Giving Birth

Some of you reading this post will be pregnant and will be giving birth soon.

For some, this may be your first pregnancy.

I always think that maybe writing a few things down, for instance, about what you would like for pain relief or what positions you might like to adopt whilst giving birth may be useful.

Maybe some of you have thought about a waterbirth after reading how relaxing and soothing it can be?

Writing a birth plan is a good way of making you feel in control. However, you should be aware that your midwife may advise that what-ever you have written it is not necessarily a given.

For example, you may write that you do not want any pain relief.

My own advice would be to have an open mind and see how you feel on the day and not be disappointed in yourself if you do find that you need something to support you through the labour.

I remember with my third baby thinking I could manage without any pain relief. I was wrong and was eventually given some much needed Pethidine. Of course, this may not suit everyone but for me I’m happy to report that all went well and I was in a relatively relaxed state when the baby appeared not long after.

For others of you, this might be your second or third baby.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you won’t be anxious. It is perfectly normal to feel apprehensive about forthcoming births. Perhaps, you had a difficult labour previously and are worried that this might happen again or you are contemplating whether to have a vaginal birth as you had a caesarean section before.

All these anxieties and more can be discussed with your midwife.

As part of my service, I can assist and support you with any worries or concerns that you may have and help you write a birth plan that is going to be useful to you.

If you have had a previous traumatic birth event I am able to discuss this with you and help you think of ways that will be useful towards your next birth.

I can also, of course, discuss all your pain relief options with you.

All labours and births are different for every woman and it is best not to compare yourself to other women but listen to your own body and trust in it to do what it is meant to.

“Giving birth is not a matter of success or failure, of beating records or putting on a splendid performance but of giving oneself, mind and body to a creative experience in which, literally love is made flesh” (Kitzinger 1987).

New Year’s Eve Babies

When I was a midwife working on the Delivery Suite, I had to work some night shifts to ensure that the ward was covered for twenty four hours. This is usual for all nurses and midwives.

We also had to work Christmas and New Year and we usually tried to be fair to each other to ensure that we all had some of the holiday off with our own family and friends.

I have to say that sometimes, as well as being excruciatingly busy, there was always a lovely festive atmosphere in the unit and we would all bring in non- alcoholic drinks and nibbles to snack on. This was of course in between births, completing paper work and clearing up.

Babies born on Christmas Day were given a small, wrapped present and babies born on Christmas Eve were given a stocking to leave at the end of the cot which was filled by whoever was on the night shift.

All Christmas Day babies and babies born on New Year’s Eve, were, with their parents’ permission, photographed and published in the local newspapers. This seemed to add to the festive atmosphere and feeling of excitement and joy.

One New Year’s Eve, not long after I had qualified as a midwife, I volunteered to work the night shift on New Year’s Eve. I was not really looking forward to this. Night shifts were always difficult.

We are not meant to be awake at three in the morning making decisions about people’s lives, communicating and just generally functioning as you would in the day.

However, I must admit I was excited about the prospect of maybe delivering the first baby of the new year and seeing the baby and mother in the newspaper.

Delivery suite was eerily quiet when I arrived on the shift but there was just one woman in labour who had had a baby previously, so there would be a good chance that she would have her baby before I went off shift at eight in the morning. Women who have had a baby before tend to have quicker labours and births the second time around so I was pretty sure that this would be the case with this woman.

Of course, there is always exception to the rule and this doesn’t always happen. Mercifully, this did happen in this case and the woman went on to give birth to her baby at two minutes past midnight, which was definitely the first baby of the new- year.

I was so excited and in my naivety and enthusiasm completely forgot about the woman being physically and emotionally drained after the birth and as soon as the placenta had been delivered my first response was:

“Congratulations. Would you like your photograph taken for the papers”?

I can’t write what she told me to do but it wasn’t,

“Oh yes I’d really like that – thanks”.

I felt rather deflated after that response and that was lesson learnt.

Not everyone wants to be in the paper especially the next day after giving birth.

Happy New Year.

Giving Birth Safely

It is a fundamental human right that women give birth in a place that is safe and where help is at hand to assist.

We are fortunate in this country that the maternity and midwifery services available for all women are excellent, safe and accessible.

So, why did a homeless woman give birth before Christmas outside Trinity College in Cambridge to twins who were pre-term by about 11 weeks?

The age of viability is 24 weeks. Therefore, not only were these twins extremely early but they would be of a small birth weight and only able to make a few gasps of breath on their own before help would have been needed from the medical team. Fortunately, passers-by went to the mother’s assistance, an ambulance was called which enabled a transfer of the woman into the maternity hospital.

It is believed that the mother and babies are well. A crowd fundraising page has now been set up to support the family financially. This is of course, great and demonstrates the compassion and care that the general public show to people in dire need.

But, should this really be necessary in this day and age?

We are allegedly a developed country with all the facilities that this brings. And these facilites should be available to all and no one should have to live, give birth and die on the streets.

We, in my view appear to be returning to Victorian times.
More than anything, this country needs an honest government who really do serve the needs of all its people.

Whether we are religious or not, many of us will be familiar with the Christmas story of a mother who gave birth to her child in poverty, seeking refuge in of all places, a stable.

Not a lot appears to have changed.

What do you think?
Please leave me a comment on this post or any of my previous posts.