Dad Interview: Amy and Kieran

Dad Interviews, Mum

This blog post is all about Kieran, my amazing husband and Theo’s wonderful daddy. It’s nice now and then to think about what your partner thought/thinks during the pregnancy, birth and beyond. Hopefully they aren’t all one word answers ! As a pre-warning there may be some expletives in this as Kieran doesn’t have the best language. Read on and I hope you enjoy!

PREGNANCY

A: How did it feel when you found out you were going to be a dad?

K: It was a mixture of the unknown (which made it scary at first) and the joy of knowing that I would soon have a son/daughter.

A: How did you feel at the first scan?

K: Gobsmacked, it wasn’t the conventional first scan as we experienced a bleed and it was in A&E. It was only a little bean on the screen but I had so love for it. Then at the 12 week scan seeing him/her as a developed baby gave me a wave of excitement for the future as a family.

A: How did you deal with me being pregnant as a whole?

K: I didn’t!! We both struggled, you physically and me mentally watching you struggle. But I kept a brave front on seeing as you were going through it not me.

A: Was it weird watching my body change knowing that was your son in there?

K: Not really until he started kicking and then realisation hit that my child was inside you. I didn’t find it weird with your body changing, I knew it was gonna happen it’s just one of them things in life init (great wording Kieran). I was proud knowing that with your body changing so much you were still happy.

A: How did you feel when we had the gender scan… were you expecting a boy, a girl?

😂

K: I was expecting a girl, but whatever the outcome was I would’ve been over the moon! It was now that I could plan what the future was going to be – playing football mainly 

BIRTH AND BEYOND

Okay let’s get the important bit – the birth.

A: What were you expecting?

K: I was expecting to be in and out in one day not a stay in hospital – in out shake it all about, do the hokey pokey and Theo’s head pops out (yes he actually said that!!!)

A: How did you feel during the birth?

K: a mixture of scared for both you and baby, constantly excited and bored. I was so bored. But we cured it watching Netflix.

A: How did you feel holding him for the first time?

K: Words just cannot describe it.

A: What would be your tip for a first time parent surviving the first few weeks?

K: Don’t assume you’re an expert as the little one will prove you wrong everytime. They’re more resilient than you think so try and take in as much advice as you can from other parents and family. Oh and don’t drop the baby.

A: How do you think we have changed since Theo was born?

K: We have matured alot, we were mature before but we are now mature in a different way. Everything you thought you knew before, you didn’t and its hard realising that. No matter how much planning you put in the baby will shit on your plans – or all over you.

A: What is the biggest sacrifice you have had to make?

K: SLEEP!!!!!!!!

A: What is the biggest sacrifice you have watched me make?

K: Again, SLEEP!!! With a slight handful of ruined vagina (oh my god)

A: What are your hopes for Theo’s future? What do you want for him?

K: I want him to have a happy childhood, a good school life, to be smart but have fun at the same time and become a millionaire and give me some. Footballer, F1 driver or golfer I’m not fussed. (this is a joke he can be what he wants to be)

A: What is your FAVOURITE thing about being a dad?

K: Seeing his face light up every time I get back from work and the way it feels every time he says “dada”

A: What is your LEAST favourite thing about being a dad?

K: did I mention that sleep thing? My social life has dwindled but he makes up for it.

A: Finally, what is your favourite thing about Theo?

K: How well he’s progressing into a clever little boy. He’s walking before 1, he’s talking alot and he LOVES kicking balls above which is great for my future plans *wink wink*.

❤️

Hope this opens some eyes and makes you laugh!
Amy & Kieran 

Mat Leave Reflection

Maternity Leave, Mum

This week I went back to work. Full time. Away from my lovely boy 5 days a week.

My mat leave was nothing like I expected. I think I had this sort of dream image of being a lady of leisure and going out for lunch everyday, having this spotless house and keeping on top of the washing pile, reading so many books with all this free time I had, having this fab group of wonder women mum friends, and looking fab while doing it.

That’s not mat leave at all. Mat leave is sleepless nights and early mornings. It’s bleeding nipples, stretch marks, and still wearing your maternity leggings. It’s days where you don’t eat and days when you don’t stop eating. It’s laughter and beautiful memories, but it’s sadness and isolation too. It’s getting to know this little human who is an odd mix of you and the person you love, and finding out what they need and what they like and that there is no guidebook to this whole ‘parenting’ thing.

My labour was pretty straight forward, but it was my recovery I struggled with. No one warns you about recovery or talks about how difficult it is. Through the pain of healing stitches, the learning how to feed and the general coping with the sudden change of lifestyle, you forget about everything else beyond the bubble of you, partner, and baby. My whole ‘first phase’ of maternity leave was littered with anxiety and doubt as you do become so absorbed in yourself and your little one. I was constantly concerned that I wasn’t good enough for the bundle of perfection in my arms and that my every decision would impact him in some way. However, I was lucky enough to be surrounded by people who told me they were proud of me, and my stage of self-doubt didn’t last long.

For me the next ‘phase’ was loneliness. I loved spending every moment with my son, but sometimes I craved the attention of other adults and a conversation about something other than babies. I’ve got hobbies, I’ve got interests, and I just wanted anyone to talk about them too. I was lost. I got pretty fed up of people only acknowledging Ted and not me, whether it be in the street in passing or a group setting. We come as a package. Without me, there is no Ted, and when you go some days with no adult interaction other than with your partner, things like that hurt. Then there are those moments when you decide to grow some courage and attend a baby class or meet with other mums, and you’re left feeling deflated by judgmental, unnecessary comments. And then it’s just you and your baby and the rest of the world.

I like to think I then entered my ‘phase 3.’ This phase is a great phase for me. It’s where I learned what to care about and what just is not worth it. It’s when I realised what matters and what I deserve, and of course, what Ted deserves. I just had fun, and I grew up a lot. I realised other mums weren’t as scary as they seemed and that I’d only met an unfortunate minority. I realised it didn’t matter if I left the house in leggings and trainers with no intention of doing any sort of exercise. I realised that a happy mummy equals a happy baby. And that’s when I was brave enough to start my new venture with this blog and start sharing my experiences with others and encouraging others to do so.

Honestly, being back at work is great. For about half a day it felt like I was the new girl again, but it wasn’t long until it felt like I’d never left. Questions were flying my way and I could answer them and answer them confidently. The baby brain I thought I was going to return with wasn’t actually there and I’ve since remembered my strengths. I think I forgot how much brain I actually have.

But most importantly, I feel like I’ve got a bit of me back. Yes, I’m Ted’s mum, but I’m also Alice. I’m still the Alice who is super clumsy. I’m still the Alice who could eat her body weight in cheese. I’m still the Alice who can recite every Spice Girls song to you off by heart. I’m also a partner, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a colleague. I’m more than just a mum, but I love that that is now a huge part of my identity. I’m calling this my phase 4, and this is the phase where I’m going to have to learn how to juggle everything.

The worst bit about it all is how much I miss Ted. I miss singing ‘row row row the boat’ and ‘if you’re happy and you know it’ 20 times a day. I miss cleaning up the ridiculous amount of mess after every meal. I miss our cuddles and I miss napping together. But I know those things haven’t been taken away from me and that we still get to do them, just less often.

He is truly the happiest, most charismatic, cheeky boy I have ever met, and I’m so grateful and thankful to him that I get to do this for me and for us. The last 10 months have been an absolute privilege, and I can’t wait to see him grow and mature into the clever, kind and funny little man I know he will be. I’ll treasure this time forever, every ‘first’ and every perfect day had along with the bad days too. I love you, Ted. Thank you for being the best, and sorry that I won’t always be there when you bump your head or maybe when you walk for the first time, but I promise you that doesn’t mean I love you any less. To a happy future, and a wonderful ten months of getting to know each other.

Working Moms Review

F, Film & TV, Lifestyle, Reviews, Style, TV

Written by Joanne Townsend

It’s hard to find a show which portrays a realistic view of being a mum. The soaps never seem to show the mums with their young kids; they are either upstairs or have disappeared while they get on with their life and they only reappear once they are old enough to have their own storylines. Other shows completely bypass the baby and toddler stage with the parents having older kids or teenagers. And they don’t have any depth or outside life apart from being a mother. When I heard about Working Moms through my friend, I thought I would give it a go. It sounds like a breath of fresh air to have a show about a bunch of women going through that tough first year of motherhood. Working Moms on Netflix is a Canadian show which is created and stars the wonderful Catherine Reitman. I have to admit it took me an episode or two to get hooked. But after that, I loved it and had to watch the whole series.

What I really loved about the series was the characters. They are all full of depth and are interesting in their own right. Of course, Kate is the main character in the show. But the other mums who go to the baby group are all just as prominent and have their own storylines going on. I like that they are experiencing different feelings and thoughts about motherhood, good and bad. The main character Kate is struggling with going back to work while juggling motherhood. She has a good position which she loves but also feels uncomfortable leaving her son. I thought this was very relatable in current times. There is a lot of guilt and judgement about mums wanting to return to work. When she was pumping in the toilets at work, I think a lot of mums would relate to this. I also liked her relationship with her husband which felt very real. Dani Kind’s character Anne was also an interesting addition to the clang. Finding out she was pregnant and trying to accept this was a poignant route to go down. After all, it’s not always a straightforward experience when you have further children. Frankie is one of the most complex characters in the show. Struggling from post-natal depression, we see her struggling to bond and fit into the role of motherhood. I thought it was very relevant to show her point of view and how she worked through it with her partner. Jenny was also another complex character who struggled to find her role as her husband was the stay at home dad while she returned to work. As she contemplates an affair, it shows how you can sometimes lose yourself when you become a mum.

I really enjoyed the different characters and the storylines as the show progressed. It was a very real account of motherhood and how it’s so different for everyone. It’s definitely worth a watch and you will laugh, cry and relate to a lot of experiences the mums go through on the show. Looking forward to Netflix uploading the second series!

Teddy’s Weaning Journey

baby, Breastfeeding, Mum, Weaning, Weaning

Written by Julie Suffield

It’s now been a solid three months since Teddy last had breastmilk. 27 months after that first latch on the floor of our front room and he just quietly, gradually stopped. No tears. No tantrums. Just no more requests for Mamma milk.

It was a much smoother ride second time round. No tongue tie, no mastitis and only the odd milk bleb. He put on weight quickly, only losing 3% of his birthweight. He was a dream to feed, the type of baby you see on maternity ward posters. Quite the surprise after all our difficulties with Bea.

He doesn’t seem to miss it. I was worried we wouldn’t be as close physically but he’s just as cuddly and loving. He still loves to sleep curled up to me the same as before. He did do the same as Bea and fell ill to every bug in the first few weeks after stopping feeding and no longer receiving my immunity. But overall he’s coped amazingly. He did request to latch on a few weeks ago, but couldn’t remember how.

Breastfeeding has been a huge part of my life for four years. Teddy is at a tricky age for tantrums, and there have been a few times that I’ve wished he still fed just to calm him down. But I’m pleased that it was on his terms and has happened at a time that suits us both. For a while it felt like a huge part of my identity had been lost. But it’s something I’ll always be passionate about and advocate for. I am sad that this chapter of motherhood is over with Teddy but also excited for the next stage.

Ted’s Weaning Journey

baby, Weaning, Weaning

Weaning Ted was honestly such an enjoyable process, and although I’m no expert, in celebration of our weaning essentials giveaway I thought I’d share my journey with our readers.

We started weaning just before Ted turned 6 months. Ted definitely had the odd taste of flavours here and there before then, but early weaning isn’t recommended for a number of reasons, so be sure to do your research if that’s something your considering. Roughly 24 weeks is when a baby’s gut is ready for solids, but if you’re breastfeeding and your little one isn’t showing signs of interest in food then wait until they are ready.

Below are the individual steps we took:

1) We started with baby rice mixed with expressed milk, and purely did this to see how Ted got on with chewing and swallowing. Baby rice has no nutritional value but it was a good way to see if Ted was ready.

2) After a few weeks we started to mix pureed vegetables and expressed milk. We fed Ted this at dinner time and it was fun seeing him trying the new flavours. We are lucky that he’s not been fussy with food at all. I’d recommend starting with vegetables before you progress to fruit, otherwise you baby may prefer sweet food over other tastes and this doesn’t bode well for the further stages!

3) Once Ted was enjoying pureed fruit and veg every evening we decided to introduce another meal each day. He was almost 7 months by this point.

4) As Ted started to enjoy 2 meals a day at 7 months, we introduced finger foods and also bread, pasta and rice. I really wanted to mix traditional weaning and baby led weaning, as I wanted Ted to get used to swallowing before introducing the chewing element! I gave him steamed vegetables and would mix with cous cous or over done pasta. Boots do a great range of their own branded gluten free products that we started with before progressing onto normal pasta.

5) If there is one thing that terrified me, it was giving Ted meat! By 7 and half months he was eating well, and now with the introduction of his third meal I knew it was time. We started with fish as it breaks apart really nicely and we eat salmon or white fish every week. Then we introduced chicken, then mince at 8 and half months and Ted will eat beek in small chunks also.

6) One really important thing I would say, is don’t be scared to introduce spice and flavourings. Ted loves eating chilli and curries and has a diverse palette as I give him a nice variety of foods.

7) We can now give him pretty much anything that we eat, which is so easy and simple. There’s just zero point in making multiple meals everyday. Breastfeeding wise, he will only feed twice a day, morning and evening. From 9 months he has also been having 2 snacks a day in between meals.

8) In terms of a sippy cup, we started using one from 6 months with expressed milk in and have now moved onto water. Ted loves the ones with the plastic straw! Our next stage is whole milk in a cup for breakfast to wean off of his morning breastfeed, but we will wait a month or so for that.

My biggest tip would be introducing one new thing a weeks, not everything all at once or too soon.

We make everything from scratch but ocasionally if we stick a pizza in the oven Ted will have some. Weaning him has really made me think about what I eat and how I can eat better, which is great too! There are things we won’t allow him to eat, simply because he is so young. Anything artifical, crisps, fast food, saturated fat or high salt content are a no go. He’s tried bits of chocolate here but it’ll be a long time before we let him have a Maccies!

Whether you opt for baby led or traditional or a mix of both, just do what you are comfortable with. Trust your instincts and do what suits your child and when they are ready. Good luck!

Going Back to Work

Maternity Leave, Mum, Working Mum

I’m about a month away before I have to go back to work. The closer it gets, the more nervous I am. I have always worked since I was 17. I’ve been away from it for 10 months. Things have carried on without me and people have left with new ones arriving in that time.

I worked at my current place for years before I went on maternity leave. I was familiar with everything and everyone. It could be worse and I could be going somewhere new. But it does feel like I’m starting over again, just I already know most of the people I’m working with.

I’ve gotten used to being at home with my daughter, going out with her, using time to meet up with people more often than I ever did when working full time, and adapting to parenthood.

Going back to work is going to change everything again for us. I was one of those people that struggled to get myself ready and out the house to be at work. Now I need to think of sorting an extra person too and the idea of that makes me anxious. I work a drive away where in peak traffic can take a long time. I’m thinking of how I’m going to juggle getting us both up, ready, out the door, drive to grandparents to drop off, tackle the school rush, find somewhere to parallel park in my bigger car (I struggled with my small 3 door), and get through the door ready to start work.

I’m thankful I do only have to go back part time so we still have the beginning of the week to do things together, as well as the weekend with Daddy too when he isn’t working. I’ve been given hours and days I wanted. I know not everyone is able to do that.

Going back to work is something I have to do. I’m glad I saved before I went on maternity because a new baby plus mortgage, bills, food and everyday life takes that pay away. With nothing coming in from my end we wouldn’t be able to do it.

My daughter is going to go to her grandparents while I’m at work. I’m lucky that both my mum and mother in law are around and willing to have her a day each as well as take it in turns for a half day. What would we do if we didn’t have them? I considered nursery but the fees for even a morning once a week add up, and when you take that off of your monthly income you aren’t left with much. I’m wondering how others can do it.

People ask me if I’m worried because I have to leave me daughter, but I respond saying I know she will be fine because she’s with people I trust. It will be good for her to have some time away doing other things. Of course I will want to check up on her during my breaks.

It’s going to feel strange at first. But like when a chapter ends and another one begins, you go with it. It’ll be getting those first few weeks out of the way and then it will probably feel like we never did anything different. Holidays will definitely be something to appreciate and look forward to.

Hypnobirthing: What it is and How it Changed my Birth

birth, Hypnobirthing, Mum

When I had my first child I had never heard of hypnobirthing, I didn’t hear about it until I was pregnant with my second child.

In my first birth I laboured at 3cm dilated for 6 days before the doctors deemed I had ‘failed’ to progress and needed to be induced. I was induced at 12pm (38 weeks’ gestation) my waters broke at 10pm, at 3.24am I was fully dilated and ready to push. My daughter was back to back. I had an epidural because I was exhausted from the days of labouring, and I had had diamorphine, Oramorph, co-codamol and gas and air throughout the week. I was told I could push for an hour before I would need intervention. 57 minutes later I heard my baby’s first cry and it was beautiful. I had two second degree tears that required minor dissolvable stitches. I threw up every colour one can thanks to the medication. She was 7lbs4.5oz and perfect. All in all, it wasn’t too bad, I felt, I expected birth to be horrible, everyone had always told me it would be and that’s just life.

In spite of thinking this was all ok, I found as my next pregnancy progressed, I became scared of giving birth, I didn’t want to labour for a week, I didn’t want to be in and out of hospital for so long. All the pain killers made me fuzzy, I hardly remember the birth of my daughter, I was tired, scared and heavily medicated, I didn’t want to forget it again either.

Towards the middle of my pregnancy Giovanna Fletcher gave birth to her third child, both she and her husband posted on social media about the event and credited hypnobirthing – the word itself put me off, it sounded like a load of hippy nonsense, but I was terrified of repeating my first birth and I was ready to try anything. I began researching it and reading, I learnt there was science behind the information, it was not just oils and hope, it was fact and reason.

I found the positive birthing company, and read the background from Siobhan the woman who runs it, her first birth was like mine, she hypnobirthed for her second and loved it so much she learnt how to teach it and began her company. Her first birth and her higher education drew me to this company, I liked knowing she was an educated woman of reason and still supported this.

So, I booked the weekend face to face course with the positive birthing company.

On this course my husband and I learnt how my body worked, what hormones were needed for labour, what my uterus would do throughout and the rest of my body. My husband learnt the role of the birthing partner and how he could help me through.

On this course we were asked to consider how animals give birth – in the dark, somewhere warm and comfortable, where they feel safe, many of them sanding up. This was to provoke thought about the manner in which humans now birth, it suddenly seemed so obviously unnatural to be in a room full of bright lights and strangers with no comfort.

Hypnobirthing is there to empower women to know how their birth works, to choose their birth and be in control of what happens to them. I learnt that no matter what, unless it is life or death, I had the right to ask questions of my health care providers and say no if I felt something wasn’t right for me or my baby. I learnt that fear and stress are the biggest enemies to birth. Well, hospitals make me stressed.

So, I began to plan my home birth, we bought candles to have dim relaxed lighting, I listened to affirmations and guided relaxation tapes and practiced breathing up and out. We read about the importance of gravity in birth and discussed positive birthing positions such as all fours, standing, squatting, leaning over something etc.

I had essential oils, lavender to calm me and clary sage to help my contractions. We bought warm packs, cold packs, plastic sheeting, birth snacks. By 36 weeks we were ready to go and so excited.

I had been having uncomfortable contractions on and off from 35 weeks, the midwives called it irritable uterus, I worried this was building to a labour like before but I listened to my relaxation, I focused on my goal birth and I prepared myself.

As it was my second baby my local midwife offered a sweep at 38 weeks, I thought about this and as my baby was measuring big, and I was very uncomfortable from the Braxton hicks I decided it was best to have the sweep.

At 38+1 I went for a sweep at 3pm, it was shocking and unpleasant but not painful. I knew I had to keep moving so I went to the supermarket and did the shop. My husband worked in London during the week but as it was almost Christmas (20th December) and I was having my sweep I asked him to come home early that week, he arrived home at 5pm. I was having mild contractions but nothing new and we didn’t trust it was real after our week-long disappointment the first time round.

We ordered an Indian takeaway and put our daughter to bed at 7pm with my mum on standby to pick her up if anything happened. We ate our curry and watched RuPaul’s drag race, I was having period cramps and mild contractions, I decided to sit on my birthing ball and start timing my contractions, they were quite long and close together though I can’t remember precisely the times and lengths now. We decided it might be real but waited a bit.

Eventually I was unable to talk through my contractions anymore and knew I needed to call the midwife, at 11pm we called her. My husband began setting up the candles, oils, plastic sheets, towels and snacks and I lay on my side on the sofa, so I didn’t slow the progress but could have a rest, in this rest my waters broke, a big gush all over our sofa, this was at 11.20pm and was followed by a very strong contraction. I stood in our kitchen, so I didn’t ruin the carpet, took off my trousers and called my mum to let her know we might need her.

My husband cleaned the sofa and I wandered around breathing through my contractions. At this point I was ready for some gas and air.

The midwife arrived at 1130, I was kneeling on the floor leaning against the sofa, I was thrilled for the gas and air and it helped me keep my breathing calm. I could feel what my body was doing, and I was excited. The midwife did an internal exam and I was 5cm already, we couldn’t believe I had progressed so quickly from mild contractions at 7pm.

She sat back and set up her things whilst letting me get on with it, I was focussed and coping well, every so often she used the doppler to listen to my baby’s heart, but she did this around me, so I was not disturbed.

At 12am I struggled with keeping my breathing, I shouted through my contractions quite audibly and woke my daughter. My husband called my mum and she arrived at 12.30am to collect her.

At this point I demanded to be taken to hospital and have an epidural, I was reassured I could do it ‘I know I can do it, but I don’t want to’ I told everyone. I realised after, that this period of panic was actually the transition between dilating and pushing.

I felt my body begin to bare down at around 12.45, it was not something I could’ve stopped if I tried, my body took over and it was all consuming. During contractions I was quiet, focused and didn’t need the gas and air at this point. I could feel my baby moving down, it was an incredible feeling.

Finally, at 1.31am I birthed my son, at home, having progressed on my own, with minimal pain relief. He got stuck on the way out, his shoulder got stuck on my pelvis so right at the end I had to be lying on my back so the midwives could help get him out, he was startled and didn’t breath straight away but they rubbed him down and he started, it was laboured so it was decided it would be best to check him in hospital. I delivered my placenta naturally, was checked over and with not a single tear or scratch I got to go and join my son at the hospital. I was immediately able to get up, dress myself and walk the three flights of stairs down and out of my building.

Hypnobirthing taught me about my body, gave me confidence, and helped me to have the calm, and happy birth I wanted. I could never have done it without the tools my hypnobirthing course gave me, because it also prepared me to deal with the unexpected turn at the end.

Hypnobirthing is not for one kind of birth, it can help you remain calm when your birth doesn’t go to plan and make informed choices when faced with induction or C-section. Even an unplanned C-section can be calm, you can have your music and dimmed lighting and if baby is well, he or she can be brought straight to you for a moment of skin to skin.

My husband and I have two children now and we do not want any more, but if we did, I would be so excited to give birth again, I loved my second birth and I recommend hypnobirthing to every pregnant woman I know now.

I birthed a 9lb baby with less pain relief, more joy and less tearing than a 7lb4.5oz baby thanks to hypnobirthing.

Postnatal Depression: Amy’s Story

Mental Health, Mum

Postnatal depression is a funny old thing, I sit here writing this with full knowledge of that fact. Some people with postnatal depression will have a history of mental health problems and some people don’t – either is perfectly normal and fine.

My mental health journey started from the very young age of 13, when I developed Anorexia. After a long, long battle with food I recovered; however this is not something I am quite ready to blog about yet.

So, we will start at the age of 17 when I was diagnosed with depression as a ‘replacement’ to Anorexia – it is like a drug addiction, it has to be replaced with something. It’s crazy how meeting someone you love wholeheartedly can change the way you think. I started to feel better and see life in a different way. When I fell pregnant I knew it would be difficult for me to see my body change and go over weights I wouldn’t be happy with, but I knew it would be totally worth it when I had Theo. Something I struggled with throughout my whole pregnancy was watching my thighs get bigger and stretch marks develop all over my body but there was nothing I could do about it.

The common Baby Blues is something everyone talks about, the typical feeling emotional and tearful. This should last for the first couple of weeks and it is a completely normal thing to experience after having a baby I mean, hello, you have just spent nine months carrying a small human and then gave birth to it!

Symptoms of postnatal depression last a lot longer than a few weeks and can make you feel awful. You can feel: like you have no energy, like you’re an awful mum, a persistent low mood, like you can’t bond with your baby and sometimes you can even have awful thoughts about harming your baby. So many women don’t even realise they have postnatal depression and bottle it up, this is when it gets worse. Let alone the sleep deprivation from having a new baby! 

I went to the doctors with all of the feelings listed above when Theo was just 8 weeks old, since then I have been on medication to help with my moods/feelings and have seen a therapist.

My plea to any mums reading this nodding their head is to go and seek some help! Its not stupid and it is a real thing. Don’t withdraw from your friends and family, reach out and talk to them.
I am also always here for anyone feeling low

Amy xox

Labour Stories: Jade & Reuben

Labour Stories, Mum

My birth story starts at 4am on Tuesday 12th February 2019 when I awoke in the middle of the night and was struggling to get back to sleep because of trapped wind cramps. I was 40 weeks and 5 days pregnant.

I’d become really uncomfortable and the cramps were super niggly preventing me from getting any kind of sleep. I was tossing and turning (well trying, not easy to do any kind of rolling whilst 40+ weeks pregnant!) and eventually decided to get up so I didn’t disturb my husband. I went downstairs and switched the telly on, popped the kettle on and made a peppermint tea and bounced on my ball. I then tried pacing around the room, followed by putting my feet up with a hot water bottle across my stomach. All of this was to no avail, I couldn’t get the trapped wind to move. 

Once up, I got my husband to give me a mini back massage (we’d been practicing aromatherapy massage for labour) and voila within 10 mins I was able to go pass some wind and go to the loo. My husband the little miracle worker, I thought. I was thrilled and awaited the relief… oh man it didn’t come. Instead, as the morning progressed the trapped wind cramps got worse and I started getting regular lose bowel movements. The only saving grace was I thought ‘great, hopefully this is the clear out I’ve heard people talk of before labour starts’.

I had a scheduled midwife appointment booked in the afternoon at the local midwife led birthing unit and my husband had arranged to finish work early so he could take me. Unfortunately, due to severe SPD I’d decided to stop driving and this made it a nightmare getting anywhere – as not only was I not driving but I was on crutches. My husband had been being a champ and helping by giving me lifts where he could so I didn’t need to get buses and taxis. As the day progressed, I was so uncomfy that I couldn’t wait for him to get home and give me some more massage and make me cups of tea. By 14:00 I was now feeling exhausted from the trapped wind cramps and a bit fed up of not being able to shift it. I also was starting to feel a bit gross as I was on the loo at least every 10 mins for a lose bowel movement (sorry, TMI I know). I’d been practicing hypnobirthing via The Positive Birth Company’s digital pack and had really enjoyed doing so. I was therefore using the discomfort I was feeling to channel and practice both my up breathing and my down breathing.

I timed a shower so I’d be finished and dressed in time for my husband picking me up for my appointment. My goodness did that shower feel amazing on my tummy and back, I didn’t want to get out! It was at this point that I got out of the shower and thought… wait a minute. These cramps are becoming really intense and since when does trapped wind peak and then die off. I popped the Positive Birth Company’s brand new app ‘FREYA’ on (amazing by the way!) and ‘she’ straight away told me that I was having surges 3 in 10 and should now be considering calling maternity triage. Nevertheless, I still really doubted these were surges (which makes me laugh now). They weren’t at all what I was expecting! I’d always been told ‘you’ll know when it’s contractions’ therefore I was expecting something so powerful there was no doubt labour was coming, but that wasn’t the case. I told my husband about my discomfort and what the app had suggested when he got home and jokingly said ‘how amazing would it be if the midwife examined me and told me I was 4cm, in established labour and was good to go’.

Off to my midwife appointment we went! The discomfort was now most certainly every 3 minutes and the drive to the appointment was unpleasant as I felt every bump in the road. I told my midwife about the trapped wind and clear out and requested an internal examination in the hope that now at 40+5 my cervix was starting to make all the necessary changes. On the bed I got and she did her usual foetal measurements and checks. ‘Great, head really low down in the pelvis’ she exclaimed. ‘Wahoo’ I thought as he’d been at brim the last 2 appointments. She went ahead with the examination, paused and looked shocked. ‘You clever woman’ she said ‘you’re 5cm! These are contractions not trapped wind and your waters are bulging. It’s happening’.

With those words my mind raced. I was in the very place I wanted to give birth. The birthing room & birthing pool of my dreams were literally down the stairs. In my mind I was imaging the relief I was about to feel as I stepped into that toasty birthing pool with my positive affirmations playing in the background. All of a sudden there was a popping noise followed by a gush. I then felt this warm sensation go up my legs and back. My waters had broken just as she was finishing the examination. Wow! Don’t expect the Hollywood water break I’d been told. It’ll likely just be a trickle. Ha! I was soaking wet with me and the midwife literally swimming in it.

Then I looked at the midwife in amazement and excitement only to be crushed with the words ‘I’m really sorry Jade. Your waters have gone and baby has done a poo’. She checked baby’s heartbeat with a doppler and explained I’d no longer be able to give birth at the very birth centre I was currently stood in (and had my heart set on) and that I needed to ring the hospital triage and head straight there.

My husband called whilst the midwife and I got me sorted. They asked to speak to the midwife who explained the examination findings and that my waters contained meconium. The hospital said I needed an ambulance but the midwife and I felt that was unnecessary and that I’d make my own way there. Bad move. We started trying to head to the hospital but the end of school traffic had started to meet the dreaded Manchester commuter traffic AND Manchester United were playing at home. The traffic was not moving, not at all. My surges were now every minute apart and increasing in intensity. I spoke to the hospital and they said I needed an ambulance. We agreed I’d head home (the opposite direction to all the traffic) and wait for the ambulance there. I was happy to head home as I’d promised my midwife I’d go straight to the hospital and not first nip home for my hospital bag. But this was not something I was happy with. Not only was my birth not going to be where or quite how I wanted but I’d also not have my hypnobirthing ‘toolkit’ to hand.

We headed home and waited for the ambulance. Surges and pressure were now extremely powerful and I was on the phone to the ambulance call handler updating her on when I was having surges and any progression. My husband was trying to pack all the last bits for the hospital bag as well as guide me through the surges. I leant over my sofa on all fours and breathed through each and every one. When I became vocal my husband prompted and reminded me of my breathing.

The ambulance took 1hr 10mins to come which literally felt like forever. At one point, I’d felt the adrenaline try and creep in as I had a quick internal panic that my baby had pooed and I might be delivering him at home on my own without any medical staff. Wow did this make the surges much less manageable. I reminded myself of the all I’d learnt in the digital pack and refused to let the adrenaline have any interference again. ‘You can do this’ I told myself. ‘The surges cannot be more powerful than me because they are me’.

Jump forward to when I arrive at the hospital after being blue lit there (with even the ambulance getting stuck for a bit in the traffic and road works). I was shown to the ugliest labour room I’d ever seen. No ball, no mats, no pool. Just a hospital bed and static monitor. I requested a room with a birth pool and was told nope baby has pooed so that’s now out of the question. I explained I was uncomfortable and needed to be mobile and at least have mats or a ball to try. The midwife went off to find a monitor and on her return said that they would let me try for a water birth if I’d accept some examinations before hand.

Let’s do it, I thought. They moved me to a much more appealing room and ran the pool. I couldn’t wait to get in! What a tease it was seeing it and being told I had to be checked and have X,Y & Z done first. Right I thought, let’s adopt a UFO (upright, forward & open) position and concentrate on this breathing. The surges were now very powerful with lots of pressure building in my bum. I decided to get on my knees on the bed leaning over the back of the bed which was bolt upright. As soon as I adopted this position I felt something change. ‘I think I’m ready to push’ I announced. I don’t think they believed me. First all the midwives found it hilarious I thought my contractions were trapped wind and I think they thought from my calm demeanour that I wasn’t advancing as I was. They requested an internal (which I was keen to get ASAP as they wouldn’t let me in the pool without) ‘you feel like you’re 9cm’ she said. At this point I was worried things started to take a slightly negative turn, I didn’t feel the midwives were supporting me in the way I’d hoped and dreamed of. They were totally ignoring my birth plan and there was some sort of issue that they were discussing between themselves whilst in my presence but were using medical lingo and weren’t informing me what was going on. It was at this point I was told they needed a second opinion from a consultant (I didn’t know what about, mind you) and I was not allowed to use the pool.

It was from here on out that I could have had a massive wobble and my hypnobirthing dream could have easily been over. However, it was announced that my midwives were being relieved for 30 mins to have a meal break and I would have 2 other midwives covering. My husband passed them my (what now felt redundant) birth plan over to them. Suddenly everything changed. The room was dimmed, they spoke in hushed voices, they told me if I felt I was ready to push then I should and they encouraged me. Wow, this is it I thought. I’m in the zone. I got my husband to put the positive birth affirmations on a loop and I began breathing baby down.

I bartered with the midwife that I’d let her do an examination if she’d promise me her and her student midwife would stay and deliver my baby instead of the original midwives I’d been assigned. She promised me she’d do her best. Off we went. I felt like me, my midwife, student midwife and my husband were a team. They were reminding me of my breathing and where to channel my energy. They kept me calm. They guided me through. I remember the joy from everyone when the top of baby’s head became visible. ‘Do you want to reach and feel it?’ They asked. Wow I thought. Check me out. I felt like a super woman. I’m having a baby and I’m doing this without pain relief! I also reminded myself of how the days events could have had such a negative impact.

I asked my husband to put my favourite Enya album on (Paint the Sky with Stars) and concentrated with all my might on getting my baby down. I could feel the build in pressure as he’d move down and then the gentle bobbing back at the end of the contraction. I didn’t let this dishearten me as I reminded myself, that although I was now absolutely exhausted, with each surge I was closer to meeting my baby and that I wanted him to be born as gently as possible. I also visualised the hand cue that Siobhan Miller used in the PBC’s digital pack when she said that the baby’s head needed to do this bobbing motion to massage and stretch the vagina.

I was now so so close. I could tell by the excitement from the room when my surges hit and I was channeling the baby out. He was so nearly out but my body was struggling to have the energy to get him through. Unbeknownst to me, I’d now been in the pushing phase for 2 hours. My midwives said ‘come on Jade you’re so nearly there. We leave in 15 minutes and we want to see the rest of your beautiful baby’s head’. Wait, I want this too I thought! And my body was telling me I was so close. I allowed them to guide me into a new squatting position and this was great as it allowed my body some extra gravity to bear down. 

It was then that my midwife asked if it would be ok for her senior colleague to enter and take a look. She explained she was a little concerned that baby was getting tired & slightly distressed and that the pressure was a bit too much for him so they really wanted to get him out ASAP. They asked how I’d feel if they did a small cut. My birth plan stated without a shadow of a doubt that this was absolutely not for me. I didn’t want interventions! I thought about BRAIN (a hypnobirthing acronym) and what my options were. Then I saw my wonderful midwife’s face and could tell from her eyes that this was the best thing to do. I trusted her completely.

My student midwife got really close and looked so excited as she got ready to deliver my baby. With the next surge I gave it all I had, they did the cut and just like that his head was out. The room told me how his little eyes were open and were looking around the room. I was so jealous I couldn’t see this! I knew I had one more push and I could see him. That surge seemed to take FOREVER to come. But when it did it felt amazing. I just felt him glide out and it felt so euphoric. Right in that moment I felt like a super woman. 

What an amazing team of people I had around me. My gosh things did not ‘go to plan’ but my birth was AMAZING. If that wasn’t a positive birth I don’t know what is. My lovely midwife explained baby had actually done another poo and that is why they needed the intervention. As well as the fact they’d struggled with my temp the whole way through the pushing stage and I was about to fall into one of their policies about appropriate interventions required for that.

I had beautiful skin to skin with my boy following his birth and he fed almost immediately. He was so happy and content and so was I. I still feel totally on cloud 9. I have the PBC digital pack to thank for feeling empowered to make the right decisions about birth for me and my baby. For having the tools I needed to remain positive. For being so in control of my body that my contractions were mistaken for trapped wind (haha!). For knowing that breathing alone can be a pain killer. 

I remember the midwife saying shortly before she left ‘well it must have gone well cause I’ve not heard you say I’m never doing that again’. Followed by ‘when I labour I want to be exactly like you’. Wow. What a compliment.

Quite a lengthy story but I found it therapeutic to write and wanted to share. Hypnobirthing and a drug free birth were right for me. As I say, things didn’t pan out quite how I’d hoped or imagined they would – but this didn’t take away from the fact I had the most empowering experience and was able to safely deliver my baby into the world.

Labour Stories: Gemma & Harper

Labour Stories, Mum

Written by Gemma Poulsom

For years I’ve wanted a baby, I dreamt of every moment from finding out I was pregnant to the birth, I always wanted a water birth as I suffer from anxiety and depression and water really calms me down.

Anyway… after a long pregnancy of waiting and excitement, the day came at 40+2 where I went for my sweep, sitting down with my lovely midwife, I mentioned that I had a feeling my waters may have already broken, she told me she couldn’t do the sweep in case of infection. I went to the hospital to have an examination and they confirmed my hind waters had broken.

For safety reasons I was admitted to the labour ward the next morning, but in the meantime I had to try everything to get her out. The whole induction thing was completely alien to me. I was very naive and thought they put me on a drip and she would be there, so I didn’t try very hard to get her out as I thought it didn’t matter. I regret that decision immensely!

The morning came of my induction at 8:30am and I am all excited. I walked into labour ward with my bag packed, all my snacks, excited to meet my baby! When I got in I got hooked up to hormone drip, to get told I couldn’t eat anything and to take all my piercings out incase of C-Section. They said it’s very unlikely blah blah blah!

The contractions started and it was excruciating so I had to have the epidural which I felt guilty for having it so early on. I felt like I failed at labour already! I got examined every 4 hours and I didn’t get past 2 cm dilated! I was getting impatient and irritated. The midwife said if things don’t start progressing we may have to do the C-section. I cried and cried. I have dreamt about this moment for years and I can’t do what I wanted to do. The water birth was out the window anyway due to induction, and now I might not even be able to push my daughter into this world.

Hours passed and still no progress, so the midwife came in and said we think we need to do the C-section now- are you ok with that? I broke down again. I didn’t want this. I wanted to do this on my own. I wanted to feel everything after so long! I couldn’t stop crying. After 14 hours in labour I thought I must be more than 2 now! They checked again but still only 2cm! I was broken. I felt like I failed my daughter already, so they went to get the doctor to come and speak to me. But when she came in she said , “I don’t think we need to do a C-section, I think we should give it another 4 hours, a lot can happen!” I immediately said I don’t think I’m going to progress any further. I don’t want to wait 4 hours to be told I’ve got to anyway. She replied that she had hope and that she doesn’t think that will be the case.

So I waited… 2 hours passed and my daughters heart rate slowed right down; they put me on oxygen called the crash team, rolled me from side to side to get it going again. It started getting better so carried on waiting, but again her heart rate dropped and crash team back in, but this time the doctor gave me an examination- STILL ONLY 2CM!

Then I heard “we need to get you down to theatre now!” That was it I felt sick, my stomach rolled hundreds of times over. Why is this happening to me?! I knew my body would fail me! I went into shock, walking down with my partner to theatre, struggling to breathe, feeling I was about to throw up. When I got into theatre they gave my more anaesthetic, and as they went to cut me, I could feel it! I stopped them and they said oh could you feel that, even after I passed the ice test! I said yes I can, the anesthetist said I can’t give you anymore, you had the maximum so we’re going to have to put you to sleep. I didn’t think I could break anymore. One thing after another, my partner couldn’t be in there, I wouldn’t get to hear my babies first cry, I wouldn’t feel a thing! I was a wreck. The midwives held my hand and cuddled me as I drifted off.

When I awoke I had nothing, no baby, no pain, just felt nothing. They wheeled me down to my room and there she was my gorgeous baby having a cuddle with her dad. I didn’t even get skin to skin. I didn’t see her covered in blood. She was clean and perfect. My partner couldn’t cut the cord and it was just awful. I held my baby girl and never wanted to let her go, my first words was… how is she so beautiful!

I was in hospital for 3 days in excruciating pain and feeling of guilt and regret. Six months on and I still feel the same feelings. I love my beautiful girl but I feel like I failed from the first hurdle! 

You can follow Gemma for more updates on her Instagram here.