go according to my plan but I am really hoping to keep the intervention to a minimum. I really don’t want to be induced. I want to experience a fully natural labour at the very least. The most important thing to me though, as it always has been, is to have a healthy baby at the end of the labour. If I am advised to be induced or to be in hospital then that is exactly what I will do. I am extremely lucky to be pregnant and I am extremely lucky that this baby is free of SMA and I will not jeopardise the healthy and safe arrival of my little chap for the sake of the birth that I want.
Here’s hoping though!
Thanks for reading.