This is great. My baby is due in June and s/he will be my first so I don't have much advice. I also haven't read the entire thread yet, but I've heard that filling condoms with water and freezing them is good to put on the vagina after birth.
What do you wish you would have known beforehand? - Page 18
Ohhh I have my own to add. Now I don't know how true this is and it's not even necessarily JUST for home birth but you know how we ladies sync up? Apparently if another woman in the house has her period it may affect labor starting. Again not sure how true this is but on a scientific view it's awesome to think about! (And certainly something I wish I knew before my mom in law and sis in law flew in....)
Also, not having cervical checks was HuGE. No numbers to compare your progress to, no pressure. I didn't know I was fully dilated until my body started involuntarily pushing.
This will sound funny, but I can't think of a single thing I wished I had known, beforehand.
I knew I don't like people around, so it was just DH, the kids (and DH to keep them out of my hair if needed) and the midwife, and no visitors til like a week after, and then, only my mother, and only briefly, because her idea of helping gets on my nerves.
I knew I wanted a labor pool and was really glad to have one. One homebirth, I crawled out of it and went upstairs pushing, to birth at the foot of my bed. The other one, I birthed right in the pool. One never knows what one will want in the moment.
I didn't have expectations one way or another about perineal tears, and I tore both times requiring stitches. It was more like the top layer of skin, from vagina to rectum, "popped" open in a line, than what you would think of as "tearing". My skin is not elastic, I get stretch marks easily, and I don't think the tears could have been prevented. I expect it will happen again this time. My babies were 10 lbs, and then 9 lbs. It's not pleasant, but it's not terrible. Better than an episiotomy! It healed each time, and I'm fine down there.
I had heard of self-stim to help get through crowning, and the second homebirth, I tried it...reached down and "touched myself" and you know what? It DID help! So I might keep that in the toolbox along with having placenta available for consumption (really saved me with hormone mood swings the first homebirth...oddly enough, ended up not needing it, the second one... again, one doesn't know one time to the next, so it's best to have the option regardless).
None of these things are things I wished I had known beforehand, because they are things I heard about beforehand, and was glad to be able to use, or they were things that couldn't be prevented, so weren't some great disappointment when they happened.
It helped me a LOT to be able to compare the pain of transition, to the pain of my first child's failed Pit induction ending in cesarean. That Pit induction only got to 4 cm, and was far more painful and horrible than anything the natural births at home afterward, with larger babies, presented, and with my first HBAC, the 10 lb one, in transition I did say almost as if it were a required ritual, "I can't do this!" but always in my mind, a little awareness kept nudging me, that this STILL was better than going through that induction and cesarean had been!
So I had a sort of benchmark to compare against, and it gave me courage that I COULD endure it, because at every stage of natural labor, I could remember that I had been through worse with the hospital scenario, so this wasn't so bad!
Oh my goodness, what a wealth of information! Whether I end up having a UC or not (due date's in a week!) I'll be at least laboring at home for as long as possible, so this is good stuff to know. I hadn't thought of keeping snacks/sandwich stuff on hand for any helpers, very glad to be able to remedy that before it became embarassingly obvious that I'd neglected them while they were trying to help me. =P
Also having a jobs sheet would be very handy, I'll make one of those too.
It sounds like the biggest and most common piece of advice is simply "follow your instincts!!" Whether you want a certain food or drink, or want to get more comfortable, or want your MIL to leave you alone, whatever...just do what feels right at the time. I hope I'm able to do that when it's crunch time. =)