My story starts with a traumatic, quick painful birth in a busy hospital. Despite being induced, there weren’t any midwives available. Reluctant to go through labour again, when pregnant 5 years later I was very scared about giving birth. After a recommendation I contacted Maya Midwives and I felt better as soon as I rocked up at one of their Tuesday coffee mornings…
I had approached my pregnancy as I did with everything in my life; with spreadsheets and books! I read everything I could on labour and pregnancy, including Ina May Gaskin's brilliant books. We (much to the delight of my husband, Sam) attended various classes during my pregnancy including a Natal Hypnotherapy course in Wimbledon and an active birth class with Janet Balaskas with an emphasis on yoga positions for labour. I also googled (incessantly) anything, and everything, related to my pregnancy...
My waters have just gone", "Did you get that? It's starting!". Were the two texts that I received in quick succession as I sat at my desk at work, from my wife, Elizabeth. My stomach went cold, it was happening, my mind went completely blank...
Our first son Lucas threw us headlong into the experience of childbirth and parenthood. Our plan was for a home birth in water. Instead, he arrived six weeks early by c section in hospital. He spent most of August that year in the special care unit and, once I was discharged, I stayed there with him. We emerged a family of three, slightly battered and bruised but in many ways stronger than before. That experience taught us many things: ...
Eva Rose’s story
After a few months experiencing the decent, but impersonal NHS midwifery care, my husband and I made the decision to go with Independent midwives Viv Gray and Sam Lealman. Initially, we were a bit hesitant about the investment; however as my pregnancy progressed, I realised how valuable Viv and Sam one-to-one care was for baby and I. I didn’t have the inconvenience of travelling to hospital for antenatal care appointments, all appointmens were held in the comfort of my own home. Every meeting with Sam and Viv was an opportunity to bond with them, and ask questions or address concerns, every visit took as long as it needed, they never rushed. Most importantly, I found the flow of information Sam and Viv provided us most helpful as we were always informed of our choices, so we felt very confident when making decisions throughout my pregnancy and most importantly, for our home & hospital birth plans.
Second time around I thought I knew what I was doing and was expecting a very straightforward run. The pregnancy itself was textbook but I was told the baby was breech at my second scan and it got me thinking. Although there was plenty of time for baby to turn, I wondered what would happen if she didn’t...
I was hoping to have a home birth this time and began preparing for that using the Natal Hypnotherapy CDs. At 32 weeks I had another routine scan which showed that baby was still breech so I thought I’d better take action. I tried everything to encourage her to turn including hypnosis, moxibustion, reflexology, osteopathy, inversions and lots of standing on my head!! All to no avail as the next scan at 38 weeks showed that she was still head up and bum down so I was booked in for an ECV (manual attempt at turning baby). This failed and the hospital gave me no other option but to have a caesarean one week later. I was distraught, I felt like I could birth this baby normally but was shocked that the hospital were so keen on c-section. I went home and began to explore my options with the help of my brilliant doulas, Caron Smith and Maisie Hill.
Viv and Andy came highly recommended by a friend of mine when she heard I was pregnant. I wasn’t quite sure what the NHS process and approach was with regards to birth/midwifery but as my Mother is abroad, I wanted the comfort of knowing that I would have someone with me at the birth who would look after my best interests.
Little did I know how much more I would need them…
I was 42 years old and 2 weeks overdue when I gave birth at home to my first baby. From the instant I found out I was pregnant I wanted a home birth. I knew I had to prepare my body and mind in the best way I could to achieve it.
Due to my age my pregnancy was considered high risk. When I express my wish of having home birth I was unable to get the support I was expecting from the Doctor and community midwives. The Doctor recommend me not to do so, according with him “the results of some studies have shown that there is a high risk of complications during delivery at home for first time mothers” and the risk with my age was higher, he also said “maybe not the first , the second, but it is up to you”.
Viv and Andy are friendly, caring and down to earth, and they became the familiar friendly face you need on this journey, our birth story would not have been half so amazing without them. They are calm and can deal with any kind of potentially stressful circumstance, which is important if you want to be relaxed during pregnancy and the labour. They helped me achieve my dream: a home birth - quick and as natural as possible, with little intervention, waking up the next morning with my husband and new baby all together as a new family.
Yu Chen's story:
The care we have enjoyed from Andy and Viv of Maya Midwives has been great before, during and after the birth our second child, Ethan. Laura woke me up at 3.45 am on 10 Jan and told me the contractions were getting "there". We called Andy at 4.45 am to ask her to come to our house. We both had a good breakfast in order to be prepared for the events of the day. As soon as she arrived, Andy was in control in a very nice, gentle way. She put the Tens machine on Laura and gently guided her through her surges which she controlled in a hypnobirthing fashion.
I had always planned a home birth for the delivery of my second baby but when i found out she was breech, I was told by the hospital this would be impossible and after an unsuccessful attempt at turning her (ECV) I was given no other option but to have a caesarean. I was distraught, I knew I could deliver this baby normally but was shocked that the hospital were so keen on c-section. They wouldn't let me leave without consenting to this even though I told them I wanted to explore my options. I was 38 weeks pregnant at this stage and if they had their way I would have had a c-section 1 week later but I knew baby wasn't ready and after careful thought and research I told them I wanted to wait and to cancel the caesarean. The majority of staff were not supportive of my choice so I began a quest to find an independent midwife.
Although my son Jacob had been born 3 days after my due date, I was convinced that this baby would arrive sooner as I’d been having so many Braxton Hicks contractions. But, despite a false start a week before, my due date came and went. Everything was pretty much ready for my home birth, but on Wednesday night I decided that we needed to be properly ready and put together a “hospital bag” and checked off the list that our midwives Viv and Andy had given us...
We decided to invest in independent midwives after a difficult labour with our first son, this time we wanted more control and ideally a home birth. And what a good decision it turned out to be! From the pre-birth support (particularly helping understand and come to terms with the first labour), to the calming birth experience and the hours and hours of support while I established breastfeeding; Andy and Marijn's service was wonderful. More importantly, it gave me the positive birth experience I so keenly had hoped for...
When we met Marijn and Viv we realised we were asking them to do something a little out of the ordinary - following 5 cycles of IVF I had spent the first five months of our long-for pregnancy in fear. Finally having got pregnant I was terrified that my body would now let me and the baby down. I had no faith in it anymore, nor really in myself as a mother, in my ability to provide a safe place for our baby to grow or a safe passage into the world for our child. So my husband and I made the decision to have our baby in a hospital environment. Full of fear and anxiety, if felt to be the only ‘safe’ place. However I also had a yearning to be surrounded by people who knew me well and knew our situation. We felt the NHS just weren’t in a position to always be able to provide that kind of care. Viv and Marijn looked after us all throughout the remainder of the pregnancy and Marijn was with us all the way through my labour and delivery, and only left our side when we were all settled together as a family...
A few months ago, when Netsayi first told people that she was pregnant, it soon became apparent that all the mothers we knew had ‘war stories’ of their births and they were determined to share them. There were numerous tales of epic labours, emergency caesareans, agonising inductions, botched epidurals and so on. It wasn’t long, therefore, before Netsayi decided she’d heard enough. When did giving birth become quite such an intolerable and inevitable drama? After all, didn’t everyone come into the world this way? Or perhaps we missed the memo...
Rose Maud Moon Pepper
First a bum, then 2 little legs appeared and paused, dangling for a moment before they ran in mid air and danced the rest of Rose into the world. Breech.
I’m writing this story of the birth of our little boy, Leo, as a way to remember this most incredible event in my life and as a testimony to the help and support of the wonderful midwives who made my home birth possible.
Another hospital birth
Despite mixed feelings about my first hospital birth, I was keen to have my second birth in a hospital. There were two main reasons for this: firstly I knew my pain threshold and wanted to have an epidural as soon as possible once I felt I had reached that point and secondly I wanted there to be a paediatrician “to hand” as soon as the baby was born just in case…
This is the story of the birth of our son Kyle. I want to write this down for lots of reasons. First, for us as a family to be able to remember how our beautiful son came into this world. Second, for me to be able to show how much I have valued those who helped this be the story of wonder and joy that it is (and nearly wasn't). And finally, for those who are to have babies to have a birth story to think about when they are considering their choices of how and where to have their baby.
As I write this, Kyle was born a week ago, following an eventful, emotional and stressful three days of labour. I want to write this story though as it is a great story with all the best elements of a classic: initial hopes, unforeseen challenges, wonderful heroes and a happy ending. I want to write it so that we as a family can retain a memory of some of the best days of our lives, share them with Kyle in time, but also share them with others who may find our experience useful in thinking about their own options for birth.
Keep calm: write it down.
The notes at the back of my black moleskin writing book are carefully printed. Saturday 13th December 2008. 2.10 – 3.00 am: every 8 minutes, 3.00 am – 3.50 am: every 10-12 minutes. Order imposed on a situation in flux. Because we are moving ladies and gentlemen, at long last we are on our way! In response; Man does what man do. Chart it. Record it. Predict it and in doing so, try to bluff your pale and scared rational self, presently nail biting in a cool corner of your steadily heating mind that maybe, just maybe you can actually control it. (4.00 – 5.15 am: every 12-15 minutes).
I was 15 days late and really sick of people asking if I was going to get induced so I decided to take things into my own hands by having a long walk, spicy food, raspberry leaf tea and then sitting on my gym ball whilst watching “My fair lady” and bouncing in the hope something would happen..... and it did!!!
It’s unfortunate that as a partner, you don’t often get the chance to tell your side of the birth story. Understandably, the woman’s experience is paramount but for me the birth was certainly the most extraordinary experience of my life, intense, emotional, difficult, exhilarating, beautiful and life-affirming. And it is usually those positive adjectives that cut short my story when I tell it to other people. They smile wryly and interrupt to ask if Marianne found it so positive. I feel chastened and shut up. But perhaps the partner’s story is valid also.
Two weeks overdue, a little bit desperate and anxious to meet our baby, we decided, on Tuesday (Jan 8th), to go to an IMAX cinema to see an evening show of a 3D movie called "Beowulf". I had a sort of idea that, eventually, sound and visual effects of the 3D cinema can help to explain to my baby, it’s time to leave the quiet place of my womb. Perhaps, it had worked. We left the cinema earlier, after about 45 min, because noise agitated my baby, who started to move frantically. Never mind. The movie wasn’t great after all.
My due date was September the 13th, a Thursday- the evening before should have been pregnancy Yoga at the Angel. I had some contactions during the day which were not Braxton Hicks, I was picturing more contractions on the Northern Line and decided not to go.
Instead we opted for a local curry place, the old traditional curry method!
Our little baby girl Sofia was born in mighty quick time - actually on the bathroom floor in the early morning of 22nd June, before our midwives could be in attendance. We later realised that it was my wife Helen who had delivered her own baby herself !