Since reaching pregnancy term I’ve been acutely aware I could go into labour at any moment. It’s true with second pregnancies women can be more laid back but as my due date fast approaches I’m still nervous about labour, birth and whether everything will go to plan.
The birth of my first daughter wasn’t a textbook hospital delivery but there were no major dramas. The labour ward staff looked after us and guided us through every step, we felt secure the whole time. I laboured for 8+ hours in hospital without dilating a centimetre, so opted for epidural and hormone drip. As this made pushing difficult plus we discovered her head cocked slightly to one side, I was unable to get her past my pelvis so she had to be born with forceps. Despite the theatre environment and the puking before & immediately after delivery, I still managed skin to skin and those first latching attempts. The nightmare began on the post-natal ward where I became another number in an understaffed NHS instruction. With a catheter restricting my movement, hungry and weak from labour, I discovered that breakfast was a buffet in the hallway. I was abruptly told by a midwife they were ‘busy’ when I complained I hadn’t been offered any breakfast. That was the start of two days of misery on that ward. I was given no breastfeed support, told I ‘looked anaemic’ but not tested or given any clue as to how they planned to treat me, I wasn’t shown where to wash, offered towels or where I could possibly have access to facilities to clean out muslins as I didn’t want to use wipes. It wasn’t until the shift change on day two and the promise of going home plus the sun came out that I relaxed.
It’s for all these reasons we have opted for a home birth this time round. Those first 24 hours with your newborn are crucial for establishing a connection with your baby, to feed confidently, so there’s a huge appeal to be at home, in an environment we can control. So many people have assured me that a homebirth is relaxing and empowering plus with second babies labour is often quicker. It doesn’t stop me from having concerns, I worry about handling pain, as I didn’t quite manage this aspect too well with my daughter. As my due date draws nearer my self-concious seems to be pushing to the top of my mind all those forgotten memories from the labour and birth of my daughter nearly 3 years ago. I am trying to prepare my mind and body for any eventuality but deep down will be gutted if we end up in hospital. Hypnobirthing exercises are helping my mental state immensely, I am doing relaxation exercises every day and amazed at how I can focus enough to take control over my body. On a much lighter note, I’m analysing every twinge in my body and trickle from my nether regions. As I had my waters broken for me in hospital with my first, I have no idea what it feels like for them to break naturally. I guess I’ve just watched too many American movies and TV where gushing waters are swiftly followed by mildly sweaty pushing and a baby crying. The truth is, only 25% of women experience pre-labour membrane ruption, so there is more likelihood of it becoming a process of established labour.
The house is ready for our home birth, a hospital bag packed just in case. I’m 38 weeks and 5 days as I write and while I’m hoping for perfect birth scenario #1 in my birth plan, my true hope is that baby is delivered healthily to an equally healthy mummy.
Home Birth Shopping List
With a bit of help and advice from the invaluable My Pregnancy Matters website and the Brighton Home Birth Facebook Group, here’s what we bought and where from:
Matress protector – Argos £14.99
Maternity mats – Boots or Mothercare around £4.00
Maternity pads – Boots or Mothercare around £1.00 per pack of 10 (bought a few!)
Bucket – 99p stores, Ransoms London Rd, B & Q – just about any hardware store really
Towels we don’t mind being destroyed – we didn’t have many old towels so bought some cheapies from Primark
Floor protection – on advice from homebirth graduates, a tarpaulin from DIY store and old duvet covers (a chance for me to get rid of my husbands’s old linen from his bachelor days).
Rechargeable batteries – precharged for the iStation that will pumping out my tunes.
Desklamp & extension lead- midwife has stressed this is key for any stitching, so we’re borrowing this gear.
Snacks – home delivery from Sainsbury’s I’m afraid, no energy for shopping right now. The cupboard is full of dried foods and jar sauces for low maintenance meals. The milkman brings everything else and mum is on stand-by to bring fresh food, such as fruit.
Anti-bacterial soap refil pack – the dispensers have been topped up, with one in reserve. Perhaps a little excessive.
Bin liners – again, any hardware store or supermarket, an extra supply for all purposes I can only imagine.
Massage base oil – Boots, £4.05. I’ve been using this for my perineal massage but saving some for caring touch during labour from the husband (with any luck).
For baby: well as this is our second we have quite a bit of stuff but bought some plain white vests from Mothercare in newborn size for those first few moments. Everything has been washed and packed away ready. The crib is up and linen all clean and ready with the Criss-Cross Hippo by Jellycat cuddly toy her big sister choose as a gift.
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