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The Birth of George

The Birth of George

Whiling away the hours staring at our new-born son, I often find myself casting my mind back to his birth. The memories I have are not of the horrific scenes we are so often bombarded with in today’s society, but of positivity, empowerment, sheer determination, and a sense of awe in regard to the power our bodies possess, and our mind’s ability to remain completely focused at such a time.
I spent the first 35 weeks of my pregnancy consumed with negative thoughts about child birth and feeling absolutely terrified about the pending assault my body was gearing up for – until I met Louise, that is. Admittedly, the whole idea of hypnobirthing seemed a bit nonsensical to my mathematical mind, but after attending a Hypnobirthing Essentials Workshop in early January, I left Louise’s home with a completely changed mind-set, and an affirming “I can do this” outlook.
I diligently put into practice the skills I learned, and listened to one of the tracks each day. I knew that whatever effect (or not) the HImage-1ypnobirthing would have during my labour, at the very least it was an enormous comfort during those last few long weeks, and really enabled me to stay focused, positive, and (dare I say it) looking forward to D-Day.
At 41&2, the day I was booked for an induction, I began experiencing mild cramps at around 2am. I was mildly excited (as I really didn’t want to have to be induced) but equally, I didn’t want to get too enthusiastic as I had had a sweep that evening, and knew that the cramps could just be a result of that. A few hours later my husband suggested that he should work from home that morning, just in case it was the real deal, and after eating a hearty breakfast, he ran me a bath and set me up with a pen and paper so that I could note my contractions (and he could get on with his work!). As another hour ticked by, it had become evident that labour was beginning to progress.
Around that time, we began to play the hypnobirthing tracks, and I found myself comforted by the familiar sound of Louise’s voice, and ‘escaping’ to the various visualisations I had practised during the preceding weeks. A wonderful complement to this was my husband’s calm and collected assurance: he had attended one of Louise’s evening workshops for Dads and was completely in sync with the atmosphere I wanted to maintain, and perhaps more importantly, understood the importance of it.
By 3pm I had reached the notable “3 in 10” point, and rang our doula to suggest we make our way to the hospital. But to my utter dismay, she suggested seeing whether I could go another couple of hours(!). My husband jerry-rigged the TENS machine to me to give me a bit more support while we stayed at home, but I was already so deep in the zone, that I couldn’t distract myself enough to concentrate on operating the machine, so he had to follow me around the house and press the appropriate buttons at the appropriate moments on my behalf.
Central London traffic was at its peak so we waited until 7:30pm to head to the hospital. The music-only track played on loop in the car which really helped me to stay in one rhythmical breathing pattern (in hindsight, he probably shouldn’t have been driving while it was playing, but he did say that it prevented him from using the horn at least five times).
We arrived at the hospital and I was examined by one of the midwives who said that I was already 9cm dilated, and I felt a renewed sense of motivation that I was almost there… Pausing for contractions to pass every minute or so, I eventually arrived at a lovely room in the birthing unit at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. The birthing pool was being filled, the lights were dimmed, and there was no bed in sight – the atmosphere was almost serene. I stripped off my clothes and straddled the pool the instant I was given the green light (emerging myself in the water can only be described as total heaven).
I don’t remember much about the next chapter, other than our doula telling me that I’d already been through Transition and was now in the ‘rest and be thankful’ phase. This aptly-named period was a pleasant reprieve and allowed an opportunity for me to join in some lucid conversation, eat quite a few custard crèmes, and rehydrate. And just when I thought it was all too good to be true, the midwife asked me to get out of the pool because the baby had turned around, and was now facing sideways…
To be honest, the next 3 hours are all a bit of a blur (the gas and air is largely responsible for this!) but as I continued to labour in various positions to try and encourage him to re-right his ways, I was so completely focused on the music, Louise’s voice and the powerful surges consuming my body that the anxiety in the room never affected me. I do recall my body producing some very agricultural noises, and although I was aware of a lot of talking going on around me, I had no idea what anyone was actually saying – I just KNEW, instinctively, that my body would do what it had to, and it was only a matter of time until all would be fine, and I’d be pushing my baby out.
Fast forward an hour and a half, and with no such success, the midwife explained that she would like me to be transferred to the hospital wing so that I could have some further assistance. I asked her whether I could take the gas and air with me, to which she replied “no, but they’ll have some waiting for you when you arrive” – that was all the catalyst I needed! The contractions resumed almost instantly, and next thing I knew I was lying on the floor, on my side and pushing.
Little George entered the world at 3:03am that morning, looking at the side wall and with the cord twice wrapped around his neck….. the midwife later told me that in her entire career she had only witnessed one other woman deliver a sideways-facing baby naturally, and this was later affirmed by the other midwives on the unit who also congratulated me on enduring such a difficult delivery.
So, although not everything went according to plan, I cannot recall one moment throughout those 24 hours where I felt as though I wasn’t in control, or the pain was insurmountable. I wholeheartedly attribute the skills I learned from Louise to our positive birth experience, and urge anyone who is feeling anxious about their own labour to attend one of Louise’s workshops – IT WORKS. My husband never even had to “shake the apples”!
The Birth of Imogen

The Birth of Imogen

Dear Louise
We have a baby girl: Imogen Lara born on Tuesday 27 February!
Born on the day the Beast from the East hit Tunbridge Wells, Imogen’s arrival was otherwise drama free and we had a great experience at Pembury.
I woke at 3am with mild cramps and knew that labour had started. I managed to stay at home until 2pm but during that time the labour progressed quickly and I managed to focus on my breathing and remained calm throughout. Even though the snow was falling fast.
We arrived at the hospital at 2:30pm and after an examination I learned I was 6cm dilated and we were taken to a delivery room. By this time the surges were coming one on top of another.
Imogen arrived at 18:10 and I managed to get through the labour using just gas and air. The quick and uncomplicated delivery, I am certain, is largely thanks to the hypnobirthing techniques we learned at your couples workshop. I felt confident that my body would naturally do what it needed to do. I remained standing up as much as I could which I am sure helped everything progress.
IMG_1420Bjorn was a fantastic birthing partner. The knowledge he gained at your workshop helped him to remain calm and confident and encouraging.
The hospital staff were amazing. Because of the snow they were under staffed but I can’t fault the level of care and attention we received.
Thank you so much for your help and advice. The  hypnobirthing and positive birth meetings were a fantastic source of information and instrumental to our positive birth experience.
The Birth of Harry

The Birth of Harry

I saw a friend the day before I gave birth, at 41weeks and 5 days not knowing what we were expecting. My friend commented on how much cake I was eating when I went in for 2nds to finish off her daughters. I was having low pains that day and she said I was ‘storing energy’ ready for labour to which I laughed. I noticed the pains more when I was walking around, so that evening me and my partner Andy went for a long walk around the park. I noticed the lower pains started to get stronger. I did gentle exercises on the birthing ball before bed which really helped my pelvic floor. Waking up a few hrs later at 2:30am to feel more lower pain, I wondered if this was the real thing as we had a false alarm the week before . I woke Andy and we decided for me to have a warm bath and take some paracetamol to see if this was the real deal this time. 4 hrs later the almost period like pains weren’t going away. We called the hospital and kept them informed of progress. We called our parents too and about an hr later Andy was telling me we were going in to hospital. I remember keeping track on an app for how far apart the contractions were and telling him we were going to be sent home as they weren’t far apart enough. When we got to hospital I was examined and was told I was 5cms dilated, to which point I realised I had not used the app properly ! We were taken straight to the delivery ward. I was on a birthing ball with gas and air by 8am and getting used to the pains of the contractions. My dad unexpectedly arrived much to my surprise, which made me feel even more at home at the hospital and was a great support for Andy . 4 hrs in and My back waters broke as I got onto the bed to be examined. I was 6/7cm

. My midwife Louise had to break my top waters to allow baby’s head to move down. I was back on the ball after feeling much more comfortable but the contractions instantly felt more intense and pressure was building. I no longer made conversation or small talk between contractions as I focused on my body. Louise asked if I needed anymore pain relief to which I eventually agreed to have an epidural. After the stint was put in my hand and I was back on the bed, the anaesthetise was in the room ready. I remember feeling my body pushing with a contraction unexpectedly. The anaesthetise told me not to push but I couldn’t help it and with another contraction and me saying I was pushing louise checked me again and said we were ready to have the baby. Hearing those words, I told her I couldn’t push. Like I suddenly froze and couldn’t do it. Louise reassured Me and Andy was telling me I had done so well and that I could do this. There was no time for an epidural and my dad had already left the room to give me and Andy this time to ourselves. Louise helped me into a comfortable position for pushing and with in about 20/30mins our gorgeous little boy arrived. A moment I will remember for the rest of my life was andy crying to me – it’s a boy, it’s a boy. Feeling my boy laying on my belling for the first time was priceless . All in all I laboured for 12 hrs and Harry was born weighing 8lb 2 at 14:10.

The Birth of Alexander

The Birth of Alexander

Hi Louise,

I’m delighted to let you know that Alexander came to join us on Wednesday via the water pool at Pembury.
I was totally taken over by loving vibes during the birth and could not have had a better experience. Gill (doula) was fantastic and the Pembury staff completely brilliant. When they asked about our birth plan and we said we wanted to keep things as natural as possible, they just said ‘we can do that’ 😀 we stuck a ‘quiet please, I am hypnobirthing’ sign note delivery room door and used all of the techniques we had learned though our pregnancy journey. Your hypnobirthing music was on continual loop throughout the entire labour. Start to finish!
Thank you so much for all your support and all the wonderful things you do for women and their babies (and also their men!)! I look forward to introducing you to the little bundle at some point 🙂
Birth Plans

Birth Plans

Where do you want to give birth?

How are you reaching that decision?

Who do you want with you?

How do you feel about induction?

What about pain relief?

Are you happy to have routine vaginal examinations?

What if you need an assisted birth? … or a caesarean birth?

Optimal Cord Clamping?

What are the options for delivery of the placenta?

The first hour with your baby?

Vitamin K?

Birth Plans are not just idyllic wish lists lit by pretty tea-lights and trimmed with home-made bunting. A Birth Plan is a chance to take a detailed look at the huge number of choices and options available to you, to consider the many ways birth might unfold …” from the truly wonderful Positive Birth Book by Milli Hill (honestly, just buy it)

I meet lots of mums who’ve been told, quite rightly, that birth is unpredictable but so is life, that doesn’t mean we just drift through it without intention does it? So, if you’re someone who’s planning on just ‘winging it’ I’m here to tell you , you do so at your peril. There are things that you can do to maximize the chance of your baby’s birth being a positive experience, no matter what path it takes. It’s your responsibility to take the time to learn, question, understand so that you can make the right decisions for you and your baby.

The likelihood is that the midwife caring for you in labour will be someone who doesn’t know you. She will want to support you uniquely, but she’s not telepathic she’ll be delighted to have some guidance. Your partner is likely to be the person you really want advocating for you and knowing what you want/need inside out – having worked out Birth Plans together means he/she is going to be totally clued up.

Rather than being a vague list of how you picture your perfect birth, I’d like to encourage you to really, really think about it and maybe have a plan B too (or even Plans C, D etc.).

First of all worth bearing in mind that to guarantee that healthcare professionals supporting you during labour and birth actually read your plan it’s best if it’s short with bullet points. Midwives really want to support your wishes as best they can, but they’re really busy and marching in waving a laminated, weighty tome is unrealistic. Remember, you don’t need to put things like “dimmed lights, music, quiet …” because you’ll actually be there and be able to point these things out yourself. Rather, stick to things that are really, really important to you. Work out what’s non-negotiable and what you’re happy to compromise on. In particular concentrate on anything that might deviate from ‘standard’ care. Here’s an example.

Of course, it’s impossible to meticulously ‘plan’ a birth which is where Plans B, C etc. come in. Again – probably best not to present your midwife with ALL of your plans but have them ready to hand over if birth takes a different path and different discussions need to be had or decisions made.

Here are some considerations to have ironed out in case an unplanned caesarean is necessary (or for putting together a planned caesarean birth plan).

For speed and clarity build a ‘visual’ birth plan. You can download the icons from The Positive Birth Book for free here.

I appreciate that the process of doing these plans properly is going to take up a bit of time, but I also know how enormously beneficial it is for couples … any gaps in knowledge are going spring up – far better now than in the birthing room … you’ll both have time to get really informed on anything that you’re not sure about. The discussions that will arise between you will mean that you’re both on the same page when the time comes, understanding what’s important to you both and why … your birthing partner needs this knowledge and info (rather than it all just being in your head) in order to be able to confidently advocate for you. And, of course, any differences in opinion between the two of you are far better thrashed out now, with plenty of time for reflection, considerations and info. gathering.

So, there’s a pregnancy project for you … a really useful one. Any questions, gaps in knowledge that come up please, please get in touch. I have reams of info. that I can quickly ping over to you in an email totally free and I’m happy to do so.

 

 

 

Caesarean Birth Plan

Caesarean Birth Plan

Suggestions for a Caesarean Birth Plan

First of all, I have 3 tracks available specifically for mums planning a calm caesarean birth.

In the case of a planned caesarean birth here are some suggestions/questions that can be addressed beforehand. In fact, do remember that an ‘emergency’ caesarean is actually an ‘unplanned’ one – there’ll be time for discussion in this situation too. In the case of a ‘crash’ caesarean there will be no time for discussion and partners should be aware that they may need to wait outside the theatre. This is because there is a need for the baby to be born immediately and everything will happen very quickly – the baby will be born in a matter of minutes.

I would like a familiar midwife stay with me throughout the birth.

I’d like to know what’s happening, can someone give me a commentary?

I would/would not like the screen be lowered so that we can see our baby being born

Will our baby be born into bright lights or can this be avoided?

I would like the theatre be quiet at the moment of birth.

Can music be played during the birth?

I would like our baby be turned to face me as he/she is born.

Could someone take photos of the birth?

My partner & I would like to discover the sex of our baby.

I would like the cutting/clamping of the chord to be delayed until it has finished pulsating if everything is ok.

I would like my baby to passed straight to me for skin to skin

We would like the paediatrician to wait to check our baby until after we’ve had a cuddle

If I am not able to hold him/her I would like someone tell me what’s happening and make sure that I can see my baby all the time.

I would like to breastfeed while suturing takes place.

I would like my partner & baby to come with me into the recovery room.

If our baby needs to go to the Special Care Baby Unit, I would like my partner go with him/her.

If everything is well, the answer to most of these questions will be ‘Yes, of course’.

Pembury now try to carry out the Baby Friendly Caesarean – here is a link to their video clip with info. https://youtu.be/fR-39ITbJOQ

 

Example Birth Plan

Example Birth Plan

Jane’s Preferences Partner – John

Jane would like to use a birthing pool if one is available to labour in and maybe to birth her baby in (will decide at appropriate time).

Jane would like to have a vaginal birth with minimal intervention. She understands that there may be a need for medical staff to suggest intervention and would like the opportunity for discussion of any that may be deemed necessary if that is appropriate.

As such, she would prefer:

–        to be left alone with John as much as possible.

–        Intermittent monitoring

–        No drip to be sited until necessary

–        Jane’s aware of pain relief options and will ask for them if she wants them. Please don’t suggest.

–        Physiological (Natural) third stage, no injection.

–        Optimal Cord Clamping

–        Baby to be passed straight to Jane once born.

–        Skin to skin

–        Jane & John to discover their baby’s sex themselves.

–        Baby to have Vitamin K injection/Baby to be given Vitamin K orally

–        John would like/would not like to cut the cord

The Birth of Eli

The Birth of Eli

“Hi Louise,
I just wanted to get in touch with you to share the news of the birth of our perfect little son, Eli, who was born on Thursday at Pembury Hospital.

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Following the hypnobirthing class we attended, my husband, Royden and I felt so much more assured and positive towards approaching this labour, however I still felt that the best thing to combat the long-term affects from my traumatic first labour was to go down the elective caesarean route. I followed your tracks designed for c-sections and found them to be reassuring and calming in both the lead up to the operation and during the event itself – particularly when receiving the spinal injection where I needed to be most calm and collected. Thank you so much for providing the skills that I needed to feel in-control and empowered in an environment where I could have actually been quite vulnerable.

Regarding the operation, I cannot speak more highly of the staff I encountered at Tunbridge Wells hospital. The theatre team were absolutely amazing – so informative, reassuring, well-humoured and accommodating. They knew what they were doing and worked with precision and confidence whilst making Royden and I feel very valued, and our experience special. We were told what was happening at every step and very much felt like our consent was of prime importance to them the whole way.

The actual birth of Eli was beautiful to me. At my request the screen was lowered so I could see him at the earliest opportunity- and although I heard him first (he has a big pair of lungs!) seeing him and being able to determine his sex ourselves was such a perfect moment for myself and Royden.

Unfortunately due to a litre of blood loss, I had to be monitored quite closely after labour and I suffered a few dizzy episodes- however I found the labour and postnatal team to be excellent with me and so patient. At no point did I feel rushed for a quick recovery and exit from hospital – I was given time and many opportunities to find my independence and confidence before making my way home. What an amazing midwifery team/obstetrics Tunbridge Wells has. We are so lucky.

Although I know c-section recovery is not a barrel of laughs and that I am only at the beginning of a fairly long journey back to normality, I truly feel that my positive experience has made the start of our life with Eli that little more manageable and enjoyable and that a family of four we are ready to take on the world!

Thank you Louise for helping me to think more positively and feel more self confidence. I would highly recommend anyone to take the time to really assess their options and prepare themselves for the most positive outcome- whatever path they may go down. It has certainly made a huge difference to us this time round!”

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The (VBAC) Birth of Bethan Rose

The (VBAC) Birth of Bethan Rose

Rhiannon attended one of my Hypnobirthing Essentials Workshops in October. She has twins already who were born by caesarean and this time was keen to have a vaginal birth but she wasn’t ‘set’ on one ‘type’ of birth. What was important to her was that she remain calm and in control however her baby was to be born.

If you’re considering a VBAC do get in touch with any questions and have a read of my blog here

“Hi Louiseimage1 2

Well, that was timing! Bethan Rose arrived on the 14th at 5.45am – 7lb 7 of loveliness. 
VBAC with some ventouse help at the end but I wouldn’t be exaggerating to say one of the most incredible experiences. I am waxing lyrical about my prep with hypnobirthing/ yoga etc – it was the utterly best mental and physical preparation I could have had. I was wondering how it would all work in practice but work it did ….
We had a very long run up …. but I felt utterly calm throughout….. I was totally in the zone – my midwives said it was the calmest labour room in months and I really enjoyed/thrived on the experience of it.
….. just want to say a very big thank you!
Rhiannon xx”
The Birth of Martha

The Birth of Martha

“After finding numerous activities to distract myself from the fact it was my due date, from painting furniture to cooking a homemade pie, I went to bed tired and with no expectation that baby would be with us soon. So when I woke up with period-like pains at 2.30am I assumed it was just braxton hicks. I went back to sleep, but by 3.30am the ache had turned into more obvious, albeit faint contractions.
An hour later, realising they were coming more regularly I figured I should wake Jon. We called Crowborough Birth Centre to let them know it was starting and went back to bed to rest.
By 8am the contractions were much more intense but they were still only coming every 8 minutes or so. We arrived at Crowborough at about 9.30am, and I was disappointed to discover I was only 3cm dilated. We were given the option to go home for a few hours or stay. There was no way I wanted to make the journey back to Tunbridge Wells so we stayed. Another mum was in the main delivery suite so our midwife Emma and the team made sure we were comfortable in one of the postnatal rooms.
I felt 100% supported the whole time by the team –  they asked for my birth plan and were on hand to help when we needed it, offering encouragement and reassurance and bringing me a tens machine when the pain got too much. I put the visualisations and breathing I learned at yoga to good use as the contractions got stronger. With Jon’s amazing encouragement, I was in the zone, breathing through each contraction.
Around midday I was starting to feel the urge to push and my waters went. There was no need for another examination – baby was on her way! I wanted a water birth so they filled up the bath and we moved to the delivery suite. All inhibitions had long gone by this point – I stripped off, got in and immediately felt better. I’ve never been so relieved to get in warm water! I was happy to be able to make use of the gas and air by this point too.
When it came to push it all felt very natural. Emma talked me through each contraction, encouraging me to relinquish the gas and air for the final few until our little girl emerged into the world at 1.09pm. Jon was able to discover her sex and tell me we had a daughter. It was an incredible feeling when Emma scooped her up and put her on my chest, and both Jon and I burst into tears.
The aftercare at Crowborough was just as incredible – from the tea and toast shortly after Martha was born (the best I’ve ever eaten!), to being stitched up and helped to shower and the 24hr advice on breastfeeding, nappy changing and everything in between- both Jon and I felt so well looked after. At no point did I feel frightened or unaware of what was happening. We both feel incredibly grateful to have had such an incredible experience. For any low risk mums out there I couldn’t recommend Crowborough highly enough.”