Claire's story

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.

The first contractions started in the evening when I was seven days overdue. I spent those pre-labour hours relaxing by watching films while our three year old son Henry slept upstairs. These early contractions were regular, but easy and so I concentrated on keeping my strength up.

By the time James got Henry off to nursery the following morning, the contractions were much more regular and increasing in length and strength. Marijn arrived and assessed the situation, and said she would stay as long as it takes - which is just the words we wanted to hear.

I had a couple of hours of breathing through each contraction, using a Tens machine primarily for distraction. Being in the familar environment of home made my husband feel more confident and made me more relaxed. Marijn and James took it in turns to support me through each contraction, in exactly the calming, quietly confident way that suited me best.

And when I began to worry about coping with the contractions without pain relief, Marijn reassured me of my body's ability to cope as the contractions increased.

I had the inevitable wobble in confidence and my ability to cope that came with transition, but it didn't last too long and I was then given a nice break in contractions before needing to push.

I spent the 2nd stage on my knees, leaning against the bed. Pushing felt like the most comfortable way to get through each contraction, but I was becoming concerned that I couldn't feel the baby's head descending in the way I felt in the first labour. I needn't have worried, as I soon felt the head crowning and the waters burst. I was guided by Marijn and Andy to push gently, and beautiful baby George was born and passed straight through my legs to me. No tearing, natural 3rd stage and I was even able to cut the cord.

It wasn't long till I was showered and tucked up in bed with tea, cake and our new baby to cuddle. Then a few hours rest before Henry came home from nursery to meet baby brother.

What was really great about Marijn and Andy's care during the labour, was how unobtrusive and natural it all was compared to the production- line feel of my first hospital labour. And in the support in the weeks before and after the birth, how they were happy to take as long as it took with each issue that arose, and how they were always clear that each decision was utimately mine.

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