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.

rebecca

‘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.

head and hand

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

The Big Squeze

My Mum has bought one of those huge trampolines with the net around it for her garden so my girls can go crazy and potentially break their skinny little wrists as they fling themselves around. Watching my husband teach my eldest how to perfect her seat drop, made me feel like a teenager again during P.E self consciously yanking at my hideous gym skirt and squeaky Dunlop plimsoles dreading my turn to be called by the teacher.

I won’t go on a trampoline, I did it once not long after daughter number 1 was born and the results were hideous. There needs to be an added warning sign underneath the bit that says ‘children must be supervised at all times’ for people like me ‘do not attempt to even hoist your leg up on to this trampoline if you have had a baby’ (in capital letters of course) .

I always thought I had a good pelvic floor before children, did the odd bit of exercise when I remembered but generally I’m fit, young and healthy so ‘why bother’ I thought.  Unfortunately my job doesn’t help (you’d think it would) but midwives are notoriously bad for working long hours not drinking enough water then wondering why my wee looks like orange juice at the end of the day! We also subconsciously push with women during the 2nd stage of labour hoping our encouragement will help theirs, it doesn’t. Throw in 2 babies and well to be honest I had to do something about a potential big problem. Seeing those adverts for older woman skipping through fields of daisies with their grandchildren, so happy because their wearing Tena Lady made me realise I would not get to that stage. I knew going to the GP wouldn’t be helpful, she would only tell me what I’ve  been telling women for ages how to do your pelvic floor exercises.  I’m just lazy or in denial, to be honest I hate any sort of exercise.  But the good news is that pelvic floor exercises are not like your usual work-out routine. They’re a simple, convenient way to get those vital muscles back into shape – no sweat! (None at all, promise.) 

First you need to find the right muscles. The best way to do this is to try to stop the flow of urine when you got to the toilet. If you can manage to do this then the muscles you used are the right ones for pelvic floor exercises.  When contracting these muscles it should feel as though you’re squeezing and lifting them slightly up into the body. There shouldn’t be any tensing of the buttocks or thighs, although tightening your anus can help (as if holding in wind).

  • At first, just hold and squeeze your muscles for a second or two. Then gradually build it up to 10 seconds. Repeat as often as you can, building up to 10 repetitions.
  • Rest between squeezes for the same amount of time as you have contracted your muscles, i.e. rest for 10 seconds after holding for 10 seconds.
  • As well as doing these exercises several times a day, you should also squeeze your pelvic floor muscles when you need them, e.g. laughing, coughing, bending, or anything that makes you leak urine.
  • Carry on doing your pelvic floor exercises for several months. You should notice a difference within 2 to 4 months of regular exercise

So come on girls give it a go, you don’t know how much you’ll miss it til it’s gone, but with a bit of work you can always get it back, good luck!