Freya's Birth Story

I walked in to our first Hypnobirthing session wanting an elective c-section and every drug available- my theory was “why would you go through all of that ‘pain’ of Labour when you don’t need to?!”...within 15 minutes of Christy’s class starting, I had done a complete u-turn and wanted a natural birth at the birth centre. My husband couldn’t believe it and nor could any of my friends and family! 

I wasn’t sure if the course would be a little ‘out there’ and frivolous but how wrong I was; I loved the science/psychology behind the course and it made so much sense to me, from the ‘flight/fight/freeze’ theory to the muscle’s movements during contractions; I felt I had a deeper understanding of labour, my choices and what I ideally wanted to happen to bring our baby into the world (my birth preferences...not plan!).

So to the birth; first thing I have to say was I actually enjoyed, honestly!! It was the most incredible experience and I would gladly do it again (in a couple of years time!).

My surges started at 3.45am on the Wednesday morning, lasting for about 20/30 seconds every ten minutes or so...and it stayed like this all day; I tried to stay active so just pottered around the house, nesting away with the occasional pause when surges came; chilled on the sofa; had a bath etc.

By 7.30pm the surges were definitely ramping up in intensity but still only 6-10 mins apart. 

At 10.30pm, my surges were between 4-10 mins apart but very intense so I called the birth centre; they told me to come in to be examined but we would likely be sent home after, so that’s what we did. I was only 1cm dilated but the cervix had thinned etc so this labour ‘gig’ was definitely a go! 

We went back home and was told to eat, drink, sleep (yea, right!) and give them a call back when either my waters went or when I was struggling with the surges. I called again at 1.30am and 2.30am, as I was starting to struggle with the surges (the only way I could describe a surge is really, really intense period pain) and was told both times that I could come in to be checked but they might send me home again; well sod that, I thought, there was no way I was going there to be sent home again! 

I continued my labour at home until about 3am, when I said to my husband that I couldn’t do it anymore, we were going to have to go to the hospital so I could have an epidural. He replied with “you’ll be fine, you can do this” and I replied with “ok” and that was that...clearly I didn’t need much persuasion that I could do it! (TRANSITION ALERT! Didn’t realise that at the time, obviously!)

At 3.15am I went to the toilet and suddenly my waters released, in one big hit, immediately followed by by ‘pushing’ contractions...I actually thought I was going to have our baby then and there on the toilet. Trust me when I say you will know the difference between dilating contractions and pushing contractions...your body really does know when it’s time to push. I told my husband that we needed to go to the birth centre immediately- he phoned to let them know we were on our way...I thought the baby was going to arrive in the car before we got to the birth centre. Our journey not helped by the fact there was a road diversion and a police car following us!!! 

We got to the birth centre and was told that my midwife would be along in a minute to examine me; the lady also offered me a yoga ball to sit on, which I found amusing as I could feel the baby’s head moving down so there was no way I wanted to sit on anything!!...I think they may have thought I was a bit of a neurotic first-time mum and was no where near the point of giving birth, so didn’t rush to come and examine me! I assumed a squat position, hanging of the side of the birthing pool, just focusing on my breathing.

After 10 mins or so, my midwife came in and examined me and said surprised “oh, you’re ready to go”...I was thinking to myself, well I could have told you that! I couldn’t believe I had managed to get to 10cm at home with no pain relief...this from a girl that wanted every pain relief drug available before going on the Hypnobirthing course! 

The midwife was unsure if there was going to be time to run the pool, which I was sad about but it was what it was, so just had to deal with it. It turns out that they had been running the pool in the other room so I could get in that one- I pretty much ran from one room to the other in a short gap between my contractions, stripped off and got in the pool...INSTANT RELIEF, I can’t tell you the natural pain relief the pool offers! 

From the contrast of the manic dash to the birth centre to the instant calm of the pool, I completely zoned out and went in to my own little birthing world- the midwife’s were incredible and just let me do my own thing. (In fact, they asked me if I had done hypnobirthing and said they could tell!) I listened to my body and only pushed when it told me to; there were definitely times when I could have just gone for it and pushed more but I kept reminding myself that my body knew what it was doing and that I should listen to it. It’s the strangest thing because you can actually feel the head coming down when you push and then moving back up; I kept thinking back to our classes and remembering that it was ok to move back up because the baby would come down that part easier next time. I also wanted to avoid tearing so made sure I didn’t just keep pushing against my body’s natural will! 

I felt extremely calm and relaxed, just focusing on my breathing and the idea of short breath in, long breath out and pushing down into my bottom (I cannot express how much the ‘hypno-poo’ practicing helped with that!) and 20 minutes or so after entering the pool, at 5.30am, Freya was here, weighing a healthy 8lbs 6oz. 

I can honestly say, with my hand on heart, that pushing her out did not hurt...a little uncomfortable, granted but it was not painful and I had virtually no tearing at all. 

There is no way my labour would have gone the way it did if I hadn’t been on this course; I would have fought for an elective c-section and if I didn’t have that, I would have been so apprehensive about birth...please do the course and recommend it to others!

The 5 most valuable things I took away from the course were

  1. “Each surge brings my baby closer to me” from the daily affirmations mp3

  2. Your body is made to do this and it knows what it is doing

  3. Accept whatever turn your birth may take; as long as you and your baby are healthy and happy, that is all that matters

  4. Creating a safe space for labour and birth (freeze/fight/flight)

  5. Hypno-poos... short breath in, long breath out!

Christy, I will be eternally grateful to you for the incredible birth experience I had. Thank you xxx

Why THIS doula didn’t hire a one

A Wonderful GUEST post by Charlie at The Good Birth Practice…

If a doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it.

John H. Kennell, American Professor of Pediatrics

It’s been a good couple of weeks for doulas. Last week; the whole did-she-

didnt-she around Meghan Markle’s birth of Baby Thing. This week Amy

Schumer acknowledging that women are the shit, and recommending that

women get a doula (if they can... recommendations on how to find *your*

doula at the bottom, even if you think you can’t afford one). Doulas seem to

be the next trend for women seeking to make the whole birth experience a

bit more, well, bearable.

So why didn’t I hire a doula? After all, I’m a tub-thumping advocate for

positive birth. I’ve known about doulas since I was first pregnant in 2010. I

know some absolutely incredible, inspiring, preconception-challenging

doulas who’ve changed my world (Steph Grainger, Lauren Derrett,

Louise Daniels, I’m talking about YOU, Ladies). I know exactly what doulas

do, and why they’re important - and yet I STILL didn’t have one at any of

my 3 births.

The answer? Well, there are two; Susie and Tina.

Womens strongest feelings, positive and negative,

focus on the way they were treated by their caregivers

Annie Kennedy & Penny Simkin,

Doulas support women. Our purpose is to quietly gently lean in. To

bolster women. To nurture them, focus on them. Practically, we inspire

confidence by sign-posting to resources, groups, information. We hear

concerns, reassuring where we recognise common experiences, and gently

prompting, referring to the appropriate support. We listen to women,

giving the space, time that is no longer afforded pregnancy, so that

thoughts, feelings, expectations, assumptions can be processed. We

NEVER make clinical assumptions, recommendations or opinions. Perhaps

most importantly of all, we provide continuity of care. That continuity is

important because we learn about the whole woman, and the context she

comes from. It means we can see her fully, and facilitate the environment

she needs to have her baby in. It’s not just hippy dippy doulas that believe

this. Last weekend, to coincide with International Day of the Midwife, NHS

England announced the doubling of funding to maternity services to £40

million, with a focus on the provision of a named midwife for pregnant

women to see throughout their pregnancy.

Safety for childbearing women and their partners and

families...means emotional, psychological, and social

safety. This holistic sense of safety is what (women)

receive through continuity models of care.

NHS England

All these reasons above are why I trained to be a doula AND why I didn’t

need to hire one for my own births. Because from the moment I attended

my first ‘booking in’ appointment in 2010 I have been lucky enough to be

cared for by the same two women. These women - Susie, Tina - kept

skilled eyes on me, my babies for nearly 120 weeks over 5 years. They

listened in, they dipped sticks in wee, they palpated, and they measured.

More than that though, more than the numbers & the graphs, they listened

to me. They visited me at home. They gave me options. They didn’t

ridicule, patronise or deride me - quite the opposite. They gave me the

information, the protocols and explained why things were as they were -

and then they listened to what I wanted and why, and they helped me get

it. They were practical and rational, and empathetic. They trusted me, and

so I trusted them. They lit candles around my bath. They held my hand and

eye contact. They smiled at each other and my husband as I disappeared

further into myself, my labour. They whispered love into my ear. They

became part of my family, and I became part of theirs.

So you see, I didn’t have any need for a doula at all. My midwives doula’ed

me beyond anything I could ever have imagined I might want or need.

And not just me. I live in a community of women who have deep love for

Susie and Tina. Women who well up on the street corners when they realise I

know them, and who recall quiet words, small moments and powerful

memories months and years old. Because birth marks us in ways beyond


So I know how lucky I am not to have needed a doula - and I will always

pay that forward in any way I can.

You can find a doula at the Doula UK website. If your budget is limited, talk

to mentored doulas who may be pleased to support you as they work

towards their recognised status. They may also be able to refer to you to

the Doula UK access fund.

Mabel's Birth Story

A wonderful birth story for you from a powerful mother. The lovely Gemma and Liam came to my Faversham group class when pregnant with their second baby. This is such a wonderful read and a real testament to Gemma's strength and determination to birth her daughter feeling empowered, confident and supported so beautifully by Liam. Their plans changed not once but multiple times but I will let Gemma tell you all about that! I challenge you to remain dry eyed when you read this (I didn't!) Love Sophie x 


Mabel's Birth Story:

When I was pregnant with my oldest daughter I was never particularly afraid of giving birth, I assumed it wouldn’t be pleasant but it would only be a day out of my life and I would get through it. My husband and I didn’t really prepare for the birth with regards to making it a more personal experience, we mostly found out about the process and pain relief methods. When it came to it, it wasn’t exactly straightforward. She was back to back and I couldn’t keep down any food or water due to continuously vomiting. That, combined with a few other issues, and I think both myself and my husband panicked a bit as we felt totally out of our depth.

When I became pregnant with our second daughter I was actually quite fearful of giving birth again and looked into hypnobirthing as a way to help. I felt a bit of a fraud when enquiring about the Kent Hypnobirthing course, like it should only be for first time mums and as it was our second time around I should have this whole birthing malarkey down! I communicated this in my enquiry and the lovely Ray replied and told me that in fact both her and Sophie had only come to hypnobirthing on their second births which really reassured me.

We took the course in Faversham with Sophie and both found it really helpful. It even made me view my first birth in a more positive light. Yes, our first birth wasn’t ideal but we got through it and had our beautiful daughter! We spent the next couple of months preparing for birth in a way we didn’t with our first. I listened to the MP3s and definitely took on Sophie’s advice about relaxing every day! We spent a really good evening choosing our birth playlist and discussing the pros and cons of each track, we took it very seriously! They had to be (on the whole) positive, not too fast and mostly mean something to the both us. We loved the playlist so much that we both listened to it in the lead up to the birth for our own enjoyment and I think it will continue to be one of our favourite playlists going forward which will be lovely as it has a whole new set of memories attached to it now.

We decided this time we would like to have a home birth and hire a pool as I wasn’t able to have a water birth the first time around and due to lack of rooms available, I had to labour on a full ward for a few hours which wasn’t the best. We planned the lighting, aromatherapy oils, music and we were really feeling positive about the whole thing until I had my 36 week scan which showed that the baby was estimated to be over the 95th percentile for weight. This meant that there was an increased risk of shoulder dystocia and at our home birth risk assessment we were advised not to have a home birth. Although I knew that I couldn’t be refused a home birth, we felt more comfortable listening to the medical advice in our case. We pushed to be able to go into the midwife led unit which is located in the ward next to the delivery suite in our hospital but the 95th percentile was over their guidelines and although they do judge each case on its own merit, they had recently had a bad case of shoulder dystocia and so weren’t willing to make an exception. 

Our plans changing from the lovingly planned home birth to going back to the delivery suite really set me back, much more than I thought it would. At 36 weeks pregnant and after weeks of feeling really positive and confident, I found myself feeling fearful of giving birth again. I contacted Sophie who was so helpful with practical advice about different people to contact and sending me positive birth stories. She reminded me to listen to the tracks and use my affirmations and generally start to focus again. My husband was brilliant at being positive about the change of plans and worked hard to reassure me that it didn’t have to be like last time and we could make a delivery suite birth into the kind of birth we had hoped for. Slowly I started to come round to the idea and ended up feeling back in control and positive about our change of plans.

I was scheduled for another scan at 39+6 and this time it showed the baby was on the 93rd percentile so I could now go to the midwife led unit or have a home birth. However, due to the fact the baby was still measuring large we decided to go to the midwife led unit as we were very close by in case there were any complications.

The night before I went into labour I had no indications of what was to come, I was actually joking with my husband about how lazy our little girl was being as she just didn’t seem to want to make a move to join us just yet! My husband wanted to try out some acupressure techniques that he found on YouTube that were meant to trigger labour (he is still convinced that’s what happened in our case!). So at 10pm while massaging my very swollen feet, he did a few of these acupressure techniques and we went to sleep. I woke up at 2am with some tightenings but I wasn’t sure whether it was just strong Braxton Hicks again as I had had this a few times in recent weeks. I went downstairs to sit on my birth ball and start listening to our playlist (I think I really I knew this was it which is why I started listening to the playlist). About half hour later I realised that my waters were starting to trickle when I stood up so I went to put on a pad. After a few more trickles I realised that my waters were very slightly yellowy so I called the midwife led unit and after listening to me experience a surge and hearing that my waters were a bit yellow, they advised me to go and see the assessment unit at the delivery suite in case I had meconium in my waters but that if I didn’t, they would be happy to have me.

I called my mum to come and look after our daughter and she was over in 15 minutes while my husband and I gathered our things. At this point I was having a tightening about every 8 minutes but I was fully expecting them to slow down with the transfer to hospital and to be sent back home to labour for longer. When we got in the car we put our playlist on and began the drive. It was definitely uncomfortable being forced to sit down during my surges. I wanted to lean forward but couldn’t find a safe way of doing this in the car. We arrived at the hospital just after 4am and I had to stop a few times on the walk to the delivery suite and lean on the wall to breathe through my contractions. They seemed to be coming more regularly than they were at home which briefly made me think about my previous labour (irregular but frequent contractions as she was back to back). However I made myself focus on the present and remember that this time didn’t have to be the same. We got to the delivery suite and we were taken into a room to be assessed. The midwife took away my pad to test my waters for meconium and unfortunately it did have it in which meant I wasn’t able to go to the midwife led unit or use the pool. Despite how much the thought of this scenario bothered me in the last few weeks I found that it didn’t actually phase me when it came down to it, with the help of my husband I remained focused on breathing through my surges and just staying present. The midwife wanted to just observe me for a while to see how I was doing but also wanted to monitor the baby to make sure she wasn’t in distress due to the meconium. I said that I wanted to stay active and she said that would be OK after she’d been able to monitor her for a little while. Laying on the bed was not great, my body wanted to move around and I found I was in a lot of pain laying back. Around this time my blood pressure was taken and found to be really high, I also started vomiting so I agreed to have an anti sickness shot as I didn’t want to become dehydrated like I was in my first birth. When the anti sickness kicked in I was given some medication to bring down my blood pressure too as they were quite concerned with how high it was.

After a little while, during one contraction, laying on the bed all became too much and I just had to get up during it, I physically couldn’t lay back on the bed any longer as it was going against everything my body was telling me to do. The midwife then put the clip on the baby’s head to monitor her and that allowed me to move around more freely which was much better. My surges were now coming about 4 times every 10 minutes and I was on gas and air. I was surprised at how quickly I seemed to be progressing, especially as my previous birth had lasted 3 days! It wasn’t long after I reached the ‘transition’ point where I thought I couldn’t do it and started asking for an epidural. My husband and the midwife kept reassuring me how well I was doing and that I was doing it and soon I found myself really going into my own little zone. I was on the bed on my knees, leaning over the head of the bed and rocking my hips. It was not a conscious decision, my body was just taking over and it felt good to listen to what it wanted to do. I focussed on listening to the music and began to zone out everything else in the room. Then in what seemed like no time (but in reality it must have been a while!) I remember “coming round” a bit and starting to hear the midwife talking to me about pushing. I really tried to focus on what she was saying and follow her coaching. It felt really challenging but also like I was in control, totally different to my previous birth. Then at 9.13am, our little Mabel was born weighing 9lb 6oz. The relief after was amazing, it’s like I came from being somewhere far away to being back in the room again. After she had been checked I lay down on the bed and we had our first cuddle and feed, it was amazing how quickly and easily she latched on. 

I am so glad that we chose to do the hypnobirthing course with Sophie, I don’t know what would’ve happened if we hadn’t but without the support I think Mabel’s birth would’ve been very different.  It allowed both myself and my husband to have confidence in ourselves and our choices. It really did bring me a sort of closure with regards to my first birth too and as we are not planning on having any more children I feel like I went out on a high!