Sharing is caring! Ready to share your birth story? We never get tired of reading about your journeys, they are an incredible insight into just how unique each experience is and might even help someone overcome a fear or preconception they’re working through as they prepare for birth. Tell us your story below and it could be published within our resources area or on social media.
Saima and Joe: First time parents twin caesarean birth
We got pregnant after a long fertility journey and were ecstatic and a little terrified to find it was twins! The pregnancy progressed really well with no complications for either baby until 36 weeks. A routine scan showed twin 1 had stopped growing and needed to be delivered. After a couple of steroid injections to mature the babies' lungs I had an elective caesarean section at 36+3 weeks. It was an amazing experience and I have everyone at the NNUH who cared for me to thank. At my request the surgeon delivered the babies straight onto my skin with their cords intact whilst we had delayed cord clamping. My husband and I then had a baby each and continued skin to skin. Unfortunately twin 2 needed some help with breathing so he went to NICU for around 36hrs. I had expressed antenatally so both boys had some colostrum as soon as they were born. I also arranged some donor breast milk prior to my ELCS so if I needed to give top ups then I could use that whilst also expressing to increase my supply. NICU were amazing and took great care of twin 2 whilst he was there, they also kept my frozen donor milk safe and sound. The whole experience was really positive and I'm glad I chose to have an elective section. Both babies are doing really well.
Charli and Matts: First time parents breech vaginal birth
Hi, I’m Charli I’m a midwife and I’ve just had my first baby after a long journey trying for a baby and then having IVF.
I would like to share my experience because even though I’ve been a midwife for many years now and know lots about pregnancy and birth I learnt so much from my experiences in my own pregnancy in decision making and how difficult it can be when your plans change. I feel I overcame many obstacles and would love to help others in a similar situation.
I had a good idea what I would like for my own labour and birth, long before I was pregnant. My preferences were
1. To have a spontaneous labour, I wouldn’t of ruled out induction completely but there were few indications in my mind that would of led to me choosing an induction
2. I was planning to have my baby at home with the team I work in looking after me
3. I wanted to try all the coping mechanisms that being at home had to offer including use of my own space, bath, my own bed, TENS, Yuula Acupressure comb, Hypnobirthing breathing techniques, my birthing playlist, the Birthing pool and the Gas and air because I LOVE that stuff
4. A physiological third stage- I wanted my baby to have all of her blood from the cord and to only have the cord clamped and cut after the placenta had been born.
I had an uncomplicated pregnancy and really enjoyed being pregnant, I was one of the lucky ones who just loved it and felt really happy.
By 34 weeks I was all prepared for my home birth, me and my husband Matt had done a trial run with the pool and practiced hypnobirthing.
My challenges came later in pregnancy
Curve ball 1. My midwife measured me and the plot looked as though there was ?reduced growth at 34 weeks. My initial preference was to only be measured by the midwife and not have growth scans due to them only estimating a baby’s weight within 10-15% above and below what the baby would actually end up being (and 5% of the time the weight wouldn’t even be within this 30% range!) However, baby plotting under the 10th centile after previously plotting on the 90th centile changed my mind on this. I wanted to have a scan with the midwife sonographer (I always send the women I look after to her and think she’s great) which I did and my baby had predicted normal growth and normal dopplers
Curve ball 2. My baby was in breech position at 34 weeks, I did everything I could to move her as I knew being breech would mean I would choose to change my birthing plans massively. Over the coming weeks we did spinning babies, moxibustion, chiropractor, Accupuncture, hypnotherapy, swimming, yoga, float. You name it I tried it, we then had 2 failed ECVs before accepting that Miss Kerr wasn’t going to move. This took some time to come to terms with!
I then had big decisions to make about how I wanted to give birth, the recommendation was to have a CS. However I knew that with an attendant skilled in breech birth present, vaginal breech was a valid option and something I wanted to explore.
I found it really tricky to decide whether I wanted a planned CS or a vaginal breech. I knew the research, the options, yet was really struggling with knowing what I felt was best for me and my baby.
I’d attended Shawn walkers physiological breech birth study day a year ago and felt really excited by it at the time. Shawn told us about how they were developing teams at different hospitals across the UK that were skilled in providing labour care and better choice to women with babies in breech position. Now it was time to decide if this was something I wanted to try for myself.
It was a really tough few weeks of going back and fourth, struggling with what I felt was right for me and my baby. At 38 weeks I managed to have contact with Shawn Walker (the lead in optibreech). I didn’t realise until this point that I could travel to an optibreech site to give birth. I was thinking my options were CS or vaginal breech at my local trust which does not have optibreech in place. Shawn showed me all the statistics for the trial and if I’d like to attempt a vaginal breech I could be cared for at Queen Charlottes Hospital in Chelsea where they have 4 experienced optibreech practitioners who would be on call for my birth.
The following day Gemma (one of the optibreech midwives) called Matt and I and went through everything, I was sent the proformas they use for labour and birth with breech presentation. Gemma was open about the higher chance of an emergency CS and why this may happen. With optibreech care, if things aren’t going perfectly to plan an emergency CS would be recommended in labour. So I knew my chance of emergency CS was a lot higher and was preparing myself for this. Optibreech care felt really well thought out and that the safety of my baby would be paramount.
Both Matt and I felt happy and excited about this and started making plans for labour and travelling to London when things kicked off. The car was packed with my notes in and everything we could possibly need. We decided we would only drive to London if it felt safe, not at rush hour etc!
Prior to this I had booked a CS for 40 weeks, thinking that if I laboured before I would have a vaginal breech at my local trust. However now I was under optibreech I felt more confident to cancel this CS and move it to 41 weeks (where my baby was estimated at a size where I felt it was safer to then go for CS rather than vaginal breech).
I found changing my date really difficult, I knew this meant changing it to a week where there were doctors strikes and that this wouldn’t be ideal for the hospital and the maternity system. I encourage women all the time that it’s about their birth and how they feel, not about fitting into the system and making things easier for the hospital but taking this advice myself was really difficult. These were my colleagues and I didn’t want to make their lives any harder, but I had to tell myself that in a few months time the system wouldn’t care how or when I gave birth. But that these were decisions I would have to live with forever.
So despite finding it challenging, I changed my CS date and I’m SO pleased I did. I finally had a plan! I had all 4 of the optibreech professionals on WhatsApp and knew who was on call when. The team included 3 midwives and one consultant obstetrician.
At T+4 Matt had finished work and we spent the day together and went out for lunch, I felt pressure in my lower back and had many trips to the toilet and wondered if it could be signs of change coming. That night I went to bed at 10 and woke up to feeling my waters had gone at midnight.
I rang the optibreech midwife Claire, she was coordinating the delivery suite that night and said to head in and she would organise the pool room for me to settle in and get some sleep before labour starts.
The car was packed so we headed straight to London, early tightenings started at 1am and we got there around 3. The drive there was smooth and plain sailing. When we arrived they checked me and baby over then settled me down into the pool room to establish.
Claire was finishing her shift at 7 but reassured me that she would be sleeping in a room in the hospital and would be back with me as soon as needed. In the meantime I had another midwife looking after me (Natalie).
I spent the morning having irregular contractions using the Freya app. At 9 I felt them ramp up and I was then needing to stand rather than breathing through laying on my side. I started using the TENS machine and the acupressure comb and Matt massaged my lower back throughout each contraction whilst encouraging me to sip lucosade and eat jelly babies
At 11 o’clock I noticed my waters had changed from clear to light meconium, which became significant ‘toothpaste meconium’ by 12 o clock. At this point i was put on the CTG and accepted a VE, I was 1cm. This was a little demoralising but as my contractions were still irregular I knew this was really normal and tried to put it at the back of my mind.
I carried on and felt a big shift in how the contractions were feeling at 2pm, I felt I had to stand up and lean over the bed going on my tip toes during each contraction. I made Matt write down the time to remember that’s when I was established. Midwife brain was still partly on clearly 🤣
At 2.30pm I had a wobble and felt really tempted to bail and ask for a CS, but had a stern word with myself and thought let’s just try the gas and air first. I thought worst case I’m not actually established like I think I am and I can ask for a CS if I’m still 1cm at 4pm.
I really wanted to get in the pool too, the midwife said that the doctors weren’t keen for me to get in due to being breech with meconium but I was determined and asked her to challenge it/ ask Claire as we had made a plan in my pregnancy that I could use the pool and get out for pushing. As she walked out of the room I said ‘and if they say no ask them why they’re so scared of a big bloody bath’
Claire apparently came and asked which doctors had a problem with her plan, to which she got radio silence. I feel very lucky I was advocated for so strongly by Claire even though she was between two night shifts she still made sure I was ok and had everything I needed at each point.
So we were back on to get in the pool if I was ‘established’ at the 4 o clock VE. I asked the pool to be filled ready for 4 as I couldn’t bare the thought of waiting till 4 before even starting to fill it! It got to half 3 and the pool was only half full so Matt started filling it for me, I think he was nervous what I’d be like if I couldn’t get straight in after the examination at 4🤣
Claire came at 4pm to do the examination and I was 6cm, I was SO relieved that I could get in the pool and jumped straight in. Matt put my birthing playlist on and the whole atmosphere in the room changed. Gemma, another one of the optibreech midwives arrived after finishing a study day and took over from Natalie, with Claire popping in and out throughout.
The relief from the water was AMAZING, it really reset me and made me feel like I could do it and that I was in control. The next few hours I enjoyed the water and the music whilst using the gas through the contractions. My whole body relaxed into it and I told myself that I could do this.
Then transition came, after supporting so many women through transition I was interested to see if I would experience it myself. I did and recognised those feelings of ‘I can’t do it’ and couldn’t help but think ‘oh god I’m transitional, they’re going to tell me I can do it and I can’t!!’ The midwives reassured me and talked me through and I just kept thinking ‘ohhhh bullshit I can’t I can’t 🤣’
At this point the noises I was making changed, I stopped wanting the gas and air and started to bear down.
After a while, Claire and Gemma got me out of the pool and said about pushing on all fours on the bed, which I did, but it just felt really strange and all in my lower back and I couldn’t really feel where to push, they reassured me that it was really normal for a breech as you don’t have that same pressure you get with a head. But I had started to lose it a bit, they kept me going and got me standing at the side of the bed and squatting and pushing, that felt better and like I was moving baby more. Some time went past and they asked to examine me to double check I was fully dilated which I agreed to, I was 9cm but baby was coming easily beyond that little bit of cervix and Claire felt it was safe to continue pushing.
After pushing for 1 hour I was exhausted, felt I wasn’t really getting anywhere and was getting scared, my contractions were going off I think due to being scared and the adrenaline. Claire was guiding me pushing with her fingers which was really painful, I felt like I was in a war zone and started saying she wasn’t coming and that it wasn’t going to happen. Claire at this point said she’s really close, let’s give it 10 more minutes and if she’s not here by then we may need to decide she’s not coming this way.
I thought ok 10 minutes more, I can do that and then either way she will be here.
I gave it EVERYTHING I had and I could hear the midwives getting excited. I knew what that meant, she was coming. I was pushing on my back, the only place I could feel what I was doing. With the plan to turn to all fours when her bottom was visible. Which is what we did, but as soon as I turned onto all fours I couldn’t push again! So I turned back to being on my back and they lowered the bottom part of the bed to help her have gravity that way. They asked if they could give me an episiotomy to help aid her being born which I consented to.
I continued pushing, my contractions had nearly all stopped at this point so was just pushing when I felt able to. I was waiting for them to say she was Rumping (birth of the pelvis) as I knew at this point with optibreech they aim to get baby fully out within 7 minutes and I knew at this point I would be pushing regardless of whether there was a contraction until she was born which is also part of the new optibreech guidance/ protocols.
I heard them say Rumping and again just WENT FOR IT, pushed so hard. Next thing I knew I felt a hand strongly do suprapubic pressure in one big strong movement and I felt her head go from inside my pelvis to being born within seconds. She was here, 3 minutes from rumping and I could see she was absolutely perfect and pink and ready to give out a big cry
The midwives rubbed her back and handed her straight to me, the most surreal incredible moment. We had done it, me and my baby girl a powerful team together. It was an incredible experience, the optibreech team made me feel so safe as everything was monitored closely to ensure my little girl remained safe in the process whilst giving us both the chance to benefit from a normal birth.
Our fourth trimester has been a dream so far and I put this down to having a spontaneous unmedicated labour and birth, the benefits we’ve both experienced from having this care is incredible and I really hope more women get told about their options around breech presentation in late pregnancy. A vaginal breech won’t be right for everyone but if you feel it might be right for you then you have an incredible opti breech team at Queen Charlottes that you can access for more information
Also a massive thank you to the incredible Jenny B for taking care of me in pregnancy and in the postnatal period and the rest of Juniper team who have supported me and are just the best team to be a part of. I’ll miss you during my Mat leave ♥️
Michaela and Andy’s breech elective caesarean birth
On the 4th of May 2023 we welcomed our second born, a little girl Dakota into the world! My pregnancy and labour with my little boy although during the height of covid was the most low risk and straight forward it could have possibly been but our girly kept us on our toes from the get go!
The first trimester was the hardest time I’ve ever been through.. from hyperemesis to a high risk combined screening test which showed a very high risk of our baby having trisomy 21 (Down’s syndrome) of course this came as a massive shock and we decided on diagnostic CVS testing which all came back negative. But one of the reasons why we had a high risk result was due to low papp-a.. a hormone in pregnancy which meant our baby could potentially be a bit smaller so we needed regular growth scans. Fast forward to third trimester and growth scans began. She started plotting small (8th centile) but I knew being a midwife this wouldn’t be too much of a concern if she followed this pattern of growth. Fast forward a bit more and by 36 weeks her growth had tailed off to the 5th centile and she was breech which meant we had some decisions to make in terms of our care.
She had been breech the entire pregnancy so we had tried everything from yoga, using our pregnancy ball, forward leaning inversions to moxibustion. After a lot of talks between me and my partner as well as trying to balance all my knowledge and experience to my mum brain we opted not to have an ECV. Mainly due to her growth.
We were booked in to see a consultant for the Wednesday. That morning came and we had already pretty much came to the realisation that a CS was the best option for us. It was then a case of when. We were 37 weeks and after a long chat with the consultant (who I knew well and trusted very much) we decided to go ahead with an elective CS the next day! There was a lot of planning to do over the next 24 hours and I opted to have steroid injections to help with her lung development as she was still a little early.
After a low risk normal vaginal delivery with my boy it was a massive jump and a big decision to opt for a CS but I knew it was the best decision with everything considered and how up and down my mental health had been throughout pregnancy too.
On the 4th of May we went for our CS and it was the most relaxed and organised experience. I used my yuula birth comb whilst having the spinal inserted which I was so thankful for.. it was amazing for distraction. Everything went so straight forward until baby girl needed a hand to realise she had come into the world! Her oxygen saturations were incredibly low and was struggling to get the fluid off her lungs. After a scary 10 minutes of a lot of people flooding the room a lot of loud cries filled the room and we knew our little girl was ok but still needed that helping hand. She went off to NICU for CPAP and fluids to maintain over blood sugars but after 26 hours, some determination from me to express colostrum and success in breastfeeding in NICU she was back with us and thriving.
I never thought I’d be faced with so much decision making and planning after my experience with my first child but ultimately we’re incredibly lucky to have been looked after and guided by an incredible team and we’re now settling at home as a family of four.
Dulcie and Johns Homebirth after 2 caesarean births
I was 10 and 12 when my mum home-birthed my siblings. I remember how normal it seemed and yet I knew from this age if I became a mum I wanted to breastfeed and I wanted to give birth vaginally. So fast forward 14 years to having emergency c section I felt gutted. Then I tried unsuccessfully for a Vbac I thought my chances of a vaginal birth were gone. After researching and hearing stories of women who’d had vaginal births after 3,4 even 5 c sections I was empowered with innate resilience that I will have my homebirth after all.
During my pregnancy there was a couple of wobbles which could have derailed my homebirth plans. 1) I thoroughly research my PPH risk. I didn’t want to be scared whilst in labour. I also wanted a physiological 3rd stage despite risk. 2) at 37 weeks I measured a week ahead and my midwife suggested a scan to double check but I requested they remeasure me as I did not want to jeapordise my plans.
My Hba2c- homebirth after 2 caesareans
To explain how beautiful this birth was, I need to start from the beginning.
My first birth was a “failed” induction, started the oxytocin drip, baby went into distress and ended in an “emergency c-section”. This culminated into sepsis, followed by a week in hospital on antibiotics, a blood transfusion and trying to bond with my baby separated in NICU.
20 months later and still not knowing about my choices and rights I had 3 sweeps as I went over my “due date”. I was desperate for baby to be in my arms and this impatience completely clouded my judgement. Early labour started after the 3rd sweep and I tried to sleep through the night.
In the early hours after almost an hour of consistent contractions we went to hospital. Again my impatience clouded things as I hadn’t technically had the 3 in 10 contractions, I was just desperate to get to hospital where I thought we’d be safe.
At hospital I was checked and was only 2-3cms. This was so upsetting and frustrating.
I then had my waters broken, baby had an electronic continuous monitor put onto his head - I was never told any risks about this - and then I was put onto the drip as I wasn’t dilating quickly enough, (despite my cries and refusal as I hated the oxytocin drip) then baby went into distress and bam 💥 cue “emergency c- section”, I got sepsis again and another week long hospital stay.
This time being the covid pandemic, John only saw us for 2 hours a day which was very difficult for us.
22 months later I did something different. I waited for baby to come on their own terms. However frustrating, boring, uncomfortable, anxious and impatient I felt I was determined to not have intervention in this process.
I read books on physiological births, I watched natural births, i listened to homebirth and VBAC (vaginal birth after c section) podcasts and I felt empowered. I regularly saw a chiropractor throughout to keep myself aligned and for sciatica.
Me and John created a calm birth space. This allowed me to visualise the birth I wanted and I relied heavily on the birth affirmations in the last few days of looking after a wild toddler.
Given my history hospital consultants and the midwives were cautious for me to birth at home. I’d had two big postpartum blood losses and I was deemed high risk especially for a homebirth.
After having lots of chats in my antenatal appointments, a meeting with my hospital consultant and the manager, I was told I could make an informed choice (as long as I knew all the big risks!!) I felt exhausted by the fear but I also felt empowered and listened to my gut instinct that this time would be different.
After seemingly endless days of prodromal labour and slowly losing my plug / the show, things finally started.
On Saturday night on two of my usual toilet breaks i needed to change my pants as id leaked through them. Unsure if it was discharge, my waters or pee I went back to sleep. Then in the early hours of Sunday morning I finally started having contractions. I power napped in between them trying to imagine it was just fake labour as they were irregular and different lengths and intensity.
At 8am my mum came and picked up Raphie and I said I could be ringing you in the afternoon to come back but we’ll see.
Over the course of the morning I put the tens machine on my back as the contractions intensified but remained irregular, whilst John finished setting up the birth space in our dining room ( he cleared away all the toys, washing & created calm lighting).
By 1pm I was exhausted as I’d been up in the night but felt fearful of not being in active labour. Unable to rest and sleep in between the contractions the lovely juniper homebirth midwife Emma came with some oramorph to help me rest in between, knowing that early labour could go on for a long time i didn’t want people here too early incase I stalled.
I felt myself instantly relax as she guided me through my contractions, reminding me to breathe, relax my shoulders and let go of tension and fear. Each surge was bringing my baby closer to me!! She was amazing at helping me remember my hypnobirthing tools, making me feel calm and safe.
After a few close together contractions, I asked to be checked (something I didn’t think I’d want but I was flagging and believing I couldn’t do this with no end in sight) but I was 5cms and in active labour! This gave me the biggest boost knowing this was the real deal and baby was coming! It meant I could ask my birth support , midwife and close friend to come for moral support.
Over the next few hours I breathed through contractions doing my best to remember all the hypnobirthing guidance, John filled the pool and finally by 7 I was desperate to get into the water. I felt myself transitioning and already had the urge to bear down and push.
Once I got into the water I felt instantly relaxed. I felt safe and knew I could birth my baby. The relief of the water was better than any epidural or gas and air i had in previous births. It was so satisfying and took the pressure off my legs and back. Waiting for the pool until the last moments worked out perfectly in the end.
The atmosphere in the room was so calm, and yet rain poured down outside and the biggest thunderstorm erupted. Seeing the lightening pierce through the window and hearing the thunder I felt everything was in perfect timing.
As the contractions came I pushed down. I imagined how animals like elephants give birth,- without fear and seemingly without pain. It was just a bodily function, and my body was doing exactly what it was supposed to do. I kept repeating to myself my baby and I are working together.
The baby’s head started to emerge and over the course of an hour it came forward and back. I started to flag but the midwives assured me baby was making space in the birth canal and opening me up to be born and all was normal.
They regularly checked baby’s heart rate (I felt baby was fine anyway) and I stroked the top of baby’s head in between the contractions. This gave me the power to continue… knowing we’d meet soon and knowing baby is enduring birth with me. With guidance I stood up to help baby get into a better position and after pushing with all my might the head fully emerged. I felt myself tear at the top. Although I was stinging a bit feeling the babies ears and head helped keep me focused.
The midwives told me with the next contraction I would meet my baby and birth their body. This was a shock and I couldn’t believe it would nearly be over. As the next contraction emerged I pushed and breathed as my baby came out and the midwife passed them up into my arms.
It took me a moment to really process what had happened and I was completely in shock and awe. Everyone celebrated as I held them in my arms and patted their back. Hearing their cries filled my heart and soul. After a few minutes John said shall we see what’s the sex, we turned baby.. Raphie has a new brother.
After a few minutes of cuddles the midwives suggested we move from the pool on to the comfy sofa to birth the placenta. This was going to be a scary part (due to my previous blood losses) but I was determined to birth it naturally.
The midwives left me and John to have cuddles and I breastfed whilst smelling baby’s head to keep all the oxytocin flowing and remain in a happy bubble. After 45 minutes the midwives came in to ask how we were and if I felt anything. I did feel some pressure so they helped me stand up and the placenta came out on its own. I had minimal loss and I felt on cloud 9! John ordered pizza and I drank a delicious cup of tea with my new babe. Just as I had dreamed of!
Soon it was time for stitches, and I sat in the bath attempting to do my first wee whilst John had skin-to-skin cuddles. I ate croissants and slices of pizza with my friend and I felt so completely fulfilled that my dream birth had come true. Everything I never thought I’d get, had come true.
After baby was weighed. We all guessed around 9 pounds, knowing Raphie was 9 pounds 7 we knew he’d be heavy but we were not prepared for 10 pounds 3 ounces. The midwives finished their notes, they helped clean up the pool and birth space whilst I rested and breastfed baby.
By midnight I was upstairs with baby boy, whilst John finished cleaning and the midwives left. Giving birth at home was everything I dreamed it would be and so much more magical than I can explain in words. Waking up in my own bed, not having to leave or go out for days or weeks or until I would feel ready. The first days where Raphie would see his brother but then go off with family for day trips out or with john meant I could soak up all the newborn moments whilst allowing myself time to heal.
This birth reaffirmed what I already knew, those in your birth space hold so much power. In your most vulnerable they can make you stronger or aid you succumbing into fear. Their energy and words are heightened and you are so susceptible. BUT I learnt that birth doesn’t always feel like dying or excruciating pain, I didn’t need pain relief as it wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle. I understand the term ring of fire but it also wasn’t what I thought it would be. This was the best night of my life, and I want to do it again. (Sorry John).