I’ve written previously about our NCT experience, and about how it wasn’t all I hoped it would be when it came to the birth. Ben’s birth was long (37 hours) and tricky, and we needed quite a bit of intervention at the end. Because of that intervention, we are both healthy and whole. But also because of that intervention, and the length of the birth, I’ve had to prepare for the birth of this second child in a slightly different way.
This time around, we’ve got Ben’s wellbeing and care to consider, and we’re living in a different area. This has meant different midwives, different practises, and different hospitals. We also haven’t felt the need to do the birth preparation classes that we’ve done in the past.
The thing is, this time, I know what I was like in labour. I know, thanks to the blog, about the things I would have found useful in my hospital bag. This doesn’t mean I haven’t packed and re-packed my hospital bag countless times. I know I need to eat and drink more during labour. I know that gas and air made me sick last time, and that the longed-for water birth stopped my contractions happening. So I haven’t planned to use those things.
I have planned to use the things that worked for me: yoga, especially the yoga breathing. Staying at home as long as possible. Trying to relax as much as possible.
We’ve also chosen to have the baby in hospital, rather than a midwife-led birth centre. The hospital does have a midwife-led birth centre, but also has a birth suite, for higher risk births. This was what our hospital had last time: we had to be transferred from the low-risk unit to the higher-risk unit. If we opted for the midwife-led birth centre, and then had complications, this would involved a 20 minute transfer in an ambulance. The midwives have said things like, “There’s less risk of intervention if you’re in the birth centre,” but that is obvious: higher risk births are transferred out of the birth centre. I also don’t feel like I’ve developed a particularly close relationship with my midwife so much that I would particularly want her there – even if her shifts allowed. This isn’t a criticism of the midwifery team here, it’s just that in a second or later pregnancy, you see your midwife less.
I’ve also explored hypnobirthing this time. I’ve only been listening to a CD that I bought, but I think it is helping me to see the birth as a positive thing, rather than something to be afraid of. I do think fear had a huge amount to do with the difficult birth we had last time, so I’ve been trying to combat that.
I’m also much more prepared – mentally, at least – to use pain relief. I’ve already said that gas and air didn’t work for me, and I had a long labour. The chances are that I’ll have another long labour. Last time, I felt that the midwives were very keen for me to have a 100% natural birth. I don’t know if that was the right thing for me, as I was just so exhausted. This time, I’ll be much more open to the idea of pain relief beyond gas and air.
The biggest difference this time is something that I couldn’t have controlled the first time around: I am so excited about having this baby. I think the first time around there are so many unknowns, especially about what the baby will be like, and how you’ll cope having a baby. But this time, I’m really excited. Perhaps because we expect it’ll be the last time we’ll have a newborn, so I’m really keen to enjoy all of it. But also because I’ll just be more relaxed this time around. Ben was quite a good baby, but equally, we know that no awful stage lasts for ever, and that there are good parts – and bad parts – to each age and stage.
I also can’t wait to see how Ben is with his little brother or sister. He quite likes touching or kissing the bump, and asking what the baby is doing now. I know there will be real challenges with this as he has to learn to live with a baby in the house. Famously, when my younger sister was about six weeks old, I told my mum to, “Send the baby back now, Mummy.” It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Ben is a bit the same.
I’m currently a few days past my due date, and really hoping things get going soon… I want to meet this baby!