Shimmer Mid​wifery Services

Sally Harley Independent Midwife - Making Empowerment Real

Birth Stories

Here are a few examples of client's experiences. These show the positive affect that one-to-one support can have, irrespective of place of birth or how baby makes their appearance into the world...
Ioana & baby Ariana - Hospital Vaginal Birth

Life is about making choices….some you regret others change your life
Before I tell you my story you need to know few things about me. I am a woman with faults, strengths and weaknesses. As a child I was often sick and for few good years drinking pills or having injections were part of my life. I was 11 when I first fainted after an injection and it was then when my phobia started. Like every phobia it grows more and more to the point where I found it difficult to watch movies that involved blood, walk into hospitals, go to the dentist and so on. I got better over the years however the fear remained.
My husband and I have been together since high school so having a baby was something that we both wanted however I am not going to lie…the thought of giving birth was scaring me. It did not help that some doctor back home told me I should opt for an elected caesarean due to my weight and age. It did not take him much to convince me and I was imagining how I would close my eyes and wake up with my angel in my arms. I often heard how painful labour was, how women had to endure stiches, injections and other things so having a caesarean seemed like an easy option…one that would surpass the things that my mind was scared of.
Later on my friend who is a doctor explained to me what a selective caesarean was, what were the pros of a natural labour and encouraged me to think about it. Talking to other mothers also helped me become more comfortable with the idea of a natural birth.
My pregnancy was pretty much straightforward and such a blessing after experiencing a non-embryonic pregnancy. Yes I was sick, yes I had various pains, yes I could not sleep at night but none of this mattered…I was happy.
As the weeks past and birth was approaching we started to prepare and part of this was attending an antenatal class. It was there where we met Sally...a private midwife that spoke with warmth about the birth process but also with passion about how important relaxation was when giving birth…the kind of knowledge you develop through experience. We both left the class inspired by her positivity, better informed about what was going to happen and more confident.
My husband had this amazing idea to ask Sally for her support and few days later our journey with Sally began…a journey that took us to the most important moment of our life. Over the course of few sessions we got to know one another and become comfortable with sharing this journey together. Sally helped me become more relaxed about the birth process, consider my options, take informed decisions for my baby and I and make preparations. I remember I was quite determined to have an epidural which Sally did not dismissed however she advised I should consider whether I needed this or not on the day.
My water started to leak on a Saturday morning so I followed Sally’s advice and kept active…I did the usual when you are about to give birth…had a photo-shoot in the park, lunch with friends and dinner with other friends. It must have been all the talks with Sally that led me to being so relaxed on the day, I did not panic for one moment…instead I was excited and positive…telling everyone that in few hours I was going to hold my baby in my arms…of course no one believed me.
Later in the evening I had a nice relaxing bath and it was when my husband and I decided to have a nap that my contractions kicked in. Knowing that I had Sally close and talking with her helped me relax at home, monitor my contractions and not rush to hospital. When I felt I needed her. Sally arrived and helped me refocus my breathing, checked me and gave my husband advice on how to best support me. In those moments your body takes over the control and leads you to what you need…for me it was cold wet towels, my husband’s hand supporting my head, dim light, relaxing music and Sally’s soft voice in the background during contractions that kept me calm. I also felt reassured as Sally checked that the baby was fine regularly. Don’t get me wrong….there was pain, and sometimes screams but it was bearable and the idea that our baby was on the way helped me and made me stronger than I thought I was. Later on Sally brought the gas in and I was amazed to how much I liked it…haha…I did not want to let go.
In just over two hours I went from 2 cm to 7cm dilatation so it was time to head off to hospital which was my choice since there was no gas left in the tank…haha. Having Sally by our side meant that we did not have to worry about contacting the hospital or going to triage. When we got there I thought I will have my baby on the corridor as the contractions were almost nonstop and I was about 8.5 cm dilated at the point I entered into the room. The hospital midwife asked me about my birth plan and we all found it kind of funny that on the top of the list was epidural…way too late for that and no need for it…I was high and floating.
It’s funny how in those moment of acute pain you can still remember the jokes, the people holding your hand, the advices that help you focus and then a little wonder being sat on your chest. Ariana came out in this world asleep and as she took her first breath on my chest I was lost for words…all that I could say was that I loved her…a LOVE that I could never imagine. I opted for delayed clamping which was the best for her and gave us the opportunity to enjoy those precious moments.
When Ariana went to rest into daddy’s arms Sally helped me with a much needed bath and breakfast. She was also there for me on the day number 4 when hormones kicked in and I couldn’t stop crying.
I have had an amazing journey…a journey that I wish every mother would have…a journey of a woman that went from and elected caesarean to giving birth naturally and becoming a mum.
Thank you Sally, you have played an important role in our life and you will be forever in our stories.  



Emma & baby Valentino - Home Waterbirth
Our Birth Story
 
Reasons for choosing an Independent Midwife -
My husband and I were over the moon when we discovered we were pregnant and were really excited to get the whole process going and meet our NHS midwife. This however was not what we expected and we felt like we were herded in and out as quickly as possible with our questions and concerns left unanswered. Here follows a little moan about the NHS, apologies, but I’m sure there are others out there who will read this thinking they have experienced similar mistreatment.
Our dissatisfaction continued after we were treated appallingly at our twenty week scan, being told that there ‘could be’ a number of conditions our baby was suffering from as they deemed him to be an ‘oversized’ baby. After being giving such news we were left to wait in the main waiting area (myself distraught with worry) whilst they compiled a report of their findings. We were then told by the sonographer that a consultant would not be available to discuss their ‘findings’ for another week. Understandably we couldn’t wait and booked a scan at a private hospital where a consultant carried out all of the necessary checks and concluded that he had absolutely no concerns and that we were having a large baby as my husband is 6” 5! At this point we started to look at the prospect of private care.
At twenty four weeks I had a slight show and ended up in our local NHS hospital with a doctor giving me an examination, giving me steroid injections and stating that they may have to deliver our baby. After being kept in over night I was seen by another doctor who stated that she didn’t understand why I had been kept in and was concerned that I had been given steroids that were not needed.
It was at this point that we found Sally and our complete pregnancy experience changed for the better! She came for a booking consultation and we both immediately warmed to her. She listened to our story and talked through the service she could provide us with. When Sally nipped to the loo, (sorry Sally!) my hubby and I looked knowingly at each other and both said ‘she’s fab, lets book now!’ From that moment on everything went brilliantly and it’s all due to Sally’s care.
 
Antenatal Care
Sally came to the house to do all of my checks, (including taking blood so I didn’t have to go back to hospital) they were all very relaxed sessions where my husband and I could take our time to discuss things and ask questions.
In the beginning I wasn’t really considering having a home birth, I thought that we would have Sally with us at the local hospital to advise us, but as the weeks went on I became more confident in my own ability to give birth at home and was totally reassured that I could do it with Sally’s expertise and support. I’m also a bit of a clean freak so Sally pointed out that I would probably be much calmer and less stressed in my own environment; boy was she right!!
The private consultant the we saw recommend that we have another couple of scans closer to my due date just to check that the baby hadn’t got too big, so Sally accompanied us to the NHS hospital for these. They began to mention induction etc after the first, so back at home Sally talked us through the process, provided us with reading material and answered our questions. This was exactly the care that we needed, Sally had got to know us and realised that I am one of these people that like to be prepared and have all the facts and that my husband likes to research every little detail before making a decision!
Fortunately the second scan showed baby was big but fortunately we had a sensible sonographer who agreed size was due to the daddy!
Sally suggested trying hypnobirthing as a pain relief option and quite frankly, it’s brilliant! I listened to the CDs before the birth which really helped me to chill out and it really helped with the pain of labour.
The birth talk was another relaxed, informal chat with visual pictures. Sally talked us through all the things to expect which I found really settling. She discussed pain relief options and provided us with info on the vitamin K injection. My mum was also present so it was a real family affair.
Sally was on call 24/7 answering our texts/calls quickly if we had any concerns. This was such a relief before and after birth as I am such a worry pot!
Towards the end, I was so fed up with being preggers that Sally suggested some methods to speed things up! In the end, the homeopathic remedies that Sally left with us seemed to do the trick.
 
The Labour and Birth
Weds 18th Nov: I woke at 3am to discover a little water trickling and a show with period like pains. I just rolled over and went back to sleep. I text Sally at 7am to let her know and she advised me to have a normal day and keep her updated of any changes. Hubby went to work and I cleaned the house from top to bottom, (My grandma had said that to make labour quicker, you should get on your hands and knees and scrub your floors!)
11am: My Mum came round and we spent the day together chatting and drinking tea!
2.30pm: Called hubby to say it was time he came home from work. Period pains becoming more frequent and a little more uncomfortable.
4pm: Hubby called Sally to say that I was having around two contractions every ten minutes for around 20 seconds. Sally advised us that contractions needed to be at least sixty seconds long to be doing anything significant so to keep rolling on my birthing ball, use my tens machine and hypnobirthing techniques and keep her posted when they reached sixty seconds in length.
7pm: Hubby called Sally to say that contractions were lasting over sixty seconds and coming every five minutes and were becoming quite uncomfortable.
7.45pm: I was still rolling around, chatting and using the hypnobirthing when Sally arrived. Sally asked if I would like her to check me which I agreed to as I was dying to know how things were progressing!
8.30pm: I was six centimetres which really surprised me! Sally showed me what this looked like with a special card she had and gave me lots of praise for how I was coping and progressing. This really spurred me on! Hubby and Mum started to fill the birthing pool.
I found the tens machine and ball had been great up until this point but I was starting to feel the pain more. The warmth of the water really helped to ease this and I continued with the hypnobirthing, now with the relaxation CD playing.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
9.30pm: Contractions were stronger and I began to feel nauseous. Hubby and Mum were sitting next to the pool offering me encouragement and plying me with drinks. Sally kept an eye on me and reminded me to wee regularly and to keep breathing when the pain got really intense.
10.20pm- 12pm: Had a two minute plus contraction and felt Valentino’s head turn! Started to feel a bit panicky and began to say things like ‘I can’t do this!’ Sally was brilliant at this point, she had warned me that this could happen as part of transition so she reminded me of this and calmed me down reassuring me that I could do it. I was so glad she was there as I completely ignored my hubby/mum when they were saying the same thing. I needed someone who knew what they were talking about to tell me before I would believe it!
12.15am: Found contractions really painful so Sally suggested Entonox. Had one puff and decided it wasn’t for me as I was already vomiting.
12.40am: Was really feeling the pain and needed to go to the loo so went upstairs to the bathroom. I still had an anterior lip left so Sally said to breathe through without pushing until it had gone. This was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. Who would have thought that NOT pushing would be the most painful part?! I found the only way not to push was to stomp around like an elephant, (God knows what the neighbours thought!)
1am: My waters broke and I was still stomping trying not to push.
1.15am: I couldn’t hold it anymore and started to push! I was leaning over the side of the bath with hubby sitting on the loo, Mum and Rene on the landing and Sally tucked around the side of the toilet (bless her!) so she could get behind me. I remember watching the reflection of Valentino’s head coming out in the bathroom floor tiles!
1.32am: Head born, ‘the burn’ was uncomfortable but pushing didn’t hurt that much.
1.34am: Valentino was born! He cried almost immediately and was passed through my legs for a cuddle. I asked what it was and Sally (knowing that we had stated at the birth talk that I wanted Chris to tell me what it was) told Chris to have a look.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
1.42am: My placenta slipped out (no effort) into the loo so had to sit there for a bit while the cord stopped pulsating. Valentino started to feed at this point and hubby cut the cord. He took Valentino, wrapped in his T-shirt for cuddles while Sally cleaned me up and got me in the bath.
2.30am: Valentino and Mummy had their first bath together!
3.15am: Valentino weighed and checked. Sally got us into bed and explained about feeding and safety. She then went on to show us the placenta and explain all of the different parts. Hubby got right in there feeling the membranes etc!
3.50am Champagne and bacon sandwiches all round!
 
Postnatal Care
The standard of post natal care that Sally and Rene provided us with was second to none. Sally came in everyday for the first week to check on us, helping Valentino to latch, showing us how to bath him, answering any questions we had. She genuinely cared for us as a family and we can’t thank her enough for everything that she did! Even when I was finding breast feeding really hard she was at the end of the phone to offer support and we always knew we could call at anytime and she would be round to help.
When Rene came to do the baby check she talked us through everything she did and why, she even let us listen to Valentino’s heartbeat with her stethoscope! This was really informative and reassuring.
Sally continued our care for a further three weeks offering support and advice. I know that without her care I would have given up on the breast feeding and would have been a complete wreck by now. Instead I’m absolutely loving being a mummy and am really enjoying breast feeding!
Sally has become a family friend and we wouldn’t trust anyone else but her and Rene to deliver our babies. We have kept in contact and sent pictures and Sally will definitely have an invitation to the Christening and first birthday party.
After our initial traumatic time with the NHS, Sally turned our pregnancy and birth into a calm, relaxed and positive experience. We would thoroughly recommend her services and will hopefully use her again for baby number two!

 

Holly & baby Fraser - Home Waterbirth
 
Our 3rd baby, Fraser, was born at home in the pool at 3.56am weighing 10lb 1oz & was perfect, just like his 2 bigger brothers who slept through the whole thing! Sally was my midwife with my previous pregnancy because after struggling to get the NHS to “agree” to a home birth we decided to take matters into our own hands & started down the independent midwife route. Unfortunately due to a family emergency Sally missed Riley’s birth but Rene stepped in & helped me achieve the wonderful home water birth experience I dreamt of after a horrible hospital birth with my first baby. This time round I was desperate for Sally to be there for the birth as we have remained firm friends since Riley was born & thankfully it all worked out beautifully.
 
My pregnancy with Fraser was entirely different to my previous 2 right from the start with sickness being a big part of my life up until about 16/17 weeks, something I’d not experienced before & something I didn’t particularly enjoy! I also experienced a bleed at about 5 weeks & to my devastation was told by the early pregnancy unit that I’d had a miscarriage. Luckily they sent me for a scan & found a baby but no heartbeat as it was still a little early so after enduring 2 weeks of limbo a further scan revealed all was actually well, much to our relief. I muddled through to 36 weeks with the NHS antenatal care until it got to the point where they were increasingly trying to intervene as scans showed he was on the large size, no surprise considering my first had been 9lb 13oz! At this point money was fairly tight but I was still desperate to have Sally attend the birth and Sally very generously offered a package to suit us at a price & payment plan we could stretch to. I will be eternally grateful to Sally as she is always thinking of others & her main priority is to help all women achieve the birth they want.
 
By now Braxton Hicks were g etting increasingly regular & uncomfortable, again something that was a bit foreign to me having never experienced them before! I was convinced he was going to be early for some reason but the closer we got to my due date with nothing seeming to be happening the more despondent I got but Sally was amazing helping me with homeopathic remedies & performing a stretch & sweep to discover I was a good 3cm & 40% effaced…yippee I thought won’t be long now! But Fraser decided to keep us waiting another 5 days!
 
It was a Sunday evening & we’d spent the day with the in laws had a lovely meal & were chatting about the impending birth when my husband asked whether it was possible I could wake up in labour in the middle of the night (my 1st labour was induced & Riley’s labour started at tea time) as he very much hoped he wouldn’t have to go to work the next day! I said no I doubt it as I foolishly expected it would probably start the same way as Riley but perhaps he knew something I didn’t because at about 1am I woke for my usual bathroom trip but was rather uncomfortable & as soon as I got up to go to the bathroom I was instantly in pain which didn’t seem to ease off & found I couldn’t lay back down again for the pain was taking my breath away. I sat on the edge of the bed for a few seconds trying to gather my thoughts & came to the conclusion that something was definitely happening! I felt shivery & had a little bit of a confidence crisis so decided to wake hubby & text Sally to say something was happening. We decided to go downstairs so we didn’t wake our 2 boys & time the pains. Once downstairs it became quite apparent that this labour was going to be entirely different as I constantly felt the urge to wee, I couldn’t sit on my birthing ball because the baby felt so low & I managed to time 4 contractions that were about 2 minutes apart & lasting a minute before I could no longer focus on doing that so I text Sally who offered to pop round to see me.
 
Dan set about filling the pool while I paced to & from the toilet as the pressure on my bladder was immense. Sally, Rene & my mum arrived pretty much at the same time at 2.10am & set about arranging their equipment. I was by this point massively doubting myself because the contractions were so intense so quickly & so close together I couldn’t imagine being able to cope for much longer but Sally & Rene soon reassured me & the time seemed to fly by although the pool was taking far too long for my liking to fill! By 3am I was begging the pool to fill, hanging from the door frame, having pretty much continuous contractions & I could feel my body starting to make involuntary pushes, so Sally said as long as my bottom was under water I could get in and much to my relief it was so I jumped in without even taking off my nightie. I have to admit I didn’t find as much relief from the water as I did previously but this labour was so intense & fast it was still far nicer being in the water than out. I was in the pool at 3.14 & within 10 minutes I was pushing, although I still didn’t really believe that the labour part was over I still thought I would have ages to go! The pushing part was also completely different to may last birth and was just as intense as the labour had been. Sally & Rene were constantly reassuring me giving me updates that they could see baby’s head & when my waters went reassuring me they were nice & clear & without that I don’t think I could have got through it.
 
After 30 minutes of pushing Fraser came peacefully into the water so I could scoop him up. He had the chord round his neck so a little jiggling was needed to unravel him & get him to my chest right way up! The relief was all consuming it was amazing and Fraser was just perfect! The superb care & attention continued from Sally & Rene & the placenta was delivered just over 30 minutes later so they set about weighing Fraser & clearing away. By 6.15 they left & we found ourselves snuggled on the sofa waiting for the boys to wake up so they could come & meet their new brother! Even though it was a tough birth I always found comfort being at home I can’t imagine how much worse it would have been having to leave the warmth & comfort of home to travel to the hospital & possibly not have the pool available to use. There are no words to describe the gratitude I have for Sally & Rene or how invaluable their care is & I feel so privileged to have had 2 wonderful home water births with them. It was also such a lovely experience for my other 2 children who always felt involved & were ecstatic when they woke up to a new baby brother without being disrupted at all. I am so happy that I found Sally & Rene as it enabled me to have 2 amazing birth experiences that I never thought possible & if I’m honest they are probably the reason we went on to have baby number 3!
 
Rebecca & baby Benjamin - VBAC Waterbirth - Home
 
I have two beautiful bouncing boys. However, my first experience of labour is something I would rather forget but which has left me with both physical and emotional scars. My second experience of labour however, is something I will always cherish and which has gone a long way towards healing the scars I had been carrying. I am so proud of my body and what it has achieved. And I am proud that I had the courage to trust my instincts. However, the reality is that I would not have been able to do that without the assistance of Sally Harley. I will forever be grateful to Sally for what she has done for me.
 
My first son was born by C section for 'failure to progress'. I was induced at 37 weeks because the medical professionals suspected that my waters had gone. This was never confirmed and it is my belief that neither my baby nor my body was in fact ready. The contractions brought on by the induction were incredibly painful, regular and immediate and yet I did not dilate past 4 cm despite enduring this for many hours. I felt completely out of control and as if this experience was something that was happening to me rather than something I was a part of. When a C section was suggested I jumped at it as I had long since lost all faith that I would be able to deliver the baby myself.
 
I found this experience extremely distressing. I felt that my body had let me down. When I became pregnant with my second son I wanted to be determined that things should be different but I was in reality simply terrified that the most likely scenario was that I would in fact end up having another C section. I read up on hypnobirthing techniques and natural birthing theories and hoped that adopting these would allow my body to respond differently this time. I was particularly interested to read that some consider that women who 'fail to progress' in hospital are not failing in their natural role as birthing women but are in fact responding to a deep natural instinct to protect their unborn child by only labouring where they feel safe. I read that the conditions our animal instinct would consider necessary for labour would be somewhere dark, quiet, private, warm and safe. This really spoke to me as when I thought back to how I felt during my first labour in hospital none of these words would apply.
 
I was concerned to find out from the hospital that because of my status as a woman attempting a vaginal birth following a C section, it was standard policy that I would have to be continuously monitored on the labour ward at all times during my labour. I felt very strongly that this would interfere with the approach I was hoping to take towards my second birth and so I began to explore alternative options. I started by talking to doulas considering that they may provide the advocacy within the hospital setting that I would be less likely to be capable of once in labour. One of these asked me whether I had considered an Independent Midwife. I had never heard of this possibility. She recommended Sally.
 
I telephoned Sally that same day and from that first conversation I knew I had found the answer to my concerns. Sally was a wonderful and warm voice of encouragement and reassurance. She came to meet me and my husband and we both felt that the approach she offered was exactly what we had been looking for. Sally was very positive about the possibility of a home birth which was something I hadn't even dared hope for. However, she was equally supportive of the fact that we considered that we may feel we wanted to go into the hospital at some point during the course of the labour. We agreed to leave the possibility open. The decision to opt out of the NHS approach was not one we took lightly and we were under some pressure as the hospital and some of my family and close friends thought that we were taking too great a risk preparing for the possibility of a home birth when I had previously had a C section. However, I did a lot of research into the realities surrounding the risks associated with VBAC and this research, along with Sally's ever-reassuring presence, enabled me to be confident that I was making the right decision for myself and for my as yet unborn child.
 
It was so lovely having ante-natal appointments with Sally in the run-up to my due date. I really enjoyed developing our relationship in the knowledge that this was the woman who would be present at my birth.
 
Three days after my due date I woke at 12.30am with some cramps. I was unsure whether this was labour as I had not yet experienced the natural onset of labour due to my previous induction. However, after a couple of hours I decided that this must be it as the cramps were regular albeit still far apart. I telephoned Sally to let her know. At about 5.30am I ran a bath and I began the hypnobirthing breathing techniques in earnest. I found these extremely effective and I felt completely calm and focussed on what was happening. I felt I was working with my body. In fact I lost all track of time and was only dimly aware of Sally's arrival some time later. It came as a surprise when Sally told me it was 9.30am and that my husband had filled the birthing pool downstairs for me. At that stage I was 4cm dilated and once I got into the birthing pool things seemed to go very quickly. I still felt very calm and totally focussed. After only an hour or so I began to feel the urge to push.
 
However, at some point it became clear that something was not quite right and on examination it turned out that even though I was feeling the need to push I was in fact still only 9cm dilated. Sally told me I would have to resist the urge to push and allow the contractions to work on the cervix so that I would be fully dilated. This was a difficult moment as I felt like it was a step backwards. Not pushing was also very painful. I felt demoralised and lost focus. At this point both Sally and the other midwife in attendance, Rene Schwencke, really came through for me. They encouraged me using the hypnobirthing language I was used to hearing in my hypnobirthing practice and meditation CDs. This really helped me get back in control of my breathing and work through this difficult part of the labour experience. After a couple of hours Sally examined me again and confirmed that she could see the baby's head and that I could now push. This was the most amazing moment. After all that time of not pushing it was such a relief that I don't even remember it being painful and my son was born very quickly after that point whilst we were still in the pool. He was born at 2.40pm at a healthy 9lbs 8 oz. Writing this a month later I still cannot believe that we were lucky enough to have him enter into the world in this calm and peaceful way. I do not think I have yet come to terms with the magic of it.
Tracy & twins Toren and Mairead - Hospital Vaginal Birth
 
When I was pregnant with Conall, one of the very first things I started to worry about was the birth and whether I would need to go into hospital. Things were no different this time. When we discovered it was twins, my emotions were a mixture of huge relief that the bleeding I’d had wasn’t a miscarriage, and a realisation that my hope for a home birth with a pool was probably out of the window – as it was in the end with Conall due to my thrombosis and treatment with blood thinners. This time round, though, I knew that it wouldn’t be possible to arrange an independent midwife to deliver me in hospital, as the rules have changed.
You might think that having been through so much to get pregnant, that I’d be happy just to know the babies would be born safely, but things just aren’t that easy for me when it comes to hospitals. For a start, I do doubt whether a hospital can be relied on in that respect… but also I feel terribly stressed at the thought of being in the clutches of the medical establishment especially relying on the random allocation of a doctor and midwife, subject to the vagaries of hospital policies, let alone at a vulnerable time like being in labour.
 
So despite the cost, I went ahead and arranged an independent midwife to at least act as my friend and supporter throughout the whole process (and I suspected I’d get my money’s worth from the post-natal support and help with breastfeeding twins, if nothing else!) I chose the midwife who had taken over from the one who delivered Conall (now retired) and I also got myself referred to an obstetrician recommended to me as progressive, by another independent midwife.
 
So the pregnancy progressed with me going regularly to see my haematologist (on blood thinners again) and for scans (monthly from 20 weeks then fortnightly once twin I’s growth and low fluid began to be a concern) but with my ante-natal care carried out by Rene and her partner, another midwife called Sally.
I found things surprisingly easy, no doubt helped by me working at home from about 28 weeks. And maybe I was less inclined to complain about inconveniences like swollen legs, because I was just so happy to be pregnant with no complications. I was lucky though, to escape many pregnancy ailments, with the exception of killer heartburn/retching and feet that seemed to get bigger by the day.
 
With the support of Rene and Sally we planned for the sort of birth I wanted. I was very concerned that I should have a natural birth with no unnecessary intervention, and we therefore sent my birthplan to the supervisor of midwives and discussed it with my consultant as well as meeting with the manager of the labour ward. We obtained the twin guidelines from the hospital and discussed my desire not to have continuous monitoring.
 
My other main concerns were about no unnecessary induction, being able to use the pool, letting the cord stop pulsing before cutting the cord, and letting twin II come naturally in their own time, plus Andrew taking twin I skin to skin while I delivered twin II. As well as no unnecessary staff in the room, pediatrician called in only if needed, etc. I did have some very anxious moments and bad dreams about the whole idea of going into hospital which culminated in me basically sobbing my way through a consultant appointment a few weeks before the end but Rene and Sally did their best to reassure me that they would be there and nothing would happen to me without my consent. My consultant was on the liberal end of the doctor spectrum and agreed with my requests, although she did keep reminding me of hospital policy to induce twins at 38 weeks.
 
I did acupuncture to prepare for birth as well as hypnobirthing and had an mp3 made for me by my hypnotherapist.
 
Everything was fine, apart from rather low fluid on twin I and slower growth than twin II, until just over 37 weeks when I had some visual disturbances one evening. Rene came to check me, my blood pressure was fine though there was some protein in my urine. We decided it was hopefully just a migraine. However at 37+2, the symptoms came back and when Rene same to check me, my blood pressure was up, not dramatically, but combined with +3 on the urine dipstick, it was enough for her to suggest we went into the labour ward to be checked.
 
They decided to keep me in for monitoring in case of pre-eclampsia and a 24 hour urine collection. I took this news quite well, considering. The 24 hour urine collection showed I had mild-pre-eclampsia but my blood pressure stayed stable, albeit elevated. I declined to be induced, and agreed that I could go home, after my regular scan, scheduled for 37+6.
 
Rene and Sally came with me. Twin I was still something of a concern, but now at almost 38 weeks and with the pre-eclampsia, they scrutinised blood flow to the placenta and the baby’s brain etc much more thoroughly. They then declared he had pretty much stopped growing, that he was estimated at 4lb 8 while twin 1 was 6lb 14 and that he was beginning to suffer.
 
So we agreed to be induced. But then it turned out not to be such an emergency… in fact they couldn’t find a slot, right off. After I’d had the fear of god put into me by the scan dept, my own consultant came to see me on the ward and reassured me that the baby was only showing the very early signs of difficulty. We agreed I’d go home, be monitored the next day, and come back probably the day after for induction.
 
I was so relieved to get home and into my own bed and bath … I’d been in hospital from Saturday/Wednesday and not slept more than an hour in one go.
However I woke up before dawn struggling to breathe and nothing seemed to help. When Andrew got up we decided to go back to hospital and called an ambulance. I was admitted again via the labour ward and they checked my heart via an ECG as well as testing for pulmonary embolism (due to my history) Andrew had to leave me there alone as Conall was off school ill.
 
At teatime they took me back to the ante-natal ward, with induction planned for the next day, 38+1.
 
I spent the night pacing the floor, interspersed with hot showers to relax my stiff neck.
 
Andrew came to the hospital mid-morning, but there was no space in the labour ward. It was late afternoon before we were taken up. A lovely hospital midwife checked me, Doriscilla, and she said I was fully effaced and 2-3cm dilated. She suggested not having the pessary they had prescribed, but instead having a sweep and waiting for a few hours. So she gave me a sweep and I got into the pool to read my book. Sally and Rene arrived a few hours later and at shift change we got a new midwife, Harriet. I was visited in the pool by the consultant covering that night and her team, including her SHO Ranjit. The consultant was very keen for me to be continuously monitored but I reiterated my wishes and we came to a compromise for occasional monitoring via the CTG. (In the end , no one really came in and pushed monitoring on us, a couple of times Rene had to go and remind the midwife that I needed to be checked)
 
We relaxed for a while, and I had a few twinges, and possibly some leaking fluid, but nothing much happened despite Rene doing reflexology on my feet. I was enjoying having access of the pool, and was tempted just to wait for nature to take its course and not have any further intervention, but in fact, I was keen to go ahead and have the babies during the night, and Sally and Rene were there… I wasn’t sure if we’d get kicked out of the labour ward if we refused any further induction!
 
So just after 10 when Harriet came back, I was quite happy to have my waters broken. It was quite painless, and Andrew and I walked about for an hour or so. Contractions started at about 10.30 and by 11 o’ clock were 1:5. I was on the birthball, listening to my hypnotherapy MP3 and very relaxed.
 
At about 11.30 I started to want to get in the pool, which I hoped was a good sign. I got into the pool, by midnight the pains were quite intense. Rene called Harriet to say she thought I was close to transition. Harriet was surprised but checked me and I was almost fully dilated. I was finding the pains quite hard and I hoped I’d get the urge to push soon. I remembered from Conall’s birth that the time just before pushing was the hardest. 00.45am and I felt the urge to push.
There was a rush to get me out of the pool, I chose to kneel on the bed leaning forward and got a bean bag to lean over. A doctor appeared at 1am, hurrying to place a cannula in case I needed any drugs. I was pushing. Toren was born at 01.10, and I took him in my arms. Andrew cut the cord when it stopped pulsating.
Twin II was monitored via the CTG and scan, and was still quite high.
 
I relaxed, Toren fed and we enjoyed meeting him. At 1.50 the doctor came back and suggested a drip, but I refused. Andrew took Toren under his tshirt and I tried various positions to stimulate contractions. At 2.30am I got back onto the ball and took Toren to feed, which did stimulate some contractions.
At 2.55 the doctor examined me again, Mairead was still high and seemed to be coming feet first (legs over head) This was confirmed by a scan.
The doctor managed to turn Mairead to head first, while I had a quaff of the gas and air, which made me feel quite spacey. The doctor suggested I have the syntocinon drip to bring Mairead down and keep her head down. At 3.30 Mairead still hadn’t descended. The doctor then suggested going to theatre to rupture her membranes, which I agreed to.
 
I was quite upset to hear that the journey from the labour room to the theatre (although not far!) would need to take place without gas and air… as the supply was not mobile… I recall taking several deep breaths and chucking the mouthpiece at the midwife and shouting “Go, go!” The drip was so much more painful than my natural births with Conall and Toren had been!
 
Anyway, just before 4am we were in theatre, Sally, Rene and Andrew were all allowed in, Toren was there in a cot. Being the middle of the night the place was very quiet. Mairead’s waters were broken at 3.57, I started to push and she was born at 4.11 – just over 3 hours after her brother. If we’d have started earlier, they could have had different birthdays!
 
I remember just carrying on pushing until someone told me it was all done and the placenta was out. It was such a relief it was all finished!
In recovery both babies were weighed – Toren was 5lb 5 rather than the estimated 4lb 8 and Mairead was 6lb 4 rather than 6lb 14.
Andrew came up to the postnatal ward with me at 7am and refused to leave. It was so lovely to have him there with me and the babies. I dozed off, feeling so happy and amazed that we had finally done it. Two beautiful babies, and a beautiful birth. It wasn’t without complications but I knew that nothing happened that didn’t have a good reason. This was my most amazing labour and birth yet and they helped to make it that.
Guillaume & baby Emmy - A Dad's Story
 
Here is the birth story!!!!!!!!!! (Emmy’s birth according to Dad, Guillaume)
 
The story begins around 9:45 pm when Maia is in bed. I was fighting in a huge battle on Final Fantasy XIII, Charlotte arrived saying “ready for tonight?”. After a classic “of course my love”, I realised she’s speaking about THE thing…. She broke the water!!
 
Hurry up!! I turn off the video game (after the end of the battle of course), we call Sally, we check the bags, we call our Mexican friend to take care of Maia and we sit down calmly waiting for the following… (It didn’t take Sally 2 hours to get to us, we chatted a few times on the phone over the next couple of hours. Then when we needed her she arrived within 20 mins. )
 
2 hours later, the labour is going faster but faster than we’ve thought about! Sally arrive, Charlotte need to stay on her feet to deal with the contractions, I begin my job of water’s holder, masseur, coach, and supporter (sport is everywhere…). I even have the warm up music, we can imagine to be at the Emirates Stadium.
After few minutes and several exams, THE question “could you lay down or sit down to let Sally examine you?” and the answer “no way”. Conclusion: we will go to the hospital next time, this one will be old fashion!!!
 
So here we are, at home with Sally and a Mexican friend but without all medical stuffs you have in a hospital.
 
I say to myself: “guy, you need to be good because Charlotte will suffer…”
 
Relax music turn on, glass of water on the table, labour guide for dummy in my mind… we are ready (err… we act to be. A home birth wasn’t in our plans but you need to be strong. You can’t show anxiety to someone who is going to climb a cliff without rope).
 
Then, everything is going very fast (Mum’s word: You say that!!!!):
 
A hand on the dinner table....... The other one on the dresser
 
Stand up position......... A little bit leaning
 
That’s the way the evening crucial moment happened.
 
Between 2 gas breaths
 
Sit down, With for only support, My body
Charlotte did this miracle in the living room and Emmy showed her nose.
 
Maia was still sleeping Peacefully When Emmy get out her feet.
 
Emmy was finally there, Quiet when I cut her cord.
 
It was the poetic moment of this extraordinary evening. It was a intense time of joy, of discovery and a back to nature.
 
Bravo to Charlotte and Emmy, thanks to Sally to help us and to Maia to stay asleep.
 
Guillaume, the happy dad.
Breige & baby Sophie – Unplanned Home birth
 
When I was asked to write a birth story about the birth of our daughter Sophie- I thought- when will I ever get the time to do that now that our wonderful daughter is here and days and nights seemed to roll into one! I started to write this story when Sophie was just 4 weeks old - she is now almost 4 months!! and with the passing of this precious time I have been able to reflect not just on our birth experience but also the 41 week journey leading up to her arrival- the most incredible experience of my life!

Although not planned to arrive at home, Sophie wasn't for hanging about once true Labour began- birth plan of Birth Centre at Lewisham Hospital went out the window once we realised she was on her way and I handed myself over to the trusted and capable hands of Sally. With her continued reassurance I knew that Sophie and I would be just fine and after 1.5hours of labour Sophie calmly entered this world- so perfect!
 
So lets take a step back- why go down the road of choosing an independent midwife? With pretty demanding jobs my husband and I thought it might be worth looking at the private route for care during my pregnancy and delivery. As it would be our first baby, it was important to us to feel that we were supported strongly during our pregnancy and not seen as just another couple having a baby. We wanted to have consistency with the team looking after us during our pregnancy as well as flexibility to schedule days/times that worked for us. Having looked at this option, yes it was expensive but mostly we wanted to avoid if possible the full medical approach to giving birth. I have always regarded the process of childbirth as one of nature- one which my mother and both grandmothers had gone through many times! and therefore we agreed to explore other options which might be available. The team at my local GP's referred me to the independent midwife contacts- and from the outset this seemed to tick a lot of the boxes for my husband and I as regards being looked after during my pregnancy, approach to childbirth and aftercare once the baby arrived. Our plan and that which seemed to give most comfort was to work with Sally as our independent midwife and plan to have our baby in the Birth Centre at Lewisham- less medical in approach but close to help at delivery if needed.
 
Most of my Pregnancy was smooth sailing (only issue was heart burn at night time), however, emotionally it was a tough time as we suffered two family bereavements at the start and end of the pregnancy - Sally was an amazing support during those toughest of days.
 
Finally when my due date came and went- to my disappointment still no baby - Sally kept my spirits up and reassured me that things were on track and Sophie was perfectly positioned for delivery. So I continued with the daily walking, hypnobirthing cd's, homeopathic remedies, reflexology and massage with the hope that things would move along! Things were moving but very slowly and as we moved into our 41st week I was looking at the possibility of induction- but thankfully that was not to be- in the early hours of the morning 2am to be precise at 41 weeks exactly I started to have period type pains- nothing different from the twinges felt over the previous two weeks- but these were not going away and were getting stronger- so around 2.45am I woke my hubby and suggested that he get up and time my (what I now know were) contractions- they were more frequent than 3 each 10 minutes- the guide where we would be sure baby is on its way. While I sat on my birthing ball, I hooked myself up to the tens machine- Hubby called Sally who came straight away- I was so happy to see her and felt so relieved when she arrived- I knew i was now in safe hands and Sally would help me through this- firstly with some form of pain relief! Blissful gas and air! I was 3 centimetres dilated when Sally checked me but things were moving along quite quickly- we called the birth centre and they said hold off- first time baby- no need to come in only to be sent home! half an hour passed- Sally helping with pain and my breathing and having hubby play hynobirthing cd! All good but pain becoming quite intense and within 30 mins of Sally arriving, this incredible urge to push took over- Sophie was on her way!- no time for hospital or birth centre- the baby was going to arrive at home............... at that point I felt on the brink of panic but Sally managed to keep me calm and relieved any anxiety- she was here, I trusted her to help me through this! Active labour from 5am with Sophie arriving 6.35am- what an incredible experience- Sally encouraged and supported me the whole way through- later that morning- I wondered how I would cope when Sally (and Laura who had arrived shortly after S's birth) left- needless to say we wanted them to stay! The amazing thing though was the fact that Sally was of course coming back every single day for the next number of weeks- I felt safe, elated, relaxed and so thankful that we had such a smooth run during the birth- i give full credit to Sally for helping me to keep calm and allow my body to give birth to our beautiful daughter. The daily aftercare was crucial for me and my hubby as we have very few family members in London and we were on such a huge learning curve each day- I was delighted to see Sally every day- she encouraged me along- breastfeeding, skin to skin and generally helping to keep us positive when the sleepless nights were taking their toll!
 
I was introduced to Sally at around 15 weeks of pregnancy. I had no idea at that point how much trust I would instinctively place in her and how instrumental she would be in making my birth experience one of the most amazing life events that will stay with me forever! Sally is a very special lady and having gone through the months of pregnancy and birth with her I feel incredibly fortunate and blessed that she became part of our lives and made such an incredibly positive impact. I feel we have a very special bond with Sally and that has helped every step of the way!