Guest post written by Hannah @Hannahlmaynard
I feel incredibly lucky & grateful to have had two very empowering and positive birth stories.
There are many factors that lead to depression after pregnancy. I am mentioning a few factors below:
Postpartum depression, or peripartum depression occurs after a woman gives birth. Within a few hours of giving birth the amount of the two female hormones, estragon and progesterone, return to their pre pregnancy levels. Many researchers feel that this drop in hormone levels,
much like the smaller changes in hormone levels can affect a woman’s mood just before her menstrual cycle, is one of the causes of postpartum depression. It is more like an unexplained sadness & depression. It is a feeling where you feel bad, guilty, helpless & in pain just to explain it in words.
1. Genetics – One factor that can lead to postpartum depression is genetics. This type of depression can be passed down from mother to daughter. There is also a correlation between postpartum depression and women who suffer from severe premenstrual syndrome.
2. Hormone levels – As I have mentioned earlier changes in the hormone level also plays an important role in postpartum depression
3. Baby Demands – In the initial days babies can be very demanding, making the new moms so busy that they don’t get time for themselves which leads to depression.
4. Labour – Going through labour is in itself very stressful which after the birth of baby takes its toll on the health of new moms. This in return turns into depression.
5. Self-doubt – Many new moms go through the self doubt process where they doubt the ability to be a good mom & be able to do the right things for their babies.
6. Family disconnect – With all the time taken by the baby new moms can have a disconnect with the family. They can go through the feeling of loneliness even when whole family is present as they are completely busy taking care of the newborn.
This also can lead to depression To be honest after my first baby was born when I was 30, I didn’t experience any kind of postpartum depression. But when I gave birth to my second baby, when I was 40, I underwent postpartum depression. So after my Pregnancy at 40 I understood what Post Partum Depression actually is.
When postpartum depression kicked in I felt sluggish, unconnected to reality, and often underwent several other symptoms that include depression. During my postpartum depression (PPD) at 40, I would often go through bouts of crying uncontrollably and very seldom with any particular cause. I would feel emotionally charged all the time & my emotions would often play tricks on me. My postpartum depression at 40 also lead to some sleepless & troubled nights. Once a baby is born the family, friends, mother and so forth are suppose to join in a joyful expedition. But in my case I went through postpartum depression and the birth seemed more like a painful expedition than a joyous moment.
Instead of sharing a happy moment I often felt a sense of guilt because I felt a kind of resentment in me. The whole giving birth process seemed like an inflicted pain than joy. Then all of a sudden, I would begin the feeling of sadness, despair, worthlessness, and insomnia kick in. Most professionals will treat postpartum depression with antidepressants combining it with therapy. In my case, I did not undergo any kind of therapy because, luckily for me, my postpartum depression didn’t last for too long a period. But it is important for mothers with postpartum depression to seek help immediately, since the depression does not only affect the patient, it affects everyone around you, including your baby. Babies need their mother, and when the mother is unable to provide emotional nourishment and loving care, then the baby will suffer as it grows into adulthood.
Just like any diagnose there are triggers that may interrupt the mother, including difficult births, isolating one self, death, changes in living arrangements, hereditary, financial difficulties and so forth. Unfortunately, some of these triggers are going to happen. Most therapists have found treating women with postpartum depression, treating them with antidepressants and therapy has worked wonders. Recently studies are finding that depression may also be treated with Electroconvulsive therapy. Scientists are constantly searching for a solution to treat depression so the end of the world hasn’t arrived.
There is hope. Studies have also shown that writing down your episodes, feelings and so forth is a great therapeutic relief. Talking is also a great source for eliminating stress, which is often linked to depression. It is important to get regular check-ups after your baby is born to
eliminate biological reasoning for the postpartum depression. In most cases, doctors may prescribe different medications. It depends on the person, but for some mothers one or the other medications work, while others have no results. If you are suffering postpartum depression, it is also important for the family to offer support and understanding.
Since, you may have suicidal thoughts the last thing anyone needs to do is push you over the edge. It is also important that the resentment you feel is not necessary toward your baby. It could be that you resent an area of your life, or an occurrence and the baby seems to be the target. You might want to try listening to easy music when you feel a sense of loss, or episodes of the depression erupt. Music has proven to heal the soul. In addition, you might want to start exercising since this too has proven to do wonders with people that suffer mental or physical illnesses. Exercise relieves the mind often because you are doing something to better yourself and improve your health. To sum it all, the biggest difference that I felt between Postpartum at 30 & Postpartum at 40 is the depression & physical pain that I went through. With the passage of time, the recovery path has also been fine.
I had good family support during both my deliveries which helped me overcome my pain & depression. Therefore, if you are in postpartum depression especially after 40, there are answers and you should never give up hope! So let’s leave the Post Partum depression behind us as a bad dream & let’s give our motherhood foremost significance in the whole journey of Parenthood.
I am Rupali Paul, a Mom of two kids, one teen & another a toddler and I blog in the Parenting niche.
I write blogs on various Parenting & Motherhood topics primarily. I also blog on topics pertaining to Travel with Kids & review various products relating to Mom or Kids. All in all a Blog which caters to family topics surrounding Mom, Dad & Kids and their Life.
While everyone loves to support you with what you’ll need (and potentially don’t need) when you’re pregnant, quite often us poor old mums get left by the wayside once we’ve popped out our cute little nugget. We’re left to fend for ourselves amongst leaking boobs, saggy skin and stinging bumholes and quite frankly, the postnatal fuss that we deserve is lacking! Here is our guide of Top 10 Postpartum Essentials that you need to make that time after birth just a little bit easier.
Pregnancy and childbirth take a huge toll on your body and it will take some time to heal. It’s perfectly normal for new mothers to experience postpartum pain and discomfort. If you are concerned about excessive pain, you should check in with your doctor to make sure that everything is ok. However, there are some simple things you can do at home to help manage your discomfort.
You might have been told not to do any special exercises during your pregnancy, but now that you’re a new mom it’s actually a great time to start a gentle stretching and strengthening routine. Your muscles can be put under a lot of stress during birth and many people experience soreness in the legs from being in stirrups, as well as pain in the back. Some light stretching can help to loosen the muscles and reduce pain.
Sitz baths are a great way to relieve pain and discomfort in the pelvic region. You can purchase a special seat that sits right in your bathtub or use a towel and some warm water. Taking a postpartum sitz bath for 10 minutes is generally enough time, but you can do it more often if you like. Just be sure not to get the water too hot, as you can burn yourself and increase the discomfort. As well as managing pain, a regular sitz bath keeps the area clean and reduces the chances of infections. This is especially important if you had sutures after birth.
Afterpain is a pain that you may feel as your uterus returns to its original size after giving birth. These contractions can be incredibly uncomfortable and they tend to be worse in the first few days after giving birth. You may also experience them during breastfeeding and they can last up to six weeks. Holding a hot water bottle against your abdomen can give you fast relief when you are struggling with afterpains.
Cooling packs are great for bringing down swelling in your perineal area. This can be done by placing one of these packs inside your underwear while you sleep. You’ll want to remove the pack when it gets too warm, but this should be enough time for the coldness to help reduce pain and discomfort. Cooling packs are brilliant for reducing inflammation and helping the healing process along while also providing relief.
Changes to your hormone levels often bring about headaches in the days and weeks after giving birth. The easiest way to deal with this is to take some over-the-counter painkillers, like Ibuprofen. They have the added benefit of reducing inflammation and can be effective for managing afterpains too. As your body heals, you should avoid taking any strong painkillers, so Ibuprofen is perfect.
Time is the thing that you need most and eventually, your body will be at full strength again. But until then,
Today, Rachel is sharing with us, all about her positive c-section experience, during the Covid-19 pandemic. This month is c-section awareness month and we want to share that you CAN have a positive c-section experience, even if it wasn’t originally in your plan. If you had a positive c-section, please let us know!
This is a hard subject as it is very difficult to accurately portray what happened. I remember feeling upset only days after giving birth because I could not accurately remember what had happened. It was almost like different bits were slipping away, in the same way a dream does. I was trying to keep hold of it but suddenly, it was gone, or I would have to go over and over it, to get it right. Where does it go! I guess some of my positive c-section experience has gone to join my forgotten dreams. It is such a pinnacle moment in a woman’s life, and I wanted to remember every little bit. Some women may want to forget their experience and it does seem that the female mind has a coping mechanism already structured into their brain, as most women seem to forget or remember their experience slightly differently, especially as time goes on. I remember reading somewhere, that what we remember, and each time we remember something, it is always slightly different, so what we remember today is perhaps a version of what happened. I would recommend filming it! You do not have to watch it if you do not want to! Here is what happened during my positive c-section experience.
Everything for me seemed to happen so quickly once I was taken to the theatre. I was so nervous and there seemed to be a flurry of people around me with different jobs to do and as the anaesthetist could tell I was nervous, she kept talking to me about my cats. It is like they have done their jobs so many times, they become a bit robotic, everything is second nature. They move around you, making everything seem easy and uncomplicated and when I caught their eyes, they would smile. Yes, all these people were wearing masks, but you can tell when someone is smiling, their whole face changes shape and I think they seemed to have mastered the ‘mask smile’ to ensure their patients know everything is ok.
As a nurse, I enjoy seeing the way other health care professionals (HCP) work and I find it fascinating. For me, an excellent HCP is someone who can expertly do their job whilst having the right amount of emotional intelligence to react to their patients’ needs. When you consider what has been in the news over the last couple of years regarding maternity care, including the East Kent and Shrewsbury and Telford scandals, I think that women need to be able to trust their care providers. I can confidently say that I felt in completely safe hands when I had Scarlett. I had been suffering with some anxiety before giving birth, I was worried about losing control.
I have never given birth before, so my experience can only be compared to what actually happened on July 23rd 2020 or one born every minute, which I’m not sure is completely accurate! Too much drama for my liking! I do not think any birth experience should have the boring adjective ’normal’ attached to it but 2020 has made sure of this anyway! Although, to be told that you have had a normal birth is reassuring as it ensues that everything went well, whether you think it was normal is another matter! You must remember that to the lay person, your normal is completely different to the healthcare professionals ‘normal’ and healthcare professionals must remember this as well. I have to say being a nurse, there is nothing wrong with being boring and normal. If I write normal one more time!! During my nurse training I did watch someone give birth and it was amazing. I remember to this day, seeing the determination, strength, exhaustion and then the complete elation when the baby was born. Women’s bodies are just incredible.
To give birth requires considerable energy and courage but then Covid has added on another level of anxiety and uncertainty. The information you are told seems to be ever-changing, the midwives at your ante-natal appointments can only give you accurate information that is available at that exact moment, they make no promises, you hear whispers that so and so had to give birth alone, that hospitals are only letting birth partners in when they are 4cm dilated, that pregnant women are alone trying to navigate themselves to the delivery ward, whilst carrying their hospital bag (or I’m sure suitcase in some circumstances) and security guards are not letting birth partners in. How are women supposed to cope with so much uncertainty when they are in labour? It is such a vulnerable time. The last thing they should be thinking about is, where is my mask and hand sanitiser, but I am sure many women have already thought of this and put some ready in the car! It is a frightening time and again seems like a postcode lottery to what the Covid policy is at your chosen hospital. Birth partners stay in their cars or pace the car parks waiting for the phone call, will they make it in time, are their loved ones ok, are their babies ok?
Try not to worry, I guess they are trying to deliver care which is safe for everyone. I just wish it could be more streamlined and that someone in the patient information department could release statements to squash the rumour mill scare stories. It can be scary enough! Having a baby should be a magical time, and for most (hopefully) you have waited nine months to meet your beautiful baby and you should at the very least be supported by your birthing partner. I do think that hospitals should be releasing up to date advice more regularly to reassure their patients. To be informed only empowers us and helps us prepare. I have learnt through my job, that yes, the information you are giving may not always be great news or not what someone wants to hear but to not tell someone is essentially only making things worse. Communication is key. We need time to process and come to terms with what our new reality is. Maternity services have now had time to put together clinical guidance which will offer key advice for pregnant women during this horrible time, if you are pregnant, this is very reassuring. You can access this information through the RCOG.
Usually, when someone gives birth you might expect to be asked questions such as how was the birth, how are mother and baby doing? Instead, these seem to be secondary, I remember being asked did you have to wear a mask, did you have to have a Covid test, was Colin allowed in. People tend to ask you questions with a certain tone, they might feel sorry for you, and maybe they should.
I do think it is very weird that we have pictures of me and my husband wearing masks. It takes away some of the actual emotion of what was really going on but also highlights what a crazy time we are living in. I worry that in years to come my pictures will only be a reminder of Covid. Although, people may also see a brave couple about to experience something amazing and yet normal, in a time which was not normal at all. I was wearing a mask whilst I was having a c-section – that is not normal!
Covid or no Covid, my birth experience was all I could have hoped for. I hope your experience was amazing too and I hope that you and your babes are healthy. My birth experience was slightly more structured as I was booked in for a caesarean section. I did feel slightly in control, we knew a time to get to the hospital, the security guard found our names on the list, and we were admitted on to the delivery ward.
There is something strange about knowing when your baby will be born, it does feel slightly like cheating. This thought was pronounced as I could hear women in labour. I heard such deep strong noises; these women were doing something amazing. And here I was, essentially waiting to be cut open! This was becoming very real as the minutes ticked by. It is such a surreal thought, looking at your tummy, and knowing soon a baby is going to come out of it, like a magic trick..ta da!! For me, it was weird that I was going to meet someone for the first time that my body had grown over forty weeks, and yet, this creature did not know me, and I did not know her, but we were bound together. I do not know how you felt but although I knew I was going to have a baby, I could never quite believe it. It made me worry whether there was going to be love at first sight. I’ll be honest, I don’t think I did get this awe-inspiring feeling of absolute love when I first met her. I felt amazed at what had just happened but the feeling of being absolute besotted and the kind of love that makes you want to cry would take a few weeks at least. This can be completely normal and so if this is happening to you, just give it time.
I keep a diary and so I am going to put in my diary entrance from when I had my section. It was written seven days after having the operation and it is slightly erratic, but it probably gives the most accurate version:
31st July 2020:
‘I wanted to write this sooner and wished I had, as I’m already forgetting some of the things that happened in the last 7/8 days and I don’t want to. It’s been an emotional time, not least because I’ve had a baby, major surgery, stayed in hospital for four nights but we’ve had to have Denzil put down…(Denzil was one of our cats and he had to put down the day after we got home from hospital. I have honestly never felt such happiness and sadness at the same time).
When we got to the hospital it was so surreal – I kept thinking whatever happens I will have a baby by 1pm. I couldn’t imagine the thing that was in my tummy would be on the outside…
At about 11am the midwife came back and said they were ready. I was so nervous. I fully expected to go to theatre on a bed but she just said take your pillow and Colin got the bags and we walked through. She weighed me first, I was 66.8kg (I had put on 10kg)! Then we just literally walked into the theatre – there was no waiting room. It was quite overwhelming – there were quite a lot of people – mostly women and two men. Maybe six women. The anaesthetist asked me to sit on the bed – she was asking about my cats. I was absolutely petrified. Colin was there with me. She was trying to put a cannula in my right wrist – she put local in first which stung but was struggling – I told her I was extremely nervous and thirsty. She gave up and put another cannula in. Another lady was going to do my epidural, I wondered if she was training. I was told to put my feet on a chair in front of me so I could pull my knees into my chest, I was told to relax my shoulders – at this point I was uncontrollably shaking all over – I couldn’t stop. I was told I would feel something cold being sprayed on my back, which I think was local anaesthetic. It was very cold. She then felt for the space where she was going to inject. It was completely weird – I felt a weird pressure – and then a warm feeling, which gradually went to my toes and started to rise in my legs – everything started to feel heavy – I expected to feel numb, but it was more like a pins and needle feeling. I was then asked to lie myself on the bed which I wasn’t sure I’d manage but I did.
One of the men helped me to stay on my left- hand side and then I was lifted onto another bed – by now I felt really weird. My arms were on my chest and I could barely feel my chest! The lady then sprayed me with something very cold on my shoulder and said she would spray this on my legs going up to my chest and I was to tell her when I felt it as cold as the first spray – I felt it around my breasts. Its not that you can’t feel it but you can’t feel the cold.
The surgeon came in then and she asked if I wanted to see baby being born – I did. It was all very quick from this moment – the screen went up in front of me – Colin was to my right – I just kept looking at him – he was talking to me – I think I was crying – I could feel tugging and there was pushing and pulling all the way up near my ribs – it was making the screen shake! The anaesthetist said your waters have gone – and I heard someone say there’s lots of water – then I heard a suction. I was told it was time for her to be delivered – it felt like it only been a couple of minutes. The screen was down and Colin was up with the camera ready.
As I was lay flat I couldn’t see the first bit but then I heard the surgeon say there’s lots of hair and then I saw this full head of hair being lifted out – she cried straight away and lifted both her arms up! It was incredible but also unbelievable that its happening to you. Baby was then whisked off and Colin went with her – I could hear her crying. The anaesthetist talked me through everything they were doing with baby. I was not really with it – I was really wanting to know her birth weight. When she was brought back she was placed on my naked chest. It was so surreal and she was rooting almost straight away.
The anaesthetist took some pictures of us. It took them about 30 minutes to stitch me up. I was then wheeled through to recovery. I was still shaking. The midwife was with me and another man. My temp had dropped to 35 something – they put a bear wrap over me and Scarlett. We then went to the main recovery for about an hour. The midwife put Scarlett on my breast and to my amazement there was this gold liquid coming from my nipples. I then got transferred to the post-natal ward C2 and I was wheeled there with Scarlett on my bare chest. I had been given diamorphine and I was really itchy on my legs and tummy. I think I asked Colin about 10 times how much she weighed. It was all just very surreal. I couldn’t stop staring at her, a fully formed perfect human had just come out of my body!’
Thank you for reading about my positive c-section , I have really loved writing this blog post. I am aware that for some of you, your birth experience may not have been anything like what you had hoped for. If you think that something could have gone better, your experience was not good or if you feel down about what happened, then you might want to consider having a debrief. Your health visitor should be able to give you the right paperwork, do not be scared to ask, your mental and physical health is very important and may make all the difference to how you feel going forward.
We hope you enjoyed reading Rachel’s positive c-section experience. Did you have a positive c-section?
What would you want to know about a positive c-section? Did you think a positive c-section could be possible?
Darshana is sharing c-section expectations vs the reality of what it was actually like to experience!
I remember being at my NCT meeting when I was pregnant with my first daughter and there was a class on c-sections. I remember how they described a c-section as one of the scariest experiences you will ever go through when giving birth. I was asked to sit in the middle of the room and around 4 to 5 other group members were asked to surround me to describe how intimidating a c-section could be with so many people around you while you lay there being cut open.
With my first daughter I had a vaginal birth which was a long and traumatic experience. I was in hospital being induced for around 5 days before I finally went into labour. After around 15 hours of labour and the help of an epidural, I finally gave birth to my beautiful little girl but unfortunately, my placenta was caught behind my closed cervix, so I was taken into the operation theatre to get it manually removed.
With my second daughter – who is now two months old – I was induced once again, this time because my waters had broken but I wasn’t aware of it. This meant a chance of infection for the baby. I remember being terrified of being induced again and the thought of my husband not being by my side while I went through it all – giving that the pandemic placed limits on birth partners prior to the birth. Luckily, he could be with me as soon as the induction process began. As soon as they put the pessary in me, my contractions came on too strong, too quickly which wasn’t right and they explained that they will be moving us down to the delivery ward so I can get the hormone drip and start my labour.
We were moved into a room in the delivery ward where my husband and I were getting ready for me to get the hormone drip and start the labour process. We had no idea what was about to happen. Around 5 medical staff walked into the room with a consultant, and they all surrounded me as I sat on the bed. They started to explain that my baby’s heartbeat was dropping every time I had a contraction, and they feared the baby could be at risk. By the end of the conversation, I was told I would require an emergency C-section.
I remember feeling so scared for my baby and I feared the idea of being cut open to have her taken out. The whole moment felt surreal. Considering I had preeclampsia with my first daughter and still gave a normal birth, I never thought an emergency c-section would even be an option. I remember crying as the doctor read the risks to me before asking me to sign the operation papers, she asked if I wanted to have a moment to process it all, but I told her to continue and fought back my streaming tears.
I was wheeled into the operation theatre where the staff were so lovely and made me feel so calm and comfortable. When I had the epidural during my first daughter it was a very unpleasant experience as the anaesthesiologist had hit a blood vessel at the first attempt and had to try again. I was expecting the same pain but this time it felt nothing like the first time. Within 10-15 minutes of me lying down and being numb, my second baby girl was here. I could not believe how quickly it happened and how I did not feel a thing, maybe just some pulling but it felt unbelievably quick. I was feeling very nauseous from the anaesthetic and felt very cold and shivery – apparently this was normal.
I have been asked by many women close to me how I found the c-section and which birth I preferred. After having my first daughter I remember saying to my husband I don’t know if I can go through that again and I don’t think I want any more kids. This time I said to my husband if I have a c-section I will definitely have a third. I know some people might find this reaction surprising because a c-section is such serious surgery but I found it quick, and I didn’t struggle with contractions. Weirdly, I felt like I had more control because I knew she was coming now, I didn’t have to wait and wait not knowing when I would finally meet her.
I agree the recovery is a long and hard road but I was lucky enough to have the support. I was staying with my parents when I just came out of hospital as our house was being renovated. I had many people running around my toddler helping entertain her while I rested and spent time with my newborn. I stayed on top of my painkillers – which really helped – and I felt like I was able to get up and walk around slowly quite quickly. I think the reason why I dealt with the recovery better was because I had Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction (SPD) throughout my pregnancy which had me in crutches near the end and the recovery from a c-section felt like I was still dealing with the SPD symptoms.
I did struggle with the idea of not being able to do a lot on my own and feeling helpless when it came to caring for my toddler. It got me down a lot of days but I also pushed to recover quicker than I should have which resulted in my stitches being infected. The infection pain was worse than any pain I felt throughout the recovery process. Every time I laughed or coughed, I was in excruciating pain, it was horrible. I ended up having to go to the doctors and being prescribed antibiotics to help my stitches heal. Three months on and I still don’t feel 100%, it is delicate where the stitches once were and almost numb at times. I still get a pulling pain when lying down or running. I keep wondering if this pulling pain will go or if it will stick around. People that see me think I am fully recovered but I still deal with some pain getting out of bed and when I try to run or if I move suddenly but my mind keeps telling me I am a mum and I have to just get on with life with or without any pain, my family needs me.
I am still on the road to recovery but I do know one thing, a c-section is not as scary as it is made out to be as long as you are in good hands in that theatre, I was lucky and I am thankful for that.
Stigma behind c-sections
‘too posh to push’
This saying has always confused me and made me think who created this? Who thinks that a woman is any less of a mother or even less of a woman if she brings her child into the world through an operation rather than pushing them out? You give birth to your children; you have carried them for 9 months and you have then had your body cut open to bring them into this world. You have gone through the same trauma, the same feelings regardless of how your baby enters your world. Why does it make you any different if you opted or had no choice but to go through a c-section?
I always care what people think and slowly I am learning why I should care? They didn’t go through my pregnancy or the birth with me! It was just me, I know how I felt and what I went through mentally and physically so what gives anyone else the right to have an opinion on how my baby comes into the world?
Top tips for anyone who is about to have a c-section or fears a potential emergency c-section:
Bringing your baby into this world is a blessing, how they come into this world doesn’t matter as long as they are healthy and happy. I know my baby is gorgeous, healthy (touch wood) and happy. I have no shame or no fear in saying that I had a c-section, and I will opt for one next time too (if there is a next time) over vaginal birth too. Your body and you are amazing, never forget that beautiful mamas!
Today I am going to be sharing my c-section story. I fell pregnant quite quickly after planning to have a baby with my other half. I was around 3 weeks when I found out and it was the best feeling but also the worst.
I suffered badly with hyperemesis throughout my whole pregnant along with preeclampsia. I hated been pregnant I felt unwell constantly and was in and out of hospital because I couldn’t keep anything down.
As my pregnancy went on I went in for a scan and I was 36 weeks pregnant. Talking to the midwife about my birth plan , discussing my options I had everything planned. I wanted a natural birth but would accept any help if I needed it i felt as prepared as a I could for the arrival of my daughter. Until I had a scan at 36 weeks it lasted longer than normal and I asked the lady at the time if everything was okay and she said all is fine however I’ll be seeing a specialist straight after and to wait to be called through.
I remember thinking what’s going on worrying something was seriously wrong.
After 10 anxious minutes we got called in.
The guy who we saw sat us down and explained that our daughter wasn’t growing properly , and at the right size for how far on I was and that she was measuring small. I didn’t understand why and I questioned was it something I had done was it my body? The specialist told me that it wasn’t any of my fault and this can happen but at the same time I felt like I was to blame.
He then told me that I had to have a C – Section within two days time. It was Thursday at this time and come Sunday I was having her out.
I remember crying , thinking the worst and being scared of the unknown.
It wasn’t what I had planned. Even though I wasn’t looking forward to giving birth having a serious operation scared me to death.
I went home and I cried for a few hours. I felt sick and I just wanted it to be over.
I had my baby shower the Saturday morning and told my friends and family that Maisie would be born Sunday.
Let’s just say everyone was shocked and I still couldn’t believe what was happening.
Sunday came the 9th feb.
I went into hospital for 7.30am after getting a call from my midwife to come down. I felt scared but so excited that I would be meeting my little girl very soon.
We got taken into a bay and I was asked to get undressed and into a robe.
My bloods got taken before and my blood pressure.
And then it was time to go down to theatre. My heart was racing with fear.
I remember walking into theatre and there were 6 members of staff and even that made me feel uneasy but I knew I was in safe hands and they were there to help.
I got asked to sit on the bed in order for me to have the spinal epidural , being asked to sit still and relax was pretty hard considering I was literally shitting myself at the fact that I was going to be having a needle put into my back and not being able to feel the bottom half of my body.
However with the help of a theatre nurse it was done and within minutes I couldn’t feel a thing from waist down. It was a very strange feeling.
My partner was next to me holding my hand , I had a drip on one arm and my Blood pressure been measured on another as well as a cannula in my hand for any drugs I needed at the time.
I was given something , I’m not quite sure what but within seconds I wanted to be sick I felt really unwell and went very pale. I remember turning to my partner and telling him and he had to get someone to give me some anti sickness in order to help. I thought something bad was happening to me at this point but within a few minutes I felt normal again.
The surgeon talked me through what he was doing ( not in full detail ) but made me aware of the feeling I may feel during the procedure. I could feel a lot of tugging but other than that I couldn’t feel much at all.
Very quickly Maisie arrived weighing 4lb 7oz. Once I had been stitched back up I was taken back to my room.
This part was a little blurry due to all the drugs I had.
The road to recovery was hard. I couldn’t do the things I should of being able to do. I couldn’t pick my daughter up or bend or make any sudden movements as it hurt. I couldn’t Life anything and even climbing the stairs hurt.
I felt useless and like a rubbish mum and this was only the beginning.
I needed help to get in and out of bed for 10 days before I could find my own way of doing it. 10 days I spent inside feeling and looking like crap. I felt gross. Was this really motherhood?
10 days on and I managed to venture out for a little walk. Fresh air did me the world of good and that was something that kept me sain especially when I couldn’t do a lot just getting out after being inside for a solid 10 days really made a difference.
For anyone who is having a section.
Know that everything will be okay.
It doesn’t last forever the feeling you may have and you get a beautiful baby in your arms after.
Make sure you rest and don’t put pressure on yourself. And if you need to cry then cry. I did a lot of it even months after.
There you have it, Ria’s c-section story – We hope this post helped if you had a similar birth!
Theodore Thomas arrived into the world on the 8th August 2019 and this is the story of his birth. I think it’s important to say that even though I consider my birth story a traumatic one, it was simultaneously a magical and empowering experience. I really wanted to find the courage to share this with a community of mamas and prospective mamas in the hope that a handful of you may relate to my story or appreciate my honesty. Today I am going to be sharing my emergency c-section experience.
At the halfway point of my pregnancy, we were told that a C-section might be necessary as my placenta was too low and because Teddy was measuring big. However, my placenta eventually moved and we got the all-clear for a natural birth around 34 weeks. In my mind I then wrote off the idea of a C-section and looked forward to a natural birth.
A few days before my due date, I went for a sweep (this is where the midwife brushes the membranes around your cervix in order to stimulate hormones and encourage labour). I was worried it would be uncomfortable but I barely felt a thing. We also had a last minute scan to check Teddy’s size and position. We were then told that he was measuring small and that they recommended induction in case he had stopped growing (and scarily, in case the placenta had stopped functioning). Later you will understand the irony of this!
We were booked in for an induction on the 6th August, two days after my due date. I just kept wishing that he would come naturally on those days in-between. Part of me thought he would suddenly make an appearance in the middle of the night; I was so uncomfortable, I felt loads of pressure down there where Teddy’s head seemed so low, and my husband Matt definitely had a few nightmares where he woke up in a panic thinking it was “showtime” and he hadn’t put the car-seat in the car! Looking back now, Teddy was born at 1.43am and perhaps I had mother’s intuition that he would arrive in the early hours.
On induction day, we felt surprisingly calm and relaxed. We had a lovely space in the induction ward at our local NHS hospital, with a sofa, a TV, and even a little patio table and chairs. We played board games and ate ice lollies as it was the peak of summer, with no idea what awaited us.
My induction kicked in about 14 hours after I had a pessary put in and labour was extremely intense. It began in the night – Matt was asleep on the sofa and I remember rolling around endlessly on the bed, bouncing on my birthing ball and trying to listen to a playlist I’d made of songs that reminded me of Teddy to take my mind off the deep period-like pains rooted in my back. When I really began to struggle with the pain, I asked for a warm bath, which did help me relax. From there, I started inhaling gas and air and I only remember snippets.
I was in active labour for about 19 hours in total. I genuinely feel like I just lost a day in my life. I dozed in and out of sleep or a hallucinatory state. Matt was a superhero, supporting and comforting me while liaising with medical professionals and keeping anxious family in the loop. It came to a point – about 10 ‘o’ clock at night – when I was told to start pushing. By then the pain became indescribable and I begged for an epidural, despite my previous adamance that I would never have one. I have a huge phobia of needles!
After checking I was certain, the midwives called the anaesthetist to administer my epidural and I prepared myself mentally for what we thought was the final stage: we were finally going to meet our baby. Then came the next hiccup. Teddy was right there, in the birth canal, but he was stuck. The midwives called a consultant in and they agreed it didn’t look like baby was going to come out, so would we agree to a c-section? We were reluctant at first; after such an intense labour and hours on end without sleep we couldn’t process that this was our only option. We just wanted Teddy to be delivered safely and so I signed the consent forms. I was still high on gas and air; I know if I had to sign them pre-labour I would probably have been terrified yet I surprised myself with how brave I was. I even accepted that I had to have a top-up of epidural by the time we got round to theatre! I think I made friends with the anaesthetist – I recall that he was really lovely and jolly, even in the middle of the night.
Eventually the time came for us to proceed to theatre. Matt nervously put on his blue scrubs and crocs. I remember being wheeled into theatre and hearing the radio, which put me at ease. The lights were bright but oddly homely and I felt like I was entering a café or coffee shop! I was lifted from my trolley bed onto the surgery table by the doctors and midwives. My body just flopped onto the table; I couldn’t feel it because of the epidurals, it was like it didn’t belong to me. A big screen that looked like a sheet was constructed in front of me, it came up to my bra line. I lay back and shut my eyes as I just felt so tired. I really had no concept of what was going on; the doctors were chatting away about their shift as they must have been starting the procedure! The delivery of our baby. I grasped Matt’s hand and we waited, wondering what was happening behind the sheet and hoping Teddy wasn’t too distressed.
I felt absolutely no pain at all, instead I felt a surreal pulling sensation, like the surgeons were on a treasure hunt in my tummy, moving everything around, looking behind my organs, then putting them back into place again! That sounds gruesome, but the C-section itself wasn’t a scary ordeal. It felt quite peaceful. I almost wish we had some of those beautiful photographs you see of a C-section baby being lifted out of mum’s tum taken, but Matt did say he peeped under the screen when my monitor started beeping, and it scared him to death. I forgot to say that the song playing on the radio as Teddy entered the world was Cutting Crew – “I just died in your arms tonight”. Hence why Matt was petrified.
Teddy came into the world and they announced that he weighed ten pounds on the dot! So his growth had not slowed as they had estimated – that was the whole reason for my induction! At that point the monitor started beeping. Matt heard them say I was losing lots of blood and that they were considering a transfusion! At this point I felt so drowsy and a midwife started stroking my hair, trying to keep me awake. Matt accompanied Teddy as he had to have an injection and a proper check over because of a suspected infection. I got a very quick glimpse of him across the room – he was so pink, he had such a distinctive cry and I remember thinking his ears didn’t look like mine or Matt’s! That split second was the most magical moment of my life, but then Teddy disappeared.
It was traumatic to be instantly separated from my baby. I felt distressed and even doubted that he was mine as I hadn’t witnessed the birth and I hadn’t even touched him. Therefore I couldn’t make that physical connection yet. I waited for forty minutes, although it felt like forever, for Teddy and Matt to return. I was desperate to see Teddy’s tiny face up close and to feel his skin on mine for the very first time. I was desperate to embrace Matt and to be united as a family. I remember becoming very impatient with a midwife and asking for a drink of water and some sugar while I was waiting as I felt so weak! I didn’t get offered the classic post-birth toast! I remember crying floods of tears as the midwife wrote notes in my file. Goodness knows what she wrote!
This period of time post-surgery wasn’t the most pleasant experience, however I must stress that we had numerous midwives look after us from the very beginning of my induction who were kind, compassionate, personable and who went above and beyond their duty of care. Due to the nature of the birth and Teddy’s infection, we had to stay in hospital for a week in total and Teddy was admitted to the special care unit. Again, here we received incredible care. That’s a whole other story and I am already conscious of how long this is and whether anyone will actually want to keep reading! So now I want to share a few tips for a C-section recovery.
PILLOWS ARE YOUR FRIEND
Finding a comfortable position is really tricky in the early days. Make sure you have lots of pillows, some squashy and some firm to support your back, your shoulders, your hips, your legs. I was reminded never to cross my legs and to keep moving where possible or to do little windmill motions with my ankles to reduce the risk of clots. I used my pregnancy pillow after the birth for breastfeeding. Your wound area is incredibly delicate and you won’t want to put any pressure on it. I even struggled wearing leggings – floaty dresses with loose pyjama shorts underneath and Bridget Jones pants were my go-tos. At night I would roll up a soft blanket and sleep with that wedged under me so my scar couldn’t rub.
TAKE IT EASY (REALLY, DO)
Don’t bend down to change nappies. Do them on a raised surface like the bed, or ask loved ones to help for those first few weeks. Having a caddy full of essentials such as nappies, wipes, muslins, maternity or breast pads, Lanolin if feeding, pain relief and snacks nearby will stop you needing to locate things and help you save up valuable energy. Avoid loading or unloading the dishwasher, or even washing up for extended periods of time because you’ll find it really hurts your core and therefore your scar. You may feel a failure for not being able to do these basic things. You may feel a lack of control but honestly, you will recover much quicker if you don’t overdo it or strain your scar area. I definitely got frustrated and did too much too quickly, thinking I needed to clean the house when of course, it wasn’t important.
KEEP THE PAIN AT BAY
It is vital that you keep your pain relief topped up. When you leave hospital after a C-section, you will be given a stash of paracetamol and ibuprofen, alongside something stronger. I underestimated the idea of staying on top of it; take it before you feel any pain at all, otherwise it suddenly catches up with you and you will have a few really uncomfortable hours. Set a timer on your phone for every four hours or the recommended dosage time and take it on the dot, even through the night.
EMBRACE THE SOFA SNUGGLES
You have been through an entire pregnancy and birth and now you’ve been thrust into a new job nurturing a new-born who needs you 24/7. Try to relax and make the most of those gorgeous milky snuggles. Any chores can wait, or loved ones should be willing to do them for you! Always accept help. If you want to be alone or feel too emotional to even have family as visitors, then let them come and help you, and tell them that you are going to go to your bedroom to feed and catch up on sleep with baby. They will be grateful just to see you and baby briefly and won’t expect you to be the hostess with the mostess right now, so don’t place that pressure on yourself.
Keep snacks and bottles of water by your bed for the middle of the night or an early morning start. Staying hydrated reduces any swelling due to limited mobility and also constipation as you might experience this for up to a few weeks after the C-section. If you’re breastfeeding, I found oat or milk breakfast biscuits really good for providing energy and nutrition; I was also always in need of a little chocolate fix for a pick-me-up. I had an iron deficiency for a few months after my C-section, so ensure to keep your diet rich in iron through green veggies like spinach or dried fruits and cereal (easy to prepare and snack on all day!).
I hope you have enjoyed reading about my c-section experience and that it may have addressed any unanswered questions you had. My birth wasn’t perfect on paper but whenever Teddy points out my smiley face shaped scar in the bath and I say “You came out through there!”, he does a little smile himself, and I feel so proud of myself and my journey to being united with my baby boy.
We have the lovely Martyna today sharing her birth experience and c-section advice.
My c-section wasn’t planned. During pregnancy there was no indication that a c-section might be required to deliver my baby boy Alex safely and it never even crossed my mind that I could need one.
I went into spontaneous labour and everything was going perfectly until it was time to push. I was trying with all my might, literally putting my all into it but Alex was just not moving down, at all. After an hour and a half of unsuccessful pushing, the decision was made to try forceps in theatre followed by an emergency c-section if the forceps was not successful. This was due to Alex becoming distressed and his heart rate dropping.
I was given an epidural and the doctors attempted delivery by forceps 3 times, but as you probably have guessed, this was unsuccessful. Once I was told that they would perform a c-section, I just felt utter relief. I was absolutely exhausted and high on pethidine and epidural, and I just wanted my baby to be here.
My husband was with me the entire time, I had a wonderful midwife and a very lovely anaesthesiologist. They kept me distracted from what was going on, to the point that I didn’t even realise that they had started. I asked the midwife if they had, she nodded and literally a second later, we heard Alex cry and saw him being lifted above the little screen. It was absolute music to our eyes and both my husband and I started crying. He was just perfect, very loud and absolutely massive!
I didn’t feel a thing, in terms of pain or discomfort but I did loose a litre of blood. Whilst I was getting stitched up, Alex had cuddles with daddy, he was checked, weighed and measured – an impressive 9lb 12oz, and 56cm! No wonder he wasn’t moving down into the birth canal as he was supposed to! I did ask to do skin to skin immediately however my baby boy was just too long to fit across my chest!
Once I was taken into recovery, Alex was placed on my chest, we had skin to skin and his first breastfeed. It was amazing and I honestly couldn’t care less about the manner in which he was delivered. He was healthy and strong and in my arms.
My recovery was ok, though I have nothing to compare it to as Alex is my first baby. The midwives on the postnatal ward were really good, and very quick to respond to me asking for help. The epidural takes a while to wear off so you do need help with pretty everything, including even lifting your baby out of their bassinet.
A tip I was given was not to wait for pain before asking for painkillers. Instead, it is best to keep them topped up. Saying that I don’t remember the pain being horrific though everyone experiences pain differently.
I was discharged home around 24 hours after Alex was born, which I was very pleased about because due to Covid, we were unable to have any visitors. In hindsight, I wish I had stayed for longer, because it later transpired I was dehydrated, anaemic and had picked up an infection.
I was readmitted back into hospital 4 days postpartum due to the infection which turned into sepsis. I’m not sure what caused it but I think that I was definitely trying to do too much too quickly. When Alex was 5 weeks old, my scar, which had been healing perfectly until that point, had re-opened slightly and I developed another infection. This was treated with antibiotics at home though so at least I didn’t need another hospitalisation.
All in all, I would say that m experience of the c-section itself was positive. It went smoothly even though it was an emergency situation. The recovery was the trickiest part for me and I really wish I had taken things easy.
If you are due to have a c-section, don’t fear, and perhaps think about the following –
1. Practice hypnobirthing – whilst I didn’t have a vaginal birth, it really helped me and my husband to stay calm during an emergency situation. I’d highly recommend it.
2. Don’t think that you can’t do skin to skin immediately after delivery, most of the time I believe you can (Alex was just too big to fit across my chest!)
3. Keep your pain killers topped up, don’t wait to be in pain.
4. Oramorph (morphine) is brilliant but it can make you constipated, I’d say only take it if you really need it.
5. I was given a drug of some sort, before the surgery started to stop me from feeling nauseous afterwards, and I was absolutely fine. Another lady on my ward wasn’t and she felt awful in recovery. Perhaps ask for this if you’re not offered it by the anaesthesiologist. (Sorry I can’t remember the name of it)
6. Be kind to yourself and don’t try to do too much too quickly. Remember you have had a major surgery on top of having a baby – rest plenty, eat well and take all the help you can get
7. Enjoy the snuggles with your little bubba – as long as you and your baby are safe and well, it doesn’t matter how you baby was delivered!
If you don’t usually read our blog or follow us over on Instagram, you might not know that this month is c-section awareness month! We have got in touch with lots of lovely Mama’s from our Instagram community and asked them to share their stories on our website, today we have the lovely Jackie sharing her c-section experience.
You know all those inappropriate questions other mothers ask, usually to compare your labour experience with their own? Those little bonding questions you ask new mothers…
“Is your fanny still intact?” “Did you shit when I pushed?” “Oh, you had a c-section? Thats ok then, at least you didn’t have to push it out.”
Yes, that was actually once said to me. Along with, “Oh, too posh to push eh?!” and “aw, at least you had the easy way out!”
And it hurt. It cuts something crazy deep to hear stuff like that.
I didn’t choose to have a c-section., and please don’t mistake this as a caesarean section bashing post, because it really isn’t. It’s just my frustrations about my own experience.
My labour experience was not physically horrific, but I am forever, emotionally scarred. The hardest part of my labour experience was not that I was 2 weeks overdue.
It wasn’t that everything I had planned went to pot, thats to be expected. I wasn’t allowed in the beautiful purple sparkly room with the amazing birthing pool, instead I had to be strapped to a bed with wires and shit hanging off me, that disgusting needle in my hand (which fucking KILLS by the way), in the most clinical, unfriendly looking room in the whole unit. You know when you’re shown round the delivery suite and you’re like, “oooh this rooms lovely” or “bloody hell this room is horrific” and naturally, you end up in the latter.
It wasn’t that the midwife on shift 1 told me I wasn’t allowed anything to eat, and that if I felt hungry, I wasn’t in proper labour yet. I’m pretty sure I’d have been able to gobble down some chocolate, regardless of what stage of labour I was in.
It wasn’t that the midwife on shift 2 completely misjudged how many cm’s dilated I was. She must have had the worlds skinniest fingers, to think 5-6 cm’s is anything like 1-2cm (which is what I actually was when senior midwife checked 12 hours later, oh, and the head wasn’t even fixated…).
It wasn’t that it took the staff 24 hours to realise that my waters had not properly broken, and in order to do so they had to stick a big stick up my fadge to pop them, thus making the contractions kick in, fast and furiously.
It wasn’t that after 50 something hours, after several 4 hour vaginal checks with multiple people giving it a good feel (having an epidural makes you a great candidate for student midwives to get a go at the icky stuff), we collectively came to the decision to slice this baby out of my belly. I vaguely remember telling my Gareth that I wanted a c section 12 hours previously, not really understanding the full ins and outs of what I was asking for. I just knew she wasn’t coming out of my foof, and I couldn’t do another 24 hours of come and go contractions.
The hardest part of my labour was not watching my purple coloured little monkey taken to the far side of the room and not laid on my chest straight away.
It wasn’t watching her be given to my partner and not me, that bit was actually pretty special, the look of raw emotion on his face will never leave me for as long as I live.
The hardest part of my experience wasn’t spending 24 hours in the most horrific ward, listening to the staff tell us that Gareth couldn’t stay past 10pm and I had to stay alone. With a brand new human.
It wasn’t the hardest part when I got told off by a student midwife for changing my baby’s nappy on my lap in the hospital bed. I cried, because I literally could not move, and there was nobody to help. Have you ever stayed in a post natal ward for longer than 12 hours? I felt like I was in a prison.
It wasn’t when the numbness in my legs and stomach wearing off and I had to walk to the shower and actually try and wash myself, and then having to ring the emergency cord because I’m pretty sure I was having a mild panic attack following the sight of copious amounts of bloody coming out of me, plus washing yourself after a c-section? Unaided? Not possible. It wasn’t that there was only 1 poor midwife, clearly rushed off her feet on discharge day, with a bunch of other families waiting to be discharged. A process that took 12 hours instead of 2.
It wasn’t when we finally got discharged and she decided that the first time she checked over our baby, something seemed wrong… So off she sauntered off down the corridor, into a room, where I could hear my baby girl screaming. I’ll never forget how sick and angry I felt at that moment.
The hardest part of my labour and the recovery weeks that followed wasn’t any of the above. I had given birth to a beautiful, healthy baby girl. It’s the attitude of others, concerning c-sections. How insensitive peoples comments were whilst I was still recovering. Too posh to push?! Are you fucking serious? I didn’t fucking choose to not push her out like a champ. I didn’t sit there and think, ‘nah, I’ve had enough now, I’m tired, lets slice this one out’.
I had a failed labour induction, and I felt like I’d failed in every way imaginable. I felt like my boyfriend didn’t look at me like I was a superwoman. I’d read all these brilliant stories about the beautiful way in which fathers saw the mother of their children, after seeing them give birth, and I didn’t have that. Well, I thought I didn’t.
There is such a social stigma that surrounds c sections. You can’t escape judgement and ignorance. The fact that some people, still don’t see it as actually ‘giving birth’, which is absofuckinglutely ridiculous.
It fucks me off that everyone has to have an opinion, and that, between mums, its become a competition to see who had the hardest labour. Confuckingrats to you, you’re labour was physically and undeniably worse than mine. Did you get a trophy? A ‘best pusher’ prize? Oh, you got a baby? Me fucking too!!!
I apologise if I’ve come across as a bitter, sarcastic arsehole, but what I am slowly coming to terms with… Is that it really doesn’t matter how you got your baby. You gave birth, whether it came out of your foof, or your belly.
I shouldn’t be so angry at other mums who talk about their experience, as they probably feel some of the same feelings I do, and instead we should be bonding over this. I am able to do that now, listen to other stories, and not sit there thinking they’re judging me. People want to be heard. And I am a superwoman. I faced my biggest challenge, and I get cute little reminders of how amazing my body is, in the face of my stunning baby girl, and my war wound.”
Did you know April was c-section awareness month?
I had paracetamol for my week-long stay in hospital and even a week once I was home. I wasn’t in sharp shooting pain as such, just a niggling droning pain – like a bruise but on the inside, I was however terrified about anything coming apart or getting infected.
Trust me, I didn’t do a normal poo for 3 weeks I was given iron tablets which funnily do the opposite of the laxative so didn’t feel comfortable going normally until the iron tablets were over with. The midwives will need to see you have regular movements and wee’s to remove the catheter after surgery.
Blood clot preventers, they will give you these to take home too, so get someone to do them for you, my lucky hubby got the short straw. I am not comfortable with needles, less so after birth so there was no way I would have been able to stick these in me and admire anyone that does. I’m just a wimp!
The mother of all periods. Adult nappies became my friends. You are so prepared to change the baby’s nappy but not your own… Why is that?
The bigger the better. Head to Marks and Spencer as these pants will become your best friend. I bought “boy short” type pants for my birth bag, they were not suitable as the waistband sat right along the incision. My mum grabbed me a pack of granny pants and I have never looked back.
Yup – you still have to do those. Reminder – You are doing them right now too!
I did not remove my compression stockings for two weeks (only off for showers). I was so worried about DVT and I was adamant I would not go back in the hospital.
Pillows to prop you up at night or day. Your normal bed is the worst transition from the electronic hospital beds. Lying flat in bed hurts, anything to ease that transition is a must.
No housework. The midwife said not to exert or lift anything heavier than the baby. So, I listened and I healed. 6 weeks is a very long time, but I had good support around, where my mum did our ironing, hubby maintained household chores and I sat on the recliner, baby in my arms, keeping my fluids up and enjoying our bundle and trying to work out how to be a mum.
I didn’t drive until our 6-week review. I didn’t want my insurance invalidated, plus if you emergency stop your seatbelt is not in the best place, so just don’t do it. I know some mums do, do this, but if you can avoid driving then certainly do that.
Now I had a strong hatred for my scar, so I refused to even look at it in the beginning. Hubby would clean it for me though, morning and night, this was done with warm boiled water, and a cotton bud or pad, going from one end to the other, we would then pat with a tissue and let air dry, which would just involve me propped up in bed, lifting my new mum tum for about 5 minutes. He would also look out for any red patches, heat or sounds gross, oozing because those are signs of infection. But we were all good.
Samantha is sharing her (trigger warning) *traumatic birth in a pandemic, story with us. There is a huge stigma around birth & not every experience is a positive one!
Hi, I’m Rachel, mother to three kids under five, and proud home birther to two out of three of my babies. We welcomed our last baby, Temperance, into the world on 28th September 2020 in the midst of a global pandemic in our home is Hampshire.
This was our second home birth, both of which were empowering and amazing experiences. So here’s my story of a pandemic home birth
My home birth experience (Southampton University Trusts)
The first moment I knew I was in labour was in the morning of the 28th around 7:30am when I started to feel strong backache and mild contractions that bordered on braxton hicks. Our four year old was due to go to school (his first full day) so my husband dropped him off, taking our two year old with him so I can pace around the living room, and bounce on my exercise/birthing ball. They came back and I put our two year old down for a nap around 9:30am.
I started to monitor the contractions and read a bit of my book (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix) to distract me as they started to get more intense. I phoned the midwives around 10am to have a chat. My contractions weren’t hugely regular, a mix of 4 minutes to 2 minutes apart, sometimes lasting 30 seconds, sometimes longer. I knew this was typical for my body from my previous births. I don’t fall into a particular pattern. I decided on the phone to give it a little longer before I requested the midwives to come.
Half an hour later, the contractions were getting increasingly more difficult to talk through so I called again. The labour line said they would contact the midwives and see if and who could come out to me. I received a call perhaps 10minutes later from the midwife saying she was coming from the hospital and how was I doing? I was starting to get the bearing down sensation from the contractions where the pressure started to build in my back, spread to the front and pushed downward. I said this to the midwife who asked if I thought it would be a good idea to request the second midwife which I said yes. They would be with us in half an hour.
In that time, Dann began filling our hired birthing pool. He had inflated it earlier that morning before the school drop off. The pool took about 30 minutes to fill being a mini birthing pool (the standard size can be upwards of 45 minutes but our water tank struggles to keep up with that size and maintain the water temperature at 36 degrees. We’ve learnt this from previous experience.) To fill up faster, Dann connected hoses to both our kitchen sink tap, and the hot tap in our downstairs toilet. The pool was filled when the midwives arrived at around 11:30am.
The lead midwife (who turned out to be the student who had attended both of my previous births which was pretty special) did my internal exam, as well as general wellbeing checks giving me some entonox to tide me over as the pain was getting more intense. We phoned my friend to come collect Dexter who had now woken from his nap, and I got into the birthing pool with the entonox by my side. The midwives were super helpful with hand holding and helping me get into the pool whilst my husband sorted Dexter who was good as gold throughout.
As soon as I got in the pool the sensation to push increased and I let my body do its thing. The next part is a little fuzzy from the pain and pain relief (entonox makes me very heady and spaced out though I know this isn’t the case for most). Not long later, I could feel baby girl’s head near crowning, and I was aware of the midwives monitoring more closely, using the mirror in the pool to monitor any crowning.
To everyone’s surprise, my own included, she crowned on a contraction, with her body slipping out on the same push. My previous home birth, I pushed the head out, then had to wait a full contraction later before I could push his body out. The midwives caught her and said I could move back so they could pass her up to me. The surprise is written all over my face in some of the photos my husband took. Dexter was with me the entire time, blowing on the entonox canister by the pool as I breathed it in.
I was given the injection to pass the placenta, passed Temperance to my husband and the midwives and guided out of the pool to the sofa to pass the placenta and get checked over. Before I managed to get to the sofa, the placenta slipped out onto the floor. Fortunately we have wood flooring and understanding midwives who had a good laugh about it.
After another check for tears and grazes, I was deemed as a graze which didn’t need stitches (the midwives can do these at home so you don’t have to transfer) and Temperance was brought back for cuddles and her first feed whilst the midwives monitored me for a bit longer and fill in their paperwork whilst we all enjoyed a cup of tea. My friend arrived to collect Dexter for a playdate so we had a bit of time as a three with our baby girl. The most fascinating part of having a home birth is learning about the placenta checks the midwives do, particularly as our hospital trust is a teaching hospital so always has students. I had three midwives attending in the end for this birth.
It was an intense and quite quick birth, but I wouldn’t change a thing.
How the pandemic affected our pregnancy and birth experience
As a low risk pregnancy, I was lucky to not have many difficulties. Due to the pandemic, my husband couldn’t attend a single scan which was hard, even as a third time mother. We had our first scan a week into the first lockdown. I was the one who told my husband we were having a girl when I got back in the car after my 20 week scan.
All my appointments with my midwife (the same community midwife I’ve had for each of my pregnancies and the most supportive woman ever, she was the one to suggest a home birth in the first instance.) were alone, in masks.
I had an additional growth scan at 37 weeks due to stagnant growth which was not a hugely fun experience, though bumping into Lucinda, my midwife at the hospital was nice.
During my actual birth, the pandemic fortunately didn’t make a big impact. The only real perceptible difference was the fact the midwives wore masks the entirely time, aside from when they had a drink. I am glad we chose a home birth as I think I would have ended up birthing alone in a hospital due to restrictions and childcare.
I think the pregnancy restrictions were far worse and harder than the labour restrictions, and I am very pleased to see that a lot of Covid restrictions have been lifted now for partners and pregnant people.
The months since have been different to how we expected to spend our days with our baby girl when we conceived her in January 2020, but we have our healthy baby girl and a wonderful birth experience to remember, and that’s all that matters to me.
YOU CAN READ RACHEL’S FIRST GUEST POST BY CLICKING HERE : EVERYTHING YOU NEED WHEN PLANNING A HOME BIRTH
Alice is sharing her traumatic birth story today. I experienced a traumatic birth with my first baby so her story really resonated with me and it is so important to share these experiences.
“Now why would you want to do a homebirth?!”
I had to think about this question for a while. And when the answer struck me I decided to be honest about it, even though it wasn’t pretty.
I wanted to birth my fourth baby at home because I vividly remember giving birth in a hospital.
… I remember the feeling of betrayal, when I asked the doctors for an epidural after several hours of immense pain feeling stuck during labour. They told me it was way too late for that and that I was almost there and then decided (2 hours later) an epidural was necessary because the baby wasn’t moving.
I remember that annoyed facial expression of the anaesthetic doctor (he literally rolled his eyes) because I couldn’t sit still due to the strong contractions while he was trying to stick a huge needle into my spine. I remember the sensation, when two doctors threw their whole body weight onto my abdomen to get the baby moving down.
And I remember the tears in the assistant doctors eyes as they rushed my unconscious blue skinned daughter out of the room. Because she, like myself, thought that my first born might not make it.
Afterwards – I also remember – one of the doctors couldn’t hold back from informing me, that I was quite obviously not built for this.
-so after going through all of this (twice) apparently all of it was my fault, right?
But you know what was the worst thing after my first two births? It wasn’t the fear or the pain or the injuries. It was that feeling of failure. I felt like I had failed myself and my baby.
The third time round it just had to be different. I decided to give birth in a different hospital, me and my husband commenced regular conversation about labour, participated in a Hypnobirthing course (which was life changing) and worked on establishing a stable positive mindset. We worked through a lot of trauma and fear and on being a team, one unit that was in this together. We breathed a lot, laughed and cried and when the day came I gave birth to our third little miracle we encountered a phenomenal experience.
Philomena was born in less than 2 hours with no intervention, pain or injuries and we only spent the last 5 minutes of labour in hospital (literally, we just made it…). She was healthy and energetic. And so was I. It was like a dream.
It took me three goes to work out, that giving birth (for me) wasn’t about being in a medical environment, having people tell me what to do and luck or coincidence. For me it was about self determination, trusting my body and space for intimacy – and I believe all of these conditions will be met best in the comforts of my own home.
But these might not be the key factors for you; Every woman has her individual needs concerning birth and I’m sure if the emphasis was set on understanding and meeting those needs instead of interventions and control, birth would be less about fear, trauma and pain.
It would quite possibly be the most amazing experience for all of us.
Caesarean Sections, more commonly known as the C-Section. Note how I used the word “commonly”, they are an incredibly common procedure, in fact, around 1 in 4 UK births are c-sections. So why are they still getting a bad rep?
I’ll start by saying no one, NO ONE, ever has the right to tell you you are less of a mother because your child was brought into the world via c-section. If they do? Be done with them, you do not need, nor deserve such negativity. It sucks to be told that, I’ve been told I don’t know what it’s like to give birth, I spent 36 hours in labour and had surgery to save mine and my child’s life. I do know what it’s like to give birth, my birth story just might be a little different to yours.
So let’s bust a few myths here shall we!
“You’re too posh to push”
“It’s the easy way to give birth”
“You’ll not be able to breastfeed”
“You didn’t really give birth”
“Loads of people have c-sections, what’s all the fuss about”
Becoming a Mother is intense, emotional, exhausting and to have someone make that time harder for you is a painful experience. You birthed a child, you did, in the way in which you had to. Don’t ever let anyone pull you down for that, there’s already a strong chance you’re telling yourself that you failed, you didn’t, you are a superwoman and totally bossing being a new Mama.
Be kind to yourself, I know it’s tough, it may not have been what you wanted, but your child will never think any less of you for the way they were born.
Are you planning to give birth to your baby via caesarean? Is this elective, or perhaps you have been advised to do so for a medical reason. You may be feeling completely fine with this decision or you may feel disappointed, perhaps with a sense of having no options and the vaginal birth you were planning has been taken away from you. I want to reassure you that you can still have a sense of control over your abdominal birth and having this sense of control can then allow you to feel more prepared and excited whether planned or unplanned.
Your baby’s birth can be magical when you give birth abdominally. It is proven that the more relaxed you are going into your abdominal birth the easier the bonding, healing and recovery can be. We want and need to have an emotional experience however we birth, we should be given the opportunity for involvement and to be a part of the birth as much as possible, therefore you can use hypnobirthing as it has a wonderfully beneficial effect on your mindset and your ability to remain relaxed. Hypnobirthing as birth preparation really is for all births. Incorporating logic, mindfulness, affirmations, breathing techniques, confidence and techniques to keep the adrenaline at bay so you can enjoy your birth.
If you have elected or are preparing for an abdominal birth then being aware of your choices, understanding what the team is open to doing within your hospital and then communicating this to them via your wishes for birth will also help you to feel more in control. I always recommend my parents put together an option for a plan B or C. So even if you have an unplanned abdominal birth, you can still have some choices in place.
Are you familiar with the term ‘gentle caesarean’? This means that the obstetrician would make the incision and your baby’s head would be born gently before slowly waiting for the body to follow, this allows your baby to have a calmer entrance into the world. Moving through in this way also helps with expelling the fluid from the lungs which would have been squeezed out if your baby was born vaginally through the birth path.
If you have been using guided hypnobirthing MP3’s in your pregnancy, they would have made a positive association for you which will still be very helpful. Make sure you have your MP3 or music on one headphone, so you have this to keep you calm while also staying informed of what is happening in the room if this is your preference.
On gowning up you can have your gown tied at the front opposed to the back, like putting on a jacket, this will enable you to enjoy skin to skin with your little one as soon as you can. We know the benefits of skin to skin and this should be as encouraged with an abdominal birth. It will help to release the oxytocin and to stimulate your supply.
You may have heard of delayed cord clamping. Straight after birth, historically your baby’s cord would have been cut either right away or after around one minute. We now know that delaying your baby’s cord from being cut has huge benefits for the baby. Delaying it for even 3-5 minutes ensures that they receive a huge amount of extra oxygenated blood volume through the cord from the placenta, up to 30%. They are also then receiving iron which will be enough for 3-6 months. White blood cells and antibodies to keep their immune system boosted. They will also get the transferral of vital stem cells. You can also leave the cord until it goes white and floppy. Delaying your baby’s cord being clamped should be done for you unless of course, the baby needs some help after birth and in this case they will need to clamp the cord to assist your baby.
You can have the ECG dots placed on your upper back and shoulders opposed to your chest which will then allow for immediate skin to skin and for your baby to be placed directly on your chest after birth without any interference.
You can ask for the lights to be dimmed around the theatre room apart from those being used directly above the surgery. Once your baby has been born, it will then be able to enjoy skin to skin in a darker more dimly lit atmosphere up by your chest.
The surgical screen can be lowered so you are able to see your baby being born, this is magical if you would like to experience it. Some parents would prefer not to see it however some have described it as magical. It is your decision however, you do need to communicate this with your birth team I would suggest before the day just to make sure it is something they do offer.
Skin to skin. The first hour should be as calm as possible to encourage your baby to feed and establish breastfeeding if this is your wish. It will help to produce the oxytocin for bonding and will assist in encouraging your uterus to contract down. You can request that the midwives do not weigh or measure your baby until after that first initial hour following birth.
I really hope this helps to let you feel more in control of your abdominal birth and for you to prepare in the best way for you both as parents. I would urge you to communicate with your midwives as much as possible which will then enable you to stay close to your choices and if it is not possible then you will understand why.
Hello, a quick introduction. My name is Rachel, mama to three kids under five (yes I know!). I’ve been really lucky to have the best of birth experiences, and had two home births out of choice and preference. I get a lot of shocked faces, and surprise when I’ve spoken about my home birth before (more so about my second born, first home birth as that was in 2018 so we’ve seen more people as opposed to my 2020 home birth where we obviously haven’t seen many people).
There’s a lot of thoughts and feelings about home births. Like most things there are facts and figures, both positive and negative, which add to preconceived ideas and feelings.
I’m a huge advocate of home births and women’s birth rights, especially around where they give birth and reducing the surprise that seems to surround home birthing. I promise, it is safe. It is no more risk than any other kind of birth.
For both home births, I discussed my plans with my midwife who gave me the go ahead at my 36 week appointment. She knew I wanted a home birth prior to this, but it was decided and agreed at 36 weeks during our birth planning appointment. If it’s your first home birth, your Trust will organize a home visit.
The home visit is not about judging the cleanliness of your home, or how well you’ve decorated. The midwife mostly just wants to know if there will be enough space, especially if you plan to have a home water birth as the pools are quite large. They also want to check parking and access, considering the possibility of ambulance being needed (this isn’t to scare you, but should absolutely be taken into account). Once your home birth has been agreed, which is dependent on your personal circumstances and pregnancy (see more on your rights below), your Trust will organise the home birth kit.
Depending on your Trust, some have dedicated home birth teams, others use their community midwives, others still use the midwives within the hospital and send them out as and when needed. Some Trusts will send your home birth kit to you at 37 weeks (the advised date at which a home birth is deemed safe as you are full term) which you store in your home until required. Or, your midwives will bring the kit with them on the day/night of the birth. The former happened for our first home birth, the latter happened for our second home birth. These kits include incopads, syringes, disposal kits, emergency resuscitation equipment, general medical supplies, and entonox if requested. This is usually brought by the midwives on the day/night of labour but I have heard of it being with the kits too.
I have always been a fan of the idea of water births, and have attempted water births for all three of my labours, with two successful (my first was a dry land birth, after spending a lot of time in the pool for the labour but needing some extra monitoring for my back to back baby for the last part of pushing).
Home births absolutely allow for a water birth if you wish to go that route. Some Trusts have the scope to offer birth pools on hire, some for free, some for a small charge. Many, unfortunately don’t. However, there are many birth pool hire companies, where they will provide everything you need for your home water birth, including instructions and courier service. We have used the Gentle Births Birthing Pool Hire for both of our home water births, which is a small independent company that have the very best customer service and excellent quality hired pools. You can also buy a pool outright, and then sell later. Both options are usually around the £100 mark.
For pain relief, aside from the pool, you can use tens machines and paracetamol. Speak to your midwife and GP about pethidine or other heavier painkillers, which can be given in a home birth but has to be prescribed in advance by a GP. Entonox, or gas and air, is the most commonly used pain relief in home births.
There’s quite a lot of fear associated with home births. Around 2% of births in England and Wales (I don’t have the data for other areas, sorry) happen at home (ONS) or outside of a NHS/hospital setting.
“Overall around 80% of first-time mothers who planned a birth at home or in a Birth Centre had a straightforward birth, compared to only 60% of those that planned a birth in an Obstetric unit.” (Aims) This figure increases for the second time and subsequent mother’s.
There isn’t a definitive fact for why home births lean toward more straightforward births but many believe the reduction of stress from moving from one environment to another (especially a clinical one) can contribute to labour being managed better by mother’s.
“In the Birthplace Study, only about 5 or 6 in 100 women transferred from home or an FMU in order to have an epidural, and about twice as many from an AMU.” (Aims)
There are many reasons to birth at home, and why it may be a viable and preferred option. Many, like myself, don’t like a hospital environment. Particularly when you factor in the rates of intervention for a hospital birth compared to a midwife led unit or home birth. Some choose a home birth to regain control after a traumatic previous birth. Those who have had previous fast deliveries are often advised to consider a planned home birth as generally second births are faster than the first.
As with all aspects of maternity and perinatal care, your choices are your own and you are well within your rights to change your mind, before, and during labour. If you do, you can be reassured that being at home isn’t going to endanger your child. You can still be transferred. This also applies to births that develop complications. We all know that no birth is the same, and to expect the unexpected. Midwives are trained to look for signs of distress, just as they would within a hospital environment, and will have you transferred to hospital if you need the additional assistance. Ambulances will rank you highly on their priority list too.
“The most common reason for transfers is that labour is going slowly and the mother wants it to be speeded up artificially. The other main reason is that her midwife has picked up signs that her baby may not be coping well with labour. Midwives are trained to spot these warning signs early, so the transfer can normally be done in plenty of time and in a calm way.” (Aims)
Unfortunately, some parents to-be are not supported with their choice to home birth by their Trust. This does not remove your right to birth wherever you choose.
“If you are keen to have a Homebirth and your Hospital Trust is reluctant to support you, another option is to hire an Independent Midwife to provide your care. (link to IMUK) and in some areas private companies are offering midwifery services, some of which are paid for by the NHS.” (Aims)
You are also able to free birth should you wish for no medical intervention. This is sometimes the path taken by those who have been advised that a midwife cannot get to them at home, usually due to staffing, who do not want to go into a hospital environment. You can also call for a paramedic crew to attend should you need emergency support but you should remember that they are not trained to the same level as midwives about intervention and baby monitoring, and will likely transfer you to hospital unless a midwife can arrive shortly after the birth in the case of quick and sudden births.
“Some women choose to birth at home without midwife support (known as free-birthing). This is legal. It is also legal for a relative or friend to support a woman who is labouring without a midwife present, as long as they are not acting in the capacity of a health professional or giving medical or midwifery care.” (Aims)
if you want a water birth (they come with liners and pumps. You may need to purchase a thermometer and sieve).You will also need a hand mirror so the midwives can use it in the water to monitor your visible progress. I found an affordable hairdressers hand mirror for about £4 on Amazon.
preferably old ones in dark colours but I promise home births really aren’t as messy as you would like. You’ll want ones for around the pool, for you when you get out of the pool (if applicable) plus ones for your sofa or bed, plus for baby to be wrapped in.
This helps to protect your floor especially if you have carpet (you can duct tape to the carpet to stop it sliding). Also can be used on your sofa or bed to protect them. Cheap is fine. I used £2 shower curtains from ASDA that we threw away at the end with the pool liner and incopads.
are helpful too if you have the funds. Your midwife team will bring incopads in their kits, but these are great for between calling and the arriving, as well as after birth if you are a heavy bleeder. Boots do a good pack of five pads.
For you, the family and the midwives. For my first homebirth I gave birth at shift change so it wasn’t hugely necessary. But my second, I laboured right through to lunch (more about that later) which made for some peckish midwives who didn’t even appear to contemplate food. We offered tea and biscuits which they gladly accepted as I held our new born daughter and they did their paperwork. Chocolate hobnobs will forever remind me of giving birth.
are great options for creating a cosy atmosphere. Some midwives advised against real candles due to naked flames near a flammable substance, i.e. the entonox, although I’ve never had that problem personally. Many choose fairy lights to go around the pool, and battery powered candles as they also last a long time with no fire risk.
I also packed an emergency hospital bag, just in case. You never know if your circumstances are going to change, and with every birth and baby different, it doesn’t hurt to have a plan B. I packed all the basics for a hospital stay in case we needed some extra help. Fortunately I’ve never had to use it, and raided it after the birth for my hidden extra snacks!
Most of all, if you’re planning a home birth, enjoy the process. Own your choice. Home births, not so long ago, were the norm, and hospital births unusual. They are safe. You are safe.
The first thing I am usually asked when I tell people I have twins is ‘Wow do they run in your family?’ They don’t and I always feel compelled to answer ‘oh no they’re IVF’. It’s something I’ve always been very open about and will be happy to explain to my beautiful girls when they are old enough to understand. You see, I was never desperate to have children initially, I was married at 31 and we agreed to give it another year until we started trying. Only once we did nothing happened, we started to change our diets, throw out anything with chemicals, get fit and still nothing happened. Another two years went by and then we started to get worried. Despite us never finding a single thing wrong, we ended up in a spiral of failure after failure and started to wonder if it would ever happen for us at all.
The second thing I am always asked is whether twins were a shock and the truth is no, just a beautiful surprise. I was having double embryo transfers each time and in my dreams of motherhood there were always two babies, I went down the Instagram rabbit hole many times looking for successes and hoping that would one day be me. Also my HCG levels were massive, I was having beta tests through my fertility clinic and they were off the scale.
When I saw those two heartbeats on the screen it was like winning the lottery, after all of our struggles we had the opportunity to complete our family in one go, I could finally leave infertility behind me. Pregnancy after infertility never quite allows you to let down your guard however and at six weeks after a massive bleed I was convinced it was all over. Thankfully the girls were fine (apparently this is quite common in a twin pregnancy) but very very scary nonetheless.
My age, IVF and twins combined meant that we ticked many of the boxes for high risk pregnancy. It was reassuring for me however that as the girls were not identical, with their own sacs and placentas I at least didn’t have to worry about twin to twin transfusion, where one baby gets more than the other. My main worry was premature labour, I had no idea how I would carry two when physical strength has never been one of my strong points.
I have been extremely fortunate that despite all of the risks my pregnancy ran very smoothly and the standard of care I received was amazing considering this was all during a pandemic. Yes I was enormous for my build and my feet and hands were really swollen, oh plus I had insomnia from six months that was fun! I did really enjoy it though! That said I was quite happy to never do it again! Having already been injecting myself for IVF regularly (I must have done hundreds) I then had to inject myself with blood thinners into my pregnant belly and then for weeks afterwards and to be honest I don’t think I could put myself through it again if I could conceive at all.
I was offered a c-section as Emily was breech, it’s so difficult to know what to do for the best but I took it and I have no regrets. It ran smoothly, both girls came out fine at healthy weights but the recovery was very traumatic. My husband came to get us from the hospital at midnight as I was so desperate to get us out of there! My blood pressure took weeks to come down.
It’s been a long and difficult road but I would do it all again for my Emily and Isabelle; they amaze me every day, I am so lucky to be their Mummy and can’t wait to see what the future holds for us.