To what extent do we create our birth experience and to what extent is it beyond our control? And what worked for you to make it a good birth? - Mothering Forums

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Old 02-15-2010, 12:59 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I am looking for suggestions of things people did that made their birth great.
(I am doing a homebirth which is why I posted this thread in this forum.) And in doing so am wondering about this idea:

As I get ready for my first ever birth, I just have no idea what to expect. And I feel that I am as prepared as I can be for something like this but with it going to be my first time I just have absolutely no idea how it will go.

So I wonder- to those of you who have done this. What do you think- to what extent did you find that you were able to influence or control aspects of your birth- through relaxation techniques, environment, strength and health of your body in pregnancy, support systems, water tub or whatever else.

And to what extent is each birth just beyond one's control?
I guess I just have no idea how to expect for it. I do know I am surrounding myself with positive birth experience stories as much as possible.

But how much have you found things you knew or did were able to make for a good birthing experience.
And any good advice on things that made your birth good?
I guess I am looking for good and reassuring ideas here.

What worked for you to help your birth go really well, especially a first time birth?
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Old 02-15-2010, 01:12 AM
 
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Old 02-15-2010, 01:21 AM
 
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I really think that the best thing you can do is to find a provider/team of providers that you really trust. Wherever you plan to birth, I really think that the key to accepting the flow of labor and birth is trusting yourself and your team to make informed decisions along the way.

So, along that vein, I had a fantastic home waterbirth but I was completely open to the idea of transfer (in fact I was pretty shocked when all was said and done and we were still at home) because if my midwife suggested it, then I knew I could trust her. A couple of other things I did that I felt contributed to a great experience were:
reading lots of birth stories--mostly good, but definitely including some "challenging" ones
staying as healthy and active as I could to help my body make it through labor.

Good luck and happy birthing!

Mama to P. born at home 10/09, and W. born in the hospital 2/13

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Old 02-15-2010, 02:34 AM
 
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I agree with cileag that the provider is most important, but for me that was really a given with having a homebirth. So...at the risk of sounding like an advertisement , I have to say that the two best preparatory things I did were reading _Birthing From Within_ and taking a homestudy course of HypnoBabies. Birthing From Within was required reading from my midwife, and the exercises are wonderful for preparing yourself emotionally for birth. It gave me a chance to think through what I expected and believed and wanted. And HypnoBabies was just...awesome. I swear by it now. Granted, I didn't use it during labor at all (sometime very early in labor I realized that the woman's voice on the CD was incredibly annoying and how the heck did I listen to that all through pregnancy?--and I threw my headphones across the room! LOL! But that was just because I was in labor ), but I think the relaxation methods were absolutely awesome, and I definitely did use them. Still use them, in fact. So it's expensive, but for me it was totally worth it.

Having a waterbirthing tub was also a really, really, really great idea! I was in that thing for probably 30 hours...

And just having a positive mindset about the whole thing was good too. I planned on having an orgasmic labor. I didn't quite achieve that (but hey, there's always next time!), but I did ENJOY labor immensely. Pretty much all of it. It was hard work, but I honestly loved it. I am literally jealous of pregnant women now because they get to experience labor soon. And I think that believing that it COULD be painless, even enjoyable, was a big part of getting that kind of experience.

Mama to DD, my 2/24/08 BIG KID formerly known as sling baby, and DS, my 12/23/11 train-loving, wall-climbing toddler! 
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Old 02-15-2010, 02:47 AM - Thread Starter
 
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And just having a positive mindset about the whole thing was good too. I planned on having an orgasmic labor. I didn't quite achieve that (but hey, there's always next time!), but I did ENJOY labor immensely. Pretty much all of it. It was hard work, but I honestly loved it. I am literally jealous of pregnant women now because they get to experience labor soon. And I think that believing that it COULD be painless, even enjoyable, was a big part of getting that kind of experience.
I love this idea.
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Old 02-15-2010, 03:20 AM
 
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I agree completely with the other ladies. Having a birth team that you trust and feel comfortable with is a very important part of your birth. In my personal experience, I had to change how I thought about birth. Before my first homebirth I had only been exposed to hospital births and went in with the mindset that having a baby was really going to be scary and painful. I did have a successful homebirth, but it was what I believe I manifested it to be, scary and painful. After that experience I decided to really get educated and take my birth on as my own. I found every homebirth/ natural birth movie I could find (you tube is a great for this now!) . Watching as many natural births (especially gentle waterbirths) as I could allowed me to see what having a baby could be like. I also read many books. "Ina May's Guide to Childbirth" was my favorite. I fully relaxed and went with the natural flow of things for my second birth and it was not at all painful. It was beautiful, intense, and spiritually high. It was everything I wanted and now knew birth could be! So, I think you are doing the right things by surrounding yourself with positive birth stories and preparing yourself as much as you can. I hope you have a wonderful,beautiful homebirth!

Wife to my beautiful Sky and SAHM to my three beautiful kids (12/01) , (3/07), and (5/10). We : : and. Peace to all of you wonderful mamas!
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Old 02-15-2010, 07:03 AM
 
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do whatever you can to create a relaxed, positive environment...surround yourself with what makes *you* happy (i personally would have been annoyed to bits with soft music, so don't just pick cliche stuff that other people do if it's not your style). think about how you are socially & either surround yourself with loving, supportive people or keep numbers down to your partner & midwife. keep in the mindset that your body is fully capable of doing this & don't have too many expctations of how it's supposed to feel or the timetable it's supposed to follow. just fully open up to what is happening with your body, breathe deeply, & let go of tension as much as you can.

along with all of that, fully accept that sometimes things happen that are fully out of your control & you just have to roll with it! so be confident that you are capable of having a homebirth, but don't cling onto it so tightly that if you have to transfer you are emotionally shattered. sometimes that's just how it unfolds.

i had two wonderful, powerful homebirths & am still hyped up about them! i am so passionate about homebirth/positive childbirth because it has the potential to be such a life changing, empowering event. enjoy it :-)

mama to 2 busy boys (may 2007 & december 2008)
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Old 02-17-2010, 02:15 AM
 
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Wonderful question OP.

Lovin my sweet babygirl 3-17-10love.gif and expecting another in March! love.gif

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Old 02-17-2010, 03:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Wonderful question OP.
Thank you
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Old 02-17-2010, 05:14 PM
 
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I think it's a really interesting question, and a hard one to answer. I think it's kind of like a game of poker, where part of it is luck and a lot of it is how you play your hand.
Some women will have really difficult, painful labors or need a C-section no matter how prepared and calm they are going in to it. I feel bad when they're made to feel like they just didn't have the right mindset or pick the right care provider.
But I think there are a HUGE swath of women that are really cheated out of a good birth experience. I think it's very true that going into birth in a calm environment, with confidence rather than fear, with a good midwife or the rare non intervention happy OB, all of those things I think help you have an easier birth. There are some things we can't control in birth, but there are a lot of things we can control.
I had the kind of super easy, calm labor that I really hoped for. For me, I know being at home was huge. I was in this very relaxed, unfearful place going into the labor. The tub was incredible, it really let me relax. I trusted my midwife to monitor the medical element of the labor and make sure everything was going smoothly. And then I just kind of zoned out. I didn't study hypnobabies or anything, but I was totally in this fuzzy, semi-lucid hypnotic state where everything was kind of warm and pain free. And then someone would talk to me and I'd get knocked out of that hypnotic state, and all of a sudden everything would be clear and being in labor hurt, until I drifted back off into the other place.
I mean, people say this all the time when discussing birth, but we're humans, which means we're mammals. Giving birth is such a primal and primordial experience, and I really feel like we're more animal than human during birth. An animal will stall out in labor in an unsafe space -- that makes perfect sense, we're utterly vulnerable during labor and what antelope wants to give birth in front of a lion? For humans, feeling safe during birth is so crucial to an easy labor.
I don't think I would have been able to be in that deeply relaxed place in a traditional hospital birth, being on guard to fight off interventions and hooked up to monitors, and not having access to the tub.
So for me, I feel like I inherited good birthing genes from my mother -- she had pretty easy labors, as did my sister. But I also feel like I chose a safe environment that allowed me to have the best possible chance at a good birth. I had luck, but I made good choices too.

Jen, journalist, policy wonk, and formerly a proud single mama to my sweet little man Cyrus, born at home Dec. 2007 . Now married to my Incredibly Nice Guy and new mama to baby Arthur.
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Old 02-17-2010, 08:26 PM
 
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From my experience of 3 very long and difficult homebirths, I can say that I found my first to be fairly traumatic BECAUSE I believed that I had more control over the process than I did. I read a lot of the Bradley stuff and thought everything would be better because I had all of the odds in my favor, great midwife and assistant, supportive husband, yoga, exercise, great health, perfect pregnancy. Well then I had a 36 hour labor that ended with me being physically manuevered onto my back with one midwife pushing on my abdomen and the other pulling the baby out because he had shoulder dystocia. The baby came out blue (just for a second) but my husband was terrified and thought he was dead. Then I hemorraged and had to have a shot of pitocin (which I didn't understand at the time and was freaked out). To make matters worse, postpartum was HORRIBLE, I had no social support, my husband was working a ton and not treating me well (which was really unusual for him, he is a great guy), I had tons of breastfeeding issues which persisted for months....Okay, not saying this to scare you, the birth was good overall, it just shocked me that it wasn't this peaceful entry into the world.

Now, with that said, for my second baby, I had a much better idea of what to expect and managed the pain really well. I wasn't even upset about the repeat shoulder dystocia. I just took it like, well this is what having a baby is like. And in that way, my mindset helped tremendously. I did all of the Spiritual Midwifery stuff, like welcoming the contractions and I was able to relax much more because I had a good sized tub that I could use for relief. So yes, mind over matter helps tremendously with contractions. But can you will for your birth to be perfect? I don't think so.

Now, onto my third. It was an easier birth, I felt really capable and like I "knew" what I was doing. I tried a better position for pushing (hands and knees) so my midwife could do the Gaskin manuever (to help with shoulder dystocia). The baby was delivered without all of the drama and I was sooooo happy to finally have a "good birth." Well, then I started hemorraging like crazy and the placenta hadn't come yet, so I had to push without contractions to try to get my huge placenta out and that hurt sooooooo much and was ridiculously hard. So I probably could have felt sorry for myself, but that's where mind over matter comes in...you just have to reframe what is going on with a postive attitude. The fact is that stuff goes wrong in birth all of the time, it is really hard and there are a million factors involved...but in the end it your perception is your reality, so that's where you can think yourself a perfect birth

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Old 02-17-2010, 08:31 PM
 
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Old 02-17-2010, 08:43 PM
 
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I mean, people say this all the time when discussing birth, but we're humans, which means we're mammals. Giving birth is such a primal and primordial experience, and I really feel like we're more animal than human during birth. An animal will stall out in labor in an unsafe space -- that makes perfect sense, we're utterly vulnerable during labor and what antelope wants to give birth in front of a lion? For humans, feeling safe during birth is so crucial to an easy labor.
I don't think I would have been able to be in that deeply relaxed place in a traditional hospital birth, being on guard to fight off interventions and hooked up to monitors, and not having access to the tub. So for me, I feel like I inherited good birthing genes from my mother -- she had pretty easy labors, as did my sister. But I also feel like I chose a safe environment that allowed me to have the best possible chance at a good birth. I had luck, but I made good choices too.
Very good points and I like the comparison here.

I haven't birthed yet, but I feel like going into it feeling absolutely comfortable and without fear is going to help me.
For me, that means a homebirth with a wonderfully supportive midwife and family. I know for a fact that if I was having a hospital birth, I would be feeling lot's of anxiety and fear going into labor day.
Instead of fear and anxiety, I feel excited about birthing and truly look forward to it. That positive mindset has to influence my labor somehow.

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Old 02-17-2010, 09:26 PM
 
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I really think that the best thing you can do is to find a provider/team of providers that you really trust. Wherever you plan to birth, I really think that the key to accepting the flow of labor and birth is trusting yourself and your team to make informed decisions along the way.
Agreed.

I had the perfect birth center midwives with a less than 6% transfer rate and 3% c-section rate, clocked more time on MDC learning than many of the mods, and had NO doubts that I would have the perfect birth.

I ended up being one of those women who needed a c-section. Found a UTI hours into my labor, baby was good and stuck, and 50 hours into labor I was barely dilated and swelling up by the minute.

I was devastated, and the birth haunted me and really affected my bonding with DS. I think an important thing (maybe THE most important thing) is to mentally accept that sometimes sh*t happens despite our best efforts, and that too is ok.

This time, with my HBAC, I have a great CPM whom I trust with my life, who has HBACed herself, and I have also accepted that if something happens and we decide I need another c-section, then so be it.

I've learned that BIRTH, while an amazing and transformative event, doesn't make you a mother. It's what happens afterwards that defines you. So I will fight for the birth I want, for my HBAC, but I will also trust that if for some reason I can't birth the way I want, that I will still be able to mother my child exactly the way I want.

And I'll try again next time.

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Old 02-18-2010, 05:06 PM
 
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Having a homebirth was giving me the opportunity to have the most control I was going to during a birth. I consider myself a calm person and I know/knew that birth isn't something you orchestrate or control. I just set everything up for the "best odds".

For example, I knew I wanted my kids at home with me but I planned for a place for them to go if things turned that way. I wanted them there when the baby came out, but they ran screaming and laughing from the room. It was no big deal. I didn't NEED them to be there, I just wanted them to have the chance if they wanted to be included.

The comfort and control of homebirth, for me, is that there was never any arguing or negotiating. Wants were stated and questions were asked, but there were no fights to get what we wanted.

One of the biggest reasons I wanted a homebirth was out of respect for my new baby. I have had 3 okay hospital births before but I feel like they treat the baby like a piece of luggage with no respect that it's a person. I knew my mw would treat my baby like the new precious life that she was.

I've rambled there a bit, so I hope I've helped answer your question.

The bottom line is that I trusted my mw. If she recommended a transfer, I would have transfered...I think that is very important.

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Old 02-18-2010, 11:00 PM
 
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mamajen- well said! i get offended & put off when people hear about my births & say "wow- you were really lucky!" i know that sh*t happens & i don't at all blame women who end up in difficult birthing situations...like i said before, sometimes that's just the way it happens & it's not anyone's fault. but i also think i did play a big role in how it unfolded because of the choices i made & the mindset i actively kept.

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Old 02-19-2010, 12:44 AM
 
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I agree that a care provider that you trust and are comfortable with is huge. I think the single thing that helped me prepare the most was the book Birthing From Within. For me, really knowing that I can't control the way labor goes but I can trust my body were key points. It is a balancing act. You can set things up the best ways possible but have to know that things can occur in ways you wouldn't have planned on expecting.

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Old 02-19-2010, 07:05 AM
 
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Also, keep in mind that even in the minor chance that your birth doesn't go as planned, you can still stay in control. Changing birth plans or locations doesn't mean you have to relinquish that control, you just have to reevaluate the situation, get the information you need, and make an informed decision about the next steps.

Remember, birth can be like running a marathon, the most common thing for first time mom's to transfer for is fatigue. Learning about the stages of labor, listening to your body during labor, getting rest, staying hydrated and eating good, nourishing foods in early labor, and having people around during labor who will be nothing but supportive for you will help you get off to a great start! Well, actually by choosing a homebirth, you are already off to a great start!

Have a fabulous birth!!
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Old 02-19-2010, 08:06 AM
 
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This is an interesting question.

I'm trying not to be offended (kind of failing, lol!). I had the perfect first birth. In hospital, totally natural, no drugs, no episio, not even an IV. It took a long time, but it was awesome.

My second birth, in the same hospital with the same team ended in a c-section under general anesthesia. It was horribly traumatic. What made it bearable was the love, concern and respect the team showed me at each step of the way, so yes, choosing your birth team wisely is very important.

Yes, there are aspects of birth you can control. Your health, your strength, your mindset. And there are things you cannot control-- placement of the cord and placental abruption, in my case. I would feel much worse if I thought that other people felt I "deserved" a c-section because I hadn't read the right books or listened to the right CDs (while I didn't do hypnobabies, I've basically memorized Birthing from Within and read all about Bradley method!).

I kind of think birthing is a lot like parenting in some ways. It's easy to feel a little smug about a great birth, just like it's easy to feel a little smug if you have an easygoing child. When something beyond your control happens during birth, you realize that maybe the things that you can control can't guarantee you a perfect birth, or even a good birth, just like your parenting can't guarantee you a child who listens well, or a baby who isn't colicky. Some of it is just plain luck.
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Old 02-19-2010, 11:21 AM
 
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Also, keep in mind that even in the minor chance that your birth doesn't go as planned, you can still stay in control. Changing birth plans or locations doesn't mean you have to relinquish that control, you just have to reevaluate the situation, get the information you need, and make an informed decision about the next steps.
I agree. I do think Marylizah has a point but it can go along with this. Getting the proper care with the proper respect is what we all deserve, be it home or hospital. I think most of us who've had homebirths feel that was the most likely place to get it.

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Old 02-20-2010, 04:11 AM
 
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I was just thinking about this recently. I wondered if I didn't know now what I didn't know then, would I eventually feel the same way about DDs horrible birth experience? Don't know.

Anyhoo, I yelled and it felt good. I felt totally uninhibited. Naked, moaning, ugly faces, poop in the water, B.O. (I'm sure), and probably more, but I didn't care. It was perfect.

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Old 02-20-2010, 12:06 PM
 
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I agree with most of everything that has been said here!

For me though, since I tend to try to control things the more they seem to be getting out of my control, I do find a sense of freedom in the fact that I don't have control. Weird, right?

I have chosen a home birth this time around and feel good about the people I have chosen to assist me. But, even though I have given birth before, I am well aware that anything can still happen at any time. Each birth is a different experience.

I completely agree that trust in your caregivers and trust in the process are paramount.
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Old 02-20-2010, 03:20 PM
 
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PPs have really covered the big stuff (what if I transfer or need a c-section??) but I think this question come in to play about the small stuff too (will it be painful or not? will I be in water or not?).

I had an amazing, awesome, powerful, transforming homebirth in October. I prepared for it the best I could. I researched birth, midwives, the intervention rates in hospitals. I looked at common birth problems and what is usually done about them. I read birthing books, took classes, watched BBOB and as many youtube homebirth videos as I could find. I talked with every woman I could about her experience. I stalked the MDC boards like a fiend. I gathered the supplies and envisioned my birth. I planned pain management techniques, cooked food I wanted to eat. My husband was an amazing support person. I had a confident, strong, unafraid mindset.

I felt that I was prepared, informed, and had chosen the place of birth and the care providers that were absolutely best for me and my baby. I picked the safest place (for me) and did my best to ensure I was not in the position to get *unnecessary* interventions.

Beyond that, I realized that I could *prepare* for birth, but I couldn't really *control* it. That is, I could set myself up to have the best possible circumstances and factors for a "good" birth (i.e. the birth I was planning in my head), but I could not actually ensure that a "good" birth would happen (turns out I did have a great birth). I really think that's the key. I think you (general you) do your best to make sure you put as many positive factors in place as you can and weed out as many risk/negative factors as you can. You give yourself the best possible chance of having the birth you want - but it doesn't mean you can guarantee it.

As for the "small" stuff: I was very careful to keep an open mind about how things would go. While pregnant, I mentally prepared myself for a painful labor or a pain-free one. I thought about a long labor or a very precipitous one. I had a labor tub but kept open the possibility that I would not want to use it (as it turned out, baby come to quickly to use it). I told my husband I could envision massage being helpful, but could also see not wanting to be touched at all during labor. Basically, in all aspects, I tried not to get too wedded to "how things would be."

As an example, I did keep thinking I would deliver my baby in the hands-and-knees position. For some reason, I had it in my head that that would be the "best" position. Turns out, hands-and-knees made contractions *unbearable* and I ended up laboring and delivering standing up. For awhile though, I kept trying to force the H&K position, until I consciously told myself to let it go. Then I was able to find the position I really needed to be in.

This post is starting to ramble, so I'll just sum up by saying, prepare yourself the best you can, set yourself up so you have the greatest chance of having the birth you want, try to stay flexible about the details, and realize that things may not happen exactly how you plan.

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