Suzy’s Cesarean Birth

Birth StoriesUncategorized

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

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

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

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

Wrong, very wrong!

I used them several times:

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

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

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

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

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

Birth StoriesThe Great British Birth Off

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

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

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

Little did I know…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Mothers Day to you Mothers and Mothers-to-be…

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Today is a day where I always reflect on my own childhood and my own Mum. I was really lucky that my Mum was always around, always at home, always there to pick me up from school. This is something that she continues to do for me as a Mother myself. If I’m having a tiring day with my 3 she’s always there with a box full of toys and a hot brew and some cake for me. She’s reliable, always present and always there.

Before I had children I use to think of how I would be with my family, although my life now is not exactly how I had imagined being a Mum. I work long days in the hospital so can be away from my children from 7 am in the morning till 8pm at night, often missing them wake up and go to bed all in one day.  I’m also not half as glamorous as I’d always imagined when picturing myself with my brood! A far cry from the kind of Mother that I had whilst growing up. I think one thing that all mothers have in common is that GUILT (something that you don’t prepare for from antenatal class!) That awful feeling that creeps up from your stomach when you feel torn between breast and bottle, a night out with friends, leaving for work. That feeling of not quite being enough or giving enough to your family.

What I find most interesting from looking back on my own childhood is how oblivious I was to my mother feeling like this. Never once did I think.. I wish my Mummy spent more time with me… I wish my Mummy had more more money or worked more or gave me more organic vegetables! etc. Yet, I know for sure now that my Mum, like the rest of us had that guilt feeling creeping into her days. I look back to my Mum with the upmost respect and admiration that she gave, and continues to, give so much of her life to her children. The point I am trying to make is that the way we see our days with our babies, toddlers and children is so different to the way they see it. When I am at work, my children spend time with their grandparents, something that I know they love. They are accepting of the fact that I work and have never questioned my working hours, something that I fail to remember when I check on them in the morning, tucked up in bed before I walk out the door.

Today of all days, us mothers and mums-to-be need to remember that we are enough and most importantly to the world we are Mothers, but to our family we are the world.

Happy Mothers Day 🙂

Love Beth

x

The big Q… How do I get my baby to sleep?

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Top 5 Tips for guiding baby into good sleep habits:

• 1: My first tip would be swaddling! Sometimes, we try swaddling and baby gets cross and we think “My baby hates to be swaddled!”- For a few, this will be true. Actually it’s what you do after you swaddle, that all add up to help baby feel comforted. I’m a fan of Dr. Harvey Karp’s Five S’s:
1. Swaddle (safely)
2. Side (Hold baby in you arms so they are on their sides)
3. Shush (Shushing Noises)
4. Swing (I kind of do this controlled jiggly motion, key here is motion!)
5. Suck (If baby has a dummy)

((Nb. Never put your baby down to sleep on his/her side. Baby always led on back to comply with safe sleep guidelines)

I find following these helps get that swaddle hater, loving it! It only takes a few minutes following these steps (you may need to play around with how you find your personal approach) before you can lay them down and the security of the swaddle stops that startle reflex from waking them up and getting themselves all upset!

• 2: I love white noise. Ewan can be great but has a timed limit of around 20 minutes which no doubt turns itself off at the crucial moment! You can get some fairly cheap little gadgets on Amazon, they are portable and great from encouraging a ‘positive sleep association’ helping baby nap on the go.

• 3: Schedules. I know this seems a CRAZY notion when you are in the thick of the early days- and that’s okay. We absolutely do not need to be instilling strict schedules and getting panicked when things inevitably veer off track. Practicing little bits of routine as early as possible will help you feel a little more in control of the craziness, and be great practise for when baby is getting a little older and you are ready to start following a more firm schedule. Keeping an eye on how naps and feeds are going will help you identify if there’s anything at play later down the line. When I talk about schedules, we must remember to be flexible and relaxed with the idea… we are talking babies after all!

• 4: Remember that your baby is NOT a bad sleeper. They are a baby- and they are sleeping like one! Don’t get caught up with the implications that your baby should be sleeping through the night by week 8 or some such nonsense- Some babes are just naturally awesome sleepers who will do, and that’s okay so long as its baby led. And that’s the true key here, being baby led. We can tweak and guide but getting good sleep is not about withholding feeds from a hungry baby, ignoring them when they are communicating with you, or comparing them to your friend’s children etc. Each baby is so different and will reach that milestone in their own time. They all end up in the same place- sleeping through eventually! They just all get there on slightly different paths… and sometimes that path is super wiggly and exhausting, but is temporary and it will pass! Surround yourself with a good support network so you aren’t facing this tough bit of parenting alone.

• 5: Dream feeds. I wanted to use no.5 to talk about the importance of enjoying your tiny baby and how you being relaxed and connected with them will be conducive to helping them feel safe and secure to sleep well, but I think you guys will know this and so I’ll quickly touch on dream feeds. It has long been ‘standard practise’ to introduce dream feeds in the earlier half of the night, but we know that babies sleep best during this time and whilst offering milk might seem like a logical way to have them sleeping longer overnight actually we are interrupting their natural sleep cycle by doing so and setting of their digestive system (same goes for the myth of ‘feeding them up’ before bed- sleeping on a stretched fully tummy won’t give you a good night’s sleep) You may also find it is hard getting any milk into them at this dream feed, that they keep falling asleep or they are then irritable afterwards and hard to put down. Letting them wake naturally- I stop waking newborns and allow them to self-regulate night feedings once they have regained their birth weight and maintained (or gained) for two weeks after.

These top tips were written my Mother, Fern who is also a Maternity Night Nanny at Smooth Start Nanny Services. She provides care and support to tired parents across Gloucestershire.

Gemma’s Birth Story

Birth StoriesThe Great British Birth Off

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Snowed in in labour

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I’m sitting here looking outside to the blizzard that surrounds my house. With the trouble that many of the midwives are having getting into hospital to work it makes you think what about the ladies in labour?? Being snowed in in labour is something we failed to cover in antenatal class!

The question on any full term mothers lips right now is….

What happens if I go into labour in the snow???

Here’s a basic run down…

Ask around now for friends or family who own a 4×4 if they will be on stand by to take you in. And ask them to be prepared for a night call.

If you think it’s safe to drive, park your car at the bottom of the drive or on the main road where it will be easier to get out.

If you think your going into labour then call your place of birth/triage or in Gloucester the maternity advice line.

Pack extra towels and blankets in the car, have a full tank of petrol for the heater, and keep both phones charged. If baby is going to be born in the car then pull over and call for help. When baby is born, dry baby put baby against your skin with a baby hat on and cover you both with towels and blankets until the paramedics arrive.

But ultimately…

If it’s not deemed safe to drive due to the weather then phone an ambulance to come to you at home. It would be safer to have a baby at home than stuck in the snow in the car on a country road somewhere.

Who would have thought this would be on the agenda for Spring babies!

Stay safe and keep warm!

X

What I HATE about Hypnobirthing

Pregnancy

One thing I HATE about Hypnobirthing

 

“My body is made to give birth, naturally”
 
“My body is built to give birth”
 
“I trust my body and its ability to give birth.”
 
“My body is designed to grow a baby”
 
“My baby will arrive when the time is right”
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.
and
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.
#BirthPositive
You can write your own birth affirmations or you can find some great birth mantras here.

Breastfeeding – it’s a suckers’ game!

New mumNewborn

For the purposes of this mini-piece, I have tried to imagine that I am a bearded, 5’9”, slightly-introverted, new father. I will be channelling my husband and trying to see the last 11 weeks of our baby feeding experience from his perspective. There are lots of blogs out there on the impact of breastfeeding on mums and mammaries … I wonder if any of this rings true for the dads out there?

Firstly, we made the decision together that we wanted breastfeeding to be the aim for the baby I was growing. We made sure that the right bras and pads were bought and invested in a pump for those times when it may be needed. What else was there to do? Wait for the baby to be born and then start the milk-to-baby process. How hard could that be? It’s been happening that way since the primordial soup and it’s what my breasts were designed to do. Of the endless decisions we had to make, this one seemed like a slam-dunk! Hi-la-ri-ous! We definitely encountered some unexpected snags along the way.

The gadgets suck – every time we hit up a Mothercare or went to a baby event, I could see his eyes light up a little when we passed the Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep machine. Here was the wonder-gadget for the modern parent. A way to make feeding your baby a shed load easier with buttons and lights and beeps and science and EXACT QUANTITIES, and this poor soul had to march past it EVERY TIME! There just isn’t quite the same appeal in discussing milk pouch systems – he doesn’t get to play with those!

The boobs are off limits – so no, he couldn’t have an array of fancy bottles and machines to play with, but the original fun bags he did have access to had taken on a life of their own since about about week 7 of the pregnancy. They had swollen and plumped and filled and after birth, they ballooned and bulged and here was my husband watching as before his very eyes, the sensible Ford Focus he had invested in, morphed into a Mustang. Itching to take it for a spin, the answer was a repetitive and monotonous ‘no’. No touching, EVEN accidental. No interfering. No cuddling too tightly. No sleeping in the same way. No pressure. No contact. There are few passion killers quite as effective as ‘mind my boobs’.

A baby’s hangry cries may as well sound like Mummeeeeeeeeeeeee – when you have useless man nipples. No matter how much you may want to help, a hungry baby gets passed to its mother to be fixed! Your job then consists of: repeatedly getting up from your comfy seat on the other side of the room and … topping up the water flask required to refill the boobs, passing pieces of cake that are JUST out of reach, cutting food into fork-sized pieces, reorganising the support cushions (wrong normally), passing the remote control, plugging the mobile in to charge (but making sure it’s within reach) and, once the farmyard noises have finished, burping and changing afterwards. I, on the other hand get to just sit there and plug in the baby and then pass it back as if I were a glorified charger. It doesn’t seem like a fair division of the work. Emphasis on ‘seem’.

Helplessness in the face of the pain. Fierce animal instincts kick in at a variety of points throughout the process of new human production and one of those, especially for fathers is an intensely protective one. His aim is to prevent harm to me and his offspring. The speed at which that man moved when I squealed after a particularly nasty toe-stubbing incident in week 14 of the pregnancy proved that his instincts were sharply honed from the beginning. Watching me in the first weeks crying with pain over our inability to nail the ‘latch’ with or without a shield made him leave the room several times. Watching me sob as I couldn’t feed the baby enough in the first weeks and we were put on a feeding plan left him devastated. Watching me wipe my blood off the baby’s face because a mistimed cough had resulted in a very unfortunate nipple clamp, made his toes curl. Watching tears stream down my face as the now ‘fixed’ latch occurred on a nipple cracked and broken by the efforts made him angry and frustrated, especially when it was my Mummy that I cried to about it. The problem is that in all things related to the pregnancy and birth, we’d been a team but for this he was helpless, on the outside, just watching the two people he loved most in the world struggle and suffer and it truly sucked.

Bed space usurpation. The purchase of a pregnancy pillow in the second month of the pregnancy marked the beginning of this process. Bed was not for us as a couple any more. At least 60% of the surface area was taken up with pillows and support. Then my ever-expanding form was wedged into the carefully padded nest and finally he got to cling onto the edge of the mattress alternating between having the entire duvet because I was an oven and having none because I was freezing. The arrival of the baby made that arrangement look palatial! Her own sleeping space in the form of a snüzpod was firmly clamped to the side of our bed. This increase in the surface area SHOULD have made things easier. It didn’t. There were ‘the feedings’. Elbows and knees and pillows and iPads and snacks and muslins and water bottles and changing mats and wipes and shields and nipple creams and accessible tops … these all took priority over him. Who cared that he had work in the morning, the baby must be fed and that process inevitably involved me putting my most pointy joints wherever he was busy being comfortable. There have been a number of nights when we reached dawn ‘topping and tailing’: each of us in a prime position to feed or rock or change or sooth the teeny tiny human who now took up an entire king size space in our lives.

Imprisonment: the fact that the baby’s food supply is firmly clamped to my torso means that any days out, or in fact any excursions longer than 3 hours require my presence. In the early days before we introduced a bottle for expressed milk, this meant that even a trip to the supermarket was either a solo affair or a full-blown outing. It’s a lonely process for both partners. Things you used to do together with ease take on a whole new significance when you have a baby in tow. A simple ‘let’s pop to the shop and see what we fancy for dinner’ now involves a trolley and a pram and timing around feeds and the detour via Home as the muslin wasn’t picked up (despite ‘someone’ being reminded twice). The result is that one of you goes. Alone. This also means that any chance of me getting a break for more than 3 hours is not possible. A little soup of joint resentment builds up when all he wants to do is take the baby out and give me a break and some space AND all I want is for him to take the baby out and give me a break and some space and yet we can’t. So he either feels trapped in with the baby and a mildly resentful wife OR the hassle of getting everyone loaded up for a trivial task is not worth it OR he ends up flying totally solo. Not great choices!

Feeling shunned. No matter how hard breastfeeding is, there is a moment when these little hungry eyes lock with yours and stay fixed on almost like a targeting system. It’s incredible. In fact, babies seem to do that with anyone who feeds them – possibly part of their secret plan to make sure they’re always too cute not to feed? Lots of our new parent friends shared pictures of this awesome moment with partners and new babies and bottles. Dads looked besottedly into the eyes of these wrinkly little humans whilst they fed. He didn’t get that moment. As previously ‘touched’ on, boob holding was a no-no so that wasn’t going to happen. It was six long weeks before he gave our daughter her first expressed bottle. She gazed at him in total adoration (she does that a LOT) and he melted. But a month and a half of waiting for that was still hard. It still depends now on supply and expressing and sterilising not only bottles but all the pumping malarkey that goes with it. It means that he gets those moments only when the stars align and we time everything JUST right! That said, I doubt I’ll get much of a look-in at tea-time when we’re weaning!

So what do I take from the process? This wonderful partner, man and father felt incredibly left out by the joint decision we’d made. We weren’t expecting that at all. We made the best decision for the three of us and yet it bit us on the bum in ways we weren’t prepared for. So we introduced and engineered bonding experiences for the two of them. Bedtime stories are predominantly a Daddy zone – we don’t care that she doesn’t understand them yet (or that they evolve into Dr Who re-runs sometimes!). Bath times often don’t involve Mummy taking the lead, there isn’t a soother like her Daddy if the baby is over tired or fractious; the way he can breeze in and laugh at her whingeing for food an hour after her last feed is enviable. He can also distract her wonderfully and remind her that she is full and dry and loved and wouldn’t she rather spend time making silly faces with him or playing aeroplanes or hearing him narrate a mission on the X-Box while she’s transfixed by the colours and sounds than crying. And then I sit there, feeling useless, wondering why I couldn’t get her to smile at me first and why I can’t settle her to sleep like that and why I am so inadequate. Or I spend some time on me – staring blankly into a phone or dozing in a bath or re-stocking my bedside snacks basket. And then eventually, she does need feeding again and I’m back in the picture. It’s actually worked out pretty well – it turns out that we absolutely need one another to parent our daughter. He cannot cope with an interrupted night’s sleep like I can. I cannot convince her to settle when I smell like an ‘all you can eat buffet’.

So did we make the best decision? There have been top-up formula feeds, expressed feeds, easy feeds and painful feeds. There have been days in bed and whole days out. There have been emergency feeds at the side of the road and planned feeds in relaxing family rooms. But the baby is fed and that is what is best!

 

Daddy’s First Feed
Feeding on the Plane
Feeding in the car in the Regent Arcade

Nipple Shields

Choose what to hold on to and what to let go of- Ellie’s Hypnobirthing Cesarean

Birth StoriesThe Great British Birth Off

Two and a bit years ago I was bouncing on my birthing ball watching Bake Off, feeling a bit peeved that it was my due date and nothing seemed to be stirring. I’m a very punctual person and spend a significant portion of my life (pre-children anyway) waiting around for people/transportation/appointments. So although I knew statistically things were unlikely to kick off at exactly 40 weeks, it still irked. And then – splosh – my waters came gushing out just as Mel or Sue announced star baker. Talk about a soggy bottom.

We were living in Cornwall and it was a quick 10 minute journey to the hospital for a check. I was excitedly waiting for the first contractions and felt unnerved when the two options were to have an immediate induction or wait 24 hours to see if things started naturally. Another deadline for my poor pedantic brain. Anyway, despite some epic hoovering, nothing occurred and we trundled back in the following evening.

From that moment everything becomes a bit tumbled and jumbled in my memory – like an amazing night out but with fewer shots and more vaginal pessaries. My ideas about an active labour, ideally in the birthing pool, were usurped because I needed to lie on my back and be monitored. As the intensity of the contractions increased I moved from gas and air to Diamorphine to an epidural in a blur. After a day of this and less than 2cm dilation, a wonderful surgeon examined the baby’s heart rate and said it was time to get her out.

The caesarean was smooth and quick, our daughter burst onto the scene in perfect health and two days later we were home.

In the beautiful chaos of life with a newborn it took a while to address the fact I wasn’t ok with how the birth had gone. Countless well-meaning people said nice things like ‘well you’re both fine and that’s the main thing’. And it truly is, but I still struggled to talk about it truthfully. The strongest feeling was a lack of control; it was like something that happened to me, rather than by me or even with me. I read lots of helpful things about not letting yourself feel like a failure… made less easy when the phrase ‘FAILURE TO PROGRESS’ is written all over your medical notes.

When I fell pregnant last year I was very keen to have a different experience. The doctors said there was no reason not to try for a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean) and I tried to walk the line between hoping I could labour and deliver ‘naturally’ and bearing in mind that it might not happen. Pregnancy yoga was a great help (big up Ann at Lotus Bud Yoga in Cheltenham) and then the opportunity came up to attend the hypnobirthing essentials day.

Aside from meeting some lovely expectant mums in a beautiful setting with regular tea and shortbread breaks, it’s no exaggeration to say it transformed how I was feeling about the birth. I had expected to learn about breathing and visualisations – and did – but it was also the practical toolkit of methods and information which enabled me to feel more prepared, calm and positive. The entire day and the book we trotted off home with made me confident that although I might still encounter the same circumstances and language and influences, I’d be in a whole new position to question them and deal with the upshot. Beth gave us each a set of the excellent Yesmum cards and the one I held uppermost in my mind from then onwards was: ‘I make informed decisions that feel right for me and my baby.’

In this new mindset I felt comfortable making contingency plans in the days running up to my highly inconvenient Boxing Day due date. As induction wasn’t a good option the consultant, midwife, my husband and I had a discussion about what to do if I was overdue. They were keen for an elective caesarean earlier rather than later but as I wanted to give the baby as much time as possible to make an appearance we compromised at eight days. As it was, on the evening of day four I had a show and on New Year’s Eve I started having contractions. I felt warm and calm and excited that things were progressing. In the car on the way in I used the time between contractions to make a new playlist of songs which suddenly seemed the most obvious tunes I would want to give birth to in the world.

I would love to tell you we rocked up, whipped out our LED candles and hopped into the birthing pool for a quick delivery with no pain meds in time to watch Jools Holland. In fact, I pretty much saw in the new year with a lovely midwife’s hand up my lady parts discovering my waters had broken discreetly some days ago (that cheeky little trickle I’d thought was an excitement wee perhaps). Knowing the risk of infection and with the knowledge there was nothing doing on the dilation front, I allowed myself to feel a moment’s disappointment that I wasn’t going to get my preference (again) and have a crack at pushing this one out, and then we moved on. That was one huge difference hypnobirthing made – months of resentment and feelings of failure reduced to about a minute of slight grumpiness. Then we got excited that we were about to meet our new daughter and made sure we could bring our playlist into theatre.

Everything we had learned and practiced on the essentials day came back out to bat for me during the operation. I breathed through the contractions in order to stay still during the initial spinal injection. I stayed calm when my heartrate dropped and everything swam and flickered about. When they needed to use forceps to pull out our stubborn baby and the weight and pressure felt untenable, I made myself imagine I was paddling out towards a set of waves on my surfboard, feeling the swell picking me up and then carving through the water towards the beach. It was one of the most powerful sensations I’ve ever known.

Ultimately, we have to choose what to hold on to and what to let go of. Things didn’t happen as I would have wished but, thanks to the steps and help I had taken this time, I was present and focused for the whole shebang. I wasn’t a passenger and that counts for a lot. And I got to whip out my tarpaulin-sized c-section knickers for a second outing. Every cloud…

Shani’s Birth Story

Birth StoriesThe Great British Birth Off

I suppose my birth story starts about 3 weeks before when I attended The Bump To Baby Chapter Hypnobirthing class. I remember saying to Beth, “I’ve only got 3 weeks left and I haven’t practiced at all yet!” but she was confident I would be ok. So after a lovely day, practicing breathing techniques, visualisations and having some yummy lunch I was sent off with the Hypnobirthing book, YesMum cards and MP3’s of the visualisation tracks to practice.

I would say I would probably manage to practice visualisations once a day and tried to do breathing beforehand and also with my husband before bed. This was so that he knew what rate I was counting at so he could be there to get me back on track when I lost focus. Turns out it was more help to him just to manage his stress levels when seeing me ‘in pain’!

Although I use that word loosely as I specifically said that I didn’t want the word pain used at all whilst in labour.

Contractions started just before I went to bed, however being a 1st timer I wasn’t quite sure if they were contractions or not so I just went to sleep as normal, waking about twice in the night with the same feelings… Again, not quite sure if it was anything other then Braxton Hicks/stomach ache, at 5.30am my husband got up for work, I told him about the tightenings and he quite helpfully told me I should maybe call the triage number….to which I replied, “I think you should just stay home from work instead!” 🙂

We spent the day burning Clary Sage, listening to ‘spa’ music and watching a comedy to keep the oxytocin flowing. I’m not going to lie when I think back it was quite a long day waiting but I didn’t mind. When the contractions started to get stronger and last longer, whilst breathing I started reciting the affirmations in my head, ‘Each surge brings you closer to holding your baby in your arms’, ‘The surges can’t be stronger then you because they are you.’

We finally got on our way to the maternity unit at around 7 in the evening. I was aware that sometimes things can slow down once you change your environment so we got settled into the room, put the ‘spa’ music back on and made a brew in true Yorkshire style. The contractions came thick and fast so I got in the pool at around 9pm. I wish I could say I had a water birth as that was the plan but, it wasn’t to be as after quite a few hours, I was made to get out to go to the toilet. Not what you want to hear when your contractions are barely a minute apart… how was I going to make it down the little steps and onto the toilet without having a contraction! The fear started to kick in at this point because I had to deal with something that wasn’t going to be at all comfortable, but thankfully, I managed to stay focused with the breathing and made it to the dreaded toilet. Needless to say, I couldn’t go for a wee (the midwife had thought my bladder was too full, therefore hindering baby coming out) but the toilet was my new favourite place! So much so that at one point the midwife had to pad it out just incase I gave birth on the toilet!! What a joyous way to enter the world that would’ve been! 🙂

After much coaxing I got off the toilet and tried the birthing stool. I would say to anyone when you go on the tour around the birthing units or wards, try out the apparatus just so you know what it feels like. The birthing stool was another unknown to me that throws you off your flow. I moved to the bed/kidney shaped foam thing, with my husband behind me to hold me as I perched on the edge…I was giving all I’d got by this point but my contractions weren’t lasting long enough so the midwife brought in some Jasmine as it’s supposed to help prolong contractions. I would say about 10minutes later my lovely little girl was born. I felt immense relief, joy, love and exhaustion. Amabell weighed 6lb 12oz and I managed the birth with no pain killers or gas and air, all down to the focus Hypnobirthing had provided me with, the mind is one powerful tool!

Oh and then my little bundle of joy wee’d on us…lovely end to the story! 🙂

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The Bump to Baby Chapter shared Monet Nicole - Birthing Stories's video.11 hours ago
From even as little as children we begin to build our views on birth. This may be from things we see on the TV or stories from family or friends. Lots of these images are usually negative and associated with pain.

One thing that we do in hypnobirthing is learn why it’s so important to change those views and also how...

One of the ‘hows’ is to expose yourself to positive birth stories and images... This right here is a fine example of one ❤️ that will give you a new focus when you think of birth. The moment when you first set eyes on you baby ✨

https://www.facebook.com/monetnicolebirths/videos/1953110261428286/
The Bump to Baby Chapter
Monet Nicole - Birthing Stories
The day you meet your baby...heaven and earth collide. It's all worth remembering. It's all worth capturing. Registration for my next Birth FILM workshop opens soon! I can't wait for you to join me! https://www.everydayfilmschool.co/the-birth-film-workshop
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