As some of you may know, having followed me for a while, my ‘birth story’ first time round wasn’t really what you would call ‘run-of-the-mill’. Although that is in part, doing a bit of a dis-service to the whole thing, as the actual birth event was as straightforward as I could imagine for myself as a first-time mum….. It just began a little bit earlier than one would hope.
Six weeks earlier than planned to be precise. But that’s another story entirely – for those interested…. 08.10.17
It’s taken a lot to try and process the feelings surrounding my first birth and although this second pregnancy was wanted so much, it’s still a pretty daunting journey and one that I was preparing for in terms of an ‘amber pathway. ‘ So to say it came as a bit of a shock this time round when not only have I been deemed risk free enough to be on the green ‘low-risk’ pathway but also, my midwife reckons I’m an ideal candidate for a home-birth, providing I go to term this time round…..
First of all, I’ll begin by explaining that ultimately, I had a ‘problem-free’ labour; it was quick, I didn’t require any instruments or tools to help me deliver, and I didn’t need any pain relief except gas & air – although my various pleas for an epidural as I was crowning, and obviously far too late, suggest otherwise. I have what a lot of women can only dream of, especially as a first time mum, and for that, you have no idea how thankful I am and how lucky I feel. So in that sense, the midwives suggesting a home-birth seems like a perfectly reasonable option.
The part I struggle with in my thoughts, is the premature part. Again, I am forever grateful that it was a late pre-term delivery and short of a stay in SCBU, there were next to no negative outcomes and she was a very decent weight. But there was never a definitive cause as to why I went early – and that’s what I find a bit of a struggle if I let myself think of it too much. I know there’s not always a cause or reason behind everything but if there was in this instance, I’d be careful to avoid making the same mistakes again/be more aware for signs of any potential infections etc. Knowing that there’s nothing I can look out for or stop doing to avoid it potentially happening again/even earlier this time, is difficult. I don’t want it to overshadow any of this pregnancy as I know that there is just as likely a chance for me to go to term, but unfortunately one of the only negative outcomes from my first birth, is MY anxiety surrounding it happening again.
In relation to the home-birth idea, I’ve discussed a lot of this with my midwife who is completely supportive and has managed to allay quite a lot of those fears for me, whilst also informing me of the various positive aspects to delivering in your own home:
– a calming environment, in which women are said to deliver much more effectively and efficiently than in a sterile, often stressful environment.
– two midwives are present at your birth, which helps ensure yours and baby’s safety is paramount and means that they have a second opinion/support should the need arise or if there were any problems encountered.
– a guaranteed water birth, should that be your option. Which isn’t always the case if I chose to deliver in a midwife unit/the hospital.
– being able to rest and recover in the comfort of your own home, without thinking of the journey home/visiting times/your partner having to leave through the night.
Those are just a few of the positives that were listed to me by the team and managed to sway me from a ‘no way, never gonna happen’ to a ‘well, I guess it COULD be an option….’
However, on the other side of the coin, I do still have a lot of questions/worries surrounding the whole experience:
– ensuring the safety of the baby. I work with a lot of people who deliver babies day in, day out and inevitably, I hear the negative stories. Although it can be horrible to hear, especially whilst pregnant myself, it’s an important reality that not all births go to plan, and often things do go wrong that require medical treatment. If I was at home, I’m trusting the midwives to recognise the signs and ensure its escalated before a more serious situation ensues. Something that my midwife has reassured me they do, and is another reason why there’s two midwives there. To recognise the first sign of trouble and escalate it ASAP.
– the distance to the hospital. A 12minute blue light ambulance ride for me. Presuming there was an ambulance ready and available outside my door, which definitely wouldn’t be the case. Is this too long?!
– Pain relief. Yes, I laboured on gas & air the last time. But I also laboured a 5lb baby out and it was fast. And I still found it agony. What’s to say this time I go to term with a larger baby and a longer labour; I become exhausted and need more? It’s a terrifying thought knowing that I’d be limited until I transferred to the hospital.
– the mess….. Although quite far down in my list of priorities, it is definitely something I think about. I know the home-birth team do a fantastic job of ensuring they clean up as much as possible but ultimately, you’re still left with towels & sheets to wash, stains on carpet and the inevitable ‘smell of labour’ to get rid of…. Surely the last thing I want to be worrying about after having a baby?!
I can 100% see the appeal of a home birth for a lot of women, especially those who didn’t have a particularly positive experience in hospital the first time around. I have no criticisms from my time in labour suite – I felt listened to at all times and in control of as much as I could. And for that, along with the other things listed, I find myself in such a difficult position in deciding what option to go for.
I guess I’m just looking for stories from those that have experienced home-births themselves. Positive AND negatives as ideally, it needs to be balanced, and as your birth experience stays with you for the rest of your life, it’s so important to decide (if possible) what’s best for you and your baby. Obviously this may be taken out of my hands if a problem was to crop up later on in my pregnancy but for now I’m in a really mixed up head space and would appreciate any help/advice I can get.