Monitoring your baby in labour – Your questions answered.

So what are my options when it comes to fetal monitoring in labour? Will I be able to move around? Can I use the pool? The answer is often yes!
Intermittent auscultation and continuous fetal monitoring are the two main ways in which we monitor babies during labour.
Intermittent auscultation involves using a Doppler/sonicaid to listen to your baby’s heartbeat for at least 1 minute every 15 minutes during active labour and every 5 minutes when you start pushing. It is a flexible and easy way to check in on your baby during labour and is not restrictive to you in any way. (NB. This is the device your community midwife uses to listen to your baby at your antenatal appointments.)
Continuous monitoring will involve using a cardiotocograph (CTG) machine which will be attached to your abdomen throughout labour. Like the one in the photo. One is measuring your baby’s heartbeat, the top one is measuring your contractions.
If both of these methods are not suitable for you, for example if the CTG machine is not providing your midwife with a clear enough reading of your baby’s heartbeat they may recommend using a fetal scalp electrode (FSE). These cannot be used in the pool. An FSE involves attaching a small clip onto your baby’s head to very closely monitor your baby. FSE’s ensure we are always recording your baby’s heartbeat and are not affected by external factors such as mobilising. You may notice a small scratch on your baby’s head when they’re born but don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt them and this will disappear very quickly.
The type of fetal monitoring that’s recommended for you in labour will depend on whether you and your midwife/obstetrician have deemed your pregnancy to be ‘low’ or ‘high’ risk. If there is a medical reason why your baby may need to have a closer monitoring, then you’d be advised to have a CTG throughout your birth. This may be for reasons such as prematurity, pre-eclampsia, obstetric choleostasis or an induction, to name but a few. These babies have things going on already that may mean they get more stressed out in labour. Intermittent auscultation is recommended for those of you who are considered low risk as your baby is less likely to find labour stressful.
Both a CTG and using a sonic aid for monitoring your baby in labour should not affect your ability to move around, you will still be able to access the pool (they’re waterproof) and all methods of pain relief are still available. Most women worry about being strapped down to a bed when they are offered continuous monitoring, but in Gloucester, there are no cables attaching you to the CTG machines on delivery suite so you can move around as much (or as little) as you like! If you choose to have continuous monitoring of your baby, midwives like to make sure that they do that efficiently. This may mean, adjusting them or asking you to change position so the monitors pick up your baby’s heart rate clearly.
Continuous monitoring was brought in during the 1970s to reduce the amount of baby’s effected by cerebral palsy. However, the evidence doesn’t support that it’s done this. When midwives/obstetricians look at a baby’s heart rate pattern we know that if it is showing no signs of distress then your baby is well. If your baby is showing signs of distress, then 50% of these babies will be in distress, the other 50% won’t. What happens then is that cesareans/interventions are advised. 50% of these are necessary, 50% would not have been. We are continuing to study the patterns of a baby’s heartbeat whilst they’re inside to understand them to reduce the unnecessary intervention from them. You are advised against a CTG if you are low risk for this reason- to avoid the chances of unnecessary intervention.
However, if you are advised to have a CTG but you’d rather not then please discuss this with your midwife. Similarly, if you’d like a CTG but are advised against it, please speak to your midwife.
If you’d like to have continuous monitoring then here are some tips for you to ensure that it doesn’t interfere with your birth…
⚡️Ask for 2 straps to tie to the fetal heartbeat monitor. This will reduce the amount of times a midwife will ask you to readjust the monitor on your abdomen. It also means that you can move around more freely without thinking about it coming loose.
⚡️ If you find the noise is causing you to feel anxious then ask for the volume to be turned down. Baby’s heartbeat in labour can drop. This can be very normal for a baby to do but can cause concerns for you to hear.
⚡️You can ask for the machine to be turned away from you, for the same reason above.
⚡️Continue to move, discuss a waterbirth if that was one of your preferences and most importantly discuss with your midwife WHY you are being advised to be on the CTG and then use your EBRAN to decide if it’s something that you’d like to go ahead with.
If you want to do some extra reading on fetal monitoring and what will be best for you and your baby in labour you can find it on NICE website. If you’re attending a class with ourselves (Mia and Beth) or Hannah we’ll be happy to delve deeper into the nitty gritty too.
Mia and Beth x

That look of love- International Day of The Midwife 2019

Arguably one of the best jobs in the world, sitting here now I actually can’t think of a single job that would give the same tear-jerking moments, the adrenaline rushes and the relationship ties that bind you to a couples memory for a lifetime.

To see a birth is on most peoples bucket lists, one of life’s true miracles. And yet a midwife would not only see, but be involved in hundreds in her career, for those of my colleagues who have been a midwife longer than I have been alive, those numbers would be knocking on the thousands. That in itself is a testiment to the role; once you start you stay. Today on the International Day of the Midwife, Midwives across the world will be celebrating all that they love in the role. I’m going to be throwing it back to where my love for it first began, those 8 years ago.


I will never forget the first time. It was with a couple who were having their third baby. I stood in the corner of the birthing room, aged 21, 3 months into my Midwifery degree with a wealth of waitressing experience, A- Levels and 18 months of motherhood under my belt. I had been to one birth before and I was high on gas and air at the time and definitely did not have a clear view of the business end.


The mother was lying on her side on the bed. She had beads of sweat on her cheeks and her husband had a flannel that he placed just above her brow. This woman was fierce and powerful yet so vulnerable. She looked down to the midwife who was leaning, gloved hands poised ready for the baby to arrive. “I can’t do this… I can’t do this!!!” the woman cried, eyes wide searching for reassurance. The midwife gave her a smile that calmed all in an instant, “You ARE doing it… you are ready to meet your baby.” This wasn’t the first time during her labour that the midwife had spoken encouraging words. I had watched throughout as she wiped her mascara from her eyes, rubbed the bottom of her back, wet the flannel, given a drink through a straw. Only ever leaving the room to go to the toilet herself or have a quick slurp of a cold tea. A bond had formed and as this baby was now nearly here, that trust was needed now more than any. At that moment, the midwifebelieved that the mother could do it, giving her the confidence to believe in herself. And with that, as a contraction built, the mother closed her eyes, curled herself forward whilst holding her leg behind her knee. Determination in her face as her contraction peaked and her body instinctively pushed down. 

I watched in awe as this thick set of black hair started to emerge. The mother continued to push as a head was born followed quickly (in true third baby fashion) by the baby. The room erupted with love as the mother opened her eyes, reaching out for her baby, with an expression reserved only for this moment. The baby placed onto her chest now taking his first breaths of life with a cry, wrapped by her arms like a blanket. This family; mother, father and newborn all crying into each other. 


Chills ran up my body, hairs standing on end as I stared in amazement of what I had just seen and without realising tears spilled out from my eyes onto my cheeks. Amazing as it was, it wasn’t the baby being born that made me feel like this, but that look of the mother and father setting their eyes on something they had only just met but already had tonnes of love for. 


After a few minutes had gone by the midwife said, “ Aww look, the students crying!!” I smiled, embarrassed, the new parents looked over and laughed. The sister in charge (who was present for the birth) said without even looking up. “If the students going to shed a tear, she must leave the room.” I gnawed through my lip and rolled my eyes up, not wanting to leave the room!  


We keep Mum and baby’s safety at the forefront but alongside this the midwife has many roles, mascara wiper, hair tyer, shoulder leaner (both metaphorically and quite literally) tea and toast connoisseur, cheer leader, the list goes on. All this contributes to help families get to the point where they hold their baby for the first time and I’m sure I speak for many midwives when I say, after all those years later, I still bite my lip to hold those happy tears back! 


(NB. This photo taken by Chui King Li was taken at my own birth. I think it summaries the support you get in labour amazingly)



I’m a big believer in that what you think about most you are more likely to get. Jim Carey famously did this to achieve greatness. When new to his career he wrote himself a cheque out for one million dollars with a 10 year date on it. He kept this cheque in his wallet and focused on it daily. Then 10years on he made this goal a reality and landed himself a role in Me, Myself and Irene and also landed himself a 10 million dollar pay cheque.

Visualisations work for anything in life, including pregnancy and birth. If you visualise how you want your birth to be you are more likely to get what you want.

If you have a specific focus then you are more likely to align yourself with this goal.

For example if you think positively about birth and think about yourself having a vaginal birth then you may…

Choose to be more active in labour

Think more about your positioning of baby

You’ll be less fearful of birth as you’d have “practised” what you’re going to do when getting contractions. You would ha e visualised your music, your coping strategies etc.

You’re more likely to have researched all your options, how to achieve a calm birth, booked onto an antenatal class or done hypnobirthing as a way to arm yourself with all the knowledge to get what you want.

You would have visualised the moment you meet your baby and how it makes you feel. This releases all the good hormones so when labour comes you know that the time has come to meet your baby and that this is an exciting time…

Compared to someone who has done no visualisations and thinks …. I don’t want to think about birth as, “I can’t control what happens” … “Whatever happens, will happen” … “It’s going to hurt no matter what”

When you go into labour it’s a new thing for your conscious mind to deal with. You may be feeling scared or fearful which releases adrenaline in your body. This can effect your birth in a negative way.

You may be more likely to choose things that might slow your labour down such as lying on the bed due to not knowing what else to do.

You may be more likely to choose stronger drugs from feeling scared of what’s happening.

(By the way it’s always ok to choose stronger drugs and/or lie on a bed but it’s just fairer to yourself if it’s done from a place of knowledge rather than fear)

This is a technique that’s used in hypnobirthing. You can come and prepare yourself for birth with TBTBC midwife Oli, with your partner on April 24th or by yourself on May 18th.

Start thinking about what you want your birth to look like… ❤️

The Lazy Girl Guide to Kick Starting Labour


I started writing this blog at 38 weeks pregnant. Sooo pregnant that this baby needs to be born soon but far too pregnant to get up off my lazy arse and do something about it! So I have compiled a list on things that can be done that doesn’t involve hiking hills.

1. Raspberry leaf tea– This is something that can be drank from about 34 weeks pregnant. Lots of women say that it helps with avoiding going over due, raspberry leaf tea is something that tones the uterus. What the research shows is that it makes your pushing stage shorter, I’m guessing because your uterus is so toned from drinking all that tea that your contractions may be stronger. Either way this one is always worth a try as you can drink a cuppa whilst sat down scrolling Instagram. Plus you don’t even have to leave your house for it, I got mine on Amazon Prime 👌🏼.

2. Dates- Another one that can be taken from 34 weeks. So 6 dates a day for 6 weeks prior to your due date and some research has shown that this means that you are less likely to have an induction and also less likely to have a hormone drip in labour. Again, for this one you can just sit down, chill out and eat dates. To make this one really lazy you could even send out hubby to the supermarket to get them.
3. Clary Sage- Mix a couple of drops in some oil and you can rub this one on your bump, or you can put some drops in a cup of milk then mix it in the bath. Clary sage is a utero tonic, which means that it can stimulate the uterus to contract. This one should only be used from term and shouldn’t be used if you’re having a VBAC.
4. Bouncing on a birth ball- In front of the TV (as this is a lazy girls guide after all!) This will get baby into an optimum position to navigate through your pelvis. Also, remember U.F.O- being Upright and Forward means your pelvis is Open an extra 28%. it also means that gravity is lending a helping hand encouraging baby’s head to put extra pressure on your cervix.
5. Nipple stimulation – One of the most effective ways to kick start labour. Stimulating your nipples makes your body produce oxytocin, which is the hormone that causes contractions.
6. Hot curry- Order this by take out if you can’t be bothered to cook. There is some truth in this old wives tale. A curry may irritate your bowel, which may then have a knock on effect to your uterus. If you like curry, then you have nothing to lose.
7. Pineapple- There’s thought to be hormones in a pineapple that act on the cervix to soften it. Yet, you would have to eat a truck load of this to get to an amount that it would have effect… and then it’s probably going to give you a jippy tummy so would work in the same way as a curry. Again, if you like eating pineapple you have nothing to lose.
8. Sex- They say that these induction methods were invented by a man… Sex and a hot curry.. hang on a minute?! But sex is the most effective way to induce labour as it releases oxytocin in your body, sperm also has prostaglandins in which softens the cervix. Prostaglandins and then oxytocin are the drugs used in a medical induction, but the artificial forms.
9. Reflexology- I had a wonderful reflexologist who would come to my house to do my treatments. So I could sit in my PJS in the middle of the day and she would come over and do her thing.
10. A bath- anything that you do to feel relaxed will tell your body that you are ready to give birth. It’s a primal thing, if we are feeling too stressed the message we are giving to our body is that we are not in a safe place to give birth. So do something that keeps you calm, whether that be a bath, massage or listening to a mediatation audio.

After trying all of the above, the day I went in to labour was the day I left the house. I though to myself, I am not going to spend another day at home waiting for this baby to arrive. I met a friend at Wagamamas and felt great for getting out the house and not wishing myself into labour. That evening it all started.

Good luck to all those waiting for your baby to come!


For other ways to induce labour and to learn about a medical induction then come along to antenatal class.

Photo creds Little Cheltenham

The World Can Wait- The Fourth Trimester

In Chinese cultures, women after giving birth have a whole month of resting. And I mean seriously resting, they have no distractions, no visitors, no chores to do. They are confined to the boundaries of their house to focus on eating, resting, sleeping and feeding their baby, having someone with them 24/7 to do things like cook, change and settle the baby so they can focus solely on recovery. In the Western culture this is something we’re pretty pants at doing. In fact, it seems to be more of a race to wipe all evidence of pregnancy and childbirth from our image so we’re back to our previous body shapes and busy lives as quickly as possible. Allowing us not much time to soak up the changes to our lives as a new mother. Even our parents generation would have had a week to 10 days in hospital as a standard before coming home. Imagine that. 10 days of meals brought to you in your room, help on tap for baby feeding problems, having not a pile of laundry in sight. My first week home, unless someone had given me a meal I was scrambling together a banana sandwich and not only that having 3 other mouths to feed oven –baked fish fingers to or another round of beans on toast. Survival was key.


I’m currently writing this exactly a month after my fourthbaby was born and I’m looking back on my first 4 weeks. This time around we tried to limit visitors. Having now 4 children in the house we wanted to adjust ourselves and prioritise our time with our children rather than prioritise other peoples time with our children on their schedule.No one ever looks back on those first few days or weeks with their newborn and wishes they did more chores or had more family over. Besides, some days consisted of me just in my nursing bra and big pants, and I couldn’t always guarantee that the nipples would have been in the bra whilst walking around the house with a newbornin my arms (trying to dodge the windows). No visitors, no matter how close, want to see that! I spent the first few days just sitting, watching her, enjoying her tucked up next to me, smelling her little round head and trying not to pick her milk spots. 


You can’t talk about the early days without acknowledging sleep, or really lack of it. The standard advice to sleep when the baby sleep can only really apply to first time mothers, what with school runs or demanding toddlers, and even then it’s touch and go. My main saviour when it comes to sleep has been my SnuzPod3. It’s a bedside crib which means that my baby is next to me at all times whilst sleeping. With babies not even knowing they’re out of the womb for the first 12 weeks, having them closer to you keeps them comforted. It also means that when we do co-sleep in the middle of the night, I don’t have the worry of her falling out of the bed. Some of my best times in these early days have been sleepy mornings on the weekends (this baby seems to party all night and sleep all morning), with some comfy PJs, some not-so fresh bedding (from the leaky boobs and odd nappy leak) and and something cosy for the baby (we went for the SnuzPouch when baby was a big enough weight, a sleeping bag so that she didn’t kick her blankets off or pull them over her face) and we had ourselves a nice, snuggly nest It’s moments like these when I see how important that Chinese tradition really is. 


Chinese culture isn’t the only tradition which makes sure that new mothers look after themselves. You can’t pour from an empty cup after all. But you know what we, in the UK, tell our new mothers about this time? In the UK some of the symptoms of post natal depression are classed as still experiencing “baby blues” passed 2 weeks after birth, unable to function day to day life, unable to look after yourself, tiredness, inability to concentrate. Ummm… NEWSFLASH I think that counts for about 90% of mothers still at 2 weeks, 3weeks… 6 weeks after birth. I’ve cried everyday since I’ve had Delphi, from tiredness, from sore nips, from feeling lonely, because she’s so vunerable and I have the responsibility to keep her safe, from guilt for my other children. It’s a foggy newborn haze and that’s mainly because life is lived through tear-filled lenses. I cried because she yawned, when she sneezed, when she makes dinosaur noises and when she had her blood spot test. I cried because I got flowers delivered to the door and because my sister bought me coffee over. It’s an emotional time

And an ability to function and look after yourself??? Bloody Nora, I’d be more worried if I WAS functioning after the sleep deprivation and looking after a small human. Most days, if I do get dressed, it’s been way past midday. Even then, I shower just to put back on my PJs. That counts as getting dressed, right? It’s inadvertently telling new mothers that they should be functioning after 2 weeks with a baby and they shouldn’t be feeling teary. And if they do then they may have PND. It’s funny that in this culture we expect functioning after 2 weeks, where as in other traditions you would be actively encouraged to NOT function.



These early days as parents we’ve become even more disheveled and even more sleep deprived. It’s been all boobs and baby (and lots of pastries) over here and although it’s tough it’s also very amazing. What I wish I knew first time around is that it’s ok to lower your expectations in the first month to do nothing but enjoy your baby and look after yourself, limit your visitors and accept help. It’s ok to give time to adapt to this new life. These early days are over in a flash, so let the world wait.


Snuzpod – Gifted by Snuz

Baby and Toddler – Also gifted 😉

The good photos – Chui King Li Photography

The Sisterhood In Motherhood

Your mum squad. Your sisterhood in motherhood. Your tribe. Your village. Your 3am crew.

Being lonely was the one thing I worried about in pregnancy. One of my friends had told me it was the loneliest thing she had ever done. I’ve always had a good group of friends but we are all at different stages of our lives or too far away from each other that I wanted to meet new people that I could share my new journey with. Which is why I signed up to The Bump to Baby Chapter antenatal classes.

Four weeks after giving birth I went to my first buggy walk, and that’s how my mum Squad started forming. I arrived on my own, not really knowing anyone. I was terrified. I got talking to another new Mum and we realised that our babies were born on the same day. Birthday twins. We also realised that we lived round the corner from each other – it was definitely meant to be. We agreed to go to our local baby group together the following week. On our walks to and from the baby group we started getting to know each other and realised we had a lot in common, same age, same university, similar degrees, been with our other halves for the same amount of time. I felt so lucky to meet someone that I felt so comfortable with so quickly.

We were both keen to talk to and make friends with other people. Enter the next two people to join our Mum squad. One of the Mum’s walked into the babygroup on her own, and I immediately spotted her and asked if she wanted to be my friend (I wish I was exaggerating). We were sat next to another Mum who seemed a bit quiet so I asked her the same thing. I then did this again with two new Mum’s who came together with their tiny babies. It was then that the Mum squad fully formed and we created a WhatsApp group. It was after this that we decided we would try and make friends with a new Mum every week and there are now twelve of us. Twelve truly amazing Mumma’s. (They reassure me that they love how bold I was and that they enjoyed being taken under our wing).

We buggy walk together, we go to babygroup together, we support each other, we reassure each other and we laugh with each other. These girls are one of the best things about being a Mumma.

One of the things I love is that all our stories are different. From our age and our background, to our pregnancies and our births. None of that matters, what matters in that we are all on this crazy rollercoaster together.

Get out there. Go to baby groups, go to the buggy walk. Talk to new people. Find your tribe.

You can catch Sam at EVERY buggy walk as she is a push it real good buggy walker through and through. She’s always a friendly face to look for if you’re new. You can also hear more from Sam and her ramblings of Mum life over on her blog…

My Bump to Baby Chapter

So you know how over here we like to keep it social both on and off line… We love to see how much fun you have at antenatal classes and with your group after. We also love keeping tabs on your story, finding out how you’re getting on on your Bump to Baby Chapter. We thought that it would be nice to treat those who share these moments with us by running a little photo competition. Here are some ideas from photos that we’ve received from our Bump to Baby Chapter Family in the past.

So EVERY month we will be giving away an amazing gift box from the champion of gifts, Don’t Buy Her Flowers. (Contents of the box will vary)

All you have to do to enter is post your photo on Instagram or Facebook, tag us in it and #MyBumpToBabyChapter so that we can see that you’ve entered. If you’re entering on Instagram and your page is set to private you will need to message us your entry too as otherwise we won’t see it. You can also post the photo on our Facebook page or send it us via email to

We will keep you posted with all the entries by posting all the photos below….

The only terms and conditions are that the competition is only open to those who have been or booked on to a Bump to Baby Chapter antenatal course or hypnobirthing. Anyone who’s been to a course of ours can enter, this can be past, present or even future (ie. when you’ve booked a course and are looking forward to starting it!) By entering the competition you are giving permission to us to share your photo and caption on our social media channels and website. Competition winners will be announced on the 1st of every month so keep an eye out on our Facebook and Instagram. This competition currently doesn’t have a closing date, and all photos will be considered every month. You can enter as many photos as you like to be in with a chance. This competition is not affiliated with Don’t Buy Her Flowers (we just think they’re awesome gifts!)

Here are your entries so far… #MyBumpToBabyChapter

From a 4lb tiny baby to this handsome strong chap 🥺

Surround yourself with people who reflect who you want to be and how you want to feel- Sam

Jez and Charlotte from November’s antenatal class. How life changes in a few months.

From bump to baby! Thrilled little Albert is here 🙂

At eight months pregnant, I (naturally) had a head full of questions, and not many answers. That’s where these guys stepped in… The Bump to Baby Chapter gave me practical advice for what to expect before, during and after labour. So, when they contacted me wanting some new visuals for their company, I jumped at the chance to help them create a new look for their brand. #mybumptobabychapter



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 😍 #mybumptobabychapter

“I’m loving our antenatal classes. We are learning so much! Such a fantastic team of midwives and a wonderful group of people to share this with.” 

Welcoming baby Delphi- My Birth Story

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.

How to not expect when you’re expecting.

When I first found out I was pregnant this time around, I thought to myself that being my last pregnancy I set my sights on being the stereotypical pregnant mama, drinking green juice, eating kale and chia seeds and cutting out all junk. I was going to do yoga and be zen. I wanted to be, or at least feel like the epitome of health.

So when the first trimester full on nausea and vomiting kicked in, anything resembling greens made my face turn green and the only food I could stomach was white carbs. My expectations of what I wanted this pregnancy started flaking just like my Janes Pantry sausage rolls and Cornish pasties.

Fast forward to 32 weeks pregnant…Brixton hicks contractions were in full swing. Walking up and down the corridors of delivery suite I was contracting just like I did with my last pregnancy where she was born at 34weeks. My previous baby before this was 37 weeks and my first was born at 2 days overdue. I was adamant I was going to be early, I had my hospital bag packed by 34 weeks, I went on maternity leave at 32 weeks (although having a Christmas off work played a part in this decision!) and any twinge or tightening just convinced me even more that baby was coming early. I was ready and waiting for my labour to start early to fill my expectation. An expectation that I put on myself. The difference though from my last births is that expectation of an early birth wasn’t there before. Labour just started and I went with it, which was so much nicer for my head. Waiting for a baby to arrive is a massive mind game. I teach to all couples that baby’s arrive when you’re feeling calm and relaxed. It’s natures way of letting your body know that you’re in a place of safety for birth. Oxytocin is highest when feeling calm and adrenaline (the stress hormone) can reduce oxytocin. Teaching this is one thing, living it is another!! It can be a real challenge!

I’m now nearly 39weeks, which will be my second longest pregnancy. It’s very easy to think that because it hasn’t been the same as my previous 2 that something is “wrong”. That there’s a reason that this baby won’t come out. Some days I’ve convinced myself this baby will need to be born via cesarean, maybe it’s head is too big, maybe it’s in a funny position. But the reality is that actually every pregnancy is different and that’s ok.

I wanted to share this with you so for anyone feeling the same you know that you’re not alone. I’m a midwife, this will be my fourth pregnancy and I still in my crazy, illogical, baby brain can convince myself that some days something is “wrong” or not going to be ok or that I’ve failed pregnancy because I’ve not been taking my multivitamins. These feelings generated purely due to my made up expectations.

Here’s what I’ve done to stop myself having expectations when I’m expecting, they can be used for whatever…

1. Birth affirmations- I remind myself daily that baby will come when the time is right. If your worried about size, remind yourself that baby will grow to a size that’s right for you. If it’s birth worries, tell yourself that birth is safe.

2. Switching off- I’ve given myself time in the day where I make sure that I’m not thinking of anything. Similar to meditation I suppose. For me this has been listening to my hypnobirthing audios and also starting a good book. I’ve downloaded Audible and am listening to Michelle Obama’s autobiography. It’s a great way to not be consumed with your own thoughts. I do this most days.

3. Tell someone- I’m lucky that I’m surrounded with great midwife friends who can shake some logical sense into me and rationalise my thoughts. My own community midwife has also been great at doing the same so don’t be afraid of saying what you’re feeling or thinking.

4. Do something that’s not baby related. Go get your nails done. Go for a coffee with a friend. Get a massage. Go outside for a walk.

5. Recognise what are your expectations versus what’s normal in pregnancy/birth/newborn. For me this is recognising that just because this baby hasn’t come early, doesn’t mean that he/she is never coming out or that something is wrong. It’s actually more normal that he/she hasn’t come out yet! For you this could be managing expectations on mode of birth, baby size, morning sickness, SPD, baby’s sleep patterns or like me baby’s arrival time.

What have you expected whilst you’ve been expecting… let me know in the comments on Facebook or Instagram.

Photo credits above Chui Photography

High Risk vs. Low Risk

Keeping with the pregnancy labels theme I want to know what you all think of the terminology ‘High risk vs low risk’ and have you been labelled one of these in pregnancy?

I remember doing my midwifery training and a friend told me that her sister was having a baby and she was told that she was “high risk”. My friends words were… “High risk of what exactly… becoming ill? A cesarean? Having a Stillbirth??” And this really stuck with me. What are midwives or doctors actually saying when we say this term?

Because even though you may fall into a category that may increase your chances of an intervention happening, you still can’t really say that the risk of that intervention is HIGH. It may be higher than others but for lots of things it’s still more than likely going to be very low. Take a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) as an example, you’d fall into the high risk category and be advised to have your baby on a delivery suite where Drs are present. But your chance of having a cesarean is between 25 and 28% which is only slightly higher than the uk average and the main risk is the scar rupturing which is in fact a 0.5% risk. A risk that I’m not saying should be ignored but carefully considered when weighing up all of your options.

If you have a raised BMI you could be classed as high risk, “too” young or “too” old, existing medical conditions the list goes on. My point is not that these characteristics go unrecognised but the classification and terminology used is improved. I wonder if telling someone in their pregnancy they fit a certain risk category what effect that has on their decision making during birth and the anxieties that brings during the pregnancy. We’re saying that the one category is free from concerns and will lead in a healthy birth, where as the other category will be filled with problems, potential complications and managed medically, often without considering a holistic approach. The term “high risk” gives reason to worry and encourages choices to be made from a place of fear and risk adversion.

Risk is not just about statistics and numbers it’s about a women’s experiences, her perceptions, thoughts and beliefs. Risk is subjective. One woman’s risk of a cesarean is another woman’s first choice. The risk of a stillbirth will always feel higher to a pregnant mother who’s had someone close by experience the heartbreaking effects of this, should the mothers feelings of risks be ignored in this situation if she fits the “low-risk” pregnancy category?

Words are everything in pregnancy. It’s as much about what we think we say as to what’s actually interpreted.

Photo creds Little Cheltenham