Positive childbirth experiences and the factors that helped(41 Posts)
Hi all, I have 11wks to go and am finally starting to get a little scared...(have to admit that the friend last who said "aren't you terrified that a BABY has to come it of your fanny??" didn't help...)
I've read a bit of the Maggie Howell Natal Hypnotherapy and am finding it hard not to be cynical about it - it just doesn't see to be working for me. I've done quite a bit of yoga before but can't find a pregnancy yoga class near me that I can get to, frustratingly. I'm booked in for three NHS antenatal classes within the next few weeks but am planning in a hospital birth (I think it will be the midwife-led unit) and will take any drugs the medical professionals recommend.
So now I'm in the market for really good birthing experiences/stories, and the contributing factors behind them, so that I can go away and do some useful preparation and really think about what I want.
What did you do (or didn't do) that you think really made a difference to your birth experience or speed of recovery? Any advice gratefully received!
Hi, I was really terrified about child birth, I have very low pain threshold! I had a very positive birth experience just over a week ago now. I had a home birth and found the whole experience really calm. I didn't really realise I was in labour however dh did and called midwife by which time I was 7 cm. I spent most of the labour in the bath which I found very soothing.I had no birth plan just went with the flow which I think helped.
I think yoga really helped me have a great birthing experience with DS, especially being familiar with various breathing exercises. DH kept me calm and his support and involvement in all aspects of the process where very important. He knew exactly what I wanted and was able to 'take over' so that I could focus on breathing.
I read A book by Ina May Gaskin, ' Spiritual mid midwifery', which I would recommend although it is very hippy dippy.
I stopped trying to be brave and had an epidural. Bloody marvellous it was too.
I never saw childbirth as some sort of spiritual happening, more of a shrug of the shoulders means to an end, so had no issue with pain relief being given.
Good luck and remember, whatever you choose, is right for you.
The one thing which made the biggest difference for me - and had a huge impact on my subsequent births - was having an experienced birthing partner with me. She asked the right questions at the right time and gave me a massive amount of confidence.
I am quite convinced that had it not been for her, I would have had to succumb to hospital protocol and intervention.
Its one thing to have your DP in there, but another to have someone who is really clued up on you and what is required of you. I didn't have DH with me - but two friends both of whom had supported each other in their births. I shall be forever grateful to them.
Thanks very much both - I wouldn't say I'm terrified yet but I can see it happening once I read up a bit more and get nearer the time!
Newbie to be honest I'd never really considered a home birth - I just think I'd feel safer in a hospital. I do like the sound of spending most of it in the bath, though - it's the only place I feel comfortable at the mo!
Despot I'd feel more comfortable if I could do some pregnancy yoga, I think - I might have a look on Amazon for DVDs, as I'm not a complete beginner so might be able to have a go on my own.
Hmmm "Spiritual Midwifery" - it's funny, I used to think of myself as erring a bit on the hippy side, but as I've got older I've lost patience with that kind of thing and am getting more and more cynical - maybe I'll buy a cheap second-hand copy though! ;)
DH always said 'I'd prefer to have paid for a doula instead of NCT classes. That's all you need to know'.
I agree with him tbh.
Also, I made it clear that no-one was allowed to touch me and that I would not accept Vaginal examinations or sweeps. That seemed to ensure that an experienced midwife was assigned to me and that they paid attention.
"I never saw childbirth as some sort of spiritual happening, more of a shrug of the shoulders means to an end, so had no issue with pain relief being given."
Yes I think I agree, Birds! I'm not expecting a fabulous out of body experience - more of a means to an end, certainly!
fox that's a very interesting point - TBH I'd never considered having anyone other than my husband with me. My mum has only ever had a caesarean, and found the whole thing so traumatic that I don't know how helpful she'd be! I don't really have that many close friends who've had babies yet, and I think overall I'd be more comfortable with my husband there. But I will be making it very clear to him that there's no point him getting upset on my behalf when he sees me in pain, and that he has to stay focused and alert!
I'm not a spiritual anything. I'm an evidence-based practice thing.
And Spiritual Midwifery made the most sense in terms of understanding what your body was doing and going with it iyswim.
That's also very interesting Starlight - thank you. Do you mind me asking why you specifically stated that you didn't want anyone to touch you do a vaginal exam/sweep?
Good luck OP!
I had a fast and fairly easy birth - contractions started fairly intensely from 4pm and DD was born before 1am (there were some delays from an unrelated health issue of mine). No pain relief except TENS which I found to be just the right amount of distraction.
I did pre-natal yoga which ideally helps to get the baby in a good position and helps to make you strong and flexible enough to maintain whatever birthing position you prefer.
I also listened to some hypnobirthing stuff, which I was skeptical about but which I found myself using completely through the late stages of labour.
I thought a lot about what I wanted and had planned what I'd do if things started to go awry (in the end something unexpected happened but we coped!)
I found The Good Birth Companion by Nicole Croft v useful (she was my ante and post natal instructor).
DH also recently told a friend of mine 'Woman aren't stupid. They know how it works. The antenatal classes should be run like this: Turn up, be told to book a doula, go to the pub with the other soon-to-be parents'.
It was after my first birth experience where I felt unable to get on with birthing due to so many people moving me here, moving me there, talking to me, wanting me to open my legs, distracting me, shining lights.
Labour is an intense experience and you have to hold onto your control and concentration. Assuming you are in the most optimal position for pain and comfort, the last thing you need is that taken away from you and being made to endure a contraction on your back like a stranded and vulnerable beetle. It intereferes with your concentration, makes you feel exposed and vulnerable and risks you having a contraction in that position which is usually the most painful, and once you have lost it, you have lost it. It is very VERY hard to get it back as panic sets in iyswim.
I have a fairly low woo threshold, but after an appalling first birth experience, I had a great second birth and I believe a lot of what is dismissed as woo is actually very evidence based, but requires a lot of direct support to women which the NHS is too overstretched to provide so gets dismissed.
I would second (third?) the idea of a doula instead of NCT. Everything they said was all very well, but when it came to it I had little support on the overstretched ward and they gave me no help budging a back-to-back baby (or indeed any sympathy or support for the level of pain I was in in 'early' labour).
Second time round, my doula totally supported me, acknowledged my pain and techniques from Spinning Babies helped me budge DD2 from being back to back again. (I literally felt her shift)
I also found internals terribly painful, and very detrimental to my mental wellbeing. Like Starlight, I planned to veto them second time, but actually it didn't come up.
Home birth second time was also very important to me. I am a total waterbaby and discovered that my instinct that it would be very powerful pain relief for me was correct. But if I had been in hospital it may not have been available and I'd probably not have been allowed to get in, as the point I needed support was early labour, not the late stages. In my own home, no one could tell me what I could and couldn't do.
I wanted to be able to deal with the pain and other bits so read up on the actual physical changes that happen during labour.
I did yoga so had positions to help me.
My mum was very positive and blasé about it so I didn't have the inherent worry.
I had two good midwives with me each time (one for each birth I mean).
I made a decision about pain relief beforehand and my DH and midwives knew and respected that so didn't make suggestions. You need certainty from the birth partner not questions or suggestions! When my MW told me what to do, I listened or said no.
Are there birthing centres near you?
I had a shite first birth experience where I put my trust in DH to support me with our previously discussed and agreed wishes, and in the HCP to do what was best for me (rather than what fitted in with their shift pattern/timescales/experience).
Second time round I had a home birth with a doula I read Birth Your Way by Kitzinger and decided I was going to make informed choices. I was still subject to a VE without consent (during which my waters were broken without discussion or consent) and lied to about needing syntocin (when DH and doula briefly left the room).
Third time round I had an IM and burst into tears the first time she asked my permission to take my BP.
I had a long labour which took days, I think I was very relaxed and calm throughout so managed to cope well - I had read the hypno-birthing book. Unfortunately even with all that I ended up a cat's whisker away from a C-section but managed to push teh baby out in three pushes after an epidural and an episiotimy. Baby ended up in special care which took my mind off my own recovery and we are both fine now.
I think you have to be prepared for the fact that things don't always go right and no amount of anything will stop intervention when it is really needed but it is worth looking at techniques that will keep you calm, see you through the pain and help the baby. Read up as much as you can, watch videos, maybe do an ante-natal class (Yoga, Nct, Hypnobirthing) and so on.
There will still be difficult births for women who have attended those kinds of classes though.
Starlight - I'm inclined to agree with your DH. My DH would have panicked and wanted the doctors in there at the first sign of anything going off plan (in my case it took 3 hours to push DC1 out and the hospital called the doctors in after 2).
I think its wise to have another birthing partner with you - it will mean one of them can take a break, get you a drink, make phone calls etc, and you won't be on your own.
Labour as long as you can at home.
Move around as much as possible.
Get a birthing ball.
If you use a birthplan, don't be disappointed if you don't stick to it.
Remember you have not done this before, you have no idea what to expect, but your body is built for this. Trust yourself - parenting is all about trusting your instincts. It starts here!
Very best of luck (I'm a bit jealous if I'm honest but a fifth would be greedy!)
Hello. Many congratulations on your pregnancy! I had the most fantastic birth experience when my daughter was born nearly 16 weeks ago. We had done nct and hypnobirthing classes beforehand. Nct was fun and it was nice to meet some other local couples but we didn't think it taught us much. The hypnobirthing classes were interesting and much more informative although in truth I don't think I ever reached the deeply relaxed state and didn't have a hypnobirth. What it did help with was coping mechanisms, ways to get labour going if you are overdue (sex and blow jobs, you have to swallow - gross but we swear by it!!). And best of all it helped with with breathing through any internal examinations, the sweep and anything else that might have hurt or make me nervous. We had a birth plan that said we wanted an active birth but that we were open minded. This is the key, for me - we decided early on that the birth would be whatever we needed it to be and the only think we wanted was the safe arrival of our daughter. So although the birth was fairly interventionist with waters being broken, meconium in the waters meaning that I had to be on my back and the baby had to be constantly monitored, I had an epidural (my god it was amazing) and she turned back to back so the dr reached in to flip her (!) and I tore a bit BUT there she was my perfect beautiful daughter arrived safely and happily and we both thought the birth was the very best it could have been. So my advice is to be prepared for any eventuality - do try to have an active birth if you can and practice relaxing breathing but do not be too wedded to your birth plan. Good luck. Xxxx
Re: prenatal yoga, you have a few weeks to go so plenty of time to order some from Amazon. But I wanted to share this one online so you can have a go.
I only discovered it a couple of days ago as I was freaking out about going over due! It's really lovely to do and I feel much more centred and peaceful now. She also has some meditations and things called "keep ups" on the same channel.
Someone shared some great advice with me when I was first starting to think about labour, techniques, pain relief, etc, and that was to make an educated decision. Whether I go for pain relief or not is a very personal choice and nobody should judge or push you either way - but you should be able to know why you want it, what you want, what the risks are (again, either way), what it does, etc, and make your own firm decision from there, so not based on pressure from others or fear.
I've had 3 DC and 3 positive birth experiences, even DC1 which was long (20 hours from 5cm dilated to birth). I had an epidural for the first one, gas and air only for the other two.
The main factors for me were support from my partner and feeling in control of my decisions, eg no pressure to have any intervention when the first labour didn't seem to be progressing - I stalled at 8cm for some reason, but also no one telling me not to have an epidural when I wanted one.
I had a positive birth experience (first baby) and that could be luck of course! I tried to balance my level of knowledge / research / reading / googling (!) to make sure I knew what to expect but didn't scare myself about what might happen. I found it particularly useful to be able to recognise when I was in transition and give myself distance from people to get through that bit without flipping out (I genuinely think I got that from OBEM!).
I didn't have a detailed birth plan, but discussed key preferences with my husband. I figured if I wasn't with it enough to answer a question then the situation would be serious enough for someone to make a decision on my behalf. I was lucky to have an efficient, fast labour (5 hours from first contraction to delivery) so no horror stories to tell. Some tearing but nothing to overshadow the labour and delivery.
Who knows if it was luck or if my approach had anything to do with it? I felt that what would be would be so why spend the last few weeks worrying when I could be enjoying it, iyswim.
Hi, congrats on your pregnancy and good luck for the birth!
I had two EMCs, but still managed to come away from those in a positive frame of mind, without feeling 'guilty' as some report, and recovery was quick. In both cases the MWs and other people involved were respectful of my needs and wishes and even took the time to talk to me that a CS was really urgently needed, rather than just ordering everyone to theatre. Baby was in DHs arms inside about 10mins that time round... Maybe we're just lucky with the local hospital, YMMV of course.
I'd say the main thing is to inform yourself well, think about and write a birth plan, but more as a tool to think through the options and your possible responses, not as a 'plan of action'. The birth will be quite likely different than you had planned or imagined. Try to keep an open mind and don't get too fixated about, for example pain relief or not etc.
I did attend antenatal yoga too, and that was helpful, knowing about 'keeping active' or upright, and other positions that might or might not be comfortable or helpful. I spent most of my labours on all fours supported by a gym ball, something I had discovered in that class. the NHS classes taught the same thing really, but more superficially as time was more limited.
Congrats! I think most people would consider my birth story a bit of a mixed bag but at the end of the day our LO arrived safely so I consider it to be a positive one i had a very carefully laid out birth plan but our daughter had other ideas and that is something you cant really plan for. I did a hypnobirthing course and was very confident and upbeat, without it I don't think I would have got through the labour. I kept very active and practised positive reinforcement and visualisation every day. During labour I was able to relax and practise all the things I had been taught, despite things not going to plan. Although my labour was quite long (36 hrs in the end) I had enough confidence in my abilities to do it all without drugs (this isn't for everyone but for me it was important to be able to feel the birth iykwim). 9 wks later I have a wonderful little bundle of joy napping on my lap as I type as that's the biggest reward ever. At the end of the day your body was designed to give birth - trust your body
Thanks very much for all your responses - I am very grateful!
I'm seriously considering a doula now - I think the only thing we have to lose, as it were, is the money, and we'll just have to economise in other ways if we go down this route.
I don't doubt that my husband will try very hard to be as supportive and helpful as he possibly can during the labour and birth but at the end of the day, having an experienced specialist there who's absolutely focused on me and my needs can't be a bad thing. Maybe if we'd seen the same midwife more than once I'd feel a bit differently, but the hospital I'm giving birth at isn't where our allotted midwife (i.e., the one who'll do postnatal home visits) is based, and we've changed to the hospital midwives for what they call 'total care'. in short, whilst all the hospitals midwives are very nice, they doesn't seem to be much continuity of care, and I think a doula might help give me that stability.
I've also ordered the Buddhabellies Yoga for Pregnancy DVD (Nicole Croft) and the Spiritual Midwifery book - Christ I have a lot of research and prep to do in the next 11 weeks!
Thanks again all, I really do appreciate your advice and recommendations.
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