Gentle Birth, Pregnancy and My Body; My Journey
What Society Has Us Believe About Birth
What We expect:
From every aspect of media and society we are told that birth is going to be the most painful thing women experience in their lives. We are conditioned to believe this and every birth scene we witness on film or in a TV show will perpetuate this idea. When I found out I was pregnant, it wasn't the fact that I would have a child to look after that scared me, it wasn't the thought of nappies, or of long sleepless nights, it was birth. It was the 'Holy crap how am I going to get this baby out of me!' that scared me half to death. It was the howling, the pain, the trauma of having random people looking at my vagina, it was the fact that women are treated like birthing cows in hospital on a conveyor belt of birthing. Because we all know what birth is supposed to be like, and we can't even imagine it being anything but that. Hospitals try to get that baby out as fast as possible, and despite it being your birth experience, they take control of everything, from what your partners job is to how long you have to breath and push. None of this was what I wanted so I went search of something else, someway of taking control of my birthing experience, of making it about myself, my partner and our new baby.
No that's not a gummy Bear..
Gentle Birth and What We Learned:
So eight weeks into my pregnancy I am given the opportunity to attend a gentle birth weekend, unsure of what it is, but pretty sure its better than not trying to have a calm birth, my partner and I pack up and head to Belfast for two days. All I can say is that it changed my pregnancy, and the feelings of fear and anxiety I was having. We learned that our bodies are built for birth, they are not built to fail, and that you and your partner can be in control of your birth. I knew from the very beginning I wanted a home birth, there was no doubt in my mind about that, I was afraid of intervention, of a lack of control and feeling exposed. But no amount of calls to all of the 12 HSE home birth midwives in the country were giving me hope. No body was available, but the one that was asked for €2500, I was shocked. I was determined to have my home birth, and reached out to a few groups on Facebook asking, begging for any other home birth options. It was then that I got a call from a wonderful lady, she told me that going private was a possibility, that they were flexible with payment plans, and that they weren't as strict as the HSE when it came to hospital transfers. The HSE have a lot of rules and regulations and the tiniest thing can take your home birth dream from you. So I contacted the Neighborhood Midwives, and within a few days I met our midwife, Brenda. I loved Brenda, she was happy, helpful, energetic, enthusiastic, we were going private. Two days on we were at Gentle Birth, Dan and Becky were lovely, funny and knew their shit too. It was a real confidence booster.
So knowing we were having a homebirth (finally) made the gentle birth even more helpful, they told us exactly what to expect in labour, and being a first time mum, one who thought I wouldn't be dealing with this for another 5, maybe 10 years, I knew nothing, other than horror stories. Dan and Becky showed us how empowering birth is, for mom and dad. They showed my partner what his role would be on the day, and how home birth isn't just a hippy, mother nature way of birthing, its actually scientifically safer for low risk mothers. They told us not to be afraid, to condition our minds to let go of fear and let in enthusiasm.
Most importantly though, they told us that our consent is the most crucial thing if we do end up with hospital births, we have the ability to say no to EVERYTHING! No episiotomy, no unnecessary C-section because the babies taking their time, we could say no. Powerful stuff, and it blew my mind!
They also showed us various pain relief techniques for birth (useful) as most home birth mothers want a drug free birth, I was no different. So acupressure, tens machines, gas and air, soothing music, lots of love and affection, this was starting to sound do-able. I could totally do this, I've had an extremely painful pilonidal abscess removed and I survived, birth was going to be a breeze.
So myself and my partner left feeling confident, hoping Dan the Midwife is free to be my second midwife, we had our visualizations techniques, we had our cd's, our reading material, our birth story film in our heads....we were going to do this.
1st Trimester Belly
So feeling confident, and telling myself yes this is possible, women have been birthing for centuries without medical intervention, women are strong, I am strong, I can so freaken do this! I was starting to believe it too, being a feminist, I started to think that maybe this was a feminist issue, that birthing, the most powerful thing a woman can do, had been taken from her and placed in the hands of doctors, who thought they knew best. Not only that but they had somehow convinced us that it was something to fear, something that could kill us, or our babies if we didn't do what we were supposed to, they had made us feel that we had no say in what happens, that they could guilt us into procedures we don't want! That was it, the inspiration to follow through with my plans, I wasn't going to let some doctor control my birthing experience, I was going to be in control.
Not only was I feeling hugely confident, I was also getting sick...a lot. And feeling nauseous, incredibly tired, and just run down. my taste buds were on fire with the blandest of tastes, I was smelling things i never thought I could, like my mascara, and that was making me sick too. My partners aftershave, my favorite smell in the world, was also making me sick. Shit, maybe this wasn't going to be the most fantastic of pregnancies, maybe I was going to feel like crap. My hips were getting larger and then one day..horror....stretchmarks! Three fricken stretchmarks...ok definitely time to start with the coconut oil. My boobs were getting big, like really big!! And I had always had big boobs, this was my nightmare.
I'm enjoying the gentle birth cd's. I like the breathing techniques, they are useful, like really useful even outside of pregnancy. They help me calm down when I'm upset or stressed. I love the hypnosis tracks, especially the one where I start off somewhere in nature, I see myself in a field with really long meadowy grass, on a blanket with my partner, then the cloud comes and takes us away on a journey...is it weird that my partner is there too? Should it just be me? I don't know, I like him there, he's comforting. This is his journey too, even if its happening inside my head.
Still looking forward to the birth (that's how powerful our GB weekend was), still very confident in our midwife Brenda, still hoping Dan is free to second.....
Quitting. Ugh the quitting of everything I loved, that was hard. With about an hours notice I had to give up smoking (not super sad about that, my teeth are so white right now!) coffee, tea, wine....WINE! brie, Camembert, my favorite of all cheeses, cats...wait....what? Cats, yes cats feces can be dangerous. Mkay. So cats too. Trampolines, I can't jump on trampolines anymore, I cant dye my hair, or get the tattoo I wanted for my birthday....my body was no longer my own, and I am starting to resent my baby for it.
2nd Trimester Belly
This is the kitten....
Yay, no more sickness, more energy so no midday naps. My body is getting bigger, and bigger, but that's ok, because I feel great. I don't miss the smoking, I don't miss the coffee, I still miss the wine.
Research, I've done so much research, delayed cord clamping, what I can and cannot eat, VE's, home births, episiotomies, changes in my body, I'm learning every day. Also Listening to my tracks every night, I liked it. My confidence is only getting stronger, my birth is going to be amazing! My partner is going to be amazing. I totally fucking got this!
I start to watch home birth videos online, these are what women need to watch, they are amazing. They are so beautiful, I'm starting to get emotional watching them, I'm not an emotional person, I don't cry at movies, or sad songs, I don't get upset at much, now I'm crying at the birth of a baby I don't even know, I'm also crying when I see baby animals, I want to hold them, all of them, and let them know that I love them, even though I don't know them. It makes me laugh how emotional I am. I really cant understand it.
Ok so feeling a little down, being pregnant is hard, I suddenly have a sweet tooth, I have never had a sweet tooth. I want all the pastries...and the chocolate, right now! Being around friends is hard, they all smoke, they all drink, they don't get it, I'm the first to be pregnant, and they just dont get it. they leave me for 20 minutes at a time while they go outside to smoke, they are getting drunk, this was my birthday dinner and they aren't really being supportive. My partner realizes that I'm down, he quits smoking there and then. I've eaten goats cheese, lots of goats cheese, and I find out I'm not supposed to, I cry. This is really unfair. I just want to eat my goats cheese in peace. I talk to Facebook group, they really help. Goats cheese is fine, they send me an article that really helps me understand all this 'Don't eat this when pregnant' advice. I'm ecstatic, I'm going to have a glass of banana beer, this makes total sense.
Pregnancy isn't that hard, once you understand that all the 'advice' (i say begrudgingly) is actually not that helpful. Il do research myself, and make my own decisions based on what I have learned, I'm not going to simply follow the one size fits all birth rules. Yay, again, I feel in control.
I met a kitten, I fell instantly in love with this kitten, we were at a petting farm, the kitten was looking for attention off strangers, they were pushing her away. I felt angry. I got up, walked over to it, picked it up and brought it to a chair. I loved this kitten, she slept on my now giant boobs for forty minutes, we had a connection, and I felt really sad when I had to leave her, like, really sad.
My belly is getting bigger, and I like it, I like it a lot. I feel womanly, and pretty kick ass...I'm making a person! A little human being. I am making a tiny human being!!! I'm over the awkward 'just had a big lunch belly', I'm noticeably pregnant. My boobs though, they are still gaining weight, my nipples are huge...like wtf happened to my nipples? I wasnt expecting this, my cute nipples are gone, instead I have dinner plates, Ugh, its fine, I'm making a person!
I still think about the kitten, on a daily basis.
Movement! I feel movement, actual movement. I cant believe it, watching World War Z (not the best movie but freakiest Zombies ever....I'm hugely interested in the evolution of the zombie in film and tv) the frenzy of the attacks is making my adrenaline rush, and my baby move. I'm so excited. It's non stop, all day every day, even as I write this. I'm starting to have feelings for my baby, like actual emotions that I cant explain because its weird to love something you have never met right?! But I do, and now I'm even more excited for birth, I literally cannot wait. Gentle Birth has totally rid me of my fear, and now I'm counting the days/weeks until I meet our new baby. My partner finally felt a kick and now he is excited too. Its happening. But I'm still thinking about the kitten.
So the whole way through this I've been telling myself that there is no pain in labour there is work and effort but no pain, I've read numerous books that say the same, I'm convinced I can do it without medication. But then I meet a woman who felt it was her job to warn me that its actually like period pain...just 100 times worse. At this I respond with a facial expression that can only be described as saying 'Thanks for that B#tch, really needed you to ruin the last four months of brain training I've been doing every single day'. I roll my eyes, I shrink into myself a bit. I have dealt with serious period pain for 14 years of my life, and yes it kills me. Really wish I could have responded with interpretive dance, but instead I roll my eyes and sarcastically thank her for her support. I mean, who am I to be heading into labour thinking it wont be painful as all hell?! Women can really be the most unsupportive of my home birth choice for some reason...where are all my sisters of the world helping my confidence instead of knocking me down? Its fine, gentle birth tracks tonight, more reading, I can still do this.
Have been reading, and found that many women who birth in hospital, particularly with induction, do have painful births. This is why I'm birthing at home! Intervention only causes more trauma, more stress and less control. I strongly believe that fear-tension-pain is a thing, I need to evaporate fear in order to relieve tension, thus pain! Facebook groups are a great read at times like this, they are supportive, they are honest, and they don't knock me down. Next time a woman decided to warn me of the horror of birth, I'm probably going to add them to the list of people getting my birthing video, just to show them how birth can and should be.
I'm looking forward to this last few months, it just means we are closer to meeting our new baby :)
well, this month is going to be hectic. Lots to do and sort out. We're moving house, I need to organize everything and get rid of so much. We need to prepare baby stuff....Although we pretty much have most of that covered, from relatives and such.
Moving house is hard. But I'm determined to unpack every single box. Packing up the house was probably the hardest, and feeling like everyone else is doing all the hard work is even harder. I mean when your grandparents are doing all the hard lifting because your pregnant, that's when you know things have changed.
Bunnies are not happy...they are not happy at all. I knew ti would take a while to get used to the new home, but I'm worrying now.
With no internet..which means no tv or movies, I'm finding lots of things to do...like sorting baby clothes, and hand sewing a mobile, and sorting baby clothes, even though I did it yesterday....on the plus side, the house is unpacked and super clean!
Baby is literally jumping around in there...keeps me up for an hour every night, its all good though, as long ass the wee thing is happy.
I feel like I have put on 4 stone. Nuff said.
So, I don't know if its the same for everyone, but suddenly the friends you have had for years no longer call, or ask you out to the pub. I get that they have better things to do than hang out with a preggers lady, but I mean...harsh! I'm still fun to be around, no I don't smoke, or get drunk in pubs, but that doesn't mean I don't want to be with friends. :( When I think of all the shit I went through with some of my friends, listening to their issues and always being there for them, only to be ignored for the past few months, its like...why did I even bother?!
God damn sciatica....whoever said pregnancy was glorious...they lied. I can barely walk.
What the fuck is happening to my nipples? I have never....in my entire life....seen anything so huge...and they aren't even the same size, its like one grew over night and the other was all 'No way man, too much, I cant do it'. So yeah, my nipples are both different sizes, but both huge. Go figure. I'm pretty sure a boob is bigger than the other too...
Soon Il be starting my care with my midwife, and I cant wait. Gonna have a baby in a few weeks, life going to be so different, but I cant wait.
Hmm, my pilonidal is acting up, very sore to sit on, so on antibiotics and bouts of crying about whether or not the birth will affect it. I'm hoping not, but I know the pressure of a baby coming out may irritate it so fingers crossed.
Well pregnancy certainly changes a person, and my privacy when it comes to my body. I have always liked to keep bodily things private when it comes to my partner (he literally has no idea what panty liners are for or why I use them!), but recently I've found myself calling him upstairs to heck to see if my 'vagina looks weird'. It feels like its different, but who knows, it could just be me.
Sciatica is mostly under control, still hurts every now and then, but I mostly its fine, mostly. Clothing however is a daily struggle. I have this thing where I just don't like spending money on clothes, like it really annoys me that people spend like 20 quid for tshirt...I might be cheap, but its an ethical thing I swear. So maternity clothes are difficult to get in 2nd hand shops. Some days I don't even bother getting dressed, I just stay in pj's cause I'm like..nope, cant handle the pressure of that today. Leggings are definitely my best friend. But that doesn't mean they look good, just comfy as fuck.
So for the final month I wasn't keeping this up to date, I had so much to do, blogging wasn't as important. So here's the gist of the final month of my pregnancy:
Holy poseidon, pregnancy got tough. My ankles got so fat I couldn't tell where my leg ended and my feet began, my nose grew about two sizes larger, my pelvis got much more uncomfortable and my back...holy crap my back. Daily massages were a must!
Clothing got much harder to find. Like I had the same two pairs of leggings on rotation. And then there's leaky boobs...fucking leaky boobs! I honestly didn't think it would happen before the baby arrived but there you have it.
Getting ready for the birth didn't take much effort, since I'd been doing gentle birth since the 2nd month, I was confident, excited and honestly looking forward to labor. I wanted so badly to have my baby in my arms, mostly because we'd been waiting for what felt like an eternity but mainly because getting around was quite difficult, also putting on shoes, getting out of the bath...you get where I'm going. We did our birth affirmation, bright and colorful so hang in the room, we inflated the pool, we listened to gentle birth tracks everyday, and talked about what we both wanted for the birth. We were so prepared. and looking forward to meeting our baby.
Oh, stretchmarks, lovely, wonderful stretchhmarks! From the time I got pregnant, right up to the very last day I had been using an oil on my stomach to prevent stretchmarks and taking tissue salts that help with elasticity, things were going fantastically. Even though I had gotten so big I had no stretchmarks, I was rubbing that stuff in twice a day and it was bloody working. ..Until it didn't. Until the very last week when they came out of friggin nowhere!! And not just one little stripe, or even two. The entire bottom half of my stomach, my thighs, my hips..I was ruined. All that wok for nothing. All I can say is at least I was getting a baby out of all of this!!!
A week before I went into labor I got a call from midwife Dan, Brenda was ill and unable to attend my birth, so he was now my main midwife. Although I was quite sad we wouldn't have Brenda there (we had been in contact since month 2 after all, I was also delighted that Dan was stepping in! He taught us gentle Birth at eight weeks in Belfast, and now he was helping me to Birth my baby...I was ecstatic. Our second midwife was Angela, who we had met twice before and thought she was lovely, I had also heard wonderful things from other women who had her at their births, so we were both very happy with the way things were turning out. We were all set, we just needed baby to make his way now!
So if you've come this far and are still interested in the actual birth and our last hurdle into parenthood, then here's the birth story of our precious little fello: