Posts Tagged ‘Home birth’

Lessons from My Second Home Birth

Two weeks ago today we welcomed our second child into the world- a daughter! She was born into the water alert and calm, and weighed in at 8 lbs, 9 oz and  20.5″ long. Here she is on her first morning earthside:

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Isn’t she lovely? 🙂

I am working on typing out her entire birth story, but in the meantime, I thought I would share some things I learned from experiencing labor and birth at home for the second time. These are in no particular order of importance. Here it goes!

1) It’s really important to trust your care provider!

This came out really strongly to me during this labor. As you’ll read once I publish the birth story, we made use of several herbal concoctions to kick start and strengthen this labor. I’ll be honest- as much as I’ve researched pitocin, epidurals, and c-sections, I really don’t know a whole lot about black and blue cohosh and other natural inducers/augmenters. But because I feel very comfortable with my midwife and because I know we are on the same page regarding birth philosophy, I felt comfortable saying yes to her suggestions without going and Googling it during labor.

(Remember, I never recommend blind trust without researching your options first. But there will always be times that your care provider knows more than you do. In this case, it’s better to know that you can trust that they will only suggest what is both comfortable for you and safe for your labor. If you don’t at least know whether or not you have a similar birth philosophy beforehand, you won’t be able to determine this in the midst of it!)

2) Birth works.

More than ever, I am convinced that in most cases, birth works. As Ina May Gaskin is famously quoted, your body is not a lemon.” Yes, there are medical circumstances and health conditions that can change this. Yes, there can be true emergencies. Yes, sometimes you should make use of natural tricks or medical tools to help your labor in some way. Please don’t think I am ignoring these situations. But in the grand majority of cases, when birth and the laboring mother are left well enough alone and relieved of artificial restrictions, it is simple (albeit challenging at times). Your uterus will work, your cervix will open, and the baby will descend and be born.

3) Your mental attitude towards birth is just as important (or even more so!) than your physical preparation.

Deciding to surrender to the birth process and releasing your fears can be even more effective than training your body as a marathon runner through your pregnancy. Yes, physical preparation is important and can help you to deal with the rigors of birthing. However, if you are mentally resistant, you can actually make the process slower, more difficult, or more painful. Adrenaline can slow or stop contractions. Fear and tension can literally close the cervix and hold up the opening that needs to happen for the baby to be born. And fighting the contractions is fighting the work the uterus needs to do, making each one more painful and difficult.

I’ve found that in both my two labors, when I decide to welcome the contractions as a sign that I am getting closer to meeting my baby, they become easier. When I decide to joke about them, or fake smile, or be silly just to distract myself, I am able to relax more and deal with each wave as it comes. I truly believe that accepting the birth process- rather than resisting it with misery- is probably the most effective secret to getting through a natural labor.

4) As goes the mouth, so goes the cervix!

I read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth for the first time this pregnancy. (What? I’ve been a birth junkie for this long and haven’t read it yet?!? I know, it’s weird, but at least I finally got to it.) While I don’t endorse everything she says, I felt like I learned a lot from reading it. She talks about law of the sphincter in her book- that sphincters don’t work on command, that they are tied into how a person is feeling, and that they work with each other. She mentioned how keeping your mouth and throat open and relaxed helps to open your cervix as well.

I took this to heart and tried singing through contractions this time- and it made SUCH a difference!!! I felt so much more relaxed than I did during my first labor, and it was much easier to deal with the intensity of each wave. I felt like I honestly could call contractions “pressure waves” for a lot of it. I also made use of low moaning vocalization during pushing, and it really helped me to get through it. I think it was much easier than when I was trying to hold my breath and push out my son.

5) Labors can be completely different. 

I knew this beforehand, but wow, what a different experience this was for me compared to birthing my son! You’ll get to read all about it, but here’s a quick comparison:

My son:

  • 14 hours total.
  • No false starts. I woke up to a clear, established pattern of early labor.
  • Slow, steady contractions that gradually increased in frequency, length, and intensity.
  • 3.5 hours of pushing.

My daughter:

  • Less than 8 hours total on the day of birth, and less than 2 hours with any pain.
  • Lots of “false starts.” I got bouts of crampy contractions for an hour or two at a time over weeks. Turns out I dilated to 5 cm before I ever started “real labor,” so I guess they weren’t so false.
  • Extremely mild contractions for a long time, then a precipitous, intense labor at the end. (Had my midwife not already been at my house for an appointment, we would’ve ended up with an accidentally unassisted birth. Had we been planning a hospital birth, I would’ve had my baby in the car en route.)
  • 12 minutes of pushing.

What have you learned from your different labors? Can you relate? Looking forward to sharing more and hearing back from you!

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How to Keep Your Home Birth Tidy

One of the most common protests (oddly) that I’ve heard to home birth is, “I wouldn’t want to clean all that up!” The idea that home birth will leave your dwelling looking as though a murder just happened is actually a myth. You can have quite the tidy home birth- so long as you prepare for it. Here are some tips for you to remember when preparing to have your baby in your own house.

1) Make your bed- really well!

Make your bed in the following order:

  • Put on sheets that you like.
  • Cover it with a large sheet of plastic. Tuck the ends under the mattress, if you can.
  • Put on sheets that you don’t like that you’re happy to throw out.

Then, after the birth, have your midwife strip the top layer of sheets and the plastic off and throw them in a garbage bag. Voila! You now have a clean bed, all ready to snuggle in with your newborn.

2) Purchase a birth kit, or make sure your midwife brings everything you need.

My own midwife had me purchase a birth kit (from Precious Arrows) for about $70 that included everything for the birth that we would need- gloves, cord clamps, chux under pads, a thermometer for the baby, peri-bottle, pads, peri- cold packs, mesh panties, etc. Having these supplies shipped to you well in advance can ensure that your midwife will have the supplies she needs to keep the mess and all procedures managed in an orderly way.

The disposable chux pads are the key to a clean birth. (They’re those giant rectangular absorbent thingers that soak up all the blood and goop that comes with having a baby.) Keep one under you on your chair, on your birth ball, on your bed, or wherever you go. If your water breaks, you can also try a mesh panty and a heavy-flow pad for when you are up walking around without a chux. This should help to keep the drips contained! (Granted, you may have to change the pad frequently, but it will help to protect your home.)

3) If you’re having a water birth, rehearse it once!

Practice filling and emptying the tub once well before you go into labor. All the way. You can read the saga of our attempt to use a birthing tub here in my son’s birth story. It was really rather ridiculous. If you don’t want to read the whole thing, I’ll cut right to the chase- basically, we didn’t test our pump before hand. And we didn’t try to fill the tub. Our hot water heater was apparently empty at the bottom, and the pump we had chosen to empty the pool didn’t work properly- SO we had a tub full of lukewarm rusty water to clean up and a myriad of different jury-rigged equipment laying about to try to get the tub empty- all in the middle of labor. Not ideal, to say the least.

So learn from my lesson. Rehearse your water birth early to identify any problems before your baby is coming. It will make your labor much more pleasant, and easier to clean up afterwards.

Also, make sure that if you’re using your own tub that you get a tub liner. This will really cut down on the amount of clean up post-birth. If you’re renting a tub specifically for water birth, they usually come with these already to maintain sanitary conditions from customer to customer.)

4) Ask your midwife or doula to do a double check before they leave.

Have your birth team walk through the house once to see if you missed anything before they leave. That way you won’t find a mess when you’re by yourself at home for the first time with the baby.

The key to having a tidy home birth is to prepare ahead of time. If you have done this, then any left over mess should be minimal and easy to catch later. Home birth doesn’t have to be a disgusting mess!

Okay, home birth mamas, what else would you recommend doing to keep your home nice and clean for your birth? Leave a comment!

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