Thursday, 17 March 2011

Home birth

Booking a home birth is not as simple as it should be. When I set out to book my home birth in 1990 I had to go through my GP. Thankfully this is no longer the case and you should be able to book a home birth with your midwife at the booking interview. Useful web sites include and where advice is available on how to go about ensuring your chance to choose. My GP said "No way, it is far too risky". So I went to my local library and looked up GPs in my area. I rang round till I found a GP who would accept me for care in the pregnancy and birth only. When my GP found out that he would not be getting paid for my care I was called into his surgery and given a right old telling off. I would however not change my mind as after my third birth I had vowed never to present at a hospital in labour again. Statistics for home births in the UK remain quite constant at around 2.5%. This figure could change with the current government's love of cuts. There are not enough midwives to cover all the hospital births so home births will be seen as a luxury that the NHS may not be able to support. If you have trouble arranging your home birth you can contact Beverley Beech at AIMS (Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services) who has promised to look into any obstacles. Beverley can be contacted by e-mail at or by post at 5 Ann's Court, Grove Road, Surbiton, Surrey, KT6 4BE. As a student midwife I was constantly offering women a home birth at booking when they were low risk. This behaviour was not looked upon with glee by my mentor who was not known for supporting women wanting a home birth. You have to be pushy and keep asking. Go to meetings run by homebirth-manchester and gain confidence from other mums with the same quest. You are more likely to have a pain free labour if you are at ease in your own home. If you have been practicing the relaxation techniques in pregnancy then you will feel more comfortable continuing the relaxing in labour in your favourite chair. Hopefully you will know your midwife from visits in the pregnancy and had a good chance to discuss the birth in detail so you know what to expect. Pregnancy and birth is not an illness for most women. Having a baby at home is not as scary as people will lead you to believe. In fact, home births can be wonderful. My forth was born at home and was my second pain free labour. Awesome.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Girl or Boy: your chance to choose?

When my youngest son was 4 years old I had an unsettled feeling that something was missing from my otherwise lovely life. Someone was missing. After three boys I began to long for a daughter. Down to the library again to research choosing the sex of future offspring (there was no Google then OK). I found a wonderful little book entitled Girl or Boy: your chance to choose by Hazel Phillips and Tessa Hilton (available from Amazon for 1p). Apparantly, girl sperm are heavier than male sperm cos they have more genetic material, no surprises there then. This means that they swim slower than the boys and get to the egg three days after ovulation rather than on the day. I took my temperature every morning before getting out of bed and plotted it on a home made graph. To my surprise my temp went up by half a degree once a month, ovulation day! I did this for three months just to test the reliability and it was like clockwork, super. For a boy you have to take precautions for the first half of your cycle and make love on the day of ovulation and for the rest of the month without precautions. For a girl you don't take precautions for the first half of the cycle up to three days before ovulation, after this precautions should be taken. Easy peasy. Phillips and Hilton also advise a special diet, not so easy peasy. For a boy, if I remember right, you eat as normal with salt not restricted. For a girl you need a salt free diet, Euwww! For three months I made my own bread that only me would eat cos it was so yuk. I had to tell my work mates, the school dinner ladies, that I was on a diet and that was why I was eating blocks of concrete for my lunch. That school chocolate pudding with pink custard never looked sooooo good. After three months of trying I found myself pregnant, thank you Paul for all your hard work! Girl or boy, nine months has never gone so slowly.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Relax with deep breathing.

From comments made by friends and family it appears that not everyone can relax with my method of progressive muscle relaxation. I am therefore willing to research other means of getting relaxed for labour for these fuss pots.
Deep breathing is a method of relaxing that is most suited to people who usually find it very difficult to switch off and chill out. As well as having something physical to do, the mind is also occupied. It is a quick way to get stress levels into check before they spiral out of control. Can also be combined with other methods of relaxing such as aromatherapy and mood music.Deep breathing will get more oxygen into your system which will oxygenate your contracting uterus and help produce energy there more easily. This means that the uterus can contract more easily and so not produce the sensation of pain.
  • Sit comfortably upright with your back supported.
  • Breath in deeply through your nose. (Some of you may need to blow it first)
  • Aim the breath at your abdomen rather than your chest, this is diaphramatic breathing.
  • Exhale through your mouth, pushing out as much air as you can.
  • Count slowly as you exhale so you have something simple to focus on.
  • Try and empty your mind while breathing of everything except the movement of air going deep into your abdomen.
You need to practice deep breathing for at least 10 to 20 minutes a day to gain the most benefit. It may be a little difficult with a pregnant uterus pressing against your diaphram but should still be possible. This method of relaxing also massages the large bowel so problems of constipation often experienced in pregnancy can be relieved. And from a midwifery point of view, going into labour with a nice empty bowel is a big bonus, honest!

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

The Third

After a sweep at 39 weeks into my third pregnancy where if felt like the doctor was examining my tonsils while she was in there, I went into labour. I wasn't concerned or at all worried. My last labour had been pain free so this one should be a doddle. I did my relaxing techniques at home till the contractions were regular, there was no pain. I duly arrived at the hospital and explained to the midwife how I just wanted to sit in a chair and relax as I had done with my last labour. Oh no. She wanted to put me on a CTG monitor even though I was low risk, the NICE guidelines have since put an end to unnecessary CTG monitoring in labour. While on the monitor I kept trying to sit up and do my relaxing but the midwife kept pushing me back down. I tried to relax in a semi sitting position but it just did not work and I was in a lot of pain. I explained this to the midwife and she said I had to stay on the monitor, she was becoming a little tired of me moaning and eventually said "Do you want your baby to die?" That shut me up. However, at no time did anyone look worried, no doctor came in the room to look at my CTG. I think she was lying to shut me up. All I wanted to do was sit up and relax. Was that too much to ask? Eventually after a lot of unnecessary huffing and puffing, I gave birth to my third little boy. Before I could look at him he was taken away "for a bath" the midwife said. A support worker came in to clean me up and I asked about my baby, she looked worriedly at the door and said he would be brought back soon. Half an hour later he was pushed into the room in a cot and put into the farthest corner away from me. "The midwife said that he is not to be disturbed" I was told by the support worker and then she left. I stared at the little white bundle for a while. Every fibre in my body was aching to hold him but by this time I felt totally disempowered. With my stress levels at maximum I decided to risk all and ring the buzzer, the support worker came in. I asked to be handed my baby, she quickly gave him to me with a guilty look and then left without a word. I was finally able to look at my beautiful little boy and offer him his first breast feed. I did not skip home the next day. I was a victim of institutionalized torture and would carry the scars for the rest of my life. I decided then that if I ever had a fourth then I would never ever, ever attend a hospital for the birth again. The maternity services had totally lost my trust. It would have to be a home birth. All I had to do was to persuade all the other interested parties that it was a good idea. Game on.