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Positive childbirth experiences and the factors that helped

(41 Posts)
Laquila Fri 14-Jun-13 12:14:32

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!

janey68 Sat 13-Jul-13 11:26:17

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

drawohamme Wed 10-Jul-13 07:02:33

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!

upsydaisy33 Thu 04-Jul-13 09:45:54

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).

NAR4 Tue 02-Jul-13 10:31:00

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.

MooseBeTimeForSpring Thu 27-Jun-13 21:29:03

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 smile

forgetmenots Thu 27-Jun-13 21:11:19

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.

Badgerwife Thu 27-Jun-13 18:22:54

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

forgetmenots Tue 25-Jun-13 12:04:58

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!)

Billy11 Mon 24-Jun-13 22:52:18

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

Numbthumbs Mon 17-Jun-13 22:13:17

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!!!' grin

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.

AmandaCooper Sun 16-Jun-13 13:55:56

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!

fuckwittery Sat 15-Jun-13 22:43:49

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.

CheungFun Sat 15-Jun-13 21:31:35

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 smile

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 smile

gloucestergirl Sat 15-Jun-13 21:15:24

In a word - epidural. Made it seem almost easy. Fell asleep during labour!

TheYamiOfYawn Sat 15-Jun-13 21:12:26

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.

AmandaPandtheTantrumofDoom Sat 15-Jun-13 21:10:43

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.

Laquila Sat 15-Jun-13 20:56:07

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.

Msbluesky32 Sat 15-Jun-13 14:02:09

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 smile 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

Anja1Cam Fri 14-Jun-13 20:35:21

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.

Good luck!!

Truffkin Fri 14-Jun-13 20:30:03

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.

Good luck!

tumbletumble Fri 14-Jun-13 20:10:57

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.

Good luck!

mia8 Fri 14-Jun-13 20:04:05

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.

Good luck!

ScottishDiblet Fri 14-Jun-13 16:32:00

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

ohforfoxsake Fri 14-Jun-13 14:49:43

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!)

Redtractoryellowtractor Fri 14-Jun-13 13:52:47

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.

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