Valerie Gommon Midwife’s Blog

Archive for the ‘birthpool’ Category

I guess the first choice is where do you want to give birth, at home, in a birthing centre or in a hospital?  Although you may be asked this at your first appointment you can actually decide at any time, even when you are in labour (although it may be easier if you make plans earlier).

There are so many factors to take into account, but the most important thing is to give birth where you feel safest.  Labour is a very instinctive, hormonal event and if you are scared or unhappy with your environment you will not labour so easily.

Homebirth:

There are many benefits to be gained by giving birth at home.  The woman is in familiar surroundings and is therefore more relaxed allowing the birthing hormones to work properly.  Labour is usually shorter, less painful and the mother is more likely to have a normal birth (so less need for ventouse, forceps or caesareans), she is more likely to breastfeed and less likely to suffer postnatal depression and she is more likely to report that she is satisfied with her experience.  These claims are backed up by research and evidence can be found at www.nct.org.uk/about-us/what-we-do/research/roepregnancy-birth

Birth Centre/Midwifery Led Unit:

These are often seen as a half-way house between home and hospital.  They have many of the benefits of home, a more relaxed environment but if you are concerned about the privacy aspect of birth (for example if you live in a shared house, or are concerned about the neighbours) or the mess (which in reality is rarely an issue) then a birth centre may be right for you.

Birth Centres are only an option for women whose pregnancy is defined as “low risk” which means that the birth is expected to progress without complication.  Should a complication occur you will need to be transferred into a hospital where more advanced help is available.

Hospital:

Many women choose to give birth in hospital because they believe it to be the safest place.  Of course it is true that the hospital will have advanced facilities if needed however you should also bear in mind that sometimes these facilities are over-used and that just by setting foot in a hospital you increase your chance of using some of that help!  If you choose to give birth in hospital my top tip would be to stay at home as long as possible.

Waterbirth:

I think the use of water in a labour and birth can be hugely beneficial.  I recognise that not all women will want or need a waterbirth, but I would strongly recommend all women not to rule the use of water out.  It may be that you use water by having a bath or shower in labour; it can be hugely comforting to have shower water jetting onto your tummy or back whilst in labour.

As I see it, if we are achy or tense a bath is usually helpful.  It works in just the same way in labour; water is usually relaxing.  Another benefit is that women are much more mobile in labour and have their weight supported by the water making it easier to move around.  Lastly (dare I say it) if you are in a birthpool no one can interfere with you!  You are in your own space and are much more in control of what happens.

Most hospitals now have at least one birthing pool and if it is something that appeals to you I suggest you discuss it with your midwife and let the labour ward midwife know as soon as you arrive at the hospital.  For homebirths there is a considerable choice of birthpools available, for example rigid “bath” type pools that come with and without water heaters and inflatable pools.

Active birth:

Most midwives will agree that by being as active as possible you give yourself the best chance of having a normal birth.  In early labour listen to your body – if you can rest then do so, if you can eat then have something to eat and also make sure you drink plenty and pass urine frequently.  As the labour progresses keep changing position as your body directs; some women want to squat, be on all fours, pace around … most importantly change your position don’t just take to bed.  Being active and gravity will help you baby find its way through your pelvis and may well shorten your labour.

Antenatally it is helpful to prepare for the labour by undertaking gentle exercise, perhaps walking, swimming or yoga.  I wish you a lovely birth wherever you decide it should be!

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Another guest blog by Sarah:

Harlow Zen’s Birth Story

Harlow is my third baby having had Rohan 9 years previously and Nayt almost 8 years ago.  With Rohan I was induced at 10 days late, in hospital, with an epidural given as I was told he was back to back and it would be too painful, I ended up after 17 hours flat on my back, with a nasty tear and a pretty miserable painful experience to tell but a beautiful baby nonetheless.  I had Nayt 16 months later and keen to never set foot in a hospital again, we used 2 Independent Midwives and had an amazing natural home water birth, in less than 4 hours with no pain relief, no stitches and 23 days late! I was out and about within days, a completely different experience to my first. Both babies were reasonable sizes at 8lb 13oz and 9lb 2oz respectively.

With Harlow, because he was my husbands first and I was a bit rusty having had a good few years off baby making, we decided to use another Independent Midwife as the 1-2-1 care is like nothing else, and gives you the confidence that you will get the best birth outcome and overall experience possible, as they really get to know and understand you.  As my pregnancy progressed it was clear this baby was going to be on the large size, which I had kind of expected. I was advised to cut down on sugar but with a massive cake craving, this didn’t really happen, so I tried damage limitation by continuing to ride as long as I could and towards the end to swim daily and keep up with walking the dog.

I think my confidence in giving birth was knocked a bit towards the end because I had to have a series of late scans to check the placental position, as was slightly lying low at the 20 week scan. This showed up that at 34 weeks the baby was the size of a full term baby. I am reasonable at simple maths, and that added up to one BIG bubba!!

Because of this, I was told to expect an early baby. Unlike my other two pregnancies where I had no pre-labour signs whatsoever, I was starting to get runs of proper contractions about 3 weeks prior to my due date. I had so many signs in fact that I have decided there are no signs until the baby is literally crowning!! Along with contractions, I was nesting, had a show,  had a permanently bad tummy, babies head engaged….never happened to me before labour with the other two, bump shifted down….and then my due date came and went…and my bump un-engaged and shifted up!!!

On Tuesday 18th May after my husband Adam had taken the kids to school I started to get decent contractions. I really felt like today was the day. By midday they had gone, and annoyed I took my dog on a hill walk hoping to jolt the baby out with some gravity! Nothing! I was really sure that was it too, as my dog Phoebe had been all over protective, following me around and sleeping beside me wherever I went.

They started again around 11pm, but having sent our midwife numerous ‘I think its started’ texts over the last few weeks, decided to sleep on it.  At 1.55am Wednesday 19th May I woke up with a jolt as my waters literally burst all over the place. I managed eventually to wake my husband up who had fallen asleep on the sofa downstairs and after a massive clean up operation we called our midwife Valerie and she came out straight away.

The contractions had stopped but restarted around 3am and were roughly every 3 mins, reasonably painful (a 5-6) but not lasting too long. We all tried to get some sleep at 6am, but the contractions slowed down a lot.  By the time my kids woke up and we had agreed they could take the day off school, they were back to quite painful and we all thought finally ‘this is it!’. By about 9.30am I got into the birth pool my husband had busied himself filling and my labour ground to a halt and slowed down. My parents came and took the kids out for lunch as it was my Dads birthday, and gave me a bit of space and peace. At 1pm-ish we asked Valerie to examine me and I was disappointed to find I was barely dilated, and all that pain and hard work had merely helped Harlow to get into a better position.  Valerie left for home and me and Adam went for a walk, had some lunch and then at 5.20pm decided to get some sleep.  My kids were sent off to their rooms to watch a film.

At this point I was feeling despondent and was sure my pain threshold was rubbish. I started soon after to get contractions every 8-9 mins, lasting almost 2 mins and they were really painful. The peaks seemed to last for 40 seconds before subsiding. By almost 7pm I was crying and convinced I was still about 3 cm dilated.  I got very emotional and was convinced I would end up in hospital with a c-section. Adam was amazing and really supported me. He suggested we call Valerie, who had just text me. She came out with the entonox and as soon as she arrived I was getting the urge to push. I was on all fours and could not move into any other position…how I got downstairs I have no idea!!!

I managed to get downstairs and Adam re-filled the pool which we had drained down partially earlier.  I got in, and contractions were very close, strong and the peak lasted ages. Adam was great and helped me get the gas and air when I needed it, and provided emotional support as well as an arm for me to dig my nails in (sorry Adam!!), and Valerie helped me to get past the panicky ‘I cant do this’ with encouragement that I could really trust in.  At 8.20pm I could feel Harlow move down and he was born in the birth pool at 8.40pm. Valerie had called my kids down and they both watched their little brothers entrance into the world.

Harlow was born behind me, so with some jigging I was able to climb over my cord and hold him.  He cried a little and had a feed quite soon afterwards.  He was covered in vernix and his skin felt so soft.  He looked just like 3d scan picture and apparently my first words were ‘Hello Harlow’.  Adam cut the cord after it stopped pulsating and Valerie tied the cord with a cord tie I made specially for the event, and as I delivered the placenta naturally an hour later, Adam, and the kids had all taken turns to hold Harlow and make their introductions. It was the most special sight ever and something they will never forget, nor will I.

At 10.30pm we sent the kids to bed, and after a glass of champagne with Valerie; myself, Adam and Harlow settled down for our first night together. Perfect.

We were all a bit shocked that Harlow tipped the scales at 10lb 6oz, and I got away with a tiny tear and a graze and no stitches!! It was a more painful labour than Nayts birth, and the longest overall labour, but an amazing experience that 5 days after the event makes me ask ‘when can I do it again’???.

This is a guest blog, written by one of my clients.

My name is Donna and I am a mother of three.  Two year old Grace and nine week old fraternal twin girls Olivia and Faith.

My husband Paul and I had always agreed that we didn’t want a big age gap between our children so when Grace was one year old, we decided to begin trying for baby number two.  I fell pregnant fairly quickly but unfortunately suffered a miscarriage at 5 weeks which was very upsetting.  After a few weeks we were ready to try again and as before, I fell pregnant within a couple of months.

I was very anxious during the first few weeks hoping that this time I would hold onto the baby.  At 12 weeks it was time for the scan.  I was feeling quite relaxed as the pregnancy was going well and I was feeling extremely sick which I thought was a good sign.

The last thing on my mind was the fact that I could be carrying twins.  When the ultrasonographer casually told us ‘oh, you have two in there’, we knew that our lives were going to change forever.  I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry – so I did both!  Everyone in the room was so excited for us but my husband and I were just stunned.  His face was a picture.  They told me that the reason why I had felt so sick was due to the additional hormone racing round my body. They also told us that the twins were fraternal and each had their own placenta and were in their own sac which is the safest type of twin pregnancy.

The first feeling I had once I had calmed down was that of being pregnant for the first time.  My pregnancy suddenly went from having a singleton baby and feeling confident that I had done this before so it will be ok, to all the anxieties of a first time pregnancy.

I knew that I had to do my research so as I could make some informed decisions about my pregnancy and birth.  When I told the ultrasonographer that I was planning a home birth, her reaction was ‘oh, you won’t be able to do that with twins’.  I had a fantastic pregnancy with Grace and had her at home in a birthing pool.  The thought of having to follow a medical route and have my babies in hospital filled me with dread.

As with my first pregnancy, I chose to take on an independent midwife.  This was my preference as I knew I would be less likely to end up with a hospital birth.  I made sure I looked after myself by eating well, getting plenty of rest (as much as Grace would allow me!) and exercised regularly.  I found swimming was great for keeping me fit and taking the weight off my bump.  I had regular scans to check on the twins’ development and position.  Throughout the pregnancy, Olivia (first born) remained head down and Faith was breech.  I knew that this wasn’t ideal but also knew after doing some research that as long as Olivia remained head down and although a little more risky, I could still safely deliver Faith as breech.  At 38 weeks I went for my final scan and to my surprise, Faith had done a full turn and was now head down along with Olivia.  The perfect combination for birth.

We had put together a birth plan that covered every eventuality if I needed to be transferred to hospital at any stage.  Two days after my last scan; my waters broke at 9.30pm when I was lying in bed.  I felt a pop and then a head drop down.  I walked into the bathroom and called downstairs for Paul saying ‘I think my waters have broken!’  He chased upstairs and I told him to call the midwife.  My contractions started almost immediately after my waters broke.  I spoke to my midwife and she told me to go back to bed as things may not start to happen until the morning and I would need my rest.  Olivia was not going to wait until morning.  I came downstairs and stood in the bathroom leaning over the toilet with my contractions coming fast and furious.  I tried the TENS machine but that didn’t really work for me.  Paul was in the dining room putting together the birthing pool which I got into as soon as it was ready.  The relief was immense.  I had heard that water was the most effective pain relief next to an epidural – I can well believe that.

I had four midwives looking after me and the babies and they all arrived at my house in time.  It was all happening so quickly and Olivia was born in the pool at 11.55pm.  She shot out and I heard her crying straight away.  I stood up and held my baby; I was elated and also amazed that my babies would have their own birthdays.  One of my midwives held my stomach to make sure that Faith fell and engaged in the right position.  We knew she was head down so we needed to make sure she stayed that way.  We decided to wait for my labour to progress naturally however, it slowed down.  I got out of the pool to walk around and see if I could get it started again.  Four hours passed and a decision was made to break the waters around Faith as the midwife discovered they were still intact.  As soon as the waters were broken, Faith was born on the sofa, again extremely quickly.

She cried straight away and the midwife placed her on me so as I could give her a cuddle and have skin to skin contact.  Another of the midwives was looking after Olivia.  Both my babies were born healthy and I couldn’t have been happier than I was just then.

The down side was that I now had to deliver the placentae.  I was so tired but knew I had to keep going.  One of my midwives helped to keep me relaxed with hypnobirthing techniques and control my breathing.  The placentae had fused together and were not budging.  With a combination of experience from my midwives and a hot towel placed across my stomach, the placenta moved and came away.  If it hadn’t been for the determination and skill of the team of midwives, I think I would have ended up in hospital with a retained placenta and that would have been disappointing after going through the entire birth at home.

So all was well.  I was in good health and although extremely tired, felt elated and proud that I had accomplished the birth I wanted.  My husband Paul was fantastic during and after the birth and I couldn’t have asked for a more supportive birthing partner.

A home birth is not for everyone and if there had been a health issue with either myself or my babies, I would have chosen hospital care.

I wanted to share my story so as other women can see that you do have choices during pregnancy even when you are having twins and you can make decisions that are right for you.  For more information about twin and multiple pregnancies visit www.tamba.org.uk

Donna has also set up a website which offers information about homebirth; she offers a free ebook at www.happyhomebirth.com

It has occurred to me that I haven’t written about the benefits of waterbirth.

I think the use of water in a labour and birth can be hugely beneficial; I’ll start with my own personal experience/feelings about waterbirth.  When my youngest child was born, more than twenty years ago now, waterbirths were just being talked about in the press.  I remember my husband asking me whether I wanted to consider a waterbirth and I have to say that I wasn’t interested, but then I’d already had three babies and I knew that I could cope with labour.

As a midwife, I would say that my opinion of waterbirth is only positive.  I recognise that not all women will want or need a waterbirth, but I would strongly recommend all women not to rule the use of water out.  It may be that you use water by having a bath or shower in labour; it can be hugely comforting to have shower water jetting onto your tummy or back whilst in labour.

As I see it, if we are achy or tense a bath is usually helpful.  It works in just the same way in labour; water is usually relaxing.  Another benefit is that women are much more mobile in labour and have their weight supported by the water making it easier to move around.  Lastly (dare I say it) if you are in a birthpool no one can interfere with you!  You are in your own space and are much more in control of what happens.

Most hospitals now have at least one birthing pool and if it is something that appeals to you I suggest you discuss it with your midwife and let the labour ward midwife know as soon as you arrive at the hospital.

For homebirths there is a considerable choice of birthpools available, for example rigid “bath” type pools that come with and without water heaters and inflatable pools.

I think the main benefit of the rigid pool with a heater is that you can put it up in advance of the birth and treat yourself to a relaxing “wallow” in the days leading up to the birth and also not have the stress of putting up the pool once labour starts.  The negative to these pools is that because they have a water filter you will need to put chemicals into the water to keep it clean.

The inflatable pools are very good, they are also usually cheaper than hiring a rigid pool.  The pool will be brand new (although both types have a disposable liner to ensure hygiene) and can be used again, or used as a giant paddling pool or ball pool for your children.  The soft sides of the pool are also very comfortable to lean against.

Here are a selection of companies who either hire or sell waterbirth pools:

www.thegoodbirth.co.uk – quote Valerie Gommon

www.borninwater.co.uk – quote Indy Mid discount

www.gentlewater.co.uk

www.bubbatubs.com

www.aquabirth.co.uk

www.madeinwater.co.uk

I have recently had a client birth her twin girls at home.  To give birth to twins at home is a rare event; it is obviously slightly more risky that a single birth.  My client carefully considered the risks and benefits of homebirth.  She had previously given birth at home and felt that for her home was the right place.  She knew she would feel safe, relaxed and that her labour could not be “interfered” with (for example many women expecting twins are encouraged to have an epidural and to give birth with the help of doctors in theatre).

Her pregnancy progressed well; an ultrasound scan showed that the twins were dichorionic, diamnionic which gives the best possible prognosis as each baby was in it’s own amniotic sack and had it’s own placenta.  My client chose to have growth scans which showed that her babies appeared to be growing well and equally she declined the option to see an obstetrician as she felt this might be undermining.

We were mindful that a woman with a twin pregnancy needs excellent nutrition to grow two babies, and to maintain her health and wellbeing and my client ensured that she ate well, especially iron rich foods, protein and extra salt (as suggested by Dr Tom Brewer).    As she experienced pelvic discomfort, she saw a chiropractor throughout her pregnancy and found this to be beneficial; she also experienced heartburn as might be expected with a twin pregnancy.

During the pregnancy we made extensive plans about how we expected the birth to progress; what we would do in the event of  problems and who we would have present at the birth.  We planned to aim for the most experienced team we could muster.  In the event we had four midwives – not because we felt we needed four, but because the midwives were keen to attend a twin birth, and my client was very happy to have them present.

On scan at 36 weeks we were surprised and pleased to learn that both babies were cephalic (head down).  Previously the second baby had been in a breech position.

My client laboured at 39+ weeks.  Her labour was fast and the first baby was born in the birth pool within two hours.  There was a bit of a delay but her second daughter was safely born in good condition and although initially tired, she has recovered well and is doing really well.

This was a fabulous outcome – I was blessed with clients who were strong, did their research and knew that they wanted to give birth at home.  They did not want a homebirth at all costs and would have transferred to hospital if I felt that there was a clinical need.

Introduction to Homoeopathy – Ursula Kraus-Harper

Thursday 17th June 8 – 9.30 pm

Talk at NCT event Medbourne Community Sports Pavilion, Pascale Drive, Medbourne

Milton Keynes Antenatal Exhibition

Sunday 20th June,

2-4.30 pm FREE entry,

Christ the Cornerstone Church, CMK opp M&S bit.ly/dBsLmL 300 Saxon Gate West, Central Milton Keynes, MK9 2ES.

FREE entry, refreshment and goody bags. An opportunity for expectant parents to gather information on all aspects of pregnancy, birth and early parenting. Exhibitors include: midwives, breastfeeding, waterbirth, cloth nappies, complementary therapies, ultrasound scan, baby massage, aquanatal and much more!

Please contact me info@3shiresmidwife.co.uk for more details.

As an Independent Midwife I have clients within quite a wide geographic area, and it isn’t unusual to have a client who lives up to an hour from my home.  If the client has had several children and previous quick labours I occasionally sleep over at their house when they may be in early labour to ensure that I can get to them in time.  However, although my last client usually had long labours and I was thinking that I’d have plenty of time to get there, but when I saw the snow expected I decided that I should go and camp out with her just in case I couldn’t get to her.  I drove over (in blizzard conditions) and felt very relieved that I had as I wouldn’t have relished the journey in the middle of the night.  In the event, her baby didn’t arrive that night, but she laboured the following afternoon and her baby was born in her sitting room at around 9pm.  It was a fabulous birth, in the pool surrounded by her husband, mother and two children who watched in awe.  We all tucked up in bed afterwards, very content and secure.

The following morning after breakfast I was able to perform a postnatal examination on both mother and baby and had the opportunity to discuss the nights events with my client and her children before setting off to go home.

Fortunately my next clients are much more local to home, but I confess to waking several times in the night recently to look out and check how much snow has fallen – after all a midwife can’t stop working just because there is a little (or a lot) of snow!


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