The exam vs essay feeling

For anyone who has spent a significant amount of time in education, this feeling will be familiar. You know the one – you have an essay deadline on the horizon and you’ve barely started, but you also have an exam looming and need to revise. Which do you do first? You feel like you have no time for either and consequently go round in circles, getting more stressed that you’re running out of time and failing to do anything productive.

This is me at the moment. All the big things were prepared / bought for the baby months ago, but I still have to buy / organise / pack the little things. I am 36+2 today, so really need to have ‘just in case’ bags packed; I’m going to pack a birthing bag and a post-birth bag, both of which will be useful at home to have everything to hand but then also all contained if we need to transfer to hospital.

I also need to tidy and clean the house, which is presenting itself as a major difficulty right now as I am so exhausted and unable to do simple things like reach the floor (!), crouch down, kneel down, lift things or general do anything physical as it leaves me breathless and sweating.

So, I guess all there is to do is make lists…! Green = packed. Orange = bought but not packed yet. Red = need to buy. Oh god. Update 27/10/13… everything is finally bought, and nearly everything is packed. The only things not packed are labour related, which as I’m planning a home birth, I’ve got out ready to start labouring at home. If we have to transfer, they’ll just be bundled into a bag.

Birthing bag

  • Bikini top
  • Dressing gown
  • Slippers
  • Socks
  • Cheap night shirt / large t-shirt
  • TENS machine
  • Music (ipod)
  • Clary sage / carrier oil
  • Flannel
  • Lip balm
  • Hair bobbles
  • Paracetamol
  • Chocolate / other snacks
  • Water bottle
  • Bottle of squash

Post-birth bag

  • Open-fronted PJs (or similar for easy breastfeeding access)
  • Nightshirt (in case of catheter in hospital)
  • MASSIVE pants! (Including 1 pack of disposables)
  • Maternity pads (2 packs)
  • Dark towels
  • Nursing bras
  • Breast pads (pack of disposables)
  • Lanisoh (going to ask MW for a prescription if needed – have a sachet for emergencies)
  • Comfy outfit to go home in
  • Toiletries (toothbrush, soap, shampoo etc)
  • Deodorant

Changing bag – all baby stuff

  • Changing mat
  • Nappies (starting with disposable)
  • Cotton wool
  • Wipes
  • Muslins
  • Hat
  • Scratch mitts
  • Babygrows – in different sizes
  • Vests – ditto
  • Blanket
  • Snowsuit / jacket

Statistics, statistics

Call me a geek, but I just love some statistics to help me prove a point.

On one of the pregnancy and baby forums I use, there have recently been a few homebirth related threads and I have noticed a lot of fear about not having immediate access to doctors and theatre. A lot of this appears to be influenced by prior birth experiences or experiences of others around them, but it’s very sad.

I may be naive, I’ve never had a baby before so realistically I have no idea how I’ll cope with labour – maybe I’ll be begging to go to hospital for an epidural (although I sincerely hope not, as there are so many negatives to them!) but until I get to that point, I don’t really get the negativity that surrounds homebirth by the vast majority of the general public. I even saw one lady state that she thought homebirth was selfish because it ‘took midwives away from the hospital.’ This shows a general lack of knowledge as the community midwives who attend homebirths – certainly in my area – don’t work at the hospital anyway. If they weren’t attending one of their community patients, they’d be tucked up asleep in bed or doing a normal shift in the community!

Whilst doing my research, I came across the Birth Choice UK website, which is full of lovely statistics. Sadly, caesarian section, instrumental deliveries and inductions rates just keep increases year on year, with the resultant unassisted delivery (which still includes epidurals and other intervention) reaching a shocking rate of just 45.5% pregnancies in England in 2012. In 2011, homebirth rate in England was 2.36% but this seems to vary hugely across the country (from less than 0.4% up to 9%!) My local area is pushing 5% which is reassuring in itself.

Looking more regionally, the website allows you to look at induction, c-section, instrumental and normal birth rates at each health care setting which I found fascinating (and a little worrying). In my area, my local hospital (where it would be assumed I would birth, if I wasn’t aiming for homebirth) has the highest induction level (7.6% higher than the national average), an average c-section rate (1.8% lower than national average), average instrumental (1.2% lower) and almost exactly the national average of normal birth (at just 41.7%). Compare this with the only exclusively midwife-led unit in the area (over 96% normal birth) and it makes you think a bit.

I can’t wait to try homebirthing and know it’s right for us, but it isn’t right for everyone.

You can’t have a homebirth because…

I really, really want a homebirth. So far, my midwife is being really supportive of this and there has been no hint that this would change. However, my next appointment (34 weeks) is when they do a ‘homebirth risk assessment’. I am still planning on insisting on a homebirth, whatever risks they come up with, but in order to pre-empt them a bit I’ve been trying to find reasons why they may be against it. I found this handy list of excuses on the UK homebirth reference site.

For me, my ‘risks’ (based on that list) would be:

  • This is my first baby. I think a lack of clinical history makes some health care professionals twitchy.
  • We live in a rural area – but the hospital is still only 20 mins away, should a transfer really be necessary.
  • I may be expecting a big baby. My bump is measuring 2cm ahead – as it has done since I was first measured at 23 weeks. Personally I would have expected that – I was overweight before I got pregnant, and the fat layers are not going to magically melt away – they’re going to sit on top of my bump! The other thing to consider is where the baby is lying, which is my case is very much down my midline at the front – exactly where the MW measures. I have been told that 2cm either way is ‘normal’ but if it has a growth spurt and nudges into 3cm over, they’d like me to go for a growth scan – which suits me fine as I’d get to see my baby again! The problems with growth scans as predictors for final size / weight of baby is they’re so damn inaccurate! I’m mentally prepared for a 10-pounder and size won’t put me off a homebirth.
  • I am fat! My BMI was high when I got pregnant (34.7) and this has added risks of things like diabetes and high blood pressure. As it stands, I am otherwise healthy though and my MW knows my BMI and has never mentioned it as a problem. So far!
  • I have SPD. Fortunately (!) this is not actually recorded anywhere on my pregnancy notes, as I was diagnosed (and am being treated) by private physios. And that’s how it’s going to stay.

There are other ‘reasons not to birth at home’ that could potentially be thrown at me later – to do with baby’s position, or waters breaking early and not much else happening, or going ‘overdue’ – but I’ll argue those if and when they happen.