A Calm and Empowered Birth: Marie and Eden’s Story

Marie enjoyed a calm and empowered birth after attending Daisy Birthing classes in Derbyshire with Katie Halliwell.  Here, she shares her wonderful birth story…

“Anyone who knows me will know that the thought of carrying a child and giving birth was somewhat terrifying.  So you can imagine my surprise when one June morning, after an adventure holiday with friends had led me to believe I may pregnant, a test came back positive (along with three others!!).

As a theorist, I started on my mission to use this as an opportunity to learn.  Through my research, I came across Daisy Birthing and Katie Halliwell.

Daisy was offering the support to have a positive birthing experience, but provided the tools for a natural experience to cope with the different stages of labour.  This was unique in a minefield of information.  I knew I wanted to treat the birth of our baby as a natural experience – which was ironic as before I fell pregnant I felt it the most unnatural of states for me to be in!

I walked nervously into my first Daisy class and knew instantly it was meant for me.  Katie was super nice and so knowledgeable and passionate I just knew I was in the right place.

The term simplified the birthing experience and empowered me to make some brave choices to give birth to my first at a midwife unit.  A home birth was also a possibility but for my first baby, my husband and I decided against it.  It was the support of Daisy that empowered that decision and gave me confidence to explain to worried family that a hospital was not my first choice of birth location.

The fears of birth were stripped away one by one.  I was equipped with the tools I needed to go into labour: safe in the knowledge that no matter what the outcome I was birthing our baby positively.

Shortly after 1am on the 25th January (my due date), my labour started.  On the 26th January at 1:05am, I breathed our son into the world.

I say ‘breathed’ as this is what I did.  Using the tools of Daisy and my yoga knowledge, I stayed in a calm and positive state and trusted that my body knew how to birth our baby.  Through understanding the different stages, I gave birth without any pain relief into water in a squat position.  I then held our son for 40 minutes whilst the cord pulsed for him.  It was the most wonderful magical experience of my life and one I will never forget.

I could write so much more about the whole birth and I will happily if any one wants to read or listen!

I know this sounds ideal and it was perfect and as my birthing preferences outlined.  However what I hadn’t planned was losing a litre of blood (post partum haemorrhage).  Despite feeling fine, as a precaution I was transferred to hospital and our son was then admitting to the NCIU as he was struggling to breath.  The cord time had proved to be life saver in so many ways as was my precaution transfer.  We remained in hospital for a week and whilst he was treated for a possible infection that never was, I expressed his milk whilst he was on oxygen in a ventilator.

None of this formed part of the plan, but it proved where nature and medicine compliment themselves.

The whole experience not just some parts were positive and I look back now in awe of the whole thing.

Without the knowledge and support of Daisy (Katie) I would not have had the tools needed to be empowered to follow the natural path, and the ability to embrace the clinical parts a positive as well.

I will remain forever humbled and grateful and in awe of what I (and women) are capable of achieving.

“The universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it” Marcus Aurelius”

Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful story Marie.  To find your local class, head to  https://thedaisyfoundation.com/find-a-class/

A Wonderful, Positive Birth Story: Raphaela and Nina

Raphaela attended 2 terms of Daisy Birthing in Bebington on the Wirral with Tracy McGinn.  Here she shares her wonderful, positive birth story...

“I just would like to thank you for the amazing 12 weeks that helped me immensely in building the confidence I needed to give birth to my baby girl.

Nina was born at 12:01pm on 27th January, normal delivery, only on gas and air as pain relief.  It took 3 hours from the time I got to hospital to when I gave birth to Nina.  As you said during class, everything we learnt and practiced during the course would stay in our head during labour.  I could literally hear your voice saying: “you feel calm, you feel in control.”  The breathing techniques helped me in every step of the way to overcome each contraction.  The midwives said that my breathing was amazing.  And of course, with the OUT breath, and in all fours on the bed (a position I never thought would be one to give birth in before doing the course), Nina was born.

It was the most amazing experience to feel so in control of my body, knowing exactly what to do during all stages of labour.  I could never have done this so well without what I learned with you.  I am forever grateful, Tracy.  I wish you all the success and that you continue helping people as you helped me.  Raphaela xx”

Thank you so much for sharing your story Raphaela!

Daisy Birthing weekly classes combine gentle yoga based movements with antenatal education, breathing techniques, relaxation and birth hypnosis to enable you to work with your body when your birthing day arrives.  These fabulous women only classes provide a supportive environment in which you can make friends and feel your confidence growing as your pregnancy progresses.  To find your local Daisy Birthing class go to https://thedaisyfoundation.com/find-a-class/

Katy’s Birth Story: Pregnant and Prepared?

For some people the idea of ‘preparing’ for birth seems a little strange, and this was certainly the case for Katy.  Now a Daisy teacher herself, she shares her journey of how she went from being unsure about the reasons and benefits of ‘antenatal classes’ to becoming pregnant and prepared…..

Pregnant and prepared?

When I found out I was pregnant with my first child, I was elated.  It hadn’t been an easy journey, but there it was – the blue line on the stick……  Oh, and the nausea……but I was (we were) over the moon.  I hadn’t done much reading around pregnancy or childbirth, but assumed that as long as I was where I needed to be (the hospital, in my mind) surrounded by midwives, doctors and drugs on the day of my child’s birth, everything would be ok.  I thought that there wasn’t much else I could do to prepare for the big day.  Yes, I signed up for an antenatal class – but I think that was more to meet friends than actually learn anything.

Fast forward a few months and my son arrived safely (in a hospital) but I was left feeling quite affected by the whole experience for some time.  I was lucky and the birth wasn’t particularly traumatic, but I had felt completely out of control of both the situation and my own body.

Pregnant….and prepared!

Several years on, following 2 miscarriages and a lot of sickness, we happily announced that we were expecting our 2nd child, a daughter.  After a lot of heartache and pain, I had started yoga to try to prepare my body as best I could for a successful pregnancy.  Once I fell pregnant I was keen to continue with the yoga classes and found a local antenatal yoga class run by a midwife.  The classes were a perfect way to escape, once a week, from my busy everyday life and soon became a regular part of my routine.  I attended the classes from around 16 weeks of pregnancy (once the sickness had subsided!) until 39 weeks. 

When I went into labour the following week, my body seemed to instinctively know what it needed to do.  I knew which positions felt comfortable, and when offered a bed to lie in, I politely but firmly refused.  I took some towels out of my bag and quietly went back to the comfortable (upright) position I had been in at home, on the floor.  Looking back I may have looked quite odd, going to ground as soon as I got in the room, but I was in my labour bubble and I knew where I needed to be.  This time around I had the confidence to go with my body and what it was telling me.  My daughter arrived not long after we arrived (much to the midwife’s surprise), in a (relatively!) peaceful, calm and controlled environment.  I felt completely in tune with my body and what it was doing and was positively buzzing afterwards.  My daughter was so content that she latched on and was feeding within 15 minutes of birth.

Daisy classes

At the time I didn’t know about the Daisy Foundation, nor did I know all the reasons why what I did 2nd time around would help me.  Knowing all I know now about active birth (and why lying on your back isn’t likely to help you); why breathing is so important (and vitally how to breathe at different stages of labour); what your body is doing in labour (and how to help keep things moving along) … I want to tell the world!  Every woman should have access to this information so that they too can have every chance at the birth that they want and deserve.

Daisy Birthing classes are so difficult to explain until you’ve been to one.  Yes, they include yoga-based movements, all specifically designed to help with common pregnancy problems: indigestion, puffy fingers, swollen ankles – and help your body prepare for its birthing day…..but they include so much more than that.  The antenatal education that we share with mums-to-be is delivered in small bite-sized chunks – just 15 minutes a week.  However, every week I see the penny drop and women saying ‘why don’t all women get told this stuff? It just makes so much sense!’.  YES!  And yet there is more: the classes finish with a beautiful relaxation segment. Time-out for ladies to relax, connect with their babies and prepare their minds for their forthcoming birthing day.  And the classes are as much about preparing the mind as preparing the body, which is absolutely right.  How you think or feel about something and your thoughts can have a very powerful effect on your body.

If you are expecting a baby and would like to prepare for your birthing day, please have a look at our ‘Find a Class’ map to find your local teacher. Classes are just as suitable for 2nd or 3rd time Mums as they are for your 1st baby.  Daisy Birthing classes run throughout the country in 6 week terms, each class lasting 1.5 hours and are for ladies only.  Suitable from 14 weeks of pregnancy right through to the arrival of your little one, classes can be adapted and are supportive of all birth choices. 

How lovely to see that Katy’s experiences led to her becoming a Daisy teacher herself!  Thank you for sharing your story Katy x

A Positive Induction Using the Power of the ‘Out Breath’

After attending both Daisy Parent and a term of Daisy Birthing with Tracy in Cheshire, Louisa felt prepared for her positive induction.  However, she was still taken by surprise with the speed of little Harrison’s arrival!  Here she tells her story….

A positive induction

I was induced on Thursday at 40 weeks at 4.30pm with a pessary and labour started from this.  I started getting pain around 11pm and decided to sleep through them which I did until 2am.  This was because the midwife had said the pessary can cause very bad period pains which aren’t necessarily contractions.

When the pains started getting worse around 2am I didn’t actually think they were proper contractions at this point as they were only low down in stomach.  I was tired still so decided to lay down on my left hand side then just after 3am my water broke whilst lying down.  The midwife wanted to monitor baby’s heartbeat.  All was good and she examined me and I was 6cm dilated so she said she would call down to labour ward to get me moved.

A speedy delivery!

Whilst she was out of the room the pain suddenly sky rocketed and I really needed some pain relief (all I had so far was some paracetamol at midnight).  It had got so bad Keith had to buzz for them.  When the midwife came back in she could see how much pain I was in and asked me if I felt like pushing which I did.  She quickly examined me again and in the space of about 10mins I was fully dilated and she could feel his head!  Several more midwives arrived and they discussed if it was safe to move me which they decided it wasn’t.  Soon after our little man was here!!!  Harrison James Kelly, born Friday 25th August at 4.34am weighing 8lb 8oz.  With no chance for any pain relief!  Keith was very impressed that I managed to use the ‘out’ breath when pushing.  This was the breath that got him out.

It wasn’t quite how I thought it would all happen but it got him here quickly and safely and the main things we wanted happened: immediate skin to skin and an hour’s plus of this in a dim light; delayed cord clamping and a physiological third stage.  Breastfeeding is going well too.

Thank you again for the classes.
Best wishes
Louisa & Keith

Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful story! Daisy x

The Power of the Body: Luiza and Sofia’s Amazing Birth Story

Here we hear the amazing story of first time mummy Luiza, who planned a c-section but baby Sofia had other ideas….leaving Luiza marvelling at the power of the body.  Her story is told to her Daisy teacher Pippa.

A Wonderfully Calm and Positive Birth!

Here we hear from one of our own Daisy teachers Jilly, about her calm and positive birth – a world away from her first experience of birth with her son…

“I honestly cannot thank Daisy enough, as a mum, for giving me the tools and the confidence to achieve the most amazing, healing birth!  I had a 3rd degree tear with my son and didn’t have the best experience so I was so determined to have a completely different birth the second time round.

Empowered to make choices

I went to my scheduled 41 week midwife appt. on Mon 25th July.  I had been getting irregular contractions for the previous few days and earlier that morning had a bit of a show so I thought things were heading in the right direction but not imminent.  At the appointment my blood pressure was raised so they sent me to Barnet MDU and warned me that I’d likely be admitted.  I started mentally preparing to fight for my wishes as I was desperate for my birth to be at Edgware Birth Centre.

We were monitored for an hour, my blood pressure went down during this time so that was fine but both our heart rates were too high.  Hers settled into a nice pattern after a while so they sent me for a walk and to eat.  I went back on the monitor for another hour and both our heart rates had settled.  They could see I was having quite regular contractions at that point from the trace but I knew they weren’t that big.  Although I was using my centred breath throughout them I could have held a conversation during them if I needed to.  I was just trying to focus on reducing my heart rate and relax so I could go home!  A midwife persuaded me to have my cervix checked before I left (with the promise of coming back in two days for a blood pressure check) so I could gauge how quickly I’d need to call in when contractions got stronger.  Several midwives suggested a sweep several times, which I declined as I felt that things would happen by themselves.

A calm, active labour

At 9pm I was 1.5cm but my cervix was still 1cm long and quite firm, so I was convinced that nothing would even progress that night, which actually I was thankful for as I really wanted some sleep!   We got home at around 10.30pm and I tried to go to sleep but my contractions were getting stronger.  I made my husband put the TENS machine on about 12am with the vain hope I’d still sleep (they were coming every 5min or so) but I was struggling by that point to use the centred breath through them.  Once the TENS machine was on I felt much more in control.  I realised that by giving up on sleep, getting up, putting on my Daisy music (through headphones so as not to wake my son), moving around, doing gentle rotations, leaning forward during contractions and using the Escalator Breath things felt a lot easier.  By 1.15am Paul made me phone the midwife as contractions were coming every 3min and really strong but I was convinced I was ages away still.  As an on call community midwife was coming directly to Edgware from home they’d told me it was better to call early.  The midwife said that she would leave immediately and meet us there.

The power of breathing

At 2.30am I was at Edgware, my blood pressure and our heart rates were perfect and my cervix was 2-3cm dilated, soft and completely effaced.  The midwife gave us a choice to stay or go home as she’d already filled up the pool.  Luckily we chose stay as I couldn’t even make it down the corridor to help fetch our bags from the car as everything had just ramped up even more!

I was coping fine with the TENS machine and using the Escalator Breath, although I had started gravitating lower towards the floor with each contraction so I thought I was nearing established labour by about 3.30am.  The midwife disappeared at this point to hurry the other two midwives (one student).  However, I didn’t click that anything significant was happening as I was still laughing about how hungry I was in between contractions, but never having enough time to actually eat!

A slow, calm, natural delivery

The midwife had suggested using the pool for delivery to avoid another bad tear like I’d had with my son.  At this point she had mentioned using the pool a few times so I got in.  She could obviously tell I was close, if I wasn’t I would have got out and gone back to using the TENS as I didn’t actually find the pool that comfortable!  I kept instinctively pushing during contractions so I told the midwife and she said go with it as it was either my waters bulging and about to go, or it was the head.  Before I knew it two other midwives and my second birth partner had arrived and they started setting everything up for the baby’s arrival.  Once the midwife managed to persuade me to open my legs to have a look she told me it was the head and to keep following my body.  I’d be using the Out Breath near the end of every contraction rather than all the way through as we specifically wanted the delivery to be as slow as possible.  It was amazing to be able to listen to my body the whole way through labour but particularly during the delivery stage.  To slowly allow baby to descend using the Out Breath the way I felt I needed to, and to feel baby wriggle around when she was releasing her shoulders was so bizarre.  It was nothing like the controlled pushing from my first labour! The delivery was so calm that she was born in her sac!

Evie was delivered at 4.25am on Tuesday 26th July 2016, weighing 8lbs 3oz, so very quickly from start to finish but it was exactly what I wanted and a world away from my first birth and we were home as a family of 4 just 12hrs later!”

Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful calm story Jilly!  Love Daisy x

The Power of Breathing, Movement and Positive Affirmations

Today we hear the story of Daisy teacher Jenny’s positive birth where she used the power of breathing, movement and positive affirmations throughout her labour.  Prior to becoming a teacher herself, Jenny attended three terms of Daisy Birthing classes in Belper and finished about a week before having her baby Georgia.  Georgia was born at 2:40am Sunday 20th December weighing 7lbs 10oz at Derby Birth Centre.

Membrane Sweeps

“I’d had a sweep on the Monday which although favourable led to no more than a few cramps and part of my show.  I was booked in for a second sweep on the Friday in the hope of getting things moving.  Friday morning came and I had some blood on wiping but thought nothing of it having had part of my show earlier in the week.  The midwife, however, was concerned as it wasn’t particularly ‘mucusy’ so sent me to the pregnancy assessment unit to get checked out.  After half an hour on the monitor and an examination from the doctor it was determined that it was just part of my show and that I was 1cm dilated but my cervix was still 3cm long and posterior.

​So I got my second sweep.  About 1pm, whilst on the monitor I noticed that I was starting to get quite regular braxton hicks but wasn’t expecting it to come to anything.  Back home the tightenings continued so I bounced and rotated on my gym ball, practised my breathing and made sure we had wrapped up all the remaining Christmas presents!  The braxton hicks became stronger throughout the afternoon to the point where by around 7pm I was able to definitely tell the start and end of each so I started to time them.  They were around 7 minutes apart and lasted 30-40 seconds.  Over the next few hours this intensified again until about 4am, when at 4 minutes apart each lasting a minute, I contacted the birth centre and decided to go in.

The Power of Breathing and Movement

Unfortunately, when I was examined, I was only 1-2cm dilated with my cervix 1cm in length so I was sent home.  The trip to hospital had slowed my contractions so I was able to get a couple of hours broken sleep.  I woke on the Saturday still having contractions but they were a lot more irregular, though lasting around 45 seconds each.  The intensity meant that I was having to breathe through each one.  I spent the day watching films (an American Tail and Elf being my favourites), dozing whilst propped up on my left when I felt tired, and rotating on my ball and moving around when I had the energy.  I even threw in a camel walk for good measure!

At 7pm I had a very strong contraction and lost some blood.  This was a lot more than I’d ever seen before and it was red so I went back to PAU to be checked again.  Baby again was fine and my contractions could be clearly seen and were about 5-7 minutes apart.  On examination I wasn’t actively bleeding so it was again just part of my show.  My cervix was now 2-3cm and fully effaced so heading in the right direction.

Back at home I settled on my ball to watch strictly come dancing but quickly found that I couldn’t concentrate as the contractions were getting more intense.  After a further hour where the contractions were at the point that I was crying out each time, despite being relaxed and listening to my relaxation CD, I decided to go back to hospital as I felt I couldn’t cope with it anymore and needed further pain relief.

The Power of Positive Affirmations

The journey to the hospital was not a nice one but thankfully there wasn’t too much traffic and before I knew it I was crouched in the corridor of the labour ward having another contraction.  They’d definitely ramped up and were coming every 3 minutes and lasting 90 seconds.  I said to the midwife that I needed more pain relief so she agreed to examine me as if I’d got to 4cm then I could have stronger stuff.  During the examination the midwife looked up, surprised, and said “oh! Do you want to guess how far along you are?”.  I just shook my head, worn out at this point, but extremely relieved when she told me I was 7cm.  I was immediately given the gas and air and started to feel a lot calmer.  The next 50 minutes passed by in a blur of breathing and rotating through each contraction.  Ray was speaking my positive affirmations and relaxing phrases to me, and I felt a real sense of peace and enjoyment.

Breathing the Baby Out….

Then suddenly my body pushed.  It was the strangest sensation and one I had no control of: my body just knew that’s what it needed to do.  I buzzed for the midwife who said “well if you need to push go ahead” whilst settling back on a chair.  With the next contraction the feeling was even stronger and I launched myself forwards from the position I was in on the edge of the couch, towards Ray who was kneeling in front of me.  I think I scared the poor guy but I just needed to be closer to the floor and on my hands and knees!  I could feel her every movement as I pushed downwards.  It was all a bit of a blur at this point but I do remember shouting out a swear word, saying “I can’t do it” and mooing a lot!  Seems my Daisy ‘out’ breath was also a natural instinct.  I also distinctly remember smiling as I knew I’d meet my baby soon.  The midwife had to break my waters as I was starting to birth them.  But very quickly afterwards Georgia made an appearance after 10 minutes of pushing.

I was handed her through my legs and stared in wonder at this perfect little creature that I’d just pushed out!  We left the cord to finish pulsating before Ray cut it and between the two of us we then had at least one hours skin to skin with her.  She was so alert from the start after showing us the power of her lungs when she was born.  I delivered the placenta without intervention: the midwife recommended the injection but I pushed out the placenta before she was able to give it to me.

All in all it was an amazing experience.  I felt so powerful!  I’m proud of how Ray and I got through it together and Georgia is the most wonderful gift at the end of it all!”

A Calm, Positive Water Birth – Elouise’s Story

After sharing her lovely positive induction story last week, Elouise returns today to share the story of her relaxed, calm water birth with her second child.  This experience ultimately led to her becoming a Daisy teacher herself…

Any mummy of more than one child will tell you I’m sure, it’s certainly no picnic growing another human whilst trying your best to keep the one(s) outside your womb alive.  Glowing?  Radiant?  Afternoon naps?  No.  Knackered?  Pale?  Sick?  Yes!  Although I had managed to achieve the birth that I wanted when I gave birth to my daughter, people were so quick to state “Ooh you never have two births the same” or “you’ve had your straightforward birth”.  Yes, two births are never the same but does this mean that one has to be negative and one positive?  Surely if I could achieve the birth I wanted the first time around I could also achieve it the second time around?  Cue Daisy Birthing.  I needed a weekly dose of Daisy Birthing and I needed it quick!

A Daisy Birthing Sanctuary

This time round that weekly dose of Daisy was served to me by the very lovely Charlotte Collins in the desirable leafy village of Lymm.  These classes soon became the highlight of my week.  My sanctuary.  My time to switch off from that busy class of lively six year olds, from those piercing cries of a teething baby and from those anxious thoughts about soon becoming a mummy of a toddler and a newborn.  This was my time to simply relax, focus on me and my growing baby and just breathe……heaven!

Nine blissful classes later I found myself tucking into a tuna baguette and chips at a local garden centre with my mum and dad.  It was a beautiful sunny Wednesday in June 2016 and there I was, huge and four days over my ‘due date’. How on earth had this happened?  With the surprise early arrival of Luella, I was convinced her sibling would surprise us in a similar way.  But no: there was no way he was giving up the place he had made his home for the past nine months easily.  So there I was on that sunny Wednesday afternoon in the garden centre waiting for my mum and dad to pay for the lunch I had just devoured when an elderly lady walked straight up to me and asked “Can I?”.  She was referring to my bump and whether she could touch it.  Now my usual response to this would be “Hell no” but she was so smiley and sweet that I heard myself reply “Of course”.  The lovely lady proceeded to rub my bump and simply uttered the words “Just Beautiful…Just Beautiful…”.

Staying calm past 40 weeks..

That touching scene kept replaying in my mind as I drove to a reflexology session I had booked the previous day.  Although I had had a positive induction experience when having Luella, I really wanted labour to start more naturally this time.  With being past 40 weeks I knew that it wouldn’t be long before medical inductions would soon start to be offered.

A blissful hour later and I was driving home from my reflexology session with those two simple words ‘just beautiful’ going around my head once more.  Not because I was thinking about that sweet old lady in the garden centre but because it was the only two words that best described that heavenly reflexology session I had just had.  I went to bed that night feeling positive, calm and relaxed…

So there I was, almost 40+5 days pregnant fast asleep, when I suddenly woke at 2am with that familiar ‘gush’ like feeling.  It was reminiscent of that cold Saturday November night when Mark Wright had whipped his shirt off!  My waters had broken – not quite like Niagra Falls this time but enough for me to quickly ‘google’ whether I was in fact in labour and make that call to the midwife.

By the time my mum and dad had arrived from a nearby travel lodge to take care of Luella, I had started to experience some period like cramping which definitely confirmed I was in labour.

A calm and relaxed water birth

We headed to the hospital where in the car I started to hear Charlotte’s soothing voice repeating the phrase ‘relax the jaw to release the pelvic floor’ and I knew instinctively to relax and just breathe.

We arrived at the hospital by 3am and after a short period of monitoring, centred breathing and telling the lovely midwife all about Daisy, I was examined and was 5cm dilated.  I asked if the birthing pool was free as I had been toying with the idea of using the water to help me relax and to my delight, it was. I got changed and as elegantly as I could (not very!) climbed into the pool.

Wow, I couldn’t believe what a difference the water made! My body felt much more relaxed and I just felt more supported when trying various positions until I found one that felt right and it allowed me to ‘rotate to dilate’ with ease.

Once again, I found myself in my own ‘birthing bubble’ for what seemed like minutes but was a few hours.  During this time I listened to my favourite music, puffed on my gas and air, repeated positive affirmations over and over again and discovered that there was another use for a sieve other than just getting lumps out of flour.  It wasn’t long before I felt that uncontrollable urge to bear down. Similar to the birth of Luella, this again was the toughest part of my labour but having the support of the water this time meant that I could keep upright and work with gravity.  After a lot of encouragement from my other half, the midwives and using every ounce of energy I had left in me, oh, and a pair of shoulders getting stuck  (the drama queen) my gorgeous baby boy Levison Oakley was born.  8lb 10oz of pure loveliness born at 8.30am, exactly eighteen months to the day his older sister was born and just like that sweet old lady had said, he was just beautiful…

A desire to support other mums-to-be

I was completely in love and not just in love with another little human being but as cheesy as it sounds, completely in love with Daisy.  Yet again it had empowered me to achieve the birth I wanted.  I felt calm, relaxed and in control.  I had well and truly turned right at that crossroads in my life and was heading down that road at full speed to become a Daisy Birthing teacher and support other mums-to-be in the fantastic way that Charlotte had supported me in my birth journey….

Kate and Esme – A positive birth story

Our ‘Kate and Esmé – A positive birth story’ is shared as told to Kate’s Daisy teacher Carrie.

“Esmé Elizabeth Rose was born 03.03.17 9:47pm weighing 7lb 9.5oz at Cossham birth centre. So as you know I’d been getting random on off contractions for a number of weeks which was partly due to a uti & I think my body was generally gearing up for the big day…

Last Friday the big day came as we were on our way out of the door for mine & hubby’s birthday meal at 6:20pm when I had 1 random very strong contraction which came from nowhere & lasted around 45 seconds, it was hard to talk through. 3 minutes after that came another then 6 minutes after the first. I said to Sam ”probably another false alarm, they’ll die off I’ll call Cossham to tell them on the way to the restaurant”… I was mistaken.
Cossham advised me to go in immediately as I couldn’t speak at all through them at this point!

When I arrived at Cossham (todler in tow as Mum was on her way to get Ethan) they had the birth pool ready with candles. They quickly assessed me where at this point contractions were 2 in 5 minutes lasting a minute, I was surprisingly only 3cm but continued into the pool for pain relief. I had my Daisy music playing, rotating my hips to dilate in the pool & using my Daisy breaths through each contraction. I used the sides of the pool to lean over through each contraction & at the beginning of the pushing stage I used my favourite breath (the out breath) until i did a last minute turn into a seated position with my feet up on the sides of the pool & breathed Esmé out into the world only 3 hours after arriving at Cossham! I had no pain relief at all! She is perfect & doing very well. Her big brother loves her”.

Thank you to Kate for sharing with us!
Daisy x

The homebirth story of my third child

A homebirth story from a Daisy Foundation Teacher:

“This was my third pregnancy and I was hoping for it to be my second homebirth. I’d given birth at home to my daughter Greta, 3 years ago and had actually also planned to birth my first child at home 5 years ago. With that labour I did start at home but then chose to transfer to hospital part way through. That’s another birth story for another time but suffice to say that I valued that time I did spend at home early in that labour and it inspired me for my next. I’ve noticed how much our local Trust, BHRUT, has progressed in terms of helping to ‘normalise’ homebirthing and indeed in some aspects, even promote and encourage it though I do think that it’s important that women are reached earlier on in their antenatal care with good quality information on their choices for where to give birth as homebirthing takes a fair bit of planning and emotional preparation, in my view.

The birth of my second child, Greta, at home had been a positive one; at around 4 hours all up, a good deal shorter than my first rather lengthy labour. It was the birthing experiences of Avaline and Greta that actually inspired a complete career change for me as in 2013 I trained as an active birthing educator and the Daisy Birthing classes that I now teach were to play a hugely beneficial role in my third birthing journey.

As well as preparing physically for the birth of my third child, I felt there was much to be done emotionally and I was mindful of the need to manage my own expectations and be aware that although G’s birth had gone ‘to plan’ that may not necessarily be the case this time round. Whilst planning for a homebirth, I ensured that I gave due consideration as to how and what I could do to remain connected to the experience should I need to be in hospital, possibly even facing something as ‘unexpected’ as a c-section. I’d learnt from my first labour as well as my own teachings in Daisy Birthing classes that having a flexible mindset was vital to me maintaining a sense of control throughout and how pivotal that sense of control is to the whole experience.

My husband and I took some time out of hectic family life to get away for a night (our ‘babymoon’!) to talk through and write down our Birth Preferences and ended up compiling some fairly detailed notes for our caregivers to read through. In this birth ‘plan’, I tried to cover different angles, such as being in hospital rather than at home and I found this process in itself empowering and helpful to dispel some of my own fears of a more ‘medicalised’ birth.

Both of my daughters had arrived [so called] ‘late’ so I was fully expecting the same this time round and felt far more relaxed about this prospect than I had been previously, as in the past I had felt a considerable amount of angst caused by pressure ‘the system’ placed on the need to be routinely induced beyond a given timeframe. I had also previously been told I ‘wasn’t allowed’ a homebirth if my baby was overdue by more than 10 days whereas this time I felt better informed and knew that of course, the choice of where to give birth was mine to make. This time round I was fully prepared and confident enough to trust my instincts and do what felt right for me and my baby and was ready to wait out baby’s arrival if need be. I also believe that pressure for induction could have a physiologically limiting effect on my body and paradoxically inhibit the very hormones that were needed to allow my body to release baby so feel it may not have been a coincidence then that, without worrying about all of this, my labour started just one day after my estimated due date!

I had no inkling the day before that labour was near and had been telling everyone how I was settled in for another week or two’s wait! On the Monday night, I woke (as usual throughout the latter part of my pregnancy) to pop to the toilet and noticed my mucus plug had come away but knew that whilst having ‘a show’ could mean labour was imminent, it could also still yet be some time to go, so I tried to go back to sleep. I dozed off and on but found myself a little more restless than usual. Some hours later, still in bed, I started to feel the odd ‘period pain’ type twinge (hello, old friend) but nothing worthy of stirring my sleeping beauty of a hubby beside me.

The next morning we got up and were having breakfast with the girls and the occasional twinges continued, stopping me in my tracks enough so as to give us a clue that this could be IT. There were still lengthy breaks in between of half an hour or so and in terms of intensity, gently holding my five year old daughter’s hand was all that I required to get me through them. Hubby had by now called my parents who came round after breakfast to get the girls and sort them out on their school runs. I didn’t feel having siblings present for the birth would allow me to fully relax and focus and in any event the girls had school and were looking forward to the opportunity for a ‘sleepover’ at nanny and gramps’ house!

With the girls gone, hubby and I were now able to start setting up ‘homebirth mode’ and do so at relative leisure, with my contractions still feeling fairly moderate and infrequent. I even questioned whether this really was ‘It’ and hoped we wouldn’t be needing to pull up all the plastic sheeting on the floor and deflate the birthing pool without putting them to use that day! Of course, we weren’t to know that our baby would be born around 6 hours later!

By the time we had the room set up as we wished I was feeling tired from my lack of sleep that night and so had a bit of a nap on the sofa bed that was now set up in our living room. When I woke, my husband suggested we go for a stroll around the block, knowing that this might help my labour gain some momentum (his Daisy Daddy training kicking in!). As we walked, I started to feel my contractions intensifying, which I found exciting as any doubts I had about whether baby was actually on its way started to dissolve. I found it helpful to just pause from walking and focus on some of the visualisations and repetitive movements along with the centred breathing technique I teach at Daisy classes.

Once back at home, I told hubby to call the midwife. From here I felt I progressed quite rapidly. I felt excited yet calm, focused on the task in hand and very powerful. Soon, three midwives had arrived, one of whom was a student who I had given permission to be there. I requested the midwives read my (rather detailed) birth plan upon arrival and sensed they would be supportive and respective of my wishes, giving my husband and I the space we wanted to embrace this intense and emotional time of our journey together.

As my sensations became more powerful I found myself calling upon other elements from my own Daisy classes and the knowledge and understanding of what was going on and why it felt as it did ensured that I felt completely calm, capable and in control. I had indicated a preference for minimising internal examinations, ideally only having one to assess baby’s position and had this, being told I was around 4-5cm dilated. I then decided to have a few puffs on the gas and air and found that it just helped me avoid ‘overthinking’ things as I’d started to do at this stage. Hubby popped some lavender oil on a hanky and I found it refreshing to inhale this between my contractions.

I continued to call upon the ‘toolkit’ of practical and emotional elements I’d picked up from Daisy Birthing and around 10 minutes after my examination started to feel a sense of pressure (just like needing to do a poo, which I did try first of all!) and this made me consider getting in the birth pool. The midwife mentioned that the water might slow down my labour progressing but also made it clear that the choice was entirely mine and I felt so attuned to my body that after the next contraction I was certain that this where I wanted to be. And so, into the wonderful pool (kindly loaned free of charge by BHRUT to homebirthing mums in our area) I went and almost instantly felt my body’s natural expulsive reflex kick in – the water had given me the freedom to relax and quite literally RELEASE (without fear of doing something on my kitchen floor that I’d reprimand my dog for!). I yielded to my natural urges and simply used my breath (thanks again to the wonderful Daisy birthing classes I teach that had helped me trust that ‘out’ breath that came so instinctively as being so effective). Hubby commented afterwards that he noticed at this time that I made some unusual noises that he recognised as being significant from our previous labours and he was right as within a few exhilarating minutes I announced to all that my baby’s head had been born! I loved the fact that the child I had grown for nine months inside me was now entering the world and it was my hands that gently embraced her as she emerged into the water. I lifted her out and into my embrace as she took her first ever breath. It was a moment I will never forget and as I brought new life into our world I felt so vibrantly alive myself that words cannot explain this feeling.

My husband proudly announced that we had our third daughter ad we named our little girl Constance. We were both so proud and in awe of her being born in such a calm and gently way, in our own cosy home, filled with love and happiness.

I’d expressed a preference for delayed cord clamping and a physiological third stage and after several minutes relaxing with Constance in the pool, chose to move onto the bed where we were enshrined in our cosy blankets. I was aware of the importance of keeping adrenaline levels low for this stage of my labour and felt calm and relaxed but nonetheless, when after a while the placenta hadn’t been birthed, I decided to have the injection and ‘manage’ the third stage as I wanted to avoid needing to transfer to hospital if at all possible. Shortly afterwards, the placenta made an appearance and the midwives kind of faded again into the background whilst we gazed at our little creation, enjoying skin to skin with her, putting her to the breast for her first feed and embarking on the next chapter of our journey with her.

My pregnancy and birthing was over; I could break out the pate and blue cheese to celebrate but also reflect on how fleeting a phase in my life it had been and resolve to enjoy every hectic, crazy moment that was to come with my new arrival alongside my other two daughters! What an amazing, emotional and positive experience my labour had been; something I felt proud of and will never forget. I bristled when a visiting midwife a few days after the labour asked me “who delivered your baby?” meaning which midwife – it was me that delivered my baby!! But I do feel thankful to have had such a supportive and confident team of midwives there at the birth as they also helped to empower me with their support throughout and believe that this, coupled with my own very thorough antenatal preparation were the main reasons my birthing was such a positive experience.

Some women write their birthing story as part of a cathartic, debriefing process; I feel blessed to be writing from the viewpoint of wanting to preserve the vivid clarity of the moment, knowing that the detail, the full colour version will soon be somewhat displaced by the crazy, hazy, blurry days of motherhood (perhaps more so than ever this time round with three children under 6!). I do hope though that sharing this story might inspire other expectant mothers; maybe to consider homebirthing and to perhaps do so earlier on in their pregnancy, but in any event to hear how wonderful childbirth can be. The best things in life are worth working hard for and for me, much of that preparation took place before the big day itself”.

Story told by:

Lynn Zanatta teacher for The Daisy Foundation Havering

Tel. 07549 009 834

Email lynn-zanatta@thedaisyfoundation.com