A refreshing look at real pregnancies and those first few years of parenthood. Putting the mums and their needs first for a change!

Birth preferences

Below I have shared my birth plan. I have done so under the understanding that it is incredibly personal to me and my wishes and should not be taken as a template for your own as you have to decide your plan of action with your partner and indeed your baby. However if it helps people to know just how detailed they can and sometimes have to be then I am happy to share.

I have used many resources to get to this plan;

Birth Reborn By Michael Odent

Homebirth- A practical guide by Nicky Wesson

Hypnobirthing by Marie Mongan

Homeopathy for pregnancy birth and your babys first year by Miranda Castro

My own experience and my friends tips and anecdotes of their own births.

Please feel free to ask me any questions.

Birth Preferences:

  • To consider artificial initiation of labour only after 42 weeks and may choose to do nothing until 44 weeks if there is no medical urgency and only after discussion and agreement.
  • Will use Caulophyllum 30c every 30 mins for 3 hours and then will wait 24 hours before considering any other methods.
  • To delay artificial induction of labour until 96 hours after membranes have been release and mother and baby show no signs of infection as directed in the NICE guidelines. To be allowed to wait during this time period at home.
  • To deliver baby at home with Hulda Thorley as midwife.
  • We request patience and understanding to support our wishes to refrain from having any practice or procedures that in absence of medical urgency, including constant fetal monitoring that could stand in the way of having the most natural birth possible.
  • Manual intermittent monitoring that is agreed to and done in a non invasive manner.
  • Minimal number of vaginal examinations and only after been agreed on by the mother
  • To be allowed to ignore contractions and time period between them until forced to take notice of them.
  • The option of a water birth (bath or pool) and alternative space with a calm atmosphere
  • Be able to use lavender and clary sage in a diffuser and or massage/bath oil.
  • Allowed nutritional snacking if labour is prolonged.
  • Freedom to walk, move or not move during labour
  • Freedom to change position and assume labour position of choice as dictated by the mother.
  • To use PPMP tissue salts, rescue remedy and arnica 200c as pain relief methods. No other pain relief is to be offered or discussed.
  • Minimal number of vaginal examinations and only after been agreed on by the mother
  • To allow nature to take its course without any references to pain management, moving things along or facilitating labour.
  • To allow mother control of birthing and her involuntary processes and instinct.
  • To allow Father, Midwife Hulda Thorley as above in room at all times.
  • To allow daughter to choose to be present or not present as she decides.
  • Allow baby to be breathed out without external coaching or other methods, unless coming from the father.
  • No Episiotomy, no forceps, no ventouse unless medical urgency and it is agreed on by the mother after discussion.
  • To have the baby’s baby grow and blanket on a heated towel rail ready for when the mother or father directs its use.
  • Immediate skin to skin contact with baby placed on stomach or lower chest. Father to be able to place hand on baby’s back under a warm blanket. No wrapping of baby.
  • Father to cut cord after pulsating stops and no clamping.
  • Wait for a natural placenta delivery with baby brought to breast to assist placenta birth. No syntometrine unless homeopathy has failed to work and it has been discussed and agreed to by the mother.
  • Allow vernix to be absorbed into the baby’s skin, no cleaning or rubbing. Placenta to be retained in a container supplied by the Father. Saline is added then refrigerated to wait to be collected by Liz Purnell-Webb.
  • To be allowed between 30 mins to an hour of skin to skin with the mother before taking the baby to be weighed. Only after agreement with the mother.
  • No vitamin K administered to the baby either oral or injection.
  • Absolutely NO vaccinations of any kind.
  • Star of Bethlehem and Walnut Bach flower remedies to be applied to the crown of the baby’s head after birth by the mother or father
  • Breastfeeding only and baby to remain in the room with the mother at all times.
  • To be allowed to use homeopathic remedies and other natural remedies brought by the mother as and when either she or the father desire to use them.
  • To be allowed to bathe with baby after weighing etc if so desired.
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I had a tough time adjusting after my daughter was born. I felt weepy, resentful, confused, out of control and I had no idea what mothers instinct felt like. All I felt was very overwhelmed and under-slept! I thought ‘no wonder people are labelled with Post Natal Depression’.  The immediate change in your life, so completely, is very difficult to adjust to. Your body is still not yours. You are breastfeeding and your needs are very low down on the list of things to do. It was not until a year had past that I started to feel like myself again. My blood sugar levels were all over the place, my moods were awful, I was constantly confused, groggy and I had zero energy. I was on fish oils, calcium, zinc, pro-biotic capsules and magnesium and I felt like these nutrients were keeping me together.  I had heard of Placenta Encapsulation whilst studying to be a Naturopath; however children were off of my radar then, so it was one of those things that came and went.

When I became pregnant with my second baby I was watching a programme (in the UK) on alternative parenting and one of the women was a Placenta Encapsulation specialist. A friend of mine had said she had contacted her local one and that she was going to do it. I looked into it and was very interested. Thinking about how I felt the first time round, I knew with a toddler and a baby I was worried I would not have the time or energy again to be able to look after them and nurture them both. When I was moving to Hong Kong in the middle of my pregnancy, I was so relieved to find someone did it here. When I met Lizzie I was convinced it was for me.

However I was still undecided whether I would have the smoothie. I was happy taking a powder in a capsule, however knowing the fresh one was in the drink I was worried it would taste like blood, metal, liver… I remember reading someone saying that right up to their birth the thought of drinking their placenta in a smoothie was too much to think about. The minute her child was born she craved it. I was sceptical. However the very same thing happened. I had a home birth here, so when my husband asked me what I would like to eat/drink after labour- it was the first thing that came to mind.  Bless my husband he was going to have a go but it completely eluded him so when Lizzie arrived I had had no sleep and was still on an adrenaline rush! She made me two smoothies, I drank one straight away (promise you taste nothing but fruit) it was actually the most delicious thing- I had the other one a few hours later. My pills arrived a few days later and I started taking them. The energy, combined with calm is truly remarkable. It was so completely different. I felt like me, I felt whole again.

I unreservedly recommend it. It makes sense. The nutrient deficiencies I see on a regular basis post partum (especially post partum hypothyroid/hyperthyroid) alone recommend it. There is no easier way to replenish what your body has lost, than to put it straight back in again. I also have the homoeopathic pills which I have given my daughter when she has started to feel the pressure of the change for her. Her reaction after taking them was also obvious, calmer and back to her loving self. She felt part of it again and it has helped us to grow into being a family of four from 3. I wish I had done it the first time, but having felt how I did, it might not have been so obvious feeling the opposite?

I wasn’t expecting going to 41 +5 to be so emotional. To the extent I believed I was somehow failing by going over my due date. I was so consumed with how others felt or how I perceived them to feel about me going over my due date. I kept pushing on. From 37 weeks I had strong indications that labour was round the corner then lost my mucous plug at 38 weeks. Nothing but intermittent persistent Braxton Hicks until 4th July my baby independence day.

Every week I had an emotional purge. I would cry about something, I was releasing my fears, my grief that my mother wasn’t here to meet my son, my guilt that I had everyone on standby, my anger that I couldn’t control the situation and just sheer emotional exhaustion of putting on a happy face. I was using all of the usual natural labour induction methods and some others not so usual. I was taking my Bach flower remedies and they continuously told me to let go and to trust. When my daughter chose to come in when I was at my lowest with a remedy she had picked at random that was for strength I knew I had to let go and just trust everything would be okay. It was.

When I got my show on the 4th July I was excited. Although I just checked and your bloody show still meant anytime but not imminent (with my daughter I got my show an hour before she was born- it had just been Braxton hicks pains until then) we spent the day as planned- took my daughter to her class in tst. After her class I was getting cramps at a level I could no longer ignore. So we went to city super to get food for dinner. At dinner I apologised for panicking (we were meant to be eating out) and we probably could have still eaten out- at that exact moment my waters then broke! It was a few hours after that when things changed (this was 8pm at 11.30 I was still only 2 cm dilated and my son was born at 1.53 am).

After finding I was only 2 cm dilated and still not in active labour I went in the bath to try and space out the contractions and make them more productive. Also to calm down as I was getting emotional that this was still not happening! The suspense of the last 2 weeks and longer was too much! As soon as I got in the bath it was more uncomfortable and trying to space them out was having the completely opposite effect. There was now no break between the contractions and they were getting stronger by the minute- I decided to get out of the bath. It’s just as well I did because the gear change was unreal- this was most definitely it!

My midwife came back and I started to freeze up and freak out a little as there was no breathing space- just wave after wave of contraction and I could feel his head traveling down it was the oddest sensation like a long tunnel- which is exactly what it is. My midwife was wonderfully calming and empowering and I came back into control. I made it to the bedroom (a mere couple of steps through the wardrobe area from the ensuite but what felt like a vast desert away) and onto the bed and the breathing out happened instantaneously. My hubby was a complete rock giving me sips of water with rescue remedy, words of support and physical support also. I remember the feeling of the head traveling through felt like it was taking forever (apparently it all took 15 mins the ‘pushing’ bit. I remember tensing up- it was so different. My midwife git me to feel the top of his head. It was really soft, a very odd sensation! Like a light bulb I suddenly thought- the more you resist the longer you are gonna be doing this. It changed completely- the ‘pain’ was completely different and my breathing changed. It wasn’t long after that the head was out. My midwife told me one big push which I thought was strange as we weren’t using that language. That familiar tension then complete release and gush out he came.

She was asking for the suction and I couldn’t see what was going on as I was on my knees facing the other way and the cord made it impossible to turn round, she was giving him a little shake to get him to respond. I kept asking if he was okay what was going on and he was making noise. Then my midwife said she had to cut the cord and I thought it a little odd she hadn’t given him to me or got me to turn around at all. I knew all her focus was on him and I trusted her so wasn’t worried. This was all a bit in slow motion as a memory, she wrapped him up in a towel and put him in the bed and was just holding the oxygen next to him. I could see him breathing but he was gasping a bit. My first instinct was rescue remedy. Two drops on the crown of his head. My dad came in hearing the crying and was on the phone to my bro! I asked him to wait I still had t held my boy but I was talking to him and stroking his face. He was a good pink colour and my midwife said he had a strong heart beat and was a strong boy! The second midwife then arrived, my midwife was asking if she had ever heard the noise he was making, the second midwife was not worried and they just held the oxygen for a bit longer. He quickly regulated his breathing and I could feel the contractions again we turned at tension to delivering the placenta. Again very odd sensations full on contractions.

Last time they gave me the injection as soon as my first was born I didn’t even have time to think.
After a few mins had passed I started to feed my son to get the contractions to be a bit more productive. He had such a strong latch so quickly another completely different feeling it was such a relief as my first had latch problems for 6 months. Still no placenta. After a big gush of blood my midwife started to get a bit nervous. I think we were all a little on edge after the whole breathing thing. She said it was the injection or we may have to think about going to hospital as that was a fair amount of blood and it had been half an hour almost 40 mins. So I agreed, my birth plan said 30 mins and then I would consider it. I was in no mood to argue and I could tell my midwife was getting a bit worried- I certainly did not want the hospital. I had 2 injections when I thought it might be easier if I get up- gravity and all. That’s all it took, out it came and straight into the bowl ready to consume when my placenta encapsulation specialist arrived. All I needed now was a couple of stitches and my baby to cuddle. It was so perfect doing that in the comfort of my own home. I was able to have something to eat, drink and completely relaxed and shared my baby with my husband and my dad.

Most special bit though was just as we went to bed as the sun was coming up- in came my daughter who had slept through it all- she gasped and said- he’s come out! Family cuddles all round. Priceless!

Relationships

I think the hardest thing for me about not planning my pregnancy was the effect this had on my relationships. I’m not just referring to my marriage but all my relationships, with friends, my family, especially my Mum.

The first year with our first son was the hardest year we had experienced as a couple. I often felt so frustrated with my other half I sometimes didn’t know if I still loved him. It was a struggle for us both. He is younger than me and if I wasn’t ready, he really wasn’t, not at all. For the first few months or even longer he was still going out loads, until very late, or dawn even, getting hammered with his (our) mates. His attitude was ‘what was the point in us both staying in and both of us missing out’? I had to stick with the baby because of the breast feeding but he, well he could and he did go out, lots. To me it felt like nothing had changed for him, he was acting like nothing had happened, but everything had changed for me. I felt alone.

It didn’t help at all that almost none of my friends had kids. In fact my best and closest friends were so far from settling down I felt they couldn’t possibly understand what life was like for me, and even now I don’t think they do. I began to feel bitterly resentful towards some of the people I used to adore, mainly the single ones with perfect figures. I felt fat, frumpy and so very very dull compared to them. They were slim and beautiful, they could afford to have nice clothes, hair and make up. They could take the time to preen and pamper themselves, have a bikini wax or go to the gym. Their lives were one long party, although they were completely unaware of it. They spent time eating in nice restaurants, drinking cocktails and going to parties, having love affairs, seeing the latest plays and films, reading newspapers and books, knowing what was going on in the wider world, together but with out me and I hated them for it.

I’ve never spoken to them about my feelings because I knew I was being so dreadful and it would hurt them so much to think I felt this way. They were and still are fantatsic. They’ve all tried so hard to keep me in their lives and they adore my sons. I was being an ungrateful spiteful cow. Maybe it was post natal depression. Maybe this was my way of channeling all those negative feeling I had in me relating to becoming a Mum when I’d not planned to. Maybe it was easier to turn on these people instead of really deal with all the things that were making me unhappy. Maybe I was being a coward?

My marriage survived, thankfully. We made it through. I know this isn’t the case for everyone and I understand now how easily relationships can break down and how hard you need to work to stop that from happening. It’s one of the toughest time for couples. I think most of my friendships have survived too. I know I’m not as close to them anymore. Is this becasue I was so frosty to them then or would this have happened anyway with our lives being so vastly different now and being unable to share in eachothers worlds so easily? I’ll never know. I love people and I need people in my life. It’s hard when life changes and special bonds weaken but I have made some wonderful new friends along the way, and rekindled some old flames. One thing I do have is possibly the  most  special relationship out there; the one  between a mother and her children and I am so grateful for them. I love them more than I thought possible but the transition into Motherhood knocked me sideways.

HM

We have a saying where I come from, that translates roughly as ‘ it is only in the eyes that something looks like it will take a long time’. What it means is that things never take as long as you think.

I’ve been reminded of that saying over and over again, as I watch my precious daughter growing up. She turned one in August and it seems like just yesterday that she was born. I used to watch her sleep in her crib and she would always put one little hand out, through the slats in her crib. It used to remind me of a little starfish :).

I still watch her now, at play, sleeping, concentrating, wreaking havoc and doing all those things that toddlers do. I am amazed at how beautiful she is, how much she’s growing and what new things she learns everyday.

Don’t take your precious ones for granted. Don’t be anxious about them reaching every milestone. Don’t compare them with anyone else’s children. Because truly, it is only in the eyes that something looks like it will take a long time. Cherish them, encourage them and above all, let them know that they are loved unconditionally by you.

Blessings
Funlayo

Home James

Once we got back home, and worked a few things out, like having nappies, wipes, muslins, spare clothes etc to hand at all times we started to settling into ‘family life’. We all spent lots of time in bed, and Leo finally did make it in the birth pool once or twice before we had to pack it away and send it back. It was such a lovely time but there were days when we felt overwhelmed by it all. Recovering from 30 hours of labour and then major surgery left me feeling like I’d be hit by a train. I was bent over and hobbling along like an old lady. My nipples were sore as hell, my milk did finally come in about day 4, bit stressful having to wait that long. Suddenly my breasts were like giant rocks, I was a curvy34G now but there was nothing remotely alluring about these bad boys.

Leo was (and still is) lovely. He was hungry and was also a good sleeper. But even still it was a shock to have to wake up repetedly through out the night to feed him, and change his nappy. One thing is did notice was that my husband was able to sleep through all of this midnight messing about where as I’d wake up at every snuffle from the wee lad.

About 2 weeks after Leo’s birth I was still bleeding, or producing lochia, it started to smell really bad and then it got heavy and more blood like, it was a Sunday so I went to A&E. The aging doctor on duty said I had an infection so prescribed antibiotics. I had also noticed one breast was feeling really hot and very engorged and itchy. He said it looked like mastitis and gave me more antibiotics, he advised I stop breastfeeding from this breast. I came away feeling a bit odd. I didn’t really want to take all these antibiotics and I thought not feeding from one breast sounded a bit weird so I rang the breastfeeding people, the Leche League, and they confirmed my suspicions. If I stopped feeding from the infected breast my supply in that breast (and probably the other one too) would slowly diminish. Keep feeding, the infection will work it’s way out and no damage would be done to my baby thy assured me. I’m so glad I did. Breastfeeding was hard at first. For 2 weeks I felt like razors were stabbing at my nipples every time he fed (and he fed all the time). But after a little help with the latch on from Yok Chan (midwife extraordinaire) we nailed it and we never looked back. Among all the benefits to your child’s health, and for bonding it is also FREE, it’s ready on demand and you don’t have to get out of bed. I breastfed until Leo was 9 months . I was no saint. I drank a fair bit, ate what I liked too. I’d already gone 9 months being very good. I’m sure it’s fine…although if he fails his GCSE’s I’ll always feel slightly guilty that it was the boozy breast milk that’s to blame!

I also started to notice that both my wrists were really sore, like one of the tendons just wasn’t working properly, I didn’t think much of it at the time. Tried to rest them and put a support on when the pain was bad. They’d get better.

I had by now had time to inspect my body in the privacy of my own home and I was shocked. The incision was all wonky, like a smirk, mocking my inability to give birth properly, and the scar was very think, pink and raised. My belly was very flabby, the stretch marks puckered the skin all over and my tummy button had collapsed. In short I looked terrible but I tried to block it out and focus on bonding with my son. My figure could wait.

The thing is, it’s really very sad but I didn’t realise just how much of my self esteem correlated with how I look, I feel stupid for even admitting this but looking terrible made me feel pretty terrible too and feeling terrible because I looked bad made me feel really annoyed with myself, not a great place to be. I was trying to rise above it all but it was really really hard. Being pregnant had taken it’s toll on my body and I was not bouncing back.

HM

The aftermath

We named our baby Leo, he was born under Leo, he was big and a little bit ginger and he came out ROARING, it seemed fitting.

He was furious, our poor baby, due to his gargantuan proportions (4.42KG) he’d got stuck. Trapped inside my pelvis. This was partly why my intense contractions were so useless, his head wasn’t pressing down on my cervix because his shoulder was preventing his decent. Finding all this out really helped me to come to terms with having had him out surgically but in the 48 hours that followed his birth I ran the gauntlet of emotions and kept feeling that I had failed as a mother and as a woman.

Immediately after the birth and the gasps of shock from the medics as to his size and the enormity of my placenta (it could have fed an army) they whisked him off to get dressed. No skin to skin contact.  This was a disaster, our relationship was doomed, we would never bond, this was perhaps worse than having the section. I was only just keeping it together, I felt so upset, this birth was the exact opposite of what I’d hoped for on every level. They wrapped him up while I was being mended and plonked him in between my legs. I was shaking from the serious amounts of drugs coursing through my veins, and probably from shock and exhaustion too. We were then wheeled to recovery, somehow he made it into my arms wailing all the time. At some point I remembered I’d read something that said you should talk to your baby, maybe it would help calm him, it was worth a shot, so I opened with ‘Hello baby, it’s nice to meet you’, he instantly stopped screaming and looked directly at me, he was really alert and the sound of my voice had calmed him, it worked. It was a wonderful moment. The realisation that there really had been a little person growing inside me all this time, and now he was out it occurred to me he’d been ‘here’ for ages already, he knew me, I just had to get to know him.

I’d read books and geeked up about pregnancy, birth and babies but nothing had quite prepared me for the shock of being presented with our baby for the first time. Sounds silly but I dont think I was actually expecting a baby at the end of it all really, maybe a certificate or medal for the endurance test of pregnancy but not this! It dawned on me, pregnancy was nothing compared to what was about to happen and I doubted we were really very prepared for any of it.

We got into recovery and I started tearing at my gown and all the stupid pipes and tubes all over me, I have to get my baby to my breast, I was determined to do this, this was the last thing and they would not take this away from me. The nurse was very unsympathetic, she didn’t want me getting naked, ‘that’s enough’ she spat, but I ignored her, I was a mother now and I was desperately trying to connect with my child and no one was going to stop me.

Luckily Leo seemed to know what he was doing more than I did and we had our first attempt at breast feeding. It was a bit awkward and cakhanded but at least we’d got started, I could breathe a sigh of relief. Despite a rocky start we could recover from this. I started to feel a whole lot better.

Over the next 48 hours we started to get to know Leo. I knew I loved him but I was also quite scared of him. I was recovering from the last 2 days, surgery and the disappointment I felt at the birth we’d had. We spent 2 sticky nights on the maternity ward, it was a bit like a refugee camp. Over crowded, hot, dirty and unpleasant. Thankfully I was next to Jennifer and her baby boy Bruno. Bruno had been born by c section too. He was an undiagnosed breech, they only noticed when they saw his little balls appearing when they were expecting a head, poor Bruno! We were the freaky end of the ward, Bruno’s blackened balls and Leo size made us quite the side show. Jennifer and her partner Troy were brilliant, and very funny, it was nice to have a like minded new family beside us, we exchanged numbers.

Most of the time I was breast feeding. Leo was hungry and they kept stabbing him in the foot to check his blood sugar. They were saying if it dropped I’d have to give him formula. The colostrum I was producing was not enough to sustain this big boy. So I fed and fed, my brain would get the message. I was not giving him a bottle. Was there no end to these dreadful people ruining this for me? My nipples were starting to feel very sore though. After 24 hours of Leo suckling almost continuously I sent James to the hospital shop to get me some nipple cream and some formula…just in case. The best nipple cream out there is Lanisol, we found this out after the tips of my nipples fell off, I would make sure I packed this in the hospital bag next time. I didn’t want Leo to have a bottle we tried to give him some formula from a spoon, then a small cup, it went everywhere but into his tummy. It was quite stressful worrying my baby was really hungry but I kept hoping my milk would come in soon and in the mean time he was on the breast lots so he must have been getting something. We just lay in bed for 2 days having things brought to us (the advantages of a catheter). We spent the entire time snuggling and nursing…and changing nappies, possibly the nastiest nappies ever produced, all sticky and black, ick. Oh and if you have boys, you’ll know about the wee, nearly got my in the eye once or twice!

The incision was healing up nicely they told me. I still hadn’t been brave enough to look at myself in the mirror, I knew I’d be horrified so I thought I’d save that for when I got home. On the Tuesday after his birth I’d had a poo and he was almost back to his birth weight. We could go home. We checked out at 10PM, we were home by 10:10PM. It was wonderful to be home but we couldn’t help thinking that the hospital had been negligent letting us leave with this baby, surely we weren’t qualified to have one of these with out constant supervision, how would we know what to do and who would stop us from making mistakes and getting it wrong?

HM