fbpx
Katrina’s Birth Story- Cesarean during the Coronavirus

Katrina’s Birth Story- Cesarean during the Coronavirus

I had my daughter Eliza Ivy on 9th April 2020 – I elected for a caesarean following my previous induction and emergency caesarean under general anaesthetic with my now 26 month old daughter CiCi.

Throughout my pregnancy I thought I would have a VBAC – I wanted to experience going into labour the natural way and to feel my waters break and so on… Given the current COVID-19 pandemic, I started to feel panicked and decided that an elective caesarean would be the right choice for me. My husband also needed to look after our 2 year old so it became a reality that I would need to undergo the surgery alone. I was terrified and couldn’t sleep the night before. When I thought about it practically, I calmed down but it was the thought of not having my husband to hold my hand that made me quite emotional.

When the morning arrived, everything was calm – virtually tranquil. The ward, despite not being empty felt quiet and the staff at East Surrey Hospital were kind and reassuring. I was determined to breastfeed this time round after struggling and ultimately giving up the first time. So in I went with my colostrum syringes ready to store in the fridge. When it was my turn to have my baby, despite everything being explained to me, I will never forget the range of overwhelming emotions I felt in such a short space of time. Fear, relief, discomfort, ease, panic, calm, worry, joy, adrenaline, elation…

Ahead of time, the midwife in the surgery team offered to play my choice of music and to take any photos/videos I would like. In the end, my anaesthetist FaceTimed my husband so he could see my daughter being carried over the drapes – this was a new experience for us both as we had not seen our first daughter so soon after the birth. My midwife helped me downstairs to meet my husband and daughter – she took her time and didn’t rush us. This really made our reunion post birth so special.

I had skin to skin with my daughter and she fed from me straight away – our breastfeeding journey has been strong for nearly two weeks and I feel so lucky to be able to manage this time. I think that the pandemic has given me the blessing of time so that I am not rushing feeds or worrying about getting too much done at home. I’ve been able to recover at a steady pace and after he initial two days, it’s got easier each day. It’s not easy with a two year old, especially when she wanted to be carried and I can’t because of my wound but we’ve been making a conscious effort to make sure CiCi has lots of special time as well as fresh air and park visits so she doesn’t feel left out.

After my first birth which was challenging, painful and frightening, I felt so much more calm and in control this time round. I wanted to share my story with other mums to be who might be feeling quite anxious and unsure about their births. It might not be exactly what you imagine but the NHS staff are with you every step of the way 🤍

Thank you to Katrina for sharing her positivity with her birth story during this pandemic. For more birth stories click here.

Liz’s Birth Story – Unplanned Homebirth

Liz’s Birth Story – Unplanned Homebirth

Whilst I think I did a pretty awesome job of staying relatively stress free in my second pregnancy (one of the MANY lessons learnt from my first), the one thing that was bothering me was the logistics of labour with a three year old to look after. I am a firm advocate of the ‘it takes a village’ approach but we live three hours away from family, and it’s all very well considering good friends to be part of your village in daylight hours … but who really wants to be woken up at 3am because my waters have gone?!

I finished work a good 4 weeks before my due date, ever resentful that Baby Number 1 came a week early and I never got the week on a sofa with Netflix promised me by everyone who talks wistfully about maternity leave. If Baby Number 2 arrived in a similarly keen fashion, I was determined that all my nesting would be done AND a good solid five days of Netflixing would have been had.

I was 39 +1, the nesting was done, the Netflixing was being had hard, and we’d spent the day in Pittville Park with friends. It had been an active day and I felt good. The evening was uneventful, and I’d gone to bed about 10.30ish I think.

I half woke up at about half midnight feeling a little bit twingy. In that way you do when you really don’t want to wake up, I just tried to ignore it, get comfy and go back to sleep, and probably dozed like that for 40 minutes or so. Realising I wasn’t really asleep, I went for a wee in the hopes that would make me more settled. I think this woke me up properly and, sitting on the loo, I realized that I really was feeling quite uncomfortable. I was getting the bad period pain tightenings that I’d managed to forget all about from three years previous, but suddenly felt all too familiar. Balls. This was EXACTLY what I didn’t want, middle of the night labour and the worry of whether we needed to get a friend out of bed. Hopefully it would either die away a bit, or just rumble on for a good few hours uneventfully and no one would need to be called. I think this is what they call wishful thinking.

I woke my partner Alex at 1.40am ish, explaining that I thought things were happening and I’d appreciate his input. I think he could tell from my face / huffing and puffing that it was the Real Deal and we decided I’d call my friend and ask if we could drop our little boy round with her on our way to the hospital. She was fantastic, she’d been keeping her phone near her in bed in case I did call and was immediately mobilized. We know from phone records that I called her at 01.56 and we spoke for 1 minute and 37 seconds (this makes this blog sound like a true crime podcast).

Alex started getting stuff sorted; my hospital bag for the car, notes, Teddy’s things for nursery the next day, so that we could grab Teddy as the last thing and go. Everything is a little bit fuzzy here memory-wise, but I know I felt the need to be on the loo and suddenly everything was feeling very much pressurey in the old baby evacuation area. Hmm. Interesting. I was fairly sure I might be having a baby a little sooner than I’d hoped.

I called for Alex, trying really hard to use a tone of voice that was the right sort of urgent, without wanting to worry him, and also not wake a three year old. I was successful, he appeared. I wasn’t really able to do much talking, but I didn’t need to. He asked me if I needed an ambulance. I remember really wanting him to make that decision, but I nodded. I really, really hoped that was the right call. I’d be mortified if paramedics walked into my room and told me I was 3cm dilated and to pull myself together.

Alex disappeared off to make the call. He went downstairs, I think so he could concentrate on making sure he told them the right things. This is really when things started moving, and – without being too happy-clappy – where I really began to learn just how amazing bodies are. Or women’s ones at least! From this point on, my body just took over completely, it knew what it needed to do. I sort of crawled from the en-suite to the bottom of my bed (grabbed a towel, well done me), and just sat on the floor, legs akimbo, doing some super deep breathing and just letting everything do what it needed to do. I’d refreshed myself about birth at from TBTBC antenatal course and am a huge convert to hypnobirthing, so I knew that my body knew what it was doing, me getting in a flap would only get in its way so I might as well let it crack on.

I was vaguely aware of Alex coming up the stairs talking to 999 dispatch, saying something along the lines of ‘No, no I don’t think she’s giving birth yet, there’s definitely no head …’ *clocks me, clocks the action end* … ‘oh no wait, I can see the head’. Cue a high speed round of Finders Keepers (do you remember that, with Neil Buchanan?) where Alex reappears after what seemed like 10 seconds with every towel we own, a shoelace (don’t ask) and a safety pin (definitely don’t ask). I am pushing with every contraction now, and vaguely aware that it’s pretty awesome that Alex is helping me have a baby (turns out he wasn’t, 999 instructions are to keep your hand over the exit and encourage baby to stay exactly where they are).

Phone records show that at 02.19 I text Fi to tell her the front door was open (she’d text once she’d woken up properly to say she’d come and get Teddy, Godbless her, rather than us going out of our way to drop him off). The first responder paramedic arrived about 02.25 and was such a lovely energy walking into the bedroom. I couldn’t open my eyes, or really be part of what was going on, but I definitely registered him as having a brilliantly in-charge attitude. He was super chilled and all ‘Oh brilliant, we’re having a baby!’. He had the gas and air already out in one hand, and after asking me if I’d had it before, handed it over for me to suck on. I sucked once, hard, then feeling another contraction sweep through me, pushed hard and out flew Baby Number 2 at 02.30am, catching everyone slightly off guard.

Brilliant things that happened in quick succession soon after:- Alex gets to tell me that we have a squawking, pink baby boy, with ten finger and ten toes- Fi arrives, a bit worried at the sight of the response car, and does the best comedy double take ever when she walks into my room – Two more paramedics arrive in an ambulance, and everyone gets very giddy about the first Paramedic, John, delivering his first ever baby – I know everyone says it, but the minute the baby was out, I was completely back in the room and the pains of labour were immediately forgotten. I was giddy at what had just happened, and with only 15 or so minutes of pushing, I didn’t have any of the fatigue at all that you’d have with 2 hours of pushing.

We were incredibly lucky that the baby was totally healthy, and the placenta delivered easily soon after, I completely appreciate that an unplanned homebirth might sound scary or be a bit more complicated. But to be sat in bed with our new baby boy, being made tea and toast by Fi, 2 hours after I’d first woken up with some early aches, was an absolute dream. We are incredibly lucky that we have that story.

And Teddy? Slept through the whole thing. Slept through my moaning and groaning on the bedroom floor. Slept through three paramedics writing notes outside his bedroom door. Win.

Fi went home after an hour or so. What a champ. The hospital couldn’t free up a midwife to come out to us, so the paramedics drove me and the baby in to be checked. Alex stayed home to get Teddy up, took him to nursery (telling him I was at work), then came to pick me and the baby up from hospital. We’d spent a few hours in the delivery suite in Gloucester being incredibly well looked after and eating more tea and toast. Baby was a bit cold, because our bedroom window had been open while Alex looked for the first responder and because of the ambulance ride, but other than that everything was perfect. We were home by lunch, to have a few hours to ourselves before Teddy came home to be greeted by his new baby brother.

Great things… friends who get out of bed at 2am, make you tea and toast for a couple of hours, then go home to their own 2 children and a full day of work

Great things… paramedics, 999, midwives and the NHS

Great things… Rug Doctors for putting bedroom floors back together.

If you want to know about ways to keep calm during your birth, ways that you can stack the odds in your favour to have a great birth and techniques that you can start practising now in your pregnancy to prep for birth, then you can get all the information from the convenience of your own home on your own time, by accessing our online course.

An online course put together by UK midwife, Beth offering both hypnobirthing and antenatal education, which has helped women across the globe feel confident and calm during their birth.

Jessica’s Birth Story

Jessica’s Birth Story

 

After a positive first birth with my daughter in America (my husband Mark and I relocated to California for a couple of years, where our daughter was born – yay dual citizenship), I was keen that my second birth would be another one to look back on with fond memories. I decided to sign up for antenatal classes with TBTBC, despite having “done it before”, for a couple of reasons: I wanted to find out more about labour and birth on the NHS after a pretty medicalised experience in the US; I wanted to give hypnobirthing a go, and I *really* wanted to make friends with people who’d have babies at the same time as me, as I know the 4am WhatsApp chat is invaluable, particularly during the early weeks.

 

 

 

Our antenatal classes with Beth were excellent, even my skeptical husband who wasn’t convinced we needed to do them second time around was won over… perhaps by the beer and donuts at Baker and Graze! Although I think some of the other people in our class thought I was slightly unhinged as I would tear up at any mention of the moment where you first hold your baby – pregnancy hormones are real!

 

 

 

A combination of feeling more confident in my own decisions second time around (seriously, look into the statistics on the safety and positives of a home-birth, you may be surprised!) and the great support and advice from Beth led us to decide that we would plan for a home-birth, with a hospital bag packed just in case.

 

 

 

My first labour was very quick (under an hour and a half from start to finish), so another one of the reasons I wanted to plan for a home birth was that I couldn’t face the idea of giving birth in the car on the way to hospital. I also knew the importance of a comfortable birthing environment to help labour progress and after doing *a lot* of research I decided that the safest place to give birth, for me and our baby, was at home.

 

 

 

My due date came and went, but thanks to the positive mindset gained from TBTBC hypnobirthing class I was feeling relaxed and knew my baby would come when he or she was ready. I was also much more relaxed about the thought of labour occurring at any time as the birthing pool was all set up and Mark had a list of things to do when I went into labour… and the snack cupboard was fully stocked for the midwives!

 

 

 

The morning I went into labour I felt different to how I had been feeling for the rest of the third trimester and I was convinced that it was the day we’d finally meet our baby. I was so convinced that I phoned my in-laws and arranged for our daughter to go to them for the weekend, just in case something happened. Thankfully my mum was also staying with us so it was reassuring to know if I did go into labour that our daughter would be well looked after and I could concentrate on birth without the added distraction of a toddler. Having had such a quick labour the first time, on the advice of my midwife I called the maternity unit at the first sign of contractions – in my case it was like very mild period pains – and Mark started filling the birthing pool.

 

 

 

Our midwife arrived shortly afterwards and after taking some details, sat quietly and unobtrusively making notes while I laboured on the birthing ball. I was glad that I called them early because although my contractions weren’t regular, they were definitely getting stronger and I felt that it wouldn’t be too long before things really got going.

 

 

 

Having not had any pain relief for the birth of my daughter (they don’t use gas and air in America for birth – but strangely you can use it at the dentist – and I didn’t even have time to consider an epidural due to my quick labour), I wanted to use more natural methods including a birth pool to manage the contractions. However, I was advised not to get in the pool by the midwife as I had some bleeding and although all the other monitoring was normal, she wanted to keep an eye on any more blood loss which would be harder to do in the pool with the water. This was a good opportunity to use my “BRAIN” as we’d been taught during antenatal classes. I decided that although I wasn’t worried about the bleeding being a sign of anything wrong, I was managing the pain of contractions well enough without the pool and I was keen to keep the midwife happy and avoid her recommending we go into hospital for monitoring so we agreed with her recommendation and the pool remained unused. Using all the hypnobirthing techniques we’d learnt with Beth, I managed the pain by using breathing techniques, movement, sniffing essential oils and listening to affirmations (just reading this makes it sound so hippyish, but it really can work!). The pain was intense but manageable and at no point did I feel that I couldn’t do it – it helped that I had done it once before. Having said that, I read the notes my midwife made during labour and she used the word uncomfortable to describe how I was feeling… it was definitely more than that!

 

 

 

After about 45 minutes I really felt things change and knew it was time to push. The midwife stayed back and let me do my own thing and go where I wanted which I hugely appreciated – she also put in a call to her colleague to hurry up as home births are usually attended by two midwives! The only time I was really aware of the midwife was during the examinations and I was happy labouring by myself. At birthing class we talked about labouring women being in one of two categories: those who like company and those who would rather be alone – I’m definitely the later! I decided that I didn’t want to know how dilated I was in case it wasn’t much and I would have found it demotivating, the only time we found out was when I felt ready to push and the midwife checked that I was at 10cm.

 

 

 

After the sensation of contractions, feeling my body push was really satisfying. In our birth plan I’d written that I didn’t want coached pushing and I was happy to let my body do what it needed to naturally. I also had a lovely few minutes (or at least that’s what it felt like to me – my husband said it was more like 20 seconds!) break in between my contractions at this stage just before delivering the head where I could catch my breath and get really excited that in just a couple of pushes we would meet our baby and finally found out if our daughter would have a little brother or a little sister.

 

 

 

An hour after feeling the first “proper” contraction, our beautiful baby boy Arthur was born. The moment the midwife caught him and passed him up to me was just as amazing as I’d remembered from the first time. I needed a couple of stitches, which were genuinely more painful than labour and birth, but being able to have them done on the comfort of my own sofa with our baby having skin to skin with his dad more than made up for it! The endorphins kicked in and I felt like a superhero for days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A couple of hours after they had arrived and with all our observations done, the midwives left and Mark and I had brownies and a glass of champagne to celebrate – definitely a perk of giving birth at home!

 

 

 

For any one considering a home birth, I would highly recommend it – I think it was the single most important decision I made for a positive birth and labour. Having a homebirth is relatively unusual, so expect some raised eyebrows if you mention it to anyone. This is where being armed with facts really helps, not only for your own decision making but also to quickly shut down any unwelcome “helpful comments” you may receive. I feel very lucky to have had such a brilliant experience and now two beautiful children.

 

 

 

Having said that, wherever you give birth it is possible to have an equally brilliant experience. It is such an important thing to be able to feel like you’ve made informed decisions and the best choices along the way for you and your baby – doing an antenatal classes like TBTBC really helps with that and will hopefully allow you to look back on your birth positively.

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you want to know about ways to keep calm during your birth, ways that you can stack the odds in your favour to have a great birth and techniques that you can start practising now in your pregnancy to prep for birth, then you can get all the information from the convenience of your own home on your own time, by accessing our online course.

An online course put together by UK midwife, Beth offering both hypnobirthing and antenatal education, which has helped women across the globe feel confident and calm during their birth.

 

Anne’s Birth Story

Anne’s Birth Story

In the evening of Monday 13th January, 6 days before my due date, I felt a few twinges along with mild cramps and instantly felt a mixture of excitement and nerves that this could be the start. Everyone had predicted that my baby would be early and with him measuring 2 weeks ahead I thought this must be it. Following our hypnobirthing class and everything we learnt at our weekly antenatal classes we made everything cosy with our oil diffuser, candles and playlist I had created. By 11pm I decided to go to bed and hoped that I’d be woken in the night or early morning with contractions. I woke up the next morning and all of the cramping from the night before had totally disappeared so I told my husband to go into work as normal and that I’d call him if anything happened. This continued for the following 7 days- every evening thinking it was all about to happen followed by nothing the next morning. I had started to think that it was never going to happen when our due date of 19th January came and went.


At my routine 40 week midwife appointment on Tuesday 21st January I asked for a stretch and sweep to see if this may start things off for me. I had read many horror stories about the procedure but decided to put on a brave face and give it a go! I can honestly say that I barely felt anything and it was over in less than one minute. I was very pleased to hear that I was around 1-2cm dilated already and my cervix had thinned – a relief that the week of on and off mild cramps hadn’t been pointless. My midwife warned that I may experience some bleeding and have some period pain like cramps that evening due to the procedure. She booked me in to have a repeat stretch and sweep for 4 days later as she said often the first doesn’t necessarily result in going into labour. I went home and spent the evening on the sofa in my pyjamas with cramping as she had warned me of. The following morning, on Wednesday 22nd January, I woke up at 4am with what felt like braxton hicks contractions like I had experienced each evening so far. But this was different, it was the morning and I just had a feeling inside that this was it. Maybe the stretch and sweep had worked after all and that the cramping the evening before had been the start.


I decided to take a hot shower whilst my husband slept and to take it from there. By 6am I woke my husband to let him know and told him that I didn’t think he’d be going into work. We started to time the contractions as they felt quite frequent and realised that they were around every 6 minutes and lasting around 30-60 seconds. The TENS machine I’d hired worked brilliantly to ease the contractions. After calling into the birth unit we were advised to stay home as long as possible so spent the morning bouncing on my ball, keeping mobile around the house and making sure we had everything ready to go. At 11am my waters broke which was a huge shock to me as everyone I knew had told me that theirs hadn’t gone until near the end. I cried in this moment as I think it finally sank in that this WAS it. We called the birth unit again and they told us to go in.


On our way into the hospital I felt excited and calm rather than scared and I can honestly say this was purely down to all that I had learnt through hypnobirthing. Positive mental attitude! I continued to use the TENS machine and to time contractions as we arrived and were shown into one of the lovely rooms. We were hesitant to set everything up as planned as knew we’d be moving into one of the birth pool rooms later on. For the next 6 hours I walked around the room and used the TENS for relief which really helped. I couldn’t bare to sit or lie down through contractions and remember my feet starting to ache from being stood up for 12 hours. My husband used the essential oils to give me a lovely foot massage and we set up the oil diffuser.
By 5.30pm the contractions were getting very intense and close together and this is when I started to panic and worry about how I’d cope with minimal pain relief as I had planned. The midwife examined me and I was upset that I was only 3-4cm after over 12hours.

I was moved to the poolroom and the warm water was relaxing and the gas and air gave me a new focus. The contractions were very intense and strong by this point but I remained calm and focused on my breathing. From this point onwards I was in another zone and barely talked to the midwives or my husband (which is very unlike me to be quiet!). I had no concept of time passing nor did I think about how long might be left, I just took each contraction one at a time.


By 8.30pm the midwife asked me to get out of the pool to try to go for a wee as I hadn’t for hours. I was scared to leave the comfort of the pool and gas and air but managed to get to the bathroom with the support of my husband. After 20minutes of trying the midwife advised me that I would need an in/out catheter. I got on the bed in the room and from this moment onwards I can only describe the rest of labour as a total ‘out of body experience’. I don’t know if it was my body’s way of coping with the pain or the gas and air but I remember feeling as though I was watching someone else give birth and that I’d have to do it for myself afterwards. They decided to examine me whilst I was on the bed and were surprised to find that I was fully dilated. As soon as I got back in the pool I had an urge to push and just went with what my body was telling me. The midwife went around to the other side of the pool and noticed that I had already pushed the head out in that first push! I pushed again twice more immediately after and our beautiful son Jenson was born. Within 4 minutes of getting back in the pool he had been born. 21.55pm, weighing 7lbs 3oz. It was nothing like I had imagined, I don’t remember feeling any pain or stress at all with the pushing stage of labour and it felt completely natural. My husband picked our baby up out of the water and handed him to me, it was magical. He cut the cord and then took baby for skin to skin whilst the midwife helped me out of the pool to deliver the placenta. This happened right away on the bed and again I don’t remember feeling any pain or discomfort at all. After a final examination, the midwife was shocked to find that I didn’t even have a graze! I honestly believe that it was due to using all of the techniques from hypnobirthing that I was able to deliver my baby so naturally and easily as I just went with what my body was telling me. I feel very fortunate that everything ‘went to plan’ but am confident that I would have been able to cope if the situation had changed or had been different. I look back on my birth experience as it being positive and enjoyable rather than something to be scared about or something to just have to ‘deal with’ which I never thought my I’d say. Having my husband attend the hypnobirthing and antenatal classes with me enabled us to work as a team throughout pregnancy and labour and I couldn’t have done it so easily without his a support and encouragement.

If you want to know about ways to have a great birth then…

You can get all the information from our award-winning hypnobirthing and antenatal classes but from the convenience of your own home on your own time, then you can get this with our online course.

Check out our series of YouTube videos on how to make your birth better. 

Group courses – Hypnobirthing classes in Cheltenham. We do antenatal classes too in Gloucester and Cheltenham.

Sophie’s Birth Story

Sophie’s Birth Story

Our Journey began back in May 2018 when we became pregnant with our first baby. We started planning our birthalmost from day 1 and after lots of research, discussion and involvement from various health professionals we made an informed decision to have an elective Caesarean section. I won’t go in to the ins and outs of this decision, but it was the best decision for us, it was an informed decision, not taken lightly and one we felt happy with. We were eventually given a date, I was to be 39 weeks + 5 days pregnant on this day.

We attended pre assessment the week before where I had various checks undertaken, bloods done and further questions I had answered. I had already started having some symptoms that would indicate the baby’s arrival wasn’t too far away, but we just had to wait (and hope in my case) that Monday would arrive before labour began.

The night before our baby’s birth – by this point I was very uncomfortable, mostly spending the day lying on the sofa catching up on TV we had missed at Christmas and shuffling around when needing too. We had big plans to go out for dinner, our last as 2, but in the end we just wanted to stay home and chill out, so my husband cooked us a lovely roast dinner instead. That evening was the first in the new series of ‘Call the midwife’, we sat and watched it thinking tomorrow, that will be us holding our baby. It was like the night before Christmas that night, although it wasn’t just filled with excitement to meet our new baby, but with huge anxiety, will everything be ok? Will the baby be ok? Will I be ok? How much pain will there be? It was full of lots of uncertainties that only the actual birth would give us the answers to. We went to bed about 10pm, because we knew it was an early start, I took the prescribed ranitidine then too. After about an hour we realised neither of us could actually sleep, we talked some more and then just rested with very little sleep until 6am. 

The day of delivery had finally, after 9 long months arrived. 6am – it was a very cold and crisp morning, it was dark and the sky was still filled with stars, I think adrenaline kicked in with me and I wanted to join Dave in taking our 2 dogs on a short walk before they were left  with my mum for a few days. I waddled around the block and after we got home, showered and changed ready to go to the hospital. Dave was kind and sat and had breakfast downstairs while I got ready as I was nil by mouth, he loaded the car with all our bags (we did take all but the kitchen sink) and the car seat and we took a final bump photo, complete with the date. The journey to the hospital is one I’m very well used to, but this morning it felt very long, I was very anxious and I remember saying over and over again to Dave, we are going to be ok aren’t we? We have made the right decision? To which he replied ‘absolutely yes!’ We pulled up in the car park, got everything out of the car and said ‘Let’s do this, let’s go and meet our baby!’ We arrived at triage at 7.30am and were asked to take a seat and wait to be booked in. Shortly afterwards, another couple arrived and we chatted with them, they were also there for an Elective Caesarean, turns out they had experience as they had had previous caesarean births, they saw the fear on our faces and said ‘Don’t worry, you’ll be well looked after, it will all be ok.’ After a short time we were taken to another room and checked in by a kind midwife, we listened to the baby’s heart beating away and I was given a gown and Dave given (much to his delight) what can only be described as raspberry coloured scrubs. We weren’t first on the theatre list, so didn’t need to change straight away, we sat back in with the other couple also waiting, and chatted for a while.

Next the anaesthetist came to talk to us he seemed to understand how anxious I was, he explained everything thoroughly, and gave me chance to ask questions and take everything in, he had read my birth plan and said everything on there was very reasonable and he would join with the rest of the team in trying to follow it where possible. I did warn him I was tricky to cannulate too but he said not to worry, he would sort that no problem (I did warn him….). The registrar then came to speak with us and consented me for the procedure. The consent process highlights the risks involved which is quite daunting and scary but as we had looked into all of these and discussed them at length, I felt happy to proceed. We were then put into a room on our own to change and wait to be called. We brought Uno to play while we waited; we dealt the cards and then decided it wasn’t quite the same as sitting on the balcony in the Majorcan sunshine sipping on a cocktail and a beer so we packed it away again. I made sure I got a photo of Dave in his Raspberry scrubs (and forwarded it to my mum, for a laugh). A very small number offamily members knew the day our baby was arriving so reading their well wishes and messages of support that morning helped to pass the time. 

We were 2nd on the list that morning and were told it would be approximately 10.30am that we would be going to theatre to finally meet our baby. 10.30am came and went, we were still waiting, 11am – still waiting, we totally understood this, it’s something very difficult to put a time on. 11.15am – still waiting, 11.30am – I said to Dave,’ I will just nip out to the toilet’, and no surprises within a minute of walking out of the room, the theatre staff came for us. I arrived back from the toilet and the theatre staff told us to bring our bags as they were ready for us. I had the baby’s suitcase to wheel, Dave wheeled our holdall, I think everyone thought we were staying for the month the amount of stuff we had with us!!! I turned to Dave walking along the corridor in my gown and said, ‘wheeling these cases is like walking through the airport when we are going off on holiday’, he answered ‘we aren’t going on holiday though, we are going to meet our boy, it’s even more exciting!’ It was a very surreal feeling, after 9 hard months of waiting, the hours of appointments, the many scans, the worry and the excitement,  the time was finally here, this was actually happening, we were going to meet our baby boy, we were about to become a family of 3 (ok, 5 if you include our 2 dogs).

We placed our bags in recovery ready for when we came out of theatre and went into a room next to theatre to complete the final checks. This is where I couldn’t hold the tears back any longer, I was frightened, my uncertainties were just about to be answered and I did begin to panic. Dave sat with his arm around me while the staff completed the final checklist before theatre; he was telling me over and over again that it was allgoing to be fine, something we hoped, but couldn’t 100% know for sure. The anaesthetic team were lovely, the ODP checking me in said she, herself had had 3 c sections and all were fine. Dave held my hand as we walked into theatre, I sat on the theatre table and Dave sat on a stool away from me while the anaesthetic team placed the cannula (He’s not a fan of needles). I sat and sobbed my way through this part, my eyes so blurred I couldn’t really see what was going on. The kind anaesthetist put some local anaesthetic around the site of where the cannula was to be placed, this is where I asked if I could hold someone’s hand, the ODP said no problem and held my hand until Dave could be back with me. 3 attempts later and the cannula was finally in (I did say I was tricky to cannulate!). Dave then came and sat next to me for the spinal, one of the aspects of our baby’s delivery I was very worried about. I was in a bit of a state by this point, but I needed to continue, cold spray was sprayed onto my back to clean the area and my gosh, it was cold as I had been warned. At this point I turned to Dave and said ‘Next time, you’re having the baby!’ he answered ‘Well we won’t be having anymore then!’ I think it did make a few of the staff smile. The local anaesthetic was injected which felt, as they had said, just like a bee sting, but the stinging sensation was over in a few seconds. Then came the spinal anaesthetic, it was a strange sensation of pressure and slight tingling in my legs, but it wasn’t painful. Dave didn’t see anything, but I could see the colour drain from his face, I repetitively asked him if he was ok, he kept saying yes, but after the 3rd yes, I could see he very much wasn’t and I told the staff around us who then helped Dave to the floor and got him a drink of water. Dave hadn’t seen any needles, but he said just being in an environment he’s never been in before (awake anyway) and seeing his wife so upset and apart from being there, there was nothing he could directly do to solve my worries, he found it very hard. I was working through a tick list of things happening in my head and once the spinal was in, I did start to calm down. I remember the anaesthetist saying we are going to lift your legs onto the theatre table now, I said ‘its ok I can do that,’ before he could open his mouth, I realised I couldn’t, my legs had already gone numb enough that it wasn’t possible. I was helped to lie down. The spinal took just minutes to work and its effectiveness checked with ice. I was surprised how high the spinal came up on my body; I couldn’t feel anything until midway up my chest. The drapes were raised, catheter inserted, another worry, which they told me they were inserting, but I felt nothing, it was really nothing to worry about. Dave made a slight admission to me at this at this point, we had brought a mood light speaker in the bag which was meant to come into theatre so we could listen to our chosen song while our baby was born, but he had left it in the bag. It was ok; we could still have our song played from his phone. We chose ‘Wonderwall’ an acoustic version, by Noel Gallagher which was special to us as it was our first dance song from our wedding in 2017. I remember the surgeon saying ‘Ahh a Wonderwall baby!’  I had crocheted our boy his first hat and handed it to theatre staff to place on him when he was born, this, along with our music choice was quite a talking point and before we knew it, when I asked had the operation started, (I missed them saying they were starting)they said yes and in just a second you’ll hear a lot of suctioning as we break your waters. I had my phone ready to capture the ‘Lion king’ moment when our son was born, something we had discussed at Antenatal classes with Beth.Our music played and we were ready and waiting as the surgeons worked to get our son out. People are not wrong when they say there’s no pain, but it feels like someone doing the washing up in your tummy – so true! I asked was he nearly out, the anaesthetist said,’ I can see a nose’, he was a Sunnyside up baby (he had his back against mine). This waiting seemed like forever, it wasn’t, but by all accounts, he was somewhat tricky to deliver. Forceps were used (I didn’t even realise that was a thing in caesarean delivery) but failed, we heard the emergency bell, I surprisingly stayed fairly calm, I knew we were in the best hands and everyone would do what they needed to do to help us. Dave saw a rush of people enter theatre through a door I couldn’t see from behind the drapes. Our baby boy, Jacob Charlie was finally born at 12.24pm, we had hoped for him to be held up so we could see him and have ‘The Lion King’ moment but following a few difficulties when being born, he was taken straight to the resuscitaire, which is absolutely where we wanted him to be taken for him to get the help he needed and for the team to make sure he was ok, we started to panic at this point as he hadn’t cried, but after a bit of oxygen and a good rub, we heard a brief cry. The anaesthetist came to tell us that our son was ok and that he just needed a little bit of help initially, I asked if he could take my phone to take a photo, we were desperate to see our son, he took several photos and came back to show us. I remember saying ‘is he actually ours, he is absolutely perfect and soooooo cute!’ The answer came back ‘yes he is definitely yours!’ At this point Dave whispered to me, ‘You did it, you actually did it, he’s here, he’s perfect and I’m so proud of you!’ I had completed the journey of pregnancy and I couldn’t believe I had done it, something which I wrote on a message to Beth the next day!

About 10 minutes after Jacob was born the midwife in theatreasked Dave if he would like to come and trim Jacobs cord, something which was written in our birth plan and despite having a caesarean delivery it was something we wanted if possible, Dave went over to meet our beautiful boy for the first time and was overwhelmed by love towards him, he did let out a few tears at this point. He trimmed the cord and stroked Jacobs head. The team said Dave could sit back down next to me and they would bring Jacob over for his first cuddle. 

During this time I remember the doctors saying that I required a hormone injection in my leg to help reduce the bleeding and they would set up and infusion too, I didn’t feel the injection but I was warned that it may make me feel sick, which it did a little, but that was soon counteracted with anti-sickness medication. As I was being stitched up, the midwife brought our beautiful son over for me to meet for the first time, he was swaddled in lots of blankets and he had his little hat on I had made. I felt instant love towards him. I was going to have skin to skin at this point, which the staff were happy to facilitate in theatre, but with all the drapes and gown, I didn’t feel it would have been easy to do and I was happy to let Dave have the first cuddle, after all, I had carried Jacob for 9 months. We sat for about 20 minutes just looking at Jacob, we touched his tiny hands, and stroked his little face, and he opened his eyes when he heard us talking to him, our son was finally here and we couldn’t believe it. The theatre staff were more than happy to catch our first moments on camera as a family of 3 and once I was transferred back to the hospital bed, this was when I was comfortably able to have skin to skin with our boy, we were wheeled to recovery at this point, absolutely beamingfrom ear to ear, ready to start our journey as parents and a family of 3. 

Some people have said to me, how can you have a birth plan for an elective caesarean? Well, the elective caesarean was a plan A for me and our baby and of course you can have a birth plan, we sat down with our very kind midwife at 33 weeks and wrote it.  We said we wanted music played using our mood light speaker, we wanted delayed cord clamping if possible, we wanted skin to skin contact as soon as was feasible, to have a spinal anaesthetic, to have my husband with me at all times if possible, and for Dave to trim the cord. We also planned for Plan B, C and D if I did go into labour. I wanted my wishes to be known, in case I was unable to voice these myself and this planning helped with my anxiety. 

Most people are anxious about having a baby, my anxiety wasmore than this, I had tokophobia, but with the right help andsupport we were able to make an informed decision which we felt was best for us, and our dream of having a family was able to come true. Never be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Caesarean birth is birth and can be just as beautiful as any other birth. I have been asked if I feel robbed of the experience of labour, my answer, absolutely not! This all happened just over a year ago now, the recovery wasn’t a piece of cake initially, but we thankfully have a very supportive network that helped us in those first few weeks when I couldn’t drive or lift anything more than Jacob. We both have had, since day one, an amazing bond with our very happy, content and active now 1 year old and we love being his Mummy and Daddy, it’s been the best year of our lives so far. Would I do it again? Maybe one day, if that’s where our journey is meant to take us.

If, like Sophie, you want t know all about cesarean births, how best to recover and have a toolkit of techniques to help you in all birth scenarios then…

You can join our Hypnobirthing classes in Cheltenham. We do antenatal classes too in Gloucester and Cheltenham.

If you want all the information from our award-winning hypnobirthing and antenatal classes but from the convenience of your own home on your own time, then you can get this with our online course.

Check out our series of YouTube videos on how to make your birth better. 

5 Ways Mary Bossed Baby Jesus’ Birth

5 Ways Mary Bossed Baby Jesus’ Birth

Poor Mary on her donkey trying to find a nice place to have her precious baby, only to be showed to a stable filled with animals. If this was to happen nowadays we’d all be fuming that we didn’t get to our hospital room with a bed, warm water and a midwife.

But I want to share with you why I think Mary’s stable birth wasn’t as bad as we once thought.

1. When Mary was in labour, she set off on her donkey to find somewhere to give birth. She would have been upright sat on that donkey with her legs straddled wide, her open pelvis would have meant plenty of room for baby Jesus to travel down and this would have meant lots of pressure on her cervix to help it dilate.

2. Notice on her very long search for a place to birth she didn’t just accidentally have her baby on the pavement outside the local pub. That wouldn’t have made a very biblical story now would it?? You see our bodies have this funny way of having our backs. If adrenaline is high and we are stressed (for example being told a big fat, “No room at the inn” several times) our bodies can stall labour. Only when she found a safe place to birth did her labour crack on (that stable would have been nesting at its best!)

3. There was no bed in that stable. Beds are not always our friends in labour yet lots of birth rooms make the bed the centre point. Having no bed in the centre of the stable would have meant that Mary would have needed to walk, kneel, lean, squat, go on all fours to get into a comfortable position. This would have meant that baby Jesus would have been able to navigate through the pelvis a lot easier than if Mary saw a bed and then got on it.

4. It was dark. It was night time and there would have been no lights to just switch on in the stable. A dim lantern would have been the only light (and the North Star of course) meaning that melatonin (the darkness hormone) would have been at its highest. Melatonin acts on the uterus to increase contractions meaning a smoother labour.

5. There were no onlookers. Her mother didn’t just pop in to see if she was ok. Her other children weren’t demanding snacks or needing picking up from the school run. There was no midwife, no doctors, no change of staff, no staff just popping in to take equipment or check the resus. There’s a theory called the Fear Of Observeration. Whilst we may not consciously realise this, having people watching us in birth can make us behave differently and this can interfere with birth. I’m not for one minute suggesting that Mary shouldn’t have had a midwife there but, I think limiting her birth partner to just Joseph was a good idea.

So before you rush out to book the nearest Inn complete with stables and animals for your birth, notice that these 5 Top Tips for birth can be transferred to any birth scenario. Meaning that you can boss your birth like Mary, in all birth settings minus the straw and hay in your manger.

Want to know more about how you can help get the birth you want? Read a real life birth story and how she stacked the odds in her favour- Gayles Birth Story here.