The birth of my 2nd child and reason why I am a Doula

Daisy’s Birth


I don’t get to tell my birth stories very often but since this one is 9 years old tomorrow, I felt inspired to share. Daisy is my rainbow baby, my baby born after a miscarriage less than a year earlier. It wasn’t the most peaceful pregnancy and leading up to her birth was actually completely stressful.


But her birth is the best thing to have ever happened to me. The best choices and decisions I ever made resulting in the most empowering life changing experience that lead me to (train) become a doula.


5 days before my waters started to trickle, so I called out the midwives as you are told to do. Big mistake! This resulted in 5 days of booked and cancelled inductions, many trips into hospital and high levels of cortisol stopping me actually going into labour. The midwifery team were great in supporting me in my decision not to be induced. I met SOM’s (supervisors of midwives), Consultants making me cry telling me I was selfish and my baby might die etc etc etc.


My doula was always available on the phone listening to me cry and rant. I remember feeling the injustice that animals have better conditions to give birth than humans. All I wanted was to be a cat and climb into a dark warm airing cupboard and give birth. On the 14th September I came back from a monitoring session at the hospital and a scare warning from a consultant obstetrician. I was so angry. I was so so angry and I started to let go. I wanted to book an induction for the Monday (would have been 7 days post waters breaking), I wanted everyone to go away and just leave me alone.


That evening I was restless and couldn’t eat my dinner. I just was so uncomfortable and fidgety. After Tom (age 22 months) had gone to bed, I was wide awake and couldn’t sleep. I felt compelled to stand in the shower. At about midnight I remember looking at the time in-between the waves of pressure that were coming regularly. They weren’t intense just uncomfortable. There was little rest in-between and I ran a bath downstairs and called my doula and midwife. My midwife came first whilst I was in the bath. I asked her to take me into hospital and get me induced if I wasn’t in labour. I was fed up and hot and bothered and couldn’t be still, or comfortable. She laughed and said ‘I think you will have your baby soon”. She then asked permission to examine me. I had not really thought about vaginal examinations but don’t remember being particularly against them. I laughed at the midwife, Rita. I couldn’t think of anything worse than having a vaginal examination and she took my ‘no’ graciously. She asked me another few times over the labour but never a problem with accepting my decision not to be touched and interfered with.


When Nicola (my doula) came I was lying on the sofa on my side and I remember her telling me I looked all dreamy. It wasn’t long before my body started to bear down. Rita (midwife) said ‘if you want to use a birth pool, you best get in. Why don’t you go to the toilet first”. Nicola (my doula) said “you can pee in the pool it is sterile ;)” So in the pool I got.


It was lovely with Rita and her frosted pink lipstick swaying to my tunes on the stereo and Nicola chilled on the sofa. After about an hour of my body bearing down, this hugely squishy 9 pounds 6 oz Daisy appeared. She still has the same sparkle in her eye!


Her birth was perfect, at 3.27 just before a beautiful sunrise spread over the sky to celebrate the day had come. Tom awoke after 5 just as we were all going to bed but luckily I got to just go snuggle my little girl.  Birth Doula, covering York, Leeds and Harrogate


Daisy is such a joyful happy child whose beauty shines from her soul. She is kind and warm to everyone she meets with a strong sense of injustice. She is inclusive of everyone and so dedicated to everything that she chooses to take part in, particularly performing. She is creative and talented and her birth made me feel like I can do anything. I went from a woman with low esteem into Hannah, who knows she can do just about anything she puts her mind too. Birth is not just about making babies. It is about birthing strong women.


I know all births are not like this and I put this down to a medical system that undermines women at all opportunities in their pregnant days. The testing and intervention takes inner power from women at a time when they need that inner power the most.


A woman knows if something is wrong, she won’t put her baby at risk. Birth works when women are left to just get on with it. It is not your doctor, your midwife or your partner/husbands choice where you have your baby. It is yours. When you hold the responsibility and decision-making for your birth; and are surrounded by people who believe in you. Magic happens and the body works beautifully. When it doesn’t and you have those people around you, you will continue to be loved and nurtured all the way through whatever happens next.


The biological need for privacy at the end of pregnancy

One of the times I find being a doula most difficult is when women come to the end of their pregnancy before the onset of labour. I find it difficult as my role as a birthkeeper to protect women’s birthing space. It seems to be appearing more and more difficult culturally, for women to protect themselves in their final days of pregnancy. The privacy and space they need to let go and disappear into, to find a private space where they can remain unobserved often seems impossible.


This ‘time’ at the end of pregnancy was described in a lovely article (The Last Days of Pregnancy: A Place of In-Between- The Mothering website) as Zwischen, a German word for between. At the end of pregnancy the mothering hormones start to cause emotions to run high as the cervix starts to soften, efface and women generally crave the quiet and private places they need to emotionally and mentally travel inwards.


In many traditional cultures around the world, women are known to actively leave their tribes for birthing huts (Inuit Tribe a group of indigenous people residing in the Arctic regions, Kwaio a tribe who live in an Island off the Pacific and many more). The Eipos people in Papa New Guinea are documented (Schnietenhovel) to go into the Wilderness of the Bush shortly before the onset of labour. The tribes above are also protected by various women they already have a relationship with throughout their pregnancy and birth journeys. Midwives and female relatives provide the support to enable confidence in the birthing process and some of the women will go off and give birth alone. In these cultures childbirth is documented as easy.


The habits of many of the Mammalian Kingdom are similar to the women in traditional cultures; pregnant sheep separate from a flock when birth is imminent. Rats, nocturnal creatures will give birth in the daylight so they are unobserved from the rest of their species. There are many childbirth articles that discuss the airing cupboards that cats retreat to so I won’t go into that here but I will refer to the problem free births that these mammals usually have when they are unobserved and free to just give birth in their own environments.


So culturally what is stopping women today from building nests and protecting their ‘Zwischen’? How can women find that place of mindfulness to stay present with their pregnancy and the uncomfortability that can sometimes seem to engulf these last weeks? How can we ensure women feed on the confidence needed (often given by the females in the tribe) to birth easily?


Modern culture means for most women that they don’t live in a tribe. In families, we are often separated from parents and grandparents. Also, if your Mother was enticed by obstetrics and lost her confidence in the physiological birthing process you might prefer her not to be in your tribe for this part of your pregnancy. So where can you find your tribe? Positive Birth Groups, Home Birth Support groups (even a great place to build up your confidence whether you plan a hospital birth), red tent communities and caesarean support groups. Find your own Midwife (IMUK) who you trust to provide all your antenatal care, and/or hire a doula to walk alongside with you on this very important journey to becoming a mother. Have a blessingway and get your female friends to honour your pregnancy journey.


Don’t be fooled by the facelessness of facebook and other social media. Just because you cannot be physically seen, it doesn’t mean you have privacy. I often hear so much unnecessary stress from women who feel observed on groups within the social media communities. Smart phones leave us open to be contacted by anyone day or night at a time when we just don’t want to be in touch with anyone at all. I wonder what effect social media has on the orchestration of birthing hormones that play such a vital part in undisturbed childbirth.


I challenge all pregnant women to respect their ‘Zwischen’. Find their female tribe, switch off their mobile phones and disconnect from social media. Will this enable women to build a nest, a private space where she can be mindful, creative and protected to rest with limited stress through her last days of pregnancy?

Cats and Doulas

I have always been a fan of Michel Odent. Primal birth was one of my first reads as a budding new doula and Birth and Breastfeeding was an inspiration when pregnant with my last and unassisted birth. There is such confidence that he exudes from his books with regards to the case for undisturbed labour resulting in pleasurable birth with excellent conditions for bonding. I had been consumed with jealousy in my second pregnancy that cats have so much more freedom than women to take themselves off on their own in the dark to birth their babies in safety.  This is a far cry from the place that most women find themselves in at the end of pregnancy and I have heard so many women saying they wished they could just go build a nest and give birth on their own. The notion that they can seems only a distant dream when well meaning midwives want to check  in on women and consultants want to monitor women’s pregnancies. Then there are the wonderful caring family members and friends consumed with excitement, so they call every 5 minutes to ask if anything is actually happening.  No wonder pregnancies get longer as women are less safe with their physiological need for privacy not being met with the constant observers.


When I found out my cat was pregnant in the summer 2014, I was a very happy surrogate grandma. I could be a doula for my cat and mother her through pregnancy and observe, albeit from a distance, how she would raise her young kittens. She was only a kitten herself at 10 months of age and we expected she would have 2 kittens from what the vets had said. I had gentle curiousity at the thought of observing a mammal from afar give birth without all the restrictions that have been put over humans since birth moved into busy hospitals. I also wondered whether her unhindered births may put me off my love for the doula, thinking that she would birth alone and need nothing being the independent mammal that she is.



On the 31st August, I went to a beautiful homebirth of a second baby. The baby was born in the water and the mama was absolutely blissed out and the Dad and husband truly in awe of his partner. I got back to a quiet house, kids in bed and a clean house. I had bought a dog cage and put it where my cat used to sit. I had covered it inside and out with fabrics so it was cave like. Much to my surprise at 2am, my cat came to sit on me in bed next to my sleeping toddler. I gave her a little pat and settled back to sleep but she started mewing like she wanted more attention. I kept stroking her and realized I could feel her contracting under my touch. She was dribbling and purring with pleasure. I knew pretty quick that she was in labour in my pitch black room on top of me in my bed. After about an hour she jumped off me next to my sleeping son and yelped. I then heard lots of licking before a shrill mewing. I had always known never to disturb a cat in labour but I didn’t want another kitten being born on my son! I moved him over and sadly aroused him enough to want milk without sleeping properly so we left her with her 3 babies by then in the dark on his cot attached to the side of the bed. At 7am there were 5 scrawny looking kittens suckling their mama as she laid out proud on my bed. She was treated every few hours with cooked fish and chicken and dried food. They nursed pretty continuously for a week so she could not really get up much and she appreciated the food and water under her chin every so often. She would only be happy with me near her nest so I protected her from my ever curious kids.


So my expectation of cat birth could not have been further from what my cat chose. She had places to be alone but she chose to be next to me and a toddler crazy as it was.


I had read a book in 2012 called ‘The Power of Pleasureable Childbirth” by Laurie Morgan. It really challenged me on why I would want a doula at a planned unassisted birth. A doula being seen as something outside of the normal family unit, so an intervention. Ever since I read this I have reflected on whether the intervention of me being at a birth has affected that natural flow of the births I have been too. I think for most of the families that I have been a doula for having the intervention of a doula was a better insurance than meeting the interventions of birth within a medicalised system. I chose to have a doula because she was someone I knew well and had been to her birth a few months earlier. Having her come with her baby was like an extension of my family really. I also wanted the emotional support of a woman as I had never received this in my relationship with my children’s father. The birth of my cat’s kittens really did highlight that there is a role for doulas to play when this is what a mother wishes. Not all women receive the nurturing from a partner that they need for giving birth. Not all male or female partners trust the mechanics of birth. Not all partners want to talk about life events after the occasion so I guess a doula fits this gap. My cat I believe picked up the scent of oxytocin from the birth I was at that very day. She came to my magical family bed, which is full of oxytocin with a breastfed toddler and she wanted me to lovingly touch her. Something that I don’t like in labour but plenty of women do like touch. Given that cats are much more intuitive than many of us humans have evolved to be, I believe my cat found it was safe being next to someone who trusted birth and mothering.


I feel very honoured to have witnessed my cat birth her babies and very honoured to have doulaed for so many families. It is wonderful to see how it all unfolds when left alone and in the case of my cat see how much pleasure is gained from acknowledging the need to be loved!

Another birth story i was privileged to be a small part of

I had wanted a home water birth since my second son was born in hospital 17 years ago. I met Hannah at Zumba a couple of years ago and we had become friends. After she had been a doula for two of my closest friends, it felt only natural to ask her to be our doula when we found out we were expecting our baby.

This was my husband’s first baby and because it had been a long while since I had my youngest, I bombarded Hannah with questions, but she patiently answered all our queries and was a mine of information about pregnancy, birth and beyond. She helped us to write a confident birth plan as well as providing a birth pool and Tens machine.

I had a few days stop/start labour, during which Hannah was on call encouraging me to be patient and relax, reminding me that my body and my baby were getting ready. It was her reassurance that saw me through – I wanted to avoid induction and although I was uncomfortable, thanks to Hannah I was able to find the patience and to enjoy the rest of my labour. Once labour was established, Hannah was on the other end of the phone until I felt we needed her with us. By the time Hannah arrived, I was in the pool woozy on my natural endorphins. Hannah quietly stayed in the background, taking the odd photograph, replenishing my iced water and generally leaving my husband and I to enjoy the labour together in our protected birth space. As the second stage approached and took over, Hannah remained in the background and I only noticed her when she joined me in Ujjayi breathing during those times when I lost it.

I wanted an undisturbed birth so I asked Hannah to call for the midwife only when I began to push. Shortly after my waters broke, our daughter was born into her daddy’s hands. He passed her between my legs whilst Hannah photographed the moment I brought her to the surface. We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful birth – everything about it was absolutely perfect. It was important for me to have a natural birth and to feel and enjoy the experience; the protected birth space and the peacefulness allowed this. The midwife arrived 7 minutes later.

We are not planning any more children after Elowen-Fae, but if we did decide to do it all again, there would be no hesitation in asking Hannah to doula for us once again. Having Hannah as our doula enabled me to have the confidence in myself, my body and my baby to have the birth we hoped for and I will always be thankful for having her help us achieve this, she is an absolute star.

2 new testimonials :-)

We are so happy to have had Hannah as our doula! She helped us put everything in place to have the gentle homebirth we hoped for. Her kind, empowering approach helped me to trust myself to birth my baby without fear.

Oliver was born in water at home after a 3 hour labour. We used acupressure and ‘hypnobabies’ techniques and no other pain relief was needed. He came gently into this world through the water into my arms and fed straight away. After an hour of breast feeding and cuddling I birthed the placenta naturally.

Hannah did lots of work behind the scenes I wasn’t fully aware of at the time, helping everything to run smoothly. Welcoming the midwives, making sure I was fed and hydrated, filling and later emptying the birth pool. This meant I could stay relaxed and let my body and baby do what came naturally.

I might have made the birth sound ‘easy’. It wasn’t, it was intense and physical but through the support and preparation I felt strong and empowered and trusted myself and baby.

Someone afterwards commented that we were very lucky with the birth. We know we have been fortunate and this birth was very different to the birth of our first child. However we don’t feel it was luck. Without Hannah we could have had a very different experience. We are so grateful for what Hannah has done for us and can’t recommend her highly enough.

Karin & Nick


I was pregnant with my second child when I attended the Mindful birthing course in early 2014and met Hannah. The course had been recommended by a friend and I was keen to attend after her high praises (she was also having her second child). My first labour had not really taken the direction I had hoped / anticipated and after 36 hours in labour I ended up in a mainstream hospital with drip and drugs attached, strangers coming and going (albeit medical staff) and the eventual discussion of a ‘c section’ – quite honestly my worst fear….so I finally succeeded in a natural delivery but not one I would like to repeat. However my main reason for attending the course was to ‘inform’ myself better and prepare myself as I had suffered Post Natal Depression after my son was born and felt I could be pro-active I attempting to avoid a relapse.
The course gave me the confidence to plan a different birth, one that would be my choice. I always wanted a water birth but knew in hospital the chances would be minimal. I also knew that I did not like hospitals and did not feel ‘secure’ or ‘relaxed’ I them. With the support of my husband ad midwife I chose to plan a home birth.
On the mindful birthing course I was introduced to the word ‘Doula’. My husband works away for 3 weeks at a time ad although he was due to be at home on my due date we also knew there was a chance he may get delayed. I had already asked a very good friend to step in if my husband was away ad although she was more than happy she confessed to being slightly anxious about making joint decisions with me during the delivery. A Doula seemed like the logical answer to me – someone who would support me, support my wishes, communicate between myself and medical staff the but who also had the confidence to advise me and I guess someone I could do/say anything infront of and not be embarrassed that I would be sat opposite her at dinner any time soon!
Hannah was the first Doula I had ever met, she had a calm confidence about her coupled with a good sense of humour – the choice of Doula was made easy even though Hannah was gracious enough to provide me with some other names incase I did not feel she was the right one.
Attending the course allowed me to build up a good rapport with Hannah. She the visited me at home which allowed us both to see if the relationship would work. I knew I trusted Hannah implicitly.
Hannah was in contact regularly before my due date and then increasingly as my due date arrived. I was able to speak openly with her, text her any concerns and discuss how I was feeling physically and mentally which was incredibly supportive and reassuring.
I started having contractions at 10pm on Thurs 8th May. By 0330 they were too regular and strong to stay in bed. At 0610 I attempted to phone the labour ward to inform the midwife. I could not get through despite trying for 20mins. Eventually I spoke with a rather unhelpful midwife who asked if Ithought she should come to the house?……mmm, surely that was her decision? I abandoned the medical services and phoned Hannah at 0630. Hannah responded immediately and assured me she would be with me soon. By 7am Hannah was with me. I could not of asked her to do more – she rage the medical services, cleaned up vomit, ensured I was hydrated, answered the door, helped me into the birthing pool, refuted claims by the medical staff that I was wrong to be I the birthing, took photos, answered the phone, ensured my choice of music was played…..the list was endless.
The most beneficial part was when I was close to delivering my daughter and lost focus with my breathing, I asked Hannah to help and instead of the common ‘ breath, in, out etc’ advice normally uttered Hannah simply started breathing slowly and methodically whilst holding my hand – it was exactly the guidance and support I needed. I felt completely happy and relaxed as I delivered my daughter in the pool at home.
Hannah stayed after the medical staff had left and ensured I had everything I needed. My friend was happy to stay till my husband returned (he made it back at 6pm that evening). She visited soon afterwards with food and continued to support me during the following months. Quite simply hiring Hannah was the best decision my husband and I could of made.

DOULA: Service, humility and love


I cannot even remember the amount of times that I have been asked what does a doula do?  Since I have been giving service to pregnant women as a doula, I have struggled to simply respond to this question with “well very little”. This is because in some sense it feels rude as I am paid my modest living doing this work but also because on some other level it is simply not true.

So why do I even mention to begin with a burning desire to say “well very little”?

Well this is because women are so cleverly designed that in the right environments with the right person or persons present, women simply give birth.  Yes it is true that sometimes babies are born with no drama and after hours or many hours of very little happening.

In these scenario’s a doula may be seen knitting or in my case (because I do not knit) sitting in a place of mindfulness.  Of course this is from the perspective of another person at a birth and for the mother there is a whole lot happening. The  mother may need to outwardly share the experience physically or she may need stillness and silence to inwardly focus on her experience.

So why would she hire a doula?

Women accessing the NHS maternity system are mostly (there is a local trust starting to support continuity of care with homebirths) seen by many midwives in their pregnancy with no guarantee that the midwife that attends her birth is going to be a midwife  that she has already met. For women entering hospital, it is guaranteed that it will be a midwife that she has not seen in the community.

In all the evidence-based books around childbirth (that I have read), there is discussion on how strangers in a woman’s birth space affects her production of the uterus stimulating hormone oxytocin. So many women access doulas to be a constant source of emotional, practical and for some spiritual support at a time when it is very necessary.  Doulas are birth keepers protecting the mothers’s birth space.

Doula’s provide a lot of their ‘support’ antenatally as it seems to be hard for some women to plan a natural birth as the NHS focuses on risk in such a way that women often feel like they have very little choice.  Risk is presented in a way that is often misleading. Even for those lucky enough to have the continual support of an NHS Midwife, the midwife is under a hugely restrictive political umbrella with the NHS and it is sometimes difficult for her to offer the woman truly honest support (options are often presented as limited within the NHS).

A doula walks alongside a mother in her pregnancy journey, opening up doors of possibility by listening to what the woman wants and presenting ALL the information. A doula will give the woman the space to make an informed decision as she has no vested interest in her decision.

This support is just as important for a new Dad as it is unlikely he will have attended many appointments with a midwife so having time and space with a doula to consider information related to birth is likely the main source of birth education he will have had. At births I have attended, I rarely see a midwife take time to explain to the Dad what is happening and this can be scary for fathers. A doula will keep a partner updated with all that is going on. When labour runs a long course, the doula will encourage the Dad to go for a rest and then she will go for a rest when the Dad returns with new energy.

A doula will see the mother and father after their baby is born. She may take a meal for the family or be able to help get some shopping in. She will most likely sit and listen to how the parents are finding this new chapter of their life. Often the birth won’t be fully debriefed for a while as mama is so focused and in love with her new child.

So doula’s provide a service that is missing in the conventional NHS maternity model of care. They provide continuity, emotional, practical and spiritual support. When I say spiritual, I mean doulas recognized that change happens after a mother has had her baby. This change can be ecstatic and life changing and or overwhelming. A doula focuses on the mother at a time when everyone else has started to move their attention to her baby.

Doula’s are sometimes asked to play a more active role in labour. It may be that the mother wants massaged and the Dad is caught up with something else or it is not his strength. But a doula should not be disrupting the flow of labour by distracting the woman and offering suggestions that she has not asked for. This undermines the mother’s confidence and does not help her transition as a new mother.

So a doula is a servant. A servant whose role is well researched:

So where does the humility and love bit come?

I started my doula journey in 2007 and was lucky to have a doula who reflected my birth power back to me and served me well. She has since blogged about it here:

Not once did my doula share my story as if it were her own. It is a privilege to be asked to be in someone’s birth space and I know from myself and the wonderful doula’s that I mentor that a great deal of love and passion goes in to supporting each mother to get the birth she wants. It is wonderful to share those memories and be thanked but we are not the reason their births are positive.  Women own their births and we are merely servants with big hearts.

Oren’s birth story (as published in February 2014 The Mother Magazine )

Long before I became pregnant, I knew that if I was to be blessed with another child that she or he would be born free.  My experience around birth started with the arrival of my first son in a quiet hospital. My uterus came through unscarred but emotionally and spiritually I began motherhood as a car wreck. All instincts were stolen which left a woman desperately needing confidence in her abilities to mother.


My second child, a daughter was a much more fulfilling experience as I homebirthed her with a fantastic NHS Midwifery team supporting me despite the medical perceived risk of ruptured membranes for 5 days. I had asked a doula to mother me through pregnancy and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.  I had miscarried not long before this pregnancy and could have easily allowed my fear of loss to consume my decision making. A doula is my eyes is another experienced mother, with a skill of reflecting all expertise  and wisdom back to the mother and awakening the confidence in the mother inside. Modern lifestyle and mainstream education does a good job of stripping most humans of their ability to follow through life instinctively. The birth of my daughter in water at home was a real celebration and rebirth of me as a mother.  I knew I could do anything after giving birth to her and I wanted to shout to the world about the beauty of motherhood and birth. My path as a doula and childbirth educator began.


My first two children were 6 and 4, when I became pregnant again. I had started a journey with reiki after some profound healing experiences.  I entered this pregnancy after feeling there was a baby that wanted me as a mother. During the previous year doulaing had taken me to walk alongside parents who wanted their babies born without medical assistance. The more stories of childbirth I witnessed, the more I could see how the gentlest of birth support could disrupt the mother from her hormonal bliss and slow or alter her experience. As a doula I became more and more invisible.


At the beginning of pregnancy I read so much from Michel Odent Birth and Breastfeeding to Birthkeepers Veronika Robinson and my desire to freebirth or have a family birth as I like to call it, felt more and more right. I had planned to connect with the local NHS midwife but after some grim stories of bullying and coercion, I decided to have an unassisted pregnancy. After all, I knew I did not want or need ultrasound or blood tests. My antenatal care instead was time spent on eating well and being nurtured through reflexology/osteopathy or mayan abdominal massage. I took the homeopathic tissue salts programme and looked and felt great. A huge difference from my last pregnancy when I had been diagnosed and admittedly felt slightly anaemic.  I allowed myself to be doulaed by the amazing women in my life and chose another doula to walk the motherhood path with me. When I got to 16 weeks pregnant, I realised a truly unassisted pregnancy was not what I needed this time bcause of all I was giving out as a doula.  I found a caring and open minded independent midwife who gave me a package of what I needed, a few antenatal appointments and two postnatal.  I just needed someone with time that I could talk about pregnancy and hopes to for an hour and someone to do the official documentation. I had at that time heard too many stories of social work bullying mothers making freebirth choices despite it being a perfectly valid choice supported by current legislation.


For the first time in my four pregnancies, my due date came and went and no early baby despite a well engaged baby for 3 weeks prior.


Oren Isaac Phoenix’s birth story


I woke through the night with sensations that pretty much felt like what I had experienced over the last 2 weeks. Calum, my OH awoke at 4.45 and after a couple of tightenings; I went downstairs to have porridge. I was tired but not enough to get back to sleep. I tidied up and went back to lie down until Tom bounced in at 6.45. I made him breakfast and sent him to play, as I knew things were starting to happen. The sensations were in my back but short lived and sporadic so Calum went to work. IMG_0288


I called Calum to encourage him home when surges were every ten minutes. The kids and me set up the birth pool and found it all very exciting. I put music on to give me some sense of my own world, as Tom and Daisy still needed me to be present with them.


We had sat down as a family ten days prior and talked about their roles and what I would need to give birth .Tom was given the role of telling us the gender and Daisy was going to have the first skin to skin cuddle when I needed to get dry and clothed. I explained how important silence was to me and how questions were banned from me during labour.


I think the pool took a good hour to fill enough for me to get in and I reckon I got in at 12 ish.  I lit candles and put on clary sage and lavender on the aroma steam thing. I put on my blessingway necklace. To connect me to the strength and blessings of the wonderful women I knew would be supporting me.  I remember worrying about feeling the surges in my back and flipped out thinking what if he is posterior and cannot turn.


At this freak out moment I told myself to ‘shut up and switch off’. My internal sensors were saying ok this is intense but all is well- breathe.  Tom knew every time I had a surge and would massage me or tell me to breathe, the you tube clips had definitely paid off.  I had my bottle of water filled and at one point it looked empty and then Daisy came to me saying ‘look mum I have filled this’.


After a morning thinking I wasn’t progressing, I had a feel of my cervix after a tiny amount of show came out. I could feel a head and a tiny amount of waters before the head. I didn’t feel I was fully dilated or that anything was imminent.  I messaged Claire at this point (my doula) to invite her over. It felt like the right time for her to come but I didn’t feel ready to birth.



After this I had some pretty powerful surges and I kept saying in my head open, release. As a surge reached it’s peak I had an uncontrollable urge to bite- not cool with an inflatable pool so I remember almost sucking the side of the pool. In between I read my wall of blessings and they were so reassuring, keeping me feeling light.  Claire got to me and after a contraction and I remember a smiley conversation but no idea what it was about. This was a difference to Daisy’s birth where I was in an altered state of consciousness. I felt during my family birth that I was fully with it; maybe I had no need to protect myself, as everything around me was so normal. My friend there, her baby breastfeeding and my kids pottering about on a normal holiday day.


5 minutes after Claire arrived I had the most powerful surge I have ever experienced that was like vomiting from my yoni. I had no control as my body took over and my waters broke and his head came right down to my perineum. The surge seemed to last for minutes and it stung as his head stretched and bounced on my perineum. After that the kids were in the room as I had wanted birth plan wise but it had been so intense that I asked for them to wait outside the room. I was half wanting and half not wanting the next surge to come on. When it did, I felt I needed my hand on my perineum as my baby’s head passed through; I had never experienced anything that fast. The next surge I longed for as I stroked my baby’s head in the water.  As soon as it came, my hands were there in waiting to lift my baby out of the water, I tried pulling when the shoulders were out but I had to wait until the surge had squeezed him all out first.


Then we met! The kids came in and Tom announced he had a brother and  I fell totally in love. Calum arrived 5 minutes after Oren did into the bliss. We lotus birthed and separated at 7 days postpartum. This was a great way to stay in bed and ward off the visitors.




Short Review of ‘Bump’ by Kate Evans

Bump by Kate Evans


Kate is an illustrator and mother with an awesome sense of humour. Bump follows her acclaimed breastfeeding book food of love, which is my favourite breastfeeding book to lend to mummies. Bump is published in a similar style with many cartoons to illustrate the reproductive process, pregnancy and childbirth.  All needs are met with this book, for those with a visual need as well as for those with a thirst for information.


She has a ‘choose your own adventure’ theme running through which adds humour and maintains an accessibility that is inclusive to all readers. In my opinion this book should be given to all young girls hitting puberty as it describes the female body and reproduction in a digestible way. Great information on how our hormones can make us feel. This book covers science and emotion and does it very well.


After the fertility section that looks at getting pregnant as well as the fertility awareness method, we come to the pregnancy bit. The pages are full of practical tips for lots of things as well as morning sickness. The humour shines through without belittling any of the issues raised:


“People telling you ‘it’s a good sign, because it means you won’t lose the baby’. This is not necessarily true or appropriate. They should be careful saying annoying things, because you might be sick on them.” Bwah ha ha ha


Kate Evans raises the ideal care in pregnancy is with the same midwife and she follows on in later chapters with how to find independent midwives as well as discussing the research on doulas. Kate covers the politics surrounding birth globally with mention of Agnes Gereb, a midwife (trained obstetrician) who was arrested for supporting women to birth at home and a chapter on birth rights.


One of my favourite chapters is the labour and birth illustration. I am a mother of 3 children and my youngest is almost 16 months so labourland is not such a distant memory. Kate brings the reality and unpredictability of labour back to life for me with humour and love. I am very in love with the roaring lioness birthing mama.


Bump includes Mary Kronk’s phrases.


Have I mentioned how in love I am with this book? I used to recommend Ina May’s Guide to childbirth as top choice for all pregnant women but I think Bump by Kate Evans has trumped this. A must have.

New Empowering HBAC Story, invalidating a diagnosis of CPD.

Everything has a context so I can’t tell the story of the home birth of my second son without mentioning my first.The 2nd birth itself it was quite easy and straight forward but through my personal  journey I regained the confidence I lost the first time and now believe in myself again and can follow what is natural and instinctive.


Before and during my first pregnancy I was very interested in psychoanalysis, the development of the brain and the effects of trauma on its normal development. It was during that time I discovered a book called “The life in the Womb”. This book was more about the personal and an emotional approach, with the baby as a human being and not so clinical as the others I came across. It was from this book I started to think  how I would like to make the baby’s transition from in to outside the womb. It was for that reason I planned a water birth at home. This seemed the gentle and natural way to bring my first baby into this world. But things did not go as I planned , Samuel was two weeks over due, and during a hospital visit to monitor the baby’s heart rate,  my waters broke with meconium. And from that point every thing went in a different direction to what I dreamed of. I was induced because my labour was not fast enough. Epidural and forceps were used and ended up being given a cesarian.  And all the free extras;  two days and one night stayed at the delivery suite, then five more nights on the maternity ward courtesy of NHS. This caused a bladder problem, nerve damage to my right leg and foot with a loss of feeling to some parts of my leg and limited the movement of my right foot (that is an epidural for you!) a souvenir that took me three months to get rid off.


When I found that I was expecting another baby I was sure I wanted to go with the plan I had for my first birth. This time around  I knew if I wanted to have a fulfilled birth experience I had  to have a doula, Hannah was the natural choice. I knew her from my first pregnancy and we  already had a good relationship.


With the label of a high risk pregnancy from the previous c-section, the pregnancy went well without any problems. Only at the end of 39 weeks did the Obstetric consultant remember I existed and wanted to be involved with my birth plan decisions, deciding to arrange a meeting on my due date, that I refused to go to. They went ahead with that meeting, from which more concerns were expressed by Head of Midwifery Leeds, the consultant and my midwife. From my maternity notes, the consultant (who never met me) diagnosed me with CPD (Cephalo-Pelvic Disproportion). Communicating in different ways; home visit; phone calls and even a letter written by the consultant; the health professionals involved with my care advised me to have an elective cesarian or try a vaginal trial in hospital.


Following my instinct I said no to the doctors and healthcare professionals because I knew better. This was not as easy at it sounds. I did it, but was only able to because of the two, very positive people who supported me, my doula and my partner. They helped me to think clearly when my confidence was being shaken and anxiety level was growing.


It was around this time Hannah suggest that I to go for relaxing treatment and recommended Rebecca Hill for maternity reflexology. I had never had it before but decided to try it out. I was surprised by the experience, not only for the relaxing virtues but for the therapeutic side. The body reflects what is on your mind, and by Rebecca pressing certain areas on my feet could tell me that “my body was ready to give birth to the baby but i was holding on to it”. She mentioned that I “was scared to walk forward” – the area corresponding to the knees were painful when pressed, and “was something under my nose”, when putting pressed another point corresponding to sinusitis. The next day I returned “to be more efficient and have this baby out” as Rebecca said. I was more open to the work that she could do on me, though at one point Rebecca asked me to relax and visualise the birth of my baby, and I could not do it. Just a simple task felt impossible and beyond me. The tears started to run down my face like I had a river inside that was overflowing. I just cried for the rest of the session, cried with anger for the way medical staff treated me and made me feel at my first labour. I grieved for two more days, then wrote an abusive letter to the medical staff who were at the birth of my son ( I didn’t post this) and spoke about my feelings with friends.


And then Sunday morning after getting up I felt twinges. I was not sure if they were contractions or not and didn’t want to get my hopes high (I was 11 days over-due by the scan date) I decided to believe that was just  Braxton Hicks contractions, and kept feeling them the rest of the day. By 8 pm I texted my doula describing the twinges I had been having all day and asked if she thought they were contractions. Hannah replyed that “it sounds like it has started” and suggested a glass of wine and to get some rest. Because I did not have wine I decided instead to a have shot of whisky.  By 10 pm when the contraction started to be more regular I contacted Hannah and she suggested  that I put the tens machine on, have another glass of wine and go to bed. I had another shot of whisky. I did not feel any relief from it so around 12.30 I decided to finish the bottle ( do not worry – there was only a little bit left! )and went to the bed. To help me relax I listened to hypnobaby, a CD i used during pregnancy to help me sleep. In this situation it worked more as distraction between contractions. By 3.20 I needed to use the toilet, the show came out so I rang Hannah to inform about it and she offered to came to my house if wanted it but I declined saying that I was going back to bed. After finishing the phone call I realised my waters had broken I tried to rest but lying down was not comfortable any more. The contractions were getting strong so at 3,30 I rang Hannah to came over. I woke up Avelino who was sleeping and we came downstairs to get the pool ready. By this time I had to concentrate on my contractions, walking while I was having one and moving my hips when resting. Hannah arrived at 4.30, it was lovely to see her and have someone to help support Avelino, who had just filled the pool with air (even though it had been inflated for more than a week) and put the lining on but had forgotten to fill it with water.

By 5 am the birthing pool was ready to get in, it was a lovely sensation to feel the water. Around 5.30 my husband went up stairs because our son was awake. By this time thing were getting very intense. I was very loud, starting to feeling I was losing control. I could not find a comfortable position during the contractions. Hannah was on her knees on other side on the room and came near the pool to tell me to do a poo if I needed to. It was something I was not expecting to hear. I started to push and pushed for an hour and a half. I was left with less than five minutes of sketchy memories. The things I can remember clearly was Hannah telling to me bite a fruity bar, very sweet and sticking to my teeth ( I found out later it was to give me energy),  and towards the end after Hannah mentioned the word “open”, I it took it as a prompt and started to speak to the baby and reassure him that was safe to come out and that we were looking forward to meet him.

The first midwife arrived 40 minutes, around 6.20, the second midwife arrived, minutes before the baby was born. It was my doula who called the maternity ward and spoke with the midwives when they arrived at my home. Avelino was still upstairs and came down 10 or 15 minutes later, telling the midwives my wishes and my past birth history. I found her very respectful, she stayed in the back ground, observing and not telling me what to do but asking me instead what I wanted, quite different from the experience I had before.  The intervention was minimal, I had the heart rate listened to twice. I examined myself to feel the head descending, ” I feel something soft like meat and no hair”  that was my first description of my son’s head.


It was amazing when I felt with my hand the head starting to come out, I knew I was giving birth but was but it went suddenly “click” how near I was to have this baby (I was in this bubble of pushing and rest and not thinking much about anything else). It took a number of pushes before the head came out. It was explained to me that this was a process to give the body  time for the vagina to enlarge. The rest of the body came out  with one push.


7.03 Edgar was in my arms, the proudest moment of my life. I DID IT!


It was such a calm and beautiful birth, the first eyes Edgar stared at were mine and I was the first to hold him and cuddle in my arms. The first words of welcome to earth and to our lives were from us, his parents. That was what I wanted all along, providing a nice passage with as little trauma as possible for the baby and, as I found out, for me. To celebrate this fantastic occasion I had a placenta smoothie (some placenta, berries and a banana to be more precise) and spent the rest of day in bed having skin-to-skin with my lovely newborn.

Birth trauma and healing

Healing wounds from previous births or abusive/painful life experiences is so very important for women becoming mothers. There are many approaches women can take to start healing. Below, I have listed some wonderful therapists in Leeds that I have had the privilege of exploring my own healing with. (Yes, Doula’s are very human and following healing journey’s too 😉 )

Lori Fitzgerald

Jay Kelly

Bushra Finch