This has got to be one of the biggest highs in life EVER!! Who else can remember those moments after their baby was born? You see this little being that you’ve made and grown for the first time.. you smell her little head, watch her screwed up little face trying to look beyond the swollen nose and eyebrows to work out if your baby looks like Mum or Dad.
The couple of hours after Delphi was born was amazing. We were left in the room in skin to skin, with dim lights just to get to know this brand new baby girl. It was a magical time all round as Rob got his hands on a coffee for the first time that night (it was about 5am!). The midwife threw in some toast too so it was pretty much perfect.
I’m under no illusion that it’s always this magical and always this early. After long births or ones that have had intervention, it can be really overwhelming and tiredness can become all consuming. But there will be a time, maybe a couple of hours later or a couple of days, if baby is in SCBU or if you’re feeling shattered where you can enjoy this time.
I did hypnobirthing with one couple who focussed more on this time than the birth itself. She thought to herself that no matter how Birth happened she wanted to do everything in her power to ensure that she got her “Baby Bubble”. She delayed weighing, wanted dim lights and uninterrupted skin to skin. It’s these moments that you could argue means so much more than the birth itself.
This Golden Hour has so many benefits such as helping with bonding, breastfeeding, helping your baby adapt to life in the big wide world. The rush of love can happen now or it can happen in the next few days, never beat yourself up if this doesn’t happen straight away as birth can be overwhelming.
Any pregnant Mums thought about this time and how you’d like it to be?
What was your first couple of hours like with your baby? Join the conversation here.
Photo creds Chui King Li Photography
This baby here was born ‘en caul’ which means that the baby was born still in its amniotic sac.
This is a fascinating photo and a fascinating (and rare) type of birth for the birth nerds amongst us but there’s 2 other important things to gain from looking at this photo.
1. Opposed to popular belief, this photo is evidence that waters don’t have to pop for you to be in labour. Babies can, in fact, be born with their waters still intact.
2. For most baby’s, they are not swimming in a giant balloon of amniotic fluid. If you look at the top of this baby’s head, the membranes are very close to baby’s head. If you then imagine that baby’s head tightly in a pelvis acting as a plug- you can see why some women second guess themselves on whether baby’s waters have gone or is it just a little bit of pee. Sometimes the waters trickle out, which NEVER happens in the movies, right?! Don’t always expect a flood gate and always call in if you suspect your waters have gone.
Two of my babies have been born with waters still intact when their heads were born. It was like giving birth to a little astronaut 👩🚀
Has anyone got an interesting story to share on their waters breaking?
You can read the comments and join in on the conversation here.
Photo creds @janabrasilfotografia
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 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.
If you want to know about ways to have a great birth, how to stack the odds in your favour to get the birth you want and feel calm in all births then…
You can get all the information from our award-winning hypnobirthing and antenatal classes but from the convenience of your own home on your own time, then you can get our online course.
You can join our Hypnobirthing classes in Cheltenham. We do antenatal classes too in Gloucester and Cheltenham
Check out our series of YouTube videos on how to make your better.
Fayes birth story.
So…. We didn’t have a birth plan we were just happy to go with the flow and it’s a good job we did! My due date had passed, and I was starting to feel a tad inpatient so I had a bath with a ‘sex bomb’ (bath bomb from Lush!) which was recommended to me by a new mummy friend I had made on the Bump to Baby Chapter antenatal course. I even had to go to my mother in law’s for the bath because the previous week I had got stuck in our bath due to the taps being in the middle!!
I was 5 days overdue so my partner and I went out for a thai curry at lunchtime, again in a bid to get things started. By 4pm that day the contractions had started…. 10 minutes apart and not very consistent however it was all starting to happen. My partner went off to five-a-side football at 5.30pm and when he returned at 7.15pm they certainly felt stronger and were more like 7 minutes apart however still not always consistent.
I had a tiring night, however I managed the pain using my hypnobirthing breathing and visualisations, paracetamol and a tens machine. Sleep was tricky though because well… I was a tad uncomfortable and I was needing to time my contractions. By 4.30am the following day it was time for us to make our way to the birth unit at Gloucester Royal, things seemed more consistent and my pyjamas bottoms suddenly appeared wet! My partner drove us to the hospital saying ‘this is it!’, it reminded me of that early morning trip to the airport when you are feeling a mixture of excited and nervous!!
We arrived at the birth unit and after being assessed I was advised I was 3cm dilated and only part of my waters had broken, therefore diamorphine was recommended to me so that I could rest and catch up on some sleep for the day that was ahead of me. They also started me on some IV antibiotics because I had Group B strep.
Several hours passed, my waters hadn’t broken naturally, I felt super relaxed and drowsy and I hadn’t dilated anymore. I felt at this point a little frustrated and waved goodbye to any hope of a water birth because I needed to be looked after in the delivery suite and have the rest of my waters broken. It was at this point that I was started on the hormone drip to try and increase the intensity and frequency of the contractions (or so I thought this was).
The level of hormone drip changed throughout the day, and by 10pm that evening I was 6cm dilated, this felt so wrong to both my partner and I at the time after such a long day. However, earlier that night we had a wonderful surprise when Beth came on shift and was assigned as our midwife. Seeing a friendly face was just the best we could have hoped for and my partner was pleased because he could straight talk with Beth! I was shattered and was only using gas and air as pain relief, otherwise I was managing with my hypnobirthing techniques. I remember feeling really quite insular and just focussing in on my breathing. A cesarean was offered and discussed at 11pm however we declined this suggestion on the basis that I didn’t want the recovery afterwards. Albeit, I was very tempted and did ask whether they could guarantee our baby would be born in the next hour so that it’s birthday could be the 16th of the month the same as her dad- barmy I know!! My partner laughed at this reasoning, in my head it was justified given the day I had experienced! Instead we were advised the hormone drip would be increased and we would be assessed again in 2 hours.
Those two hours I remember being really tough, however both Beth and my partner were very supportive and I remember them both being really positive. Finally, at about 1.30am I was more or less fully dilated, however (there are lots of ‘howevers‘ in this story!!), our baby’s head was facing 10 o’clock as opposed to 6 o’clock and therefore I needed some help from a doctor to move baby into a more optimum position for birth. I have also learned since that her heart rate was also creating an odd pattern and I wasn’t in any fit state to take instructions on how to push because I was attached to the gas and air for comfort and was exhausted! Therefore, the next part of the story involved signing a consent form and going to theatre. The two options I had were forceps and C section- both of which I had prayed I wouldn’t need so I remember feeling like a failure. Given our feelings about the recovery after a C section, we opted for forceps first.
I recollect being in theatre feeling like I was on Holby City- surrounded by lights, legs in stirrups and lots of clinicians around me including an anaesthetist trying to get a spinal block into my back however I couldn’t sit still due to the contractions. I recall him getting more and more cross and frustrated with the situation and perhaps me due to my lack of cooperation (not on purpose I might add!!). Once the spinal block was in, the process started and the one doctor could not turn her head, nevertheless I was lucky enough that another doctor was available to try. She was successful, however our little baby turned back! At this point, I remember Beth saying ‘you are definitely having a girl because she is being a right diva!’ this made me smile because we didn’t know at this point what we were having. The same doctor managed to turn her again and very much gave the impression that this was my opportunity to push my baby out. Beth was monitoring the baby’s heart rate and feeling my tummy for contractions, when a contraction came I was supported, encouraged and motivated to push as hard as I could three times. I am pretty sure after 3 lots of 3 pushes our baby was born! Forceps were used to help direct her out and I had an episiotomy.
Beth told us we had a baby girl and I was ecstatic because my partner already had a boy so I secretly hoped for a girl! Unfortunately, she was born very startled and with a slightly disfigured chest so was whisked off to the corner of the room for checks. My partner recalls how anxious he felt at this time, nevertheless within 15 minutes of being checked over by the doctors, her chest had recovered and all was good in the world. Well for her anyway… I on the other hand was still lay on my back, legs in stirrups feeling quite uncomfortable whilst the doctors manually removed my placenta which got a little stuck, hence my 1.7 litre blood loss. Due to this loss I started to feel more and more unwell- shaky and sick. By now, our baby girl was in my partner’s arms having lots of lovely cuddles and I couldn’t control my shakes whilst in recovery so had to opt for looking at her and stroking her hand for the first hour and a half of her life. Once I felt better I made up for it with some skin to skin contact and a good feed. Holding her for the first time was just the best medicine for feeling better and this is how I have decided to remember her birth.