Where to start?

Well, I guess at the beginning! Introducing you virtually to Naomi and James’s story.

August 2018
Naomi contacted me enquiring about my hypnobirthing taster sessions in Sandhurst, Berkshire. They were recommended to her to explore the benefits of Hypnobirthing as they were expecting February 2019.

Spoiler alert! If you want to skip their story to see the outcome, see how they navigate their labour with Hypnobirthing skills and informed decision-making click here

A month or so later Naomi’s Mum reached out to ask if we could meet.  She was considering offering Naomi and James Doula support for their birth. So we arranged a date. I remember the sun and blue skies on that day and I couldn’t believe how much Naomi looked like her Mum.  I’d like to add at this point that they are both beautiful women who exude warmth and care towards you the moment you meet them and it is moments like this that I believe in fate.
Following our meeting and subject to Naomi and James’s agreement I was to help support them at the birth of their baby.

Black and white image of a pregnancy women looking out of a window Erika Townend Birth

I guess to give this story more context is to share (with permission) a little more about Naomi. Naomi openly shares that she suffers from anxiety and this was the main reason that she embarked on a Hypnobirthing course. However, a year down the line and with the skills learnt and being pregnant the anxiety lessened to just the odd occasion.

Both wanted a set of tools and techniques under their belts to be better prepared for their labour.

Fast forward to having completed their Hypnobirthing course and having a complete u-turn on their thinking about birth they walked off with a new mindset on what birth and labour could be. James also left me with the following words;

“It is not just a process but something that can be enjoyed”

I found myself getting to know them both over further antenatal sessions until I’d go on call in mid-February. My on-call like most Doulas is from week 38 to when the baby arrives. The vast majority of babies do tend to make an appearance before 42 weeks but there is always a few that like their Mummies tummy and need a little longer. After all how do we get an estimated due date if we didn’t have shorter and longer gestational periods? Something so important and sadly so often missed.

11th February 2019 / 38weeks – I’m on-call, the challenges of on-call family and work-life begin.

18th Feb / 39weeks

All is quiet

25th Feb / 40 weeks
Ahh, my daughters birthday weekend is fast approaching! Though I’m a great believer that things always work out for the best as they did once again here.

04th March / 41 weeks
Did you know that 50% of 1st-time mothers go into labour at 41 weeks and 3 days? Not this Mummy though:)

Several appointments happened to check the wellbeing of mother and baby this week and also conversations around what the guidelines recommend when heading towards 42 weeks. Naomi and James declined sweeps however were very happy to accept expectant management where they attended the Day Assessment Unit a few times and were monitored and offered ultrasounds to check all was well.

11th March / 42 weeks
Naomi received a voicemail from the Consultant Midwife to ask her to call her to discuss further plans to help the baby along.

12th March / 42+1
Things are moving along as she messages me to say she thinks she has had a clear show often known as cervical changes.  Naomi accepted a sweep by her amazingly supportive community midwife and on assessment things looked favourable.

Things certainly seemed to progress after this in the early evening…

“I feel like I keep getting little shows no idea what there meant to be like and I am achy”

Two hours later…

“Cramping has ramped up and lower backache, walking around isn’t comfy!
Trying to keep my mind off it although feeling a little excited!”

13th March / 42+2
03.26hrs
More cervical changes and cramping continued.  The sensations are more intense but not lasting very long and I’m able to breathe through but enough to not allow me to sleep.

06.30hrs
“Community midwife popped over to assess and everything is much softer and the cervix is now fully effaced. (I think… these notes are impossible to understand!”
Today Naomi is due to the hospital to have further monitoring and further discussions on her birth plan.

12.30hrs
Naomi was monitored and in my eyes a true champion.  Given that she was in the latent phase of labour in a brightly lit room being monitored with others around she tapped into her Hypnobirthing skills with ease.
Monitoring showed and reassured Naomi that things were indeed progressing as her amazing body, hormones, uterus and state of mind started to create the rhythms together called surges.
Some technicalities needed ironing out at the end of the appointment but yes they were all set to continue their homebirth journey.

19.00hrs
I’d offered to go over and facilitate a hypnobirthing session and spent a lovely hour and a half reading various scripts and helping Naomi settle into her birth zone for the night.

14th March (42 weeks and 3 days)

Little did I know that as I slept soundly once again Naomi and James were getting ready to meet their baby.  She progressed through the night, supported by her lovely husband.

I received a call shortly before 6 AM (thank you for letting me sleep;) to be updated on the night’s events and I was then with them shortly after 7 AM.  The room was dark and warm with a slight ‘birth scent to it, ask any
birth worker and most of us can detect this scent. It’s an earthy musky and almost ancient smell. A smell that transcends time and feels like you must honour this moment.

The lead midwife had just arrived and had offered an examination to assess Naomi’s progress. As she silently signalled the magic number (Naomi do you want to know yet?) I felt a flutter of excitement for them both.
James was soon filling the birth pool and as Naomi gained comfort and a release from the sensations from the warm water enveloping her body and their baby.
James and I took turns to comfort Naomi in ways that we knew she would like and find comforting. The connection between James and Naomi was tangible, such love and care that couldn’t be put into words.

Again to witness moments such as these I thank you for allowing me to witness love such as yours.

My role came into play with lots of positive imagery and language.  It was clear Naomi liked this and took it on board. I have always used my eyes to connect with my labouring clients and I feel that I truly connect.
I like to think that I pass my strength on to them. Knowing that I too was there once and that she too has the power and strength to do the same.

Erika Townend Birth Doula suppoting a homebirth Colour image

Naomi started to voice concern asking “how much longer” and the odd self-doubt started to be expressed in other words our friend Adrenaline was paying a visit.  Adrenaline is our friend in transition as at this time it helps
create a surge of energy, albeit doubtful, to help the woman into the birthing phase.
If memory serves me right, it is at this time that Naomi had James call her Mum to come over and support too. Her Mum was so thoughtful and fully engaged with maintaining the birth room environment I kept
forgetting that she was there!

Things continued to progress and soon it was time to offer another examination that Naomi accepted albeit it was uncomfortable as she was in the depths of labour. She was complete and the room regained its
composure and once again Naomi found comfort and rest in the pool.

Time continued and all was well, in fact, there was never any question on how baby and mother were doing.

There were however less physical changes happening so I encouraged her, though she was very reluctant may I add, to get out of the pool.  She walked sideways like a crab up the stairs a few times.  Generally coming out
of the warmth of the water,  moving around and having gravity on your side will help your baby negotiate its position and make those all-important movements for birth.

Time ticked on and still, all was well there was never any sense of urgency or emergency and even now a year on my reflection is one of complete magic. It was as if time stood still and honoured the ticking clock and yet time had no real place here as she edged her way closer to meeting her baby.

“After what had felt like the most amazing morning (never thought I would be calling my labour amazing but looking back at it… the morning really did feel like textbook labour!)

I remember my mum coming over to me to tell me that an ambulance had been called! My heart sank! And despite having the urge to push extra hard as I so wanted to have my baby at home, he just wasn’t coming! As I stepped into the ambulance, having to leave behind my birthing partners James and Erika, I felt lost!

Falling out of the zone that Erika had put me in, despite what was to come, this was definitely one of the hardest parts for me…”

It was with a heavy heart that I learnt that it was suggested to transfer to hospital and I want to add here that even now all was well. The babies position was considered good and the baby never once showed signs of distress by the sensations and pressure felt. Naomi was understandably upset and I quietly whispered in her ear with a smile on my face…

“Have this baby in the ambulance” followed by “James and I are right behind you”

We saw you off and a little of my heart was breaking for you but I knew that you would be safe and your chosen support would be with you soon enough.

Naomi – “I tried my hardest to remember what Erika had taught me and what she had been telling me and I knew I had to stay strong for my baby! As I entered the labour ward, I was so pleased to be reunited with James and Erika. Erika began to work her magic once again…

As I followed the ambulances blue lights I was determined to get you back into your zone, knowing that there would be additional challenges once on the labour ward. Your Mum and Dad followed and we met with them in triage
and I made sure that I was calm and understood enough to clearly explain what options may be given.

I joined Naomi and James in room A where soon their baby would be born and parenting would begin.

Rehydration was the order of the day for Naomi and everyone wanted for her to succeed in her vaginal birth. However, after several hours, it was discussed to try for an assisted delivery.
This was a challenge for all involved and never did a birthing woman need her support team around her more than then. Through sheer grit and determination, Naomi worked her body in a way that it had never experienced.
A culmination of months of hard work, dedication in changing her mindset, managing her anxiety and let’s not forget growing a baby!

Jude was gently placed on her belly and his cries filled the room. Happy Birthday, Jude!

And selfless as she is despite the emotional roller coaster that birth is, that evening I received;

Thank you so much for everything today, literally can’t thank you enough! You literally are a godsend!! Baby Jude weighs 7lbs 5 oz

I wanted to make a special mention of the beautiful couple that I have written about.
James and Naomi run an amazing wedding videography company and I urge you to check them out, share their amazing talent and perhaps even use them. They can be found at 2408films

James and Naomi thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Here is a stunning video featuring aspects of their journey.  You’ll need to view via Vimeo – just click the box below!

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