Birth preparation design
[Criteria 1: Looby’s design web, Holmgren Principles, PMI, brainstorm/mind map. Criteria 2; permaculture in my own life.]
This design was developed throughout my pregnancy which began in Feb 2013, but a lot of groundwork had been done throughout the course of my diploma starting in summer 2012. A lot of strands that had been unconnected were joined up through this design which provided me with a clear focus for the last 3 months of my pregnancy (Aug – Nov 2013).
I am due to give birth in early November. My pregnancy has been good, I have adopted an approach of being generally active and healthy. Throughout my pregnancy I have been researching birth and babies, this culminated in a focussed design of how to spend the last three months of my pregnancy to best prepare me to achieve the birth I would like. I have wanted to try out Looby McNamara’s design web from People and Permaculture, this design fitted well with this desire. Whilst the final documentation of the design happened after the birth I was using the elements of the design web to generate ideas and help me to connect my different ideas – writing notes on how each of the design web elements and permaculture principles were resonating with me.
Natural birth with no medical interventions, drug free.
Delivering our baby in a relaxed, calm, fun, empowering, powerful and safe space
That both Catherine and I feel supported throughout, both emotionally and physically
That I am as prepared as I can be to achieve the above aim
That when I start to implement this design there are only 3 months until the baby comes out, it is a short time to make what I want to happen happen.
Reading about birth and researching – natural birth, hynobirthing, orgasmic birth etc
I have also been doing an exploration of ‘inner work’ (here) throughout this period which has been a massive help to get me to this point
Two friends who have had homebirths, but in particular Mags who has been ever positive and helpful and returned into our lives at just the right moment (moving back to the UK after living in Spain for 5 years!)
All of these ‘helps’ enabled me to be certain of my instinctive decision made at the start of my pregnancy that a home birth was right for me. Drawing them out as a flow chart showing the options of where to give birth and the influence of each of the helps demonstrates how these ‘helps’ have helped!
The ethics are always a help and they don’t feature specifically in Looby’s web, so this felt like a good place to consider them.Earth CarePeople CareFair sharesHospitals are very heavy users of electricity/lights/heat – how can I reduce my impact?Prepare me emotionally Birth is common to everyone, everywhere, historically and into our future. This ethic reminds me how unique and not unique this experience is!Drugs used during birth have manufacturing process emissions, chemical leachate into environment, drug waste that needs disposing – how can I reduce my impact?Prepare me physically; food, general exercise, body preparationsFood is fuel for me always and especially during pregnancy and birth – eat organic, local foods as much as possibleLots of people have given their time, stories and love to me which has been very nurturingLogistics – buy second hand items for anything I need – reduce limit to consumptionWalk as my primary form of exerciseCatherine emotionally and physically well
I see the limits, as those that limit me achieving my vision.
Fear causing adrenalin during birth is the biggest factor that could cause labour to slow and/or create the need for medical interventions. I need to be aware of this and work to break any cycles or situations that might create fear through my preparations.
I may have to have medical intervention which could save my or the babies life. The limit is how I perceive this, which is why emotional preparation is so important.
Due date, this puts pressure on me from the medical profession and from myself that the baby should arrive on or soon after this date
Current patterns of thinking that arise from me interacting with other people:
Negative birth stories shared by others
the assumption from many that birth is a medical process involving doctors and thus should be feared
‘I’d like a home birth IF POSSIBLE’ feeling that I have to justify that it could all go wrong
Knowing the high rates of c-section and epidural use in the UK
Birth programmes on tv
I need to create a spiral of abundance of positive thought using affirmations, not listening to negative stories and challenging the nay sayers with my positive and certain unwavering position
I know that learning a lot about birth will help me to feel confident because I have the facts, I need to create this spiral of abundance of personal knowledge
I know that Catherine will be absolutely brilliant at advocating for me, standing up for me, asking questions and challenging if and when appropriate and doggedly not leaving my side – this is a great pattern to have in my arsenal
As mentioned in my inner work annex, the following design tools specifically helped me to generate ideas for this design:
Life aims (fitness, empowerment, spiritual and social)
Think & listen questions
PMI of the last day/week
The key ideas that emerged for this design from all of this work are in the following mind map. Interestingly all of the prompts in the design web have helped to generate ideas for this design.
Ideas including those that link together
Catch and store energy
Remember to sleep/rest in the early stages if there is a possibility of it
Food is key to maintaining my energy
Integrate rather than segregate
Things to integrate in this design:
personal outlook and mindset (how I perceive pain/birth process i.e. mental preparation)
pain relief (water i.e. a birth pool, coupled with movement and breathing),
atmosphere (calm, relaxed, familiar, safe i.e. home rather than hospital),
care givers (me and Catherine to look after our own needs, a trained midwife to look after the birth process)
Observe and interact
Observation that since I’ve been pregnant many people have shared negative birth stories, people like to share the dramatic and exciting stories fewer positive stories have been shared
tv programmes that glamorise difficult births and don’t focus on simple straightforward uncomplicated births
our own perceived lack of knowledge about the process led to self doubt that we would be able to make the right choices and make a home birth happen. Challenging this has brought us new strength in achieving the vision
Obtain a yield
Ideal yields: a positive birth experience for me and the baby, bonding for me and Catherine, empowerment for myself that I can deliver a baby
Apply self regulation and accept feedback
It is important that we design our ideal scenario, plan and prepare for it mentally, emotionally and physically. Feedback loops will come about during the birth process and we may need to alter the design based on what is happening to me and the baby. However even if I do end up needing medical intervention I believe that with the right preparation and mindset I can still achieve a positive birth even if it doesn’t look quite like the vision.
Design from patterns to details
Pattern is healthy me and healthy Catherine in mind, body and spirit prepared for birth.
Details include active birth classes, daily movement and breathing practice, daily affirmations, focus on what I eat, regular exercise, hearing positive birth stories
Small and slow
I expect labour to be small and slow! And must keep that in my mind, my body will slowly get there, I can’t rush it!
Use and value diversity
Remember to use different movements, try out different positions, different breathing techniques that I have learned. Remember to introduce diversity if I feel the need to (music, aromas etc)
I think homebirth is an edge activity! If it goes well perhaps share my story with others in the homebirth support group or others in the local nct group.
Creatively use and respond to change
Similar to self regulation in this scenario, keep the vision in mind and make sure that it happens as and where it can even if there does need to be medical intervention at times – don’t let the interventions throw us completely off track of what we want to achieve.
Through all of the above prompts in the design web, the following themes emerged as the key areas to focus on for developing a specific plan to get me prepared during the final 3 months of my pregnancy. Understanding this helped me to narrow down my specific ideas and enabled me to focus.
Eating and drinking
Positions and movement for labour
Positive mind activities
In this section I have set out the plan for the next 3 months (there are aspects of this plan that I would like to continue post birth if possible including the eating and drinking, exercising and positive mind activities (although I will have to tailor these to be more relevant post birth)).
Eating and drinking
Be even more conscious of my diet and daily water intake
Prepare food for labour, keep the fridge stocked just in case
Swim/walk regularly, do something every day – don’t be lazy
Positions and movement for labour
Start attending local active birth classes
Start daily practice of breathing techniques, movement, positive affirmations about birth, relaxation, pelvic floor exercises and perineal massage (from week 34). Some examples of my birth preparation notes are in the following photos:
Positive mind activities
Daily programme of positive affirmations and visualisation about the birth
Regular massage for us both to relax (aim for twice/week)
Stop watching tv programmes about birth
Challenge and/or avoid conversations that are likely to lead to negative birth stories, or negative associations of pain with birth
Meet other home birthers to give me confidence – go to the home birth support group meeting
Being clear with the midwives about what we want – make a simple birth plan for them before 36 week check up
Re-read orgasmic birth book, read hypnbirthing book, watch orgasmic birth dvd again
With the above plan in place how do the ethics fit now?
Earth care: most of my daily exercise is walking, my food choices remain as earth friendly as possible, I can walk to my classes
People care: I feel like I am looking after myself and the growing baby with this plan, my personal people care is great; I have met more people who have shared their experiences through this process which has been very nurturing for me
Fair shares: this hasn’t been a big fair shares design so at least I would like to share my experiences and design process with others when it is all over.
It feels relatively easy as there is a clear end point with this!
Weekly active birth classes helps to remind me of the movements and breathing techniques to practice each week
NCT classes on a weekly basis during September have helped to keep us challenging our thoughts and desires and to keep me motivated.
There are lots of great things already happened to get me this far in the pregnancy!
I have a calm and relaxed attitude, I feel clear that the vision is the right approach for me that marries with my sense of self and life goals.
Catherine wants the same thing as me (perhaps even she wants it more than me)
I started doing all of this and here are my reflections one month in:
Eating has gone well, coupled with preparing food for the freezer to make things easier for when the baby arrives
I have added more depth to the daily affirmations to include welcoming the baby and focussing on positive thoughts about the baby as I saw a pattern of worry/doubt over having the baby in our lives within myself.
Shared use of hypnobirthing relaxation scripts hasn’t gone so well, so I started doing it on my own and that sort of works a bit, need to keep reviewing this one
Movement and breathing and exercise I do most days, at the moment I am happy with missing the odd day when I am busy as the balance is on more rather than less. I have found the right time of the day to do these that work with my life and I need to keep a check on myself if I get busy and start to stop doing it. I enjoy feeling fitter and noticing that my breath and lung control has improved, which continues to motivate me.
Sept 2014 reflections
Despite my intention to maintain my daily practice after the birth in the way that I was able to pre-birth I have struggled to fit in breathing/movement and affirmations on a daily basis with my daughter Teasel around. However I do still use affirmations to help me to prepare mentally for upcoming challenges/situations, which prior to the birth I had never done. I also am more aware of being mindful and when I get a moment (such as feeding Teasel) I take a couple of deep breaths. I feel pleased that the work I did has filtered through into my life even though it has not been to the level I had intended. I also think that the inner work I did around this time proved incredibly useful in preparing me for motherhood which has been a very positive experience so far.
A lot of this design is about bringing pauses into my day through my daily practice, and I have found that when I do this daily I miss it if I don’t do it, and it has brought a new energy to me.
Reflections on the design process
I enjoyed this one. It is simple but it was useful to have the framework of Looby’s design web to put together all the things that were in my mind.
It is really specific and has specific actions – so I know either I am or I am not doing them which I like because it is so clear.
Because of the time limits and my desires I am reviewing my progress regularly and keeping this in the forefront of my mind. A challenge for me will be to continue some of these daily practices which I have been seeking to have in my life up after the birth.
Time limited is fun – will review again once the birth has happened!
Cost – the only financial cost has been my active birth classes (£60)
daily practice (breathing, movement, affirmations) – 45 mins per day
daily exercise (I was doing anyway reasonably regularly have tweaked to definitely do something every day) – approx. 1 hour/day
classes (Sept only) – 1 hour/week (active birth)
design – has been an ongoing process of research and understanding birth and babies, this design evolved over a couple of weeks when I really started to consider it and start to practice, writing it up has taken a few hours
Interestingly using the design web didn’t prompt me to make explicit consideration of the ethics in this design (pointed out to be by Tomas my tutor after writing the first draft of the design process).
Was it a success?
Whilst I didn’t achieve the vision as written above, through birth I did achieve an amazing experience that was totally in keeping with this design even though we had to be in hospital. Thinking through the design in this way was invaluable to ensure that all of our needs were met during the birth and I am really glad that I did the preparation that I did to help me to achieve this. Teasel was born on 16 November 2013.
I have also done a little PMI of the hospital birth experiencePlusMinusInterestingClear and easy for visitors to come and see us afterwards – we didn’t need to make tea etc!DUE DATES! Not letting nature take its natural course (which is why we ended up in hospital)That induction led to C-section – as is common with the cascade of interventions, which all my reading suggested!No drugs until the C-section.That medical care was there when I needed itToo many medical staff, crowding in and offering opinions when I should have been left alone to push.Because home birth was planned the time I spent at home in labour was great as we were all set upUse of the shower through labour, staying focussed on my breathing and staying in the moment even though I was in hospitalHaving to spend 48 hours in hospitalLabouring on the stairs of Kingston hospital.Judy giving us a ride to the hospital in her car – a comedy car journey!The first 15 mins in the hospital – but it turned out to be a plus as our tears and disappointment galvanised us to have a wonderful experienceBumping into a friend in labour – our babies were born an hour apart.An amazing midwife who cared for me.A time to really appreciate how lucky we are to have the NHS and just what a great service it is.Pasta! Fizzy orange drink that we would never have had in the house at home!