Birth Story Of The Week- Hattie and Johnny

The wonderful Hattie over at Free Our Kids has shared her birth story with her first baby Johnny. She is currently pregnant again and trying do parenting with a toddler free for a year. Yup I’m talking no clothes buying, toys buying, those expensive organic rice cake are a no no too. I really admire what’s she’s doing follow her journey over at her blog, it really will make you realise how much money we waste on unnecessary crap for our kids which they don’t really need. I recently wrote her a piece on  ‘What Do You Really Need During Pregnancy’ and I’m currently writing her the next section for labour and birth.

Blog: Free Our Kids

Twitter: hattiegarlick

hattie g

Yesterday I was listening to two women talking about childbirth on the bus. “Yeah, it’s awful,” said one to her goggle-eyed friend, “but you totally forget about the pain afterwards.” 

“HOW can you have forgotten pain like that?!” I wanted to leap over the seat and interrogate her, but the weight and size of my second baby bump kept me firmly in my place behind her. There are lots of things I can’t remember about my first labour. But the pain isn’t one of them. 

Not that this is a scare story. I had a good birth. And here I am, two and a half years later, about to do it again, looking forward to it even, despite the fact that I can remember exactly how painful it was. I just don’t understand why everyone says that or how anyone can forget pain that searing, pain that rips you apart and welds you into a new person. 

It’s one of the few things I can remember accurately about my son’s birth. It was almost exactly a fortnight after my due date, in the middle of a record-breakingly cold winter. It was early evening, I was due to be induced the next day and suddenly contractions started. I knew this was it, as soon as they began, and I felt strangely peaceful in the realisation. What I didn’t know was that:

 a) he was nearly ten pounds

 b) he was back to back

c) the car was going to get stuck in the snow so that we almost didn’t make it to hospital

d) that we’d be sent back when we did make it there, and told to wait until I’d progressed further even though contractions were the regulation three minutes apart already and I had no idea how we’d tell whether progress was being made on our own

e) that we’d spend the next hour walking diligently and slowly around our local neighbourhood in the deep snow, pausing for me to lean heavily on my husband with every contraction and terrify the children who were out building snow men

f) that when we finally made it back to hospital and were admitted at six centimeters dilated, the water birth I’d quite fancied would work so well and I would relax so deeply that labour would slow almost to a halt

g) that at some stage my waters would be broken and the four horseman of the apocalypse would gallop into the peaceful birthing centre to begin torturing my body and pillaging my sanity

h) that at another stage I would look over at my husband and see him bouncing on a birthing ball, reading Mojo magazine and eating a steak and ale pie and, in a strange moment of clarity, wonder how on earth the women I thought I was had become the woman in this room

i) that gas and air would make me feel sick to the pit of my stomach, that I would beg for an epidural and, in its absence, would settle for a half dose of the one drug I’d explicitly ruled out in my birth plan – pethadene

j) that at some stage there would be another moment of clarity and I’d find myself weeping in a bathroom, looking at my swollen, tear stained face and body, hearing the voices of full clothed, sane strangers next door and think exactly how degrading the whole process was

k) that I would stomp naked down a hospital corridor to another room where the promised epidural would materialise at the door like a trippy tea-trolley door at exactly the point when they realised it was too late, the baby was coming.

l) that I would be made, against an instinct so strong it felt like a brick wall, to lie down on a bed rather than stay standing up

m) that I would be so British that through all the pain, I would smile and say, “sorry, sorry, thank you, thank you”

 All these things I remember as flashes through a fog of pain and sweat and strain. What I don’t remember, clearly, is what my husband tells me: the moment the baby emerged with the cord round his neck, that they took him to the other side of the room, briefly, to check he was okay and I shouted, “My baby! My baby! Give me my baby!”

I remember, next, him appearing on my chest. I remember him disappearing again while my husband supported me, shaking like an earthquake, in a shower. I remember tea and toast and a rectangular, clear plastic cot beside our bed, in the room that the midwives sneaked us into so that we could spend the night as a family.

I remember thanking the midwives, over and over again, and promising myself that I would go back with chocolates, and cake and champagne for the most amazing women I’d met in my life to date. I never did. But I still regret that I didn’t. And it’s pretty much the only thing on my birthing plan this time round: cake and thanks for the midwives.

So You Want To Be A Midwife?

picstitch (1)

How my life has looked for the past 3 days

And relax.

I’ve just finished a mammoth 3 nights on call and I’m shattered. It was up for every one of them, you could say we’ve been busy in our little team. I don’t think you realise how exhausting this job can be when you’re training to be a midwife, I certainly didn’t. Back then when I was a naive 21 year old, the only person I had to get up and dressed in the morning was myself and that was sometime a chore (especially if we had been out to Vodka Revolutions the night before, Vodka and a mixer for 50p, bargain!) Now I have to co-ordinate my shifts with my husbands work schedule, throw 2 children in the mix and it sounds like a recipe for disaster. But we somehow manage.

I often get asked ‘why did you become a midwife?’ and others ask what the training was really like. Programmes such as ‘Call the Midwife’, ‘One Born Every Minute’ and ‘The Midwives’ have increased the public’s knowledge of what midwives really do and according to The Royal College of Midwives the number of applications for starting a midwifery degree has shot up! This is excellent as there is still a national shortage of midwives.

Kathryn over at The Vintage Midwife shares her views on midwifery training and why she loves her job despite the long hours and hard work.

call the midwife

‘I was recently contacted by someone who wants to be a midwife and I have been wondering what to say to her.  Midwifery training is incredibly popular at the moment, no doubt thanks in part to Call The Midwife and One Born Every Minute.  I have lost count of the number of people who have said to me ‘I would love to do your job…’ with a wistful look in their eye.  At our local university over 1,000 people applied for the 50 spaces available on the next Midwifery course.

But I wonder if there is any other job that is so romanticized and where the harsh reality of life on the shop floor is so different to what we hope for?

I don’t think people always fully appreciate the enormous RESPONSIBILITY that you have as a midwife.  At times it can feel overwhelming.  You are responsible not only for the health and safety of that woman but also for her baby.  You may be responsible for a baby dying or being severely disabled.  Just let that sink in for a moment, it’s quite a big deal huh?

Sometimes, despite the best care babies can be born in an unexpectedly poor condition and I know of several very good midwives that have been involved in these tragic cases. This involves investigations, court cases, a very hard and long process before their name is cleared.

Childbirth is a natural, normal function that is a momentous event for a woman and her family.  But in the litigation fearing, policy following, hugely overworked, overstretched and understaffed NHS then this can often feel lost.

The heartbreaking fact for midwives is that if you have only 15 mins per antenatal appointment, have to do 13 postnatal visits in a morning, look after 10 women and babies on a postnatal ward, catch 3 babies on a night shift then you just simply can not give the care that you know these women and babies deserve. Meanwhile you are answering endless phone calls, buzzers, doorbells, doing reams of paperwork, hunting for missing equipment, mopping blood up, chasing social workers, teaching students…

All of this in a twelve hour shift without time even for a wee and only a handful of Quality Street to eat all day.  Working loads of weekends, night shifts, Christmas Day, New Years Eve.  Still want to do it?  Have I put you off yet?

I decided I wanted to be a midwife when I saw a baby being born whilst training as a student nurse, fresh out of school. I was just 18 and it was the most amazing thing I had ever seen.  Like a magic trick, a baby appearing out of a woman’s body.  I have lost count of the number of babies I have seen born since then, it must be several hundred.  And do you know what?  I still find it as exciting as that first time I saw it.  When you see that tiny scrap of hair, that new life emerging, knowing that you are the first person to see this new person, it never loses its thrill.

Yes it’s hard work and nothing like the ‘lovely’ job people often imagine it to be but I still want to be a midwife.’

Home Birth? – What About The Mess!

Another glorious week working as a midwife and another home birth. I’m sure you know by now that home births are something very special to me. Our home birth rate in our case loading team is between 30-40%. Way higher than the national average of a 2.26% (birthchoiceUK). Some of our women book with us knowing they want a home birth but some are also unsure so decide in labour. We have this great set up where women chose right up until they are in labour where they would like to give birth. For the majority of pregnant women, they want to birth where they feel comfortable and safe and often these feelings are only truly felt when labour starts. We offer a home assessment when labour has begun and that way women can make an informed decision.

I have noticed as I spread the home birth tales, a few odd faces pulled as I joyfully express my love for a home birth. I was never always like this, as I have in fact had 2 babies both in hospital . And I’m sure I’m not the only one receiving ‘unhelpful’ comments when discussing where to have your baby. A ton of you got in touch on Twitter telling me the hilarious and dam right ridiculous comments people said to you when you said you were planning a home birth. From ‘Wow you’re brave’ to ‘Really? Yuck’ and ‘What about the cat?’ and the most popular ‘What about all that mess!’ One woman said to me she would never have a home birth because she has cream carpets. Well one thing all us Mama’s know is that cream carpets get pretty ruined when having kids, so you might as well rip them up and reveal some lovely original wooden flooring. Problem solved!

A month back I attended a wonderful home birth where the woman decided to labour (and birth) in the upstairs newly built loft conversion. Us midwives tried several times to tempt her down stairs to her living room where her birthing pool awaited but nope she was staying up there. The room was so newly decorated that a tray of used paint brushes and a tin of Farrow and Balls ‘House White’ lay in the corner of the room. And did I mention the cream carpet and white en-suite? The birth was entirely ‘mess free’ not one single drop of ANYTHING touched the carpet, walls and bedding. My colleague and I were as proud of that as, we were of her amazing birthing achievements.

photo (27)And this was the only bag of ‘mess’ carried away by me at last nights home birth. 1 household size bin bag.

You see home birth is really not that messy. We as midwives respect your home, we are your guest and we do everything to to ensure nothing goes on your soft furnishings. We recommend that you get hold of some plastic sheeting such as some tarpaulin or a shower curtain to put over your bed or sofa if you end up birthing on there. However many women choose to have a birthing pool at home which is becoming a popular option with most home birthers. Any normal amount of bodily fluids that may be released are then all contained in one place! Simples.

Some of you lovely people have kindly shared their home birth photos, just to show how ‘un-messy’ it really is. And in case you need any more clarification, I wore a white t-shirt to a home birth and it remained as white as when I entered the house as when I left.

For more information about home birth visit and




Birth Story Of The Week – Judith and Simon

This birth story is really something special. I first met Judith during a meal back in 2005. She had prepared a Sunday roast dinner for her husband and 3 children and I was guest of honour. There was some element of pressure during this meal. I was on my best behaviour. Ensuring I used my cutlery correctly I tried to maintain my up most to impress her with my knowledge of the war in the Middle East whilst coming across as the sort of 20 year old young woman she may want to one day welcome into her family. The meal was a success, her cooking was delicious and I must have made an OK impression as I can now call her my Mother-in-law. She is an avid reader of my blog and very sweetly asked me if she could share her birth story when she had my husband 31 years ago this Friday! In honour of his birthday here is the story of how he made his entrance into the world. I like to think of this as a vintage birth story.


Always the protective Mother


And the doting Granny

And the doting Granny

“I’d had a straightforward pregnancy – if you didn’t count the 16 weeks of non stop vomiting that is. You can really get fed up with mashed potato and fizzy water as sustenance, but otherwise, all was good. I’d been to a few NHS antenatal classes, after which all I could recall was the advice not to cross my ankles as they’d swell….

Right, bag’s packed, husband’s sandwiches are in the freezer – it’s September 18th 1982 – D day – so where’s the baby?

Being blissfully ignorant, we took as gospel the date we’d been given for our baby’s arrival. The day passed and I’d virtually given up hope of the baby arriving, and was sitting on the stairs watching my husband putting a new letterbox in our front door, when I became aware that I was sitting in a puddle – waters had broken!

No sign of contractions but after about half an hour, gentle waves started to break across my stomach and I became fascinated by looking like a beach ball being pumped up as each contraction hit. As per instructions from the hospital, we went in when the contractions were 5 minutes apart. As we drove into Cambridge, we were both nervous but excited. Blissful ignorance had kicked in again, but our rosy picture of peace and serenity was ruptured by a) the football sized crowd of other ‘parents in labour’, and b) the business-like ‘seen it all before’ attitude of the staff. Did they not know that we were having a baby??!!

We went into what looked and felt like a holding pen, where having been examined (3cm dilated), I refused to be shaved, but was badgered into having an enema – emerged feeling like c**p. Eventually, we were taken to the delivery room – to this day my husband and I think it was a stationery cupboard, not a delivery room (see photo), but hey ho…

The contractions were getting much stronger, and I was struggling to work with them. 2 cylinders of gas and air later, I was given pethidine and nodded off for an hour or so. Stuck on the bed with a monitor strapped round me, I felt like a beached whale, and very little was happening – except the baby was getting distressed – as was I as he had a foetal scalp monitor screwed into his head (or that’s what I imagined).

We’d arrived at the hospital at about 10pm, and it was now about 7am the following morning. Clive had been sitting with me, but we hadn’t brought any music (did anyone do that in those days?), no massage oils, no cushions, no anything really. A midwife had popped in from time to time to check on me – I didn’t have an assigned midwife, so it was whoever was passing, it seemed to me.

Another hour or so, and no further progress. I was in significant pain and started asking for an epidural (our birth plan had gone out of the window at the point I had pethidine). After a discussion between the midwives and the doctor who had turned up, it was agreed I should have an epidural and the anaesthetist arrived a few minutes later.

Blessed relief as the pain disappeared, but then the calm was broken by the doctor saying that the baby was passing meconium and needed to be born soon. Up to this point, we had been accompanied by a midwife, a trainee, and a doctor who called in from time to time. Suddenly the room filled up – and I do mean filled up. I counted 9 people in the room, some of whom looked as though they were on their way home from a party – a string of coloured beads round her neck in one case. I think they were hoping for something interesting (emergency C section?) to happen.

Clive moved to the head of the bed and gave me lots of encouragement, as at this point I felt I couldn’t go on any more. The anaesthetic was stopped (reduced? – can’t remember), and I was told to push after the next contraction. The baby wasn’t keen on emerging and I had an episiotomy – mention of forceps being made at this point! Eventually, after 14 hours of labour, and just about every chemical and medical intervention we could have had, Simon James arrived in the world at 10.10am on 19th September weighing 6lbs 13oz. The crowds melted away, and we were left to come to terms with our new world.

As I was stitched up, Clive and I sat with our new son, feeling shell shocked – the happiness would kick in later. All either of us wanted at that point was a cup of tea and a good sleep. When I was eventually wheeled to the ward, I was given Simon to hold, but for all the emotional attachment I felt at that moment, he could have been a bag of potatoes! Because of the epidural (?), he was very sleepy and didn’t really come round until much later in the day – when he did, he more than made up for it!

Final thoughts:  

Simon was the first baby I had had any involvement with – I’d looked after babies as a babysitter, but the youngest had been 4 months, so a newborn was really scary.

The antenatal classes I went to were pretty well useless in terms of giving me real practical advice – we went to NCT classes for number 2.

At this point, we were still in the era of mothers (patients) being told what to do, and ‘active’ birth was considered faddy.

I was in considerable discomfort after the birth and finding it difficult to breastfeed, but had no help from the ward staff, who just told me to keep trying. Two weeks later, I gave up breastfeeding and Simon went onto a bottle.

Would I consider my first experience of childbirth a ‘good’ experience – no. But on the positive side, by the time number 2 came along, I was more confident about what I wanted, and didn’t want, and it was altogether a better experience.

 photo (26)

Ruth’s Story

Sometimes we have days when we just think ‘f**k this.’

Yesterday was one of those days. My husband was in hospital over night with suspected septicaemia from an infected burn injury (silly boy). I lay awake all night worrying about him then my youngest daughter woke up screaming at 5am with a tummy ache. I of course suspected it was a ruptured appendix and rang NHS direct like a crazy lady. 10 minutes later the Calpol had taken effect and she declared she felt much better and was asking for her Weetabix. But my 6 year old then woke up sobbing about not wanting to go to school and feeling dizzy. This behaviour continued right up until we got to school where by her new teacher had to physically peel her away from me screaming whilst the rest of her class sat on the carpet for register. It was a crap way to start a busy day at work.

When Ruth sent me her experience on motherhood with a disabled child, I hung my frazzled head in shame and realised that my kids small tantrums are nothing compared to what Ruth and her husband have to deal with every single day when caring for their daughter Elin. Here she shares their story.

ruth and elin

Hi I’m Ruth. My daughter Elin is 5 years old. Huge thanks to Clemmie for asking me to write a post about Elin’s arrival into this world in 2008 for this wonderful blog. I’m honoured! I’m also a little nervous and if I’m honest, I feel a bit guilty, too. I fear I may be infiltrating such a positive and uplifting blog with a story that does not have a (fully) happy ending.  But it’s my story and we lived it, my husband, my baby daughter and me. We’re still here telling the tale and loving life and feeling grateful for every second of it. So, this is the story of what happened when I gave birth and how it shaped our lives forever, before we even knew it.

I’m actually not going to focus on the birth. Not just because it was 5 years ago and I’m struggling to remember what colour pants I put on this morning, let alone remember all the gory details of the labour, but also it would make for a pretty difficult read (and probably be even more difficult to write). So I will sum up. In a nutshell, after 46 hours of labour, my little girl silently (oh, so silently) slid into our world, caught by the awaiting hands of the unsuspecting and rapidly ashen faced midwives. Silent she remained and, as the on call doctor summoned at once by the buzzing red lights would later tell us, roughly about two minutes from death. Nobody had any clue she had been in such horrendous distress, nobody had any reason to try and break her free from the little prison of my body during labour, which as we now know was slowly but surely killing her through oxygen deprivation.  The joyful cry that we had waited nine months for (oh who am I kidding, I felt like I’d be waiting a lifetime) never came and we watched as a million medical staff ‘worked on’ my first-born  newborn, helpless baby girl right in front of us, still not aware (how could we be?) of the gravitas of the situation, that right now we were living something that would dramatically alter the course of our world together as we knew it.

Elin spent 4 weeks on SCBU, having been whisked away from us almost immediately and ventilated in Intensive Care. I’ll tell you a secret about these first few minutes after her birth. I didn’t look at her. My husband implored me to look at her beautiful face but I saw a flash of her paper white torso and I couldn’t look. I remember my warped, Pethidine addled train of thought like it was yesterday. I thought I will not look- if I look, I will love her and I thought she was going to die. My head could not grasp what my heart had known from the moment I peed on the stick. It was too late, I loved her already. Purely, unconditionally and forever.  I will regret that moment for the rest of my days.

The first chance I had, I let her down. I let fear hold me back. I would not let it happen again.

elinWhat to say about the time Elin was on SCBU? We could not hold her for 10 days. I need not explain the torture of this. I was a Mummy, with no baby. There was nothing normal about the experience at all. Just life, clinging by a thread. We lived in the hospital, sleeping on hospital beds in rooms on SCBU reserved for parents in our ‘difficult’ position. The smell of that squeezy hospital soap we had to coat our hands in before we touched her skin still knocks me sick to this day. I expressed my milk in a lonely room so the nurses could drip feed it down a tube in her nose whilst she fought for her life ( to think of the hours I wasted whilst pregnant thinking about and discussing ‘breast vs bottle’ ).We sat by her bed for 14 hours a day and tossed and turned in our hospital beds in the clammy August heat for the rest of the time. My Mum brought her a ‘going-home’ outfit and I hated how beautiful it was, how it represented something so far from my grasp at that time it was hard to imagine. I hung it on the alien furniture in our clinical room and it haunted me for days as I wondered on more than one occasion if we might have to bury her in it instead.

elin 2I coped by writing letters to Elin in those hours that turned into days, then weeks at her bedside. I reasoned, my fighting spirit finally returning, she could read them when she turned 18 (she was getting out of here, I was determined). So she would know how much we loved her, how much she meant, how we prayed and begged and pleaded 9with noone in particular) every second of the day for her life.  I did not realise of course that Elin would never be able to read them. It was before the words ‘brain damage’ had been uttered, considered even (at least by us anyway). I still have those letters and I have never been able to even pick them up, let alone read them. I hope one day I will, but for now they sit in her ‘baby box’ along with her hospital bracelet and her first baby grow and everything else I still cannot look at, five years on.

elin scbu
My husband coped by finally going back to our empty home and putting all the baby things away, moses basket- the works, in a fit of pessimism. Then he drove back to the hospital and before he had even parked up turned around, went back home and put them all back out again.  It seems he wasn’t ready to give up either.

On the 19th August 2008 we took Elin home. Due to the lack of oxygen she had suffered at birth, we did not bring home balloons, presents or cards but instead a list of diagnosis’. She had incurred severe brain damage (cerebral palsy) and a result of this, vision impairment and epilepsy. Elin is profoundly disabled and fed through a tube. She is unable to speak, or move independently. Her condition is described as ‘life limiting’. That’s what Elin’s condition is. But it’s not who Elin is. You see, nowhere in that list of issues we brought home with us does it tell you about her smile (that took 10 slow months to form). An amazing smile that (cliché alert) lights up a room. It does not give you an impression of the sound of her laugh when you ‘beep’ her nose, how she draws people into her world, how she loves to be cuddled, how she hates to be alone and does not like the dark. You would have no idea based on that gloomy list, or the list of the 13 medications she takes a day, that she is learning. That she is able to ‘bat’ at toys she likes with her good arm, learning to turn her head towards sound and light and can clearly recognise (and show visible excitement when she see’s) her Mummy and Daddy and other close family members. 

elin 5

It’s a terrible thing to have to admit the day your first child was born was the worst day of your life. It was. But it was also the best of course. Because it brought Elin to us, our little miracle girl. The pure unadulterated joy she brings us every single day is indescribable. The way our priorities have shifted, the wonder we see in the simple everyday things in life, the way we are grateful for every single moment with our girl.  In that first breath that Elin never took it was like we were born again into a world that we never knew existed. But it’s our world now and it’s Elin’s and we are happy living together in this strange, unexpected way. Because we are together and Elin is still with us and when you have faced loosing your child before you have even known them, and come through it, then you can cope with almost anything.’

Thank you for reading my story. Anyone interested in following Elin’s progress can visit my blog, which I began in the months after her birth

We must let go of the life we had planned so as to live the life that is waiting for us”  Joseph Campbell

Birth Story Of The Week – Katheryn and Louie

Today’s birth story comes from a fellow midwife who contacted me after discovering my blog. She is also a blogger and in the ridiculously small world we live in, we realised we know a few of the same midwives as she also trained and works in Bristol! Katheryn chose to practise Hypnobirthing for her home birth. Here she shares her experience, what it’s really like to give birth as a midwife.

Blog: The Vintage Midwife


“I chose a home birth for my first baby, which I appreciate is not everybody’s cup of tea. But I knew that I would feel safer and more in control in my own home and I was inspired by my mum having my sisters at home. Her birth story is here  I had written my dissertation about home birth and had attended lots of home births as a midwife so I felt pretty well informed about the risks and what it involved.

I had prepared myself for the fact that I may need to be transferred in to the hospital if something didn’t go according to plan or most likely I needed more pain relief (I’m a right wimp).  I had packed my hospital bag full of lovely treats in case this happened, so it wouldn’t be quite so disappointing!

I had had a lot of worries about how I would cope with the pain in labour and what would happen; having too much knowledge of potential complications. Doing a HypnoBirthing course had made me feel a lot more relaxed and confident but I still had doubts if I could manage to have the home birth I wanted.

Labour started naturally at 4 days past my due date.

Looking back I was probably in early labour for longer than I realised. In the afternoon we’d walked to the shops and I had to keep stopping to hold onto my man’s arm. My tummy was going tight but it wasn’t painful or regular.

By the evening my tummy was going tight more regularly, about every 15 minutes; it still didn’t hurt. I put on my Hypno CD and when I ‘came to’ after it finished then the tightenings were one after the other, about every minute. This was about 7.30 pm, when I consider my labour really started.

I had a bath with lavender oil and was sick. I got out the bath and was kneeling by the bed and was sick again. My man was timing the surges (HypnoBirthing speak for contractions) by now and keen to call the midwives. I asked him why? “They’re every minute, lasting a minute” I didn’t believe him as they simply didn’t seem that regular to me and they still didn’t hurt.

About 9 pm, after I’d been to the loo there was loads of blood mixed in with mucus (a bloody show- really good sign that labour is moving on).This really shocked me and made me come out of my relaxed state. I got my ‘thinking’ midwife head on then- tightenings every minute, vomiting, bloody show- in theory I’m in full on labour, but I can’t be! It’s been far too quick plus it doesn’t hurt at all. What is going on?!

From this point on I came out of my relaxed state; I was in my ‘thinking’ head and didn’t know how to go back deeper. Like a switch being flicked, suddenly things became painful. This showed me just how effective using the HypnoBirthing techniques are. If I could change anything it would be that we had practised the deepening techniques so that I could have got back into my relaxed state.

I got my man to call the midwife at 10pm, we were told she would be an hour as she lived a long way away and had to stop at the hospital to pick up equipment.

At this point one hour felt like ages so I just decided not to look at the clock or think about the time. By now I’d found it really helpful to make noise when I was having a surge. I got in the birthing pool, which my man had set up. It felt fantastic in the warm water, helped me so much. Rescue Remedy helped too and visualising my cervix opening whilst I was having a surge.

At the peak of the surge, for a few seconds it got really intense but then it would ease off again. In between the surges it didn’t hurt at all and I enjoyed the break, reminding myself that I could do it. I tried to check myself (do an internal) to find out what was going on but I couldn’t really feel anything;  It is extremely difficult to do to yourself when you’ve got a massive bump, I don’t recommend it! I thought I was maybe 1 cm dilated and I started to think ” I can’t do this for hours, I might need to go in for an epidural.”

About 11 pm I opened my eyes and like a vision a lovely, lovely midwife had arrived. I was so pleased it was her; she was so calm and kind, very experienced and had had four babies herself. I know I was very lucky to know the midwives that were looking after me.

I wanted to be checked but it was so difficult to lie on the bed and the gap between the surges was so short and much worse lying down. She said I was 6-7 cm dilated (midwife talk for 8cm), so well over halfway. I thought she was joking as I was convinced I hadn’t been long enough in labour and for most of the time it hadn’t hurt at all.  As soon as I heard that I thought “I can do this. I’m going to do this” and kept telling myself that.

She called the second midwife. I got back in the pool. I asked for the gas and air (not for the pain so much as to stop the noise I was making which had got really loud at this point and was starting to annoy me, and probably our poor neighbours). Gas and air in the pool was heaven.

Shortly after this I felt I needed to push. Rather my body started pushing, a bit like retching, I just couldn’t stop it. I heard myself making pushing noises. The first couple of pushes I thought “this is great”, but then it got hard.  I felt really excited because I knew I would meet my baby soon.

I was pushing as hard as I could, but it felt like trying to shift a bowling ball or a melon; something hard and round that just wouldn’t fit through my bones. I started saying “I can’t do it”. I should have known this was normal for this stage of labour. They were telling me “you can!”

Apparently at this stage I was speaking in a different accent after each surge- Bristolian “Alright my love?”, Indian “Oh my goodness” and cockney “faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaacking ‘ell”. Must have been rather amusing for those with me. Guess it was the gas and air.  After a while I stopped using it.

My contractions started to ease off. I was asking them to break my waters, which hadn’t gone yet. They sensibly said no need yet- try and get out the pool and go and sit on the toilet. My bathroom is down a flight of stairs and I think they were hoping this would jiggle baby down.

I had to talk to myself out loud “Come on Katheryn, you can do it!”- like I’d talk to a woman I was looking after. I was helping myself through it like I’d helped hundreds of other women before. The midwives and my man were a massive support.

I sat on my toilet, gave a couple of pushes, it felt much easier to push on the loo, especially my loo. I felt the head coming.  I had my hand there, my waters went and the head just came out. In total I had pushed for 40 mins. They had put a towel under the toilet seat so babe wouldn’t fall down the loo. They said- stand up. I lost it, “I can’t!”. The second midwife got stern, “you have to!”- it was just what I needed.  I stood up and leant forward. It felt very surreal with the baby’s head out and the body still inside. My man saw our baby’s face at this point, the first person to see it. I gave another push and then woosh! I had my baby in my arms.

Me and my man were crying and laughing. We looked and it was a boy. Everybody had been convinced we were having a girl. He cried straight away. He smelt amazing and looked so clean. He looked just like my Dad, who died several years ago, and who I was very close to. We gave him his name (George) as a middle name.

vintage midwife

He was born at 1.45 am. The labour had been less than 7 hours and the midwives there less than 3 hours. Not bad for a first labour. Cheers HypnoBirthing!

I wanted to birth the placenta naturally, without the injection, so they didn’t cut the cord yet.  About 5 minutes later I gave a push and it all came out.  Felt a relief for it to come away.

My man held our boy for the first time and he opened his eyes and saw his Dad and held onto his beard. The midwives checked to see if I needed any sutures; few grazes but no stitches. All that perineal massage had paid off.

The midwives weighed him (8 lbs 6 oz, a good size!), checked him and gave him Vitamin K injection. I tried to breast feed him but he wasn’t interested yet so I had a bath and the midwives left.

I lay in the bath, looking at my soft, empty belly, thinking “I did it!” I was so pleased and thrilled, it felt like a huge achievement and I was so relieved our baby was safe and ok. I had a new respect for my body and what it could do.

Afterwards we cuddled in our bed together, drinking tea and eating cake and looking at our son. It was the best experience of our lives.  If we had been in the hospital my husband would have been sent home at this point, another bonus for having a home birth.

I know that I could not have had such a brilliant birth without HypnoBirthing and my experience inspired me to train as a HypnoBirthing Practitioner.  If it worked so well for me when I had so many fears and preconceived ideas about birth (and am a real wimp!) then I know that it can work for other women too.”

Exercise and Pregnancy

Exercising Safely When Pregnant – A Few Tips

If you like working out already then hopefully at such time as you become pregnant you will look after your body all the more. But many mothers to be don’t look after their bodies as well as they should.

Pregnant_hot_tubImage Credit: Pregnant Woman Relaxing

In fact it is a common myth that you need to eat loads because you are “eating for two” when in reality, putting on too much weight whilst pregnant can be bad for you and the baby.

If you are expecting, and you want to keep yourself and your baby in tip top condition, then working out is a good idea, but there are of course some health considerations to keep in mind. Here is a quick guide to working out whilst pregnant:

Stick To Exercises You Know

If you were a regular exerciser before getting pregnant, your body should be able to handle it still when you get pregnant. Be prepared to tone down the activity level gradually though, as the months go by.

If you have not exercised much previously, get into exercising gradually. Don’t immediately start going for long runs, but just stick to a light walk and work your way up.

Don’t Do Dangerous Things

Avoid any contact sports and anything that will or could lead to falling over or getting bumped. Remember that balancing will be harder as the bump gets bigger and a bad fall could injure the baby, so be cautious.

Listen To Your Body

During any exercise, if you start to feel odd in any way, dizzy, feignt etc… Stop doing whatever you were doing. Don’t push yourself like you would do normally and always give your body chance to recover.

If you are already in good shape, consider pregnancy a time for maintenance, not progress. Don’t try to beat a personal best, just be happy to be able to enjoy your workout. If you take your time, but make the effort, you will be able to get back to pre-pregnancy shape again in no time.

Lift Some Heavy Things

This will be great news for many women out there. One of the most important things whilst pregnant is having strong muscles, as your body will be getting heavy and strong muscles will help you to support yourself.

Strength training is good for you in lots of ways, so hit the gym and start training. If you can start early in your pregnancy your body will be stronger as you get bigger, which can help avoid joint problems.

Warming Up And Down

One change that occurs when pregnant is that your body temperature will rise as will your pulse rate. Overheating is an issue, particularly in later stages of pregnancy.

So make sure that you work out somewhere nice and cool and take plenty of time to warm up and warm down – longer than you would normally.

Careful When Stretching

Warming up is important, but be aware that when pregnant your body produces a hormone called “Relexin” which makes you much more supple and stretchy (it helps during child birth).

When you stretch you will find that you are more flexible and can stretch further than you have done for a long time, but if you overdo it you can tear a muscle or worse, so be careful and gentle with yourself.

This guest post was written by Jonathon, a personal fitness enthusiast and nutrition expert who works for Natures Best an online supplement centre.

Maternity Fashion – How To Do It Right

This post comes from one trendy Mama to one, and one on the way. Helen Canning from CocoMamaStyle brings you this Winter’s essential key pregnancy styles which will make you feel fabulous, not frumpy. From a casual lunch to office wear Helen has covered it all. Helen’s background in fashion inspired her when she was pregnant with her daughter Coco, to re-evaluate her style and dress her bump with confidence whilst remaining bang on trend. And now she shares her tips and tricks at making you look and feel amazing.

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Autumn style for mums-to-be

Just because you’re expecting doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to style and as the autumn collections hit the high street so too have the maternity rails filled with on-trend pieces to work into your capsule mum-to-be wardrobe.

Proving these key trends do work with a bump I’ve put together four wearable looks to instantly up the ante for your new season maternity style.


First things first; do not be scared of horizontal stripes! They will enhance your bump and highlight your curves in the right way. The cut of this striped tee means it won’t cling on your upper arms and shoulders but hugs your bump perfectly. Always a fan of mixing prints, I’m championing the leopard + stripe combo here with the neon print scarf picking up on the neon cuffs of the top.  Little accents of colour and attention to detail take it from a casual throw-it-on look to a pulled together outfit that shouts effortless style.

gasandairblog - maternity - weekend

Get practical with an on-trend backpack and chunky boots which will balance out your shape when you’re bump-heavy.  And when it comes to knitwear the high street is awash with regular (not maternity!) loose-fit cardigans that are bump-friendly which you’ll wear now and keep for future winters too.
Jeans, New Look
Top, New Look
Scarf, Becksondergaard at The Dressing Room
Cardigan, River Island
Boots, Office
Rucksack, Accessorize


Work-wear doesn’t have to be dull so say hello to this season’s must have print with this ASOS checked dress.  It’s office-appropriate but you can still dress it up for post-work (soft!) drinks or down with leggings and boots for the weekend. Team with chunky heeled loafers for added height with comfort in a deep red tone – berry hues always work for autumn and these would look just as hot with jeans and a cosy knit.

gasandairblog - maternity - office

If you’re working a 9-5 every day it’s worth investing in a basic blazer that nips in above your bump to enhance your shape and allows you to look formal without being frumpy.  Don’t forget your existing non-maternity jackets and blazers can simply be worn open around your bump to save on pennies.
Dress, ASOS
Jacket, Mama.licious
Shoes, Clarks

Date night

Play with shape and texture for date night; think matt vs. sheen, drapes vs. structure to add interest to your look that uses key pieces you can wear throughout your pregnancy in different ways. Black brocade jeans are a forgiving and flattering way to rock the printed jeans trend and are perfect for the party season too.  Team with flat boots and a rock tee and you’ve got yourself a throw-it-on day look too.

gasandairblog - maternity - date night

Invest in a couple of statement necklaces that will lift your maternity looks and draw the eye upwards, because we’re more than just a bump, right!?

And you can’t go wrong when you team a monochrome evening outfit with colour-popping shoes.
Jacket, New Look
Necklace, Oliver Bonas
Jeans, Next
Bag, Zatchels
Top, Topshop
Shoes, Dune

Girly lunch

In a welcome change from the usual dark tones we come to expect with the new season we’ve seen a lot of pink on the catwalks.  Think girly rose tones that’ll bring a fresh look to your autumn wardrobe and ensure you’re bang up-to-date – without investing in this season’s must-have pink coat, which by the way won’t fit round your bump and you’ll be bored with by next Winter anyway!

gasandairblog - maternity -girly lunch

Team this figure-fit and feminine top with denim and soft greys for daytime and black for a chic work or evening look.  If you can’t ditch the heels just yet, wedges are your best friend and these buckle detail trainers are super soft inside to guarantee happy feet.
Jeans, H&M
Lace top, Next
Necklace, Topshop
Wedge trainers, Clarks
Bag, Accessorize

Most of all remember your signature style and just tweak it to work with your expanding waistline and embrace your new shape.

Birth Story Of The Week – Bryony and Francesca

I hope I’m not the only one counting down until the schools go back. It’s been a wonderful Summer, but my goodness does a certain 6 year old need some structure and routine. She certainly has been testing mine and my husbands nerves over the last few days. It’s been another busy week at work, had a beautiful home birth in the early hours of Thursday morning. Despite the birthing pool having a slow puncture, the woman did a sterling job and was pretty chatty throughout the whole labour. She even insisted on me eating a Snickers bar if I was peckish to increase my my energy levels! Amazing!

This weeks birth story comes from Bryony Mama to 2 girls and who writes the fabulous blog lovebryony, check out her Instagram photo bunting, genius! Bryony sent over her birth story which was pretty exciting as I kind of have a Twitter/blog/Instagram crush on her, she has over a thousand followers on Twitter, that’s major in the blogging world (note to self; must tweet harder).

Blog: Love Bryony

Twiiter: love-bryony

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“In April 2010 me and Dean were 11 months in to our relationship, we were happily living together and blissfully unaware of the fact that we’d accidentally made a baby. After a week of ‘random’ sickness and exhaustion I took the plunge and peed on a stick, it told me I was pregnant and so began our journey from cohabiting boyfriend/girlfriend to fully fledged grown up couple.

8 months later I was 39 weeks and 1 day pregnant, and sat on our stairs watching our kitchen being built through a cloud of dust. I felt agitated, not just because I was living in a building site at full term but also because my hips hurt, my tummy itched and my boobs weighed a ton. I had a little silent cry and took a glass of ice cold water with me to a warm bath.

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At around midnight I popped back downstairs to say goodnight to Dean and his helpers, and headed to bed exhausted and ready to evacuate this baby. Up until this point I’d been pretty calm about giving birth but that night I sat in bed and sobbed. Eventually Dean came to bed at around 1:30am and I started the nightly fight with our kitten to get him off the bed. He seemed particularly interested in getting between my legs and no sooner than I’d got him on the floor I heard a loud ‘pop’ and felt a huge gush of water right where he’d been pawing away.

Thanks to the Niagara Falls type episode going on down my thighs I was pretty sure my waters had broken and shakily called Dean in to the room. The next 2 hours were a blur of calling the labour ward, double checking my hospital bag and mentally preparing myself for the long labour I’d been warned by so many friends to prepare myself for.

Despite a lack of contractions we headed to the labour ward to get checked over, once there a lovely midwife checked my pad and had a quick rummage around. I was barely 1cm so she told me to go home and await the start of labour. At around 7am we headed home and popped to Tesco on the way to stock up on energy tablets. I asked Dean to go in on his own as my waters were still flooding out with every move. While he was gone I felt my first tightenings. 3 minutes later I felt another round. 90 seconds after than a third came… And didn’t go away.

It was a bizarre feeling, I kept waiting for relief from the tightenings in my back but none came. I climbed in to the back and knelt over the baby car seat. By the time Dean came back I was really uncomfortable and just wanted to get home.

We drove home at about 5mph (!!!) and as soon as I got through the front door I crawled upstairs to the bath. At the time I was mortified, I couldn’t believe that I wasn’t coping at all! I sat in the bath with the shower on my back and hummed through my weird long contractions.

At around 9am it was too painful to sit down so I lent out of the shower and over the sink. At some point my knees buckled and I slipped causing a lot of noise which had Dean running up the stairs. He called the labour ward again, I spoke to them but the midwife said it sounded like I was coping fine so told me to stay at home until my contractions ramped up.

As soon as I put the phone down I just knew I had to get the hospital. I could feel the transition that I’d been told about. My head felt cloudy, the pressure was getting lower and lower and I could barely keep my eyes open. Dean helped me in to some clothes and out the house. As he got to the car I felt a huge pressure in my back and then nothing, I passed out on to my side. Dean threw his jacket over me and called an ambulance. Within 3 minutes paramedics had arrived and lifted me in to the house.

I can’t praise them enough, they did some quick checks and asked me how I felt. I hummed in reply and then made a mooing sound. The paramedic turned to Dean and told him we either needed to get upstairs and have our baby at home or get in the ambulance right then. Dean took one look around our half finished, dust coated home and pointed at the ambulance.

Minutes later we were at the hospital and being handed over to the two most amazing midwives, they immediately put a probe on baby’s head and asked me if I felt the need to push. I nodded and the trainee midwife showed a shell shocked Dean how to help me lift my legs back with each push. A few minutes later her head was out, the midwife helped me feel my baby’s head with my hand and that gave me the energy for the last few pushes. At 10:42am on December 8th 2010, a 6lb 15oz baby named Francesca Jean Elizabeth Barry was born in to the hands of our wonderful midwife.

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Without a doubt that was the scariest, weirdest, most amazing and beautiful morning of my life (although the birth of our second baby comes very close to topping it!). I remember kneeling in the hospital shower an hour and a half later and realising I’d done it all without pain relief. I felt like a woman warrior.

Looking at my cheeky, gorgeous nearly 3 year old now I can’t believe she was ever that tiny, squashy newborn.”