Birth Stories

The stories below reflect the wishes of individuals. As a doula I am accountable for myself and protecting the wishes of those I am employed by. I do not take part in the decision making but encourage parents to make informed decisions which sometimes mean questioning advice of which is not evidence based.

 

 

Frieda is Born

Sat here writing with a 17-week old Frieda slumbering on her sheepskin bed next to me, it is ridiculous to imagine a world before her, a world without her, a world in which she wasn’t at the beginning and end of every sentence, every thought.  Even more, to remember the anxiety which Nik and I carried before her birth.  Noah’s birth was a violent eruption that cleaved me open, puncturing a peaceful pregnancy and leaving me unsure of foot as I took my first steps into motherhood.  Frieda’s birth created a fluid passage between the pregnancy and the life that followed.  Somehow I don’t have the same urgency to write about it: it was such an animal, wordless, bodily experience.  In many ways, it simply was, and there is little more to say.  But the birth was so enriched by my readings and hearings of birth experiences that it would be plain rude not to share my story in words on this page.  Also, in truth, it was the most beautiful experience of my life, and I want to record it for myself and for my wee Frieda.

The pregnancy stretched into the 41st week, and the calmness of mind I had been nurturing was being tested.  The pregnancy was energetically compromised by the ebullience that was a two-year-old Noah, but had otherwise been without complication.  At week 38, however, a regular midwife’s appointment had ended with drama as we were rushed to the maternity ward to have Grayson’s (as the bump was known) heartbeat monitored: it seemed a little lacklustre.  While any serious worries were dismissed after two days of monitoring (Grayson was merely a relaxed little foetus), the exposure to an overly-medicalised attitude to pregnancy and birth put the frighteners on us and greatly increased our appetite for a home birth.

 

The house grew busy as we loaded up the freezer, cleaned frenetically for our new baby, welcomed the arrival of mum and Annie, and generally tried to keep mind and body occupied.  The arrival of supergran afforded me more rest, but created an atmosphere of heightened expectation which threatened to destroy my carefully-nurtured zen-mind.  On the Wednesday night I broke emotionally.  Weeping and cuddling into Nik’s warm night-time body, I let the frustration of waiting flow out of me.  Waiting for a baby’s arrival is utterly unique.  Not just the lack of control (despite modern medicine’s best methods, it is your new master that kick-starts the birth process), but the feeling of being so near to something so completely mysterious, yet so intimately known.  And which will revolutionise your life in total, yet unknown ways.  This emotional release was, I can see now, the beginning of the labour.  The next day, I felt emptied of the anxiety.  Mum and Annie whisked Noah off to the Yorkshire Museum of Farming, and I whisked myself off to my new friend Jules’ house, where she was nurturing a beautiful two-week old Rosie.  Cuddling this fresh being with worldly-wise eyes must have launched my hormones into orbit.  And that evening I augmented things further: sitting by a fire in the garden with my love and a glass of red wine; putting headphones on and grinding low to some deep reggae; making love in the wee small hours (it’s hard to remember now, but that last phase of pregnancy was sex, sex, sex – a far cry from life with a baby).

 

I woke up with a vague sense of movement in my womb sometime after midnight.  I had felt so many practice contractions in the previous nights that I was able to keep dozing, telling myself only if the sensations continued, and started to build, should I fully disturb myself and Nik from our precious slumber (knowing the madness of a newborn’s sleep patterns were just around the corner).  At around 3am I was confident enough to give the sensations their name, and voice the happy news that the labour was beginning.  This quiet, unhurried start and the sheer joy I felt at the labour’s beginning helped me to create what I now recognise was a protected bubble for the birth that was pretty much impenetrable.  It was dark.  I felt quiet.  There was no urgency.  Just the need to prompt Nik, with every contraction, to press deep into my lower back, while I immersed myself in deep, deep breathwork as I had been rehearsing for months (after a weirdly disembodied experience during Noah’s birth, I had prioritised deep yoga and meditation practices during my 2nd pregnancy: I was in serious training!).

 

And we dozed on and off.  At 5ish, Nik roused himself to set up the birth pool and arrange the plethora of towels, plastic sheets and whiskies.  I continued in the dark, quiet world of the bedroom, pressing my lower back into a stack of hardback books I’d positioned against the wall in lieu of Nik’s warm hands.  At some point, I needed to be in a more alert, upright mode.  My body called me to squat deep and low against a cool leather chair with every contraction and spontaneous low grunts accompanied my breathing.  The breath kept me calm, kept me free from any questioning or panicking, and created a point of focus and strength through each short contraction.  And once each contraction was over, it was over.  To fully let each contraction go, and to prevent my mind getting into a state of suffering pain, I adopted the technique of releasing a very long, deep breath at the close of each contraction and whispering, ‘thank you’.  With this simple practice (inspired by Gurmurkh), I was able to retain a sense of wonder at the muscle work my body was doing, to stay close to the everyday miracle my body was participating in, to remember the baby – my baby –  travelling down to my arms.  All of this sounds a bit high-minded when written down – but it was so acutely real during the labour.  Such simple, repeated statements as, ‘let go’, ‘thank you’ and ‘move into the pain’ truly kept my mind in my body and on the job.  (The idea of ‘moving into the pain’ was the most useful reminder: the experience of the contractions had me instinctually rearing away from the pain, in a vain attempt to escape it.  Instead, moving into the pain meant seeing where the contraction wanted my body to go – using the contraction as a message to help the labour – and kept me focussed, without too much fear, on the intricacies of the labour process.)

 

 

A while later, Nik reappeared, strengthened by his Irish Breakfast, suggesting we rouse mum so that she could carry Noah into the day’s adventures.  A joyful sense of busy preparation spread throughout the house, while I stayed in the womb of our bedroom and in the womb of my breath, attending to each contraction.  Noah, however, had other ideas.  Elated at the news the baby was on its way, he wanted to come and join me – and I wanted him too.  He bustled in, all night-time hair-scruff, crumpled and hot.  There was no time to think about how I would work my contractions in his company.  But my contractions, miraculously, calmed right down, allowing me to fully give myself to cuddling my beautiful boy and the story he’d bought in to me.

 

As the family moved off into the day, I stayed upstairs, moving between the bedroom and the bathroom.  And when I moved, how the contractions strengthened! The contractions I experienced when moving to the loo had me gripping the side of the bath on my knees, knocked by the intensity.  But still the breath work kept me calm.  I kept telling myself ‘I can do it’ (in contrast to the messages the midwives had given me during Noah’s birth).  During this time I stepped into the shower a couple of times, which again brought things on harder and faster, but equally the water soothed things immeasurably.  I floated downstairs to see Nik’s preparations – he’d created a beautiful birthing room, crowned by a fully-inflated birthing pool which I resisted, for now.  Nik presented me with a spectacular wrap in shades of fire and midday sunshine – it conjoured images of Masai warriors and this image imbued the rest of my labour.

 

Nik and I laid down on the floor together, able somehow to doze between contractions, and to rest in the magic of the experience – the arrival of our second baby.

 

I headed upstairs for a third shower – and felt the labour intensify considerably.  I was so immersed in the physical experience of the labour, so free from distractions or the concerns of professionals, that I spontaneously reached down and gave myself what amounted to a vaginal examination (we had decided to have no VEs throughout the labour – they seemed so intrusive, and to encourage an unnecessary obsession with a model of labour ‘progress’ which is informed by graphs, not the labouring mother or baby).  This experience, of feeling my cervix open and even the warmth of my new baby’s head wrapped in its amniotic sac, was other-worldly.  The tangibility made everything so much more acute.  Whether caused by the profundity of feeling my baby’s head or the physical push this gave to my cervix, my labour leapt forward.  Nik called Hannah, superdoula, who had been making preparations to come over, and I made my way to the birth pool, feeling the need for some more pain-relief and support.

 

The next phase of the labour took place in the intimate environment of the birth pool, where I was immersed from about 1pm. Although it was a bright sunshiny day, the pool felt calm and dark and was a further guard against me engaging with the things that were going on around me – the passing of time, the needs of Nik and Hannah, the unexpected intrusion of a midwife into the proceedings.  I tried to keep well away from the clocks.  Any time I veered towards, ‘how long will this last’, or ‘how long was that contraction’, or’ how long has this been going on for’, Nik and Hannah brought me back to my body – timings an irrelevance.  Hannah’s arrival was a breath of calm – her voice not rising above a whisper, her demeanour one of complete confidence in me.  She sliced a banana and fed me small pieces between contractions.  She sat on the floor and breathed with me.  My self-belief snow-balled.  And it needed to, because the contractions were getting harder and I was getting wobbly and tired.  The arrival of our midwife (coming to check on us as we’d missed our morning’s appointment) deepened the wobble.  Hannah and Nik encouraged her to leave, saying we’d call when things intensified – and I couldn’t imagine how much more intense things could get.  Not long after she left, I started getting hot and cold, and my self-doubt started rocketing.  I stayed with the mantras – I knew that I had to fight the fear that was rising in me.  (I can now see these are all classic signs of transition, but I couldn’t see it at the time and Hannah and Nik wanted me to stay in my body so didn’t bother me with technical details about where we were up to).  I needed a change of scene, and got out of the pool.  I was really struggling now.  The contractions were hard and fast and images of being stuck in this phase for hours kept invading my mind.  (Hannah had such an amazing knack for keeping me rooted in my confidence in this tricksy phase – when I complained that the contractions were really powerful, for example, she smiled at me and said, ‘it’s you that’s powerful: you’re creating those contractions.’  And so there’s me, self-confidence buoyed in the most vivid way, swerving dramatically away from the kind of labour-victimhood that can snowball dangerously).

 

Outside of the pool, there was no escape from this intensity.  Between contractions, I apologised to Nik and Hannah, saying we needed to abandon plan A and get to the hospital for an epidural – I couldn’t carry on like this.  They kindly ignored my pleas.  Hannah calmly passed me a cloth infused with essential oils, which I managed to breathe in although I was enraged at this pathetic excuse for a spinal anaesthetic. (The gift of the doula is in being able to see the bigger picture – and that surely means not always giving the labouring woman what they ask for.  Hannah could see how close I was, how intense things were for me, how I wanted to escape, but how well I was labouring despite this – and the oils were an amazing distraction, if only for a contraction or two, which is all it took).  Amidst the anger and the disbelief and the fear that were rising in me, my baby was about ready to emerge.  The intensity is indescribable.  Heat, chaos, panic, fear, acute pain, studied breathwork- and all somehow continuing in an atmosphere of care and calm.  My mind suddenly disengaged, as if to help me get to the next level, my hips spontaneously engaged in a ferocious wiggle (accompanied by Cesaria Evora on the stereo), and I started roaring, ‘yes!  yes!  yes!’

 

And as I shouted, my mind completely cleared, as if a storm had passed.  I felt complete clarity, and freedom from pain, and I knew with absolute certainty that it was time to push.  Hannah dashed outside to call Team Midwife and I dashed to the pool (at least, it felt like a dash) with Nik’s help.

 

The final phase is a blur.  I remember deep, guttural noises emerging from me.  I remember being thrilled that I was ready to push.  I remember a flurry of midwives arriving and the careful calm we’d nurtured being punctured – but I was beyond caring.  I was nearing the end.  I was elated.  I loved the feeling of being able to push – I knew exactly what to do.  I loved the feeling of power and pushed harder than was probably wise (the elation was extreme – after Noah’s birth, by biggest fear was that my body wasn’t able to do the pushing bit on its own – and now I knew for certain that that fear was utter tosh).  I was doing it!  With one final roar I felt the ultimate stretch… and suddenly there was a head between my legs.  This feels at least as surreal as it sounds: suddenly everything seemed to stop.  In this final phase, you can only push with the power of a contraction behind you.  I knelt there, in the pool, with a baby’s head between my legs for what felt like hours.  And I knew the hard work was over, even though I didn’t have a baby in my arms quite yet.

 

Then a sudden wave carried the final contraction through my body and with a calm slither I felt our blessed wee baby emege.  Nik caught this fresh, slippery creature and brought it up behind me and into my waiting arms.  So with tears of total gratitude I held baby Frieda’s being, eyes tight shut, arms flailing in their new-found freedom, in my gaze.  And that’s where she stays, still now, one year old.  At the centre of my gaze, held in total gratitude.  My little girl.

Of course the story doesn’t end there.  There was a first feed in the pool, with its lazy latch.  There was the placenta rushing out as I made my exit (expertly caught in a washing-up bowl by Nik).  There were stitches on the sofa, which I received gleefully, in the after-glow of our birth.  There were midwives complaining about the lack of data for their forms (as they’d arrived so late on in the process).  There was Noah, returning home with Granny to complete our little family.  There was the four of us in bed together in a sleepless haze, Frieda complaining about the lack of proper milk, Noah complaining about her noise.  There be the four of us.  There we are.  Complete.  Completed, by the arrival of our little girl, Frieda Betty in the world.

Keiran’s Birth Story…

new babyI knew I wanted a homebirth for my first baby;  my sister had her 2nd and 3rd children at home, and it was a much more pleasant experience than the hospital birth.  I didn’t know anyone in Leeds who had had a homebirth and knew what kind of a birth I wanted to have, so I did a lot of research online, went to a few Homebirth Group meetings and booked a doula to help (Hannah) for extra support in my choices for me and for my partner.

I started feeling that my Braxton Hicks were a bit different on Sunday evening, and before I went to bed I had a show.  I woke up every hour that night, and I got up at 5.30am and went downstairs, kneeling on the floor with my head on the sofa.  By about 8am the pressure waves were coming every 4-8 minutes and I let my partner know I was labouring.   I had a bath but needed to be on all fours for each pressure wave and the bath was too small so I got out.

Meanwhile Keith was trying to fill the birth pool but the fitting would not go onto the tap.  Top tip : Gaffa tape and a rubber glove, and turn the boiler off when you need cold water rather than changing taps!  Hannah my doula arrived, and gave Keith a hand with the pool.  A friend of mine who is a shiatsu practitioner also arrived and I had some great pressure on my lower back from her.   Hannah gave me peppermint oil to sniff to help with my nausea and vomiting and brought me a plated of grated apple to eat which was surprisingly good.

We didn’t think I was going to birth the baby in the next few hours, so Keith left to sit an exam (he finished a 2 hour exam 40 minutes early and got 100% – obviously something was spurring him on!!).  I got into the pool, and had a chatty and relaxed time, with the pressure waves slowing down and having shiatsu to stimulate them again.  I got out of the pool and spent some time walking up and down stairs,  hanging my weight from the banisters and leaning over the back of the sofa – I needed to be upright or on all fours all the time.

I seemed to be progressing and the waves were coming close together, so we called for a midwife who arrived with a student late in the evening.  I asked the doula to catch the midwife before she came in to me, and ask her to read my birth plan first.  I did not want an internal examination but had my blood pressure and the baby’s heart rate checked – all fine.  I was listening to some hypnobirthing CDs which were helping to control the sensations quite well, so it was a bit odd to be asked about the ‘torment’ I was feeling!!  Unfortunately then everything started to slow right down, I think I tensed up when I had to discuss things with the midwife (who was very nice and understanding but still a new person for me to get my head round).  After a while the midwife left and I went to bed, where I spent the night getting up from the bed onto all fours for each pressure wave and snatching some sleep in between, with a hot water bottle and hugs from Keith!

All day Tuesday I had clusters of pressure waves and then gaps.  My doula made me some soup, and helped me get dressed and go for a walk round the block.  We’d all thought the baby was coming on Monday evening, were all tired and a bit let down.  It was hard as I was also determined not to be put on a ‘stopclock’ and risk being induced for taking too long, but it felt like was taking a long time…..  ‘We decided that Tuesday was a ‘rest day’ which helped psychologically even though I was having pressure waves 10-20 minutes apart.   I had a TENS machine for most of the day.  My doula and friend went home to check in on their families.  Tuesday night was just the same except Keith made me a nest of pillows so I could sleep on all fours and be in a good position for the pressure waves when they woke me up.

Thankfully on Wednesday morning the pressure waves were getting closer together, and my doula came back.  I spent all day with curtains closed and eyes closed, moving round the house and in the pool.  The midwives called to check how I was doing and suggested coming out to check me over.  I agreed to an examination this time, as I wanted to know if I was going to have another sleepless night or not, and although I didn’t want to be told how dilated I was, the midwife was pleased with my progress and keen to tell me – 6cm, damn, I’d wanted to be at least 9!!!  I asked the midwife if she would be staying now till the baby was born.  When she said yes I said I only wanted to talk to her after that, so I just had one point of contact, and didn’t have to talk to any other midwives who came (there was shift change so 2 others came during my labour).  That really helped my concentration later in the labour.

I kept moving round the house but felt the pool was slowing things down.  The waves got more intense, the hypobirthing CD helped and I wanted all the lights off, mobile phones off and other conversations to take place out of my hearing.  I could feel the baby moving (and having hiccups) and sometimes I was happy to have the baby’s heart rate monitored, sometimes it was uncomfortable or intrusive and I declined.

After I began pushing it was suggested that I try gas and air, which was lovely but distracting, so I gave that up fairly quickly.  I’d been pushing for a while and the midwife wanted  to speed things up – I was worried she might want to transfer me into hospital and I was absolutely determined to stay at home after labouring at home for so long, I thought ‘Right, we are going to have this baby TONIGHT!’ and got a surge of energy to get up, move around and really get the pushing going.  Once I changed position the pushing sensations changed, I thought, ‘ah, THIS is how it’s meant to feel,’ and I could hear people topping up the pool so I could birth my baby there, but I decided it was happening NOW and my baby was born on all fours in the bathroom doorway with the midwives on the landing.  He was passed straight to me, I checked if he was a boy or a girl, and Keith hugged us both while I held gorgeous boy to my chest.   He had a short cord which was under both his arms and round his neck – I think he bungeed out over 3 days!

When the cord stopped pulsing we cut it so I could move a bit more.  I waited for the placenta to deliver naturally, but could feel that I was losing too much blood and was happy to have syntometrine just after an hour. Keith had skin to skin contact with Kieran while I had a bath, my doula made up our bed, I fed Kieran and cuddled him, and we started to catch our breath and realise we were a family.

It took 3 days from start to finish but it was so much better to be at home where we could all eat and feel more comfortable, and wake up together the next day.  I felt in control of what was happening , quite assertive and able to ask for what I wanted with the help of Keith and Hannah, especially since some of what I wanted was not standard NHS procedure, and being at home was definitely the right decision for us.

Kerry did NCT classes.

Doulas attend hospital births as well as at home.

 Birth Story of Nieve

baby bath

My first child Jude was born by emergency c-section at Airedale Hospital on 5th April 2007, I had asked for a homebirth but had been advised against it at my booking appointment by my midwife, her reasoning being first births are difficult and I would get no priority treatment from the ambulance service. I was very disappointed by this as I wanted to be like my Mum who had all her three children at home. After discussing the midwife’s advice with my husband Dan we booked the hospital birth trusting the Midwife’s advice.

After feeling denied the homebirth I’d always visualised with Jude I was determined my next birth would be natural and at home. I prepared as much as I could for the birth but having a toddler and working part-time made it tricky. I went to pregnancy yoga and Choices meetings which were so valuable in giving me information and confidence. And I’m lucky enough to have a great group of friends who have had homebirths and they also played a part in giving confidence and encouragement.

A few of my friends had trained as doulas after their 1st birth experiences and had made me aware of the benefits a doula can bring to a birth. At first I had decided to have my Mum acting as my doula at the birth along side my husband and the midwife, after all she had done it three times who better? But then as I learned more about the birth process I felt I needed my Mum and a doula there. Both for support but I felt a doula could help me make decisions if there were any difficulties and my Mum may find it hard to see me distressed, which afterwards she did say she had found it difficult to listen to me. About a month before the birth I asked a friend Rachel a trained doula to be with me at the birth, she had a back up partner Hannah who also ran a homebirth group which I went to and met her. I felt happy with my doulas knowing they would be there just to support me and my choices as we had discussed in our anti-natal meetings.

In the last couple of months leading up to the birth I started to refuse tests mainly blood as I felt they were stressing me out and I felt is was important to relax also I felt really healthy and had no major medical issues. I did have strep B present in my urine but after some reading I didn’t feel concerned but my midwife did and said a hospital birth was needed, I disagreed and pushed forward with the homebirth.

On Sunday 22nd August 2010 after a relaxing day at my Mum’s house eating a massive Sunday lunch Dan said I hope the baby comes tonight then I won’t have to go to work tomorrow! That night I somehow felt ready even though I had been trying to hang on until Rachel got back from a trip to Wales! I wanted to birth this baby at night in the dark and the quiet.

At 11.20pm my waters started to trickle a little and I had a tiny bit of a show. I went to the toilet a few times and told Dan I thought this was the early signs but decided to try and get some sleep. I texted Rachel but she was still in Wales so I texted Hannah and told her what was happening. I rung Mum and warned her I might be starting. Jude woke up and jumped into our bed after a cuddle he went to sleep, I tried to lay down next to him but found it uncomfortable to lie down. I looked at Dan and said I think this is it! We both laughed and felt excited then surges started to overcome me and Dan sprung into action getting the pool ready. When a surge came I couldn’t talk so when it died down I called Mum and Hannah and asked them to come over. I asked Hannah when should I get in the pool and she said when you feel like it. As soon as the pool was half full I got in, I think this was about 1pm. The water felt lovely and I enjoyed the feel of the pool filling up. I wanted my hypno-birthing c.d on to get my mind and body ready for birthing. I fully absorbed my concentration into the c.d and self talked myself into relaxing into the contractions which were now starting to build up. I was in my birthing zone and felt good about my progression. I got in a position that felt good, on my knees with arms hanging over the side of the pool and head resting on a towel on the side. I hardly responded to Mum arriving as I was in the middle of a contraction, she could hear me in the living room and just left me to it and stayed in the kitchen as we discussed. Her main role was to look after Jude. At about 2.30am Hannah arrived and at this stage the contractions were coming faster and there wasn’t much time inbetween to talk. Hannah gave me various remedies but I felt really nauseous and could only accept them once a surge had ended. Hannah asked if I wanted a midwife and at that point I really couldn’t think if I did or not, it didn’t seem important I said ” I don’t know “. Then after a few more contractions I said yes ring the midwife and make sure she brings the drugs for exhaustion as I didn’t want to transfer to hospital just to have sleep, as I could do that at home.

I did keep trying to move my position to help baby on it’s way but every time I tried it felt wrong so stayed as I was the whole time! Around this point it was vital for me to be holding Dan’s hands, I couldn’t let go and was annoyed if he went off to the toilet! I felt we were in it together and Hannah quietly watched over us. Also at about this stage I couldn’t hear the words of the c.d anymore it was just background noise. I heard the midwives arrive and was glad when they were herded into the kitchen, I think things slowed down at that point and I think I fell asleep for a little bit and remember waking up and feeling cold. Hannah topped up the pool and it was nice for my body to feel warm but my face was hot and I had a desk fan blowing on me. I felt dehydrated and hot so i requested some ice cubes and chomped my way through three trays! I told Hannah I didn’t want any monitoring as I felt things were going great and I was coping well. The midwife came into the room to confirm this and I told her I was fine. Hannah offered me chocolate to give me a boost and I tried to eat it knowing I was feeling tired but I still felt so sick and had to spit it out, in the end I managed some orange juice. The water at this point was quite bloody but I felt fine and didn’t feel is was an issue.

I was aware the sun was rising and felt disappointed that baby still wasn’t here after I had been working so hard, I had kept my eyes closed most of the time not wanting to see the clock or the dawn but I couldn’t help but see it was 6am! But I started to feel the head and that spurred me on I knew it wouldn’t be much longer as I wanted Jude to wake up to meeting his new sibling. I had always thought a slow birth would be best giving the body time to open but after the head had come down and gone back up a few times I changed my mind I wanted that head out! I hadn’t really pushed I had just let my body do it’s thing and most of it felt involuntary. The stinging burn I felt wasn’t that bad really but after a few times I thought I need to work this baby out and waited till the middle of a surge and pushed down and I could feel progress, a few more like that and I knew the head would be out. An arm came out with the head and I could feel it banging on my leg which was weird but good as it meant progress! For about the last two hours my noises had increased in volume and I was roaring like a lion and it felt good to make noise! At this final stage the 3 midwives had crept into the room and started asking me for a mirror which I found really annoying as I was a bit busy! I could also hear Jude and my Mum in the kitchen and Jude desperately wanted to come in the room and I would of liked him to of been there but found I needed to really concentrate on those last few pushes. As soon as I felt the baby slide out into the water I felt stunned and couldn’t move and all the midwives were saying ” pick your baby up Janine” and I thought gosh yeah I need to pick up my baby! As I lifted the baby out of the red water I felt elated and shouted for Mum and Jude to come in the room. I felt overwhelmed by the sense of achievement and was shocked to see it was a girl as I had visualised Jude having a brother! I talked to my baby and asked her to breath and the midwives were telling me to rub her chest. She was grey and still but I felt calm and just waited patiently for her to breath which she did after a few moments. I put baby straight to my breast and she suckled straight away. I felt quite weak holding her and asked Dan to get in the pool to support me. Jude’s face was so lit up by seeing his sister, after talking, reading, watching about the birth she was finally here. He was so full of excitement as he stripped off and jumped into the pool to cuddle the baby.

After a while the cord stopped pulsing and Dan cut it. Mum and the midwives took the baby and dressed her in Jude’s old baby clothes. Mum and Jude sat cuddling the baby while I tried to deliver my placenta. I felt so exhausted and my limbs ached and were stiff from being in one position for too long. I asked Hannah about having the injection to deliver it and she pointed out how well I had done naturally so far and I thought yes I’ve come this far just a little further. I needed that reminder and support as exhaustion was clouding my thoughts. I couldn’t feel my contractions anymore so I tried to concentrate and push down to deliver the placenta. I couldn’t do it while the 3 midwives were stood watching me so I asked them to leave. Mum had taken Jude and baby into the kitchen so I could focus again. I got out of the pool and half an hour later delivered the placenta. I got dressed and lay on the sofa with Nieve and she suckled quite happily for about an hour while the clean up operation went on around us. The midwives left and after tea, toast and a chat Hannah went home. Mum looked after us for a while and then went home too, what a team! Dan, Jude and I just looked at the baby together for ages and fell in love with her! I always felt so positive and determined about this birth and had a quiet underlying confidence that everything would go well and it did.

© 2011 Janine McFadden

 Andre’s Birth, by Nidia Veitch

This is the story of my homebirth, with my second baby Andre last February, born before the arrival of the midwife. I was taken by surprise when my second labour progressed faster than my first. A positive, straightforward birth.

After having my first baby at hospital without pain relief, I felt very confidence to have a home birth for my second baby. My first baby was born 15 days overdue, so I was expecting my second one to be really late and I was very slow preparing myself for my homebirth. The same night everything was due to start, my friend Hannah Robertson, who was serving kindly as doula, came to visit to discuss what I wanted for my homebirth. I wanted to have a birth pool, as we though we’ll give me some privacy and independence, and at the same time would help with the pain. After dinner I cleaned the floors and started looking at home birth websites. While I was doing a list of essentials for the birth. I started feeling some back pain and I took my birth ball out and started watching TV resting my arms and head on it. My husband and my daughter where already sleeping. Around midnight I decided to go to bed and started feeling stronger pains every hour. I was in denial that they were contractions, as I was 4 days before my due date, and I just though it was the baby pushing the head down trying to get engaged. I slept on all fours on my bed, with the head over the pillow, for helping the baby to get into position. I think that helped a lot since he was born with the back of his head against my spine (posterior position). During my first labour at hospital I was on all fours but the midwife asked me to lay on my back, which I think slowed down my labour and made it more difficult for the baby to come out as she was back to back.

By around 5:30 in the morning I had a show and started believing things were happening for real.  My daughter and my husband woke up around 6:30 am and I told my husband that labour had started. I kept myself busy getting things ready, looking for old sheets and towels, baby cloths and preparing a ‘hospital bag’ (just in case). Contractions were every half and hour then and the pain was still bearable. I had breakfast by 8:30 and carried on doing things. Around 9:00 am, contractions started to be stronger and closer together; I went upstairs and went on my needs on the landing. I couldn’t get up as contractions were every couple of minutes. My husband wanted to call my midwife but I kept holding him, trying to time the contractions and thinking I will be there for a good few hours. Around 9:30 I decided to call Hannah as she lives very close by to check if she could come. A few minutes after, my husband called my midwife. When I talked to her I mentioned that the contractions were quite strong and I was feeling hot and cold flushes.

Around 10:00 am I felt like pushing everything out of me, my water broke on the loo and my friend found me there. I had planned to give birth in the dinning room, downstairs, as we have hard floors, but I didn’t want to move from the landing. My husband quickly laid down some plastic sheets there and brought the mattress we were planning to use from downstairs. The head was crowning and I just had time to move from the toilet to the mattress.

My friend called my husband, who was giving some banana to my daughter and selecting the children’s channel on TV. She shouted that the head was appearing and he rushed up asking if he had time to wash his hands. I pushed the head out which my husband held and waited for the next contraction and felt the baby gushing out. I cross the umbilical cord from under my legs I took my baby on my chest, trying to warm him out.

A few minutes later the midwife arrived and cut the cord after it stopped pulsating. Although, the birth was so fast and the midwifes weren’t there, I kept very calm, just focusing on my body to do his job. Andre was born around 10:30 am and cried only a bit and weighed 7lbs 1oz. After the midwife checked him, I had the injection for the delivery of the placenta.  My husband came back upstairs asking about the sex and then we realized that the baby is a boy! What a wonderful surprise after being told that I was having another girl in my scan! I was drying out a lot of pink cloths on the radiators!

The midwife asked me if we wanted to give him the vitamin K, since I saw her a few days before and I said I would look into it. I spent a few minutes making up my mind and decided to refuse it as he was born so peacefully without much stress. Also, because of the low probability of having vitamin K deficiency bleeding, which occurs in approximately 1 in 10,000 babies. I tried to latch him on the breast but he was quite content just cuddling on me.

I delivered the placenta in one push and he started feeding a bit. I needed some stitches so we were waiting for the second midwife to arrive. My daughter came up to see the baby, said hello and rushed down again (I’m afraid it took her a few weeks to accept the new baby). The second midwife came and confirmed I needed some stitches but she preferred to wait for someone with more experience to do it. So, I decided not to move from my messy landing until I have them done. Unfortunately, I had to wait a bit, but after they were done I had a bath and something to eat. By then all the traces of a home birth had disappeared, thanks to midwife and Hannah, and I went to my own bed with my baby!

Home birth

I would highly recommend homebirth to anyone. It was amazing – so relaxed and peaceful. It was lovely to get back into my own bed afterwards with my family around me.

Eden Meadow’s Birth Story 2010…

My waters broke two days before my due date. I woke at 12.30am with a pain went to the toilet and there was a gush. They were meconium stained & my heart sank as I had had a real battle to get my homebirth. however it wasn’t thick or brown & after doing a lot of reading, I decided to stay at home. We reguarly monitored baby’s movements & heart beat with a Doppler & took my temperature reguarly for signs of infection. It was my hind waters which went as all leaking stopped as quickly as it started.

Contractions started up about 2.15am and were nice & regular but I was managing, however when Hannah turned up they slowed right down. Just goes to show how detrimental going into hospital would have been to me; since my labour stopped when someone who we know and trust was invited in.

Everything came to a halt in the morning when our son Milo (3) was due to wake up. My mum took him out for the day and we went for a long walk, had a good rest etc in preparation for what was to follow. Nothing happened until around 4pm on the second day when I had asked my mum to bring Milo round as I was anxious to see him and know he was happy, as he had been rushed off so quickly that morning. After lots of cuddles with my boy it seemed to do the trick and get my oxytocin flowing – knowing he was happy meant I could give birth to his sister. My mum took him back to hers for the night at 6pm and my contractions stepped up and became more regular and I lost more of my waters. I had lost loads of show all day.

I should say that I never informed labour ward of my waters going as I didn’t want to be on a clock – I had done enough research to feel safe I could go longer that 24 hours as long as the baby and I were fine, which meant keeping an eye on movements, using the doppler and taking my temp regularly.

I put the tens machine on and laboured in front of the TV, tried to go to sleep and then upstairs leaning on the bannisters.

At around 12am we called Hannah and she came over and at 3am because I talked about the intensity and was finding it harder to relax, she suggested I get in the birth pool. It was soooo lovely to get in, the room was calm with dimly lit candles and hypnobirthing music was playing. At this point labour started to progress more quickly and at 4am I felt the Midwives should be there, mainly becauase the contractions were coming thick and fast and I was losing the ability to cope (though Ben says I was amazing and made hardly any noise and really focused on my breathing).

The first MW arrived at 4.30am and started doing her checks monitoring babys HB, taking my temp, blood pressure etc NOT fun when you’re having no gaps between contractions! At 5.30am the 2nd MW arrived – she was my community MW when I had Milo and is lovely so it was really nice to see her.She arrived with entonox which I was holding out for thinking it would be a miracle pain reliever! At this point I asked to be examined as I had no idea how far along I was as I had chosen not to have internal examinations to this point, and felt if they said 5cm I would need to transfer NOW! Turned out I was 8cm and told to get back in the pool. At this point I was demanding an epidural and hospital transferal so I think everyone knew delivery wasn’t far off.

I then proceeded to throw up which must have been transition as contractions got even more intense if that was possible, but slightly further apart. I was climbing the sides of the pool in pain and wouldn’t let Ben leave my side as I had so much pain in my back and he was doing acupressure.

I think 2nd stage must have only been about 10 minutes as I felt the most immense urge to bear down and just kind of went with it and breathed her head out – I knew I wanted her head out in one contraction but didn’t want to push and tear…. so her head was out for about 5 minutes Ben says it was the most amazing sight this little head just making expressions and looking up at him under the water! I could feel her wiggling her shoulders trying to get free and rotate her body into the right position for delivery. And then with the next contraction I delivered her body and she swam out into Ben’s arms! we had skin to skin in the pool while the cord stopped pulsating then Ben took his t shirt off and did the same while I got out to deliver the placenta. I had a natural 3rd stage and pushed the placenta out an hour later – had to have gas and air to manage the contractions!

Eden Meadow Leefe was born at 6.36am (the exact time her big brother woke up according to my mum!) weighing 6lb 7oz, on Friday 16 July, the day before her due date.

calm yorkshire birthHannah ran me a bath and made me tea and toast and put me to bed then she and Ben emptied the pool and tidied up downstairs. I spent the following two days in bed with Eden getting to know her and resting, what a wonderful start to life.

I feel so blessed to get exactly the birth I had dared to imagine.

Ayden Jack’s Birth Story…

I started with mild pressure waves on Wednesday lunchtime and they continued all afternoon. I rang Duncan mid afternoon to ask him to come home a little early from work. He started to fill the pool. The pressure waves fizzled out at around 6pm. I had a full nights sleep- didn’t even have my usual 3am toilet visit!

On Thursday it was another beautiful morning. Oscar and I danced around the bedroom to my newly downloaded music on my ipod- in my bedroom. I then got lots of washing out on the line. Then I attacked an overgrown bush with the hedge cutters and secaters, whilst chatting to our neighbours. I went to the loo and noticed some of my mucus plug when I wiped- then I realised that I was having pressure waves. So I decided to see if they were regular, and realised they were about 5 mins apart. I let my doula, Hannah, and Duncan know. Duncan came home at his lunch break and started preparing the house and pool. Oscar was at playschool in the afternoon.

I danced around the birthing room listening to Empire of the Sun and Ellie Goulding. Then I bounced on my birthing ball listening to Katie Melua. I had decided a few weeks earlier to use my love of dancing to bring up my endorphine levels. As a lover of going out dancing, pre children, I new how much of a buzz I get from dance and uplifting music, so thought that it would be a brilliant thing to do in early labour. As the pressure waves got stronger I put on the TENS machine Hannah had lent me. It felt really good, and was nice to have on as a next stage in my birthing journey. I used the birth ball and tended to get onto my knees through a pressure wave. I texted Hannah to ask her to make her way over. I made some toasties to keep my energy levels up. The weather changed and it thundered and started to rain. We asked my sister to pick Oscar up from playschool and give him his tea.

I moved onto Corrine Bailey Rae and then Sade. By the time Hannah arrived it was a chilled out atmosphere as I concenrated more through each wave and listened to the relaxing music. The pool was ready finally and I decided that I was ready to use it as the pressure waves were strong and I needed to up a level. I guess that it was around 4.30pm. Duncs and Hannah helped me in and I asked for my HypnoBabies CD’s to listen to.

I choose the birthing day session on the CD and it took me into deep relaxation straight away. The water was wonderful in supporting me as I moved around for each pressure wave, alternating positions. I can remember thinking that they were really quite strong now, but the hypnosis guide kept me calm and relaxed through each one. Duncan and Hannah supported me wonderfully, whilst leaving me to it. I was very happy with the way things were going.

As the CD session came to close it suggested that I was ready to move onto birthing my baby. I wondered if the midwives were here yet, but kind of knew they weren’t. I can remember giggling inside that they didn’t have a chance in hell of getting there if this birth was the same as Oscar’s. I could feel the pressure waves really strong and found it really hard to stay relaxed and sigh/ moan through them as I had been doing. I had taken my bikini bottoms off, as I knew the time was coming. I started to cry and Duncan and Hannah came to me. I knew that my baby was moving down through my cervix and would be here soon.

It felt like my cervix was a golden circle that the baby swam through. I hoped it would be quick as it was really hard now. Then I felt my baby in my birthing canal, I knew he would be here soon. I felt my body push him out, I could feel the tickling against my thighs, which told me that he was still in his membranes, in caul. Hannah said he was looking up to the stars as we waited for the next pushing wave to arrive. Then the final wave came and he was out and Hannah said the membranes broke on the last birthing push. I couldn’t see him and asked Hannah to pick him up for me as I didn’t want to move and squish him. She passed him to me. He had a full head of hair like Oscar had, but blacker like mine was when I was home birthed.

Duncan had missed him birthing as he was on the phone to the midwife unit asking them to come out! We all had a look and found out he was a boy. I’d been convinced I was having a girl! Duncan and Hannah helped me get out of the pool and we went through to the lounge where Duncan had lit the fire and we had all set up the nest on the floor in front of it earlier. We had lots of cuddles.

The midwives arrived and were wanting me to birth the placenta. I went to the loo to see if that would help. I felt a bit pressured now and I think I was scared of another contraction without being relaxed enough. I didn’t like been watched by one of the midwives and eventually Hannah managed to make her leave me alone. I think I was holding the placenta in, mentally, and after a long while of trying to let go, consented to a syntocinon injection. The midwife tugged the cord and it came out. Hannah and the second midwife did some placenta prints as I was checked for tears etc. I just had a tiny tear and a graze, so was happy to leave them to self heal. We snuggled in front of the fire.

Oscar came home to meet his little brother. He was very gentle with him and was excited by all the things we had been reading about in ‘Hello Baby’ -a homebirth storybook. Midwives, friends and family, fire and bed snuggles. Baby boy fed beautifully. The midwives left and then Hannah made her way home. Oscar was a bit overtired by now so we cuddled down and slept together in front of the roaring fire, while the autumn winds blew outside.

We had no name for our little boy, but I wanted something with meaning to commemorate such a special day. We choose Ayden- a gaelic name meaning ‘little fire’ ( for the full moon, and the reds, golds and oranges of autumn). We have chosen Jack for his middle name after Duncan’s late step father.

Hannah was a gift in preparation for the birth. She really helped us to visualise our perfect birth both practically and spiritually. This was the birth I’d dreamed of for years. She gave Duncan great confidence in having a homebirth and supported him and I wonderfully. We have made a friend for life and are truely grateful to have been able to have her in our birth journey.

Ann-Marie and Duncan xxx