The birth of Jasmine- A homebirth by Nicki Ryder

Birth StoriesThe Great British Birth Off

I had my first baby 10 years ago and the whole experience was so traumatising that I vowed that if I ever had another baby, I was going to be one of those ‘too-posh-to-push’ mums and have baby extracted via the sunroof. I went into the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, where we lived at the time, at 4am. At 7am, I was put on a drip to speed up contractions. My contractions sped up too much so I had NO respite between them and I’m also told that I’m one of the small percentage of women that the epidural doesn’t work on – how marvellous! To speed up this birthing story, I told them baby was stuck, they disagreed, I refused to push, the registrar came in and said, “baby’s stuck get her into theatre,” I had a spinal block, baby was born at 9.30pm. I also sprained my coccyx which took nearly a year to heal. Ugh! What an experience. BUT Olivia was just perfect in every single way and of course, totally worth it!

I met my now husband, James, in 2009. We got married in May 2015 and I was pregnant by August. We were absolutely over the moon. This time, I decided that I was going to completely embrace being pregnant; I was going to look after myself, carry on working out and contrary to the first sentence of this post, I was going to plan to give birth naturally BUT I was going to do something about the fear I still held onto and decided to enrol hubby and me onto a hypnobirthing course.


The hypnobirthing course was fab and made it real for James too. I wasn’t overly convinced by the ‘no pain’ ethos but I was totally bought into all of the breathing techniques and the course was worth it just for those. It was also worth it because our tutor empowered us to ask the right questions with the medical staff looking after us. For example, during my first labour, I would have asked them why they needed to intervene and speed up my contractions when I had been getting on just fine? As a result of the course, I also decided on a homebirth… yes, away from all the medical intervention, surgeons and drugs! We moved to Cheltenham from Berkshire when I was 8 months pregnant and I immediately noticed how amazing the midwifery care was here compared to where I had moved from. My desire to have a homebirth and use hypnobirthing terminology, like saying “surge” instead of “contraction,” was fully supported. I felt excited about the impending arrival of our second baby girl!

We got the spare bedroom ready for the birth and 3 days after my due date, I started feeling tightening in tummy. I went to sleep that night and woke up to the same tightening. I had breakfast and decided to take a warm bubble bath. Whilst in the bath, the tightening felt stronger and I felt I had to breathe through it. I called Cheltenham birthing centre and had to stop talking when another ‘surge’ came – the lovely lady said, “If you couldn’t talk just then, you’re in labour my love.” I put on the music that I’d listened to during the hypnobirthing relaxation sessions and sat on a swiss ball, gently bouncing. The first midwife arrived at about 10am and asked me if I wanted her to check how things were progressing. I said yes and found out that I was already 6 to 7cm dilated. The surges started to come in stronger and I used my breathing techniques to breathe through them. I wouldn’t say they were pain free, far from it, but the breathing really did help. I buried my head in hubby’s neck which I found really comforting and hubby didn’t speak… also comforting. 😉 Two more midwives arrived and they were all fantastic – kind, patient, friendly, chatty – everything I could have wished for. I got to 10cm dilated with no pain relief but it was becoming unbearable so I asked for the gas and air. My water’s still hadn’t broken and I didn’t really feel the need to push but they told me to start pushing. I felt exhausted and just wanted to sleep. I felt like I had nothing left in me. I then heard the midwives saying that they were calling for an ambulance as the baby’s heart rate wasn’t recovering quickly enough between surges. I remember lying there thinking, “Wait a minute. If an ambulance comes, I’m going to have to get downstairs (there’s no way I could have walked), get into the ambulance, travel to Gloucester hospital – all the while with no pain relief – and our baby was going to be pulled out with forceps or worse, I was going to end up having a C-section.” Within seconds of hearing this, I put my chin to my chest, closed my eyes, breathed down and gave it everything I had. Before I knew it, I heard the midwives saying, “Cancel the ambulance, the baby’s coming!” And come she did at 1.19pm – my waters broke as she arrived! Gosh the relief was dizzying and I was ecstatic that baby girl and I had made it. We left the umbilical cord pulsing for nearly 30 minutes before James cut it and I delivered the placenta naturally too. The midwives stayed for nearly 2 hours after the birth and left me, James, baby Jasmine and the room I’d given birth in, all clean, fresh and ready to start our new adventure together. We relocated to our bedroom and ordered Chinese takeaway at 6pm. Hands down the most delicious meal I’ve ever eaten!

If you’re low risk, I can’t recommend a homebirth more. Not having to worry about when you can or can’t go into a hospital was brilliant and I genuinely felt excited about being at home, amongst our things. When friends come to stay, I love saying, “I gave birth to Jasmine in the room you’re staying in.” ☺


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Don’t wash your newborn

NewbornTop 5 Tips


My first tip in bathing your newborn is DONT. Unless you have a worse than usual poonami situation going on then it’s not necessary in the first week. A good old ‘Top ’n’ Tail’ will do. Here’s why…


That icky, cheesey white coating that they are covered with is called ‘vernix’ if I could bottle it up and sell it as a moisturiser I could quit my job as Midwife now. It is a natural moisturiser and forms a barrier on the skin to protect against infection. So as tempting as it is don’t wash it off.


Newborns struggle to regulate their body temperature. Have you ever seen a baby with goose pimples when they are cold? When a baby is cold they use their (brown) fat stores to heat themselves. Some baby’s have less brown fat than others, especially if your baby was born early or was a low birthweight. Exposing a newborn to water will cause heat to evaporate off their body making them cold.


Due to the way babies are still in the fetal position in the early days, it makes it harder to dry a baby properly. This can cause infection in hard to reach places such as their armpits, and their umbilical cord.




After the first week or for those who have their new Shnuggle bath and just can’t wait to use it here are my top tips on bathing a newborn…



Definitely leave bathing for at least 24 hours to give the vernix the chance to be absorbed.


Fill the bath to its max level with cool boiled water. Check temp with your elbow, it shouldn’t feel too hot or too cold.


Preparation is key to success. Get everything ready, cotton wool, towels, clothes and nappy.


Hold off the products for the first few weeks. Yes they smell yummy but anything other than water upsets the pH balance on their skin.


Face first. We are a cotton wool companies dream as we say say one piece per wipe. So wipe the eye from inner eye to outer, then get another piece whether you are doing a different eye or the same. One wool for one wipe. Prevents against infection. Then dry baby’s face.


Put them in the bath for a short amount of time, a couple of minutes is plenty.


Make sure baby is dry paying particular attention to any crevices; under the neck, armpits, groin and the umbilical cord. Bacteria likes wet, dark places.


Get them dressed, swaddle in a towel then if needed, cradle them over the bath supporting their head and neck to wash their hair. This way they are not losing so much heat from both their head and body being exposed at the same time. Towel dry their head/hair, again to avoid losing heat.


Then give your baby a big shnuggle as they probably cried a lot!

Get your partner or hubby to take some snaps as you enjoy the precious first time bath and tag us with #bathtimeshnuggle for your chance to win a Shnuggle bath and more for your baby. For more details on the competition or to see that gallery then click here.


Top 5 Tips- SURVIVAL

Top 5 Tips

Survival Tips for Expectant/New Parents


  1. Fill your freezer

Any time in pregnancy you cook a lasagne, bolognese or coq au vin (if you’re a Nigella in the kitchen) then cook a bit extra for the freezer. You will appreciate it in those early days where cooking may not be on your baby’s agenda.


  1. Changing station in every room

I don’t mean purchase a whopping changing table for every room but if you could stash some nappy’s, wipes, a muslim and some breast pads maybe in a basket or small box for most lived in rooms (such as nursery, your bedroom and the lounge) it saves you leaving the baby unattended whilst ruuning upstairs. Or worse still carrying a baby with poo all up her back upstairs to locate your changing stash, meanwhile baby poo is being squelched into your favourite new top pyjamas.


  1. Practise your ‘Thanks I will take that on board” face

Everyone including your friends, family, postman and Joe Blogg’s Nan will want to give you advice on how you should feed, deliver and name your baby. Yes your mother and grandmother have done it before but that was 20, 40 or 60 years ago. Times have changed, fashions have changed and so have evidence and professional advice. Take what they say, smile, say thanks and then scream into a pillow when you get home.

  • Same goes for a negative birth story.

Everyone is so quick to tell a pregnant lady their traumatic birth experience. Yet what they fail to mention is the absolute love and delight they feel when their baby is put into their arms. Not only that but they have gone on to have a couple of other children since so even though they may be trying to put you off, they would do it all again in a flash.


  1. Adopt the 5 S’s into your life with a newborn

The fourth trimester is a period of 12 weeks where your baby is getting used to life on the outside world. The way to make this easier is to mimic life in the womb, especially when your baby is unsettled.

Swaddle, Sway (or Sling), Suck, Ssssshh, Skin to Skin. These top tips deserve a post on their own so more on this next week.


  1. Don’t be afraid to say no to visitors

Your baby needs you in those early days and needs you well and rested. Don’t be afraid to tell well wishing friends and relatives that you are not having visitors today/this week. It gives you time to establish feeding, for you and your partner to bond with your baby and for your new family to find your feet and adapt to life with your new baby.

Birth Story – Alexis

Birth StoriesThe Great British Birth Off


I have now experienced 3 incredible births – all completely different but all overwhelmingly joyous. Without a doubt the 3 best days of my life. I was thinking about which birth to talk about for the Great British Birth off, and decided that as it was world mental health day 2016 this week, I would discuss my 3rd pregnancy and birth. My 3rd pregnancy began as usual, Dan and I had a suspicion and as I was a bridesmaid at my cousins wedding (where there was an open bar) we thought we should check and there they were, two faint pink lines, the very start of Wilfred’s life. We were over the moon as always planned for 3.

The pregnancy continued as usual until week 22 when I started feeling very anxious for no reason. As the days went on I found myself obsessing about the mortality of my family. I’d lost my beloved dad to cancer 6 years prior to this pregnancy and the image of him ill at the end of his life just kept replaying. I was constantly thinking my husband or other 2 children were going to get dangerously ill as well and I could do nothing about it. I felt in fear constantly that I was going crazy and could not sit still or sleep or eat for worry. The whole experience was hideous. Dan said it was like I’d become a ghost. The midwife in me knew that something was seriously wrong and I decided I needed help. I contacted my midwife and she referred me to the mental health team to be assessed – I was diagnosed with antenatal anxiety and depression.  It all suddenly made sense. We did not know why pregnancy had triggered this, my first two pregnancies had been plain sailing. It may have been chemical or hormonal but for whatever reason my adrenaline levels where sky high. I saw a private therapist and started a cbt course. It’s a long story but in short after 12 weeks and a heap of amazing support I was climbing out of that dark frightening hole. The rest of my pregnancy was as normal with check ins with the mental health team.
On my due date, the 7th of April 2016, I went into labour, gently and calmly. I had no fear at all, I just felt love and joy for the arrival of this baby that had already been through so much with me. I had a beautiful water birth an hour and a half after presenting at the hospital and I cried my eyes out at the love I instantly felt after the hideous antenatal anxiety and depression I had experienced. Wilfred is a total joy and I’m so blessed to have him in my life.
Alexis Stickland
Mother and Candid Midwife.

Bath time Shnuggle


Being mothers to 6 children between us, here at The Bump to Baby Chapter we are not ones to shy away from an excellent baby product when we see one. We have teamed up with the genius creators of the Shnuggle bath for this competition. We have also hand picked our selection of our favourite bath time products from what we think are the best on the market.

All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning this dreamy bath time selection is to take a snap of your baby’s bath time. It could be a precious first time bath moment, your baby splashing about in their very own Shnuggle bath or just your baby wrapped up in their favourite bath robe.

Mums-to-be don’t let these babies have all the fun. You can snap your own bubbly bath to be in with a chance to win these bath time goodies for your baby.

All photos will be put up in a gallery below.

To enter you can either tag us The Bump to Baby Chapter with #bathtimeshnuggle on Instagram or Facebook.

Or send in your photos to

Get your Shnuggle on and get Shnapping!

The competition will run until the end of October 2016. The winner will be contacted by 5th Novemeber 2016. By entering the competition you agree to us The Bump to Baby Chapter, Shnuggle and the other companies involved in the prize to use the pictures for social media or on their website.


Looking after your bump and baby- Neal’s Yard Products

I’ve always loved a good product, discovering something new, glossy advertising and good packaging and when it came to products for my first pregnancy and baby, I was the same.
I was gifted well known pregnancy products to help with stretch marks and recommended products to use on my baby, the same that I saw heavily advertised telling me they were ideal to use on my precious baby.
But, somehow, instinctively, I knew they weren’t quite right. I resisted using much on my bump and the same when my baby came. I’d picked out some ‘natural’ looking products but seemed to be happier using Coconut Oil on my little one.
When he was around 9 months old, I found out I could work for myself with Neal’s Yard Remedies. I’d always liked the brand and ethics and this was an ideal opportunity for me to not return to work and be will my little boy (knowing I wanted more babies too!)
It was learning about organic products with NYR that I started to really question what was in the products I was being ‘sold’ in glossy magazines and on TV. Were they really that good for you. Some might say they’re ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ but the industry isn’t regulated so companies can say this even if a product uses only 1% organic or natural ingredients. It doesn’t matter what the rest of it is made up of.
If what we put on our skin, is being absorbed, surely we want that to be as natural and good for us as it can be. NYR use a ‘Precautionary Principle’, avoiding any ingredients that are potentially harmful to us or the environment, that makes sense to me. I know now to look out for the Soil Association logo, then you know it truly is organic and free from nasties.

A new baby is small and delicate (some not so small and delicate!) so we only want to be washing, massaging, protecting their skin with products that are good for them, keeping their natural balance, not sensitising them with synthetic fragrances, foaming agents or becoming reliant on products that create barriers. Many friends with little ones the same age as my son were starting to see signs of eczema so were asking for ideas, it was great to be able to recommend products that I could trust and hear how their babies skin were starting to heal and rebalance.
I learnt about some of the ingredients that are in the baby wipes we all rely on so much. Even the ‘sensitive’ ones. The preservatives used that you’re then wiping on to your baby each day, multiple times. It made sense to avoid them. So I switched to Water Wipes. No long list of ingredients, just water and a drop of grapefruit seed extract. You can bulk buy and they last for ages!
I love being able to recommend products to other Mum’s now. We only ever really need a few things. NYR Baby Balm is my top product. It’s 100% organic, fragrance free with Shea Butter and botanical oils, ideal for baby’s face, body or bottom and can use from day one (plus it’s great at removing your make up if like me you sometimes just need a quick fix, I often pinch a bit at bath time). When you’re ready to use a little something in the bath and for washing hair, there’s the NYR Baby Bath & Shampoo, with Chamomile & Lavender. These would be the two products I’d recommend for a baby that started showing signs of eczema and if you like a barrier type cream too, there’s the NYR Baby Barrier Cream with organic beeswax and calming Chamomile essential oils, and really that’s all you need.

If you like to massage your baby there’s a Baby Massage Oil with Chamomile, Rose Otto and Lavender and there’s our fragrance-free Baby Soap for those who like a soap (also great for those with sensitive/sore hands).
Now that I’m expecting my next baby (due Spring 2017) I’m looking forward to treating my belly. It might need a bit more care and attention, people have warned me I’ll be bigger this time! So I’ll enjoy massaging in our Mother’s Balm and Mother’s Massage Oil and already love popping some drops of Mother’s Oil in the bath (which I’m treating myself to these days as I know they’ll become even less than they are now once baby arrives!)
You hear lots of advice when you’re expecting your first baby so it’s good to know that there are products you can trust and know that they’re good for you, your baby and the environment. All products I’ve mentioned can be found and ordered here (or contact me to order and I’ll pop in some extra bits and deliver for free)…
You may even be gifted some NYR products, but I often hear people say they’ve not opened them and are keeping them as treats. So my recommendation is, open them, use them and enjoy them, knowing they’re good for you and your little one.
If you’d like to try any NYR products for your baby, your bump or a treat for yourself (there’s lots of lovely skincare and aromatherapy products) please get in touch, I’m happy to send samples or pop to see you. And if you’d like to know about working for yourself with NYR and help raise awareness of organic and ethical products, just ask and we can chat. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made so it’s always nice to welcome others.
Katie Chapman
NYR Organic Group Leader

Pearls Birth Story

Birth StoriesThe Great British Birth Off

I am honoured to have been asked by midwife Beth from @thebumptobabychapter to share my birth story.

Worried that I might only remember the terrific and terrifying bits, I put on my birthing playlist to try to bring back the little details. And WHOOOSH, just like a cinematic splash of exaggerated waters breaking, they all came flooding back.

May 1st 2015 (40weeks +8days).

  • Nothing is working. I’ve hardly left the house for days, and Googled every possible way to make this baby come. I’m COOKED. Let’s crack on with life as normal. Heck, let’s go view a property in Axbridge!
  • “Do you have any paperwork on recent essential works?” I ask the estate agent through gritted teeth, wondering whether he has noticed the TENS machine strapped to my trousers.
  • Enjoying a pub roast dinner but wishing the carpet wasn’t so sticky for wanting to lie on the floor. Turning the TENS machine up.
  • Stopping by a friend’s house for a nightcap and grumbling about how standing and sitting are both intolerable- she kindly goes hunting for a yoga ball for me to sit on.
  • Laughing over the absurd comment “Who knows, maybe you are in labor!”.. ha ha ha. HA. HA.


  • On the journey home I am noticing for the first time just how annoying the sound of my husband’s breathing is. Please, just, STOP all that inhaling. Hovering above the passenger’s seat instead of actually sitting on it, because for some reason that feels better.
  • We are climbing into bed and I am trying not to mention the pain, only because I have feigned labor about 140 times in the last three weeks. The hospital bag has been packed for the best part of four months and I’ve been sleeping on a crunchy absorbent hospital mat since the day I was told the sad story of a brand new Tempur-pedic mattress being ruined by amniotic fluid.
  • I’ve been a little bit excited for this.


  • Let’s not cry wolf again, but just to be sure… I roll over to my side and set a timer.
  • Contractions are three minutes apart. Lasting over a minute.
  • The drive into Bristol from our peaceful seaside town has never felt more oppressive. The lights hurt my brain; other cars feel like enemies, I am starting to feel out of control.
  • We arrive at the hospital and everyone around me is so normal, asking questions like “How is your evening going?” and “Why don’t you just pop on down the corridor” (the corridor, by the way, is SO LONG. I drag myself along the walls like an agonized snail, TENS cables trailing behind me).
  • I am truly in pain now… do they believe me?
  • Such luck, a birthing suite is available. And it is lovely. Low lighting, a pool, yoga balls, mats, and lots of space for active labor. I absorb this sight with gratitude, for a flickering moment, before the feeling of overwhelm pushes aside my awareness once again. I am sick all over the floor.
  • Rachael the midwife informs me that I am only 2cm dilated. “It could be a long while yet”, she says. “Would you like to go home and maybe come back a bit later?”. I check in with my body, the answer is a resounding NO. DO. NOT. LEAVE.

(Dear expectant mothers, I’m going to be honest here about my pain, I’m truly sorry.)

  • As time creeps on, the pain starts to engulf me. My prenatal yoga and mindfulness practices are being hurled out the window like apple cores and banana peels on a bushy country lane. I am clutching on to the side of the bed with blanched knuckles and a genuine fear that something is terribly wrong.

(My birth plan was for a natural water birth with gas and air if needed.  At this point, however, I would have probably accepted anything.)

  • I plead for gas and air. “You are very early on, my dear” says the midwife (who despite being lovely and highly proficient at her job was making me want to scream at this precise moment). “If you have it now” she says, “you might have little to fall back on when things gets worse”.
  • …THINGS GET WORSE!?!?!?!?!?!
  • “You could easily have another 10-12 hours before giving birth, perhaps you could consider Pethidine?”

(Cue magic husband moment- I will never stop thanking him for this splendid suggestion)

  • “Do you mind checking her dilation again?” he asks, trying to remain calm but visibly shaking.
  • The midwife is understandably reluctant, explaining that it has only been an hour since I have last been checked, and that sometimes it can be disheartening to check too often and find very little progress.
  • Husband insists. I nod fervently.
  • I am over 8 cm dilated. For a very brief moment, I see the white around the midwives eyes. This is unexpectedly quick, for a first birth especially. Within seconds I am clutching a mouthpiece and vaguely aware of bathwater gushing on full blast in the background.

(The gas and air helped an incredible amount, by the way. The feeling of stabbing knives subsided into spoons, giving me an immediate understanding of the phrase “to take the edge off”.  It also helped draw awareness to my breath.)

  • I can do this. Breathe.
  • And then my birthing story takes a turn for the glorious. I descend my surging belly into the bath and the warmth surrounds me like my own mothers embrace. I instantly feel my muscles ease and my breath slow. I want to cry with relief.
  • “Thank you” I mouth to my husband and to the midwife, the first nice words I have said since arriving. Alabama Shakes “Hold on” whirrs from my birthing playlist and my head finds a soft place on the edge of the bath.
  • I finally feel in tune with my body. I am aware of my contractions, and am pushing gently alongside them. Between the surges I am listening: to my favorite songs, my own heartbeat, and the breaths of my husband alongside my neck (admittedly much less irritating than they had been in the car journey 5 hours earlier.).
  • An entire three minutes passes between the birth of my little boys head and the rest of his body; a calm haitus of time spent stroking his hair underwater, my eyes locked with those of my husband.


Those three little minutes, our first of parenthood, now make for an astonishingly beautiful memory for me. A marital moment of silence and gratitude, burst by the shrill cries of  our very own newborn.

I will always be grateful to the water for giving me back my breath, the midwife for allowing us these moments, and to my husband for speaking up for me when I had lost the ability to do so. I will however, never forgive him for secretly filming the entire thing, MUCH to my surprise.

Baby Finley Charles (a.k.a Weasly Bear) was born at 3:52am on May 2nd.  Life has been bursting since.

The estate agent called in the morning to see what our thoughts had been overnight with regards to the property in Axbridge.

Never have we cared less about anything in the entire world.  ♥



Pearl is the founder of Miraculous Mums. Miraculous Mums is a new project to celebrate everyday mothers: the neglected-to-wear-sunscreen-but-smothered-the-kids-with-it-ten-time mums; the mums who give their all to their children yet still, at times, doubt their own motherly aptitude.

Pearl (writer/failing toddler tamer) has started the project to promote honest motherhood and spread kudos and kindness.

Follow on Facebook or Instagram to meet our mums, laugh alongside them, or nominate your very own Miraculous Mum of the week.


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The Bump to Baby Chapter

Winner of 🌟The Best Pregnancy Support Service in Gloucestershire 2017🌟, The Bump to Baby Chapter has something for everyone. 🌟For expectant couple wanting to know all you need to know about labour, baby and those early days we have midwife led antenatal courses. 🌟For a second or third time mother wanting to birth without fear after a negative birth experience. There’s hypnobirthing one day classes for the busy Mum. 🌟Free blogs with tips on birth and baby for all 🌟Buggy walks in Cheltenham for new mothers to bring the sisterhood in motherhood. So whatever stage of pregnancy and whatever number baby have a look at the page, website and get involved 🌟
The Bump to Baby Chapter
The Bump to Baby Chapter
I’ve cancelled most plans this week thinking that labour was happening. Each day with my start/stop contractions/braxton hicks I’ve been so sure that this was it. So I’ve stayed home, bounced on my ball, drinking my raspberry leaf tea and smothering myself with clary sage thinking ‘yesss 🙌🏼 early labour’ LIKE THE MUG THAT I AM! This baby is already making a fool out of me!

Today however, was different. I did not sit and wait around, contractions or no contractions. I got up, put my make up on, got dressed and went for lunch and have felt so much better for it. It also meant that Nancy got to spend a bit of time with her new boyf Grayson.

I know early labour can be like this and it’s normal. At TBTBC antenatal classes and hypnobirthing we always say how this bit can take a couple of days, sometimes a week with irregular contractions. And we always say that the worst thing to do is to stay at home and wait for them to become regular 🤦🏼‍♀️. Normal is one thing though and liking it is something totally different. Today though, thanks to these two little sweethearts, was a good day.

What were your experiences of early labour?
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