How I Prepared For My Home Birth - Second Time Around
If you read the story of my first birth, you may have gotten the impression I was traumatized by the experience. I was. I still am. I've never received official therapy for it, but I think it may be safe to say I suffer some post-traumatic stress disorder because of it. To this day. Which became a bit of a dilemma when my husband and I decided to try for #2. Honestly, I couldn't even handle the thought of going through birth again for so long that it wasn't until my son was almost three that I decided I might be ready. Well, it only took a couple of months this time to get pregnant and immediately the anxiety set in. I hadn't really decided how I would approach this next birth, although it had been on my mind for a long time. Would I do it without drugs again? Should I do the standard OB/GYN hospital route? After my son was born, I swore that with any subsequent children that I would head straight to the hospital for an epidural after the first contraction. Being aware of and fully immersed in the full experience was for the birds!
My awareness of how a standard hospital birth can easily turn into an intervention-laden medical event left my psyche feeling a lot of anxiety, as well. I didn't want things done to me. I didn't want to be a patient. I did not want to ride in a car for twenty minutes while in active labor. I did not want a cesarean. But I also did not want that traumatic experience again. I called up a midwife that I had met during my first pregnancy and had a long conversation with her about my first experience and my indecision on what to do next, as well as got a feel for how she would have approached my previous experience and how she could support me in my next if I decided to birth at home again. So I decided, about 13 weeks in, I would do another home birth. The only reason I was able to make this decision was because I wanted to just give myself the opportunity to have a good experience. I wanted to leave that possibility open, and if it wasn't going to happen, I knew I had other options. So, my one stipulation would be that if anything mirrored my first experience, I was out of there. To the hospital for an epidural I would go. My other one stipulation was that I would do everything differently this time. All new support team. Different back-up obstetrician, different doula, different midwife, even the birth tub was put in a different place in my home. Different birth prep class. This time it was going to be different.
I spent more time researching natural pain relief for labor this time, and also made sure to have most of the things I used in preparation for the first baby:
1. I met with my homeopathic doctor for a labor prep consultation and got remedies for labor prep as well as for labor.
2. I took a Hypnobirthing class.
3. I listened to the Rainbow Relaxation recording (I received in class) every night and listened to and repeated the Birth Affirmations recording they gave us as well.
4. I bought a new TENS unit just in case it might work this time (it didn't the first).
6. I planned to do sterile water injections in the event I had severe back labor as I did with the first.
7. I ate dates every day as recommended by this study just for good measure!
8. I got intensive chiropractic deep tissue treatment that focused mainly on my pelvis and more specifically on my tailbone. I had injured my tailbone with the first birth and the tissues connected to it never fully healed. I didn't realize this until I started chiropractic treatment, but thankfully my Doctor was able to work out all the kinks and tightened ligaments with several VERY intense deep tissue sessions. His initial assessment of my condition was that I probably injured my tailbone from falling (probably while snowboarding) which caused it to turn inward (which it still was) which is part of what caused the trauma to the area during the first birth.
(When I pushed to birth my son I thought for sure I was giving birth to my tailbone. I did not feel like a baby was coming down, I thought I was pushing my tailbone straight out my back side. It sucked.)
Overall, my pelvis was also very stiff, which he concluded was probably why I experienced such severe back labor. Amazingly enough, after just four deep tissue treatments these issues were almost totally resolved. My tailbone still turned inward, but it was more mobile and the tissues had loosened. Hallelujah!
9. Raspberry leaf tea - I consumed this again, in capsule and tincture form this time since I hate the taste of the tea. The red raspberry leaf (commonly used as a tea) is highly recommended to tone and strengthen the uterus in preparation for labor.
11. To help prevent Group Beta Strep, I made sure I was consuming lots of probiotic-rich foods (sauerkraut, pickles, kefir, yogurt, kombucha), took a probiotic supplement and swallowed a fresh garlic clove nearly every day during the last trimester.
Overall, I think the one thing that made the absolute biggest difference in the relative ease of birthing my second (besides the fact that it was a second birth) was the chiropractic treatments. I found my Doctor has a unique way of practicing that other chiropractors don't typically use, which is to do deep tissue treatment. He was exceptionally good at finding where the issues were in my body and focusing on that, rather than just doing standard adjustments. I would highly recommend seeking out any professional body worker that is skilled at working out deep tissue issues, particularly in the pelvis, when preparing for birth.
How did you prepare for birth? Any similarities? Anything you found exceptionally helpful? Share in the comments!
Check out this post for recommendations on preparing for the postpartum recovery and adjustment period.