When you know better, you do better. Pregnancy and Labor Version.
January 3, 2011 8:45 AM   Subscribe

Whoa, boy! Or...girl? Newly pregnant. Very, very unexpected. Second kid. What do I differently with this pregnancy?

Due in September, maybe? My first pregnancy was great. But during labor, if anything could go wrong, it went wrong. My New Year's resolution, since the timing is so apt, is to do things differently this time.

So far I am:

-not planning to announce this pregnancy at all. People will find out by my belly getting bigger or by my puking with greater frequency than usual. This second time is really subdued for me in that regard, and I don't want to deal with other people's extreme emotions when I have my own going on.
-planning a homebirth. No admonishments. AND absolutely NO JUDGEMENTS! I have done my research. I have talked to people. This is my choice, and it will not change. I did it the hospital way last time, and unless I absolutely have to, I will not do it that way again.
-planning to buy a hospital grade breast pump
-exercising more --- I have so far done yoga, have resolved to take the stairs instead of the elevator at work. I have several prenatal fitness DVDs in my Amazon cue based on previous question recommendations and will be making a purchase shortly.
-get some prenatal massage lovin' a few times
-Hypnobabies program
-get a new birth doula --- mine is unavailable in September, and I'm sorta freaking about finding a new one.
-look into hiring a mother's helper or a post-partum doula
-having no visitors for two weeks after baby is born

What else should I aim to do? What did you do differently with your subsequent pregnancies after having a terrible labor and birth experience? What did you differently in the immediate post-partum period?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I too had a great first pregnancy with the labor/delivery from hell. I'm not being glib -- with this one, you can add Relax, you're now an expert.
posted by thinkpiece at 8:50 AM on January 3, 2011

My mom cooked so much food prior to each pregnancy after the first one that we actually bought a second refrigerator for it. It made things easier, and it meant we didn't have to rely on friends/neighbors/family/takeout to feed everyone.

Some women have a lot of luck with La Leche League. You didn't mention any problems with breastfeeding, but they - or another group with a similar focus - probably have a greater number of home-birthers than you might find otherwise. (I know that some people aren't fans of LLL, but I am. YMMV, of course.)

Who will you have present at your home birth? Start looking for a midwife now.

One of the biggest differences this time around is that you already have a child. Take some time in the next few months to focus on her or him. A sibling is a big change, and if they're old enough, they'll look back fondly on that pre-sibling time. If they're younger, it's just a good thing to get him or her super pumped about being an older sister or brother.
posted by punchtothehead at 8:52 AM on January 3, 2011

I like your list, but I would caution you to be flexible and open about the birth itself: sometimes with birth, things go "wrong" because the concept of "right" is very rigid. Keeping the mindset that you will do what it takes to achieve the result of a healthy baby and self, above all, may be a better approach.

One thing we did differently the second time was to keep the baby's name to ourselves until she was born. It was much more fun to drive people crazy by refusing to say what names we were thinking of, than it was to listen to people criticize our choices.
posted by padraigin at 8:56 AM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

What did you do differently with your subsequent pregnancies after having a terrible labor and birth experience?

I exercised religiously, I listened to my body, and labored at home for 9 hours before going to the hospital (I was high-risk, I had to deliver at the hospital). My second was born an hour after I checked in, compared to my first, who was born 30 hours after being induced.

I have a friend who had three deliveries, two of which were sort of typical hospital experiences. She did hypnobirth with the third (in a hospital) and became an instant devotee. She can't say enough great things about it.
posted by cooker girl at 8:57 AM on January 3, 2011

I would suggest using your list as a guide rather than inflexible rules. Your list seems to be mostly about relaxing and keeping intervention to a minimum, so by all means keep those goals in mind but be willing to change your mind about one item or another if it makes sense at the time (especially if holding fast to a given Second-Pregnancy Rule increases rather than decreases your stress).
posted by headnsouth at 9:00 AM on January 3, 2011

The good thing about starting the doula search now is that you have plenty of time to interview available doulas. Your previous doula should have a good network, and if you really liked her and she "got" you during your first pregnancy and was a good presence at an otherwise unpleasant birth, she'll probably have some good suggestions for a replacement. Talk to prospective doulas about your previous birth, what went wrong, what, if anything, went right, and most importantly what you want to have happen this time. You can take your time finding the right doula. If you find someone that you feel comfortable with after an hour or two, it'll be easier to build a strong relationship in a short time, whereas if you just pick someone right away and hope that you'll get along well enough to suit you it can take a very long time to get to that same point, if ever.

Best of luck to you!
posted by SugarAndSass at 9:10 AM on January 3, 2011

I learned a peculiar thing yesterday that I wish I'd known when I was dealing with nursing my newborns, although I don't know if it would have helped: my friend's babies needed to have minor bits of their mouths snipped to facilitate breast feeding. One had the bit under the tongue nicked and the other had the bit of skin that runs between the upper gums and the inside of the upper lip. Tiny procedure, huge difference apparently. And the hospital folks and the lactation consultant didn't catch it: it took -- I think -- a pediatric dentist to diagnose the issue. Anyway, if I were to find myself pregnant again I would do a little research to see whom I could consult for additional input on baby mouths. (The well meaning lactation consultant at my hospital was worse than useless.)

And of course you're on the folic acid supplements, right? Better late than never.

Good luck!
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:18 AM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

re: homebirth. My son was born at a freestanding, non-hospital affiliated birth center, which was basically just like a homebirth except a) no mess at my house, b) some medical equipment available in case of emergency, c) one block from the hospital vs. a twenty minute drive to the hospital, d) they had an enormous, fantastic birthing tub to labor in vs. one of those inflatable pools.

Do a little research to see if there is a birth center (a real birth center, not one of those "we'll just starting calling the L&D ward in our hospital a birth center) near you.
posted by anastasiav at 9:23 AM on January 3, 2011 [2 favorites]

Have you heard about the Brewer diet? It's a high-protein diet that is supposed to help a lot in preventing toxemia/pre-eclampsia. The next time I'm pregnant, I plan on following that a lot more. Also, I would definitely recommend taking a Bradley class, possibly in addition to Hypnobabies. I took a Bradley class even though I was planning on a home birth and I'm so glad I did. I had to be induced due to high BP, and my husband was incredibly helpful during my labor (and my doula didn't make it since I went unexpectedly fast, so that's another bonus of having your partner knowledgeable about labor/birth stuff).
I definitely agree with your plan on having a postpartum doula and not having other visitors for two weeks postpartum. You'll want some time to integrate the new person into the family and figure out what they're like and what everyone's needs are now that life is totally different. (At least that's how I see it.)
Something else that I've been mulling over when thinking about a possible future pregnancy is what will my daughter be doing while I'm in labor and giving birth? Since you'll be at home, it might be as simple as having someone around to help your LO and keep her/him occupied while you labor or having LO go to grandma's or something for that time. I know that's not directly related to what you were asking.
posted by zorrine at 9:30 AM on January 3, 2011

If there is anything that you're using for the oldest that you are going to want to use for the baby I recommend you start the transition now.

For example: When I found out I was pregnant with my second we wanted the crib my oldest was sleeping in for the new baby. To avoid any issues we immediately started the switch to a big girl bed. We started by transforming the crib into the toddler bed and let her sleep in that for a few months. Then we switched her to her own new bed and put the crib away. It was gone for about three months and when we put it back up for the new baby it was the baby's crib, not hers any more. She didn't even care.
posted by TooFewShoes at 9:56 AM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Brewer diet does not prevent pre-eclampsia. Nobody knows what causes pre-eclampsia and related disorders. People sometimes call it "the disease of theories". :/

OP: I only have the one kid, but if I ever have another, I would start studying Hypnobabies earlier. My baby came early, and I didn't feel that I had a good handle on the hypnosis at that point, but I did like the program and find it useful. You probably already have, but be sure to join their email list. (They might even have a recommendation for a doula in your area - it's probably worth asking.)

Good for you for trying for a homebirth! Not everything about birth is under your control, but I do think that picking the right midwife and doula can help you get the best possible outcome for your individual situation.

Good luck, and best wishes for your pregnancy!
posted by thehmsbeagle at 10:45 AM on January 3, 2011

My first child was born in a hospital with a doctor, my second at home with a midwife who had hospital privileges in case of need. The better rapport with my caregiver the second time around and the comforting, familiar environment made a huge positive difference for me.

Things I learned from both experiences (pregnancy, labour, postpartum):

Be consistently, firmly but gently insistent on everything that's important to your well being (especially mental and emotional factors).

Stay active not just through pregnancy but during labour and in the weeks after the birth.

Develop a list of useful things to do/provide for the busybodies who insist on "helping out": these tasks do not need to involve visiting with you.

Take extra care to ensure the older child is included in family activities and gets as much physical affection and attention as needed.

Play it by ear, but don't exclude the older child from labour and birth as a default position: some children want to be heavily involved, some want to be aware, some want to be away from the action.

People are individuals and situations aren't always as they seem: what worked (or didn't) with the first child/pregnancy may be quite different for the second child/pregnancy.

A second labour within a few years after a previous one tends to be easier and faster, but several years between children makes it more like a first labour.

The hormonal changes in the year-plus around a pregnancy and birth can have profound, unexpected effects.

Listen attentively to anecdotes and advice. Do what's best for your situation regardless of the judgement of people who aren't subject experts.

One thing that I found specific to my situation:

I had to fight a lot of pressure to stop breastfeeding before my second child was ready to stop, largely because my role in society was more "professional" than the first time around but also because people who should have supported my decisions kept undermining me (in areas not limited to child care).
posted by thatdawnperson at 10:47 AM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

I was the same as you. I was great at being pregnant but labor and delivery were a disaster. My second time around advice---you don't say exactly what went wrong with your first labor and delivery but number one priority-make whatever changes you need to make in order to keep that from happening again and commit to ignoring the well meaning advice about it. I think that even if things don't go as planned, you will feel great about going in with a good idea of how to keep this from being a repeat. If homebirth is the way to do that for you, then do it.

For me, I was in labor forever followed by an emergency c-section. So my solution was to go with a planned c-section since the problem from the first time was very likely to recur. I got tons of static from VBAC friends who thought I should at least try it. And I was firm when I told them to f right off because they didn't understand how out of control I'd felt the first time around as everything went to hell on me. I remember almost losing her. I wasn't going through that again.

Also for the second time, I was a lot more willing to accept help. I agree with the no visitors for two weeks thing but if you can arrange for someone to take your older child out and about a couple times a week, I think you'd be grateful for the help.

Last thing-you will feel like a pro this time so it will inherently feel like a better experience. Good luck.
posted by supercapitalist at 11:23 AM on January 3, 2011

I think it's great that you have chosen to do a homebirth (not that my opinion matters, obviously) but I agree with other posters who say you should keep an open mind just in case. I know a woman whose pregnancy was perfectly normal but something went horribly wrong during labor and she had to have an emergency c-section without anesthetic because there was not time for it. Sometimes it is impossible to prevent things from going wrong. So you want to choose a good midwife and may also want to make sure the hospital is a short distance away, just in case.

Congratulations and I hope the delivery goes well.
posted by Lobster Garden at 11:33 AM on January 3, 2011

If I were your doula, I would strongly encourage you to make plans for the worst case scenarios. If your pregnancy is normal and healthy, a homebirth should not be a big deal. But you really, really don't want to be caught emotionally unprepared in case you do need to go to the hospital. Talk to your midwife about how to plan for this. When you find a new doula, talk to her. Make sure your partner knows your intentions, as well as anyone else you might want at the birth. Then put it all out of your mind. Better to make plans now for that situation, and then spend the rest of your pregnancy focusing on things going well.

...which is a huge tenet of the HypnoBabies class, the focusing on things going well. I'm pregnant now, using HypnoBabies, and finding it to be the most useful thing for relaxation. It's lovely, when people start telling me horror stories, to be able to say, "I'd rather not hear that, thanks. I'm feeling really optimistic about birth." And then I walk away, if necessary.

Something you'll probably discover in the course of working with a midwife (take your time and find the right one, but start looking soon) is that she will WANT to help you have a better birth, both physically and emotionally. You should feel comfortable confiding in your midwife.

It sounds like you've been doing your research, and you feel confident in your decisions. Keep taking care of yourself.
posted by linettasky at 12:40 PM on January 3, 2011

We didn't find out the baby's sex until the birth with the second, which I highly recommend. It drives people nuts. And you get to do the "It's a boy!" or "It's a girl!" shout. But addressing your question about awful first times, good second times: I had a terrible labor and delivery with my first and a great one with my second without doing all that much different, other than being in a hospital I liked rather than one I hated. So being in the surroundings you want -- if it's a home birth, sure, whatever -- might help you be more relaxed and let things go more smoothly. My point being this: don't borrow trouble. Relax. It might all be fine.

Re postpartum: I had PPD with my first, so I took Zoloft prophylactically with my second.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:52 PM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

I had a hospital delivery + epidural with my first, and a Hypnobirthing homebirth with my second. It was awesome, and I'd love to share what was specifically awesome about it if you want, either here or in memail. One thing that was very important for the hypnosis as labor management was not having a strong investment in having it work "perfectly"; I was hoping for a pain-free blissed-out Youtube hypnobirth, and that's not what I got, but the hypnosis training helped immensely at every step.

A lot of people will start trying to talk you into being accepting of a C-section from the get-go, even after you've stated that you're specifically trying to visualize your best birth. They think they're looking out for you and trying to protect you from unnecessary feelings of failure, but whatever. What I would say is, have trust in your midwife and let her be the one to handle any special circumstances that might arise, and just dismiss those concerns from your visualizations. You're not in denial about the fact that things can go awry, you're just not choosing to focus on it. (This drives me crazy, btw. It's like if you announced that you had signed up for snowboarding lessons and everyone started counseling you to be OK with it if you need an ACL repair. Yes, OBVIOUSLY, if interventions become necessary, you'll cross that bridge at that time, but why put the cart before the horse?)
posted by KathrynT at 2:37 PM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

Make sure whoever attends your birth is someone you have a great rapport with. Honestly, I had three births. One in a freestanding birth center, one in a birthing room, and one in a regular room/delivery room scenario. That last one was the absolute best birth even tho it was a "traditional" hospital birth including the fact I was being induced BECAUSE that time I had the best darn doc with the best hospital bedside manner in the whole hospital.

(I was too chicken to have a home birth even tho many of my friends did go that route because my husband is very tall and I have huge babies even tho I am only five feet tall. But I did tend toward the crunchy granola side of things. )

I say all that to say that no matter where you choose to have your child, the vibes your attendant gives off makes a MAJOR MAJOR difference.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 2:50 PM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

My first birth went fine. The second one was actually tougher because she was facing the wrong direction, which they didn't know for quite awhile. But the one thing that I did differently between the two that did make a difference is... prenatal vitamins. I did NOT take them much with the first pregnancy because of morning sickness. I tried harder with the second one and here's what it got me: a much bigger baby. That's it. First one was 6 lbs. 13 oz., second one was 9 lbs. 1 oz. I'm pregnant with number 3 now and I'm not going to be going overboard with the vitamins, that's for sure.

Best of luck to you!
posted by wwartorff at 4:34 PM on January 3, 2011

Respectfully, wwartorff, I'd like to ask you if your doctor said the vitamins were the cause of your big baby? Because I've never heard of a larger baby being blamed on vitamins, and I would disagree and suggest that vitamins are a very good idea for the OP and any pregnant woman. For example, my mom never had a cavity before I was born and then her mouth went to hell because apparently I leeched a lot of calcium from her body.
posted by IndigoRain at 8:59 PM on January 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

« Older How do police and other first responders identify...   |   Oh, the weather outside is warmer! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.