38 weeks. I feel beyond blessed to have made it to full term for the third time. I know that realistically, from my previous pregnancies, that I likely have some weeks left to go, being 40+5 and 41+2 with my two boys – who knows when this little person will make their appearance!
Coming into my third birth, I haven’t had as much time to prepare intentionally for labour like I had with my first labour – but that is okay, because I feel that I laid some valuable ground work in my first pregnancy that has supported the process in subsequent pregnancies, and of course, I have the same wonderful team looking after me this birth as I did in my previous pregnancies.
Having had two vaginal deliveries previously, with labour lasting 12 hours for my first birth and 2 hours with my second, I am very interested to see how quickly this labour progresses. The most helpful thought going into this birth is the knowledge that I CAN do this, I have done this before and my body knows what to do.
What I would love to share with you this week is some of the wonderful resources I have accessed over the course of three pregnancies to support myself in labour and postpartum – this week I’ll focus on what I’ve done to prepare for birth.
What I used in previous labours (that I’m planning to use again)
- Music – I had a playlist already made on Spotify for both of my births, and I plan to use one again. Engaging oxytocin production is key for labour progression, and for me music is a helpful tool
- Warm water – I laboured in the shower on a yoga ball for both births, with my oldest son born in the hospital shower, and my second born in the bed because we needed some position changes to get enough slack on his thrice-looped cord for him to be delivered.
- Movement – I laboured on the yoga ball and birthed in a kneeling position for my first birth, positional changes were also key in delivering my younger son.
- Australian Birth Stories – listening to positive birth stories was something that was really helpful to me in my first pregnancy, prior to being pregnant I had not ever really heard a positive story. There is also a crazy phenomenon where every person wants to tell you horror stories about birth while you are pregnant – it is totally okay (and in fact, I advise you to) to say that you aren’t in a space to hear negative stories – that’s what I did in my first pregnancy and it made things manageable for me.
- The Middee Society – I love Mon, being a midwife herself, you can trust that the topics talked about are being approached with compassion and an expert eye. I especially enjoy the focus she puts on education and empowerment making all the difference in how women feel and experience their births.
- Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskin – I’m going to start with a controversial one! I personally got so much benefit out of Ina May Gaskin’s seminal work, although there are plenty of things in there that I didn’t personally agree with, and some polarising topics, the focus on women’s ability to have natural births was very helpful to me, as I didn’t know anyone that had had an unmedicated vaginal delivery, so it sowed the thought that maybe it was possible – and it also filled me with conviction that a midwifery-led model of care was something that resonated with me. I ended up choosing a hospital birth with a midwifery led model of care, with a known midwife – I have been lucky enough to actually have the same midwife deliver both of my boys, and I am so thankful for that experience.
I would sum up my recommendation of this one by saying, chew up the meat and spit out the bones – if there are things you don’t agree with or don’t resonate with you, then just move on or even close the book and read something else. Fun fact: Gaskin’s manoeuvre for delivering shoulder dystocia babies is actually still widely in use in the pre-hospital setting.
My Most Important Tip: Breast-feeding Preparation
As a first time mother, I really hadn’t done enough to prepare myself for breastfeeding, I just assumed that it was something that would come naturally! If breastfeeding is something you would like to do, then take time to prepare for it prior to birth by getting education and support in place.
I would recommend that if you are planning to breastfeed you should do some education in advance to prepare yourself mentally for the long haul that breastfeeding can be. I had a hard time the first 6 weeks of feeding my oldest son, but with support from my midwives, who continued to visit me at home postnatally, and my husband, I ended up feeding him until he was 2 years old!
If you are a Brisbane local and want to do some pre-birth education, my lovely friend Katie at Flourish Lactation is a great option – she is also an invaluable support postpartum when you are getting breastfeeding established, facing challenges or preparing to return to work or wean.
And if you are looking for a great resource to access prior to birth to prepare for breastfeeding, Kate from Milky Business Lactation has a wonderful online course that you can access anywhere in the world from the privacy of your own home.
Both of these amazing women are not only breastfeeding mothers of multiple children and experienced midwives, they are both Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultations (IBCLC) – the absolute gold standard when it comes to breastfeeding support and education.
These resources and tools were so helpful to me on my pregnancy and birth journeys – and I hope that some of them are helpful to you soon, or are a helpful and thoughtful gift you can give to an expectant mother in your life soon. Keep an eye on my Instagram this week to keep updated on all things in the final countdown to delivery day!