One thing I HATE about Hypnobirthing
One thing I HATE about Hypnobirthing
And the winner is….
Well done Danielle!!!
Take some time to look through the other competition entries. Some are laugh out loud funny, some are really quite emotional and tear jerking. I wish I could give a bag to all of the entries as they are all first class!
So over here at The Bump to Baby Chapter HQ we try really hard to give you all the info at antenatal class so you can be badass parents 🌟💎 but as one of the dads pointed out at last antenatal class you pick up so much as you go.. We would like to know #whattheydonttellyouatantenatal this can be from pregnancy hacks you’ve discovered from friends or new mum hacks like getting a bag in a rucksack style so your arms are always free 🙌🏼 (thank you for Tiba and Marl ). Or anything else you feel would have been worth knowing 👍🏼
This my dear friends is a photo comp so tag us The Bump to Baby Chapter with the hashtag #whattheydonttellyouatantenatal and we will pick the winner November 30th 2017. You can also email your entries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Prize will be an amazing Tiba and Marl changing bag worth £120 (full terms and conditions below.)
❤️So get yourself snapping and we look forward to seeing your pics ❤️
In the mean time check out the gallery of entries above, click on the images for captions and you never know what new top tips you may gain!! If you want to know what IS covered at antenatal class then why don’t you come along to one of ours, details here. For a limited time only we are offering a mini course consisting of 5 tips to a positive birth sent straight to your inbox. This will start on the 16th December so if you want in on this then you can sign up here.
Terms and Conditions
By entering to the competition you agree for The Bump to Baby Chapter to use the photos and captions across The Bump to Baby Chapter social media and on The Bump to Baby Chapter website. The photos will not be shared with any third parties. This competition is no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. Deadline for entry is midnight on November 30th. The winner will be messaged within 7 days of this date- if no response within a further 7 days then the prize will got to the runner up. The prize is a Tiba and Marl changing bag in Gold, although colour and style of Tiba and Marl bag is subject to change.
I will set a scene for you…. A gentle walk across the countryside holding hands admiring the wonderful views, followed by your favourite curry, maybe some candle light, your favourite songs playing in the background. You may then watch a funny film followed by a massage with some essential oils and then an ‘early night’ hem hem.
Lots of you may see the scene as a relaxing and chilled date night, where as mothers approaching their due dates will be sure to recognise these umm.. activities as ways to induce birth. All fun ways to try when you are term to encourage those first contractions.
But have you ever considered using some of the ways to induce labour for coping strategies. Now I am certainly not recommending a spicy curry as a way to deal with tightenings, as that will surely not end well. But how about using the same date night theme for coping strategies for early labour? If there is any a time where we deserve that date night it would be in early labour… It makes total sense…
The hormone oxytocin is produced from anything that makes us feel loved, happy and relaxed. Which would be everything mentioned above in our date night setting. Just as a reminder, oxytocin is the hormone that will encourage our uterus to tighten in labour. It also encourages our bodies to release endorphins, which is our own naturual morphine. So anything that means we will have more oxytocin in our body is a good thing, right?
A night in with the other half is the perfect way to do this… Oh and did I mention that practice is the key to perfecting this strategy for coping with early labour. Yes that’s right? Tell your partners that weekly date nights have been prescribed to you… Midwifes orders. In our busy lives we forget how to relax, yet when we start labour we want our minds to relax to allow our bodies to get on with what it knows.
So let us look at planning those date nights in. When you plan your date night appeal to all of your sense:
Smell – Light a nice pregnancy candle, or use a pillow spray or your favourite (pregnancy safe) essential oils. You won’t be able to take a candle (other than LED ones) into hospital but a pregnancy candle will be a great help to your birth environment at home. In hospital there are essential oils for your use.
Sight- Look at your environment. Turn the lights to dim. Dim lighting always makes us feel more romantic, whilst in labour dim lights encourage melatonin which again acts up on our uterine muscles to cause tightenings. When you go into your hospital setting take some home, familiar comforts with you. Your own pillow or a nice photo/picture.
Feel- Massage and touch are great ways that directly encourage oxytocin. I am sure you will agree that this is ESSENTIAL to practice this with your partner in pregnancy.. maybe once a week, actually twice a week…. Every day…?
Sound- ‘If music be the sound of love, play on’ Music is incredibly powerful for our emotions. Who else plays Beyonce loud in their headphones when you want to feel like you are a strong, powerful woman… guilty! Likewise who puts on Ray LaMontague when you’re feeling nostalgic. Yes my music choices may not be on point but you get the idea. It’s amazing how many people discover their birth soundtrack months after birth and are left in floods of emotional, happy tears whilst sitting on the kitchen floor. Get yourself soundtrack, there are docking stations at the hospital or if in doubt get your own device and some headphones ready to go when the time comes.
Lastly taste… Food again can hold us so emotionally. Who reaches for the biggest bar of Galaxy when needing a little pick me up? I’m not saying during childbirth you will be able to scoff your favourite takeaway and the largest bar of chocolate but having some of your favourite snacks with you will help keep your energy levels up. Your uterus is a muscle and needs energy to contract. Most importantly keep hydrated.
As you would have used these date nights in as a way of relaxing. Your body will then began to associate all the smells, sights, tastes and sounds with those feelings of calm and relaxed. Therefore just playing that soundtrack or smelling that smell in labour will be enough for your body to start to release the oxytocin and give you effective tightenings and lots of endorphins. The more you put into this the more you get out so try and get in as much as possible. Although many of you will already have a favourite soundtrack (maybe your wedding song) or a favourite smell (your go to bath bomb, or candle) that you can just tap in to.
So for all those who are partial to a ‘to-do’ list here is a short one I have put together for you…
It’s 11pm and I’m 3 hours into my shift as an obstetric registrar. I look up at the lady I am delivering and tell her that I’m putting the ventouse cup on – a glorified sink plunger that’ll hopefully help me get the baby out. I ask her if she’s having a contraction.
There’s a pause as she sucks deeply on her gas and air, before finally replying
“….no it’s gone.”
“Ok. No worries. With your next one I’m going to help you birth this little one.”
Her husband catches my eye. He’s exhausted – his face is full of fatigue, anxiety, anticipation. I hold his gaze and compose my face. The obstetrician’s poker face is well practised. Beep, beep, beep, the baby’s heartbeat ticks away steadily; it’s almost soothing. We wait for the next contraction. Meanwhile, Beth (the midwife) and the neonatologist (baby doctor) are present in preparation for the delivery. My concentration is momentarily interrupted by a fluttering in my belly and I’m reminded of my own passenger. I turn back to the husband.
“You know you’re the only one in the room who isn’t pregnant?”
Everyone, including the birthing lady in front of me, laughs, before our attention is rapidly recaptured by a building contraction; I am distracted from my own pregnancy because I’m managing another.
Beth asked me a shamefully long time ago to put some thoughts on paper about the experience of being a pregnant obstetrician. What insight had it given me? What could I offer my past self in terms of hints and tips? What greater understanding had I gleaned from gestating?
I suppose the first thing to say is that I have found pregnancy and motherhood a surprise. I’ve met a lot of pregnant ladies, felt a lot of bellies, scanned a lot of uteruses and delivered a lot of babies. Grandmother; eggs, I thought. Despite being immersed in all things obstetric, I was astonished by how it felt to be pregnant. Despite almost every woman telling me how tired they were when I met them in early pregnancy clinic, the degree of my knackered-ness was astonishing. I’d arrive in the car park 20 minutes early and set my phone alarm just so I could have a cheeky snooze. Then I’d leap out of the car, dry-heave on the curb for five minutes, explaining to passers-by that, no, I wasn’t still drunk, then sprint to labour ward looking wan and sheepish. Unsurprisingly, pregnancy is hard to hide when you’re surrounded by those in the know. The Eau de Vom doesn’t help either.
To my delight, a colleague (and now great friend) was roughly the same gestation as me, but was unfortunately having a rough ride during pregnancy. We regaled each other with tales from the pregnant trenches. I once had to flee a delivery room – to “get some equipment” – only to be so desperate to puke that I left the loo door open; the birth partner eyed me quizzically from the corridor. My craving for salty carbs was also out of control: one morning I inhaled a packet of ready-salted crisps between every patient on a morning theatre list. There were six patients that session. My friend, however, out-did me by fainting dramatically on a ward round. The consultant, ever considerate, revived her with a playful kick.
By comparison, second trimester was a delight. I stopped feeling sick – hurrah – and started relaxing into the swing of things. I even started to feel more attractive – that ‘glowing’ business didn’t seem to be all nonsense. At least, that was until I mentioned my pregnancy to a colleague.
“Oh, congratulations! Naturally, I just assumed that you’d really enjoyed Christmas.”
Great. Not fit, not ‘glowing’, just fat.
Putting my apparent gluttony aside, I waddled on unabashed.
My husband and I planned a trip to the Brecon Beacons when I was 24 weeks. We hadn’t been before and I thought it would be lovely to see it in the snow. I read avidly about ambitious hikes and told my husband that, no, pregnancy wasn’t an illness and it was him who was going to struggle to keep up with me. Yeah. Near the summit of Pen Y Fan, feeling like a breathless Weeble on ice, I came to the painful realisation that pregnancy does, indeed, c hange your exercise tolerance. A planned 6-hour jaunt spiralled into a 10-hour expedition complete with blizzard, white-out and obligatory marital spat. The conversation had become increasingly terse as our phone compass failed (I know, I know…), we got lost, and I put my foot in a deep, icy bog. He had the temerity to laugh.
My husband requested something less ambitious second time around, so, at 28 weeks, we went away for a more sedate weekend in St Ives. Pottering around shops and ‘enjoying one another’s company’ were the order of the day – it wasn’t just the pasties that were hot. I couldn’t understand why I was crippled by tightenings all weekend, and mentioned it to a senior midwife when I got back. She smiled then gave me a naughty wink. How had I not known this from my job?!
In an attempt to inhabit a more maternal, less obstetric, mental space, I booked NCT classes, and did my best to listen and not interrupt when doctors were portrayed as scalpel-wielding patriarchal butchers. I was only partially successful. Discussion turned to life after the baby, and how we would manage. It still all felt very hypothetical, despite knitted boobies, role-play and swaddling baby Resusci-Ann dolls.
Eventually, around 35 weeks, it dawned on me that this was really happening. Having refused to acknowledge that this pregnancy might actually result in a baby for months, I finally sat down to write my birth preferences. And you know what I discovered? I’m a bit of a hippy. I bought the essential oils, sat on the birth ball, made a playlist (different for 1st and 2nd stage, obvs) and expressed a wish for a normal birth, skin-to-skin, low lighting, Ina May Gaskin and Michel Odent knitting quietly in the corner. Of course, being a massive cynic, I also explained my wishes in event of a Caesarean under general anaesthetic, because failing to prepare is preparing to fail and all that.
In the event, labour was predictably unpredictable, but suffice to say it involved a dog that knew my waters had broken, a husband who was too drunk to drive, and a high-speed trip to hospital whilst alternately screaming and cracking jokes, lying across the back seats of a Mini. Well, we obstetricians do love a bit of drama…
If you had your baby in Gloucester some time between 2014 and 2016 you may notice this lovely lady in the photo (although typically looking more fresh faced in these photos! ) This Obstetric doctor may have come to visit you during your pregnancy, childbirth or even had the pleasure of helping you deliver your baby.
Whilst now on maternity leave she is continuing to provide a service to the pregnant mamas of Gloucestershire and beyond with the shoe on the other foot, with this blog about pregnancy as an obstetric doctor.… You’d think it would be teaching Grandma to suck eggs right?
So here is Dr Medland… at your cervix!
I returned home from work and the flat was in chaos. After spending the previous night in hospital following a false start to labour, my wife Rosie’s nesting instincts had well and truly kicked in.
Stressing about how underprepared we were for our impending arrival, she’d left piles of personal items in every room that needed washing, ironing or putting away. Despite being told by the midwife that it would almost certainly be another 10 days or so before our contractions would start in earnest, Rosie wasn’t convinced.
To allay her fears (and leaving the boring jobs for later), we lay on our bed researching TENS machines online and downloaded a free contraction tracker App on my phone. It was 8pm.
While testing the App out for the first time, Rosie suddenly clutched her bump and let out a quiet moan. The pain intensified for around 30 seconds before subsiding.
“Don’t worry, I’m sure it’s just Braxton Hicks” I said confidently, given the midwife’s recent prediction.
But six minutes later, she had another cramping pain in her belly. Like clockwork, the pain grew progressively stronger for another 30 seconds before easing off.
“It can’t be real labour,” I said hopefully. “It’s way too early!”
But sure enough, six minutes later, it happened again. Nine minutes. Seven minutes. 10 minutes. Six minutes. Six minutes. Six minutes. Each separated by a consistent contraction of sixty seconds.
“Still think it’s Braxton Hicks?” Rosie asked…
At this point we called the Birth Centre, who confirmed that the baby was definitely on its way.
But then they gave us the bad news. Since we were only 36 weeks pregnant, we wouldn’t be allowed to have our baby in the midwife run Birth Centre as we’d planned. The baby was officially premature so we would have to give birth on the labour ward instead. Rosie was visibly upset but she didn’t have time to wallow as another, more intense contraction took hold.
“Once the contractions are three minutes apart and have been like that for an hour, then you should come in,” the midwife said calmly before signing off.
For the next two hours Rosie ensconced herself in our bedroom, with the windows open and the lights off, as the sun slowly retreated behind the horizon.
In complete darkness, she breathed her way through every contraction while (out loud) I counted down from 100 (a distraction technique our antenatal instructor had recommended) and massaged her lower back.
In between contractions I sprinted back and forth from the kitchen, preparing some fish cakes and boiled courgettes for supper. If we really were in labour, she would need some sustenance to keep her energy levels up.
I even managed to slowly but surely finish all the jobs she’d left for me to do, while dutifully rushing back to the bedroom at the start of every contraction to start the timer App, count down from 100 and massage her aching back.
At midnight, we called the midwife again. The contractions were more powerful than ever and had been consistently three minutes apart for about forty minutes. Kneeling on the bed with her head buried in a stack of eight pillows, Rosie could hardly speak when the midwife asked to talk to her.
“It’s time to come in…right away,” we were told.
This was it. Action stations…
I ran to the nursery to pick up our hospital bags and car seat, before hurriedly loading them into the car. As I rushed back in, I found Rosie at the kitchen sink washing up the dishes from our supper. I couldn’t help but laugh…even in the midst of labour, she refused to let her domestic standards slip. She grabbed the kitchen worktop and breathed her way through another intense contraction.
After what seemed like an eternity, we finally made it to the labour ward. Between contractions, the midwife did a quick examination and confirmed that Rosie was already 5cm dilated, before adding that the baby would be with us by the morning. This baby wasn’t hanging around…
So Rosie was quickly wheeled off to a surprisingly large and dimly lit room, with a new midwife ready and waiting to take us over the finishing line. It was 1am at this point and we were told that the next cervix examination would be scheduled for 5am…a lifetime away.
Because we were around five days short of the pivotal 37-week mark, two monitors were strapped onto Rosie’s bump, and the room immediately filled with the sound of our baby’s heartbeat. The atmosphere was intense and the room was baking.
With every contraction I continued our ritual of counting down out loud, while massaging her back. I could see on the monitor an erratic graph, which tracked the progress of every contraction. So I used this to let her know when each surge had reached its peak. All the while, she breathed heavily on the gas and air (her new best friend) as I rushed back and forth to the water fountain to keep her fluids topped up.
Given how little sleep she’d had over the past two days, I soon started to stress about her energy levels. So, I encouraged her to try and eat some of the snack bars and sweets that we’d brought in our hospital bag. But all she could manage were two Jelly Babies…
Luckily we’d also bought some energy gel sachets (popular with long distance runners), which she did manage to suck on between contractions. I just hoped for her sake that this birth wasn’t going to turn into a marathon itself.
At 3am, during a particularly powerful surge, I felt a gush of liquid against my leg as Rosie’s waters finally broke. We convinced the midwife to examine her again and helped Rosie onto the bed, at which point she whispered…
“I think I’m gonna be sick.”
We managed to grab a cardboard sick bowl just in time as she projectile vomited twice, filling the entire container. Unfortunately, we weren’t quick enough at finding a second bowl though, as she threw up again, this time on the edge of the bed, the floor and my shoes. By this point of labour, and already covered in various fluids, I was beyond caring. I covered the wet patch on the bed with a hospital incontinence sheet and wiped her chin with my handkerchief.
The midwife donned her surgical gloves to investigate the state of Rosie’s cervix. 6cm dilated.
I could see the disappointment on Rosie’s face but we reassured her that an extra centimetre of dilation and the breaking of her waters were two massive positive developments in the space of just two hours. So, she stood back up, leaned against the bed and resumed the cycle of contractions.
Before long, I started to notice a subtle change in her behaviour. She began hopping from one foot to the other to manage the pain. Meanwhile, she began making long guttural mooing sounds during each surge; a sign (I’d read) that we were nearing the pivotal transition period of labour.
It was at this stage that she started doubting herself. Repeatedly she asked for an epidural. We thought this might happen. So, as we’d agreed before the birth, it was my job to remind her of all the reasons why she didn’t want one.
You see, an epidural can massively slow down labour. Plus, it increases the chances that you will need either forceps, a ventouse or even a Caesarian to get the baby out – all things I knew for certain she wanted to avoid.
I reassured her that she was doing an incredible job. That she was being so brave. That she had already progressed so far. And that, with her waters broken and her contractions getting closer together, everything seemed to be speeding up.
I knew should could do it naturally. And she knew it too.
Sure enough, at 4am, within an hour of her last cervical examination she began to feel the overwhelming need to push. The midwife couldn’t believe it and questioned whether the baby might have rotated into the wrong position.
Again, we convinced her to check how dilated Rosie was. So the midwife donned a clean pair of gloves and disappeared down below.
When she re-emerged, the look on her face was a picture. “10 centimetres,” she said. “This baby’s ready to be born.”
She couldn’t believe it. We couldn’t believe it. It was all happening so fast. Rosie had gone into labour only eight hours earlier and now we were about to come face to face with our new son or daughter. Incredible, and with just two paracetamol and gas & air to get her through.
With each contraction, our midwife coached her through the process and gradually the baby edged closer and closer towards its escape hatch.
I’d sworn to myself that I would stay up at Rosie’s shoulder throughout the birth and never look down at ‘the business end’ of proceedings. But like a moth to a flame, I couldn’t help myself. I was transfixed as I saw a mat of black hair start to emerge as the baby crowned. It was the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen.
“You’re amazing! Keep going! You can do it! You are incredible!” I repeated, in a state of total awe for my wife and the wonder of childbirth.
After the head was born, the midwife instructed Rosie to pant, with short, sharp breaths. She followed her advice to the letter and in no time at all, our little one shot out and we were presented with our new baby boy.
Covered in a waxy white substance, his head slightly cone shaped after squeezing so quickly through the birth canal, we couldn’t believe it. He was utterly perfect; a healthy, happy seven pounds.
“Do you have a name?” the midwife asked.
“Teddy,” she said…
I couldn’t take my eyes off him…I still can’t.
Baby showers have taken off in the UK like beard trimmers in a barber’s shop. With this increase in parties, there is a shift in the size, style and type of baby shower bashes that people are throwing.
Welcoming a new life into the world is about as big an event as you can get. So a baby shower is a great way to high-five the end of the journey for mum’s-to-be with friends and family. Not to mention some well-deserved recognition for carrying her little lodger/s for almost a year.
If you are looking to nail a baby shower, here is Little Dot’s six steps to success!
Have a good crack at all of these and you can give yourself a huge foam-hand pat on the back for a perfect party mix. The guests may not say you’re Wonder Woman, but has anyone ever seen the two of you in the same room…? Exactly!
Beth from Little Dot Baby Shower knows first hand that having a baby is a huge moment in life and an extra special cause for celebration. She is mother of her own not-so little dots Teddy and Isabella. Beth does lots for the charity Kicks Count by selling charity sweaters for the mamas who are in need of more sleep. You can visit her website or follow her on…
I wrote my birth story down for my own blog ‘Oatcake Adventures’ a few weeks after our little Oatcake arrived, with my ‘mama hat’ on. When Beth asked me to put together a little something for The Bump to Baby Chapter, I thought it would be appropriate to revisit some of my pregnancy and birth with the ‘midwife hat’ on! Though to be honest, only 2 months after giving birth to the little man, it’s likely to be impossible to separate myself from something so innately personal, but I’ll give it a go..
Despite having helped many women to birth their babies, hypnobirthing remained somewhat of a mystery to me until I fell pregnant myself. I had supported just one mother who had used it, and if I’m honest, her MP3s filling the room about her vagina opening like a rose bud in bloom, made me chuckle a little inside.. but hey, a first time mama- birthed her baby like an ABSOLUTE boss, with no drugs, so there’s got to be something right about it! So, when a friend of mine, who teaches hypnobirthing, approached me about teaching us when I fell pregnant, I was initially pretty skeptical. I definitely knew I wanted as few interventions as possible, and was pretty set on having a home birth and I knew that a lot of research pointed towards hypnobirthing as a way to help achieve this. So we decided we would give it a go!
There are so many misconceptions about hypnobirthing, and I was party to pretty much all of them- which is pretty awful for a midwife I know, but I’m on a mission to spread the word so watch this birthing space! You can hypnobirth and have all the pain relief options in the world if you want! You can hypnobirth through a planned or emergency c section. Just as you can hypnobirth your way through a water birth in your living room. You can hypnobirth and be CEO of a global corporation, you can hypnobirth and be a vegan who only wears handwoven clothes. It doesn’t discriminate about who you are or how your little one makes his way into the world, but it totally alters the way you perceive it. FYI I totally hypnobirth my way through life now, so you probably don’t even need to be pregnant.. just saying.
For weeks we had old sheets on the bed, waterproof mattress protector at the ready, we had collected piles and piles of old towels from family and friends and had lavender scented candles dotted around the house, all in preparation for my dream Hypno-Homebirth. But after three days of reduced movements, we opted for an induction, in hospital, on the consultant led ward- almost as far away from the original ‘plan’ as we could get. Now this was probably part my midwifery training and part my hypnobirthing mind- meant that we felt confident to make decisions at a time and in a way that was right for us. Baby’s movements are a really important indicator that they are safe and well, so its super important to notice if things change. Oatcake had had a few episodes of going pretty quiet in my pregnancy already, so on the Tuesday night we were offered an induction. We did some research, asked lots of questions and weighed up the benefits, risks, alternatives, listened to our instincts and decided to turn down the option of induction at this stage, i.e. Do nothing. In hypnobirthing this is called using your BRAIN. A method I now use when making every decision in my life now, from picking baby wipes in Waitrose (it’s my local supermarket, I’m not a supermarket snob I swear.. but they do sell fresh sushi so…) to putting an offer in on our new house (!!), so ultimately it’s an investment in your mind not just your birth!! Another 36 hours passed, we had a scan and some monitoring, and the induction was offered again. This time, after the same process of decision making, we opted for the induction.
We took some time, headed home for a few hours to sort out the house, and our heads (!), read as much research as we could on inductions for reduced movement and returned that evening confident we’d made the right choice to be induced. After further monitoring that night, I was induced at 11am the following morning.. and it all kicked off.
The TENS machine was an absolute delight, I might just put it on again now for a laugh I liked it so much, I would totally recommend getting your hands on one if your preparing to pop out a small human any time soon. Probably even if your not. Gas and air, also went down a treat, though temporarily made Leon’s reading hypnobirthing scripts the most hilarious thing in the world.. I just remember thinking- ‘does he know how much of a nob he sounds?’ and crying with laughter in my head, but hey! However you get your oxytocin hits is fine by baby! Needless to say, after another hour, the scripts were much welcomed once again! Incidentally I should point out here, I studied KG hypnobirthing and there was categorically no mention of the aforementioned blooming rosebud vagina. Strictly relaxing and chat about trees and butterflies. Which was great. Because I still just find the thought of the Rose thing hilarious.
10 hours later, 40 minutes of pushing (which by the way is way easier than just contracting), baby Oatcake arrived in my arms. Circumstantially, (being induced, in hospital, strapped to a monitor and laying on a bed) the birth was absolutely nothing that I had hoped for, but as an experience, for my mind, my body and my now my memory, it was all I ever wanted and more. I felt in control, I felt supported, I made my own decisions and totally rocked it! I’m convinced the sheer determination to make it great, made it so. It’s completely changed me as a mother, a midwife and a human. And now I’m on a mission to get people talking positively about birth, and get women to look forward to birthing their babies- pregnancy and birth has shown me strength within myself that I could never even fathom existed. Birth isn’t something to be afraid of, with preparation, support and a strong will, we are capable of amazing things! However your baby comes into the world Ladies, you are all rock stars and I salute you!
Oh and ps. We didn’t actually name our poor child Oatcake. His name is Otis. The cake part is just an affectionate nickname.
It’s difficult to know how to start this birth story. I still can’t believe I only gave birth to the twins just over 2 weeks ago. If you’ve followed my gas and air blog you’ll know this was no easy pregnancy, there were so many uncertainties; the horrendous morning sickness, the scary bleeds in the first trimester, the reality of going from 2 children to 4, both babies being breech for what seemed like ages and the fear of Obstetric Choleostatis returning. Well it did with a vengeance. In brief I had bloods taken at around 28 weeks into the pregnancy to have a look at what my bile acids and liver function tests were doing (I hadn’t started itching at this point) and they were already abnormal. After an initial wobble my amazing midwives and Consultant calmed me down and a plan was made to repeat the bloods in 2 weeks. By the time those 2 weeks came I was already itching on my hands and feet so I was started on lots of medication, creams to sooth my skin and Piriton to help the irritation. When people ask what it’s like to have OC, the only way I can describe it, is like ants biting under your hands and feet and no scratching will ever ease the itch. And the itching isn’t just on your hands and feet it’s everywhere. Legs, arms, bump, boobs. My skin was so damaged I was covered in bruises and scratch marks I looked like I’d been in a fight. It’s worse at night and some nights I wrapped cold wet flannels around my hands and feet to relive the burning sensation. The one thing that kept me sane was the amazing online support charity ICP which had a Facebook page where sufferers can post questions and receive help and advice. At 5am when I hadn’t slept this was a life saver.
By 34 weeks I was at breaking point, I was hardly sleeping and nothing was helping with the itching. I took myself off to see my Consultant full of tears and worry and begged her for an elective section. I could see no way of carrying on until 37 weeks feeling so tired, so I figured it was best to deliver the babies early to put me out of my misery, plus they were still breech and transverse so a vaginal birth was not recommended. Again my amazing Consultant calmed me down, talked me through the options but did a quick scan just to check their presentation. And guess what, they were both head down and twin 1 was engaged! I was shocked, I hadn’t even felt them turn. So it was decided to induce me at 36 weeks, have some steroid injections to help mature the babies lungs and she prescribed me some amazing sleeping tablets (which are safe in pregnancy) to ease the nights. I went away feeling calm, confident and for the first time excited to birth my babies.
We had a date for the induction so over the next 2 weeks I listened to my Hypnobirth relaxation MP3 every night, stuck my YESMUM to be cards all over the house and had weekly massages from my wonderful doula. I could do this and everything was going to be fine. A few days before my induction date I had lots of early labour symptoms, a bloody show, loads of period pains, cramps and back ache but no babies. I felt confident that my body was getting ready for Friday and carried on practising my breathing techniques with my husband.
The day came to meet our little squirrels and we headed to the hospital at 7:30 am to meet my midwife and consultant. I was sneaked into a birthing room (I didn’t want all my colleagues to know or see I was on labour ward) and the plan was to have my waters broken and hopefully get things going. By 8:30 my waters were broken (I was already 4cm dilated) and I went off with my husband and doula to walk up and down 4 flights of stairs. My doula had my squatting, walking sideways you name it we did it. I felt like I’d done a Zumba class. My doula brought a wet flannel with her which had lavender and clary sage oil on it and I sniffed it like mad woman, I actually felt quite high. After 2 hours nothing was happening and we went back to the birthing room to talk through my options. My midwife head came into play and I knew the next stage was having the hormone drip. I wasn’t scared or worried about what this would mean but I knew time was ticking on and I wanted to get on with the labour, I even said ‘I want to feel these contractions now’. I was aware I was clock watching so my husband suggested taking the clock down from the wall.
So we started the drip on a low dose which meant I had to be continuously monitored on the CTG machine. This wasn’t a problem as I sat on the ball leaning over the bed (still with my Hypnobirthing MP3 in my headphones) so I didn’t feel restricted or confined to the bed and could still be upright. I managed to totally switch off from everything around me, it felt like it was just me and my husband in the room and the calm voice in my ears from Hollie de Cruz. After about half an hour the contractions were very mild and didn’t seem to be building into much so my midwife slowly increased the dose and I carried on rocking on the ball. I breathed through every contraction imagining a wave breaking gently on the shore ‘inhale peace, exhale tension’. *Just to say at this point, this was the first time I’d practised hypnobirthing techniques during my own labour so by no means was I an expert but I just kept the breathing techniques as simple as possible.*
After another half an hour the contractions had picked up and felt I needed to work harder to focus on my breath and not tense my shoulders or jaw, this is when the breathing really helped to keep everything soft. I took my husbands hand during every one of these contractions and held the wet flannel to my nose to inhale the lavender and clary sage, still keeping my eyes closed throughout. After a pretty intense contraction I walked to the bathroom to try and have a wee (my doula had been giving me sips of coconut water after every contraction which was just brilliant). I couldn’t manage a wee and stood up and had a really strong contraction which was horribly fierce and took me by surprise, I leaned onto my husband trying to get back into my breathing and said ‘I can’t do another contraction standing up ‘. We walked back to the ball and it was clear the drip was definitely working as the contractions were really regular at this point, maybe every 2 minutes. I picked up the gas and air and rested the mouth piece in my mouth, not inhaling it just having it there as a comfort. The next contraction came and I instinctively knew I wanted to get on the bed (I’ve never birthed on the bed in my other labours) I turned onto my right side and felt a change in my body, a sensation I knew yet still couldn’t believe I was at that stage. Pressure. It was in my lower back right on my sacrum and there was no ignoring the different sounds I began to make.
My midwife head popped back on as I heard the paper of delivery packs being unwrapped and opened my eyes to see my midwife had changed out of her own clothes into scrubs and my consultant standing there smiling and looking pleased. ‘I’m not at that stage yet it’s way too soon’ I declared and they all reassured me that twin 1 was on her way. I suddenly felt scared and told my husband who calmed me down and told me l was going to be fine and brought me back in the zone ‘inhale peace exhale tension’. I still insisted on keeping one of the ear pieces from my headphones in one ear as I couldn’t bear not to have those sounds keeping me calm.
My body then took over and I began to feel twin 1 moving down in my pelvis at quite some speed because before I could even think ‘I can’t do this’ her head was crowning and my midwife asked me to slowly breathe. I don’t recall waiting for another contraction because a few seconds later she was on my chest skin to skin and screaming. I couldn’t really believe how quick it had been but was well aware there was another baby to birth.
My midwives kept the hormone drip running so that my uterus continued to contract and within 5 minutes I felt the next wave of contractions building and asked for her cord to be cut and clamped and my doula took her for a cuddle so I could concentrate on the next bit. Another moment of me being a midwife crept in as I recall looking at my midwife as my consultant quickly scanned the second twin to make sure she was still head down. ‘I’m not having a forceps!’ I declared as I heard the sound of the metal instruments being tided away from a delivery pack. ‘No you’re not having a forceps you’re having a baby’ my consultant said to me. The contractions were strong very quickly again and my midwife broke the sac of water of twin 2 and I felt her begin to follow the same journey her sister had only made a few moments before. I was still on the bed but had rolled onto my back, one midwife encouraged me to rest my leg onto her to ‘make more room for baby’ a phrase us midwives say a lot! ‘God I hate it when midwives say that’ I announced to my midwives, they all laughed. And before I even had time to think about the ‘what ifs’ I felt that same sensation of her head emerging, followed by her body. I had done it.
The placentas came out fused together one significantly bigger than the other but both looked healthy. My blood loss was minimal and I didn’t have any tears or grazes! (good old perineal massage). We spent the next hour munching on delicious goodies from the snack bag (thanks Jo) drinking tea and trying to master the skill of tandem feeding. After a quick shower (best feeling ever) and freshen up we were transferred to the postnatal ward where I was lucky enough to have a private room. My husband and I stared at our new baby daughters, both completely elated and exhausted at the same time.
We named them Ottilie Pearl and Delilah Iris just in time for their big sisters to meet them the following day.
Clemmie Hooper a.k.a. Instagrams @mother_of_daughters is the genetics behind these 4 beautiful faces . This mamas game is strong, not only is she part time midwife and full time mother of 4 daughters, this super mum has also just released a book ‘How to Grow a Baby and Push It Out.’ A guide to pregnancy and birth straight from the midwife’s mouth. It is available for pre-order, a number one read for all pregnant mamas.