Experiencing pregnancy for the second time round is such an eye opener. During your first pregnancy you spend a lot of time thinking about the birth and trying to be prepared and all that jazz. Then once the baby pops out and you get past those early months the memories of the birth start to fade a little. And as time goes by they fade even more and you start wonder what all that fuss was about for a day that is only one day in the many days you get to have with your baby. It is bizarre.
But here I am, pregnant again, and obsessing about birth. OBSESSING. I think part of this is due to the fact that I had a dream a couple of weeks ago that the baby came early and I hadn’t done enough prep so it has really lit a fire under me. I am in a birth prep frenzy!
Yeah it is only one day (or in my case last time it was two) and provided baby and I are both healthy and well at the end of the process it won’t really matter in the long run but if I can make the day better this time then I am really keen to give that a go. I think the prep is amplified by the fact that I know that this time, no matter how bad it gets, I will not have the option of having an epidural so I need to be tough and squeeze this little darling out while feeling every little stretch. And to do that in the best way possible I need to don my girl scout panties and be prepared.
So I am reading, reading, reading. So far, the only book that has really resonated with me is the Juju Sundin one, Birth Skills. It focuses heavily on active labouring techniques and I really love it as it is great for a practical minded person like me. I like things to do. I like instructions. I like more than a visualisation to get me by. So Juju and her book are really fulfilling that need in me.
My doula gave me a few other books and I am trying to read them but I am finding them all quite hippy dippy which is a struggle when it comes to application. Some stuff is useful and I am pushing through so I can take notes on the important points but other stuff makes me sigh loud and long. Like one book I am reading right now basically slams women for choosing an obstetrician. There is a suggestion that by doing that you are more likely to have a medicalised birth. And maybe that is correct statistically but slamming women isn’t really a way to change this.
I tend to think that what would be more useful is talking up the midwife service available to all women in Australia. By doing that many women will choose to go down that path. And when discussing the OB alternative how about giving the pregnant mama bear strategies for ensuring the most natural birth possible. No doctor can make you have a c-section against your will, they can only advise you. It is up to you to then take that information and do some research and negotiate with your specialist if need be.
To be honest, I had my first child in the public hospital system assisted by midwives, no personal OB, and the whole thing was a freaking dog’s breakfast. That system did not help me at all and I had a highly medicalised labour and a c-section birth. So both systems can and do fail women so how about we arm women with the best information possible to inform them when the time comes.
The other thing I’ve been doing loads of lately is watching birth videos on YouTube. When pregnant with Monkey there was no way you could have gotten me to sit down and watch one of those babies. As far as I was concerned I understood the principals of birth – baby comes out of the vagina – so I did not need to watch it over and over again on video.
I still feel that way to a degree. There are some videos out there that are essentially some woman with her legs spread laying on a table and a baby squirting out all of a sudden. They are the least helpful videos to me. The vids I enjoy most are the ones where you see the labouring. I want to see what they did, see how they feel in the different stages, see how they got through and how they felt about it in the end. It has been SO informative to watch these vids and extremely emotional. I am always a crying mess by the time the baby appears. And you know what? No matter how sucky it is and how much they are hating it at the time every single new mum beams and smiles and talks about how amazing their birth was at the end of the day. I want that. I want to be that mum. Even if I have to feel like I’m splitting in half to get it I want to have that feeling.
The other interesting thing I’ve been reading about is preventing tearing during labour. I spoke with my sister-in-law the other day who had a 4.5kg baby and no tear and she said her midwife (who was apparently rather proud of herself as that was 5 births in a row with no tearing!) had used a compress on the perineum as it was stretching. She said that she had also been really careful not to push when they told her to stop pushing – that’s when you need to pant from what I can tell. It is during this panting time that the head is kinda bouncing on the perineum and that allows the stretching to take place. If you push too soon you are more likely to tear.
I am also learning loads about the whole VBAC (vaginal birth after c-section) thing. Apparently I can’t birth in water because of it – the hospital forms say they won’t allow it. From what I can tell it is down to the fact that they need to monitor you more closely to make sure your previous scar doesn’t rupture during the labour. Rupture can mean harm to the mum and the baby as well as likely infertility so it is really important to be on top of what’s going on. This means I will likely need more monitoring during labour which means more connection to machines which makes active labouring a bit more difficult but I plan on negotiating about this before the big event. I want to be safe but I refuse to be bed bound and I can’t be the first woman that has felt this way at the hospital.
Fascinating stuff, all of it! I am armed with a page of questions about it all for my OB appointment next week. He is going to loooooooooove me, “Little Miss Researcher”. I must be their favourite type of patient. Ha!
Oh and look at the cutest little bloomer set I bought for baby girl the other day. I just want to squeal every time I look at it, it is SO CUTE.