Category: Birth Stories

Welcoming baby Delphi- My Birth Story

Birth StoriesNew mumNewbornPregnancyThe Great British Birth Off

I don’t really know where to start with the labour. I could potentially say I was in early labour for a few days, contracting on and off throughout the days and evenings prior to the birth with it not amounting to anything. For the sake of time, I’m writing this whilst the baby is sleeping, and to save your boredom I’m going to fast forward to when it finally and thankfully stepped up a gear. This was Friday evening. The evening started like all the other evenings before, me bouncing on my ball in front of the TV. Rob had gone to football and I was contracting as I usually did in the evenings. It got to 11pm and the contractions were coming regularly. I said to Rob tonight is the night, he rolled is eyes and carried on watching 8 out of 10 cats does countdown, as I’d cried wolf every day already this week. From how ‘stop and start’ my contractions had been this week I had lost all faith in my ability in judging whether it was happening or not. I went upstairs to take a shower and to have a word with myself. I was probably not going into labour at all.

Half an hour in the shower I rang my friend to come over. The contractions were becoming stronger and staying regular, I was still not totally convinced though and prepped her that it may all stop. I rang the birth unit too and said the same to them, “I don’t think I’m in active labour, but I think I may be getting there.” Being a fourth baby, I knew that being in active labour (from 4cms and regular contractions) to having a baby wasn’t going to be long and I wanted to be in the hospital as I bled last time. They invited me in.

This is probably a good time to give you a bit of background. My 3rd baby was born prem at 34 weeks and I lost more blood than deemed normal. So the advice for me was to have my baby on a consultant led unit as I was “high-risk” of bleeding again. I looked at all my options though and chose to go against this advice after having a conversation with the lead midwife on the birth unit. My last birth, I had polyhydramnios, prematurity, a suspected infection and the cord snapped on the placenta all things that mean you’re more likely to lose more blood. This pregnancy, I had normal waters, a normal size baby and was full term so I didn’t have the same risk factors. With this in mind I chose to give birth on the midwifery led unit and I was supported in this choice.

So back to that Friday evening… I was in the shower. I had my birth ball in the shower too. It was on the bath so that I could lean onto it to have the water on the bottom of my back. I used my breathing here that I’d learnt from hypnobirthing. Counting my in breath and my out breath gave me something to concentrate on and kept me relaxed. Things were going great guns, I was calm, comfortable and getting into the swing of the contractions. My friend arrived and so I got out of the shower and myself and Rob made our way to the birth unit.

It was about 00.30 when we arrived to the birth unit. My midwife was Brenda, she showed us into our room Poppy. It was dimly lit and the pool was half full. I again said to a Brenda that I didn’t think I was quite in labour but knew my contractions were getting there. They were coming every few minutes at this point but they felt manageable. She brought me in some essential oils – Bergamot and Frankincense- on a taper and I got back into the shower leaning over onto the birthing ball. Chui my birth photographer arrived at this point. My only concern here I remember was what happens if this all stops, what happens if I’m just in early labour and I’ve got my friend at my house and Chui’s here. I didn’t want to waste anyone’s time! Silly really looking back as it was obvious I was in labour!

I spent a good hour at least like this in the shower. The next thing that happened was at 02.30 when I had my first vaginal examination. I know it was 02.30 because Rob text Emily at this time who was home with the kids. I still wasn’t sure at this point that it was it… I remember saying to Brenda, what happens if I’m just 2cms. If this was going to be the case I didn’t want to know! Brenda thought that would be unlikely and she was right. It’s funny how much you lose your ability to rationalise in labour! As a midwife, I should’ve been able to recognise the signs but I still had in the back of my mind that I may not be dilating at all! I was 8cms. Happy days! I got gas and air at this point which is when all of the fun started.

Brenda filled the pool and I got in. The water was instantly comforting. It was here that I remember really wanting to take it all in. As pregnant mothers, we are so desperate for this moment, desperate to feel the contractions and to know that after 9 months we are finally going to meet our baby. The labour and the birth we prep for, go to classes, pack 3 suitcases for which is more than what we’d take on holiday, we play it out how we want it to be in our minds but the reality is that it’s all done and dusted in a day. That moment in the pool was a nice one, I really appreciated what was going on, that what I’d been waiting for was actually happening that very night. These thoughts were helped from the fact that I was high as a kite too! I actually told Brenda all of this between contractions. She probs thought I was cuckoo!

It wasn’t long after I’d got into the pool that I’d started to transition. I remember saying “I can’t do this anymore!” Whilst thinking that’s a textbook ‘You’re just about to have a baby comment’ whilst uncontrollably pushing. I can’t remember “mooing” here but Rob assures me it happened! This feeling was overwhelming, I had this full feeling, which would have been her head coming through my pelvis. The only thing that helped this feeling go away was to push. All the signs were telling me I was just about to meet my baby and a few pushes later she was born under the water at 03.31. I got to bring her up out of the water myself. Holding her in front of my face, seeing her scrunched up face, feeling her skin, hearing her little cry and knowing that she was here safe in my arms was the most incredible feeling ever.

All went well after – no bleeding!🙌🏼 and we were back home by 7.30 am for when the other 3 children woke up.

There’s a couple of things that I’m so glad that I did.

1. Getting a birth photographer– I felt like a bit of a diva doing this but now I wish that I did it for all of my births. For me, remembering the birth is so much more important than say a wedding day, yet a wedding photographer is something we see at every wedding! The photos that i have are priceless and Delphi is lucky that she gets to see her first moments in the world. Thank you Chui 🙂

2.Hypnobirthing– Through teaching hypnobirthing I have inadvertently been practising the techniques for a lot longer than my 9 month pregnancy and boy did it pay off. Reinforcing that everything in your birth is a choice, learning the importance of keeping your mind calm and how to control pesky negative thoughts like fear and doubt that always seem to enter our minds meant that this birth was by far my most empowering, calm and magical experience. I could live it with such clarity and for me that was I really wanted, I wanted to be able to remember every minute of it and enjoy it! I’ll write another blog on what techniques I used that were most helpful.

3. Writing it down- this little story completes it for me, it’s something else that means I’ll remember what happened that night.

For me sharing birth stories is important. I want pregnant mothers to know that birth isn’t always the fear-filled, ear- piercing shrieks and painful experiences that you see on TV. It can be empowering, calm and beautiful. My births are by far my biggest accomplishments in life. I look back on this birth especially, and it was everything I wanted it to be and I would happily do it all again in a heartbeat.

‘Tis the season to have a baby… Fa La La La La La La

Birth StoriesPregnancy

Why December is actually a great month to have a baby…

Christmas is a crazy busy time for most, with all the food prepping, turkey stuffing, tree decorating and present wrapping there is just no time to have give birth to a baby in between. I’m speaking here from someone who’s own baby could be born any day and with Christmas just less than a week away, I’m really feeling the added pressure. Will the baby be born before, will I be home for Christmas Day? Or will the baby come after Christmas? This pressure is REAL… any expectant mamas currently feeling the same?

It took me one Merry Christmas evening to feel totally different about this.

I was cosy on the sofa..

Festive PJs on ✅

Love Actually on the TV ✅

Winter scent candle was burning ✅

Twinkly lights from the Christmas tree ✅

Presents wrapped ✅

I was feeling all the good Christmassy feels. Relaxed, calm and really excited for Christmas Day. I had inadvertently created THE perfect scene for birth, or at least early labour before going into the hospital.

Oxytocin is a hormone that we need to have contractions. It’s the love hormone so is high when we feel “in love” calm and relaxed. Having high levels of stress tells the body that we’re not in a safe place to give birth, which can effect if you go into labour or can slow down your contractions.

At Christmas time, the build up can be magical, often more so than the day itself.

Cleaning the house like a maniac, sorting out old toys, clearing out old clothes to make more room for what Santa will bring. It’s nesting at its best.

The Shopping, the retail therapy! Need I say anymore. The Amazon prime purchases gives you all the good feels with the added bonus of being a perfectly justified time of year to be spending.

The chocolate orange or 2 can be eaten guilt free.

The lighting is tip top birth environment conditions, the dim lights from dark, early evenings and the twinkly lights from the Christmas lights. Nothing screams calmness quite like it.

It’s always exciting hearing the Christmas songs on the radio. The Christmas piano playlist on Spotify has been my go to chill out songs for all of December. So will definitely be my birth playlist if the baby comes this month.

Partners/Husbands usually have time off anyway so it means extra days off at home with you and the baby.

The roads are quieter for the drive to hospital … ok I’m probably clutching at straws on this one. But you get the idea, good spirits and festive cheer. You have a pre-made perfect birth environment and some amazing coping strategies already built in to the festive season (birth environment and coping strategy are techniques for birth that are covered in hypnobirthing.) There’s nothing that brings a boost of oxytocin quite like it.

Photo creds Chui King Li Photography

Dads… in the Birth room or in the pub?

Birth StoriesDadsPregnancyTop 5 Tips

Let’s throw it back to the 1950s where only the aristocratic Dads may have made an appearance in the birth room to welcome a son. The majority of Dads would be waiting in the pub for the news of the arrival of the baby at a homebirth or sat in the hospital waiting room, only to see the baby when their wives would be clean and decent. It was deemed inappropriate for the wives to be seen by their husbands behaving the instinctive, primitive way that labour brings.

Fast forward 60 years to now and Dads are thrown into the birth rooms with often not a scooby doo to what to expect or to do. With the role models from one born every minute spotlighting Dads to be jokers and a spare part in the birth rooms, more concerned with whether they’re going to eat the pickled onion monster munch or the sour cream Pringles. It’s no wonder with the media portraying Dads this way that they find their comfy chair in the birth room, open up their snacks and load up the iPad with the latest football match and settle down for the next few hours, leaving their other halves and the midwives to it.

What would you think if I told you that as a Dad, you are the best asset to birth? You can reduce the want for pain relief and make birth run more smoothly. Oxytocin is the reason why. Dads are the biggest source of oxytocin, with this hormone being the love hormone. A high level of oxytocin means a high level of endorphins (your body’s own morphine supply) and stronger, more regular contractions (oxytocin directly acts on your uterus muscles.)

So to the Dads out there that want to be that difference to the birth (that’s all types of births), here’s my tips for you…

1. Touch- Holding a hand, massaging the lower back, popping a hand on your partners shoulder. Touch increases the oxytocin and let’s her know you’re there.

2. Have a good poker face- No matter how you’re feeling underneath, bring out your best poker face. If she sees fear in you, she’s either going to feel scared herself or feel like she has to reassure you. Either of these are not ideal for her oxytocin levels.

3. Encourage her to eat, drink and wee often. Eating and drinking because the uterus is a muscle that needs nutrients to work effectively. You wouldn’t run a marathon without fuel. Wee often because if the bladder is full then baby’s head can struggle to get past it- women in labour often don’t get the same urge to wee as they do in pregnancy so need reminding to go.

4. Help pack the hospital bag- during birth if she asks you for her flannel for her forehead, or her Vaseline as the gas and air is drying out her lips, you’re going to want to know where it is in that bag. If your partner has a cesarean then all the baby clothes/hats/nappies are going to be your responsibility to find afterwards.

5. Get involved in the birth prep too. Help make the playlist, help research the birth plan. Knowing what will be happening in all avenues of the birth will mean that you can be confident and provide reassurance. Antenatal class can help you with the knowledge that you’ll need. If you know the choices she’d like then you can work with the midwife to make this happen. In the thick of contractions it can be a challenge to make and voice decisions so you’ll be the main communicator.

6. Tell her she’s doing amazing, tell her everything is going well, rather than asking her if she’s ok. If she’s feeling uncomfortable with contractions then she’s probably not going to say she’s fine and dandy.

7. Be a leaning post. If your partner is upright and leaning forward her pelvis will be open an extra 28% meaning more room for baby to pass through. And again the closeness will increase the oxytocin.

8. Be present. Try and limit the use of phones or iPads. When you’re trying to birth a baby and your hubby is scrolling Facebook it can feel a tad isolating.

9. Get your dose of skin to skin after with baby. It can be great for your bonding with baby, helps regulate their temperature, heart rate and breathing. Plus it gives your partner the chance to rest after birth and have two hands to eat the well deserved tea and toast.

10. Look after yourself. There’s nothing worse than having a hangry Dad in the birth room. Pack yourself lots of snacks and drinks so you can stay well fuelled too. Pack yourself a change of clothes too and maybe a toothbrush as labour and birth can take a while.

12. Practise the techniques with her in pregnancy. This can be breathing techniques, counting, visualisations or relaxations from hypnobirthing. What ever coping techniques you are going to use, you’ll need to know what they are to be able to prompt them when the going gets tough- this can be in the car on the way to the hospital, in the waiting room or during transition when birthing mums tend to momentarily lose control.

13. Sort the practical stuff- know who to call, where to park, how to get there, how to get the car seat in the car for the ride home. This will take lots of the pressure off.

Remember YOU are the biggest source of oxytocin in the room. Don’t underestimate your role in the birth room.

The Unexpected Trimester- Nancy’s Early Arrival

Birth StoriesNewborn

It was a Saturday, I had just come home from my baby shower, and put my eldest 2 children to bed. Although there was copious amounts of yummy food at the baby shower, being a glutenous pregnant woman I made myself comfy on the sofa and ordered in a Fat Toni’s. Local people know this is the trophy of all pizzas.

I was 34 weeks and 3 days so not expecting what the night had in store for me but fast forward to 9.50 am, Sunday (I will save my birth story for another day) I had my little baby girl in my arms. Weighing a healthy 5lb 14oz she was in almost tip top condition. Although she was making noises when she was breathing, for what we call ‘grunty’. This is common in premature babies and is a sign that their little lungs are struggling to breath… so off she went in an incubator over the corridor to NNU (Neonatal Unit).

This was Nancy in the first 20 minutes or so after being born, just before being taken over to NNU. You can see a slight ring around her nose and mouth where she needed help with her breathing from a mask.

Although my delivery was very calm, I happened to lose a fair bit of blood, so I stayed on the delivery suite till I was deemed safe to venture across the corridor. And there she was. My gorgeous little girl warm, cosy and peaceful in her incubator, not even aware that she had entered this world.

I looked onto her like she wasn’t my baby.

A baby that I couldn’t hold. I sat there watching her sleep. Scared to touch her; in fear of knocking a wire. I felt so useless and disconnected that I went back to my delivery room. Filled with guilt and dread I sat on my bed and expressed some milk as that was something I knew I could do. As a midwife I have been into NNU many times, looking at other mothers baby’s who I have delivered. This had felt like one of those moments- just an onlooker.

That evening I visited again. I sat watching her in tears. I was unprepared for her arrival and unprepared for not feeling ‘the bond’ with my baby. That evening, with the help of the amazing NNU staff, I held her against my skin and could smell the top of her head. I can remember this feeling more than when she was first put in my arms. We stayed like that for about fifteen minutes, then she was placed back in her incubator. I can’t say that I was overwhelmed with love but I knew that the little bundle in my arms was mine to protect. We named her that evening, Nancy Constance.

 

 

The following day, Nancy was discharged to the nursery. Then, only 48 hours since birth, Nancy was discharged home. We were extremely fortunate that she was able to come out so quickly. There are certain things as a midwife I think you need to go through totruly understand. A baby on NNU for me was clearly one of them. From the short time we spent on NNU and from caring for other mothers with baby’s on NNU I would like to say to any mother who finds themselves in the same situation…

  • Don’t feel guilty for not being able to sit at your baby’s cot side.

You have just given birth. You will need to eat, drink, take your pain relief, visit the toilet, have your post natal checks, sleep and shower. Those trips up and down from maternity ward to NNU can take its toll. You can only give to another from a full cup. Most of all your baby needs you to be well.

  • Think of your baby’s time at NNU as an extension of your womb. The unexpected trimester.

In Nancy’s case she should have still been in my womb, in my mind for reassurance, that’s what the incubator replicated.

  • You WILL bond with your baby.

If you don’t feel connected to your baby, ask for someone to help you into skin to skin, stroke her hands, smell her head. This will all help with bonding. If you can’t do these things have faith that soon, you will be able to. Your feelings now are not a reflection on your future relationship.

 

Babies recover at different rates and no amount of time at medical school can make a doctor or nurse predict the future. It’s unsettling to be not given a time frame of baby’s discharge but this is not through lack of knowledge from the staff but from plenty of experience. We were told to expect Nancy to stay in for 2 weeks, when she was out the following day. Expect the longest then anything less is a bonus.

Most importantly, know that you are doing your best and you are doing incredibly. Nobody can plan for this unexpected trimester.

Robyn’s Way Into The World

Birth Stories

Fayes birth story.

So…. We didn’t have a birth plan we were just happy to go with the flow and it’s a good job we did! My due date had passed, and I was starting to feel a tad inpatient so I had a bath with a ‘sex bomb’ (bath bomb from Lush!) which was recommended to me by a new mummy friend I had made on the Bump to Baby Chapter antenatal course. I even had to go to my mother in law’s for the bath because the previous week I had got stuck in our bath due to the taps being in the middle!! 

 

I was 5 days overdue so my partner and I went out for a thai curry at lunchtime, again in a bid to get things started. By 4pm that day the contractions had started…. 10 minutes apart and not very consistent however it was all starting to happen. My partner went off to five-a-side football at 5.30pm and when he returned at 7.15pm they certainly felt stronger and were more like 7 minutes apart however still not always consistent.

 

I had a tiring night, however I managed the pain using my hypnobirthing breathing and visualisations, paracetamol and a tens machine. Sleep was tricky though because well… I was a tad uncomfortable and I was needing to time my contractions. By 4.30am the following day it was time for us to make our way to the birth unit at Gloucester Royal, things seemed more consistent and my pyjamas bottoms suddenly appeared wet! My partner drove us to the hospital saying ‘this is it!’, it reminded me of that early morning trip to the airport when you are feeling a mixture of excited and nervous!!

 

We arrived at the birth unit and after being assessed I was advised I was 3cm dilated and only part of my waters had broken, therefore diamorphine was recommended to me so that I could rest and catch up on some sleep for the day that was ahead of me. They also started me on some IV antibiotics because I had Group B strep.

 

Several hours passed, my waters hadn’t broken naturally, I felt super relaxed and drowsy and I hadn’t dilated anymore. I felt at this point a little frustrated and waved goodbye to any hope of a water birth because I needed to be looked after in the delivery suite and have the rest of my waters broken. It was at this point that I was started on the hormone drip to try and increase the intensity and frequency of the contractions (or so I thought this was).

 

The level of hormone drip changed throughout the day, and by 10pm that evening I was 6cm dilated, this felt so wrong to both my partner and I at the time after such a long day. However, earlier that night we had a wonderful surprise when Beth came on shift and was assigned as our midwife. Seeing a friendly face was just the best we could have hoped for and my partner was pleased because he could straight talk with Beth! I was shattered and was only using gas and air as pain relief, otherwise I was managing with my hypnobirthing techniques. I remember feeling really quite insular and just focussing in on my breathing. A cesarean was offered and discussed at 11pm however we declined this suggestion on the basis that I didn’t want the recovery afterwards. Albeit, I was very tempted and did ask whether they could guarantee our baby would be born in the next hour so that it’s birthday could be the 16th of the month the same as her dad- barmy I know!! My partner laughed at this reasoning, in my head it was justified given the day I had experienced! Instead we were advised the hormone drip would be increased and we would be assessed again in 2 hours.

 

Those two hours I remember being really tough, however both Beth and my partner were very supportive and I remember them both being really positive. Finally, at about 1.30am I was more or less fully dilated, however (there are lots of howeversin this story!!), our baby’s head was facing 10 o’clock as opposed to 6 o’clock and therefore I needed some help from a doctor to move baby into a more optimum position for birth. I have also learned since that her heart rate was also creating an odd pattern and I wasn’t in any fit state to take instructions on how to push because I was attached to the gas and air for comfort and was exhausted! Therefore, the next part of the story involved signing a consent form and going to theatre. The two options I had were forceps and C section- both of which I had prayed I wouldn’t need so I remember feeling like a failure. Given our feelings about the recovery after a C section, we opted for forceps first.

 

I recollect being in theatre feeling like I was on Holby City- surrounded by lights, legs in stirrups and lots of clinicians around me including an anaesthetist trying to get a spinal block into my back however I couldn’t sit still due to the contractions. I recall him getting more and more cross and frustrated with the situation and perhaps me due to my lack of cooperation (not on purpose I might add!!). Once the spinal block was in, the process started and the one doctor could not turn her head, nevertheless I was lucky enough that another doctor was available to try. She was successful, however our little baby turned back! At this point, I remember Beth saying ‘you are definitely having a girl because she is being a right diva!’ this made me smile because we didn’t know at this point what we were having. The same doctor managed to turn her again and very much gave the impression that this was my opportunity to push my baby out. Beth was monitoring the baby’s heart rate and feeling my tummy for contractions, when a contraction came I was supported, encouraged and motivated to push as hard as I could three times. I am pretty sure after 3 lots of 3 pushes our baby was born! Forceps were used to help direct her out and I had an episiotomy. 

 

Beth told us we had a baby girl and I was ecstatic because my partner already had a boy so I secretly hoped for a girl! Unfortunately, she was born very startled and with a slightly disfigured chest so was whisked off to the corner of the room for checks. My partner recalls how anxious he felt at this time, nevertheless within 15 minutes of being checked over by the doctors, her chest had recovered and all was good in the world. Well for her anyway… I on the other hand was still lay on my back, legs in stirrups feeling quite uncomfortable whilst the doctors manually removed my placenta which got a little stuck, hence my 1.7 litre blood loss. Due to this loss I started to feel more and more unwell- shaky and sick. By now, our baby girl was in my partner’s arms having lots of lovely cuddles and I couldn’t control my shakes whilst in recovery so had to opt for looking at her and stroking her hand for the first hour and a half of her life. Once I felt better I made up for it with some skin to skin contact and a good feed. Holding her for the first time was just the best medicine for feeling better and this is how I have decided to remember her birth.

 

 

 

 

Top 10 Photos to capture in your birth room

Birth StoriesNewbornUncategorized

Moments in the birth room are moments to be remembered. Here are just a sample of 10 of my favourite captures.

1. The support given from your partner.

(Beautiful photos from Luna Palm Photography Cheltenham)

2. The Lion King moment- During a cesarean when the drapes are dropped and you first set eyes on your baby.

(📸 Monet Nicole)

3. The Moment you catch your baby.

4. Your partners face when you catch your baby. This Dads face is priceless.

(📸 Monet Nicole Births)

5. The cord being cut. This is one being trimmed after a cesarean birth.

6. Baby’s first checks such as weight and head circumference.

7. The first family photo.

(Sam and Rich ❤️ when 2 became 3)

8. Those tiny fingers and tiny toes.

(📸 Chui King Li Photography) Cheltenham

9. Midwife and Baby- If you’ve had a good relationship with your midwife, one of your baby and your midwife is a popular one to take.

(📸 This is myself with gorgeous Casia. Her Mama Lucy’s blog is a good one to read.)

10. The going home photo-

(A Bump to Baby Chapter papa taking his new baby home ❤️)

These are my Top 10. Have I missed any special captures out? I’d love to see yours in the comments…

Beth

❤️

‘We were meant to go to Birdland..’

Birth StoriesThe Great British Birth Off

11th August 2018. My due date and the date my precious boy arrived into the world. I hadn’t slept much because his movements had changed and I was worrying, so at 8am I rang triage who asked me to come in to be monitored. We very nearly didn’t take the hospital bags as I was so sure I would be sent home, and anyway, we had plans to go to Birdland!

We arrived at Gloucester, I was monitored and told everything was fine so we were just waiting to be told we could go home. The doctor came in to chat and said she wanted to examine me, I was 1-2cm dilated and she could feel baby’s head. So she said we might as well get things moving! We were in complete shock. I immediately needed a nervous poo! I rang my Mum straight away to tell her! I’d been quite chilled towards labour throughout pregnancy, I just think it’s the type of person I am, but this was further backed up from my ante natal classes with Beth at the Bump to Baby Chapter, I started looking forward to labour!

I was wheeled through to delivery suite and was given a pessary. I had a good idea of the induction process because of my ante classes and was fully aware it would probably involve a lot of waiting around, something I wasn’t overly filled with joy about. However, that was not the way it was going to go for me. Within seconds I started contracting. Similar to Braxton Hicks which I had had throughout pregnancy, so I didn’t think too much to begin with. But they didn’t let up, and started getting more frequent and more painful. I remember being told about the pain in labour, and that you needed to concentrate on the breaks between contractions. Well when you’re having seven contractions in ten minutes, there isn’t much of a break! My body didn’t react well to the pain, and I was sick, hot, high heart rate and I had diarrhoea – which I wasn’t too bothered about, better to have a clear out now! Baby wasn’t too much of a fan of the pessary either so they decided to take it out after a while and I had my waters broken. I was given something to slow down the contractions and I was put on fluids for my heart rate. I also had gas and air. Gas and air, for me, really didn’t do much at all, if anything it was something to do and focus on during the contraction and it was also the sign for my husband Rich to start rubbing my back! Once my contractions had slowed down to four every ten minutes, things were great. I knew I could do this! Due to the fluids, I started needing the toilet quite regularly, and the diarrhoea continued. I’ll never forget the image of me on the toilet while my husband was holding my fluid bag! Not once did he ever question it, just gave me love and reassurance. At some point, I decided that I couldn’t be bothered to keep going to the toilet to wee, so I just kept weeing the bed! and to think I was worried about pooing on the bed. When you’re in labour, you just don’t care. I remember apologising to my midwife Louise, but it was a half hearted apology because I knew what I was doing ha!

Anyway, contractions were slower – still painful, but manageable so I asked Rich to put on the gymnastics followed by the athletics. Not what I thought I would be doing during labour at all, but it was great. I loved watching the GB team win the men and women’s 4x100m relays! It was coming up to four hours after my waters had been broken, so I was due to be examined. I asked for more pain relief and said I wanted it no matter how many cm I was dialated. I had diamorphine and again, I don’t think it did much for me, just made my head very woozy! Louise examined me and laughed and said I was 9cm. Both Rich and I laughed, 9cm, how!?? Active labour started at 4cm and I had by passed that without even realising! I knew it wouldn’t be long before I needed to start pushing. I was very fortunate that I had a good friend as my midwife, and then Beth joined us for delivery. I’d been kind of hoping for at least one of them during labour, but to end up with both was amazing! I trusted everything they said, and was able to have a joke and laugh with them. Something I didn’t expect to be doing just as I was about to push!

Pushing, for me, was hard. I’m someone who likes to know exactly what’s what. I think if someone could have said ‘you’ll have 20 contractions then baby will be here’, I would have found it easier. It doesn’t quite work like that though. There were parts when I didn’t think I could do it, when I didn’t think I was getting anywhere. But I was, every contraction meant I was getting closer to meeting my little boy, and Rich, Louise and Beth gave me encouragement throughout. I do remember thinking (I may have even said) that they were lying when they said I was close now. Ha! But they were right, I was getting closer. Rich put on my Disney/Greatest Showman playlist while I was pushing and that definitely helped too! At some point a sanitary towel also appeared on my head too as I was getting hot. Like I said before, you don’t care about anything during labour!

Baby’s heart rate wasn’t very happy and so Louise said we needed to get baby here sooner rather than later, the way she said it, I knew she was being serious but at the same time I didn’t feel panicked at all. She told me that if she cut me she thought there was a 90% chance it would work. I didn’t really care by the point and didn’t hesitate in saying to do it. I wasn’t aware of being cut either. However I still couldn’t get baby’s head out, so they called in a doctor who said they would give me one more contraction on my own before they used a ventouse. I made them promise that there were only three contractions left. One on my own, one with the ventouse and then one for the rest of baby’s body. She promised. It seemed to be exactly what I needed, and that final push on my own was the push that did it! The head was out. It was the weirdest but greatest feeling ever. I waited for my final contraction and started pushing, Louise told me to open my eyes as I pushed and I watched my baby enter the world. Crying before he was even fully out. Sebastian Matthew John was born to Tightrope from Greatest Showman and a song from Moana. After that nothing else mattered apart from my little boy in my arms.

I look back on my birth experience, and I can honestly say I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the seven contractions every ten minutes as I think it made me handle the rest of labour easier. I enjoyed the athletics. I enjoyed the music playlist. I even enjoyed the pain. And I enjoyed the company I had throughout, Ellie my first midwife, Louise my friend and second midwife. Beth, who I’m sure did lots of important things but I only remember her taking some amazing photos! (that sanitary towel was on my head for a long time after birth!!) and of course my husband Rich who was amazing throughout.  I smiled, I laughed and I got to meet my little boy. A pretty perfect day if you ask me!

Suzy’s Cesarean Birth

Birth StoriesUncategorized

So having been told early on in pregnancy that I would need a c section as I had Placenta Previa (placenta blocking cervix) to then be told at 30wks my placenta had moved and you can have a normal delivery… left me absolutely crapping myself as it isn’t what I had been preparing for and all the uncertainties that came with it!

Then I was told about Hypnobirthing… decided to book on a course that was relaxed, informative and empowering… I came away with more confidence that I can handle labour. Not to mention meeting some lovely people to share the journey with.

Turns out on the last scan they found unusually large fetal blood vessels all over my placenta (Vasa Previa) that could tear during labour meaning you and your baby could lose a lot of blood and would end up being rushed to have an emergency c section, where neither I nor my partner would witness the birth of our first child (as in this situation a general anaesthetic would be necessary).

So I took control and requested a planned c section. I had an amazing little boy through a calm and magical experience 😍 … someone said, so you didn’t need the hypnobirthing skills after all?

Wrong, very wrong!

I used them several times:

• When being made to get out of bed and walk to the bathroom, lowering myself on to the toilet, getting myself off the toilet and back into bed – not at all easy the day after major surgery!

• Then I also needed them again after having far too many pain killer tablets over a week (too much information coming up!) which basically blocks you up badly… I felt like I’d given birth 3 times before it all returned to normal! 💩😬😱

• Throughout my recovery after coming off the blocking pills! I used them, getting in and out of bed and on and off the floor when you are sore… you need to breathe through all of that.

I also made a lovely group of friends and now meet up regularly with all our little ones, as well as having that all important out reach text group – when your baby is going through something like constipation or colic or you want to compare explosive poops 💩!

Birth at home on the toilet- Not quite the birth planned

Birth StoriesThe Great British Birth Off

After experiencing 2 births, I can safely say that it rarely goes according to our imaginary plan or so we believe when we reflect on it later on. Some plan a free-medical pain relief option and end up with emergency C-section, others elect to have a home birth but have to be rushed to the hospital for health reasons.

With this in mind, I drew a birth plan for my second baby with a few options marked in. My main point was to stay comfortable so all options remained on the table.

I still prepared myself for the birth unit, practising yoga and religiously listening to my hypnobirthing track. I visualised almost to perfection how I would deliver the baby myself in the warmth of the pool surrounded by professional midwives and my husband (OK he was in one corner of the room, just like the first birth).

Little did I know…

In a nutshell, this is how it went: I gave birth to our second daughter in the ensuite bathroom, without any kind of medical pain-relief (no not even a paracetamol). Child number 1 was fast asleep in her bedroom. My husband being downstairs to call 999 (he had the nerve to ask me ‘who should he call?’ while the head was crowning… Ghostbusters maybe?).

When I talk about my unexpected home birth to people I always feel stupid with the following remarks:

‘Did you not notice you were in labour?’ Yes I knew.

’Why didn’t you go sooner to the hospital?’ Contractions every 5-10 minutes, and I live 10 minutes away.

‘Were you not in pain? It only became unbearable 15 minutes before birth, by that time the only reasonable thing to do was to stay home.

I thought that as long as my daughter was in the house, I wouldn’t believe it would actually happen. But my body/mind interpreted it differently: She is in a safe place so bring it on.

I strongly believe hypnobirthing brought me comfortably up to the pushing phase. I’m not gonna lie, when it was game on I was dreaming of an epidural. Weirdly enough, I think my body knew. I installed a maternity mat on the bathroom floor and thoroughly washed my hands an hour prior to fun time.

Tip for any future second time mummy: Get rid of child number 1 after a few contractions in a row (Mum of the Year Award anyone?).

The community midwife who arrived 20 minutes after birth managed to diffuse the touch of drama that was going on in my head. She asked to have a look at my birth plan, I laughed and enquired why as I clearly didn’t follow it. She went through it point by point and made me realise that if you twist things a little bit, you always nail your birth plan.

OK I didn’t plan to stain the carpet with blood. Yes having strangers (paramedics) looking at my fresh-from-birth-vagina is not what I had in my mind. Nor panicking the neighbours (two of them pregnant at the time) in the early morning with the ambulance (thank god to paramedic who prevented anyone to go inside the house…see point about strangers and my vagina). Finally, I certainly didn’t plan that baby’s first trip in the car seat would be in the ambulance going TO the hospital. But I did plan for a calm, comfortable, straight forward birth, which was exactly what it turned out to be.

My husband said that he curiously enjoyed it more than birth 1: It was quick and he was the most useful person in the house, organising ambulance, midwife, babysitter, throwing towels at me to warm the baby, and cleaning the whole room!!

If only I could have photographed his face when he found me sat on the toilet holding a baby, priceless!

So if you ever find yourself in this situation, at home or elsewhere that isn’t a hospital, keep this in mind: If it goes that quick, it means it’s all fine! (That’s not from me, it’s from the pediatrician!)

Gemma’s Birth Story

Birth StoriesThe Great British Birth Off

You finally get the positive test and after the initial anxiety of getting to that 12 week scan has passed, thoughts turn to labour, or at least they do for most people. Me? I figured there was no point worrying about it – I would deal with it when I had to!

As time progressed, people started to ask me if i was nervous or scared, and of course lots of people started divulging their horror birth stories to me, whether I’d asked to hear it or not! At that point I decided it was time to get my butt in gear and start finding out what I was going to do about this labour thing. So I got us booked into the Bump to Baby antenatal classes, bought some positive hypnobirthing books and started to make a plan of action. I quickly decided I was going to be one of these boss mums who serenely breathed their baby out while in pool with plinky plunky music on in the background. Obviously. So when my consultant told me they would admit me to hospital and induce me bang on 40 weeks (due to my blood clotting disorder) I was absolutely devastated. I felt utterly out of control and all the lovely natural birth plans I had disappeared.

After a few days of holding a spectacular pity party, I decided it was time to pull my (seriously enormous) big girl pants up, and take all the great info we’d learned at the antenatal classes and make up a new birth preference. We’d learned all about boosting the all important oxytocin while in an unfamiliar environment and also not to be afraid to ask questions so I spoke to the consultant and asked that we delay the induction by just a few days to give my baby one last chance to make his or her own way. He agreed, and although I only had 3 extra days, it really gave me back a sense of control.

Sadly, despite endless frantic hours bouncing on the birthing ball like a mad woman, my baby was in no rush so on the morning of the 28th September we dutifully trundled into GRH, all ready for the inevitable 3 day long induction process I’d heard so much about.

I was examined and, at 2cm already (how secretly thrilled was I?) my first pessary was inserted at 1pm. After we were allowed to get up, hubby and I went on a 2.5 hour long waddle around the hospital grounds in the hope it would help speed things up. I needn’t have bothered really as within an hour I was feeling some discomfort and by the time we returned to the labor ward I was contracting regularly. By 10pm I was contracting every 2-3 minutes for 40-60 seconds and I was scared. Surely this was too much too quickly? Inductions were meant take days weren’t they? I was still 2cm (smug feeling from earlier now gone) and I was beginning to think I’d massively over estimated my pain tolerance. How on earth was I going to manage another 8+ hours of this? To add to my ever growing panic, the midwives were also telling me Alex would have to go home as men aren’t allowed on the ward overnight. How would I cope without my rock? Oxytocin had left the building and I was struggling.

Thankfully we managed to keep Alex there for another couple of hours and as I gladly accepted the offer of pethidine, I was told at now 3cm dilated, we could go down to the delivery suite. Hooray!!! Once wheeled down and settled in, Alex quickly got to work putting my affirmation bunting up and getting out our battery operated candles. I had my waters broken and then the fun really started! Within half an hour I was seriously contemplating an epidural – something I swore I’d never have but I was really doubting I could cope with much more. The midwife suggested gas and air which despite being quite nervous about trying, I found to be brilliant. With Alex and the midwife cheering me on, I soon found myself wanting to push at the end of each contraction. It wasn’t until the midwife brought it up that I even realised I was doing it and at that point I completely panicked – why was I trying to push at 3cm?? I’m sure I was told to trust my body during labour but at this point my body didn’t seem to know what it was doing, or so I thought. The midwife didn’t seem overly concerned but after an hour of increasingly more urges to push, she decided to examine me and I heard the words every desperate labouring woman wants to hear: “You’re at 9cm!”. Hallelujah! The midwife admittedly seemed as shocked as me and all of a sudden the room sprung into action. Other midwives appeared, the tray came out and the gas and air went away so I could really start to put all my energy into pushing. After a good half an hour of pushing and despite all my visualisations of my vagina opening up like a lotus flower (ha ha!!), nothing was happening and the team were starting to get worried about my baby’s heart rate which was distinctly elevated. A clip was put on baby’s head to monitor the heart better and the decision was made to call in a doctor.

The next few minutes passed in a blur, and before I knew it, the midwife was explaining that as my baby’s heart rate was elevated they wanted baby out double quick so they were preparing to give me an episiotomy. Prior to going into labour this would have been a horrifying thought, but I just wanted my baby here safely. I calmly consented to the episiotomy and the doctor acted quickly. Once the cut had been made I was urged on by the midwives and my husband – a few more pushes and we’d finally find out whether we’d got a girl or a boy!

That last stage of pushing was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I literally had nothing else to give and at one point I thought my head would explode before this baby came out! I remember Alex saying he could see the head and the midwife getting me to feel it. That meant my baby was so nearly here! I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and re-grouped. I’d doubted myself all the way through this but I knew now could do it, the end was in sight. A few more pushes and the infamous ring of fire sensation hit. I know it’s meant to be really unpleasant but for me it was a reassuring sensation, it meant the head was right there! At 3:40am we welcomed our baby girl, Eloise, to the world. She was here and I’d survived!! We managed to have a little skin to skin but unfortunately her breathing wasn’t great and after a few checks it was decided she needed to go to the NICU for further treatment. It turned out she had fluid on her lungs and an infection but responded really well to treatment and the following day she was out of the NICU and back with me on the ward, where we stayed for another 4 days.

My labour story was like nothing I ever imagined and I don’t think I did any of the things on my birth plan! To top it off I don’t think I ever considered how physically demanding it would be! Sounds ludicrous to say that out loud but at the end I really felt like I’d run two marathons back to back. In flip flops. On sand. I wasn’t prepared for the level of exhaustion that inevitably followed. I learned that I should trust more in my body (it really does know what it’s doing!) and trust less in other people’s stories. I’m so glad I attended the antenatal classes because despite being scared at times, I understood everything that needed to happen and felt comfortable with the decisions we made. The only thing I would do next time that I didn’t do this time is attend an actual hypnobirthing course, to really cement my belief. Oh, and maybe work out more so that I’m fitter for the marathon that is labour!!

I am incredibly proud of myself and my husband, we were a total team and he really showed how much he’d taken on board from attending the antenatal classes, which was so reassuring for me. We’ve stayed in touch with all the couples we met at the antenatal group and they have become firm friends and a source of comfort and support during those sleepless nights! Labour was an epic ride and I can honestly say I can’t wait to do it again!

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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 🌟
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#MyBumptoBabyChapter and an AWESOME review from Rachel and Alex who had their baby boy just over a week ago... isn’t he scrummy ❤️ Congratulations to you both!!!

“8 days in and finally got 5 minutes....

Just wanted to say a huge thank you to Beth and her amazing @thebumptobabychapter classes! Both myself and Alex thoroughly enjoyed every session; for Beth’s never ending knowledge on everything labour and baby related, her total honesty that made the scary bits weirdly not seem so scary anymore; and her general funny and welcoming attitude 🥰 we were genuinely sad when our sessions came to an end as they had been the highlight of our week!

We learnt so much during our classes that really prepared us both for the birth and aftercare of our little Archie 😍 even during my brief moments of panic where I stopped using my breathing effectively, Alex was right by my side to remind me and to breath through it with me to get me back on track, honestly couldn’t have done it without his support and encouragement!!

Beth was also completely respectful of our decision not to post anything pregnancy related until after the safe arrival of our little boy, strategically putting us on the end of our group photo so we could be cropped out!! Might seem a daft thing to say, but for anyone that wishes to do the same, please don’t be put off attending these sessions as your wishes will absolutely be respected ☺️

It also gave us the opportunity to meet the loveliest couples, which has been great to share experiences both pre and post baby at all hours of the day.... and night 🕢😴!! So excited to get a date in the diary for a reunion with all our beautiful bundles 😍”

https://www.thebumptobabychapter.co.uk/antenatal-classes-hypnobirthing/
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