First time mum has planned C-section due to placenta previa

Luckily for me, I live in Cork so had no problem accessing the home birth scheme. I had always known I would want a home birth, having little faith in hospital based care and fully trusting in the birthing process. I was looking forward to the birth and had had an uncomplicated pregnancy. Continue reading

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Ten things every mum-to-be should know about C-sections

Lucy O’Connor is a mum of three who has given birth to all three of her children by C-section.  She blogs at http://www.learnermama.com/ and has recently set up the Facebook Group “Irish C-section mammies“. She shares with us ten things every mother-to-be should know about C-sections. Continue reading

A third time VBAC mum’s empowering hospital birth after a traumatic birth

My first baby was a Caesarean for breech. It was quick, easy, and stress free – a generally positive experience. Regardless, I knew that if I got pregnant again, I would like to have a normal birth, not another Caesarean.

Fast-forward a year later, I’m pregnant!! This time, from early on, my baby was head down. I discussed the option of VBAC with everyone I could. Doctors. Midwives. Friends. Family. Online resources. I could not get enough information in me. I was healthy, fit, and everyone agreed, a fantastic candidate for a normal birth. Continue reading

Part 2: Our Birthing Journey Life & Death…finally Joy – Fighting for respect; My right to choose how and where I birth my baby.

On Monday, 42 weeks shared a birth story of a VBAC mum who was able to negotiate DOMINO care with a midwife in an Irish maternity unit. Her story is a must-read and is very popular. This second story, from the same woman, explains their birth journey and how they were able to negotiate the DOMINO care option.

Our Birthing Journey
Life & Death
…finally Joy

Fighting for respect;
My right to choose how and where I birth my baby. Continue reading

Communication Tools: Birth Preferences for your Birth Plan

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Your needs in birth are as individual as you are.

Your experience of labour and birth should be exactly that – YOURS. Every birth is unique and each woman will approach childbirth in her own way. It is important that you have the information you need to decide what is right for you and your baby, and that your experience of labour and birth reflects these wants and wishes. Continue reading

What you need to know about: Electronic Foetal Monitoring (CTG)

42 weeks campaign, AIMS Ireland, CTG, www.42weeks.ie

A woman has intermittent monitoring during labour in the birth pool. Photography by Claire Wilson, from the 42 weeks Pinterest gallery.

Electronic Foetal Monitoring

Electronic foetal monitoring is a commonly used practice in Irish maternity units.

Electronic foetal monitoring (EFM or CTG) measures your baby’s heartbeat in frequency and strength and measures your contractions. Continue reading

Taking the birthing world by calm

More and more Irish women are coming to the realisation that it is possible to birth comfortably and peacefully, even in a busy hospital environment

By Claire Maguire

When positive birthing stories begin to outweigh negative ones, you know you are doing something right. Being relaxed and self-assured are the main reasons why so many mothers are birthing their babies with zero drama nowadays.

However, don’t be misguided, to come to this point where a comfortable easy birth is possible preparation is key. First-time mothers tend to have long labours and many factors contribute to this. The unknown means they do not know what to expect of themselves or their bodies, which often means impatience sets in. Constant monitoring and waiting for the one to 10 dilation period adds tension to the body.

Adrenaline (the fight or flight hormone) gushes through the body, preventing the natural oxytocin hormone from releasing. When fear or panic takes over a woman’s body, even at a subtle level, labour can slow, contractions cease and out comes the term ‘FTP’ (failure to progress).

Being on a hospital timeline means that women who are having normal healthy births are often induced. Being ‘on the clock’ means that first-time mums feel unable to birth at their own pace. Their ‘zone’ I often talk about at my yoga classes is lost even before it’s begun.

Oxytocin (the love hormone) releases naturally, adrenaline nowhere to be felt. The cervix is relaxed, as is the baby, and with some patience and support from the midwives a content relaxed baby is born and the mother gets the rush of endorphins, giving her a natural high.

What is becoming more apparent is the emergence of second-time mothers having very positive birth stories. Most come to my yoga and birthing conscious classes with a very different frame of mind. An outlook of doing all they can in their womanly power to make sure their first birthing experience is not repeated. These women are more confident in their bodies and through the physical practice of the yoga postures get to know their bodies and its boundaries very well.

Training their breath, which can often be a harder task, lends them the power to be more relaxed and in tune with the growing life inside them. Knowing that by using their voice, be it deep sighs or low tones or vibrations, contractions are far easier to handle since their bodies are relaxed as well as their minds.

Oxytocin (the love hormone) releases naturally, adrenaline nowhere to be felt. The cervix is relaxed, as is the baby, and with some patience and support from the midwives a content relaxed baby is born and the mother gets the rush of endorphins, giving her a natural high. That natural high is something that every birthing mother deserves and must experience. It simply never leaves you and is one of life’s great pleasures.

Birthing preferences give mothers a voice that otherwise get lost during the labour process. Requesting dim lights in the labour suite, or a calm atmosphere or no to intervention makes a world of difference.

During my pre-natal training with my wonderful Canadian teacher, Janice Clarfield, finding and remaining in ‘the zone’ was spoken about in depth. She said many times over how possible it is to stay in a calm, relaxed state whether birthing in a busy hospital or at home. If ‘the zone’ is lost during the car journey to hospital or on arrival, it is possible to retrieve it once supported by a calm relaxed atmosphere.

In the 1980s, monitors were originally introduced to hospitals in the US for high-risk birthing women. What evolved over the years and fed out to other countries was the emergence of these monitors in all-labour suites. The rate of increase in surgical births here and abroad is not just happening to women who are deemed to be having complicated pregnancies but those who are deemed ‘healthy’ with ‘normal pregnancies’ are included in the rise and rise of Caesarean births.

Viewing the birthing process as a natural occurrence rather than a medical issue is key to changing attitudes to how we birth in this country.

Claire Maguire teaches pregnancy yoga and birthing conscious classes at The Yoga Room, Ashbourne.

A gentle VBAC water birth at home

It was 2am on Tuesday morning, 5th March, and I woke up to cramps. They were very manageable, really just felt like period cramps. After timing them for about 40 minutes, it seemed they were 10 minutes apart. Shortly after that my 4 year-old little monkey woke up and wasn’t feeling the best, so I took him down to his Daddy to mind and got back to bed to rest and keep an eye on the cramps. I wasn’t due until the 8th March, so I still thought that it might have been just Braxton Hicks. Anyways at 6am, they were still going and so I knew I was on my way. I pottered downstairs and turned on the immersion so the water would be ready when it was time to fill the pool. I didn’t want to disturb anyone at this stage as I felt it was too early yet. But by 6.30, they had moved to 4/5 minutes apart so I gave my midwife a buzz and she was on her way. Next phone call was to my sister who we had asked to look after the kids. Continue reading

A fourth time mum-to-be seeks a second opinion after diagnosis

My husband and I had been toying with the idea of a fourth child for some time but in early 2009, we decided that we would love to try for another baby. One morning I felt a familiar lightening when bending down and sure enough, a pregnancy test came up quickly with 2 pink lines. I was so excited about this pregnancy. My previous three children had been born very close together. This time, my youngest was in school and they were all at an age where they were great fun and less work. We had a little bit more money this time too. I was going to do all the things I had always wanted to – to treat myself – to celebrate and enjoy what was to be my last pregnancy. On the top of this list, was book a homebirth. Continue reading

Choice in Pregnancy and Birth in Ireland

Period late? Feeling tired? Sore breasts? Over emotional? These are all signs of pregnancy. Most mothers choose to further confirm such physical symptoms with a pregnancy test. Once you have a positive pregnancy test then a world of choice presents itself! Where will I have my baby? Who will look after me? How will I find out how to give birth? Should I breastfeed? For the first time mother the choices seem overwhelming and endless, and what makes it all the more confusing is that everyone seems to have a different opinion on what you should do! Continue reading

Second baby for mum who requested Caesarean following previous vaginal birth

I am not sure how exactly to tell my story. I suppose it begins with the birth of my first daughter five years ago…which was a positive experience but left me really damaged. I was induced by having my waters broken, things were going really well, I had my epidural and was fully dilated in 5 hours. I started pushing and after about 40 minutes the head started to come. I am not sure what happened but I tore really really badly. My daughter was born and I was taken to the theatre to get fixed up. I had quite severe injury. Continue reading

Pages from the sketchbook of an expectant mother waiting for her new arrival

“A few days before our little man was born I ended up in hospital with a rotten infection. I spent the days in isolation. These were drawings I did the night before our little man was born…these were painted as an affirmation or a prayer that our baby would just come out safely. By that time, the night before he was born, I was very worried something was wrong with him because I had been so sick.” Continue reading