Thursday 11 April 2013

Planning my Home Birth - 34 weeks

Readers, things are starting to get real.  I am heading very quickly to 35 weeks.  Even if I go overdue to 42 weeks like last time, we are in single figure weeks now.  Yikes.

I'd like to say it's gone quickly.  In some ways it has, I suppose.  Quicker than last time because I'm inevitably more busy with Ethan to look after, even though he is at preschool, when he's there I'm doing the housework or blogging.  No maternity leave like last time.  I was damn lucky last time.  I had a load of holiday saved up so I finished working at around 31 weeks.  I had 5 days of the week to myself.  Even I can't make house work that long so I could potter around as I pleased.  If it was hot I spent the afternoon lounging around in a bikini in a paddling pool in the back garden (like a beached whale).  I had a two hour nap most afternoons.  I had the energy to take myself into Bristol to potter about the shops and buy baby clothes in TKMaxx and bulk buy Natty nappies in Boots... and I had the energy to carry it all home!  It's completely different this time around.  I've found this pregnancy so much harder physically.  I've reached the stage now where I can pretty much manage walking Ethan to and from preschool.  That's about it.  If I do that I can't really do any proper house work.  Not without paying for it in pain and stiff joints later in the day.

So, yes, things are getting real now and I need to start writing my birth plan and really getting things sorted for the home birth I'm planning.  Have I mentioned that before?  I think I may have in passing.  Yes, this time around I'm planning a home birth.  It's always appealed to me but when I was pregnant with Ethan I didn't have the confidence to go for it.  My experiences in labour with him, whilst not terrible, were not what I really wanted, so this time I'm trying to keep all the control I can.  Of course I realise that things may not go to plan and I may still end up with a hospital birth but if I can at least feel like I've done everything I can to get the birth I want then I'll be happy.

My experience with home birth has been mixed so far.  Way back when I had my booking in appointment with my midwife (I think I was around 10 weeks pregnant then) they were happy for me to plan a home birth.  The second time I went along, around 16 weeks I think, I was told that it was unrealistic, that there aren't enough staff and that the likelihood is that I'd end up birthing alone.  That meeting upset me greatly.  You can read about that here.  After that meeting, I started backtracking and planning a birth in a local birthing centre which opened in January.. I was getting myself all geared up for that when I went back for my next midwife appointment where I was then told that actually, I should try to go for a home birth seeing as I'm passionate about it!!  I couldn't have been more thrown.  Ever since then I've been planning the home birth, reading up about it, reading other peoples experiences.  I also know someone who's managed to have a successful home birth, one of my oldest and closest friends gave birth to her first daughter at home this February in London.  Knowing that she managed it has inspired me, so I intend to carry on making my plans :)

What am I actually doing to get ready then?  Well, of course, there are some practical implications.  I want a water birth so I've had to organise a birthing pool.  Some parts of the UK offer birthing pools for home births but North Somerset isn't one of those.  Birth pools are likely to cost around £100-150 to buy depending what type you buy and what extras you add.  You can hire them.  I've been very lucky and I'm going to be provided with one by a lovely company called The Good Birth Company.  They are providing me with a mini birthing pool in a box.  I've opted for the mini because I'm only about 5'2' if that and I want to make sure there's plenty of room around the pool for the midwife and Pete.

Image source: The Good Birth Company
Because I'm opting for a water birth, there are a few extra things to think about, such as making sure we have a way to fill the pool - luckily The Good Birth Company provide a hose in their basic extras kit which we can attach to our tap - hopefully the one in the kitchen.  I've invested in some plastic sheeting to place on the carpet under the pool just in case.  I will also be putting some spare oil cloth table cloth material I have on one of our sofas for me and baby to relax on after birth.  I'll be covering this with some old towels so it's comfy to sit on.  This is just really to save the sofa from blood leakage.  Hopefully I won't bleed too much but I remember in hospital last time bleeding through onto the bed sheets when I was in overnight, so it's better to be safe than sorry!!

In my bed I'm going to put some of those bed wetting sheets you can buy under my bedsheet - I'm going to do this in a few weeks just in case my waters break in bed.  I want to protect the mattress!  I'm also going to replace the fitted sheet with a dark coloured one I have once labour starts and will place an old towel in the bed to lie on when I do go to bed.

I intend to just wear a bikini top to labour in, maybe with a baggy t shirt when I'm not in the pool.  Last time I wore a cheap nightie which was fine.

I've bought myself some arnica tablets to take after the birth - I did this last time and I healed quite quickly.  Anything that might help!! I've also bought some raspberry leaf tea capsules.  I drank the tea last time in the last few weeks of labour but I HATED the stuff.  I am someone who drinks herbal tea on a daily basis so this is saying something!  I think it's because it's mixed with apple, I hate apple!! I'm more of a lemon and ginger girl.. So, this time, I've gone for the capsules.  I'm taking one a day now (just started) and will up it each week, so at 35 weeks I'll take 2 a day.  You can take up to 6 a day.  I'm not sure I'll go that far, but I'll certainly up it to 3 or 4 a day.  Raspberry Leaf extract is supposed to help tone the uterus which can help you have a quicker 2nd stage labour.  Now, I had to be induced last time, so I'm not sure if the tea I was drinking made much difference or not, but because I hated it, I only managed one cup per day, if that.  Some days I couldn't hack it at all.  I have no problem swallowing capsules!

For the birth, I intend to use my TENS machine as soon as contractions start - you don't really want to be getting in the pool before about 4-5 cms dilated.  My TENS worked well for me last time.  That reminds me, I need to buy some new pads for it so I can attach it!  I'm also planning to get into my bath at home whenever I feel it will help.  I want to avoid pain relief as much as possible - I didn't get gas and air last time, for some reason the midwife wouldn't let me have it!  I had pethidine right towards the end of my labour.  I'd managed nearly 30 hours with nothing but TENS and at that point they thought I'd labour for another 7 hours so I had the pethidine but Ethan was then born less than an hour later and we were both completely drugged up.  It wasn't a great start.

I plan to have some candles lit in the room for the birth - I'm going to use the living room.  I can have music on if I want.  I've not made a playlist because in all honesty, I'm not sure what I'll fancy listening to, I'm going to play it by ear (oh, haha!).

After discussion, we think it'll be best if Ethan isn't home for the birth.  Despite him knowing all about how babies come out, he's a sensitive little soul and I don't think it'll be helpful for him to see me in pain, or bleeding.  I didn't make any noise in labour with him, but I can't guarantee it'll be the same again this time.  I just think for him, it'll be best if he's somewhere else.  My parents are going to take him.  I'm just not sure exactly at what point!  Again, I plan to play it by ear.

This is my list of what I'm getting in ready for the birth/post birth:

Birthing pool & extras (hosepipe, tap connectors, thermometer, pump to remove water etc..)
Old towels - as many as I can get together
Plastic sheeting - for the floor
Oil cloth material - for the sofa
Maternity pads - for bleeding after the birth
Arnica - for after the birth
Lavender oil - to use in the bath after birth to help healing
Bikini top & t shirt/nightie - to labour in
TENS machine & new pads - for early labour
Snacks (chocolate, bananas, oat bars etc)
Water bottle & straw - makes drinking easier during labour
Blanket for me and baby post birth
Protective pads - for my bed in case of waters breaking and blood loss after labour
Dark coloured fitted sheet - for bed after labour
First set of clothes for baby
Camera - with battery charged!

That's my list at the moment - I'm sure there will be more things I'll think of!

Something else worth mentioning.  I plan to deliver the placenta naturally and to leave the cord attached for at least an hour post birth so that baby gets the best start he can.  If I can, I also hope to do what is known as the "breast crawl" in the hopes to establishing a good first feed.

Have you had a home birth?  Are you planning one?  I'd be really interested in hearing the views of others who've planned/succeeded in a home birth.

This post is linked up with Mums Make Lists for The Friday Baby Shower.


  1. Thanks for sharing your story. I am at 34 weeks now and also planning a home water birth. Its useful to read other people's preparation ideas. You didn't mention (although you may not have wanted to!) the poo sieve for catching and removing any 'other' expulsions! Just an idea in case you hadn't thought of it. I am so excited for my birth, we are hoping to be able to film most of it and cut it later to a viewer appropriate length. I am also having some bump pictures done next week which I am very excited about. Good luck and I look forward to hearing how it goes for you

    1. Hi Fiona!

      I love reading other peoples home birth/water birth plans as well! You can always get something from them, something you've not considered etc.

      You're right, I forgot to mention the sieve - I have got one! It came with my pool kit this week :) I didn't have any poo issues with my first son's birth but you never know, do you!

      Good luck with your birth, the filming and photos and thank you for reading and commenting! x

  2. So exciting to hear you're going for a home birth - I was a home born baby and would have loved the same experience, unfortunately as complete geriatric they deemed me too high risk :-(

    Really great tips and lists - have pinned the post.

    Thanks so much for sharing at the Friday Baby Shower - Alice x

    1. Oh, that's a shame you didn't get to experience home birth - as the one giving birth! I really hope things go to plan here and I manage the home birth.

      Thanks for reading, commenting and pinning :)



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