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MK Midwife - Birth Stories

Sue’s Birth
After a long labour and ventouse birth with her first baby, Sue shares her experience of a home water birth with her second baby.

Sarah’s Birth
Sarah shares her experience of pregnancy and birth at home with her 7th baby.

Cathy’s Birth
For her second pregnancy Cathy chose independent midwifery care to ensure the same midwife all the way though her pregnancy and beyond after her first NHS experience and a long tiring first birth in hospital.

Joanne’s Birth
Joanne tells of her experience of an empowering birth at home with her first baby.

Alison’s Birth
Alison’s birth journey took another pathway when she discovered she had placenta praevia.

Nikki’s home water birth
Nikki’s fourth baby was another pool birth at home, using hypnobirthing techniques (her second homebirth with Michelle).

Rachel’s home water birth
Rachel’s first baby was born at home in a birthing pool

Sarah’s Birth Story
Sarah planned a hospital birth with her 3rd baby (1st baby caesarean for breech, 2nd VBAC in hospital) but changed her mind in labour

Alex’s Birth Story
Alex had much to consider throughout her pregnancy with baby in a breech position

Siobhan's Birth Story
Siobhan wanted a homebirth with baby number 4 who was breech (having previously had a caesarean birth, and epidurals).

Camille's Birth Story
Camille experienced a home water birth with her second baby using hypnobirthing techniques.

Sarah's Birth Story
Sarah’s third baby was born at home.

Nikki's Birth Story
Nikki’s third baby was a pool birth at home, using hypnobirthing techniques.

Dinah’s Birth Story
Dinah chose to have her first baby in hospital, using hypnobirthing techniques.

Donna’s Birth Story
Donna's third baby was born at home in the early hour of the morning, while her other two children slept upstairs.

Mary’s Birth Story
Mary was labelled an ‘older mother’ by the NHS and expecting her first baby. Mary planned a home birth, but nature had other plans when she went into labour, 22 days overdue.

Lorraine’s Birth Story
Lorriane had wanted a home water birth, but her baby had a different idea.

Claire’s Birth Story
Claire planned a home birth for her first baby, but decided to have induction of labour.

Sam’s Birth Story
Sam’s first baby was a water birth in hospital.

Elizabeth’s Birth Story
Elizabeth tells her experience of caesarean for breech presentation.

Sue’s Birth Story:

After giving birth to my first Son Jacob in hospital and feeling let down by the care given during the birth, I knew that when I fell pregnant again I wanted the birth to be a positive experience.

Two years on and I fell pregnant with my second Son. My friend had recently given birth and had used Michelle as her Independent Midwife and couldn’t recommend her enough.  At first though I started down the NHS route, thinking the cost was too high, but I think at around 13 weeks I started to think about how I wanted the pregnancy to progress and how I wanted the birth to be different from last time. Neither I nor my Husband has family close by, so another factor for me was that if things took a turn for the worst during labour at least I would have someone with me and Tony would be free to look after Jacob.

Our first meeting with Michelle went well, she filled me with positivity from the onset and it was great to know someone so experienced would be caring for me. She assured me even that early on that I would have a totally different birth experience this time, I have to say though I didn’t quite believe her to start with! (sorry Michelle :o)

We went on holiday a few weeks later where I experienced slight bleeding, having had a miscarriage only 2 months earlier I was very concerned. When we arrived back from the holiday I called Michelle and was amazed when she arrived at the doorstep 10 minutes later!! She put my mind at rest straight away when she found the baby’s heartbeat! 

I had a great pregnancy and enjoyed meeting regularly with Michelle and loved that my Husband could be present at our meetings too, as Michelle books them to suit you.  Jacob loved Michelle instantly and felt really involved when we listened to his heartbeat after the baby’s!

Michelle advocates home water births but I didn’t feel keen on this option to start with, my first thought was ‘what drugs would I be able to have?!’ If I’m honest part of me just wanted to have an epidural from the onset of labour!! I started reading books Michelle had loaned me, the for’s and against of water births (not that there were many against!) and also how most women nowadays just expect drugs to help with the pain instead of leaving it to their bodies to cope with. Michelle also loaned me a Hypnobirthing CD, I was very sceptical to start with and when I first listened to it I laughed when I was told ‘I would be attracted to the right kind of foods’! But the more I read and the more I listened to the Hypnobirthing CD the more I believed that I could do this without the drugs and just trust in my body.

Several weeks on and my mind was made up that I would be having a home water birth.  After listening to the CD everyday for the last 2-3 weeks of my pregnancy and knowing I had the support of Michelle I was actually looking forward to giving birth… how many people can say that?

Two weeks before my due date and I had a severe ear infection, I had been so positive up until this point but was in so much pain and not sleeping that I really thought my ear drum would burst during the third stage of labour (sounds dramatic but it was a Nurse who said it!). Michelle visited me several times and had to put up with me crying on her shoulder and doubting that I would be able to give birth at home when I was already in so much pain, Michelle remained calm and each time I doubted myself she would say that the baby wouldn’t come until I was ready and that even if it did we would do whatever I wanted and either birth at home or transfer to hospital for pain relief. Once again Michelle was right and George didn’t put in an appearance until 4 days after his due date, by which time my ear infection had nearly gone and I was back to feeling positive about the impending birth.

Sue, Jacob and bump Tony & Jacob Laboure

My Surges started in bed at around 12.30am on 27 September; I lay in bed for an hour without waking anyone, timing them to make sure this was definitely labour! I’d had a few Braxton Hicks before so wanted to be sure.

I woke my Husband at around 1:30am and said that we needed to go downstairs as the surges were getting stronger and I didn’t want to wake Jacob. Throughout the next few hours I used my TENS machine and breathed through every surge, counting up and down or imaging a large wave peaking then crashing to the shore. I listened to the Hypnobirthing CD or the accompanying music to it throughout and I felt relaxed and calm at all times, even though I also had to endure the monkey sound from Angry Birds as Tony sat on the sofa with the ipad for hours trying to beat his previous records!!

My Mom was amazed when we woke her at 7:30am so she could sit with me while Tony got Jacob ready for nursery! We called Michelle at 8am once Tony got back from taking Jacob to Nursery as the surges had increased in strength and frequency. We discussed the options with Michelle and decided that as I was coping well and not yet in established labour we would wait a bit longer until she came.

I have to say that Michelle said if I wanted her to come then she would, but I felt like I was coping well and everything was under control. Just over an hour later whilst on the toilet I had ‘the show’ but still wasn’t in established labour as I was only having 2 surges every 10 minutes. Tony phoned Michelle again at 10.23am to say that I was now in established labour (yay!), I was still relaxed and calm, although I have to admit to starting to get a little scared and it was at this point that Michelle walked through the door as I was leaning over a unit in the hall! For the first time I had doubts that I could continue without pain relief and just turned to Michelle and said ‘I’m not sure I can do this’.

I think Michelle knew at this point how close I was and gave me the reassurance I needed and with my next surge a minute or two later my waters broke. Luckily I was standing over a towel! From this point on things happened very quickly, Michelle reassured me again I could do this and said that I should now get into the pool, it was now 11.14am.

As soon as I got into the pool I felt pressure and knew that I was nearly there. I remember starting to get a bit scared as I’d never got to this point with my first birth as it had ended up in theatre so I had no idea what to expect pain wise. Whilst in the pool I was listening to the Hypnobirthing music and remembering all the words that I’d heard to help with the second stage, just feeling pressure and power and that I was to breathe the baby down and not push as we’re all told to do in hospital! I must admit at the first surge I let out my first groan as I thought it would help me and then I turned to Michelle and asked ‘how long is this going to take?’ and she replied ‘that’s up to you’. I thought yes she’s right and got my head down and concentrated on using my breathing to help birth my baby and I can honestly say I didn’t feel any pain, just pressure. At 11.28am Michelle told me the baby’s head was out and with the next surge at 11.30am my baby boy, George was born weighing 7lb 2oz. I turned to Michelle and said ‘I did it’!!

I cannot begin to describe the feeling following the birth; I’m actually emotional writing this. It was the best moment of my life, knowing I was able to give birth without any drugs and being relaxed at home in a lovely warm pool, holding my baby and having skin to skin contact straight away. That feeling will stay with me for the rest of my life, it was amazing!

Sue & George Michelle, Sue Tony & George Cheers!

While I held George in the pool, Michelle helped Tony cut the cord once it had finished pulsing. I had a physiological third stage and so stayed in the pool until the placenta was delivered some 15 minutes later. Then it was onto the sofa for more skin to skin contact and Champagne and chocolates!! Michelle examined the placenta and explained to us how it worked. It was amazing to see and Michelle did a placenta print for us, it was actually in the shape of a heart! Michelle stayed for the rest of the day and provided support to all of us, I was able to have a bath, relax and provide George with all the skin to skin contact I wanted to. When Michelle came back the next day she showed us how to bath George in the kitchen sink; Jacob got involved with this too and helped give his toes a little wash! 

I breastfed for the first couple of weeks and everything was going OK, but I found I wasn’t enjoying it and decided to switch to formula milk. It was a gradual transition that didn’t really agree with George at all, as this is when the colic started (or as we now think he is lactose intolerant) anyone knows having a screaming baby is stressful enough but add a toddler on top of that who doesn’t stop talking and a Mom who blamed herself for her babies discomfort and I sort of went into meltdown. I wouldn’t tell anyone else other than my Mom, Tony and Michelle how I was feeling, but spent most days in tears feeling utterly useless as a Mom. To the outside world I looked like I was coping well.  Unbeknown to me Tony texted Michelle a few times and she would just ‘pop in’ out of the blue! I honestly don’t know what I would’ve done without Michelle’s support at that time.  She suggested trying Craniosacral Therapy. Although I thought this was working at first, after 4 sessions George was still the same, crying before, during and after his bottles and crying for hours in an evening. We tried everything we could think of, switching from different makes of bottles to Dr Browns, we tried changing his formula milk and adding anti colic medicines to every bottle but the only thing that ever stopped the crying was the tumble dryer!! 

Michelle was a constant support to me during this time, through her advice I gradually opened up to people and started to feel more myself again. She arranged for the Health Visitor to come and chat with me so I knew extra help was there should I need it. To cut a long story short, which includes Doctors and Hospital visits? George is now on prescription milk as he was allergic to the formula milk, which seems to be suiting him much better (well the constant crying has stopped anyway!) and he’s enjoying his first few meals!

I would like to say a huge thank you to Michelle for helping me/us through the highs and sometimes lows of childbirth. I can’t recommend Michelle or Hypnobirthing enough!!

Baby George Bath time George
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Sarah’s Birth Story:

New Year, New House, New Baby........ We had barely had the chance to unpack and settle into our new home, when we discovered that we were expecting our 7th baby. Our children (then aged 11, 10, 8, 6, 2 and 1) were excited to have a new brother or sister.  
I knew that this time I would be considering Independent Care, so I contacted Michelle quite early on in the pregnancy, at around 5 weeks. Michelle probably wasn’t the closest Independent Midwife to us, but reading through her website and all the lovely birth stories on there, and certainly after speaking on the phone and meeting her, I felt very comfortable and at ease with Michelle. Many of the midwives that lived closer to us said that they only booked homebirths. Having had 3 lovely homebirths with my 2nd, 3rd and 5th babies (Hospital with 1st,4th and 6th) I knew I would love to have another homebirth, but I didn’t want to commit either way so early in my pregnancy, or feel under any pressure to do so. I wanted to keep my options completely open and Michelle respected this - she was very reassuring that we didn’t have to decide either way and we could go with whatever felt best, even if I didn’t make my mind up until I was in labour.

One of the first things Michelle asked me was why I wanted Independent Midwifery Care this time. Having had a mixture of both good and not-so-good NHS care over the course of 6 pregnancies and births, I was sure after having my 6th child that if I was to ever have another, we would have an independent midwife. After that experience never again could I completely trust the NHS to provide good, safe care for myself and my baby. Andy felt the same, so was quite happy to explore other options for our care this time around. It was comforting to know that even if I did have this baby in hospital, Michelle would be there throughout and I would not be left to deliver the baby alone, as we were with our 6th baby. Just knowing that whether I was at home or in hospital, Michelle would be there, allowed me to relax about the birth. Another reason for booking with Michelle was the continuity of care that she gives; this was so very important to me - birth is so much more than just a physical process, with each and every birth you are on an emotional / spiritual journey too and to have someone that you know and trust, who listens to you and understands how you feel, really makes such a difference. 

All of my previous pregnancies have been affected by Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG), and this one was no different. Although I had been through this 6 times before, nothing really prepares you for the horrors of 24/7 constant nausea and vomiting and being unable to keep any food or fluids down.  By 7 weeks pregnant I was so dehydrated and exhausted that I was admitted to hospital, where I stayed for 5 nights. I was discharged for a week, before being admitted again for a further 5 days.  Being away from family was hard and I knew how stressed Andy was trying to juggle everything – work, children,  house – just keeping on top of the washing mountain is a full time job not to mention keeping everyone fed, clean & homework done on time!

I lost a huge amount of weight, almost 2 stone in the space of a few weeks and became very weak.  The anti emetic medications caused extreme drowsiness and hallucinations and barely took the edge off the nausea and vomiting. Not being able to do even the most basic things for my family was awful; it was a real struggle to keep positive and to not wish the pregnancy away. When I was admitted to hospital, extremely dehydrated and unable to eat or drink for many days, I could barely face another day of being pregnant and wanted it all to end. It was almost too much for Andy as well, blaming himself for putting us all through this again (even though the pregnancy was planned) and to a degree, regretting going ahead with another pregnancy and all the guilty feelings that involved for both of us. Having just moved away from friends and family and not having had the chance to meet anybody in our new area, it was a very lonely and isolating experience. If there was one thing I would change now, it would be to have had Michelle as my Midwife during this time; she is so positive and I’m sure her support would have made the experience a little less horrendous than it was!

Although still far from feeling myself, at 12 weeks pregnant I finally felt well enough to meet Michelle, and I booked with her a week or so later, once I’d had my scan and knew that all was well with baby. This scan also confirmed my due date as 12 December, which also happened to be my birthday! I had also recently discovered that my sister Helen was also pregnant and due just a few days after me, on 16th December.

Once the nausea and sickness started to lift, at around 16-18 weeks, I slowly stopped the medications and began to enjoy the pregnancy. I was able to start catching up on work and enjoy the summer holidays with the children. Throughout this time I was slowly getting to know Michelle and as my pregnancy progressed I began to feel more confident that I could birth this baby at home.  Appointments were always relaxed and unhurried, and during this time Michelle also got to know Evie and Aimee, and really involved them. They have both really taken to her, particularly Evie who still talks about her “chelle”.  Michelle has really been fabulous with them!   

Sarah and sister Christmas Pudding Sophia's bathtime

We worked out a very flexible birth plan based on several possible scenarios. I tend to have a long period of “warm up” labour, lasting 2 to 3 weeks, with painful, regular contractions over several hours, which then just stop, only to start up again the next day. However, once I realise I’m in labour it all happens very quickly so there was every chance that Michelle wouldn’t get to me in time (she is at least 45 minutes from us), or with the time of year the possibility if disruptive snow could make things difficult, and there was also the possibility that there would be no time to get the children to Andy’s parents.

3 weeks before my due date – false alarm number one! You would think after 6 babies I would know by now when I’m in labour and when baby is just teasing! Through the early hours I was having surges which were becoming more painful and closer together. It had also started to snow. By 7am they were very painful and less than 5 minutes apart, so we decided to call Michelle, who arrived shortly after 8am, followed closely by Val (a colleague of Michelle’s) who made us all some tea, coffee and toast. We packed everyone off to school and Andy to work but with all the morning activity, the surges seemed to have decreased in frequency, though not in strength. When Michelle examined me I was 3cm dilated but as the surges were really tailing off Val went to do some calls and we decided we would see what happened over the next couple of hours.

By mid morning I had had a show and was feeling really crampy and uncomfortable, I could feel baby’s head really pushing down, the cramps were all in my lower back, but still the surges were very irregular and of varying strength. By mid afternoon I was convinced that baby was just teasing us so I told Andy to stay at work, though Michelle wanted to stay a while longer just to make sure!  Michelle stayed with me all day and well into the evening until Andy and the children arrived home, examining me just before she went – little change at 3-4cm, and no surges at all by this time. I was amazed and very touched that Michelle had stayed with me through that long frustrating day. Looking back I think that this was the point when I really knew that I could trust Michelle, and that she wasn’t going to just disappear and leave me to it! 

The next 3 weeks was frustrating and very tiring. The surges would start up again, increasing in strength and frequency to the point where I thought “this was it” and then just stop. I seemed to be constantly ill with colds and felt exhausted with the surges as I wasn’t sleeping well.  With a 3 year old and 2 year old I wasn’t getting much rest during the day either.  I began to feel disconnected from baby as the only way I could deal with it all was to distance myself from what was happening. Michelle was completely there for me and came over one afternoon when I just couldn’t handle it anymore and let me just talk about my worries about the baby coming very quickly, about keeping up with my work (and the ever growing washing mountain!)

False alarm number two followed the same pattern as the first, only this time Andy called Michelle at  4.35am to ask her how she liked her coffee! Once again the surges tailed off after a few hours, even though at one point I really felt that I was in my own little labour ”bubble” only to be disturbed by all  the children waking up and getting ready for school. I felt really awful for dragging Michelle out in the middle of a freezing cold winter night, and also worried that when labour really did start, I would ignore the surges for so long, thinking it was just another false alarm and that baby would arrive before help arrived. 

Just before my due date, Michelle came over with her special body paints and the children did some belly art on my bump, a very appropriate Christmas pudding! It was a lovely relaxed evening, we had pizza and a chat about how we would approach the next few days as my due date approached. It was just what I needed and it also gave Andy a chance to talk things over with Michelle too. We ended the evening happy with our decision to have no intervention to hurry baby along, providing all was well, and to just wait until baby was ready to arrive.

My last baby had arrived on her due date, so I wasn’t surprised when I woke on my due date with some bright red bleeding and cramps. I had also noticed that baby wasn’t as active as normal, so we decided to go to hospital just to be checked over.  Michelle met us there, I was monitored for a couple of hours before being allowed home very relieved that all was well and that I could wait at home for labour to start naturally

Daniel with baby sister Aimee meeting her newbaby sister Sophia

4 days later, 16 December, was just like any other day really. The older children went to school and Andy went to work. The surges had started up again, they were strong, painful and increasing in frequency, but I ignored them as this was no different to all the previous times. By mid morning though I had had a couple of surges that I really had to breath though, so I messaged Michelle to let her know what was happening, but I still wasn’t convinced that labour was finally starting. I also called Andy, who came home just before lunch, while I just carried on as normal, sorting the washing and getting lunch ready for the girls. Michelle phoned at 12.40pm and I told her not to worry, nothing was happening, and that everything was fine as the surges seemed to be doing the usual – tailing off and not getting stronger – I was sitting quite comfortably with Andy and a cup of tea, watching the cricket highlights! I was so confident that this was another false alarm that I sent Andy back to work at around 1pm. He took Evie & Aimee with him; the house felt really empty and quiet and I felt fidgety and unable to rest. I called my sister and she joked with me about stealing her due date, as she was due that day with her 2nd baby, but no sign of her baby that day.

At 1.30pm I went to the bathroom, where I found that I’d had a very bloody show. The surges were roughly 5 minutes apart but no more uncomfortable than anything I had experienced over the last few weeks, so I still thought there was a good chance they would just tail off again like they always did. I was quite happily pottering around so I couldn’t possibly be in labour, right?! So I didn’t call Michelle but made a cup of tea and went to lie down for a bit instead. But all of a sudden the surges seemed to be right on top of each other, so at 1.50pm I did call Michelle. She was at least 45 minutes away and just as I feared, I found myself alone, in very rapidly progressing labour and it had also started to snow heavily! The surges were just a couple of minutes apart and lasting at least a minute, so as I was still alone I decided to remain lying down – I didn’t want to speed things up even more by moving around. The surges were very intense but I was able to manage with breathing through them, and felt quite comfortable on the bed.

I was so relieved when Andy arrived home, followed closely by Michelle at 2.45pm. I got up so that Andy and Michelle could get the waterproof covers and old sheets out in the bedroom and then Michelle examined me at around 3.15. I couldn’t believe it, I was 10cm dilated and I couldn’t stop laughing as my waters broke and I felt baby’s head move even further down.  I’m not quite sure why I found it all so funny, but I did and I felt very relaxed – I didn’t really feel the need to push; the surges seemed to be doing all the work, I just breathed through them, chatting and laughing in between, and Sophia was born very easily just before 4pm, weighing 8lbs 10oz. We didn’t know baby’s sex beforehand, and it was a good few minutes before I felt ready to have a look – it was so wonderful just to have my baby at last and seeing all her perfect little features whilst holding her close, that finding out whether we had a boy or a girl seemed completely irrelevant! We did eventually look, and the surprise was so worth waiting for.

I had a physiological third stage for the first time. Sophia’s cord wasn’t clamped and cut until it had stopped pulsating, around 25 minutes after she was born. The placenta took some time to be delivered; Michelle got me to cough with my fist in my mouth, which certainly helped it on its way! Sophia had her first breastfeed, for around an hour and it was so nice that none of this was rushed and I knew that I could keep her skin to skin for as long as I wanted. Sophia joined me in the bath, as she had pooped meconium all over herself (and me) so it made sense to pop her in the bath briefly – and while we were in the bath Michelle took a wonderful photo of Sophia just gazing directly into the camera.  Evie and Aimee had been at home throughout the birth, as Andy had driven straight home when I called him, so he didn’t have time to take them to his parents’ house. Regina (2nd Midwife) had arrived shortly before I gave birth so between Michelle, Regina and Andy, we had everyone looked after!

Michelle stayed for several hours after the birth, to keep an eye on my blood loss, and in the days following she visited regularly and made sure that I was getting enough rest.  The aftercare from Michelle was excellent and so much more thorough than any of my previous births – she visited until Sophia was 6 weeks old and by this time we had all had time to adjust to our new addition and I felt rested and confident enough to enjoy being a busy mum of 7!

We are now expecting a surprise 8th baby and of course we would love for Michelle to be involved again
Sophia Sophia My family
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Cathy’s Birth Story:

At about 14 weeks pregnant, I was having a cup of tea with one of my friends, when the conversation turned to labour and birth and we started to share our experiences. I hated every second of my labour with my first child (Jack) and it was worrying me about how this labour was going to be and I was already having nightmares about having another horrible hospital birth. My first labour was very long and I felt very neglected and uncared for in the hospital. I then suffered with anxiety and panic attacks due to lack of support and knowledge after the birth. It was at this point my friend mentioned meeting Michelle in hospital after her c-section (Michelle was visiting one of her clients, a woman in the bed next to her). She said how supportive Michelle had been towards her even though she wasn't a client and Michelle still offered her helpful advice. To be honest I didn't really take in what she was saying, as I hadn't even heard of independent midwives and had no clue as to what they did. It was only later when I looked up the website my friend had mentioned, that I thought care like that could really benefit me and I decided to contact Michelle.

I first met Michelle when I was about 15 weeks pregnant. I instantly knew that I would like her to be my midwife, so after the initial consultation I TOLD (ha ha) my husband Anthony that we were going ahead, as I knew that was the sort of care I needed this time. I had set my mind on a home birth as I had no complications during my first labour and my pregnancy was going very well, Michelle said there were no reasons not to go ahead with it. My pregnancy was very straightforward; I only had to have an extra scan at 36 weeks due to the placenta being low at the 20 week scan. Michelle was with us at both scans and was supportive and very calming, telling us it would be very unlikely for the placenta not to have moved up and all should be fine for going ahead with my home birth. The placenta did sort itself out and we started preparing everything for the home birth. Michelle came round one evening when Jack was in bed and showed us the pool and explained everything in great detail. I can remember thinking, 'How can I be doing this for the second time and still be learning so many new things about pregnancy and labour?'. It was unbelievable how much the level of care and information given differed from my first pregnancy and labour.

Towards the end of my pregnancy I was having lots of practice contractions, something I didn't experience with Jack, and throughout the whole pregnancy I had a feeling I wouldn't make it to my due date (11th March). On Sunday 6th March I was having surges throughout the whole day which were gradually getting stronger, but staying quite irregular. By evening I felt they were strong enough to need to pack Jack off to his grandparents for the night. I think at this point I started to panic a little and wanted to phone Michelle to calm me down. She said to call her back when I felt I wanted her to come round. It wasn't much longer before I asked Anthony to ring Michelle again; I had started shaking quite badly and was feeling a bit panicky. Michelle told us she would be round in 10 minutes and she was! Anthony said something along the lines of 'Blimey, she doesn't mess around does she!' and I immediately started to feel more calm. I sat on my birthing ball, while she watched me and we waited to get more of an idea about what was happening.

Getting Ready Just born Liliana's Birth

The surges were strong enough to need to breathe through them, but to me something just didn't feel right. Anthony and Michelle decided to start filling the pool as it was going to take a while with our slow tap. But as the pool was filling, I was just starting to feel like this wasn't really it; the surges were irregular and were becoming less painful. I couldn't believe that things were stopping. I got really disheartened and couldn't believe it when we decided it was best for Michelle to go home and for me to just try and get some sleep in case things picked up again. Before Michelle left, she examined me, I was only 1-2cms, so she gave me a stretch and sweep to try and help get things moving. I felt really silly when Michelle had to come round in the morning and help Anthony empty the pool, the surges had completely stopped!

Two days later and a similar pattern was starting, the surges were there all day and gradually got stronger. I felt I had a real dilemma as to whether or not I should pack Jack off again, but didn't want to leave it too late in case this was it this time! I phoned my mum who said she would take Jack for the night whether this was it or not so I could just relax, which would hopefully get things going again. Once Jack had gone, I told Anthony I wasn't going to let it stop this time and we were going to walk round the block until this baby dropped out of me! After a walk we came back and the surges were just the same, no increase in frequency or strength. I started to believe this wasn't it again and just sat down to relax. Then suddenly at about 8pm things started to pick up. I started to get shaky and panicky again and asked Anthony to phone Michelle. It felt a bit different this time and although I didn't want to believe it, I knew things were progressing now. Michelle asked Anthony if I wanted her there yet and as I was mid-surge I said yes, although I probably could have coped a bit longer on my own. I felt Michelle had a huge calming influence on me, and again once she was with me I relaxed completely. I was bouncing on my ball again, and Anthony suggested we put a film on to keep us occupied. At first I thought it was all false labour again, but gradually I started having to breathe more heavily and concentrate on the surges.

I coped on my ball for quite a long time. Michelle asked me if I would like to be examined to see if things were progressing this time. I wanted to know, so I agreed to the examination. I was still just 3 cm, but I had had a show that day and Michelle said the cervix was softening and progressing. She did another sweep and after I carried on bouncing on my ball, the surges started picking up and Anthony and Michelle started to fill the pool again. I told myself that this time we would not be emptying it before I had birthed my baby in it!! I felt different this time and knew things were definitely on their way. I tried changing positions and Michelle and Anthony were massaging my back for me. I think I said to Michelle that I suddenly remembered what labour feels like and she replied that I looked like I was definitely labouring now.

Anthony & Liliana new baby Sister! I'm so cute!

I coped with the ball in different positions until the pool was ready and I couldn't wait to get in. The relief was amazing! Anthony had mentioned he wanted to video the birth, but it turned out I needed him to hang on to while in the pool. I started to feel like I need gas and air, but Michelle avoided it very cleverly and I managed to cope without. After nearly pulling Anthony into the pool with me, I finally felt ready to push, but still didn't believe this was really it! So when Michelle asked me if I wanted to feel the head (something I thought would be far too weird, but was actually great!) I thought to myself 'wow, this is really happening!!'. At 2.48am on 9th March 2011 Liliana was born. Michelle gently held her under the water until I was ready to take her, then I brought her up on to my chest. I checked the sex but didn't believe it was a girl and had to get Michelle to double check. Still not sure I believe she is a girl now as it was so perfect to have one of each sex.

We feel we are a family now with two children, but a part of me wants to have a third so I can have Michelle as my midwife again! I cannot believe how much calmer and easier this labour was than my first. I wish I could turn back time and have Michelle for my first pregnancy too! It was perfect and even now I am a calmer person because of the experience. I haven't had any anxiety since having Liliana and I really believe this is down to the care, support and great advice I have received from Michelle. I'm a different person this time round and I am really looking forward to spending time with my children as a much calmer and much more fun mummy!

I'm a big boy now! Liliana & Jack Liliana

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Joanne’s Home Birth Story:

I cannot believe it has been nearly two years since the birth of our beautiful son, Oliver on 30 March 2009 and only now do I have some time to sit down and write this; something which I have been meaning to do since he was a few weeks old. 

When I found out I was pregnant I thought, like most first time mums, that I would have my baby in hospital with the midwife on duty delivering it. However my thoughts soon changed when I met the midwife at my GP’s NHS practice. I immediately realised that I did not want her having any involvement in my pregnancy I had no trust or faith in her, she did not listen to me and seemed to have little interest in what I was saying or feeling. I was adamant that I would go through this pregnancy alone rather than see the NHS midwife again. My husband, Anthony, knowing how stubborn I was, started to consider alternatives and came home from work one evening saying he found me a midwife; Michelle. Someone he knew I would get on with.

He had talked to Michelle for over an hour on the phone and thought she seemed just the sort of person I would like. She was coming over so I could meet her. We discussed the financial implications as at the time we thought the outlay a lot of money and wanted to do work on the house. Anthony pointed out that this was the birth of our first child – the most important day of our lives. We could always see to the house later.

Michelle came to visit and that was it. I was 21 weeks pregnant and the money didn’t seem important. I immediately felt comfortable in her presence. She seemed truly interested in me, my husband and our thoughts. She was honest and open with us. She explained that she would be on holiday the month before my due date returning two weeks before and would therefore like to introduce us to one of her colleagues, Sue, in case I should go into labour early. I knew then that this was someone I could trust, someone who had my family’s interests at heart. Little did I know at the time that Michelle would continue to be involved in our lives long after Oliver’s birth and that she would feel an important part of our family. She truly has been worth her weight in gold.

My pregnancy was fairly uneventful. I was a little tired for a few weeks and fainted a couple of times but other than that, I felt great. Michelle and Sue visited regularly taking it in turns so we could get to know them both. They were never in a rush to leave and always stayed for a chat. It was like having friends coming over rather than your midwives.

Anthony liked lots of detail about the birth and what would happen whereas I just needed to know basics. They made sure we both had the information we each needed to feel comfortable. I had queries over whether or not to have a hospital or home birth and also on the provision of vitamin K and delivery of the placenta. Michelle obtained factual booklets for me setting out all options and pro and cons which I found extremely helpful. I was also fairly sure from the start that I would not breast feed – a decision which I believe ultimately helped my son. Never did it feel like I was being judged or looked down on. I really did feel like I was being supported and helped to make the right decision for me and my family. Michelle even provided us with a toy pelvis and baby so Anthony (my husband) could see what would happen during the pregnancy as he wasn’t able to attend any ante natal classes. She even explained to me what things like “have a show” meant as although words such as this were used at the ante natal classes no one ever explained what it actually meant and just assumed you knew. As I didn’t trust the midwife taking the classes I never felt comfortable to ask so always kept my questions for Michelle. If it hadn’t been for Michelle I truly believe I would have had very little knowledge (except of course peoples horror stories) on what labour and childbirth involved.

Throughout the pregnancy I never felt our baby move and was naturally concerned about this. The hospital had told me to keep a diary of movements and advised on what the average number of movements felt should be. This just made me more anxious. Michelle suggested I didn’t do the diary as it wasn’t helping. The pregnancy was progressing well, the baby seemed happy and the scans were normal. The baby would move and let us know he was there in his own time.

I eventually decided I was definitely going to have a home birth as I wanted Michelle (and/or Sue) to deliver my baby. I trusted them and knew that they would do the best by us.

I was 30 weeks pregnant when I woke with sharp pains moving from around my back to my stomach. I didn’t know what it was. Thinking I may have eaten something I shouldn’t I just curled up in bed hoping the pain would ease. Anthony started to worry and soon took me to Milton Keynes hospital to get checked out. It turned out I was in early labour. We wanted to call Michelle but the hospital midwives kept telling us not to as there was no rush. I was put on drugs to slow the contractions and given steroids to help the baby. Suddenly I was being told I was being transferred to Luton & Dunstable in the next few minutes. The consultant didn’t want us moved as the weather was bad with deep snow and icy road conditions but Milton Keynes didn’t have the facilities to deal with a birth this early.
Jo's Birth art Oliver just born Oliver

I didn’t really understand what was happening. Anthony called Michelle who met us at Luton and Dunstable. There were machines everywhere but Michelle explained it all to us. She also helped me write my birth plan just in case the baby arrived as I hadn’t even thought of this – I mean I had another 10 weeks to go until the baby was due. We also realised we had no clothes or supplies. Again Michelle told us not to worry she would go to the shops for us if needed. Time passed by and Michelle stayed at my side the whole time answering my own and Anthony’s’ questions and explaining what was happening. I didn’t want to give birth in hospital but Michelle explained that sometimes it was for the best. She explained she could be present at the birth with Anthony but could not assist as we were in hospital. I was relieved that she would at least be there with us, not only for me but for Anthony - to answer his questions and keep him informed. Luckily the contractions subsided and after 36 hours everyone relaxed as the drugs seemed to have worked. I had to stay in hospital on complete bed rest for a week as my cervix was dilated and I could give birth at any time. During this time Michelle visited regularly and was always at the end of the phone. 

After a week I was allowed home providing I remained on complete bed rest for at least a further five weeks. During this period Michelle, prior to her going on holiday, visited regularly and prepared us for the birth. Her help and advice was endless. She even recommended I get some “netty knickers” for after the birth. These didn’t look great but she was right they were so comfortable and perfect for those first few weeks after the birth. Michelle went on holiday and I was desperate to get back to work as I felt great. I was persuaded to go back part time and change the start date of my maternity leave from one week before my due date to two weeks before.  

I eventually left work on the Friday (27 March). That weekend Anthony and I kept joking that Michelle was back from holiday on Sunday so I couldn’t have the baby before then.  On Sunday we put the nursery furniture together and started to get organised for the birth and again joked that Michelle would be back in a few hours so the baby could come now if it wanted. I had planned to go into work for a final handover on the Monday but I never made it. At 3am Monday morning my waters broke. I didn’t really know it had happened. For the first time in the pregnancy I had needed to get up in the night for the toilet and then for the first time the baby kicked me and I felt a pop. We called Sue as we didn’t want to disturb Michelle on her first night back. Sue explained my waters had broken and suggested I relax as established labour could be some time away.

My thoughts suddenly turned to the house. I decided to tidy up as I didn’t want the house a mess but then got a sharp pain and knew I needed to lie down. I went upstairs and put on some soft music and lighting. The next thing I knew Michelle was there. Sue had called her. She checked I was okay and explained what was happening and would happen over the coming hours. I felt the birth was a long time away as I didn’t have any contractions and only a slight aching feeling in my stomach. I didn’t want Michelle to stay unnecessarily as she had only got back from her holiday a few hours before. We agreed we would call her when things progressed. It seemed that she had only been gone 5 minutes (it was actually two hours) when I felt a sudden urge to push and shouted to Anthony that the baby was coming. We tried to use the TENs machine but it was awful and put me in more discomfort than I actually was. I wasn’t in a lot of pain at this time but was scared and unsure if I could do this. Michelle arrived and soon put my mind at rest. Regularly reassuring me and explaining what was happening. 

She encouraged Anthony to be involved which was nice as he seemed a little reluctant and unsure. It was now 8.30am and labour had established itself – I was pleased the house was tidy. I found I was most comfortable kneeling on all fours with my head stuffed in a pillow. It wasn’t at all what I expected. There was a lot of discomfort but not the level of pain that people had kept telling me about with their horror stories when I was pregnant. I kept reminding myself that I could do this and that my body was made for this. Michelle kept Sue (who was in the middle of another birth) up to date with what was happening. I couldn’t really feel any progress and thought this would be a long labour. Sue arrived at about 11am. It was nice to have her and Michelle there as they had both played a big role throughout my pregnancy. Michelle encouraged me to move around if I wanted to and go the toilet as I hadn’t opened my bowels or had a wee for some time. Going to the toilet with someone in the room should have felt strange but somehow I felt totally at ease with Michelle being there and knew that she was there to help should the baby decide to arrive. I still couldn’t wee so we all agreed that I probably needed a catheter. I thought this would be painful but I felt nothing. I then knew Oliver would be here soon as I could at last feel him moving. Michelle and Sue continually chatted to Anthony and me and explained what was happening. At times we were even in fits of laughter although I cannot now recall what about. At 11.44 (some 3 hours 30 minutes after labour was established) Oliver was finally born. The person who said that Michelle had turned their “greatest fear into the most beautiful experience of their life” was right. The birth of our gorgeous baby boy, Oliver, had been an amazing and truly magical experience. I couldn’t have hoped for more.

Michelle & Sue having a cuddle with Oliver Anthony with son Oliver Joanne, Anthony and Oliver

Michelle stayed with us for a few hours after the birth, making sure we were all okay and got a rest before my family were due to arrive in the evening. Anthony was concerned about Oliver’s grey feet, cone shaped head and bent over ear. Michelle reassured him this was all normal and would in time all sort itself out. She was of course right. That day and over the coming weeks Michelle and Sue visited regularly and showed us how to bath Oliver, wash his hair and answered any queries we had.

The care never stopped there. After a few weeks it became clear Oliver was unsettled and something was wrong. I thought I was going crazy as Oliver didn’t seem to want to lie down. Michelle spent the day with us and agreed he seemed in distress when put down and recommended a cranial sacral therapist. He wasn’t unfortunately the answer for us but little did I know at the time that he would provide me with the confidence to challenge consultants and doctors and give me the conviction to believe in my instincts. We only saw him for a few weeks and I wish I could remember his name so I could thank him and give him the recognition he deserves. During the weeks we saw him he advised that he had never had a child like Oliver before. Oliver seemed to have something wrong with his intestines and colon as he could feel them twisting and going into spasm but he couldn’t put his finger on what it was. At 8 weeks old Oliver stopped breathing and this was really the start of numerous hospital admissions. Michelle would come and visit and has always kept an interest in Oliver and his health. At 12 weeks he was diagnosed with multiple allergies and intolerances and was placed on a fully elemental diet. We strongly believe that had the NHS midwives been successful in trying to make me feel guilty about not breast feeding then this diagnosis would have taken much longer to arrive. Michelle’s support in my decision to formula feed from the start was therefore much appreciated. At 6 months it became clear that the extent of Oliver’s allergies and intolerances was severe and we were unable to wean Oliver who reacted to all food. Eventually last October (2010) aged 18 months and after numerous hospital visits, tests and heartache we eventually got a diagnosis from Great Ormond Street that Oliver has a rare medical condition affecting his gastrointestinal tract specifically in his case his gut, intestine and colon!

The time leading up to this diagnosis was a difficult one and Michelle has remained in regular contact – visiting us in hospital and at home and phoning/texting to see how Oliver was. She even arranged for a swab to be taken which diagnosed a severe bacterial infection – an infection which MK Doc had diagnosed as nappy rash and dismissed. She may not have realised it but she has felt a very important part of our lives and our family and has definitely gone beyond the call of duty. Michelle has always been there for us and we feel that even now if we needed to we could call on her for help and advice.  Anthony, Oliver and I will always be truly grateful to Michelle for the care she has provided. She is worth her weight and more in gold and should I ever have another child I would not hesitate to have Michelle involved again. In fact I could not imagine being pregnant without her involvement. Thank you Michelle for making my pregnancy, the birth of Oliver and the first couple of years of parenthood a fantastic experience and thank you for just being you.

Oliver's first bath with Daddy Oliver Oliver

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Alison’s Birth Story:

After having to have a pretty scary emergency c-section birth with my baby boy in April 2009, after a 30 hour, induced labour, when I found out I was pregnant again in early 2010 I knew I wanted to try for a vaginal birth or a ‘VBAC’ as they’re called. I felt I had been out of control in my previous birth, and that I had not really engaged in the decision-making process, and I was left feeling some deep sadness about my birth. My husband Ash and I decided that this time, we wanted to have a positive birth experience where I felt in control and empowered, whatever happened.  

I had briefly met Michelle and Valerie at an antenatal exhibition when I was pregnant with Ollie, but had thought no more about it, having thought that NHS care would be fine for me. This time, however, I made contact with Michelle and after meeting her, Ash and I knew we could guarantee a positive birth experience if she became part of our birth plans! With Michelle on board, I began to feel a growing excitement about my pregnancy and birth.

I really longed to experience a natural, drug-free, peaceful birth. I decided to learn hypnobirthing techniques to help me achieve this. Michelle was positive right from the start about me aiming to have the ‘birth of my dreams’, and was also realistic in the fact that things don’t always go 100% to plan and so flexibility is the key! Michelle’s sensitivity, intuition and support meant that through our meetings I gained the strength to fight for the birth I wanted. As I have hypermobility, which can cause scar healing problems, Ash and I decided that a hospital birth was probably the most sensible course of action, but that we would like a water birth in the most natural manner possible. I had to have discussions with consultants and midwives at MK hospital to get my plans ‘signed off’, as in cases of a VBAC their policies are towards constant monitoring of the baby, and a water birth doesn’t really allow for this! The meetings all paid off, our birth plan was agreed, and I felt empowered and excited by what we had achieved. I would not have had the knowledge or strength to fight for my birth plan in this way had it not been for Michelle.

At 36 weeks, my follow-up scan showed that I still had a low-lying placenta, and would be unable to have a natural birth. I can’t deny that I was devastated. I had planned for so many weeks and months for the water birth I had dreamed of, and now there was no option but another c-section. I was sad for me and sad for my baby girl, that she wouldn’t be able to enter the world in the way I had so desperately wanted her to. Michelle was fantastic at this time and helped me to realise that this way was, actually, best for both my baby and me as it was the safest way for us. I knew that with her support, the c-section experience would be completely different than last time, and she helped me write a birth plan to make sure I felt empowered and could have the experience I wanted even though it would be in theatre!

Alison & Robin Alison, Robin & Ash Robin

On the day of the birth I felt prepared and ready for the operation. Michelle was with me when I had the anaesthetic, and hugged me through the tears I didn’t think I would shed as I walked into the room. Had she not been there, I think I would have gone to pieces, but her calming presence throughout the whole procedure made me feel truly at ease. Michelle made sure that I had skin-to-skin contact the minute Robin was born, which was one of my most important birth wishes. When she was lifted out and placed on my chest it was the best feeling in the world, and I realised that I didn’t need a vaginal birth to have an amazing birth experience. 

Little things, like Michelle making sure Ash took a photo of the operation whiteboard (which has all the details of time of surgery, birth etc) and the placenta prints she and Ash made, only added to the positive experience. 

Having Michelle there throughout my pregnancy and birth, plus the after support she provides was invaluable to Ash and I. This consistency of care from someone so intuitive, caring and understanding meant that I no longer feel ‘cheated’ by my birth experiences, but instead feel a great sense of pride and happiness. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Michelle to anyone who wants to have a calm, empowered, positive birth experience.
Ash & Robin Ash, Robin & Alison Ollie & Robin
From Ash…

After a tough experience with our first child, we were trying everything we could to be positive about the birth of our second child. It was really important to us that we felt that a natural birth was going to be possible, either at home or in hospital, even though Ali had had an emergency c-section first time around.

When we found Michelle, both Ali and I were really pleased that we had found someone who made us feel so much more confident about how to best approach the upcoming birth and that despite what the majority of people seemed to say, a natural birth seemed not only possible but was to be encouraged.

Michelle gave excellent advice all round, from the day we met her and on top of her obvious wealth of knowledge she is a genuinely really great person. Although our birth ended up in an unavoidable c-section again, Michelle’s involvement meant that both Ali and I felt that we had had a really positive birth experience.

Michelle will always remain a very important person in our lives and feel we have been very lucky to have been involved with her.

Alison & Robin Robin Robin's Foot

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Nikki’s Birth Story:

When I found out that I was pregnant with my fourth baby, I couldn’t wait to tell Michelle. We had previously hired Michelle with our 3rd baby and had such an amazing experience, that there was absolutely no hesitation about hiring her this time. Knowing that I could have Michelle again played a big part in the decision to have another baby, so my Husband has her to thank for our manic household!

Michelle became very dear to me during my last pregnancy.  Zak had a few abnormalities detected and it was a really worrying time for us all. Michelle was a rock. She had been so supportive and caring. We had stayed in regular contact since Zak’s birth, so this time it was just like having a friend for a midwife. 

This pregnancy went very smoothly; our antenatal appointments were more like having a coffee and a natter, rather than a medical issue. They were never rushed and always lasted around an hour. Michelle was always very professional though, never presuming that just because this was my fourth baby that I wouldn’t have any concerns or worries. She always explained what the blood tests and scans were for.

Zak, at first was a bit wary about what Michelle was doing to me when she was taking my blood pressure etc. She always got the equipment out and left it on the floor for him to investigate in his own time. It didn’t take long for Michelle to gain his trust and he soon enjoyed her visits, and emptying out the contents of her bag when our backs were turned! I never forget, one day after Michelle had finished listening to the baby’s heartbeat, she put the sonicaid down on the floor and he picked it up, sat down on the sofa, lifted up his top and put it on his belly. It was so funny!

My pregnancy flew by. I found it quite exhausting this time, what with having a toddler to look after. You can’t just sit down and have a rest when you feel like it. We tried to prepare Zak for our new arrival by showing him pictures of babies and telling him that Mummy had a baby in her tummy. Towards the end of the pregnancy Zak used to point to my tummy and say ‘Chelle Baby’.

At around 34 weeks Michelle organised a Birth Art Cafe. This is what I would describe as an ‘alternative’ antenatal class. It was nice to get out for a couple of hours and meet other expectant Mums. We used to chat about any worries or concerns we had, then we would do some relaxation breathing. Finally, we would then paint, draw or create something with the modelling clay. I’m no artist, but it wasn’t about how good you are at drawing, it’s about expressing your feelings through art. I found it very relaxing just to sit and draw, sometimes not of anything in particular. One session I just painted a load of coloured squiggly lines, but that’s how I was feeling that day.

We arranged to do a belly painting again. We had done this when I was pregnant with Zak and the kids had enjoyed it. Michelle came round one Sunday afternoon with her body paints and away they went. My due date was 2nd November, but we were convinced that baby was going to arrive on Halloween so the kids chose to paint a pumpkin on my belly. It looked fantastic! The colours were really vibrant.

5 days before my due date, I was loading the dishwasher after dinner at around 7pm and I had a really strong shooting pain that took my breath away. I didn’t really think too much of it as I had been experiencing shooting pains for the past couple of months. I carried on loading the dishwasher and a few minutes later I felt a surge. I carried on having them about every 5 minutes or so for about an hour, which was when I decided that this was it. I told Adam and the kids and they were all excited. Adam got Zak ready for bed while I rang Michelle. She came over with Jackie who is a student midwife that was going to observe the birth. We had met a few times previously, so we had got to know one another. Michelle checked my blood pressure and listened to baby’s heartbeat, which was all fine. We had a cup of tea and a chat and then I realised that I had not had a surge since they had turned up. Ok, so this little man is playing games I thought. Michelle told me to get some rest and that it was quite normal for things to start and then stop. I agreed to call her if things started again. We all went to bed around 10pm.

belly painting
Lewis, just a couple of minutes old
snuggling with mum

I woke around 2.45am shaking from head to toe. I wasn’t cold, I just couldn’t stop shaking. I had never experienced this before and I was quite frightened. I woke Adam and we went downstairs and phoned for Michelle to come over.

Adam had filled the pool earlier in the evening. We had remembered from last time that it takes quite a while to fill so we wanted to make sure we were well prepared.  Michelle and Jackie arrived at around 3.15am by which time I had stopped shaking. I felt that I could relax now that Michelle was here. I had a feeling that this labour would be really quick and that she wouldn’t get here in time. My older 2 children had come downstairs as well and Adam made us all tea and toast. Surges were quite irregular but definitely getting stronger. I wouldn’t say they were painful at this stage, but I had to breathe through them.

It was around 4.50am now and the surges were getting stronger and more frequent now. I kept going to the loo as I was really conscious about opening my bowels during the ‘pushing’ stage. Adam and Michelle were giving me light touch massage on my back during the surges which provided some relief. By this time Kayleigh had gone back to bed and Mitchell had set up camp behind the sofa and fallen asleep.

Adam was busy topping up the pool with hot water to get it at the right temperature. The surges were now becoming quite intense and I had to really concentrate on my breathing now. I had Adam holding one hand and Michelle holding the other through each surge. Michelle was using positive language and telling me to just relax – which you always seem to forget to do when you’re in labour!

It was now around 5.15am and I had starting to be a little vocal now with the surges.  I decided now that I wanted to get into the pool. Up until now I had been quite happy standing and swaying through the surges and hadn’t really had the urge to get into the pool. The water felt lovely and warm and it provided some relief from the discomfort. I decided to kneel down and lean forward over the edge of the pool. This is the position I had used last time when I had Zak, and had found it the most comfortable. Jackie was pouring water over my back through each surge, which felt really nice and kind of distracted my attention away from the discomfort. Michelle asked me if I was feeling any pressure in my bottom yet. I wasn’t but I knew it wasn’t going to be long before I did. I was becoming quite vocal by this point.

I vividly remember looking at the clock at 5.45am and thinking I have about an hour left before Zak wakes up. Goodness knows what he would have made of it all. He had been using the birth pool as a bouncy castle for the past couple of weeks. If he had seen it full with water, he would have started stripping off and throwing in the rubber ducks! Not really what you need when you’re about to give birth. Shortly after that thought, I felt pressure in my bottom but not the urge to push yet.

In the meantime, Jackie had gone running upstairs to wake Kayleigh as she wanted to be there for the actual birth. At 6.00 am my waters broke. I hadn’t felt them rupture during Zak’s birth as I was in the pool, but I definitely felt it this time. It was such a relief. It actually eased the pressure. Then I had another strong surge and I could feel baby moving down. This time I didn’t have the urge to push like I did with Zak, I actually breathed him down, which I had wanted to do during Zak’s birth but I just couldn’t fight the urge to push with him. It actually felt really nice and calm as opposed to feeling like you’re going to burst a blood vessel because you’re pushing with all your might! Along came the next surge and I could feel his head crowning – ouch that stung, as Michelle later informed me that he had his hand on his cheek. One more surge and little Lewie was born at 6.11am weighing 8lb 13oz. I lifted him up out the water and on to my chest – perfect, another truly amazing experience.

There’s no feeling in the world like giving birth. Adam was a little bit emotional and Mitchell had slept through the whole thing. I stayed in the pool just staring at our beautiful little boy. He had loads of hair and was covered in vernix. Michelle clamped the cord at 6.30 once it had stopped pulsating. She asked Adam if he wanted to cut the cord. He said no at first as he had not done so with any of our other babies, but I encouraged him to do it as he WILL NOT get another chance! He agreed and he cut the cord.

I chose to have a physiological 3rd stage as I had done with Zak. I tried pushing a few times, but nothing, so Michelle said to try coughing which I did a couple of times and out came the placenta.

Michelle examined me for any damage down below, but I only had a small graze which I was pleased about. Zak was awake. Adam went upstairs to get him and brought him down to meet his new baby brother. We introduced him and all had a cuddle. Michelle and Jackie (student midwife) went out into the kitchen to give us some time alone and make some well deserved tea and toast. Lewie had his first breastfeed.

After tea and toast, I went and had a lovely bath. Jackie came up and washed my hair for me. I felt human again. In the meantime, Michelle had whizzed home to get her emptying hose for the pool. We came back downstairs and within 15 minutes the pool had been emptied, cleaned and deflated. It was 9.00am now and Michelle and Jackie were leaving. We all gave hugs and kisses and they said they would come back later today.

You can’t beat having a homebirth. I love it. It’s so relaxing being in your own surroundings and having all your own things. I feel truly blessed to have experienced not 1 but 2 amazing homebirths and even more blessed to have met Michelle......she’s fantastic xx

Rachel’s Birth Story: I always imagined the birth and my labour would be a happy & peaceful event at home, but I didn’t know how I could have that. Before I met Gareth I didn’t now how accessible Independent Midwives were. And I had a lot of preconceptions about labour.

Gareth had previously used an Independent Midwife with one of his children and so was all for using one again, but I was happy to use the NHS services, although I knew a home birth might not be so easy. The local midwife was on holiday when I was 1st supposed to meet with her so I met with the lady covering, but when I tried to arrange an appointment with my midwife I was unable to make an appointment, I was told she was too busy!! At 18 weeks I was due to fly for my honeymoon and my NHS midwife was still too busy! I was angry and so Gareth suggested that we try meeting an Independent Midwife, which would allow me to have a home birth without too many obstacles.

Gareth contacted Michelle and setup a meeting. I was a bit nervous but within minutes of meeting her I knew I wanted to use her knowledge and experience. I was very relaxed and healthy all through my pregnancy, which I partly put down to knowing Michelle was there when I needed her.

Before my labour started I couldn’t imagine how it would feel – I’d been told things I’d feel and how it would go but I still couldn’t imagine it properly as you can’t describe a feeling. Until I’d had a few surges I didn’t really know that I was having them – they were uncomfortable but I thought I would be able to manage them. I didn’t have backache and I didn’t think they felt like period pain – but then I never really suffered with period pain.

I had my first surge while driving the evening before, I didn’t think it was my labour starting, just that he’d moved quickly or something, I had a few more during the evening/night before bed and it wasn’t until I’d had quite a few that I realised my labour was beginning. My surges woke me at night, they were short and didn’t last for long, I did mange to sleep between some of them, but as they got more intense and longer they started to keep me awake at 5.30am I needed something to take my focus away from it, so I had a nice warm bath. It didn’t work so well!  I couldn’t get comfortable in it for very long because the bath was too narrow for me to roll over in during my surges! Also I kept needing the toilet. As my surges came closer together it briefly crossed my mind if I could do this at home with no pain relief – which were my original intentions.

water birth
water birth
water birth

Gareth was very reassuring and helped me with my breathing and then began setting up the pool. We had already called Michelle – she was on her way. I again felt uncomfortable and wanted to get into the pool there and then, but it wasn’t ready so I tried another bath but couldn’t stay in. I knew my boy wasn’t hanging around and was coming, I could feel him. I can’t say how but I was so in touch with him and my body, I knew we could do this and he was going to be in my arms in no time! I propped myself up leaning on the side of the bath. I was as comfortable as I could be; I had a draft from the window keeping me cool. Gareth was talking to me and making sure I was breathing in pattern with my surges – it worked really well. My surges were coming quicker and quicker, as I was panting and trying to breathe I heard the neighbours dog whining – he knew something was happening, which made me smile!

My surges were intense and getting closer together. I felt like I had no time in between to recover from one before the next one started. I had begun to think ‘where is Michelle’, I didn’t want to have him without her there, even though Gareth seemed really calm or so I thought – he told me after that he thought I was going to have him there on the floor in the bathroom!

Then magic to my ears, Michelle was here! She was so calming, her voice, she rubbed my back while Gareth was sorting the pool out. Michelle said it was going really well and I believed her. Within the next few surges I was helped downstairs and into the pool. It was so warm and I found it so comfortable in a kneeling/lying forward position, with Gareth at my head/side rubbing my back and whooshing the water over me when I asked him to. I didn’t use any pain relief, I didn’t even think about it during labour, the warm water must have been good enough, I wasn’t fighting with my body, I just listen to it, I knew when I needed to push and when to just breathe. I was very aware of the time and that Craig (my eldest step son, aged 11) was due to leave for school, I can remember how proud I was of him, he must have got himself up and ready for school so well, I wanted to shout out to him to have  a good day but couldn’t! Gareth and Michelle told me that they’d spoken to him and that he was fine and had gone to school.

After he had gone, time flew. Michelle told me the head was crowning and if I felt down I would be able to feel it, It was nothing like I expected it to feel like, it was warm, and jelly like, a bit ‘icky’, but I’m glad I felt him. Right near the end, I knew I needed to push but it was so hard to, I could have just flopped into the water, but I remember Michelle saying weeks before, that right at the point you want to give up is when your baby is coming out, so I focused on that thought and used my energy to push just a bit harder.

water birth
water birth
water birth

The last time I looked at the clock it was about 8.15am, a while later Michelle saying that my boy will be here in about 10 minutes or so – I looked at the clock it was 8.50, then with my next surge I had to push, I felt his head coming out, the surge faded a bit but I could feel another one coming so I kept pushing, he came out in one go! All warm and slippery between my legs, I had a moment of worry, because I couldn’t tell where he was underneath me, Michelle told me to roll onto my back and she lifted him up to the surface of the water. Michelle lifted him into my arms – he was so beautiful.

I tried to feed him in the water but couldn’t sit up enough, I wanted to naturally deliver my placenta and it was quite uncomfortable to sit up. Gareth cut the umbilical cord and had some skin to skin contact with him.

Michelle kept asking me if I wanted to eat anything, I didn’t but after a bit of persistence I had a jelly baby – It was really nice!!  I still didn’t want to get out the pool until I delivered my placenta.  It took ages but at about 10am it came out, it hurt a bit, but I felt far more relaxed once it was out.

I was helped out the pool and given my dressing gown, I sat on the sofa and tried feeding again, he latched on well and drank eagerly! It was an amazing sensation.  Gareth had rung around and sent message out to let people know that our baby was here and healthy. My mum (a teacher) was given some time out of school, she wanted to pop over. I was happy to let her – Michelle said she was happy to wait for mum to come and go before she would check me for any tears.

During the birth I had torn and was bleeding quite a lot. It was deep and I was very uncomfortable when Michelle examined me, she said she’d suture me at home but as it was a deep tear and I was so uncomfortable she recommended I transfer into hospital just to be sorted out then to come home. She arranged everything and came to the hospital with us and brought us home. I had gas and air while being stitched; I didn’t have any waiting around at the hospital.

My birth story is just how I wanted it. I thank Michelle for that.

Gareth’s Story:  When I found out Rachel was pregnant I wanted to use independent care, but Rachel originally was happy to use NHS care, however she did want a home birth.  Rachel was let down by her assigned NHS midwife several times so before we went on honey moon, Rachel said I could call an independent midwife, I contacted the IM I had used for my third child Nayt, however she was no longer practising and is now lecturing midwifery, I found Michelle and she came round to meet Rachel.

After Michelle had left, Rachel was as sure as was I, to use independent care.

I felt Rachel was in the best hands possible for her pregnancy and if anything had been wrong with either the baby or Rachel Michelle would have picked up on it.  During all the maternity care Michelle included me all the time; I was able to think of it as our baby as I think sometimes dads are pushed out the way.

Rachel woke me up at about 5.30 in labour and had run herself a bath, when she came back she asked me to start getting the pool up and filled, I thought it was going to be hours and didn’t want her getting in to early.  By about 6.30 Rachel was quite uncomfortable and tried to have another bath, but couldn’t get in, I started to think that she might have our baby in the bathroom where she was kneeling forward propped over the bath. I was trying to fill the pool and keep checks on Rachel.  It was a relief when Michelle arrived as I knew she would look after Rachel while I finished getting the pool ready.

Michelle and I helped Rachel down the stairs and into the pool, it was still filling but there was enough water for her to go in. I sat up by her head, I noticed the gas and air by me, but didn’t want to mention it to Rachel as I knew she wanted to birth our baby as naturally as possible and she would ask for it if she needed it.

During the labour I can remember reassuring Rachel by talking to her and reminding her to breathe through her surges. I didn’t have any concept of time, but knew time was going very quickly.

When Ricky’s head was crowning, I remember Michelle asking if I wanted to see. I could see his hair and knew he would be with us soon, but not quite as quickly as he was!

The next thing I knew was Michelle said he’d be here within 10 minutes, I think Rachel must have thought 10 seconds because then with her next surge he was here.

Michelle helped Ricky out the water and onto Rachel, and explained about the pulsating cord and asked if I wanted to cut it after it had stopped. I did. The cord was a lot tougher to cut than I remember from Nayt’s birth.

After the cord was cut I had some skin to skin contact with my new little baby boy while Rachel delivered her placenta.

It was a fantastic experience and didn’t feel like a spare part. I would like to thank Michelle for being a fantastic support to us all during pregnancy, birth and postnatal care.  And I like to thank my wife for being amazing throughout her pregnancy and birth of our beautiful boy.

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Sarah’s Birth Story: I have known Michelle for about 10 years; she lives a few doors down the road. We live in a small close and have all become good friends over the years. We don’t live in each others pockets, but we all know if we have an emergency we can always rely on someone helping out. We also enjoy the odd night out and get together. So, when I found out I was pregnant with my second child and I jokingly said to Michelle (who then worked for the NHS) “I wish you could be my midwife Michelle” and she replied “I can if you want me to”, I was a bit taken back. For one, I didn’t think she could be as she worked at a completely different surgery to the one I attended and secondly, do I really want my friend/neighbour, who I share a glass of wine with, meal, cinema, neighbours annual bank holiday BBQ etc. looking at my bits!!! Unable to find an excuse not to use Michelle (and not wishing to hurt her feelings), I said “that would be great”. I then went home to deliberate with my husband, whether I had made the right decision.

I can categorically state that agreeing to have Michelle as my Midwife was the best decision I ever made! She was there for me 100% and had a very calming influence.  Having had a caesarean with my first child, because he was a breech baby, and not enjoying the experience at all, I desperately didn’t want another caesarean. As it turned out everything was fine, the baby was the right way, I felt brilliant and had no complications. I decided I definitely wanted the baby in hospital, having a home birth never entered my head.

On 10 May at about 9.00 am I felt a bit different to any other day. It’s hard to explain (unless you’ve had a baby yourself) what it’s like. I just knew today was the day! Rob (my Husband) and eldest Son George (who had arrived by caesarean section six years previously) were talking about going off for the day, can’t remember where. I suggested it might be a good idea to hang around the house today, and I was right! By lunchtime, I was definitely having contractions. Michelle was summoned and confirmed that this was it. I wanted to stay at home for as long as I possibly could, so Michelle kept popping back and checking on me, reassuring everything was going to be okay. At about 5.30pm the contractions were getting stronger and it was getting very painful. Michelle suggested we go to hospital and get settled in. Off we went in the car to the hospital which is about 10 minutes away from our house, but felt a lot longer. I arrived at the hospital settled myself in and got on with sucking in that gas and air. Poor Michelle, it was her Husband’s (Geoff) birthday and had a meal booked with friends. We practically had to push her out the door to join Geoff for his birthday meal, reassuring her that we were in good hands. Reluctantly she went off, but promised to be back later. I’m sure to this day Ted (baby no.2) waited for Michelle to come back, because as soon as she walked in the room he made his appearance and Michelle delivered him at 12.27am. He was absolutely gorgeous (still is and he knows it), weighing a healthy 8lbs, the exact same weight as George! Everything was fine and I was back home by 4.00am. We were now the proud owners of two beautiful boys, what more could we want?

Straight on Mum's tum
tucked in & cosy cuddles
Well Done!

Five years later as I was approaching my fortieth birthday I decided I wanted another baby. Rob had suggested a few times about having one more, but I think he was probably joking. We decided to give it one last go. I did point out to him that the chances of me getting pregnant at my age were probably zero. Three months later I sat on the toilet staring at a positive pregnancy test. I showed Rob and we were both speechless. It took a little while to sink in. What were thinking at our age having another baby, my mum was going to go mad. As soon as I found out I was pregnant, there was only one person I wanted as my Midwife, Michelle, of course. By this time she had gone private, but we decided it would be worth it. We asked her round and told her our news. She was absolutely delighted and when I mentioned selfish, baby and forty in one sentence, she dismissed it straight away. She said there was no reason why I couldn’t have a perfectly healthy baby at my age and she had delivered lots of babies to women in their forties.

I had the best pregnancy, felt brilliant, hair shone, everybody commented on my “glowing complexion”, didn’t feel sick and apart from having a bit of sugar in my water now and again (due to the amount of digestive biscuits I consumed, put it down to my “craving”, but unfortunately I still have that “craving”) I had the perfect pregnancy.  Once we had picked my mum up off the floor and she had taken the information in, she was okay about it, but not thrilled. The boys were very excited about having a brother/sister, and I think everybody else was, some people were surprised, some not. 

Having a girl didn’t even come into it, we just assumed it would be a boy, so baby was referred to as “he” all the way through. Michelle was on hand 24/7 she was a star.  When we booked her, she did point out that she was going on holiday, a two week cruise around the Caribbean, the last two weeks of March, getting back on the 27th March! The baby was due on the 4th April. She assured me not to worry; she had a couple of really good stand-in midwives, which would be great. My 12 and 20 week scans were fine; baby was active (got to be a boy the way it moves around in there). It was lovely for Michelle to visit me at home, and we could sometimes work it (if we wanted to) for her to visit when the boys and Rob were going to be at home. They could have a listen to the baby’s heart beat; it makes it all so real then. It was all very relaxed and casual, Ted sitting on the arm of the sofa, George listening to the baby, and Rob making tea!  We had discussed the birthing plan, and I had said right from the start that I wanted the baby in hospital, to stay at home for as long as possible go into hospital, have the baby and then straight home (same as when I had Ted). No way did I want the baby at home, I’d be too worried in case anything went wrong and think of all the mess! Michelle said it was entirely my decision and she would be there with me the whole time whatever I decided to do.

It was Tuesday 31st March, I’d met friends for coffee and large cake earlier in the day, did the usual tidying up, collected Ted from School, tea etc etc. Boys were in bed and it was, I think, about 9 at night we were watching television when I started to get a twinge. The twinges were coming on a regular basis and I suggested to Rob he may want to give Michelle a ring. Rob rang Michelle on her mobile; she was round Tesco with Geoff doing a food shop (having come back from holiday a couple of days prior). I shouted to her to finish her shop off, not to rush, I didn’t feel as though the baby was going to make an appearance straightaway. Michelle came round about 10.30 pm, pains were about the same, she confirmed I was in labour and suggested I go to bed and try and get a bit of sleep and to ring her as soon as the pains got any worse. Off we went to bed, feeling very excited and slightly anxious that we would be the proud owners of a new baby! I also couldn’t believe the baby had decided to arrive on April 1st, the one day I was trying to avoid! I lasted until 2.00am. Rob rang Michelle, informed her the pain was getting worse. Over Michelle came with her bits and bobs, yes this was definitely it.

just weighed 9lb 7oz!
Meeting his sister
Brothers and Sister

Michelle suggested I ran a nice warm relaxing bath and hopped in (or in my case straddled the side of the bath and manoeuvred myself in as I was absolutely huge). It felt lovely in the water, Michelle had offered me a birthing pool, but I’d declined as I most definitely wanted this baby in hospital. Every time I had a contraction Michelle was there to rub my back and say soothing words that made me feel relaxed and assured everything was going to be fine. I lay on the bed for a while and Michelle put her head down on our sofa. I can’t really list what happened between then and early morning, but it was a mix of pacing the floor (trying not to wake the boys) jumping in the bath and laying on the bed. By the time the boys woke, I was getting quite a lot of pain. Rob rang our neighbour Celia, who was the nominated carer of the boys whilst I was otherwise engaged (my parents live an hour away and didn’t want to worry them until the last minute) and asked if it was okay to bring the boys round (I think this was about 7.00am). I managed to wave the boys off through gritted teeth, and Rob took them round next door, which caused a lot of curtains to twitch and neighbours running over to Celia’s in dressing gowns, asking “if this was it?”. Celia made the boys toast (that included Rob) and they seemed quite excited about the prospect of coming home from school to a new sibling.

I was puffing and panting next door and Michelle decided this was it, I needed to make a decision, if it was hospital then we needed to go now and get myself settled in. I suddenly decided (I think I shocked myself) that I wanted this baby at home. Michelle put her arms in the air and then gave me a big squeeze (I think she was secretly delighted I’d opted for a home birth). Now the decision had been made we had to make some preparations. Off Michelle went for the gas and air and a few more bits and bobs, Rob was in charge of towels and something to protect the bed with (the pink recycling sacks came in very useful!). Michelle also rang her colleague Sue Kinross, who had looked after me whilst Michelle was holiday and was lovely, to come over as a ‘back up’ midwife. Incidently, Michelle had only come back from holiday a few days prior and had already delivered one baby. So there was me puffing and panting, but really enjoying the gas and air, Michelle rubbing my back and talking me through every contraction, Rob in charge of sandwiches teas and coffee (and being very supportive), and Sue.

cord drying out
George & Elsie

I insisted on having Talk Sport on the radio, absolutely no idea why, but it took my mind of things a bit. Also, I forgot to mention we had the gas man, no not in the room, but just the other side of the bedroom door! Rob had rung them in the morning as there was a problem with the water. Poor man, I hope I haven’t scarred him for life as from what I can remember I was bit loud! By midday I was feeling very tired, I really thought I’d have had the baby by now, Michelle said the baby was lying at an awkward angle, but everything would be fine and to try and have something to eat to keep my energy levels up. I had a jam sandwich. Rob was brilliant, a real star, encouraging me all the way.  We did have a giggle and everything was very calm and relaxed. I was still hopping in and out the bath, walking around when I wanted to and Michelle was with me all the way. I started to have the urge to push, and poor Michelle was in the wrong place just as my waters broke and soaked her! Just as I was started to panic that the baby wouldn’t arrive before school finished, I had that big urge to push and out popped the head! Thank god! Michelle took one look and said “right, let’s get this baby out”! It seemed like an eternity before the next contraction, but when it finally came I gave one big push and out the baby popped into Michelle’s hands.

I think all of our mouths dropped at the size of the baby (bearing in mind I’m a petite 5 foot 2 inches tall). Rob and I said “he is massive”, Michelle replied “shall we see what he is” and turned the baby round. He was a she, our mouths dropped for the second time within 60 seconds. It seemed ages before we could speak, Michelle had popped her onto my chest and she felt huge, she was absolutely gorgeous with black hair and a lovely reddish complexion. Suddenly there was snap, snap, snap, Rob with the camera. We couldn’t believe it was a girl, I’d have bet every last penny it was going to be a boy.  She weighed in at a whopping 9lbs 7ozs and we named her Elsie Elizabeth May Collins.  Elsie after my late Nan, Elizabeth after Robs late mum and May, just because I liked it.  I asked Michelle what the heaviest baby she had delivered at home was, she replied 9lbs 7ozs. We just couldn’t stop staring at her. It was as if she knew she had to be out before the kids came out of school, bless her. When the boys came in they were absolutely thrilled with their new sister Elsie, who looked as if she had walked out! Rob went off and made the usual calls, texts, emails, my mum shed a tear, the fact that I’d had a girl and the fact that I named her Elsie after her mum, we all felt very emotional.

As I’d had the baby at home, meant that we could keep everything normal with the boys, George still went off to his rugby training and Ted was in a school play in the evening, which I was supposed to attend but Celia next door went on my behalf and filmed it for me. I was able to have a bath straightaway, in my own bath and have something eat. Michelle and Sue cleared up (you wouldn’t have known I’d had a baby at home), they changed the sheets wiped round the bathroom, poor Rob was busy loading the washing machine and hanging the washing out. I did require a few stitches, but apart from that I felt absolutely fine, just a bit sore!

I can’t put into words the feelings I have about having Elsie at home, it was wonderful and I’m no mother earth type character! It was relaxing, you could go where you wanted, eat when you wanted and Michelle was absolutely brilliant, worth every penny.  If anyone had said to me 12 months ago I would have a baby at home I would have laughed in their face. The whole experience I will cherish forever (sorry if that sounds slightly corny). Elsie is now 6 months old and she is the happiest most content baby I’ve ever known, and anybody who meets her says the same. She has slept through the night from about 8 weeks and even before then she only used to wake once or twice in the night. She absolutely adores the boys and they adore her. I don’t know if having her at home has made her more content, but I like to think so. I would recommend a home birth to anyone, just go with the flow and enjoy the whole experience. Big thank you to Michelle!!

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Alex's Birth Story: We decided to employ the services of Michelle because, due to Piers work, we were spending half our time living in the UK and the other half in Croatia.  We therefore needed a midwife that could fit around our schedule.  As soon as we met Michelle we immediately felt at ease with her friendly approachable manner.
One decision we had to make relatively early on in my pregnancy was whether to have our baby in the UK or Croatia.  Michelle gave us as much time as we needed to make this decision, never trying to influence us in any way.  In the end we decided to have our baby in the UK as we felt we would have a lot more support around us with family being close by.

What was really great about having Michelle was that we could book ante-natal appointments around when was best for us.  Another benefit of this was that it allowed us both to attend the appointments, which in turn meant Piers was well informed about everything that was gong on in the pregnancy.  Each appointment lasted about an hour and I found I really enjoyed them as they were more of an informal chat over a cup of tea rather than medical practitioner / patient exchange.

Once we had decided upon the location of the birth, Michelle gave us lots of literature to read to help us decide what kind of birth we wanted.  What we didn’t realise was that independent midwives specialise in homebirths.  This was something we had never considered.  Being that it was our first baby we had assumed it would be safer to have it in hospital.  Having read lots of information, particularly from the charity AIMS (Association for Improvements in Midwifery Services) we learnt that, for low risk pregnancies, homebirths are just as safe as hospital births and often result in a shorter labour and a more positive experience.  So having complete confidence in Michelle, we decided we would like a home water birth.The rest of my pregnancy went really well, with my ante-natal appointments scheduled around our visits to the UK.  I felt very fit and healthy and continued to keep active doing lots of walking and Yoga.  At 32 weeks it was time for me to travel back to the UK in preparation for the birth.  I had to visit a doctor in Croatia in order to get a letter to state I was fit to travel.  During this visit the doctor gave me a scan and informed me that our baby was currently in a breech position.  She said there was probably nothing to worry about as the majority will turn in the following month, but I had my doubts!

Mum holding baby
Dad bathing baby

A more thorough scan in the UK revealed that our baby’s legs were extended straight.  This meant it was very unlikely to turn spontaneously as the legs were splintering it in place.

Having done a lot of reading around breech babies, we decided to attempt a procedure to turn the baby externally (ECV).  We found a consultant at Oxford John Radcliffe hospital that specialised in this, and at 37 weeks Michelle accompanied us to Oxford to undertake the procedure.  Unfortunately the procedure was unsuccessful, but we were still very pleased we attempted it.  Michelle was fantastic during the procedure, helping to keep me relaxed and giving the consultant a helping hand.
Our next decision was whether we wanted to attempt to birth our baby naturally or go for an elective caesarean.  Again I did a lot of reading around the subject and came to the conclusion that, as long as you have a medical practitioner with experience of breech birth, a natural birth is just as safe as a caesarean, and of course will be quicker to recover from.  Unfortunately, we also discovered that very few midwives and obstetricians these days have experience of vaginal breech births as the vast majority of women choose a caesarean.  We also found out that an inexperienced medical practitioner can do more damage than good, as they often panic and try to pull the baby out.

Luckily for us Michelle had a colleague who had lots of experience of breech births.  The only down side was that if we wanted to use Michelle’s colleague, we would have to attempt to birth our baby at home as independent midwives are not able to get contracts to work in hospitals.  This was something we were apprehensive about, as we felt we would like the security of a hospital in case something went wrong.
After much thought and soul searching we decided to go for the home birth as we felt the benefit of having an experienced midwife out weighed the risk of not being in a hospital.  This decision was also reinforced by that fact that conditions at home would be a lot calmer than in hospital, which in turn would increase the chances of a successful birth.

So all we had to do now was to wait for me to go into labour!

The day after my due date, I started having period type pains during the night.  These eased during the day. We spoke to Michelle on the phone and she explained that I was probably in latent labour and that we could expect things to start fairly shortly.  She also popped round and dropped off her hot water bottle for me to use to help with the pains.  The second night the pains started again and were stronger, but again eased.  The third night the pains were a lot stronger, but again eased off by morning.  After 3 nights of very little sleep I was feeling very low. Michelle came round and examined me and told me I was 3-4 cm dilated.  This gave me a real lift as I was convinced I wasn’t even in labour.
Mum, Dad and Baby
5 weeks old
Me holding Digby

Later on in the afternoon the surges started again and I coped with them using a TENS machine.  It was at this point that we had a phone call from Michelle asking if she could come round as she wanted to discuss something with us.  Michelle had been in contact with her colleague about my progress.  It transpired that, from their experience, a start/stop labour like I was experiencing more often than not, results in a transfer to hospital right at the end of labour and an emergency C-section under stressed conditions.  They therefore recommended that I transfer into hospital now while I was in a good physical state to make the journey in comfort.  This honesty and frankness from Michelle was something we really appreciated.  Although her philosophy is never to tell women what to do, when it really mattered, she advised us as to what she felt was the right course of action.

After a manic ten minutes of packing, we left for the hospital around 6pm.  Michelle knew our preference was to go to Oxford as they have private rooms with facilities for partners to stay over.  Michelle followed us in her car on the hours drive.  When we arrived Michelle found out where we had to go and stayed with us right up until we went into the operating room.  Our son, Digby Charles, was born at 10.23 that night weighing 7 pounds 6 ounces.  After the operation, Michelle accompanied us onto the observation ward and helped me to feed Digby.  She also came back early the next day to check we were ok.

Although I didn’t get the birth I wanted, I feel very positive about my birth experience.  This is mainly because, even though I didn’t have a straight forward pregnancy, we were still able to make decisions about the type of birth we wanted.  This is something I am convinced wouldn’t of happened if we had had NHS ante-natal care as I believe I would have been pressurised into having an elective c-section.

I cannot extol highly enough the benefits of having an independent midwife.  The continuity of care and non-rushed approach made me feel confident about my birth and took away any anxieties I may have had.  I would highly recommend to anyone to employ the services of an independent midwife, and in particular Michelle.

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Siobhan's Birth Story: I first made contact with Michelle when I was 18 weeks pregnant with my 4th child. My previous births had all taken place in hospital; the first a breech assisted delivery (epidural), second was an emergency c/section (spinal) due to a low lying placenta and the third an assisted “normal” delivery (epidural). This time round I felt I wanted a home birth. I had recently moved into the Milton Keynes area and registered with the local doctor and midwife, when I had my booking in appointment I told them my wish to have this baby at home to which they both responded that I should discuss this with my consultant due to the fact I was classed as a high risk. From this point I decided to locate a supportive midwife as I didn’t feel I would get it from the local one. I contacted Michelle and we met for the initial consultation just to run through things and see if we got on together (which we did). After I discussed things with my husband Michelle then came round again and met the whole family. 

When my first (and only!) consultant appointment came round Michelle came with us as I didn’t want to feel pressurised into making any discussions at that point, I was only half way through my pregnancy. The consultant explained that it was against hospital policy for me to have a homebirth as I was a “high risk” due to the c/section but would “allow” me to have a homebirth (never mind that fact that it is legally the pregnant women who decides where to have her baby) as I would have Michelle there. I was asked to return at 36 weeks to discuss this again; needless to say I didn’t book that appointment!

My pregnancy progressed brilliantly, so stress free, the best one out of the four. Michelle introduced me to a student midwife, Jackie, who was going to use me as her case study. I felt it was a great opportunity for her to get to see a home birth rather than a hospital one, little did we know at the time how important it was going to be.

It was so nice to have all of my antenatal care done at home, a chance for all the family to be involved. Michelle often encouraged the children to be involved when they were around, and it was lovely for them to hear the baby’s heartbeat and get to know her before she arrived. Another great advantage was that my husband was involved. It was surprising how many questions he had, for the other births he did not have an opptunity to ask any. Also Michelle could explain to him how to inflate and fill the pool; I didn’t have to worry about any of that.

I believe another factor that helped this pregnancy was that I had reflexology treatments from month 3 and also used hypnobirthing and relaxation CDs.

At 28 weeks, because I’m such an impatient person, I decided to have a 3/4D scan done. At this scan I discovered that the baby was in a breech position. Everyone kept telling me not to worry I had plenty of time for her to turn; due to the fact my first had been breech I had the feeling she wouldn’t. Looking back on my first consultant visit just as I was leaving his office I quickly asked what the hospitals policy was on breech to which he replied c/section. In hindsight I wonder if deep down I knew she was going to be breech, all along.

The antenatal appointments (I wouldn’t really call them appointments as once the checks were done it was more like chatting to a friend) continued as normal until about 32/34 weeks then I started to try and turn the baby. I decided that I didn’t want to go and have her manually turned by the doctors due to the risks involved so I tried many alternative methods frozen peas on the top of the bump, bright torch at the bottom of my bump, lying on the floor with my bottom in the air and finally moxibustion treatment (depending on your stage of pregnancy when you do this, the success rates can be much higher than the hospital ECV rates). Alas, none of these worked so I just accepted the fact that she was going to be born breech. Once I had got to this point I was able to focus on gathering, with Michelle’s help, as much information on home breech birth.

Michelle decided that we would ask Jane Evans to be our back up midwife. Jane has lots of experience of breech home birth. Michelle arranged for Jane to meet myself and my husband a few weeks before the birth. Jane spent time with all of us explaining how the baby makes its way through the pelvis and spirals down and out. I had birthed a breech baby before and that it’s not a problem that the baby is breech. This gave me so much more confidence.
Michelle & Siobhan
Michelle & Niamh

When I got to 38 weeks I was so fed up, I had a show and thought it was going to happen soon but it wasn’t until a week later that my waters broke. I’d been shopping in the morning then came back for an afternoon nap, when I awoke I felt a crack, my waters had broke. I phoned my husband who came back, collected the kids and dropped them off at the grandparents, I then phoned Michelle and burst into tears, reality set in and I was a bit shocked. I had always said I wanted my baby girl to be early but I didn’t think it would really happen, that’s positive thinking for you!

Although my waters broke at about 2.30, it wasn’t until 17.00ish that I had my first contraction. Michelle and Jackie came round to check on me and ran through a few things whilst David started to fill the pool. After a couple of hours they went, as I wasn’t in established labour but I could call them whenever I needed them. By about 23.00 I felt I needed them there and so they returned. At this point I was using a tens machine which was wonderful, (I had never used this before with the others I had always had an epidural with gas and air), Jackie also explained to me that the contractions I was having would not get anymore painful just closer together, what great news, I felt there was no stopping me now!

At 1am Michelle called for Jane, she arrived asked how things were going and then went for a rest in the spare room as there was still some time to go. As the contractions got closer together I decided I wanted to get into the pool, what a wonderful feeling, so relaxing it gave me a little rest.

As time went on, the others rested in the other room, whilst Michelle stayed with me talking me through each contraction and helping me visualise what was happening, which was a great help. By 5am I felt I was ready to push, I thought originally I would “breathe” the baby out, a technique used in hypno birthing but the urge was too strong. All the others came back into the room quietly. I managed to birth my baby up to her chest in the pool but she need the gravity of “dry land” to enable her to rotate, so with the help of the others I got out of the pool (yes she was dangling between my legs!) Once out and on the floor I was able to push the rest of her out. It was a really strange sensation, none of this “ring of fire” you hear about, just a very soft curvy body. Because she had come so quick when I was ready to push (12 minutes from start to finish!) she hadn’t realised that she’d been born so she need a little help to get started but with Michelle, Jane and Jackie there I felt safe and that everything was going to be ok. An ambulance was called but by the time they had arrived (only 3 minutes later) her breathing had improved so I stayed at home and didn’t need to transfer to the hospital.

I am really pleased that I found Michelle and she was able to fulfil my wish of having a baby at home, also that I was able to give birth to a breech baby without any medical intervention, just proving that doctors don’t always know best. I truly believe that you should think positively, listen to your instincts and stick with them.

One of the biggest surprises for myself, though of having an independent midwife, one that I hadn’t thought of when I booked Michelle was the post natal care. With the other children I had a few midwife home visits, a health visitor check and then I was left with a few telephone numbers and told to get on with it. This was fine but what a difference it makes having the post natal support of Michelle. I can’t recommend this enough to new mums. As a mum of four you would of thought I would know what I was doing, but each baby is so different and they come with their own agenda! When the others were born in hospital I didn’t have the support I needed from the midwives because they were so busy, so the easiest option was to give them a top up of formula, this continued when I got home and by ten weeks they were all on formula. This time round, ten weeks on, I am still breastfeeding. Michelle has suggested different positions to feed the baby in and it’s made a huge difference I also made a conscious decision not to have any formula in the house because it is so tempting to give it to them when you are tired and needing to catch up on sleep but I am so pleased to have stuck at it. It just makes things a lot easier (and cheaper) in the long run, let alone the health benefits to us both. 

When I first told my husband that I wanted Michelle as my midwife he was very shocked at the price (as I think most men would be) but now when I talk to him about it he says he would recommend her to anyone, the care that Michelle gave was priceless. She has exceeded all of our expectations and when we have spoken to other parents they always say how lucky we are. In the beginning she was employed as a midwife but now she is so much more than this, I just wish I found her when I had my first child!

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Camille's Birth Story: During my first pregnancy, I had a few complications (antenatal depression and premature labour). I ended up having a very long and difficult labour and my daughter was delivered with ventouse. When I fell pregnant a second time, I was determined to do things differently. Again I had several complications and had to go to my local hospital on several occasions. Unfortunately I wasn’t impressed with the standard of care there.

I was doing a hypnobirthing course and felt that I would be happier having my baby at home. I also decided to change hospital to be sure that I wouldn’t have to go to my local hospital (for premature labour or other reasons)

I had met Michelle when I was around 28 weeks pregnant and thought she would be the natural choice for my home birth. Michelle accepted to take me on as a shared patient with her colleague Val as both of them had some holiday time booked around my delivery date.

From the moment Michelle became my midwife, I finally managed to relax into my pregnancy. She was extremely supportive, calm, warm and unphased by anything. On the initial appointment, we took some time going over any worries and concerns  my husband and I had about having a home birth such as what happens if the baby gets stuck, what happens if there is a problem. Michelle worked through every one of our worries and explained what she would do, what the options would be etc...

She also reconstituted my notes as the results of several of the tests I had had in hospital (a scan, a swab and several blood tests at 13 and 28 weeks) hadn’t been documented. She was also extremely supportive with my attempts to change hospital (which was met with some resistance from my medical practitioners). Unfortunately, when Michelle finally managed to track my tests results back, it appeared that I had tested positive to GBS when I was in hospital. I wasn’t prepared to risk a home birth if I was GBS positive and was extremely disppointed. I decided however to do a private GBS test around 36/37 weeks to check whether I was still positive, despite knowing from the readings I had made that it was very likely I would be. Both Val and Michelle were very supportive, the provided me with a lot of information on GBS and were prepared to support whichever decision I made (whether having a home birth or going to hospital). Val came with me to my hospital appointment and Michelle was probably the only person in the “team” who actually believed that I might end up testing negative. I was very disappoined to have to resign myself to have another hospital birth but was reassured that I had the best set up possible having sucessfully manage to obtain transfer of my file to the other hospital and knowing that Michelle or Val would be by my side to encourage me and provide reassurance when the time came.
I did my test at 36 weeks pregnant. Michelle came to visit me two days before her holidays and the test results hadn’t come in although it was imminent. She told me to call her as soon as the test came in and that if she was still in the country and the test was negative she would come to discuss the home birth set up. The next day, the test was so was Michelle as it was negative.

Camille’s newborn son
cuddles with Michelle

The wonderful thing about being cared for by Michelle is that she never counts her time. Even if that meant coming to visit me two days in a row. I always felt I could call her if I had any concerns and she was always there to provide gentle reassurance. I cannot describe how supportive she was. For instance, not a lot of people have heard of hypnobirthing, but Michelle did and really encouraged me to practice. She also has a network of other practicitioners (for instance homeopath and reflexologists) which are all fantasitc.

Unfortunately, as we expected, Michelle missed the birth as my son decided to make his appearance one week into her holiday (on the day which I was convinced he would arrive) but I was in very safe hands with Val. Michelle texted me straightaway from her holiday and she was at my house in a tick as soon as she got back.

Her postnatal care was also fantastic. Because I had suffered from antenatal and postnatal depression before she kept an eye on me and always created a relaxed atmosphere to ensure that I felt free to talk about any concerns I might have. She was also fantastic with my little son and kept a watchful eye on him to (for instance, testing him for persistent jaundice at 22 days as his eyes were still a bit yellow).

There were a lot of ups and down toward the end of my pregnancy and I was so lucky to have Michelle’s support to help me through the turmoil. One cannot fault her professionalism and her judgement. She puts a lot of time and effort in her relationship with her client and visited me countless of times and for up to at least six weeks (if not more) after my son was born. She also got on brilliantly with my husband and my daughter. Her positivitiy is relentless and infectious and I am convinced part of the reason I tested negative for GBS (must be all these positive vibes she was sending my way).

I only have three regrets as far as she is concerned the first one is that she was not present at the birth as it would have been lovely to have both Michelle and Val around (I know I am being greedy wanting both my midwives there). The second is that I have moved away and I don’t get to see her anymore, though we stay intouch via email. Otherwise, I am pretty sure we would still be meeting occasionally for a cup of tea. The third is that I moved too far for her to be my midwife should I have another child, as, if I wasn’t so far, I would call her the minute that little test turns positive.

I can honestly say that meeting her when I was 28 weeks pregnant was one of the most fortunate event of my life. I ended up having the birth I chose (a home birth) and it was calm and relaxed and so different from my first delivery because I knew I was receiving the best care possible and trusted both Michelle and Val completely which meant I didn’t have any worry surrounding the birth.

Because I felt so empowered by the experience, I did not suffer from postnatal depression and it is down the dedication and the fantastic standard of care of Michelle and Val. For that I will always have a special place in my heart for both of them (apologies if I am getting a bit soppy but these two have that effect on warned)!

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Nikki's Birth Story: It was Tuesday 4th December 2007, 2 days before my due date. I was in the car waiting for my 14 year old daughter Kayleigh to finish school and I had what I would describe as mild period pains. I didn't think anything of them as I was convinced that my baby boy was going to be late. After collecting the children from school we went home and done the usual chores, cleaning, cooking the tea etc., without even a second thought about the cramps that I was experiencing.

We had tea at about 6pm and then the children asked if we could put the Christmas tree up. I said that we could because once the baby arrived I would probably never find he time to do it. Also it would be nice to have it up for the birth as we had decided to have a homebirth.

We started putting the tree up at about 7pm. I was still having niggling cramps but I just ignored them as they still weren't painful. I did start to think to myself that this could be it, but I didn’t say anything to Adam or the children just in case.

By the time we finished decorating the tree at around 8pm the cramps were becoming more frequent and more noticeable but still not painful or even uncomfortable. I had a cup of tea and sat down with Adam in front of the TV. By about 8.45pm the cramps were about 10 minutes apart and lasting for about 30 seconds, that’s when I decided that yes this was it – I was in labour! I told Adam that our son was on his way. He looked at me with a smile on his face and said “are you sure?” I said “yes positive”.

Adam had already pumped up the birthing pool about a week earlier. Good job really because the first one had a hole in. The company sent a replacement the next day so we thought we would pump it up to make sure this one was ok.

I decided to go and have a bath. When I got into the bath I had quite a strong surge so I decided to call Michelle to let her know that things were happening. She said to give her a call back when the surges got closer together.

I got out of the bath and went downstairs to see Adam. All of a sudden a real sense of fear came over me and I burst into tears. Adam looked shocked and gave me a kiss and a hug and told me to listen to my Rainbow Relaxation music.

During my pregnancy we had attended Hypnobirthing classes. I had been listening to my rainbow relaxation every night in bed for the last couple of months and practising my breathing techniques in preparation for the big day.

We told the children what was happening and they got really excited. We told them to go to bed as it would be hours yet before anything happened. During the pregnancy we had discussed with the children about attending the birth. Kayleigh wasn’t sure and Mitchell who is 9 years old had said “er no way, I don’t want to see all that blood”. Now that the time had come they both said that they wanted to stay up so we let them.

I put on my iPod and started listening to my Rainbow Relaxation music. This really helped as the surges were more noticeable now and lasting a little bit longer. They still weren't painful but I had to concentrate on my breathing every time that I had one.

It got to about 10.30pm and I told Adam that he had better start to fill the pool as we weren't sure how long it would take. He got out the hose attachment and it didn't fit any of our taps! Aaagh. We should have checked that out sooner. I told him to ring Michelle as she had told me that she had a few different attachments.

I sat on the sofa in the lounge doing my sleep breathing. I could hear the children in and out but I was in a world of my own. Michelle arrived at about 11.45pm with her hose attachments and they were the same ones we had, so they had to put loads of tape around the tap to hold the hose in place. Finally we could start filling the pool.

I was glad Michelle was here now as I really wasn’t sure how far my labour had progressed. I seemed too calm and the surges seemed too mild for me to be very far advanced. Both my other births had been in hospital and both had been very painful.

Michelle asked me if I wanted her to examine me to see how far along I was. Half of me wanted to know and the other half didn’t. I thought if Michelle tells me I am only 2 cm open I will be quite disheartened.  I decided to let her examine me and to my surprise I was 8 cm open! I couldn’t believe it. Adam and I both looked at each other in amazement.  With my other two labours I was climbing the walls by now screaming for some pain relief. All I had done was listen to my Rainbow Relaxation. No drugs, no screaming no pain – fantastic!!

Nikki in the pool
Nikki after the birth
Michelle with new baby Zak

The pool seemed to be taking forever to fill and I began to wonder if it was going to be ready in time now that I knew how far along I was. Eventually at about 12.45am I got into the lovely warm water. It was really relaxing and very east to change positions. By this time Val the second midwife had arrived and she began boiling the kettle as we had apparently run out of hot water and the pool wasn’t quite warm enough yet. Mitchell was in and out of the lounge with his thermometer checking the temperature of the water.

The surges were getting much more intense now and closer together. I carried on listening to the Rainbow Relaxation and tried to concentrate on my breathing. Adam was doing the light touch massage on my back which felt really nice.

I was starting to make groaning noises as the surges got more intense. Michelle explained to the children what was happening and why I was making these strange sounds. She was fantastic with the children.

I started to come out of hypnosis and was getting a bit upset. Michelle reassured me that I was doing really well and to just let go and relax. She had attended the Hypnobirthing classes with us so she was aware of what to do to get me back into a relaxed state.

All of a sudden I felt the urge to push. I was hoping to breathe my baby out rather than pushing so I tried to breathe through the first few surges by doing the ‘j’ breath (a Hypnobirthing breathing technique). After a few more surges I really couldn’t resist the urge to push any longer so I did. This was the hardest part for me; it seemed to take forever for his head to crown, but I still felt in control and much more relaxed than my previous births.

My son Mitchell had left the room by this point as I think he was a bit worried. Val went out and reassured him that everything was ok and that I was perfectly fine. Another surge and Michelle told me to feel his head. It felt like velvet. I knew I was nearly there and that any second now we would have another son. One more push and out he came. Baby Zak was born at 2.45am weighing 8lb 12oz. I caught him and lifted him up onto my tummy. He did have the cord around his neck but Michelle quickly saw to that.  He was perfect. Everyone gathered round to welcome Zak into the world. He had been born into a calm and peaceful environment, surrounded by his family with no medical intervention. Michelle cut the cord after about 15 minutes once it had stopped pulsating as no one else was keen to do it. I had chosen to have a natural third stage which took about 45 minutes.

During this time Val had made tea and toast for everyone whilst we all sat in the lounge admiring our new bundle of joy. The children went up to bed at around 3.45am as it had been a long night for them. I went up and had a lovely bath whilst Michelle and Adam sorted out Zak. I got out the bath and put on my pyjamas. Michelle gave me a hug and a kiss and she left at around 4.45am. We went to bed with our new baby boy next to us. It was such an amazing experience that will stay with us all forever. I only wish that I had chosen Michelle and a homebirth for my other two children. She was fantastic!

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Lorraine's Birth Story: Ever been told that you can’t do something and it makes you even more determined? That’s what I felt like when I was told that when it was time to birth my second baby I would have to go into hospital when I made contact with the midwife.

In 2004 I had a c-section with my first son Oliver. It was something I wasn’t fully prepared for even though I considered myself aware of all the outcomes, I guess its something that you just hope won’t happen so you don’t fully deal with it. We had practiced hypnobirthing, which I found was fantastic for relaxing me and keeping me calm, and we were hoping for a home birth, but being 3 weeks + overdue, I found myself unable to follow that route and got pushed down the NHS drug route when my waters finally broke. Oliver’s head never fully engaged and we finally decided to have a c-section as we felt we had exhausted all the avenues we thought we had open to us at the time. One of my main midwife contacts at that time was Tess Lovely and it was her enthusiasm that gave me the confidence to even pursue the homebirth option. Her attitude was so positive to childbirth, rather than it being a painful and daunting experience which I picked up from other health professionals. After the birth Tess was fantastic and gave me so much support, from baby sleeping to breast feeding.

When I became pregnant again, it took me a long while to seriously think about how I wanted to birth my baby. It was at about 30 weeks when I talked to my NHS midwife about options and I was told “I had none, as I was considered ‘high risk’ as I had a previous c-section”. My health is good, I'm reasonably fit and my previous c-section was due to Oliver not wanting to come out of his cosy environment rather than an emergency heath issue. I found the concept of being ‘high risk’ difficult to deal with logically. I tried to find Tess again to seek some positive thoughts and was told that she had moved into private midwifery. I managed to get her number and emailed her as an initial contact via her website. The thought of spending £3000 was difficult to palate and I guess put me off making phone contact as I wasn’t sure whether we wanted to, or could afford a private midwife.

Tess came to visit me at home and we discussed the options available, as it happened my due date was right at the start of a 3 week holiday to Australia that she had already planned. She suggested that I contact another independent midwife Michelle Twiselton and so the relationship with Michelle began. By talking to Tess and Michelle, I made my mind up that if I wanted to have any options in the birth of my baby I needed to opt for private midwifery, so we took the plunge. Because of the due dates I ended up having a split service. Tess would be available if I went into labour before my due date and Michelle was available afterwards.

Both Tess and Michelle visited, together and separately before my due date. I was about 34 weeks when I finally engaged their services, so I fully believe it’s never too late! They took the time to understand me, my thoughts around the previous birth and what I wanted this time round. I had some hidden demons around my first birth that I hadn’t dealt with and when ever I actually tried to talk about the birth I cried, but didn’t actually know why. They listened, offered hardly any obvious advice, but provided comfort and understanding. By the time I was ready to go into labour I felt that I had released the issues that I’d squirreled away in the back of my mind. It was just about talking it through and realising that what happened in my first birthing experience was the best that I could have done and ultimately although the ride was uncomfortable we arrived safely at the destination… I had my beautiful baby son.

My due date came and went, I knew I would never be on time and Tess went on holiday. I never felt like that was an issue and the time I had spent with Michelle created a strong bond of trust. Not just for me but also for my husband. She had also taken the time to get to know my son Oliver who was now two and a half. I so wanted a water birth, to be at home in the calm and relaxing surroundings of my home rather than the hospital. We had a birthing pool ready and had undertaken some review sessions for hypnobirthing. I felt empowered and relaxed about the birth. I felt that I had a choice now rather than being told that I had to go into hospital at the first sign of baby’s arrival. It took such a weight off my mind and I could concentrate on being pregnant again rather than worrying about what was going to happen. I knew that Michelle was available at any time for me and that didn’t feel like that just because I was paying for a service, it felt like she actually cared.

My waters broke around 10 days after my due date, it was a Monday, and my little boy finally arrived on Thursday. I spent the time in between mostly at home, without Michelle’s help I would have been in hospital and followed a different path. My contractions started at around 5 to 10 minutes apart and I started my hypnobirthing to remain calm and relaxed. I was in pre-labour and was so relaxed that I fell asleep and when I woke the contractions had stopped. Michelle came and checked on baby and had waited until I was comfortable and confident that I was OK. The next day the contractions started again, we started hypnobirthing again, I relaxed and I ended up falling asleep again. The hypnobirthing made a difference, when I concentrated on the techniques the surges were fine, if I didn’t then I could certainly feel them. During this time I had been in and out of the birthing pool for relaxation and had the privilege of being at home rather than being in hospital. Michelle had made me fully aware of the protocols around waters breaking and inducement and had given me the opportunity to make an informed decision about my next steps.

On the Wednesday afternoon the contractions started again and were reasonably strong. When I followed the hypnobirthing training the contractions were completely manageable. Early evening I was in the birthing pool and I felt a pop and a sudden gush of fluids, from this point onwards the surges were around 3 minutes apart and strong. Although I tried to remain relaxed and calm I felt like I didn’t have time to collect myself between surges and the discomfort eventually got the better of me. Throughout this time, Michelle stayed in the background, unobtrusive, but still there for support. My husband was fantastic, he was my support throughout and the main reason for having Michelle was that he could completely concentrate on me rather than having to fend off medical staff during birthing.

Lorraine in the pool Lorraine after the birth Michelle, Lorraine and Ethan

My mum has been very sick with MS and cancer for sometime, and to me Michelle was more like the mother that I wish could have been there for me. When I say mother, it’s about someone who supports what you want to do, without just accepting what you say, but trying to understand why. What my mum would have done if she were able. Late on the Wednesday night the surges were too strong for me to cope with and I decided that I needed pain relief. Again Michelle was there to support me in this decision and facilitated the trip to the hospital via ambulance. At this point I felt that I had tried all the options available to me and I had made the decision when I wanted to go to hospital rather that being told. Or should I say my baby decided what and when things were going to happen.

When I arrived at hospital I didn’t have to worry about being told off for staying at home so long against Milton Keynes hospital protocol with regard to waters breaking and antibiotics. I knew Michelle would sort that out. James was left to be with me and support me. The ‘high risk’ label didn’t leave me, but I could manage that as I felt more in control of the choices I had made. I eventually had an epidural, but that just slowed the surges. We made the decision to have a c-section as we felt that we had considered and tried all options, the baby wasn’t engaging and there was no progress…. De-ja-vu of my first birth, but this time we felt more empowered and in control of the decisions.

The baby was back to back, we didn’t find this out until he came out, the little monkey certainly kept us on our toes! Whilst we were in hospital, Michelle couldn’t act as a midwife and was more of a doula, but because she is known in the hospital and has worked there I truly believe that our experience was less traumatic. Even down to the fact that she went and got toast for James so that he didn’t have to leave me! Fantastic service!

Oliver holding baby Ethan Lorraine and Ethan Ethan

Ethan was born on 12th April at 12:12 pm. Michelle was in the theatre with my husband, taking pictures and keeping a watchful eye. I felt scared but calm at the same time. I knew that we had made the decisions this time rather than being pushed down a route we didn’t want to follow. We have some fantastic pictures of Ethan’s first moments with us.

The hospital experience was as I expected, when I thought I was able to leave on the third day I suddenly had a barrage of physicians and midwives trying to force me to have Vitamin K and antibiotic injections given to Ethan. I had researched the vitamin K benefits and felt that it wasn’t necessary, the hospital staff had other ideas based on ‘what normally happens’ and I felt bullied into changing my mind. I stood my ground, only because I had discussed the issues with Michelle and felt happy with my decision. She was there to provide support afterwards.

As a second time mum you don’t get the same grace as you do first time round, the time to relax and the pampering. Everybody knows you’ve done it before and assumes you can get on with it on your own. This excludes my husband, James; he was fantastic; he supported me with all the decisions we had to make and talked it all through with me. He, like me was sceptical of needing a private midwife, but now agrees with me. Michelle was there for me after the birth, when I got home to ensure that we had the help we needed. Ethan is now 5 months old and I feel that if I needed help, Michelle would be there to try and help. I was initially concerned about being able to afford the fees of a private midwife, but having been there I now know that every penny was well spent. If you want to be able to make choices, in my experience you need to consider opting out of the NHS system for midwifery care.

I can’t thank Michelle and Tess enough for my healing birthing experience. I know things would have been very different.

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Sarah's Birth Story: As soon as I knew I was pregnant with my third I wanted a home birth. I had a home birth with L, my second, and it was a marvellous experience.

I thought initially about hiring an Independent Midwife (IM) but after speaking to one IM decided to see how it went with the NHS.

By 26 weeks I was hacked off. I had seen 4 different midwifes since I got pregnant and was aware of numerous suspensions of the home birth service in the Bedford area due to a shortage of midwifes. My absolute worst case scenario was phoning up in labour and being told I couldn’t have a home birth and having to go to hospital.

So I decided to try IMs again. I sent an email to various names I got from the IMA website and that is how I found Michelle. I knew straight away when we met for our initial consultation that she was right for me and luckily she thought she could work with me too!

I was more relaxed knowing I would get the home birth I wanted (barring medical issues) but there were also other benefits that I hadn’t really counted on.

Every antenatal appointment was held in my home at a time convenient to me and my family - and they usually lasted at least an hour. We spent a long time talking about the birth and what I wanted and also the postnatal period so Michelle really got to understand what was important to me - I didn't have to write a birth plan it was all in her head and discussed in detail beforehand.

It also meant I no longer had to drag my other two (M 3yrs and L 20 months) to the GP surgery or go without them. They got involved in the pregnancy ‘helping’ Michelle to find the baby’s heartbeat and finding their own as well! She made the experience ‘real’ for them without it being scary. We also had antenatal appointments in the evenings so my husband could be involved, a first for him as he had never attended an antenatal appointment before, so he got to hear Sophie’s heart beat before she was born and Michelle also gave him a crash course in palpating my stomach to feel the position of the baby!

It was also great to know I could call any time with my pregnancy queries. And I did! Michelle was able to come over at short notice when I was especially worried about anything to take a look or just reassure me.

By the time we got to the birth I felt I knew and trusted Michelle totally and she had made me more trusting of my own instincts. The fact that I knew she would attend the birth relaxed me completely.

Sarah after the birth Skin to skin contact Sarah and Sophie

Needless to say the birth was fantastic. It was very straightforward and Sophie arrived on my living room sofa in just over 5 hours. Michelle was actually only there for about an hour and a half of the labour as I was so at ease I did most of it with just my partner. But I have to say when she did arrive I was very relieved!  She followed my wishes to the letter, a first in my three labours!

She took pictures for us, her and a colleague cleared up beautifully, they made the best tea and toast ever and then left us to it. (oh, and she did take the placenta away too!!)

And then another major benefit kicked in - the postnatal support. Once again everything was done at home, Michelle visited me as often as I wanted and stayed for at least an hour, she did all the tests at home (heel prick, anti-D etc) and I didn’t have to take Sophie to a single germ infested clinic!! And she supported me with breast feeding.

Again the boys got involved in weighing Sophie (and their Bob the Builder toys!) and we all looked forward to a visit (especially as Michelle is a great football player!). She also made me feel like I was important in the process and took great pains to make sure I rested enough and took care of myself.

During one memorable visit I was stressed out about how much I still had to do for Luke’s second birthday party and she helped the boys make the jelly while I rested with Sophie – now that is service!!

I had my last visit when Sophie was 10 weeks old! At the visit Michelle presented me with a photocopy of all my notes which will be a wonderful record of Sophie’s birth and early life. And they were beautifully wrapped up in home made paper and made into a gift.

Although an IM is not cheap I have to say that it was worth every single penny. I guess they operate how midwives used to before time and money constraints kicked in – but with added jelly making services!

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Dinah's Birth Story: As a first time Mum-to–be I had worries about the NHS. When I found out that I was pregnant I was really excited. I met my GP and the community midwife but came away from these meetings feeling like I was just a number on a conveyor belt system for them. I didn’t like the feeling that my birth was like a lottery and I didn’t want to be delivered by a stranger. I would feel vulnerable in the hands of someone that I’d never met. I got the idea about independent midwifery from reading an article in a magazine and from speaking to a friend who had a lovely home birth with an independent midwife.

From the moment we started working with Michelle we felt a change in our antenatal care. We could have our appointments when and where we wanted them. Every meeting with Michelle lasted for at least an hour and she got to know us really well. She is warm and understanding but also has an air of professionalism about her that inspires confidence so I trusted her completely. Her advice was always balanced and she presented us with many options as she doesn’t have an agenda. All this put me at ease. Once I had a minor bump in the car and was very upset, she was round to our house within half an hour and she totally reassured me.

During the pregnancy I became very interested in Hypnobirthing and when I organised to go on a course Michelle attended the sessions with us giving up her own time. She was very patient and supportive as I changed ideas frequently about where I wanted to give birth. I loved the idea of a home birth but my mindset is that I would be safer in hospital. I liked that fact that Michelle had worked for Milton Keynes General for many years so I felt that she knew the procedures and maybe some of the staff there so we would not be going into a hospital not knowing anything about it. Michelle and I discussed in detail my birth plan. She empowered me with the feeling that even if I went into hospital I would not be giving up my right to have a birth the way that I wanted.

Dimitris asleep
Dinah and Dimitris
Dimitris at Christmas

In the end I went overdue, twelve long days. Even though I had the option of waiting for my labour to start spontaneously, I didn’t want to wait any longer and decided to book an induction. We went into the hospital on Saturday morning and started the induction procedure at 12.30. Michelle joined us after this and with the reassuring sight of her calm face I knew that everything was going to be fine.

My body responded well to the induction procedure and I had my waters broken at 10.00pm. After this my body took over and I didn’t need to go on a drip. I was able to relax and get on with my hypnobirthing breathing because I felt so safe. I kind of ‘zoned out’ and I knew that Michelle and Demos were there to watch out for me. One midwife in the hospital was distracting me while I was trying to concentrate on my breathing and Michelle acted as my advocate and in a polite way handled the situation so I could just get on with things. Throughout the labour Michelle was by my side doing exactly what I needed without having to be asked. Sometimes she explained the sensations that I was having and let me know what to expect next but most of the time we didn’t speak she just watched me for cues that I was tensing up and used hypnobirthing techniques and her experienced hand to get me back into a relaxed state. This and the reassurance that my baby was doing fine was enough for me. I birthed Dimitris at 3.15am using only hypnobirthing breathing techniques and it was an amazing experience for all of us. Without Michelle I believe that I would have been terrified by giving birth because the hospital midwives cannot always stay by your side all the way through as they often have other women to look after.

Having Michelle available for postnatal care gave us the confidence to leave the hospital soon after the birth and we recovered at home with the help and support of my mother who took great care of us. I never had any problems breastfeeding because Michelle took the time to explain it all to me and to watch and make sure that there were no difficulties from the beginning. It was great to have someone available at all times to answer all those new parent questions. I had written lists to present to her at every visit and she just took it all in her stride. I never felt like I was wasting her time and it meant that I didn’t have to try and sort through conflicting advice from friends and books. After every postnatal visit our confidence as new parents increased. We have been very lucky with Dimitris and I believe that one of the reasons that he is so good is because we had a lovely birth experience and now we can’t wait to have another baby.

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Donna's Birth Story: The birth of my third child, Scarlett was the loveliest experience because she was born at home with the help of my wonderful midwife Michelle Twiselton, an Independent Midwife.

Being the mother of two young children already, I desperately wanted to give myself the best chance possible of having a home birth. I really didn’t want to go into hospital and leave the children, J (4yrs) and M (2yrs) as their labour’s had been very straightforward and relatively short. My husband and I saw no downside to having our third child at home.

My labour started in the early hours of Monday 16th July, one day before my due date. As always with these things, I got out of bed and wandered around the house thinking is it, isn’t it for a while, trying not to wake the kids. It’s when you have that first really big contraction and you think “oh bugger”, I remember this from last time” that you know you really are in labour. As it was 2 o’clock in the morning I decided to leave it a while before I called Michelle, though she had told me over and over again to call as soon as I thought I was in labour. It was just the thought of waking her too soon – it’s very unnatural to telephone people at 3 in the morning! My plan was to have the baby in our conservatory which we had made into a little cocoon draping sheets over the glass and with a big exercise mat covered with a sheet on the floor. I set about getting this ready whilst breathing my way through the contractions, which were about 6 minutes apart. Once it got to around 3.30 am I decided I had best wake up my sleeping husband Martin, so he could put my TENS machine on me. Bleary eyed he came downstairs and did the final setting up of the ‘birthing room’ and helped me with my TENS whilst I had contractions leaning up against the fridge! Walking around lots, hip gyrating and breathing I coped fine with the contractions and decided I had better call Michelle around 4.30am. 

At this stage, my contractions were about 3 minutes apart so I was glad to hear Michelle’s reassuring voice. It was good to know she was already on her way as I knew things were starting to get moving. The only scary moment was when I had an absolutely HUGE contraction about 20 minutes after calling Michelle and I thought, this is it, this baby is coming out. Thankfully, that was not the case and my waters began to trickle out as I stood on my mat, wiggling my hips and fiddling about with my TENS machine. Always a great distraction!

Meeting the family
Michelle and Scarlett

By the time Michelle arrived around 5.20 I was so pleased to see her. As soon as she walked in to the house I felt calm and reassured and really ready to get on with it. I remember feeling very safe as she quietly got everything ready in a very non-intrusive way. Michelle told Martin that she could see the baby’s head so he knew it wouldn’t be long. I hit transition phase minutes later and sobbed into Martin’s shoulder until the feeling passed me by while Michelle watched on. It was then the really intense labour pains kicked in and through breathing and using my TENS, and a little bit of twisting of my husbands thumbs I got through each one. I think I also did a bit of wailing and shouting at this point too. In my makeshift cocoon I was kneeling on the floor, leaning into Martin when baby finally crowned. I did feel panicked, but again through the fuzz I could hear Michelle’s calm voice telling me I was doing fine and that I should breathe and try to focus. The pain became overwhelming as baby crowned and I needed a little bit of pain relief as I felt quite panicked at the intensity of it all. But with the help of some gas and air to take the edge off the pain and Michelle talking me through, I gave a few big pushes and out came my baby daughter at 5.52am. I looked down and saw my beautiful baby daughter, Scarlett screaming her head off at the indignity of it all as I knelt over her. She was 7lb 6oz and had decided to come out with her hand across her face - hence the sharp pain as she crowned and the small tear I had. We decided this wouldn’t be stitched but it would heal nicely on its own.

My third stage was a little bit slow but Michelle talked me through and encouraged me to ‘let go’ and eventually the placenta appeared as I cuddled Scarlett into me. It was wonderful to see my children’s faces as they wandered downstairs sleepily around 6.30am to meet their new sister who was snuggled up with Mummy. They were totally oblivious as they had slept through the whole thing and were fascinated by this little person who had miraculously ‘appeared’ overnight.

The whole experience was fantastic – at no time did I feel time pressured to ‘get on with it’ and I was able to trust my instincts and birth at my own pace. I felt Michelle had done everything possible to make sure myself and Scarlett were safe and I trusted her 100% in every decision that was made because Martin and I were always involved in them. It also helped that Michelle had spent so much time getting to know me during my antenatal checks, so she had become a good friend, listening to all my worries and mad pregnancy ramblings! 

My little family is now complete and I am now adjusting to being a mum to 3 children under 5 which is a bit bonkers if I am honest, but well worth it. My conservatory is no longer a ‘cocoon’ but is now a normal room again with lovely memories of the birth and I feel very proud to see my home address there as the place of birth on my daughter’s birth certificate which is exactly what I wanted all along.

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Mary’s Birth Story: I first contacted Michelle when I was nearly 6 months pregnant. I had been doing a lot of research and reading about birth options and medical practices around labour and delivery and I had decided I definitely didn’t want to be in the hands of standard NHS care when the time came – at least while everything was looking normal.

My age (43), and it being my first child, meant that I was instantly viewed as “high risk” by the NHS – and I was afraid that this would mean more pressure than normal to submit to various medical interventions such as induction, monitoring, drugs and so on. My first obstetrician appointment had me very scared. I wasn’t told what the appointment was for, or who I would be seeing (male or female) or what would happen. When I asked one of the nurses what the appointment was for before I went in, she had no idea, but looked at my notes and said “probably your age”. My notes showed a history of completely normal blood pressure and blood sugar up to that point, but the female obstetrician informed me that “you are prone to gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia because of your age”. This, and several other experiences with the NHS, led me to feel that I wasn’t being looked at as an individual, but as a statistic.

At the same time there were stories in the press and on TV about a shortage of midwives in the NHS affecting continuity of care during labour and the likelihood of being able to have a home birth.

All the reading I’d done agreed strongly about one thing – that continuity of care by one midwife made a drastic difference to a woman’s experience of birth. I had also made up my mind that when labour started I wanted to be at home as long as possible and ideally to give birth there.

As soon as I booked with Michelle I felt most of my anxieties disappear. Michelle wasn’t at all fazed by my age. She did what I had wanted the NHS to do – to treat me as an individual and look at my actual health and circumstances, and for us to make decisions between us based on this.

Although I was primarily focussed on the delivery when I decided to look for an independent midwife, Michelle made a big difference to my experience prior to the birth. As well as generally putting me at ease, doing regular checkups, talking about birth plans and so on, it was clear that one of Michelle’s big assets is knowing her way around the system (and people) at MK General! She came with me several times to show me round the labour ward (just in case!) and to support me during obstetrician appointments.

The pregnancy proceeded well, with all scans and tests coming out completely normal – so we both figured we were on track for a home birth.

Unfortunately, nature had other plans!

Adam and Grandad
Mary, Adam and Michelle

I went 22 days overdue and although everything still looked normal I finally arranged to go in to the hospital for an induction on the Thursday. But at 2.30am, that morning, contractions started coming hard and fast – about every 3 minutes. Half an hour later we called Michelle and she was with us very soon after that. I was in bed when she arrived, unable to move downstairs or even change positions very much, as the contractions were very intense. I was doing relaxation breathing as best I could and these helped me cope but the intensity was overwhelming. Michelle gave me gas and air to use, but the first time I took a full lungful I gagged, so I was pretty much drug free from then on.

After about 8 hours I started getting strong pushing urges and I didn’t seem to be able to stop. Initially I was really pleased as I thought this meant the baby would be here very soon. Then my waters broke and thankfully they were clear, which encouraged me even more that we would be able to do this at home.

Eventually I managed to get downstairs and into the birthing pool. This took the edge off the pain a bit but things were still very intense. I was still pushing, and I was definitely getting tired. Michelle examined me and found I was only 8cm dilated. I knew from things I’d read that pushing when not fully dilated could be counter-productive – but there was no way I could stop pushing. I think intuition took over then, and I decided it was time to transfer to hospital. It turns out that Michelle and my partner had discussed this possibility out of the room – but in the end it was completely my decision. And as it turned out, it was the right one. I knew from that point that I did not want to proceed with an attempted vaginal delivery and that I wanted a c-section. I know that could sound like “giving up” but this was actually part of my birth plan. If things were going to be difficult I knew I wanted to skip all the other interventions that might be tried – and it was clear something wasn’t right (We found out later that Adam had got himself into an awkward position and was basically stuck).

Michelle arranged the transfer to hospital and came with me in the ambulance and was with me while I was assessed and the hospital decided what to do. Only later did I find out what a difference she made there – in particular ensuring that the baby went straight to Jeff while I was under anaesthetic. Although I’d written this in my birth plan I can’t really imagine that in that emergency situation anyone else would have even remembered it existed, never mind helping to ensure it was followed.

When Michelle says she will be an “advocate” for you at the hospital, this might not sound like much compared to being the midwife in charge, but actually it turned out to be priceless - because it means that while everyone else is rushing about she has no other job except to look after your interests and make sure your wishes are made known to the hospital staff. And for me it made a massive difference – knowing Adam was with his Dad right from the start and not taken off somewhere by strangers was, and still is, a big comfort to me. Michelle also knew, from discussions we’d had, that I was against the unnecessary use of antibiotics and she managed to dissuade the hospital staff from giving them to Adam straight after birth – something else which I couldn’t have managed to do myself.

Another side benefit of Michelle being there was that later on she could tell me exactly what happened in the operating room – what Adam was like when he came out, what the surgeons were saying and so on. I doubt I’d have got that level of information otherwise. You miss out on so much when you have an emergency c-section (I had a general anaesthetic), so being able to find out the detail later on is so important.

I had a pretty rough time in hospital as I’d lost a lot of blood and of course there was the surgery itself to get over. Michelle came to see me every single day I was in there, to chat and to see how I was. On the 3rd day I wanted to breastfeed Adam but was having a lot of trouble with it, partly because I couldn’t sit normally or rest him on me because of the pain. The other nurses were generally encouraging and did offer to help, but in the end they were so busy they simply didn’t have the time to sit with me on a busy ward and help me. I rang Michelle and she was there within the hour and stayed with me until we’d managed to find a comfortable position and Adam had got used to feeding that way too. 2 months later as I write this, Adam has had some breastfeeding every day (although he still needs bottles cos he’s such a big baby!). I really wonder and doubt if I would have managed to get going with breastfeeding at all if it hadn’t been for Michelle.

After I came home, Michelle continued to visit, to check the wound, take blood tests, weigh Adam and many other things, saving me several visits to my GP which I really wasn’t up to doing at that point. After a couple of weeks I seemed to be well enough that I didn’t feel I needed any more visits and Michelle signed me off, but told me I could ring her any time if I wanted to ask about anything.

After about 6 weeks though, I found myself mentally struggling with what had happened and my health visitor assessed me as having borderline postnatal depression. I was recovering physically very well, but I would get regular bouts of weepiness, especially when I thought about the birth. Although my health visitor was extremely kind and supportive I realised I needed to know exactly what had happened and why things had gone the way they had – and there was only one person who could really help me with that. Michelle was marvellous once again. I rang her and she came round the next day and went through all her notes in detail, going through the whole labour and telling me some important facts which I hadn’t realised before. Although I’d been told a lot of things the few days after the birth I was pretty out of it and wasn’t really taking everything in at the time. The main factor was the baby’s position which meant that there was nothing I could have done to change what happened and reinforcing the fact that actually we did the right thing by transferring and going for a c-section. Answering these questions in my mind pretty much stopped the weepiness problem after that. Having access to those notes – and most importantly to the one person who was present throughout and who knew the whole picture, and who was willing to go through it all with me – probably saved me from getting into a more seriously depressed state, or at least from carrying around those niggling thoughts and feelings about the birth for the rest of my life.

I’m happy to report that Adam is very well and growing fast, as well as being absolutely gorgeous, and that I am actually managing to enjoy being a Mum at last after everything that happened. Although I had a natural delivery as my goal when I booked with Michelle, I actually think it was even more important to have had Michelle around when things started to go wrong. I think having Michelle as my midwife prevented things being even more traumatic than they were and I’m absolutely sure I’ve recovered from the whole thing a lot more quickly, especially mentally, as a result.

Hiring Michelle was definitely one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and I’d be more than happy to chat to anyone thinking of hiring her.

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Elizabeth’s Birth Story: When our first daughter arrived in May 2007, I experienced the most incredible and empowering delivery – in an NHS hospital, quickly, naturally and with a little help from a friend (gas and air!). Although this should have given me the confidence to continue through the NHS with my second pregnancy, I was, this time more anxious about giving birth. In early pregnancy, I felt that the care given by the community midwives wasn’t supportive enough and I also wanted some consistency.

Having undergone some research, I decided that having an independent midwife to support me through my pregnancy and at the birth, would be the best option for me.

My husband, daughter and I very quickly developed a great relationship with Michelle; who provided me with the support and guidance I really needed. Each visit Michelle made was always at our convenience and in our home which made it incredibly comfortable (as I’m not good in clinical environments!). In addition to the routine pregnancy checks a midwife would conduct, Michelle took time to understand how I felt about birthing my baby and we openly discussed all my fears and desires for labour and explored this through birth art. She then provided me with in depth information on options available to me.

I might just point out that on my first few meetings with Michelle; I had categorically said to her that I would not give birth at home but in an NHS hospital with her as my support. When I reached my 32nd week, I felt so confident in my ability to deliver my baby, and confident that Michelle would be the support I needed, I decided to have my baby at home.

Michelle continued to be on call for me until I went in to labour, which was invaluable as I spoke to her on a number of occasions in the middle of the night! She also would come out to visit me in addition to our agreed meetings and attended hospital appointments.

At 37 weeks, Michelle and I discovered that my baby was in breech position and when I went in to hospital without my husband, for the confirmation scan, Michelle was with me to dry the tears – I do not know what I would have done without her! Michelle spent a considerable amount of time with me discussing all options for me, including having a natural labour, having a C section, procedures I could undergo to attempt to move the baby – all of which was very informative.

I made the decision to undergo procedures to turn the baby; however I went in to labour before these appointments and decided that I wanted to have a caesarean birth. Michelle came to the house to time my contractions and then followed my husband and me into hospital. Michelle stayed in the hospital most of the evening but as my labour slowed to a standstill she went home as I felt I would not have my baby until the following day.  Poor Michelle had just got home when I called her to say that my contractions were now strong and closer together – could she come back!

Elizabeth & Isabella participating in Birth Art
Baby Matilda at 1 week old with big sister Isabella
Elizabeth & Matilda 3 months old

My husband and Michelle arrived back at the hospital as I was being prepared for theatre. I was incredibly scared that something would go wrong; Michelle remained by my side until our daughter Matilda was born. My husband stayed out of the operating theatre as planned and I am so pleased that I had Michelle with me – she kept me calm and was able to describe the procedure as it took place as I requested. She also took photographs for us.

The experience was not what we had planned, however I cannot begin to describe the happiness that I felt when Michelle told me I had a little baby girl. Michelle has been a huge support to both me and my husband and I feel that the friendship we have developed is very special.

After Matilda was born, Michelle continued to visit us at home, weekly, providing me with guidance on feeding, sleeping and establishing a routine. We discussed exercise after giving birth, diets suitable for breastfeeding and post natal depression. I always enjoyed Michelle’s visits and found them really helpful.

Michelle is a wonderful midwife who takes time to get to know you and in turn, help you to feel confident in delivering your baby. Our eldest daughter Isabella I’m sure feels as if she is part of the family as Michelle has been truly lovely with her too.

I would have loved Michelle to have delivered Matilda at home; however I’m just pleased that we have a beautiful, healthy little girl. If Nick and I ever changed our minds and decided to have more children, we wouldn’t think twice about having Michelle again!

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Sam’s Birth Story: When I first found out I was pregnant I couldn’t help but feel nervous about telling my father he would be a Granddad, I’d been ‘Daddys little girl’ and I was now going to have a baby myself. My pregnancy was brilliant; I know I was lucky as I only had a few manageable ailments like swollen ankles. I didn’t go to all of the NHS antenatal classes but did go on the ‘hospital tour’, which I found really useful, to see where I would go to have my baby. No one ever talked to me about the options of home birth or hospital birth.

I didn’t really think about giving birth. I knew it was something I would just have to get on and do when the time came so when labour started I felt backache initially and some other sensations I hadn’t had before. I wasn’t really sure if ‘this was it’ which is what I woke up to at 3am. I woke my partner up who suggested I try and go back to sleep. He had 2 children previously and been at their births so I trusted him which relaxed me (especially as he’d seen labour before and I hadn’t). As it was I didn’t manage to get back to sleep, we both got up and went outside and walked around the estate we lived on until 5am. My contractions were coming every 3 minutes and walking helped me deal with the backache, as they came my partner would lean forward so I could lean forwards onto his back. The contractions became more intense, so I returned home for a while, there, I made sure I had all that I would need to take with me to hospital but went to my brother’s home first, he also had children so it felt natural to want to be with my family.

I remember sending my partner out to buy a gym ball, but didn’t use it as we decided to go to be checked out at the hospital. I was examined at 9am and although I was in labour, I was told I was in the early stage. I was encouraged to go home until my labour contractions became more intense and regular. I felt panicked at first, about how long my labour might take, so tensing and gripping with my hands was useful. I kept moving around a lot, I found it difficult to get comfortable so tried lots of different positions, I was really fidgety.

We went back to the hospital at 12 noon, I felt it was time to back there and felt ready that my baby would be here soon. At the hospital I was examined my cervix had opened to 6cms (my waters broke at this exam). I felt quite tense so took the gas & air and used the gym ball which I found useful to bounce gently and rocking on for a short while, but then felt the need to start moving around again.

With a change of shift I met Michelle. She was working a late shift at the hospital (I found out later that this was something she does occasionally). I remember her asking if I would like to try out the pool as it wasn’t in use by anyone else and that it might help to ease my discomfort and make the sensations more manageable. I liked the idea instantly and couldn’t think of anything else other than wishing the pool would hurry up and fill, it seemed like forever, I was so keen to get relaxed and into the pool. I will never forget that first moment as I entered it, the warmth of the water eased the tension in my body and everything felt easier, it calmed my pain, seemed right and was meant to be. I could move more freely where before I was fidgety, tense and frustrated, I could now move, sway and felt more relaxed. I felt everything now flowed and the sensations I was feeling were what was meant to be happening, labour seemed to be going faster now but it was much more manageable. I was told to just go with the sensations and let my body do what it wants to do and not to feel afraid. I felt a sensation in my back like someone pulling an elastic band really hard and taught.

I moved into a kneeling position and had a spontaneous urge to push; I didn’t need anybody to tell me what to do as my body was doing it for me. As the baby’s head started to come out I felt a burning, stretching so I felt down to her hair.  As the water went through it I remember feeling it, silky and smooth, lots of hair!  I had mixed feelings at this point but remember feeling ok as I looked directly at the reassuring eyes around me.

I remember feeling so excited that I was about to meet my baby, my contractions spaced right our and we waited for things to get going again, I was helped into another position which moved the baby and out she came, gently lifted to the surface and straight onto my tummy. She was quite blue at first, which scared me a little but Michelle reassured me that was normal for water birth babies.  Within a minute she was pink, the placenta came shortly after, into the water too.

My baby weighed in at 8lbs 10oz and I didn’t tear. The skin to skin contact helped her latch on to feed at my breast really quickly, which also settled her down. I remember looking down at her, there on my chest and thought wow!

I didn’t pay for your services like most others, but being in your care was fabulous. Our beautiful baby girl is now 2 months old and is doing brilliantly, we named her Lacey. I just wanted to say thank you really as I can’t think what it would have been like to have a normal birth and a normal midwife and I would recommend a water birth to anyone as a first option and I will never forget you, you made my birthing experience better than I ever thought that it could be. So thank you very much all our love Samantha and Lacey.

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Claire’s Birth Story: My husband Alex and I wanted the birth or our first child to be a positive experience. Although my local doctors surgery offer a great service I felt they never had enough time to spend with me, I was one of hundreds of pregnant women in the area and my appointments with the midwife were quick and impersonal. I often felt there was no time to ask questions or discuss options. 

It was quite early days in the pregnancy when my mum and I met Michelle at an Antenatal Exhibition in Milton Keynes. We both instantly warmed to Michelle and quickly began asking her all our unanswered questions. Just meeting Michelle that day and hearing her talk so positively about home births I instantly knew I wanted her to be my midwife. Over the next few months Michelle regularly visited us at home for checkups, answered all our questions about having a home birth and curbed any fears. Having the checkups at home made things more relaxed and meant that Alex had a chance to ask questions and was therefore more involved in the pregnancy. She regularly brought us things to read, DVDs to watch and if she didn’t know the answer to a question she would go out of her way to find out for you. 

After planning for a home birth our baby boy Samuel was finally born on 29th July, 14 days over due in Watford Hospital by Caesarean Section. After my due date passed I began to get anxious. I desperately wanted the home birth we had planned and I was terrified of going into hospital with lots of medical intervention. When Samuel was 13 days overdue we sat and discussed the options with Michelle. One of the many great things about Michelle is that she lets you make your own decisions and then supports you in that decision. She gives you all the facts and then allows you to decide what’s best for you and your family. We could wait a few more days and see if Samuel came naturally or we could go to the hospital and have the labour induced. I was terrified of being induced and didn’t want to spend the night in hospital on my own, however I was worried for the babies safety and my intuition told me that it was time to get on with things. Michelle rang the hospital, explained the situation and arranged for us to go in that evening.

I was given the drugs to start the induction in the evening with the idea being that I woke in the morning and the contractions would have started. During this time Michelle kept in constant contact with us via the phone and reassured us that she could be there whenever we needed her. Michelle new that I was nervous about being on my own in hospital and often sent me text messages to let me know she was thinking about me which really helped. The contractions did not start in the morning and we spend the next day being monitored and waiting to see the doctor. Whilst being monitored the baby’s heart rate started to cause concern, rather suddenly we were being taking up to the delivery ward, my waters were to be broken in order to get the labour started quickly. It was at this point that Alex rang Michelle and asked her to come to the hospital. When we got to the delivery ward I burst into tears, everything suddenly looked very frightening, there was a huge hospital bed and lots of equipment. The total opposite to the home birth I had planned. However as soon as Michelle walked into the room I felt safe. She found out what was happening made sure we were comfortable and explained everything clearly. 

Early Labour
Baby's birth
Alex & Samuel

Once you go into hospital Michelle acts as an advocate and having her there meant everything to us. Sometimes it just knowing that Michelle will fight your corner and make sure your thoughts are heard. Other times it was silly things like maintaining my privacy, so that random hospital staff didn’t just walk into the room. Michelle also made sure that each doctor or nurse who treated me introduced themselves to us (something they never seemed to do). 

When my waters were broken they contained a lot of meconium so the doctors were keen to start me on a syntocinon drip. This not only speeds up the contractions but also increases there intensity. By this point I was struggling to cope, I had asked for an epidural but the anaesthetist was going to take at least an hour to arrive and the doctor wanted to start me on the drip straight away. This terrified me, I knew I was struggling and didn’t want the pain to get any worse. Thankfully Michelle and Alex stepped in and made sure that the doctors waited until I had had the epidural before I was given the drip. 

During the labour Michelle was also a brilliant support to Alex, she reassured him that he was doing a good job, gave him helpful tips on how to support me told him that I was ok. I remember Michelle whispering calming words to me, cooling me down with wet towels on my forehead and at times when I thought my back was going to break her back massages were heaven.

Bath Time Claire & Samuel
Samuel at 3 weeks

Michelle was with us for the whole labour, in a tiny room on one of the hottest day of the year. She never left my side even though after the epidural I was mainly asleep and even made sure Alex found a chair in a quiet corner of the hospital to sleep for a couple of hours. Sadly after the epidural I contracted a fever and the baby started to show signs of distress, so we were whisked into the theatre for one chance to push or it would be a caesarean. Michelle was not allowed into the operating theatre but she gave Alex words of advice and was there to meet us directly afterwards.  

After the caesarean Michelle took photos and made sure baby Samuel was put onto my chest straight away – something that couldn’t be done in the operating theatre but Michelle new it was something I wanted as we had discussed it before the birth. After the caesarean I lost a lot of blood and was offered a blood transfusion and due to the fever I had experienced whilst in labour we were told that baby Samuel would need a treatment of antibiotics and other tests. Michelle talked us through all the issues involved and helped us to make some important decisions at a time when we feel absolutely exhausted and quite vulnerable.   

Due to the complications Baby Samuel and I spend a whole week in the hospital after the birth.  During this time Michelle was a huge support; she visited us regularly lifting our spirits and ensuring us that everything was ok. Whilst in the hospital I was desperately trying to breastfeed Samuel but we were finding it really hard however Michelle persevered, trying various techniques and even made it fun. I will never forget Alex, Michelle and I all working together to collect colostrum from my breasts with a syringe, a very funny experience. I really believe that without her help and patience we would have given up. Six weeks on Samuel is still confidently breastfeeding and I couldn’t be happier.  

Although I never wanted a caesarean or a week in hospital I look back on Samuels’s birth as a very positive experience and I wouldn’t change anything about it. Thanks to Michelle I felt in control the whole time and now have a healthy little boy who is full of smiles and the light of our lives. 

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