With only 6 weeks to go until our baby's estimated expected birthday, I thought I'd jot down the various ways in which Alex and I are preparing for the grand entrance of our long-awaited Baby into our welcoming arms. In fact, this very activity will serve as yet another way that I am preparing.
For starters, I have the perspective of time on my side. Years ago, I researched home birth as an undergraduate when my English professor raved to us about how her home births compared to her initial hospital birth. At that time, I had no intention of getting pregnant or having children even, so I was able to research the subject completely objectively. Interestingly enough, it was this assignment that actually got me interested in homebirth for myself, and I always kept the idea in the back of my subconscience.
Then, my graduate dissertation started out being an analysis of pregnancy magazines, where I combed through a year's worth of several pregnancy magazines, outlining patterns of topics and perspectives on the various topics that arose again and again. What I found was a mainstream medicalization of childbirth that was taken for granted as the "obvious" way to birth a baby.
Finally, with the above academic knowledge as my foundation, I knew just what I wanted once this pregnancy and this baby started to become real to me. We transferred our prenatal care to a midwifery clinic, where our desire for a natural childbirth at home is fully supported and encouraged.
The midwives required two things of us to become their clients, which are further preparing us for our baby's birth. First, we had to hire a birth assistant. The way it was explained to us is that once Baby is born, it's good to have one set of medically-trained hands for me, and another set for the baby. I appreciate having access to medically trained professionals who nonetheless are also knowledgeable in normal, natural childbirth.
Second, we were required to take birthing classes. We were able to choose the approach, and we ended up with HypnoBabies, a combination of The Bradley Method and HypnoBirthing. The founder of HypnoBabies taught both of these other approaches for years before making the combination approach. The way I see it, after having read the Husband-Coached Childbirth by Dr. Bradley, our class covers everything the Bradley Method covers, except it also teaches deep open-eyes self-hypnosis as a relaxation strategy. The Bradley Method stresses the importance of relaxation, whereas HypnoBabies shows us how and gives us practice - that's how I see it.
Along with our HypnoBabies class comes daily homework that involves readings to educate ourselves on our options, exercises and nutrition that I am to be aware of, and daily practice with visualizing a peaceful birth and practicing self-hypnosis. This class started just as I was reading a wonderful book by Eckhart Tolle titled "A New Earth", which likewise talked of the power of the mind over body. I've already had a reassuring experience with the dulling effect of hypnosis on sensations that otherwise would be quite uncomfortable.
In addition, I have reserved a birthing pool, so I will have the power and benefit of hydrotherapy available for me during labor and possibly even during birth. Plus, the very fact that we're planning a homebirth serves to ease my mind and increase my comfort level. I won't have to worry about trying to get somewhere in a certain amount of time; I won't need to worry about abstract hospital protocol that does nothing to ease a woman's birthing time.
Finally, I am reassured by the knowledge that I am doing everything I can to create the most gentle entrance possible for my baby into our world. I am amazed to have learned how much the type of birthing affects the breastfeeding relationship, and I am encouraged that we'll have the best possible start to nursing. Not only that, but the fact that Alex is being a part of the preparations with me and will be my birthing coach on Baby's birthday makes me feel so loved and supported and empowered to birth our baby safely, comfortably, and joyfully - on our own terms, the way I believe God meant it to be.
Someone asked me recently if I was ready for the baby. After 10 years of marriage, how can I not be?! I'm as ready as I'll ever be! The rest must come from hands-on experience. I am taking ownership of my pregnancy, my birthing, and looking forward to welcoming our baby!