A Homebirth with Heart, Part 1: Planning and preparing

By first time mum Alex, who I met years ago climbing up some big rocks.

As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I knew I wanted a home birth. I was there for the birth of both my brothers, one at home and one at hospital. My mum had a great natural birth with both.natural-process I hate hospitals and because I don’t see birth as a medical condition (though understand that at times medical intervention is needed), I knew home birth was the right choice for me. I set out to find a midwife and was lucky to find someone who provided home births in our small town.

I saw my GP early on and she followed me until week 20 then I would usually have transferred to the midwife clinic. The appointments with my GP were honestly about 5 minutes. She took blood pressure, weight and got blood tests. In and out. No way was there any opportunity to discuss anything that was really on my mind.

I met my midwife, Gail for an initial appointment and just knew I’d made the right choice. She spent about 1 ½ hours with me. I did a lot of reading about natural child birth and had a lot of questions I wanted to ask. I felt comfortable asking her about her experience, her birth statistics and just generally getting a feel for her. We decided to hire her and she followed us up from about week 13. We both feel it has been the absolute best decision we’ve made. She wanted me to book in to the hospital which I did just in case things changed and I required a hospital birth or transfer late in pregnancy.

So my midwife would come for home visits roughly monthly then fortnightly and weekly when pregnancy progressed. She had an awesome library of books and dvds which she lent us and of course just answered our questions. She was really flexible with timing visits so from around week 20, we often saw her after work hours or Saturdays so Mark could attend. I really loved that he got to know her and was comfortable asking her questions. She did all the regular checks on me (blood pressure, baby’s heart beat, fundal height etc.) but she would also just spend time chatting to me. I was able to talk to her a lot about my fear around becoming a mother, letting go of my independence, giving up work for a while, the changes we would experience in our relationship. I found that stuff so much more important to talk about than baby development and birth preparation in general as it played a lot on my mind.

Of course, it was also great being able to ask questions we had around body changes, birth and various tests. I did a lot of reading and discussed tests with my midwife. We opted not to have the gestational diabetes or strep b testing and I was really comfortable with that decision. My midwife gave a lot of information, let us decide and never judged our decisions. I felt so respected with my decision making throughout the pregnancy. She suggested things to help prepare for the birth too, some of which I had never heard of – hello perineal stretching! Yes, that would be stretching the perineum! A scary thought! However, we psyched ourselves up for preparing that area and it was actually pretty funny! I think it helped too for me to become familiar and relax into the sensations I would feel at birth.

I didn’t really know how I wanted my labour to be. Mostly I just knew I wanted a calm, quiet, dark and private environment. Apart from that I didn’t know exactly where I wanted to birth in the house, if I wanted some soft music or candles, if I wanted to be in the shower etc. so we didn’t really plan anything. We debated attending a course like calm birth or hypno-birthing but the timing wasn’t good. In the end the yoga I did was one of the best preparations for me. In the third trimester, my energy levels waned and a friend recommended Satyananda pregnancy yoga. It focussed a lot more on breathing, meditation, visualisation and gentle physical practice. This was new to me but I found it such a good way to connect to my baby and body. I started doing a bit of the breathing and visualisation everyday towards the end of the pregnancy. Even just 10 minutes a day really made a difference. I also used affirmations daily from the 3rd trimester.

We chose to have our midwife at the birth. We also asked a close friend who kind of acted like a doula and my mum.respect-me

I also knew they wouldn’t be offended if I changed my mind and didn’t want anyone there.

Part Two: Welcoming our Daughter…coming soon

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My First Catch – A New Midwife Story

from a very special midwife called Avery, who I met in a jungle in Vanuatu.

One sunny fall afternoon I was sitting at a meeting with the other midwives in my practice. Our clinic is in the same building as the birth centre and partway through our meeting we watched a car enter the parking lot, at a possibly unsafe speed. It was one of the other midwives’ clients in labour. The midwife went up to assess and came back downstairs to rejoin the meeting, as this momma still had some labouring to do.

The midwife went upstairs periodically throughout our meeting and labour progressed quickly. When the momma was almost ready to push, the midwife’s phone rang – it was another one of her clients, a first time mum, in labour. She was having strong, frequent contractions and was already feeling pushy pressure!

Guess who was nominated to attend this second momma’s birth? Me! The brand new midwife. I was terrified, but also excited. I had met this client and her partner once before and felt that we had connected well, but I never imagined I would be the one coming to her in labour!

It was rush hour and (of course) this client lived at the other end of the city (they were planning a home birth). I gave them a call to let them know I was on my way and said a little prayer to the universe as I made my way to them. I finally arrived at their house and the door was answered by their wonderful doula.

sun-in-the-windowI had a listen to baby (who sounded happy) and asked if the momma would be comfortable with having her cervix checked – she was fully dilated and the baby’s head was soooo low! I called my backup midwife right away and prayed she would make it for the birth.

I didn’t coach this momma to actively push because baby was doing well and I wanted to buy some time to set up my emergency equipment. With the quiet encouragement of her doula she continued to breath through her contractions.

The timing was perfect! I had just finished setting up when I heard her starting to grunt and bear down. I took a quick look and could already see baby’s head! My backup midwife walked in just in time welcome a little peanut of a baby boy. I brought him up to his momma’s chest and the next several minutes were spent watching the new little family get acquainted.

precious-momentsWhat a special birth for my first catch!

Manduca, Ergo 360 and Tula Baby Carrier Review

Here is a brief run down of my experience with three different soft structure baby carriers. When buying carriers remember you can always search on eBay or gumtree for second hand options, I bought our Ergo 360 for much cheaper and it was only used twice. I have also resold the carriers I no longer use.

Manduca

This is the first carrier I used and I certainly hold a soft spot for them. I started wearing Boston at about 12 months of age, then used it again with Ruby from a newborn till around three months.

IMG_1833.JPGPro’s

  • Light weight and breathable in hot weather
  • Well suited to smaller framed people – easily adjusted
  • Built in hood (so you always have it with you)
  • Zipped section opens up to give you extra length; great for when baby is sleeping or as they grow taller ( I still carried Boston in our Manduca at 2.5 yrs).
  • My favourite aspect is the built in newborn pouch, a little tricky at the beginning but much easier then long wraps when you have a toddler to chase.

Con’s

  • The hood could be bigger, I just felt like there was never enough coverage.
  • My husband could never get comfortable with this carrier, it did not seem to fit his tall frame.
  • The waist band and arm straps are not as comfortable as other carriers I have used (maybe a padding issue).

Ergo 360

When Ruby hit three months of age she went through a stage of wanting to face outwards. At the time we were interstate and walking everywhere, so after a couple of days of her protesting the carrier and getting held facing outwards I got an Ergo 360. Super happy!

IMG_4417Pro’s

  • Allows baby to face forward in an ergonomic position (still not recommended for extended periods)
  • Both me and my husband found this carrier very comfortable. Which is quite awesome 
    considering I am 5’3″ and he is 6’2″
  • Really easy to convert into different positions.
  • Great inbuilt hood, that is easy to put on without help (even when they are on your back)
  • Very comfortable waist strap and arm padding

Con’s

  • Because the carrier is convertible to front facing the trade off is a seat that is narrowerthen an original Ergo. I found that by the time Ruby hit ten months she was not being supported in the best position, and we stopped facing her forward around 7 months for the same reason.

Tula

When Ruby grew out of the Ergo 360 I went back to our Manduca only to realise it wasn’t quite as comfortable as I remembered. We had bought a Tula Toddler for Boston and were really happy, so we went ahead and invested in a Tula Baby too.

IMG_4090.JPGPro’s

  • Both my husband and I find the Tula carries very comfortable. The waist bands are supportive and the arm straps are super padded
  • They come in a huge range of beautiful fabric designs that are constantly updated
  • Tula’s seem to hold their value more then other carriers, this could be because there are only a limited amount sold of each print
  • They have a nice wide seat, which means babies and toddlers will always have that great M position
  • Come in two sizes Baby 7 to 20kg and Toddler 11 to 27kg. Keep in mind that Boston is only 15kg but needs a toddler size because of his height. As in, height matters just as much as weight.
  • There is a pocket! amazing

Con’s

  • The baby/toddler seat of the carrier is not adjustable at all. It is one solid piece of fabric. So where ever it happens to come up your child’s back, that is where is is staying. Some carriers (including the Manduca and Ergo 360) have zip extensions or flaps that fold up or down. These give you a little more control on how your child is supported, sometimes they may want the arms in, or sometimes out. I was happy with the Tula Toddler size for Boston but a little disappointed that the baby size didn’t come very high up Ruby’s back (keep in mind she is still way too short to upgrade to a toddler size).
  • The hood is quite small and detachable, I almost never have the hood with me when I need it. In fact I am not entirely sure where I have left them….or my keys for that matter.

IMG_6121