2019 was my third year doing The Bump to Baby Chapter and it was a wild one. Wild like in this above photo wild, surviving the nights, managing 2 young children at home, writing blogs and scheduling emails at 2am with a baby on my boob, or walking around with her on my shoulder whilst teaching an antenatal session… you see, wild!!! The groups who I have taken Delphi to when she was just 6 weeks old and those who I was pregnant when teaching to those who were due the same time as me, will always be a memorable part of my life. You see TBTBC is a massive part of my life and sometimes this year, my mama life and my TBTBC life had to merge in more ways than I was use to.
Despite this or, maybe, because of this, it has been the best year yet. We’ve grown our community of new Mums and Dads, started new things and made some wonderful friends along the way.
So other than getting a newborn to sleep with a 3 year old in the house, here are some of the (less astounding) achievements of 2019.
1. How can I not start with welcoming baby Delphi into the world- my fourth and last baby. Her birth was amazing, like super amazing. Not because it was free from challenges but because I just felt so calm and in control of my choices throughout pregnancy and my birth. As well as a beautiful baby and a family that is now completed, I also got some incredible birth photos too thanks to Chui King Li. I’d recommend to anyone to take photos of your birth.
2. Speaking of new editions… we’ve welcomed 5 new midwives to the team this year to cover my maternity leave. That’s Mia, Bunty, Hannah, Sue and Oli who have been amazing this past year. I would not have.been able to keep a family of 4 children a float and TBTBC alive without you wonderful midwives keeping the ball rolling. And of course, Debbie, who is always keeping the plates behind the scenes spinning.
3. With new midwives comes new possibilities…. We’ve branched out to The Roastery in Quedgeley and Jacks Cirencester this year. Meaning that we are now spreading all our midwifey knowledge and helping parents further afield to get prepared for birth and their baby. This makes me want to do a little happy dance 💃🏼
4. Speaking of further afield… We have now launched an online course which means that women all over the world can feel better prepared for what to expect in labour and what to do to stack the odds in their favour to get a great birth. This course has been purchased across the globe (insane I know 😳) in Hong Kong, Australia and the USA. 🤯
5. The launch of the post natal courses. Some amazing things have come from these courses like the awareness created for PND from mother Laura. The amazing work of Helen who is a sleep wizard and Olivia, a cranial osteopath who helps a lot with baby’s that are struggling with the adaption to the outside world. Both Helen and Olivia have taught me and lots of mamas this year so much about babies. Like why they don’t sleep and reasons why they might’be colicky/Refluxey. I can’t wait to continue these courses into 2020.
6. Lastly is the blog, whilst it hasn’t been as active as I would have wanted- the blog is often the plate that comes crashing to the ground- it has had over 35,000 visits this year from readers across the globe. Educating mamas on pregnancy, birth and the newborn time was my goal when I started this little venture, and thanks to this little blog I’ve managed to reach more than I could have ever managed. We have also landed ourselves in the Top 10 UK Midwife Blogs too which is amazing.
I really couldn’t have survived this year without having such an incredible team – the midwives, Debbie and our lovely venue owners. Most importantly though, thank you to all those who have come to an antenatal class or hypnobirthing day with us. Thanks to those who have purchased an online course, who have wrote a blog for the site or came to a buggy walk. Thanks to those who have shared a post, commented or told a friend about us. You guys keep the cogs on turning over here as the community that you create is so uplifting, supportive and empowering 💥 👊🏼🙌🏼💥👊🏼🌟💥 so THANK YOU for supporting me so that I can keep on supporting you ❤️😘
Happy New Year to you all … now let’s have a drink 🥂
If you’re a pregnant mama and want to get involved in our Great Big Bump to Baby Chapter community then head over to the website for how.
Everyone has their sayings that they repeat in their head when they need a little pick me up. It might be a, “ Come on… You’ve got this!” before you stand in front of your team to do a presentation at work or “Stay calm, stay calm.” when you’re driving in the car and some douchebag has pulled out in front of you.
It’s commonly seen amongst sportsmen and women where they shout, “Come on! Come on!” when they are walking on pitch or warming up. We see it as patching themselves up but they’re actually just telling themselves to come on. They’re telling themselves that they can do this and they have got this.
It’s the phrase that you remind yourself when you want to behave in a certain way. Now, often these phrases are so engrained in us that we now don’t even see it as an “affirmation” as that’s just SOOOOO hippy. They are phrases that are so engrained in us that t’s just something we say or do. And this kind of familiarity is what we want to achieve in pregnancy through birth affirmations.
In labour, during contractions, there will be times where they are so intense that you will feel like you can’t do it any longer. Now, if you have been practising your birth affirmations throughout pregnancy then it will be at this point where you might start repeating over in your head, “I can do anything for 60seconds, I can do anything for 60 seconds, I can do anything for 60seconds.” (FYI – 60 secs is about how long a contraction lasts). You will say it till you believe it to be true. This is easier to do if you have read them to yourself every day or couple of days in the build up to your labour. It will be even more helpful if your partner knows them too as these phrases can then be reminded to you when you need a pep talk in labour.
I don’t know if this was the result of too much gas and air at this point or one of Robs cracking jokes but either way it looks like we’re having a grand old time! Anyone who’s been through labour knows that it’s not all shits and giggles, but a solid birth partner that can bring the funnies goes a long way for those oxytocin levels.
So to all the birth partners out there, who don’t just want to be sat in the corner with their popcorn, remember you’ll be the biggest source of oxytocin in that birth room. Never underestimate your role 💪🏻✨
You may be surprised to know that this is all part of hypnobirthing. It’s not all relaxation and breathing, it’s about learning ways to make you feel great during labour. For me that was this man right there ❤️ some gas and air 👌🏼 and I was on to a winner.
Did you have an awesome birth partner at your birth? What did you find most helpful?
One thing I do quite regularly to check in on myself is think in years to come … what will I look back on this time and think of. On the more morbid days I think on my death bed, what will flash before my eyes. (Heavy for a Friday morning I know!) More often than not for me it’s to do with how much time I spend on TBTBC vs. my family time. A never ending battle for most working mothers I’m sure.
One specific time though, when this deathbed tactic massively helped me was when I was considering getting a birth photographer for my fourth baby. I nearly didn’t do it as I was nervous that some of the other midwives wouldn’t get it. I felt extremely diva ish 💁🏼♀️ rocking up to my birth (the place where I will be going back to work!) with a photographer. An imagined fear of being judged. I nearly didn’t do it as Rob openly didn’t get it, he thought I was weird 😆. Anyway, I obviously checked in on myself and thought of myself in my elderly years and knew that the captures of one (of four) of the greatest moments of my life would be far greater than any judgement I would get from anyone else. So I did it, and now thanks to Chui King Li I have one of my greatest achievements in life to look on (which I do on the regs) and cherish for ever. The only regret I have is not doing it with all of them!!
Anyway, my point of this story is that birth matters. The reason why I like looking back on my photos so much was because that day mattered. I brought my baby girl into this world on that day. It was an incredible day. Birth is not just a means to an end. It’s the mark of the end of a pregnancy and the start of being a mother. It’s just as, if not more important as your wedding day that you spend thousands of pounds on and months sometimes years of prepping. In years to come it will be a day that you will remember, you will want to share what happened with your children just as your own mother tells you. Why do you think mothers tell their birth stories so much when they’re together… because it’s important to them. How they felt on that day is important to them. When you’re elderly you will remember your birth and how it made you feel more so than the colour fabric of your baby’s pram or the colour of the walls in the nursery or their first outfit.
Birth is so much more than one day. Birth matters.
Arguably one of the best jobs in the world, sitting here now I actually can’t think of a single jobthat 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,butbe 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 initselfis atestimentto 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 towheremy love forit first began,those8 years ago.
I will never forget the first time. It was with acouple whowere 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 washighon 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 midwifebelievedthat 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 Ihad just seen and withoutrealisingtears 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 hadtonnesof love for.
After a few minutes had gone by the midwifesaid, “Awwlook, 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!
Wekeep Mum and baby’s safety at the forefront but alongside this themidwifehas many roles, mascara wiper, hairtyer,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)
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 🌟
Some days the let down reflux doesn’t play the game... and some days you just get a whole lot more than you asked for 😆 💦 👶🏼
It was 7am this morning, after a night shift. I usually feed Delphi overnight so my boobs were, needless to say, FULL. I had nothing more to do during my shift, no more “tasks” no more writing in the notes, everyone was happy and the night had gone well. I was chatting to this new Mum and her 1 day old baby started to cry, watching his little fingers move around and root around like a little bird looking to feed was just too cute 🥰 My head went immediately back to my little baby as I thought how this was her just a year ago looking so tiny in the clear hospital crib.
Meanwhile... low and behold... my right boob was also thinking the same as the let down reflex kicked in and I popped my hand up to feel, you guesssed it, a leaky boob. I folded my arms to cover it, said my goodbyes and went to the toilet to shove some tissue down my bra like my Year 7 ‘desperate to grow a pair’ self. 🍉
So the let down reflex ...
Def: When your boobs decide to release your milk.
🍉 Happens when oxytocin is high- think skin to skin, smelling your baby’s head, when your baby lets out a cry, when you see your baby rooting around for a feed.
🍉 It’s back to the old oxytocin vs adrenaline play off again, so if you’re feeling stressed or busy, your let down reflex can be slow or inhibited. For example, if your baby has been crying for a while and/or if your baby is struggling to latch on and you’re feeling the pressure. This can reduce your milk coming.
In my case, my boobs didn’t leak all night because I was busy. The minute I stopped, felt chilled and thought of my baby ... 🥛 💦
What you can take from this...
🥛 If you’re feeling stressed when feeding your baby then take 5 ⏰. It will be easier for everyone if you pass baby to Dad, go and make a brew then come back and start again.
💦 Anything that increases your oxytocin is good for milk supply. In the early hours/days with your baby it is soooo important that you have plenty of skin to skin with your baby. In the first 24 hours especially, it is more beneficial that your baby has done lots of skin to skin and you’ve been with your baby than how much colostrum your baby has actually had. Plenty of skin to skin in the early days will be great for your milk supply in the up and coming days.
🥛 Breast pads are a must. You may find that when you’re out and about with your baby in the weeks/months after baby then sometimes even the sound of someone else’s baby crying can start your let down reflex.
Anyone got any experiences to share about the let down reflex?
Breastfeeding as well as formula, bottle and combi feeding is something that we always cover at antenatal with our lactation expert and midwife, Sue.