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j4 From: j4 Date: November 2nd, 2010 03:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
I haven't done much thinking about labour/birth yet except failing to come to any kind of decision about hospital v home birth, and worrying about the whole thing. The midwife has given me no advice/guidance (partly because I don't need to decide yet, I think, and possibly - trying to give her the benefit of the doubt - because she doesn't want to push me one way or the other; but mainly I think because she's a bit on the vague and nice-but-dim side & doesn't really tell me anything much of any use).

Everybody I know who wanted to have a home birth ended up being rushed into hospital halfway through for emergency intervention of one kind or another, which sounds utterly awful; but then being in hospital is awful anyway, & everybody I know who's gone into hospital intentionally has had faff and stress where there aren't enough beds & the doctors/midwives ignore what you ask for & you get kicked out at 3am because they've run out of space & it's all doom. ... To be honest, since giving birth is inevitably horrifically traumatic and painful, there's not going to be anywhere pleasant to do it, but there doesn't even seem to be an obvious path-of-least-misery. :-(

The other 'advice' I've got has all been along the lines of "I had the most fantastic team of independent midwives / doulas / personal gurus who gave me aromatherapy massages every day for the month coming up to the labour & I relaxed in their 12ft birthing pool & they talked me through the whole thing & helped me to visualise rainbows & dolphins instead of pain & they brought me chilled champagne when it was all over, & it was totally worth the £30,000 it cost for the service, I mean you've got to do it like that, really, otherwise you're not giving your child the best start in life." All of which might be jolly nice but I'm afraid financially we're stuck with what the NHS can provide, which AFAICT is a) two antenatal classes where the main thing they tell you is that you've got to buy a car seat otherwise you won't be allowed to take the baby home from the hospital, & b) the possibility of winning a hospital bed in some kind of lottery.

Re cycling, I had been wondering about the baby-in-a-sling-on-a-bike thing too! It seems safe to me (and indeed to a friend who has a new baby & also loves cycling... but his wife says she doesn't think it's safe enough) but given that I'm already getting flak from colleagues for cycling into work while pregnant ("How can you risk your baby's life like that?") I don't know if I'd be able to stand the inevitable abuse when I'm doing something that more obviously involves a bicycle and a baby. :-(

(Also this is all assuming I'll be able to cycle again afterwards anyway! I certainly doubt if I'll be able to for a few months.)
julietk From: julietk Date: November 2nd, 2010 04:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
FWIW, angelmine is going for a home birth (water birth) on the NHS. (The plan is to borrow a birthing pool from one of the folk in her local homebirth support group. It is at least the sort of thing that is straightforward to borrow, because the owner will have an excellent idea of whether or not they might need it at approximately that time :) ). The local midwife team appear to be OK with this. My & her approach has been to DO LOTS OF RESEARCH (research is still ongoing) with the intention of being as informed as possible about various possibilities & what might go wrong & what might go right & so on & so forth, but I think both of us are just *like that*.

(I know what I personally would prefer were I the one at the pushing end, but I have [sigh] tedious historical reasons for being very hospital-averse in such circs. In the case of upcoming-birth-partnering, obv my preferences aren't relevant, but I was asked to do the job partly because A's & my opinions largely coincide. I very strenuously feel that no one should be going round prescribing or judging other people's decisions on how they want to give birth.)

Aaaanyway... yeah, it's tough. If any of the research/thinking/discussing I've been doing with A would be useful or interesting to you, I'd be happy to talk about it. (But no worries at all if that sounds hideous.)

I have also done a very little bit of reading about hypnobirthing stuff (A is keen on this), which seems to have a lot of stuff about reframing one's expectations of how birth will feel. My colleague who recently gave birth did some of this as well; unfortunately I haven't spoken to her since she gave birth the other week so I don't know if it worked at all!

Cycling whilst pregnant: I read this recently & liked it: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/green-living-blog/2010/oct/27/cycling-pregnancy-london
She says she was back on the bike after a few weeks, but I guess it depends how you feel/how things went.

I get really irritable about 'but RISKING THE LIFE OF YR BABY' stuff. Surely you are risking the life of your baby no more nor less than you have been risking your own life when not pregnant (that is to say: not all that much, in fact)?

I am pleased that I am not the only person who thinks that baby/sling/bike sounds safe. Should I ever find myself in a position to do so, I shall consider Experimenting.
j4 From: j4 Date: November 3rd, 2010 03:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
I approve of the DO LOTS OF RESEARCH approach. Unfortunately so much of the stuff I have read has been utter bobbins, I have got to the stage of just going "urgh just make it all go away". :-( I need to get over that though.

Water-birth sounds kind of nice but at our home is almost certainly not practical (we don't have the space for the pool, the means to heat it, & frankly I am actually not sure the floor would take the weight upstairs!). And in the JR's birth centre it's an option but it's impossible to guarantee (I mean, they have a birthing pool, but someone else might be in it, it's a bit hit-or-miss). Mind you though the last not-entirely-bobbins thing I was reading about this said that actually just being in the bath/shower can help, & that's do-able at home, obv.

I am not totally hospital-averse (it would be easier if I was in a way because then I'd've already made the decisiou) -- I do want to avoid unnecessary medical intervention but I am also scared of just not being able to cope with the pain, & if I've said "no no I don't want any drugs" then I'll have no choice but to be in agony for hours and hours. I suppose that's the point and I know it's all supposed to be a big empowering experience which lets me grow into my mystickal powers as a Wombyn of the Moon and Mother Earth ect ect but honestly I have never found pain empowering. :-(

But DESPITE all the fear and misery I am probably leaning towards a preference for home, just because it sounds like there's no guarantee of getting any of the things you've asked for in hospital -- at least at home I'll know where I stand. And hey we don't have neighbours at the moment so they won't object to the noise. :-} I am worried about the practicalities, though, & whether our house is suitable (I know they do an assessment of it, but I'd sort of like to know what they assess so I know the answer beforehand, IYSWIM) & whether Owen will be able to deal with it & stuff & stuff & STUFF.

BTW yes the thinking/research you've been doing would quite possibly be helpful, but actually just writing this out (wibbling and all) is quite helpful too.


Re cycling - yes I saw the Graun article, it was such a nice change to see a positive story! OTOH she was obviously a serious cyclist whereas I really only potter from one side of town to the other, i.e. I very rarely cycle further than 5 miles at a time, so I am probably not actually very fit at all. :-/ I do run occasionally too, but again not very far/fast. With the cycling-afterwards though I guess it depends, um, what kind of a state the bits you sit on are in after giving birth... I get the impression that most people have to be cut/ripped apart & stitched up to some extent, which doesn't bode well for cycling any time soon afterwards. :-{

The difference with the risking-your-life bit apparently is that it's sort of OK to risk your own life by cycling (though, y'know, really you should be driving a car instead because as any fule kno that has 0 risk *sigh*) but risking a HELPLESS DEFENCELESS CHILD's life is evil, because if you fell off the bike then you'd be able to save yourself but the child wouldn't. Also at the moment it's "if you fell off the bike & miscarried you'd never get over it". (Well that's quite possibly true... but surely equally true if I fell down the stairs or tripped over a pavement or whatever and miscarried. I mean, the cause of tripping/falling is not the big issue here.) But, argh! There is no such thing as a zero risk life!

Should I ever find myself in a position to do so, I shall consider Experimenting.

I'd trust you on a bike with a baby, so you can borrow ours for Experimenting when it's out if you want! ;) (NB I should prob check this with addedentry first...)
julietk From: julietk Date: November 3rd, 2010 03:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
(just a v quick comment as this caught my eye; will prob come back & witter more later :) ):

I am worried about the practicalities, though, & whether our house is suitable (I know they do an assessment of it, but I'd sort of like to know what they assess so I know the answer beforehand, IYSWIM)

An assessment? Is this one of those things that varies with locality? I'm just surprised b/c my experience in Southampton has been that A said at the midwife appt (16-weeks-ish?) "home birth please", and they said "right you are" and ticked their ticky box, and that was pretty much it. There was certainly no mention of assessment then, & A hasn't mentioned it either. Maybe Southampton are just LAX.

FWIW, all my reading of home-birth stuff so far has suggested that if you've got enough space to wander around, some old sheets in case of oomskah, & the ability to heat the space*, you're good to go. (A quick check of the NCT stuff confirms this. Apparently also you need running water; fair enough.)

* there does seem to be a consensus that you'll want it fairly warm when giving birth. I think this is particularly relevant for water births, b/c the baby can chill easily when it first emerges from the warm water.

(On the water front: A's & my discussions have concluded that having the pool downstairs in the living room will be a better bet. I was concerned about the upstairs floor as well.)
j4 From: j4 Date: November 3rd, 2010 04:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
An assessment? Is this one of those things that varies with locality?

From what you've said here, it certainly looks that way... :-} Of course I don't know yet how much of a rigorous assessment is involved -- it may just be a question of "Let us check with our eyes that you don't live in a tent / at the top of a mountain".

At the next midwife appointment (c. 25 weeks? can't remember) I will probably have to make an actual decision so will probably find out then if I do decide to go that way.

Pool downstairs is a possibility, I suppose, but then presumably I'd either have to stay in it the whole time or be prepared to negotiate a staircase when I can't see straight for pain? Also to be honest there is really not much more room downstairs unless we get rid of all the furniture first...
julietk From: julietk Date: November 3rd, 2010 08:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
presumably I'd either have to stay in it the whole time or be prepared to negotiate a staircase when I can't see straight for pain?

Or be intending to continue labouring elsewhere in the downstairs? It depends whether you'd want to be (able to) labour in bed, I guess (or if there's other space in the upstairs that you'd be happy in). Quite a few of the birth stories I've read talk about setting up a particular room as a birthing space, & I can imagine that once settled, one might not want to leave that space, even if moving around within it felt like a good idea.

(I realised while writing that last sentence that I was making internal comparison with the experience of tripping, which for me has a whole bunch of stuff about set & setting & creating a safe space... Oh look, I am a big hippy. Also perhaps drug-addled experiences are not good comparison with business of Bringing New Life Into World Ekt. Although I have long maintained that acid would be *awesome* as a painkiller for giving birth! I am told however that this would be irresponsible. Dammit.)

A's house is very tiny; we're planning to move furniture around so there's (just) room for the pool & then have the sofa pretty much right next to it as an alternative location. Or anywhere else in the four square feet of house that's available & she fancies getting to :)

I think often with pools the plan is to stay out of it until well into labour (helps with effectiveness in pain management), & then stay put in it & do the actual birthing bit in there. Then the staircase-negotiation happens after it all, when one is knackered & achey but not actively experiencing contractions every couple of minutes.
k425 From: k425 Date: November 3rd, 2010 04:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
Gas and air is fantastic stuff. Seriously. And my neighbours didn't hear me in labour because we asked later.

Ask questions about the home-birth thing if you like, I'm happy to talk about it!
j4 From: j4 Date: November 3rd, 2010 04:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
Fortunately the adjoining terrace is empty so there's nobody to complain about the noise. :-}

I can't really think of any specific questions -- it's more along the lines of "argh it's all going to be pain & misery no matter what" -- but thank you for the offer & I will ask if there's anything answerable!
teleute From: teleute Date: November 3rd, 2010 06:16 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm also happy to talk about my experiences if you care - I did hypnobirthing in a hospital with Jamie and it was fabulous (I had a half shot of Stadol - the "standard" narcotic near the end but that was it) and I failed at hypnobirthing with Katie, also in a hospital but she was induced because she was a week late and my blood pressure was going up. I had a half shot of Stadol with her too. It was also fantastic. I hate pain, but both times I turned to Adrian afterwards and said "how soon can I do that again?". There is something unbelievably cool about giving birth, IMO. And I seriously, really, REALLY hate pain, so this isn't some weird masochism thing.

Also, this book by Ina May Gaskin: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ina-Mays-Guide-Childbirth-Gaskin/dp/0553381156 is fantastic. It made me feel so much better about wanting to try to get through without an epidural. So if you can get your hands on it, I'd recommend it.
jinty From: jinty Date: November 4th, 2010 08:29 am (UTC) (Link)
The decision about a home birth or not is not asked for until quite a bit later (I was slightly thrown by the lateness of this but it's not really until about week 36 that they ask you for sure, though it it is discussed a bit before that). My midwives were very positive about a hb but it wasn't them that I discussed the options with, really, so much as with my doula; we also went to a local home birth meeting (can give you the details if you want).

And oi, I wasn't rushed into hospital for emergency intervention - I got driven to hospital in a car (uncomfortably - seat belts and labour don't go well together, and I was wearing the wrong trousers, Gromit!) and got faffed around with minimally. I think it all worked out fine actually: I laboured at home for a good long time (yes, well, longer than I'd like) and got to be in my own surroundings etc etc, and once in hospital things progressed quickly and the only thing I could even call an intervention was a catheter. In fact I think even if I'd planned a hospital birth I'd have ended up labouring at home for the same sort of amount of time, because I wasn't in "proper labour" so the hospital would have sent me back home if I'd gone in! I would just have been more frustrated I think.

I'm really looking forward to cycling again but I wouldn't get on the bike with Aohra in a sling, no way! The centre of balance is wrong - it's higher than when she was in the womb. Now, if I could put her in the basket, that'd be cool... Except that she'd need a helmet and I can't see them doing one in Newborrn size!
j4 From: j4 Date: November 5th, 2010 09:44 am (UTC) (Link)
It sounded like "rushed into hospital" from my reading of it, so I'm sorry if I misrepresented you! To be honest every real-life birth story I've ever read makes the whole experience sound horrific and terrifying (except the ones where they're obviously lying, you know, the "it wasn't so much pain as a glorious glowing sensation of empowerment and love" ones - yeah right). I wish there was some way I could get out of it. :-(

I really don't know what we're going to do about the getting-to-hospital bit (which as I say seems to be 100% inevitable even if you think you're going to have a home birth) -- we don't have a car and we don't really have anybody with a car who we can ask to be on standby for weeks on end. I assume there are people in the world who have managed to give birth without a car (I mean obviously in Olden Days before cars everybody just died in childbirth anyway, but after that...) but I've yet to find a single one. :-/ Most people I've asked just look baffled and say "But you'll need a car when you have a child anyway, so just buy one now."

The local home birth group might be useful if you've got the details (though they will probably tell me I'm too negative and nervous for a home birth & I should just go into hospital), but we can't afford a doula.
jinty From: jinty Date: November 5th, 2010 10:44 am (UTC) (Link)
It wasn't rushed, it was to hospital, it wasn't horrific or terrifying (I think you may be bringing your fears to bear there cos I don't think what I wrote was either - I grant you that hours of contractions don't sound fun, and they weren't, but they weren't horrific or scary either).

Can't you get a taxi? That assumes you won't be needing an ambulance of course. If it's like the journey to the hospital that we had, a taxi would have been ok.

The home birth group have a Facebook page - search for "Oxford Home Birth Support Group". I'll send you on the last email we had from them, too.
j4 From: j4 Date: November 5th, 2010 12:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think you may be bringing your fears to bear there

Inevitably, but I am sorry if you're offended that I'm reading negative things into something which was a positive experience for you. :-(

Hours of contractions sound quite awful enough (& I do find it scary and panicking when I'm in agony & I know it's quite likely to continue for another 24 hours) and that's probably the least worst bit. I am clearly too cowardly and feeble to give birth. :-( :-( But there's no way out of it now. :-(

Can't you get a taxi?

As I understand it, taxis won't take women who are in labour -- I assume because they don't want the mess/liability. Fair enough I suppose.
jinty From: jinty Date: November 5th, 2010 01:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think we may both be being sorry about possibly offending each other... I'm not offended by your reading, but I do want to clarify that it wasn't that awful (the contractions were not very nice, but they really weren't agony; the effect built up and got very tiring, but it really wasn't agony, though obviously these things vary from person to person / labour to labour).

Re taxi - don't tell them you're in labour? After all unless you're actually ready to push it won't make much difference to them - if all you're doing is going in to be in labour in hospital, that is. If it's anything other than that, then an ambulance would be the right choice!
From: scat0324 Date: November 10th, 2010 02:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
We walked out of the hospital carrying #2 - they fussed, but at the end of the day there's very little they can do about it.
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