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POSITIVE BIRTH STORIES: MY FIRST BIRTH

FIRST TIME MUM, WATER BIRTH, VAGINAL BIRTH

Join me as I share my first birth experience. I feel so fortunate to have achieved the birth that I wanted, but now refrain from saying how ‘lucky’ I was and instead acknowledge the time and effort I put into educating myself during pregnancy. I worked hard to achieve my positive birth experience. I knew what I wanted, explored my options and informed myself so that I was prepared in the event that things didn’t go to ‘plan’. Read my full story below.

“I was 6 days overdue. Although I tried not to hang everything on the due date, as it came and went I immediately felt impatient and more eager than ever for things to get going. I tried everything to get labour going – long walks, bouncing on my birthing ball, sex.. but nothing worked! On the 5th day, my partner, Jack, made me an extremely hot curry for dinner. I have no idea if the baby was always planning to make an appearance the following day, but its nice to think that he got things moving!

That night (around 12.30am) I woke with a dull ache at the bottom of my back, which felt very much like period pains. By 2am it felt like a surge of pain and I was sure I was experiencing contractions, so I woke Jack. We started timing my contractions from this point and they were only lasting about 30 seconds, but coming quite regularly (between 3-4 minutes). We spoke to a midwife at the hospital, but decided to stay at home for a little while longer.

TRANSFERRING TO HOSPITAL

By 8am my contractions were regular and lasting a minute each. It was important to me that I laboured at home for as long as possible. I felt comfortable there and the last thing I wanted was to be sent home from the hospital for not being in established labour. I felt as little travelling as possible was best to keep my labour moving. We finally headed to the hospital at 10.30am and at this point I was already grateful to have my mum there as an additional birth partner – Jack drove, whilst she sat in the back of the car with me and massaged my back the whole way to the hospital. I remember feeling a rush of excitement as we left the house to go to the hospital. It was actually happening! The journey to the hospital was about 25 minutes and throughout I just fixated on my breath, going inward and tuning into my body, instead of worrying or thinking about the journey.

Three generations emerging.. grandmother, mother, daughter on her way.

Upon arrival at the hospital I was asked if I wanted a VE. At this point I was intrigued to know how far along I was, so consented to being examined. I was told I was 5cm dilated. This was the first and last VE I had during my labour, I didn’t feel it was necessary to at any other point.

I wanted to be left to labour on my own with my chosen birth partners during the first stage.

I was adamant I wanted an unmedicated birth, with the exception of gas & air, so made it clear to my midwife that I didn’t want to be offered any pain relief. They moved me to the birth suite at around 12.30pm, where I waited for the birth pool to be prepared. During this time I laboured bent over the bed, moving with each contraction. My midwife popped in and introduced herself properly at this point, but I had stated on my birth plan that I wanted to be left to labour on my own with just my chosen birth partners during the first stage, which she totally respected, leaving us well alone and just coming in occasionally to listen in to the baby’s heartbeat. I hated this every time! I really didn’t want my tummy being touched during labour. At the time, despite all the prep that I had done, I was not aware I could decline this. Knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t have consented as it made me so uncomfortable. Always remember you don’t have to consent to anything you don’t want to do. Your body, your choice. 

GETTING IN THE POOL

Just before I got into the pool I made the decision to start using gas & air.  Up until now I had used breathing techniques and massage to cope with my surges. I requested the room be made as dark as possible as I was feeling extremely sensitive to bright lights. I felt grateful they made this happen, closing all curtains and turning off the lights, leaving only the lights from the birthing pool to light the room. As I got into the water, I felt so relaxed. I was drifting in and out of consciousness, in between contractions, sitting up in the water. After I had been in the water for an hour or so (timings become a bit blurry by this point), my midwife asked me to get out of the water to empty my bladder. This is where I suddenly felt the urge to push. I think getting up and out of the water encouraged baby to move down further. Shortly after getting back into the pool, my waters broke and all contractions blurred into one. I remember thinking that I was never going to get the baby out.. ah transition!

This was the hardest part and the only time throughout that I had a negative thought. It felt like I was pushing forever! Every time I felt baby’s head move down with a contraction, it would go back up again when I stopped pushing! 

At 5.10pm our baby was born and immediately placed onto my chest. I was in awe of my body and this tiny person that had just arrived earth-side. Jack was sat behind me, leaning over my shoulder, when he announced to me that we had a baby girl. I couldn’t believe it; I was overwhelmed, grateful and so proud of us both.

After delaying for as long as the hospital would allow, Jack cut the cord and I moved out of the water quite quickly after for the third stage. It was here, on the bed, where Elba – our new baby girl – fed from me for the first time. She was amazing, latching straight away! Breastfeeding was everything I imagined it would be. I felt that instant bond between us.”

Do you have a positive birth experience that you would like to share?

If so pop an email over to info@theintuitivedoula.co.uk, I’d love to hear from you.

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POSITIVE BIRTH STORIES

FIRST TIME MUM, HOSPITAL, VAGINAL BIRTH

This first time mum has anonymously shared her story of a birth that didn’t go quite as she thought it would, but how she was able to navigate a positive experience by remaining the decision maker throughout the process. See below for her full story.

“I’m a paediatrician who gave birth at the hospital I work at (so knew most of the midwifery, paeds and O&G team). I didn’t make a birth “plan” as have seen enough things go wrong to know you can’t control it, but I did have “preferences” – not on the bed, ideally not monitored, water for plain relief, hypnobirthing breathing techniques.

My labour was spontaneous but complicated by prolonged rupture of membranes. I was in established labour by 24h so didn’t need induction, but they wouldn’t allow me to labour at the birth centre.

The negatives of my delivery were that I cried hysterically when my husband wasn’t allowed in hospital with me initially, which I’m convinced slowed things down. I couldn’t use the pool because it was in use, and I had one puff of gas and air and nearly vomited.

However, I had a really positive experience overall. I had two absolutely amazing midwives who supported me completely in decision making.

I wasn’t sure what to do about pain relief because I couldn’t use the pool or tolerate the gas and air and although I’d got to 9cm with hypnobirthing breathing techniques I really needed something as was shattered after being awake for around 32 hours. After chatting with the midwife I made the decision to have pethidine 3 hours before he was born, which definitely allowed me a couple of hours to build my strength before pushing.

“The helped to guide me through a wonderfully peaceful, natural delivery”

I also declined continuous monitoring although it would definitely have been easier for them. They accepted this and did intermittent monitoring with a handheld Doppler instead.

Most of all they helped to guide me through a wonderfully peaceful natural delivery without over medicalising things.

Looking back I’m not sure I would have changed anything other than my husband being able to come straight in with me (we had such a good team approach to managing contractions at home that I struggled to cope without him). Although I didn’t want to be on delivery suite my birth wasn’t “medicalised” unnecessarily and the midwives were just amazing. It wasn’t the birth I had imagined but it was wonderful and I left hospital with a beautiful baby boy and an enormous sense of achievement! I’m hopeful I will be blessed with more children in the future and would love to have a similarly peaceful and empowering experience, wherever I end up giving birth.”

Do you have a positive birth experience you’d like to share?

If so, please email me at info@theintuitivedoula.co.uk

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MY DOULA JOURNEY

It’s been a long time since I wrote a blog post. When I came out of university and was taking my first steps in the world of fashion, I started a blog to update about what I’d been up to and how my career was progressing. I was 21. I am now 30 and following a completely different path, which I am so unbelievably grateful for! 

It was during my first pregnancy that I read and researched so much about growing and birthing babies that I knew I wouldn’t be returning to a career in fashion.  My first pregnancy was unplanned… by no means unwanted, but due to being slightly irresponsible, myself and my partner (of five years at the time) found ourselves having to grow up very quickly after falling pregnant aged 23. Fast forward a couple of months we were extremely excited and prepared to welcome our baby earth-side. I think it is important to realise pregnancy has many different meanings for people, many different reactions and many different outcomes. I draw on my experience of finding out I was pregnant for the first time and understand that some people don’t feel immediately ecstatic but that news may also come from a place of shock, worry or panic, and it may take a while to digest the news. I know that it did for me. I had always had that mothering instinct, perhaps from having three younger siblings (the youngest of which is 16 years younger than me) but at that time, I felt like the least likely person to have a baby. With that being said, I was in awe of the whole process. We had a dating scan at 7 weeks because I genuinely had no idea when my last period was, so was completely unable to estimate how many weeks pregnant I was. From the moment of the scan and seeing that tiny kidney bean with a flickering heartbeat, all fear left me. From then on I was absorbed in it. I read books, started a pregnancy yoga class, listened to podcasts and joined every forum and group online that I could. I wanted to know and understand everything that was happening to my body and how it was growing a baby. 

Finding out I was pregnant for the second time, with my daughter Wren, was much more relaxed. I felt ready. I always kept track of my monthly cycle by this point (which is where my fascination with women cycles started, but thats a whole other blog post) so I was sure, when my period was a week late, that we had another baby on the way. I was very lucky with both of my pregnancies, they both went very smoothly.

“I am extremely passionate about
women receiving the right support during such a transformational period of their lives and that is what fuelled my desire to become a doula.”

I went on to have two very different but equally empowering births. Elba was born in the water at the hospital in a dark, cosy birthing suite with a little gas & air for pain management. It was the birth I had hoped for and felt so lucky to have had everything go to “plan”. My second birth was an unplanned, unassisted home birth… & although it may sound it, it really wasn’t that scary and it didn’t occur through lack of giving enough time to get to the hospital. My waters had started trickling that morning so early evening we went to the hospital to be assessed, where my waters literally gushed and contractions had started to come on a little stronger. But because they were irregular & not lasting a specific amount of time, I was sent home with the advice to “have something to eat, take a bath and wait to be in established labour” before going back up there. Wren was born in our downstairs toilet an hour after arriving home from the hospital, with just my partner & mum there to assist the birth. It was an incredible experience. It happened pretty fast but everyone was so calm, allowing instinct and intuition to take over. In hindsight I wish I’d planned a home birth after toying with the idea throughout my pregnancy. 

I am extremely passionate about women receiving the right support during such a transformational period of their lives and that is what fuelled my desire to become a doula. I really wanted to have the most natural labour possible, so I armed myself with tools that I felt would make this happen. I felt calm, confident and welcomed birth. I couldn’t wait to experience it. I want to empower women to feel this way, to rid them of any fear they are withholding and coach them through in the gentlest way possible. I am fascinated by women’s health, our cycles and everything childbirth, & genuinely feel it is my calling to support women in this way.