Birth Story Of The Week- Clemmie and Woody

There’s always a special connection between people with the same name and this amazing Mama of two is certainly one to hang on to. I first met Clemmie through the powers of Instagram but she was on my radar for a long time after Hollie from London Hypnobirthing told me about this awesome ‘other’ Clemmie she had met and taught. Another Clemmie! Surely not but this Clemmie was as great as I had hoped. She lives in Peckham with her brood of boys (1 husband and dog included) and writes a brilliant blog Mother of All Lists. Here she shares her second sons birth story.

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My first labour was so terrible that I honestly thought my son, Bertie, would be an only child. Induction. Hyper-stimulation. Lots of blood-loss. Followed by an hour of panic attacks. Not ideal.

Cut to 13 months later and I’m pregnant again. The initial thrill of seeing that line appear soon gives way to a feeling of ‘shit’ I’ve got to give birth again.

I was determined to do things differently. After some obsessive googling I came across hypnobirthing. What a stroke of luck. A total game changer.

Our course at London Hypnobirthing was just brilliant. It forced me and my husband to discuss our fears, as well confirming home-birth was the way forward for us. After months doing breathing, visualizing and general prep, I felt ready, even a bit excited about my baby’s impending arrival.

That was until my due date came and went.

With every passing day the anxiety levels crept up. Flashbacks to being induced with my first were haunting me. I was convinced I was headed down the same road. Plus I’d had contractions on and off for days; it felt like my body was tricking me and it was driving me potty.

At 40+5 I sent Hollie, my hybnobirthing guru, a rambling email having a bit of a breakdown – even questioning my ability to go into labour naturally. She replied telling me to let go of the anxiety, to trust my body. IT WOULD HAPPEN.

She was right. The next day I had a sweep. Only in pregnancy are you so pleased to have someone stick their hand up you. Turns out I was already 3 cm dilated – woo hoo!

My midwife wished me fairwell. Deep down I think we both know we would be seeing each other soon. And that night I went to bed with a sneaky suspicion it was ‘game on’. But given the false starts and with the help of hypno I decided to get some sleep.

At 3.30 AM I was woken by a surge. It was definitely happening. No panic, No fuss. Just a real sense of knowing what needed to be done. With son number one safely dispatched to my sisters I got in the groove of labour. Which mainly meant being naked and eating Jaffa cakes. Oh and the midwife arrived.

There was a palaver with the birth pool. My husband had done a dry run, but crucially not a wet run – turns out the fitting couldn’t connect to our tap (funny in retrospect, not very zen at the time).

Eventually it was sorted. Once in the water I was able to breath through my surges. Don’t get me wrong it was hardcore. Exhausting. At the time I desperately wanted it to stop. But at no point did I feel worried or out of control. Instead I just focused on getting to the peak of the surge then down the other-side. “breathe in calm, breath out tension.”

Candles, chilled music (and yet more jaffa cakes), pool. All very lovely. But I was getting into a bit of a mental downward spiral, transition maybe, and found the darkness oppressive rather than safe.

My Midwife suggested that I might benefit from a change of scene.

Once upstairs the bright coolness of the bathroom felt like a new chapter.  No sooner had I taken a seat on the loo than I was hit by one almighty surge. Properly a case of ‘my body taking control’: I leapt-up, grabbed my husband in a strangle-hold for support, and out came baby’s head.

Then with the next surge Woodrow Victor Telford made his entrance into the world. He was born calmly and quietly with his waters in tact or ‘en caul’. Swiftly followed by my placenta, which convenient went into the toilet.

The relief was immense. I hadn’t been induced. I hadn’t used a scrap of pain relief. I hadn’t bled. Just a tiny tear that heeled naturally. And I wasn’t pregnant anymore!! I felt like the luckiest person alive.

Me and my new dude headed to bed. And that’s where we stayed for the rest of the day.

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When people ask me about my labour. I say it was everything I wanted it to be. A wonderful empowered experience that made me feel like super-woman, plus it got rid of all the demons from Bertie’s birth.

Even writing this now I want to do it all again. There really is no greater feeling than lying in your own bed at home, eating pizza, with your 4 hour old baby snoozing beside you.

Birth Story Of The Week – Jo and Alfred

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I was 23 when I found out I was pregnant, 24 when I had him, and though my boyfriend (now husband) and I had talked about it and both wanted a baby I always felt that I was viewed as too young, one midwife even called me a baby, and so I avoided ante-natal classes until quite late on. At 8 months pregnant having not thought about a birth plan I went to a couple of yoga and hypnobirth classes.

I loved them but once it came to B-Day everything I had learnt went out the window. I was terrified, totally unsure what actual labour was and found it all overwhelming.

At 3am on 26th March after an evening of mild but regular cramping I went to the loo and found I was bleeding. In hind sight it wasn’t much at all but I panicked and made my boyfriend call the hospital and tell them we were coming. I was unsurprisingly sent home. Then at 9am whilst in the shower I felt my waters go. It wasn’t very much at all and my contractions were still nothing to write home about but again we went in. By the time we got there I was in more pain but was only 2cm dilated and sent to walk around a bit. At this point I growled (husband says it was more of a moo) to take me home as I didn’t want anyone to see me. I now think that this is the point that my maternal instinct had kicked in and I knew I needed to be alone with my contractions. We stayed at home, in the bath until my contractions were almost on top of each other. At home was the calmest and most in control I felt in my whole labour. We left for the hospital and I barely remember the drive there. When we arrived at 2pm I was only 4 cm and gutted. It turned out baby was back to back and when I heard this, having never heard it before I was totally freaked out and immediately doubted my ability. I had gas and air for a bit whilst begging for an epidural between breaths. My husband gently reminded me that I desperately didn’t want an epidural but I ignored him and past me. To this day it is still a regret.

Despite the fact that the epidural allowed me to rest and calm down I spent the rest of the labour feeling nothing. Nothing at all. I pushed numb and painlessly, feeling totally useless and just listening to the midwives’ (who were all lovely) instructions. When they told me he was crowning I didn’t know what to think. I wasn’t ready for him. It wasn’t the experience I had wanted and it felt like a total blur.

When he arrived at 11.36pm on 26th March I felt a bizarre mixture of sheer joy and total confusion. Who did this? Where did he come from?!

We stayed at hospital for another 12 hours which I hated. All I wanted to do was go home and be with my family. I hated my husband having to leave, nobody checked to see if he latched on properly once I was on the ward (lucky he was a star but I didn’t know that till my home visit!) I even got up to go to the loo and blood and waters went everywhere, something I had no idea would happen. Again it all felt totally alien and scary and I just wanted to go home and be with my husband.

I know so many labours can be a lot worse than mine physically and I feel so lucky we were both well and healthy but I felt and still feel so emotionally disconnected from it. Sometimes I wonder (despite the back to back thing) if I had just stayed at home would I have felt more empowered? More in control in my body?

Despite my husbands concerns I am looking very seriously into a hypnobirth home birth as an option this time. I want more than anything to be in control and comfortable with my surroundings. I also don’t want to be scared like last time.

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I just read my email back and wanted to add that despite sounding positively NOT positive, for me it was positive in the sense that it made me realise how important it is to understand how your body works and to really trust your instincts. I think if I had done that it would have been very different for me and I wouldn’t have been so scared and disconnected.

Also, look at the little 9lb 6oz star I got to take home with me! Worth all the pain and more!

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Follow Jo on Instagram @joannakays and over at her blog mamajolene.wordpress.com

Birth Story Of The Week – Tracey and her Twins

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When I was a little girl I always dreamt of having twins but never thought that that dream would become a reality. I was born with a rare condition called hypogonadotrophic hypogonadism that was not formally diagnosed until I was twenty one. I spent my teens at the mercy of intrusive tests and doctors that often spoke over me and left me feeling empty inside. One specific phrase was always circling my mind, ‘you may never be able to have children’. My husband Ben is the first person I ever shared this with. He was so supportive and I just knew that he was ‘the one’.  After exploring treatment options we were over the moon in the summer of 2010 when I fell pregnant with our eldest daughter Eliza. It was at this time that a friend introduced us to hypnobirthing.

 Ben and I used these relaxation techniques throughout my pregnancy and in preparation for Eliza’s birth. We decided to have a home water birth and in 2011 she was born safely and quickly at home, weighing a healthy 7lb 5oz. My labour was enjoyable and we were especially proud that we remained so calm despite our midwives not showing up until just thirty minutes before her birth! We had been so busy organising the pool and standing together throughout surges that neither one of us had noticed the hours drift by. At the point when the midwives arrived I was fully dilated and hadn’t realised it, I just felt the need to bear down and breath my baby out. This was my light bulb moment and I couldn’t wait to do it again. I truly loved the experience despite having a retained placenta and an unfortunate transfer to hospital for its removal in theatre.

Starting the fertility journey again for our second child was not going to be as easy as we had hoped. We were no longer entitled to funding and so had to find other avenues to provide a sibling for Eliza. I am part of many fertility networks and after following the donor journey of a friend I realised there were people out there less fortunate than ourselves that would love a child to call their own. She introduced me to egg sharing. I would undergo funded IVF but would donate half of my eggs to an anonymous couple. After many discussions and counselling sessions we decided to go ahead. Unfortunately our first IVF cycle was to be unsuccessful, as was our second, but we did have one embryo left to freeze. In the mean time we went on to try ovulation induction with injectables.

I still remember the day I tested. Finally after such a hard year there it was ‘pregnant’. I cried so much, I was so happy that we had finally made it! Due to the nature of our treatment the clinic booked me an early scan. They looked worried, ‘this may be a blighted ovum or it may just be too early’. There appeared to be a small sac but no baby on the ultra sound, I was devastated and cried all the way home. I was advised to have a re-scan in a weeks time. Ben tried to reassure me as I had had ‘some’ pregnancy symptoms, I had been feeling nauseated and swollen but wasn’t sure if it was just my imagination. When I arrived at my local hospital I was very anxious. The lady reassured me and turned the screen to face me. I could see two dark sacs. ‘Are they my swollen ovaries?’ …’no’ she said, ‘they are your babies’.

In the weeks that past I wanted to share the news but we decided to wait until the twelve week point. Straight away I started to practice hypnobirthing with my husband. We dedicated an evening a week to relaxation techniques, positive affirmations and light touch massage. We were so excited to be able to plan another homebirth, but this time with our twins! Little did we know that we were about to face some big hurdles. When I arrived to my booking appointment everything seemed fine until I saw ‘high risk’ written on my file.

High risk care meant that I would be having care between midwives and obstetricians. I had come to expect that this may be the case as others had warned me that I would not be ‘allowed’ to have a homebirth, or a water birth on the midwife led unit. It was explained that I would have to have a hospital birth on the consultant led unit, that they had a specialist room for birthing multiples. We decided to visit this space and booked a tour of the hospital. The rooms in the midwife led unit were gorgeous, spacious and welcoming. A home from home environment. The multiples room however was the only one on the consultant led unit that was not decorated. It was cold and uninviting. There was medical equipment everywhere and it looked like a dumping ground for unused equipment. In the corner was an operating table and loose tiles hung from the ceiling. As soon as the tour had finished my husband  and I looked at each other. ‘There is no way we are birthing our babies in there’.

I raised my concerns with my community midwife and she put me in touch with the Supervisor of Midwives. She was great and helped us write a birth plan that would meet the consultants half way with their demands. I agreed to be on the consultant led unit but in the water birthing room, if it was available on the day. I requested to have predominantly midwife led care and interventions were to be used only if entirely necessary and the reasons for these were to be clearly explained to my husband and I so that we could make informed decisions on my babies birthing day. I decided to decline continuous monitoring and the siting of epidurals and canulas as these would prevent me birthing in the water.  Instead I opted for intermittent monitoring and water and/or gas and air to help with any discomfort I may feel. I was confident that I could birth my babies naturally and I expressed how important it was that I felt comfortable in my birthing environment to aid this process. I knew from my first experience of birth that I would want to be active and birthing upright, even if this was not possible in water when the day came. I explained the importance of my hypnobirthing techniques and creating a relaxing environment to birth in. That these wishes needed to be respected and requested that my husband and doula were to be the only persons present for the majority of the birth, alongside my midwife.

Although the consultants were not entirely happy with my plan they appeared to have accepted it. However as the weeks went by things took a turn and I was called in for more and more regular ‘meetings’. The stress of these meetings was starting to take its toll on my husband and I. We were being labelled as an ‘issue’, and were made aware that higher bodies were discussing our ’case’. We felt this was totally uncalled for. I was in extremely good health and had no underlying health issues that could affect the birth, no increased BP or signs of pre-eclampsia and regular growth scans showed that both girls were doing extremely well. Despite all of this we were bombarded with comments about putting our babies at risk of dying and constantly reminded about the risks of stillbirth past 37 weeks. This scare mongering was very upsetting as our babies health was always at the fore front of our mind and any decisions we made were always informed decisions. No actual facts or figures could be presented to us when we requested them and our own research showed that the majority of risks for twins surrounded identical twins and those sharing a placenta. Our girls are fraternal and were in separate sacs with separate placentas.

In our eyes we were the ideal candidates for a natural twin birth. The babies and I were in good health and twin one was head down throughout most of my pregnancy and showing no signs of changing as I approached the third trimester. Twin two was breech but I was told this shouldn’t be a problem for a vaginal birth as she may move once twin one was born. As it happened I felt a strong pressure in my side as I approached 36 weeks, followed by a dizzy spell. This pressure was twin two changing positions. She was now head down too,  so even though I was being advised to book an elective c section or induction at 37 weeks I saw no medical reason to do so.

At 38 weeks I had had enough and made the brave decision to change hospitals. The staff at my new hospital were much more in favour of natural twin birth and supported and respected our wishes. We agreed to regular weekly monitoring and additional scans to check babies and placenta health. This seemed like a fair compromise and I was pleased to hear that the midwives supported hypnobirthing mums and could see its benefits for mum and baby. Everything was progressing well and at 38 & 39 weeks I agreed to a sweep to move things along a little. This seemed like the most natural intervention I could endure. However it was an awful experience and at 40 weeks the babies had still not arrived, so clearly my body was not ready. We still wanted to avoid induction and so I had some alternative therapies including acupuncture, reflexology and a hypnosis fear release session with friends. I felt a million dollars and slept peacefully that night.

At 40 weeks and 2 days my labour started spontaneously. I felt a pop and excitedly woke my husband. It was strange as I was sure my waters had ruptured but there was no water in sight. Once at the hospital I was pleased to see the birthing room I wanted was free. It was spacious with a large birthing pool and natural landscape on the wall. At this point we called Tamara, our doula and friend, despite the time being just 2am she ventured down to join us. The next few hours passed peacefully. I had dimmed lights, relaxing music and the two most important people with me. They were a great support system and stopped any un-necessary interruptions. The pressure in my back was getting stronger and stronger so my doula advised that I keep changing positions. I leant over my birthing ball and rocked peacefully whilst my husband massaged my back. My doula added a heat pack and it was such a great relief. I think I even snoozed for a little while.

At around 6am I requested to get into the birthing pool but after checking me the midwife on duty didn’t feel I was far enough into established labour. This happened with my first pregnancy too. If you are calm people often assume you are not very far on but I just knew things would increase rapidly from that moment on. My doula was very supportive and said, ‘just remember it is just a number, you are doing great’. By the time the midwives changed morning shifts I was in the pool. I felt urges to bear down and the pressure in my back was becoming more intense and very different to what I had experienced with my first birth, I now know that this was probably because Emily was back to back but we had no idea that this was the case at the time. I continued to use my hypnobirthing surge breaths in between surges to stay calm and relaxed. My new midwife was amazing. She had experience of twin birth and immediately put me at ease with her confidence and calm persona. She could see that my labour was progressing quickly and requested I get out of the pool for some intermittent monitoring but gave me the choice to return if I wanted to. I was offered gas and air and used it to change positions.

By about 8.30am I was upright on the bed, leaning over my ball and rocking back and forth. I made some humming noises as I rocked back and forth and this helped me stay relaxed. Another hour passed and I decided to lean over the back of the bed. Being in this upright position felt comfortable and I was able to rest a little between surges. They were now coming very frequently and I was advised that I was fully dilated. At 10.21am Emily Grace was birthed gently into the world weighing 7lb 5oz. She didn’t make a sound but instead just looked up at me, she was so calm and relaxed. I was able to hold her in my arms while I waited for her cord to stop pulsating.

Five minutes passed and my surges were yet to return. I was asked to turn around and was shocked to find a room full of medical professionals, I was so deep in self hypnosis that I had no idea they were there! My midwife was very impressed and told me that it is rare for a mum to birth a back to back baby without any interventions. After a further ten minutes I could see that the medical professionals were getting uneasy as my surges had yet to return and they had started to prepare a drip. After getting through my entire labour without any interference from others I was reluctant to let it happen now. My doula could see that I was uneasy with this and advised that I try latching Emily onto the breast as this may help them return. I started to feel some mild surges and so my husband and Tamara helped me get back into the upright position. Ben held my hand and told me that I was doing great and that he was so proud of me. Tamara held Emily so that I knew she was in safe hands.

Within less than five minutes Eryn Roses’ head was birthed. This time it felt so fast. Eryn was in the perfect birthing position with her waters intact. I remember a silent wait for her body to emerge and then she just appeared weighing a healthy 6lb 15 1/2oz. I couldn’t believe that both my girls were born with their waters intact. This is seen to be rare but very lucky. I felt so blessed that they were both born safely into the world. We waited for Eryn’s cord to stop pulsating and then both girls were returned to me for skin to skin. I remember just staring at them, amazed that my birth had gone exactly as I wanted it to. Both girls immediately latched on to feed and I was so proud of them.

About half hour passed and I was advised to have the injection to aid the placentas delivery. I was a little anxious about this after my previous retained placenta and more than anything I did not want a repeat of that experience. I did not want to be taken away from my babies. Ben watched the girls and Tamara held my hand. Just having her there with words of encouragement reminded me that I could do this. Sure enough within about another fifteen minutes I birthed the placenta. I remember being amazed by its size and noticed that both girls placentas had merged into one giant one.  We chose to keep the cords and Tamara had them arranged in a heart shape. Every time I look at them I am reminded of my wonderful birth experience. I had no stitches and was told that if I wanted to I could go home that morning or if I preferred I could stay on the midwife led unit for a night. This is unheard of at The Princess Alexandra hospital but the medical professionals were so proud of my birth and the way it went that they saw no reason why I should be denied this  relaxing opportunity. I had a lovely stay with my girls and drove myself home the next morning.

My amazing birth experiences have led me to my recent Wise Hippo instructor training. Now that it is complete I cannot wait to begin my classes and empower other women to make confident, informed decisions about their special births. After all, every woman deserves the right to have a wonderful birth experience! You can find out more about me and my hypnobirthing classes at www.birthingcalmly.co.uk

Birth Story Of The Week – Lisa and Oscar

‘I’m not a closed book kind of person. Most of my friends would agree (I hope)  that I’m fairly open with them. I think I’m happy to share most things (although I sometimes find it hard, we know that!) However I have been overwhelmed with the ease at which I have been able to share my birth story. Oscars birth was a deeply personal and intimate experience in my life and yet I have been completely open about it, offering up information I would never have dreamt of sharing before I had him. And do you know why? It’s because everyone does it! We seem to wear our birth stories like badges of honour. And whats wrong with that?

So if you’ve heard this already I’m sorry – but here it comes again!

My pregnancy was pretty text book really. I didn’t have morning sickness, although I did spend a few weeks feels nauseous ALL BLOODY DAY! Morning my arse! Anyway that cleared up at 10 weeks, and everything else was pretty standard.

I was under a consultant from day one, partly due to my high BMI, partly due to my epilepsy, so was monitored fairly closely. I never had any problems and the gestational diabetes and larger than average baby everyone kept predicting, never materialised. Take that obstetric generalisations!

It was at a routine midwife appointment at 35 weeks, they noticed that my blood pressure, which had been falling throughout my pregnancy had suddenly shot up. This lead to a week in hospital and much worry about suspected pre-eclampsia and whether this baby would make full term. An NCT friend had been diagnosed with severe pre-eclampsia the week before and had to deliver her baby by C Section at 35 weeks, so I knew all too well how serious this situation could be.

I could write a whole post about this experience, but as this a birth story, I’ll leave that for another day. Suffice to say that after a week of trying, the hospital managed to stabilise my BP with drugs. I practically cheered as we left, with my tiny baby still safely tucked away.

I went home, I tided, I hoovered the ceilings, I slept on the sofa. I had a week of maternity leave and I loved it.

After another week or so I had a routine appointment with my consultant, the wonderful and no nonsense Lesley Roberts. She took one look at my BP and said, “I’m sorry Lisa you can’t go home today”. I burst into tears. I was taken back up to the same ward I’d just escaped, given more meds and resolved to try and get this sorted. When they checked me they said I was no where near ready to give birth, so wouldn’t attempt an induction. However, my BP would just not play ball and kept rising, spiking in the middle of the night, when I was asleep of all things!

I felt so frustrated. This baby was 38 weeks gestation, plenty cooked enough and here I was taking more and more drugs that seemed to do nothing. Eventually, a canny midwife saw just how frustrated I was and took me aside. Quietly, she told me that if an induction was really what I wanted, then the next time I saw the doctor I was to cry. Simple as that. So, I did as she said and do you know, it only bloody worked! It seemed getting emotional worked where being rational had failed. I was given a pessary to start things off.

I wont bore you with the next two days, as very little happened. I got some twinges, like very mild contractions, that then stopped. On day three they decided that if they could break my water I’d be able to start a proper Scyntocinon induction. Only, they didn’t tell me this is what they were doing. I thought it was odd that they gave me a gas and air pipe. Ahh then I knew why! It was the most painful thing I have ever experienced. They were right, he was still really high up and to reach him felt like I was being set on fire. I went into a zone, where I felt like I put myself on a shelf and could only hear every third word being said. It was awful and amazing all at the same time. Then I heard her say no she couldn’t do it, so I took myself of the shelf. Then she said oh hang on and finally I felt a whoosh as my waters broke. Finally we were getting this party started.

I was hooked up to the drip and given an epidural, as induced labour can come on very hard and very fast. Although not in my case. I was there for 24 hours and he moved a centimetere. Seriously! I knew it was looking dodgy when the midwife suggested at 3 in the morning that it was best not to eat anymore. I think we could all see the writing on the wall. The induction I’d cried for had failed. It would be a C section now. I was a tiny bit gutted as I really wanted to go through the whole process we’d talked about at such length in my NCT group, but actually I just wanted this baby with me and my BP to settle down.

At 9am on 2nd April ( yeah I know – I think Oscar hung on for fear of being born on April Fools Day!) it was declared that an emergency section was needed and I was in theatre within 20 minutes. I remember the table I was lying on was at an angle so I felt like I was going to fall off. I remember the anesthetist running ice down my shoulder to see if the spinal block had kicked in yet. I remember Adele and Otis Reading coming on the radio. I remember feeling like I was being jumped up and down on but feeling no pain (weird in the extreme). I remember hearing him cry before I felt them lift him fully clear of me. I remember crying and crying and crying with relief. That he was here, that he was strong and that I’d done it.

They weighed him and gave him to me, but I couldn’t see his face so had to give him to Ben, so I could take a proper look. He was just so beautiful.

Then they took him away for tests and I started to feel sick. I managed to shout out in time and the quick thinking anesthetist whacked some anti emetic in my line. I felt better, but my mouth was unbelievably dry. I was given ice to suck. And then I started to pass in and out of consciousness for about an hour (I think). I was told after I was in there for two hours. I thought I’d been in there less than half that.

Next thing I knew we were back in the delivery suit and beyond happy. All the worry was gone, he was here and he was really strong. Much smaller than I’d expected at 6lb 6oz, but perfect. Although I do recall thinking – blimey hasn’t he got enormous thumbs! He still has today, along with his huge feet!

And that’s my birth story. Obviously I could go on and on. About my time in hospital after the birth, about how my BP practically dropped over night, about the trouble we had with feeding. But I think I’ll leave it there. For now.’ 

mrssavageangel.wordpress.com 

Birth Story Of The Week – Gemma and Leo

Today’s birth story comes from Gemma founder of the blog Bristol Foodie. Gemma emailed me after following my blog for a while she says – “Whilst pregnant I was bombarded with horror stories of birth – and as a result many women seem to see a traumatic birth is an inevitability. I hope that you can publish my story and share my experience to show your readers that birth doesn’t have to be horrific – in fact with a little self belief and confidence in your body, it can be an amazing experience which you can treasure!”

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“I was overjoyed to find out I was pregnant but very nervous about birth inparticular tearing and needing stitches. Just thinking about it made me shudder! I knew that fearing birth would only make the experience more traumatic so decided very early on to try hypnobirthing and pregnancy yoga with local company, Purely Pregnant.

I was amazed by how quickly my perceptions changed! I quickly learned to block out all of the horror stories about childbirth that (unhelpfully) people love to share and focussed on the birth I wanted rather than the one I feared. Hypnobirthing was really transformational, after a matter of weeks I was feeling so confident and excited about our upcoming birth that when my boyfriend suggested home birth, I decided to go for it!

I enter week 40 convinced I’m going to be late. Mum on the other hand was convinced that I would have the baby within the week and when I go to my local NCT cafe session, my NCT teacher says the same. At this point the birth pool is still in boxes and I’m due to have a new boiler delivered that week Eeek!

As luck would have it, that very night, I wake up with pelvic discomfort. I toss and turn as the discomfort comes and goes and at 3am wake my boyfriend, Sam. “It’s happening”.

3.00am I leave Sam asleep and go to watch TV, after all it will be hours before things really kick off. I put on David Attenborough’s Planet Earth, bounce on my birthing ball and do the “calm breathing” we learned in hypnobirthing.

4.00am I’m trying to not be too neurotic about timing contractions but at 4am curiosity gets the better of me. They’re closer than I thought, 5-6 minutes apart lasting a minute each. I wake Sam “I think we need to start putting the pool up”

For the next couple of hours Sam battles with the instruction manual for the birthing pool whilst I continue my relaxation techniques. The contractions are manageable at this point, a tightening sensation coming and going.

6.00am Surges are every 3-4 minutes and we ring Central Delivery Suite to let them know I’m in labour. I’m feeling okay so we agree for me to take a paracetamol and to ring back when I feel that I need more support.

8.00am Two hours later the surges are starting to feel more intense. No longer sitting on my birthing ball, I’m most comfortable on all fours. At 8.30ish we call CDS again and ask for a midwife.

At some point between 8am and the midwife arriving, British Gas arrived to drop off our boiler due to be installed the next day. I was in the living room and not really aware of what was going on but Sam tells me that the delivery men moved pretty quick when he told them I was labouring in the living room and that we were having a home birth!

9.30am The midwife has arrived and contractions, at 3 minutes apart are getting stronger and stronger. By now, I’m making a low “ooooh” sound as I exhale on each surge. My mooing might have sounded odd but at the time I found it was a really useful way of keeping my breathing calm and controlled.

I take two more paracetamol, put the hypnobirthing CD on and climb into the pool. As I lie back in the warm waters of the pool my whole body relaxes. For me, the water didn’t lessen the intensity of my contractions, but allowed me to relax and recover between contractions so I could rest and preserve energy for later stages.

11.30am Contractions start to slow and the midwife recommends I get out of the pool. We don’t know if my waters have broken. The midwife says I’m still in early stages of labour and I assume the pushing sensation I’ve started feeling for some contractions is the baby resting on my bowel as he moved down.

Sam is doing an amazing job helping me to breath calmly but I know that I’m struggling to cope. “I’m going to have to go to hospital.” I think to myself. “If this is early labour how much more intense will it get?!” I feel disappointed but know that I’ve done everything I can.

12.30pm We agree its time for the midwife to give me an examination. “Well” she says, “your waters haven’t broken, but your cervix is gone!” she looks and sounds surprised as am I! “I’m fully dilated?!” I can’t believe it, just a few more hours to go! I’d heard of people going through moments of “I can’t do this any more” and struggling to cope as they go through transition (7-10cm dilation) and in hindsight my moment’s of self doubt weren’t me giving up but must have been my transition from first to second stages of labour.

Full of relief and excitement as I enter into the second stage II get back in the pool, relaxing into the water. A second midwife arrives and my contractions get even stronger. I’m calling out to Sam and “mooing” with every contraction now, clinging on to him as I feel my muscles tighten. Its getting hard to stop myself tensing up with each surge but Sam’s continual coaching “breathe… breathe… slowly Gem… slowly” helps me to slowly exhale and stay in control. As I breathe out and relax everything feels so much better. In these moments I realised just how powerful my hypnobirthing techniques were things were certainly much more painful when I was tensed up. I’m so pleased I spent all that time practising how to relax myself, these skills came in really handy when I needed them most.

I feel the baby bearing down and start doing the “J breath” I learnt in hypnobirthing to try and breath him down. I focus on staying relaxed and working with each contraction, trying to stay relaxed enough to let my body take over and push as it needed to.

2.00pm My waters still haven’t broken. I stand in the pool and lean on Sam in the hope that gravity might break them and that our baby will follow soon after. I push hard with the next contraction but my waters stay in tact. The midwives break my waters as the next contraction builds. I push hard again, and let out a bit of a scream as I feel a searing, white hot pain and am swiftly guided back into the pool by the midwives as my waters and baby come out in one contraction.

2.05pm My baby is passed up through my legs and I lie back in the water with our son on my chest, Sam’s arms around the two of us. Tears of joy stream down my cheeks, the pain from minutes earlier already a distant memory. Weighing 6lb12oz, we call him Leo.image (1) (1)

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The next task was birthing the placenta which actually felt like more effort than the baby! I happily accepted gas and air for this part feeling just too exhausted to push without some help.

Leo had come out so quickly that I had a little tear and needed stitches (luckily these could be done at home). This was the thing I had been dreading most of all but in reality it was fine. I had gas and air, local anaesthetic and I didn’t feel a thing!

Sam confided in my afterwards that Leo came out so quickly that he was expecting me to have a much more serious tear and the midwives agreed. Perineal massage had seemed like a pretty arduous daily task during the last couple of months of pregnancy but I’m pretty sure that this was what made the difference between a second and fourth degree tear.

In the weeks that have passed I’ve loved seeing the look of disbelief on people’s faces when I describe my birth as “amazing” but it really was! Yes it was hard work, and the contractions got incredibly intense but I managed to stay in control throughout. I’m so pleased that I was able to give our beautiful baby Leo such a wonderful welcome into the world.

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I was terrified of birth at the start of my pregnancy but managed to really turn things around. I hope that sharing my experiences will help other women who may feel anxious about birth to have confidence that our bodies are designed to do this and that whilst complications can and do occur, childbirth isn’t always a traumatic experience it can be an amazing one!

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

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“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.

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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.”