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Monday 27 September 2021

3rd baby birth story – natural labour

Me and my daughter

I’m back again with another birth story to share with my readers. It’s been a while since I have updated my blog and I’m delighted it is with another positive birth story.

If you have read my previous birth stories you’ll know my first labour and delivery was a positive birth experience however my second labour was extremely traumatic. 

Throughout all my pregnancies I have had health professionals, family, friends, even strangers tell me that every pregnancy and birth is different.  And it was certainly true as this pregnancy was unlike any of my previous ones.

I’ll need to start right at the beginning and give some context to the birth story as throughout my journey I had experienced some pregnancy complications. 

Pregnancy complications

At 5 weeks pregnancy I had covid and was very unwell and up until about 18 weeks I was bleeding, sometimes spotting but occasionally it was much more.  As you can imagine this was extremely stressful having multiple scans at the early pregnancy unit, and the uncertainty of not knowing whether the pregnancy would continue or not. At my 20 week scan the sonographer discovered I had a low lying placenta, when the placenta attaches lower down and covers some of the cervix. I was booked in for another scan at 32 weeks to see if the placenta had moved further up away from the cervix. At this scan, I was relieved to discover the placenta had moved. 

However disappointingly the scan revealed I had too much amniotic fluid which surrounds the baby and I was diagnosed with the condition, Polyhydramnios. This increases the risk of pregnancy complications, including gestational diabetes and premature birth (more on that later). The hospital referred me to a specialist fetal medical centre to have an enhanced scan to find out what was causing the extra fluid and weekly monitoring. 

I had a scan at 35 weeks which unbeknown to me would be my last scan before birth. This scan revealed the baby was estimated to have weighed 7lb10. I was not surprised as my bump was much larger than I remembered from my previous pregnancies so I was aware this was a little unusual. 

The doctor explained this was because of the extra fluid which can cause babies to grow much larger than normal. The doctor arranged for me to be tested for gestational diabetes as this was also another cause for large babies. I had the oral glucose tolerance test (GTT) twice, an enhanced blood test plus I was given a device to monitor my glucose levels daily (before and after each meal). On top of this, I was having weekly monitoring, blood tests to check for common infections in pregnancy and scans to check for genetic conditions like blockages in the baby’s gut. However despite all this extra monitoring and tests for gestational diabetes nothing was found. I did not have gestational diabetes nor any of the common symptoms that cause Polyhydramnios.  

It was incredibly frustrating not knowing what was causing the fluid build up and each health professional I was in contact with told me that sometimes they simply don’t always know why this happens. Which wasn’t much help to me!

After my 35 week scan I had a call with my consultant to discuss a care plan for my labour. Due to Polyhydramnios I was at risk of a premature labour and as a black woman I am three times more likely to give birth prematurely than any other ethnicity. Because of this and the complications in my last labour where I experienced retained placenta and postpartum haemorrhage the consultant recommended I be induced at 38 weeks and given a series of drugs to help manage postpartum haemorrhage including an injection of a drug called oxytocin in my thigh. This helps make the womb contract so the placenta comes away from the wall of the womb lowering the risk of heavy bleeding. 

I was hesitant to have another vaginal birth after my traumatic last labour. I asked about other options such as a caesarean as although I was satisfied with the plan to have the drugs to help reduce risk of heavy bleeding, I was concerned that the baby would be too large for me to deliver by the time I reach 38 weeks.  

I knew the risks of inductions and that women who are induced are twice as likely to have an emergency caesarean section compared to women whose labour starts spontaneously. If I had the option to avoid a possible failed induction due to delivering a potentially very large baby and emergency c-section, then I wanted the choice to plan for an elective caesarean. 

The consultant listened to my concerns and agreed that depending on my next scan at 36 weeks and estimated size of the baby we can discuss next steps and agree a plan that I would be happy with. However like all things in life, some things don’t always go to plan and I never did have that 36 week scan…

On the morning I turned 36 weeks I had planned to go to a friend’s child’s birthday party, but I woke up feeling nauseous and very tired. A few days before, I had started losing parts of my mucus plug so I expect this was my body’s way of telling me that there was a baby on the way! 

I was doing the washing up and suddenly I felt a large gush of water and knew instantly that my waters had broken. I remember having my membranes ruptured during both my first and second labours but actually going into spontaneous labour was still such a surprise. I remember both my midwife and consultant advising me if I go into preterm labour there is a risk of cord prolapse when the umbilical cord slips down in front of the baby after the waters have broken and the cord can come through the open cervix (womb). So I did as advised, I got onto my knees with my elbows and hands on the floor and bend forward until the ambulance arrived. I couldn’t feel the cord, but I didn’t want to take any risks, so I waited for the paramedics to examine me. They confirmed there was no cord but still wanted to take me into hospital.

Because of coronavirus restrictions I had to travel to hospital on my own and arrived about 20 minutes later. By then the contractions were ramping up and I was petrified the cord was going to slip down and I would deliver in the ambulance. We arrived at the hospital about 15 minutes later and the paramedics transferred me to the maternity assessment unit where I waited for a doctor to see me. 

Through my contractions, I gave the doctor a quick overview of my medical history and pregnancy so far. It was so hard to concentrate and explain to her my concerns and what I wanted but by God’s grace, I managed to communicate clearly enough for her to understand I was feeling anxious about having a natural delivery because of  my previous experience and my wishes for a c-section. 

At this point I was feeling very vulnerable, I was on my own and in and out of contractions so in a lot of pain. The doctor asked if I wanted gas and air to help manage the pain and asked my permission to examine me to determine how far dilated I was (4cm). By then my husband had arrived and the doctor explained she would need to discuss with a consultant to determine next steps of my birth plan. 

Things were moving very quickly, and I didn’t have much time to make a decision on the type of birth I wanted to have. All I knew is that I needed to make a decision quickly as my contractions were getting stronger and closer together. 

It is really important health professionals remember that patients do not have the insight, clinical knowledge or understanding when it comes to making the best decisions to benefit them. On reflection, the reason I was so anxious was because I felt like I was being rushed into a decision when I didn’t fully understand what was happening. Patients need to be given the correct information and the time to understand before they can make a decision. This can only be done once they are fully informed. 

The doctor took the time to explain the risks of having a c section vs natural delivery which helped me make the right decision for both me and baby.  In the end I chose to continue with the natural delivery for several reasons: I was already 4cm dilated and one risk choosing a c section with a premature baby would involve having to have steroid injections to help the baby’s lungs develop. The baby would also need to have steroid injections once they are born. 

There was a chance that by having a vaginal delivery the baby would not need any steroids. I was satisfied to go ahead with the plan to give me medication to help manage the blood loss and retained placenta issues. I also requested the same doctor be present during the birth as I trusted her to deliver the baby. She said she would be there anyway as I had been classified as high risk.

Once I had made my decision, I was quickly moved to the labour ward whee a midwife set me up on the bed so the baby could be monitored and fitted me with a cannula so I could start to receive the drugs to help reduce the blood loss. By this point I was having full blown contractions which felt like it lasted forever but it was only about 30 minutes. I remember telling the midwife this was my third baby so it was likely I would be delivering this baby soon. Although the gas and air was helping to an extent, I could feel pressure moving further down and the pain going from zero to 100. The midwife left to go on her lunchbreak and told me she would be returning within 30 minutes. She was replaced by another midwife who was covering for her. 

I asked the new midwife for an epidural as the pain was so intense so midwife went to prepare it but it was too late. By the time she returned I was already pushing! It all happened so quickly. The doctor rushed in and called another midwife for assistance. I was being monitored and lying on my back which I’ve always found the worst position for me to give birth in. I asked to go on all fours (that again!) but doctor and midwife said they needed to monitor baby and they wouldn’t be able to if I was in this position. I wanted to tell them once I move positions the baby would be born in very soon! But I was in so much pain I couldn’t even speak. I gave my husband a nudge and he helped me move into a different position despite protests from the doctor and midwives. As soon as I was on all fours, I gave two almighty pushes in time to my contractions. The doctor told me to wait and then give another push with the next contraction and baby was born!

Third stage of labour

I was a concerned as she didn’t cry and was very blue. They took her over for assessments, she had swallowed a lot of mucus. When I heard her loud cry I felt an instant sense of relief knowing she was ok. Whilst doctors examined her it was then time for the third stage of labour: to get the placenta out and stop the bleeding. 

As part of my drug management I was on drips throughout the delivery and was given the additional injections, oxytocin into my thigh to stop the bleeding.  At one point my placenta got stuck in the cervix and the cord was short so she had to massage my womb to encourage it to contract so the placenta would move. It was so incredibly painful but it worked. I also had a long gauze inserted and used to absorb the blood. Finally, to manage any further blood loss the doctor removed any clots or retained placenta. Last time this was done in an operating theatre under general anaesthetic however this time I was wide awake on gas and air and an injection given to numb the pain. The pain was excruciating but I knew this was the only way to effectively prevent a haemorrhage.

The procedure was a success, in the end I only lost about 350mm of blood, about the size of a can of cola, in comparison to my last traumatic birth where I lost 2 litres of blood and needed a blood transfusion.

So overall I was pleased with the outcome of my labour and delivery. This time I felt like I was in more control, I was fully informed and had a better understanding of the risks and benefits and therefore was able to make decisions I felt best for me and my baby - compared to my traumatic birth last time where everything was out of my control.


For more information about common pregnancy complications, patient information leaflets and support in pregnancy here is a list of useful organisations and websites I found helpful:

Royal Colleges Obstetricians and Gynaecologists: Patient information leaflets produced by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists  (RCOG) that cover a range of pregnancy and birth conditions written specifically for patients so simple to understand: 

Tommy’s pregnancy hub: includes information that covers information on having a safe and healthy pregnancy from conception to birth

FiveMore: committed to highlighting and changing black women and birthing people’s maternal health outcomes in the UK find out more here.

Harris Birth Right: leading clinical unit and research centre for the assessment and treatment of unborn babies in London, part of Kings College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust 

Saturday 23 December 2017

Second baby - natural birth story

Me and my daughter

I’m back and this time with another natural birth story which will come in two parts, the actual birth and then what happened very soon afterwards…

My last birth experience was so positive and despite what everyone says about not comparing pregnancies and labours as they can be different, you can’t help compare the two experiences.

My last pregnancy at 36 weeks, I was in preterm labour with strong contractions and had my son at 37 weeks (you can read more about this birth experience here) so this time at 35 weeks when the Braxton Hicks I had been experiencing started to become more painful I knew immediately that this was the start of preterm labour.

After an appointment with my midwife and explaining the pain I was in, she advised me if the pain were to become too unbearable to go to the hospital labour ward for monitoring.

And that’s exactly what I did – from 36 weeks, every week, I turned up at hospital to be monitored. However despite the pain I was in, my contractions were never consistent and unlike labour pains, the contractions didn’t grow longer, stronger or closer together. So I was sent home and was told to come back once the contractions become more frequent or painful.  It was incredibly frustrating, I was in so much pain but I had to be patient and let my body go into labour naturally. 

Anyone who has been pregnant knows this isn’t as easy as it sounds and week on week I was becoming more tired and fustrated about the position I was in. History was repeating itself as I was only 2cm dilated and my waters hadn’t broken so my membrane was still intact. 

At my next hospital visit I requested a membrane sweep as a way of trying to bring on the labour and avoiding an induction. A sweep was done at 37 and 38 weeks with no success. By 39 weeks, the pain was unbearable and at 39 weeks 6 days, I woke up at 2am in the morning with contractions lasting longer, stronger and closer together. I knew this was the start of labour and I was ready to have the baby!

My plan was to have a natural birth in the midwife led birth centre at my hospital with no pain relief. We arrived at the birth centre at around 5am and after being examined we discovered I was 3cm dilated and baby’s position was on its side. Now my contractions were more regular but they were not quite frequent enough so the midwife advised me to walk around. She suggested walking up and down the stairs and side stepping, to get baby in the right position. I spent the next few hours walking and drinking more and trying to rest as I knew it would soon be time to birth my baby.

By midday I was very tired and really wanted the labour to get to the next stage but the baby was not ready to arrive just yet. I discussed with the midwife my options and whether she could break my waters, known as rupturing the membranes, the bag of water that surround a baby. I was becoming more tired and anxious that I would be too exhausted by the time I got to the pushing stage. The midwife talked through the risks involved such as the risk of infection however I felt confident that this would be the right decision for me just as it was in my last labour to break my waters to progress my labour.

I agreed with the midwife to wait another few hours to see if I was further dilated before breaking my waters. When the midwife next examined me, my cervix was 7cm and open enough to have the membranes ruptured. Just like my last labour, it didn’t take long for the contractions to become stronger and more intense and within minutes my contractions went from zero to one hundred. I had gone all these hours without pain relief, just using breathing exercises as a way to manage the pain, as I knew I had to save using pain relief for when I really needed it – and this was certainly the time!

I asked for gas and air, known as Entonox, which although didn’t block out the pain, it certainly took the edge off and was a great distraction whilst having the contractions. When it came to the pushing stage, I stopped using the gas and air and transferred from the birth stool to the bed, as I was beginning to get tired, where I found lying on my side much more comfortable. 

The midwives guided me through and in a few pushes my baby daughter was born within 35 minutes – in the end a much faster labour than with my son. For the third stage of labour, I was given Syntocinon an injection in my thigh to birth the placenta. After the placenta was delivered was when the problems began…

Part Two

Once the placenta was delivered, I started to feel feverish, and intense contractions started again. I knew from my last labour that this was not normal. I was in so much pain I couldn’t hold my baby and both my birthing partners (my husband and mother) became concerned. Within minutes, I started heavily bleeding and it wouldn’t stop. The midwives called the doctors and within minutes the room filled with doctors, nurses, anesthetists and other clinicians. 

I was dipping in and out of consciousness as doctors explained to me I had retained placenta tissue which was causing the bleeding. This is when parts of the placenta and membranes are still in the womb. I was rushed to theatre and given a general anesthetic to have an operation to remove the pieces of placenta that were stuck in my womb. I stayed in hospital for a week as I lost over two litres of blood and was given four units of blood transfusion to recover.

I was in hospital for four days recovering from the intensive surgery and the treatment thereafter; a series of antibiotics, iron tablets, daily injections to prevent blood clots and a catheter which I had to wear for 8 days due to the trauma my body had been through.

Despite this traumatic experience, I have been able to reflect over everything that has happened and I am alive and well and so is my baby, so I am most thankful for this. I am so pleased I was able to have the natural birth I had wanted. With the support of the midwives, I was able to have a calm, peaceful and quick birth. I am also grateful and very thankful for the quick-thinking midwives who acted swiftly and professionally when problems started to occur and the doctors who treated me throughout the period I was in hospital.

After a traumatic experience, there are ways to begin the road to healing, here are a few of my favourites: 

Give yourself time to heal – there is no rush, give yourself time to work through your feelings. Talk to your partner, a relative or trusted friend. A problem shared is a problem halved.

Be kind to yourself – if you have been through a traumatic experience, let yourself experience all the rush of feelings you may get including sadness, anger, disappointment and frustration. Remind yourself this is normal and a way of coping with the trauma.

Reclaim your birth story – I find writing therapeutic and writing my birth story is a reflective way of revisiting my birth experience. It may help you discover something other than the trauma, perhaps positive or empowering aspect of the birth that you may have forgotten.

Get the support you need – If you feel that talking to friends and family isn't enough and that you may be experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) it is important you seek help. You can contact:

Your GP
Your Midwife
Your Health Visitor
A counsellor
Family and friends

If you are unsure exactly what the characteristics of PTSD are you can find out more information on NHS Choices here

If you have had a traumatic birth experience contact the Birth Trauma Association who support all women traumatised by childbirth.

If you want to find out more about blood transfusions or to donate blood to save a life visit NHS Blood and Transplant.

Wednesday 15 March 2017

Mother's Day Giveaway with Prettly

Prettly mobile beauty services - image source

Mother's Day is a great way to spoil your mum and though saying a huge thank you with flowers would be appreciated a pamper treatment may be just what a mum needs!

This year Mother's day falls on Sunday 26 March and with the day fast approaching it's not too late to book a treatment for your mum with Prettly, a mobile beauty service that offers high quality and affordable beauty treatments from the comfort of your own home, office or any other location of your choice.

This Mother's Day is extra special for me as it's the first one I'll be celebrating as a mum. And now that I am a mother of an eight month old son, (where does the time fly?!) sadly getting pampered is right at the bottom of my list as there never seems to be enough hours in the day for "me" time! 

Which is why I love the concept of Prettly - Mums with busy schedules can be pampered within the comfort of their own home.
Simply choose from the many treatments available; makeup styles, hair updos, blow-dries, manicures or mani pedis. (And if it's special occasions for a party or bridal hair and makeup, they can offer this too.) Choose a date, place and time and select a beautician and confirm all online, with no cash or tips needed.

Created for women by women, Prettly uses some of London's top freelance beauty therapists, makeup artists and professional hair stylists and are all vetted and tested personally by Prettly. You can browse the team of beauty therapists and see their  ratings and reviews by other customers. 

To celebrate Mother's Day I'm giving away a Prettly gift card for a manicure AND pedicure. So why not treat your mum (or yourself!) this Mother's Day to a day of pampering from the comfort of home?

To enter, all you have to do is drop me an email letting me know why you deserve to win in no more than 50 words. On Instagram? You can enter here too! Just leave a comment on my latest post.

Competition closes on Tuesday 21st March 2017 at 9.00am. 

Look forward to reading all your entries!

*Terms and conditions* 
Open to UK residents only
Bookings cover zone 1-4 in London only so please ensure you are able to book a location that covers these areas
Competition will run for length of date and time indicated on specific competition blog post
The winner will be randomly selected using a selected winner generator 
Competition winner will be notified within 24 hours via email of their win
If winner does not respond within 24 hours, a new winner will be chosen again by random selection 
Winner will receive an electronic gift card to redeem online. 
Further information on Prettly and how to book can be found here
Entry in the competition will be deemed as acceptance of these terms and conditions 

Friday 11 November 2016

Debenhams Christmas Gift Guide for 2016

Christmas is fast approaching, which means it is time to start thinking about shopping for gifts!

If you are like me then your Christmas gift list will include presents for all the family and friends. I’ve pulled together some great gift ideas with prices ranging from under £10 to £100, so you’ll be sure to find the perfect presents for all.

For Dad
This grow your own chilli kit is the perfect gift for Dads who love gardening. With all the essentials for growing chilli, including a red bucket, chilli red demon seed,  compost and helpful instructions, this is the ideal gardening kit for Dads with green fingers.

For Mum
Perfume is a classic Christmas gift so why not choose a sweet fragrance from Debenhams wide range of gift sets for Mum this year? Looking for a spicy scent? Choose Nina Ricci’s L’Air du Temps gift set a vibrant mix of spice and floral scents:

If you’re after floral and feminine fragrance then pick Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb gift set, or  choose Marc Jacobs Decadence for a sensual woody scent instead. Whether it’s floral, spicy, woody or something more unique, you are bound to find the scent you are after!

For Husband
Choose a present that your husband is guaranteed to love this Christmas, like an understated but stylish travel bag. Neat, compact and made from luxurious pebbled leather, this John Rocha holdall is the ideal size for a short city break or a weekend away. It comes with two grab handles and detachable cross body strap, multitude of pockets and a studded base. It's the sophisticated way for him to carry his belongings making it is the perfect accessory for your husband.

For Couples
Looking for a Christmas gift for the couple that has everything? Make them both happy with a present they are both sure to love and treat them to this Laurent Perrier Bottle of champagne. Presented in a branded gift box it, comes with two flutes and will make a great gift for any couple!

For Babies
One fundamental Christmas essential for babies is a warmer clothing for the colder months. Keep babies extra warm this winter with a snowsuit from the Baker by Ted Baker childrenswear range. The boy’s snowsuit comes in grey with a padded finish and cosy fleece trim and lining and the Ted Baker girl’s version is cosy and snug with metal bows and super-soft faux fur with matching mittens. 

For teething babies treat them to Sophie the Giraffe, the first teething ring made of 100% natural rubber, ideal for soothing painful gums, baby’s parents will love you forever!

Want to splash out on a bigger gift for baby? Then choose the Fisher-Price Rainforest Friends SpaceSaver. This jumping, bouncy jumperoo isn’t a best selling for no reason, it’s height adjustable, space saving and portable plus includes lights, sounds and music making it is the perfect play time fun for baby!

Looking for a smaller gift that will still make a big impact? Look no further than Lamaze Freddie the FireFly. Perfect for first baby toys, the friendly bug has lots of developmental features to help engage your baby and stimulate his or her senses like clinking rings, tethered ladybug teether and knotted antennae for chewing. It’s the ideal small gift for babies!
For more gift ideas and inspiration visit Debenhams website

Friday 14 October 2016

Leeds Castle Festive Events

Christmas 2016 events at Leeds Castle

Christmas 2016 is soon approaching and what better way to get into the Christmas spirit then to enjoy some festive activities. An exciting schedule of festive events for all the family to enjoy will be taking place at the spectacular Leeds Castle in Kent this winter. Here is a list of some of my favourite activities:

The Christmas Market
Get into the festive spirit and visit Leeds Castle’s annual Christmas Market. Located on the Cedar Lawn, overlooking the castle and open 10am to 5pm, the Christmas market offers plenty of seasonal gifts, toys, festive decorations, food and drink. There is plenty of entertainment for all the family too: enjoy nostalgic fairground attractions, children’s rides and live music and meet the reindeer too.
3rd-4th, 10th-11th, 17th-18th, 22-23rd December
Click here to book tickets.

Father Christmas at Leeds Castle
Experience a magical day out for all the family and step into the enchanted grotto where Father Christmas will be waiting to greet guests! All children visiting Father Christmas will receive a traditional gift to take home.
3rd-4th, 10th-11th, 17th-18th, 22-23rd December
Click here to book tickets.

Christmas Party in the Fairfax Hall
Celebrate the festive season with a Christmas party in the beautiful surroundings of Leeds Castle.  Join your friends, family and colleagues for a festive feast with delicious seasonal dishes in the 17th century oak beamed Fairfax Hall. The hall will be decked with traditional Christmas decorations and witness the amazing views across the moat to the Castle.
2nd, 9th,15th, 16th, 17th and 22nd December
Dinner from £65 (per person excluding accommodation) Stable courtyard bedroom from £140 (must be booked with dinner)
Click here to book tickets.

The Tales of Beatrix Potter
Come and join the festive storytelling of Beatrix Potter’s classic tales, brought to life for all to enjoy through interactive play. Based in the Castle library, and dressed in character, the storyteller will begin reading from a giant book at 2pm, 3pm and 4pm don’t miss out!
£3 per child (2-15 years and accompanying adult free)
Click here to book tickets.

A Tale of Christmas at Leeds Castle
Relive the classic Beatrix Potter tales on the 150th anniversary of her birth. Miniature displays will appear throughout the castle, as well as interpretation of Beatrix Potter’s writing desk complete with sketchbooks and paintbrushes plus explore Peter Rabbit’s muddy footprints as part of an enchanting trail across the estate.
3rd December 2016 - 2nd January 2017
Click here to book tickets.

Christmas Photo Walk
Wrap up warm and enjoy a walk under the stars for Leeds Castle’s Christmas photo walk. The gardens will be lit up for Christmas and take in the stunning castle and gardens. Professional tutor Robert Canis will be on hand to help you achieve amazing images and best of all you will have access to photograph Leeds Castle’s interior which is impossible to do at any other time.
£60 per person 
20th - 21st December
Click here to book tickets.

For more information on the festive events over Christmas at Leeds Castle and to book tickets visit the website:’s+On/Christmas/

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