Guest Post- How I ended up as a Midwife’s Assistant

I often get asked by people ‘Why did you become a midwife’?  To be honest the answer has changed over the years but I knew I always wanted to work with children and I knew I loved babies. But now it’s much more about the women. For me, at just the tender age of 18 (gulp) there was no gap year to be had after finishing my A-Levels, it was straight to Uni in Bristol as I wanted to embark on this exciting course. As midwifery is a vocational degree I knew I would have a job at the end of it all and to be honest I couldn’t wait to get stuck in.

It’s mad to think the whole of my working life to date has been midwifery based.  How can you really know at 18 what you want to do for the rest of your life?  For many midwives I’ve met along the way they didn’t know, and left all sorts of jobs to re train as a midwife. Louie is one of those people, she hasn’t started her midwifery course yet….. she has decided to embark on a career change as a Midwife Support Worker. Louie joined our case loading team in December to support us 6 midwives. Is she brave or just mad? Either way she’s amazing. Here’s her side of the story.

I was terrified of blood and it meant taking a pay cut – but it’s been worth it!

Louie and Florence

Louie and Florence

After uni, I wanted to rebel against my teacher parents and enter a ‘glamorous’ profession so I did a post-grad in journalism and got a job on Take a Break, the weekly magazine you might have read at the dentist. It wasn’t exactly Marie Claire, but as a Features Writer, I got invited to PR launches, bagged lots of freebies and even wangled a press trip to Spain. As for the work, I helped reunite long-lost relatives, chased a stolen child across Italy and tracked down a paedophile. The hours were regular, the pay was good and I spent most Friday afternoons down the pub. What more could a 25 year old want?

But the job had big downsides too. I was often asked to ring a recently bereaved relative to ask if they wanted to tell their story (ambulance chasing as it’s known in the business). A few – amazingly – said yes, but a lot told me where to go. When I did convince someone to speak, I felt uncomfortable asking them the lurid questions I needed answering in order to make the story as sensational as possible. After about five years, I knew I needed to change careers – but to what?

Then in 2008, I had my first child, Arthur, closely followed by Florence in 2009. During my pregnancies and labours, I met some amazing midwives but also some rude and unhelpful ones. It struck me how much power a midwife has to make your experience a magical or an upsetting one. To try and make sure more women got a magical experience, I started volunteering at my local hospital, sitting on a committee whose aim was improve maternity services there. I walked round the postnatal ward, asking women their opinions and fed them back to the staff . I loved hearing everyone’s birth stories and discussing important issues. It was all the things I had enjoyed about journalism – but without any of the downsides.

It was while doing this that an idea started forming in my mind: I wanted to be a midwife. There was just one problem – I was terrified of blood. Everyone in my family is a big wuss: I still remember my dad sitting with his head between his knees, trying not to throw up because my Mum had tripped over and broken her tooth. As for me, I’d had to lie down after blood tests during my pregnancies. Not exactly the stern stuff midwives have to be made of!

And yet, I couldn’t shake the idea. So when I heard about a role called a Maternity Support Worker (MSW), I decided to apply. It meant assisting midwives with everything from weighing babies to removing catheters and – eek! – taking blood. Would I faint or could I be the first person in my family to ever work in a hospital? There was only one way to find out!

On my first day in the job, I was absolutely petrified. I managed not to faint but I did have to leave the room when a midwife was describing a particularly nasty obstetric emergency. I persevered, though, and gradually got used to talking about – and seeing – lots of blood. They say the best way to overcome your fears is to confront them head on – and working on a postnatal ward was definitely that for me!

The first time I actually had to take blood from someone, I was convinced I would hit an artery and see blood go splashing everywhere. But somehow, I managed to stay calm and do the job – although my hands were slippery with sweat afterwards!

With that fear conquered, I felt optimistic I could do other stuff without fainting too. A few weeks in, I watched a caesarean section and found myself more fascinated than scared. The same was true when I watched a normal birth – I was just in awe, both of the woman giving birth but also of the brilliant midwives I saw helping her.

I worked in the hospital for four months and then was given a role helping a small team of community midwives who do a lot of homebirths. Now I spend my days driving around, giving breastfeeding advice to women and doing the heel prick test on newborns. The midwives I work with are some of the most inspiring women I’ve come across and I adore helping women in those precious early days following a baby’s birth.

The pay’s not amazing but even a bad day in my new job is better than the best day I ever had doing journalism. I really like the fact I’m helping people and it’s invigorating learning so many new things every day.

Will I train to be a midwife? Who knows. For now, I’m loving my role as an MSW and would recommend it to anyone. And at least if I do go the whole hog and retrain, I know I won’t faint at the first drop of blood!

For more information about training as a Midwife Support Worker go to nhscareers.nhs.uk

Birth Story of The Week – Sarah and Her Tigers

It’s been a pretty full on weekend here as my little girl turned 6! I can barely believe that 6 years ago I was giving birth to my tiny little dark haired baby girl. Not that she felt that small coming out, OUCH! Watching her with her friends yesterday, her long skinny bruised legs dancing to One Direction (cringe) made me realised how fast she is growing up. Those babies years seem a life time ago and I kind of wished I treasured them more, rather than wished them away through the sleepless nights, teething and juggling the working Mum malarkey.

This weeks birth story comes from Sarah a fellow midwife and Mama to little twin girls Emily and Edith.

Blog: Running Mama 2013

Twitter: newmidwife0904

image

I spent what felt like an eternity to get pregnant, two years of trying, fights for fertility referrals, a year on the IVF waiting list…… But boy, when I finally got pregnant, I did it in style, not with one, but two babies. Seeing those two little lines had never made me happier, but in the throws of hyperemesis I wondered how I was actually going to cope with a twin pregnancy, and two babies.

Twin pregnancies, while a complete blessing, come with a list of risks as long as your arm. In a nutshell you are pretty much at high risks of all those pregnancy complications that worry you when you are pregnant with one baby, but the risk that bothered me most was miscarriage and premature birth.

My worries were not dampened when I bled at 25 weeks pregnant. I had what is called a post coital bleed (basically a bleed after having sex). And the stupid thing was that we had actually avoided sex for the entire pregnancy leading up to that point, and needless to say, for the rest of the pregnancy after. I was admitted for three days and subsequently signed off sick for the rest of my pregnancy, ending my role as a case loading midwife (very sad!).

Not sure what to actually do with all this spare time I took up knitting and sewing, and did more of my favourite hobby, baking (and eating) cake.

At 30 weeks I developed a urine infection which made me contract strongly and yet again I ended up in hospital, this time for four days. Successful treatment and rest allowed me to continue my pregnancy until term.

The second twin was in an awkward position under my ribcage, and so I started making plans for birth with my midwives and consultants. We agreed that as there was a 50% risk of needing a caesarean for the second twin, even with successful vaginal delivery of the first, I would have an elective Caesarean section at 38 weeks unless I went into spontaneous labour and things looked good. But at 36 weeks my midwife visited me at home, and when asked how things were going I explained that I was tired as I had been up all night with my feet in ice buckets because they were so itchy. Obstetric cholestasis (yes both myself and Clemmie got it, high incidence for such a rare condition!) didn’t even cross my mind. I felt so stupid! Any way, it was diagnosed and that weekend (after an emergancy wax!) I was stuck In hospital again for the weekend. But at least this time I would be meeting my babies.

After a weekend of intensive monitoring  just to get me to 37 weeks for a caesarean, I went to the pub at the end of the road from the hospital and had an enormous dinner of steak and chips. I guessed the iron content would compensate for any blood loss, and carbohydrate would get me through until morning as I would be nil by mouth from midnight. Hubby and I toasted our last night as a couple all on our own and headed back to the ward to contemplate what lay ahead for the rest of our lives. Things would certainly be different, that’s for sure.

I laid in bed, getting up and down to the loo, and not really sleeping a wink. I enjoyed every kick, every squirm, every hiccup, felt from within. I felt sad that I would never feel my babies move in that way again, and mourned that I would probably never be pregnant again. I wondered who was inside, boys or girls? One of each? Did they have hair? How big would they be (I felt enormous!)? Despite all the complications, I fell in love with being pregnant, I relished every day, and thanked the heavens each day for the blessing that had been bestowed upon me.

I must have fallen asleep as my alarm went off and woke me at half six. The summer solstice, 21st June 2010 had arrived and would be my babies birthday. I got up, had a shower, moisturised, plucked my eyebrows, brushed my teeth and waited. And waited and waited.

We eventually got taken to labour ward and into theatre at around 11am. A straightforward spinal later and I was lying comfortably in the table, worried I was going to fall off, and ready to go.

I could see my consultant pacing the corridor, I had luckily had the privilege of choosing my consultant, a colleague I trusted and respected, and one that had looked after me so well. He scrubbed up, along with my two (yes two!) hand picked midwives. Matt and I were chatting away to our anaesthetist and all of a sudden I heard the familiar sound of amniotic fluid being cleaned up. I hadn’t even realise they had begun! I hadn’t prepared myself and suddenly I was presented with the most perfect little being I had ever seen. Twin 1 – now known as Edith – had been born at 1129 , and flung straight onto my chest. Warm, wet, tiny, and mine. My chest felt heavy with emotion, we had done it, my eyes blurred with tears, I couldn’t quite believe I had a baby in my arms, a beautiful baby girl. But hang on. There was another baby to come! 1 minute later, at 1130, her sister Emily (who we were convinced was a boy!) was also born. Not being able to see through the tears I had to ask whether we had a boy or girl. Another girl and my dreams had come true (I never admitted in pregnancy that this is the outcome I really wanted). Emily went skin to skin with daddy and our family was complete. From two to four, in the blink of an eye.

image

The rest of the day was a blur of breastfeeding, phone calls, congratulations from colleagues, and sleeping. I have never been so tired in all of my life as I have been these last three years, but I would never change it for all the money in the world (and I could use it!). Three years and many bad hair days on, even on those hideously tough days, I think back to the times of fearing I would never be a mother and remember just how lucky I am. My world, however messy and exhausting, is perfect.

An Open Letter To Kate Middleton

Dear Kate

Firstly, I would like to congratulate you on choosing some great maternity dresses throughout this pregnancy. Re cycling your Top Shop polka dot dress went down a storm, I bet Sir Phillip Green couldn’t believe his luck.

I hope you’re enjoying your ‘nesting period’ now that you’ve finished your last public engagement before the baby is born. I also hope William isn’t spending too much time whizzing around in helicopters rescuing stranded people while you are on your hands and knees scrubbing the Royal floor boards to encourage your baby to get into the right position for labour. Don’t worry, I know you may be tempted to sniff the bottle of Bathroom Bleach due to those uncontrollable urges, it’s just those crazy hormones. Your body does not really want you to eat soap.

photo (5)Really embrace this time to perfect your Hypno-birthing techniques with William, remember ‘Surges not contractions’ and print off your affirmations to post around the delivery room walls. Something along the lines of ‘Opening like a flower‘ or ‘ If in doubt, breathe out’.

Show him how to massage the sacrum of your back during those difficult times of your labour, you may want to consider using aromatherapy oils such as Lavender or Chamomile which are relaxing especially if your Mum or William are getting a little stressed! Drop a few drops onto a tissue and let them have a whiff, this should do the trick. Perhaps this would be a good time to consider trying some perineal massage.

Make sure William knows how to use the TENS machine and can stick the pads on your back without him electrocuting himself! Could be a bit embarrassing for him and you. Not one to tell the Queen. I’m sure you have already, but pack your labour bag, Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream, a wide headband and a pillow are just a few essentials you will definitely need. And not forgetting the all important food bag, especially for William. A strapping lad like him needs to be topped up regularly with high energy snacks; Pot Noddles, a few bananas perhaps and some Lucozade for you to sip to keep you going. (bendy straws, don’t forget the bendy straws!)

Music! We know how much you and William are partial to a little groove once in a while so make a great playlist. You may be inspired here from some of my and my readers suggestions. Number 8 and 11 were particularly good through those final pushes!

Last but not least, remember to take photos! If William is down the business end, get your Mum to take them. Obviously these won’t be the ones The Palace will want to release. But the first one of you with the baby skin to skin and looking like well like you’ve just given birth is very special. Perhaps Instagram it, a nice filter should do the trick.

Sending you lots of positive birthing vibes Kate, and I do hope you achieve the natural birth you so want. I have a feeling your Obstetrician may not be so up for a water birth or Hypno-birth but you never know. One last suggestion, maybe consider a midwife looking after you. One you know, have a good trusting relationship with, one that will support all your choices and treat you like a normal low risk pregnant woman. You could even have a home birth at your parents house, in the private environment you so deserve.  Just like the soon to be Great Grandmother did. If home birth is good enough for The Queen, it’s good enough for the heir to the throne.

Let me know if you change your mind, I may know a few great midwives that could help.

Best Wishes

Birth Story Of The Week – Dave and Emi

How was everyone’s weekend? Did all the Fathers and Fathers to-be get spoilt rotten with hand made cards and a lie in? My poor husband had to wake up next to his very hung over wife in a hotel in Berkshire after seeing our best friends get married the day before. He did however get treated to a bottle of coke and some Scampi snacks from the motorway on the way home. The kids were pleased to see him and made lovely cards thanks to a very lovely (albeit exhausted) Auntie. He also got to catch up on the Lions game so all in all an ok Fathers Day here.

In the light of celebrating ‘Father’s Day’ this weekend I thought it was only appropriate to hear a birth story from a man. After all it is a life changing event for both parties. This hilarious and witty yet beautifully written story comes from Dave, husband of Susie father to Emi.

Blog: About a Gadabout

Twitter: aboutagadabout

We knew exactly how our baby was going to be born. It would take place at our local Birth Centre, accompanied by relaxing music in a softly lit room containing a pool. Susie’s pain would be conquered by measured breathing and the generous application of my sensitive yet masculine touch.

Turns out we were wrong.

Come with me now to room three on the antenatal ward of Lewisham hospital. It’s early afternoon yet almost completely dark outside. Susie is sitting upright in bed, her worried face drained of all colour. She is surrounded by beige medical apparatus gleaming dully under fluorescent light. The due date came and went over two weeks ago and inductions have produced no result. A scan has just revealed a lack of amniotic fluid around the baby. It’s the 23rd of October, the clock is ticking and it’s tense.

A midwife enters briskly to examine Susie and tells us there has been no change: she is still only 1cm dilated. To put that in perspective I am at a constant state of 0.5cm dilation due to a hormone imbalance. If nothing happens soon we will have to discuss other options.

Early evening sneaks in unnoticed and I ask Susie if she would like something to eat. She replies “I’m not actually that huoooowwwwwaaaarrrAAAARRRRRGGGGHHHHOOOOOHHHH!!!”. She is either having a contraction or unexpectedly giving her rendition of 80′s pop classic, ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’. I decide that if I do ever write a blog about today this is the point at which I’ll stop writing in the present tense. I also went and and fetched a midwife.

Susie spent the next five hours doubled over in pain, locked in a private agony. If she had been a boxer the referee would have stopped the fight and the crowd would quite rightly have demanded a refund. As I massaged her back for the 476th time (my hands were a bit sore but I don’t like to mention it) she looked at me after a particularly prolonged groan and whispered “epidural”. Having spent the last three nights in hospital with very little sleep, she was worried about lack of energy when it came to the birth. As a midwife was due to examine her in 15 minutes I suggested she could try eating a banana to get her through until that point. We would then know how close she was and take things from there. Susie weighed up my suggestion while fixing me with a stare of primal ferocity. Her teeth formed a solid, unbroken block of enamel through which she hissed those three little words “Ep! Ee! Dural!” I sensed potassium rich fruit just wasn’t going to cut it on this occasion and rushed off to fetch an anaesthetist. The epidural process took about an hour to set up and seemed to provide relief straight away. A banana would have been quicker which is all I intend to say on the subject.

A trainee midwife set about the examination rather uncertainly and hesitantly diagnosed Susie had progressed to 7cm dilated. My spirits rose: this was much better than I could have hoped. The senior midwife repeated the examination and confidently announced the trainee midwife was wrong. My spirits sank: I knew it was too good to be true. She then added that actually Susie was fully 10cm dilated and the baby was on the way. My spirits gave me a ‘make your mind up’ look before soaring to the ceiling.

Frustratingly I didn’t have my camera with me as I hadn’t been home for quite some time. You are probably thinking ‘Dave / David / Gadabout author, why not just use the camera on your phone?” The fact is my phone doesn’t have a camera and I’m afraid that is something we are all going to have to come to terms with and move on.

I calculated I could get to our flat and back in 20 minutes by taxi to collect the camera. The midwife assured us that nothing would happen for at least an hour as the effect of the epidural had to wear off first. The buzzy high offered by a banana wears off almost instantly which is all I intend to say on the subject.

We decided there was no risk of me missing the birth and it was important to have a record of the moment so I rushed off and jumped in the nearest cab. I explained the situation to the driver who sported the kind of moustache worn by a man who has always had – and will always have – a moustache. He sped off with real urgency which was encouraging although a major downside was the unavoidable fact we were going in the wrong direction. Despite my protests he insisted this was the quickest route and pressed on. It eventually turned out it was indeed the quickest route but regrettably to an address other than my own. It seemed he had misheard me. Performing a U-turn that would make the Dukes of Hazzard car sick, we roared back in the direction we had come. He promised to make up the time with a ‘shortcut’ and went blazing down the backstreets. We didn’t get very far before stopping short at an aggressively stationery line of traffic.

“That’s right, the road ahead is closed. I was here earlier, I should have remembered that. The problem is I haven’t slept in over 24 hours”, explained the driver calmly.

As I thought about my anxious wife alone in hospital about to give birth while I sat trapped in a car with a stranger clearly unfit to drive, I felt a warm glow of contentment wash over me like a million silken caresses. I felt a strong urge to express this emotion by attacking and killing the driver. I restrained myself as I still needed him to transport me and because I am a physical coward.

I told him to reverse and follow my directions. We finally arrived outside my flat and I jumped out saying I would be no more than 30 seconds. 30 seconds later I was back with the camera to find him leaning against the car lighting a cigarette. I interrupted this disturbingly post-coital scene by getting in and slamming the door shut. He took a long puff, giving me a sideways ‘hello Mr Selfish’ look before begrudgingly easing his frame back behind the wheel.

After setting off in strained silence he apologised for the earlier mishaps and offered not to charge me for additional driving time and waiting period at my flat. It was all I could do to stop myself kissing him directly on the mouth in gratitude.

Eventually we screeched to a halt outside the hospital. I noticed the cab didn’t have a meter so thrust a handful of notes at him and graciously told him to keep the change. He graciously told me I was £2 short. There followed a brief and frank exchange of views during which I’m delighted to say he agreed to act as Godfather to my first born child.

I sprinted through the hospital swing doors, went bounding up the stairs to the fifth floor and burst into room three gasping for breath. Susie was stretched out on the bed in exactly the same position as I had left her. Bit lazy.

The midwives made their preparations while I stood next to Susie and gripped her hand. She looked focused, determined and much calmer than I felt. This was it. Baby stations. All hands to the bump. I knew what my role was in this situation and threw myself into it. “You’re doing really well wow that’s amazing fantastic not long now almost there you’re doing brilliantly keep going EXCELLENT WELL DONE THAT WAS BRILLIANT PUSH PUSH PUSHPUSHPUSHPUSHPUSHPUSH!!”. I suddenly realised we were only 30 seconds in and I had started way too big with the encouragement leaving nowhere to go when things really started moving. I considered taking it down a notch by throwing in the odd “yeah not bad, seen better” but fortunately there was no need as with a sudden rush at 11.32pm we were joined on planet earth, Lewisham Hospital, room three by our little baby daughter,Emi.

dave-and-emi

From what I had been told and read, I’d expected our newborn to look like a little blue alien creature when she first arrived. Instead here was this pink, beautiful baby with ten tiny fingers and ten tiny toes each evenly segregated into four clumps attached to their relevant limb-ends. For me, the moment my protective Dad instincts kicked in was four seconds after she was born when she looked at me with an expression that said “well I did not expect this when I awoke. Please explain what is happening”. The thing is I was in no position to explain anything to anyone at that moment.

I cut the cord and she was given to Susie to hold for the first time. Whatever further gadding about awaits the three of us, looking at Susie and Emi together was the most monumentally happy event in my life so far. Susie was pale, exhausted and bathed in a feminine glow (sweaty). She cradled our baby, looked up at me and laughed “I think I’m ready for that banana now”. I laughed too but unfortunately it seemed an unknown person had selfishly eaten all the bananas during the course of the evening. Despite subsequent wild accusations there is no way of proving who that individual may or may not have been and that is all I intend to say on the subject.

Daddies Rule!

998601_10151435764647186_1151542069_n

Happy Father’s Day to all you wonderful Dads and Dads-to-be out there! You are all amazing even though we don’t tell you enough and moan when the kids are dressed in the most hideous collection of clothes you’ve ever seen, often clothes you didn’t know they owned! Or when it’s their turn to cook them tea and it’s either fish fingers or chicken nuggets (ie anything from the freezer than requires minimal preparation) what is that about?!

But really, despite all of that you are fabulous and my girls are SO lucky to have such a wonderful Daddy in their lives. Our little family couldn’t work without you. Today is bitter sweet for me as my own father (we called him Papa) died 2 years ago. Oddly though we didn’t celebrate Fathers Day in our family but we will never forget how wonderful he was to myself and my brother and sister.

I thought today I would re share a previous post my husband wrote in the blog for Dads-to-be, in his own words. Here is his Top Tips fo Dads-to-be.

Before the birth – The woman you’re with is growing a baby for you inside of her – that’s pretty bloody amazing. Just take a second to think about that. She’s the one that carrying the extra weight, suffering from mood swings (although you’ll see the blunt end of those), feeling dreadful and generally having a bit of rough time so just make life a bit easier for her. She’ll moan at you and nothing you’ll do will be to the standard she wants (as if it ever is) but just make that bit more effort than you normally would around the house and maybe rein in those drinks on Saturday nights with the boys – she’s not going to be out on the smash is she, so be sympathetic.

Be interested in what she’s been reading about – invariably your other half will have been looking up stuff on the internet (hopefully from this blog) and want to share it with you. Don’t just pay this lip service as this is obviously important to her / scaring her stiff. The more you understand at this point the less likely to are to get completely freaked when all the blood and guts stuff starts happening. Things to learn include all the birth options, the birth plan if you have one and which drugs do what – (get a go on the gas and air if you can – awesome fun!)

During the birth – Realise from the outset that you’re probably going to be in the way and whatever you do will probably irritate her. I remember pouring warm water over my wife’s back while she was in the pool, I then cracked a joke about it being like pouring gravy over a big fat turkey -the phrase ‘like a lead balloon’ doesn’t do it justice.

Be brave – if your partner wants you to get involved and have a look at what’s going on, then grow a pair and have a gander – that’s your child coming into the world. At least you’ll be able to then look at your child when you’re older and say “I was involved and encouraged your mother to be active in birth” rather than “I got a cup of tea and a floppy cheese sandwich and when I came back you were there!”

After the birth – not that you wouldn’t anyway, but kiss your partner and thank them for what they’ve just done for you. You will probably never do anything on the same scale for them so make them feel like a million dollars.

Get the house ready – clean it, and that means actually get out those cleaning products (even though the likelihood is you don’t know which one is for which job) and make that house sparkle – all helps with the nesting process and making you partner and new addition feel at ease. (My wife has just told me to include flowers on here so do it)

Push present – Now this one is an area of debate for me. The debate isn’t on whether you should get your partner a present or not – you really should. The debate on how much to spend. I know some dads that have spent a grand on a new handbag and some that have just got a pair of cashmere socks. Whatever it is, put some thought into. Flowers from the garage just won’t cut it.

Get ready for the shock – your life is going to change irreversibly so don’t fight it. Nights out with the boys on Brick Lane will become limited and you’ll be tired all the time. But the upsides massively outweigh the downs – of course, I won’t bore you by going through those. I’ll leave you to discover them for yourself – that’s what being a Dad is all about.

Birth Story of The Week – Katie and Chubs

How is it Monday already? And where has the sun gone? Well here is another lovely birth story from a very special friend to brighten up your day. Katie and I met on the first day at uni when we were training to be midwives 10 years ago. Wow that seems really weird. Little old me from London venturing out on this new life in Bristol to become a midwife. I remember seeing Katie and admiring her tan (she had just been travelling in Australia) and we became friends from that day on, living together in our final year. Katie has recently become a Mummy to little Chubs and here is her story.

Blog: Chubs and Love

Twitter: midwifebrown

I think it’s been long enough now that my memory has faded enough to give me the rose-tinted glasses when I look back on it all. In fact, I’m thinking about the next one – it wasn’t that bad, I’ll have a home birth next time!!I was convinced I was going to be early with Chubs, all my friends who had had babies recently had delivered at 38/39 weeks so I definitely would too, of course! But, 38 weeks then 39 weeks passed me by and I reached my due date with no signs. Nothing at all.

20130319-171243.jpg

Due date bump

I spent the day making curtains for the nursery with my mum to occupy myself and prepared myself for my ‘new’ due date of T+12 when I’d be induced.Nine days later, on a Sunday evening, the day before my boyfriend was supposed to start his new job, I started feeling a bit uncomfortable. I warned him he might not be going and concentrated on cooking a roast dinner. (I had already polyfiller’d holes in the dining room and done a big supermarket shop that day!) About 9pm I took some paracetamol and sent Boyfriend to bed to get some rest as I had a feeling it was going to be a long night. I had a bath and started using my Natal Hypnotherapy breathing techniques but it was too much.

At 1am we went on in to the hospital. I was slightly disappointed to find I was 3cm, I should be more, surely?! Although bearing in mind I had been unable to have a sweep 3 days before, it wasn’t so bad.I was left in the quiet, dark room for a couple of hours before getting in the pool. Ohhh the lovely, lovely pool. It was so warm and quiet and just wonderful. I relaxed a little too much though and my contractions died off. By this time it was 6am and I was so tired. My hypnotherapy breathing just wasn’t cutting it any more and the gas and air just made me feel weird. I decided to have an epidural to allow me to get some sleep.

As the contractions had sodded off and I’d only managed to get myself to 5cm I was also put on the hormone drip syntocinon to give my body a bit of a kick up the arse. I spent the day dozing, eating toast and chatting with Boyfriend and various colleagues who popped in to say hello. My epidural was awesome, I couldn’t feel any of the pain, but could move my legs about easily.

By the afternoon I was feeling really strong pressure and felt I needed to push. I might have been a bit crap at labour, but pushing I loved! I was determined to give it some welly. I remember saying to my midwife ‘they lie to you at uni, babies come out of your bum, I know they do, I can feel it!’ It was hard work, but felt good to be productive and doing something finally.38 minutes later, at 16.08 my beautiful, perfect, squashed little Chubs arrived and my life began.

20130319-210128.jpg

20130319-211013.jpg

We Made It!

I am super excited to tell you all that my birth story made it into Mother and Baby magazine this month! My first piece of real journalism! I feel like Carrie Bradshaw minus the amazing shoes, apartment and life style.  A journalist asked me if I would share it as they were doing a on piece called ‘Do The Experts Have Easy Births?’ And Gas and Air got a mention too so hopefully any Mum’s or Mum’s to- be reading their latest copy of Mother and Baby will get to find out about the blog. High fives all round! I wish I could crack open the bubbles but I’m call so best stick to a Peppermint tea.

You may have also noticed my mug in high res over to the right. My husband is becoming a dab hand with his SLR and I needed some more professional snaps of me not just the old Instagram filter with sunnies on so you can’t see my eye bags type shot. Anyway that’s me with no filter so hope it’s not too much for you all. Exciting times for Gas and Air as my brilliant web designer (how awesome does THAT sound?) has been coming up with some amazing new designs for the website. Gas and Air will have a whole new fresh and inviting feel to it, with easy to navigate side bars, beautiful new colour scheme and graphics and not to mention all those Monday Birth Stories .

By the way if you would like your birth story featured on the blog please email it over with a photo to gasandairblog@gmail.com. Have a great weekend folks!

photo

Pregnancy Madness!

And I don’t mean forgetting where you left your keys, purse, mobile phone (check the fridge it’s always in there). I mean the latest report from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, claiming there is not enough information about potential risks to unborn children from chemicals found in many household products including moisturisers and shower gel.

photo (1)

Tricky one, as any pregnant woman wouldn’t want to put her unborn baby at risk but I think we need to look at this information carefully and not OVER REACT! So the chemicals they are talking about are found in the following

  • food packaging (cans, plastics containers)
  • house hold products
  • paints and pesticides
  • personal care produces (moisturisers, sunscreens, shower gels)

For the majority of us, those items listed come into contact with us every single day. Moisturising your legs in the morning as the sun is out and that means skirts and dresses. Buying your lunchtime snack of a sandwich from Pret and a can of Diet Coke because you’re trying to be good and cut down on sugar. Using your kitchen spray to wipe down the cooker as your husband cooked a delicious meal last night but didn’t clear up, again.

So how can you lovely pregnant ladies take this information on board but live a normal day to day existence without being fearful for your bottle of Coco Butter? Firstly stay calm and take  this advice with caution and use your common sense and judgement. There is enough advice thrusted at you when you become pregnant that your brain is going into over drive. Using certified organic products on your body is generally thought to be better for you not to mention including the environment (think of all those pesky pesticides sprayed onto our plants, fruit and vegetables).

But what we do know is that stress is a risk factor to your unborn baby during pregnancy. So take your beautiful bumps outside enjoy the gorgeous sunshine today! If you have bought lunch out of a plastic container because you were in a rush to make anything this morning, take a rug and eat it in the park and try to keep calm.

keep-calm-and-enjoy-being-pregnant

Birth Story of The Week- Gosia and Janek

So here it is, the first birth story on the blog. Every Monday I will be publishing your stories so keep them coming, I think this will become a lovely weekly feature. And what better way to cheer up those Monday blues. So where ever you are reading this enjoy.

This week’s story comes from Gosia, a letter to her son Janek who was born a month ago. Get the tissues ready, it’s a beautiful story.

Blog: My name is Gosia

Twitter: thegonow

jan2

Dear Janek,

You will be one month old tomorrow. One month. When did that happen? You’re asleep on my chest now. When I breathe, the air from my mouth moves your hair. Very fine, very blonde and very smooth hair. We were supposed to go for the opening of your uncle’s exhibition but you decided you want to eat and eat and cry and eat some more. You’ve waited until I took off my shoes and my skirt and my tights and then you stopped crying. I guess you just wanted to stay in.

I made myself a cup of tea and I lay down next to you and we took a couple of pictures and you were posing and copying my expressions and you were the sweetest. Then you pooped and farted. I changed your nappy, your clothes and I washed your face (you complained).
And here you are. Sleeping and smelling of this instant happiness. One month old tomorrow.

I’ve wanted to write your birth story since it happened. It got deleted three times now and three times I cried because I’ve put all the details there, for you maybe and for me to remember. I felt like the greatest person in the world, and maybe I was for a moment- when Zoe put you on my chest and your daddy cried out of the biggest and purest happiness. This is what I remember today, a month later:

  • how when it started I made myself think it’s not the real thing yet and continued to make Tiramisu;
  • when I called your father to come home quickly because I just didn’t wanted to be alone;
  • how I was taking a bath when he arrived; how we laughed; how I burned all the candles, how he kept on boiling more water in a kettle to pour in the tub;
  • how all of the sudden I needed to get out and was bouncing on the ball and your father was cleaning the tub of the wax; he needed his hands full, he needed a task;
  • how we went to the hospital for the first time and they checked your heartbeat and my contractions and how they send us back home; the corridors were empty and I vomited; I remember the taxi back home;
  • how I spent big part of the night in legs of the bed, on the floor, leaning and going through it all;
  • when I took another bath and was falling asleep there for thirty seconds at a time and I burned the rest of the candles; how multi-coloured wax was covering the whole bathroom;
  • how the only thing I ate back then was two dried apricots and how I kept on drinking water from big plastic jug with a red straw;
  • how on a way back to hospital they told me to scream and I didn’t want to scream because I knew I need strength not noise;
  • how they checked us again and told us to go for a walk and come back;
  • how we came back and it rained, we had to stop every couple of steps;
  • how they checked us again and told us we can stay; how happy we were, how relieved, how weak was I but kept on smiling, how they told me I’m dehydrated and I need to eat and drink, how they moved us to room 7
  • how I ate and drank and out of sudden I felt great, I had power and we met our midwife, her name was Zoe and how she was the most amazing person we could wish for, how great we understood each other straight away and how we laughed at the same jokes at the same time;
  • how I took a shower and shaved my legs and put conditioner on. I was in active labour, after 38 hours of contractions;
  • how I kept on sitting, how I wanted to dance and put the make up on, how I really felt the greatest power;
  • how all of a sudden I got fever and had to be transferred to the delivery floor, how I was upset about it but knew  I just have to get in with it, with whatever my birth brings to me, just accept it and move on;
  • how Zoe told me nothing will change, how I trusted her, how she said that her women have things the way they want to have them, how I trusted her, how we smuggled a tub of fruit Mentos inside;
  • how we got upstairs – and I was on the wheelchair and refused to think bad about it- and nothing changed like Zoe promised- there was number 7 on the door;
  • how your father was there and he was getting more tired but was  still giving me water and illegally he was feeding me with fruit Mentos, how he found my lip balm, how he tried a bit of gas and air, how brave was he even if on the second plan, as a supporting act;
  • how they kept giving me things and how I kept on declining others;
  • how I still tried to joke, how many times Zoe told me she loved me and how I trusted her about it;
  • how when things got very strong your father held my hand and I looked on Zoe, on her ear, on her purple guitar earring, how it kept me going;
  • how suddenly they both got excited cause you were coming any time and I was thinking that great at least someone has fun;
  • how your heartbeat was so strong and happy and healthy all the time and how thankful I am because god knows what they would do to us if it wasn’t;
  • how I was pushing for hour and a half and I asked your daddy to take a photo and I felt your head going out of my body and how surreal it all felt;
  • how I had no power and I kept saying “I can’t do this” and they’ve been saying “you’re doing this” and how I thought “what can I do if I tell myself I can?”
  • how I pushed without contractions because I was tired and scared and I wanted you to be here already;
  • how you arrived; how surreal; how slippery; how heavy; how beautiful; how;  how smelling of a lake; how you knew me; how you didn’t cry; how your father cried; how did that happen;
  • how the rest was a blur: someone sewing my ladies bits, me laughing, you pooping on your daddy’s hand, Zoe bringing us toast with butter and jam and tea and leaving( can you imagine being such an important part of somebody’s life and then just walking away quietly?);
  • how they wheeled me downstairs to the ward and how proud I was with you in my hands;
  • how I spent first evening with you crying because “you will never be one day old again”;
  • how the first night with you was the happiest night of my life when I slept, holding you close, against the regulations but according to my heart.

Just like now. So you’re one month old. We survived. You are healthy and happy. I didn’t hurt you. I didn’t break your arm or your leg. You cried maybe 6 hours in total. I learned so much about you and I still do every day. I learned so much about myself and I need to grow myself for you every day. I need to take care of your father. We are family now. He works so hard for us. There’s so much words, so many feelings, it’s so hard and so beautiful and crazy. You’re one month old and you are greater than the universe.

IMG_0231

IMG_0230

Wow. It never ceases to amaze me how the tiny things us midwives do are so improtant to women. I have a clear image of Gosia’s midwife Zoe with her guitar ear ring now. What an inspirational story. Thank you Gosia for sharing. If you too would like to feature on the blog please email me gasandairblog@gmail.com

Another weekly round up

Phew what a week to come back to after our little trip to New York. It’s always like that when you’ve been away isn’t it, you are constantly catching up with yourself whilst trying to battle with the inevitable dreaded jet lag. More late night blogging and internet browsing for me then!

photo (8)Monday: I did a birth talk with one of my women who is due in 4 weeks. I LOVE a birth talk! We go through all their worries and fears, talk about where they plan to have their baby and how and when to page us when they think they are in labour. This is very important as we don’t want to unnecessarily be paged at 3am saying that the waters have broken but no much has happened! Not so good for us as we’re then lying there awake and unable to sleep. Most of our women decide in labour where they would like to birth their baby which is great because there are no huge expectations which sometimes may not go to ‘plan’.

kids come too!

kids come too!

Tuesday: I had a day off and attended a fabulous pampering and play session at Shoreditch House organised by the wonder that is Jenny from Mothers Meeting! My two year old played with her little pals whilst I caught up with some of my favourite Mamas whilst having my eyebrows threaded (think caterpillars on steroids!) and having a lovely back massage provided by Bliss Spa. The morning was so lovely and we all headed upstairs to the 6th floor for a well deserved glass of wine and lunch. Don’t all Mama’s deserve a treat once in a while? Mothers Meeting is a great place to meet other Mums from all different backgrounds, they organise amazing workshops and day trips so if you’re needing some inspiration head over to their website and find out what’s going on in your area.

IMG_9221

Love this boy

Wednesday: I went and discharge little Ivo at day 21 who was slow to regain his birth weight. But after much persistence from his clever Mummy and fantastic support from the rest of the team he is well above his birth weight and thriving! I can honestly say he grew little chubby cheeks whilst I was away and is now entirely breastfed. Such a fab result! I do love my job.

Thursday: Was our monthly ‘Meet the Midwife’ group we run at the end of every month for a chance for any women due around that time to meet the rest of the team. We also invite some women and their babies to share their birth stories to the group. I love these sessions as it’s so lovely to put a name to a face of the other pregnant women we might support during their birth (read about how we work here). Two Mama’s shared their wonderful birth stories, both home births and both had very different birth plans but both had fantastic results!

photo (7)

Writers block

Friday: I had to meet a final deadline for my first commissioned piece of work! Really nerve racking but if it all goes through it could lead to exciting things! It’s all a bit hush hush at the moment so I can’t say much more at this point. This blog will also be going through some changes in the next month or two. I have found an amazing designer who is going to turn my dream of making GasandAir into a proper website, where people can come and find out all things birth, babies and beyond. She is totally on my wave length and I can’t wait to see what ideas she comes up with. Watch this space!