Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Lessons From Our Homebirth

By "our" I mean Amy's birth at my house.

1. Get a birth pool! Water is excellent for relaxation and pain relief--the aqua-dural as midwives call it. It also contains the mess if you give birth in the pool. We had the La Bassine. It is an oval-shaped pool which requires less water to get the depth you need. There are lots of options for birth pools, including rental. Here are some things to keep in mind:

*You need a pool that is deep enough to cover your belly.
*It should have inflatable sides and bottom for comfort and stability.
*You can buy a cheap pool (kiddie pool sometimes referred to as the fishy pool), but don't cheap out on accessories.
*The air pump will inflate and deflates the pool quickly.
*The submersible water pump will make clean up much easier.
*If you don't use a liner, you can get clearer video/pictures through the pool, however, using a liner makes cleaning up much easier. After you pump the water out, you just bag up the liner and through it away.
*You need two hoses: one for intake and one for out-take. This will enable you to remove cold water and add hot water without using buckets or having to reverse the hose. (We didn't have two hoses that reached and it was a pain in the butt and messy).
*As an alternative to two hoses, or in addition to, two hoses, you can get a submersible heater to keep the water warm. Removing water helps keep the water clean, though. Two hoses with a heater would help keep at least one hose clean.
*An waterproof flashlight is helpful.
*A fish net for removing "floaters".
*A tarp and sheet underneath for protecting the floor from water and keeping it from getting slippery.

2. You can never have too many towels. I was doing laundry all night to keep up with the towels and rags. A lot of the use was caused by the mishaps when reversing hoses or bucketing water in and out. Still, have lots of towels that can be used for messes.

3. Put out blankets and snacks for your birth team. It may be long and after you go into labor land, you will no longer be able to effectively host.

4. Put a sign on the door telling people not to ring the bell to limit disturbances or disconnect the bell.

5. Have a dedicated childcare provider for any children in the house. Our nanny help got us through, but it was still difficult. Amy's two year old, Graham alternated from giving her sweet kisses and pats, to dive bombing in the unfilled pool and jumping on her back during contractions. He was very calm during pushing even though she made loud noises, but he peed on the wall during pushing. He also got very upset when the baby came out. Some kids might have been upset by the noises mom makes in labor. It is just good to have options. The nannies were able to take him (and my kids) to play sometimes and keep them occupied. It was harder for Graham because he was not in his own house so Josh (his dad) had to provide most of the care for him in the house and couldn't be with Amy as much. There were many of us to attend to Amy and Josh did get some time with her, but little kids require attention and it is hard to predict how they will react. My kids were also running around and trying to get in the room. The nannies were able to keep them out for the most part, but they are still little kids and persistent. If we hadn't had help, it would have been total chaos with the three little ones!

6. Consider the lighting. I know better, but we ran out of time. In deep labor, most women like low-lighting. Having light sources set up to get better pictures while still keeping the lights low.

7. Waterproof case for iPod. It took awhile, but Amy dropped her iPod into the pool and then had to plug her head phones into her laptop which limited her mobility. If you aren't laboring in water, you could use a sports arm band, but in water, you might forget and dunk it.

8. Organize electronic equipment so you can keep everything charged. We did pretty well with this one, but it was hard. We had to really stay on top of things.

9. Have a hospital transfer bag with birth preferences. You will most likely not need it, but it is good to be prepared. Most transfers from homebirth are non-emergent, like ours. You still have options, even if you have a c-section. For example, Amy and Josh did not know the sex. Had she needed a c-section, Josh could have requested to be the one to announce the sex.

10. Don't throw your bra into the bloody pool when taking it off for skin to skin with the baby after birth. (Thank you, Biz for rescuing the expensive new bra).

11. Two layers of plastic sheets and cotton sheets on the bed. Even if you are planning a waterbirth, you should set the bed up as a birthing bed. Amy, did give birth in the water, but the midwife did AROM on the bed. You could always have SROM or bloody show on the bed as well. Many women who plan to give birth in the water have to get out because of a complication or they just decide in the moment that they do want out. The last thing you want to be doing is trying to get the bed ready for mom during pushing. With two layers of protection, you can take off the first layer after the birth or labor mess and mom and be in a clean, but still protected mattress. We had a king-sized bed for Amy and she bought king-sized plastic sheets for about $10 from the waterbirth site. They worked really well. and gave total mattress protection.

12. Post-partum herbal bath. Amy loved it. I'll have to get the link from her, but it was great. I drew the bath for her Sunday night and we drank out champagne as she relaxed.

13. Champagne and birthday cake and chocolates. Always a good idea. We didn't get to do the champagne toast until Monday afternoon when the doctor and nurse came to check on Amy and examine the placenta, but it was lovely, indeed.

14. Food: Big batches of microwaveable food. My husband went a little crazy Friday night with cooking, He didn't know what to do with himself and wanted to be useful so he cooked and cooked and cooked. The birth team was well-fed and we were able to keep eating for the next few days by just microwaving. Crockpot food would be good as well. Plenty of snacks and drinks on hand for mom and birth team.

15. Straw water bottle for mom so she doesn't have to worry about spilling. Amy had some of these, but forgot them.

16. Be aware of temperature control and have the ability to quickly change it by fans, blankets, a/c, etc. Moms get hot and cold quickly in labor. Eva destroyed the second a/c remote (in Korea every room has its own a/c unit) so we were constantly running
the remote back and forth until I finally found another remote.

Amy might have a few things to add to this list, but that is what comes to mind right away.


Desiree said...

Awesome advice. The first thing I did when labor "really" kicked in (i.e. I needed my doula - about 19 hours in) was to call my sister and have her take my 2 year old... If I were planning a home birth, I would have debated having him here, but we planned a hospital VBAC with laboring home as much as possible, so when he woke up that morning, I knew he had to go. I'd had several long "practice runs" with contractions lasting 6-8 hours, and Alex was exactly as you described - lovey-dovey one minute and the next minute trying to sit ON my head as I relaxed in knee-chest during a contraction... lol... so kudos to you all for surviving with kiddos around! Josh deserves some kind of award, don't you think? ;o)

Mama Seoul said...

I think it was sweet and special for Amy to have Graham there and she was glad he was there, but she was also glad that he could be taken out at points. I definitely think having something there dedicated to toddler care is key. We wouldn't have survived without the nannies. It was also great because the nanny could stay with our sleeping kids while I helped Amy, Josh and Stella to the hospital for the blood-loss monitoring after the placenta wouldn't pass,