A big part of preparing for an Active Birth is to try to ‘Expect the Unexpected’ and to be open in body and mind, surrendering to whichever way the path takes you. Hearing other women’s birth stories is part of this as it shows the rich tapestry of what giving birth is all about in all its many varieties.

Here are a few snippets from women’s shared experience of birth, kindly sent in by mums who have been to the classes/workshops. Thanks to all mums for sharing their stories! If you would like to add yours, please email in!

Vicky and Max – 2nd baby, 1hr 15mins labour, baby born at home!
I woke up at 4:30am with sudden pressure in my tummy. I got up and went to the toilet and noticed my waters had broken so I woke up my husband and got him to bring my notes so I could call the hospital. I was advised to stay at home and maybe have a bath and take some paracetamol and to call back in a few hours to see if I should go in. I then suddenly started to get quite strong contractions lasting a few seconds with only a couple of minutes between each one so I decided to start getting ready to go to the hospital. I tried to use the breathing techniques I learnt in your yoga classes which really helped me to get through the pain and I counted my breathes to see if the contractions were getting longer which they were. I suddenly started to feel the urge to push and realised it was probably too late to get to the hospital so I told my husband to call an ambulance. I then felt the baby’s head really low down and knew I was about to give birth. Fortunately my husband remained calm and had previously questioned my midwife on what to do in the event of a home birth. I then delivered Max in our bedroom at 5:43am before the paramedics had arrived. Fortunately everything was fine and Max cried straight away which I knew was a good sign. The paramedics arrived minutes later and we were taken to hospital where I had a few minor stitches.
Looking back now I’m amazed that I didn’t panic and I really do have your classes to thank for that. A week before I’d also heard about a lovely home birth story which definitely helped with my experience and with the breathing techniques and letting nature take its course it was actually a lovely experience.

Kate & Camilla, 1st baby 
I had a very rapid labour, arrived at Hospital at 1.15am and Camilla arrived at 3.59am - was a short active labour but was in slow, latent phase from around 8pm. My tip would be to stay active/distract yourself as much as possible - and in the last couple of weeks of pregnancy, stay active, walk lots, get a ball and bounce on it!! I would have liked a water birth but it all happened so quickly. The pain was more manageable than I expected, during latent phase I was on all-fours and used the waterwheel breath during contractions. Unfortunately I was flat on my back for delivery as needed to be monitored, and it was painful in the crowning phase, but gas and air was enough. I am proud of the fact that I didn’t need any stronger drugs, and I felt like I was in control, and could ask questions. The Active Birth & 100 Days Workshops were fantastic,thank you so much Su!

Hannah & Eden, 1st baby
I ended up having to have an emergency c-section having gone 15 days overdue. They tried a pessary on the Friday, but it was not effective, so broke my waters on the Saturday. I requested time for my body to kick in itself before going on the drip. I had 9hrs of full contractions (4-6 in 1o mins) but did not get past 2cm dilated. They then tried the drip but the babies heart rate kept plummeting so they insisted on an emergency c-section. Despite ideally wanting a natural, pain relief free water birth I learnt that sometimes these things are well out of our control. I couldn’t have done any more and our babies well being was most important. All the breathing exercises helped, especially the water wheel breath and slow counting. Seb had come to the workshop and listened to your CD so he could remind me what to do. I’m proud that myself and my husband worked as a team and were assertive as to our needs and wants - it helped us to accept our outcome in the end as we had tried everything. On reflection, it may have  been good to research into Pregnancy over 42 weeks to see if waiting for baby to arrive in his own time was sensible or not. I wish I had started the yoga classes earlier in my pregnancy - I recommend Su to everyone. Thank you Su! 

Kate & Rosie, 2nd baby, born quickly at home!
Rosie was four days overdue in the end, i had contractions on my due date from about 11am until 4:30pm and then they all stopped. The contractions were quite intense, so we got Paul's mum to collect Harry and i needed the TENS machine on. I was very disappointed when they stopped!  Four days later I had just got through Harry's second birthday with a struggle and went to bed at 10ish, i didn't sleep as couldn't get comfortable (I had had a bath before getting into bed and i remember taking a big sigh and thought, right this baby can come now.)  I started to feel slightly more uncomfortable but wasn't sure if it was just Braxton Hicks again so lay in bed for a while.  I was lying with a pillow between my knees and felt the baby move down into my pelvis as i must have had the space to do so, so i took the pillow out to see if i could hang on until the morning - i couldnt!  I decided to wake Paul at 11:20pm, we debated if to ring his Mum due to previous false alarm! The contractions definitely started to pick up so we rang the hospital who told us to go in, we put on the TENS machine and turned it on full immediately. We then called Paul's parents to come over from Uttoxeter, just after this my waters broke and things started to become really intense, really quickly. I stood up most of the time as i was determined to stay upright this time, i started to feel pressure and the urge to push pretty quickly after my waters broke and knew it wouldn't be long.
I asked Paul to call an ambulance quickly, we wernt going to make it to hospital! The ambulance control staff talked to him, getting him to check if he could see baby's head, luckily she wast coming that quickly! They also advised me to sit down to slow things down a bit, which it certainly did (gravity was making such a difference). The ambulance crew arrived at 12:30pm with the very welcome gas and air.  They suggested I got into kneeling on the floor and use the bed to lean on and Rosie was delivered at 12:55am, five minutes after Harry had been collected.  Paul was able to tell me that we had had a baby girl and cut the cord (two things that he didn't get the chance to do when Harry was born.)   
The community midwife got to us at 1:20am and I delivered the placenta naturally with her help, i was able to have a bath and get back into my own bed which was lovely.
I feel that i delivered her myself and definitely trusted that my body knew what it was doing and went with it.  The ambulance crew were great but were quite hands off and didn't provide much encouragement to get things moving any quicker (suppose they wanted the midwife to get there quick!).  I missed out on the initial skin to skin contact & that would be the only thing i would have liked to have made the experience even more perfect for us. Thanks Su! Kate & Rosie

Karen & Ava, 1st baby, Hospital birth
My birth experience was an overall positive one despite there being some complications and things going off course.  I’m not saying it was perfect…that scenario simply doesn’t exist!   Things did get complicated and I was unwell for a time, but I do believe it was made easier because of several key things; being positive, being open minded, understanding the birthing process and taking in all the information about giving birth that is out there, whether it be your antenatal classes, the books you are given or buy and of course your yoga classes!  I am the sort of person who likes to know ‘why’ and I decided to find out as much information as possible to help prepare me for what was to come.  I know we are all different, but I can’t comprehend pretending something isn’t happening or not wanting to have all the information to hand… I like to be prepared!  To balance this out however the birth process is truly venturing into the unknown, and although it is very important to recognise the facts and figures as a starting point, it is equally important to recognise we will all have a unique experience, different to the person sitting next to us.  So whilst all the advice and the well-meaning comments may help, comparing yourself to books or other people is futile; you have to have your own journey.  
My story is that my waters broke at 11.30pm on the Sunday evening, I was 11 days overdue and had no pains or warning until my waters went.  My contractions started straight away and stayed at every three minutes all the way through.  After a bath and several cups of tea I went into the ward at 5.00am.  After another bath, lots of deep breathing and distraction techniques which I learnt from our yoga classes I started on gas and air mid-morning and had a small dose of pethadine.  Pethadine was something I was adamant I didn’t want in antenatal classes as I was worried it may make the baby drowsy but I realised at this time it was something I needed and it was only a small dose; as it was it didn’t give me or Ava any side effects.  I got to 6cm dilated at midday and was full dilated at 2.00pm.  The midwife encouraged me to start pushing and told me I would have my baby by 3.00pm.  As it was she said I had a really high pain threshold and was doing really well.  Up to this point it sounds textbook!  Then the complications arose.  I was still pushing by 4.00pm and no movement.  They eventually found the heartbeat which was a worrying time, but it was because Ava had turned inside me and so would have come out with her face sideways instead of downwards.  Despite all my pushing she was not budging.  Bearing in mind I had missed a night’s sleep, hardly ate and had to drink lots of milk and fluids as my blood sugars were of a concern, with lots of pushing,  I was getting exhausted.  After consultations and some worried looks I knew something wasn’t right and became quite concerned.  I was then moved from the birthing centre up to the consultants ward on the next floor trying not to push whilst contracting in the lift!  I was told I needed an assisted ventouse  delivery and I was very worried, as if they couldn’t get the baby out I would have to have an emergency caesarean.  From going to a nice peaceful room where everything was going well to a room with 2 doctors, several midwives and hectic activity all round me was quite overwhelming and scary.  Now I realise this was required to get Ava out quickly and safely.  Because I knew what ventouse was however from antenatal classes, I understood the process so knew more of what they were going to do.  Yes it hurt and I lost a lot of blood, but I had got to the point that I didn’t care as long as my baby came out safe and healthy.   Because of the process, and the blood I lost my pulse rocketed and I was in for four days.  One night I had 2 bags of saline fluid on a drip to hydrate me and bring my pulse down and the next night two bags of blood as my blood count was very low and I was anaemic.  I was very dizzy and spaced out for a couple of days.
Given my experience, my key advice would be to go with the flow, Mother Nature is the boss when you are in labour, not you and she will decide how and when your baby arrives, although you can do a lot to help yourself make things easier!   You have to be open minded and prepare for anything, whether it be a caesarean, ventouse, epidural, etc. and your birth plan should reflect that.  If you can achieve that be armed with the knowledge to understand what is happening to you then I think this will take a lot of the fear out of the situation and you will be on your way to a better experience.  Despite a difficult delivery and the process taking an unexpected  turn, Ava arrived eventually at 6.56pm at 7lb 10oz.  I was so glad to finally meet her and now she is a very happy smiley girl who has completely changed our lives.    

Jo & Hazel, 2nd baby, home water birth
I had a home birth in the pool. It was quicker than expected and I would have liked to have got into the pool sooner than I did. The all-fours position was my favourite and I also leaned forward against the wall, and used the ball in the early stages. This time the ‘waterwheel breath’ really helped and it was also good to ‘breathe into my bump’ during contractions. The water really helped me to move and supported me. I squatted to deliver her, but it was greatly helped by the water! The tens really helped, and I`also kept moving. The massage hindered as I didn’t really want to be touched although I love it normally! The only low point of the whole labour was waiting for the midwife to arrive as I was desperate to get into the water and wanted to push. The high point for me was having no intervention and I feel so proud of giving birth to a beautiful baby without pain relief. I was fully dilated when the midwife arrived and delivered 10 minutes later! Next time, I would call the midwife sooner and so I could get into the pool quicker and get more benefit from the water. It really helped to think of labour as a shared experience between me and my baby. I thought of us as a team and kept telling myself that WE could do it. This positive affirmation got me through moments of self-doubt. It was very much something that baby and I went through together.

Julie & Benjamin, 1st baby, home water birth, 17 days overdue!    
As I passed 14 days ‘overdue’ my anxiety levels definitely started to rise. The midwives started to become twitchy, as did my parents, and they started putting pressure on me to have labour induced. I strongly believe that babies should be able to choose their own birthday and that we must respect the intelligence of the female body to do what it was designed to do – give birth as and when it chooses. I knew it was within the best interests of our baby to refuse the induction, and so that is what we decided to do. They advised me to have daily CTG monitoring and ultrasound scans twice a week. We decided to compromise and only take them up on the daily CTG monitoring they were offering. The midwife we met in the day ward in the hospital was evidently more emotionally involved than appropriate and immediately started various bullying tactics to try and make me have the induction. This was the most difficult week of our lives, and I found it increasingly difficult to enjoy the last few precious days of my pregnancy. Ultimately I had absolute trust in my body and our baby and we stood strong in our decisions.
On Tuesday 18th September I decided to try an old fashioned way of encouraging labour and took a 60ml dose of organic castor oil. After spending some considerable time on the toilet that evening we went to bed early. I finally woke with surges at 11pm on, and was in disbelief that this was it! The castor oil certainly seemed to have had the desired effect! I timed the surges and was surprised to see that they were already a minute and a half apart and were lasting about 50 seconds each. I started to think that the midwife might not get there in time. I phoned Stafford delivery ward and the on call community midwife, Jackie, phoned back. In the hour we were waiting for her to arrive the surges gradually got stronger and Brian made himself busy by filling the birth pool. I found it easier to be on my feet all the time, walking around the kitchen and pacing back and forth in the lounge, leaning forward over the sofa with each surge. I also wanted Brian close to be when I was having a surge, the energy of him just having his hands on me made it all easier somehow. The midwife arrived around midnight and took my vital signs, I also agreed for her to examine me to see how dilated my cervix was. She reported that it was 3-4cm and said that I was doing quite well. Half way through her examining me I started to have a surge and had to roll off the sofa onto my hands and knees – what a sight! After she had examined me I had a really strong surge and had to dash off to the toilet to be sick. I think it was just what my body needed to do at this point to clear everything out.
I started to notice the surges were lasting longer at this point. I was able to count how many breaths each one lasted, and gradually they were going from 8 breaths in length to 10 and then 12. I found it a great help to count in my head each breath, knowing all the time how far through each surge I was. I found it hard going through a surge on my own at this point, Brian had to keep dashing off to the toilet because we had eaten curry that evening and it didn’t seem to be agreeing with him! At 2am Jackie thought that I was in established labour and decided to phone the second midwife. 
At 3am she suggested that I get into the birth pool. The water felt amazing, the surges felt the same but the residual aching between them completely diminished. It was also great to be on my hands and knees. The surges were lasting 14 to 16 breaths each and I started to get really hot. Brian got me a cold wet flannel for my forehead, which helped a little, but when the midwife took my pulse it was reaching 104 BPM. She said she thought that I was starting to get a little distressed and suggested that I try some Gas and Air. I didn’t feel distressed at all and I wasn’t keen to try the gas and air to start with, but after Brian said to just try it and see I decided to do just that. It didn’t change the strength of the surges at all, but it was almost as if it gave me something else to focus on, I just took a few breaths at the start of the surge then let the surge run its course. 
Jackie said she would check me again in about half an hour, and after what I though was half an hour passing, she informed me that it was actually about an hour and a half ago! It seemed that I had started to have no concept of time, being completely and utterly focussed on each surge. The second midwife, Sam, arrived shortly after, she was young and seemed very kind. Jackie checked me then (again half way through I had to roll off the couch onto my hands and knees) and reported that I was 8-9cm dilated and when the head felt low enough that I could start pushing! She advised to breathe through the surges until I felt more pressure in my pelvis to allow that last bit of cervix to dilate. 
After another few surges I stood up in the pool for Sam to use the Doppler to check the babys heart rate and suddenly felt the head drop down into my pelvis, the pressure suddenly changed and feeling like I needed to go to the toilet, I guessed that this was transition. The surges ebbed away a little and I felt very calm and serene all of a sudden. It was now that the portable gas and air ran out, and the spare that Sam had with her was also empty due to a leak. When they told me there was no Gas and Air now, it didn’t seem to affect me mentally too much. I just sort of got on with it. Sam decided to phone Jan, another of the community midwives, an older lady that I had met once at one of my antenatal visits. She was kind enough to drop her Gas and Air at the house, well above and beyond her call of duty seen as it was about 5am now! 
After the surges picked up again, and a few that hit me like a train, I started pushing. In the middle of this Jan had turned up with the Gas and Air and I just took one breath of it before each surge started. This was one of the more challenging parts of labour, because you have to try and let all of the muscle tension around your pelvic floor and pelvis go. The temptation is to tighten everything up because it is a little more comfortable, but it certainly doesn’t make the path any easier for the baby. Keeping this in mind I tried to let everything go with each surge. I also concentrated on not clenching my teeth or gripping with my hands. 
I was now getting one really strong surge and then a weaker one shortly after, but I was pushing with each one. The midwife asked if we had a mirror so she could see if the head was visible and Brian misunderstanding her said “No, I don’t really want to see!”. After she informed him that it was OK, the mirror was just for her use, Brian fetched the shaving mirror from the bathroom. After a few attempts, finally getting me to lean back during a surge to get a better view, she confirmed that the head was visible and said that she could see a full head of dark hair. I was so excited that we would get to meet our baby soon!! 
After a few strong surges, the midwife asked if Brian wanted to feel that the head was crowning, he didn’t, but I certainly did and reaching down I could feel it right there! This really spurred me on for the last few pushes. Jackie suggested that I go up more onto my knees rather than lean forward and much to my surprise this seemed to really help. I could feel the head making its way out in the next few surges and asked Brian to look and see if the head was out yet, he quite excitedly told me that it was three quarters of the way out and with the next surge I pushed the head fully out. The babys right arm came out with the head and it was only now that my waters broke with a gush. Just as I felt the baby moving position inside me, the body came sliding out at 6.15am on Wednesday 19th September 2012. 
Brian and I reached down into the water and caught the baby together. It was now that I could see it was a boy!! What a surprise as I was convinced all through my pregnancy that he was a girl! We raised him up out of the water and I held him in my arms immediately, looking up to see Brian in tears. He was nicely pink and after a few seconds started to breathe and then cry, almost straight away he started suckling. I was amazed at how alert he was immediately, he was looking me straight in the eye and inspecting me for the very first time. No one prepares you for this moment, the moment you realise how much you love every single cell of your babys body with every single cell of your own. A type of love that you have never experienced before. Just amazing.
After about 30 minutes the cord stopped pulsing and Brian cut him free to start his own life. We decided then that he looked much more like a Benjamin than a Corbin, which was the other boys name we had chosen. Benjamin Espen Rogers. The placenta was being a little stubborn, so after 40 minutes I decided to get out of the pool, also being aware that Benjamin was getting a little cold. The placenta came out with a little push once I was laying down and then whilst I lay on the sofa wrapped in a towel with Benjamin still suckling, Jackie stitched the small tear I had from where his arm and head had come out in one. Shortly after Brian made me tea and toast and Sam weighed him, reporting that he was 8lb 5oz! What a little bruiser! We were finally left to start our life together as a little family at around 9am and after phoning our parents and brothers and sisters, we all lay down in bed together for a rest after the most amazing experience of our lives.         

Rachel & Imogen, 1st Baby
I woke up on Saturday morning with some slight bleeding. I phoned the hospital and they told me not to worry but to phone back if the bleeding increased. Throughout the day I was having irregular contractions with period pains that started to get more painful. During the evening the contractions reduced and became less painful. I went to bed around 10.30 and woke up at midnight needing the toilet. I made it to the loo just in time for my waters to break. I phoned North Staffs Hospital and they asked me to come in for a check up within four hours. I decided to stay at home until 2.00. Luckily we only live five minutes drive from the hospital, which I spent kneeling in the front footwell of the car, practising my breathing techniques.

Once inside I was sent to the MAU where a midwife checked to see how dilated I was. She established that I was 3 – 4 cm dilated and sent me straight down to the midwife led unit. I tried some gas and air, which I found amazing (once they remembered to turn it on!). From then everything happened very fast. I was in too much pain to sit on my birthing ball and so asked if I could get straight into the en-suite bath. The pain relief was immediate and I felt really comfortable. I spent the next couple of hours in the bath taking gas and air to help with the contractions and using my breathing exercises in between contractions.
Eventually I felt the need to push. It was at this point the pain became very uncomfortable. I asked the midwife if I could have some pethadine but she told me that I was already 9cm dilated and therefore it was too late. I soon felt the need to start pushing and a short time later the head came out. At this point I relaxed, a bit too much as my contractions stopped. After a short pause they started again and before I knew it I heard the midwife asking me to catch my baby (5.25 am). I looked down to find my gorgeous little girl swimming up to me. I picked her up and held her next to me until the cord stopped pulsing, which Steve then cut.

At this point I had to get out of the water to deliver the placenta. Steve held Imy at this point to continue the skin-to-skin contact. Once on the bed I was given an injection to help deliver the placenta, which required a few more pushes. I also needed some stitches as I had a small tear. We were then left alone to spend time getting to know our little girl. We spent the rest of the day just staring at our beautiful baby before heading home.

I hadn’t planned to have a water birth but found it a very relaxing and non-obtrusive way to deliver and would definitely recommend it to anyone. I found the whole birth a very positive experience, thanks massively to Su’s advice and our wonderful midwife.

Ally & Annabel, 1st baby
After a ridiculously painful pregnancy (crutches since 16weeks!) I desperately wanted this pregnancy over so resorted to gorging on pineapple. Just a bit didn’t work so I opted for a whole pineapple – seemed a good idea at the time. That night at 1am I felt a slight pop down below and was a little wet. Got up and went to the loo to realise my waters had definitely broken. I rang the MAU at North Staffs who booked me in for 5am. At 3am I had my first contraction and had the most violent sickness and diarrhoea which continued for a long time into the labour. I was so thrilled that this baby was coming and had planned a water birth and was going to do it all by myself with no pain relief and was really looking forward to it all. I had told John that under no circumstances would I have pethadine or spinal tap just so that he knew. John woke up at 3.30am with my to-ing and fro-ing to the loo. He didn’t realise I was in labour until I told him. I have never seen anyone be so organised in my life, the washing up was done, dog was walked (he must have wondered what an earth was going on being walked at 4am!), bag and birthing ball were in the car etc etc. In the meantime I was pretty much attached to the loo and getting contractions every 5minutes. Thought it a little strange though as my waters had turned pink. Anyway off we went to the hospital with bucket attached to face! Got to MAU – what a journey that was getting from car to MAU! Stopping to rest, holding onto John, doors, lamp posts – the worst thing was the doors into the building wouldn’t work and we were stuck in between the entrance doors to the building for what must have been 10 minutes!
Once in the MAU I asked if I could have a water birth but as my waters were pink it wasn’t possible and there is where my birth plan completely changed! I was wired up to monitors to check baby’s heartbeat and my contractions. They wanted to put me on a drip as they didn’t want me to dehydrate as I was still violently ill. As I have an extreme phobia of needles they tried to fish for a vein unsuccessfully and I had a massive panic attack (I think that was the worst part of my labour experience!). They gave up and opted for an anaesthetist to do it later on.
I was transferred directly to the high risk delivery suite, where I endured contraction after contraction pretty much every 3-4minutes for hours. They gave me an injection to stop the sickness which subsided at about 11am. I used my birthing ball lots although it wasn’t ideal being wired up to the monitor. They brought in a mat from one of the other delivery rooms as the high risk suites don’t have any fancy birthing equipment to use. I managed the pain from the start of the contractions right through until about 12pm using the Waterwheel breath. It was amazing and the midwives were most impressed by it as I was completely in the zone when in contraction. This breath I used throughout even with gas and air, which I opted for as I needed just a little bit more help. Initially the gas and air made me feel very dizzy so as the contraction began I closed my eyes took a breath on fresh air and then inhaled and exhaled on the gas and air making a lot of noise on the exhales. As the contractions subsided I would remove the gas and air and breathe with fresh air again. It worked a treat and I didn’t feel giddy or sick. However, at 4.30pm I remained only 4cm dilated despite the contractions worsening and getting closer together. They decided to get things going by inducing me or augmenting as they call it. I had another panic attack with the needle, but there was no messing this time and it was straight in! Phew! However, my contractions suddenly stepped up a gear and they were extremely painful to the point where I was hyperventilating. The gas and air wasn’t working, breathing through it didn’t work so after much persuading by John and the midwife and floods of tears from me I was given pethadine – what I didn’t want under any circumstances. It worked a treat though and I was back in control again.
By 9pm I was fully dilated and started pushing. Again I had planned to deliver this baby kneeling on the bed or by standing. The midwife didn’t recommend standing as although it helps in terms of gravity it causes severe tearing in most women. The kneeling didn’t work, I couldn’t get the grip onto anything to push down hard. Eventually I lay on my back in stirrups with two handles to really grip and pull on. This was amazing – I was in complete control! I pushed out our little girl at 10.30pm on the dot with only a first degree tear! Whilst I pushed her out my mind drifted and for some reason I ended up in Tescos pushing the biggest and heaviest trolley you could possibly imagine! And that is what helped me deliver her.
However, my story didn’t end there. She was placed on my chest but she didn’t breathe and was turning blue. They whisked her off to get her breathing, which after a couple of minutes she did. Phew! I opted for the injection to deliver the placenta. Whilst Annabel was back on my chest guzzling away, the placenta was delivered. I felt a huge relief as it was removed but also a large gush. This turned out to be blood. The crash button was pressed and I remember Annabel being taken off my chest and tonnes of people running into the room. I remember looking at John who had gone white. After about 15minutes of people buzzing around the room and me not knowing what was going on but feeling incredibly weak and dizzy I was told I was ok. At about 2am I was given the most incredible bed bath by two nurses. It felt so lovely to be washed clean. I don’t think I realised how serious it was until I was told by one of the consultants that I had lost over 1 litre of blood. I was in hospital for 4 days and had 2 blood transfusions, but despite not being able to walk the first day I was fine but weak and baby Annabel was absolutely adorable. Being released to go home was so emotional as we could properly start our lives as a family.
Despite all the trauma and the difficulties associated with my birth experience, I loved every minute of it and wouldn’t have changed any of it for the world. This is my story and my experience and no one can take that away from me. This is how my adorable Annabel was delivered and made her grand entry into the world.
For those of you who are going to give birth my advice would be expect the unexpected – nothing goes to plan and never say never; perineal massage weeks before hand!! An absolute must to stop severe tearing!; Breath is a powerful pain relief and get into the zone and don’t let anything distract you; Find a technique to use gas and air to stop dizziness.

Thankyou ever so much Su for all your help and support. I really enjoyed the pregnancy yoga and without the breathing techniques and tips on perineal massage I would never have got through this birth.

Rebecca & Lauren, (2nd Baby)
I started having mild contractions on Saturday afternoon, but by the time I went to bed they were only coming every half hour, so nothing particularly significant.  I woke up during the night by which time they were 8 minutes apart, but I relaxed and used the breathing techniques learnt at yoga and was able to go back to sleep.  By Sunday morning, however, the contractions had stopped and although they started again, they had stopped again by Sunday evening.

On Sunday night I slept right through and had the best night's sleep I'd had for a long while - it is as if my body knew what would be happening the next day and that I needed to rest!  From 7am on Monday I started to have stronger contractions, which I got through by breathing and rocking, leant over whatever was nearby.  I went to the clinic for a scheduled sweep at 10am and was told I was 4-5cm dilated and that my membranes were bulging.  So, I called my husband to come home and we got to hospital for 1130ish, by which time I was 6cm dilated.  

Everything then happened very quickly.  I had just started on the gas and air (a few puffs) when my waters broke and I was then ready to push.  I started pushing on all fours, but because my perineum was so tight, I had to get on my back, sat forward.  Lauren was then safely delivered and I suffered a minor tear. 

What I found immensely helpful this time was thinking about what "we" (the baby and I) needed to do to deliver and whenever I thought of this, I felt a surge of energy and very positive.  This was especially the case when Lauren was crowning but not quite getting through.  I thought about the baby and about how we could do it and out she came!

I also found exercises to relax my jaw to be useful - in the car I was really struggling to get comfy, but when I thought about relaxing my jaw I found the pain more bearable.  I have also focused on relaxing my jaw during feeding, which has helped with latching on, and Lauren has already put on weight (not losing any since birth!).

I hope this feedback is useful and I can't thank you enough for the preparation your classes provided for the birthing experience. 

I shall keep in touch and Lauren and I will be coming to mother and baby yoga soon

Helen & Ethan, (1st baby, undiagnosed breech, natural delivery)
I thought I'd whizz you an email to let you know that Stephen and I called our lovely little boy Ethan. it took us a few days to settle on a name as after his early and speedy breach delivery we had a few ups and downs but now a fortnight on we are getting into the swing of being a family.
I started with contractions at 3.45am on the Monday (27th) and used a number of the relaxation, breathing techniques you had taught us as well as using the fit ball and tens machine although a hot bath was the best relief. At 12noon I was ready to go to hospital and Stephen drove very slowly to the hospital (remembering that i needed to keep my adrenalin low). When they checked me I was only 2 cm dilated and they realised he was breach (he'd been breach most of the pregnancy but lying horizontal across) they scanned me and said he was bum down and not too big and i could chose between c-section or observe how I go naturally. I opted for the latter but with a shot of pethadine and by the time I was clambering for the epidural it was too late, I had an hour of pushing and he arrived at 6.01pm. I am so glad Stephen and I came to your course as Stephen used the breathing techniques to keep me focused particularly in the second stage, he was brilliant!

Hannah & Rowan (2nd baby)
Rowan was a very relaxed baby, completely content inside his warm, watery world and was not one for rushing! Eventually week 42 loomed and twitchy medical staff became involved - scans, monitoring all took place and then the possible weight of my little one became a potential issue. He could be 10.5 lb!! Now, all I could do was laugh - nothing I could do now, just wanted to be active and upright. Home birth was moved to Hospital with the possible complications of shoulder dystocia. Labouring in the pool became labouring on my birthing ball. Thanks to a second consultants opinion (ever grateful!) I could be released from the monitor and after waters were eventually broken I could do a camel step around the hospital grounds! Labour kicked in fast and I embraced it and the amazing raspberry horse breath was the best thing ever - it kept me focussed, alert and as relaxed as I could be - I can’t sing highly enough of it, thank you for teaching it to me! With the breath, my ball and the TENS I was able to work through labour - oh and singing ‘The Bear Hunt’ - but that’s another story!! I gave birth standing up and held little Rowan and delivered the placenta naturally as I wanted. Not 10.5lb but a mere 9lb 16oz!! We really worked together and I did indeed stay active right till the very end. A beautiful birth! I had a fab midwife who supported  guided when needed, and despite being in Hospital it felt a very intimate and special occassion. Rowan was born at 1.36pm and I was back at home for teatime, now a mum of two trying to embrace an even more chaotic life!!

Kate & Harry (1st baby)
I had a very positive experience - at home until 5cm, but unsure if I was actually in labour so was a surprise when I was told I would be staying overnight! I expected the contractions to be more painful and didn’t think I would manage without some form of pain relief. I looked forward to the birth instead of being apprehensive, something I learnt to do at the classes. During contractions I leaned over a chair or over the birthing ball. For the delivery, I lay on the bed but after pushing for some time with little success, I changed position and leant over the edge of the bed - Gravity really does work to get things moving much quicker and I used this position to deliver Harry. I used the Waterwheel breath alot - it worked  really well! The TENS machine was fantastic too! Knowing that each contraction was a step closer to seeing my baby helped me to maintain my focus, although I found the bright lights in the room were mentally off-putting. Having said that, the Midwife Led Unit at the Hospital was so peaceful and I was really pleased I was able to birth there instead of in the Consultant led ward. I was exhausted by the end of labour and by the time it came to pushing all I wanted to do was go to sleep, although it was such a relief when Harry came out. I’ve definitely forgotten the pain of labour, and have not been put off doing it again!

Andrea & Oscar (2nd baby - water birth at home)
I started having mild contractions at 1pm at home but as I had a few false starts in the past fortnight I thought that I probably wasn't in labour and refused to let my husband Andrew start filling up the birthing pool in the kitchen! By 2.30pm I finally admitted that I probably was in labour and my father-in-law picked up our elder son Zach while I phoned the hospital. I was having contractions every 5 mins but they were not strong or lasting more then 10 seconds so I told the midwife on duty that I thought I wasting their time but thought I should just let them know I was in labour as my previous labour had progressed quickly.
Luckily they knew better than me and the midwife on call turned up at my house at 3pm. I was so relieved to see that it was my community midwife and she took one look at me and decided that she should stay around, even though I was trying to turn her away as I still believed I was wasted everyone's time! As she walked through the door my waters went with a pop over the stair carpet! From that point on my contractions became much stronger and I used my clary sage oil as an inhalant to provide pain relief. I laboured walking round the house, leaning over my birthing ball and using piles of cushions to rest on. At 4pm the second midwife had arrived and the birthing pool was finally filled up so I was able to get in. As soon as I got into the pool I felt immediate relief and as I knelt down and leaned over the edge I felt Oscar move down. I used the gas and air and breathed him down with each contraction, I didn't even have to push! After 18 minutes I felt him crown and then with one last breath he slid out and floated into the water.The midwife told me he weighed 8lb 6 (I'm only 5ft 2 and petite!).
After a brief check, the midwifes left us in peace and the three of us got into our bed, with Oscar in the middle of us gazing at us with his big eyes. I really fancied chips and cheese so we ordered a take-away and opened a bottle of champagne. Oscar breast-fed through the night in our bed (where he stayed for the next 3 months!) and it was amazing to spend his 1st night as a family in our own home. After a previous hospital birth, with 50+ plus stiches, I managed to birth a much bigger baby with no trauma and I put this down to being so relaxed at home and in water. I can't recommend a home birth enough!

Natalie & Sam, First Baby
Had a show about 6:30pm is on Sunday night - popped a pad in and went to the pub for dinner - about 1/3 mile walk.
By 7pm in the pub -  I had to stop eating a few times and by 7:30 knew I was having contractions.
Walked back home and stopped a few times on route.  By 9pm contractions regularly 10 mins apart and my waters had broken.  J called hospital to let them know we would probably be in that night.  They told him that because my waters had broken I had to be in by 4 hours after that so we had to be in by midnight.  I was a bit cross as I wanted to stay home as long as possible.  Went to the loo - both ends - loads.  Sat on yoga ball and J packed up the car.  By 10pm they were 4 mins apart and J decided we were off to hospital.  I was resisting saying everyone has told me not to go in too early and J convinced me that this was NOT too early!!! 
Listened to the hypnotherapy cd in the car which really helped.  When we arrived at hospital they said they had to monitor me as my waters had broken and check the baby was ok.  Then as I was so calm and it was my first baby they would probably send me home as it had not been that long.  After witnessing me have several contractions before even hooking me up to the monitor they realised I wasn't going anywhere!  I was examined and was 5cm already!
I had gas and air and they were monitoring me and I felt an overwhelming urge to push and they told me not too - it was too soon.  My body just did what it needed to do and my biggest thing that helped was just telling myself - as you told us - that my body knows what to do and work with my body and that each contraction was helping massage my baby and bring my baby closer to meeting me.  They then examined me again and I was almost 10cm and they then told me I could push!!!  Trust your body is my biggest bit of advice for anyone!!!!!
Sam had his cord wrapped around his neck and was a little distressed so they used a kiwi (manual version of ventouse) to aid in the last few pushes.  The Doctor was about to do an episiotomy and I think my body must have reacted and said i am not having one of them and we had a few final surges and Sam was here - 7 hours from show to him being in my arms. Born at 01:42.
The worst bit out of it all were the 2 or 3 stitches - only minor vaginal ones that took less than a minute.  But because the Dr thought he was going to have to do an episiotomy he thought he had done the anaesthetic but because I had a surge and pushed I never had the anaesthetic - ouch!!!!!!!!!
Skin to skin and some serious amount of starring at how cute he was!  J and I both over the moon.
Breastfeeding going pretty well - some occasional pain still and difficulty latching on but generally good.  I fed little and often right at the start so had no engorgement and a contented little baby.  He sleeps and feeds really well - feel very lucky!
Looking forward to showing him off to you!  A huge thank you for your support leading up to the birth.  Your classes were amazing and I would not have had the quick and relatively calm birth I had.  At no point did I actually feel in that much pain and remained calm (ish) - not sure J will agree throughout!  Keep up the good work - you are making such a difference to so many Mums. Thanks again and hope to see you at the Fri yoga classes.

Helen & Fin, First Baby
Just thought I would let you know that Finlay was born on Wed 28th July at 8.05am weighing 8lb 11oz! He eventually arrived 10 days over his due date after a very long and difficult labour - which did not go to plan! My waters broke on the Mon night and had meconium in so they then induced me as he also had an erratic heart beat. Finlay was also transverse which made it difficult and long and consequently I didn’t dilate very quickly, so after 15 hours of active labour on gas and air and only at 2 cm, I gave in and had a epidural! Fin struggled with his heart beat for the duration of labour so at 7am Wed morning and finally at nearly 10cm I was taken to theatre for an assisted delivery with a very firm prospect of a C section if that didn’t work, but fortunately he was born by Vontuse, much to our relief! 
He is absolutely wonderful, and at the moment is so good! (though we keep thinking that this is the calm before the storm!) We feel incredibly lucky and still can't believe he is here!
I just wanted to say a big thank you, the classes enabled me to lay any fears about labour aside and though it didn't go quite to plan, I felt calmer then I would have otherwise throughout the labour and delivery, and my only fears were for Fin and not the labour process. 
I hope all is well, and say hi to everyone at yoga for me, I hope to pop in when we are more settled.

Laura & Harry, First Baby
I gave birth to a gourgeous baby boy called Harry in the early hours of sunday 27th June. I had a water birth at Samuel Johnson but had to be transfered to Burton as i had a retained placenta and had to have an operation to remove it. We stayed in hospital until tuesday and then brought Harry home.
I just wanted to thank you for all of the information that you have provided at Yoga, i felt well prepared for the birth and had a great experience using my yoga ball and breathing excercise's at home, i was actually fully dialated when i arrived at Samuel Johnson and got straight in the pool.  I can't beleive he's here and am loving every minute of being a new mom, mostly due to the fact that i'm awake for the majority of them during the day and night. Many Thanks!

Sarah & Thomas, First Baby.
Just to let you know that Thomas was born at 7.08pm on Friday 13th (?!?) August weighing a very healthy 8lb 7.5oz. Unfortunately it was not quite the natural water birth I was hoping for as he arrived by c-section! Birth story to follow......
My waters broke at 2.30am on Friday morning but there were no contractions so we went over to Samuel Johnson for a check up. The midwife examined me and told me to go home and contact them when I had regular contractions of if my amniotic fluid changed colour. The contractions started on the way home and I'm proud to say that I stayed really active using hip rolls, charlie chaplin walks and the birth ball to help move the baby down and see me through the surges (they were nowhere near as bad as I thought they would be! ) At 3pm my waters turned thick and greeny black so I phoned the midwives at SJ. They told me to get to Burton Hospital as a matter of urgency as the baby must be in distress. Fetal movement then stopped so we had a very scary drive to Burton. By the time we got to Burton there was an awful lot of meconium in my waters. The midwife examined me and questioned whether the baby was breech. This hadn't been spotted by any other midwives - whether they should have noticed I don't know?! Two doctors and the midwife felt my tummy but none of them could decide his position (as his bum was very hard?!?) So I was eventually scanned and they confirmed that baby was in a breech position with feet up and legs in the splits position (which might explain why I had the strange movements on both sides of my bump!) therefore I would need to deliver by emergency c-section. As this was in my own words my 'worst nightmare' I handled the situation very calmly and I'm sure this is down to the hypnobirthing rainbow relaxation that I'd done as one of the affirmations is about calmly meeting whichever path your birthing takes!) I did (loudly!!!') express my frustration at not getting the opportunity to use what I'd learned in yoga to birth my son (but hey there's always next time!!!) 
Anyway, by this time the contractions were coming thick and fast and because they were monitoring me and baby I was having to deal with them lying down on the bed - but the waterwheel breath and the candle breath along with some light touch massage from Andy meant that I was handling everything fine. On examination I was found to be 8cm dilated (and I thought these were only the easy early contractions!) At this point we were rushed in to theatre. I was given a spinal block. The 'birthing' was a very strange experience and despite the pain relief given I still felt uncomfortable during the process but again my breathing really helped me to control my discomfort and fear! But it was all over fairly quickly and the moment that I heard him cry as they delivered him was still a highly emotional, life defining moment that I will never forget! 

Tom is gorgeous and perfect (although he has to have test on his hips at 6 weeks of age because of his position in the womb.) I'm really hoping to bring him to baby yoga as soon as we can..... I'm not sure how long after a c-section I have to wait before doing yoga? As I said in my text your classes were reallly enjoyable and inspirational and I will be recommending you to all my pregnant friends!

Thank you again for everything!

Rebecca & Alexander, First baby 
Just wanted to let you know that our little boy, Alexander Thomas was born on Saturday morning weighing a very healthy 7lb 15oz – and only ten days past his due date! We’re all at home and settling down together nicely, and hoping to come along to mums and babies yoga soon.
A big thank you for the pregnancy courses too, I can’t tell you what a help the positions and breathing were whilst I was in labour. My contractions actually started late Wednesday night although they were pretty sporadic until Thursday afternoon, and I found that the waterwheel breathing and being on all fours for each contraction were so helpful. It really gave me something to focus on and Oliver was able to help by reminding me to keep moving and breathing which he (and I!) really appreciated. I did manage to make it into the birthing pool and it was great – although I had to get out in the end as my labour had slowed and they were a little concerned about Alexander’s heartbeat, I honestly think that if things had continued as smoothly as they had started I would have been able to birth in the water with the breathing techniques and a little gas and air and no other interventions.
So my tip for the ladies still waiting to “pop” would definitely be to spend some time practicing their breathing and finding a position that they are comfortable in and can stay in consistently – all fours with the stool for support worked for me!
Thanks again for such a great course and hope to see you at mums and babies soon.

Becky & Erin, Second baby
Erin weighed 8lb 3oz, she is absolutely gorgeous and good as gold!
I just wanted to say thank you for your weekly yoga classes.  They really did do exactly what I hoped for.  My birth experience this time was fantastic!  I woke at 4 Sunday morning with very mild contractions, they continued all day but very on and off so we carried on with our day as planned, by 6.30pm my contractions were coming fast and really hurt, we made it to the hospital at 7.45pm and she arrived at 8.05pm - it was amazingly quick but I think that was mainly down to fact that I stayed in the right positions and stayed upright to push and avoided any drugs.  This was all down to your classes and I am so grateful - thank you.  I really wanted to have a totally different experience to when I had Hayden and that was definitley the case.  
Im going to miss my Wednesday night yoga classes.  They will be highly recommended by me!

Sam & Jack, First baby
Just a quick email to tell you that I gave birth to a baby boy on Saturday 9th January. Jack was born at 7.22pm and weighed 7lb 12 oz.
I gave birth just with the aid of a TENS machine and a birthing ball! By the time I went to the hospital for the secontime I was fully dilated. Jack was born shortly after that.
The yoga sessions therefore were invaluable. Apart from the birthing ball I found the waterfall breathing and counting through the contractions most helpful.
I want to say a big thank you for your help and the techniques given.

Helen & Neve, First Baby
Sorry it has taken me a while to email you I kept meaning to before now but time seems to go so quick at the moment. I gave birth to a little girl on the 15th January at 5.23am  so with my due date being the 14th  Jan I was pretty close. We have called her Neve Lily and she weighed 6lbs 3 oz.
I had a really good labour, I spent most of it at home in the bath and using the breathing techniques you have shown us. I phoned the hospital 3 times to see if I should go in but they kept saying I sounded as if I was coping. I had my first surge at around 6pm but they didn’t start kicking in properly until about 11.30pm and I was told to have a bath, which is where I spent the next 3 and a half hours. It was actually Tim who decided enough was enough and decided we were going to the hospital and by the time we got me dressed and downstairs I had an urge to push. I remembered what you said about the lady who went to hospital on all 4’s in the back of the car well that is how I travelled as well.
We arrived at the hospital at 4.50am and as I mentioned I had Neve at 5.23am, the midwife said I was fully dialated and it was lucky I didn’t have her in the carpark. I had gas and air for the last 30 mins so i think I did pretty well. I also delivered the placenta naturally so I was pretty chuffed with myself.
I think the Yoga classes and the workshop really helped me feel prepared and confident about what I was going through so thank you for all your help. I would be happy to talk to the yoga class if you like. I have attached a photo of my beautiful little girl and I am really looking forward to baby yoga.

Sarah & Isobel, First baby
Just emailing to introduce Isobel Rose! She was born last friday (22nd) at 9.38am, weighing in at a healthy 9lb 3oz. She is absolutely gorgeous - Rich and I are delighted! I have attached a couple of photos.......
Having been considered low risk for the whole of my pregnancy, and therefore deciding to book in for the birthing pool in the midwifery led unit at Stafford, I ended up having a very last minute elective caesarian section! At my 41 week appointment with the Midwife, she did an internal/ sweep and decided that it was worth going for a scan to check the baby wasn't breech - n.b. the baby had been in the same position since the middle of the second trimester! The scan showed the baby was breech and i was advised that a caesarian was the safest option as the baby was already a week over due - i was really upset/ disappointed as this wasn't something i had even considered an option! I was booked in the next day for a ECV to try and turn the baby (usually performed at 37 weeks), but baby was having none of it!! So the following day had the caesarian (term +8). Moral of the story - keep an open mind and don't have any pre-fixed ideas! 

On a more positive note - the maternity unit at Stafford was much better than i had expected and all the midwives, doctors, anesthatists etc were really really good.

Helen & Archie, Second baby
Thought I'd let you know how the labour went as I know you said you like to hear the experiences.
Archie arrived 11 days overdue (I was booked in to be induced on the Monday but luckily he arrived Sunday evening - I didn't fancy getting induced and was going to ask to be left for few days if everything ok!)
I'd tried everything to get the labour starting but nothing seemed to work. I'd had a sweep on the thursday and false contractions but I think I'd been in very slow labour over a few days. On the sunday I had a steady walk for about 1/2 mile and started to feel bit rough, got home at 2pm and pains started every 15 minutes, my waters started to trickle each time so I rang the hospital they said to come in and they'd examine me and probably send me home until pains got shorter. By the time we'd got Aidan sorted and arrived at hospital at 4pm pains were every 5 minutes and waters went completely. Once in hospital I kept upright, Dave pressed with both hands on the bottom of my back during each contraction which really helped. After 1 hour I went into labour room, was 4cm dilated which I was bit disappointed as I thought I'd be more. I started on gas and air, had a bath which helped ease slightly but then pains came really bad. Then got on all fours with bed raised, midwife asked me to sit around as they couldn't monitor baby, after few pushes Archie arrived safely at 6.23pm 7lb 15oz. I had a small tear but luckily no stitches.
I felt and Dave said I seemed in alot more control with this birth. Throughout I visualised the baby travelling down and thought alot more about my breathing to breath the baby out. I found the gas and air brilliant, and was doing a silly breathing out noise in between each contraction which Dave found very amusing.
I was in shock after the birth at how quick it was but I feel I've recovered alot better this time and Archie's doing very well, he took to feeding straight away and put on 2oz on friday.
I'd like to thank you for the experience on the yoga course as it's definitely helped throughout my pregnancy & birth and I'll definitely be recommending you to others. Like you said I didn't think I'd taken it all in at the classes but somehow your body knows what to do. Thanks so much!

Ruth & Sophie, First Baby
Ruth's waters broke at 12:15pm on the 7th, we went to the hospital to make sure everything was ok and they sent us home at 2:00pm. In the car on the way home the surges started, we started using the Tens Machine right away, Ruth was on her feet hip rolling, John Cleese Style walks etc until 5:00pm when the surges where very strong and close together so we decided to head on up to the hospital. The walk to the ward was fun, on arrival we got the room we wanted and everything was great, first examination she was 8cm dilated. 
By 9:00pm fully dilated and we thought it was game on, however it wasn’t to pan out that way.
The baby was the wrong way round and looking upwards, they allowed us to push a bit longer as the baby wasnt showing any signs of stress. But this didnt work out, the doctor suggested that we try forceps and if it failed to go straight to a c-section which is what ended up happening. Although at the time it was quite emotional when she was born it was a great feeling, hearing her cry for the first time was awesome.
We have been home just over a week now, Sophie is doing great, exercising her lungs (3am usually) and Ruth is getting back to normal slowly. Thanks for the Workshop, it really helped us.

Sue and Charlotte, First baby
I was induced at 38 weeks due to gestational diabetes and cholestasis. The induction process took 2/3 days and was much longer than I thought would be. Sitting on a on a birth ball was great - the rocking and swaying really helped where other things didn’t. I used deep long breaths throughout. To birth, I was kneeling upright on a bed - really effective due to gravity. 
Top Tips: I used Bach’s Rescue Remedy, Lavender gel on pulse points, soothing music and a Tens machine - all really helped. I’m proud of not swearing or screaming! Despite everything, it was a wonderful experience and I now have a beautiful baby girl!

Ruth & Jacob, First baby
Got to hospital at 9am, in the pool at 11am ans gave birth by half past twelve! The breathing exercises, affirmations and positive thinking from yoga really helped me through. I feel all the stronger for the experience now.

Emma, Jay second baby
I still practice the breathing exercises now when i need an energy boost, or if Mason is pushing my patience and I need to create a sense of calm for the both of us, you know what toddlers can be like !!   i can honestly say that Jay is such a happy and contented baby nothing ever bothers him and i think it all comes from being so calm during my pregnancy and birth, which is of course thanks to everything that you taught me in yoga. 
Top Tips: The best bit of advice I can offer is to just concentrate on your breathing, you once mentioned in class about breathing your baby out and that is all I thought about during labour, and of course get in the all fours position or which ever upright position is most comfortable.  I wouldn't advise spending too much time in the water as it may slow things down, the faster it all happens, the less discomfort you will be in and the sooner you will meet your gorgeous baby. Enjoy!

Zoe - First baby, water birth 
James Atticus was two weeks early and apart from a third degree tear which I could live without the birth was great. I had a show on afternoon on 15th july and a few period like pains around 11pm. The surges were manageable by using breathing techniques you taught us and birthing ball. I was talking myself through each surge reminding myself that you had said each one just bought baby closer.
I left simon in bed till 2.30am- only got him up because could not put tens mchine on myself. I had a mad half hour when contractions went from being every 25 mins to every 4 mins and I felt scared and forgot how to breath properly.
We went to hospital about 4am and was already 8cm dilated - birth pool was available, that pool is amazing! Simon coached me through my breathing as you had shown him in workshop and at 6.49 am James arrived.
I really feel that you gave me the confidence to trust my body and make this a positive experience. Thank you!

Alice – First baby, natural birth, 12 hours
I used Tens machine at home and gas and air at hospital. I started labour at 2.30am, stayed at home until 1.00pm and when I arrived at the hospital was already 10cm dilated. I gave birth 30 mins later, kneeling on the bed. I stayed vertical  letting gravity help until birth! Every second helps I thought! During early labour I swayed and rolled hips, leaning forward on to bed. I breathed slow and steady through contractions, counting my breath in and out again. I was much calmer and more confident than I thought I would be, it all felt so normal, I was more scared of the thought of pain. The midwife said to me when my babys head was crowning “don’t be afraid to push” and that freed me to push more. It was so much more than I imagined, every aspect was positive and without fuss.
Top Tips: keep looking at sheet of affirmations, read and re read during labour, bite down on gas and air mouthpiece, don’t be afraid to push!

Nicky – Second baby, vaginal birth after previous c-section
I gave birth naturally, using Tens machine and taking 3 paracetemol. Only intervention  was injection to deliver the placenta after waiting 2 hours for it to appear on its own. The labour was much longer than I had imagined, waters broke 11.30pm Monday, gave birth 7.30pm Thursday, but the actual pushing stage was really fast, only 45 minutes. I squatted during early, non painful contractions, and later on leaned over the raised up bed, making figure of 8 shapes with my hips. I also walked a lot in between  contractions, bounced on the ball and gave birth standing up, leaning over the bed. I focused on counting breaths rather than the pain, and found I never got beyond 10 and the contraction was over. I also used the ‘Water Wheel’ visualization (breathing up the front of the body, down the back) As a contraction began I noticed my stomach would go hard and tight, then the pain radiated to my back and upper thighs, much like bad period pains. I kept waiting for the pain to get hideous and unbearable but it never did. I felt powerless to stop myself from pushing when the time came, felt like needing to poo, and the pain felt purposeful and productive. I forgot the pain immediately after he was born! I felt mentally prepared that a) I could do this and b) whatever  happens is for the best. This was very freeing and empowering at the same time.
Top Tips: Take a change of clothes for immediately after the birth. If you want something ask for it, and if you want to be left alone, say it. Own your power and know that it is your birth. Stay at home as long as you can. Take your yoga mat and comfy cushions, fleece blanket etc. 

Lucy – First baby, 4 hour natural labour
Although I had originally wanted  a homebirth, my blood pressure became raised and so I needed to shift my focus to a Hospital birth. The actual experience of her birth was extremely positive. I wanted to keep active  and squat to give birth but I was being monitored so lay on my side on the bed. I concentrated  all the time on the breathing exercises I had been practicing from the yoga classes. After each contraction I sat upright to assist in the baby descending and my partner massaged my back to help me to relax. I was asked twice if I wanted pain relief but refused as I didn’t know what  stage I was at. When they said I was 10cm I asked for gas and air but it was too late then as it was time to push. She came within an hour of pushing. The midwife protected my perineum very well and I had no tears. I felt confident in my ability to give birth naturally and saw it as a ‘normal’ event.
Top Tips: Keep active  in the days prior to birth, keep upright, sway, lunge, squat. Move to an upright position between  each contraction to encourage dilation. Keep breathing!

Philipa – second baby, very fast natural birth!
My birth experience was awesome, bette r than I could ever have imagined or dreamed of. I stayed upright, rotating hips, swaying, leaning over bed, sitting and leaning over ball. The pain was so much worse when I had to lay down on the bed to have an internal to check dilation. I visualized my breath going up the front of the my body and down the back, and counted my breath out, sending some down to my baby. I delivered on the first push, kneeling on the floor, leaning over a lowered bed.  All the pain I felt was in my tummy, and the most intense pain was just before the urge to push, but I forgot the pain the moment she was born. I felt mentally and emotionally prepared to cope with labour due to going to classes, active birth workshop and using Hypnobirthing CD. I actually felt excited and more connected to my baby and appreciated the reason why the pain was happening. In my first labour, I didn’t think about my baby once as felt too overwhelmed with  focusing on the pain. A real high point was having my little girl passed to me through my thighs and seeing my husband cutting the cord right in front of my eyes – I felt and instant bond and a huge flood of love! I’d do it all again tomorrow, it was brilliant!
Top Tips: Keep upright, keep breathing, trust your bodys natural ability to give birth. Release fear and keep focussing on your baby and remember the pain’s purpose.

Julie, First baby, Induced, Emergency c-section
I was admitted to Hospital with pre-eclampsia 5 days before my due date. I was induced, had an epidural and then an emergency c-section 24 hours later. I had planned a natural water  birth but it was still brilliant. I dilated up to 4cm and used the birthing ball, which worked really well to take the edge off the pain, as well as the breathing exercises I learnt in yoga. I was having contractions every 3 minutes when I had an epidural. The pain was quite intense but I can’t remember it now! When I was having a contraction I pretended I was somewhere else! Being monitored hindered as I could not get off the bed and had to lie on my back. When I was told I had to have a c-section I felt like I had failed, but realized afterwards that I hadn’t – none of it mattered once I held my little girl in my arms. 
Top Tips: Even if things don’t go to plan, it really doesn’t matter in the big scheme of things, just as long as you and your baby are safe and well. Keep an open mind, do your best, go with the flow and listen to your body – it knows what to do.

Rosie, First baby, Natural birth, 15 hours
I started to feel something happen at 4am, by 9am my contractions were 3 mins apart. I sat in the bath for 2 hours to ease the pain and finally went to hospital at 1pm. By then I was already 7cm dilated. I gave birth at 7pm, with gas and air and a shot of pethidine for pain relief. I had no idea what to expect, the pain was intense like nothing I had ever experienced., but the breathing really helped me to cope. I was most comfortable sitting on a ball and squatting on the floor. I delivered my baby with my husband sitting on the ball and me squatting in front of him. I have forgotten most of the pain now!  The midwives were lovely and really supportive – they helped me to feel confident to push. The classes made me realize I could take control of my own birth and I now feel proud to have come through it.
Top Tips: Water really helps take the edge of the pain. Squatting pose is good to get the hang of pushing, even if only for a moment. Follow your instincts, get in to whatever  position feels most natural for you, know your power!

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& Top Tips From New Mums