During my pregnancy, there was one particular visit where I said to my partner: “That’s who I want at the birth of this baby”. All of the community midwives who visited us for every single antenatal appointment in the comfort of our own home were amazing, but there was something about this midwife that made me feel even more confident and reassured that this home birth would be one of the most wonderful experiences of our lives. Continue reading
“I had my appointment last week and was really nervous waiting on the consultant as I was hoping to be signed off for a homebirth. There was a student midwife with me named Breda and she was just lovely and so reassuring. She was really supportive of homebirth and thought it was fantastic and asked me why I decided to birth at home. She seemed genuinely interested and reacted really positively to everything I said. She relaxed me so much that I felt really confident by the time the consultant came in and the mood stayed really light. For women like me who get so nervous in hospital and having to initiate a discussion it makes all the difference meeting supportive people. Thanks Breda! (I got signed off!)”
My first pregnancy was a challenge – unexpected, at a stressful time. I didn’t realise what short supply independent midwives were in, and missed the chance to get one. Initially was too far out for a Domino home birth, so ended up with Holles Street MLU, then Domino. That was ok (apart from the hospital visits) til my (contested) due date arrived, and they menaced me with the spectre of induction. I called Philomena and she gave me advice on how to negotiate – also offered to come out to the birth if she became free. Continue reading
“When pregnant I was really looking forward to being able to share my positive birth story with the world through 42 weeks, however, the story of the birth of my son is no where near what I had planned or imagined and unfortunately not positive. There is someone who I would like to thank though (and I never thought this would be a person I would be thanking!) and that is the anaesthesiologist. My induced labour was long, extremely hard, with close together transition type contractions but not progressing. After using all my coping mechanisms I’d spent 9 months learning I opted for the dreaded epidural. Continue reading
“When I first heard my cousin had a home birth my first thought was ‘what a legend !’ (which I think I actually texted her) followed by a pang of jealousy. I had hoped for a home birth on my first baby but a past medical history (a silly blood clot after a torn calf muscle) meant a hospital birth was my only option. Added to this it was not the un-medicated birth I had imagined. I had an induction followed by epidural, suction, forceps and my little man was left with a small scar on his face just under his eye where the forceps cut to the bone and severed a muscle. Three years later it is still visible when he cries and gives me a pang every time it surfaces.
When a year and a half later I found myself on the precipice (well that’s what it felt like anyway) of moving to Dublin at 5 months pregnant for a new job, with a toddler and my partner working in another city, it was to this darling cousin that I turned for advice when house hunting. I not only got hosted for said weekend of house-hunting but she found our now home for us within walking distance of her. It was so secure to know she was there if, in the middle of the night, I needed assistance and her gentle presence really made me feel welcome those first weeks. What followed was a support which guided me through my pregnancy and early breastfeeding journey for which I will be forever grateful. She introduced me to gentle birthing and her true belief in the process ensured I was diligent in my nightly practise. It really made me feel that a more natural birth was possible as my body was made to do this and my baby was the perfect size for my body. She gave me birthing books, told me her lovely birth story and as the arrival approached I felt pretty hopeful about my gentle birth.
At 38 weeks I had a scan which showed my second little man was already well over 9 pounds (my first was 11 pounds 5 ounces) and I was faced with a second induction the next day or a caesarean the next week. Apart from my hubby my cousin was the first person I called and her empathy – from one birthing mother to another was what I needed. Someone to listen to my fears and agree with me and then to nod me in the right direction: listen to you gentle birthing, and especially the induction tracks as much as you can. I was positive and calmed. Finally after 2 gels and the start of contractions all on their own I was in labour and got through with little more than gas and air. A very good midwife led me through the final hours and gave me my baby to delivery myself, a truly wondrous experience. My cousin was the first person I wanted to tell, as I felt she had been truly instrumental in this journey with me.
A beautiful fair-haired little boy entered our family and, as with my first, I expected an easy breastfeeding journey. Unfortunately this was not the case and after a couple of days I was left with bleeding nipples and a fear before every feed. Again I turned to my cousin who swopped in like a fairy god mother. She brought creams, compresses, cake (essential), all her breastfeeding books and made me hot towels for my breasts. Again a listening ear and soothing words followed by support helped me through. She suggested a lactation consultant and that I contact la leche and she really helped me find the inner strength to persist. Not breastfeeding was not an option and my cousin was there to offer the support I needed. In the end a tongue tie was diagnosed and I continued to breastfeed for 10 months once the problem was fixed (note: although the midwife who called in the first five days alluded to a tongue tie a solution was never suggested or offered).
My little man is now 1 and my cousin is still around, and the knowledge that we share similar mothering philosophies is really great. In hindsight what my cousin was for me was a doula, a kindered spirit to lean on who shared her knowledge with me and gave me the birthing/breastfeeding confidence I needed. This woman, mother, runner, friend is truly gifted and I have an inkling I am not the only mother who has called her late at night looking for an shoulder to cry on and some well-educated advice. So thank you Sylda, I am eternal grateful and I wish you every success in your future endeavours.”
When the proposed suggested criteria in the Nurses and Midwives Bill first started filtering down I immediately knew this would change everything. The implications were huge. If this Bill passed, it would mean that women would no longer be able to make the final decision of where we birth – this right was to be passed to the HSE and insurance companies.
How can someone else, who doesn’t know me, my pregnancy, my history, make this decision for ME? How can anyone else decide where I am safest birthing my baby? Who has the right to decide if I go to hospital, or an MLU, or stay home – to be attended by a midwife or an obstetrician? Who’s choice is it to decide if I use an epidural, or a birth pool, or nothing at all? These are my decisions to make, for the best interest of myself and my baby. I know us best. I care about our best interest more than the HSE, TDs, or insurance companies. I am an intelligent, strong, reasonable, grown woman. Trust me. I want myself and my baby to be healthy. I want us to be safe. I can make these decisions. These are my decisions, not anyone else’s. I will make the best decision for us. Continue reading
Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I delivered my baby girl Ellie Saturday 22nd of June 2013 at 4.31 pm. I had a tough but quick labour. I was 12 days overdue, tired, emotional and terrified of another induction. My last experience was far from positive or even a happy time, you kept me focused and in control when I thought I’d lost it. You helped me breastfeed, didn’t make me feel like you were in a rush. Even when another midwife was trying to get me out of delivery suite you told her no. You took me to my ward gave me a hug and kiss. It meant so much. We had been so anxious and scared of returning to hospital again you changed all of that for us. Thank you so much Shona.
Before I had my first child, I remember asking my 90 year old grandmother if she remembered giving birth. Her reply was: “I remember it clearly as yesterday”. She explained how there was no epidural or any medical option for pain relief as she had her children in 1944 and 1945. She said it was a life changing experience and she reassured me that I would be able to handle whatever birth ended up being for me. She also told me about the supportive midwife who attended her first birth – almost 70 years ago. Continue reading
“I had a very emotional pregnancy and was quite anxious coming up to my baby’s birth. I had transferred my care to Dublin, rather than our local unit. It was the winter of very wintery weather, and the snow added to the worries and stresses as I was booked into a unit over an hour away. On the morning of Dec 20th, my labour started and we quickly knew we would not make Dublin. I was quite upset over this. We made our way in the snow and ice to the hospital. I was admitted at 9cm dilated and in transition. I was finding it quite tough due to an injury in the coccyx and the midwife I had was not sympathetic to this nor my needs. She wanted me on the bed, with CTG on continuously, and to push despite not having an urge. My contractions started to space out and I had a thick anterior lip on the cervix that wasn’t coming away. The midwife wanted to use oxytocin. I felt like everything was spiraling out of control and no one was listening to me – I wanted to stand, get off the bed, no CTG. (there was no reason for CTG, just midwife more comfortable with it as I was a transfer). I become more and more upset and the contractions got more and more spaced…… following a tense conversation (refusing oxytocin and my partner & I getting quite upset).
A new midwife took over named Emer. She was immediately a relief. She was calm and understanding and supportive. She recognised how anxious I was being there. She listened to my preferences. I was still 9cm dilated and with every contraction had a gush of waters. I had no urge to push. Emer told me I had a thick anterior lip on the cervix and that had to come away before I could have my baby. I remained standing by the bed. Emer brought in a birth ball, massage tools for my back, and a cd player so I could listen to music. She occasionally would take the baby’s heartrate intermittently as I stood and swayed. She would assure me all was well and let me get on with it. She was a quiet and calm force in the background, never imposing. Just what I needed.
After about a 1/2 hr of standing, my contractions started picking back up again. The waters kept gushing. At this stage I was in transition about 2 hrs! Suddenly, I had a few strong contractions, felt another little gush and felt the baby slip down. Emer asked me if I wanted to stay standing for the birth – I did. She got down on her knees and her gentle voice reminded me to open my legs for my baby. I started bearing down and after a few pushes my baby girl was born as I stood by the bed. I had no tears or need for stitches.
My entire labour was 3hrs – I was 2hrs in the hospital. When I think that oxytocin was prescribed…. Emer, was amazing. Her support was so vital. She believed in me, gave me time, and supported my choices. I would have had a very different experience had she not been my midwife and I am so thankful for her.”
I have found it very hard to put into words the gratitude and love that I feel for the midwife who took care of us the day my son was born.
She was the midwife I needed – and my husband needed – that day. We had both taken an instant fondness to her on our first antenatal appointment with her and we were delighted that she was the midwife on call when I went into labour. Continue reading
“My letter of thanks is to a midwife in the Rotunda. I was a first time mum who was admitted in labour very early. I had a long latent phase with an OP baby. The wards were really crowded and there was no delivery suite available so I was on an ante-natal ward, which was miserable. I felt I was losing control quite quickly trying to find space for myself and privacy to labour. I felt so exposed. In the afternoon a new midwife came on. She was foreign, I am pretty sure German! For the life of me I cannot remember her name but her face is etched in my memory forever! She was amazing.
She took me out of the ante-natal ward and brought me into the bath. I laboured in the bath for hours in privacy with this midwife checking in on me. Once out of the bath, she brought me into a room which had been closed off rather than back to the ante-natal ward. I stayed there hidden away in the dark to labour in peace until it was time to go to the delivery ward. Once in the delivery, I was nearly there, baby had turned, and I had a quick vaginal birth with no intervention and only the smallest of tears. That was 10 years ago and I am so thankful to her and the kindness she showed me. Her patience and knowledge of normal birth – to give me the space and time to labour as I needed – it was so important and I am sure made a huge impact on the birth that I had. Thank you, thank you! I will never forget you!”
This letter is dedicated to the wonderful community midwife who visited us in our home the morning after my son was born to check how we were doing. Continue reading