The Naughtiest Little Piglet

Once upon a time there was a little bean who lived in her Mummy’s tummy, she was called Piglet.

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Piglet liked to make her Mummy very very sick, so sick that her Mummy (who worked on a busy labour ward) had to dash into the bathroom in between coordinating the shift to be sick. Poor old Mummy. But then the Mummy started to feel better, her blue eyes sparkled again and she blossomed as her bump grew.

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Piglet was very wriggly and loved moving about in her new warm, dark, cosy bed. She wriggled and wriggled until she got into a comfortable position, her bottom firmly down and her little head bobbing up. But that position was not want her Mummy or her Mummy’s midwives really were hoping for. So one day a very clever doctor with his very clever hands turned Piglet the other way around, bottoms up! And there she stayed. But Piglet had still not finished being naughty. Oh no, she decided that growing wasn’t something she was too keen on and wanted to stay little.

Naughty little Piglet had everyone worried. Her Mummy and Daddy were very worried, the doctors with the big scanning machines were worried and even the midwives were worried. So D day came and the naughty little Piglet had to leave her warm, dark, cosy bed. Her Mummy went to the hospital and had some magic medicine to make little Piglet come out.

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Luckily for her Mummy and Daddy Piglet’s arrival was very quick, her midwives just only got there in time! And the naughty little Piglet was born on the 28th of May at 14:51 weighing a tiny 5lbs 4onz. They named her Charlotte Elizabeth and she was beautiful just her Mummy!

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And Charlotte and her Mummy and Daddy lived happily ever after.

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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

Snap Happy

I’ve recently had an amazing 2nd year student working with me on labour ward for a few weeks.  She reminds me so much of how I was at that stage in my training; excited, eager to learn , pro normality, interested in natural birth I have to say I’m going to really really miss her.  She was so great with the women and their partners and she taught me a lot too about my practice.  And she was a brilliant photographer.

I’m sure she would admit it was just luck or the type of camera but at many of the births we attended together she captured some amazing photos of the moment a new person was being born.  I have to say this pleased me immensely as I LOVE birth photos.  I’m always that midwife grabbing the camera and clicking away as the new parents wipe away their tears and look shocked adoringly at their new baby.

So today when I saw this article on the Daily Mail’s website it got me thinking.   Would you pay for a photographer to attend your birth?  You pay for a photographer to take pictures on you wedding day, so why not your birth?

I didn’t have a photographer at my birth well ok I had my husband who isn’t a professional photographer but he does take a mean photo (bit of Instagram and some nice 1970’s filter works wonders).

See, you can’t even see how tired I was

After my first daughter was born I was a little bit disappointed at the lack of photos we had of the labour/birth.  I think looking back we were just so overwhelmed with it all, (I say we, I mean me) that I kind of wish someone had taken more.  The birth becomes a bit of a blur but it would have been nice to look back at them and remember the hazy parts.

So when I was pregnant with my second daughter I made sure of one thing, Photos!  I wanted my husband to take loads of photos throughout the labour and birth.  I didn’t want to be aware of him taking them either.  But you know what, afterwards when we were back at home it was so special looking through them; it filled in the hazy gaps when the gas and air had kicked in.  I’ve managed to collect a few photos I took at the birth of these babies, and their parents have kindly given me permission to use them in this blog.  Feel free to add your own birth photos, they don’t have to be taken by a professional photographer, an amateur husband with a shaky hand will do.

Baby Harris

Baby Marni

Baby Art

Baby Jake

Baby Edith

Baby William

Baby Edith

Baby Eva

Baby Thisbe

The Unscratchable itch (part 2)

Pre induction CTG

We arrived on labour ward at around 9:30 to find a very busy labour ward; it was one of those shifts, the board was full and red.  No room at the inn for me!  I had pre-arranged for Lesley (a fellow midwife) to perform my sweep and give me the Propess (well if you’re going to have a sweep you might as well have one of Lesley’s sweeps!) so I called her and said we were waiting for a bed.

Luckily a bed was found for me in the induction bay and Lesley arrived grinning at me with an entonox mouth piece ‘You’ll need some of this’.  I don’t know who was more horrified me or my husband.  And she was right I did need some entonox!  After a lot of giggles the Propess was firmly inserted and the pain kicked in pretty much straight away.  So much so I didn’t even make it passed the doors to the reception area (we had planned to go for a walk and get some lunch).  My husband put my TENS machine on and I spent the next few hours bouncing on a birthing ball, texting family to keep them up to date and a lot of ‘I can’t do this’.  The thing with Propess is the pain never goes away, there is a horrible constant aching pain in your groin that no amount of walking, squatting, hot compresses can help.  I was getting pretty desperate, and it was only the beginning.

By 2pm it had all got too much and I begged the midwife in charge to find me a free room, it’s really hard being in early labour in the induction bay, no space to move around or privacy.  Room 10 was free and I did the walk I’d seen so many other women doing in labour from the induction bay, TENS machine in one hand and my pillow in the other (I’m pretty sure I was bare foot I didn’t care about anything at that point).  I really wanted to use the birthing pool but as I was being induced for OC I knew that once I was in established labour, I should have continuous monitoring.  I started the entonox again, but I wasn’t laughing anymore and my husband called my original home birth midwife Kate, to see if she could come in and look after me.  Thankfully she was free and arrived to find me in tears, taking off my make-up and begging for an epidural.  After a lot of reassurance she decided to examine me so I knew how I was progressing.  But unfortunately I was only 2cm dilated.

Propess is kicking in

Gas and Air is my best friend

So I continued to mobilise for a few more hours desperate for some form of change and progress.  At 6pm I was re examined and was found to be 5cm dilated and my Propess was finally taken out and my waters were broken (an ARM), which were clear!  Within 2 minutes the contractions felt completely different, like really strong but manageable waves.  We agreed that if I have a 20 minute trace on the CTG and it was reassuring I could use the pool.  Horary!  At last the one thing I had been focussing on was ready and I got into the warm water feeling completely relaxed.  It felt amaaazing.  Like the best bath you have ever go into post Glastonbury festival (but less mud) or after the longest day at work.

After an hour of really strong contractions and A LOT of gas and air I began to really lose control and begged for an epidural again!  In hind sight I was probably in transition but my midwife left the room to talk to Zoe (a good friend and fellow midwife) who was on shift to see if she could put me off and encourage me to keep going a bit longer.  But for some reason (and only my body knows why) at that moment when my midwife left the room, I suddenly had a huge contraction and felt the baby’s head beginning to crown and screamed at my poor husband ‘it’s coming!’ so he did what he thought was best, he pulled the emergency bell.  My calm, quiet birth suddenly turned into a bit of a drama and lots of people came running in only to see my beautiful baby girl being born in the pool at 20:35.  I decided to have a physiological 3rd stage, and delivered the placenta myself in the poll, 15 minutes later.  Total blood loss 150 mls, and a tiny graze.

Hello new person

  And we were all home 3 hours later having tea and peanut butter on toast in bed.

The sisters meet at last

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.

How many is too many?

My shifts are long, 12 hours (well 11.5 to be precise as we don’t get paid for half of our lunch break and that’s if we even get a lunch break I mean who has lunch 5pm?) but it does mean that I work 3 shifts a week and still have 4 days off a to spend being the perfect yummy mummy (I’m joking, for the record I bloody hate that term, its degrading it basically means if you’re remotely good-looking you’re classified as yummy and if you haven’t been blessed in the looks department you’re what, you’re just doing a great job?).

Anyway I was looking after this really sweet young woman the other night having her first baby and she had fantastic support in labour. Her Mum was there, her boyfriend, her sister, her niece, her sister’s best mate ,her granny, I think a pizza delivery boy was there at one point, I mean the list was endless I lost count of the constant flow of people in and out of the room offering their ‘support’. I say this term loosely as I’m not wholly convinced that they were all there in the girls best interest. The hospital policy states that you are only allowed 2 birthing partners in the room at any time, mainly due to security reasons plus the rooms aren’t huge and it makes safety an issue if there was an emergency situation (at a home birth you can have as many people as you like).

So this one girl who I have no idea whether she was a cousin, sister or friend of the woman in labour instinctively grabbed a sick bowl and started fanning the woman’s face. Now I’m not the kind of midwife who just sits in the corner of the room and jots things down in the notes whilst the birth partner does all the support. I will massage backs, mop brows, clear up vomit, wipe away poo (more on that subject in a later post) and I can usually tell if a woman needs fanning and looks too hot. But this friend was amazing, she then took to massaging the woman’s sacrum I mean really doing a fab job almost a professional standard, like she knew exactly where to press and reassure her friend through every contraction.

Well there I was not really needed, it felt shit to be honest sob sob oh I do love to feel like the one person who can help the woman (after all that’s why I love my job) but I did sort of feel like a loose end. So I sat back and observed this amazing birth partner. Eventually the other members of her family got bored as there was no sign of baby and went to Nandos to fill up on hormone and protein enhanced peri peri chicken and soggy chips. But this girl just kept on going, I did offer to take over with the massaging but nope she was not giving up working her thumbs to the nub and the labouring woman was certainly benefitting from all of this.

Anyway the baby was born, a gorgeous 8lb baby boy and all was fine. My inquisitive side of got the better of me and I had to ask the birth partner ‘So where do you learn how to do that, you must be a doula or had at least 10 babies to be that good.’ The girl just smiled and a burst of deep loud hearty laughter erupted around the room ‘From One Born Every Minute you know on the telly, I bloody love that show watch it every week!’ Of course the Bafta awarded Channel 4 fly-on-the-wall documentary, where else?! I honestly think that show is great, not only does it really portray a maternity ward, it shows you pretty much all scenarios you could be faced with when having a baby (NCT take note). I congratulated and thanked the girl on her wonderful techniques and banged on about how she should train to be a midwife oh how we need people like her at all births, you were really amazing for your friend bla bla bla and then the laughter came again,

‘No way babe, you wouldn’t catch me seeing lady bits every day, women screaming in pain, I’ve got a job anyway.’

‘So what do you do?’ I asked,

I’m a beautician, mainly specialise in bikini waxing’.

Before my brain had a chance to register her answer (I blame the hour and lack of break) she was gone, thrusting her business card in my hands on her way out

‘Let me know if you ever need a trim down there’ she said nodding at my nether regions. Shit did she know I was soooo over due my last wax that my husband had given up on the promised Valentines/birthday/Christmas treat? Who knows, but what I do know is that she was an amazing birth partner. The point of the story is readers – ‘its quality, not quantity’, choosing the right person/people to have in the room can make the difference between reliving the pain in your back or being a pain in the neck. And if there’s a free bikini wax at the end of it for the midwife, then everyone comes away satisfied.