Irish mum’s second birth in the US with midwives

Well as I’d gone early with my first daughter I assumed I’d be the same on my second birth. So 40 weeks came and went and no sign of baba!

I had decided early on I’d go with midwives as I’d seen that film “the business of being born” and I was nervous of the over-medicalised view of birth in America. Through friends I found a lovely midwife group who were very supportive of natural birth and just letting women do what they need to do during labour. I was really keen for a natural birth this time. Even though I had one the first time I was a little worried that this birth could be different and I wanted to do as much as I could to help me achieve this. So myself and my husband did a 12 week antenatal course (Bradley birthing class) and I read loads of inspiring books on birthing. Ina May Gaskin’s book quickly became a favourite. Continue reading

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Part 1: A VBAC mum negotiates one-to-one continuity of care with a DOMINO midwife for her hospital birth

A succession of events in my previous pregnancies and births, led me to realise the importance of continuity of care. I entered into my 6th pregnancy (4th birth) with much hindsight and was extremely determined to give this birth the best I could offer. My belief is birth is a special event. Our bodies and babies have a profound instinctual ability to orchestrate a cycle of events that gives rise to new life in the world. To enhance and protect this wonderful cycle of events, it was essential I create a support team (ie husband, midwife, doctor) and establish a positive natural birthing environment.  I had total trust in my body and baby (much credit to Ina May Gaskin’s books), it was my support network and environment that required planning. 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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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

A second time mum’s positive birth story: when plans change unexpectedly

When I was 38 weeks I had an appointment in the midwifery-led unit (MLU) where we discussed my birth preferences, only to be reassured that everything I was talking about was considered best practice there. At home, as the birth approached, we reevaluated who should accompany me for the delivery. Charlie found the whole experience very traumatic last time around, and he felt it affected him for days afterwards. So when he developed a bad chest infection, we took it as a sign and asked my mother to step in as birth partner instead, something she was excited to do. Continue reading

A first time mum’s fast labour with a domino scheme

Our first baby was due on Friday 8th February. I had kept pretty active during my pregnancy, I walked, swam, done a pregnancy yoga class, and bounced bounced bounced away on the pilates ball! I also listening to Gentlebirth CDs. I had a fear of hospitals, sickness, blood, needles and honestly didn’t know how I was going to get through pregnancy let alone labour. But at the same time I knew that I would love to have a natural, pain relief free labour. I wanted the best start for my baby and I really wanted to experience labour and feel my baby entering the world. I believe that keeping myself active throughout my pregnancy, informing myself of all my choices and keeping as calm as possible really helped me have the birth I wanted. Continue reading

Thank You Letter to a Midwife in Our Lady of Lourdes

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“I had a very emotional pregnancy and was quite anxious coming up to my baby’s birth. I had transferred my care to Dublin, rather than our local unit. It was the winter of very wintery weather, and the snow added to the worries and stresses as I was booked into a unit over an hour away. On the morning of Dec 20th, my labour started and we quickly knew we would not make Dublin. I was quite upset over this. We made our way in the snow and ice to the hospital. I was admitted at 9cm dilated and in transition. I was finding it quite tough due to an injury in the coccyx and the midwife I had was not sympathetic to this nor my needs. She wanted me on the bed, with CTG on continuously, and to push despite not having an urge. My contractions started to space out and I had a thick anterior lip on the cervix that wasn’t coming away. The midwife wanted to use oxytocin. I felt like everything was spiraling out of control and no one was listening to me – I wanted to stand, get off the bed, no CTG. (there was no reason for CTG, just midwife more comfortable with it as I was a transfer). I become more and more upset and the contractions got more and more spaced…… following a tense conversation (refusing oxytocin and my partner & I getting quite upset).

A new midwife took over named Emer. She was immediately a relief. She was calm and understanding and supportive. She recognised how anxious I was being there. She listened to my preferences. I was still 9cm dilated and with every contraction had a gush of waters. I had no urge to push. Emer told me I had a thick anterior lip on the cervix and that had to come away before I could have my baby. I remained standing by the bed. Emer brought in a birth ball, massage tools for my back, and a cd player so I could listen to music. She occasionally would take the baby’s heartrate intermittently as I stood and swayed. She would assure me all was well and let me get on with it. She was a quiet and calm force in the background, never imposing. Just what I needed.

After about a 1/2 hr of standing, my contractions started picking back up again. The waters kept gushing. At this stage I was in transition about 2 hrs! Suddenly, I had a few strong contractions, felt another little gush and felt the baby slip down. Emer asked me if I wanted to stay standing for the birth – I did. She got down on her knees and her gentle voice reminded me to open my legs for my baby. I started bearing down and after a few pushes my baby girl was born as I stood by the bed. I had no tears or need for stitches.

My entire labour was 3hrs – I was 2hrs in the hospital. When I think that oxytocin was prescribed…. Emer, was amazing. Her support was so vital. She believed in me, gave me time, and supported my choices. I would have had a very different experience had she not been my midwife and I am so thankful for her.”

Thank You Letter to a Midwife in Rotunda

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“My letter of thanks is to a midwife in the Rotunda. I was a first time mum who was admitted in labour very early. I had a long latent phase with an OP baby. The wards were really crowded and there was no delivery suite available so I was on an ante-natal ward, which was miserable. I felt I was losing control quite quickly trying to find space for myself and privacy to labour. I felt so exposed. In the afternoon a new midwife came on. She was foreign, I am pretty sure German! For the life of me I cannot remember her name but her face is etched in my memory forever! She was amazing.

She took me out of the ante-natal ward and brought me into the bath. I laboured in the bath for hours in privacy with this midwife checking in on me. Once out of the bath, she brought me into a room which had been closed off rather than back to the ante-natal ward. I stayed there hidden away in the dark to labour in peace until it was time to go to the delivery ward. Once in the delivery, I was nearly there, baby had turned, and I had a quick vaginal birth with no intervention and only the smallest of tears. That was 10 years ago and I am so thankful to her and the kindness she showed me. Her patience and knowledge of normal birth – to give me the space and time to labour as I needed – it was so important and I am sure made a huge impact on the birth that I had. Thank you, thank you! I will never forget you!”

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

Country Comparison: A US hospital birth experience for an Irish first time mother

I was born, raised, and lived the first twenty-nine-and-a-half years of my life in Dublin. But, as it tends to do, life took me elsewhere and three years later I found myself living in the very southmost tip of Texas, about to have a baby with my also-Dubliner husband. Before I was pregnant I always assumed I’d have an epidural when I had my babies, just as – as far as I knew – everyone did these days. Continue reading

Third time mum, fast natural birth

My third pregnancy was very much a surprise. It did not start in the best way! I was breastfeeding and vividly recall taking the first response test while holding my 6 month old PRAYING it would be negative. I nearly dropped him when the second line came up. I was in denial… only after the 5th test with varying shades of lines and symbols screaming PREGNANT did I actually look at my husband and conclude that I was very much indeed pregnant. My first words were “what are we going to do” Continue reading