So Did Kate Do It Her Way?

kate and will

Unless you’ve been living under a large rock for the last 24 hours or have no access to the media, Twitter, Facebook or any human contact, then you will know that Kate delivered a baby boy yesterday afternoon. My (invisible) midwife hat has been firmly on my head since the news broke that she was in early labour. I could not help speculating what has going on inside The Lindo wing and neither could my colleagues either. Heading over to Twitter this evening proved I wasn’t the only one with my spies out and here’s why.

The wonderful Rebecca Schiller aka The Hackney Doula has written a fantastic piece on her thoughts (and mine) on what we hope and believe Kate achieved to birth her baby boy.

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‘I’ll admit this is entirely speculation. I have no idea what has been going on inside the Lindo Wing for the last 36 hours and it’s good that I don’t know. Very few people, with the exception of Romola Garai , want the world’s media to have knowledge of the state of their post-partum perineum.

However on careful viewing of the footage of Kate emerging 27 odd hours after birth, I’m putting myself on the record saying that I think she had a spontaneous vaginal birth without instruments and without an epidural. Why? Well, as @midwifeyhooper, @beverleyturner and I have been saying on twitter she is walking and carrying her baby with ease. There’s no hesitation or grimacing when going down steps or into the car; all of which would be pretty impossible so quickly after a caesarean.

The baby has no tell-tale lumps from a ventouse cup or forceps marks on his face. Kate herself has no bruises on the back of her hands or wrists suggesting no epidural or synthetic hormones.

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Of course, anything is possible, but her apparent lack of discomfort, her energy and her short stay in hospital and seemingly quite speedy timeline all point to a straightforward birth.

In many ways I feel guilty for speculating, for grubbily pouring over the photos searching for evidence. She’s just a woman adjusting to one of the most momentous changes in her life and I’m sure she doesn’t need us all wondering about ‘mode of delivery’ (hateful phrase). It’s her business and as long as she feels happy, well-supported and that it was a good and safe experience who cares if she had an elective caesarean or a water birth?

Yet, I can’t help feeling it does matter. If Kate was really keen to have a natural, vaginal birth and had really spent time practising antenatal yoga, Natal Hypnotherapy and the like I feel delighted for her that she had the birth she wanted and prepared for. In many ways the odds were stacked against her. Like over 90% of UK women she gave birth in a consultant-led unit (in her case with two dedicated consultants) when the evidence clearly shows that midwife-led care is the most appropriate, safest and cost-effective for low-risk women. She also gave birth at a private hospital with, reportedly, a 100% epidural rate, a high caesarean rate and no birth pool. (Though I wonder if an inflatable pool is being deflated as I type).

Sadly many UK women aren’t so lucky. Shunted in to consultant-led care through lack of available options they have a 45% chance of having an operative birth. Shocking when you think that the birth centre down the road would have dropped that chance by nearly 30%, while costing the NHS less and giving identical outcomes for the baby.

While medical intervention is life-saving, much-needed and also for some a positive choice there are too many women wanting to have Kate’s birth who end up feeling that the decisions have been snatched out of their hands.

So, perhaps I’m justifying my tabloid curiosity as I guiltily examine the backs of Kate’s hands, but the fact that the most high-profile birth of our time seems to have been a natural one, in a sea of rising interventions and rising dissatisfaction amongst women, seems important.

The headline “Woman has birth experience that she wanted and planned for” wouldn’t probably go down too well at The Sun’s news desk, but sadly it is becoming almost deserving of the front page.’

Follow Rebecca here @HackneyDoula

Birth Story Of The Week – Naomi and Lucas

This weeks birth story comes from Naomi who writes a fantastic blog all about parenting three young boys, dealing with aspergers, to allergies, baking, crafting and much much more! I don’t know how she does it! She has very kindly shared her birth story of her youngest son Luca with you lucky lot. Enjoy your Monday lets keep the sun shining!

Blog: Mrs Tutey

Twitter: SweetToothNim

‘This is my final birth story. S3 was born October 2012 at 38+6 after a gestational diabetic pregnancy. I found the pregnancy really tough going and by 37weeks I was physically and mentally exhausted. I was booked in for induction at 38+6 due to my physical state (basically starving on the diet I was on), a predicted big baby and high levels of fluid.

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8am on Saturday 20th October I rang the labour ward. I was told to ring back at 9am because they needed to find a bed for me. 9am I ring back and I was told to go in. So we pack the car up, kissed the big boys bye and left them with my mum. It was a surreal drive into the hospital. Only previously done it while in labour. I was admitted at 9.30am and we settled into our boring room.

10am I had a doctor check me. She was brutal with the internal and I had to ask her to stop! Second time she found my cervix and it was unfavourable and tightly closed. I had been having strong Braxton hicks for days, so the midwife thought they may just be able to break my waters. Especially with it being my third baby. The doctor managed to give me a sweep and I was hooked up to a monitor. While we were listening to baby’s heart beat I noticed the contraction % was going up to 90%! We started getting excited that something was happening.

11am the Midwife came back and commented on the 90%. I knew I was having tightenings, but they didn’t hurt! I was found to be 2cm dilated though. The midwife gave me another sweep and suggested we went for a walk. By the time we were sorted it was nearly 12noon and we went for some lunch. We walked through the hospital and baby was that low that I could barely walk. He must have been laid on a nerve as my leg kept giving way! All good signs. Plus I kept having contractions.

I was checked again between 1 and 2pm and I was 2cm still. Not good news, they hooked me back up to the monitor and all contractions had stopped. It was decided that the midwife would insert some gel into my cervix to get me into established labour. So at 3pm it was administered and I was to be checked again at 9pm. At this point we realised we were in it for the long haul, so hubby bought a TV card and we settled down to wait. I started getting rather emotional though and cried quite a bit. I was tired and fed up of the 4 walls we were in.

6.15pm I started having contractions again. I didn’t want to get hubby’s hopes up again, so I said nothing for a while. An hour later I knew this was it and told him. The contractions were every 2-3 minutes. We buzzed for a Midwife and a different one came in. Ours had gone to the labour ward to help out. This one would not check me as my notes said 9pm. I know my notes had fast labour written across it in big letters. She obviously missed this and told me it was early days yet. I started panicking a bit, but hubby remained calm.

7.30pm I moved to go for a wee and my waters went. We buzzed but no one came. My contractions got stronger and I was shaking. I started panicking and crying again! Hubby went to find someone. The ward was like a ghost town. All he found was a porter (and maybe some tumble weed lol). The Midwives were on handover. Finally a midwife appeared and could see I was in pain. She helped me to the toilet, confirmed my waters had gone and I was bleeding from my sweeps. I was hooked up to the gas and air (OMG I LOVE that stuff) and examined. I was 5cm and ready to go to the delivery ward.

8pm I was rushed through the corridors to delivery in between contractions. We just made it, so that I could have gas and air again! The midwife who greeted us was the same midwife who delivered S2. I felt safe in her hands. My contractions were coming thick and fast with no gap in between. I overdosed on gas and air! I remember an insulin drip being put on my arm and I was hooked up to the monitors. The Midwife decides to check me, but as she does the rest of my waters drowned her and flooded my notes on the table at the end of the bed.

After that my memory is a bit hazy. Mostly due to the amount of gas and air I was taking. I started getting the urge to push and the end of each contraction. The pressure down below made me want to be on my knees but I couldn’t move being hooked up to monitors and a drip, so hubby and the mw had to pin me down! I remember squeezing the mw wrist and grabbing the back of hubby’s head with the gas and air gripped in between my teeth. The Mw asked hubby to take the gas and air off me, but he had no chance. I managed to pull my drip out and blood spurted everywhere!

Baby’s head crowned slowly and my contraction stopped when his head was half out. He had a hand next to his head too. Then with the next contraction he flew out! He was handed to me and did a big wee all over me. He looked so tiny too.

lucas1

At 10.31pm Luca was born weighing 7lb13oz. Just in time for daddy to watch Match of the day! The placenta delivered less than 5 minutes later, it was such a relief as I had started panicking. Baby had his first BF within that time too. I needed no stitches and went for a nice hot bath. I was transferred to the ward at 3am (took ages as they were busy) and discharged by lunchtime. This birth as far as I was concerned was perfect. A great birth to finish off with.

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

jan2

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

Could Men Really Handle It?

Typical man comment

Typical man comment

Watching my husband suffer with an impacted wisdom tooth this week has really got me thinking.  He didn’t cry out in pain as one would expect, but became very quiet  over the course of an evening, hardly ate the meal I prepared for him (unheard of) and eventually said ‘I think I’m dying’.  Of course my initial reaction was to call 999 but he began to explain the severity of his pain, stating that ‘if he had a gun he should shoot himself’ and ‘where on earth is the number for his dentist?’  The irony is, that he hasn’t even got a dentist and he vaguely remembers still being registered at his childhood dentist back in North Somerset, not helpful.

He then said that childbirth was a breeze, and men could handle it without any drugs.  A breeze huh! Try saying that when you’re trying to shove a something to size of a watermelon out of something the size of an orange with a bit of gas and air and a feeble back rub from your other half.  Or as my friend described it ‘as simultaneously shoving four rolling pins up your arse and vag for eight hours straight.  I could go on……

Luckily for my husband , some rather crazy Dutch guys decided they could also handle the pain of childbirth and proved it by filming an experiment called ‘Guinea Pigs’.  Storm and Zeno reveal why they took on this particular challenge, explaining that giving birth is the worst pain there is.  However, since men can’t feel labour pains, the two men used electro-stimulations to simulate contractions so they could experience the distress for themselves.

“Do you think the pain will make us scream,” Zeno asks before the shocks begin.

One of the midwives responds bluntly: “Yes, it definitely will.”

She wasn’t lying.

Propped on a bed with electrodes attached to their abdomens, Storm and Zeno last through two hours of the simulated contractions. Though they try to laugh through the pain, the men appear to be in complete misery as they double over and clutch pillows tightly and eventually reaching for the gas and air.

Haha in your face HUSBAND!  Its really funny viewing, enjoy.

How would you explain to your other half how your labour felt?

 

The Marathon of Labour

As another day of endless rain descends on the UK during the height of Summer and I look desperately at my toddler hoping she won’t grow up and hate me for taking her to Sainsbury’s for the third time this week (look its indoors, it sells a great selection of flowers AND there’s a Starbucks), I have a small glimmer of hope that in 5 weeks we will be on holiday!!!! The blue skies and hot Mediterranean sun makes me happier than nothing else in this world (apologies if that’s sounds shallow) but my husband will agree. I’m a completely different person on holiday yes Vitamin D and me are the best of friends. But there is the small issue of bikinis, and with bikinis comes the 2babies/haven’t done exercise since last summer/always says yes to cake, tummy.

So I’ve started running.  Only once around my local park (it has a huge hill) and I hate it.  I really really hate it.  I know I could have joined the gym but I would have only sat in the sauna for 2 hours and to be honest I really dislike exercising in front of skinny people especially in confined spaces.  So the park seemed like the best option but when I reach that point (usually 10 minutes in) when I feel like I’m going to die, the stitch in my side is unbearable and that disgusting taste has developed in my mouth I think about labour.  Not just when I was in labour but when I’m with a woman helping her through the toughest points.  Let me tell you a little story of Zoe.

Zoe and Ben were having their first baby; she came into hospital at 39+5 weeks during one of my night shifts and was found to be 6cm dilated, membranes intact contracting strongly.  I suggested she should try the birthing pool and an available room was found.  As the pool was filling she started using gas and air and was finding the contractions really painful and difficult to cope with.  The pool was ready and she got in and immediately relaxed.  Her waters broke half an hour late and she started making involuntary pushing sounds with each contraction.  My student and I stood back and waited quietly as we observed this amazing stage of labour.  After about an hour of pushing, Zoe started getting really tired and fed up.  She couldn’t understand why her baby hadn’t been born yet and wanted to get out of the pool and have an epidural.  I reassured her that her baby would be here soon and she was doing such a fantastic job.  I suggested putting her finger inside her vagina to see if she could feel her baby’s head (I hadn’t examined her at this point) and she said she could and it didn’t feel that far away!  This gave her some encouragement that she really was close to meeting her baby.  But exhaustion had kicked in and the contractions had started to wear off.  I asked Ben what snacks they had in the bags and he produced some Flap Jacks and a bottle of Lucozade.  We fed this to Zoe and with a bit of nipple stimulation the contractions came back with a vengeance.  But Zoe still found it difficult to get through those last few pushes.  I asked Zoe if she had ever run a marathon which she said she had done a 10K a long time ago so I used this analogy to help her focus and visualise.

Labour is like running a marathon; it’s really hard, really physically painful and you will push your body in ways you never thought possible.  But you will do it, you can do it and there’s a finishing line, meeting your baby.  Zoe gave her absolute everything in those last few pushes and birthed a beautiful 8lb 5onz baby boy.

And that birth story isn’t the exception.  So many times I have heard (and also myself) women say ‘I can’t do it’ during labour.  Birth is probably the hardest thing your body has to go through but self-belief, a bit of preparation and support from your birth partner means you most definitely can do it.