I am an advocate for expectant parents and their choices, and I look forward to guiding and supporting families as they navigate their own personal journey into parenthood, whether for the first time or subsequent times, no matter how their baby enters this world. Whether a baby is born by c-section or induction, with or without pain relief, at home or away, I aim to help parents achieve the best birthing experience possible. Here is the story of my personal journey into parenthood…

Shock…

In December 2015 I was shocked (understatement!) to discover I was pregnant, for the first time. At age 34, having been previously diagnosed with endometriosis and told my chances of getting pregnant were slim, we hadn’t planned for a baby. For the first trimester, we were in total denial about becoming parents. It was a terrifying prospect, even for us so called “grown-ups.” We were living in Ohio (my husband is from Detroit) and I had no idea how things worked, in terms of pre-natal care and what my choices were. Without knowing who else to go to, I went to my gynaecologist who confirmed I was indeed pregnant and presented us with an invoice to the tune of $50k for a vaginal birth (plus another potential $5k for a planned caesarean)! Gulp! Fortunately, I had health insurance with my employer, but we were still liable to pay 20%, plus a $25 fee for every pre-natal visit. It was mind-boggling to say the least. There was certainly nothing magical or exciting about this process. We were terrified of bankruptcy, let alone the actual having a baby part. Fortunately we are blessed in the UK to have excellent prenatal, perinatal and postnatal care, provided by the NHS. That said, I still don't think enough families are aware of how many choices they have when it comes to having the birth they want. 

 

Choices…

Being British, having a baby for me, meant having a midwife attend my birth, so when a friend of mine recommended a team of local midwives, I rushed to make an appointment with them. Fortunately, the practice was one of very few midwifery units listed by my insurance company as an “approved care provider.” My birth choices were still somewhat limited, as my insurance company dictated which hospital I would deliver in, but at last I was able to speak to someone who was receptive to talking about my birth preferences. As I approached my third trimester, the company I worked for changed our health insurance provider and my midwife was no longer included on my insurance plan. I was forced (financially) to change my care provider and worse still, there wasn’t a single midwife in the area who was covered by my new insurance plan. I was distraught. In Britain, so much emphasis is being placed on the importance of continuity of care in midwifery, and for good reason. We finally decided to return to the UK, where among other advantages for a growing family, my birth choices would be less limited.

Special Circumstances…

As soon as I returned to home soil I was under the care of a fantastic midwife and all was going swimmingly… until I test positive for gestational diabetes! My consultant advised an induction of labour at 38 weeks, just 2 weeks away! I decided to do my own research on the benefits and risks of I.O.L. at 38 weeks and consequently chose to continue my pregnancy until 40 weeks, under frequent monitoring. Elodie was born 3 days after we began the induction process at Royal Worcester Hospital, a healthy 8lbs 13oz. Although the outcome was positive, I did feel like I had lost control of my birth and struggled afterwards with feelings of failure and disappointment. I had laboured on my back, on a hospital bed, with my legs in stirrups, immobile from an epidural - not at all how I had visualised my birth. Sadly, many new mums share similar feelings about their births. No one should ever feel that they failed at birth or missed out in some way.

Hypnobirth…

From the outset of my second pregnancy, I was determined to have my birth, my way. I wanted a water birth, during which I would be able to remain completely mobile and in control. Friends had recommended hypnobirthing to me during my first pregnancy, and although I was eager to learn more about it, there simply hadn’t been time. All I thought I knew about hypnobirthing was that it might be able to help me to have a less painful labour. I had no idea that hypnobirthing would provide me with so much more – the confidence to make informed decisions for myself and my baby; the knowledge to help my baby to be born in the best possible circumstances within my control and the calm state of mind to accept circumstances beyond my control.

Home Birth…

I had never in a million years considered having a home birth, but halfway through the course I decided, why wouldn’t I choose to have a home birth? One of the biggest problems I see today is that women don’t know that they have so many choices surrounding birth. Women can feel like they have very little control, and for most of us, that’s scary! Although home birth was the right choice for my family and our individual set of circumstances, every family will have their own unique circumstances and their own preferences. I celebrate that. There really is no right way to give birth, as long as both Mum and baby are happy and healthy.

I planned my home birth, prepared for it using all my hypnobirthing tools, and delivered a 10lb whopper, our beautiful Beatrice, in the calmness and serenity of our home, with my amazing husband and a fantastic team of midwives beside us. There wasn’t a single moment of panic, and although the feelings were intense, I would never describe my birth as painful or negative in any way. I actually felt pretty euphoric. Although I can’t promise our mums an entirely pain-free birth, I hope to educate, inspire and help them to feel empowered, to make their own informed birth choices, and to give them all the tools they need for a calm, positive birth experience of their own.

'We are the only species that can doubt its ability to give birth, think about that' 

     - Ina May Gaskin