Thursday, 17 September 2009

When to call the Midwife

Last week started with a bang - at 2.30 on Monday afternoon I got a call from the mother of a young woman I was filming who was planning on a homebirth. She told me that Amy’s contractions were coming every 3 to 5 minutes so I dropped everything, jumped in the car and drove like a bat out of hell to get to Ashford in time.

When I got there all was peaceful and calm, Amy’s Mum opened the door and I went in to find Amy in the pool, everything seemed under control and I set about getting my camera ready. I asked if Virginia her midwife had been called and they told me that she was at home, so I relaxed as Virginia lives no more than five minutes away. After 15 minutes had passed I felt that Amy was moving on in her labour and suggested that they call Virginia, both Kate (Amy’s Mum ) and Amy seemed surprised that I thought it was time to call a midwife but I felt she was closer to giving birth than they realised. Amy had been practicing her Hypnobirthing technique and I do believe that it can help in blocking some of those messages of pain. Hypnobirthing and Natal Hypnotherapy practitioners do not talk about pain and contractions, but powerful surges instead, pain, being negative and powerful surge being a positive word, so Amy was dealing very well with her surges.

Anyway, back to the story; Virginia was surprised to hear that Amy had got in the pool and was having regular contractions, but somewhere in the communications between midwife and mother the wires were crossed and Virginia was not at home but visiting a client for an ante natal appointment, she left her client immediately and set off back to Ashford.

Virginia called whilst on her way back to Ashford to see if I was already there and so she asked to speak to me, I told her that I thought Amy was close to giving birth and Virginia told me to get her on the floor with her bottom in the air, and for Amy to start panting if she felt like pushing. It was really difficult to get Amy out of the pool as she was comfortable there but I knew I had to do what Virginia asked. At some point Hannah who had covered for me on my trip to Los Angeles had arrived as she had grown close to Amy and didn’t want to miss the birth, so I handed her the camera and I got on with trying to get Amy out of the pool. Another contraction went by and then Amy managed to get out and on to the floor. By this stage it was obvious that the baby wasn’t going to wait and all the will in the world wasn’t going to stop it- about half an hour had passed by since Kate had called Virginia and I asked Hannah to call an ambulance and Virginia too. Hannah called Virginia first and she told us she was only two minutes away, an ambulance would have taken longer than that two minutes so I was glad she was so close. The baby’s head appeared and with the next contraction I caught the baby’s body and put her through Amy’s legs and placed all 8lb 9oz Honey Sofia on Amy’s chest as Virginia rushed through the door.

It had all happened so quickly that it was only afterwards and now as I write it that the shock of what happened hits me. Virginia was disappointed to miss the birth but I’m just so glad that she got there immediately after. Honey Sofia was in perfect condition, she cried immediately as she was born (Apgar 9) and looked very healthy.

So the lesson of this tale is, If in doubt call the midwife sooner rather than later, better to waste their time than for them to miss the event.

Amy’s birth story should be on the site by the beginning of October. You can view Nancy's hypnobirth here.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

I HATE EXERCISE- but it's good for me, and you too.

Those of you that know me well, know that I HATE EXERCISE- so it might come as some surprise when I was asked recently if I minded being photographed at my local cardiac fitness class for my instructor’s site! I have always known that I needed to get fitter, especially when I have been up all night filming a birth, and of course I’m not getting any younger. I started these classes last November when my husband had been attending them for several months, I could see the physical difference in him, and I wanted some of the same. So, although I have not had any cardiac surgery I went along to the class and have been enjoying the benefits ever since. In fact I think I’m a bit like a former smoker who has become a zealot, totally convinced that everyone should do this form of exercise, and I preach to any who will listen! I was chuffed yesterday as I am planning a short break to Los Angeles and needed someone to cover filming for me while I’m away, as I have been following someone who is due to have a homebirth this week . I asked Hannah to stand in for me as she is involved in the local Maternity Services Liaison Committee (MSLC) and is a former producer director with camera experience. She came along to Amy’s 39 week ante natal check up which was with Independent midwife Virginia Howes. Halfway through the check up she asked if she could do some filming and I handed over the camera. After twenty minutes or so there was a lull in the filming and she took a break. Her arms were killing her because, although my camera is quite small it still seems to weigh a ton when you’ve been holding it for a while. She looked at me and commented that I had muscles of steel and how did I manage to keep the camera so steady for such a long time? Some of the births that I have been lucky enough to film have been drawn out affairs, as long as 37 hours and the filming has been hard, but I think now with the extra exercise classes I will be able to cope even better with holding that camera for a long time if necessary.

On the note of exercise I think it’s also very important to keep levels of stamina and fitness up whilst pregnant. There are many types of ante natal classes available that can give you time to focus on you and the baby- life can be so hectic at times, especially when there are other children to look after and perhaps a job to keep down too, so don’t forget to attend a class when you can. Pregnancy, labour and birth and the weeks and months following can be some of the toughest times in a woman’s life, and taking a fitness, aquanatal or yoga class can be just what is needed to get you through.