Category: Ask A Midwife

An insiders guide to obstetrics…

Ask A MidwifeBirth StoriesPregnancy

It’s 11pm and I’m 3 hours into my shift as an obstetric registrar. I look up at the lady I am delivering and tell her that I’m putting the ventouse cup on – a glorified sink plunger that’ll hopefully help me get the baby out. I ask her if she’s having a contraction.

There’s a pause as she sucks deeply on her gas and air, before finally replying

“….no it’s gone.”

“Ok. No worries. With your next one I’m going to help you birth this little one.”

Her husband catches my eye. He’s exhausted – his face is full of fatigue, anxiety, anticipation. I hold his gaze and compose my face. The obstetrician’s poker face is well practised. Beep, beep, beep, the baby’s heartbeat ticks away steadily; it’s almost soothing. We wait for the next contraction. Meanwhile, Beth (the midwife) and the neonatologist (baby doctor) are present in preparation for the delivery. My concentration is momentarily interrupted by a fluttering in my belly and I’m reminded of my own passenger. I turn back to the husband.

“You know you’re the only one in the room who isn’t pregnant?”

Everyone, including the birthing lady in front of me, laughs, before our attention is rapidly recaptured by a building contraction; I am distracted from my own pregnancy because I’m managing another.

 

Beth asked me a shamefully long time ago to put some thoughts on paper about the experience of being a pregnant obstetrician. What insight had it given me? What could I offer my past self in terms of hints and tips? What greater understanding had I gleaned from gestating?

 

I suppose the first thing to say is that I have found pregnancy and motherhood a surprise. I’ve met a lot of pregnant ladies, felt a lot of bellies, scanned a lot of uteruses and delivered a lot of babies. Grandmother; eggs, I thought. Despite being immersed in all things obstetric, I was astonished by how it felt to be pregnant. Despite almost every woman telling me how tired they were when I met them in early pregnancy clinic, the degree of my knackered-ness was astonishing. I’d arrive in the car park 20 minutes early and set my phone alarm just so I could have a cheeky snooze. Then I’d leap out of the car, dry-heave on the curb for five minutes, explaining to passers-by that, no, I wasn’t still drunk, then sprint to labour ward looking wan and sheepish. Unsurprisingly, pregnancy is hard to hide when you’re surrounded by those in the know. The Eau de Vom doesn’t help either.

 

To my delight, a colleague (and now great friend) was roughly the same gestation as me, but was unfortunately having a rough ride during pregnancy. We regaled each other with tales from the pregnant trenches. I once had to flee a delivery room – to “get some equipment” – only to be so desperate to puke that I left the loo door open; the birth partner eyed me quizzically from the corridor. My craving for salty carbs was also out of control: one morning I inhaled a packet of ready-salted crisps between every patient on a morning theatre list. There were six patients that session. My friend, however, out-did me by fainting dramatically on a ward round. The consultant, ever considerate, revived her with a playful kick.

 

By comparison, second trimester was a delight. I stopped feeling sick – hurrah – and started relaxing into the swing of things. I even started to feel more attractive – that ‘glowing’ business didn’t seem to be all nonsense. At least, that was until I mentioned my pregnancy to a colleague.

“Oh, congratulations! Naturally, I just assumed that you’d really enjoyed Christmas.”

Great. Not fit, not ‘glowing’, just fat.

Putting my apparent gluttony aside, I waddled on unabashed.

 

My husband and I planned a trip to the Brecon Beacons when I was 24 weeks. We hadn’t been before and I thought it would be lovely to see it in the snow. I read avidly about ambitious hikes and told my husband that, no, pregnancy wasn’t an illness and it was him who was going to struggle to keep up with me. Yeah. Near the summit of Pen Y Fan, feeling like a breathless Weeble on ice, I came to the painful realisation that pregnancy does, indeed, c hange your exercise tolerance. A planned 6-hour jaunt spiralled into a 10-hour expedition complete with blizzard, white-out and obligatory marital spat. The conversation had become increasingly terse as our phone compass failed (I know, I know…), we got lost, and I put my foot in a deep, icy bog. He had the temerity to laugh.

 

My husband requested something less ambitious second time around, so, at 28 weeks, we went away for a more sedate weekend in St Ives. Pottering around shops and ‘enjoying one another’s company’ were the order of the day – it wasn’t just the pasties that were hot. I couldn’t understand why I was crippled by tightenings all weekend, and mentioned it to a senior midwife when I got back. She smiled then gave me a naughty wink. How had I not known this from my job?!

 

In an attempt to inhabit a more maternal, less obstetric, mental space, I booked NCT classes, and did my best to listen and not interrupt when doctors were portrayed as scalpel-wielding patriarchal butchers. I was only partially successful. Discussion turned to life after the baby, and how we would manage. It still all felt very hypothetical, despite knitted boobies, role-play and swaddling baby Resusci-Ann dolls.

Eventually, around 35 weeks, it dawned on me that this was really happening. Having refused to acknowledge that this pregnancy might actually result in a baby for months, I finally sat down to write my birth preferences. And you know what I discovered? I’m a bit of a hippy. I bought the essential oils, sat on the birth ball, made a playlist (different for 1st and 2nd stage, obvs) and expressed a wish for a normal birth, skin-to-skin, low lighting, Ina May Gaskin and Michel Odent knitting quietly in the corner. Of course, being a massive cynic, I also explained my wishes in event of a Caesarean under general anaesthetic, because failing to prepare is preparing to fail and all that.

In the event, labour was predictably unpredictable, but suffice to say it involved a dog that knew my waters had broken, a husband who was too drunk to drive, and a high-speed trip to hospital whilst alternately screaming and cracking jokes, lying across the back seats of a Mini. Well, we obstetricians do love a bit of drama…

 

 

If you had your baby in Gloucester some time between 2014 and 2016 you may notice this lovely lady in the photo (although typically looking more fresh faced in these photos! ) This Obstetric doctor may have come to visit you during your pregnancy, childbirth or even had the pleasure of helping you deliver your baby. 

Whilst now on maternity leave she is continuing to provide a service to the pregnant mamas of Gloucestershire and beyond with the shoe on the other foot, with this blog about pregnancy as an obstetric doctor.… You’d think it would be teaching Grandma to suck eggs right?

So here is Dr Medland… at your cervix!

Ask A Midwife- Yes that exists

Ask A MidwifeNew mumNewbornPregnancy
In response to your ‘Ask A Midwife’ Qs we have put together a few of our favourite ‘Yes That Exists’ myth busters…

Baby brain.. You’re swearing at your husband for drinking all the milk (see below ‘hate your husband’) he swears blindly he hasn’t drank it all. Then you find it in the cupboard where you left it after making yourself a bedtime brew. My baby is now over one and I still find myself asking silly questions and saying daft things like, “Does Ireland have beaches?” Your mind is so full of important things like keeping a human alive that Geography, kitchen orientation and other unimportant information just falls straight out.

Night sweats… Around night 2 after having baby, I woke up thinking I’d peed the bed my mattress was so wet. However the smell of BO was unquestionable. Change in hormones around day 3 are responsible for this (and many other things nb… see ‘hate your husband’)

After pains… These are the feelings you get after baby is born and your uterus is contracting down to its pre-pregnancy size. can get painful the more children you have but they are normal. Just stock up on your Paracetamol and Ibuporfen, especially while breastfeeding as this can trigger them.

Under rib pain… During my pregnancy, especially during my third trimester I would always get this same pain underneath my rib. I also hear lots of other expectant mamas talking about it too. It gets worse in the evening and the only way to relieve it is by stretching out on the floor. It’s annoying but not serious.

Breastfeeding can hurt… Breastfeeding isn’t suppose to hurt? Who else calls B@*$@*??? Your nipples are a very sensitive area and unless you are use to something attaching onto your nipples at least 8 times a day then of course you are going to have some level of discomfort. Pain can sometimes be a sign of poor attachment (and other complications) so always ask a midwife or feeding consultant to watch your feed. Otherwise time and plenty of Lansinoh will be your healer. It does get easier!

You may hate your husband.. Showers on his own, toilets on his own, gets a hot cup of coffee to drink on his lunch break (whats that again?) at work. Although your hormones may be telling you to throw the towel (or kettle) in/at him, guys also need encouragement and support in their new roles after having a baby as it’s a major life change. Although they may show their struggles in different ways, it can be apparent nonetheless. Make time for yourself as a couple, even if it is something as small as eating dinner together or popping out for a coffee or walk together whilst baby sleeps in the pushchair.  And just like breastfeeding, time and plenty of lansinoh will be your healer. It does get easier!

If you have a question that you want answering or a childbirth rumour you want to know if true or not then you can ask us here… Ask a Midwife. All posts will be anonymous and we will answer your questions in a similar format as above so follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to keep an eye out for your answer.

Newsletter

Social Media

The Bump to Baby Chapter

Winner of 🌟The Best Pregnancy Support Service in Gloucestershire 2017🌟, The Bump to Baby Chapter has something for everyone. 🌟For expectant couple wanting to know all you need to know about labour, baby and those early days we have midwife led antenatal courses. 🌟For a second or third time mother wanting to birth without fear after a negative birth experience. There’s hypnobirthing one day classes for the busy Mum. 🌟Free blogs with tips on birth and baby for all 🌟Buggy walks in Cheltenham for new mothers to bring the sisterhood in motherhood. So whatever stage of pregnancy and whatever number baby have a look at the page, website and get involved 🌟
The Bump to Baby Chapter
The Bump to Baby Chapter4 hours ago
On the blog this Sunday morning we have Shani’s wonderfully calm birth story. Grab yourself a Yorkshire brew, in true Shani style, and have a read!! .....

“I felt immense relief, joy, love and exhaustion. Amabell weighed 6lb 12oz and I managed the birth with no pain killers or gas and air, all down to the focus Hypnobirthing had provided me with, the mind is one powerful tool!”

https://www.thebumptobabychapter.co.uk/shanis-birth-story/
4 hours ago
  • 14
  • 0
5 days ago
  • 23
  • 0
1 week ago
  • 70
  • 2
1 week ago
  • 89
  • 17
1 week ago
  • 59
  • 4
TOTS100 - UK Parent Blogs
TOTS100