Water birth from another angle
Collection of short posts on waterbirth.
If you're thinking about having a water birth I think a good place to start is...how does water make you feel? 💧A swimming pool, the sea, a bath... 💧The floating drift, a weightlessness, a gentle swooshing, warm and soothing or cool and refreshing. 💧Is water your happy place or a place of uncertainty for you?
How to know your options, your rights, your plan and not get stuck on a tool when usefulness may come and go?
Birth is not a static set of steps where you go from 1 to 2...3...4... It can be helpful to think about the phases and know signs to look out for on our way to "labour land" or through the rooms of birth. But when we focus on very specific goals like "I will give birth in water" we might lose sight of birth as a whole body, whole mind experience and ignore the instincts that crop up at labour progresses... (For some beautiful examples of these instincts take a look at the comments of the last few posts...). Give yourself the best chance of meeting your goal by remembering the simple things - eat when hungry and drink enough. This small action will have several beautiful effects: it brings you to the now - it's hard to panic when you are eating something; it is often a moment your partner can feel really useful and can be a lovely intimate time while they watch for when you want your next bite; it prevents you becoming dehydrated and needing to consider medical rehydration, thus perhaps preventing being in water; frequently weeing means time alone in a place you likely feel safe and comfortable, squatting in a brilliant active birth position!
AIMS @aimsireland book Am I allowed & Evidence Based Birth @ebbirth site have collated pretty much everything you might wish to know about eating and drinking in labour...
What about what we are advised to do, both during pregnancy and during labour? And where does information come from on its way to us?
How are midwives supported to care for a woman labouring or birthing in water? Does it change their work and what risks and benefits does that introduce for you as a woman giving birth?
The below is a thesis by Kim Russell - further reading as part of the All4Maternity course I started and I am totally engrossed. Russell speaks of how waterbirth is thought of in hospitals settings (that she studied) and how this might impact the support of a woman in labour. "The normalisation of waterbirth practice enabled hybrid midwives to reconcile their position as a biomedical midwife with their professional identity (self)
as a normal birth practitioner through waterbirth practice. Waterbirth practice appears
to have helped labour ward midwives to close the philosophical gap between ‘doing’ midwifery and ‘being with woman’. Waterbirth enhances the physiology of childbirth and promotes normal birth
midwifery practice, but its promotion in labour wards is dependent on the availability
of equipment and the philosophy of care adopted by the organisation (Cluett et al., 2004). Consequently for change in hospital waterbirth to be successful, innovations
that support critical praxis (see chapter four of this thesis) and harness the legitimate
power of authority figures is required. An important step in the change process was
the increased awareness amongst participants and co-researchers that the
organisational culture made it difficult for individuals to practice ‘real’ midwifery"
From Russell, Kim (2016) Changing the culture on labourw wardto increase midwives promotion of birthing pools:
an action research study. PhD thesis, University ofN Nottingham
I'm having such an ace day; 🧒🏼 It's been all about me and small. A brilliant new messy playgroup where we were invited to lunch with a new pal. Ok we had an interlude of v tired crying where all he wanted was to play in a carpark, but whatcha gonna do?! 🤷 👑 My necklace from @allaboutcrystalbeads
arrived and it's beautiful (will show you soon) 📚 And now I'm all signed up for All4Maternity and I'm stuck into a module to learn more about this waterbirth shiz - geeking out on birth 😍 (Auden is having a danger nap on my lap while I read, shiiii 😬) They've got a 20% off for doulas until tomorrow ❤️ www.all4maternity.com
Course I'm doing now: Immersion in water for labour and birth, Part 1: Evidence into Practice 🤗🤓 But! This is encroaching on my waterbirth chat 😉
I wanted to talk about the focus on birth POOLS over getting in the bath or shower - I love that there are so many options now for pools in whatever location you choose for your birth room...BUT - it seems like showers and baths are overlooked? That, in waiting for the pool to be ready, people are hesitant to try a mundane option like the bath or shower. But - they are such different tools and each bring something different to the table!
a few... 🚿Often a small space that can be made dark and cosy
🚿You can keep moving
🚿You can direct the flow, maybe against your lower back to counter any surges felt there 🛁With the right support you can micro nap between surges
🛁slight buoyancy that might change the pressure
🛁a safe space that you might already associate with relaxing
🚽 And while you're in the bathroom there is the excellent reminder to keep weeing 😉
🛀 When does water slow down birth?
Below is a quote from doula Natalie Meddings of @tellmeagoodbirthstory and I think the philosophy and logic behind it is spot on ❤️ "My two reservations about birth pools - when they become such a decision/event in themselves they distract from what is actually happening. Michel Odent said a contraindication for using a birth pool is when the birth is going well. I make it a policy of never telling or reminding a woman that her pool is ready, or cueing her up in any way. If she wants it, she tell you - that way it's not a decision, it's a feeling an urge for relief.
When it's thought out, it can be a distraction and the whole anticipation and preparation of it so often affects flow. when people say their contractions slowed down when they go in, it can be because they got in too early but my feeling is it's also because the move to get in, can sometimes create an upsurge in general activity and chat..the woman then being asked, does that feel nice, how does that feel etc.
The other thing is that they're used as and when, and that can lead to being in it for hours, which could well result in the above. I think a bath and/or a shower is the best option when things make that first big shift into labour...in preparation sessions, I explain that it's best used when they feel compelled to get in, i.e. right at the last, when pressure is intense. Then you're only in it for an hour or so and this is the point Odent always meant about it relaxing the body just that notch extra, baby drops just that bit deeper, brain switches off just that bit more that you get a whoosh...and a wonderfully automatic acceleration to a straightforward end."
⏱️ When to get in?
People have told me they've been told they are not allowed in the water until they are in proper labour, or that it is too soon to get in the birth pool...so what is going on there?
Waterbirth experiences vary SO much, but here is one idea that might be of interest... "Michel Odent raises two further physiological benefits for immersion in deep water:
That immersion in warm water changes the oxygen exchange in the muscles making muscles more effective. As I always tell women, this means that they get more for the effort of each contraction. This effect lasts 1-2 hours, and thereafter it fades unless the woman leaves the water for a while and returns." From http://www.maternityandmidwifery.co.uk/why-waterbirth/1233/ 💧When did you want to get into the water? 💧When do you imagine yourself in the water? 💧What is your health care provider's policy for when they might advise you do or don't get into a pool, whether at home, birth centre or hospital? It's good to know what to expect.
Thanks for joining in everyone 😊
9 days of water birth.
Thanks for staying with me and for all your contributions.
My motivation for this was to shine a light on some different aspects of birthing in water. Different to the perspective that I had as someone expecting my first child: I thought I could save myself from pain with hypnobirthing and water. I thought if I followed the rules and kept calm I would be able to sail through with grace and ease. And I now think that is just untrue. It's not about avoiding pain, it's about accepting the strength of those sensations as maybe the most pain you've ever felt - but not in suffering. It has purpose and the intensity births you into a new understanding in many ways.
I wish I'd known that water wasn't the only answer, it was just another tool. Another amazing tool if I wanted to use it, and so important that I made it available to myself, but just another tool.
I wish I hadn't fixed my idea of a good birth on labouring and birthing in water, that I had not felt so much loss on not experiencing that.
I want to share with those of you that might think like me, that there is not one answer - what you think will create a positive birth may not be the thing that does. Perhaps it will be something you didn't expect, like a cool flannel on your forehead at the right moment, or looking into your birth partners eyes and seeing their belief in you.
All you really need is you. You are enough.