Hi Mamamates 👋🏻
It's time for another birth story blog! 🥳 This one's been sent over to me by none other than Sophie Baron, the founder of Mamamade. - @sophiembaron
The response I've had is amazing, its so refreshing to see women sharing their experiences and opening a dialog around their birth story. When I started this idea, my aim was to help as many new mums and mums-to-be feel prepared, seen and ready for their journey. Along with really creating a community that can support, encourage and just be there for fellow mum and partners. Looking back, I would read birth stories all the time when I was pregnant and to be honest, they actually helped me feel a sense of power just to see how strong and amazing women really are!
So without any further ado let's get straight into it!
Pre-labour expectation 🤰🏻💭
I knew I wanted a doula - and I'm very grateful that this was pre-pandemic, when I was able to have two birthing partners. I always felt very strongly about having a water birth in a midwife-led unit, especially after reading so many positive birth stories that included water births, I was determined!
The countdown to labour ⏰
My last few weeks of pregnancy were, for the most part, quiet, indulgent and relaxed (as they should be!). I can't remember feeling any particular kind of stress - only excitement and anticipation, and hope I wouldn't have to be pregnant for much longer.
The day before I 'turned' 39 weeks, I went for a walk in Hampstead Heath and got so lost, I ended up doing what was effectively a 2-hour hike in the heat. I had just finished baking challah, a traditional Jewish bread, because it's thought to be a sort of charm for an easy birth. I was really willing to try anything! I couldn't get over it when the next morning, my waters started to go. The bread-baking actually worked?!
I kept super calm. I was twingey, but not much else. I went for a walk and came home and went about my day. I showered, cleaned the house - but nothing major. By about 10pm, the twinges were coming more regularly - it felt like stomach cramps, more than anything else. I forced my partner (Ian) and myself upstairs, to get rest while we could.
By 1am I couldn't sleep through the contractions anymore. I was coping with them, but felt rattled by the uncertainty. At 3am we called our doula to come over - mostly because I wanted the comfort of an 'expert' by my side.
Taking It slow... 👀
The true power of the contractions started to come at about 6am, and that's when we headed to the birth centre. My doula recommended I listen to music with my head buried in a pillow for the taxi journey there - and that was a godsend. I stayed firmly in the zone. And so nothing was more deflating when at triage they told me I wasn't quite in labour yet, at only 2cm.
Again, this is where a doula came in handy - and next time, I'd probably choose her over my husband! She wouldn't let me get rattled. She kept reminding me that my body was doing something - it wasn't doing nothing. We went home, and my doula and Ian took turns sleeping whilst I sat on my birth ball in the shower. The warm water was heaven - I didn't want to leave.
I wish I remembered more about that long day. I remember my doula handing me a bit of wine at some point, to help me relax. And finally, after what must have been hours of letting the water run down my back, getting into another taxi at 12pm - another head-in-pillow journey.
It's happening, the baby is on its way 🚨
This time, the hospital was heaving. I was put in a triage area and then asked to wait. And wait. My doula kept me calm. She spoke to the midwives, and advocated for me. She coached me with the gas&air, which was such sweet relief after hours and hours of contractions.
It's true what they said - I wouldn't call the contractions painful. They felt powerful, and I found that frightening. It really was like being on a rollercoaster - that stomach-dropping feeling. But I'm grateful I had my doula to remind me of the cadence, to keep breathing, to ride them out because I was brave and strong and have done hard things before.
Finally, at 5.45, I got transferred to a room. At this point I was already in transition - crying out that I wanted to go home, I couldn't do it anymore - and my body took over. I was pushing without even trying or meaning to.
Finally, I got into the pool and my body completely relaxed. I felt utterly respected by the team around me - Ian, my doula, and two midwives - no one was speaking, coaching, or asking anything of me. It was completely quiet. My body knew what to do, and pushing was an amazing relief from the power of contractions.
My daughter Liba was born at about 6.30pm, a perfect 3.45kg and not a single tear. I couldn't believe I had the birth I wanted - a truly positive experience in which I felt supported and respected, despite being in triage for so long.
Thank you so much to Sophie for sending in her birth story with Liba! You've got to send us the challah bread recipe for anyone in the "whatever helps" period of their pregnancy. 😅
If you're enjoyed this as much as I have please go check out Sophie Baron's blog about her pandemic pregnancy and the birth of her son, Arthur David.
Lots of love,