Birth Story Of The Week – Emma and Orla

This beautifully written birth story comes from Emma. Emma and I met when we were at Sixth Form studying for our A-Levels. Emma was always a dreamer, travelled, did amazing things in amazing parts of the world. She was one of those friends on Facebook who had the most incredible photos, you just ached to be doing what she was doing instead of being stuck in the cold British Winters. Then one Christmas eve I had a call from Emma asking if she could take Paracetamol for a cold…… because she was pregnant! I was so thrilled, my first friend in our school group to become a Mama! Emma shares her story with you all, it makes me cry every time I read it. Enjoy.

Emma and Orla

Emma and Orla

‘I’ve just been into your room to check on you sleeping before I go to bed myself. It’s 10:30pm and you’re sideways in your cot, tangled in your blankets. I still catch my breath every night when I do this; and then I hear your shallow breathing and I can feel your chest rising and falling. When you were first born I was in a state of perpetual anxiety, scared that at any point you would just decide to stop breathing.

I still feel like I’ve just had a baby, but I’m starting to think about your 1st birthday party and what to do. I try and remember your birth and some parts are still so present in my memory yet some have faded or were never there due to being exhausted or drugged up.

I remember tiptoeing into the spare bedroom, my Tens machine wired up to my lower back and onto my upper buttocks. The vibrations humming away, reassuringly helpful. My Mum was staying and I woke her up. The contractions were only every 7 minutes or so but I wanted her to know and I thought, I can do this. I went back to bed. This went on the next night too, each night starting around 2am and easing off around 7am. I had a midwife appointment pre-booked the next day and so we went. I had a membrane sweep, “to get things going”. Then there were the crescendo of contractions, one after the other, as if a marching band were on its way through my entire body.

I walked down my road to Sainsburys, I bent over in the customer toilets, outside against lamp posts and in the Indian takeaway restaurant where the man said, “Shouldn’t you be in a hospital?” My boyfriend Tom came home and I thought, “Ok, this is it”. The drive to hospital was uncomfortable, least of all because I was giving the directions. We arrived, and I was admitted. I was 4cm dilated but they needed to get my room ready so we walked around the hospital. I held Toms hand. My mum rang the family. My Tens machine buzzed away.

Inside the hospital again my birthing pool was ready and my pregnancy yoga music was playing. I got into the water and wallowed like a hippo. I relaxed. Too much. I started quoting lines from the Life Of Brian. Tom and mum exchanged concerned looks. My contractions stopped.

A new midwife started her shift, along with a trainee midwife who had an annoyingly deep voice. I lost my concentration. The midwife examined me and gave me another membrane sweep. This time it was agony. The gas and air I sucked on only made me tired. My knees were now knocking together. I could barely stand. I cried. Tom held my hand and my mother pressed and lifted my lower back during each and every contraction helping to relieve the weight, the pain.

Now my memory is hazy and I see parts of the process which aren’t necessarily in order and it spans hours, where every contraction, every few minutes was exhausting. I remember trying to go to the loo and being unable to sit and needing help from Tom. Bending over a ball and saying, “I’m too tired, I don’t have the energy any more . Tom then asking for some drugs and me telling the midwife “I want everything”. Then I remember waiting.

Then finally, being wheeled down the hall to the other ward and given Pethidine which allowed instant pain relief. Respite from the contractions was amazing. I was laid on my side and asked to tell the Anaesthetist when I was having a contraction for the epidural. Then, beautiful numbness. I saw my contractions on a screen. We waited. Tom laid out a place to nap and I slept. I must have slowly come round. I listened to my mum and Tom talk to the midwife, to the new playlist of “Relaxtion” music which I still listen to during sleep.

Then I said “I think I need to poo, or push”. And so I did. Even though I still wasn’t fully dilated. This went on for 20 minutes, with my legs nearly up by my ears. My body a contortion. I should have been in the water of course, squatting. This wasn’t my birth plan. I was lying on my back, trying to push, exactly the way I hadn’t wanted it. Yet I pushed, not knowing how hard or if it was good enough, just numbly pushing until my face went purple. Finally, a head could be seen, I was told to bear down, to push harder, to take another big breath, I was doing well, a snip by the midwife and out she finally came.

After 14 hours, my beautiful girl was born, at 03:37 on the 28th August 2012. She came straight into my arms and Tom cut the umbilical cord. I cried, never having known how such a feeling could be brought into your life in one second. She was perfect, healthy, weighing 7lbs 9.5oz.

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Suddenly I was a mummy, and I’m still getting used to it. She slept soundly the first night beside me in hospital in her glass box. I checked on her every 10 minutes despite the tiredness, to see if she was ok. I sat in my hospital bed, next to her, practising saying her name. Having only been decided when Tom had first held her and the midwife had asked “So, what’s she called?” And I looked at him, hoping he’d come round to the one I’d wanted. After what he’d seen me go through I must have convinced him as he then said “I think she looks like Orla”. Me too, I said. And that was that.’

 

An Open Letter To Kate Middleton

Dear Kate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best Wishes

Birth Story of The Week- Gosia and Janek

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

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

Blog: My name is Gosia

Twitter: thegonow

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Dear Janek,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another weekly round up

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

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

kids come too!

kids come too!

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

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Love this boy

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

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

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Writers block

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

The Unscratchable itch (part 1)

I’m always sharing other peoples birth stories and a few of my followers have asked about mine.  I have briefly mentioned my induction on here before, but now for the full story.   So here goes……

36 weeks & the itching starts

38+5 day before induction

In February of 2010 those two little pink lines appeared on the pregnancy test and hooray, I was indeed pregnant.  I had done this once already before, had a straight forward pregnancy and birth so I decided that I wanted to have a home birth this time.  But at 8 weeks pregnant as I was in the throes of all day nausea whilst at work, I started to have some bleeding.  Luckily I was in the right place and a lovely consultant quickly scanned me in EPU and there on the screen was a tiny bean shape with a heartbeat.  The benefits of being a member of staff!  I felt so relived and continued to battle through the days at work wanting to vomit every time a woman did; I got pretty nifty at nipping into the toilet just at the right time!

The rest of the pregnancy went smoothly and as my bump started to show I was interested to see how the women and their partners reacted when a pregnant midwife was caring for them.  I was offered the birthing ball by one man who insisted his wife and I should both be bouncing on them throughout her labour.  Bed pushing and equipment moving became a no no and as the pregnancy progressed night shifts became a struggle.  I enjoyed women asking me questions like ‘What is it like being pregnant and a midwife?’  And more bizarrely ‘Are you going to deliver your own baby?’ errr I hope not!

I was just beginning to count down the last few shifts at work before I was due to go on maternity leave when the next lot of my problems began.  I was working a long day and my hands were really itchy, so itchy in fact I was rubbing them on the corner of the desk to get some relief!  But being a typical pregnant woman my brain had sort of become a bit mushy ‘placenta brain’ a term I often hear and I put it down to the heat; it was the end of August after all.  Luckily I was surrounded by more sensible people and a colleague mentioned that maybe it was a good idea to do some bloods just in case I had Obstetric Cholestasis.  I reluctantly agreed but thought there is no chance I’ve got OC it’s just the heat.

Sadly the blood results came back with the diagnosis that yes in fact I had OC, off I trundled to the Consultants office clutching my results (still itching my hands and now feet) with the reality that my beloved home birth would probably not be happening.  It was at this point that I realised that being a midwife bore no resemblance to the kind of pregnancy and birth I was hoping for.  Any control I felt I had, had gone and I had now become ‘high risk’ with twice weekly visits to MAU and lots of extra scans.  This was quite difficult for to me grasp despite my daughter enjoying all the attention she received at my hospital appointments.  All my knowledge and thinking like a midwife went out of the window and suddenly all I wanted was to be treated like any other pregnant woman.  Finally at 38 weeks pregnant and with an increasing bile acid result my induction of labour was booked for 38+6/40.  To be honest at that point the itching was so unbearable I was glad that I had a date for this all to be over.  Night time buckets of my feet submerged in ice cold water and my poor husband having to rub Aloe Vera gel over my hands was beginning to take its toll on us all.

So my induction was booked in the labour ward diary, it was strange seeing my name there but the decision was made and I spent the next few days organising childcare for my daughter, washing white baby grows and deflating my pool (sob sob).  Finally September the 27th arrived and off my husband and I went on the 468 bus to the hospital, my notes under one arm and my pillow under the other (I wasn’t going to take any chances!)

Mum’s the word

Me with my lovely Mum, for whom I am thankful for *not* telling me that my feet will get a whole shoe size bigger and other weird pregnancy related disorders.

It’s becoming a bit of a tradition in this family that Mother’s Day is always ruined one way or another. Last year my husband went out the night before and got so drunk he vomited all over the bathroom floor waking me up in the process. My one request of a lie in was obviously not met and to add insult to injury he took me to Nandos for lunch. I have never felt more humiliated in my entire life. Yesterday my 4 and 3 quarter year old (she’s so pleased she can now say that) came out from school with a bunch of daffs and a home-made card. ‘Open it Mummy read it NOW’ she protested, so I did the obligatory ‘Wow yes its beautiful darling thank you so much’ then I read the inside.

It’s not exactly ‘Thank you for being the best Mummy in the world’ but at least she is aware that the laundry fairy doesn’t do all the washing and ironing, unlike her father.

This year he is in the Philippines on a 9 day business trip, so I’m invading my poor Mother who lives by the sea, for some home comforts and the small chance of a lie-in. There are so many things that she has taught me, especially about being a mother, which I am thankful for. But there are certain things that just aren’t spoken about, because if they were, no one would give birth and the human race would die out, probably.

As a midwife when I was looking after women in labour, I would nod sympathetically as their contractions took hold of them, reassuring them of the pain they were experiencing ‘you can do this, this is normal labour’. But really I had no idea what that pain felt like, I hadn’t had babies then, in fact I had never experienced pain like it. But once the little two lines appeared on the stick and confirmed my first pregnancy, all these weird and wonderful things started happening to me both mentally and physically; which I really didn’t remember learning about during my midwifery lectures. To be honest if I knew half of these things were going to happen to me I probably wouldn’t have ever become a mother. (Sorry to those who haven’t given birth yet, it’s not that bad really). *pours another glass of wine*

  • In the first 3 months of pregnancy you are so constipated, that small bump is mainly full of poo. And no amount of prunes, apricots and Bran flakes will shift it. Things normally start ‘moving’ on by week 14.
  • Don’t attempt to look at your nether regions as your due date lingers. In fact best to lock the bathroom door when you shower, your partner has enough shocks to cope with in the weeks to come. Let’s just say your labia swells to something unrecognizable but don’t worry it does return to its normal state post birth.
  • You think when you’re pregnant and writing your birth plan that your dignity matters. It really doesn’t and to be honest you really don’t care who sees you starkers with your bum in the air mooing like a cow. I had both my babies in the hospital where I work, and I can still look the Consultant in the eye who broke my waters.
  • Night sweats, not just any sort of sweat. I’m talking about needing to sleep on a towel, changing your pyjamas, using a rag to mop and dry yourself during those first few weeks after your baby is born. It’s unbelievable how hormones can be responsible for pretty much everything.
  • Nappy brain actually exists. I once introduced my daughter as my little boy to the Health Visitor at the baby clinic – the baby was naked on the weighing scales at the time.
  • Hair loss. Oh my God this was so annoying (which resulted in me having a fringe). I felt smug with my thick luscious hair which grew during pregnancy but by the time my baby was 10 weeks old it all started to fall out. Mainly around the front of my hair-line but there was hair everywhere, even in my daughter’s nappy.
  • Nothing fills you with more joy then putting on your trackie bums, tucking into a box of chocolates and feeling sorry for anyone having to go out on a Friday night. That is unless, it’s your husband’s first night out since the baby was born and he stumbles in at 2 am and vomits all over the bathroom floor.

Top Tips for Dads-to-be

*Warning this post contains an image of a half-naked man*

Now that that’s got your attention…………

We arrived in hell, somewhere just South of Forest Hill. The satnav directed us here bright lights, roaring music and a LOT of sugar intoxicated screaming children. I’m terrified. We’ve brought our children to Gambados. Actually without sounding like a total snob it’s fine for a grey wet Sunday, the 4 year old is lost in the giant soft play and the toddler is throwing herself off soft building blocks. Perfect opportunity to be creative and attempt to think up my next blog post whilst closely making sure the toddler isn’t licking every ball in the ball pool (which to be honest if it wasn’t for her already nursery acquired every 3 weeks snotty nose I would care a bit more, maybe).

I watched One Born Every Minute the other night, something I’ve sort of stopped doing as I usually work on a Wednesday and the thought of switching that on having just done a 12 hour shift is not exactly ‘unwinding’, but for some reason I found myself catching the last 10 minutes. Next thing I know tears are streaming down my face. Ok not that unusual for a midwife but having spent quite a full on day with an amazing woman and her husband getting them through a very long and difficult, labour I thought most of my tears had already been wept. In fact it was this burly tattooed Northern guys reaction to seeing his little baby being delivered which set me off, a reaction not that uncommon for me. Seeing men cry at the birth of their baby is so emotional I find it hard to even say the words ‘congratulations’ as I blubber away searching for a tissue whilst trying to pull myself back together into midwife mode.

My husband is very emotional, I remember once, him coming in half way through Marley and Me to me tutting and muttering ‘God I just loathe Jennifer Aniston and this bloody dog, this film is crap’. Next thing I know he’s curled up in the fetal position on the sofa sobbing ‘I need to be held and loved this is too much for me to cope with’, I didn’t quite know what to do or say…………..

Anyway, it didn’t quite feel right for me to write this next part of this post as he has been there for both our daughter’s birth making him pretty much an expert. He really was amazing and I couldn’t of got through those contractions without him, here he is doing skin to skin with our first daughter minutes after she was born, all together now ‘ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh’

So with a certain amount of apprehension (similar to when I leave him in charge of cleaning the house and looking after the kids whilst I have a mani / pedi and come back to find the kids drawing on the carpet, wet washing still in the machine, his tools out on the kitchen table, grease on the new tea towels and him watching the rugby) I hand over to my husband to share his wisdom.

Hello all, I’ve been roped in share my insights into what Dads should be doing/ thinking about/ not doing etc in the run up, during and after your lovely partner has done all the hard work and brought your newest mini me into the world.

First things, first – I’m going to be breaking this down into 3 stages: before, during and after. There are a million things I could write but I’m going to limit to a choice few so as not to scare / bore you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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