Please introduce yourself and your family
My name is Lydia and I am the lucky mummy of three wonderful children, Asher, Rohan and Shona, My husband and I are based in London.
Did you write or discuss a birth preference in preparation?
I had lots of discussions with my antenatal providers about my birth preferences during each pregnancy. I have always been keen on home birth and in many parts of the UK that is not typical especially for first time mums. I was very clear that it was what I wanted so I discussed it early and often until I got the right team around me who were on board and super supportive. My wonderful care givers also encouraged a good discussion about the alternatives, if this then what would you like to happen etc. This was really helpful for me as it gave me confidence that we had worked through the likely options and had a plan to cover a number of variable. More importantly my husband and my care givers were all on board with the aims meaning that if there were unforeseen eventualities they were well placed to make decisions which honoured my wishes as best as possible.
What type of birth did you have?
My children were born at home with the assistance of a birth pool for pain relief and sometimes to birth in. Each birth was very different but they each came out without intervention in the end. I seem to grow back to back babies so my first two labours were long and put a lot of strain on my lower back, I was grateful for the water to relieve the pain and also application of pressure on the back of my pelvis during some particularly intense surges. My final labour was short and sharp, the midwives arrived 10 minutes before my daughter was born in the water. It was touch and go whether the pool would be ready! Having had days of early labour with my first two it was a bit of a shock to find everything escalate so quickly with my final birth.
My strongest memory from my first labour was feeling like I was watching me in the pool, I was calm and I could feel the baby’s head moving down with each surge and then retreating and pausing before the next wave. It was a very empowering sensation to feel my body stretch and adapt to accommodate my son. My strongest memory from my second labour was how warm it was and how a gentle breeze from the open window was divine. I didn’t want any light in that labour and the sense of the warm water and cool breeze was heavenly. To be honest the strongest memory with the final labour was the relief of hearing the midwives arrive, I had been actively trying to slow down labour waiting for them to come so it was a great relief to hear them coming up the stairs! I will always remember the feeling of holding the baby and seeing their face for the first time and just feeling like I had always known them, so familiar and so perfect.
Best thing you packed in your hospital bag (or used if you were at home)?
The birth pool was amazing for pain relief but hardly something you can pack. Straws were essential for having sips of water which was so refreshing especially during longer labours. I have always chosen a blanket for the baby as their special gift and each of them still use them. Buying that was my favourite part of preparing for labour as it really helped me feel ready to meet the baby.
I have definitely become more of a feminist having given birth. Birth come in all shapes and sizes, there is no right or wrong way for you to choose to birth but I do believe that it is important that it is your choice. If at all possible gather people around you who empower you and respect you and recognise that it is your body and your decision. If you need information to make a decision, ask for it, and if you don’t understand it, ask them to explain. I honestly believe that anyone who does not respect your bodily autonomy has no place at your birth.