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!

Nicola with Elizabeth and Alexandra

In celebration of Mother’s Day over here in the UK, I bring you this amazingly empowering story from Nicola. Nicola who lives in Denmark got in touch only a few days after she birthed her second baby! Impressive stuff. Nicola was so traumatised from her first birth that she was left feeling like a failure as a woman and mother. But this only made her more determined to change a negative experience into a positive, and under two years later Nicola birthed her second baby her way, the right way. Here she shares her story.

Dear Clemmie,

I started reading your blog about 10 months ago while researching ‘gas and air’: I live in Denmark where I’ve now given birth twice, and as my local hospital had stopped offering gas and air for pain relief, I was doing some research… since then, I’ve been hooked & find the stories and posts incredibly inspiring.

The reason I’d like to share my birth story is to offer encouragement to women who have had traumatic experiences but want to have children again; needing to face a fear of childbirth. I had a horrendous time giving birth to my firstborn, but have just had a truly positive second childbirth experience at home which I hope would give these mothers something positive to ponder.

“After a previous early miscarriage I was overjoyed to be pregnant with a healthy baby 5 months later and when labour day arrived at 40+3 I was in excellent form (I am a marathon-runner, cross-fit fanatic & much more!). The pregnancy had been fine, although we saw 4 different midwives over our 5 appointments. Things started to go wrong when we arrived at the hospital that was too busy to admit me despite being 4cm. I was given drugs to stall the labour, reacted badly to the pills, was a day later given morphine without proper explanation and began throwing up with each contraction. This continued for 4 hours alone in a side room: I was dehydrated and still stuck at 4cm. This wasn’t the labour I’d envisaged, where I would be respected, informed and able to let my body do its job! Once a midwife was finally assigned to us she broke the waters and put in an epidural and IV. I was soon 8cm so she reduced the epidural as I laboured & vomited, waiting to push.

My husband helped me out of bed to stand for the pushing: for over 2 hours with a hormone drip before the baby finally came out. I was ill, exhausted, dehydrated, my throat burned from vomiting and I am sure I only got through naturally thanks to my high fitness level. Two days after regular contractions had started, my daughter was born.

Beyond relief that the ordeal was over, I felt like an absolute failure. It took me months before I could replay any part of the experience without breaking down, and even longer to stop blaming myself. I believed I had failed at becoming a mother; that I was weak not to question the drugs being given. However, I did receive written advice from the chief midwife that she would recommend not birthing there again… and this is where my story moves from despondency to hope!

9 months after my daughter was born I was pregnant again with a mixture of trepidation and joy! I went to get my papers and was asked by my doctor how things had been ‘last time’. The floodgates opened and she was a super-star: immediately changing me to a different hospital and signing me up for a special midwife dealing with women who’ve had difficult first births. This time, we saw the same midwife at each antenatal appointment and were given tasks to discuss between times, such as ‘for each thing that went wrong, what can you do this time to try to prevent a recurrence?’ Seeing the same midwife each time also meant that the antenatal appointments were more than just a physical health-check: we built a relationship and felt cared-for.

During the early months I realised my preferred option was a home birth. I would be in control, a midwife would be assigned to us for the whole labour, and above all – no drugs would be allowed! Not even gas and air at a home birth here. We also wouldn’t need to travel to hospital, and they couldn’t be ‘too busy’ because home births take priority. It was an all-round winner.

So, three days ago I gave birth! And wow: what a change of experience. I feel healed, whole and that I am indeed a capable mother after all. The baby was 8 days overdue and we were staring down the barrel of a medical inducement, ruining all our homebirth and drug-free plans. In a last-minute avoidance attempt we went to 3 hours of reflexology and rebozo (I have all my money on the rebozo being the golden answer!), came home and did more rebozo on the floor, went to bed, had sex and then I started nipple stimulation.

Within an hour I was having period pains, so ramped up the stimulation. Two contractions came & I tried to recall some hypno-birthing mantras, but they were lost on me. Third contraction made me roll onto all fours on the bed & my husband started timing them, even though I laughed that he thought anything could be happening given that last time took 2 days! I was convinced by my breathing that these were 20 second false alarms, but they were actually 50 seconds every 3 minutes from the word go, and hitting me deep down in the pelvis.

Half an hour later he called the labour ward to say ‘something’s happening but she thinks it’s a false alarm.’ … And one hour later he called to tell them to send someone right now. The interesting thing is that I still thought it was a false alarm, no one should do anything, and OH MY WORD how could another contraction have come so quickly?! Denial…

I was still on the bed, swaying in a pear shape for the contractions then resting forward. I was getting 6 sways in to start, but was now regularly making 10 or 12 circles to get through. Some contractions hit harder than others, sometimes I moaned like a cow into the pillow, but at no point did I think it was inescapable. I was desperate for the midwife NOT to arrive so she couldn’t tell me I was 4cm, devastate me & make me ask to go to hospital for pain relief.

Fortunately my husband was a little more aware of what was going on & had already filled the pool. The midwife arrived after 40 minutes to hear me moo-ing for over a minute. She looked like an angel dressed in white in my bedroom door & asked ‘why’ I wanted to go to hospital? I told her I didn’t feel well & if this is 4cm “what about the rest”? She smiled, told me to get straight in the pool or I wouldn’t be going anywhere because I was fully dilated and she needed to unpack her bag. Seriously!

I hopped into the pool with some kind of new energy, leaned forward & pushed a little at the top of the contractions. Twice. I called over to ask whether I was actually allowed to push and she replied ‘yes, if you want to’ in a very non-committal manner while continuing to unpack. Third push and I bit the wooden spoon like I’d break it, started screaming ‘HELP MEEEE!’ into my husband’s neck and was convinced I was about to die: I’d felt three separate things ‘pop’ between my legs during a good 2-minutes of contraction and had NO idea what they were – internal organs? Why wouldn’t anyone say what they were?! Why would neither of them help me?! And why was she still unpacking her bag on the other side of the room?!

As the wave subsided I heard them telling me to stop screaming, my husband whispering with relief that ‘we’ve got a baby! We’ve got a baby!’ and a massive, plaintive cry from the baby who was in the midwife’s calm, capable hands behind me. Those 3 things weren’t my internal organs busting out; it was the waters, the head and the body all in one fell swoop!

You can see from the photo: I could not stop smiling! I had done this amazing thing, all by myself! I had proven that our bodies, as women, are capable of labour and birth when allowed. I had proven that last time didn’t need to be like that, but that it didn’t need to overshadow what would come in the future. I had proven the stupid hospital wrong! I had shown that HOPE can be built from your worst dread.

I write this with my new baby asleep next to me, and my daughter snoozing in the other room. I feel well, I feel proud, I feel whole. I feel the absolute opposite of the failure of a mother from last time.

I want to tell women who’ve had bad experiences: next time doesn’t have to be like that. The single biggest thing you can do is identify 3 extremely specific things that went wrong, and what exactly you can do in your own control to prevent that next time. Perhaps you need more pain relief, perhaps less. Perhaps you need someone with you who will take control and ask questions; perhaps you need a note to take to the hospital with you to explain why you’re scared. But don’t let it stop you fulfilling your dream of another child: we have 9 months to positively challenge our thoughts to create a better experience. To believe it can be better and different. And whatever happens, remember that you are a full woman & a success just for giving birth, however it happened. No one can ever take that from you: you are wonderful!

Nic & Elizabeth after 2 days of labour Healing with Alexandra Happy family the morning after the birth

Birth Story Of The Week – Becca and Wilfred

daughter doctorToday’s birth story from Becca, Mum to two boys and writes the website The Doctor and Daughter’s Guide to Pregnancy.

website: doctoranddaughter.co.uk

twitter: @dranddaughter

“My latent labour started on the 14th of April at about 3am when I woke with mild contractions at home in bed.  I went back to sleep and woke intermittently for the next few hours until I got up.  I spent a relatively nice/strange/surreal/calm day at home with my husband just having what felt like bad period pains and Braxton Hicks together.  I ate and drank normally and had a 45 minute nap.  After lunch we strapped the TENS machine on and went for a 2 hour walk in the park, went to Sainsburys and was even approached in the street by a film crew asking me to talk to Camera about why I love living in Balham!  I told them I was in labour and they retreated pretty quickly!

The TENS machine was lovely, it felt really really nice and was a very welcome distraction. By about 3 or 4pm my contractions were becoming more painful and I had to breathe through them.  I was trying to remember to welcome each contraction (as my Ante Natal teacher had taught me) but by about 7.30pm the pain suddenly ramped up and became unmanageable and I didn’t want to be at home anymore.  I got into Hospital at about 8.30pm and was already 5cm dilated!

I tried Gas and Air and I thought I was going to be sick and I felt really disorientated and panicked, but I then tried it out when I wasn’t having a contraction and I felt a lot more in control and quickly got used to it- I would recommend persevering if the first attempt isn’t positive, although I don’t know how much it actually did for the pain.

They ran the water bath, which took ages, and I got in about 20 minutes later- this felt amazing and although it didn’t do anything for the pain really, it does give you an amazing feeling of warmth and comfort and weightlessness. I basically then closed my eyes and held my husband’s hand and the gas and air in the other hand and concentrated on breathing. Time went very quickly but at about 11 30pm decided I couldn’t take the pain anymore – so I decided I wanted to be examined to see how far dilated I was, as I was about to beg for an epidural (I was secretly hoping she would say I was only 6cm…and then I would get an epidural and end the pain!!!) but I was 9cm and in transition… so I jumped back in the bath and pretty soon after I started pushing!

This bit was hard, and painful but I was so encouraged by the thought that it would only last an hour or so maximum! After about half an hour I pushed his head out- and a little hand (he was coming out in a Superman pose) – the midwife explained that with a water birth she would not touch him as he came out and I would just push him, so there was a strange few minutes where I could look down and see his head out, not breathing yet- but I had to wait for another contraction so I could push his body out.  However I felt very calm and so relieved that the end was near!! One last push and he came out all on his own and the midwife grabbed him and helped him swim up to the surface!! He cried straight away for a few seconds and then chilled out as soon as the midwife put him on my chest.  He was born at 10 minutes past midnight on the 15th April, one day early, weighing 6lb 6oz. My labour was recorded as being 4 hours as this was the time from when I came into hospital.

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I had the injection for the Placenta delivery whilst still in the water- I got out of the water to deliver it, but as I stood up, it came out, so that was great. The injection made me contract for a few hours longer but they gave me some painkillers to deal with the pain of that.  As soon he was delivered I felt absolutely fine, my hideous indigestion had disappeared and I felt completely normal!
My son is absolutely amazing and worth every second of discomfort during pregnancy and labour, the memories of which have faded fast!

I don’t think I would have done anything differently.  I would have liked to have known more about Latent Labour as I was confused when people kept telling me I wasn’t in “proper labour”.

My advice to a first time mother would definitely be to have an open mind regarding pain relief and the way in which your baby will be born.  I am aware I had a very good and relatively quick labour but this is something that was down to luck and perhaps genetics rather than anything else.  I would also say DON’T FORGET TO BREATHE! It sounds so obvious, but I kept forgetting to breathe and my husband had to remind me!  I had made him read lots about labour and breathing and how he could help me, and this was a great help when the pain was unbearable”.

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Birth Story Of The Week – Holly and Mabel

WARNING! YOU MAY FEEL EXTREME BIRTH ENVY AFTER READING THIS STORY

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I have to admit that I am one of the lucky ones. My first pregnancy had been about as text book as you could hope for. The birth of Florence was remarkably quick. In fact, it is safe to say that I was able to stick to my birth plan from start to finish. Florence was born at my chosen Birthing centre (the only woman there), in the pool listening to radio 2 after about 6 hours of labour. Perfect.

Of course the only problem with this is the more I spoke to my friends who had subsequently had their babies, I realised that I was just that – LUCKY. I know everyone tells you the horror stories, but I really started to feel ashamed of my ‘perfect’ birth. So when I became pregnant not long after (there is 19 months between my two) I was actually more worried than I was the first time round. Surely, I couldn’t be that lucky twice…

Well, turns out you can! Aside from some pretty horrific varicose veins (I came home in tears when my midwife was so shocked at seeing my swollen and purple veins that she actually told me they were the worst she had ever seen – yeah thanks!!), my pregnancy was uncomfortable but otherwise uneventful.

My plan had always been to have this baby in the same Birthing centre, in the same pool. What I didn’t know was that funding had been cut so the centre was only open in the day and the pool was out of action with no plans to fix it before my due date. Another trip home in tears. I was point blank refusing to go to the local ‘monster’ of a hospital unless I had to, so when I asked my midwife about options for a home birth , expecting her to give me a big thumbs up, she remained indifferent and gave me little information about where I could buy/hire a pool (I was told to ‘goggle it’) or even how this thing would work. Again, panic set in.

I quickly emailed the lovely Clemmie, who I know through school friends. Thankfully, she gave me all the information and reassurance that I needed, so much so that my husband wanted her number on speed dial ‘just in case!’ With this I found my ‘birth pool in a box’ on gumtree and told my midwife I wanted a home birth. Decision made!

I finished work on the Wednesday with exactly a week to go before my due date. On the Saturday I was walking around Sainsbury’s with my toddler thinking, hmmmmm, this hurts a tad. I put Florence to bed as normal, with a few intervals during the bedtime story as the ‘waves’ came and went. I still hadn’t mentioned anything to my husband – God knows why. He was cooking me a nice dinner and I didn’t want to ruin it, so again I ate my tea, getting up a couple of times to make myself a drink (not normal behaviour). We had had a particularly tiring night with Florence the night before, so when I got up off the sofa halfway through ‘Take me Out’, the hubby asked if I was off to bed? I told him no, but it’s time to call your mum. I have never seen him looked so shocked!!

I’m not sure what made me leave it so long to get the ball rolling. I guess I was sort of in denial, but things soon got moving. Darrell put up the pool and started filling it after my mother in law came to collect Florence, all the while I was hugging the walls with my TENS machine electrocuting me. The midwife arrived (after a very tense conversation with the coordinator who told me there were staffing issues and she wasn’t sure if anyone could come to me – another tearful moment in this story). She took one look at me and called for the 2nd midwife to come right away. She hadn’t even examined me – I guess I had that ‘fully dilated’ look about me!

I got in the pool,  which was just as amazing as I remember, with my favourite Yankee candle burning and the ipod playing, all the while hubby made everyone tea and toast. Very civilised. That was until the midwife piped up to say that there was no mouth piece for the gas and air, and could I do this without it? At first I felt brave and said yes. However, 10 minutes later the husband was looking around the house for something that could be used instead of the mouth piece. Another 10 minutes into the story, I was so desperate that I was sucking on the tube direct from the tank!! Who needs a sterile mouthpiece when you are minutes away from giving birth??

And after a remarkably short time, I caught our second daughter, Mabel. A beautifully purple Winston Churchill lookalike. What an amazing feeling to get out of the pool in your living room, feed your new born daughter while the midwives drink tea and tell you how amazing you are.

I guess I know how lucky I am to have such straight forward births – but to anyone who is considering a home birth, if you can, “please do it”. I promise it’s not as scary or as messy as you think it is going to be.

holly and florence holly and florence 2 holly and mabelIf you would like to share your birth story, any birth story is welcome then please email it to me and some photos at gasandairblog@gmail.com

 

Birth Story Of The Week – Quin and Ari

Hello 2014! How exciting is the beginning of a new year? I’m embracing this month by banishing those January blues and looking forward all the amazing birth stories that I have to share with you every week. And kicking off this week is a fabulous story by Quin.

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‘It was 2.30pm on Monday 3 October 2011 and I was just walking from the kitchen into the hallway, wondering when my friends and their son would be arriving for tea and cake. Then it happened – and it was just like it is in the films. Water gushed and I thought for a split second that I’d wet myself, until I remembered I hadn’t needed the loo 2 seconds earlier. And then the doorbell rang.

My first thought? SHIIIIIIT. I grabbed my phone and rang my husband, breathlessly conveying that not only had my waters gone and it was ‘happening’ but I had three lovely people waiting on the doorstep. We agreed he’d leave work pronto and I waddled to the door. Being on the top floor and the owner of a broken entry system, I hobbled down 4 flights of stairs and greeted my friends with a ‘my waters have gone’ and they came rushing in. ‘Don’t panic’ came from the gent. My girl friend, in all her calm, experienced glory was a very welcome sight. After calm was restored and I realised I wasn’t going to give birth imminently, we sat down to tea and cake – but as you can imagine, conversation wasn’t relaxed. We called the hospital and they told me to come in for a check. They asked if the baby was moving normally but to be honest, I couldn’t tell – it was probably snoozing and I was hardly feeling normal about things.

A friend at work had told me to ignore all the books and to not pack my hospital bag until I was in labour. ‘You’ll need something to do’ is what she said. So, with no hospital bag to grab, my friend dutifully packed it whilst I paced around, and off I hopped into a taxi, wearing my slippers (which I’d forgotten to swap for shoes) and sitting on a towel. I’m sure the driver thought something was up – but I certainly wasn’t going to tell him.

I met my husband at the station and we drove to the hospital.

I waited at St Thomas’s for a while, experiencing extremely mild period-pain like twinges, and thinking ‘this is so easy. I can totally handle this labour thing’. I was assessed and told I was not in labour and was booked in for an induction 24 hours later. ‘Go home, relax and put your feet up’ was the advice given. So that it what we did.

Home at about 6pm, we settled into an evening of lists. Lists and times. Timing and listing every single twinge and pain. By about 11pm I was well into labour with contractions and throwing up galore. I couldn’t sit, stand or do anything except for throw up everything I’d eaten that day and wish to God that it would be over soon. I was determined to stay at home for as long as I could so at about 1am, we went back into St Thomas’s for another check. I was sure I was in proper labour. The contractions were like nothing I’d even dreamed off and the ‘surges’ of pain were more like deep waves that penetrated every fibre of my body. Even my finger nails ached.

I was greeted at Tommy’s by a really unsympathetic woman. She curtly told me (as I threw up again) that I was not in labour and this was ‘nothing like established labour would be’.

I honestly didn’t know what to think. How could I cope with any more pain? The advice she gave me ‘to go home, get some sleep, have a long lazy breakfast and come back in 12 hours for the induction’ stuck in my throat, along with the useless paracetamol. We went home. I felt lost, dark, lonely and a little despairing. As my husband tried to sleep, I lay on the bed unable to think straight, my body felt like it was being torn in two each time I contracted, and at one point I remember thinking throwing myself out of the window was a better option than this dark and lonely place I was inhabiting.

At about 5am, I really could take it no more and was beginning to lose my mind. My husband called the hospital again and told them we were coming back in as I was in need of serious drugs. We were then told that labour ward was closed as it was full and they’d call back in a few minutes with an alternative. I didn’t care at this point. In my mind my husband was about to deliver our child, and any alternative was a blessing. Ten minutes later we were told to go to Kings and we hobbled off one last time. I remember not being able to sit in the car as each contraction propelled me out of my seat. We got to Kings and I was assessed on camera first whilst I waited (they do this sometimes to see how often you’re contracting apparently!) and when assessed by the midwife was told I was now 3cm and not in established labour. I nearly lost it at this point but, finally being in a safe environment, I did calm down and managed to persuade them to let me stay. Hurrah for the midwife as she was within her rights to send me off again as I hadn’t reached 4cm. As a birthing room was free, they welcomed me in – and much to me delight, began to fill the birthing pool so I could hop in and relax.

I got in the pool at 7am and was only there for about half an hour when I felt the strangest sensation – I needed to push and had no control over it. I told the midwife who said I needed to try and chill as much as possible – if I pushed too early, I would certainly tear. I tried to relax as much as I could and got chatting to the really lovely trainee doctor who was sitting in on my labour – his first. But there it was again, that urge to push. Under instruction I got out of the pool and was assessed.

When she said ‘ok, the baby is in the birth canal, you need to get back in the water and push’ we couldn’t believe what we were hearing. I thought I’d be there for ages yet (and was told I would be) and was just waiting for 4cm so I could have some serious painkillers – I had been dreaming of an epidural since about 1am. I remember saying ‘is it too late for any drugs’ and she said ‘yes, you’re baby is almost here! Get back in and push.’

After what seemed like an eternity pushing (it was about 2 hours), my beautiful little frizzy-haired bundle of loveliness came swimming out and straight into my arms. She was clean, plump, had huge blue eyes and pouty red lips. We were so grateful to the amazing team at Kings for having faith in my assertion I needed to stay. We were told if they had told me to go home, they are sure my husband would have delivered her – and that we are all grateful for! 3cm-10 in an hour is scary – especially when your body, as only you know really know, is clearly doing a lot of the hard work in the pre-stage.

Roll on 3.5 weeks, a nightmare with feeding, a saint in the form of a Lambeth breastfeeding counsellor, and a now happy, plump-once-more baby, I’m sitting on the sofa one evening when I get the strangest feeling, as if my waters have broken. I think it strange, that surely my waters broke nearly a month ago… I run to the loo to find I’m having a major haemorrhage. Losing what seems like pints of blood, with hormones raging, a newborn in the next room and what seems like my entire body ebbing away, I fly into a major panic. My husband rings 999 and an ambulance team arrives and whisks me – blue lights and driving on the wrong side of the road – all the way to Kings. A Code Blue is what they called me, catastrophic haemorrhage.

They stem the bleed and get me back onto post-natal, and keep me in for a few days. I have an operation to remove any ‘retained goods’ leftover from the birth – and have so many drugs pumped into me – including a spinal for the operation – that I think how ironic it is that I manage birth on no drugs and this on every drug going.

I can’t help thinking that 100 years ago I may not have made it to see my daughter’s first month – and for that I am more than eternally grateful. I’ve since discovered many friends and acquaintances who’ve had similar experiences, whether they be pre- or post-birth complications – all of whom may not be here today if it wasn’t for advances in medicine, and the incredibly hardworking NHS teams across the country.’

Birth Story Of The Week – Ali and Effie

Today’s birth story is very special because I was the midwife. Not that I have favourite births that I’ve attended but this is certainly up there. I’ll never forget watching my friend birth her baby girl. Thank you Ali for sharing.
Twiiter: @ alienoretcorwin
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This is the story of my second birth. I wanted to write this for Clemmie’s blog as Clemmie was our midwife, and those of you who have had babies will know how much a midwife touches your life, how you will never forget them. I met Clemmie virtually on Twitter and then we met in real life before Clemmie joined the team of midwives I was with and got assigned to me, so we were becoming friends as my pregnancy was progressing which was really quite special.
I feel very lucky to be writing this story, what I think is a beautiful birth story. I had a very straight forward pregnancy and my first baby was born at home and so I had planned another home birth for my second.
I knew Effie was going to be born on the spring equinox, it’s my grandma’s birthday and was a week after my due date, and I was right! My birth started in that classic move style way of my waters breaking. It was about 6am, I was lying in bed when all of a sudden there was water gushing out, I did that classic pregnant woman thing of worrying I was pissing myself so quickly jumped out of bed but it was pretty obvious it was my waters going. All I could remember was the midwives telling me to put a pad in if my waters broke to check the colour so I was pointing my husband in the right direction to find a pad, but when he finally presented me with it, I quickly realised I needed a bath towel rather than a panty liner!
Pretty soon after that the contractions started to come and my husband started to get things ready. I woke my mum up who was staying with us to take care of my son then I went and knelt by my bed whilst the contractions built. Shortly after that my husband came to check on me and I was already asking to call Clemmie. Within 15 mins or so Clemmie was with us and as soon as she walked in the door I threw up. During my first labour I had vomited for 8 hours straight and so had some anti-nausea drugs ready, Clemmie’s first job was to jab me in the bum!
I remember my husband putting the Tens machine on me but walking out of the room before telling me how to use it but I didn’t want to turn it on anyway, all I wanted was to get in the pool so as soon as was possible I got in and ran the warm water coming out of the hose down my back.
I was in the sitting room at this point and I could hear my son and my mum having breakfast in the kitchen but I couldn’t focus and asked my husband to chuck them out, I needed the peace that a two year old can’t give! I can’t really re-call every detail and I’m sure you don’t want me to but it felt like things were progressing pretty quickly, I continued to vomit a bit but nothing on the scale of my first labour so I was fine with it. The second midwife arrived (who was my first midwife at my son’s birth!) and I started feeling like I needed to push. I pushed with each contraction for a little while but nothing seemed to be happening so at that point I was examined but was I wasn’t fully dilated so Clemmie and Erika (the second midwife) told me to stop and relax a little in the pool.
I remember the next hour or so in a slightly bizarre way, I could see the midwives sitting on my sofa chatting, writing notes, eating. I don’t think I spoke at all, the pain had lessened but my contractions were still strong and regular. I clutched a sick bowl for comfort and told my husband to change the music (although I can’t tell you what we were listening to). Then after a while I felt the baby move, it felt like a huge movement and pretty suddenly the baby was definitely bearing down and I needed to push, Clemmie checked me again and I was fully dilated so I started to push. I think during my first labour I was pretty out of it by the time my son arrived, I’d been so sick and was on a drip and was pretty tired that I didn’t feel him come down or crown at all. This time it was different though, each contraction I could feel my baby move down, I knew when she was close and could feel the sting as she crowned. I could see her head when it was delivered and when she came out it was a pretty magical seeing her be born. There was a split second when she was out in the water before Clemmie reminded me to catch her and then she was up, straight onto my chest.
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We didn’t know what sex we were having, and we had a boy already, but although I craved a girl, I know we would have been happy either way, once they are born and in your arms crying and pink you can’t care, you are just so happy they are healthy. After gazing into my babies beautiful eyes for a while Clemmie asked what we had, no one had seen yet, so I lifted her up and I have to admit my heart leapt when I saw she was a girl, it had all been too perfect.
I think I read in my notes that it was five minutes before I delivered the placenta, it was certainly quick, I was still in the pool holding the baby when I felt a contraction, so with the next I pushed and the placenta was delivered. Clemmie caught the placenta which was still attached to the baby!
After that, I remember the midwives had made me a path of those bed mat things to the sofa and they walked me over to it, and wrapped me up with my baby in a big bundle of towels and blankets. And that is where Effie first fed and we lay there together for hours, chatting to the midwives, eating toast and drinking gallons of water. It felt so natural and normal chatting to my new friend and my husband in our sitting room with our little addition, who was very tranquil and happy, just to be wrapped up against my chest. A few hours later my mum came home with our son and life continued as normal, Effie arrived in our home in such a natural way, it was as if she was always part of our family.
So five hours and with no pain relief, it really was such a lovely and calm birth. I am very very lucky to have had such great midwives, such a wonderful service to allow women to have babies at home, it made a massive difference to me being that relaxed and comfortable and I’m sure it wouldn’t have been the case for me if I’d have been in a hospital setting.

Birth Story Of The Week – Stacey and Elijah

Has she popped yet? Twitter has been going crazy with rumours that Kate Middleton is in labour. Helicopters were seen near her parents house and the press continue to wait out the entrance of Paddington’s St Mary’s Hospital where she is due to deliver. But Prince William’s appearance at a polo match yesterday was a pretty good sign that things were all quiet in the Royal womb.

Well here is a lovely birth story written by a fellow midwife who I trained with and lived with back in the day. Actually it wasn’t that long ago but it feels it since we’ve both become mothers and done a lot of growing up since then! Stacey is a midwife on a postnatal ward in Bristol and here she tells her birth story of Elijah. Even very fast births may not always be the best, so be careful what you wish for.

Stacey and Elijah

Stacey and Elijah

So, my thoughts on the pregnancy…Easy, thoroughly enjoyable, amazing. My thoughts on the pending labour…petrifying, fearful, adamant I wasn’t going to go through with it. 

As a midwife, I have seen pretty much every type of labour- quick and easy, long and tough. I was sure I was going to have a tough one and had scared myself stupid.
Well, at 39 weeks I had my friend pop up for a couple of days. The husband decided to be rushed to hospital with a dodgy ticker (all is fine now!) and we jokingly said how this was enough to get me into labour- the next morning, some mild period pains kicked in. Nothing a little wheat pack and paracetamol couldn’t sort out! I found out at 11am I was 5cm but not contracting- hallelujah!! As great as this sounds, I had no idea what to do. It wasn’t what all the books say, surely I should be screaming for an epidural by this point?! So, as all women who are 5cm dilated…the husband was off work on a sick day (due to the dodgy ticker!) and I made sure he went and got his haircut. Then off we popped to a friend’s house for lunch. 

5cm dilated!

5cm dilated!

So, sat contracting every 5minutes but nothing particularly exciting, eating my tuna sandwich! Surreal. 

By 5pm we went home and things had settled. Husband suggested he had a nap, so I had a bath. The contractions had come back by 6pm and they were every 2-3minutes by 7pm! We got to the hospital by 7:30 and had a lovely waterbirth by 8:45. For me, I was most comfortable when in the pool. I didn’t want pain relief- if I’m honest, I wasn’t actually in pain. Does a pain free labour really exist? Being with my friends, my husband, using water and using pregnancy yoga techniques- I had what I would say was an hour and a half labour. Wow! Baby Elijah arrived weighing 8lb 0oz.

stacey

As many people would say I had the perfect labour, I wish it was slower, I wish I had time to register what was happening. I went home the next day and felt as though I’d stolen a baby from work- the whole process was too surreal and made bonding tough. He’s fantastic and we’re like best friends now…as for extending the family, that won’t be for a while, but I think it might have to include a waterbirth at home!!’

An Open Letter To Kate Middleton

Dear Kate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best Wishes

Birth Stories

I’ve been on a little high this week after attending my wonderful friend and colleague’s birth. It was such an honour to be there and see her being so strong and courageous, I feel all warm and tingly when I think of it. As a midwife I watch women becoming mothers in front of my very eyes as their babies are born and often wonder how will they find this incredible journey they are about to embark on.

It’s got me thinking. I love a birth story, probably because I’m a midwife and a little birth obsessed, but I have feeling there’s a lot of you out there who also love a birth story too. Am I right?

I’ve decided to start a weekly blog post called ‘Birth Story of The Week‘ starting on Monday. ALL types of births are welcome and I really do mean that. It’s more about how you felt during the whole event. It doesn’t matter if it was last month, last year or 5 years ago. I can remember my first daughter’s birth almost 6 years ago still very clearly. I will post a different story every week. Oh and any special photo you would like to accompany it with would be great!

So if you feel you want to share your experience please email me at gasandairblog@gmail.com. Thanks

Here are two photos from both my births to get you inspired. You can read my birth stories here

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7 days in Sunny April…..

Last week I returned back to work having had a week off. Ahhh a week off, time spent with my kids, getting through those pesky jobs which linger in the corners of my home, an essential mani/pedi and the joys of no on calls!  Having a week off means you essentially have a weeks worth of births to catch up on, emails and lots of texts from women who often want to change appointments due to work commitments.

heavs Saturday: I discharged my super star woman who had a beautiful home birth on the day of the Grand National, despite being adamant throughout her pregnancy that she would be in hospital with all the drugs available for her. Fortunately for her, her labour was quick and perfect in every way and her little baby girl was born on the living room floor 3 minutes after the race ended. (more on that in next weeks post). I then received not one but TWO presents, totally spoilt but totally amazing!  

photo (3)Sunday: I was on labour ward on a beautiful warm Spring day with an induction. The woman and her partner were fab and we kept each other going  with the Times crossword, Haribo Starmix and talked baby names. It was so hot on labour ward I rocked out the no socks and Converse look, luckily I had remembered to shave my legs!

photo (4)Monday: I immersed my watch in a birthing pool last month, it steamed up and eventually died so decided to treat myself this snazzy Swatch watch, added bonus that its waterproof!  Time is of the essence when you’re a midwife, I just wish I had more of it to share about.

photo (5)Tuesday: Hello sunshine, hello happy midwife! Nothing quite like a bit of great weather to get you smiling when you wake up! Had a busy day of weighing and checking a new born, helping a couple prepare for the birth of their first baby with their birth plan and booking my newly pregnant women due in November. November feels like so far away on a warm Spring day. Lunch was eaten outside on the garden of the GP surgery where I’m based, alfresco style.

photo (6)Wednesday: I was on call and back on labour ward with a woman having a long old labour, poor girl was knackered and despite all the our best efforts she was just too tired to push her baby out. I had to get the doctors in to give her a hand and she ended up having a forceps delivery. I felt knackered by 2am so god knows how she felt. I say boo to forceps but she and her baby boy were both doing really well by the morning. Congratulations!

photo (7)Thursday: The beautiful sunshine continued to warm my skin and having caught up on some sleep, I oiled and tweaked (read my husband) my battered old bike and rode off to do my visits. I use to have a really nice bike but it got nicked so when I finally replaced it I decided the more rusty and old looking the less likely it would be nicked again, so far so good! The perfect day was blessed with a perfect home water birth, and as I rode off home to see my girls I thought ‘I have the best job in the world’.

photo (8)Friday: Day off! Which is such a blessing, caught up with a friend whilst our little ones threw themselves about at the soft play and had an evening out with my husband and friends in a great  local pub. My mind was totally switched off from work until I walked home and spotted the full moon. A full moon to midwives means only one thing, lots of births! I had a peak at my emails when I got home and lets just say the moon is often right!

photo (9)Saturday: I spent the day with my wonderful little family at the South Bank, eating yummy noodles, watching the boats pass by and getting soaked in a freak shower. Oh and I couldn’t help but check my emails again, 2 more births, that pesky full moon kept my colleagues busy!

I hope you all enjoyed the beautiful weather, what did everyone else get up to?