My name is Erin and I’m mum to 3 wonderful kids, 2 girls and a boy. I work in marketing in Canary Wharf, as well as being an artist and photographer. My interest in birth grew with each pregnancy, and I’ve been saying for years that I want to train to be a hypnobirthing practitioner to anyone that would listen! This year fate dropped the opportunity in my lap and I couldn’t pass up the chance, and started my course with the Little Birth Company. Having been pregnant 4 times (I early miscarried between my first and second daughters), and experiencing 3 very different births has given me a very mixed and varied view of what birth is like, and more importantly the power of information and informed choices in birth. So how did I get here? Well here’s my birth stories…
My first pregnancy was fairly easy. I didn’t do much to prepare, and decided not to write a birth plan as I was of the opinion that I could never be in control of what happens in birth, what happens happens, and best not to have any expectations and be disappointed (how wrong I was!). I gave birth in the labour ward of my local hospital. I was induced at 41 weeks because of “beds”, and didn’t know any better so agreed. I had IV antibiotics because I’d tested positive for group B strep (I paid privately for a test). Contractions were horrifically painful, and I was in labour for 14 hours on my back in bed (unaware this is the worst position to labour in). I ended up begging for an epidural, and was strapped up to monitors. Emily’s heart rate dropped, they broke my waters and there was meconium (shed pooed, a sign of distress), and after my husband being fobbed off and told her heart rate was fine and him insisting on finding a doctor, all hell broke loose and the room was flooded with doctors and midwives. We narrowly missed forceps, but I did have an episiotomy. I was moved to my own room. The epidural made her very sleepy, and she slept the entire night. I was then told off by midwives for not getting up every 3 hours to feed her (I was exhausted and had slept through too). My husband had to complain as I had bled all over the floor and no one had come to check on me or remove the catheter. Breast feeding failed from the beginning as she wouldn’t latch and would arch her back and thrash (we later realised she had multiple allergies as well as severe silent reflux). Breast feeding counsellors came in and urged me not to feed her formula. Midwives came in and told me I had to or I couldn’t leave. I was kept in for 3 days, told I couldn’t leave until she’d fed properly. I ended up giving her formula. I then spent the next 12 months struggling with post natal depression (PND), unable to leave the house and coping with a child with multiple health issues and failure to thrive. On my worst days I’d lie in bed unable to get up and just cried. I felt guilty for feeling like I’d made the biggest mistake in my life, but unable to cope or feel the wonderful joy all the other mums seemed to experience after having their babies. I expressed for 6 weeks but the regime of pumping and then spending hours coaxing her to drink, only to have to pump again forced me to move to formula. Bottle feeding was extremely stressful and I became obsessive about how many oz Emily drank. Silent reflux and CMPA was diagnosed far too late despite my identifying it early, which led to oral aversion and speech and language therapy, poor weight gain and late weaning. Eventually we got her allergies under control, and she grew out if the reflux and slow,y started eating. She’s now a happy healthy 7 year old who lights up my life. I can’t imagine life without her. She’s artistic and creative, helpful, extremely intelligent, funny and beautiful.
I fell pregnant again, but miscarried before 12 weeks while on my way to work. Although it was an early miscarriage, it was still very difficult. Physically I felt like I’d been hit by a truck. I felt almost flu-like. Lethargic, achey, emotional and tired. And of course I mourned what could have been and the baby I’d lost.
Fast forward a month later and I fell pregnant again. This time I decided to hire a doula and arm myself with as much info as possible. I had strong opinions about the birth. I did not want to be induced prematurely, if at all. I wanted a water birth in the midwife led birthing suite. No antibiotics unless necessary. No pain relief unless I asked for it. My waters went around about 40 weeks I think, but contractions didn’t start. My doula and I went to the hospital to be checked, and they tried to persuade me to have an induction and antibiotics as a precaution. I refused, as I knew I had up to 24 hours for contractions to start (my doula had checked NICE guidelines), no signs of infection or fever. The doctor told me I could die and my baby could die if I didn’t, and they really tried pressuring me in to accepting an induction and antibiotics. My doula was furious with the scaremongering and put in a complaint with PALS on my behalf. I went home and decided to try and start labour naturally within 24 hours or go back and be induced. Contractions luckily began at home in the evening and I stayed at home as long as possible breathing through the contractions in the lounge. My doula told me I’d know when it was time to go to hospital, and I did. We drove there, me leaning over the back seat. I got to the birthing suite (walking all the way from the car with my eyes closed,) and JUST made it in the pool to give birth to Daisy. The whole labour took 3 hours and I didn’t use any pain relief. I birthed the placenta sat on a birthing stool, Daisy breast feeding, without the use of the injection to speed things up. Post birth was fine, I was moved to a ward, but unfortunately a couple of days later I developed an infection and had to be readmitted. I took it in my stride though and I think the amazing birth experience put me in the right frame of mind mentally to cope. Breast feeding was a success and I fed her until she was 3.
Baby number 3 was a surprise as we thought we were done at 2! My previous doula wasn’t available so I found a new doula. Pregnancy this time round was harder, probably because I’m almost 7 years older, nearly 40 and have 2 kids to run around after! I went on maternity leave 2 months early as I was so tired. We decided near the end of pregnancy to have a home birth and I rented a pool. Once again my waters broke but labour didn’t start, but this time I didn’t bother going in to the hospital. I used accupressure and clary sage to get contractions started. My doula came and showed me some positions to optimise baby’s position, and tried some rebozo. The midwives came, but labour stalled probably because it was so noisy, everyone was chatting and it was a bit like a party! We sent everyone home and did some more acupressure and labour really started around 3am when the rest of my waters went. We called everyone back and things progressed quite quickly and Ty was born at 5:30am in the pool in our lounge. His sisters came downstairs to meet him before school. Afterwards the midwives cleaned up and left us to it! It was a perfect and healing birth. He’s been by far the easiest and relaxed baby of the three of them (so far) and breast feeding is going brilliantly.
As you can see, I’ve been on a journey, with each birth teaching me a little bit more about the importance of the birthing environment, the choices you make, and the power of information to make balanced informed birth choices. I wish I knew first time round what I know now, but hindsight is a wonderful thing! My hope is that I can help women and their partners to have a positive, memorable, empowering birth regardless of the situation, through the hypnobirthing course I will be teaching.