Bump Watch: Week 37 – writing my birth plan

37 weeks pregnant

Today I’m officially full-term and although he isn’t technically ‘due’ for another three weeks, I honestly wouldn’t mind if he made an appearance before then. I was initially excited to have a few weeks to myself before he arrives but … Continue reading

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The Great Debate: Giving birth in a birthing centre vs a hospital

Childbirth. It sounds bloody horrible and you’d think the best thing to do would be to give birth in a hospital, right? They have the drugs to help with the pain and the doctors are already on hand should something unforseen happen. Until a few weeks ago I was set on giving birth in hospital. For all the talk in yoga about breathing and relaxation techniques, it was just talk to me – I was there to socialise with other pregnant women rather than look for a pain-free way to get through labour. Then the pelvic dysfunction happened and I warmed to the idea of trying a birthing pool – which you can’t have in the hospital near me.

Throughout yoga, the instructor and most of the pregnant women there were talking about preferring to go to the birthing centre. Apparently they’re less likely to ‘force’ you into ‘unnecessary’ pain medication (for a start you can’t even have an epidural there!) and apparently it’s an all-round more pleasant experience. A home from home. In fact, it’s the next step up from having your baby at home. When a friend told me she was planning a home birth with her second child I thought she was a bit nuts – just a midwife on hand? I would have been uber-paranoid that something would go wrong and the ambulance wouldn’t get there in time.

When I saw my new midwife for the first time a couple of weeks ago, I had some questions with the birth getting closer. I wanted to check that the pelvic dysfunction wouldn’t cause any issues – the only issue, which I already knew about, was that I’ll have to give birth on my hands and knees rather than in bed with my legs in the air (which sounds like a better option anyway!) and that if I have an epidural (which I already wasn’t keen on) it would mask the pain in my pelvis and would mean I’d be in more pain after the birth. I was concerned that it could complicate things and mean I might be more likely to need a cesarean or assisted delivery but it doesn’t affect those odds, which is reassuring. I discussed the pain with her and she said a water birth could actually help, even if I just use it to help with the contractions in the early stages (rather than actually giving birth in a pool – I don’t like the idea of sitting in all that!) as it can take the weight off and make me more comfortable. So I booked a tour of the birth centre to explore my options.

In the meantime, I met another pregnant woman on a training course who had just had a tour and she liked what she saw. It’s her first child too and it’s just round the corner from her house (the hospital is a tad further than the birth centre from our place but they’re both a reasonably substantial drive away). I didn’t realise until talking to her that they can only take one person at a time, so there is still a chance that, even if everything went to plan, I could still end up in the hospital. They also don’t do assisted delivery so I’d be transferred if that was necessary. The good news is that in the last six months only two women have been turned away because they’ve been too busy.

For a couple of weeks I was set on having the baby there, even before having had the tour, as it sounded like a more relaxed environment and the water could make all the difference. Then my mummy friends from the antenatal classes and pregnancy yoga started popping out their sprogs and having less than straightforward births. I know every woman, every pregnancy and every baby is different but it does make you wonder. One friend was induced, spent four days in labour and had an emergency cesarean. Another was in hospital with her baby for nine days after he had his chord round his neck, suspected meningitis and she picked up a virus. Then another had to have a forceps birth and is in hospital for a couple of days with her little girl as they both have high temps and need antibiotics. Although each story on their own didn’t put me off, thinking about them together did get me thinking… a hospital is clearly the best place for the baby but the birthing centre could be the best place for me. So does that mean I’m being selfish by wanting to have the baby in the birthing centre just so I can hang out in a birthing pool for a bit and make things a little bit easier on myself. Would this mean putting the baby at risk? Or is it paranoid to worry about what could happen when I was deemed low risk early on, especially when the midwife told me that the first sniff of anything not quite right they ship you off to hospital anyway? I asked Luke what he thought and he said that he thought the hospital sounded like the safest option but it’s up to me as I’m the one giving birth and the birthing centre sounds like a more pleasant experience for me.

The night before the tour I got to thinking about people who have water births at home – they have to hire the pool from somewhere! What if I hired one and took it to the hospital with me? Win win! Except the ones I found were £50 (plus delivery, liner, etc), and £90 (all included). Is it worth it? So many questions for the midwife at the next appointment!

So that’s where I was at the night before touring the birthing unit. I was leaning more towards the hospital but figured it was worth going anyway to make an informed decision – and at least I’d get a blog post out of it!

At the end of the tour I was back round to the idea of having the baby there – they have oxygen and suction there for the baby, you get transferred if there are any complications/you want stronger pain relief, etc, and it’s all completely done your way. The tour started a few minutes late because a woman was just finishing up in the room. When she left the unit you wouldn’t think she had just had a baby. She looked happy, refreshed and wasn’t walking like she’d just shat her pants! Reassuring!

Then, a few hours later, I was pondering a hospital birth again. I’d had an itchy rash on the backs of my knees for a few days that was getting worse so I called into Boots for a pharmacist to recommend something to help with the itch. Because of my ‘condition’ (i.e. the bun in the oven) he could only recommend Epiderm cream – and couldn’t even say what was causing it! I gave it a whirl but the itching didn’t let up all day and was really beginning to do my head in. I called my GP to try and get an appointment but they were all booked up. When I told the receptionist about the rash she said she had the same thing when she was pregnant and would get a doctor to call me back. Said doctor then told me to come in for an urgent blood test as she needed to see the rash and check my liver function. Eek! I was a tad concerned that I might have endangered the baby by not seeing the doctor sooner but she reassured me when I saw her that the chances are my liver is ok as I haven’t been experiencing tummy pain and the itching is just in my legs. There are various rashes you can get in pregnancy (she told me what mine probably was but it was a big name and I’ve forgotten already!) but they’re all treated pretty much the same way, so I have some steroid cream to apply twice a day for a week and when I see the midwife tomorrow I can ask about an antihistamine. Oh, and I need to call back on Thursday for my blood results. I bloody hate blood tests – it took two goes in my hand to get enough. So big and brave! I have a really low pain threshold… That bodes well for labour!

Anyhoo, the palava with the rash really pissed me off because so many little things keep popping up with this pregnancy that I can’t help thinking that maybe I’m better off just having the baby in a hospital in case anything else pops up. At least then I’ll be in the safest place for the baby and I won’t have to feel guilty if something happens at the birthing unit which could have been prevented if I was in the hospital in the first place.

I’m off to see the midwife tomorrow to do my birth plan so please feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts and experiences beforehand!