I went to a local antenatal course yesterday as I thought it would be good to have a refresher and meet some mums having babies around the same time. Most of them were first timers and as I looked around the room I wondered what I could say as an ‘experienced’ parent.
I think you can’t begin to explain what is about to happen to your body or your life but here are a few thoughts I would share on giving birth:
Aim for your perfect birth
What is perfect for one woman is not perfect for another. It is important to consider what you want your birth to be like, whether that is an intervention free home birth or an epidural and reassurance of a hospital environment.
Which? have a new Birth Choices website which is really useful to help you make this decision. A few simple questions direct to the most appropriate place for you: Home, Midwife Unit or Delivery Suite.
Be prepared for things not to go to plan
I think it is very important to strive for your perfect birth but remember that births don’t always go to plan. With J I wanted to use the midwife led unit but it was full so I ended up in the delivery ward. I managed to get the birthing pool and laboured with gas and air like I wanted but unfortunately as J got stuck I ended up with a spinal block, episiotomy and forceps delivery.
One thing to consider is weighing up safety and access to emergency medicine with the likelihood of intervention in different birth environments.
Another good feature of the Which? Birth Choices website is that it clearly tells you all your available options in the local area. Do not think you have to go to your local hospital. I chose to go to a hospital 40 minutes away, even though I have two closer, as I know they are well renowned. I was very glad I did as I had a severe hemorrhage and needed some specialist care and blood transfusions.
Create a comfortable environment
This time, because of my history with J, I have to give birth on the ward and will not be allowed to use the pool. This is disappointing but I still plan to take control of the situation. I want to be as active as possible, be flexible about pain relief and will have some music and home comforts to try and make the hospital environment more comforting.
Focus on your baby
Birth can be a traumatic experience and it is not true that ‘all that matters is a healthy baby’. Your wellbeing and recovery are important too. However, for me at least, once that baby is in your arms you won’t mind as much how it got there.
What is your advice for first time mums? How did you decide where to give birth?
Disclosure: Which? Birth Choices asked me to write about their new service and I was compensated with some beautiful products suitable for each birth setting. The words and opinions are my own.