The Birth Story of Ottilie and Delilah

It’s difficult to know how to start this birth story. I still can’t believe I only gave birth to the twins just over 2 weeks ago. If you’ve followed this blog you’ll know this was no easy pregnancy, there were so many uncertainties; the horrendous morning sickness, the scary bleeds in the first trimester,nthe reality of going from 2 children to 4, both babies being breech for what seemed like ages and the fear of Obstetric Cholestatis returning.  Well it did with a vengeance. In brief I had bloods taken at around 28 weeks into the pregnancy to have a look at what my bile acids and liver function tests were doing (I hadn’t started itching at this point) and they were already abnormal. After an initial wobble my amazing midwives and Consultant calmed me down and a plan was made to repeat the bloods in 2 weeks. By the time those 2 weeks came I was already itching on my hands and feet so I was started on lots of medication, creams to sooth my skin and Piriton to help the irritation. When people ask what it’s like to have OC, the only way I can describe it, is like ants biting under your hands and feet and no scratching will ever ease the itch. And the itching isn’t just on your hands and feet it’s everywhere. Legs, arms, bump, boobs. My skin was so damaged I was covered in bruises and scratch marks I looked like I’d been in a fight. It’s worse at night and some nights I wrapped cold wet flannels around my hands and feet to relive the burning sensation. The one thing that kept me sane was the amazing online support charity ICP which had a Facebook page where sufferers can post questions and receive help and advice. At 5am when I hadn’t slept this was a life saver.

By 34 weeks I was at breaking point, I was hardly sleeping and nothing was helping with the itching. I took myself off to see my Consultant full of tears and worry and begged her for an elective section. I could see no way of carrying on until 37 weeks feeling so tired, so I figured it was best to deliver the babies early to put me out of my misery, plus they were still breech and transverse so a vaginal birth was not recommended. Again my amazing Consultant calmed me down, talked me through the options but did a quick scan just to check their presentation. And guess what, they were both head down and twin 1 was engaged! I was shocked, I hadn’t even felt them turn. So it was decided to induce me at 36 weeks, have some steroid injections to help mature the babies lungs and she prescribed me some amazing sleeping tablets (which are safe in pregnancy) to ease the nights. I went away feeling calm, confident and for the first time excited to birth my babies.


We had a date for the induction so over the next 2 weeks I listened to my Hypnobirth relaxation MP3  every night, stuck my YESMUM to be cards all over the house and had weekly massages from my wonderful doula. I could do this and everything was going to be fine. A few days before my induction date I had lots of early labour symptoms, a bloody show, loads of period pains, cramps and back ache but no babies. I felt confident that my body was getting ready for Friday and carried on practising my breathing techniques with my husband.

The day came to meet our little squirrels and we headed to the hospital at 7:30 am to meet my midwife and consultant. I was sneaked into a birthing room (I didn’t want all my colleagues to know or see I was on labour ward) and the plan was to have my waters broken and hopefully get things going. By 8:30 my waters were broken (I was already 4cm dilated) and I went off with my husband and doula to walk up and down 4 flights of stairs. My doula had my squatting, walking sideways you name it we did it. I felt like I’d done a Zumba class. My doula brought a wet flannel with her which had lavender and clary sage oil on it and I sniffed it like mad woman, I actually felt quite high. After 2 hours nothing was happening and we went back to the birthing room to talk through my options. My midwife head came into play and I knew the next stage was having the hormone drip. I wasn’t scared or worried about what this would mean but I knew time was ticking on and I wanted to get on with the labour, I even said ‘I want to feel these contractions now’. I was aware I was clock watching so my husband suggested taking the clock down from the wall.

DSC_0401 DSC_0406 DSC_0396 DSC_0407 DSC_0384

So we started the drip on a low dose which meant I had to be continuously monitored on the CTG machine. This wasn’t a problem as I sat on the ball leaning over the bed (still with my Hypnobirthing MP3 in my headphones) so I didn’t feel restricted or confined to the bed and could still be upright. I managed to totally switch off from everything around me, it felt like it was just me and my husband in the room and the calm voice in my ears from Hollie de Cruz.  After about half an hour the contractions were very mild and didn’t seem to be building into much so my midwife slowly increased the dose and I carried on rocking on the ball. I breathed through every contraction imagining a wave breaking gently on the shore ‘inhale peace, exhale tension’. *Just to say at this point, this was the first time I’d practised hypnobirthing techniques during my own labour so by no means was I an expert but I just kept the breathing techniques as simple as possible.*

After another half an hour the contractions had picked up and felt I needed to work harder to focus on my breath and not tense my shoulders or jaw, this is when the breathing really helped to keep everything soft. I took my husbands hand during every one of these contractions and held the wet flannel to my nose to inhale the lavender and clary sage, still keeping my eyes closed throughout. After a pretty intense contraction I walked to the bathroom to try and have a wee (my doula had been giving me sips of coconut water after every contraction which was just brilliant). I couldn’t manage a wee and stood up and had a really strong contraction which was horribly fierce and took me by surprise, I leaned onto my husband  trying to get back into my breathing and said ‘I can’t do another contraction standing up ‘. We walked back to the ball and it was clear the drip was definitely working as the contractions were really regular at this point, maybe every 2 minutes. I picked up the gas and air and rested the mouth piece in my mouth, not inhaling it just having it there as a comfort. The next contraction came and I instinctively knew I wanted to get on the bed (I’ve never birthed on the bed in my other labours) I turned onto my right side and felt a change in my body, a sensation I knew yet still couldn’t believe I was at that stage. Pressure. It was in my lower back right on my sacrum and there was no ignoring the different sounds I began to make.

My midwife head popped back on as I heard the paper of delivery packs being unwrapped and opened my eyes to see my midwife had changed out of her own clothes into scrubs and my consultant standing there smiling and looking pleased. ‘I’m not at that stage yet it’s way too soon’ I declared and they all reassured me that twin 1 was on her way. I suddenly felt scared and told my husband who calmed me down and told me l was going to be fine and brought me back in the zone ‘inhale peace exhale tension’. I still insisted on keeping one of the ear pieces from my headphones in one ear as I couldn’t bear not to have those sounds keeping me calm.

My body then took over and I began to feel twin 1 moving down in my pelvis at quite some speed because before I could even think ‘I can’t do this’ her head was crowning and my midwife asked me to slowly breathe. I don’t recall waiting for another contraction because a few seconds later she was on my chest skin to skin and screaming. I couldn’t really believe how quick it had been but was well aware there was another baby to birth.

DSC_0370 edited

My midwives kept the hormone drip running so that my uterus continued to contract and within 5 minutes I felt the next wave of contractions building and asked for her cord to be cut and clamped and my doula took her for a cuddle so I could concentrate on the next bit. Another moment of me being a midwife crept in as I recall looking at my midwife as my consultant quickly scanned the second twin to make sure she was still head down. ‘I’m not having a forceps!’ I declared as I heard the sound of the metal instruments being tided away from a delivery pack. ‘No you’re not having a forceps you’re having a baby’ my consultant said to me. The contractions were strong very quickly again and my midwife broke the sac of water of twin 2 and I felt her begin to follow the same journey her sister had only made a few moments before. I was still on the bed but had rolled onto my back, one midwife encouraged me to rest my leg onto her to ‘make more room for baby’ a phrase us midwives say a lot! ‘God I hate it when midwives say that’ I announced to my midwives, they all laughed. And before I even had time to think about the ‘what ifs’ I felt that same sensation of her head emerging, followed by her body. I had done it.


The placentas came out fused together one significantly bigger than the other but both looked healthy. My blood loss was minimal and I didn’t have any tears or grazes! (good old perineal massage). We spent the next hour munching on delicious goodies from the snack bag (thanks Jo) drinking tea and trying to master the skill of tandem feeding. After a quick shower (best feeling ever) and freshen up we were transferred to the postnatal ward where I was lucky enough to have a private room. My husband and I stared at our new baby daughters, both completely elated and exhausted at the same time.


We named them Ottilie Pearl and Delilah Iris just in time for their big sisters to meet them the following day.


Mental Things You Do During The 3am Feed


Almost 2 weeks earth side and the babes are beginning to form some sort of feeding routine, which includes the much welcomed (!) 3am feed. Oh that delightful hour how I’ve missed thee. Once the babies are successfully on the boob I find myself reaching for my trusty friend, my phone to read anything to keep me awake for the next hour. So far these are the things I’ve found myself doing and thinking. Often mental but totally rational.

  • I usually mutter some swear words at my husband who despite the light being on and one or both babies yelling he manages to sleep through it all, always snoring
  • Going onto expensive beauty websites and buying excessively priced tinted moisturisers because all the 125 reviews say it the best tinted moisturiser they’ve ever used
  • Whilst on said website which charges an arm and a leg for p&p I find myself popping more products in the basket so I qualify for the free p&p (you have to spend over £100!)
  • I calculate that we don’t own enough white bed linen especially with the increased amount of milk, sweat and tears being absorbed in our bed so I order more bedding from a very well trusted department store. But read every single review first (hence needing a full hour) before finally opting for a 1000 thread count range, all in white of course
  • Next is bulk buying nappies and baby wipes and because we only have 58 nappies left in the house I sign up to the membership which means it will be delivered the next day. I order 4 boxes (200 nappies) and 20 packs of wet wipes. (I think this is when I’m getting really tired)
  • I read the entire section of UK Showbiz on DM online before realising that I have no idea who half the people are in this years Celebrity Big Brother
  • I Google ‘average temperature for the South of France in August’ because we booked a holiday back in December and on these grey January days I need something to look forward to
  • And then research how much a personal trainer would cost to get me into some acceptable shape to wear swimwear again
  • Other Google searches include; how long does it take for it all go back to normal down there, how does Courtney Adamo do it, and how much is does it cost to have fresh flowers delivered every week?
  • I attempt to write the last few chapters of my book (on my phone one handed) then give up and come up with a million blog posts I want to write but worry I’ll never have time
  • I try and do my pelvic floor exercises properly before realising the slumped in bed position probably isn’t great for achieving this
  • I read at least 3 different Making A Murderer theories and I’m still undecided, what about the vile of blood for gods sake!
  • I then download the Serial podcast again and start listening to episode one, before realising I’ve fallen asleep sitting up, neither baby is on the boob and it’s 4:30

Even Though I Know…..


I still have these nagging, doubting, negative thoughts about the rest of this pregnancy and in fact the next phase of our lives from a family of 4 to a family of 6.

Even though I know…..

  • that these Braxton Hicks I get all the time is just my irritable uterus responding to the endless kicks and punches from 2 babies, I still wonder ‘is this the start of labour?’
  • that I won’t go into labour this week because the mind and body is so powerful I’m still working out how quickly my husband who is flying to Chicago tomorrow for 4 days can get back in time and who would be my birth partner?
  • that if they were born now at 30 weeks they will be fine but the thought of them being in an incubator in SCBU makes me feel sick
  • that if my Biles Acids are a bit high and my feet are itching at night I can’t change anything, yet I still feel a sense of feeling ‘let down’ by my liver if it does develop into OC again
  • that letting go of the things I can’t control is the best thing I can do for my state of mind, I still lie in bed at night going through ALL the possible birth scenarios
  • that Hypnobirthing does work and will help me remain calm and focussed no mater what birth I have, what if I forget everything we’ve learnt and practised and I end up screaming and losing the plot like some possessed woman?
  • that if I do need a c-section I will be well cared for by the best possible team of people, but the thought of lying there on a theatre table whilst someone cuts me open to deliver my babies feels so unnatural to what I’ve experienced before – it makes me want to weep
  • that there will be 2 brand new tiny humans joining our family, I still feel anxious how it will affect and change our current dynamics
  • that of course I will be able to expand my mothering love to the twins, but what if I have a favourite or bond with one and not the other?
  • that my older two girls will love their new sibling and adapt because that’s what children do but what if they feel so left out and jealous they blame us for the rest of their lives and end up in therapy?
  • that it doesn’t matter how I manage to feed them because they’ll thrive either way, but I know the guilt every new mother feels when breastfeeding doesn’t work and what if I get postnatal depression?
  • that the first few weeks/months will be exhausting but I’ll get through it but the memories of functioning on broken sleep and obsessing over routines makes me feel overwhelmed with fear and I wonder if I’ll ever leave the house again with clean hair?
  • that I have the most wonderful support network around me including my husband, my mum, my doula and amazing friends I still worry about feeling isolated and lonely and the thought of going to baby groups fills me with dread

Even though I know that all these thoughts sound irrational, perhaps even mental I have to trust my YESMUM card that everything will be ok. (goes to wash and fold tiny white babygrows and has a little weep)

Maternity Fashion – part 1

I love clothes and I love fashion. I’m a bit of a sucker for new trends, seem to buy a new Winter coat every year, and new boots oh and a new pair of trainers. Well let’s face it what girl doesn’t?

So when I became pregnant for the last (and final!) time in May I was as excited about the new clothes I could wear for the duration of my pregnancy as I was at the prospect of buying tiny white baby grows again. It had been 8 and 5 years since I was pregnant with my daughters and I was thrilled to see that things had moved on considerably in the world of maternity clothes.

The first 15 weeks was during the Summer and I felt horrendous, sick, bloated and so so tired. I kept things simple –  cotton lose dresses, stretchy shorts that were super comfortable on my tummy and a whole lot of Breton tops, all of which were my normal clothes I already owned. One of my favourite shops on the high street is Cos, it delivers simple yet stylish cuts which suited by expanding shape (not to mention bra size) and I know I’ll forever more wear these pieces season after season. I wore the navy dress below in August to a wedding but I’ll also be wearing it this Autumn with thick tights and boots.

IMG_2187 IMG_1626 (1) IMG_2391 IMG_2420 (1)

But then the bump literally popped out from no where, one day I looked normal the next I looked like I gauged on 17 bowels of pasta before mid day. Then I knew it was time to shop around and see what was on offer. I wanted to stay true to my  style, I was only  pregnant after all. I hadn’t had a personality transplant (yet) so looked at my favourite brands which I knew and trusted well.

Firstly was ASOS. Everyone is familiar with the wealth of choice on their website, not only do they produce their own brand ASOS Maternity but they also stock other maternity brands such as New Look, Isabella Oliver and Mamalicious. You can browse by colour, style and occasion and what’s more if you sign up to ASOS premier you can have your clothes delivered next day only for £9.99 a year! They update their clothes almost daily so be sure to keep checking their site for new added lines.

Here are some of my favourite pieces (click the photos for the link)



IMG_3273 (1) IMG_3303 (1) IMG_3412 IMG_3498

The black stretchy dungaree jumpsuit is a great example of how maternity clothes will work perfectly after you’ve had the baby especially for boob access. Remember that you don’t miraculously look how you did pre pregnancy so when shopping for clothes think ‘tummy and boobs’ . Boobs when breastfeeding need to be accessible at sometimes an hourly basis and you may feel self concious of your wobbly tummy so keeping it hidden is key. Also think of the type of material you’re buying – nothing silk or dry clean only for obvious reasons and you’re super sweaty and hot post birth with all the extra hormones pouring (literally) out of you, so try and steer clear from synthetic fabrics such as polyester.

So that’s a bit about what I’m wearing now, I’ve got some great jumper dresses to show you which I’ll post next week and what maternity bras I’m wearing at the mo, so keep your eyes peeled for more blog post. You can follow this blog by adding you email address in the top right hand box and I also put all my post on my Facebook page so be sure to like that too.

Disclaimer: Whilst I am a registered midwife, I do not endorse or promote any specific brand or product in a professional capacity. My opinions are my own and are based on my personal experiences as a woman and a mother.

Bravo for Bravado!

FullSizeRender (11)

In my last blog post I mentioned that I’ve given up on underwired bras, they would dig in under my expanding ribcage and lets face it comfort is key in pregnancy. Some days it would be so uncomfortable I would unhook my bra in the car on the way home and whip it off, much to my children’s horror. Sorry girls but one day you’ll understand if you have big boobs like Mama.

In my previous pregnancies I continued to wear my normal bras (albeit a few sizes bigger) and then went into nursing bras once I was breastfeeding. I never found nursing bras that comfortable and being a lady of a fuller bust anyway, I always thought I’d need under wiring to give me support and a decent shape.

Things have really moved in since then and Bravado have come up with some super duper bras which are perfect for pregnancy and breastfeeding. I don’t see the point in buying maternity bras and then nursing bras (the only difference is the clip down feature) plus you’ll save a heap of money if you invest wisely now.

Bravado have created the Body Silk Seamless Nursing Bra which is cleverly designed to be worn during pregnancy and beyond. Win win! It combines faultless style with effortless comfort and it’s unique design moulds itself to every woman’s unique shape. Which is perfect if you’re like me and have big boobs. With cups that fully drop away and clips that lie flat under close-fitting clothing, easily opened and closed with one hand, the award winning bra is perfect for breastfeeding, offering babies full access for important skin-to-skin contact. This versatile maternity and nursing bra can also be cleverly transformed into a regular bra after feeding, making it a good investment and great value for money.


WHY I LOVED IT :It’s comfortable, stylish, and functional. This bra is great because it has a wide comfortable band that doesn’t dig into my boobs/ribs as many others did, and it is cut low enough that it doesn’t stick out under vest tops or low-cut shirts. I love the removable foam pads that will prevent bulky nursing pads from showing through tighter fitting tops.

I’ve also started going to a local pregnancy yoga group which is doing wonders for my back ache and it’s really lovely to meet some other pregnant women in a non work environment. Bravado have come up trumps again with their Body Silk Seamless Yoga Bra, a maternity and nursing bra designed to offer the ultimate comfort and support for mums’ active lifestyle. The luxuriously soft Body Silk Seamless Yoga has been designed with patented Silverbreeze™ technology to support low impact activity such as yoga, pilates and walking as well as everyday activity, both during pregnancy and while adjusting to life as a new mum. The new Yoga bra is available in Charcoal or Bright Pink and features convertible criss-cross straps as well as an embroidered ‘B’ on the underband helping to give it both a stylish and sporty look.BSS-Yoga-HeatherPink-Ghost_5f2b09a4-9687-4722-93e6-ddeb9daedeb6

WHY I LOVED IT: The Yoga bra in pink was a great colour and it didn’t mater that it showed through my yoga top. Again the wide band was supportive around my rib cage and was so comfortable I wore it for the rest of the day. But the most important feature is it stood the ultimate test of time – during ‘cat pose’ in the class by boobs stayed firmly put and didn’t spill out!

Check out Bravado’s site, they’ve got a whole load of other bras all perfect for pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Disclaimer: Whilst I am a registered midwife, I do not endorse or promote any specific brand or product in a professional capacity. My opinions are my own and are based on my personal experiences as a woman and a mother.

28 Weeks – Warts and All

FullSizeRender (10)

*Warning, this blog post may contain a bit of TMI but it’s all true and sometimes you’ve just got to share this stuff because lets face it, sharing it caring (or so I try to teach my children when I want some of their chips).*


I often get asked how this pregnancy compares to my previous singleton pregnancies, so far it’s been kind of the same minus the extra scans and the same repetitive questions from people (are they identical, do you know the sex, are there twins in your family etc etc) but OH MY GOD something has seriously shifted in the Hooper uterus because in the past week I have noticed some seriously weird goings on in there!

  • Firstly the movements, they still feel like a bag of dancing squirrels but both babies are breech at the moment and the kicks down onto my cervix and vagina are UNREAL! I swear the other night if I had examined myself internally I would have discovered 2 sets of wriggling feet in there (I know logically this is impossible but still) #fanydaggers
  • And whilst we’re on the subject of ‘down there’ let’s a just say it’s a good thing I can’t actually see it any more because by the end of the day I feel like I’m smuggling plums in my pants. I did in fact get my poor husband to have a check to make sure nothing more sinister is going on, he reassured me there wasn’t but did ask if I was ever going to wax again……
  • Which leads me onto the ‘to wax/or not wax question’. I’m not sure I want to expose that area unnecessarily and lets face it I’m not getting my bikini on ANY TIME soon maybe I’ll leave it au naturale, I always tell my women anyway that midwives don’t bat an eyelid
  • The feeling of two hard heads under my ribs is so uncomfortable. I’m no longer able to wear underwired bras, I’m living in this one at the moment and in all honestly I’m most likely to be found braless by 6pm by my husband when he gets home from work
  • I’m moisturising  my bump like a crazy lady with Bio Oil but my skin this week feels like it’s really being stretched to its maximum capacity, if I get to the end of this pregnancy without one single stretch mark it will be nothing short of a miracle
  • My back is an absolute killer especially when driving. I’m spending lots of time in the deepest, hottest bath I can tolerate but I’m also seeing my Doula Beccy ‘magic’ Hands for regular massages. She’s seriously the best in the biz check her out here  and yes Hands is her actual surname, amazing
  • My boobs resemble a road map with the veins that have sprung up in the past few weeks and I’m already noticing a few drops of colostrum on my pyjama top when I wake up in the morning. All good stuff for the bubbas I guess
  • My husband made me laugh so hard the other night I wet myself. Yup. First I thought my waters had broken but luckily it was just a sign that my pelvic floor has given up entirely on it’s main function, Tenna Lady anyone?
  • Iron is not my friend or my bowels friend for that matter. I’m taking Pregnacare and extra iron (a recommendation for twin pregnancies) but I’m seriously bunged up. Flax seeds are being sprinkled on just about anything I eat but nothing is really helping. And anyone who has experienced constipation when pregnant knows how awful it is. There’s nothing worse, and straining on the loo ain’t pretty, nuff said
  • I did do the unthinkable at the weekend and weighed myself which surprisingly wasn’t as horrifying as I imagined –  just short of a stone heavier than my usual weight which I guess is ok considering there’s 2 of everything in there (but I doubt I’ll weigh myself again, not even for lolz)

BUT on a positive note to end with, we had our first Hypnobirthing session last week with the incredible Hollie de Cruz. She is literally something else. I know I’ve banged on about the amazing tools hypnobirthing teaches women but SERIOUSLY after one session we both felt so calm and connected and learnt all about breathing. Yes breathing, the simple thing we do totally subconsciously but it’s so important for labour and birth.  And my slightly sceptical husband has totally taken it on board, he’s put my positive affirmations around the house and has been doing the breathing exercises with me before I go to sleep. We are hooked!

Disclaimer: Whilst I am a registered midwife, I do not endorse or promote any specific brand or product in a professional capacity. My opinions are my own and are based on my personal experiences as a woman and a mother.

Processed with VSCOcam with a5 preset

Just Polly Maternity Clothes



Nothing excites me more than discovering a new brand of maternity clothes, especially as I’m pregnant myself and Just Polly is just hitting all the right spots for me. Set up by Polly Hayward, she was inspired by seeing her sister struggle to wear stylish breastfeeding friendly outfits at various weddings one summer. With a background in the fashion industry as a Stylist and Art Director, Just Polly was born and the results are brilliant.

Polly has created some staple wardrobe pieces for the fashion concious woman who doesn’t want to compromise just because she’s growing a human for 9 months. And what’s more, all their pieces in the collection has been put together with breastfeeding in mind – with button down shirts and hidden pockets, boob access has never been so conveniently designed.

WHY I LOVE IT: If you’re like me and love the minimal yet luxury style of COS, Whistles and Folk, Just Polly has bridged that gap for maternity fashion which other high street brands aren’t doing. The pieces are versatile so can be dressed up or down, perfect for your work wardrobe, party outfit or weekend lounge wear. None of the items look like ‘maternity wear’ so you won’t mind wearing them longafter you’ve had your baby when you’re trying to dress your postnatal figure.



The Kimmy Skirt

JP-SHOOT-15081534935 (1)

The Ellie Shirt

JP-SHOOT-15081534859 (1)

The Charlie Trouser


The Fran Striped Tee

DRDA007_2 (1)

The Daisy Dress


The Betty Lace Dress


The Alexia 2 In 1 Dress


M&S Maternity Clothes – Who Knew?

A few months ago I was approached by the lovely Maggie Davis Kidswear and Lingerie editor for M&S (who also blogs over at Chic Little Baby) to see if I’d be interested in being interviewed for Marks and Spencer’s ‘In the Moment’ section on their website. Plus I would get to wear their new maternity clothes collection and have some gorgeous photos taken. Now I have to admit I’d never considered M&S as a shop to go to when buying maternity clothes, underwear, kids school unifrom, food yes! But once I’d seen their stunning collection I was sold! They have really captured a fabulous selection of great pieces all with the M&S high quality you’d expect and at high street prices.

You can read the entire interview here on the M&S website, but here’s a collection of the photos from the day and shop the collection here.

I was really impressed with the clothing, they were soft, comfy, well cut and had really been designed well for a growing and changing shape. Lots of the items I wore are also meant to be for after you’ve had your baby, which is always a must for me as your postnatal body and style takes some thinking through.

“You can’t go wrong with a good Breton top. This one is really soft and stretchy, so you can wear it long or short”

“You can’t go wrong with a good Breton top. This one is really soft and stretchy, so you can wear it long or short”

“You can’t have enough pairs of leggings. They’re great for every day and you can dress them up with a smart top and low heels”

“You can’t have enough pairs of leggings. They’re great for every day and you can dress them up with a smart top and low heels”

“Go for soft, natural fibres like cotton and  cashmere where possible – comfort is key and you get much hotter than usual during pregnancy”

“Go for soft, natural fibres like cotton and cashmere where possible – comfort is key and you get much hotter than usual during pregnancy”

“Invest in two to three pairs of good maternity jeans, including a skinny cut and a boyfriend style – they go with everything”

“Invest in two to three pairs of good maternity jeans, including a skinny cut and a boyfriend style – they go with everything”

“There’s no need to buy a special maternity coat as you’ll probably overheat – a long cardigan like this one is perfect”

“There’s no need to buy a special maternity coat as you’ll probably overheat – a long cardigan like this one is perfect”

“It’s all about comfort. Invest in a good pair of flat shoes; they will last you once you’ve had the baby and you’re pacing the streets with the buggy”

“It’s all about comfort. Invest in a good pair of flat shoes; they will last you once you’ve had the baby and you’re pacing the streets with the buggy”

Thanks so much to Maggie and the M&S team for featuring me on your site.

Disclaimer: Whilst I am a registered midwife, I do not endorse or promote any specific brand or product in a professional capacity. My opinions are my own and are based on my personal experiences as a woman and a mother.

Kirsti and Sonny

photo by Philippa James

photo by Philippa James

The second birth story in the ‘positive elective c-section’ series is from Kirsti, who despite her plan to have a natural birth had no choice but to opt for a c-section due to a potentially serious complication with her placenta.

“So – I should start by telling you that I am quite late into motherhood, I was 37 when I fell pregnant, 38 when Sonny-Jay was actually born.

A lot of our friends had had some sort of difficulty conceiving so we were totally prepared for the same to happen to us….it didn’t – I fell pregnant within 2 months of trying (insert strong arm emoji for dad here!)

I remember it vividly, we had just moved into a one bed flat in Hackney in between Kingsland Road and London Fields….we had a ladybird problem so Jamie was in the bedroom sorting that whilst I was peeing on a stick in the bathroom.

That minute when you find out you’re preggo for the first time is magic I think….I felt elated, lucky, scared, apprehensive but most of all completely alive.

There aren’t many times in life when you know for a fact that your life as you know it is about to change FOREVER and this is one of them.

We made the calls to family and then got our own heads around the fact that we were going to be parents now.

Fully mental.

I was working full time and had a million projects on the go so didn’t stop for breath, I was totally focused on carrying on as normal – I felt that pregnancy was not going to affect my work ethic or the way that I lived my life.

I wasn’t sick ffs – just preggo!

Then the tiredness came, OMG massive waves of tiredness that lead to me calling the doctor to say that “this is definitely not normal” and “I think there is something REALLY wrong with me”

NOPE – this was normal and there was nothing wrong with me – so I took to working from 9am-4pm napping for 2 hours and then working again from 6pm-9pm.

I remember thinking how the hell do women that have to work certain hours manage, but of course we all manage with whatever we have to manage with.

Tiredness aside I felt pretty great, life was good and we were really excited.

We had the sexing scan in Dec at Homerton hospital and found out that we were having a boy – left the hospital and it started to snow – magic everywhere!!!

At that scan they did tell me that I have a low lying placenta but that they usually move and that it wasn’t anything to worry about.

I was monitored but this placenta was stubborn and it did not move – then I had a very – very faint bleed and so we thought we had better go get that checked out, I think I was about 30 weeks at that point….I was admitted to hospital immediately and prepped for labour….just in case….steroid injections were administered to help the babies lungs develop – all very scary and not what we were expecting at all.

It was about now that it dawned on me that this placenta was not going to move at all.

I had not felt my baby kicking the entire way through the pregnancy but I knew that he was ok because I could physically see him moving around my belly….the weirdest thing though….all my pregnant mates were complaining of being kicked to high heaven and I couldn’t feel a thing.

I hadn’t thought about it much before that moment but suddenly it all clicked into place.

So now I just wanted to know what was going to happen to my birth……..i’m a massive control freak so for me this really was the hardest bit of my pregnancy, I cried, I shouted, I argued with consultants but ultimately I had to wait until the last minute – which was the 37 week scan to be delivered the news I had been preparing myself for.

I had a grade 4 placenta previa – a potentially life threatening condition – it means in lay-mans terms that the placenta is covering all viable exits for the baby…..the natural route – the cervix and the  operative route – the belly.

I was told there and then that I was being booked in for a c section in 5 days time…..because I could not under any circumstances be allowed to go into a natural labour – I was relived but totally shocked and I absolutely felt robbed of the chance to give birth naturally – so I mourned that with some tears and then picked myself up and got on with it.

I had zero time to prep myself for what was about to happen so my mother in law to be (Susan Jessett – she’s very active on social media, you might already know her!) took over.

She researched everything and came to meet my consultant with me armed with folders full of print outs from the Royal College of Midwives – all with flouro post its marking the pages she wanted to discuss with the surgeon.

She managed to conduct that meeting without giving me the slightest idea of the seriousness of the situation. My ears only pricked up when she asked if a blood transfusion would be on stand by – “just precautionary” she said.

In theatre they were going to have to cut through my placenta to reach my baby.

This means that they had exactly one minute to deliver him safely.

THANK GOD I did not know this was the case going into theatre……all I knew was that Sonny was to be born within minutes and I was going to remain in theatre for approx an hour afterwards to be sorted out.

So the day before the operation came, I – oblivious to everything went and got my hair and nails done – worked right up until the hilt and then got up at 5am the day of the op and popped off to Homerton Hospital with Jamie, his mum and his dad and our suitcase in a cab – it was like going on some sort of weird holiday where you come home with a little human instead of a tan.

Thankfully the op went without a hitch – if you don’t count the fact that they wacked a hair net on my do and whipped my nail polish straight off)

All I wanted to hear was the cry of my newborn and the news that he was ok and then I could focus on having to lay there for another 60 minutes instead of holding my newborn. I didn’t cry, I wasn’t emotional at all…..Jamie said he was worried I didn’t actually care that we had just had a baby but I was just trying to get through it all the only way I know how…

When I was finally ready to go through with my baby the nurses in recovery exclaimed that “most women come in here looking like death but you look as though you’ve just been to a party”

Obviously all those years at Glastonbury skipping around the fields full of ahem “wild abandon” came in useful here but I’d definitely say the fact that I didn’t actually have a bloody clue how serious the op was played a big part in my being so relaxed.


Its fair to say that I was off my face later that day in hospital – on about a million drugs…….IT WAS SO WEIRD.

I was pretty battered and bruised around my nether regions after that op… could see where the elbows had been when they were pulling that baby out in the 60 seconds they had.

My midwife was visibly shocked when she saw me for the first time “GIRL – You’re black & blue!”

The first few months were hard for me….I wasn’t prepared for what was to come and I found it difficult to bond with my baby immediately – there was no baby bubble of love round our house I can tell you…….BUT…..we got there in our own time and now I LOVE Being a mum more than anything in the world and my god am I grateful to the team I had in that theatre with me.”



@kirstihadley is the co-founder the parenting network for mums and dads

Birth Story Of The Week – Charlotte and Xander


In a new series on the blog of breaking the ‘taboo’ about elective c-sections, and embracing the positivity that can surround them, I was fascinated to hear from Charlotte Philby from Motherland on her experience of her 3rd but 1st ‘natural’ c-section earlier last month.

“You’re having a c-section with NO ANAESTHETIC?!” The response of my dear (clearly demented) friend Jess to news that I am to receive a ‘natural cesarean’ at one of London’s leading NHS hospitals is testimony to why consultant midwife Belinda Green, who is pioneering the procedure, has decided to take its other name – the ‘skin-to-skin cesarean’ – for the purpose of a new study which launches next year.

After all, the description is misleading. As Green explains, there is nothing natural about a c-section of any kind. But for some women cesarean it is the safest option; and the purpose of the trial for which I have been asked to be guinea pig – a trial which will launch at University College London Hospital (UCLH) next year with the film of my baby’s birth shown to women participating in the study to demonstrate what is involved – is to replicate as closely as possible the experience of vaginal birth for women for whom natural delivery is not a viable option.

Not currently offered on the NHS in Britain, Belinda Green and her team hope to prove through their forthcoming Randomised Controlled Trial (RCT) the positive outcomes for both mother and baby this kind of ‘slowed-down section’ can offer. Outcomes including improved bonding between mother and child, more easily established breastfeeding, and calmer newborns.

When I was first approached by Green, who previously ran the birthing centre at UCLH and now works in antenatal with a clinical and research interest in Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC), if I’d like to be the model for the trial, I was immediately intrigued.

Having been born at this very hospital myself, some 32 years ago, and having had my first two children here by c-section – the first the result of a failed induction, the second as a result of not going into labour at 42-plus weeks, and showing no signs of – I had often wondered what it would be like to actually hold your baby before it is whisked off to be weighed. To experience more of my child’s birth than a quick glimpse over the paper partition that masks women from the somewhat severe clinical procedure being performed inches from their face during a standard section.

While I was eternally grateful for two healthy children who may well never have made it into this world without the grace of medical advances, I still wondered…

Dr Ruwan Wimalasundera, a Consultant Obstetrician and Fetal Medicine Specialist at UCLH, has been performing so-called natural cesareans to his private patients for the past 10 years. More common in the US, the procedure is much slower than a standard cesarean, he explains when we meet prior to my elective surgery.

Once the incision is made to the abdomen as per the standard method, he says, and the baby’s head emerges, rather than whisking the baby out as quickly as possible and taking it straight off to be cleaned and weighed under the lights – at which point both of my previous babies had screamed uncontrollably while I looked on helplessly, hoping for a glimpse and longing to soothe them myself – the newborn, I’m told, will be allowed to push and squeeze its way out into the world, as long as there are no obvious complications.

This will enable the baby to clear its own lungs, as it would during natural birth; and once it is free the surgeon will lift the baby out – with cord still attached, if it’s long enough – and pass it to the midwife who will hand it straight over to me, where it will rest for several minutes while I’m being stitched back together.

On the day, I arrive at surgery armed with a newborn hat (the greatest concern about immediate skin-to-skin is that baby will get cold in a theatre environment). Belinda Green is armed with a roll of tin foil, to lay over the towel that will rather glamorously enshrine me and the baby.

The atmosphere in theatre is one of eager anticipation, and despite the familiar array of catheters, scalpels et al (and needle to administer the spinal epidural) I find myself grinning with excitement. All goes according to plan, and watching my son’s body slowly emerge, once the screen between us has been lowered, is a moment I can still hardly believe was real. While my other children had screamed for minutes on end after first emerging, the moment my youngest son’s head is placed on my chest, still covered in mucus, he immediately calms.

MOTHERLAND_natural_skin-to-skin_cesarean_charlotte_philby_2-460x460 MOTHERLAND_natural_skin-to-skin_cesarean_charlotte_philby_3-460x460 MOTHERLAND_natural_skin-to-skin_cesarean_charlotte_philby_4-460x460

For the first time I’m able to marvel at the perfection of my bloodied, puffy-eyed newborn before anyone else. A sense of quiet elation enfolds us both as the buzz of the surgery melts away. All that remains is me, him, his father, a sense of total contentment, and the nagging joy of being one step closer to the sandwich in my hospital bag, after 16 hours nil by mouth…

A week or so later it’s impossible to say for certain quite what the impact of this delivery was, but I can honestly say that of all my three children (all equally delightful, of course) this baby has been by a long shot the most calm and content, latching onto the breast with ease and hardly ever grizzling or crying. And despite juggling three kids, and all the rest of it, I’ve never felt calmer as a new mother.

Of course this might have something to do with the reassurance of having done it all twice before, but I also believe that sense of ease is in no small way buoyed by the security provided by the memory of watching my child emerge, triumphantly, into the theatre like a small, warm and very hairy statue of liberty. Not to mention the sense of fulfilment at being the first one to welcome him, soothe and protect him from the throbbing noise and bright lights of the outside world.