I’m Abby, Doula in training and proud mummy to three beautiful babies.
My pregnancy journey
I fell pregnant with my first daughter when I was 20 years old. From the moment I found out I was expecting her, I knew I was about to enter the best chapter of my life and she would be the best thing to ever happen to me.
I kept myself in a little bubble during my pregnancy and didn’t think too much about my birth and what I wanted from it. My pregnancy was low risk and uncomplicated and other than a bit of morning sickness it was going really smoothly.
I didn’t think it was necessary to think too much about a birth plan as I was always told “it’ll just go out the window anyway”.
I thought I might like to have a waterbirth and that I was planning on breastfeeding, but other than that I tried not to think about it too much in the hope I would just get on with it when it did happen.
I definitely thought ignorance was bliss and went into the whole situation pretty naïve.
I ended up going into labour at 34+4 weeks, which was obviously a massive shock to me being low risk and I hadn’t even considered the idea of having a premature baby.
My birth itself ended up being on dry land as I was told she was too early for a water birth. I ended up having an epidural at around 7cm and she was then born vaginally.
She was wrapped in a towel, and I was able to hold her for about 5 minutes before she was taken down the corridor to the special care baby unit. She was incubated and put on oxygen and I didn’t get to hold her until the next evening. I was really uneducated when it came to breastfeeding.
I assumed you just have a baby, put them to your breast and that was that. I didn’t realise it works by supply and demand and that your baby has to work to bring your supply up. With my daughter being in special care she was tube fed formula from the start.
I didn’t realise you could hand express until a day after she was born, a midwife sat me down and showed me how to do it. We tried a few times to latch her to my breast too, with no luck. She was given small amounts of colostrum alongside formula, and after spending hours and hours desperately pumping with nothing really to show for it, my milk eventually dried up.
Thankfully she was only in special care for a short while and we were discharged home after 10 days.
Looking back, I wish I’d thought more about my birth preferences and asked more questions about breastfeeding, labour and my rights in birth.
It also turned out that she was tongue tied, which we didn’t realise until she was a bit older, but of course this can be a massive obstacle when trying to get a good latch.
Learning to breastfeed
When I found out I was pregnant with my son, I knew I wanted things to be different.
Due to my first being premature I was under a consultant and we had regular check-ups and appointments to make sure everything was okay. I was super organised and made sure I had a birth plan and a hospital bag packed really early on, just in case we had a similar situation to the last time. I knew that above anything else I was going to breastfeed my son, and that I would have a water birth if it was possible.
Thankfully I made it to 38 weeks with him which meant I was able to have the birth that I wanted. There was a pool free at the hospital and I was lucky to be able to use it. His birth was pretty quick, we arrived at the hospital at 10.30pm when I was already 4cm dilated, and he was born at 12.59am in the water, with just gas and air.
I got to have skin to skin straight away, we stayed in the pool for a while and had delayed cord clamping, I then got out of the pool and got into a bed where we stayed for about an hour. He latched straight away with no problems and had a feed. I ended up staying in hospital for two nights with him, the second night I asked to stay because I wanted to make sure we had properly established feeding before I went home.
He had a really long recovery sleep which meant he wasn’t waking often for feeds, but we eventually cracked it in the early hours of the morning during my second night on the ward, with help from my lovely friend Sophia via Whatsapp.
When two became three
I then found out I was pregnant again with my second daughter just over a year later. This time round I was determined to try hypnobirthing after all the amazing things I had heard about it. I signed up to an online course pretty early on and it completely changed my whole view on labour and birth. I learnt so many amazing things about the way our bodies work and how we can control how we feel during those moments.
I decided that after having two pretty straightforward births the first time around, I wanted to have a home water birth. I had a pool on order and wrote up my birth plan with my community midwife.
Again, my pregnancy was pretty straight forward and low risk. I had been to see a consultant in the early months due to my first baby being premature, but they said they weren’t worried due to my son being born at 38 weeks.
However my second daughter also decided that she was going to come slightly earlier than planned and I went into labour with her at 36+4. As I was three days away from being full term the midwives on duty told me I would need to come into the hospital. We arrived at the hospital at 10.30, and I was given a room on the labour ward straight away. I felt calm, confident and excited that I was about to meet our third baby, who’s gender we had decided to keep a surprise this time.
The midwifes pretty much left me to it as they could see I was in control of my body and knew what I was doing. They came in every so often to check on me, and around an hour and a half after arriving at the hospital I told them I was going to start pushing.
They helped me get into a comfortable position on all fours and my baby girl was born at 12.19am. We had no problems with breastfeeding this time around. I was still feeding my son so my supply came in thick and fast and she had no problems latching on.
I have been tandem feeding my son and daughter ever since and it’s the most amazing thing knowing my body is still providing for them.
When I look back on my last birth it was the most empowering thing I’ve ever done. I didn’t realise until I started training as a Doula that I had some trauma attached to my first birth. Even though it was relatively straightforward, it wasn’t what I wanted. In fact, I didn’t know what I wanted because I didn’t even really think about it. Giving birth the third time round definitely healed me and I would happily do it again and again. I decided to train in Hypnobirthing too and now teach a course through my business “Birth with Abby”. It really changed my life and I want to be able to give other mums the same support and education I wish I’d had the first time around.
Love, Abby x