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!
Laquila- Glad you are feeling positive. The thing I think DH would say about a doula is that it wasn't about him not being 'enough' on his own. It was that having her there meant he could be the best birth partner possible IYSWIM.
It created a really nice division of roles - he was the emotional support, the love, etc. The doula was the kind of practical and hands on support that I would have liked a midwife to be able to give, but which just didn't happen at my hospital birth. So, for example, she'd suggest a particular position might help me, but then it would be DH who would be supporting my shoulders, being leaned on, etc.
Likewise, she did most of the running around - getting me a drink, a cardie, etc. It meant that I wasn't left on my own whilst those things were happening, or DH wasn't trying to rush around doing two things at once.
It really worked for us. If I had been a first time mum, the post natal support would have been lovely too - since I didn't see the same midwife twice through the whole thing.
I had an independent midwife with my secoond baby, and that would be my number one recommendation to anyone - having an experienced midwife who knew me well and only intervened when I needed her to was fantastic.
Assuming that's not an option, I'd say that a doula, hypnobirthing/natal hypnotherapy etc, really understanding the physiology of birth (which is where Spiritual Midwifery, or the slightly more mainstream Ina Ma's Guide to Childbirth, both by Ina May Gaskin are good).
With my first baby, I found that I had been very much focussed on the birth itself, and not so much on the next few hours and days, so I would also add in:
Consider delayed cord clamping
Skin to skin immediately after the birth and as much as possible over the next few days - there are many, many non-woo reasons why this is a very good thing indeed for you both and the baby.
If you want to breastfeed, make sure that you have the phone number of at least one breastfeeding counsellor in your hospital bag, and try to go to a breastfeeding group or workshop while you are still pregnant.
In a word - epidural. Made it seem almost easy. Fell asleep during labour!
People look at me strangely when I say this, but I sort of enjoyed giving birth!
I think things that helped were the nhs antenatal classes DH and I went to which were held by a practising midwife. She was great, she explained everything really well like the different stages of labour, ways in which the birth partner can help, at what point to go to hospital, pain relief options, birthing positions. She was very nice and just gave out information with no 'agenda'.
Apart from the antenatal classes I just refused to think about giving birth as I just thought to myself yes it will hurt but I don't know how much as I've never experienced it before and I will do whatever the midwife tells me!
I had a straightforward birth, I was lucky and had a full nights sleep beforehand. I woke up at 5.19am and DS was born at 11.09am, I had a bath at home and when I felt like the pain was too much at home and I'd like a midwife to be with me, we drove to the hospital. Once I arrived I was examined and 9cms dilated, so I got straight in the birthing pool and given gas and air.
I just focused on one contraction at a time and didn't think anything at all e.g. oh that last one hurt, oh no what's the next one going to be like. I concentrated on breathing and that was it, I was in my own world. My midwife was perfect, she just let me get on with it and checked DS's heartbeat periodically. When the time came to push, she was very calm and asked me if I wanted to try pushing and 4 big pushes and DS was born
Don't be scared by anything people say or what you've seen on tv, everyone has different experiences. I didn't scream or shout or panic, it was all very calm and although it was painful, it felt manageable.
Good luck and enjoy your newborn cuddles
I would highly recommend juju sundin book - birth skills. It helped me in saying that the pain is good pain, it can be painful, but it compares it to exercising main - your uterus is a muscle working really hard, contracting, and it gets tired which is painful! teaches distraction and relaxation and almost coaching techniques to get you through it, if you are into exercise I found this much better than the hypnobirthing fear causes pain mantra. Yes, fear can increase pain, and visualisation, relaxation and distraction are all part of juju sundin, but the book also recognises that there can be pain and how to deal with it. I felt a failure in hypnobirthing after finding labour painful. Active birth yoga classes have similar techniques to juju sundin with regard to movement in labour.
If you cant attend classes, have a look and see if there is an active birth weekend workshop near you that you could attend. Cant link but there is an active birth website if you google.
I have and am again using the natal hypnotherapy cds as well, just not totally relying on them this time round, but one of the tools in the kit.
I would also recommend a dvd pregnancy health yoga, tara lee, but this is the first time i've used it (preg with dc3) so not sure yet how good it will be in labour but enjoying it a lot in pregnancy and she often reminds about positions that will be good for labour.
Can I add to the voices who have said get a doula. Mine was absolutely far and away the best money we have spent and I don't like to think what it might have been like without her. As others have said she wasn't in any way a replacement for DH, she was a physical and emotional support for us both. It was useful to have someone there who was skilled at birth support and understood the process but also to have an extra person who could top up the money on the parking meter, run to the shop for a sandwich, get the midwife, take photographs - whatever we needed.
My doula also brought aromatherapy oils and did massage. DH is an enthusiastic amateur but no match for contractions!
You dont have to worry about the birth, its the bit where you go home with the baby and sit there looking at him/her asleep in the car seat and think 'what the hell do i do when it wakes up!!!'
I had 2 amazing and easy births (boring text book birth stories) but i found the first night alone with my first much more difficult.
epidural for normal birth and have help after from family friends or even hired help so you can rest and recover
c section ...recovery was better easier and quicker than the so called natural birth
again having your chilled out partner with you and help after
My labour/birth was probably for most people a scenario they would be desperate to avoid (I was!) - after reading Ina may, doing my hypnobirthing cd, etc etc I was induced with pre-eclampsia, had an epidural to lower bp and then forceps/episiotomy at the end.
The epidural alongside the drip - smartest thing I did. There was only a gap of around an hour between drip contractions kicking in and epidural beginning to work. Nought to sixty doesn't cover it!
The end wasn't to do with the epidural, either - baby was tired and couldn't find his way but I was fine and pushed for two hours, would have done more. Doctor swore they didn't pull him out, just guided him in the end (no marks so I think possibly this is true!)
I felt so strong during labour (could still feel contractions just not the ill pain) and pushing - the end made me feel a bit helpless but by tht point the excitement and focus on baby is all consuming. What is one peron's negative story is another's positive. I was the most scaredy person before I gave birth, the pain relief was exactly that - a relief - and the midwives and DH were amazing. A wonderful experience, honest! (This is garbled, I know, it was only a few weeks ago and I still get emotional!)
I have just given birth to DD2 (sunday just gone) and I cannot recommend the epidural highly enough. The process has improved a lot in the last couple of years. It took the pain away (which always makes me want to kiss the anaesthetists, they are the absolute best) but I could still move my legs and feel the pressure of the contractions so I 1. knew when they were happening 2. was in full control and able to push as required 3. felt the baby leave my body, possibly the weirdest and most exhilarating thing ever. Seriously improved the whole experience
Badgerwife totally agree about baby leaving the body, such a build up of pressure and then that 'whoosh', slipping out like a fish, so amazing.
A CS can be a positive experience too. I had hired a doula and was enjoying the hypnobirthing course.
Our local OBs (Canada) don't like to let you go more than 7 days overdue. I was told I was having a big baby (8lbs). I had one sweep on my due date and had three lots of prostaglandin gel a week later - didn't dilate beyond 1cm.
I hated the sweep and gel insertion. OB wanted to rupture my membranes, but I refused. I was worried that my labour still wouldn't progress and the longer I was left, the higher risk of infection there was. I didn't want to needlessly tire myself out, distress baby and end up with an EMCS.
So, I decided to have an ELCS. Hubby nearly passed out when they put an IV line in my hand, so we agreed he would stay in the room and have skin to skin with baby whilst I was in recovery. My doula came in with me. It was very calm and relaxed.
DS was 10lb 11oz.
Yes, I needed help getting out of bed and out of chairs for a few days, but each day got better.
Yes, I sometimes wonder what a vaginal birth would have been like but it's the destination that matters, not how you got there
All my babies were back to back, so with the last one I read lots Of info on the spinning babies website. I think this gave me things to focus on during my labour, as much as anything else. I found a folded sheet wrapped around my back and tightly under my bump, really comfortable during contractions, as was pushing the small of my back into the wall, while standing.
If something feels comforting or just 'right' to do, then do it. Stay calm and as a previous poster said, trust your body.
My experience not straightforward on paper but very positive for me.
I planned a home birth, and was at home for a long time (16 or so hours) and then transferred as got stuck at 9cm dilated.
Transferred to hospital via ambulance (no blue lights) and had epidural on arrival.
DC born 6 hours later after synotocin drip, attempting to push, failed ventouse, ended up with forceps. Massive episiotomy, think the dr was doing all she could to avoid CS. For which I'm grateful, not because I am anti CS but because I'd rather have one cut than two!
I have been 'offered commiserations' by GP, HV, various others who assumed this counted as a failed home birth/ failed birth experience, but for me it was a great experience.
= I had 1-1 care for nearly all the time, which helped me relax as I knew they'd see/notice if anything was going wrong. The mw also helped me get back on track a couple of times when I lost the plot during contractions
= I had birth pool to get in and out of as I chose (funnily found I hated it during contractions as couldn't move enough)
= I had learned a lot of techniques from yoga that I didn't even know I'd learned but which came as second nature to me to help me feel comfortable. My yoga teacher should be given a CBE or something.
= When I asked for the epidural when we decided to transfer the MW rang ahead, reassured the hospital I had tried my hardest and it was a reasonable request. It was waiting for me on my arrival.
= Turned out DC had cord around her neck hence no progression, so hospital was not a bad place for her to be born in case it had been a problem. It wasn't, but they kept her in special care for a couple of days to be sure, and I got amazing, gentle, help with breastfeeding.
= I did loads of work to strengthen muscles before the birth so never had trouble with waterworks after, which was just as well as I was unbelievably bruised and couldn't sit down for two weeks.
= MW were very respectful of my wishes and never suggested pain relief to me, waited for me to tell them what I wanted. They did propose the transfer to hospital and I took that seriously as they'd not been interventionist until that point.
So for me it's about being comfortable with all possibilities and going with what seems appropriate at the time, but doing your best to prepare mentally. I don't know if a yoga video can really do what a good teacher can, but it has to be better than nothing.
I suspect a doula would be wonderful, if I could afford one this time around I would.
I feel passionately that if we re-framed home birth as 'staying at home for as long as is comfortable/appropriate' rather than an oppositional argument about whether medics should be involved or not, there would be a lot more people starting off at home (of course need to live close enough to hospital, but so many do).
I just had a positive water birth with only gas and air at UCH birth centre. Think the following factors were crucial -
Gas and air - if you can cope / like that trippy feeling it can just make the whole thing whoosh by. I had a short intense birth and a combo of the sound of the running water, the sunlight and the right clubby music (personal choice) I was too busy enjoying the 'party' to panic
A lot of people here mention doulas but essentially if you get on your mum is ace to have. She and DH could take turns so twice the support. Hands off midwives are enormously important too.
I did yoga from week 13 to 30 and the only thing I used was the breathing which I could have picked up anywhere. Ironically I had read a random article in the Sunday mags about some mad American 'expert' called Mama Glow who said something about labour being an orgasmic experience. Of all the things in the world to remember it was her and I found myself looking for that sensation on each contraction. It's amazing what you latch onto when you need it!
Good luck and most importantly, don't be frightened, I'm a total wuss and although I wouldn't want to do it again too soon it was fine!
Not being in hospital!
Seriously- midwife led unit, very relaxing home from home atmosphere was probably the biggest factor in enabling me to cope with a long gruelling first birth without going down the medicalised route.
As everyone says, there are no medals for giving birth, the reward is a beautiful baby- BUT inevitably a hospital is going to be a less 'normal' atmosphere. Hospitals are geared up for emergencies and things going wrong and it can be harder to establish a calm atmosphere. Also once you go down the major pain relief route with an epidural, it will inevitably mean anesthetists, monitoring etc
Having a baby with just me, DH, one lovely midwife and a canister of g and a was amazing. Not easy, not pain free but definitely a positive experience
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