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Catherine and her partner did a Hypnobirthing course with me back in 2021, and went on to birth her first baby Emily at home,. She then used all her skills again for the birth of her second baby, and even though there was a slight curve ball thrown in this time, Cat still managed to birth her baby feeling strong, positive and in tune with her body! Cat outlines her birth experience below:


"I didn’t enjoy my 2nd pregnancy. The sickness seemed a lot worse and I found chasing around after a toddler particularly hard work. We had planned a home birth as we had had such a positive experience before with my daughter Emily back in 2021. I also requested to have the same midwife who delivered Emily so that we would have a similar experience again.

 

When I reached 39 weeks I was eager for the baby to come. We ordered a takeaway curry the night before (I opted for a vindaloo) and by 6am the next morning my waters had broken. The surges hadn’t started yet, but I was full of excitement at the prospect of meeting my baby soon. I texted my midwife to let her know that my waters had broken and I would let her know when my surges started. But by 7am I started to notice a fair bit of blood in my waters, I called the triage number just for peace of mind and they asked me to come into the hospital to be checked. I was pretty disappointed to be going to the hospital, however this didn’t mean that a natural birth was still out of the question.

 

My daughter was dropped off at the childminders (luckily it was a day that she usually went anyway so that worked out perfectly) and my partner and I headed off to the hospital. I started to have mild surges in the car that were approx. 5 minutes apart. When we arrived at the hospital it was 8:30am and I was seen to straight away. I was connected up to a monitoring machine and the doctor checked me over. She said she wasn’t concerned but would keep monitoring me for half an hour. When she came back after half an hour I was in active labour with surges coming every 3 minutes, she assessed me and I was 4cm dilated. This was my time to decide, I could head home and still have my home birth or I could stay in, she explained that labour second time around can be a lot quicker and I realised that I didn’t want to do the half hour drive back home and then have to get the birthing pool ready etc. I asked if the birthing suite was available and if so then I would stay.

 

Luckily the hospital was quiet and I was taken upstairs to the beautiful birthing suite. The lighting was dimmed with candle effects and twinkly lights on the ceiling which made me relax instantly. I was assigned a midwife called Kim and also a lovely student midwife called Georgia. I felt very well looked after and as soon as I arrived in the room they ran the bath. I felt myself relax instantly in that environment and once I properly relaxed, labour really advanced. By 11am I was in the birthing pool, by this point my surges were every minute and had really intensified. I was offered gas & air but I didn’t actually start taking this until the transitioning phase as I found I was able to practice my breathing better without it. I found I could relax and concentrate on channeling my breath downwards when I was nasal breathing, whereas on gas & air I found nasal breathing difficult and could only breathe through my mouth.

 

My labour carried on advancing quickly and I remember feeling the moment when I felt pressure down below. At this point I changed position in the birthing pool (I was led down like I was having a bath before and allowing my whole body to relax), I got onto my knees and held onto the side and told my partner to be ready with the gas & air between each surge. This position allowed me to feel more in control and in a strong position to assist each surge. This time round I felt my baby every step of the way as they progressed through the birth canal. I can’t remember this happening during my previous labour. I don’t know whether second time round your body is more in tune or whether you just know what to expect? But I remember feeling at ease knowing that my body & my baby were working together and I had complete trust in what was happening.

 

The surges became particularly strong and my beautiful baby was born at 1:07pm. We hadn’t found out the sex and we were happy to find out that we had another perfect girl which we called Daisy. We had skin to skin cuddles in the birthing pool until I climbed out, as I was climbing out of the pool the placenta was delivered. I was assisted onto the bed where we continued to have skin to skin cuddles until the umbilical cord stopped pulsating and my partner cut the cord. Daisy took to the breast pretty much immediately and as I was feeding I was brought in tea & toast which went down extremely well.

 

After some time to ourselves, the midwives came back to check myself & Daisy over. I had a shower and then we were able to go home. We arrived at Emily’s childminders house just in time for the 5pm pick up!

 

I didn’t get to have the home birth I was hoping for, but this birth experience was equally as positive and a memorable experience I will never forget."


On my Hypnobirthing course I will teach you a range of tools and skills to take with you and use during your labour and birth. These skills will help you to feel more in control, more relaxed and more in tune with your body and baby. As well as knowledge and information that give you the power to make informed decisions that are right for you and your baby. If you want to learn more about my Hypnobirthing course, why not come along to one of my free Hypnobirthing taster sessions, or book a free 30 minute consultation with me. Over 10 years of teaching the wonders of Hypnobirthing, and hundreds of positive birth experiences that speak for themselves. What have you got to lose! visit www.cornwallhypnobirthing.co.uk to find out more or email info@cornwallhypnobirthing.co.uk

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Welcome to the world Baby Zariah! And what an entry it was too! Huge congraultations to proud parents Mwenya and Raph. I am blessed to be able to share Mwenya's birth story with you - Mwenya is a GP and had a very real, first hand expereience of birthing within the system after giving birth to her first born Zeke (her experience is outlines below - TW - induction, ventouse, PPH) . With her second baby she decided to move towards a more instinctive birth, at home, using Hypnobirthing and Doula support. Mwenya outlines her birth below and how she got the healing birth of her dreams! As always, I'm so grateful to be given permission to share this with you.


"2nd baby, known baby girl – Zariah ( pronounced Za ra ya)

Born at 40+6  on 10/10/2023

Birth weight 3.2kg

Planned: home birth, either in the birth pool or on land

Actual: home birth in bath tub, BBA

Pain relief: TENS, hypnobirthing, water in a bath


***Back ground – 1st pregnancy***

Induction of labour after 24hrs of waters breaking (at 40+1) and no signs of labour.

Baby boy born at 40+3: ventouse, epidural, 1100ml PPH, sepsis which I strongly suspect was because of the VEs I had at the start of the induction process.

We had a 3 day stay in hospital so I could finish the course of IV antibiotics. Baby didn't need antibiotics.

Baby wouldn't latch on to breastfeed. Local breastfeeding groups were amazing and baby eventually started breastfeeding at age 4 weeks.


***This pregnancy***

I was keen to do things differently and to avoid the negativity that surrounded my last birth. Last time, when questioning midwives for more info, I wasn’t given enough to make an informed decision – I only realised all of this when looking back and trying to make sense of what happened.

I researched and read about homebirths before we started trying to conceive and I decided it was what I wanted. The Homebirth Support UK Facebook Group run by Samantha Gadsden was amazing and very encouraging throughout this journey. We also found a lovely Doula, Terri from Cornwall Hypnobirthing. We live in Plymouth, Devon.


I had mild nausea throughout the whole pregnancy.

This was a low risk pregnancy. I declined OGTT.

It was an exhausting few months juggling pregnancy exhaustion, looking after a very energetic 2 year old, moving house and working in a very emotionally demanding job. Family live further away so it was just my husband and I juggling childcare. So overall it felt like I had no rest at all this pregnancy, so I was very much looking forward to meeting my baby.


I made it clear to the community midwives from the get go that I wanted a home birth. There’s no home birth team or MLU  in our area so the midwives rotate through 2 weeks of working on labour ward followed by 2 weeks in the community, so you don’t really get a named midwife. I didn’t get much resistance from the team except a letter from hospital saying I would be birthing against medical advice, which I was very comfortable with because there were clear factors during my first birth which increased my risk of PPH: induction, epidural, ventouse, episiotomy.


Throughout pregnancy, I surrounded myself with lots and lots of positive birth stories from the Homebirth Facebook Group. I also listened to lots of positive birth podcasts and watched lots of positive birth videos. My husband and I did a hypnobirthing course with Terri which was amazing as it helped eradicate the fear associated with childbirth, encouraged me to trust my birthing body and the process of childbirth, and to surrender to it.


***Labour***

I woke up on the morning of 10/10/23 around 7am. I had some mild lower abdominal cramps and the pad I had put on the night before was soaked. I went to the toilet and the slight trickle of clear fluid continued. I also had a tiny bit of bloody show. The cramps were very mild, I was able to get my now 3 year old ready and dropped him off at nursery for 8.30am (I drove). I had lost part of the mucus plug 1 week prior.


I messaged Terri at 8.47am to let her know. I chose not to inform maternity triage of the waters going because I didn’t want to be put on a clock, and I also wanted to see how things would progress.

By around 9.30am-10am, the cramps were getting more uncomfortable. I tried to watch something funny but it didn’t take my mind off the cramps. I then asked my husband to watch a funny movie with me, the laughing wasn’t helping either.


At 11am, I messaged Terri again because the surges were ramping up. She suggested we set up the birth space and I use the TENS machine. We had already blown up the birth pool a few days before, so my husband set up the rest of the room: curtains drawn, projector etc. I was having to breathe through the surges and was making what I think sounded like a humming or loud sigh to get through it. I tried to time the surges but gave up because it was making me lose focus.


At 11.08: Someone from maternity unit rang to say ‘ you’re on our list to  have homebirth  please be aware the ambulances are at full capacity so if you needed emergency transfer to hospital, you would be waiting for ages, so we recommend you come to hospital when you're in labour’. I stuck to my guns and said I would still like to birth at home. This call annoyed me a bit but it didn’t scare me.


At 11.23: I messaged Terri asking her to come over because things felt like they were progressing quickly.

At 11.37: husband went to pick up our toddler from nursery. When they got back, my son saw me on the living room floor on all fours and ran to me. I managed to say hello, give him a hug and asked him to go upstairs with grandma, which he did. My mum then took our son upstairs to keep him occupied. This was what he had originally planned for childcare.


My husband and I spoke with Terri over the phone sometime after 12 noon to check in. Looking back, I think I reached transition around this time because I was overwhelmed by the lack of a break between the surges, and I was thinking to myself ‘ I should have gone to hospital where there’s pain relief’.

Husband rang the midwives around 12.50pm and was told they would head over.


Terri arrived around 1.05pm. I was so relieved to see her! She suggested I move to the bathroom and try sitting on the toilet, but I couldn’t because I was so uncomfortable. Instead I got on all fours which was a lot more comfortable and felt natural. I had a sense that I wouldn’t be leaving the bathroom for a while! I managed to breathe through the surges and continued using the TENS machine on low. Interestingly, looking back, I didn’t need the boost function on the TENS compared to the early stages of my previous labour. I was in a totally different headspace this time round. I remember repeating to myself ‘ I am strong, I am powerful’. Terri kept encouraging me to surrender to the sensations, which I did. At some point, the pain stopped and all I kept feeling was an overwhelming urge of my body bearing down. I didn’t make my body do anything, it did it all on its own. I was mooing which I recognised straight away. Bathroom windows were open and I've been told neighbours heard my vocals!


My husband was trying to fill it up the birth pool but there was an issue with the tap connector. Terri suggested I get in the bath for some water relief. The bath felt lovely when I got in. The overwhelming urges continued and I roared through them. I felt the baby's head come out, this was followed by an amazing calm moment. I reached down and felt a head full of hair and said to my husband ‘baby’s head is out’. I felt her turn in the birth canal and the rest of her was born after another surge or possibly two. I let out a yelp at the ring of fire - totally unexpected sensation!


Our baby was born at 1.51pm. I didn’t push her out, and I’m not sure if I breathed her our either. I lifted our baby from the bath water onto my lap to remove the cord around her neck, then put her on my chest. Baby was alert and looking at me, she didn’t cry straight away.  I couldn’t believe I had done it! I felt incredible and so empowered! It was just myself, my husband and Terri in the bathroom when baby was born. Our toddler got to meet his sister before I got out of the bath tub, the look on his face was amazing to watch.


A midwife and a student midwife arrived a little bit later despite my stating ‘no students’ on my homebirth assessment though. 2nd midwife turned up a bit later. I was still in the bathroom at this point. We got our ‘wait for white’ with the cord. My mum cut the cord when I was laying on the sofa with our toddler.


Unfortunately I lost my oxytocin bubble after midwives arrived. The placenta hadn’t delivered after the first 1hr. Midwives got twitchy because of my previous PPH and the ‘guidelines’. I felt fine, BP, heart rate etc were all fine and there wasn’t much blood loss. I said I wanted more time, but they hovered outside the bathroom door waiting. I consented to the 1st oxytocin injection, I had written I was open to this in my birth plan. The placenta hadn’t delivered 15minutes after the injection. They asked to try controlled cord traction – I agreed but I couldn't push at the point, I guess my pelvic floor was exhausted. They offered me a 2nd oxytocin injection and kept going on about bleeding - I’d had enough of this by this point and just wanted to enjoy baby with some peace and quiet, so I accepted it. I didn’t feel coerced into accepting this. I asked midwives to leave the bathroom. I stayed in there with Terri the door closed. I squatted and the placenta delivered. My estimated blood loss was 250ml.


I had a nice shower afterwards. Terri kindly helped tidy up. After midwives left, myself, my husband and our 3 year old enjoyed pizza in bed while I cuddled our newborn.


Overall, I had a very empowering birth and am very grateful for the way things went. I’m glad baby was BBA because I was able to labour undisturbed, something which I think was amazing because I had no one bursting my oxytocin bubble and was able to focus on bringing my baby earthside.


Terri was amazing from the time we met, and we are very grateful she was with us through this journey. I would encourage whoever is doubting/unsure about getting a Doula, to get one if possible. I’m still on a birthing high weeks down the line. Baby is super chilled our and our toddler can’t get enough of her!"


Hypnobirthing and Doula support had a wonderful impact on Mwenya's experience. If this is something you would like to explore then please email info@cornwallhypnobirthing.co.uk or visit my website www.cornwallhypnobirthing.co.uk . My next group Hypnobirthing course is in January 2024, and I have availability for private sessions throughout 2024, with only 1 space remaining in December for a private course.

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This blog post is the journey of bringing Zelah earthside written by her Mummy Nina.... and what a journey it was! Yes, it's a birth story, but actually what I see when I read this blog isn't just a birth story, it's a journey of strength, determination, grit, power, team work, and dedication to a positive birth experience. We all love to read of a labour that was quick, straightforward and goes to plan. However, when plans have to change, when labour throws a curve ball and you need to adapt to go down a different path - those can be the stories that inspire and empower us, just as much (if not more) as the 'my baby just popped out on the kitchen floor' stories.

Nina and Ed's journey is a perfect example of how, even when plans change, you can still be in control and birth can still be positive. It is also an example of how having education and knowledge of the maternity system can have a real benefits to your experience and help you make informed decisions. Nina tells us about her 5 day labour and how she was a true goddess warrior journeying through the ebb and flow of labour and digging deeper than she ever has before to meet her precious baby girl. I was blessed to be Nina and Ed's Doula, and got to witness this strength and team work first hand in the many hours leading up to Zelah's arrival. As always, I am so grateful for the permission to share this with you.


Monday 8th May It was a grey, mizzly bank holiday Monday. My partner Ed and I had some errands to run in Truro, so we got a takeaway lunch from Sabzi and cracked on. I had a few sporadic contractions throughout the day, but thought it was Braxton Hicks, so carried on as normal. My sister Zoe came round for dinner and we had spicy enchiladas. I didn’t plan to eat spicy food the night before I went into labour - little did I know, tonight would be the night! Over dinner, the contractions got a bit closer together - every 30 mins - and I felt slightly nauseous. I didn’t really sleep properly that night as the contractions kept waking me up. I stayed in bed and breathed through them.

Tuesday 9 May By morning when Ed woke up, they were every seven minutes and starting to get stronger. We decided I was probably in labour, so Ed told work and dropped our dog Maggie at our friends, Jo and Shaun. We spent the morning getting ready, pacing around, breathing and counting the contractions. I had planned a home birth, so I wasn’t worried about getting to hospital.

By 11.30am, they were coming every 3.5 minutes, so we rang Terri who arrived as Ed set up the birth pool. My waters hadn’t broken yet and there was no sign of uterine seal. We didn’t ring the midwife just yet as, while they were quite close together, they hadn’t picked up in intensity. As the afternoon went on, my contractions began to stall and came every 7 minutes, then 10 minutes. It was looking less likely that I was in active labour, so we carried on without a midwife, waiting for contractions to get closer together again. I found the pool water was a huge pain reliever and it allowed me some much-needed rest before breathing through the contractions again. I was very uncomfortable, the TENS machine was hugely useful when I was out of the water. Terri was there the whole time, providing massage, words of encouragement when I felt deflated, making marmite sandwiches and passing over jelly babies!

By midnight, there didn’t seem to be much progress. We all took a nap and I resolved to go hard again at 2am, pacing up and down the stairs, squatting, lunging, trying to keep moving. My partner Ed was so supportive, letting me use his arms to brace myself through contractions. We thought maybe the baby was in the wrong position slightly, which is why we weren't seeing the contractions ramp up further. Terri got in touch with her support network and suggested a whole range of biomechanical techniques to get her to reshuffle - including sidelying and a supported inversion position. I found this process exhausting but I was willing to do anything to get my cervix to dilate. Still, the contractions remained far apart.

Wednesday 10 May I didn’t want any vaginal examinations, but by morning, I needed some information. I felt pretty deflated at this point, I was exhausted and in a lot of pain, yet the contractions didn’t seem to be getting any closer together. The midwife came round at about 9.30am. She was positive, she said my cervix was fully effaced and wafer thin, that I was 2cm dilated and she could feel the baby's head. She didn’t think the baby was in a funny position. It buoyed me to hear this. Her advice was: rest, restore your energy, and try again later. It was the reset button I needed to keep going.


Ed and I went to bed, I actually managed to get an hour’s sleep, before contractions ramped up again. I resolved to not get in the pool unless I really needed it, so we oscillated between the yoga ball, climbing the stairs, lunging, and squatting. I even managed to watch most of My Girl and eat a slice or two of pizza. Terri said she would come back if things ramped up, so we pushed on together. Ed was an unbelievable support, holding my forearms through every contraction, running around getting me water, snacks, pressing my lower back, stroking my shoulders and hair. Another day became night - we carried on.

Thursday 11 May By morning, I was exhausted. My waters still hadn’t broken. I wanted to get another VE to check any progress. Ed rang the midwife line, they wouldn’t send someone out again because all the midwives were busy. So we had two choices: go to the hospital to get checked or attend the routine midwife appointment in Newquay that I already had booked in. We chose the latter.

Terri suggested switching it up and getting fresh air to restart everything. So Ed piled me into the car, bumped me down the speed bumps to Porth Beach. We hobbled over to the sand, so I could stand barefoot. We watched the waves roll in and the wind whipped our faces. It was fresh and sunny but not warm. I remember thinking how strange to be here where everyone is going about their day as normal. It was a good reset. I hadn’t seen daylight in two days, skulking behind the shades inside like a vampire, trying to stimulate oxytocin.

By this point, my back was killing me. It felt like I had strained a muscle in my lower left hip, and I was constantly in pain. I needed the TENs machine on it at all times to feel normal. I felt like I needed some acupuncture to relieve it. We managed to get a last minute appointment with Laura Cullen. She massaged the sore point really well and it provided some relief for a few hours. Contractions were fluctuating but more intense, I couldn’t watch films now!

I wasn’t sure if I could make it back in the car for the 3pm routine midwife appointment, but I did. The midwife checked me again - I was only 3cm dilated. She felt the baby was in a good position, if slightly skewed. She said we had a couple of options: carry on as normal at home, as the baby's heart rate was fine, or go to the birth centre to get them to break my waters to stimulate labour. We chose the latter - I felt like I couldn’t face continuing doing what we were doing for any longer.

We went home, Terri came over to prep us on what might happen in hospital. Even once she’d gone home, she was on the end of the phone, answering all of our questions. We were also warned by my midwife that they probably wouldn’t let us in the birth centre until my waters had broken and they’d had a chance to monitor me. We packed our bags and headed down to the hospital. I felt surprisingly calm. Contractions had slowed to around one every 20 mins now.

At the hospital, as expected, they ushered us straight into the delivery suite. Inside there was a lot of back and forth about whether I could go to the birth centre. I insisted that they break my waters and, if after 30 minutes of monitoring everything was fine, I should be allowed to go to the birth centre. They reluctantly agreed.

Having my waters being broken wasn’t as bad as I hoped. My midwife thought there was meconium in the waters, which would mean no birth centre and continuous monitoring. We had to wait 30 mins to check, so I bounced on the ball, counting the minutes. Sure enough, there was meconium, which meant continuous monitoring in case the baby became distressed (so far, her heartbeat was calm and steady). This was quite a stressful part - we didn’t want a foetal scalp electrode put on her head, but it would allow

me to move around the room and continue labouring, whereas the ECG machine wouldn’t properly stay on my belly and required me to stay still while labouring - which was a definite no for me. But after a tearful discussion, we decided to go ahead with the electrode.

Friday 12 May I laboured for another five hours or so. I tried to sleep at about midnight, but just stared at the ceiling. My back was killing me, I could barely walk - my leg muscles were so tired. I was due to get measured again at 2am. I woke Ed up around 1.15am and said, I think I’m done. If there’s very little progress, I want a caesarean. It was a really emotional conversation. I went into this process wanting a home water birth - but things had changed. I didn’t want to potentially end up with a forceps delivery. My final VE at 2am confirmed what I thought - I was only 4cm dilated after 80 hours of labour. I wanted a caesarean. The hospital staff thought my decision was “rash”, but I assured them it was not, considering how long I’d been in labour. After a lot of back and forth, they agreed to let me have a caesarean. By 5.45am I was in theatre. I felt really positive - I was laughing and smiling as I felt thankful I was finally making some progress and I’d get to meet our baby girl soon. The team in theatre were really supportive and put me at ease. They put on our birth playlist and Ed held my hand.

Zelah was born at 6.04am, weighing 7lb 14oz. She was lifted out of my belly, held up over the screen like Simba, and placed on my chest as the song ‘Reborn’ by Alexis Ffrench was playing. Ed cut the cord. Incredibly, from knife on skin to Zelah being born was just five minutes. Our midwife took some amazing photos of the whole experience.

Overall, my labour was long, but a very positive experience. Thanks to Terri’s hypnobirthing course and guidance, I felt knowledgeable about the birth process and hospital procedures; this helped me make informed decisions every step of the way. It wasn’t the birth I planned for, but I never felt out of control. Every decision I made was done calmly and thoughtfully - it made me feel very empowered. I now believe it’s essential for every woman to know in detail what she might encounter on the maternity wing and Terri’s course provided me with that knowledge. Plus, having Terri there in my early stages of labour was so reassuring - her calm presence made me believe I could do it. Thank you, Terri."


Everybody is different, everyone labours in a different way, there are so many variations of normal, and what's right for one person might not be right for another. The important thing that you focus on your labour and birth, and prepare yourself for your journey - what you would and wouldn't be happy with, what interventions (if any) feel right for you. This is where independent, quality antenatal education comes in! Get in touch if you want to take control of your birth journey - Hypnobirthing can be a real game changer and in all my (nearly 10) years of teaching I've never had anyone regret their investment!

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