37 Week Update

Here it is! Week 37! Baby is now officially "full term", and by the medical community at least, expected to make an appearance at any time. His/her lungs are now ready to take on the outside world, and everything that I can't see inside me, is now prepped and ready to give birth. How terrifying. If you caught up with the blog yesterday you'll know that I haven't even packed my hospital bag, or bought a pushchair!

Still, it's Monday, and therefore time to update everyone on what the week had in store for Baby and me. The answer, for the most part, is, not a lot.
Speak to any heavily pregnant lady right now, and she'll probably want to mention the current heatwave that is sweeping the UK (on and off with some unpredictability). I concede - it's been pretty warm. The actual heat itself hasn't bothered me so much, the last two nights for example, I've actually slept really, really well. I've been keeping layers, and even clothes, to a minimum where I can, enjoying a large fan, drinking plenty of water, indulging in the occasional ice lolly, and staying indoors during the hottest parts of the day - it isn't really rocket science!
My feet and ankles however, have not been happy. This has been my heatwave struggle. With Seb, I never suffered from swollen feet and ankles in pregnancy at all, not even right towards the end - at 37 weeks with him I was out for dinner with friends wearing towering stiletto heels. Not so much this time. The heat has caused by ankles and feet to swell incredibly - I mean - huge. It's actually somewhat painful at times and certainly makes me feel a bit miserable! I've had to let out my Birkenstocks by one hole on the buckle to accommodate my new, larger, spades, and for the most part have had to elevate my legs wherever possible (easier when I'm not doing the school run twice a day and needing to get shopping in).
Other than the ankles, the other big change this week has been bump's position. I've suddenly gone from having a very high, basketball like belly (listen to all those Old Wives shout "boy!") to a bump which has descended to well below my waist line. Suddenly, as if from nowhere, I see the outline of my own ribs (but no longer the outline of my own hip bones). Baby has, to use popular expression, definitely "dropped". On the one hand, yes, it's meant that I don't get so out of breath, and that Baby's movements hurt less in the ribs. On the other hand, it means that Baby's head now bangs incessantly against my cervix and some of my movements are even further restricted (I can no longer sit with my knees together for any prolonged period of time either, which is sexy). This is a good sign however that things are moving in the right direction for birth in the next month or so.
I saw my midwife, Kelly, this week to "sign off" my homebirth request. This sounds pretty formal, and I guess it is, but it's also not strictly necessary so if you're umming and ahhing about birthing at home, don't think you need to have this appointment booked in urgently and rush your decision. Basically, this involved the official signing of some documentation that covers the midwives arses during my homebirth; me signing things to say I won't sue the NHS if they have to burst my inflatable birthing pool in order to get me out in an emergency, thus flooding my flat with the equivalent of four bath tubs of water and wrecking mine and the flat below. I have a strong boyfriend, nobody is going to be bursting my pool! If he needs to lift me out and chuck me on the sofa, I'm pretty confident he'll manage!
For the first time I actually found myself a little anxious about birth, not the giving birth, the pain or any of that business, I was just anxious about having anyone interfere with my preferences for no good reason. It was the first time I'd expressed my birth preferences in detail with a medical person, as opposed to Boyfriend, readers of my blog, friends, my doula etc. For the first time ever, I met some resistance, and it really got my back up.
Let me start by saying I love my community midwife. She has always shared my approach to pregnancy and birth, always supported me when I haven't wanted to blindly follow orders from the consultants at the hospital, and reassured me that nothing would stand in the way of my homebirth. Since my booking appointment in the earliest days of my pregnancy, she has championed by homebirth decision which is great, and we've always had a really lovely, friendly relationship. None of that has changed. But whilst I knew this would happen, some of my preferences don't sit quite comfortably with the NHS and it's staff, and I get that.
These were the things that came up that have left me feeling vaguely uncomfortable:
  • Local homebirth midwives have "had trouble" recently with doulas. One or more local doulas have been very forceful in preventing birth intervention on the part of midwives, and this has lead to complications. Now there is something of a stand off between the local doula community, and the local midwife community. I've reassured my midwife that I've already discussed this with my doula, who does not want to stand on the midwives toes at all and recognises her role as the medical expert on site, and certainly wouldn't allow any harm to come to me, or Baby, by pig headedly refusing to deviate from my "ideal" birth plan. However, I do want my doula and Boyfriend to make sure that my preferences are met unless in the event of special circumstances, and now I'm worried that this is going to cause friction.
  • I want no internal checks to take place, other than when strictly necessary if the midwife has genuine concerns about mine or Baby's safety. This is the sort of thing I'm talking about in the previous point. However, my midwife has confirmed that the midwife will want to "have a look" to see how dilated I am (precisely what I don't want).
  • I am very particular that unless some sort of emergency scenario prevents it from happening, I want either myself and/or Boyfriend to be the first person to touch Baby, I want him/her born in to our hands and for it to be one or both of us to lift them from the water (if we do end up birthing in the pool). We'll then enjoy plenty of skin-to-skin cuddles and I'm not really up for midwives getting their mitts on Baby until about an hour after birth. We have no idea which midwife will attend our homebirth, and Kelly has suggested that "some midwives will be happy for you to handle the baby yourself if it's born in the water, but others will see that very much as their responsibility and will insist on passing the baby to you." I know that nobody can insist on anything that I say no to during birth, but at the same time, this rubbed me up the wrong way. Hopefully we don't meet with resistance on this one at the time - but then hey! this is why the old "Birth Plan" is vital.
So that was that appointment really, we discussed what I wanted to happen, she made vague suggestions about what I might not be able to have and I just nodded politely, and we established that the "risk factor" of my homebirth remained.... zero. Which is good news.
There were no checks for Baby and me at this appointment but we'll be back in the midwife's clinic at some point over the next two weeks for a general check up, and should be getting a letter through from the hospital any day now with an appointment for our final growth scan at 38 weeks.

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