Supportive birthing partner or placenta thief? I don't want to find out...
You know you're a second-time pregnant woman (who hasn't been thinking about your pregnancy enough) when your husband – who's only suddenly interested in the baby bump because he's obsessed by a 3D pregnancy app he downloaded on his iPhone – shows you the app, which asks:
'Are you doing your pelvic floor exercises?'
How... creepy. And by the way, the answer is 'no,' although every time I remember that I've forgotten about them I do a couple and pray for the best.
All of this is to say that I'm at the stage of pregnancy - the late twenties-weeks; I'm not exactly sure which one anymore – where I should be starting to think about the birth and making some sort of birth plan. By this time in my last pregnancy, I had a firm fantasy of my water birth in place and was 'preparing' my body for it with weekly pregnancy yoga sessions and marathon episodes of One Born Every Minute and 16 and Pregnant.
I have heard from several sources that giving birth the second time around is generally much easier and much faster than the first time.
Since I was lucky and had a relatively quick birth with Diana, I am just hoping I don't end up delivering baby number two when I'm out to lunch or in a lift.
The thing is, when you've had a relatively nice experience for your first labour, the general midwife population assumes that means that you want to replicate the natural childbirth, but at home. I've been asked (and even encouraged, a little too passionately) to have a home birth by a few different midwives already, and while I haven't thought about what kind of birth I want, I am completely positive that I don't want it to happen at home.
Home births sound like they can be lovely and (almost) relaxing birthing experiences for some women. I suppose that even though you can't control labour itself, you can at least control your surroundings a bit and enjoy the familiarity and comforts of being at home instead of in a hospital.
The idea of them stresses me out.
Maybe it's because I work from home, spend countless (mostly blissful) hours within my four walls and am a homebody in general and therefore feel like giving birth should be one of the few things I do that involves me leaving the house, but the idea of giving birth at home makes me feel more anxious than anything.
I don't have the luxury of countless rooms so my options for delivery would be my sitting room (which also happens to be my kitchen and workspace when I'm on the laptop - would I be tempted to check my email?), or my bedroom (think about the mess!). Or, I suppose, I could crouch on a bean bag in D's nursery and hope the happy baby room vibes helped with labour pains.
Having had a lovely experience in a hospital birth centre, I find them comforting: in my mind, they offer all of the advantages of a calming, blissful birthing environment (my room for my last labour had a panoramic view of Westminster, not that I was reveling in it at the time), but with the possibility of emergency intervention minutes away. I was begging for an epidural by the end of D's labour (actually I was begging for a C-section at that point), and just because I had a natural labour once, I don't want to rule out the possibility of intervention, especially since I now know how bad the pain can get.
I'm also put off by the idea of home birth because of Bolshy the bulldog, whose main contribution during D's labour was to knock over a glass of juice onto my arm that I couldn't be bothered to wash, resulting in an unpleasant sticky arm in addition to all the other unpleasantness I was experiencing. I would hate the idea of sending Bolshy away for an indefinite period if I did plan on a home birth, and adorable as he is, considering he still has issues coming back to me when I call his name, I'm not sure he'd be particularly helpful as a birthing partner.
Clearly, I'm not the only one who needs to worry about their pet affecting their labour: at my last midwife appointment, when I dismissed the home birth idea, my midwife told me an anecdote about how she had to wrestle a placenta out of the jaws of a miniature Doberman during one home birth.
Now, having seen Bolshy with a tennis ball, I know who would win that battle (and wouldn't particularly want to deal with the imminent vet visit that Bolshy would need after his sensitive tum struggled to digest the foreign object).
So, disorganised as I may be about planning this labour, I know one thing's for sure: as soon as those contractions start, I will be waddling out of the house as fast as my nine months pregnant self can go.