Anx­ious wait

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - Parenting -

IT’S fair to say that I have been more anx­ious dur­ing this preg­nancy that my pre­vi­ous two. can’t put my fin­ger on why, but it’s def­i­nitely there. Maybe it’s be­cause we are bom­barded with sto­ries in the me­dia of birth com­pli­ca­tions. Or maybe it’s due to the fact that other peo­ple love to tell you the hor­ror sto­ries when you’re preg­nant. Why is that?

I know that Ire­land is a safe place to have a baby. In fact, the peri­na­tal mor­tal­ity rate (cor­rected for con­gen­i­tal anom­aly) was just 4.3 per 1,000 births in 2017. A healthy baby (and healthy mother) is by far the most com­mon out­come. I’m go­ing to keep re­peat­ing that like a mantra to keep the crazy thoughts at bay. But some­times they just slip out. Like last week when I spoke to my con­sul­tant and felt the need to dou­ble check that the hos­pi­tal knows my blood type and has ex­tra blood… just in case.

The last few weeks of preg­nancy is a spe­cial time but it’s also a time (for me at least) that the fear of the un­known in­ter­rupts my pos­i­tive thoughts. Will I be able to man­age three kids under the age of four and still work? Will I love this baby as much as I love my other two? Will Dy­lan and Alva love their new sib­ling with­out feel­ing ne­glected? And so these are the thoughts that keep me com­pany as I throw my­self into the nest­ing phase — noth­ing is safe at the mo­ment! Right now in our home of­fice, I have six plas­tic boxes piled high full of boy/girl/neu­tral baby clothes sep­a­rated into 0-1 months and 0-3 months.

Dur­ing this past week, I have also have had, more peo­ple than I’d like, com­ment­ing on how low I am car­ry­ing this baby and sur­prised that I have “so long left”. Cue me run­ning to my lap­top and fran­ti­cally ask­ing Dr Google (I know I shouldn’t) what it means. I was ex­pect­ing to read that it meant I would go into labour early. The an­swer I found is de­press­ingly more likely closer to the truth: “Lax mus­cles from age, pre­vi­ous preg­nan­cies or de­creased fit­ness can cause a women to carry low”. Tick, tick and tick. But just in case, I man­aged to carve out some time to get my labour and hos­pi­tal bags ready. So safe to say I am now, in a prac­ti­cal way, ready just in case I do go ear­lier than ex­pected.

Men­tally, how­ever, I’m not sure I am ready for labour and de­liv­ery. I have had very dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ences with my last two de­liv­er­ies. Fol­low­ing my wa­ters break­ing with­out any labour pains, in­duc­tion and in the end an emer­gency cae­sarean sec­tion, it was def­i­nitely not how I imag­ined my first birth. How­ever, I never re­ally had any prob­lems with it — I was part of the de­ci­sion-mak­ing process ev­ery step of the way and never felt the loss of the chance of a nat­u­ral de­liv­ery that I know many women feel.

I de­liv­ered my daugh­ter via VBAC (Vagi­nal Birth Af­ter Ce­sarean) in 2016.

Di­eti­tian Aoife Hearne is ready, in a prac­ti­cal way at least, to wel­come her baby, but men­tally she is not sure she is ready for labour and de­liv­ery

How­ever, I re­mem­ber feel­ing ex­tremely stressed dur­ing that de­liv­ery. I re­ally didn’t have a clue when it came to de­liv­ery and be­cause this was my sec­ond baby ev­ery­one seemed to just as­sume I knew what I was do­ing, for­get­ting that C-sec­tion is a very dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence. While hav­ing a C-sec­tion didn’t re­ally bother me the first time around, hav­ing a VBAC was im­por­tant to me. And de­spite the in­evitable pain that goes with labour and de­liv­ery, it is my hope to have a nat­u­ral birth with this baby.

C-sec­tion rates are on the rise world­wide (ESRI) and on av­er­age in Ire­land 25.6% (range 18.2% 35.1)% of ba­bies are born via C-sec­tion. This is a four­fold in­crease com­pared with 30 years ago. In­creas­ing age of the mother and rates of obe­sity in­crease the risk of need­ing a C-sec­tion, which is ma­jor surgery and one that if not med­i­cally re­quired would be ad­vis­able to avoid.

Ac­cord­ing to Dr Justin Son­nen­burg from Stan­ford Univer­sity, the things that hap­pen early in life can set a child on a tra­jec­tory for a good healthy and ro­bust mi­cro­biota or not.

That ini­tial coloni­sa­tion of bac­te­ria in the gut is de­pen­dent on the method of de­liv­ery (vagi­nal vs C-sec­tion) and also how baby is fed (breast­milk vs ar­ti­fi­cial milk). In­ter­est­ingly, ac­cord­ing to re­search by Son­nen­burg, ba­bies born via C-sec­tion will have bac­te­ria in their gut more like bac­te­ria found on the skin and also more like the nurse or doc­tor rather than the mother as they are the first per­son to touch the baby.

Due to this, breast­feed­ing be­comes even more im­por­tant for ba­bies born via C-sec­tion ac­cord­ing to re­search from the jour­nal Mi­cro­biome in 2017. But the good news is that by 24 weeks, if ex­clu­sively breast­fed, C-sec­tion ba­bies had sim­i­lar gut mi­cro­biota com­po­si­tion as ba­bies born vagi­nally.

From talk­ing to other women, I re­alise the feel­ings I have around the birth are nor­mal. If only you could have the naivety of your first preg­nancy ev­ery time. To­mor­row I meet with my con­sul­tant, and I am very hope­ful that he will tell me the very ac­tive baby I have in­side has moved out of breech po­si­tion.

Ei­ther way, I am go­ing to root out my GentleBirth med­i­ta­tion CDs and make it a pri­or­ity to re­lax into these last few weeks of preg­nancy.


talk­ing to other women, I re­alise the feel­ings I have around the birth are nor­mal. If only you could have the naivety of your first preg­nancy ev­ery time

Pic­ture: iStock

FI­NAL PREPA­RA­TIONS: The last few weeks of preg­nancy is a spe­cial time but it’s also a time that the fear of the un­known can creep in.

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