An open letter to the Daily Mail…

motherhood

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Dear Daily Mail,

I liked your headline “Why NO woman should have a home birth: Government drive to free up hospital beds will lead to rise in ‘dead or damaged babies’, doctor warns“. It was certainly attention grabbing, which is the measure of a great headline, right? It’s less important of course that the headline be accurate.

It was particularly eye opening for me because I have read a lot about the new proposals to support birth choice with a great deal of interest, as both an expectant Mum and antenatal teacher, but I never knew it was motivated by a desire to free up hospital beds. You must have insider knowledge. I was naive enough to think it was a positive step to empower women and improve outcomes for mothers and babies.

The ‘dead or damaged babies’ was a powerful bit of alliteration. Nobody wants a dead or indeed ‘damaged’ baby, which brings to mind images of babies with limbs twisted and broken like pen-marked, discarded dolls of old. To pop that next to ‘NO woman should have a home birth’ (caps included of course to reinforce the message) was particularly effective. It definitely made home birth seem like a seriously dangerous option with horrific, nightmarish outcomes.

And a ‘doctor warns’! Then it must be true! That’s the golden seal of approval. Bravo! ‘Says a lecturer from Hong Kong who has no experience of current maternity services having not worked in the UK for three decades’ wouldn’t have worked half as well, even though it would have been more accurate. Good copy editor you’ve got there.

The strange thing though about the whole ‘NO woman should have a home birth’ because we at the Daily Mail want to save all the babies from being born dead or damaged thing, is that the birth place study (from which the stats you use in the article are taken) says that for mums with straight forward pregnancies expecting their second or subsequent babies, home birth is as safe for babies as birth centres and labour wards but has significantly lower risks when it comes to medical intervention including assisted delivery and unplanned caesareans. In fact a mum expecting her second or subsequent baby, enjoying a uncomplicated pregnancy, is a full 8 times more likely to end up having an unplanned caesarean if she is on labour ward compared to having a home birth! So I’m sorry if I’ve missed something but why exactly should NO woman have a home birth?!

It seems pretty clear from the birth place study that home birth is a statistically better AND safer option for a lot of women. Which means by advocating that all women should go into hospital, even those for which being in hospital is totally unnecessary, you are actually significantly increasing their risk of having medical intervention and major abdominal surgery, with no improvement in outcome for baby! Why is it that you wish to endanger women in this way, under the guise that you are trying to protect their babies?! All the steps being taken by the NHS are to ensure women are informed, empowered and supported in their choices. Why is that you seek to misinform and mislead? Why is it you wish to put women with uncomplicated pregnancies at risk? It’s almost as if you want to manipulate women, using their strong maternal desire to protect their unborn babies from being ‘damaged’, into choosing to birth in a statistically more dangerous setting. It’s irresponsible of a national paper and to be totally honest it’s really pissed me off.

So here’s my response. I’m going to try and keep it based on facts, research and real-life relevant experience (as opposed to what you have done). I will try very hard to lock down my inner rage…

From your point of view it must be regrettable that you were unable to find an expert working in maternity services in the UK who actually practices medicine to share Dr Lord’s opinion. That would have added some weight to your claims. I’m sure you tried but of course no UK Doctor would say this.

However I still read what Dr Lord, a Hong-Kong based lecturer who has not worked in the UK for the last 27 years, had to say about our maternity services and the positive steps being taken by our NHS to empower women. I can’t say it was an enjoyable read but I was definitely hooked.

Whilst I whole heartedly agree with the closing paragraph that women in the UK who are fully informed and aware of the findings of the birth place study will not take unnecessary risks and choose to birth in dangerous places nor wish to put their baby in harm’s way, there are a number of points I think require some clarification/ correcting.

I should probably also mention my ‘qualifications’ because, although I’m not a doctor, I do believe I have quite a lot more experience of current maternity services in the UK than Dr Lord does. I am a mother of 2 with a third due in the next few weeks. I also work in the field of antenatal education as a hypnobirthing teacher. I had a labour ward birth with my first, a home birth with my second and am currently deciding between home or the birth centre for my third. Due to my circumstances I have regular contact with community midwife and also my obstetrician.

My wonderful midwife, Natalie Carter, contrary to Dr Lord’s ill-informed opinion of community midwives, is challenging me to consider the risks of having a home birth again after a previous bleed and has encouraged me to use the birth centre this time. A friend of mine, Clemmie Hooper, who is a case-loading midwife and an advocate of home birth (for the right women) is also doing the same. It may come as a surprise but midwives, even those who support and facilitate home births, do not wish to put women or babies in dangerous situations. In fact quite the opposite.

My obstetrician, Mr Fabian Imoh-ita, (whose name I DO know Dr Lord) is friendly and warm and I have nothing but respect for his opinion and vast experience. I am lucky to see the same midwife for all of my ante-natal visits as with my last baby and same goes with my obstetrician who I also saw in my last pregnancy. I do not live in rural England but in the busy city of London. I feel incredible grateful for the amazing maternity services we have on offer. I only wish Dr Lord was able to experience the same. She might learn a thing or two.

So here are the points that I’m not totally onboard with…

1. I don’t know if Dr Lord has ever spoken to a community midwife in the UK. From what she says I would hazard a guess that she has not. My community midwife, as mentioned above, certainly encourages me to make difficult decisions regarding everything from place of birth, to delayed cord clamping to active management of the third stage etc. Our chat is not all airy-fairy and idealistic as Dr Lord suggests, although of course we do discuss my wishes and preferences because guess what?! We are talking about my womb and my baby, so I do get a say in the matter (thank goodness!). My midwife ensures that I am fully informed about the risks as well as the benefits of everything so that I can make informed decisions and give informed consent, which is a necessary and legal part of medical practice in the uk. I’m not sure about the rules in Hong Kong but here in the UK if women don’t give informed consent to a procedure conducted on themselves, it’s considered common assault. In my individual case, I have to weigh up the benefits for baby of various things like delayed cord clamping versus the risk to myself as I have a history of post partum haemorrhage. These decisions aren’t easy but I am grateful for the advice I am given but that ultimately the choice is mine to make.

Also one note on delayed cord clamping, which Dr Lord lists alongside other things she considers part of a misguided idealised version of birth, is that delayed cord clamping as of 2014 is recommended by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in the UK. So it’s not something that irresponsible risk-taking mothers request but actually recommended best practice. I guess that Dr Lord missed the memo or is unaware because she hasn’t worked in the UK for almost 30 years and obviously doesn’t keep up with the research. That’s ok but if you’re going to comment in a national paper it would be kind of cool to check stuff like that out beforehand.

2. There are without a doubt numerous long term benefits of a positive birth experience, be that at home or in hospital. There are so many women suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome after giving birth and even more who haven’t been diagnosed but are left distraught, disappointed and disempowered. This effects everything from bonding to breastfeeding. The long term benefits of a positive birth and a woman feeing empowered and confident as she embarks on motherhood for the first time are immeasurable in value. You would have to be totally ignorant to overlook or diminish the importance of the birth experience. It is arguably the most defining moment of a woman’s life.

3. The risks. There are risks with everything. There are risks with home birth yes. There are also risks with hospital births. Yup, you read that right! There are many risks associated with choosing to have a hospital birth. These are less publicised and may come as a surprise because we are conditioned to believe hospitals are safe places. For example the risk of intervention is increased by just being in a hospital setting and this includes everything from epidurals to assisted delivery to major surgery in the form of a cesarean section. The risk of infection is also higher in hospital. Dr Lord doesn’t even give these risks a moment of airtime, which seems somewhat unfair/unbalanced given she is discussing birth place choices.

She quotes a from the birth place study published in 2011 and claims that 0.35% of babies born to first time mums have an adverse outcome in hospital compared to 0.95% of babies born at home to first time mums. It would probably help if she actually got the stats right. And Daily Mail, I’m surprised this slipped through your production editor’s net, although I suspect perhaps it was deliberate. The truth is 0.53% of babies born in hospital to first time mums experience adverse outcomes. In both settings the absolute risk is less than 1%.

For second time mums with uncomplicated pregnancies or those having subsequent babies, the study showed that home birth was the statistically safer option. Of course Dr Lord didn’t mention this finding. That would somewhat contradict the catchy headline!

That’s not to say second, third, fourth time mums should be berated for choosing a hospital birth or accused of being dangerous and taking risks. I’m not suggesting the Daily Mail run the headline ‘Why NO woman should have a hospital birth and risk episiotomies, paralysis, being sliced and diced and having a dead baby in a bid to cost tax payers more money’. The idea seems outrageous (although you’ve got to admit, it does sound like it could be a Daily Mail headline). But it is just as outrageous to suggest first time mums are taking unnecessary risks by choosing to have their babies at home.

Also what hasn’t been considered is the 99.07% of babies born at home to first time mums without adverse effects, how many of these births would have been negatively effected by being in hospital??

If we are weighing up risks to make an informed decision regarding birth place, we need to understand the risks of both settings. For example, the birth place study showed that low risk women expecting their second or subsequent baby are eight times more likely to have major surgery (cesarean section) just by stepping foot in an obstetric unit compared to being at home. They are also six times more likely to have an assisted delivery, over six times more likely to have labour sped up using drugs (augmented), five times more likely to have an epidural and five times more likely to have an episiotomy.  For first time Mums with uncomplicated pregnancies the risk of having an unplanned cesarean, assisted delivery, augmentation, epidural and/or episiotomy almost doubles just by being in hospital.

I am all for encouraging women to be informed about risks and made aware of the birth place study findings, but this goes both ways: women need to be informed about the risks of being in hospital, just as they need to be informed of the risks of being at home, so they can make informed choices and decisions. I cannot comprehend why anyone would be in disagreement with this proposal. Of course women should have choices and be able to make their own decisions. We may be pregnant but we are still mentally-competent adults.

Also necessary to making informed decisions is the need to understand the benefits of various settings. All Dr Lord has mentioned is the risk factor of home births for first time mums. But what of the benefits for baby and for mother of being at home? Less likely to have medical intervention, instrumental delivery or major surgery. Therefore quicker recovery times. Less likely to be left waiting in a busy triage waiting room. Less likely to be put on a drip to speed things up. Less likely to have an epidural. Less likely for baby to experience distress in utero. Able to birth in the comfort of your own home and control your environment. Able to eat your own food. Able to get into your own bed. Able to have your partner stay with you throughout. Able to ensure access to a birth pool. Feeling safe and relaxed enough to produce the necessary oxytocin to enable the body to work efficiently, therefore resulting in an easier, quicker and more comfortable birth for mother and baby. Having 1:1 care throughout your labour with the midwife present being in a position to focus solely on you and two midwives at the point of delivery. All of these benefits to being at home must be considered when making a decision.

In life if we only ever looked at risk we would never leave our homes and risk being run over or mugged. Certainly that’s less likely to happen and the risk reduced if we stay inside. But of course we go out because we believe the numerous benefits outweigh the slight increased risk of a rare but adverse outcome. Same goes when we get in a car, or board a plane. We take ‘risks’ with our lives every single day to enjoy the benefits of life. I feel for those who focus only on risk and ignore everything else, for they miss out on the greatest joys in life. Speaking from experience, my home birth was the single most amazing day of my life and I truly hope many, many, many more women get to experience that, if it is right for them.

So as a woman expecting a baby imminently I know there is no birth setting that promises me zero risk. What one has to do, myself included, is weigh up the benefits and risks of all the settings available and make an informed choice that is right for them and their individual circumstances.

Isn’t it truly amazing that our NHS supports and facilitate this and does not take a one-size-fits-all approach? I feel so lucky that we are treated as autonomous individuals and receive such a high level of woman-centred care. Why would anyone want it any other way?!

I can’t think of anyone apart from Dr Lord, who has a serious mis-understanding of community midwives, believes women to be incapable of making sensible informed decisions and who wants to continue working with scalpel in hand until the day she dies / retires. I feel very sorry for the pregnant and vulnerable victims that come into contact with her and her scalpel blade. We can only hope that one day they will be in a position to make informed choices too.

And Daily Mail, next time you want to slate home birth, how about you start by firstly getting someone who has some relevant experience to comment and secondly check your bloody facts.
 
Yours Sincerely,

Siobhan Miller

Mum of (soon to be) three and Founder of The Positive Birth Company.

Instagram: @the_double_mama@thepositivebirthcompany
Twitter: @thedoublemama@theposbirthco
Facebook: The Positive Birth Company.
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SIABA’S IN THE (MOTHER) HOOD

In the (mother) hood

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It’s been a while (sorry) but ‘In The (Mother) Hood’ is BACK!! And today we have Siaba the Mama behind Boo.B Smoothies. These aren’t just your average, run-of-the-mill smoothies, these are ingenious milk supply-boosting smoothies, created especially for breastfeeding Mamas (and they taste pretty good too). So here’s your chance to learn a little more about the Mum Boss behind this wholesome mission as we chat public breastfeeding, birth and the joys of getting your eyebrows done…

Name: Siaba Tumoe

Age: 26

Location: East London

Number of Kids: 1

Names and ages of aforementioned: Mannie Mansa, 9 months old

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Was motherhood planned, a lovely surprise or somewhere in the middle?

Humm, it was unplanned and took me by surprise.

What were your initial feelings on finding out you were pregnant?

WHAT!!!! SHIT!!! OMG!!! I’m going to be a mum. How??

How did you tell your partner?

On the phone

What was his reaction?

“ Are you sure??”

Did you glow your way through pregnancy or was it a complete bitch?

Everyone kept telling me “you carry very well”.  I was shocked at how amazingly my body carried my baby and didn’t make me feel like a balloon (well not until the last month anyway). I felt the sexiest I’ve ever felt in my life. Who would have known?

Tell me about your birth experience…

It was awful. I don’t even like talking about it because it just sucked. I had my son at Homerton hospital in Hackney, I choose to give birth there after some extensive research on the best hospitals in East London. It lived up to all my expectations; the staff there were all amazing. I had planned a water birth but that quickly went out the window because I was 12 days over due. I was induced on the 12th day and after seven hours of riding labor pains with only gas and air I decided to opt for an epidural. Within minutes, my son’s heart rate dripped and I had to be rushed off to get an emergency C-section. I felt like I had failed because I was set on giving birth naturally but I pulled myself together quickly because I could see my mum was petrified for me. My mum and I held hands and prayed quietly through the whole operation because there was nothing else we could do really. I hate hospitals and my mum hates blood so you couldn’t have two worse people in a operation theatre.  Soon after my son was pulled out, my my mum and I burst out crying. I will try and do it as natural as possible next time so I will definitely be in touch with Hollie De Cruz from London Hypnobirthing.

Describe motherhood in a few words:

Thrilling, tiring, selfless and mad.

Can you share any highlights?

My son often plays a little joke on us and he gets us every time. Sometimes after brestfeeding he goes into a mini milk coma that makes him look like his in a real deep sleep. When I lay him down in his bed he stays still for just long enough for me to reach the door and then he opens his eyes and laughs out loud! I can’t help but crack up every time. It’s a sick joke to play on a sleep-deprived mother.

Can you share any low points?

Gosh! Which one do I pick? I think just the amount of crying I did in the early days of motherhood was crazy. I could have supplied water for Thames Water, that’s how much crying I did. All it did was give me a headache, so I don’t know why I did. 

What do you do when the baby sleeps?

Make a cup of hot chocolate and drink it with a mouth full of digestives. Oh and I watch Girls on repeat. Gosh I love that show!! I discovered it when my son was a few weeks old and it got me through some long nights evenings and nights of non-stop breastfeeding.

Tell me about your business…

I have a start up business called Boo. B. Smoothie. I make smoothies for breastfeeding mothers made with lactogenic ingredients (foods that promote the production of breast milk). When I first had my son, my milk took ages to come in so my mother began feeding me plenty of lactogenic foods she had read about. She made me baked fennel, home made almond milk, home made carrot juice, and lots more. My milk come in floods. Because of that experience I became obsessed with reading about lactogenic foods. Doing extensive research on it became my new passion not because I needed them any longer but because I’ve always been interested in how foods affect the body. I stated blending the ingredients into smoothies because as a new mum I had less and less time to sit down and eat a whole meal. Soon after a friend of mine who was also breastfeeding asked to try the smoothies and a week later she called and told me how much she loved them. That’s when the idea of Boo. B Smoothie was born. The joke is before having my son I use to be one of those people that would pull faces at mothers breastfeeding in public (shame on me). Now I’m a number one breastfeeding advocate, I encourage everyone to do it for as long as possible. Breastfeeding my son made me realise just how incredible it is.

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What’s the best bits of being a Mama?

Getting the best cuddles from someone that smells like baby powder.

What are the worst bits?

The lack of sleep. What I would do for eight hours of uninterrupted sleep.

What do you find hardest about being a Mum?

Being a single mum is hard full stop. Other than that I would say the lack of me time has come to a shock to my system.

If someone agreed to mind your baby for a week what would you do?

Sleep, walk down the road swinging my arms (buggy free), consciously eat my meals and get plenty of Boo. B Smoothie related work done.

Is there anything you wish you had known? 

Be kind to yourself! In the early days it will be very difficult to separate yourself from your baby, but if you can face it, just hand them over to Dad, or grandparents and take the time to do something small for yourself. Three weeks after my son was born I left him with my mum and went to get my eyebrows done. I felt like a new women after. It only cost me £3 to get them done but what it did for my mood was priceless.

What do you reckon the most essential item mamas-to-be need to pack in their birth bag?

Very thick sanitary towels, loose comfortable clothing and chocolate. Breastfeeding lowers your blood sugar so you may find yourself wanting sugar (hence the chocolate) if you decide to breastfeed.

What’s been your best baby product?

My Bugaboo Bee buggy and Lanolin nipple cream.

What was really useful in the early days?

My Medela breast pump.

Did you make any baby-related /pregnancy hormone induced purchases that you regretted / were a total waste of money?

Hahahah, oh yes. Well I didn’t buy them, I asked family to buy them for me. The My brest friend feeding cushion was more of an inconvenience then a help. Not to say women shouldn’t buy it, I just personally never got round to using it more than two times. Also the Moby wrap was such a faff to tie that after two uses I decided it would be quicker to just cuddle my son to sleep.

Who inspires you?

My mum. She came to this country on her own with a child with very little money and has worked her ass off to be where she is now. She would leave home at stupid o clock in the morning to go to her cleaning job, leave me with a close friend then get back in time to make me breakfast and drop me to school then go back and work all day at various jobs. Now she is teacher. Her work ethic is insane.

How many children do you dream of having?

Two max.

If you could go back to your pre-child life, where you weren’t so tired, for a short period of time, what would you?

Travel more.

What do you miss about life before kids?

Just the freedom to up and go.

What do you love most about being a Mum?

How it’s changed the way I think. I’m a lot less selfish and think more about our world more.

MASSIVE THANKS to Siaba for taking part and answering all our questions! Make sure you all check out her Boo.B Smoothies… And I’m sure she’d be hugely grateful if you could also spare a like for her Boo.B Smoothie Facebook page!

If you’d like to take part and have a small biz you’d like to give a shout out to, then please email thedoublemama@gmail.com – would love to hear from you!

Positive Birth Story – Katy & Joshua

Birth Stories

I’m totally honoured to be able to share this positive birth story with you all. Katy contacted me after reading my post Thoughts on Birth. She says it inspired her to share her story. She also had this to say:

“The whole time I was pregnant I was extremely excited at the prospect of giving birth. Everyone I met thought I was nuts, and, more annoyingly, wrong to be positive about the idea of labour. A lot of people gave knowing looks and smirks as if to say JUST YOU WAIT UNTIL YOU ACTUALLY DO IT..!”

So here, in her own words, is Joshua Stanley’s birth story (and what a testament it is to having a positive attitude and approach to birth):

My due date was the 4th of November, moved from the 11th of November after a 12 week scan showed the baby to be “too large” for my dates. My dates were pretty crystal clear accurate as we’d used fertility treatment, and not to put to fine a point on it, I knew exactly when we’d conceived. My midwife wasn’t too fussed about that detail though, and the revised date of the 4th was kept to.

The 4th was a Tuesday, and I went for a sweep at the surgery. My midwife (who was really lovely) tried valiantly to stretch the membranes, but I was tight as a clam. She said she wouldn’t be surprised if I went 2 weeks overdue, given how unready for labour I was. I felt pretty disheartened by this, as I didn’t know anybody with a good labour story that started with them being massively overdue, but went home to watch numerous episodes of Teen Mom in order to lift my spirits.

Wednesday arrived and I’d been reading The Guardian’s “Perfect” recipe series. That wednesday the featured recipe was for the perfect grilled cheese sandwich (maybe all the cheese would tempt baby out?), which set me into overdrive. I walked (maybe the walk will encourage baby out?) a three mile round trip to my local shop to collect all the required cheese and sourdough bread, then went home to make the world’s most awesome sandwich. My husband came home and we ate leftover chilli burritos (maybe spicy burritos would smoke baby out?), and caught up on The Walking Dead (maybe the scary zombies would terrify baby out?).

As I toppled my massive pregnant carcass into bed around 11pm, I heard a pop. I instantly knew it was my waters breaking, so I waddled to the bathroom. I shouted for my husband, who genuinely thought I was joking. I was annoyed at his low opinion of my comedy skills. I rang the hospital and they said to keep an eye on the waters for meconium, and to give them a call back if there was any blood.

We were both too excited to sleep, so went downstairs to watch The Lego Movie. About 10 minutes into the film, I started with the TENS machine, as I could definitely feel something going on. By 00:30 the movie was off and my husband ran me a bath, lit candles, and I sent him to bed. I set up the contraction timer on my phone and tried to relax into the labour. At 1am I checked the app and it showed that I was contracted at the rate you’re supposed to go into hospital at (I can’t remember exactly what this is – 3 in 3? 2 in 3? something like that). I shouted for my husband, and we had a debate about whether to go to hospital. I vehemently did not want to drive there and then be sent home. I rang them and they did not sound like they wanted me to come in, given the short amount of time that had elapsed, but it was getting to the point where I was aware that we didn’t know what we were doing at all.

We got in the car for an horrendous 15 minute journey, including a detour because my husband is really terrible at directions. I had all the windows open and was on all fours in the front passenger seat, like a crazy person.

When we arrived in hospital it was 2am, and the midwives took us into the most amazing room I had ever seen. It was like a spa, with an enormous birthing pool, dimmed lights and en suite bathroom.

The midwife got me onto the bed for a check.

I was at 1cm.

She and my husband both looked at me like I was a lunatic.

I got down off the bed and cringed in the bathroom, feeling like I was in full labour, but baffled because I knew people who walked around completing every day tasks at 1cm dilated, and I felt like I needed an epidural.

The midwife told us to go home and I refused. Luckily my husband must have seen a crazy look in my eye, because he advocated for me really well – we were moved to a side room, and I was given a shot of Pethedine at 4am. The midwife said she would be back to check my progress in another 4 hours, at 8am. I don’t recall the Pethedine doing anything to my pain levels, but it really focussed my mind. I lay on my side, in the quiet, dark room, and held onto my husband’s jumper with both fists and my eyes closed. It seemed like no time at all had passed, but in reality it was 5:55am, and I felt the urge to push.

I said to my husband… um… I feel like I need to push and I don’t know what to do. He volunteered to take a look, and I pleaded with him not to, as it’s not the type of thing I think a marriage can survive. Nevertheless, he did go down the business end. “OK..” he said, extremely calmly “…I’m just going to pop outside to the midwives, as I can see the baby’s head.” Then he left (very quickly).

As soon as he left the room I felt the strongest sensation to push, so I just did (rookie mistake). I have never been more terrified or elated in my life when I looked down and saw my baby’s face staring up at me, blinking away. Apparently (I have no recollection of this) I then started screaming loudly that the baby was coming, and at that point my husband and several midwives ran into the room. Almost simultaneously I felt another urge to push, which I did (why!?) and my baby just arrived in an instant. As I was still lying on my side, the midwife grabbed him and flipped him onto my chest, an 8lb, bloody wet bundle.

It was amazing.

The entire pushing stage of labour had lasted 30 seconds, and it was the most insane time lapse of my life.

The after effects were not great – 3rd degree tearing due to the lack of assistance during the pushing stage, but I can accept a few stitches when the experience is so overwhelmingly positive.

I don’t blame the midwives for not being there during the labour – who would expect someone to go from 1cm – fully dilated in 2 hours, with minimum fuss?

Nevertheless, I’ll be having a home birth next time.

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How incredible is that??? First time Mama delivering her own baby! If you’ve enjoyed reading this story please let us know by leaving a comment – that would be awesome. And if you’d like to share your positive birth story please email thedoublemama@gmail.com – it would be an honour to publish it.

Siobhan x

Thoughts on BIRTH

motherhood

thoughts on birth

I’m pregnant and I am massively looking forward to giving birth. In fact I’d go as far as saying what I’m looking forward to most about this whole being pregnant and having a baby thing is the fact that I get to give birth again. How lucky I am to get to experience this incredible, mind-blowingly amazing, freaking miracle of an ‘activity’ that I KNOW is going to leave me feeling like super-fucking-woman. I’m going to feel intensely loved, powerful and euphoric and these feelings can last weeks. I get to do the best day of my life all over again.

Now that might strike you as strange, but why is that? You must agree giving birth to another human being is quite an awesome thing, even if you’re a man or you don’t have any kids, just the very concept of producing another human is mind-blowing. That’s a given, right? And by extension you must think women who give birth are pretty amazing too. So why is it we don’t look forward to, or at least don’t talk about looking forward to the experience of giving birth?

I’ll tell you what I think… I think it’s because we live in a culture that celebrates and actively promotes fear around birth. You only have to visit a few websites, and I’m talking big major websites, such as babycentre.co.uk to see the kind of language around birth that pregnant women encounter. We are expected to feel frightened, nervous and fearful. We are culturally conditioned to feel these things and it is reinforced ALL THE TIME. In conversations with friends, with family, with colleagues, in books and on websites. We are not expected to look forward to or feel excited about giving birth and certainly not expected to enjoy it. Excited about taking the baby home, sure, but when it comes to the actual labour and birth the assumption is we should all be terrified. As a result people share negative birth stories because this is the ‘norm’ and those who have positive birth stories feel it’s inappropriate to share because their experience must be a one-off or nobody would believe them or they’d come across as smug or boastful because everyone knows birth is totally horrific so they must have just got lucky. BUT THIS IS NOT THE CASE.

Birth is normal and natural. Like going for a poo. We have been birthing and pooing for the same amount of time. We are not terrified of going to the toilet. We might not enjoy going for a poo under bright lights in front of a load of strangers, equally we aren’t going to enjoy giving birth like that. But in the right circumstances, going to the toilet is no biggie and nor should birth be. There is a difference, of course, between going for a poo and giving birth and that difference is how amazing the second one is and how good it can make us feel. Because giving birth leads to a baby and becoming a mother, not just the excretion of waste products. So that is why we should definitely look forward to giving birth because, in the right circumstances, giving birth is a natural, normal thing that leads to an incredible outcome. There is nothing to fear. There is only the opportunity to feel the best you have ever felt; euphoric, proud, overjoyed, invincible, empowered. And you get a baby. And don’t even let me get started on how awesome babies are.

So I want to encourage everyone out there to be mindful of the way you talk about birth and if you’ve had a positive experience SPEAK UP! Ask your pregnant friends if they are excited or looking forward to birth, not if they’re nervous or frightened because that suggests they should be and introduces fear where they should be none.

And please don’t think I’m talking exclusively about vaginal births because I’m not. I’m talking about all births. However that baby comes out, you can (and should) feel proud and empowered. Also a note on the ‘right circumstances’ – do everything you can to make your chosen birth place a calm, safe and protected space. It’s more important than you probably think. Discuss it in advance with your birth partner and write down what you want for the big day. This is why birth partners are vital because they have such an important role play to play: they are in charge of ensuring the birthing environment is optimum! At home you obviously have a lot more control but if you’re headed to hospital, take a pillow from home and sprinkle it with lavender essential oil, take some battery operated tea light candles to light the room and your own music and a speaker etc. Do what you can to make that birth space your space.

For those still unconvinced let me just tell you this:

  • Giving birth is your time to SHINE.
  • The people in the room are all there to support YOU (how often does that happen in life?)
  • Everyone in the room will think you are AMAZING.
  • The room will be FULL OF LOVE.
  • Your birth partner will be in AWE of you.
  • You will BIRTH AN ACTUAL HUMAN BEING!!!
  • You will feel like you can do anything.
  • It will be the most SPECIAL day of your entire life and nothing will top it.
  • You will feel EMPOWERED and like an all-out SUPERWOMAN.
  • You will feel more PROUD of yourself than ever before.
  • And everyone else will be so PROUD of you too!
  • And then, whether immediately or after a little while, you will FALL IN LOVE harder than you have fallen before.
  • And you will be in the BEST CLUB EVER. Forever. Membership on Motherhood does never expires.

Giving birth is kind of like running a marathon but imagine that all the crowds on the sidelines are cheering just for you. You know that goosebump feeling of goodness you get? When your body is flooded with feel good hormones like endorphins? And there’s people cheering (probs not for you but they’re cheering anyways) and you have happy music playing and you feel good about life? Giving birth is kind of like that. But unlike a regular marathon, this one you WIN. And best of all; before you even start out, you know you’re going to win.

So imagine, if by some magical intervention, you knew for sure you could win a marathon and you knew you’d feel freaking amazing, wouldn’t you look forward to it??

Feeling prepared obviously helps. The best thing you can do to prepare yourself for birth is to book yourself onto a hypnobirthing course. If there’s not one in your area or it’s not possible for you and your birth partner to attend for whatever reason, then check out The Calm Birth School. It’s an online video course and it’s brilliant.

Also please pack a kick-ass birth bag! I actually looked forward to labour beginning so I could finally unzip my bag and get my hands on all the goodies I’d packed for myself! I was kind of a bit gutted when my labour was so quick that I didn’t get to use all the good stuff I’d waited so many weeks to use. I packed new super soft fluffy bed socks, I bought a fleecy dressing gown and a new fluffy towel. I had bath bombs and massage oil packed. A diptyque candle. A bottle of champagne. Honestly, it was like Christmas but better because I didn’t have to fake-happy face a single thing because I’d chosen it all myself. It was like opening a massive bag full of amazing presents, that were all for me, without feeling even a twinge of guilt. Kind of like how a child feels at Christmas I guess. And what kid doesn’t look forward to Christmas?

So if you do that, what’s not to look forward to when the big birth-day rolls round?!

So come on, let’s change this negative attitude and embrace birth! It’s amazing, we’re all superwomen and it’s going to be BRILLIANT.

And just so you know I’m not talking total rubbish, here’s a photo of me taken a few seconds after I gave birth in December 2014… I don’t look like I’ve been through the wars do I?! In fact I think I look pretty goddamn happy… (and if i can do it, anyone can).

newborn baby

 

Final thing: If you’ve had a positive birth experience and want to share it with other pregnant women, I’d LOVE to feature your birth story on my blog so please drop me an email: thedoublemama@gmail.com

ROBYN’S IN THE (MOTHER) HOOD

In the (mother) hood

This week we have first-time Mama Robyn Wilder sharing her experience of motherhood so far. She juggles pen-wielding with baby-rearing on a daily basis writing for Buzzfeed, The Pool and her own blog The Parent Crap. She’s married to the man behind the hugely popular Man with a pram column. You NEED to read it ALL, but for now, here’s what Robyn has to say on pregnancy, birth and baby loving…

Name: Robyn Wilder

Location: Ashford, Kent

Number of Kids: One

Names and ages: Herbie Heritage, 8 months old

robyn wilder

Was motherhood planned, a lovely surprise or somewhere in the middle?

A planned surprise. Got engaged, came off contraception because I’m a little bit elderly in babymaking terms, so thought I needed to air out my uterus or whatever. But I fell pregnant immediately! Luckily Tiffany Rose make some gorgeous maternity wedding dresses.

Initial feelings on finding out you were pregnant?

Just a rush of adrenaline. I ran around the flat like a deranged spaniel for about half an hour, shouting “oh my god, oh my god”.

How did you tell your partner?

My husband was out, and I was all set to play it cool and surprise him when he got back with a coy smile and a cake. Then I snapped and barked the news down the phone to him while he was getting fitted for his morning suit. Which was interesting for him.

His reaction?

“WELL THAT’S NICE WE WILL DISCUSS THIS LATER.” Later, obviously, we just stroked my belly while occasionally emitting high-pitched laughs at each other, until the news sank in.

Did you glow your way through pregnancy or was it a complete bitch?

I glowed for precisely 2.5 weeks after finding out, then I was hit with hyperemesis gravidarum and a “highly likely” result for a serious genetic disorder (Herbie is fine, as far as we can tell). Next I developed gestational diabetes and anaemia, and later even broke a rib. Pregnancy wasn’t fun at all – I was constantly nauseated, in pain, or dizzy, and had to take a lot of time off work. Although I did enjoy the feeling of this little life growing inside of me, I definitely didn’t enjoy suddenly not liking coffee, or not being able to rely on my body anymore.

Tell me about your birth experience?

I was induced at 38 weeks due to gestational diabetes, and whereas inductions normally take a few days to get labour going, I was fully dilated within 20 minutes of starting the procedure. However, then the epidural slowed things down again, and 14 hours later I still hadn’t progressed, and ended up going into sepsis with the baby in distress. Eventually I was wheeled away for a C-section. That was actually the least stressful part – three minutes from incision to delivery. When they placed the baby on me, though, I passed out through blood loss. Labour was nothing like I had hoped for – I have quite a severe anxiety disorder and found it difficult to cope with the pain, anticipation, and how medical and impersonal everything was – like a really long, really intense dental operation. I think my mental health could have been accommodated better, and will be talking to my hospital about it. I have PTSD from the birth, and I think Herbie is affected, too. C-sections all the way from hereon in.

Incidentally, my husband wrote a fuller account of the birth for The Guardian.

Describe motherhood in a few words:

Joy and poo. And fatigue. And forgetfulness. Hey, did I mention joy and poo?

man with a pram baby

Can you share any highlights?

We got really excited when Herbie seemed to say his own name. He was babbling on the changing mat and shouted “Her!” Then he shouted, ”BEE!” and we were overjoyed. THEN he said what sounded very much like the N word, so all bets are off, basically.

Can you share any low points?

The other day a wasp flew at me and I found myself running away from it – and my pram, which continued to roll down the road. The baby was fine, and more recently I ran away from another wasp with my pram, but I’m not sure I’ll ever forgive myself.

What do you do when the baby sleeps?

Herbie’s not very good at sleeping alone, so I try to put him down away from me as much as possible, and get on with writing. He is very cuddly, though, so often I sack off and either curl around him and doze off myself, or let him sleep sprawled on top of me while I sink into a box set and just let the oxytocin flow.

Have you got a blog?

I’m in awe of those Pinteresty parent blogs where willowy first-time mothers float around their airy upcycled homes with perfect skin and messy side-braids and show you five steps to making your own organic hemp soy almond fair trade chia seed babycinos. Mine’s not one of those blogs. It’s about how I really don’t know what I’m doing, but am muddling through parenting anyway (mostly?) successfully.

What’s the link?

theparentcrap.com

Do you have another job (besides being a Mama)?

I work at BuzzFeed as a staff writer, but I’m freelancing during my year’s maternity leave. Experience has taught me to change how I work because I don’t have the luxury of spending hours at the computer anymore. Now I try to make notes and edits on my phone while the baby sleeps on me, then do the actual writing while he naps, or his father has him. So far it’s doable…ish. I don’t know how it’ll all work when I return to the office – I’m basically ignoring the prospect for now.

What’s the best bits of being a Mama?

Just that I have the requisite biology to CONJURE NEW HUMAN FRIENDS INTO EXISTENCE. Isn’t that amazing? I could go mad with power. Also, I know it’s a cliché, but I have never felt love like this. It’s almost painful.

What are the worst bits?

Being trapped under a breastfeeding baby during a growth spurt when you’re recovering from a C section and you have postnatal depression is a special sort of misery. But then you’ll wake up to a tiny perfect hand stroking your face, and it all seems worth it somehow.

If you didn’t have your kids for a week what would you do?

I’m still breastfeeding and I’m dairy-free because Herbie has a milk protein intolerance, so probably eat loads of cheese, leak breastmilk everywhere, and cry myself to sleep because I’d miss him so much.

Have you got any advice for mamas-to-be/new mamas?

Okay, you know when you see really lazy products in the supermarket, like pre-diced onions and pre-grated cheese, and you wonder who that’s from? IT’S FOR YOU. For at least the first three months after your baby’s born you’ll be doing stuff onehanded, so maybe go onehanded for a day while you’re pregnant so you can figure out what you’ll need.

Is there anything you wish you had known?

I wish I’d known that birth trauma was a) a possibility, b) something I could get help with, c) something that passed, because when no one tells you that it’s a thing and suddenly you find yourself hallucinating and terrified when you should be happy and picture-perfect, it’s very hard to process. Birthtraumaassociation.org.uk can help.

Anything else you’d like to tell me about/share….

I write about parenting for The Pool and my husband writes a parenting column in The Guardian.

robyn wilder

Huge thank you to Robyn for finding the time to share her refreshingly honest experience of motherhood. Be sure to check out her brilliant blog and her husband’s column in The Guardian.

If you would like to feature on the blog as part of the ‘In the (mother) hood’ series, please email thedoublemama@gmail.com.

CLEMMIE’S IN THE (MOTHER) HOOD

In the (mother) hood

I am incredibly honoured to be featuring the AMAZING Clemmie Hooper on the blog today! She’s the country’s favourite midwife, facilitator of homebirths, empowerer of women, writes a hugely popular kick-ass blog, rocks a covetable wardrobe, somehow manages to have an enviably tidy home and is about to become a double mama TWICE OVER! Oh, and did I mention she’s writing a book?!

This woman is truly a force to be reckoned with and it’s been a privilege to have known her since we both began our Motherhood journey, almost 9 years ago…

Clemmie and daughters

Name: Clemmie

Age: 30

Location: Crystal Palace, South East London

Number of Kids: 2 + 2 on the way

Names and ages of aforementioned: Anya – 8 & Marnie – 4

Was motherhood planned, a lovely surprise or somewhere in the middle?

Absolutely not, I’d just left uni, my boyfriend and I were having way too much fun at various festivals, let’s call it the Summer of Love. We were pretty shocked when we found out.

Initial feelings on finding out you were pregnant?

Terrified, angry and scared of what the future might hold.

How did you tell your partner?

I showed him the test I was crying so he kind of knew what it meant.

His reaction?

He was pretty silent for a while, said some swear words and went very pale.

Did you glow your way through pregnancy or was it a complete bitch?

I was only 23 so I guess being young and fit helped, I suffered from a really bad back and felt massive (as you do with every pregnancy) towards the end.

Tell me about your birth experience?

I was 5 days past my EDD and went into labour on a Saturday morning, stayed at home for as long as possible then went to a birthing centre accompanied by my boyfriend. I used the pool for a bit but got too hot and bothered and birthed Anya on all fours completely stark naked. I had my 2 amazing midwives with me (one came back from Glastonbury to be with me). It was a lot more intense than I ever expected, the sensation of your body pushing out your baby is something I’ll never forget. I felt like a bloody warrior woman for doing all of that with a whiff of gas and air.

Clemmie birth

Describe motherhood in a few words:

Exhausting, messy, rewarding.

Can you share any highlights?

When our second daughter was 4 days old our elder daughter asked us through floods of tears when we were going to return her to the train station. The realisation that she was no longer an only child suddenly dawned on her.

Can you share any low points?

Any time you have to look after your children with a horrendous hang over is pretty awful, dropping the f bomb and then your daughters repeating it to Daddy when he gets home isn’t a great feeling. And anytime I have to leave them to go to work and they’re crying for Mama, I hate missing bed and bath time if I’m at a birth.

What do you do when the baby sleeps?

The first time around I was on this sort of high and never did that sleeping in the day when the baby slept. Second time around I slept whenever she did but my elder daughter only went to nursery 3 days a week so I ended up at hideous soft plays and in the playground as you do. I wish I’d slept more the first time around.

Have you got a blog?

Yes I started Gas&Air almost 4 years ago. It’s all about my life as a midwife and mum, I share all the wisdom I’ve learnt over the last 10 years that I hope and think women really need to know. From what to pack in your hospital bag, to how to prevent tearing and how to write your birth plan and I’ve got a book being published by Random House in Spring 2017 ‘How to grow a baby and push it out’.

What’s the best bits of being a Mama?

The spontaneous ‘I love you Mummy’ and the huge cuddles in bed even at the crack of dawn. When your child tells you a really funny joke and it makes sense!

If you didn’t have your kids for a week what would you do?

Sleep, shop, go to the cinema, finish that book on my bedside table, have morning sex with my husband, go for drinks straight after work, basically everything you don’t do as often once you’re a mum of 2.

Have you got any advice for mamas-to-be/new mamas?

Go easy on yourself especially 1st time around, you’re not doing a shit job you’re doing great. And it doesn’t necessarily get easier you just get better at it.

Is there anything you wish you had known?

Those expensive baby classes when your baby is 6 weeks old are a waste of money, find like-minded mums and go for coffee and cake.

What’s do you reckon the most essential item mamas-to-be need to pack in their birth bag?

Really useful things like a bottle of spray water for your face, a flannel, some lavender oil, comfy socks, a TENS machine, music on your phone, headphones and hypnobirthing scripts.

What’s been your best baby product?

Best baby product has to be super large swaddling blankets – mops up milk, spilt tea, tears (both yours and baby’s) can be draped over the pram on a sunny day…

What’s your ultimate mum product?

Anything by Weleda – their baby products are great for a new mums’ tired skin. I love their almond products – perfect when your skin’s a bit dry!

Hooper family

Massive thanks to Clemmie for finding the time to complete this Q&A! Remember to check out her blog and keep your eyes peeled for her book!!! You can keep up with her pregnancy progress (and amazing maternity wardrobe) by following her on IG – @midwifeyhooper

If any Mama reading this would like to feature as part of my ‘In the (mother) hood’ series, please email: thedoublemama@gmail.com

STEPH’S IN THE (MOTHER) HOOD

In the (mother) hood

Today I am so excited to introduce a girl whose haircut I’ve been coveting since I first saw THAT fringe on Instagram. She rocks leather skirts and leopard print (what’s not to love), has an awesome blog, runs an ingenious business, has kids with amazing names (Hello Buster!) and is really bloody nice. Here’s what Steph has to say about Motherhood…

Steph Douglas

Name: Steph Douglas

Age: 34

Location: St Margarets, London

Number of Kids: 2

Names and ages of aforementioned: Buster (4) and Mabel (2)

Was motherhood planned, a lovely surprise or somewhere in the middle?

We’d been married almost 2 years and it seemed like the next ‘sensible’ step. Ahem.

Initial feelings on finding out you were pregnant?

Excited, and like we had the best secret. I also felt relieved – like lots of women I had a fear that I wouldn’t be able to get pregnant.

How did you tell your partner?

I came running down the stairs holding the stick

His reaction?

Lots of squealing and hugging and ‘woah, are we really doing this’. Oh that sweet naïve couple – we had no idea!

Did you glow your way through pregnancy or was it a complete bitch?

I had no health issues for either pregnancy aside from the usual (feeling a bit swollen and constipated) and I quite enjoyed having a big round belly until the last bit when you have to heave and grunt to turn yourself over in bed. I found the mental/emotional side of it more of a challenge. We once went out for dinner on a Friday night after work when I was pregnant with Buster – Doug had booked it as a romantic gesture – and it was this amazing Italian where they just bring out courses and it’s the longest most relaxed meal ever. Except I was hungry and tired and couldn’t neck all the wine so I sat opposite him weeping while he begged me to stop as it looked like he’d taken a heavily pregnant woman to a public place to dump her. We were better at carrying emergency snacks and having early nights during my second pregnancy.

Tell me about your birth experience?

I had no expectation about birth, which sounds a bit odd but my mum was a midwife and gave birth four times herself, and she always kind of underplayed it when I asked how painful it was, and said it hurt but you’re so focused and you hold this baby at the end of it so you just get on with it. So I was kind of relaxed, ready for the drugs if I needed them but aiming to see what happened. When it came to it, my body took over, I stayed home as long as possible (on my Mum’s advice) so with both I got to the hospital and was pretty much ready to go! Finding out you’re almost ready to push as you arrive at the hospital is a massive mental boost so I felt really focused and I did the rest with gas & air, which I LOVED. They had to prise it out of my hands.

Doug gets this funny look of awe on his face when we talk about it, like he still can’t believe what I did. He also remarks on the strength as I pushed down on him during contractions; apparently it smarted a bit…yeah, it did for me too! Sometimes I feel like I’m not supposed to say I had a ‘good’ birth as you hear about a lot of bad ones. But actually, it was really positive, the midwives were awesome and I feel pretty proud of myself. If I do it again, I’d hope for the same. I liked being in hospital and that is part of the feeling relaxed for me – I was on the natural birth ward but had the reassurance of staff and equipment close by if I needed it. It’s a really personal thing for everyone and at the end of it, you gotta do what you gotta do.

Describe motherhood in a few words:

A rollercoaster – with deep ‘what the hell is happening’ lows and utterly awesome ‘I AM WOMAN’ highs.

Can you share any highlights?

Just seeing these two babies that we made become funny, quirky little people and the four of us becoming a proper little unit, with our own traditions like toast in bed on a Saturday and fishfingers after swimming. Hearing them chat together first thing in the morning now they’re a bit bigger makes me feel weepy. It’s lovely.

Can you share any low points?

Those moments when you’re out and everyone is crying, no one is listening, you’re dropping stuff along your way and sweating profusely and feel like everyone is watching and judging you. Also, Mabel recently crapped on the floor in a pub and we only realised when Buster stood in it. That one is a mixture of a high and low point as it was grim, but very funny on reflection.

What do you do when the baby sleeps?

Alas, we’re down to a couple of naps a week as Mabel is almost 3 and not keen most of the time. When Buster was a baby I flapped about doing stuff from The List or divving about on social media. I know people roll their eyes at ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’ but with Mabel I was much better at napping. If you unpack the dishwasher and do a few jobs first, you’ll never do it as the baby will wake up and you’ve missed your window. The trick is to lie down as soon as you put the baby down. Even if you get 20 minutes, it will change your whole day and the world will be a brighter place. The washing can wait.

Have you got a blog?

I write Sisterhood (and all that) – it’s an honest account of motherhood and relationships with the idea that if we’re honest with each other about how things really are and the ridiculousness that life throws at us, it’s often funny and also less lonely. It was kind of a stepping stone to starting the business and I wanted to see if people felt like me. It turned out they did and it went really well, so gave me the courage to quit my job and start the business.

Have you got a business?

I run Don’t Buy Her Flowers selling thoughtful gift packages for new mums. 96% of women receive flowers after giving birth. When I had my first baby I was given eight bunches of flowers and it just seemed such a waste – people were really kind to send something, but flowers are actually another thing to care for. At a time when you’re feeling pretty spent, I thought there could be better gifts that let mum know she’s doing a good job and is loved. The Care Package is our best-selling package, and the idea is it encourages mum to stop and take ten minutes to herself – truffles, tea, flapjack, a magazine and a scarf. I’ve also teamed up with COOK food so their vouchers can be added to any package, so you can give new parents prepared meals delivered to their door. Those are always well received!

What’s the best bits of being a Mama?

Aside from the obvious i.e. two beautiful babies? Women are awesome. Resilient, determined, compassionate, often hilarious and for a lot of women I know, becoming a mother intensifies those strengths. You don’t realise it when they’re small, but you are now a lioness. On a good day, anyway.

What are the worst bits?

The tiredness combined with the feeling I should always be doing something. It can be pretty exhausting and I think that’s the same for most mums everywhere. We’re rubbish at stopping, let alone relaxing with our partner or doing something nice for ourselves.

If you didn’t have your kids for a week what would you do?

Oh SLEEP. And eat at a leisurely pace. We’re actually hoping to take a little holiday in January just the two of us. I know some people couldn’t bear to be apart from their babies, but we’ve been pretty good at having the odd night away and I think it’s essential to our sanity and marriage! We realise we really like each other when I’m not moaning at him for forgetting to put the bins out.

Have you got any advice for mamas-to-be/new mamas?

I recently wrote a list for Clemmie Telford’s blog which just about covers everything!

What’s do you reckon the most essential item mamas-to-be need to pack in their birth bag?

Snacks! I was very disappointed by the post-birth food on offer at hospital!

What’s been your best baby product?

The IKEA high chair. Forget your fancy ones, for about a tenner this thing wipes clean and has NO primary colours.

What’s your ultimate mum product?

OBVIOUSLY a thoughtful gift package from Don’t Buy Her Flowers… but also a changing bag from Tiba + Marl. Practical AND good-looking. And a buggy hook because you always have too much stuff to carry.

Steph Douglas and kids

Huge thanks to Steph for taking part – be sure to check out her blog, it is well worth a read! And of course if you know somebody who needs a little TLC – Don’t Buy Her Flowers!

I’d love to hear from any other Mamas out there who’d like to feature as part of my ‘In the (mother) hood’ series – just drop me a line: thedoublemama@gmail.com

What I’d do differently in birth

Birth Stories, motherhood


newborn baby

I had a pretty spectacular 2nd birth. I kind of want to tell everyone and shout it from the roof tops because I believe everybody can and should have a wonderful birth experience (whether that’s a homebirth, a hospital birth or an elective c-section). No doubt every woman deserves it. (You can read my birth story here). However I also don’t want to come across as an insensitive, smug dick because I know so many women have had less than ideal labours.

Therefore I always like to explain how I had a traumatic first birth and then went on to have a wonderful one. Basically I know what both ends of the birth experience spectrum look like. Now I just want every woman who is scared of giving birth to know that in actual fact it can be the best day of your life! For those women who did not have the birth of dreams first time round (I was one!), know that all hope is not lost and if you go on to have another bubba then a brilliant and healing birth experience is most definitely possible.

hynobirthing affirmation

Anyhow, that all said, there are still a few things I’d definitely do differently, so here they are:

1. I wouldn’t spend the entire afternoon after my waters had gone writing Christmas cards whilst having/ignoring ‘twinges’, then sending my partner out to post them just a few hours before I gave birth.

Next time I will use that time to deeply relax. Maybe have a bath with the lovely Lush bath bomb I’d been saving in my birth bag, have a rest, have a cuddle, have my partner do a relaxation reading like we’d rehearsed, listen to some positive affirmations, have a massage with the lovely Neil’s Yard ‘Mother’ oil I’d been given as a gift, inhale some lavender spritz that I’d prepared etc. etc. Because all those lovely things I had planned… Guess what??? Never did them. Why?! Because in the end there wasn’t time! I wasted the lovely early stages of labour doing life admin.

hypnobirthing affirmation

2. First sign of labour I’d get my partner to start inflating and filling the birth pool. Oh the pool of dreams! What happened in my labour was we thought of inflating the pool too late. My partner spent most of my 2 hour labour attending to the pool which I then didn’t use because by the time it was ready for me to get in, it was time to push! So yeah, I’d get him on that case a lot quicker.

birth pool in a box

3. I forgot to drink in my labour. And my partner, like I mentioned, was busy attending to the birth pool, not me. When the midwife gave me a cup of cold black sugary tea, just before I delivered, I swear it was the best thing I’d ever tasted.

So yeah next time I’m going to have some cool fresh lemonade prepared or something similarly refreshing to sip. Oh and champers in the fridge! We forgot that too (I’d only just finished work – I wasn’t expecting to go into labour ‘on time’).

homemade lemonade

4. I’m going to remember that just like everyone says – when the baby is coming out it genuinely feels like a poo. I went to the toilet naked like a mad woman, insistent that I needed a number 2. I had my midwife outside the door telling me not to push too hard as I didn’t want to deliver on the toilet. She was right. Of course. It was baby’s head.

Luckily I made it to the sofa.

hypnobirthing affirmation

5. Finally and most importantly, the thing I would definitely do differently (if there’s a next time) is get a birth photographer!! You are so in the zone when in labour that it’s a bit of a blur. I wasn’t aware of what was going on around me and that was a good thing. But I wish I had a load of photos that I could look back on to remember that miraculous day.

For me giving birth is more life changing than getting married and if I wouldn’t think twice about hiring a wedding photographer to capture the day, why not splash the cash and book a birth photographer ! There are so many gorgeous birth photos out there and beautiful videos to watch. I really regret not having someone to record my special day.

Sure I have the shaky, slightly-blurry, happy after-birth pic that my partner took (see up top) and the I’m-dead-to-the-world first birth photo (below) but I want more! I’m not talking blood and guts, I’m talking beautiful sensual photos that truly capture the magic.

newborn

Oh, and 6. I’d remember to blow the candle out before going to hospital.

I transferred to hospital after giving birth as I needed some stitches and had lost a bit of blood. We left without remembering the lovely Diptyque candle we had burning throughout my labour, which then remained going all night…

Diptyque candle

House did smell nice though when I got home 😉

SUSIE’S IN THE (MOTHER) HOOD

In the (mother) hood

I am super pleased to introduce the second mama to feature in my ‘In the (mother) hood’ series… she is a co-sleeping, breastfeeding, seriously hot, first-time Mama and the partner of all round nice guy and Olympic gold medallist Greg Rutherford… it’s * Susie Verrill *

Mummy and son

Name: Susie Verrill

Age: 27 years old

Location: Woburn (Milton Keynes)

Number of kids: 1

Names and ages: Milo Rutherford – 9 months.

Was motherhood planned?

A bit in the middle. We discussed trying, then after 1 ‘try’ we found we were done and dusted.

Initial feelings on finding out you were pregnant?

Excited for an amazing new journey, desperate to drive to Mamas and Papas there and there and suddenly struck by the enormity of it all.

How did you tell your partner?

I wandered towards him looking dazed while waving the wee-stick. He was shouting for me to feed the dogs at the time so I had to bellow at him to shush and pay attention to me.

His reaction?

Utter amazement. I think we hugged and laughed at each other for the next few hours ‘til he annoyingly had to go out for the evening while I laid in bed alone (doing more laughing).

Did you glow your way through pregnancy or was it a complete bitch?

In all honesty I didn’t enjoy pregnancy and found it odd when people asked. I liked my body, I liked feeling fit, I liked being healthy and competent and I was suddenly struck down by sickness, sweating, being told I couldn’t do things, needing to rush off for a wee every few minutes only for a thimble-full to trickle out, finding nothing fitted me and packing that every ache and pain was a bad sign. Other than knowing I was solely in charge of my growing baby and feeling the kicks, I couldn’t wait for it to be over and merely saw it as a means to an end.

Tell me about your birth experience...

I’d love to say I have a positive birth story as I went in to it very positively, however sadly I dread the thought of having to do it again and still haven’t quite recovered, physically or emotionally. I prepared with some hypnobirthing (which was so wonderful, I highly recommend it), but otherwise had very few expectations and was actually really excited. My waters leaked for two days (and I should have been admitted to be monitored but sadly wasn’t), then they finally burst (just after I’d fake tanned) at home while I was watching a programme about a tsunami. Turns out I’d been in labour for a while (I thought I just had wind) and so when my waters properly whooshed, the contractions went to two minutes apart within half an hour. When I got to the hospital the pools weren’t working thus meaning my relaxing water birth went out the window. I had an epidural but sadly it wasn’t administered incorrectly by a sleepy consultant & just resulted in me having a wang leg. Then, after 3 hours of pushing while it became apparent Milo & I were back to back and he wasn’t budging; I was given forceps and an episiotomy. Turns out this was also done incorrectly, and 12 weeks down after birth I was treated to 7 injections and some silver nitrate matches burning away scar tissue on my gooch. Reconstructive surgery is next up. Future births: c-section!

Describe motherhood in a few words:

Life-affirming, heartwarming, exhausting. A real adventure.

Can you share any highlights?

Recent highlights involve Milo finally giving in and agreeing to eat (even if I did have to cover broccoli in strawberry yogurt). He also took his very first wobbly step and it was suddenly confirmed how quick the first year goes. But in all honesty, there are highlights every single day, and that’s no exaggeration. Even when I think things can’t get any more tiring or annoying, he’ll smile or cuddle up to me and my heart makes my head forget all the crap stuff. Beer also helps.

Can you share any low points?

I repeatedly find Milo eating dead spiders/flies/daddy long legs. We live in the countryside and if we have the windows open, all God’s creatures comes on in and carp it; our bathroom’s like a creepy crawlies graveyard.

What do you do when the baby sleeps?

During Milo’s morning nap I get dressed and do my make up (if I do this while Milo’s awake he tries to suck my make-up brushes). I also get a few chores done, watch one episode of whatever box set I’m in to & then finally; get some work done/answer emails. In the evening, Milo’s bedtime sadly is SO late, I often just go to bed with him. Sleep’s not his most favourite thing.

Have you got a blog?

My blog’s called My Milo And Me and is an attempt to make light of all the rubbish parts of mummy hood, with some fun parts thrown in. It’s about keeping your identify (for the most part), ploughing on through the hard times and then some reviews about all the baby boy leggings I’ve got my hands on (because putting a baby in jeans is like bathing a pissy cat). As a family we also travel a lot so I try to write tips/advice on how to handle flying and hotel rooms with a teeny tiny.

What’s the best bits of being a Mama?

Watching someone who you care for more than anyone else in the world, grow and explore things. All the hugs, all the kisses, all the smiles and all the funny moments. If you could bottle up how happy your child can make you, you’d make a fortune.

What are the worst bits?

Cold tea. Occasionally the realisation that a mini human is watching you attempt to have sex. Pooing while wrestling dangerous objects out of your child’s grasp. Stains on every item of clothing you put on; within seconds. Never sitting for longer than half a minute.

If you didn’t have your kids for a week what would you do?

Probably look at photos of him and cry (seriously). Teamed with lots of hot tea and lie-ins.

Have you got any advice for mamas-to-be/new mamas?

I wish I’d known not to read up too much, listen to too much advice and panic. Do whatever works for you and absolutely ignore what everyone else suggests because it’ll all be contradictory anyway. Then you’ll worry you’re doing something wrong and essentially, you know what’s making your child happy. Relax, enjoy and know that you’re doing brilliantly.

Anything else you’d like to tell me about/share….

If you’re breastfeeding and panicking about doing so in public, please know that either a) no-one will notice, b) if they do, they won’t care.

baby boy

Big thanks to Susie for taking part and sharing so much about her experiences of Motherhood so far. Be sure to check out her blog for lots more –>>> My Milo And Me

If you’d like to feature please get in touch: thedoublemama@gmail.com

CHARLOTTE’S IN THE (MOTHER) HOOD

In the (mother) hood

Massively excited to kick start this weekly ‘In the (mother) hood’ feature with the super-gorgeous, hilarious, straight-talking, take-no-shit, fellow double-mama (one in the oven, one fully cooked) – CHARLOTTE from Only Saying What You’re Thinking

I’ve been following this Mama’s journey both pre and post her blog hiatus and absolutely love hearing what she’s got to say about pregnancy, motherhood and life unfiltered. Hopefully you will enjoy getting to know her as much as I have…

Charlotte

Name: Charlotte

Age: 29

Location: Kent

Number of Kids: 1 + 1 due in October

Names and ages: Lilian age 4

Was motherhood planned, a lovely surprise or somewhere in the middle?

It was planned although we didn’t think it would happen so fast!

Initial feelings on finding out you were pregnant?

Shocked. I’d only just stopped taking the pill and didn’t think I’d get pregnant so soon, we thought we’d at least have a few months of being married and enjoying lazy weekends as newlyweds! Once it sunk in I was happy. I’d never really been a fan of kids but I was excited, it’s different when it’s your own.

How did you tell your partner?

He was with me when I took the test. We were on our honeymoon and I’d felt horrendously bloated for a few days, when I checked the calendar I realized I was late so we went out and bought some tests et voila!

His reaction?

He was shocked too. Happy but shocked.

Did you glow your way through pregnancy or was it a complete bitch?

Pregnancy was a massive bitch and it’s a massive bitch second time round too. With my first I was hospitalized with HG and it didn’t pass until around week 17. Then SPD kicked in towards the end of that pregnancy and I spent the last few weeks confined to the sofa in agony. I don’t think my skin turned back from green until Lilian was about 8 weeks old! This time I had morning sickness until 16 weeks and the SPD has kicked in already! I don’t do pregnancy well, I’m the worst patient. Wah wah wah.

Tell me about your birth experience?

I was induced at 40+9 but nothing started up until two days later and then it went wild! They had to slow my contractions down using a drip because they were really close together and I was only 2cm dilated. They broke my waters with what looked like a crochet hook and not long after that I had an epidural. Now that part of the experience was the best. I can only imagine it’s what taking a shit load of drugs in a club feels like, except I couldn’t walk, obviously. I only managed to get to 6cm before my baby turned sideways and thought she’d stick her chin up and get stuck. So that ended in an emergency section after they kept losing her on the monitor. Not the natural birth many mothers envision and I was pumped full of drugs over my 6 day hospital stay which meant I was pretty out of it for days after. I found it hard to bond with my baby but we got there in the end. This time I’d like it to be calmer, not so many drugs (although I’d take an epidural RIGHT NOW for this SPD pain) and I’ll definitely be packing better shit into my hospital bag (mini bottles of booze and a ton of chocolate).

Describe motherhood in a few words:

Exhausting, glorious, exhilarating, infuriating, powerful.

Can you share any highlights?

The other day Lil was having a poo and wanted a chat, she’s an oversharer like her mother, and asked me how the baby got into my tummy. I explained, loosely, about the egg and the seed but I left out how it all came about. She recapped “so daddy put his seed in your belly button and then you were pregnant?” something like that, kid. She cracks me up every single day. Daddy will not be putting his seed in my bellybutton again.

Can you share any low points?

Dropping my phone on her face when trying to take a picture of us together. Luckily it did no lasting damage. I know, major parent fail.

What do you do when the baby sleeps?

I just stared at her, marvelling at what we’d made. I took a shit ton of photos, ate a load of cake and didn’t do any housework. All these people told me to cherish every second, I took that literally. Now, when she sleeps, I veg out in front of the tv or read. I’m using this time wisely before the next one turns up.

What’s the best bits of being a Mama?

The love your kids show you. She told me I was the best, nicest mummy in the world the other day and I know she wasn’t taking the piss. She looked at me with all this love in her eyes and I just wanted to cry at how perfect she was (at that moment anyway, an hour later she told me I was horrible because I wouldn’t let her have chocolate for dinner). Watching them grow into who they’ll be forever, knowing that all the sleepless nights, the screaming rows with your partner, the leaky boobs and the exhaustion that eats you up… all that shit is worth it because they are growing to be kind and strong little things.

What are the worst bits?

The exhaustion, it’s relentless. The tantrums that you don’t know how to deal with, the questions you don’t want to answer for fear of upsetting them, when they get sick and you can’t take the pain away. They’re heart wrenching, the worst bits. But the good bits erase the bad ones a hundred times over. Being a mama is the best feeling in the world, even if you do wet yourself when you sneeze.

If you didn’t have your kids for a week what would you do?

I can only dream of this! BLISS. Sleep in a fancy hotel. I’d order room service, stay in my pj’s, take long SILENT baths… no “mummy why do you have hair there? Why are your boobies so big? I’d wander around London for hours, visit galleries, have spa treatments. I’m talking out of my arse really, I’d miss her after a day and come home.

Have you got any advice for mamas-to-be/new mamas?

Go with your gut, every time. Don’t read parenting books, don’t do anything you don’t want to, say no to the people who want to come round when you’ve just had your baby… I didn’t and I think that was one of the reasons it took a while to bond with my baby. The evening after she was born I had 8 visitors standing around my bed poking and prodding her, I should have just told them to fuck off. Those first few days are so precious, take your time… they can come visit on day 6. Your baby won’t look much different than they did on day 1! The bad times? They pass. Is there anything you wish you had known? How tired I would be, nothing can prepare you for that. To cut myself some slack, mums are doing the hardest job in the world (the Queen said so herself).

Have you got a blog?

I have. I started it in my third trimester, not writing to anyone in particular but I needed a place to rant about how shit I was finding being pregnant and then it turned into a bit of an online diary about motherhood. I wanted it to be raw and brutally honest because I was fed so much bullshit throughout my pregnancy about how wonderful it is and how you feel great. For me, it was all lies. I felt someone needed to say how it really was. Don’t get me wrong, there are many more great times but the bad times were pretty low.

What’s the link?

www.onlysayingwhatyourethinking.blogspot.co.uk

Anything else you’d like to tell me about/share… I LOVE YOUR BLOG!

CHARLOTTE

Huge thanks to Charlotte for being the first Mama out there to take part in my ‘In the (mother) hood’ feature (and for the blog love)!!  Please go and check out her blog and find out if she really is only saying what you’re thinking 🙂

If you’d like to take part and feature on my blog then please drop me a line: thedoublemama@gmail.com – I’d love to hear from you xx