First Baby - Pregnancy

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Your first pregnancy can be an overwhelming experience. That positive pregnancy test can spark mixed emotions, even if this is a planned pregnancy. There’s a saying ‘worry is the work of pregnancy’, and people telling you not to worry doesn’t help. You are bringing new life into the world, and passing on some of your heritage, both cultural and genetic. It suddenly feels like a huge responsibility, and a little too real.  You are used to being in charge of your life, doing what you want, when you want.  Now your energy levels have dropped through the floor, and you feel queasy all the time. This baby is already bringing big changes.  

The good news is that pregnancy lasts for a while. You will have plenty of time to adjust to your new reality, and to plan for your future. The low energy levels are a sign that you are growing your baby so fast that it’s tiring you out.  You will start to feel more energetic again in the second trimester of the pregnancy, around week 12. The nausea will (hopefully) subside around the same time, making the second trimester, 12 - 27 weeks the easiest for most women.

Once you have a positive pregnancy test, (or sooner, if you are planning to get pregnant) you need to consider taking Folic Acid. This is a vitamin recommended to pregnant women as it reduces the risk of spinal abnormalities in your baby. There are several pregnancy multivitamins available in pharmacies which include the recommended intake of Folic Acid.
 
Next is to book in with your preferred care provider around 10-12 weeks. If you are planning a hospital birth, then the hospital will book you in, if you are interested in a home birth, then you can contact a self-employed community midwife who will discuss your options with you, and answer any questions you may have.

As a first-time mum, as long as you are low-risk, there is no problem booking in for a home birth. Plenty of first time births are planned for home, there is a transfer rate to hospital during the labour of around 40%, this is mainly for pain relief, and delay in the labour. The majority of normal low-risk women will have normal low-risk pregnancies and births. Home birth is worth considering, as it will increase your likelihood of a normal birth, and reduce your risk of cesarean section, or instrumental delivery. It increases your liikelihood of successful breastfeeding, and women report almost 100% satisfaction with the home birth scheme.

Around 12 weeks you will have a dating scan, this will give you an estimated due date for your baby.  Some babies come before the due date and some come after. You are considered to be full term from 37 weeks, all the way up to 42 weeks. Sometimes the scan estimates your due date as being different from the one based on your last period. See my blog on ‘Going Overdue’ for more information on this.

At some point you will start to feel the baby kicking, this can vary considerably, depending on the position of the baby, and the location of the placenta. From 24 weeks you should keep track of the pattern of your baby’s movements. If there is a significant decrease in baby’s movements, you should get in touch with your maternity hospital emergency department, they will ask some questions, and if needed bring you in for monitoring to assess baby’s wellbeing.

Around 24-26 weeks, most women will have an anomaly scan. This is to detect any problems with the baby so that everyone is prepared when she is born. If there is a serious problem, you will be having your baby in hospital, under the care of an experienced consultant doctor.

From 28 weeks onward, the birth is finally approaching. This is a time to reflect on your needs around the birth. What is important to you and your partner? What are your priorities? See my post on ‘Birth Planning’ for some thoughts. It’s also a time where some of the other annoying pregnancy conditions pop up. These include haemorrhoids, heartburn, pelvic girdle pain, constipation, shortness of breath, swelling of hands and feet. These are all normal to some degree, and although they cause some discomfort, they usually resolve soon after the birth. There are numerous natural remedies you can try for the conditions of pregnancy, some may work better than others, as everyone is different.*

Pregnancy can be a confusing time, physically and emotionally challenging, as you carry a new life inside you. Take every opportunity to rest and relax, and enjoy the experience, you will only have this first pregnancy once, any future pregnancies will not be so relaxed!

 

*If you are worried that something is seriously wrong, always contact your care provider. Symptoms which should be followed up include any bleeding, severe abdominal pain, difficulty breathing or excessive swelling. These are all rare, and may require immediate hospital treatment.


*See my ‘Links’ section for research on home birth outcomes.

Why choose a homebirth?

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The first question prospective parents ask me is ‘why should I have my baby at home’. This is such a personal decision, and each woman and her family have their own unique circumstances and beliefs. My job is to provide up-to-date information based on the latest research, so that women feel able to make a well-informed decision about place of birth. Knowledge is power!

I had my own two babies at home, I was nervous about hospitals and feeling out of control over what was happening to me. Each woman has her own reasons for choosing to birth at home, some want to be comfortable in their own environment, others want to avoid interventions that may slow the labour. Some have concerns about medications crossing the placenta to the baby and affecting baby’s wellbeing at birth and ability to breastfeed. The main concern that parents have when making this decision, is how safe it is.

Research in the UK Birthplace study shows that low-risk women overall have good outcomes when they choose to give birth at home. First time mothers have a slightly increased risk of a poor outcome, but the overall risks are still extremely small. If you plan to give birth in hospital, you are more likely to have an instrumental delivery (vacuum or forceps) or a cesarean section. Even if you transfer to hospital from a planned home birth, you are still more likely to have a normal birth with fewer interventions.

You will get to know your self-employed community midwife well through the antenatal period, and will have the opportunity to discuss any concerns about the pregnancy as well as plans for the birth in detail.   She will be on-call for the 3 weeks before and up to 2 weeks after your due date, and you will be in regular communication once you feel things are beginning to happen. She will support you during the labour, ensuring everything is normal with both you and the baby and will assist with the birth of the baby. She will stay to make sure everything is fine afterwards. In the postnatal period she will call out to you for 14 days, or sometimes longer, and will provide help with feeding and advice around caring for your new baby.

There are many advantages to a home birth, the first is continuity of care, you will know the midwife who is going to be attending the birth, and you will be in your own environment, Both these factors will allow you to feel more relaxed. Relaxation is crucial to labour as it allows the labour hormone oxytocin to be released, which encourages regular strong contractions. You have a good chance of having a birth without any medication, and you will be able to remain upright and mobile during labour, which will mean the labour will be quicker, and you are more likely to give birth without needing the assistance of a doctor. If you choose, you can labour and birth in a birth pool. Your baby will be born into a peaceful and calm atmosphere, followed by skin to skin, and early breastfeeding if that is your preference. After the birth, you can climb into your own bed with your new baby and your partner, which is a wonderful feeling.

The moment of your baby’s birth is an amazing transformation that you will always remember, however and wherever it happens. Birth is a journey, and despite our best plans sometimes ends up going in a different direction. Choosing a home birth does not always mean giving birth at home, but if you do transfer into the hospital for any reason, your community midwife will come with you and support you in the hospital. We have good relationships with the midwives on delivery suite, and they are very respectful of the women on the home birth scheme.

There are some useful Home Birth Links for you to have a look at, if you would like any further information, feel free to contact me with any questions. It’s a big decision, and I am always happy to meet you and your partner, and discuss the pros and cons to help you decide, without any commitment to sign up!