Jane's story

I'm pregnant'.again! Having suffered two miscarriages, unfortunately we were not filled with the excitement and elation that we experienced first time around. However, we went for a 7 week re-assurance scan, and for the first time saw the flicker of the heart beat on the screen!

After several more scans, all positive, we started to at last think about anti natal care. I went to 'book in' with my local NHS midwife, full of excitement, but was met with indifference, and the news that there would be no continuity between my anti natal, birth and post natal care. Even with my first two appointments I saw a different midwife each time.

I asked about other options and was told about private midwifery, and therefore contacted a few in my area via the independent midwives website.

My first meeting with Sheila and Fiona was very rewarding, since for the first time I met two people who were interested in me and my feelings. They listened to my views and opinions without judging, but still offered helpful advice as well as asking interesting questions which helped me work out in my own mind what I wanted.

Over the next few months I saw Sheila many times, in my home, and for as long or as short as I wanted. We talked through every fear, feeling, emotion and desire to do with my pregnancy and impending birth, and she spent time learning about me, so she could ensure that I experienced the care and birth that I really wanted.

Over the months I began to question whether I wanted my baby in hospital, which was where I thought I would have the best care. However, as I got to know Sheila, I realised that I would receive the best care from her, at home, in my own relaxed environment, but that if it was necessary to go to hospital at any point, we would transfer, and she would come with me.

Jayne's Story One day before my due date I started getting contractions. They came about every hour, and were strong enough that I had to stop what I was doing and start to breath. This continued for 3 days and nights, but never escalated into proper labour. Sheila came and checked me during this time and re-assured me that it was 'pre-labour' and relatively common. On day 3 I was becoming exhausted and decided to have some reflexology to try and induce my labour. During my treatment I had an enormous contraction, which not only re-assured me that I could cope with contractions, but started my labour several hours later.

My waters broke in the middle of the night, so we called Sheila and she came to examine me. Contractions were still irregular so we decided it would be best for Sheila to go home and get some rest, since the birth was imminent!

A few hours later contractions started coming more regularly and strongly. Sheila came back and offered continuous support and encouragement throughout my labour. She also ensured that I ate and drank during this time in order to preserve energy.

My husband was fantastic, anticipating my every need and just being there with me and for me. We really did the first stage together; me, my husband and Sheila.

After about 8 hours I was desperate to get into the birthing pool, and Sheila was at last confident that I was sufficiently dilated that the pool would not slow my labour down.

I climbed into the birthing pool, and almost immediately I entered stage 2 of my labour, experiencing an incredibly strong pushing down feeling. I said to Sheila that I wanted to push, and she told me to listen to my body and do what came naturally. She monitored both mine and the baby's heartbeat regularly, and I felt so assured by this that I never even thought about whether I should be in hospital. I knew I was in the right place with the right care.

After about 3 hours, finally Holly arrived! Fiona had also arrived and was focussed on ensuring the baby had everything it needed, and Sheila focussed on me. I was very lucky since due to Sheila's guidance towards the end I hadn't even suffered a tear, and therefore my recovery from the birth should be straight forward.

Within about 30 minutes I was upstairs in my own bed. Sheila was on hand then and over the next 10 days to assist me with breast feeding. I am absolutely certain that I would not have been able to continue to breast feed if I hadn't have had the coaching and mental support that Sheila gave me over this time.

When the time comes for number two, I can't wait to embark on a similar journey with Sheila and Fiona all over again.