A second time mum’s positive birth – in her car outside the Coombe

On 29th November at 38+6, I went for my weekly reflexology appointment. During the session I could feel the baby really moving around. That night as my husband put our daughter to bed and I was preparing dinner, I had a real sense that it was our ‘last supper’. I’d a lovely relaxing night and a bath before bed. At about 4am on 30th November – I was 39 weeks – I woke with pains, they were about 10 minutes apart and very intense, much more so than when my labour started with my daughter. Continue reading


No Epidural? Pain management alternatives and tips – Part 1

In a previous article, 42 weeks explored the epidural and other medical pain relief interventions for labour. You can read it here: Epidural, Is it right for You?

This week, 42 weeks looks at ways to manage labour without the use of medical pain relief.

A father applies pressure to his partner in labour. Taken from the 42 Weeks Gallery.

A father applies pressure to his partner in labour. Taken from the 42 Weeks Gallery.

Continue reading

A natural active birth for a second time mother

On my first, I wanted to do it without pain relief, but I didn’t prepared, and when I was induced, I felt like my body had failed me. When I asked for pethidine and then the epidural I continued to feel like I had failed somehow. Although I escaped without episiotomy or section, I didn’t feel like I had any control – it was something that was happening to me, not something I was actively taking part in. So I wanted to do things differently this time around. Continue reading

A first birth for a mum in Cork University Maternity Hospital

Given that my little man is now eight months I think it’s about time I finally get his birth story down on paper!  I had a fantastically easy pregnancy and pretty much sailed through the nine months.  I did the Gentlebirth home study programme and listened to the tracks daily, did pregnancy yoga every week and had regular acupuncture.  I also did lots of research into birth in Ireland, interventions, hospital protocols, natural pain relief and so on.  The Gentlebirth Facebook group was my go-to for any questions.  I drank raspberry leaf tea from 34 weeks, used evening primrose oil from 38 weeks and bounced on my birthing ball for hours.  So by the time my due date arrived I was fully prepared and ready to go! Continue reading

A fast, natural birth for a 2nd time mum at 42 weeks in the Rotunda

So my due date of October 22nd came and went, I was really upset as I wanted to avoid induction as I had been induced on my first baby and had a negative experience. From 39 weeks in the Rotunda the doctors were talking about induction, mentioning issues like a previous shoulder dystocia and a big baby being probable. I had signed up to gentlebirth as I was so worried about having another horrific experience. I needed to be in control and gentlebirth gave me that! Tracy advised me to not worry about another dystocia and I continued to put off induction by saying things like ‘ oh we’ll hang on another day or two ‘. I was confident that the baby was fine and I thought that going to 17 days over would be fine. I don’t know where I got that number from but it was the one in my head for some reason! At ten days over the doctors started piling on the pressure but I resisted and told them I was happy to wait once me and the baby were ok. I asked one doctor to give me my Bishop’s score and he looked at me with horror and told me he didn’t do Bishop’s Scores! Continue reading

A waterbirth at home for a second time mum

It’s hard to believe it’s 3 weeks to the day (now just over 4 as it’s taken me a week to finish this!) since Lorcan arrived – just like with Aoife it’s almost like he was never not here, yet I can’t quite figure out where he came from! Every now and then I find myself looking at him thinking “where did you come from!” Funny, how we have 9 months to prepare and it still seems to take us
unawares. Continue reading

A Thank You Letter: To My Cousin

“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.”

Part 2: Following a first positive birth with epidural, second time mum decides to birth without pain medications

I suffer from an anxiety disorder and had my first birth with an epidural as I found labour increased my anxiety levels. It was a really positive experience and I had a good birth with no help or complications. Continue reading

Melanie’s first birth story

Cleo, my first baby, was born on 23rd February 2010. I really wanted to have a natural birth and used GentleBirth during my pregnancy from about 26 weeks, doing home study and attending the workshop. My main concerns were that I wanted to avoid an assisted delivery and what I saw as unnecessary perineal trauma that often accompanies epidural births. Also, the only person I had ever heard describe birth as a wonderful experience had had a home birth, obviously with no epidural. I’m also big into experiencing – travel, food etc. I felt that birth was something that I wanted to fully experience. My mother had described my birth as great – “like being at the hairdressers”. I didn’t want to feel like I was in the hairdressers, I wanted to experience birth in all it’s primal glory, if I could. I devoured Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth and felt that, after all, I was born to birth, so I could do it. I had a great pregnancy and felt so well and energised as I approached my due date and then went over it. Continue reading

Baby #4 and a first homebirth

I guess I should start this by saying I had two wishes for this, my fourth baby’s birth:

  1. that I wouldn’t be an angry labouring woman or lose control; and
  2. that we would all (my husband, me and four kids) be in our own beds after the birth.

I’d prepared using the Gentlebirth CDs and this was our first homebirth.

I was six days past term and had been having shows all week. I was also hiding big time at school pickups. I felt like everyone was watching me, even though I’m sure they had more to be thinking about! Continue reading