It’s seven weeks later but I’m still on cloud nine. I attended the most beautiful, calm birth and I just can’t get over how incredible it was! Although I’ve been a midwife for a long time and been teaching hypnobirthing for five and a half years, it’s rare I get be at the birth too.
I was asked if I would be my client's birthing partner in addition to her husband and I couldn’t contain my excitement.
I first met Mairi-Claire and John four years ago when I helped her with hypnobirthing for the birth of her daughter.
It was so lovely to be asked to provide them with a refresher session for the preparation of the birth of their next child.
This time was different. I had a couple that knew birth could be a positive experience. One in which they could be completely in control. Over the four sessions I watched their confidence grow and grow. More than anything I watched them become so excited to meet their second beautiful baby.
They were dedicated to the technique practice. Even their daughter was saying the words "calm and relaxed" whenever she knew I was coming to deliver the next session.
The night they asked me to attend their birth was amazing. I felt so honoured. I left feeling privileged that they would want me there at such a precious moment in their lives. I was ‘on call’ and loved the suspense that it could be any minute. Luckily, my husband is self employed, so I had the flexibility that if I could be there for them at any time.
Mairi-Clare’s timing was perfect. We had been out for my husband's birthday, had a lovely night and just as we had fallen asleep, I got the call to go!
On arrival, I was so impressed! Mairi-Clare and John were the perfect team. She was so focussed on her breathing and she barely noticed my arrival as I quietly sat next to her. The midwives respected her wishes and her birth preferences were honoured. They did they essential checks of mum and baby but the support came down to John and myself.
I watched in awe as labour continued and Mairi-Clare’s breathing became instinctual. Her body knew what it had to do. She went with it and relaxed into each surge. She was incredible!
In a short time, her beautiful son Daniel came into the world!
Born into a pool in their living room, he had the perfect start to life. Being born into such a calm atmosphere where the love in the room was palpable! I knew Mairi-Clare would do it! Her determination and strength was so admirable. She is officially my hero!
Once baby and mum were all settled, I made my way home to my husband and beautiful babies. I was in such awe of what I had just seen.
But now I’ve got the bug! I want to do it again!
Being a midwife is amazing but I loved being there solely a support role! So I'm planning to do a doula course this year so I can do this again and again!
I love teaching people about their bodies and how they work in labour. Teaching them amazing relaxation skills that not only benefit birth but can be used throughout life. My favourite part of teaching The Wise Hippo is the way it involves the birthing partners in the process and allows them to understand what's going to be happening on the day.
On Friday Stuart is getting a procedure done (snip snip). Need I say anymore... but our baby days will be over.
We have decided to stop at two children and I have such mixed emotions about it. We have discussed it at length and know it is what is right for us. I'm still breast feeding Sofia. I plan on stopping in a couple of weeks when she turns one and that in itself makes me feel very emotional. To know we won't have another newborn makes me feel sad.
I loved pregnancy and birth and would do it again in a heartbeat. I loved the changes in my body, feeling the baby move and getting a whole new appreciation for how women are when you can see the result of birth. It is so amazing!
When I watch the births when I'm teaching the course, my ovaries start twitching at the moment the baby comes out. Knowing I won't feel that again seems incomprehensible. However, I have felt it. I am so lucky that I have felt it twice! If I could bottle and sell that feeling I would. It's phenomenal and indescribable.
I know sometimes the journey to have a baby is not always an easy path and lots of people struggle and for some people it never happens and I would never take it for granted that I have two children.
Before we had Jonah and Sofia we had a miscarriage and that was very hard. Anyone who has experienced it will know the second you get that positive test you plan your whole life. For that to be whipped away in such a harsh way is devastating. I still think of that moment often. A hard time for a newly married couple to get through but without Stuart's love and support I wouldn't have coped. He was my rock and continues to be everyday and definitely stepped up for labour too.
I am so lucky to be a mum and spend each day with my incredible little people who make me laugh. I love them so much that I could burst. I just feel so lucky to be able to have my business which allows me to spend so much time with my family and that is what means the entire world to me.
Getting to teach people skills that not only prepare them for birth but beyond is really the best job in the world. But knowing that when I leave, they will get to experience the most amazing feeling in the world is my favourite part of all.
I feel really strange today. I'm sat in my conservatory working as the rain is pouring down outside. I've got a hot cup of tea and a naughty biscuit that I really should be avoiding if I ever want a bikini body. I feel strange because for the first time in over nine months I have a day to myself!
This time next week I will have returned to my other job as my maternity leave comes to an end. I'm only going back two days a week as Born this way is keeping me very busy. Plus that way I get to spend lots of time with my beautiful babies!
Sofia went to nursery today to settle in. Jonah (the best big brother) held her hand the whole time as I carried her to the baby room. He kept saying "your a big girl now 'fia!"
She went into nursery smiling. She didn't bat an eyelid and really adapts to any new environment and situations with ease. It's me that is anxious about leaving her and I was exactly the same with her big brother too. I know they get the best care and will both love nursery. They continue to amaze me every day with how relaxed they are and resilient in life. Most of all, they are happy and content and that makes me feel like I must be doing something right!
I don't think it's unrealistic or silly to have hopes and dreams and when the world is so bad. It's definitely a useful coping strategy to be able to exchange negative thoughts for positive ones.
When I teach the Wise Hippo Birthing Programme, this is something I focus on. Babies are so aware of our emotions. They impact them so it essential to find ways to keep calm, relaxed and positive. The programme teaches simple tools that can help stop negative thoughts in their tracks so that they don't stand a change of penetrating into your mind.
The programme teaches you to bond with baby which creates a strong foundation for emotional intelligence and helps love build for your little bundle even before birth. A baby who is loved and adored will feel safe and secure long before it's entrance into the world and what a great start in life that is!
There needs to be more love and kindness. If things are going to improve then I hope what I do makes a very small difference. So today, I choose to spend my first day I've had to myself in nine months doing some studying for Born This Way because I believe in order to make a change for future generations we need to start with the parents.
The wedding preparation became our everything but it's not just preparing for a wedding day that is important. A marriage goes beyond that wedding day and preparation for a new life together and all the new times it will bring is also important.
The time and effort everyone puts into their wedding planning is profound so if having a baby is one of the biggest times in our life why do so many people not make a plan.
Lots of people think what's the point of making a plan because it could all go out the window on the day but I believe preparation is key.
To prepare in a way that makes you feel that you understand what is happening during labour and why things happen takes the fear aspect away and removes that feeling of the unknown.
The wise hippo birthing programme gives you tools and techniques but beyond that it gives you knowledge and understanding and for me and my clients this is why I'm so passionate about what I do.
To see a women go from anxious and frightened or scared of the unknown to being ready and excited to meet their baby is the biggest job satisfaction.
I believe antenatal education is more than just about birth.
It's necessary to prepare beyond that one day and it's about preparing for your new future.
On the 1st of May I had the pleasure to be at a Wise Hippo training day in Essex and found out more about one of the programmes launching later in the summer. I am so excited to tell you all about the Early Parenting Programme.
This will be so helpful for Expectant parents. This course is designed to be taught during maternity leave before the baby arrives.
Once a baby arrives life gets busy. Nappies, feeds and sleep all seem to be the hot topics and actually having time in the first few weeks is really difficult.
The old saying "sleep when baby sleeps" is what people tell you so in those early days it's not the best time to be trying to learn any new skills to help you feel equipped for life as a new parent.
The Early Parenting Programme will be the perfect solution and it will teach expectant parents so many new skills.
During the course it will cover feeding, sleep, and lots of practical parent craft advice to make the transition so much smoother. Another aspect in the programme will be to teach new parents how to nurture and look after themselves too and self care usually becomes the last in the list of priorities however you can't look after someone else of you don't look after yourself first.
I know before long they will be fighting over toys but I just wish I could freeze time and keep them like this forever. I look down at them in my bed and I feel so lucky to have been blessed with these great little people in my life. It doesn't even bother me that I carried and birthed them both, doing all the hard work and they both end up look exactly like their daddy!
When both babies are sleeping I place Sofia back in her crib. This is where it's often difficult to get back to sleep before the next mini human alarm clock requires a feed, a cuddle or a nappy change.
As I try to get back to sleep I pull on my breathing techniques I used during pregnancy and birth. The 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 relax technique works so quickly as I'm so used to it. Before I know it I'm sleeping quickly enjoying my next instalment of sleep.
The Wise Hippo Birthing Programme really does teach tools for life.
The 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 technique is my sleep solace. Any time I want to feel more calm, in my mind or my body, I use this.
For road rage, for busy supermarkets, when I often burn the dinner, when the toddler decides to decorate the bathroom with toilet roll... this is what makes me stop and regroup and remain calm, relaxed and in control.
I was always a worrier growing up. My dad used to say if I wasn't worrying about something, I'd be worried about why I wasn't worried. I can honestly say since I started my Born This Way, I'm not that person. I take things much more in my stride and have the tools and techniques to get me through these crazy, hectic, sleep deprived days.
These days won't last forever, my babies are growing too fast and I want to cherish every second I have with them as they amaze me every day. So for me my tools are essential. As well as regular cups of tea, chocolate, good friends (who are in the same boat) to drag you through the frazzled days. And a big elbow for when the husbands snoring just gets a little bit too loud!
She checked me and baby over and observed me for a while to see what my surges were doing then asked if I would like to be examined which I was happy for as I kept thinking I'm not sure this is it so didn't want to waste anyone's time.
I was 2-3 cms and by now the surges were much more regular. She offered me acupuncture and the option of staying in the lounge to see if things became more regular. We went into the lounge and I had my music playing and moved between the cub and birthing ball and things picked up quickly.
I was so focussed on my breathing and Stuart was doing soothing strokes massage and I was completely calm and relaxed. Soon after I could begin to feel some pressure in my bottom and asked Margaret if the pool was available.
This next bit felt like a dream. As a midwife when I worked in the hospital I always said I would love to birth in the pool and couldn't believe the pool that was running was for me.
I soon got into the pool and it felt amazing and soon things picked up. Stuart and Margaret were an amazing support. I just kept using my techniques and could feel the baby moving down.
I then hit the transition stage and told anyone that would listen that I couldn't do it and this is when Stuart and Margaret were even more amazing at keeping me focussed. I felt an intense pressure as my membranes ruptured.
I just kept focussing on the song that was playing 'a thousand years by Christina Perri' and the lyrics kept saying 'one step closer' and I knew I was.
I first saw hypnobirthing in action as a student midwife in my final year of training. Up until that point I had only seen medicalised births where women were mainly on a bed and usually on a lot of pain relief.
On one particular shift, I was informed there was a lady in the pool room who was 8cm dilated and was using hypnobirthing techniques. I was assigned care of the woman along with my mentor.
The Wise Hippo Birthing Programme is a full antenatal education programme taught in the comfort of your own home. It teaches you how to become an expert in relaxation and the tools you’ll need for not only before but also after birth.
It allows you to not let things worry or stress you out and to take control of your emotions.
As a midwife I have attended many births where men are anxious, nervous and scared of the unknown. They leave the midwife to get on with their jobs, however men also have a vital role in labour and Hypnobirthing teaches them this. The course teaches birthing partners how to be supportive, confident and above all, a protector of the birthing environment and their partner.
Through lots of techniques, the Wise Hippo Birthing Programme teaches them how to help their partners keep calm, relaxed and in control by reading relaxation scripts. It gives positive affirmations and soothing massage techniques which reassure and empower the women at a time where she needs to feel safe and secure. This is why her partner providing this support works so well.
Together you have made a baby and you’ve watched the bump grow week by week. It makes perfect sense to support your partner through this amazing journey. This will make you even more excited to meet this new person that is about to join your family.
Midwives are experts at supporting a woman in labour as they are trained to do this. I truly believe if the birthing partner is telling you how proud they are, it is far more powerful than the midwife that you have only recently met.
Throughout the Wise Hippo Birthing Programme we learn how fear affects labour and how to become experts in relaxation. Having your birthing partner learn the techniques with you allows them to bring you into a deeper state of calm. You have love and trust when you are in a relationship and to have their support during such a life changing event has a profound effect on the experience.
Do you know any birthing partners that are looking for a more active role in the birth?
Please share this blog and let me know what you think in the comments section below.
The Born This Way Blog is where I plan to give some advice in my own words. Tell you about my experiences and hopefully make any soon to be mums relax about your due date. I thought what better way to start this than to give my story of how Jonah came into this world.
My estimated due date came and went with no sign of our baby. He was far too comfortable. When I was six days overdue and after much discussion and informed choice, we opted for induction as our baby was measuring over ten pounds and I felt it would give me more chance of having a normal delivery.
When labour got going I was having regular surges and kept waiting on it to escalate to a level that I expected to be labour. Even with my knowledge of Hypnobirthing, I was still cynical I could relax enough in labour. More fool me! The techniques were excellent. I was calm and relaxed in the ward, bouncing on a birthing ball and listening to my Hypnobirthing music and keeping hydrated.
and being induced. She said “right, let’s get you back in control” and she was amazing and for what she did next I will always be grateful. Tracy put my music back on and was stroking my hair. She whispered words of encouragement and then Stuart and Tracy really got me back to being focussed on my breathing. It was amazing.
Stuart read scripts and I could feel my whole body relaxing down and felt the connection with my baby intensify. Within a couple of minutes the pressure feeling had gone and all I could hear and focus on was my breaths, my music, Stuart's voice, his touch and Tracy being generally awesome.