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After my 1st pregnancy, I was looking for a more positive birth experience so I decided to try an independent midwife the 2nd time around. I wanted to be in charge this time, with a midwife who would get to know me, understand my needs, someone I could put my trust in completely. I also wanted to retain a bit of the magic of childbirth, which is, after all, an amazing thing, and for me, hospitals have a way of making it clinical and unemotional.
I immediately felt a connection with Joy who seemed calm, experienced and positive about our choice to have our baby at home. She believed in me and the power of natural childbirth and I felt she understood me well. Giving birth is an incredibly intimate process that my husband and I chose to share with Joy and it was also important that Paul felt comfortable with Joy too.
The wonderful thing about giving birth at home is that you don’t have to think about anything else but the birth no travelling, no bright lights, no strangers, just soothing music, comfortable chairs and the people you love most around you. When, finally, my contractions started to come thick and fast, Paul ran about setting up the birth pool, phoning Joy and getting towels. The warm waters of the pool were a godsend, soothing my painful back and calming me down but I would be lying if I said I had a lovely time I complained bitterly that I did not want to go through this again and would somebody please make the pain go away. Joy and Paul kept talking to me calmly and I listened and acted upon everything Joy told me to do despite my moaning and groaning.
Joy was the first one to touch my baby as he came out into the water. She scooped him out of the warm water and handed him to me and the joy that I felt at that moment is indescribable. I had done it. I had given birth at home, to a beautiful baby boy. Afterwards we all sat about, eating toast and gazing at our sleeping boy propped up on a cushion and bundled up in towels. It was so lovely to sleep in my own bed later on and to wake smiling at the thought of such a positive birth experience.
We still go and see Joy around Cameron’s birthday as I want him to know her and the important part that she has played in his life. I always want to remember what a wonderful start in life Cameron had and that it was Joy that made it possible.
Rebecca developed severe pre-eclampsia in her first pregnancy requiring induction of labour
We decided to engage Joy following some disillusionment with the NHS and with a view to investigating the possibility of a home birth. Already knowing Joy slightly we had an initial session with her and by mutual consent decided that we could work well together.
Although already well advanced in the pregnancy Joy came in and through regular visits helped with guidance and, probably most important for us, acting as a calming and reassuring partner for the pregnancy experience. Due to personal circumstances at home we came to the mutual conclusion that a home birth would not be the right approach for us and so elected for a water birth at the local midwife-led unit.
Due to some complications that Joy monitored regularly we had to alter our plans as Rebecca was admitted to hospital early with high blood pressure and due to the risks it was decided to have an induction at 39 weeks. Joy supported us through this and helped us in making the right decisions. She was then present for the whole birth experience even when there were further complications and Rebecca had to go for an emergency caesarean.
Luckily all went well and our beautiful daughter Patsy was born in the operating theatre after which Joy was on hand to help guide us in those first few confusing hours. Following the birth Joy attended regularly to both monitor Patsy, pass on guidance for looking after Patsy, and also attending Rebecca who was suffering complications from the caesarean.
Unfortunately Rebecca’s complications became severe and over the next six weeks was readmitted to hospital 3 times. Joy was a wonderful ally during this time and not only used her midwife skills to great effect but also drew upon her years of nursing experience as well to help us.
Although we had multiple complications and a birth completely different from that which we had envisaged Joy was always adaptable and a great source of knowledge and support who helped us every step of the way. Due to the severity of Rebecca’s complications before, during and after the birth it is not overstating the matter to say that without the help of Joy either Rebecca, Patsy, or both of them could well have not been here now.
After a wonderful experience of going through the pregnancy, birth, and post-natal period with Joy we would have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending her services as an independent midwife. As well as the technical knowledge an important part of the service is the relationship between the midwife and the parents and we found Joy to be friendly, reassuring, and always easy to get along with which made the whole experience so much more edifying.
Garnet Chedgey & Rebecca Peck
Lynne gave birth to her third baby at home after two previous hospital births
This was my third pregnancy, after a ten year gap. I already have a twelve year old daughter who was born in hospital weighing 7lb 5oz,after an induced, long, traumatic and very much out of my control birth. My son was born ten years ago weighing 9lb 9oz, also in hospital and again a birth which felt out of my control, carried out on my back resulting in painful stitches.
I enjoyed my third pregnancy. I felt healthy throughout and looked forward to the birth being older, more experienced and assertive enough to make sure I got the positive birth experience my new husband Sean and I wanted. During this pregnancy I read many books on childbirth, and knew I wanted a home birth this time. I felt strongly that a lot of hospital intervention was unnecessary and therefore making a potentially wonderful experience impersonal, stressful, overly painful and sometimes horrific.
A number of my friends are qualified midwives, and they informed me that a home birth on the NHS in my area was highly unlikely. I hired independent midwives Joy Horner and Mary Cronk, bought a birth pool, and believe these are two of the best decisions I have ever made!
A week before my due date I experienced strong and regular contractions, but they stopped and started periodically. This was quite annoying as it felt like the ‘real thing’ a few times. Two days before my due date I’m sure my contractions were so strong that I was probably 3 or 4 cm dilated, but once again they stopped. This stop/start activity continued until the morning of my due date on February 6th. I was seriously fed up by then, but Joy reassured me that everything was normal. (If I’d have been in hospital I would have been induced.)
At 7am on my actual due date I had a no doubt about it. I could no longer talk through the contractions, and had to concentrate on breathing instead. Sean phoned work to say he wouldn’t be in, and I prepared the older children’s lunch boxes as usual. As the morning progressed so did the contractions, I was excited. My children went to school and Sean put together flat packed furniture! At 9am Joy was phoned and the pool was prepared. I leaned on Sean for support whilst concentrating on my breathing, which really helped. I had the TENS machine on, which I also found was a useful distraction.
When the TENS no longer seemed enough I decided to try the pool, a little scared it would make no difference. Actually it was wonderful, and a lot warmer than I expected. It took away a considerable amount of discomfort. At 10.30 contractions were every 5 minutes and lasting 90 seconds. I knelt over the edge of the pool, which was the most comfortable position, and Sean mopped my brow and looked caring. 11am and contractions were every 3 minutes and painful. I felt worried that I wouldn’t cope, but breathing out hard and remembering that it was totally natural really helped. Not thinking of contracting but opening, and working with my body.
In the pool my waters went with a pop, which reassured me that everything was on its way. I’d had no uncomfortable internals at all and so was unaware of how far dilated I was. After this the contractions were very intense, and I politely requested some gas and air. It was only ten minutes after this I felt myself pushing, I felt down between my legs to support my baby’s head and remember feeling an ear! The pain disappeared as I was so excited to have given Sean a baby. Michael was born at 11.40am and opened his eyes immediately and stared at me. Sean cut the cord after it had stopped pulsating. I was so proud of myself, and I can’t believe looking back that we were sat in the pool for an hour just looking at each other, waiting for the placenta (which eventually was delivered when I changed position to get out of the pool). It was so lovely to be in my own home, with family members, and able to have whatever I wanted to eat or drink. There was no mess to tidy up, just the pool to empty. I was over the moon that I had needed no stitches, this I’m convinced was due to the relaxed atmosphere and being in the right position for the baby. I felt unbelievably well.
When my children arrived home from school they couldn’t believe it was our baby! Everything at home was how it was when they left in the morning.
I am so grateful that independent midwives like Joy and Mary exist. Without them I would have had to go to hospital again, and would definitely not have such an amazing memory to look back on. Thank you Joy.
Fiona gave birth to her first baby at home“To me as a mother, the relationship with a midwife is about trust, confidence and support. I want to trust my midwife to give me balanced information, have confidence she will answer my questions accurately and honestly, and support my decisions as far as is possible for the safety of myself and my baby.Few of those elements were present once we started talking about homebirth with our NHS midwife. We were given the risks of homebirth and the benefits of hospital, but not the flip side of the discussion. In my opinion any decision made on such information isn’t “informed”, it is coerced.The midwife’s further comments dented our confidence in her competence, and by association, the competence of her team.We felt the relationship had been tainted to such a degree that we would not have been able to trust that an intervention or transfer was suggested because it was relevant to me and my situation, so much as because a tick box list said it ought to be done regardless. So we turned to Independent midwives.For me it was the best decision we ever made. We felt truly supported and because we had confidence that Mary and Joy would follow our plan as far as was safe, we would have trusted implicitly any advice to deviate from it. It was refreshing to be with midwives who’s “normal” seemed to be that a woman can birth a baby with minimal intervention and assistance, and it gave me as a mother a HUGE amount of confidence that I could do it.I was surprised that I stayed calm and quiet throughout labour. I had so much trust in Mary and Joy that I could turn off most of my rational brain and let my body get on with birthing Abigail in the way it felt was best.”
I decided to use an independent midwife for the birth of my twins as I wanted to try for a hoe birth and it was made clear to me by various NHS staff that this was not possible for twins, particularly given my age. I was introduced to Joy through Mary Cronk, the lady I originally contacted. I can honestly say that my meeting with Joy & Mary was the first time I had actually felt positive about my pregnancy, given the approach I had experienced from the NHS paediatrician and my own slight panic at expecting twins. My husband had been concerned about trying for a home birth, but once again after meeting Joy & Mary he felt much more reassured and was happy to go with it.
Joy visited me regularly through my pregnancy (along with Eleanor the 2nd Midwife). As well as doing all the normal checks and attending scans with us, Joy made sure I had plenty of opportunity to think about how I would like the birth to be, whilst at the same time ensuring we planned for a hospital birth, should things not go according to plan.
As it happened my planned for home birth was not to be as I gave birth very prematurely to my twins at 26 weeks. Joy & Eleanor remained with me throughout the delivery in hospital, and whilst the situation was very stressful I felt very reassured by their presence. Joy visited me in hospital and then at home afterwards and also visited the babies to check on their progress. The babies were in neonatal intensive care then special care for a total of 14 weeks. Whilst the neonatal staff were excellent and I was kept well informed of things, it was good to have Joy to talk things through with during this time, and her experience of neonatal nursing was invaluable.
People have asked me since if I thought I had wasted my money by having an independent midwife, given how things worked out. I actually don’t think this is the case at all. I developed a good relationship with Joy & Eleanor which meant that I felt I had some real advocates during the whole very stressful period.
I cannot recommend independent midwifery care, and Joy in particular, highly enough.
Tina gave birth to her second baby, Jack, at home in water (13 days after her estimated due date):
I was expecting my second baby and booked with an Independent Midwife who’d looked after me when I gave birth to my first baby 2 years previously. I hoped I would go into labour before my due date as my chosen midwife would not be available afterwards (she would be on her honeymoon). As the date approached she introduced me to another Independent Midwife called Joy Horner. I was happy with my midwife’s recommendation as I knew and trusted her. I met Joy just before my due date and we had another 4 appointments before I went into labour. During this time we discussed what my options were if my labour would not start in the next couple of weeks. I felt supported in my decision to await natural labour, but was happy for the baby to be monitored at the hospital.
On Sunday 13th August I was 12 days past my estimated due date and I went for a CTG at the hospital to assess my baby. The test was fine and I returned home with a plan to return to the hospital for an ultrasound the next day. I asked Joy if I could have a membrane sweep which she did that day.
I woke on Monday morning and felt my waters break at 08:45. I sat on the toilet laughing at how funny it was feeling my waters trickling away. Mark sent Joy a text at 08:50 and she was with us by 9:20am.
I was sat on the settee on a towel, Mark was with me and my mum was on her way. Mark started filling the birth pool and my daughter had her breakfast as Joy checked my pulse and blood pressure and listened to the baby’s heartbeat. I had some tightenings at 10am and my mum arrived to look after Jennifer. By 10:15 I was having contractions every 5 to 10 minutes lasting about 45 seconds. At 11am Joy called the second midwife to attend. When the pool was full I got in and felt great relief. The pain was more intense than my first birth (Joy told me afterwards that my baby was in the OP position, with his back to my back). This caused me lots of backache and pressure which felt like I wanted to push. Joy couldn’t see the baby’s head and after a while asked if she could do an internal to assess what was happening. I was 6cm dilated and my waters broke. The pains became extremely uncomfortable and I found it hard to get comfortable. Mark reminded me to concentrate on my breathing which really helped.
I was only occasionally aware of my daughter as she played happily in the next room. I felt the pressure increasing and knew that I was almost ready to push my baby out. I insisted that I had to go to the toilet and mum went with me, but Joy was just outside as she knew how close I was to giving birth. Mark, Joy, and mum helped me hurriedly back into the pool where I knelt and felt myself pushing. It must have only been a couple of pushes before his head was born. One more push and my son Jack was born at 2:32pm in the pool. Joy passed him through my legs and into my arms. I was so pleased that I had done it and that he was healthy. Mum and Jennifer came over to the pool and we all kissed. Jack was so alert, he had his eyes open as soon as he came out. I soon remembered that I had to push out the placenta. It didn’t seem to be coming so I decided to leave the pool. As I stood up the placenta came away at 3pm. What a relief. Mark cut the cord and I walked to the settee where we all sat admiring Jack. He breastfed straight away and Mark put on his first nappy and dressed him. He weighed 8lb 6oz and giving birth had hurt a lot. After a while Mark and I walked out onto the balcony and he proposed to me. We returned and showed the midwives the ring and there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. I had something to eat and drink and was pleased to learn that I didn’t need any stitches.
It was incredible knowing and trusting my midwives before the birth… TINAI decided to book an Independent Midwife after two induced and traumatic hospital births which left me feeling that I had some how failed and that my body could not do what it naturally was supposed to. My second baby should have actually been born at home, but I am glad in some ways that it did not go ahead as I felt that I had no support from the NHS Midwives, only met them 3 times during pregnancy and in fact felt that they did not believe in or enjoy delivering babies at home.Therefore with my third pregnancy I had the view that I would rather have as little involvement with the hospital as possible and have the homebirth I so longed for as this was my last baby. I knew within minutes of meeting Joy Horner that I would love her to take care of me and my unborn baby, my Husband took a bit more convincing as in my previous labours the babies were not in a great condition at birth – something which I believe the inductions contributed to but Joy ease his nerves with her knowledge. The cost was another issue but the option of monthly instalments made it possible.I sailed through pregnancy and thoroughly looked forward to my visits with Joy, all in the comfort of my own home. Joy was always on hand with advice if I had any worries or concerns. One of my main concerns was would I be able to cope with the pain of labour at home as with both of my hospital births I requested epidurals which then failed. As it turned out I should not have worried, here’s my birth story:At 12pm Thursday night my membranes ruptured, Joy was with me within the hour to check that all was okay, after confirming that everything was fine she left for home and I went to bed to wait for contractions to begin. I must admit in my mind I really thought that I would need to be induced again as the reason for my second induction was the fact my membranes ruptured and no contractions began, and the NHS midwives gave two internals which put me at risk of infection.However Joy explained that if is she did not carry out any internals, not to have baths and to refrain from any sexual intercourse then it would be safe to wait for labour to begin on its own. In the end I waited 72 hours, I had a CTG Saturday afternoon to check that the baby was okay, and everything was fine. Although the hospital did book me in for an induction the following morning – something I was not prepared to do. I believe that it was only the fact I had the support of Joy and felt stronger this time that I was not rail roaded into something that I did not want.As it turned out that evening my contractions started at around 11.30pm, I phoned Joy at 12pm and she was with me within the hour. I can honestly say that I didn’t even know that I was in active labour, yes it was painful but I felt so in control in my own home and trusted Joy’s ability and judgement 100%, and finally believed in myself and my body. I had one contraction that I found excruciating which was when I was laid on my back – no wonder my other two labours had been so painful as I was in that position for 9 hours!!!!My original plan had been to labour in the pool but to deliver outside the pool, as it turned out out I laboured outside the pool sat in an upright position on my sofa and delivered in the pool as it took my poor Husband and Mum 2 hours to fill the pool with kettles.Joy confirmed at around 3.45am that I was 6-7 cms and by around 4.05am I had the urge to push – Kacie was born at 4.20am and although she had a slight problem breathing Joy was calm, immediately on hand and Kacie pinked up and cried. I delivered the placenta naturally with very minimal bleeding. The moment Kacie was born I was so wonderfully proud of myself and my body for achieving something the hospital had made me feel I could not do without intervention. I found it amazing that your body does what it needs to do when it needs to do it and as for the pain it really was not that bad I even feel that I can finally say that I enjoyed labour and have that as a lasting memory.I had my Husband, my Mum and even my 2 1/2 year old Charley with me through the final stages and when Kacie was born we woke Jack my 5 year old and we all celebrated the arrival of Kacie June weighing in at 7 lb 10oz, this was wonderful because the other aspect of a hospital birth I do not like is leaving my other children.Not only did Joy look after me through pregnancy and labour but also for a month afterwards which was great. Shortly after Kacie was born we had the test results back for Group B Strep which was in fact positive – so it was great to have Joy visit each day to observe and check Kacie which made me much less anxious.Looking back one of the best decisions I have ever made was to book Joy as my independent midwife, yes you have to pay for the service but it was worth every penny and more. Joy is a wonderfully caring women who supported me when I needed it most and helped me to realise that I could do what I set out to do. So thank you Joy for making my dream birth a reality and for all those months that you cared for me and Kacie, I feel that Joy was not just my Midwife but a friend of the family now too.
Contractions started Wednesday 10 pm. 12 pm we called Joy, our midwife. She got the next ferry. 1 am. (This client lived on the Isle of Wight and I lived on the mainland). Now we prepared the house for the birth. Table away. Chairs away. Built up the pool. Maria and Katharina are sleeping. About 1 am our Friends from Germany arrive. Later Joy came. What a name for a midwife.We went sleeping now again. But we did not really sleep a lot. So Mandy and me we stood up. The contractions now were so hard that Mandy could not sleep anymore. Long time before we asked Joy to not influence the birth. Unless we ask for help. We so appreciated that she really followed this. She did sleep. Sometimes checked the time, I guess. I don’t really know what she did. We did not notice her.
Because of her long experience as a midwife she knows that she can not know better than Mandy what is good for her and what she would need. Every knowledge turn to no-knowledge once we allow it.
The contractions became strong and stronger. Barely to bear up for Mandy. Doubts whether it really was a good idea to get one more baby again. Strong pain. Very fast progressing. Strong and stronger. Fast and faster. The baby seems to be very clear about coming now.
Mandy asked Joy to reduce the pain. And Joy helps. Thank you Joy, that you are really there for *us*. Be there when we need you. Without any complains. Without knowing something *better*. Simply doing what needs to be done. She brings some gas from the car that Mandy can breathe. I look for an homeopathic idea. Don’t have any. Want to read. Takes too long. Maria! Yes, Maria woke up in the meantime. I ask her to help to choose the right remedy. She is choosing Aconitum. Yes, perfect. Mandy needs to be save in the storm of the birth. That really fits. Everything happens like a dream. It is a dream, indeed. Later I give cuprum metallicum. Copper, the soft flexible metal. This is what we need now. Miriam helps me to pick out the remedy. I feel deep appreciation.
Now I let hot water into the pool. Too hot. 60 degrees. But the pool only fills very slowly. The birth might pass the filling. I am uncertain. Everything is so powerful. So overwhelming. Mandy wants to be in the pool. Now cold water fills the pool. Not really quickly. Seems to be enough water to consider to go in. And Mandy askes to go into. But it is still much too hot. Mandy goes in anyway. It is her decision and she really wants it. It is very comfortable for her. As good as it needs to be. Even the pain disappeared at the beginning. But they come back. Even stronger than before. Fast and faster. Too fast? Too strong? I don’t know. I ask Miriam for Nux Vomica. I really appreciate Dr. Graf’s book that really helps now. I ask Joy whether the contractions aren’t too strong. She thinks strong, very strong. But no sign that anything is not right. Everything perfect. ! ? I don’t give Nux Vomica. It is going on. Into nowhere. Into the real life. The birth.
Strong bearing-down pains. The stage of expulsion? Already now? Why not? Joy askes Mandy to slow down. Just to let it flow and keep on breathing. I give Nux Vomica now. As a sign. The baby is coming. It is very close. Everything seems to be even faster now. It really differs from the previous births. Too late to cook coffee now. As support of the perineum. I give coffea. It only takes a few minutes now until we can see the head. The head is out. Black hair. Mandy, take time. Everything is good. Baby won’t breath as long it is under water. Recreate. With the next contraction the baby is born. Enjoy the water. It is a girl. She doesn’t want to drink now. She needs the recreation. Mandy as well.
Mandy would like to leave the water. She carries Theresa to the bed. The placenta will be born over there. And Theresa starts to drink at the breast. Silence. Recreation.
Later we want to wash the placenta. We wrap it with a towel and put everything into a bag. Nobody thinks about sleeping now. Everyone is happy. Happy about the present.Tracy gave birth to her breech baby by caesarean
By Tracy Knott, mum to Lucy (5), Amy (2) and Carrie (7 weeks).
I want to start by saying I have a lot of respect for midwives. After having 3 babies in St Mary’s in Portsmouth, I have seen a few. I have never encountered one that has not been great. They were, however, always very busy, with scores of women in their care. So, when pregnant for the third time, I decided to enlist an independent midwife, Joy Horner. I did not want a home birth, or any special circumstances, but looked forward to the continuity of care that they can provide.
Lucy, my first baby was born by emergency caesarean section. Amy, my second was delivered vaginally (VBAC as they say in the trade), with a little help from the forceps! This time I hoped for a normal birth in hospital, and planned to use my tens machine and gas and air for pain relief. I was keen to avoid another caesarean section so I would recover quicker and be more able to look after the girls.
Of course things didn’t quite go to plan. The baby was in a breech position from about 28 weeks, and did not seem very keen to change. Now, I was no longer just “high risk” for having had a caesarean section, but also because I was facing a breech birth. We were scheduled an appointment at St Mary’s antenatal Clinic. When I said that I wanted a normal labour, the consultant looked at me like I was a child, barely listened to our reasons and scrawled over my notes that I was going against his judgement. He recommended I book in for a planned caesarean section. I was demoralised after the appointment; I felt railroaded, but he also put doubt in my mind. I did not want to completely ignore medical advice. It seemed that I would either have to have a caesarean section, or have my baby at home. My midwife however, was fantastic she was not worried; she gave me lots of research on breech births and VBACs, including the hospital’s policy, which did not exactly mirror the consultant’s opinion.
After reading all the information, it seemed to me that I was not putting myself or the baby at greater risk if I went for a breech birth, providing the labour progressed well, and that the midwife present followed recent breech birth “hands off” guidelines. This is when the midwife allows the baby to birth without any assistance, reducing any damage to the baby.
I did not feel like making a stand, or causing a fuss, but I now felt that going into labour naturally was the right thing for me to do. I did, however, still want to be at the hospital, in case any assistance was needed. My midwife made some calls and informed the Head of Midwives (HOM) of my situation, with whom she made an appointment. This changed everything for me. My family and I went to meet the HOM and she was fantastic. She understood my situation and reasons for my choices for labour and birth. She was friendly yet professional, making sure I was clear on the hospital policies. Basically she was happy to accommodate us in her wards and encouraged us that although midwives do not always have lots of experience or breech births (which is no wonder, if mums meet consultants like I did!), but they do all have training which prepares them.
I went into labour on my due date, and went into the hospital with my midwife when labour was well established. We were accompanied by Mary Cronk, another independent midwife, with particular expertise in breech birth. We were met by a hospital midwife, who was fantastic. She was not fazed by the prospect of a breech birth and welcomed us warmly. It was all going to plan, until the pushing phase, which seemed to be taking a while. This is not a good sign, as the bottom, which is coming first, is normally fairly quick to appear. After an hour and a half or so, my midwife decided it would be best to opt for a caesarean section. I agreed.
Carrie was born around half an hour later with no complications, thanks to the efficient operating room staff. Although this was not the plan I had in mind, I was very happy that Carrie was here and we were both OK. I honestly felt better knowing I tried to labour her, and am pleased that I had the opportunity to give it a go. It amazed me how great the midwives at the hospital were when faced with a planned breech birth, after the reaction I had received from the consultant. I am sure that other women have either been pushed into have their breech babies at home, or are cornered into a caesarean section at hospital, when it really may not be what they want to do.
Story to come…