BIRTH STORIES

Pregnancy Yoga

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HANNAH'S STORY

Dear Liz,

Just wanted to write to you to announce the birth of our daughter Théa who arrived on her due date- Wednesday 4th November at 3.27am after a lovely but quick and intense home birth!

So this time last week I was sitting in your yoga class knowing I was due the next day and we were making jokes about whether my waters would break in the class. Midway through the class I had some pains - quite strong that lasted a few seconds and I wondered whether they were significant- well they were! After leaving class I went home, put our older daughter to bed and by 10pm my contractions had started properly, coming on every few minutes and getting stronger and stronger.

Things progressed quickly, which was very intense at the time but a relief as my first daughter's birth had been quite long. It was a very empowering experience for me as I had opted not to have any examinations during labour and so had to really be in tune with my body and trust that things were developing as they should. I think this helped things go smoothly! Théa was born naturally and at home in our bedroom as we had wanted at 3.27am. Just after the delivery there was a huge downpour of rain which felt like we were being blessed (plus it kept up the tradition of the downpour we usually have after yoga on a Tuesday evening!). She started feeding well straight away (another relief) and we are enjoying our first days as a family of four!

I found all the positions and massage techniques (which my husband Vincent lovingly carried out) we had practiced in your classes so useful during labour, I had your voice in my head about the importance of deep breathing and moving around- all of which helped so much when the contractions got more and more intense. Thank you so much Liz, I have really enjoyed attending your classes, they were a little window of peace each week where I could bond with this baby and take time to breathe, stretch, get more comfortable and look forward to the birth. I also really enjoyed spending time with other pregnant ladies, sharing how we felt and what we hoped for our births. Will recommend the classes to other pregnant friends!
Lots of love, Hannah (K) xx

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EMMA'S STORY

Hi Liz,

Following our conversation last week I now have some news for you. Ethan Thomas Simpson was born (5 weeks early) on Saturday February 1st, weighing 4lb 7oz.

As you know, my blood pressure starting rising a few weeks ago and I was put on medication, given steroid injections to strengthen the baby's lungs and after a short stay in hospital was sent home with a plan of close follow up (every couple of days) and induction between 38 and 39 weeks.

However at a further check up last week my blood pressure had spiked again (187/110) so I was admitted again and as the medication was failing to stabilise the blood pressure it was agreed that the safest option would be to induce and deliver the baby.

It was quite an eventful labour. This is my 3rd baby and all 3 have been completely different but thankfully fairly fast each time.

My waters were broken early hours of Saturday morning and contractions started quite quickly. I can't tell you how useful the breathing techniques we had learnt were. Unfortunately due to heavy monitoring (half hourly bp checks and continuous ctg as babies heart rate fell with each contraction) I had to labour in the worst possible position - on my back, semi reclined. Despite this I managed without any pain relief using the breathing techniques we had learnt and with your voice in my head telling me to 'focus on the out breath' - this really, really helped, particularly as the contractions picked up pace. After 5 hours baby was showing signs of distress and during one contraction his heart rate dropped to 64 bpm and failed to recover. Things started to get a bit scary at this point but again the breathing helped, I was whisked off for a general anaesthetic so that they could do an emergency caesarean . However as we entered the operating theatre I got an overwhelming urge to push and a few minutes later baby Ethan entered the world!! So by the skin of our teeth we achieved a drug free , spontaneous delivery albeit in the operating theatre!!!

I have to say that I have had excellent care from the midwives at QEQM, although there were some scary moments they completely filled me with confidence and were extremely caring and professional and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone having a 'high risk' birth who is unable to go to the birthing unit. We also had a very short stint in special care and they were equally as amazing. While it wasn't the birth I would have planned they did the absolute best to ensure that we were both safe and well looked after before, during and after the birth, they filled me with confidence and tried as best they could under the circumstances to make it a positive experience for both myself and my husband.

We are now home and getting used to our tiny bundle of joy! A whole new experience for me as my first son was double the size of this one at 8lb 14oz and my daughter was 8lb 2oz, and both were born at 41 weeks! Due to his small size feeding has been an issue but I am managing to express and feed by bottle so hopefully we will be able to get his weight up quickly.

Thanks for everything Liz and to all the mums due in coming weeks 'focus on that out breath'!

Regards,
Emma

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CAT'S STORY

Hi Liz,

Thought I'd send you my birth story.

Our little boy didn't want to make an appearance so I was booked in for an induction at 13 days overdue at William Harvey. I was quite anxious about this as my worst fear was that I would go through a long painful labour only to end up having a c section but my husband was great at getting me to keep a positive mind.

On the Saturday morning I had a tablet inserted and then was allowed to wander around going back to the ward every 6 hours for monitoring. By the evening nothing was happening so my husband was sent home and I tried to sleep on the labour ward (tips - noise cancelling headphones and a fan are well appreciated- it was very warm in both wards and the air con was broken). At 2 30 am on Sunday my waters broke so my husband was called back and in a few hours I was connected to a Syntocinon drip.

As I knew that a long labour was ahead I opted to have an epidural early. I also had high blood pressure at this point and the epidural helped bring that down. My midwives were great as I said I wanted to stay active so I was able to sit on the birth ball and still walk to the toilet. The top ups for the epidural were at my request. Quite often I was letting it run quite down and just using yoga breathing to get through contractions. As expected it seemed to take a long time to dilate and the dosage of the Syntocinon was increased to the maximum. At one point I really didn't think it was going to happen. In the early hours of Monday morning I eventually got to fully dilated. Unfortunately my midwife at this point (I had seen a few by then) only wanted me to lie in the bed to push. When I made my point that I wanted to try other positions that used gravity she wasn't too happy and sat at the end of my bed with her arms crossed and told me it would take all day for me to push the baby out. After 45 mins I politely asked her to leave and explained to her supervisor that I needed encouragement. I was left with a student midwife who was lovely. My doctor was excellent and was helping me push but it turned out that the baby had tried to turn to get down the pelvis but had done this at angle and taken a shoulder down with his head so no pushing was going to get him out.

Very quickly we were in theatre for an assisted delivery or c section. I explained that I didn't want to recover from both an epiosomety and a c section and the surgeon said she would make a judgement. We ended up with assisted delivery which involved turning and pulling the baby. It had been useful that during nct classes we had been through the theatre environment as there were around 20 people there and it could have been even more daunting.

Montgomery (Monty) was born at 9.10am and was 9lbs 13oz and as soon as he was born all the effort was worth it - even with him having a wee all over me in theatre.

Recovery is going well and the surgeon assured me that if I have another pregnancy I will still be low risk and can have a water birth next time.

The breathing techniques were really helpful and it was very important to know what options I had once we were on the medical route. Thank you so much. Hope to see you at the postnatal classes.

Catriona (Cat)

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CLAIRE'S STORY

Hi Liz,

It was a good job I missed class last Tuesday as my waters broke at 7 pm on Tuesday evening and I'm happy to announce that our little baby finally arrived at 7:16 am on Thursday morning.

We had a boy, who we have named Arthur (full name Arthur Alexander Douglas Taylor) and he weighed 7lbs 8oz.

Despite 36 hours of labour I got through it on the breathing exercises and labour positions you taught me and only needed gas and air for the final(!) 7 hours when baby turned back to back last minute. Arthur came out with only 16 minutes of pushing - I amazed myself but couldn't have got through it without Adam who was amazing and encouraged me through every single contraction and push.

Now the hard work really beginnings! We are struggling to feed which is making things a bit tricky but we are persevering and hopefully will get there... But the hard work is worth it - I'm completely in love with him.

I wanted to say a big thank you for all your help. I'll miss the Tuesday classes and all the pregnancy chats with the other mums to be - I hope the rest of their pregnancies and deliveries are as positive as mine has been. Next time you are in Norfolk Street pop in for a cuddle although I'll try to visit class when we're settled and I'll be signing up for postnatal yoga!

Claire xxx

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EMILY'S STORY

Dear Liz,

Just wanted to let you know that our beautiful baby girl, Georgina, due yesterday, arrived early on Friday morning, 8.2lb. I sadly had to have another elective c section as this baby, same as my 1st, was footling breach. However we are both fit and healthy so the disappointment of not having had a natural vbac has now vanished into thin air.

Care at QEQM was impeccable and we were so impressed throughout. I only stayed in hospital for 1 night which was fantastic.

I'm gutted that I will no longer be coming along to your brilliant Tuesday yoga classes. They were one of the highlights of my pregnancy and I only wish (as I said to you last week) that I'd joined your classes sooner as they are truly excellent.

Love Emily x

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HIVER'S STORY

Hi Liz,
Baby update! I went in on Monday 14th March to be induced,(1 week after my due date) I had a very 'unfavourable' cervix and the baby's head hadn't engaged fully. They used a propess and although I had some mild contractions they wore off overnight and so on the Tuesday I was given the gel pessary and I was having quite strong contractions on and off, I was given all three doses of the gel which took me to Wednesday evening, by which time I was pretty sick of being in hospital (I'd had to stay in because I was deemed 'high risk' because of high fluid levels and baby's size) They examined me wed night and I was still only 1cm dilated! Basically I was told to see what happened over night but I could probably go home the next day for a 'rest' and be booked in for a c section on the Friday. I was a bit upset about this, especially after three days of induction ...on Thursday my cervix was still unfavourable (I'm sure they could use a less offensive sounding word!) I was told to go home and prepare for the c section. I got my pre meds and was out by lunch time. We went home and had a lovely walk along the seafront with my brother (who'd come down expecting there'd be a baby by the Wednesday!) and then had a curry with my family. While we were walking I said to Andy that id had a really weird sensation of something 'dropping' and joked that the baby's head was engaged now I'd got my head around the csection!
Anyway we went in on the Friday however when I was examined I had dilated further and the baby's head was engaged! I had to make the decision whether to have my waters broken and be induced once more or go ahead with the c section. I opted to try for a vaginal birth so had my waters broken and was put on the drip. I had 7 hours on the drip, the last four of which I was having very strong contractions, I used my breathing techniques from class and a birthing ball and worked hard to remember to relax between the surges... I was able to get through it all with that and gas and air and I am a firm believer that the yoga class really helped! Anyway at 7.30 I was examined again and I had only dilated 1cm further and baby had not gone any further down despite the midwife saying she thought she'd be delivering me before she finished her shift at 8.30! As you can imagine this was pretty disappointing and after all that time on the drip I was gutted that I ended up back where I started and had to have what was then classed as an emergency c section.
However I went in to theatre at 8.30 and when I was behind that screen I did think of how you'd described your c sections and it did calm me down! By 9.14 my beautiful baby was being shown to Andy so he could tell me the sex- a boy, and I got the immediate skin to skin that I wanted, which resulted in successful breastfeeding (he fed for 3 hours on and off as soon as he was born and hasn't stopped feeding since! )We named him Wilfred and he weighed a whopping 10lb7! He's doing very well and I am getting some sleep between feeds!
I want to thank you for all the support, advice and hints and tips... As you said it doesn't matter how your baby gets here because the moment you hold them you forget all of that stuff! I didn't have the natural water birth I wanted but I have my beautiful boy and the c section experience was special in its way.
Hopefully I'll be back for the postnatal yoga once things have settled!
PS I hope I haven't scared any one regarding induction, mine was not an ordinary case and while I was in the induction suite 6 other women came in, were induced and went off and had their babies after just having the propess... my body was just not giving in!

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JOECLYNE'S STORY

Dear Liz,

First of all - apologies for any typos. Im typing this left handed whilst trying to persuade Imogen that she wants to sleep!

I hope you and the class are going well. I thought I'd check in. With you and share my birth story.

I ended up going 12 days overdue and was induced Sunday 6 July at 11 am and my waters broke that evening at 9 pm. I had quite strong contractions straight away and used breathing to songs I'd put onto a playlist to get through. I negotiated an hour in the birth pool as they don't usually let you into the MLU if you've been induced - it goes to show that if you don't ask then you don't get! The pool was amazing and really helped me relax but at midnight I had to go onto labour ward. I had some pethedine as I was already exhausted which was ok but made me hallucinate and go really weird!

Come Monday morning I had only dilated 4 cm so was put on an oxytocin drip with an epidural but by 2 pm I had only got to 4.5 wcm. The monitor was also showing baby's heart rate was decelerating and my contractions had basically stopped. So, we agreed to go in for a c-section. The consultant was brilliant and explained the reasons very clearly and also said I could continue to labour for 2 hours and be checked every 30 mins if I wanted, so I felt I had a choice still, but as soon as I knew baby was in distress I just wanted her out.

So, Ed got to wear scrubs and Imogen Scott Kenny was born at 3:13 pm on 7 July weighing an impressive 9 lbs 5 oz.

Although my birth was about as far removed from any plan I had, I used breathing, relaxation throughout the whole birth - perhaps most so on the operating table. The surgeon said he'd never seen anyone meditate throughout a c- section before! I don't know if I was quite meditating, but you get the idea.

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KURSTIE'S STORY

Hi there Liz,
Thought I would drop you a line to let you know about the new addition to the pregnancy yoga family!
My son, James Dexter Cunningham was born on 13th February at 4:15am weighing 7lbs5. Unfortunately my waters broke at 8am on the 11th February so things didn't quite go to plan. He was back to back for most of the time, which was very painful. After a long time, with not much happening, I ended up having an epidural and hormones to stimulate my cervix (it was still only 1cm dilated after over 24 hours!) Eventually the actual 'pushing part' took just one hour. He had turned round a little but was 'sideways'. I was exhausted and the mention of a c-section was the only thing that helped with the final push!
Although things didn't go quite as planned I did use the breathing techniques and they really, really helped. In particular the 'noise-making' stuff we did was really useful. As you had already warned us, some of the noises that actually came on of my mouth were unusual and unexpected but they really helped! My husband was able to assist with massage using the techniques I had shown him which really helped him feel part of the experience (he was amazing throughout, by the way).
After a couple of days in hospital for monitoring (as the waters broke so early) James and I were allowed home. A wonderful feeling! We are now having lots of fun getting to know one another. I attach a picture for you.
Thanks for all your words of wisdom and techniques which I know really helped me to get through the whole experience.
Kind regards,
Kurstie Cunningham

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LIZ'S STORY

Hi Liz,
Sorry I meant to let you know before the class last night that I won't be coming any more as I had a little girl last week!
She's called Tessa Rose Thundow and she was born at home early on Wednesday morning, weighing 8-11.
Labour and birth went really brilliantly - well apart from the fact we now need a new carpet in the lounge 😉
Unfortunately afterwards my placenta broke up and some got stuck and caused me to lose a lot of blood (nearly 4 pints apparently) so I ended up getting rushed into hospital in an ambulance again. I had to have a quick surgery to remove that and stayed in a couple of nights to have a blood transfusion but came home at the weekend and all is great now 😃
I really enjoyed the classes. The breathing techniques but also lots of the little tips on positions for labour; what was happening with my body and how Simon could support me really helped me with the birth.
I hope to make yoga a regular part of my routine in the future!
Best wishes,
Liz xx

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REBECCA'S STORY

Dear Liz,
I hope you're well. I'm sorry it's taken me so long to write to you - things have been quite hectic since the happy arrival of our lovely little boy, Arthur Alexander Croll, on Sunday 26th October. I wanted to contact you to thank you for the brilliant yoga teaching. I am immensely glad that I came to pregnancy yoga, and really believe it helped me to have the birth I had hoped for. I also wanted to share my birth story with you.

My baby was due on 24th October, and in the few days prior to the birth I became very uncomfortable (I had been suffering with quite bad PGP in my hips and lower back throughout my pregnancy, which I had been having physiotherapy and acupuncture for for around 10 weeks), and this continued to worsen until the night before I gave birth when the pain in my hips was unbearable and kept me awake most of the night. At 3am on 26th I woke up with what I thought were Braxton Hicks, and I woke periodically as I got these contractions until 06:00. Once I got up, I realised that I was getting these ‘practice’ contractions every 15-20 minutes, and that they might not be Braxton Hicks after all! I had a show at around 08:00 and was then fairly sure that things were probably on their way, but kept my husband calm by telling him I was getting strong Braxton Hicks, though he guessed fairly quickly that they were more serious. I continued to get regular contractions all morning, but knowing that early labour could potentially last for days, I just kept busy and active, mixing activity with rest (watching TV on the birth ball, stacking the dishwasher, making breakfast etc.). My husband was fantastic and started getting stuff that I had put on his things-to-do-before-we-leave-for-the-hospital list ready without disturbing or panicking me - what a star!
We took the dog to the park at around midday, which was a good distraction and kept me moving. Around this time my contractions also started getting closer together (around every 6-10 minutes), and when we got home I decided to try and rest. However, lying down made the contractions twice as painful, so I decided to prepare a roast dinner to keep me busy. The afternoon seemed to fly by, though by the time it came to finishing the dinner I had resorted to sitting on my birth ball and walking around the living room, leaving the rest of my family to cook. At 17:30 we had dinner and by 18:30 my contractions were coming more frequently (around 3 in 12 minutes). I phoned the hospital but they said if I was still coping well with the pain I should stay at home until I was getting 3 in 10 minutes. We followed this advice and started using the TENS machine to take the edge off the pain. At this point I also noticed that sitting on the birth ball was slowing the contractions down so I stayed standing as much as possible. At 20:00 I had 3 contractions in 8 minutes and they were becoming really quite painful. I phoned the hospital and was told to 'slowly start getting things together at home and make my way in within the next 2 hours’. At this point I will be forever indebted to my husband for urging me not to act slowly, but to get ready as soon as I could. We left the house at 20:50 with my mum (my second birth partner), and the journey to the hospital took 25 minutes, during which time my contractions were every 4 minutes and felt very strong.
Upon arrival at the hospital we were seen by a lovely midwife and HCA, who were at first in no rush to examine me. However, since the midwife was having to wait for each contraction to finish before continuing her assessment, she urged the HCA to start filling the pool. On examination I was 6cm dilated and by now my contractions were very close together. I got in the pool at about 22:00 and felt instant relief from the pain, but it also sped the while process up as there was barely a minute between each contraction at this stage. The midwife left the room and the HCA stayed with me. She seemed genuinely surprised when I said I felt like I needed to push and rushed off to find the midwife. The contractions were intensely painful by now; the heat of the pool had made me feel quite faint and my husband asked if I could have some gas and air. They offered it to me but I hated having the nozzle in my mouth and the powdery taste of the Entinox. I also found it really interfered with my yoga breathing, which had been practising so assiduously all day - I was being urged to breathe in through my mouth and out through my nose, and felt like I hadn’t the time to learn this new way of breathing when I had been managing perfectly well up until now. My husband tells me that I pushed the tube away saying, ‘I don’t like it, it's disgusting and tastes like powder’! I continued with my breathing and used the short time between each contraction to rest and prepare myself for the next one, resting my forehead on the edge of the pool. I remember saying that I couldn't deal with any more contractions and the midwife told me that I very soon wouldn't have to as the baby was well on his way (NB to expectant mums; listen to the midwife in the final stages - if she tells you not to push and just to breathe then do it! I used shallow breathing to stop myself pushing at this point and escaped any tearing). Sure enough, after 4 or 5 big pushes (I wasn't counting!), I delivered my baby at 23:10, weighing 6lb 10.5oz, and was the first to hold him. It was the most intense and wonderful experience.
The midwife told me afterwards that my breathing was excellent and that such a straightforward natural birth is rarely seen at the MLU. I have you to thank for this Liz as I am certain that the yoga helped a great deal to prepare me both physically and mentally for the experience. I should also mention that I had been using Natal Hypnotherapy CDs to prepare for the birth from around 25 weeks, and these really helped with remaining relaxed and using visualisations. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who might be interested, particularly as it complemented the yoga so well.
Thank you again Liz for your help in preparing me for the birth. We are in love with our little boy and are cherishing every second.

With very best wishes,
Rebecca