Jemma's story - getting ready for a straightforward birth

I've always been into exercise and keeping fit and healthy. I'm by no means "super fit", but I do lots of walking and yoga. In the lead up to the birth of Olivia (and Imogen), I regularly attended a pregnancy yoga class. Physically this was really good but I also found it really helped me to prepare mentally, especially in terms of practising the breathing and also some exercises to do at home. I also was careful about eating healthily (certainly not calorie counting but just making sure to eat lots of veggies and fruits etc) . Plus I saw a chiropractor to help make sure that my body and back were in good shape. I think it's important to mention this preparation, as I honestly believe it had a big impact on the result of both my births, especially with my first as I wasn't sure what to expect and was a bit nervous. 

I actively avoided any negative stories and when friends/colleagues started to tell me things, I made a point of saying sorry I don't want to hear until after I've had my baby. Again I'd really recommend this to protect yourself, as it did make a big difference. I also didn't want to get too hung up on the type of birth I wanted to have. Ideally I did want to go without an epidural but at the same time I didn't rule anything out. 

Olivia, came 5 days early. I woke up about 6am ish and had "the show". The contractions kicked in a few hours later, really slowly at first, so I did lots of walking around my flat. I had a bath, used the TENS machine, and when my husband came back from work early, at about 5pm, things seemed to be slowing down, so I just relaxed in front of the TV. At that point my waters broke and from there my contractions really intensified. We rang the hospital and they said to come in. I kept my TENS machine on, and really focused on my breathing. The car journey was a bit weird as could see people walking around normally and meanwhile I was having contractions which was a bit surreal!!

Once we got to the hospital they assessed me and said that baby wasn't far off. I was very lucky with my midwife who was amazing. She talked me through everything - I had the gas and air but too be honest I didn't really use it. The birth itself was very intense and painful but being coached through it, having my husband there and also using what I'd learned to stay calm helped and at 8:45pm my daughter arrived!

I did need some stitches. I actually used the gas and air for this and found that did help with the pain. It's a bit of a cliche but I was definitely high on the endorphins after the birth. I've said to people I wouldn't want to go through it every day but it really was a positive experience and want to share it as although I do yoga I'm certainly not your stereotype earth mother at all. Normally I need to take pain killers the second I get a headache. But it was amazing how your body just seems to know what to do! 

I was lucky to have a similar positive experience with Imogen. She came 9 days early and the birth was extremely quick. Contractions started 4:30am, we got to hospital for 6:10am, and she arrived 6:45am. Unfortunately my husband actually missed it as he then had to take our other daughter to nursery. Again I had an amazing midwife who talked me through everything and the good news with the second is I had barely any tearing. I only needed a few stitches which even a week later were all fine and 3 weeks later I feel good and have started going for walks etc. Also having gone through a positive experience with the first meant that mentally I was very ready and prepared.