The Power of Words: Birth Language and Self Advocacy

When it comes to making decisions about how and where you want to birth your baby, the information can often be overwhelming. Words like ‘private’, ‘public’ and ‘semi-private’ take on an entirely new meaning. In pre-pregnancy days, these terms were possibly not on your radar, at all. And then as soon as you get the positive result, pregnancy can appear as one long decision making process. Gathering all of the information that you can and trying to ensure that it is evidence-based and unbiased is an enormous task, in and of itself. One can forget that you are your own individual – with your own thoughts, feelings, history, personality and all the things that make you who you are.

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No epidural? Pain management and alternative tips – Part 5: Yoga, Mindfulness and Breathing Techniques

Photo courtesy of Clare Island Yoga Retreat Centre, Mayo, Ireland www.yogaretreats.ie

Science now broadly recognises that the practice of yoga, which includes breathing exercises and meditation, can “actually reverse the physiological signs of stress [and can] provide dramatic and lasting pain relief in a variety of conditions” (Diane Post, MD – Harvard Health Publications)

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Thank You letter to Teresa and the NMH Community Midwives

During my pregnancy, there was one particular visit where I said to my partner: “That’s who I want at the birth of this baby”. All of the community midwives who visited us for every single antenatal appointment in the comfort of our own home were amazing, but there was something about this midwife that made me feel even more confident and reassured that this home birth would be one of the most wonderful experiences of our lives. Continue reading

2nd time mum’s home birth story with the NMH DOMINO midwives

My second pregnancy flew by – with a nearly two year old toddler in tow, I hardly had time to contemplate all of the birth preparation I had so diligently practiced before my first child was born.

I had a fairly quick and easy labour at Holles Street (National Maternity Hospital or NMH) on my first child so my partner and I decided to opt for a home birth for our second baby. My second pregnancy was very typical in that I felt nauseous for the first few months, until I finally did a pregnancy test and realised I had conceived some weeks before. I was still breastfeeding my toddler so I was not getting regular periods at this point. We knew we wanted another baby so we were taking no precautions and letting nature take its course and after only two irregular periods, our second child was conceived. Continue reading

Birth Preferences Template

My Labour, Birth and Postpartum Preferences: Getting to know me and my family

This form gives you a chance to describe your preferences, values and concerns for your labour, birth and postpartum experience to the people who will be caring for you during your hospital stay. It may also remind you of your own wishes for your childbirth experience.

Your choices and preferences are important. However, being flexible and open to changes is also important since no one knows how your labour will progress. Unplanned events may change the care you need. Language like, “If possible…,” “unless medically necessary…,” “I prefer…,” tells the staff that you know that a change in plans is sometimes needed. Continue reading

The Mysterious Placenta and the Third Stage of Labour

Did you know, the placenta has always been thought of as a mysterious and powerful organ? 

31st century BC

Narmer Palette 31st century BC – the small attendant on the far right carries the placenta of the Pharaoh, thought to be his ‘soul’ or ‘external helper’

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42 Weeks Poll – Epidural: Your Story

The birth stories last week described one woman’s experience of choosing an epidural for her first birth and then opting not to have an epidural for her second birth. We’re interested to hear if you opted for an epidural, or not and we’re interested to know whether you plan to opt for one during your labour, or not. Continue reading

Induction of Labour – Is It Right For You?

When making decisions on maternity care options, a woman is faced with a plethora of possibilities. From the time a woman discovers she is pregnant, the choices can sometimes feel like more of a burden than an opportunity, as it can take serious time and effort to study all the risks and benefits to every option in maternity care. Research shows that women who are informed and confident about their birth choices tend to have fewer interventions and fewer complications compared to women who have done little to no preparation for their birth. At 42 weeks, we are trying to take the effort out of the task of researching and to present concise and thorough guides to some of the more frequently asked questions about common maternity care options in pregnancy, labour and childbirth. Today, 42 weeks looks at: Induction. Continue reading

Did you know? – Epidural pain relief and breastfeeding: New research

“The only thing as consistent as birth pain has been the search to eradicate it, pharmaceutically”Tina Cassidy, Birth: The Surprising History of How We Are Born

Pain medications in childbirth have been sought for millennia. Egyptians used opium, the Greeks chewed willow bark and, on a mythical level, Artemis asked Zeus if she could remain an eternal virgin just so that there would be no chance of experiencing the pain of childbirth! Later in history (around the 1850‘s) ether and chloroform became popular medications in childbirth, until it was proven that these anesthetics were transferred to the newborn during labour and delivery. From 1914 to the late 1960‘s, the new fad in pain relief in childbirth was ‘twilight sleep’, or scopolamine & morphine, whereby a woman was rendered completely immobile and/or semi-conscious in labour and childbirth. This method became unfavourable in the 1960’s and 70’s when women began to question their lack of agency in  labour and childbirth. There were also dangerous side-effects to scopolamine (mainly hemorrhaging and transference of medication to the newborn), hence it became an unpopular method of pain relief and its phasing out made way for the most common and effective pain relief in labour and childbirth that is still used today – the epidural. (Cassidy, 2006) Continue reading

How and Where your baby is born – Who gets to decide?

Today, a landmark case will be heard in the Four Courts in Dublin.

Aja Teehan vs HSE is a High Court challenge against the HSE and the Department of Health seeking judicial review of the refusal to grant her a home birth. Aja is challenging the HSE’s denial of her right to self determination, to decide how and where she births, by refusing her the option of an informed decision. Continue reading