A Midwifes Story
Hello, I am thrilled to be allowed the opportunity to talk about birth from a midwifes point of view here on mybirthbox. I am a case loading midwife who works for UK Birth Centres Ltd and I thought you would like to hear how I came to work for them…
I worked in the NHS for many years as a Community midwife where case loading was in operation. This resulted in each of the women I looked after seeing me all the way through their pregnancy, giving her the opportunity to get to know me and I her. I was able to teach her about the wonderful way her body was created to give birth, the interplay of hormones and the partnership with her unborn child. Most of all I got to know each woman well and when I was called to her side when she needed me there was already a bond between us.
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In 2000 the NHS adopted team midwifery and overnight I was no longer able to offer the continuous support for women I had been used to. The result was the women seemed to be seeing a different Midwife every visit and when I was called to a birth I was meeting a mother for the 1st time. Having seen the benefits that continual support bestowed on women this new fragmented care made me very frustrated.
Working for UK Birth Centres Ltd allows me to get to know my clients well and it has been that close bond that has helped them through their births. I have held the hands of hundreds of women and uttered words that spoke strength and hope. Being a midwife is such a privileged profession and the word itself means “With Women”. For me at the heart of birth and new life there is a letting go of fear, rather embracing the changes and sensations that happen in your body. Having a midwife with you that you know and trust helps you to ride the contractions that bring new life.
I am thrilled to receive the call in the dark quiet of the night from my client that initiates my journey through the moonlit streets, and culminates in the ecstasy of life unfurled. Together, with the new Mother I witness her new baby adjusting to life outside the womb and in the arms of her loving embrace.
As a case loading midwife working with UK Birth Centres Ltd I provide one to one care for you throughout pregnancy allowing me to get to know you as the unique and amazing individual that you are. The recent maternity review was welcomed by Professor Sir Mike Richards, chief inspector of hospitals at the Care Quality Commission.
He said: “As the report makes clear, every single woman deserves to receive personalised care that is based around their individual needs and decisions when having a baby. “
This is the form of care that you receive with UK Birth Centres Ltd.
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8 Ways to get birth ready…
Giving birth is the most amazing experience a women goes through, in fact 300,000 women give birth every day around the World!
Women’s bodies are designed beautifully for the process but our modern, sedentary life style means that we are not naturally “birth ready” but we have 9 months which is plenty of time in which to prepare ourselves for birth.
This is a large exercise ball that I get my clients to practice bouncing on regularly while pregnant and even sit on at the table or in front of the TV. It helps to strengthen your back, open the pelvis a little and gets you practicing for labour.
You sit on the middle of the ball with your feet flat and apart, so your feet and hips make a triangle. Ideally, your knees should be about 10cm (4in) lower than your hips and as a general rule:
• Ladies up to 1.73m (5ft 8in), get a 65cm ball.
• Ladies 1.75m (5ft 9in) or taller go for a 75cm ball.
When used in labour it will bring you relief and can help to reduces stress, anxiety and back pain. Sit on the birthing ball whilst in labour and rock back and forth or rotating your hips. It also helps in optimal foetal positioning when you lean over the birthing ball while kneeling.
Here’s a video to give you some examples for birth:
From Serenity Birth
Remain upright and let gravity be your friend during your labour and birth. Rocking on all fours really helps take the pressure off your back. Why not do some labour dancing rotating your hips, which helps labour progress.
The Royal College of Midwifery has a great visual aid for suggested positions:
Water birth has so many advantages for you, your baby and your birth, so check out how to arrange for a pool to be available for your birth. The warm water eases contractions and helps you to relax, feel lighter and more comfortable. The dimly lit rooms are quiet and being immersed in the warm water creates a calming environment. It can also help reduce the risk of episiotomy or interventions and encourages a more peaceful arrival into the world for your baby. Having a shower is also a great use of hydrotherapy having the water jets massage your back is heavenly.
Hear first-hand from some mothers on their water birth experiences:
From NHS Choices
Get your birth partner to learn some great massage techniques for use in your birth so that you can feel pampered and cherished. Massage also helps to release endorphins and make contractions more manageable. Local antenatal classes in your area may include this as part of the class and this print out from the Royal Berkshire should help give you some ideas.
Massage for labour_RoyalBerkshire
You could also find out about rebozzo techniques as these can help your baby move out of unhelpful positions. This link and video should help get you started:
Learn how to breathe taking long, deep breaths in and slowly breathing out (as opposed to show shallow breaths). This really helps keep you relaxed and the pain manageable. Slow deep breathing is also the most efficient way to maximise the oxygen in your body and to help conserve your energy for labour. Most antenatal classes will cover breathing techniques and you can practice them in advance with your birth partner. Your birth partner is key here to remind you to breathe and help you to focus on your preferred techniques. A couple of great ones we know are:
“Talk to the hand” – During contractions your birth partner puts their hand, palm flat infront of your mouth. You take in a slow, deep breath, then on the breath out you blow his hand away. Your birth partner gently moves the hand back a little in line with your breath. Using your partner’s hand like this is a great distraction technique to give you something to focus on whilst breathing through the contractions.
“And relax……” – Repeat the word “relax” in line with your breathing, so on the in breath say to yourself “reeeeee” and “laxxxxxxxx” on the out breath. As well as helping to slow your breath, this reminds you to try and let go of tension in your body.
When you feel the discomfort of contractions, your first impulse may be to tense up and fight it. The fear of increasing discomfort leads to more tension and spirals into a longer and more difficult birth if not managed. This may be prevented by learning the relaxation technique of hypnobirthing. Courses in hypnobirthing aim to help educate and prepare you and your birth partner for a calmer, gentler birth. As clique as it may sound, try to ride those waves!
There are lots of hypnobirthing courses available across the UK so find out about what’s in your area. A few we’ve been recommended are:
Hot rice packs, a hot water bottle or even an electric heating pad can help ease the pain. Just remember to check the policy on using them wherever you plan to give birth to make sure you have one they will allow.
Using a TENs machine is a very popular drug free pain relief often used in early labour. They take an hour for your body to start responding to, so it’s best to start using it early in the labour on a low setting. The NHS has a great little summary on them:
Lavender, especially, has a very relaxing effect. Shake a few drops on a facecloth that your partner can hold up to your nose to inhale, add it to a water bottle to spritz on you or burn in the room for a calming smell.
You can also have your birth partner rub clary sage into your back and hips to help reduce the intensity of labour, but don’t use if you’re also using gas and air, pethidine or epidural.
There’s a good short article from the Green Parent: http://thegreenparent.co.uk/articles/read/essential-oils-for-labour/ , that lists some others you may like and remember to try the oils first and choose which smells are for you. Please also you make sure you check with your midwife before using the oils in labour.
Here’s a breathing and relaxation video we think you will like:
From NHS Forth Valley
And a useful summary about the stages of labour:
From NHS Choices