A father's story and a doula's tale - Amelie's birth

(Richard is Rosie's husband) The build up to the day of the birth was getting more stressful as each day “overdue” passed. For every “any news yet” text or message Rosie had, I had the same questions every day in work! It felt like we were getting pressured from every direction. I am so proud of Rosie for persevering and sitting it out.


Anyway, at 2pm when Rosie woke with regular contractions I was still thinking “no, this can’t be it”. I thought it would just tail off to nothing again. Even when phoning the labour ward and our doula I didn’t think it was actually going to happen.


The morning progressed much as Rosie described it. I spent the first few hours following Rosie around and rubbing her back when she needed it. During one monitoring of baby’s heartbeat, the m midwife struggled to find it. It took her what seemed like a few minutes (probably more like 20 seconds). It felt like my heart stopped for the whole time she was moving the doppler around. I know Rosie felt the same. My mind suddenly filled with awful images of what could be happening. Eventually there was a heartbeat and all was well, but for that moment I feared the worst. From then on it was pure excitement and awe. I remember thinking how calm Rosie was throughout. She never really gets het up anyway, but it was almost like she wasn’t really in labour, it just felt like a small social gathering, something that wouldn’t have happened in a hospital.


The mood was total calm and relaxation. I’m sure the midwives picked up on this vibe and went with it. We used my iPod in a speaker to provide Rosie with her birth music. We’d planned this way in advance as it seemed better than changing cd’s all the time. I imported her Hypnotherapy CD into iTunes and put that on the iPod too. AT one point, Rosie asked why a certain song was skipping, I tried to explain that the iPod can't skip but I don't think she was listening. 


Note from Rosie: I later realised that this was when I was in transition – the music sounded fragmented and just like when a cd skips. But then I realised people’s voices sounded like that too when they spoke. I remember Sallyann saying “you have every right to think that the music is skipping”. Acknowledging what I had said without agreeing!


One of the things that stood out for me was over-worrying about the temperature of the water. We had a thermometer in the water and it didn’t move much outside of the recommended temperature range (36-38°c). The midwife was quick to let me know if it needed topping up anyway.


It was great having Sallyann there as she provided support for us both. If I had to nip to the loo or make some food or drinks I knew that she was there with Rosie. And I think that for Rosie to have two people she could rely on was a great help.


I missed the 3rd stage, which I’m a bit gutted about. After Amelie was born it all went a bit too quick. I’d missed a conversation Rosie had with a midwife regarding the 3rd stage (even though we had it all written in the plan). Maybe we should have encouraged the second midwife to read the birth plan when she had arrived. I was handed Amelie to get dressed. I hadn’t dressed a baby for 8 years, since my son was a baby. I’d forgotten what to do. So I was concentrating on doing this task whilst Rosie delivered the placenta after a few minutes of receiving the injection.


If I had that time over again I would have definitely recorded the actual birth, the moment where Amelie was born into the water. I’ll never forget the image of her floating under the water with her arms and legs sprawled out and her looking up at us all. She was only there for a few seconds, but it was the most beautiful few seconds of my life. One second just the two of us, and then a second later we had this beautiful little creature to spend the rest of our lives loving.


I am amazed by everything she does. How she knows how to feed; her tiny fingers and toes, even the pooey nappies. She is perfect. The whole birth was perfect. I am so proud of her and Rosie, they were a great team.




Pool - Don’t worry too much about the water. It keeps its heat for a long time. Ask the midwives to let you know when it needs topping up with hot water. When you’ve used one kettle full, fill it up and boil it again.


Towels - I know the old cliché of hot water and towels, but we went through ALL of our towels and had nothing to wrap Amelie in! (We had 10 months to prepare for this and we still weren’t ready).


Snacks - Make sure you have bread for toast and plenty of tea, coffee and milk.


Ice - Rosie went through a lot of Ice during the labour (mainly whilst in the pool). She used it to keep cool on her body and to crunch on. Either get a bag of ice from Tesco’s or make sure you have plenty of ice cube trays (or disposable ones).


Midwives - I made sure that the midwife knew where she could setup her area. Rosie didn't want to be disturbed and so I made sure the midwives were aware of that. It was in the front room away from Rosie. I kept the door between us closed as much as possible to keep down interruptions.


Visitors - We learnt the hard way that you MUST sleep when baby is sleeping, otherwise you’ll never catch up on your sleep. We had too many visitors in the first few days and were unable to do this. Spread them out a bit over the second, third or fourth week, they’ll understand. You will never have this time together again, just the family getting to know the baby.


IPod - If you have an MP3 player I suggest you use it as it will save changing CDs. You can choose the songs you want and the order they play in. If you can, connect the mp3 player to a spear or Hi-Fi.


(Sally-Ann was Rosie's doula)

Being chosen by a couple to attend the birth of their baby is a real privilege.


You hope that there will be plenty of time to get to know them before the birth, so that you can bond and develop a trusting relationship. It is always important to empower the couple to stand up for themselves on the day of the birth, as the doula role is one of support and comfort, rather than coaching and advice.  


Rosie spent a lot of time in the run up to her birth reading and researching, feeding her knowledge and interest in normality. For me it was really wonderful chatting with her about the best way to achieve the type of birth she was hoping for, as her wishes were clear, and she truly believed in her own ability to birth her baby naturally. Richard her husband was fully supportive of Rosie’s wishes, and was keen to be very hands on, again for me this was a huge bonus, as he too believed in her, and was a positive influence.


When Rosie started to have contractions, at 43wks+2, Richard called me, and asked me to come over.  I arrived at about 3.40am, and as I walked in the door Rosie’s waters broke all over the floor!  Rosie had been told that she was 2 cm dilated shortly before I had arrived, so it was difficult to know whether I should be encouraging Rosie to slow down, or speed up.  (In my experience this is an extremely delicate stage, where doing too much too soon can be exhausting, and the women can become very tired later on, when they need their energy the most.) 


In the end, I left Rosie to go with her instincts, and you could see that the contractions were good and strong.  She walked around, listening to her music, and Richard and I took turns to rub her back and tell her how well she was doing.  The midwife kept out of the way during this time, leaving us to it, and only came into the room when it was time to examine Rosie. 


This was really helpful. She followed our lead and respected Rosie’s need for quietness, so during this time nobody really spoke, unless prompted by Rosie. We were very much guided by her mood and what she wanted, offering her drinks and snacks at appropriate times.  


When the pool was being filled I was keen to get Rosie out of the way, as this can often be distracting, sometimes even slowing down labour.  I encouraged her to go upstairs, and offered her a massage.  She found it much more uncomfortable once up there, and I think climbing the stairs had brought on the contractions much more, making them a lot stronger. I tried to get her to lean over the pillows, but again I think instinctively Rosie knew that things were moving on, and she started to ask for some gas and air.  I told her that she was coping really well, and to keep going for a bit longer, which worked for a while.  Eventually Rosie found her voice, and said that she wanted the gas and air, so it was brought to her immediately.  


Shortly after, when the pool was ready, Rosie knew it was time for her to get in.  She was being guided by her body, and felt that the water would give her some relief. She loved the pool, and progressed beautifully, using the gas and air to take the edge off each contraction.  


Rosie benefited from sucking on ice during the labour, it was useful to cool her down, and also gave her something to focus on.  She was excellent at resting between contractions, which is very important to do if you can, in order to regain your strength before the next contraction.


She made some good noises when she felt the need, and really enjoyed working with her body to help her cervix dilate. There was a slight disruption to the quiet calm mood we had all created when the second midwife arrived. Rosie seemed to take this in her stride, and as best as she could, she blocked out the rest of the world, focusing on her breathing, and going into herself during the contractions.  She faced away from all the hustle and bustle of the midwives preparing the room for the arrival of the baby, and this was really helpful.


When Rosie was feeling some pushing urges, the midwife was keen to do an examination.  She found Rosie to be fully dilated and told Rosie she could continue to push if she wanted.  The second stage was about 40 minutes long, and Richard and I held Rosie’s hand and supported her as best as we could.  She was brilliant, and Amelie was born in to the water at 9.45am. 


Rosie’s pride in her own achievement is what inspires me to continue to work with women in this role.  It is incredible to visit them post-natally and watch them bond with their babies. We are still in regular contact, and I look forward to seeing pictures of Amelie change and develop.  


Being a Doula is likened to the role of mothering the mother (to be).  It is also an opportunity to make some wonderful lifetime friends!