This February, I have the pleasure of introducing you to a new and exciting guest mama blogger on the Paulina Splechta Birth Photography & Films birth blog @thecarinachronicles
I had the pleasure of meeting first time mom, Carina, during pregnancy with baby boy Matteo.
The mom blogger behind "The Carina Chronicles.com” Carina blogs about healthy eating and powerfoods during pregnancy, and even ventures into topics of couples therapy and her “Unexpected” Pregnancy Reaction. You can visit her blog here ➡ thecarinachronicles.com
During her pregnancy we had the chance to run a ‘trial labor session’ at Natural Birthworks Birth Center in Margate, FL to be able to give women planning a birth center or home birth an idea of what early labor might look like for some moms. In Carina’s guest blog post below, she shares with us her research making process that led her to deciding to have an out of hospital birth with her first child. I am so eager for you to read her post! Let me know your thoughts on out of hospital births below!
Planning an Out-Of-Hospital Birth
The decision to have a home birth isn’t a common one, especially since only 2% of babies in the U.S. are birthed at home. We have grown up relating births to hospitals, along with the picture of birth being a terrifying experience thanks to what movies and tv shows portray it to be.
The truth is, most complications in hospitals arise due to interventions as soon as labor begins. If a woman is low-risk for complications during pregnancy, then they can ultimately have an out-of-hospital birth. Women have been birthing since the beginning of time, and our bodies are made for this.
Here are some ways to prepare for an out-of-hospital birth, whether it be at home or in a birthing center. Doing adequate research, mentally and physically preparing for labor, and designing the ultimate labor environment are essential for having a comfortable home birth.
Researching and instilling confidence in yourself about an out of hospital birth is the most important starting point. Giving birth out of a hospital setting is not the norm, especially when it comes to telling others about it. Most people simply relate giving birth to being in hospitals because it is known as a “safe” environment. Most people will scare you into the complications of birth, such as “What if the cord is wrapped around the baby’s neck?” or “What is the baby becomes distressed?”. Midwives are equipped to handle these situations and there is always a Plan B if your midwife feels a need for a transfer. This is why it’s important to have all the information on hand and remain confident in your power and ability to birth naturally.
A very powerful and informative documentary is ‘The Business of Being Born’, a documentary that explores the maternity care system in America and questions what occurs behind closed doors. ‘Midwife’ is another great documentary we enjoyed which examines the life of a home birth midwife, from prenatal visits, to birth, to postpartum. This convinced me to make the switch from my OBGYN at twenty weeks of pregnancy.
A wise home birther once told me, “You need to prepare for this as a runner prepares for a marathon.” This means preparation for birth starts at the beginning of pregnancy. Mental and physical preparation is key to prepare for the intensity of childbirth.
We all know the saying “mind over matter” which relates to how you must think during childbirth. Deep breathing, meditation with guided imagery, and positive thinking are important during labor.
Many mothers have taken hypno-birthing classes, which is a childbirth education course that teaches self-hypnosis techniques to combat fear and pain during labor. Meditation is another great relaxation technique that focuses on practicing mindfulness to train awareness and attention and achieve a mentally and emotionally calm state.
I did not take the hypnobirthing classes, but I did listen to guided meditations intended for childbirth throughout my pregnancy. These meditations focus on a positive childbirth experience and help to eradicate any thoughts of fear during labor. Throughout labor, my partner helped me maintain deep breathing techniques through contractions to calm my nervous system. Focusing on the count of my breath helped to distract me during the intensity of a contraction.
At every prenatal appointment, my midwife would ask, “So, how much are we exercising?” Staying active during pregnancy is important for both physical and mental health. Walking and prenatal yoga are two great exercises to prepare the body for childbirth.
Prenatal yoga helps to increase the strength and flexibility of muscles needed for childbirth along with improving sleep, reducing stress levels, and decreasing aches and pains associated with pregnancy. Walking during pregnancy helps keep mom and baby’s weight in check along with reducing the risk of preeclampsia, and lowering the risk of gestational diabetes. Always be sure to check with your healthcare provider before starting any exercise routine.
During pregnancy, I worked in a nursing home which required a lot of walking. I worked up to 39 weeks pregnant and would average at least 5,000 steps a day. When the baby decided he wanted to come ten days post due date, I increased my walks to 2 miles every other day along with squats and lunges at the park in hopes to induce labor. Occasionally, I would do prenatal yoga from DVDs I rented at the library.
Setting up the perfect environment for your home birth is crucial. Your midwife will most likely give you a list of supplies to prepare, such as towels, blankets, trash bags, and other similar items. Setting up the ambiance of the room you plan to birth in is important to having calm and peaceful labor, from deciding who will attend your birth to making sure you have a toolbox of natural pain relief techniques.
It’s imperative to be strict on who you have during your birth because the energy given out by those people will affect the flow of labor. You can consider hiring a doula, who is a non-medical person who assists women before, during, or after childbirth to provide emotional and physical help. A birth photographer is also a significant investment because the labor process can be such a blur and capturing those images of you doing something so powerful can be rewarding. But most importantly, you must consider the family members who will be there. Having too many people at once can interrupt the flow of the labor process, possibly stalling your labor. My midwife once told me, “The hormones you used to make this baby are the same ones that will help you get the baby out.”
I had initially intended for a doula to be present during my birth, but unfortunately, it didn’t work out due to scheduling conflicts. However, I now look back and realize the importance of having a doula. It would’ve allowed my partner to be with me every second, instead of having to run back and forth to apply pressure to my hips during a contraction along with simply getting me snacks from across the room. A birth photographer also would’ve been a great investment because thinking back; I don’t quite remember much of that day. Luckily, my midwives birth assistant took great photos and a video of the baby being born in the tub. When it came to family members, I did not want anyone present. I felt like birth is so personal that all I needed for emotional and spiritual support was my partner, and I’m happy I made that decision.
There is a reason why a seventy-one percent of women receive epidural or spinal anesthesia during delivery because childbirth is no joke. However, once receiving the epidural, it may prolong labor which increases the risk of complications. There are many natural pain relief techniques one can use during labor to make the transition easier.
You can relax in warm water which relaxes muscles and relieves pressure on the pelvis. Sitting on an exercise ball and rotating your hips can also help open the pelvis, and aid in descending the baby. Aromatherapy is found to help reduce anxiety and promote relaxation during labor, such as lavender and peppermint oil. I loved being on all fours in the shower while allowing the warm water to hit my back and helped me relax during the contractions.
Be sure to keep all this in mind if planning to be part of the small group of powerful women having out of hospital births. The earlier you start preparing, the easier it will be. Know that whatever you decide, even if your birth doesn’t go as planned, what matters is bringing your beautiful baby into the world. Whether it be at home, a birthing center, or in a hospital, know- You got this mama!