13 Feb

“I knew I only wanted her as my doula.”

After a difficult, highly medically intervened birth with my first son, I wanted a different experience and had read that Doulas have a high success rate in low intervention births.

I knew Karen after the birth of my first child as she had supported me with breast feeding issues. We have stayed in contact and I knew I only wanted her as my doula.

Karen was there throughout, offering calm and rational support to me and my partner. She reminded me that I didn’t want an epidural and timed and monitored all of my contractions as I never made it to the delivery suite I was not really monitored by NHS medical staff. I think if Karen hadn’t been there, there would have been more supervision and intervention by the ‘professionals’

Immediately after giving birth, Karen helped to get my baby onto my breast, but then she stepped back and let me and my partner enjoy our first few moments with our new baby.
Karen seems to have a sixth sense about when we needed her.

I found my labour to be a much calmer experience where I genuinely felt in control.

Karen is one of the calmest people I have ever met which is why I wanted her at the birth of my second child, She is also an experienced post natal doula and breast feeding counsellor so I knew she could meet a variety of mine and my families needs.
She has a professional but warm approach and I felt completely comfortable around her from the first day I met her. She has a very gentle approach to children and we share many values and beliefs around families which I think helps, but I also know she is not judgemental in any way.

– Helen, December 2014

18 Oct

Maggie’s Birth Story

Maggie’s daughter turns 13 next week; here’s the story of her birth:

I had quite a traumatic birth experience with my son, so when I found out that I was expecting my second baby I was pleased, but partly worried that we would have to go through a similar experience again. My son’s birth had been a planned home water birth, but my blood pressure had become high in the last month of pregnancy and at the onset of labour he had become distressed, leading to an augmented labour, followed by a failed ventouse and then forceps delivery. I had the same community midwife with this second pregnancy, and at my booking-in appointment, she told me that I would have to be checked by the consultant, and strongly advised against having a home birth, given what had happened previously.

This second pregnancy went very well, until six weeks before my due date when my blood pressure went up to 130/90. At this point I started to worry about history repeating itself. Over the next six weeks, however, it stayed more or less constant at 130/90, which although high, was what it had been at my booking-in appointment, so the midwife and consultant weren’t unduly worried.

On the day after my due date I went to bed at 10pm and fell asleep very quickly. Two hours later I woke up as I realised that my waters had broken. My first labour had started the same way, but this time the fluid was clear – so far so good. An hour later we arrived at the Royal Berks Hospital. In the car, the contractions had been pretty mild, but coming about every 5 minutes. The midwife on duty gave me all the routine checks, told me I was about 1cm dilated and that everything seemed to be going normally. She just had to check on my contractions and the baby’s heartbeat and then I could go home and wait for the contractions to start in earnest.

On went the monitoring belts for the obligatory 20 minutes. At the end of this time the midwife looked worried, and told me that she wanted to leave the belts on for a bit longer and get the registrar to look at the trace. The baby’s heartbeat was apparently too steady – not enough variability, which meant that the baby was either asleep or distressed. At the end of 50 minutes the trace hadn’t changed much and the registrar was also worried. She told me that it was very likely that I would have to have a caesarean if the baby was distressed this early in labour, and even if not, they would have to speed things up with a drip. When we were asked what our feelings were about this my husband said angrily “I’m just afraid of the whole bloody thing going balls-up like it did last time”

In the meantime we were moved to a delivery room in order that they could attach a scalp electrode to the baby’s head to give a better indication of the heart rate. By now it was about 2.30am and my contractions were slowly gaining in strength and still coming regularly. Once the readings started coming through the scalp electrode the output from the monitor was faxed through to the on-duty consultant to determine whether the caesarean was required or not. The trace had improved somewhat, but was still considered suspicious. In the meantime my midwife took some blood samples from me as there was some concern regarding my blood pressure and the anaesthetic for the caesarean.

The reply from the consultant came back – no need to do a caesarean yet, but certainly augment the labour with a drip. When I was told this, I asked for an epidural to coincide with the drip going up, as I knew from my first labour that I didn’t want to have to deal with the more painful contractions that would result. However, it wasn’t possible to have either the drip or the epidural until the blood test results came back. By this time the contractions were beginning to get stronger and I was using the breathing technique to get through them, standing next to the bed and leaning on the monitoring machine. They were lasting about 45 seconds and coming every three minutes. I was beginning to think that I should have put my TENS machine on, but under the circumstances I hadn’t bothered as I’d thought I’d probably be on the operating table by now! I debated whether to use gas and air, but somehow I didn’t think I wanted it just yet as the breathing on its own was making a difference.

Eventually the blood test results came back just after 6am, they were fine, and by that time everything was set up ready for the drip to go in and the anaesthetist to do his work. Just before though, I asked for an internal examination to see how things were progressing on their own. I was 3cm dilated by this time, and having been up all night was glad to lie down on the bed for a while.

I had the epidural and up went the drip. Down went my blood pressure to about 70/40 as I reacted to the anaesthetic, felt extremely light headed and debated whether or not to be sick. This reaction passed fairly quickly, and I was pleased to discover that the anaesthetist had got the dose on the epidural spot on. It dulled the pain of the contractions, but I was able to stand up next to the bed and move around to a limited extent. My real fear was that I would end up having to lie still on the bed and give birth in that position. The midwife who had been with me all night went off duty shortly afterwards at 7.30 and another midwife took over.

After another hour and a half the registrar returned and at the same time I realised that the epidural was beginning to wear off, so I asked for a top-up. This was administered just before the registrar announced that they wanted to take blood samples from the baby’s scalp to gauge how distressed it might be. So, back on the bed I went and the registrar started to try and take the blood samples. In passing she told me that I was now 4cm dilated. In the end she had to take three samples as there wasn’t enough in the first two samples to do an accurate blood test. Once she had taken the third she told me I was now dilated to 7cm. At this point I was beginning to suspect that the top-up epidural wasn’t working as not only was I feeling uncomfortable from the internal examinations, but the contractions were getting more painful rather than less. Whilst waiting for the blood results to come back (normal again) the registrar performed a stretch and sweep and told me I was 9cm dilated – quarter of an hour after I’d been 4cm!

The registrar then left my husband and I alone with the midwife. By this time the initial epidural had completely worn off and the top-up hadn’t done anything so I could turn round on the bed so I was kneeling and leaning against the head of the bed, and very shortly I started getting the urge to push. My new midwife was great at this point, she stood back and told me to go with my body, and do whatever felt right.

As the urge to push got stronger I went with it and started pushing. Four minutes and four contractions later at 9.30am the baby’s head appeared, followed at the next contraction by the rest of her body – a little girl! After an eleven minute third stage and some oxygen for the baby she was put to the breast to feed and stayed there for half an hour! After everything that had gone before it was an extremely positive birth experience in the end.

Three and a half hours after the birth we left hospital and brought our daughter home to meet her brother. My mum, who had been babysitting, was amazed to see us – the last update she’d had from my husband had been when we were preparing to have a c-section!

30 Jun

Holly’s birth story

I started losing plug Wed morning and then getting cramps late afternoon and evening. I felt really agitated and hyper all day so I just knew it was starting. We set up the birthing pool and went to bed at 1am. The pains were much worse when I lay down so I left hubby to sleep and paced around the spare room.
At 3am I eventually tried to lay down again to get some rest but just as I drifted off my pelvis audibly popped and my waters broke. I went to the toilet expecting a cascade but it stopped only for me to sit back on the bed and loads pour out. I woke OH who started filing the pool whilst I contacted my doula. My waters were very green in colour so I knew baby had pooed at some point but not recently as there were no meconium chunks. I called triage and they said the homebirth MW was out at another birth but would come over soon. I had a bath and OH poured water over my belly to soothe me.

My contractions got very intense very quickly and soon no amount of pacing or swaying helped. I kept spilling out more waters as I moved about much to my amusement/horror. I was so desperate to get into my pool but it wasn’t hot enough for ages it was like torture sitting looking at the full pool, having serious contractions and not able to get in. My doula was amazing and helped me through each contraction.

1st MW turned up at 5ish and was very worried about meconium and wanted me straight into hospital. My doula and husband talked through the risks and it was agreed I could continue to labour at home and they’d keep monitoring baby. I knew she was a big strong girl so I wasn’t too worried.

I got into the pool finally at around 6 and the contractions went mad, at times overlapping into one another and so intense they were making me convulse. New MW took over at 7 and I agreed to my first VE and I was 9cm! She was pleased but also a bit shocked and so an ambulance was called to take me the whole 2 min ride to hospital as I had agreed that for baby’s sake I would birth her there. By this time I was delirious; I could hardly take a step without contracting and I was at the animal noise stage by now. What a sight for my neighbours haha!

In the ambulance it was like having an out of body experience, I felt like I was asleep and watching myself as I lay there making these insane noises. We arrived at roughly 8:30/9.

The next 2 hrs are a blur with random periods of lucidity between contractions. I tried so many positions: squatting, standing, on toilet, kneeling over back of bed, holding legs open….. But in hindsight I was allowing too much of the power to go into the noises I was making and not into the pushing. So we got her to the point where her head was visible but it keep slipping back inside. Although she had constant monitoring via the little pin on her head she didn’t get distressed but the meconium was still a concern so they didn’t want her stuck down there for too long. Around 10:30 the doctor said she would need to use a suction cup to stop baby sliding back and asked if she could cut me rather than allow me to tear. She was calm and explained all my options and I felt sure that she was only doing what was best for me and baby so I agreed. So after little local anaesthetic and a cut and some serous suctioning, my baby came into the world at 11:05.

I am so pleased with the actions of the hospital. I was tired and getting a little worried and couldn’t have pushed this little chunk out on my own. In the end, her meconium has caused her no problems but we have stayed in overnight for 4 hr obs.

I have vaginal stitches but they are to the side so no damage to perineum. So far no pain from them either.

I have had a brilliant experience and only truly now appreciate how a plan is only a plan and that the medics really do know their stuff. I would definitely labour at home again but would probably birth in hospital or midwife led clinic in the future.

I have a cuddly little lady in my life now, she was worth the wait and we are learning from each other already. She’s latching well but not taking very much each time, she is sleeping a good 3hrs straight each time too so I’m a happy and contented for the moment.

01 Apr

Dean & Claire’s first week of parenthood

This follows Dean’s birth story, here.

Day One.
I’m back in at 10am, Claire has got 1 hours sleep but looks great on it even if she doesn’t feel it. Alexander has had his first attempt at breastfeeding and it’s not going well. Claire is frustrated at not being able to get the right position and when she does he latches on, takes a few sucks and falls asleep. Blowing on his face, tickling his tummy or pinching his feet wake him for a few more gulps and then he’s back in the world of nod.

This is how it’s been all night and we are slightly concerned, but the midwives are ok with it. In fact, listening to other conversations around the ward this seems to be a common theme. Read More

31 Mar

Dean’s birth story

Dean and Claire were on my first NCT Essentials course. Instead of coming along to session 4 of 5, they did this…

Firstly a little recap. Claire’s liver had been playing up so she was on medication and under consultant care. This involved blood tests that were taken on a Monday and the results given on a Wednesday. Last Wednesday we went in at 9am to find out how she was doing and where we were going from there, the options being full term or induced early. The results came in and everything was looking better as Claire was responding to the medication. Due to her age and the problems, Claire was booked in for an induction on her due date and I left to work in Scotland with 4 weeks in hand. I was going to have a nice lay-in at the hotel on Monday, grab a bike ride on the way back and be at NCT for 7.30pm. Read More

25 Jun

Emma’s breastfeeding story

Emma is a mum of two girls and juggles motherhood with running two small businesses with her husband. She wrote this post about breastfeeding a little while ago.


There. I’ve said it.

This post is all about boobs.

I spend a ridiculous amount of time with my boobs out at the moment. Not because I’m a weirdo, or a life model or even a glamour model; but because we chose to breastfeed both our children. For me, it was the only choice I felt comfortable with and I was fortunate that both my girls took to it fairly easily.

It’s not been easy though. First time around I had problems with positioning early on and suffered pain from cracked nipples, mastitis and also sheer embarrassment at feeding in front of people. I remember sitting up in bed crying with pain and talking about giving up and trying a bottle but still we kept going to my goal of 6 months. Then we hit weaning and feeds were dropped and before we knew it, we reached a year.

When my first child was 18 months old, I had an early miscarriage. I am pretty sure the combination of breastfeeding and jet lag was to blame. We didn’t tell many people and we ‘buried’ the feelings. It wasn’t meant to be. My daughter still needed me, I was just getting started in the businesses, so there was plenty to take my mind off things. I don’t think we dealt with it very well.

I actually ended up stopping feeding my first at 27 months but I think my daughter would have kept going for longer had I let her. I felt I needed this little bit of my life back – although it was only once a day by that point. We also wanted to try for another baby again and thought a little break between feeding and pregnancy would be nice…

Within 3-4 months, I was pregnant again. Our second baby is now 5 months old and again she is being exclusively breastfed. I’ve been surprised by how hard I’ve found it this time. I’ve had mastitis three times and problems with oversupply. Currently my daughter is so distracted during the day, she chooses to feed mainly at night, so I’m not getting much sleep. Coupled with the fact that I am so tied to the baby as no-one else can feed her, other areas of my life are being neglected somewhat.

I’ve had to feed in business meetings, in school meetings, whilst reading bedtime stories, during mealtimes, in cafes, churches, on beaches; and I’ve spent a stupid amount of time lying down in darkened rooms with only a baby, my naked chest and my thoughts for company.

I am SO over breastfeeding now but I will continue until we both decide we have had enough. Whilst this is me doing this, my husband and I are both in agreement that this is the best thing for us all right now despite the difficulties. I love it and can’t stand it in equal measure but I know I will look back in time and feel so glad that I did this.

14 Jun

Breastfeeding in front of other people

Emma is a mum of two girls and juggles motherhood with running two small businesses with her husband. She has kindly shared some of her thoughts about breastfeeding in public.

Breastfeeding in public isn’t always easy. I’ve breastfed both of my daughters. I breastfed my eldest until she was 27 months and I’m still breastfeeding my youngest at 22 months. Up to around 5 months both times, I had letdown problems – mainly because of oversupply. I produced a lot of milk and would find I would spray, leak or soak a muslin or several breastpads with the milk I was producing. Breastfeeding discretely wasn’t always easy. Once my girls got to about 3-4 months they would come off my breast mid feed and look around, leaving me spraying everywhere. I preferred to use quiet breastfeeding rooms if I could to minimise the distractions. With my second baby, I found I had to lie down to stop the milk flowing so quickly so feeding in public was very difficult as you can’t exactly lie down in the middle of a cafe! Once I was trying to feed her in a very noisy, busy restaurant in the middle of Cardiff (Jamie Oliver’s actually). Our table was in the middle of the restaurant and there was a draft blowing on us and people kept walking past. She wasn’t really old enough for solids yet so her only source of food was milk. I ended up going upstairs and sitting on a stool in a quiet corridor outside the disabled toilet (which was occupied). I felt like a total idiot when a man came out of the toilet with his son. It was that or sit on the toilet in the ladies – not very pleasant!

I stopped breastfeeding in public both times around 9/10 months in, once most of the daytime feeds had been replaced by solids and restricted feeding to quiet moments at home or in a friend or family member’s home. This is partly because both of my daughters were quite inquisitive and would detach from my breast and have a look around. It was also because they were more likely to help themselves and the position they were feeding in was more toddler like. This made me feel uncomfortable.

I have mostly found cafes, restaurants and so on to be quite accommodating if you ask if there’s somewhere quiet you can go. I’ve not always felt comfortable asking and sometimes others with me have felt more awkward than me around me breastfeeding.

Things that annoy me:
Signs for feeding that imply bottle feeding like a bottle icon – as seen in lots of motorway service stations.
Places that don’t have a breastfeeding/bottle feeding room.
Breastfeeding/bottle feeding rooms (I don’t mind being mixed together) that smell of poo and aren’t clean.
Separate rooms for feeding choice – seems a bit weird to do that but perhaps it’s because people other than mothers can bottle feed and breastfeeding mothers can feel uncomfortable?
The implication that because your baby is over 6 months you should move over to a bottle. The adverts on tv for follow on milk don’t help this. I know many do choose to and have to if they are going back to work but for those of us making the choice to carry on, it makes it harder.

22 Jan

Let Someone Catch Hold Of You

Relly is a writer, speaker and web content person. She lives in the Home Counties with her husband and their two small sons. As a result she thrives on country air and can be guaranteed to stand on Lego at least once a day.

I have a good life. I have a nice house which I rent. I have a good husband who I have been with for over ten years and 8.5 of them as a married couple. I have two amazing little boys who have both enthralled us and worn us to a nub for the last 6.5 years. I have a good brain that writes cool stuff for people, sometimes even for money.

I also have depression. I’ve had that longer than anything, around 17 years now, like the manky old sweatshirt that ends up in the back of your drawers – even though you’re sure you chucked it out last century.

I have seen depression described as a black dog, and a great comic book illustrating it as such, but for me a dog would be a comfort compared to depression. Depression, to me, is a dead weight that you must lug around from room to room, job to job, relationship to relationship. It feeds on you and your inner fears about yourself.

When my first son was born I had post-natal depression. I went to the doctor, practically dragged by my husband, two weeks after the birth and told him I was upset because our sink wasn’t working properly. The house was a mess after the baby. I was still heavy with milk and the midwife said I could get something to help with my sore skin. He listened to all this, with his head cocked to one side, and let me trail off to silence after I was done telling the carpet under my gaze all about my material concerns.

I looked up briefly. He asked me if I had bonded with my baby. I looked at the 7lb bundle sleeping jerkily in his carseat, fourteen days into our lifelong relationship. I was convinced I was not good for him. I was convinced I wasn’t even adequate. My husband was the most stressed I’d ever seen him. My body was an uncontrollable, lurching, leaking disaster after an emergency caesarean. My baby was uncomfortable drinking my milk, drinking formula, drinking reflux formula.
“No.” I said in a shaky whisper. “I want to give him away. I am not a good mother.”

I had fed my baby, rocked his crib for hours, researched ways to help him with his reflux, dressed him, changed him. But I hated holding him. If I picked him up he puked on me. Every time. So, I stopped. I sat at an arm’s length distance to him for around 72 hours. I tried to imagine telling everyone that I was giving him up for adoption – my husband, my parents, my inlaws. I realised that was not going to work. I started to plan running away but I had nowhere to go, and I was still so, so tired from the birth and everything after.

Then I stared at wall for three hours straight and wondered about suicide. I didn’t really feel suicidal but it did seem like a solution that meant both my husband and my baby were off the hook. These two people that I was not actually worthy of, who were being severely hindered by me. My husband made a doctor’s appointment for me during my three hours of quiet contemplation (I’m sure I was meant to have been napping really). I agreed to go because my husband asked me.

Two weeks later, I got offered a talking therapy session with a local counselor. I was really not into this at all but I went because, well, because the look in my husband’s eyes when he looked at me was breaking my heart. I attended a 35 minute ‘introductory’ session. The chap was very miffed that I’d brought my 4 week old newborn (who I was still part-breastfeeding), listened to me talk for a bit, asked if I was sleeping well (I remember my husband and I looked at each other for a moment with a look of despair – we had a four-week old baby, who was the only person getting any sleep round here!), and then declared I was not depressed – just ‘a bit of a worrier’ and I’d feel better when the baby slept.

We left the session. I cried a bit in the car park. I then refused to see anyone else for four months. I pretty much holed myself up in my house, bar trips outside to get nappies and milk if we ran out, and started running headlong into getting back into work of some sort. Our baby went to a childminder two afternoons a week so I could do baby-free chores and tasks, which was actually great for him and me, and this kept me buoyant (or at least in denial) for another couple of months. I was taking care of this baby. At some point, everyone would realise I wasn’t a good mother and then I’d be okay.

Except of course, inevitably, I did fall in love with him. He was my baby. We bonded. And then I was terrified. Terrified that people would realise I was inadequate. That I couldn’t face rhyme time at the library or making purees. That I hated NCT groups and mummy dates and baby swimming. My favourite days were the ones I’d pack him in his buggy and we’d take a train ride somewhere and I’d walk round parks and shops having to talk to no-one, save asking to use the baby change facilities. I could soak up human contact and conversation without having to be properly social. No-one would know I was an inadequate mother if I didn’t spend time with any other mothers.

That’s what depression does. It takes something that should be joyous and challenging and full of discoveries, and turns it into a time of loneliness, fear and a desperate feeling of not being good enough. Of shredding every last ounce of self-esteem and self-respect. It turns you into your worst enemy. It feeds off your inner self doubt.

Eventually, I cracked. I was so tired and so withdrawn and so miserable that when baby turned five months old, I cried for a week solid. My husband had to stay off work just to get me to eat, sleep and wash – and, of course, the baby needed the same things. I would be asleep from 3am-3pm, and then on the sofa as a burrito of misery, wrapped in my duvet and eating a single yoghurt, watching cbeebies and hating all the happy mothers and children.

My husband took me back to the doctors. This time they skipped the talking therapy preliminaries and prescribed an anti-depressant. It had some interesting side-effects – like yawning every three minutes, for five days – but it started to work. I began to come back to a more normal timetable, and a more stable mood. When I stopped crying, I realised that I was still as tired as the day after I’d given birth even though my baby was now a pretty good sleeper. I could barely lift my son in his car seat now. I went back to the doctors.

I had some blood work done and was told to call for the results in a week. The next day I had a message from my surgery, asking me to make an appointment urgently. I attended evening surgery. My thyroid had all but given up, probably in pregnancy, and I needed to take a thryoxine replacement immediately. For me, this was the last piece in the puzzle. The thryoxine and the anti-depressants worked together and I finally felt human again. Still vulnerable, still full of self-doubt – once you begin the self-sabotage of the depressive mindset it does not shake off easily – but getting better.

This story doesn’t have a ‘happy’ ending because, well, depression is a condition that has a habit of turning up and wrecking the kitchen at a party. But I made it through that time. Most people I met, not that I actively sought many out, would not have thought ‘that is a depressed person’ because if I was out of the door, I was able to wear my happy face that day.

And that’s still how it is today. Even if I’m feeling terrible, I personally can usually wear my happy face for a day or two – for important events, like my own wedding day(the year before my wedding I was heaving around the dead weight of undiagnosed depression) . The thing is, I pay for it later on. I usually get physically sick with an infection or virus, that forces me to stay inside and take up the duvet burrito position again. Sometimes I tumble down a metaphorical deep dark stairwell head first into misery.

Mostly I end up self-sabotaging – which is a bit like self-harming but instead involves somehow contriving to bring down your standard of work/output/creativity etc to somewhere around the murky mire depression would have you believe it exists. When I have days like this I am very conscientious not to charge my clients for work, which means I am both poorer than I should be and also sometimes miss deadlines. When I finally worked this out, therapy suddenly seemed both encouraging and financially cheaper than the alternatives.

I have recently started psychoanlaytical and cognitive behaviourial combined therapies to tackle the issues I have hanging over me from depression and its aspects as a mental illness. I describe myself as a broken doll to my boys, and they understand – at least a little – that Mummy is sometimes sick and that can make her not very happy.

If you are/ or think you might be depressed, or know someone that is, it does get better, mostly, for at least a while – and then you might slip and you have to haul yourself up again. You think you’re alone but so many of us are struggling and existing and improving and slipping and improving again. Screw up all your courage and put out your hand for help. Let someone catch hold of you.

Relly’s original post can be found here.

Get support:
NCT Information Sheet: Postnatal Depression
NCT Shared Experiences Helpline
Facebook: Berkshire Postnatal Support Group
House of Light Postnatal Depression Help

30 Nov

Twins: Leo & Isla’s Birth Story

Sharon is a mother of three and an NCT Breastfeeding Counsellor

Imagine our surprise when the sonographer pointed out, ‘Here is the heartbeat, oh, and here is the other heartbeat!’ and there began our very different birth experience. We were already parents to Rosa, now 6 years old, and were looking forward to being parents again. However, this was to be an altogether more complicated event!

We were very keen to have a home delivery with Rosa, and carefully researched the best birth pools on the market. I wanted as natural a delivery as possible. I laboured for the most part at home, but delivered in hospital due to her heartbeat going too high at the last minute. Back home the next day, no complications.

I naively thought we might be able to gun for a similar scenario this time round, but to my surprise, twins were considered ‘high risk’ and I would be strongly advised to deliver in hospital, probably by induction by 37 weeks, and in any case, in theatre. Not what I was hoping for at all. I knew all the risks associated with inductions and managed deliveries (continuous monitoring, more risk of interventions and C-sections) and wanted to do my best to avoid them!

Luckily, I am quite an assertive person so at the many of my antenatal appointments at Royal Berkshire Hospital (monthly scans from 20 weeks for twins!) I clearly set out my concerns to the various consultants and managed to agree to a compromise. Intermittent monitoring and stretch and sweeps to start off with instead of going straight to a routine induction.

Unbelievably, I got to 39 weeks (albeit sporting a giant tummy and unable to move much beyond a slow shuffle) before I finally agreed to be induced. The stretch and sweep hadn’t worked, and the risk of placenta failure after 38 weeks in twin births goes up drastically, so on Monday 15th October I began the induction process at 3pm. My mother was at home looking after my daughter and my husband Jon stayed with me as we waited for the progesterone pessary to take effect.

Nothing much happened initially, so Jon went home that evening and I stayed overnight, contractions not really getting going until later that evening. By the morning, they were much stronger and more regular, and very painful. Unfortunately, despite all this, I remained at 2 cms dilated, so by Tuesday afternoon, it was agreed that my waters would be broken. This really got things underway, and contractions came hard and fast. They were much more painful than I remember with Rosa, but I coped well with gas and air and good old fashioned breathing techniques.

The hospital were careful to remember my wishes and I was able to labour in private with one midwife and my husband, and only have intermittent monitoring of the babies heartbeats. That way, I was able to remain more mobile and hopefully speed labour up a bit.

The last shift change of staff meant that by some strange coincidence, the midwife who delivered our first daughter was with me for the second stage of labour. I reached 10cms and was swiftly taken into theatre for delivery. They tried to put in a spinal block in case I needed forceps assistance or a C-Section to deliver the second twin, but as they tried to put one in, our first twin decided he could wait no longer, and popped his head out!

All I remember at this point was chaos as staff ran around waiting for him to come and decisions were made about what to do if there was a problem with our second twin. Leo Jacob was born at precisely midnight Wednesday 17th October weighing a whopping 7lb 3oz. All was well and he was promptly placed on my chest for some skin-to-skin, before being handed to a very proud Daddy.

Now for twin two! She had been breech during the last few months of my pregnancy, and showed no sign of shifting her position, despite the extra room Leo left for her after his birth, so I ended up delivering her bottom first, much to the surprise of the theatre staff, still only using gas and air! Strangely enough, I felt very much in control at this point which helped me push her out in a rather rapid manner! Isla Estelle was born at 12:15, 6lb 3oz and a little traumatised by her delivery. She was whisked off for some oxygen and got suctioned as she had swallowed a lot of blood. However, she was fine within 5 minutes and went for cuddles with Daddy whilst I was stitched up. I got off rather lightly, I think,with a minor second degree tear.

We were elated by their arrival and were able to stay in a single room to begin to enjoy our babies. Isla took to breastfeeding immediately but Leo wasn’t so interested, and by the middle of the next day, I realised he had quite a pronounced tongue-tie. This meant that he had trouble latching on, and as a result, I had to express my colostrum (a major feat that took an hour for just 1ml!) in order for him to get some sustinence. He was getting dehydrated so the hospital staff were worried enough to keep us in longer, until they were satisfied that he was taking enough.

We finally left hospital in Friday 19th October, with a referral to get Leo’s tongue-tie snipped at a later date.

Looking back, I feel proud that I managed to stand firm and get as close to the birth experience that I wanted. All too often, twins seem to equal unnecessary complications. I am convinced that my positive experience has been beneficial in helping me bond with them, and also succeed in getting breastfeeding established under difficult circumstances. As it stands, it transpired that Isla also had a tongue-tie so both babies had them snipped by an independent lactation consultant at two weeks old and are now doing well. In fact, both are looking very bonny and the frequent feeds have done wonders for my waistline!

Despite the constant feeding, changing what feels like hundreds of nappies and lack of sleep, they really are the most precious gift and memories of painful contractions and hospital drama are fast fading as we look forward to our first Christmas as a family of five!