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Cora’s arrival – Our Birth Story

It’s taken me a while to get settled into being a Mummy of two, breastfeeding and trying to give Ted enough attention are a full time job in themselves let alone keeping on top of all the washing a newborn creates, how did I forget so quickly?? I’m hoping now I’ll be able to dedicate some time to writing again too and Cora’s arrival seem as good a place to start as any.

Cora arrived on Friday 30th October, unfortunately on labour ward after induction as there were concerns around her size and my placenta function. I delayed induction for a week with monitoring every second day to ensure she was happy – she was on every trace so I asked to speak with a consultant the day before the planned induction appointment so I could be involved in the decision making based on the information they could give me.

The doctor felt she couldn’t be confident that my placenta was functioning fully and recommended induction as the safest option – after a fully natural homebirth with my son I wasn’t keen but both my husband and I felt if we were advised out was safer than in for our baby, to ignore it would be foolish and selfish…so our induction appointment for the Friday morning remained and I went home to prepare practically, physically and mentally!

Once Rich was home from work we went out for our last meal as a three – it was so emotional spending that time with Ted, knowing it was his last evening as an only child and it felt really odd knowing the day our baby would be born in advance.

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I practiced Hypnobirthing methods throughout my pregnancy and knew I would need to call upon them even more now in order to remain calm, positive and in control. My husband was so supportive of the methods and knew I wanted things to be as natural and intervention free as possible, I knew with complete confidence he would be my advocate throughout and make sure nothing happened unless it was necessary in order to keep myself and our baby safe.

We arrived at 7.30am and after all the checks it was decided that I was advanced enough already to just have my waters broken and then see if everything else could progress naturally.

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Initially the most uncomfortable part was having liquid trickling for the next 7 hours!! We walked, we ate, we chatted and we laughed – Rich even said how much he was enjoying the time together as it was so rare (and about to become even more so!) We popped back to be allocated a room and have traces done every few hours to ensure baby was happy.

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Doctors did their rounds at about 2pm and suggested an oxytocin drip to speed things up, something I wasn’t keen on, they were accepting of this and it was agreed we would review the situation at 9pm.

We kept active, pacing the corridors and stomping up staircases, I could feel things progressing slowly and had confidence in my body, I was controlling everything and maintaining a calm approach even when a pushy abrupt doctor tried to force me onto an oxytocin drip when my contractions slowed due to monitoring despite the earlier arrangement. I knew I was progressing and that the machine was just failing to pick up my contractions despite his claim “these contractions are not going to get your labour started”

I refused and got quite upset at his approach and insistence without examining or talking properly with us or the midwife with us. Rich stepped in though and was amazing, asking them to remove the monitor and leave me to my own devices for another hour and a half (the agreed 9pm) unless there was a concern for either myself or Cora, which there wasn’t.

I then refocussed, plugged myself into my hypnobirthing mp3 and refused to let an appalling bedside manner ruin my focus. We then paced the floors, climbed the stairs and removed ourselves from the ward to be able to work together on what we had practiced in an environment we felt safe in…

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I was in established labour by 8.30 stopping approx every 2 minutes relaxing into and breathing through each contraction, we returned to our room just before 9pm and were told the ward was really understaffed at the change of shifts which would work in our favour as they would allocate us last and leave us to our own devices as we had requested but told us to buzz if we needed anything. At five past 9 I told Rich I thought I wanted some gas and air so he grabbed Nina, the midwife who had been looking after us before she clocked off and asked her for a mouthpiece, as she left at 10 past she appologised she couldn’t stay until our baby arrived but we all thought it would still be quite a while and it was Friday night!

As my next contraction came I took a drag on the G&A and told Rich I thought I needed to push!!

He had a quick look and quickly whacked the buzzer for help, as I guess they thought we wanted water or something unimportant nobody rushed to us so Rich had to stick his head out of the door and shout “Help…I think we’re having a baby in here!”

A lovely old school midwife came to his rescue and encouraged me onto the bed (apparently kneeling ready to deliver a baby onto a hard hospital floor isn’t deemed the safest!) I managed to make it onto the bed, staying on all fours and rocking. The  midwife told me she thought one good push and I’d have a baby…it actually took two and at 9.28 our darling daughter arrived looking the image of her big brother. I used nothing but the techniques we practiced and about 10 puffs of gas and air for pain relief and I cannot explain how proud I am we were able to manage the situation and the labour in the way we did. I know without the relaxation techniques and the confidence they gave us I could very easily have lost control and ended up with a very different delivery.

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Thank you so much to Barbara of Romsey Relax for her support and enabling both me and Rich to be sitting here today feeling empowered rather than deflated and bullied.

I know I have been very lucky to have relatively straightforward labours and that hypnosis techniques would be unable to prevent any inevitable complications, I do however think that Natal Hypnotherapy truly is a wonderful tool that can benefit everyone who is interested in it and that they should be given the opportunity to experience it.

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And then there were 4…

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Our beautiful daughter, Cora completed our family with her safe arrival on Friday 30th October at 9.28pm. She weighed a dinky 5lb 4oz but is perfectly healthy.

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Big brother Ted thinks she’s pretty cool and we’re all very pleased to have her home now.

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Hopefully sometime soon I’ll have time between feeds to share the story of her arrival and the fortnight before – it wasn’t quite as simple and straightforward as first time around but with an equally perfect outcome.

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Off for more baby snuggles now…Lots of love xx

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Natal Hypnotherapy – My Hypnobirthing Journey #1

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It is the current labour and birth trend and I am firmly on the bandwagon!

When I was expecting Ted I was a little late to the party and all the classes near me (which was a lot less two years ago) were fully booked when I discovered Natal Hypnotherapy or Hypnobirthing but I armed myself with the ‘Effective Home Birth Preparation’ CD and set about using it almost as religiously as I applied bi daily bio oil but it was my first pregnancy and time was plentiful – this time I needed to be more organised!

Firstly I have to say, this isn’t a way of floating off to another planet while you give birth and omming your way through delivery which means your baby pops out without a peep from you but in my experience it is a way to maintain control of aspects of a situation that you don’t have much control over!

The aspects you have control over are;
– Your confidence
– Your responses and reactions to what happens
– Your anxieties
– Your partners ability to know what you want and therefore his ability to support you fully. 

This doesn’t mean you have to be opting for a pain relief free journey, it just means you’re armed with the skills to stay in control.

The hypnosis sessions do take a bit of getting used to and to begin with when I was pregnant with Ted I just fell asleep but after about five or six times of listening I found myself coming round at the end of the session and I began to have more and more faith in the process.

I found the breathing techniques amazing, they helped me to manage my first birth and mean that I’m now able to hold it as a happy memory, this doesn’t mean I didn’t find it painful and tiring and feel like I couldn’t do it at times but I felt armed with information and techniques, supported and powerful. I had complete trust in my body and my baby and their ability to work together to do one of the most   natural things possible.

This time I decided I’d like an even deeper understanding of the process and wanted to attend a course, through trying to plan this we actually ended up booking a 1:1 with a local lady we had met through the Southampton Home Birth Group. I’m so pleased we did as what we ended up with were two tailored sessions in our own home that allowed us to have all our questions answered and meant Rich was relaxed, I think he would have found a group session a lot harder and ended up laughing with other nervous Dads!

The sessions also made us realise how relaxed and prepared we already are which was a great confidence booster.

I had been trying to fit in time to listen to the ‘Pregnancy Relaxation’ CD since about 22 weeks and had found it really helpful to spend half an hour on keeping myself calm and rested while Ted napped although I probably only managed two or three times a week. At about 30 weeks I moved on to the preparation CD and we did our 1:1 sessions around 32 weeks – this has left me with plenty of time to cement everything in my mind and continue to prepare and practice.

Our sessions with Barbara of Romsey Relax also helped us understand the stages of labour and link them to Ted’s birth story, we did activities which in all honesty I was sceptical about before as a bit pointless but actually Rich and I found making a list of things we’d like to happen at each stage really helpful for our communication and understanding of what we (for we, read I!) wanted. Rich was the most amazing birthing partner last time and I know he will be again, he is completely aware of what I do and don’t want and how to facilitate that but also would feel comfortable making tougher decisions on my behalf should they be necessary.

I know that hypnotherapy is still seen as quite alternative and a bit ‘hippy’ but if you’re even a little bit intrigued I urge you to give it a try.

I saw Luisa Zissman tweeting about it recently and she said:

You wouldn’t run a marathon without preparing…

This is exactly how I feel and believe that on top of eating well and staying active this is just another part of my labour prep, now when should I start carb loading?!

Through the joys of social media I have also been lucky enough to stumble across The Calm Birth School. Currently these lovely ladies are offering to impart some of their wisdom on to expectant Mummies for absolutely nothing. They will send you an intro and three sessions via email link and they’re great!

Suzy and Hollie are cool, open and non judgemental and I love that they’re really clear about wanting to help everyone achieve their perfect birth, whatever that may be. If I was a London lass I’d have been signing up for their sessions for sure.

This is about empowering women to trust themselves and their bodies, about making anxieties smaller (and hopefully disappear) and arming ladies with the confidence to deal with anything they’re faced with – there are no wrong answers, it is just an additional tool in your kit but if you trust it, it may just be the only one you need!

I have less than six weeks to go now and who knows how this baby’s arrival in to the world will be.

I’m hoping for another lovely home birth but we’ll see – either way, I know for me, the Natal Hypnotherapy sessions with Barbara and the additional learning via The Calm Birth School have already given me so many positives and that as I sit here I’m not anxious but excited about the experience and meeting our new family member.

I know that regardless of how things pan out I’m certainly better equipped to deal with them than I could possibly have been without.

Intrigued at all?
Check these out more info…
Romsey Relax
The Calm Birth School

Or buy CD’s/downloads here.

This post is based solely on my own findings and experiences and is not in collaboration with any of the mentioned companies.

MaternityMondays
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29 Week Update

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29 weeks and I’ve been shopping! I’ve tried not to spend too much on maternity clothes as it feels like a waste for such a short amount of time but I have a few social things to go to over the next couple of weeks and wanted to feel nice, so a treat seemed in order.

There are virtually no shops you can buy maternity wear in, in Southampton so I decided to pop to a small local shopping village called Whiteley which I knew had both a Topshop and H&M that stocked an albeit small and limited selection.

Somebody was obviously smiling upon me, it is so difficult to find maternity clothes that don’t make you look frumpy and/or drowning in material when you are petite, Everything seems to sit at the wrong point, not accentuate the tiny bit of remaining waist I have and just hang until it meets the widest point of my calf!

I have seen a lot of talk of dungarees recently, I never thought I’d be swayed but I found a pair in Topshop that I loved so went back today hoping they’d have some – only to find them there and marked down to £20 in the sale, bingo! Then they went through the till for £10. £10! £10 in Topshop – day made, right there!!

Then we popped into H&M and I spotted the dress, I recognised it would hug my boobs and waist and then skim down and stop above my knee plus it was only £15 – SOLD! Imagine my excitement when that too went through the till reduced, £7! Thank you very much!!

A successful 20 minutes of shopping followed by brunch with Ted and my bestie…Pretty much a perfect Friday!

I’ve also had my latest midwife appointment since my last post and unfortunately I’m still left feeling pretty disappointed. My midwife is really nice but I don’t feel very cared for. She measured me at 3cm small (25cm at almost 28weeks) and said she was going to refer me for a scan, then changed her mind as I was 3 days away from 28 weeks, I’m fine with this and am pretty confident all is OK, I carried small with Ted and think that’s probably just normal for me but I do feel it should be monitored a bit as last time I stopped growing completely at 33 weeks. I thought I’d be offered an additional check but no, it will be 7 weeks between my last and next appointment! I know I can call and request one once she’s back and do intend to if I don’t think I’m growing but it is a massive contrast to the care and attention I received when I was carrying Ted and think it’s really sad that I feel like a nuisance rather than excited by my appointments.

Anyway, onto more positive things!This week I’m loving…

Spatone – with my iron levels being low and me being really loathed to get bunged up by iron tablets I wanted to try other routes first. I’m getting my fill of red meat, green veg and vitamin c rich foods plus cutting out tea and coffee most of the time but this and a (foul tasting) vegetable supplement seem to be helping too – I didn’t realise how exhausted I was until I stopped being! Anyone using/thinking of using Spatone, head to Amazon, it is half the price on there.

Gas and Air Blog – I stumbled across Clemmie (or Midwifey Hooper) a few months ago and have been very envious of her cool London life and love her approach to midwifery (I really wish she was mine!) She’s a massive advocate of empowering women, choices, home birth and the use of hypnobirthing and I’ve found reading her blog and the featured stories the perfect complement to my birth preparations.

Sleep! – It has returned and I couldnt be happier, after approx 3 months of only a few hours here and there I’ve now had three nights of more than eight hours, it’s blissful and I want to bottle this feeling for a few weeks time!

See you at 31 weeks…eekk, being in the thirties makes everything feel very real!!

MaternityMondays
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Home Birth Support

Those of you that have been following our journey for a while will be aware I had a home birth with Ted and that it was a brilliantly positive experience.

I was quite adamant that home birth was the right choice for me from the moment I found out I was pregnant but found joining the Southampton Home Birth group on Facebook a great way to gain support from other parents and professionals (Midwifes, hypnobirthing and NCT teachers) with a wealth of knowledge to share.

Last night we had a meeting arranged by one of the practitioners on the group and Rich and I hosted, we welcomed 6 couples plus 2 practitioners into our home, shared our story and answered questions – mainly to reassure concerned future dads but helping (hopefully) to boost the confidence of the women in their choices too.

It was a lovely evening, the men practiced putting up the birthing pool up in the playroom and said this helped them a lot as one of the biggest concerns was how they would manage to organise everything if/when the lady in their life goes into labour. Us ladies spent this time sat in the living room and candidly talked labour logistics and aftercare.

This whole thing was a little out of our comfort zone initially, Rich’s especially. We’re not really very ‘joiny’, we are not future parent governors or committee members so holding the meeting in our home and taking centre stage to help these couples make their decisions was quite nerve wracking but I’m really pleased we stepped out of our zone and gave something back!

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The evening was a real success, all the ladies messaged me after and said how helpful they’d found it and specifically how reasurred their partners felt after hearing Rich talk so positively about our experience. This was so brilliant to hear and exactly the reason I wanted to help with the meeting, having a baby is so nerve wracking and filled with decisions so being able to make one of those decisions a little easier for a handful of future families was lovely (no matter what their final decision may be).

Have you stepped outside of your comfort zone recently? Were you pleased you did?

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The anti scare story

The minute I found out that I was pregnant, naturally I started thinking about labour…I imagine this isn’t uncommon, it’s a pretty big deal for a woman and we’re constantly fed scare stories about the pain. Strangely though, I was never scared, if anything I was excited.

My thinking was, most women do it and and the majority of these women do it more than once so it must be manageable. I don’t like hospitals and I really didn’t want to have to have my baby on a ward with strip lighting and minimum comforts so I had my heart set on a home birth from the outset, something I’m told is very rare for a first time mum. I kept telling my midwife ‘I’m not a hippy’ as I felt what I wanted seemed different from the norm but she was amazingly supportive and reassured me that if it all went to plan a home birth really would be the lovely experience I was hoping for.

My husband was unsure to begin with but with some information and reassurance from my midwife he admitted that although he would prefer us to go to hospital, this was the right thing for me and therefore us. I think that is the key when making any decisions as expectant or practicing parents – do what’s right for you, listen to other peoples opinions (you’ll have no choice), smile and take them on board but don’t let them sway you from doing what feels right, our instincts are the best tool we have in this journey and what’s right for Stella down the street isn’t necessarily what’s right for you, no matter what she says!

I feel very lucky to be able to say that Ted’s arrival was far from the horror stories people love to tell expectant mothers, it was calm and relaxed, we baked flapjacks, made soup and took selfies in the earlier stages, I practiced the hypnobirthing techniques throughout (I credit it fully for allowing me to manage the pain myself right up until the final hour), watched the Friends box set and then delivered the little guy in the birthing pool in our kitchen with the assistance of gas and air (oh my…how amazing is that stuff?!)

My husband was the most incredible birth partner ever, he never left my side once, kept me focused and reassured me continuously, the midwives (we had a qualified midwife and two students present) even suggested he should sell his services and become a doula…or an ‘awesome doplar’ as he calls himself now!!

Within 90 minutes of Ted’s arrival, my parents were cuddling him as we ate fish finger sandwiches and drank cups of tea on the sofa and within three hours we were all tucked up in our own bed, staggered by the fact that we were a couple when we came down the stairs 18 hours earlier and a family of three when we went back up!

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