Why I decided against a home birth

I want to start by saying I LOVE the idea of a home birth and adore hearing people’s experiences of giving birth at home, so please don’t read this as anti home birth, these are just the reasons it wouldn’t have worked for me.

I had never considered a home birth until a saw a friend talking about it being what she wanted when she was pregnant and later what a wonderful experience it was. It piqued my curiosity and sure enough several of my friends had done it or planned to. I joined a group on Facebook (as you do) and started seriously considering it myself. In the end, for a couple of reasons, I opted for a birth on the midwife led unit at my local hospital.

So, why didn’t it happen?

I mentioned it to a few people, close friends and family and they were all terrified. No matter how much I explained why it was just as safe as the hospital and that it would be okay there was always fear. My husband witnessed my previous traumatic birth and still struggles with it himself and my mum had to have an emergency cesarean with my brother. These were to two people I needed on board, wholeheartedly, or it wouldn’t have worked.

I don’t want to hear how it’s my body, my birth and my choice – I know that, just ask the midwives who were around for my birth. If I had gone ahead with a plan for a home birth they both would have stood by me but not with the confidence and conviction I would have needed from them. I didn’t have my heart set on it and I certainly can’t hold it against anyone, it just wouldn’t have been right and it was 100% my choice. A home birth is supposed to be in a relaxed environment with no fear or negative energy and as supportive as they would have been if I told them that’s what I was doing I have a feeling they would have been poised to call an ambulance the entire time.

Of course, there is also the small matter of my house not being at all “birth ready”. I’ll be the first to admit that it is a total mess, particularly towards the end of pregnancy when I could hardly move without pain and a four year old with a massive aversion to tidying. Not to mention the fact that I wanted a water birth and had nowhere big enough for a birthing pool. I really didn’t fancy giving birth in the chaos.

I stuck around in the Facebook group I joined. It was a hugely helpful resource for learning my rights as a pregnant woman and helping me decide how I wanted my birth to be. I’m not sure exactly how confidently I could have delivered a 9lb 8oz baby at almost 42 weeks with no intervention without them.

I would encourage every pregnant woman looking for an empowering birth to at least look into home birth, even if you decide it isn’t for you. The things I learnt along the way shaped my attitude which got me the positive birth experience I craved.

Have you had a home birth? How was your experience?

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I didn’t fall in love with my baby right away

Everyone knows the scenario. A woman is in labour (and absolutely exhausted), the midwife is shouting ‘one more push’, and finally, a baby is born. The cord is cut and the baby is handed to mum, who feels this overwhelming rush of love they’ve never felt for anything in their life, right?

Well, that didn’t happen for me.

While I was only in active labour for four hours, I’d had what some may call a nightmare of a pregnancy. Due to my EDS I had spent a good portion of it in a wheelchair, I was having hydrotherapy for the SPD and PGP that I developed (if you’re not sure on those, click here for more info), and I’d broken my foot because my EDS couldn’t keep up with the constantly increasing weight that comes with being pregnant. In the early weeks of pregnancy I contracted a viral infection which increased my risk of miscarriage, and baby developing foetal hydrops. And those were just my issues. Add in having scans for little one three times a week because she refused to be active, growth scans because my doctor thought that at full term she would weigh less than 5lb, steroid injections as I’m high risk for preterm labour, and a short inpatient stay towards the end of my pregnancy because my hips wouldn’t stop dislocating, we were essentially living in our hospital 5-6 days a week.
So it’s safe to say I was relieved when she was born, and she started breathing around 30 seconds afterwards.
I was so excited to be passed my new baby, and to feel this huge rush that every woman I know had been telling me about since I announced that I was pregnant that I pushed through two second degree tears, a dislocated hip, failed pain relief, a small haemorrhage and an incompetent midwife just to hold her. The midwife handed her over to me, and I was so amazed that this tiny (yet huge?) person had been with me for the last nine months.
But I didn’t feel that huge rush of love that everyone was talking about.
To be honest, I panicked a little bit, and I thought something was wrong with me. She felt more like a really cute stranger that I had a really strong urge to protect (and cry all over). I tried to breastfeed her twice, but as I’d been given diamorphine too close to delivery, my new bundle of joy was a little dopey, and kept crawling past the breast to suckle on my neck. Cute.
I continued to feel this way for the next few days. I had panic attacks whenever I was left alone with her because I was terrified I was going to break her, I couldn’t sleep if I was alone with her because I was terrified something was going to happen to her, and in the end, including the time I was awake and in labour, I didn’t sleep for three days. I got so worked up about that initial meeting with my daughter that I couldn’t think about anything else. I was convinced I was broken, and that it meant I was going to be a bad mother and this was all a very bad idea. Don’t get me wrong, I thought she was adorable; I was so proud that I had made her, and I wanted to take care of her, but I was just so disappointed that I didn’t get that first meeting that people claim to be the best moment of their lives.
Looking back on it now, I realise it’s totally normal. The birth and pregnancy I had with my daughter was far from normal, my body had been through a whole ordeal, and I was exhausted. I was hormonal, sleep deprived, very drugged from labour, and did I mention they handed me my baby for the first time while stitching me up with no pain relief?
Ouch.
How did you feel when you first met your baby?

Taking control of my second pregnancy

There is another baby on the way in the Mummykind team! I’m pregnant with baby number two and this time round I know quite a bit more about what I am doing.

I have already had a couple of midwife appointments and in that time I have been able to exercise my right to decline routine testing which, if I’m honest, was totally empowering. They would like for me to have a fasting blood glucose test later on in pregnancy to test for Gestational Diabetes . They want me to have this test because I am slightly overweight for my height –  a BMI of 32 at the time (already 11 weeks pregnant and showing) and my Grandfather has Type 2 Diabetes.  I was tested in my first pregnancy and I was fine, as I knew I would be. The test was actually horrible for me, I was hungry, tired and felt so sick. They take two rounds of bloods which is about my limit before I pass out. I decided this time to not put myself through it. Saying “no” felt so good.

I plan to reject further carbon monoxide testing on the grounds that I will have to walk through fairly heavy traffic to get to each appointment and the results are skewed because of that. The first one was unpleasant and I don’t need to be using a giant plastic straw every single time I see a midwife for them to confirm to me that I don’t smoke and my boiler is fine.

Bye bye pregnancy vitamins. They make me feel ill and it turns out you only need to supplement with vitamin D after 12 weeks. There are tentative links being made between folic acid after 12 weeks and tongue ties in newborns which is something I would like to avoid if at all possible.

In my first pregnancy I was pushed from midwife to midwife to consultant and back to another different midwife – 9 midwives and 2 consultants in total by the time I was discharged (not including the ones who came and went through my labour and delivery). I never had a number for a specific person or an allocated individual looking after my care and needs. I have made it clear this time that this was detrimental to my previous care – I now have two ladies looking after me and I have both of their contact details. The feeling of security because of that alone puts my mind at rest.

I will be opting for Group B Strep testing this time. The midwife has already tried to downplay it but I’m not taking that risk again.

I trust my body. It’s becoming almost a mantra at this point. In my previous pregnancy I trusted healthcare providers over my own instinct. Now they do have their merits, they are highly trained and experienced after all. But they cant feel what you are feeling. There will be no telling me when I can and can’t push this time and if anyone indicates that they don’t think I’m trying hard enough or has the gall to tell me that I just need to push harder they will be told to leave.

I will be asking to see copies of the medical consent forms and disclaimers I will be asked to sign in the event of an emergency. It’s important to me that I know what I am signing and in the middle of labour I don’t want to be trying to get a grasp on this kind of thing. I will also be asking for a full run down of what pain relief I will be offered and the risks involved with them, as well as my own research into what will work best for me with my Fibromyalgia and previous traumatic birth.

I will be immediately disengaging from the health visiting service because I can’t bring myself to trust them after their stack of failures last time, if it will appease them I may attend weighing clinics on my own terms. I know that every health visitor is different and some are amazing but I’m not putting my mental health in the hands of a luck-of-the-draw system, the ones I met let me down last time so they aren’t welcome this time.

Knowing now that my children are genetically predisposed to tongue tie and CMPA I will not be hanging around if I spot a single symptom. 6 months of feeding hell with my first was too much for everyone and I refuse to go through it again.

Cloth nappies will be coming with me to the hospital and they will be used from day one. Anyone who wants to tell me it’s too much work or that the hospital “won’t allow” me  to use them will get a full lecture from me about the benefits of cloth, my rights as a parent and about belittling the choices of pregnant women.

To put it in a sentence:  I’m in charge.

8 things I wish I knew would happen postpartum

Before Olivia was born, I didn’t give very much thought to what would happen postpartum. The extent of my worrying into that period was limited to my mental health, as I was already suffering from antenatal depression. But, actually, there are a lot of things that I wish I had known about what I would experience in the days and weeks postpartum. Warning, some of them are gross, but childbirth is gross so I’m not apologising!

1. The first poo
Sorry to start off on possibly the most cringeworthy one, but holy mother of Christ… the first poo is a bitch. I tried to go for days. Days of needing it but not being able to get it out… it’s such a glorious and magical time… not.
A friend of mine who has just qualified as a midwife and was training at the time recommended that I try Lactulose (a liquid laxative). Hey, presto! It worked! But it takes a few days to kick in – so if you’re expecting, get some in the house ready for when you need it!
2. The first wee
I promise these aren’t all toilet related…
You may or may not know that you will be expected to produce a certain amount of wee in a bowl and present it to your midwives. However, if you’ve just been stitched up down there, and even if you haven’t, it bloody stings! So for your first wee, I recommend sitting on the toilet backwards and leaning forwards over the tank so as to angle the wee away from your very sore lady parts.
3.  You’ll be expected to leave the hospital ASAP
It’s no secret that the nhs are in crisis and need beds to be available, but sometimes it can seem like the midwives are simply trying to discharge you as quickly as possible. It didn’t make a huge difference to me either way as I wanted to go home the following day, but if you are struggling with any aspect of your postpartum physical or mental wellbeing, breastfeeding or your newborn’s health, then STAY IN THAT BED! Don’t move until you get help from someone. They cannot kick you out before you’re ready (unless you’re obviously taking the piss), so make sure you’re comfortable to leave those hospital walls because once you do, assistance is that little bit further away.
4. Don’t wash your hair
Thankfully after giving birth, my midwife could tell how much pain I was in and I was still pretty weak and shaky from throwing up throughout my labour. So she, being a wonderful kind soul, gave me personal wash down so that I didn’t have to go and brave a bath just yet. That being said, I did take a shower the next morning… and I washed my hair… with shampoo. Am I an idiot? I’d like to think I’m not, but it was pretty stupid to think that as I washed the shampoo out, I would form a magical protective bubble around my vagina that would prevent any shampoo going near my stitches… Think again!!!!!
5. Maxi dresses are your best friend
I wish I’d had more, because that first week, at least, postpartum, is so painful downstairs that you need to have absolutely no pressure on the area. A maxi dress will also conceal the hairy legs you’re 100% not going to shave and is just the most comfy thing that you can possibly wear after just giving birth.
6. Stock up on maternity pads/mats
For the car journey home from hospital I had to borrow maternity mats from the ward to put on the seat of the car. I say borrow… I didn’t give them back, don’t worry! I hadn’t even considered that. Even more shockingly – I hadn’t even considered that I might need them for when my waters broke on the way into hospital! They didn’t (they broke over a midwife’s hand instead), but it is still a possibility and you really don’t want to be cleaning that out of your car when you’ve got a newborn.
7. You will need separate bags
I don’t think I was quite realistic about the hospital stay. I assumed my birth plan would be totally accurate and so only packed one outfit for me, far too many for Olivia and absolutely nothing whatsoever for Jamie. Obviously, he then had to leave me with Olivia’s godmother in the hospital while he went home for provisions. Put whatever you want in your bags, but do pack separate ones for each of you!
8. Finally, it will go too quickly
All of the pain you feel and the sleep exhaustion will make the days and nights seem never-ending. But I promise you this, I wish I had known that it flies by in what feels like a blink. I don’t even remember my baby as a baby – she is a completely different child in both appearance and personality. I’d give anything to go back to having my tiny Olivia again and at the same time I love the way she is now (except the tantrums). For all of the stress, emotion and being so physically and mentally drained, it is worth it, and you’ll realise that all of those people who really pissed you off by saying that in your last weeks of pregnancy we’re absolutely right.

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5 reasons why I never want to be pregnant again!

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Babies are great… Okay, let’s not get ahead of ourselves… They CAN be great, when they want to be. But most of the time they’re either sucking the life out of you (LITERALLY) or shitting on you (AGAIN, LITERALLY) and I swear they enjoy every second of it!
 
But anyway, they can be great… I mean, who doesn’t love babies? Pregnancy, however, is a whole different kettle of fish, and my god do I never want to do that again.
 
Here are my 5 reasons why!
  1. For someone who already had a lot of emotional issues, the heightened emotions of pregnancy made things even harder to cope with. It’s actually pretty shit crying over silly things, or for no reason. And even if you feel like you’re crying for a legitimate reason, other people don’t take you seriously because you’re pregnant, and they blame it on the hormones. Even if it is due to those nasty things, that doesn’t make your feelings any less legitimate. Even if I was crying because the vacuum broke…
  2. As soon as you’re pregnant, other people feel like they can dictate to you what to do. Mainly your midwife. I was a veggie and my midwife did not respect that, and asked me to start eating meat, saying that the baby would be iron deficient if I didn’t. Eating meat changed nothing except to make me put on more weight, and I still had to take iron tablets. But it’s not just the midwife, it’s all of your non-pregnant friends! One friend literally breathed down my neck about me eating mayonnaise, and said I didn’t look pregnant, just like I’d had a big lunch (I forgave her for that and we laugh about it now, but hello?! Heightened emotions!!!!!!). AND THEY ALL WANT TO TOUCH YOUR BELLY AS IF IT SUDDENLY BELONGS TO THEM.
  3. Following on from that one… In the last few months when the baby is running out of room: at night, if you lie on your back, the baby’s movements look like something out of Alien. You can visibly see their backs turning or their feet protruding and as well as being uncomfortable, it freaked me the hell out. And guess what? If I didn’t like seeing and feeling it myself, I also didn’t like other people touching my belly and setting the whole “let’s kick mummy to shit from the inside out” rhythm off!
  4. It’s not nice having to bare all to a large number of healthcare professionals – whether it’s the stretch-mark covered belly or your vagina, I didn’t quite get used to having it all out there until I was in labour and quite frankly couldn’t give a crap either way at that point.
  5. Post-pregnancy, I’ve had all these ridiculously annoying baby hairs sticking out of my forehead making me look like a baby lion. It’s not nice. My daughter is now 2, and I still have these! My hair, skin and nails didn’t glow while I was pregnant and now I’m stuck with this mega hair growth that’s so pitiful and annoying all at the same time! I can’t even wear my trademark mum bun for more than 30 minutes without the baby hairs pointing up and making me look like a tit in public. And god forbid it’s a windy day! Windswept would be an understatement…
Are there any reasons why you’d prefer not to go through pregnancy again? Let us know in the comments!

Sarah’s Birth Story – How We Met

Dear Olivia,

It’s 4:30am on a Saturday and I’ve just woken up with pains in my abdomen. I had been having false labour contractions for about three weeks prior to that (you were exactly a week late) so I wasn’t too quick to wake up daddy and tell him that I thought it was for real this time. Instead I went downstairs, used the toilet, bounced on my birthing ball and put on the nightie that I wanted to go to the hospital in.

I was timing the contractions and seemed to be having them about every 7 minutes, and they weren’t too painful at that point.

At about 5:30am I ran a bath. In the run up to having you I was adamant that I desperately wanted a water birth, and thought that the warm water would soothe the pain from the contractions. I got in the bath for all of about 5 minutes before deciding that it was actually irritating me and I didn’t want to be in water at all!

It’s now 6am, contractions are speeding up a bit, once every 5 or 6 minutes and getting a bit more painful. I decided to go and wake Daddy up. Now Daddy is not a morning person, as you will learn, and we had a late night staying up and watching films with Kiera, so I had about 3 hours sleep and Daddy had about 5. Needless to say Daddy was a bit grumpy at first, but he got up quickly, made me a cup of tea and looked after me while I rang the midwife. He also put on the music channel, and for some unknown reason I was listening to Cotton-Eyed Joe and bouncing on my birthing ball at 6 in the morning.

At about 6:30am I started being sick and there was a bit of blood in it too, so Daddy rang the midwife again and they told us to come in as they weren’t that busy anyway. So Daddy went and woke Kiera up and got her dressed. We got into the car and Kiera was crying, you see, we’d booked tickets to watch the new Alice in Wonderland and she was upset that she couldn’t go! You were so inconvenient.

We dropped Kiera off at her mummy’s and by about 8am we made it to the hospital. Between about 8:30 and 9am the midwife came in and asked if I wanted to use the birthing pool, to which I responded with my bath story, and then checked me over and told me I was 3cm dilated, and then my waters broke all over her hand and the bed and everything! Oh great! We thought we would be in for a long while yet.

I got hooked up to the tens machine and Daddy was rubbing my back (though the wrong end, the blithering idiot) and all of a sudden it was too much and too painful and the midwife came in to tell me that as I had a long way to go I should get transferred upstairs to the labour ward for an epidural, and I gave in and agreed to have a bloody huge needle in my spine.

But here comes the twist…

The times become less accurate here because of gas and air (bloody good stuff btw) but roughly an hour later I had another examination upstairs and I was 8cm dilated!!!! Oh, and the anaesthetist was dealing with an emergency c section so no epidural for me! You were coming too quickly and about an hour later again I was being told to push.

Uh oh, there’s another twist…

You got stuck!

I was pushing for about an hour and a half, my legs flatteringly up in stirrups and about 6 people at the end of the bed, Daddy next to me with a straw and a cup of water and the room being like the tropics to everyone else as I shouted at a health worker not to turn the air con on!

I convinced the doctor that I needed help, and so more people came in wielding forceps before they changed their minds and used a kiwi cup instead. They asked Daddy if he wanted to watch but he said no as he knew I didn’t want him to see all the gross stuff. Then with 2 or 3 pushes you were out, and up on my tummy. I said “oh my god” and Daddy laughed. Then he cut the cord and you were moved further up my chest so we could have skin to skin.

It was perfect for a few seconds until I started being sick again and had to have someone put you in the crib as I was shaking so much from the adrenaline and the gas and air comedown!

Once the atmosphere had settled I cried, more out of guilt of having someone move you as I couldn’t hold you straight away after you came out, and I asked Daddy and the midwife if you were okay. You were fine, sleeping peacefully as if nothing had even happened.

I asked if I was just being a blind mother or if you really were that beautiful. And you are. You’re more beautiful than anyone on the planet and I love you so much.

So there you have it, that is how you arrived at 13:06 on your birthday weighing 3.9kg/8lbs 9.5oz.

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Everything You Need to Put in Your Birthing Plan

A plan is just that, rough guidelines of what we wish and for what we want to happen. Even if I didn’t get all of my birthing plan, I found that having one was good for my anxiety, especially in regards to being Strep B positive. You might even find this helpful as a template for your own birthing plan! 

I wanted to be sure that I had a concrete copy of my birthing plan, I thought that they’d be no better place to keep it than our ‘Mummykind’ blog . A plan is just that, rough guidelines of what we wish and for what we want to happen. Even if I didn’t get all of my birthing plan, I found that having one was good for my anxiety, especially in regards to being Strep B positive. You might even find this helpful as a template for your own birthing plan! 
Birthing Plan
Important things to note-
  • I am due to have my baby on the 02/02/16.
  • I am a high risk pregnancy, due to SPD, increased blood pressure, hypothyroidism, PCOS, weight fluctuation and spinal injury (1 x herniated and 2 x prolapsed spinal discs)
  • I am STREP B POSITIVE. Please treat me during my labour to prevent this from making my baby unwell.
Environment-
  • I plan to give birth in the William Harvey Hospital on the labour ward.
  • I am expecting to have to stay in overnight.
  • Where it is possible, I would like to be in a private room.
  • I may wish to listen to music during labour.
Companions-
  • I would like my Mother to be present at all times during my labour.
  • I would like my partner to be present at all times during my labour.
  • My family can visit me in the hospital.
Foetal Monitoring-
  • Due to 4 episodes of decreased movement throughout my pregnancy, I would like to be monitored as often as possible. However, due to my back being painful, I would like to be free to move as much as I can.
During Labour-
    • I would like to be able to move and walk around freely.
  • This is because lying flat is painful with my spinal and disc issues.
  • I am open to trying different birthing positions that I might find more comfortable.
  • Please encourage me to move, even if it is painful for me to do so.
  • Please remind me to drink regularly and use the bathroom.
  • If at all possible, I would like to avoid a c-section birth. I do however, understand that a c-section isn’t a choice.
Pain Relief-
  • To be discussed with the consultant.
  • I have been cleared by my spinal specialist for an epidural if it is needed.
  • I would really like to avoid the use of pethridine if at all possible.
Assisted Delivery –
  • I am fully aware that this is sometimes needed. Obviously I would anticipate for minimal trauma to be inflicted upon my baby and I. Please.
After Delivery-
    • If possible, I do not want to be separated from my baby after delivery.
    • I would love to have skin to skin contact and time to bond with my baby as soon as possible after delivery.
  • I would like to aim for a physiological 3rd stage if I am not too exhausted.
Umbilical Cord-
  • I want my partner to cut the babies cord if he wishes.
  • I would like to opt for optimal cord clamping.
  • I don’t want the cord to be cut immediately. I would appreciate it if cutting the cord could wait until it stops pulsating, so that my baby gets all of the remaining cord blood.
Feeding-
    • I would like to breast feed my baby as soon as possible after birth.
  • I would really appreciate help with trying to breast feeding my baby.
Medications for Baby-
  • I would like my baby to have the vitamin k injection.
  • Please give me antibiotics and take all necessary precautions to ensure that my Strep B diagnosis doesn’t have an impact on my baby’s health.