I can hear it now. “No two pregnancies, labours or births are the same”. “Every birth is unique”. So when it is my own voice, saying this to expectant parents, I shouldn’t have been surprised by my second birth experience. Yet somehow I was caught off guard! I had always heard that second babies often come faster; that the birth is shorter and somewhat easier. I often heard people saying things like ‘if only our second babies were born first’!. This, however, was not the case for me. This little monkey had a different plan. You can read about the arrival of my first born here.



A lot had changed since the birth of my first baby; 3 years prior. I had been transformed by his birth. I had been to that off shore place, tapped into strength, courage and resilience that I never knew I had, and come back a different person. I experienced my biggest achievement in life by far and was whole-heartedly proud. Transformed, my life took a different path. I was now driven and passionate about supporting other parents, through their own experience; to have, their best birth, for them. So in the space of a year, alongside conceiving and growing my third baby (my second pregnancy ended in early miscarriage), I trained and qualified as a doula with the BirthBliss Academy, and was awarded my Diploma in Hypnobirthing (Katharine Graves).

So as I sit here now writing my second birth story, with those qualifications under my belt, I have to admit I feel a little conflicted. People are usually curious about my own birth experiences. I’m sharing antenatal education, hypnobirthing techniques, and often, offering a new perspective. And I can see it in their eyes – “did you have a doula? Was it pain free? Was it short? Was it a natural?” and “yes, but did the KGH techniques work for you??”

My short answer is yes. But perhaps not in the way people imagine. In my doula training, the first exercise was to debrief our own birth experiences. The most important step in being able to fully support other birthing parents, is to have gained closure on our own births, so that we can go forward without any unresolved niggles or ‘baggage’ that may impact on our ability to objectively support the choices of others. It was suggested to us that we don’t share our own birth stories with clients, and I get why. My experience, while interesting, is irrelevant to how I can support parents, because, as my second birth confirmed, every birth is unique. If asked ‘what was your birth like’, the answer that doulas are recommended to give is ‘if you are still interested after you’ve had your baby, ask me again”. And do you know what? Not one client was asked me after they have had their own baby! It is irrelevant because every birth is unique. There seems to be an expectation that as a doula and hypnobirthing teacher, my own births must be an example of what I teach.

So I like to start with a few key messages.

Firstly, let’s make one thing perfectly clear – neither of my birth stories are any more important than anyone else’s. How it went for me is no better demonstration of using hypnobirthing than how it went for someone else. My certification and experience as a doula and hypnobirthing teacher, does not qualify me to have complication-free births! Birth, like life, has risks and is unpredictable, no matter whom you are!

Secondly, I believe that the end goal isn’t (if it is, it shouldn’t be) about being ‘pain free’, ‘natural’, or ‘short’. No one gets a medal for the shortest labour or whoever needed the least amount of pain relief. There is no 1st, 2nd or 3rd place. Birth is not a competition. Instead, an awakening of our inner resilience, strength, courage and capability; these should be the end goals. Knowing how you want to be cared for when we birth; respected, empowered, listened to; these should be the end goals.

Thirdly, when showing videos of dreamy births or ‘positive’ birth stories, I am doing so from the position of wanting to inspire; to point out different things to learn from each video/story and providing antidotes to the type of birth imagery we have most commonly been exposed to. But, I do not share them as goal setters. They are not shown as a guarantee that your birth will be the same (although if you’re a healthy Mum and Bub and you’d like a birth like that, I totally believe you can!), for the basic and realistic fact that, as I like to emphasise, every birth is unique. But, I share and show and teach, that these are suggestions that birth can be a totally wonderful experience, and anyone can most definitely maximise their own chances of having a wonderfully positive experience.

With one birth experience in New Zealand under my belt, and as a newly qualified birth doula and hypnobirthing teacher, this is how I maximised my chances; second time around, and in the UK…

  • I hired an Independent Midwife. In the absence New Zealand’s leading model of midwifery care, and knowing how crucial that continuity of care was first time round, this made all the difference for me.
  • Knowing what a difference it makes, I nurtured my state of mind. I practiced hypnobirthing. Re-read the books. Avoided negativity and saturated myself in inspiring birth stories. I practised my breathing techniques, worked on my visualisations and did birth relaxations most evenings.
  • I ate well and kept fit by doing exercise I enjoyed. I walked, swam, joined a pregnancy exercise group, and made regular use of my pregnancy yoga DVD.
  • I practiced perineum massage.
  • I sought the love and energy of my most trusted female friends around the globe. I asked them to send me a bead and a birth affirmation. I made a necklace with the beads (which I wore in labour), and turned their affirmations into bunting and decorated my lounge. I read them, over and over.
  • I arranged the support of my Mum to help with my 3 year old at the birth.
  • I prepared for a birth were I would felt safest; at home.
  • My partner supported my choices. He was a fantastic hypnobirthing partner and helped set up my birthing nest using dim lighting, whispers, calmness, light touch massage, a pool, and a healthy dose of trust.

With my preparations in place, I felt relaxed, excited and ready to wait. Trouble was, no one else was ready to wait! I woke up on Sunday 19th April feeling frustrated with the constant inquires as to my baby’s arrival. I needed to keep busy. Soon enough, on the way back from the shop, that I started feeling irregular, crampy, tightening sensations.

In the early hours of Monday 20th, at around 1am, I was certain that ‘things’ were occurring, and as it turned out, they were. I recorded on an app that I was having a sensation every ten minutes, lasting around 30 to 40 seconds. Yay! I timed them for about an hour and a half, meanwhile texting friends to let them know something was starting! Knowing I needed to rest and do my best to ignore them, I tried to get back to sleep.

To my disappointment, come Monday morning, everything had stopped. I rang Sarah (our midwife) just to let her know, and I planned to ring her again later in the day to update her. Dom worked from home, and sticking to our labouring tradition, we did the grocery shop! In the afternoon I got a bit of rest, then we decided to go for a family walk to try and get things moving again. Our walk turned into a more of a ramble; over muddy terrain, under low lying branches and through a field with Shetland ponies who were quite frankly too friendly for my pregnant liking. It made me giggle though, which was great relaxation. My favourite part of the walk was through a field of bright yellow flowers, which looked dazzling against the bright blue sky (we later chose to plant a piece of the placenta).

We got home and I updated Sarah (the mild surges had returned, yay), who came over at around 7pm. Isaac had just gone to bed and the surges were still around one in ten minutes. I enjoyed a wonderful foot massage and Sarah applied some acupressure on my feet and ankles to aid labour. I agreed to an internal examination and she confirmed I was 4 cm dilated. So we settled in for the evening and got things in the room ready, including filling up the birth pool and getting the video camera in position, and called my Mum to come (she lived about an hour away). Sarah dabbed some clary sage essential oil onto a cotton wool ball and taped it to my vest.

Resting as much as I could, I got up to make a cup of tea at about 9pm, and all of a sudden I felt my waters go – just as my Mum arrived. Sarah called our second midwife, Liz, who arrived at around 10pm, just before Nanny left to spend the night in a local bed and breakfast.
With my waters gone, I anticipated a natural and fairly swift progression in labour.

Oh how wrong I was!

An hour or so later, (spent watching a funny movie together) there was no change and it was getting late. Off to bed Dom and I went, with the recommendation from Sarah and Liz that we snuggle up with plenty of oxytocin inducing kisses and cuddles, before getting some sleep. Sarah and Liz set up camp on the sofas.

Through the night, my midwives took turns to pop in and listen to me and my baby hourly - we were both healthy and relaxed.
Listening to my body, there was a point when I could no longer remain lying down with each surge. Being upright on the bed and leaning against the window-sill felt much more comfortable. Over time I became increasingly restless, and I felt that something had to change.

We returned downstairs to two dozing midwives. I tried the pool and got out again. Then paced about. Relaxed. Then sat on a birth stool. Used my up breaths. Then sat on a ball. Had some light touch massage. Then paced around some more.

In the darkness of the early hours of Tuesday morning, I noticed my morale was dropping. I was starting to worry that with my waters broken, time was now of the essence. Was something wrong? Why was it taking so long? Why did my surges feel inefficient? I released these concerns to my wonderful midwives, who were so grounding and reassuring, reminding me that steady progress was being made as every single surge would be making a difference. Every surge was steadily bringing my baby closer.

Before I realised, light was coming in through the cracks in the curtain. A new day had begun, and my 3 year old was up wanting breakfast. As I greeted the day, I affirmed to myself this is the day I will meet my baby and my morale soon started to lift and I could feel the calm hopefulness return.

After breakfast I agreed to another examination. To my disappointment, not only was my cervix unchanged at 4cm, but my baby’s head was at a wonk, which would explain why labour had not progressed. My midwives were amazingly patient and pointed out that although my cervix remained the same, the surges were working hard to help mould and shape baby into the best position for birth. I couldn’t help feeling a bit disappointed, and thoughts of a transfer to hospital for ‘failure to progress’ interrupted my mind. The hypnobirthing techniques were so helpful at helping me stay calm and relaxed and keep that adrenaline at bay. My birth team were amazing too and my skilled and committed midwives knew that with a healthy bubba and mumma, there was still lots we could to do aid baby’s position. How? With walks and lunges and a calm state of mind! We made a plan to go walking and lunging once my 3 year old was at preschool. Sarah stayed to help me, while Liz popped out to see another client.

And then, shortly after tidying up the breakfast things, in what felt like an instant, everything changed!

Within a matter of minutes, my surges really ramped up. I was so relieved! Yay! These were the kind of big Up surges I was familiar with and I welcomed each one with open arms! They were quickly all consuming, requiring my full focus, Up breathing, swaying and leaning over the table. Sarah could see that things were changing quickly, and applied acupressure to my sacrum which felt amazing. I could feel him navigating the pelvis, and Sarah said she could physically see my pelvis shifting to accommodate him! Somehow, this clever little monkey had figured out (with support of the surges whose efficacy I wrongly doubted) what he needed to do to get into the optimal position for birth. Once he had it figured out, it was all systems go.

I called Mum to come quickly to play with Isaac upstairs. We set the camera to record.

I melted into in the pool.

With my positive statements of birth playing to the room, using my down breath and visualisations, I welcomed the sensation to bare down, and had 30 challenging yet satisfying minutes of pushing. And at 8:30am on Tuesday morning, he was born! Using my antenatal education and with support from my midwife I consciously birthed my baby’s head slowly (I wanted to avoid a repeated tear), and just like my first baby, his shoulders and body followed in the same surge, and before I knew it, he was lifted out of the water and was skin to skin, having a cry, and in my arms!



Our baby Asher started to feed straight away in the pool, and once the chord had stopped pulsating, I got out to birth the placenta. Isaac cut the chord and took delight in the messy and sensory experience of exploring the placenta with Sarah.

Before I knew it, I was tucked in up in my own bed with my gorgeous new baby, my Mum was taking Isaac to pre-school to share the exciting news, and Dom was putting our lounge back to normal and bringing me lunch!

So much love!