Kathy's Story

Rob and I first met Fiona early on in my pregnancy, when I was about 10 weeks pregnant. We had found the birth of our first son in November 2003 very difficult and quite traumatic. I had hoped for a natural birth and had read a great deal on how to help make it a very positive experience, and had booked into a local midwife-led unit for the birth. Unfortunately this was closed just before my due date and I was not looking forward to going to the hospital. There were various complications and our baby was finally delivered by caesarean section nearly 3 days after my waters broke. The hospital staff had been lovely and extremely kind, but we didn 't know them and they didn 't know us. We couldn 't help wonder if the outcome might have been different had we not been in a high-tech environment with strangers. I was dreadfully disappointed to have had such a difficult, painful labour and a caesarean birth. Although extremely grateful that everything had worked out well in many ways, I wasn 't sure that I had done everything possible to avoid a caesarean and I felt a sense of loss and failure. For some weeks after the birth I was extremely emotional, tearful and very sensitive. We thought that this was how women normally feel after giving birth, but realise now that it wasn 't. I felt grateful for our lovely little baby boy and convinced myself that I was being silly, that the manner of birth really made no difference and I pushed all the negative thoughts out of my mind.

It wasn 't until I was pregnant again nearly 3 years later that these thoughts and seemingly irrational fears resurfaced. I came down with Flu and this somehow seemed to trigger vomiting and sickness for several weeks that I hadn 't experienced during my first pregnancy, probably not helped by a growing sense of panic about the impending birth (something else I hadn 't experienced first time around). By 2006, our local pregnancy services had been drastically cut and when I phoned the midwife who would be allocated to me in a tearful panic, she said that she could not see me until I was at least 12 weeks pregnant (I was 10 weeks at the time and concerned about miscarriage, having already experienced one) and that if I had a problem I should go to see a doctor. When we did eventually see her it was clear that she was just too busy to look after us, and by this stage I realised that my feelings weren 't altogether rational and that I would need additional support, which would not be provided by the NHS. I had already started reading up about VBACs and it seemed that my best chance of having a natural birth was to stay at home as long as possible with a midwife who knew me, something which was not possible on the NHS.

Rob was a bit uncertain about my proposed plans but he was shocked at how little care it was clear I would receive during this pregnancy, and he was concerned about me feeling so much more emotional that I had during the 1st. Fiona agreed to come over for an initial chat. Just speaking to her made me feel calmer. She was genuinely interested in us, in our family and in what went wrong during our previous labour and birth. We asked her to be our Independent midwife and never looked back.

Fiona is an exceptional carer, one or life 's givers and someone who is truly interested in helping to give parents the best possible experience of pregnancy and birth. She was a constant presence throughout what turned out to be an uncomfortable pregnancy, and offered all sorts of valuable advice to aid the minor physical difficulties I experienced. Thanks to Fiona I am now a believer in homeopathy and gentler ways of treating ailments. She also talked through all the fears from my first birth that had resurfaced, with the result that I was finally able to let them go (as opposed to pushing them out of my mind).

Kathy's Story I became fairly certain that our second baby boy had been lying across for some months, but the consultant we saw on 23rd August, when I was nearly 36 weeks pregnant, did not pick up on this. By 30th August, Fiona, listening to what I was saying and using her expertise, asked for a scan to verify. A scan when I was nearly 38 weeks pregnant confirmed that the baby was indeed transverse, and I was booked in for a caesarean at 39 weeks. Rob and I trusted Fiona completely, and we knew that we had a much better chance of having a natural birth with her by our side, and so I was extremely upset to not have the chance to go into labour. The baby did turn at the last minute, but then waited around and I did not go into labour until I was nearly 2 weeks overdue. Fiona knew that all of this was unusual, but wholeheartedly and positively continued to support my wish to leave no stone unturned in my desire to attempt a natural birth. She was always gentle, seeking to guide us and help us achieve our aims wherever possible.

My waters broke on a Wednesday morning at 2.30am, and I immediately had painful contractions. Fiona arrived at around 5.15am, and her partner Sheila at around 10.30am. We stayed at home until I wanted to go to hospital at around 2.30 pm. As last time, I had been having painful contractions for many hours with almost no dilation. By the time we reached the hospital and saw the registrar, we were all agreed that we had tried everything and that another caesarean was the only option due to some sort of problem with my pelvis which apparently rendered a natural birth either impossible or extremely long, painful and possibly dangerous.

I was disappointed in the outcome but this time, however, the whole experience was entirely different. From the minute Fiona arrived the atmosphere was calm and loving. During my first labour I was given pethadine, had an epidural and had labour augmented before the caesarean, and I had increasingly felt that everything was out of my control. This time, with the support of two highly skilled and sensitive midwives, I was able to cope with the same pain using just a TENS machine, a birth pool and, at the hospital, gas and air. Fiona and Sheila were wonderful throughout and I felt able to completely let go and place all my trust in them. I knew that there was nothing else I could have done, and that I gave myself the best chance of having a natural birth. Although I would have loved this to have happened, the most positive gift that Fiona was able to give me was the ability to let go of past anxieties and doubts concerning the first birth. I was disappointed at the outcome but this time there were no feelings of anxiety, no negative thoughts to push out of my mind, no subsequent heightened emotions or sensitivities (other than those that everyone expects). Fiona had, over the months we had been in her care, healed me in many ways and we will always be grateful to her for this. She supported both of us throughout the pregnancy and labour, and after the birth. I have no regrets whatsoever about this pregnancy and birth this pregnancy. With Fiona 's help, it was a journey of self-discovery as well as a practical preparation for the arrival of our baby.