It’s been another fairly uneventful week really, which is good! I’m concentrating on resting as much as possible still, whilst still getting out and about for exercise and looking after the boys.
The result of the glucose tolerance test that I had at the end of last week was negative, so I don’t have gestational diabetes. I didn’t think it was that likely, but it’s great to have this confirmed and means I don’t have the stress of having to change my already fairly restricted diet. So that was a big relief. My blood pressure still seems to be sticking around the same readings, still the lower end of normal, and I checked that my machine is still capable of reading high in hospital when I had the GTT.
On Monday I had the delivery of a fantastic new book that I ordered last week – the Positive Birth Book. I’ve been reading it lots this week and I’m very impressed. I didn’t read loads or research excessively about birth before I went into labour with Andrew – the biggest preparation I did was attend yoga classes where we learned good labouring positions and breathing techniques. I was blessed with an uncomplicated pregnancy, and a lovely, fast, positive birth in a midwife-led birth centre. I felt that my animal instinct took over during labour, and I didn’t fear at all what would happen, I just got into the zone and did what felt natural to me. I would even go as far to say that I enjoyed it.
So when the time came to think about options for my second birth experience, it was easy, as I’d had such a good experience before and another uncomplicated pregnancy. Again I decided on the birth centre, mainly because I wasn’t sure about potentially giving birth in front of a toddler at home, and our flat was tiny! My midwife at the time was actually very pro home birth, and tried to convince me to stay at home. And we did have supplies of old towels ready in case I didn’t make it to the birth centre given my previous fast labour, but in the end we did just about make it, only because it was the middle of the night and there weren’t the usual daytime in Cambridge traffic jams. Again I had a very positive and even faster experience. I’ve learned this week that labours under 3 hours like mine have been even have a recognised term – precipitous labour.
So I never imagined that I would find myself buying a book about positive birth for my third experience. After all, I have the personal experience myself. That was until I’ve struggled with the medicalisation of a twin pregnancy. One of the registrars I saw at twin clinic a while ago couldn’t really understand how I’d never seen a doctor in hospital in my previous pregnancies. But I didn’t, because there was no need, I was having a “low risk” pregnancy each time. The only health professionals I saw were midwives, in pregnancy and labour.
Fundamentally I still believe, as I did before, that my body is capable of giving birth without complications, even to twins – it’s “just two babies” I keep thinking – I don’t doubt this and I don’t fear giving birth in itself. The problem is that I fear how I will react if/when I am advised by doctors to plan a certain type of birth or do certain things in labour due to the fact that this pregnancy is “high risk”, which I find a really unhelpful term. Loads of pregnant women are automatically lumped into this category, but actually it covers a huge range of individual circumstances. So I have only one risk factor – twins. The rest of me is healthy and fit – I have a normal BMI, I have no underlying health conditions, I’m under 35, I have a good history of uncomplicated pregnancies and labours, I’m as active as I can be for pregnancy etc. Yet I fall in the same category as a woman who is 45, is obese, is inactive, has diabetes, has had complications in a previous pregnancy or no previous pregnancy, has high blood pressure, and smokes (for example). We have vastly different pregnancy profiles to be lumped into the same “high risk” category.
Of course I’m not against modern medicine and the fantastic cases in which it can save lives and improve outcomes for mum and babies. If I need it, I will gladly turn to it for help. But it’s not like humans aren’t at all capable of multiple pregnancy without medical intervention. My grandad, who would have been 91 this coming week, was a twin, born at a time without ultrasound scans and c-sections, and they both survived, thrived and lived to a good old age.
The positive birth book, or what I’ve read of it so far at least, is helping me to understand how I can help myself stay positive in the midst of all the talk of “risk” and medical management. There are two main tenets that underpin the rest of the book, that is that I have RIGHTS and I have CHOICES as a pregnant woman. No medical professional can do anything to me without my consent and without explaining to me the benefits and risks involved, engaging in a two-way conversation and answering my questions. It doesn’t matter if I’m labelled “one of those” for questioning them, I have the right to do this and make my own choices, of course based on any advice I am given from sources I trust.
The book also makes clear that it’s important for me to have a really clear birth plan, or more specifically birth plans (B, C even D in case A doesn’t happen), and have chance to discuss with doctors and midwives what I would like to happen in advance. So this is something I will work on in the coming weeks. As I already know, birth happens most effectively when we, as mammals, are in an environment where we feel warm, cosy and safe. I’m convinced this helped me before, and it can help me again. The problem is I will probably have to go through labour in a brightly lit and unfamiliar hospital room with several people present, which doesn’t exactly lead to such a conducive environment. There are things that I and Tom can do to mitigate against this though, and Tom has read the section about being my “guardian of oxytocin” – the most important hormone in labour. These are the kind of things I can discuss with respect to my birth plan.
I can’t quite believe that I’m about to enter the third trimester at 28 weeks. The first seemed so long with the incessant vomiting, but the past 10 or so weeks have gone much more quickly. Now it really seems like we’re on the homeward straight.
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