The cascade of intervention is a term thrown around in lots of pregnancy classes by lots of natural birth advocates, it means…
Having an intervention (an intervention being an induction, an epidural, cesarean etc.) in pregnancy or childbirth will increase your chances of having more interventions as birth progresses.
I myself am a mahoussive natural birth advocate. However, I’m more of a woman’s choice and safe birth advocate. The cascade of intervention is a phrase that I’ve recently begun to question. Let me tell you why…
Firstly, let’s ask ourselves does the phrase in itself do more harm than good? Let’s take induction as a starter. So many pregnant women fear the process of induction because of this cascade concept. If you’re scared of an induction then science tells us that fear makes things more painful anyway. Your body becomes tense so contractions feel worse. Often because of this fear mindset women are more likely to choose an epidural with an induction- this cascade of intervention is one that is supported by research. Let’s flip it on the other side though, if pregnant women weren’t aware of this phrase or the negative stories that surrounded induction and were prepped more on what to expect from an induction then would that cascade be less or non existent from a reduction in fear? I have seen so many women have amazing induction experiences, they’ve hypnobirthed there way through, had waterbirths, stayed active and mobile with the hormone drip. It’s these stories that pregnant women need to be hearing to reduce the fear of being induced. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.. if you tell a pregnant woman that they’re more likely to choose an epidural after induction then they are more likely to make that choice.
Sticking with the theme of induction, a new piece of research this year found that cesareans were less in the group of women who had uncomplicated pregnancies and chose to have an induction at 39 weeks compared to women who waited for labour to start naturally or had an induction using current guidelines (such as at 42weeks for being overdue). This bit of research suppports another theory of why the cascade of intervention isn’t necessarily true. For example, let’s look at pregnancy conditions like pre-eclampsia. If you’re offered an induction due to having this, then during labour have an emergency cesarean, it’s more likely that the cesarean was due to the pre- eclampsia than the induction itself. Similarly, if you’re offered an induction due to being overdue and a similar situation occurs then that’s not necessarily the induction that’s made that happen but placentas work less efficiently past 42weeks which may be the reason. So the cause of further intervention is not the first intervention, but the reason why the intervention was chosen in the first place.
I feel like we need to change the press of interventions. When women choose not to have an induction because of the worry of the cascade of intervention then their choice they’ve made has been swayed by a concept that’s not entirely true.
My tips for all pregnant mothers when offered an intervention would be…
Always know your options and ask why you’re being offered an intervention. Birth interventions get a lot of unnecessary bad press when actually they are a much needed part of the birth world.
Keep your mindset strong. Choosing one intervention doesn’t mean you’re automatically going to cascade yourself to a negative birth experience. Keep reminding yourself that you’re making positive choices for you and your baby.
You can use this acronym to help you make a choice when given an option of intervention.
E- Is this an Emergency?
B- What are the Benefits?
R- What are the Risks?
A- Are there Alternative options?
N- What happens if I do Nothing?
What are your thoughts on the cascade of intervention?
I had big plans for this pregnancy with it being my last. I was going to spend my days in flouncy dresses, drinking green juices and doing yoga 3 times a week. But, that was far from the reality. I couldn’t bare to cook, the smell of meat would make me vom. The kids lived off anything that could go in the oven for 12 weeks and I went through loaves and jars of buttery, marmite on toast. Nothing veg-like entered my mouth and the only shade of green I saw was the colour of my face after I tried yoga the once. Doing the sun salutation was like being on the worlds windiest rollercoaster (and I’ve never liked rollercoaster.)
It all kicked off about 8 weeks, the week before I booked a scan at Early Life Ultrasound as I felt NOTHING. Not a single pregnancy symptom. Not a tingley nipple, no nausea, no bloodhound nose… Zilch. 8 weeks from the moment you pee on the stick to the NHS scan is a looong ass time to wait to know that all is ok. So off I went to my scan, feeling all the sickness by this point. Nancy played with all the toys in the waiting room whilst I sat and flicked through pregnancy magazines. Moments later we got called in and there was my 4th little nugget on the screen. Heart rate flickering away. It was awesome. This grey little smudge on the screen that was in 9months time going to be part of the Kitt- Holden crew. I got my photos and then went off for lunch. I’m so glad I have these photos because the day of my NHS 12 week scan, turmoil broke out. Rob went to work with the car AND with my wallet in it. I scraped the house to get pennies for the bus then walked the rest of the way to the hospital with 3 kids in tow. Was so dehydrated because of the marathon walk in the heat that there was nothing in my bladder for the scan so had to wait for my bladder to fill drowning myself in water in the waiting room. I then didn’t have enough money for the scan photos either. Was one of those epic fail moments… no not moments, days. So no 12 week photos for this baby.
I’m the worst at keeping secrets, more so my own exciting ones. But the crazy intuition of midwives is second to none in guessing who’s pregnant. I remember telling one midwife at work that I’d managed to sleep all day before a night shift… she immediately thought, pregnant! Plus when you’re heard vomiting in the toilet no one suspects a bug. A baby is far more suspected amongst the midwives.
I would be sick whilst getting in the car, sick when getting out of bed, sick whilst entering the house from a day out. My fave place for those months was in the safety of my own home or better still, bed, where no one could see. It can be a pretty lonely place! I ate what made me feel better, I took a back seat at life and I did not feel guilty about it.
Being now 18weeks, I’m back to my coffee/tea drinking self and feeling a lot more normal. I’m still holding on to my green juice/yoga plans… watch this space. Although, I’m four pregnancies in and I’m still waiting for that glow. Second trimester you owe me…
Ok ok I get it.. it’s not the most nicest of subjects to talk about and I’m sure you’re all crossing your legs as you read this 😵. But rather than focusing on how horrid this may be or worse still sticking your head in the sand, start thinking about what YOU are going to do about it!!! Because there’s lots of things that have been shown to lessen the tear, and with around 90% of first time mums having a tear that needs sutures, the more you know the more you can do to help reduce them. Knowledge is power after all. One of the biggest fears expectant mamas have about birth is vaginal tears so I thought I’d do a post on a few things that can be done to lessen the tear (number 6. is one that you can do from 34weeks pregnant.)
1. A warm compress. Having a midwife support the area with a warm compress can reduce tears.
2. Position. Pushing on your left side, all fours or semi- recumbent have been shown to have the lesser tears.
3. Communication- Blow and don’t push when the midwife says. This is so baby’s head can be born SLOWLY.
4. Hands on approach. Having a midwife support your perineum again, especially with a warm compress.
5. Did I mention…
6. Perineal massage- Massaging the perineum with your thumbs (or getting your partner to do it) from 34 weeks with some olive oil has been shown to lessen any tears in first time mums by 10%.
These tips are all evidence based guidelines from the RCM or from an a midwife Julie Frolich who made a care bundle which has been shown to reduce tears.
If we’re talking about tears then we need to talk about recovery and healing.
1. Change your pads regularly to reduce infection.
2. Stay hydrated. It’s concentrated urine that may sting your stitches.
3. A high fibre diet will help with that first post natal poo. That’s dates, prunes, bran, fruit and veg.
4. Tea tree in the bath can aid healing. Other than that you can wash as normal but don’t use soap on the area. And pat dry.
5. Arnica tablets can help with bruising in that area regardless of if you have a tear. Have a look in your local health shop for arnica tablets to take during labour and post birth.
Any questions…? Please comment and I’ll do my best to answer them.
All sounds pretty ideal, right? But what happens when this is not the case?
If you, or your baby for whatever reason needs to be born through cesarean. I wouldn’t call that natural. Normal, yes but not natural.
What happens to the many women who have had recurrent miscarriages? Are these women going to be able to “trust” their bodies.
If you have been advised an induction, are all your other useful birth affirmations about strength in labour going to go out the window?
These quotes alongside many others are what I find myself reading in my teachers guide to hypnobirthing and it grates on me big time. That I, as a midwife and hypnobirthing teacher are inadvertently setting these “goals” for mothers knowing that…
25% of women in the UK have a cesarean and 12% have an instrumental delivery. What if that 1 woman in 4 who has a cesarean has done hypnobirthing and told herself for the past 9 months (or at least the 3-4 months prior) that “her body was built to give birth”. Not quite aligned with the affirmations that have been rehearsed.
28% of births in the UK start from induction. Thats nearly a third of all woman who have been advised an induction have been telling themselves, ‘my baby will arrive when the time is right.’ Does that mean now that this woman doesn’t feel like she’s hypnobirthing because her affirmations aren’t aligning with what is? We are setting women up for feelings of guilt or failings and their motherhood journey is only just beginning.
So why is it that in pregnancy and birth – a time or journey where we can not always plan exactly how it is going to go- we use affirmations that attempt to predict a result?
This right here is WRONG WRONG WRONG!!!!!
There are many areas of life where affirmations can be really useful, such as smoking and weight loss. Only in these situations it is perfecly possible to make ‘perfect scenario’ affirmations, as you, as an individual are 100% accountable for the result. Whereas this isn’t the case in pregnancy. Perhaps, the reason why such unrealistic affirmations as ‘my body was born to do this’ exist is because it has evolved from the same concept of affirmations used for controllable things like weight loss and smoking. To use this in childbirth??? It just ain’t the same. I feel a good old brush and polish up of the birth affirmations are in order to embrace the unique and wonderful challenges childbirth involves.
If you read any good business book, have been to any inspirational speakers or had a go at mindfulness you may have noticed something they all have in common is MINDSET.. Instead of preaching how to get the results you want, they inspire how to be the best version of yourself. Wake up. Get up. Show up. Imagine the person you want to be and tell yourself you are that person every freaking day of you life.
So if we apply this to birth affirmations instead, look at the POWER that we can give to women. Imagine giving birth, regardless of birth and feeling like an absolute boss because your mindset was set to birth positive. Wake up everyday and say to yourself that YOU CAN DO THIS. Your birth journey- you can bloody do it and enjoy it and feel awesome about it. Whether baby comes from your vagina or cesarean YOU were calm through the process, you felt positive, made choices, in control.
Set your mindset to feel positive about birth as how you FEEL is totally and will always be in your reach and control…
I will birth without fear
I make informed decisions
I feel in control
I feel positive when birthing my baby
I do what is right for myself and my baby
I am strong
I feel confident about birthing my baby.
Switch your mindset to feel the best about birth and then throw any affirmation that resembles a result in the bin. If you feel like this, you are more likely to have a birth without intervention anyway. And if you do need intervention, you’re going to be feeling so confident and calm that you are going to OWN that CHOICE anyway.
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…
Get together with your partner and schedule in some regular night-in date nights.
Find your favourite smell/ essential oil.
Find a good picture/photo. Holiday picture, happy place, family.
Create a soundtrack.
Get some massage oil (again a nice smelling one.)
Compile a list of your favourite snacks for the hospital bag
Keep the format the same and appeal to all (or as many) of your senses.
Schedule in some more regular relaxing time on your own. Using a similar routine (ie. Bath, dim lighting, smell, music, hypnobirthing cd)
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?
In response to your ‘Ask A Midwife’ Qs we have put together a few of our favourite ‘Yes That Exists’ myth busters…
Baby brain.. You’re swearing at your husband for drinking all the milk (see below ‘hate your husband’) he swears blindly he hasn’t drank it all. Then you find it in the cupboard where you left it after making yourself a bedtime brew. My baby is now over one and I still find myself asking silly questions and saying daft things like, “Does Ireland have beaches?” Your mind is so full of important things like keeping a human alive that Geography, kitchen orientation and other unimportant information just falls straight out.
Night sweats… Around night 2 after having baby, I woke up thinking I’d peed the bed my mattress was so wet. However the smell of BO was unquestionable. Change in hormones around day 3 are responsible for this (and many other things nb… see ‘hate your husband’)
After pains… These are the feelings you get after baby is born and your uterus is contracting down to its pre-pregnancy size. can get painful the more children you have but they are normal. Just stock up on your Paracetamol and Ibuporfen, especially while breastfeeding as this can trigger them.
Under rib pain… During my pregnancy, especially during my third trimester I would always get this same pain underneath my rib. I also hear lots of other expectant mamas talking about it too. It gets worse in the evening and the only way to relieve it is by stretching out on the floor. It’s annoying but not serious.
Breastfeeding can hurt… Breastfeeding isn’t suppose to hurt? Who else calls B@*$@*??? Your nipples are a very sensitive area and unless you are use to something attaching onto your nipples at least 8 times a day then of course you are going to have some level of discomfort. Pain can sometimes be a sign of poor attachment (and other complications) so always ask a midwife or feeding consultant to watch your feed. Otherwise time and plenty of Lansinoh will be your healer. It does get easier!
You may hate your husband.. Showers on his own, toilets on his own, gets a hot cup of coffee to drink on his lunch break (whats that again?) at work. Although your hormones may be telling you to throw the towel (or kettle) in/at him, guys also need encouragement and support in their new roles after having a baby as it’s a major life change. Although they may show their struggles in different ways, it can be apparent nonetheless. Make time for yourself as a couple, even if it is something as small as eating dinner together or popping out for a coffee or walk together whilst baby sleeps in the pushchair. And just like breastfeeding, time and plenty of lansinoh will be your healer. It does get easier!
If you have a question that you want answering or a childbirth rumour you want to know if true or not then you can ask us here… Ask a Midwife. All posts will be anonymous and we will answer your questions in a similar format as above so follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to keep an eye out for your answer.
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.
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!
Get the party started! Begin the baby shower with an impressive baby shower invitation that will get everyone excited about this fab event. Pick a stylish theme that you can carry through the whole party and if you really get it right, the mum-to-be can continue with it after the baby is born.
Budget! Sorry to say the b word! If you’ve offered to take up the mantel of organising a baby shower you might want to decide if you think you can manage it by yourself, or if there are friends who can help. Do you want invitations, buntings, banners, balloons, cakes, table centres and favours for guests…? All this needs to be totted up into your BSB (baby shower budget).
The Place to Party! Where you choose to host the baby shower can really help with the flow and the fun, as well as alleviating some of the pressure off the hosts and the mum-to-be. I recently wrote a blog about afternoon tea for a baby shower and I highly recommend it. Maybe you would prefer a cool cafe, a trendy restaurant, but ideally not the mum-to-be’s house. We want her to chill and enjoy her baby shower, without worrying about cleaning and tidying before and after the party.
Style it! If you want to score points for your sophistication and style, continue the chosen theme into the decorations. Little Dot Baby Shower does stunning, matching baby grow buntings and large banners. Mix this with some coordinating confetti, balloons and pinwheel decorations and you have a perfect party to blow away your mum-to-be’s expectations.
Things that make you go Mmmmm! Want mouth watering cakes and a choice of hot drinks? Perhaps some sparkle for the guests who like a bit of fizz? Then afternoon tea maybe your perfect party pick. If you are hosting a house party, acheeseboard and nibbles can make the ideal menu (although bear a thought for any gluten free guests). Your baby shower bunch can pick at as little or as much as they want. Refreshing pregnatinis (alcohol free cocktails for baby bellies) are also a great shout and you can always add a bit of something harder for those who enjoy a tipple! I am a firm believer in alcohol at baby showers. It’s not the kind of event where your guests will let themselves totally go and swing from the light fixtures, so it can help to take off the edge for those who are unacquainted.
Get Your Game Face On! Ditch the Price is Right (suitable only for frugal old ladies) and head for some fun with Guess the Baby, where guests secretly bring in a baby pic of themselves and everyone has to guess who’s who. Top of the Baby Charts working in teams to guess as many songs as you can with the word baby in the title. Play-Doh Baby, where your party are each given a ball of Play-Doh and have to mould a baby. Prizes for best/worst/funniest. Don’t Show us Your Teeth, a word association game where guests take it in turns to say something associated with baby, whilst totally covering their teeth with their lips. If you show your teeth, you’re out!
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…
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 🌟
Jonny Wilkinson - Renowned for visualising the perfect kick, from the line that the ball will follow to the feel of a great kick on his boot. The match before that perfect drop kick in the World Cup wouldn’t have been the first time he’d been in that situation. Having visualised that kick or others similar many a times that week before. This is positive visualisation. In Wilkinson’s words, “If you have realistically imagined situations, you feel better prepared and less fearful of the unexpected.” He’s basically HypnoSporting- hypnobirthing but for sportsmen! I’ve wrote a blog about it...