Amelie’s Birth Story: Ten Month Momma

Amelie’s birth story: Ten Month Momma

Amelie’s birth was a true gift. I wrote the birth story nine days after she was born. Since then Richard and our doula Sallyann have also written their versions which you can read here.

My first daughter Katie was (still)born by c-section at 28 weeks +3 days on 12th December 2000 (see Katie’s birth story).

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I had since met & married Richard in 2005.  We sadly experienced a miscarriage in 2006 at 10 weeks +3 days. I became pregnant again soon after. 

The start of my third pregnancy was heavily monitored; we were glad for regular reassurance scans. We were tentative about celebrating too early.
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The first half of the pregnancy however turned out to be textbook, with every scan showing normal growth and activity. With every week which passed we got closer to having our dream coming true. 

At 23 weeks we were told we were having a little girl. I couldn’t believe things were actually happening.

It wasn’t until I got past 28 weeks (the gestation of pregnancy which I had Katie) I breathed a sigh of relief and saw every new day of being pregnant as a step closer to meeting our new daughter.

 
At 28 weeks
We had a 4D scan at Window to the Womb in Nottingham. We came home with a 20 minute DVD of our daughter sucking her fingers and pulling faces from inside the womb. I was finally starting to believe I might actually have a healthy baby in my arms at the end of this pregnancy.
 
At 31 weeks
We hired a doula, Sallyann. We found her details on the Doula UK website. This was to be one of the best decisions I had ever made. I was anxious about the birth for so many reasons. Mainly though because of the loss of autonomy I had experienced during previous stays in hospital. However I knew that this should be a positive reason to be in hospital when baby was born, so finding Sallyann was a positive step towards planning for the birth we wanted.
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At 34 weeks

We attended an NCT Homebirth Support Group in Moseley, Birmingham. We met ladies who had great birth experiences and it got us thinking about what we wanted. We approached our midwife about it who was unsupportive. I wrote to her supervisor the SoM (Supervisor of Midwives) and had a meeting with her at 36 weeks, where we had been having all our scans. 
 
We addressed the midwife’s concerns and anxieties one by one. Having not laboured before, and having had a pervious c-section I did not fit into the normal ‘criteria’ to be ‘offered’ a homebirth booking. It was a very difficult time and a stressful build up to the meeting. Sallyann accompanied us. I was saddened that I felt had to ‘fight’ for the homebirth booking.
 
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At the end of the meeting our new midwife Doreen was very pro-homebirth, upbeat, and supportive. I did not know at the time that I did not need a homebirth ‘booking’ as such. I had every right to labour and birth at home, and if I had called they had a duty to send a midwife.

 
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We were hoping I would give birth in our birth-pool that we had bought after attending the NCT Homebirth Support Group. I knew that in a hospital environment I would not feel able to birth, because for birth you need relaxation and for relaxation I need privacy.

 
From 41weeks
The local policy was to ‘offer’ induction at term plus 10 days. We declined induction and accepted twice weekly scans and EFM monitoring for reassurance in accordance with N.I.C.E. guidelines. We were constantly repeating and having to re-justify our decision to ‘wait it out’ at home – this was unacceptable. Another meeting with the SoM took the form of us having the list of risks associated with ‘post-dates’ babies given to us. Then a tour round the labour ward at Walsgrave.
 
I knew the due date was not 100% accurate, all monitoring showed baby and I were healthy and happy; baby was in the right position, with plenty of fluid and placenta still effective. Lots of support from our doula & the homebirth and VBAC e-mail support groups really helped us ‘stick it out’ despite unhelpful comments from people all around us. Everyone around us became impatient. I decided to go into hiding, my husband was responsible for all calls and texts. I continued to swim every morning and listened to my Natal Hypnotherapy Homebirth Preparation CD.
 

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23rd May – 41 weeks +5

Had a stretch & sweep at home with one of the community midwives. I produced a mucus plug 24 hours later which was very exciting. Looking back it is silly that I felt I had to have a sweep. Why should I not just wait at home and relax for my baby to arrive? 
 

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27th May – 42 weeks +2

Had second sweep at Owen Building with community midwife. Doreen was on holiday. As I was ‘overdue’ Helen preferred to monitor me for HALF AN HOUR using EFM monitoring before she would consider doing another sweep. I was surprised to hear that she had never come across a woman so ‘overdue’ (this is ludicrous now to me – because I know that normal pregnancies can be anywhere between 38 and 42 weeks long). 
 
With this in mind, I didn’t consider myself to be more than 2 days. Every day was like an emotional roller coaster though. Whatever happened to mothers following their instinct and listening to their bodies?
 

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29th May – 42 weeks+4

As a result of the pressure being put on me, we visited an alternative hospital labour ward (Warwick) and met a Supervisor. This helped me stay positive as they didn’t normally suggest induction until 42 weeks at this hospital and even then, they had a more relaxed approach.
 
It was a smaller unit and much more homely. We decided that if we needed to transfer into hospital during our homebirth, this would be where we would go. I was not surprised to hear that I was one of several ladies who had transferred their care from Walsgrave to Warwick, one of whom was in labour when she made that decision! At this point I was considering attempting use of prostaglandin gel/pessary and then going home. However as I was attempting a VBAC, they would only offer one administration before recommending further intervention such as ARM (artificial rupture of membranes) and oxytocin drip. 
 
This was my worst nightmare as I would be less likely to be able to use a birth pool, and more likely to be strapped to the EFM machine on a bed. I would also then be subject to their timescales when in fact, my body had its own already.
 

30th May – 42 weeks+5

Feeling desperate and isolated, I had some acupuncture. I came home with some lower back pains. The regular Braxton Hicks I had been having since 38 weeks were becoming stronger. The positive attitude of the acupuncturist really helped me through this day. I continued to ignore all calls and texts all asking the same thing; ‘is baby here yet?’ For future reference, if anyone you know ever has a baby, do not continue to ask them if their baby has arrived yet. This is something which was meant with good intention by all friends and family but which added to the stress of the “you shouldn’t still be pregnant” attitude coming from the health professionals.
 

1st June – 43 weeks

Had a third sweep at home (with lovely Doreen). Doreen was surprised to find me disheartened, upset and feeling emotionally drained. She encouraged me to keep my resolve and helped me feel that I was not necessarily a ‘freak of nature’, being 43 weeks pregnant. After seeing her I felt much more upbeat about our decision to wait it out at home. At this stage of pregnancy, what people say to you has so much effect…it can really turn things around. 
 
2nd June – 43 weeks +1
Tried taking Castor Oil as it was recommended by many different people, but I knew it might give me the runs and make me feel ill. It did. I had mild contractions from 11am, every 10-20 minutes. I then managed to sleep from midnight until 2am.
 
3rd June – 43 weeks+2
At 2am I woke up with stronger contractions. As I started to time them, they were 1-2 minutes apart. Richard called the midwife and Sallyann. Up until now the bath had provided me with relief, however I found that having a contraction in the bath was not as relaxing as I thought it would be, so got out again and waddled round the house, rotating my hips and repeating my mantra – ‘I trust my body, I trust my baby’. 
 
The midwife arrived at about 3.20am – it was the same lady who had done sweep no. 1 and 2. An examination I asked for revealed I was 2cm dilated with ‘waters bulging’. At 3.40am my doula knocked on the door. I was sat on the sofa and shouted ‘it’s open, come in!’ and at exactly the moment when she walked through the door my waters broke with a huge gush all over the floor and sofa! 
 
I let out an exited ‘Oooooh!’ and waddled off to the loo leaving a trail of clear fluid behind me. I was very relieved to see it was clear fluid – as one of the reasons we had been given for recommended induction for post dates pregnancy was meconium (baby’s first poo) in the liquor (fluid) and meconium aspiration (baby swallowing the poo in the water).
 
Things were really starting to happen and I was so glad because I had got to a point where I almost believed my body didn’t know how to labour or give birth. I was smiling and I felt great.
 
The next few hours were spent upright, stopping for contractions and blowing the pain away. Richard or Sallyann would meet contractions with massage at the bottom of my back which really helped and soothed me. We stayed downstairs for about an hour then went up to our bedroom for a while.
 
I had a selection of my birth music playing. I had spent weeks listening to it and relaxing in the bath, now I could recreate that relaxation but whilst in labour. I felt I slowly became more vocal, and eventually did not need to tell anyone that I had a contraction coming. It took a while to get used to the fact that a contraction made me feel like I needed the loo due to the pressure. I therefore spent most of my time not too far from the bathroom. 
 
Richard filled up the pool and I started asking for gas and air. Sallyann urged me to save it for towards the end of labour which kept me going for a while; I found the contractions to be more intense and felt that I really wanted to try something to take the edge off. I found out later that Sallyann did not realise just how strong the contractions had become. Sometime later, I tried the gas and air whilst leaning against my bed, it made me feel a little drunk and hazy, but did seem to take the edge off the contractions.
 
I felt I wanted to get in the pool at about 8am, as it might be enough relief for me to get through the more intense contractions.  I was being guided by my instincts, and what I felt was the right thing to do next. On examination just before I got in I was told I was 4 cm dilated. This was fantastic encouragement for me.
 
The pool was in the corner of our little living room. The birth music was playing in the background. I asked everyone to leave the room apart from Richard. I stripped off apart from my bra and jumped in.
 
The pool was heaven. It made me feel I had more privacy to birth. I imagined that you could not see through the water, and felt that I could let go once my bottom half was submerged. I felt lighter and more flexible than I had been on dry land. I spent a while getting used to the pool before I found my comfort zone with my back to everyone. I was facing the corner of the room. That way I couldn’t see what was going on in the room around me. Sallyann and Richard squeezed into the space between the birth pool and the wall and held one hand each; I held the mouthpiece with my teeth. I found it helpful to bite down on it. Things were relaxed. It was like having friends over for coffee except one of us was in the corner giving birth.
 
I closed my eyes during contractions, when I opened them it was like waking up.
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Sometimes Sallyann had her head down leaning on our hands clasped together. I really liked this as it made me feel less observed but still supported. I remember thinking about Sallyann ‘crikey you are one hell of a lady having birthed 4 babies, 3 of them at home in water with!’ Sometimes I crouched, and other times it felt good to spread my legs back straight behind me floating in the water. I think this really helped Amelie move down the birth canal.
 
I was more focused and determined than I had ever been in my life. I said to Sallyann once I was in the water ‘I think I could really do this in the pool you know’ to which she replied ‘you could do this anywhere’. I have learnt that if you have someone who totally believes in your ability to birth, you too soon learn to trust your own body to do this. It is no wonder that having a doula with you reduces the need for pain relief and also reduces the chance of a c-section by a whopping 50%.
 
Sallyann has since said that I was like two different people in labour. One was during contractions, I would allow the release of energy from my body by taking big deep sighing breaths, these soon changed into moo-ing type noises. It felt so good to make those noises! I had my eyes closed through each one. She likened me to some type of porn star because I was wearing nothing but a black silky 
bra, and was sighing and moaning whilst experiencing these rushes of energy. Then she said the other person, was when I had finished experiencing a contraction, I would open my eyes, smile and look up, and in a soft calm quiet voice, ask my husband Richard if he was ok.
 
Labour progressed well (although I didn’t know that) I was just concentrating on getting through each sensation, each one leading me closer to finally meeting our precious baby girl. The order of what I remember is a little jumbled up now. But here are a few things which have stayed with me; 
 
in between deep breaths of gas & air I breathed out noise almost like a long loud sigh. I think they got higher with the intensity of the sensations. Eventually they turned to almost growl like noises. I said ‘do you think we should knock on the neighbours’ door in case of the noise?’ To which I got the reply ‘what noise?’.
 
One of the songs on the birth music collection was Flowers in the Window by Travis. At the time of its release I had not long lost Katie. In the music video, the band Travis are seen walking round a new town, every inhabitant of which was a heavily pregnant woman. I always thought of it as one of ‘her’ songs. I somehow in between contractions managed to tell this little story to Sallyann and Richard. From that point on I felt like I could really let go. I think if you let go of whatever feelings you are holding onto, birth without pain becomes a possibility.
 
I also have two pencil sketches of Katie framed on the wall I was facing. I stared at them hard during one contraction and apologised in my mind to her for not having laboured, but opting for a c-section when I had her. It made me feel stronger inside. Another song on my birth cd was an Annie Lennox song called Stay By Me, the lyrics to which are ‘come on now baby’ which I had sang to my huge bump in the bath many times before, so listening to it in labour felt so right. I was on a complete mission.
 
Other mantras I said in my head which were helpful were;
 
‘Pressure, warmth and power’ (from the natal hypnotherapy cd) and ‘Blow it away’.
 
I also concentrated on the images of other birthing mothers from the birth videos I had watched through my pregnancy. The main one was from the NCT DVD ‘Happy Birth Day’ of a lady who had a home water birth using gas and air, and made her own video diary leading up to, and through the labour. The other was an unassisted homebirth of twins (one breech) which I had seen online. Both had inspired me to stay focussed.
 
Once the second midwife arrived things changed slightly. She was older and more vocal than the first midwife. She seemed to want to take over a bit. Whereas H was very hands off and just quietly monitored me intermittently, E approached me in the pool during a contraction saying ‘what do you want to do about the 3rd stage Rosie?’ I remember thinking have you even read the birth plan!?! (It was up on all the doors). But I ended up replying with something along the lines of ‘let’s wait until we get there’.
 
Half way through a contraction the conversation between the midwives got too loud. They were rustling a paper bag or something. I shouted ‘too loud!’ to Richard and Sallyann. They asked the noise be kept to a minimum and then things seemed to get back to how they were before Elaine arrived – hands off. I remembered what Sallyann had told me about ‘finding my voice’ in labour and felt good I had been able to do this.
 
At one point Richard commented I hadn’t sworn once. I was struggling to express and vent the sensations and so gave it a try, shouting a loud ‘F**K!’ at the height of one of the contractions. It didn’t seem to help so I didn’t swear again. Richard later said it sounded unnatural, as though I “felt” I should swear; I went back to my growling. It was great to growl. It made me feel quite powerful. Looking back, this was the result of me respecting my body to do what it was designed to do.
 
I asked for the meptid at 9am, which we had in the fridge. I had been in the pool for 1 hour. It felt like there were hardly any gaps between contractions. I later found out that this was because I was in transition. Richard said things which really encouraged me like ‘just go with your body’. It was not long after this that my body decided it was going to push whether I liked it or not! I was so shocked that I was pushing with seemingly no effort on my part.
 
I tried to relax through it and asked for meptid again. Sallyann reminded me that it would make my baby drowsy. The midwife suggested I have another examination. I was told that there was no cervix at all, I was fully dilated and our baby was ready to be born. There would be no point in meptid now as it would take twenty minutes to kick in and I was so close. I was so shocked as it felt like I hadn’t been in labour that long, and as it was my first labour I was expecting a long drawn out affair.
 
Second stage lasted about 30-40 minutes. Someone said ‘do you want to just reach down and feel the head….’ To which I replied ‘NO THANKYOU!’. I needed to focus on the sensations, and I knew my body would do the rest. In the background I could hear someone saying ‘she’s looking at me, I can see her eyes’. I didn’t realise her head had been born!
 
With the next contraction I decided to push too when my body pushed. I was scared of tearing which might have been why I was holding back from pushing. It felt like someone was pushing a brick out of a brick wall, like grinding hard surfaces together. With the next push she was out. She shot out behind me, and I had to lean right back in order for her to be lifted through my legs and onto my chest. I was asked if I wanted to lift her out myself but I still felt like I was coming down off that last contraction and a little shaky so asked the midwife to do it. 
 
She came out of the water all dark pink and big blue eyes. I was saying ‘I did it, I did it’ in disbelief. 
 
She didn’t cry, or breathe, her eyes were wide open. She just looked around at everything. 
 
I was reassured that she was still getting oxygen from the placenta so I could blow on her face to see if it stimulated her.

After a minute or so of doing this I wanted Richard to cut the cord so that they could get her breathing and then bring her back to me. I wish I had allowed the cord to remain intact though & I realise now that this momentary separation however short was unnecessary. The high sides of the pool prevented me from seeing what they were doing and I tried to relax through a few mild contractions. They had put the oxygen mask over her face and as soon as they did, I heard a cry and I burst into tears saying ‘she’s alive, she’s alive!’.

Looking back this is my only regret but I understand why I became impatient so quickly for her to breathe. Next time I will aim to keep the cord intact until it has stopped pulsating because Amelie deserved to have access to all that good blood in the placenta – it is packed full of nutrients and transfers over to the baby following the birth. I could not have anticipated how I was going to feel seeing my baby so fresh and new and relaxed. 

 
The last time I had a baby of my own was Katie, I never saw her breathing, she was so still. At that moment I needed this baby to breathe more than I had ever needed anything ever before.
 

As soon as that first cry happened she was handed straight back to me in the pool. I was feeling quite wobbly and she was so big. Richard took her in his arms, kept her in the water enough for her to be warm, and rocked her. She quietened instantly, staring into his eyes and listening to his voice.

This was the start of a wonderful daddy daughter relationship. What a moment.
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I tried to breastfeed her for the first time in the pool, but she was so long and slippery, like a big wet pink fish! She was born at 9:45am so I had established contractions for only just under 8 hours. However, all the books say established labour is anything from 4cm onwards, so I was in established labour for 3 hours 45 minutes. 

 
She weighed in at 9lbs 3.5oz and I was so shocked at how big she felt in my arms. I couldn’t believe I had been carrying her for so long. After a few minutes holding her in the water I decided to have the injection for third stage because I wanted to get out of the pool and get into bed with her and Richard. 
 
Six or seven minutes after the injection nothing had happened so with a little help I stood up, and just as I did the placenta fell out and was promptly caught by the midwife in bedpan.

 
I would not do this next time round; this is because with the injection there is a risk of the uterus clamping down before the placenta has been delivered. This is called retained placenta. For a homebirth, this can be sorted by massaging the uterus until the drug wears off and placenta is delivered. However many NHS midwives would simply recommend transfer which would have taken away the wonderful experience which followed the birth. Next time, things like dressing and weighing the baby can wait – they are not important at this early bonding stage.
 
I climbed out of the pool and was helped into bed. Richard had dressed Amelie during the 3rd stage, and we snuggled up.

I had another go at breastfeeding which was pretty successful but took a few attempts to get it going.20131107-054229.jpg

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She is almost on the boob constantly now at time of writing this (9 days old) so we must have done something right. 
 
(Note from author: breastfeeding continues at 20 months – it has been challenging for various reasons but since I’ve had support, it is now BLISS!)
 
(Another note from author: breastfeeding continued until Amelie was four and half years old.)
 
I have been on a complete high since her birth with no signs of baby blues (only tiredness). Everyone who meets her comments how calm and contented she is. I have no doubt that this, my effective contractions and short labour were all down to the fact that she was born in water and at home.
 
After I lost Katie I had tremendous support from a few charities that support parents through loss. I spent a lot of time singing their praises and spreading the word about their good work. Now I feel like I have to spread the word about homebirth and its benefits – and not just for those who ‘tick all the boxes’. 
 
If I had needed to be transferred into hospital for any reason I would have been receptive to any recommended course of treatment either I or my baby might have needed. 
 
I feel we helped make the labour short by being in control and staying calm. The preparation we put into the birth helped me to convince myself I was capable. I got involved with the local NCT VBAC Birth choices Support Group, and our story was published in two national mother & baby magazines, and an NCT book by Mary Nolan about homebirth.
 
***
 
The birth of Amelie Daisy-May – by Richard Evans (Daddy)
 
The build up to the day of the birth was getting more stressful as each day “overdue” passed. For every “any news yet” text or message Rosie had, I had the same questions every day in work! It felt like we were getting pressured from every direction. I am so proud of Rosie for persevering and sitting it out.
 
At 2am when Rosie woke with regular contractions I was still thinking “no, this can’t be it”. I thought it would just tail off to nothing again. Even when phoning the labour ward and our doula I didn’t think it was actually going to happen.
 
The morning progressed much as Rosie described it. I spent the first few hours following Rosie around and rubbing her back when she needed it. During one monitoring of baby’s heartbeat, Helen struggled to find it. It took her what seemed like a few minutes (probably more like 20 seconds). It felt like my heart stopped for the whole time she was moving the doppler around. I know Rosie felt the same. My mind suddenly filled with awful images of what could be happening. Eventually there was a heartbeat and all was well, but for that moment I feared the worst. 
 
From then on it was pure excitement and awe. I remember thinking how calm Rosie was throughout. She never really gets het up anyway, but it was almost like she wasn’t really in labour, it just felt like a small social gathering, something that wouldn’t have happened in a hospital.
 
The mood was total calm and relaxation. I’m sure the midwives picked up on this vibe and went with it. We used my iPod in a speaker to provide Rosie with her birth music. We’d planned this way in advance as it seemed better than changing cd’s all the time. I imported her Hypnotherapy CD into iTunes and put that on the iPod too. At one point Rosie asked why a certain song was skipping. I tried to explain that the iPod can’t skip as it’s not a cd, but I don’t think she was really listening.
 
Note from Rosie: I later realised that this was when I was in transition – the music sounded fragmented and just like when a cd skips. But then I realised people’s voices sounded like that too when they spoke. I remember Sallyann saying “you have every right to think that the music is skipping”. Acknowledging what I had said without agreeing!
 
One of the things that stood out for me was over-worrying about the temperature of the water. We had a thermometer in the water and it didn’t move much outside of the recommended temperature range (36-38°c). The midwife was quick to let me know if it needed topping up anyway.
 
It was great having Sallyann there as she provided support for us both. If I had to nip to the loo or make some food or drinks I knew that she was there with Rosie. And I think that for Rosie to have two people she could rely on was a great help.
 
I missed the 3rd stage, which I’m a bit gutted about. After Amelie was born it all went a bit too quick. I’d missed a conversation Rosie had with a midwife regarding the 3rd stage (even though we had it all written in the plan). Maybe we should have encouraged the second midwife to read the birth plan when she had arrived. I was handed Amelie to get dressed. I hadn’t dressed a baby for eight years, since my son was a baby. I’d forgotten what to do. So I was concentrating on doing this task whilst Rosie delivered the placenta after a few minutes of receiving the injection.
 
If I had that time over again I would have definitely recorded the actual birth, the moment where Amelie was born into the water. I’ll never forget the image of her floating under the water with her arms and legs sprawled out and her looking up at us all. She was only there for a few seconds, but it was the most beautiful few seconds of my life. One second just the two of us, and then a second later we had this beautiful little creature to spend the rest of our lives loving.
 
I am amazed by everything she does. How she knows how to feed; her tiny fingers and toes, even the pooey nappies. She is perfect. The whole birth was perfect. I am so proud of her and Rosie, they were a great team.
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Tips:
 
Pool – Don’t worry too much about the water. It keeps its heat for a long time. Ask the midwives to let you know when it needs topping up with hot water. When you’ve used one kettle full, fill it up and boil it again.
 
Towels – I know the old cliché of hot water and towels, but we went through ALL of our towels and had nothing to wrap Amelie in! (We had 10 months to prepare for this and we still weren’t ready).
 
Snacks – Make sure you have bread for toast and plenty of tea, coffee and milk.
 
Ice – Rosie went through a lot of ice during the labour (mainly whilst in the pool). She used it to keep cool on her body and to crunch on. Either get a bag of ice from Tesco’s or make sure you have plenty of ice cube trays (or disposable ones).
 
Midwives – Keep the Midwives at bay. I made sure that she knew where she could set-up her area. It was in another room away from Rosie. I kept the door between us closed as much as possible to keep down interruptions.
 
Visitors – We learnt the hard way that you MUST sleep when baby is sleeping, otherwise you’ll never catch up on your sleep. We had too many visitors in the first few days and were unable to do this.  Some people just turned up without being invited. Spread them out a bit over the second, third or fourth week, they’ll understand. You will never have this time together again, just the family getting to know the baby.
 
IPod – If you have an MP3 player I suggest you use it as it will save changing CD’s. You can choose the songs you want and the order they play in. If you can, connect the MP3 player to a speaker or Hi-Fi.

The birth of Amelie Daisy-May – by Sallyann Beresford (our doula)

Sallyann is an Antenatal Yoga and Birth Preparation teacher, a Doula and a Baby massage instructor. Her website is www.doulabirth.co.uk

Being chosen by a couple to attend the birth of their baby is a real privilege.

 
You hope that there will be plenty of time to get to know them before the birth, so that you can bond and develop a trusting relationship. It is always important to empower the couple to stand up for themselves on the day of the birth, as the doula role is one of support and comfort, rather than coaching and advice. 
 
Rosie spent a lot of time in the run up to her birth reading and researching, feeding her knowledge and interest in normality. For me it was really wonderful chatting with her about the best way to achieve the type of birth she was hoping for, as her wishes were clear, and she truly believed in her own ability to birth her baby naturally. Richard was fully supportive of Rosie’s wishes, and was keen to be very hands on, again for me this was a huge bonus, as he too believed in her, and was a positive influence.
 
When Rosie started to have contractions, at 43wks+2, Richard called me, and asked me to come over.  I arrived at about 3.40am, and as I walked in the door Rosie’s waters broke all over the floor!  Rosie had been told that she was 2cm dilated shortly before I had arrived, so it was difficult to know whether I should be encouraging Rosie to slow down, or speed up.  (In my experience this is an extremely delicate stage, where doing too much too soon can be exhausting, and the women can become very tired later on, when they need their energy the most.)
 
In the end, I left Rosie to go with her instincts, and you could see that the contractions were good and strong.  She walked around, listening to her music, and Richard and I took turns to rub her back and tell her how well she was doing.  The midwife kept out of the way during this time, leaving us to it, and only came into the room when it was time to examine Rosie.
 
This was really helpful. She followed our lead and respected Rosie’s need for quietness, so during this time nobody really spoke, unless prompted by Rosie. We were very much guided by her mood and what she wanted, offering her drinks and snacks at appropriate times. 
 
When the pool was being filled I was keen to get Rosie out of the way, as this can often be distracting, sometimes even slowing down labour.  I encouraged her to go upstairs, and offered her a massage.  She found it much more uncomfortable once up there, and I think climbing the stairs had brought on the contractions much more, making them a lot stronger. I tried to get her to lean over the pillows, but again I think instinctively Rosie knew that things were moving on, and she started to ask for some gas and air.  I told her that she was coping really well, and to keep going for a bit longer, which worked for a while.  Eventually Rosie found her voice, and said that she wanted the gas and air, so it was brought to her immediately. 
 
Shortly after, when the pool was ready, Rosie knew it was time for her to get in.  She was being guided by her body, and felt that the water would give her some relief. She loved the pool, and progressed beautifully, using the gas and air to take the edge off each contraction. 
 
Rosie benefited from sucking on ice during the labour, it was useful to cool her down, and also gave her something to focus on.  She was excellent at resting between contractions, which is very important to do if you can, in order to regain your strength before the next contraction.
 
She made some good noises when she felt the need, and really enjoyed working with her body to help her cervix dilate. There was a slight disruption to the quiet calm mood we had all created when the second midwife arrived. Rosie seemed to take this in her stride, and as best as she could, she blocked out the rest of the world, focusing on her breathing, and going into herself during the contractions.  She faced away from all the hustle and bustle of the midwives preparing the room for the arrival of the baby, and this was really helpful.
 
When Rosie was feeling some pushing urges, the midwife was keen to do an examination.  She found Rosie to be fully dilated and told Rosie she could continue to push if she wanted.  The second stage was about 40 minutes long, and Richard and I held Rosie’s hand and supported her as best as we could.  She was brilliant, and Amelie was born in to the water at 9.45am.
 
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Rosie’s pride in her own achievement is what inspires me to continue to work with women in this role.  It is incredible to visit them post-natally and watch them bond with their babies. We are still in regular contact, and I look forward to seeing pictures of Amelie change and develop. 
 
Being a Doula is likened to the role of mothering the mother (to be).  It is also an opportunity to make some wonderful lifetime friends!
 

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Amelie: 24 hours old
Richard’s parents lived in Cardiff, they had booked a holiday at around 42 weeks but they had to delay leaving as they wanted to meet our new baby before heading off. Here they are meeting their granddaughter for the first time. I love the look of pure joy on their faces.
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