Strangers ask me when I’m due and whether it’s a boy or girl. I sleep with three pillows – one between the legs and two under the head. I use my toes to pick up fallen objects and strive to walk without a waddle. The third trimester in all its awkward glory has arrived.
Now is the time to prepare for my little’s upcoming debut.
If all goes well, this child will be born at home, as his brother was two years ago. I’m not a hippie or a doctor-hater. I chose to have a home birth, because it seemed to be the simplest way of ushering my child into this world. I will not have a painful car ride to the hospital, a crowd of peeking technicians, glaring fluorescent lights, bad hospital food, and easy access to pain relief. (I’m a wimp. I’d probably take the epidural when offered to me, even if I would rather avoid medications.)
I feel safe choosing a home birth because I live in walking distance of a hospital. If something catastrophic happened, I could be moved into the operating room almost as quickly as a bed could be pushed from one hospital wing to the other. If I need to go to the hospital, I have a very supportive OB/GYN who I see regularly alongside the midwife.
Home birth or not, no birth is without its surprises, and my first certainly caught us unprepared. We expected my son to be late, like many first born children, but he came two weeks early. At birth he was very tiny – less than four pounds. Since he was under the 10 percentile, he was diagnosed with Intrauterine Growth Restriction or IUGR. Infants with IUGR often have their food supply restricted during gestation, although physicians may not know how the food supply is damaged. When he was born, my little guy was literally starving.
Due to my son’s diminutive size, my contractions were atypically short. We assumed that I was less progressed than I actually was, and the midwives did not know how urgently they were needed. Fortunately one of them arrived 15 minutes before my son did. While she delivered my son, my husband and I had to cope with most of active labor alone.
Prior to giving birth, I had read copious amounts of information about pain relief, stages of labor and delivery basics. This helped me cope with the pain during early labor when the contractions were mild, and I still had some metal capacity remaining. When active labor kicked in I forget every word. I writhed, screamed, moaned without remembering any natural pain remedies. It was not a pretty picture.
This time — I hope — we will have a healthier child and a calmer delivery. We are praying that baby is fully nourished, and we are carefully monitoring his growth. So far everything looks normal.
To ease my anxiety during labor, I decided to make a labor kit. My hope is that this kit will remind me of ways to control my fear and pain during active labor.
Here’s what I’m stashing in the kit:
- A cheat sheet that lists the stages of labor and ways of managing pain
- Homemade lavender-scented bath bombs (Lavender may help relax and calm the mother. Warm baths ease labor pains.)
- A small spray bottle filled with almond oil and a few drops of lavender essential oil for massage
- Stereo system with a variety of music — everything from Handel to Bob Marley and Queen
- Note cards with encouraging Bible verses, many from here
- Exercise ball
- Hot pad
- Natural energy drinks
I’m also renting a large inflatable birthing pool from my midwife. This provided such relief last time! I highly recommend using water if you are going to have a natural birth.