Sofia Vieira is mother to Gabriella and Tiago. She would like to thank the Poole Midwives for the gentle support she received during her son’s homebirth. Sofia blogs at mother-nurture.co.uk.
‘“Dear Midwife, we have decided for a home water birth and the following is our birth plan.” When I wrote this very first sentence on my son’s birth plan I remember thinking that I was being very naïve to assume that anyone would read the wishes and wants of an emotional and tired mum to be.
My first birth experience, although completely natural, was in a hospital environment and a very negative and patronising experience. However, second time around my words were actually not only read but understood. And even more - believed! If I close my eyes and go back to that night I can still feel in my heart the peace, the beauty, the moment that my son was born.
I spent nine months preparing for that big moment. I read books to my three year old daughter, role played with her, showed her appropriate videos and told her a million times the story of the day that she was born. I wanted her to be as involved as possible. I practiced meditation and hypnotherapy throughout my pregnancy and every evening I would remind my husband of all the things he needed to remember for the big day. I imagined every single detail of the birth and I prepared my mind and my body for the arrival of my little boy to the world.
However a birth is a natural event of life and as in all things given by Mother Nature, we have little (or no) control. It took me over 46 hours from the moment that my waters broke to the moment that my son was gently born in the early hours of the morning. I called the midwives 12 hours after my waters broke and I was told to go to the hospital immediately. I remember crying all the way there thinking that I would be once again “told” what to do. But instead I found a sympathetic midwife with a great sense of humour, who simply made sure that baby and I were well and reassured me that it was my baby, my body and my decision. Belief once again!
After hospital policies and all the pros and cons of being induced or waiting a bit longer had been carefully explained to us, we decided that we definitely wanted to wait for the baby to be born when he was ready. We went home to wait.
I have this beautiful picture carved in my heart and soul – my daughter sitting on the sofa between two smiley, calm, positive midwives and my husband and I in the birth pool just in front of them, bringing life to our lives. I felt like I had all the time in the world to deliver my baby. I felt respected. I felt empowered. I felt like everyone in that room trusted me, believed in me. And for that I need to thank Poole midwives! The belief they brought to that moment cannot be thanked enough with words.’
See beautifulbumpsandbabies.com for support on pregnancy and postnatally in Dorset.
“Seeing skye for each appointment in my own home has helped to build a strong, trusting relationship which is incredibly empowering”
Judith Thomas is pregnant with her second child. She lives in Cheshire and her midwife, Skye, is part of the One to One midwives service (onetoonemidwives.org) offered on the NHS.
‘One to One offer the continuity of care that is associated with an independent midwife but through the NHS with a whole team of midwives committed to normalising pregnancy and birth. It has made me feel like a person rather than a number in contrast to my first birth where I felt all the decisions were made due to hospital policies and routine practises rather than our wishes and observations of our daughter. One to One give an ideal alternative with a named midwife from when you first contact the service until six weeks after the birth. The availability of this service has made a huge impact on our decision to extend our family.
My first birth was with the local NHS midwives, I had a great community midwife for all my appointments and after taking a hypnobirthing course decided to book a home birth. One of the midwives from the homebirth team at our local hospital came to visit at 34 weeks and reassured us on many counts. Unfortunately the homebirth team was disbanded a few weeks later and changed to an on call rota of all the midwives at the hospital. My waters broke when I was just over 39 weeks pregnant. Over the next 70 hours I had six different midwives, none of whom I had met before. None had heard about hypnobirthing and had very limited experience of home birth. I felt powerless and disrespected at several points as we were slowly moved away from the birth experience we had hoped for, eventually leading to hospital transfer and forceps delivery, in theatre prepped for a section. It took me months to come to terms with the experience. Depression followed, along with difficulty bonding with my daughter who was taken away immediately after delivery against our wishes.
I could not imagine giving birth again in that environment and would not have considered trying for another child if the service offered by One to One midwives had not become available in my area. My midwife, Skye Meakin, is the most caring, supportive individual. She has taken the time to get to know me, my husband and daughter, scheduling appointments when we could all be there. My initial midwife is on sick leave so my care was transferred to Skye around 20 weeks. She set aside a long appointment to virtually redo my booking appointment and spent time discussing everything that happened last time and how we want things to be different. Seeing Skye for each appointment in my own home has helped to build a strong, trusting relationship which is incredibly empowering. I am now rapidly approaching 37 weeks and am really looking forward to this birth, which is something I could not have imagined this time last year. I cannot thank Skye and the other midwives I have met through One to One enough, they have rebuilt my confidence and have reassured us that they will be able to provide the support that was missing first time round. Thank you One to One and thank you Skye.’
“My baby was handed to me. I couldn't believe it. She was finally here. Sixty seven hours later and i had actually done it”
Hannah Karpinski lives in Angus and was relieved to have the care of a single-minded midwife who promised to stay with her until her baby was born.
‘One night at the beginning of August last year my contractions began. I didn’t know what to do because my waters hadn’t broken and I started to panic a little. They were quite sporadic (anything from thirteen minutes to four minutes apart) so I called the midwife and she suggested to take painkillers and try to sleep. By the next night I was in a lot of pain and taking painkillers every four hours, so that night I went into the Maternity Unit. I was given a sweep by the midwife on duty to speed up the process. It wasn’t exactly the natural way I’d intended labour to come on but I was in pain. I was sent home but back in the Maternity Unit the next morning for another sweep. I was 2cm dilated and sent home again.
That afternoon the pain began to get unbearable. I was given stronger painkillers and got into the birthing pool. I immediately felt better. Over the next few hours I was accompanied by a trainee midwife as well as my named midwife. Every so often the midwives would listen to the heartbeat and I’d know my baby was coping better than I was. By 7pm that evening I had been in and out of the pool, been examined numerous times and had eaten some cereal. I couldn’t sit down, I was exhausted and pacing the room. I was given diamorphine via injection and was told it would help the pain and help me sleep. It didn’t. I felt spaced out and proceeded to throw up. A lot.
The next day a midwife called Emily arrived and I knew she’d be the one to deliver my baby. She instantly calmed me and knew exactly how to motivate me.
Over the next few hours I had a lot of pain in my back. Another trainee midwife had arrived and watched me struggle with the pain. I think she was more scared than I was. Emily kept making sure I went to the toilet and that I drank enough fluids.
As the pain increased my memory gets a little blurry. I remember Emily telling me she wouldn’t leave me until my baby was born, I am eternally grateful for that as I had no-one to be with me after my marriage had broken down earlier in the pregnancy.
I couldn’t concentrate. I was in agony. The gas and air didn’t help with the pain but it made me concentrate on my breathing. I remember I kept falling asleep. I hadn’t slept for days. Emily was listening to my baby’s heartbeat when my waters finally broke. It felt like slow motion and a big relief. After that everything started to get more intense. I remember telling Emily I couldn’t do it anymore and she told me I was doing it and I was doing it well.
After two hours of blurred memories I remember thinking there is no point anymore as obviously the baby didn’t want to come out. It felt like I had been in labour for a lifetime. I was ready to give up. But all of a sudden I was back in the pool and pushing. I remember practically crawling up the side of the pool to get away from the pain and then a lot of stinging and my baby’s head was out. I reached down and felt hair. It was so surreal. Between the head coming out and the rest of the body I don’t know how much time had passed. My baby was handed to me. I couldn’t believe it. She was finally here. Sixty seven hours later and I had actually done it. I held onto my baby girl, Emily Fiona Annabeth Karpinski.
She was the happiest little thing with big eyes and blue hands and feet. She was so wrinkly and full of amazement. I cannot thank my midwife enough for staying with me and I’m so glad my little girl shares her name.’