Pregnancy and birth
Tracy Donegan is a midwife and author of the Irish Better Birth Book, The Irish Caesarean and VBAC Guide and founder of Gentlebirth.
Pregnancy and birth

I’m pregnant with my first baby. I’m quite nervous about the whole labour process and how my baby will be monitored during labour.

Tracey says Homebirth is a great choice for many women and the evidence shows that it is a safe option for women who are having healthy pregnancies. There are a couple of options for homebirths in Ireland.

Pregnancy and birth

I have been thinking about having a home birth because I would feel more comfortable in my own environment, how can I do this and how does the procedure differ to giving birth in hospital?

Tracey says A There are a couple of options for homebirths in Ireland.

Pregnancy and birth

Q I have just discovered that I am carrying twins, of course I was thrilled, but I worry how much more painful this will make my labour and if it could have more of an impact on my body than if I were to give birth to one child?

Tracey saysTwins – how wonderful! You’ve a lot to talk to your obstetrician about in the coming months.

Pregnancy and birth

Q I’m quite anxious about how my labour will be managed when I get to the hospital. I know writing a birth plan is encouraged, but I’ve also heard that depending on the circumstances, they can often be left in the bottom of the labour bag. I’m afraid that I will end up lying on a bed for the duration, rather than being allowed to walk around, use a birthing ball and squat down for the actual delivery, as I’d like. What should I expect?

Tracey says
Great question! As a midwife I can tell you I’m only too delighted to speak to couples about the benefits of having written birth preferences for labour. It helps me do my job better (as I’ve never met you before) so think of it as a communication tool rather than a contract or guarantee that certain things will or won’t happen.

Pregnancy and birth

Q. Since having my two children who are aged two and five, I have suffered quite badly from bladder weakness. It’s getting me down as I feel nervous about sex and also I feel quite tender ‘down there.’ I am using pads during the day but can you recommend any treatments or self-help therapies I can start to improve my condition?

Rachel says
This type of urinary problem is very common in women after childbirth. It is called stress incontinence and is due to pelvic floor weakness. Typically urine is leaked during exercise, coughing, sneezing and sometimes sex. It is successfully treated with physiotherapy in 70% of women, which strengthens the pelvic floor muscles.

Pregnancy and birth

Q. I am eight months pregnant with my first baby. I’m quite nervous about the beginning of the labour process. What is the difference between true labour and false labour?

Trina says
As a first-time mum, it can be unnerving when you get into those last few weeks – constantly wondering “is this it?” and “will I really know if this is it?” First off, there’s no such thing as false labour. Your body is not tricking you or playing games with your head – there is a huge amount of ‘behind the scenes’ work happening long before dilation begins, as your body is doing those last few preparations before the big day.

Pregnancy and birth

Q. I am eight months pregnant with my first baby. I’m quite nervous about the beginning of the labour process. What is the difference between true labour and false labour?

Tracey says
As a first-time mum, it can be unnerving when you get into those last few weeks – constantly wondering “is this it?” and “will I really know if this is it?” First off, there’s no such thing as false labour. Your body is not tricking you or playing games with your head – there is a huge amount of ‘behind the scenes’ work happening long before dilation begins, as your body is doing those last few preparations before the big day.

Pregnancy and birth

Q. I am due to have a C-section and I was wondering will I get the opportunity to have skin-to-skin contact with my new baby straight away or will I have to wait until I am out of recovery?

Tracey says
Every hospital has different policies and unfortunately despite the compelling evidence to keep mums and babies together after a surgical birth some hospitals continue to separate new mothers and their babies. Skin-to- skin is so important for all mums and babies whether mum is planning on breastfeeding or not.

Pregnancy and birth

Q. My obstetrician mentioned a ‘membrane sweep’ at my last visit. My visits with him tend to feel very rushed, so I didn’t get to ask him for any further information on it. What is a ‘membrane sweep’ and is it likely to be painful or uncomfortable?

Tracey says
It’s important that women feel listened to at their antenatal visits but when your pregnancy is completely normal and you and baby are well, the visits can be excessively short. Write a list of questions and at the start of your next appointment let your caregiver know that you would like to discuss some things before you leave. This gives your caregiver an opportunity to advise the staff that your appointment will be longer than usual.

Pregnancy and birth

Q I’m 36 weeks pregnant and apparently my baby is breech. What can I do to turn her? I really want to avoid a Caesarean!

Tracey says
Most babies have settled into a head down (vertex) position by 36 weeks however around 4%-5% stay breech. If this is not your first pregnancy then your baby may still turn spontaneously before 40 weeks. Research suggests that women with abnormal thyroid functioning are more likely to have a breech baby at full term.

Pregnancy and birth

Q When should I have my first pregnancy scan? And how many scans should I get throughout my pregnancy?

Tracey says
Your first scan is known as your dating scan and is routine in all hospitals. Most mums will have this scan at their booking visit, which can be anywhere between 12-18 weeks. The earlier the scan the more accurate it will be. If you have experienced recurrent miscarriages some hospitals will scan you earlier.

ABOUT TRACY
Tracy is a midwife and author of the Irish Better Birth Book, The Irish Caesarean and VBAC Guide and founder of Gentlebirth.