The Birth of Baby Penny
“I hadn’t heard of a doula before my friend recommended one after she had such a positive second birth supported by a doula. I had a straight forward first birth from a medial point of view, but found it mentally quite traumatic. I’d wanted a home birth and as natural a birth as possible but due to no midwives being available I had to go into hospital and felt very anxious and out of control. My contractions didn’t seem to be effective at all and I couldn’t cope with the pain so had a pethidine injection. That then made my baby sleepy when he was born and he had trouble breastfeeding initially because of that. I then felt very guilty that I’d had to resort to drugs for pain relief.
For my second baby I really wanted to try for a home birth again, to be more prepared for labour and have more support for myself and my husband. I researched doulas and spoke with 3 different ones before I decided Beverley was the right fit for myself and my husband. She made such a difference to my state of mind straight off by allowing me to think about the birth process more positively and calmly. The books and CDs she leant me were also a great help. I felt completely different going into my labour thanks to her preparation sessions. I felt calm and confident that my body and my baby knew what to do and I just had to allow the process to happen.
I was in touch with Beverley by phone, text and email every day leading up to the birth and the night I went into labour I called her when my contractions started and asked her to come over to my house.
Beverley had taught my husband and me some massage techniques which I found so helpful. She and my husband took it in turns to massage my back for each contraction. Between them they sorted the lounge and put the birth pool up too. There’s no way my husband could have done all that in his own.
This time round I just breathed through each contraction, listened to calming music and got through the whole birth process without any pain relief thanks to the support of Beverley and my husband. From my previous recollection of the pain I thought I must have been about 2 cms dilated when I got the urge to push. Then I got in the birth pool, my waters broke and my beautiful baby girl, Penelope, was born about 15 minutes later! The whole process start to finish was about 6 hours.
One midwife turned up just before Penny was born and the other one turned up just after. I didn’t feel anxious or stressed at any point though as Beverley was there.
I can’t recommend Beverley highly enough, she empowered me to have the birth experience I’d hoped for and I will always remember it as such a positive moment in my life. Of course it was still tough, but it was totally manageable and I was able to appreciate how amazing giving birth was at the same time as dealing with it.
I tell every pregnant woman I meet to consider a doula now as it made such a difference to my whole birth experience. It might be coincidence but Penny is a calm and content baby so far which I think is also because the birth was so much calmer. All in all, I couldn’t have hoped for better. Thank you Beverley!! ”
The Birth of GianLuca
My dream homebirth was imminent, and I didn’t know what would happen – as one never does with birth. As a single mum I felt that I needed to have some extra support, especially as being over 45, and having had a retained placenta after my first birth, the consultant at the hospital was pushing for me to give birth at the hospital. I knew that homebirth was right for me and my baby, and I felt that giving birth at home would be safest for us both.
I contacted the Access Fund and soon had a list of doulas working in my area who could support me. I chose Beverley as she lived close by me and when we chatted, she made me feel confident and nurtured and was reassuring about the birth, and our ability to go with the flow and enjoy whatever would happen.
The time leading up to (and going past!) the due date is a time when emotions are flying, pressures are mounting from all angles, and things are constantly changing. Many issues that you haven’t even considered before suddenly flood you. It was during this time that I found having a doula most valuable. I felt like I needed to put my trust in someone to tide me through the fog and mist and consuming whirlwind of imminent new motherhood. It really helped me to have someone constant, who I knew would come to me when needed, and to text and call when I felt scared or just didn’t know what to do. Beverley helped me to have confidence in myself and feel in control and enjoy the unfolding steps to finally meeting my baby for the first time.
During my last labour I had found the experience so intense that I had not been able to communicate what I needed or what I was feeling, and I had ended up having the baby alone on the stairs, just managing to catch him before he fell.
I was worried that when I was in labour I would not be able to focus on what was going on and would not be able to speak, like last time, but meeting with Beverley before this birth allowed me to explain to her these fears, and how I might not be able to communicate. I then felt that if it did happen again and I was unable to speak, I would have someone with me who knew me and understood me, and I could trust to relay my birth plan and make sure any changes that needed to happen were communicated to me first.
As the birth approached, I started to come under a lot of pressure to go in to the hospital, but I still felt that I was safest at home. I needed to know my rights and understand the risks and benefits of the decisions I was making. Beverley printed off the articles that the consultant had given me to read about the risks I was facing and helped me to read through them and understand some of the statistics that were given. She also helped me get in touch with AIMS (Association for Improvements in Maternity Services). They sent me some more articles to read, and again Beverley printed them out so that we could look at them together and I could understand what they were saying. She guided me through them for me to decide what was best for me – I decided that I still felt being at home was best. At this point I needed to know that I would have someone with me for the labour who would try everything possible to help me have the birth experience I wanted, and would stick by me and my wishes every step of the way.
My labour began with my waters breaking in the middle of the night. I called Beverley and she suggested I speak to my midwife. Quickly, contractions began, and I called Beverley to join me. All I remember about the whirlwind of my baby’s journey to meet me, was Beverley quickly guiding me into the pool. I had planned a water birth last time, but had never managed to get into the pool. Getting into the pool was a dream come true! I felt like time had disappeared, and I was suddenly blind with positive natural pain and excitement and the unknown. As with my last birth I again felt unable to communicate or speak, so I just grabbed on to Beverley’s arm, and trusted the experience, and held on to her. Suddenly all was still and my miracle baby was cradled in my arms and it felt like we had all the time in the world.
I had been really worried about having another retained placenta, but we had talked about keeping the environment calm and dark and continuing to encourage oxytocin release in my body. We put on some relaxing music, and all sat together with only the floating flower lights in the pool and a beautiful salt lamp lighting the room. Beverley gave me a massage with some aromatherapy massage oils designed for labour. After a little while my placenta came out easily – I couldn’t believe that I had done it! Everything had gone just as I had dreamed it would!
Beverley suggested having a ‘golden hour’ of skin-to-skin with my baby, so we got out of the pool and lay down on the sofa, with my baby on my chest. Slowly over the next hour, my little boy crawled to find his way home…suckling at the breast.
After a while of lying on the sofa with my baby I started to feel that my legs were very painful. This could have felt overwhelming and embarrassing, worrying how to explain what I felt -as I didn’t understand it even myself and I felt like I would not be believed and dismissed. This is how I had felt after my first birth, when I had been in a lot of pain. But those feeling disappeared as I just told Beverley and she knew how to look after me and reassure me. She helped me ask the midwife to check me over and once we knew I was ok, suggested positions that might help. I started to feel better in my own time that way.
I’m so glad that I got a doula through the Access Fund. I chose her, and she chose me, and we felt like a team. I could trust that she would gently and caringly get me through the unknown to the other side. A doula is there to mother the mother and make her feel safe and strong in the very delicate transition to becoming a mother and creating a new life. Beverley gently eased me into the new roles and responsibilities at this fragile and vulnerable time, and was very welcoming of this tiny new life into the family. Having this wonderful birth experience made me feel so proud of myself and of my little Fiocco Di Neve (Snowflake – as he was born on the only snowy night this year!) and so proud that I am his mother. This is such a special memory, that I will treasure forever.