Wow, when I found out I was pregnant in August I didn’t think that this ones entrance into the world would be more dramatic than the being dug out of the snow to get to hospital that its big brother arriving fully dilated and passing out. But more dramatic is what we got!!!
Isaac was born at 1.38am (approx) on Friday 27th April after a very very quick labour. On the Thursday night I had been very emotional and had spent quite a long time crying to Martin about how I was scared I would end up having to be induced, that induction wouldn’t work and I would end up having a c-section, and how this was the worst thing that could possibly happen due to no family support etc in Durham. He told me to stop looking at the negatives and plan what I would do if that happened etc. He helped cheer me up a little but at 9pm I decided that highly emotional pregnant lady needed to go to bed. I dosed for about an hour until Martin came to bed at 10pm. DH and I then DTD and we both fell asleep. We had tried a couple of times since 37 weeks without it doing anything so wasn’t that hopeful. I woke up at 11.45pm (same time I’ve woken up for the past 3 nights) needing a wee but nothing more. Got back into bed but couldn’t settle and by 12.17am felt the need to go to the toilet. I went twice in the next 30minutes and before second time decided to go downstairs in order to avoid waking Martin or Henry. At this point I felt that something was happening but thought it would be a while yet as this was how labour had started with Henry but hadn’t had contractions to this point.
At 1am I decided things were definitely happening and I had my first contraction. Not 100% sure what to do I went upstairs and woke Martin to tell him that I thought things were starting off and that I was going to go downstairs, have cup of tea and bounce on ball etc. Over the next 20minutes I had 3 contractions and a couple of trips where I thought I needed the loo but couldn’t do anything (clearly my body was already pushing I just didn’t know it). None of the contractions lasted longer than 15-20seconds so I still thought I had a while but pottered back upstairs to wake Martin again and tell him I was going to ring the hospital and give them the heads up so that they could inform on call midwife. This is when things got interesting.
So I come back downstairs but before I could ring labour ward I suddenly felt the need to poo badly but as I sat on the toilet I got that unmistakable stinging sensation, looked down and could see bulging which I knew had to be the head. I screamed and Martin legged it downstairs. I frantically told him to ring labour ward and to get lid of the pool as this baby was coming now and not waiting. He rang hospital and somehow managed to get them to realise I was booked for homebirth as initially they kept saying ring 999 but once they knew I was a homebirth they said they would inform Midwives. I somehow managed to stop myself from pushing at this point and sort of rang, jumped, hopped from our downstairs loo to the pool. The pain was intense and I was in no doubt that midwives were not going to make it so made Martin ring 999 and while on phone to them to go and get towels etc from airing cupboard as I didn’t think we had long to wait. Martin was calm but the 999 handler wasn’t that useful, pre-prepared script but not being able to skip to the bit where baby’s head was out, so Martin simply put phone on floor and watched as without pushing/panting but breathing out came baby coy’s head facing me and next one arm like superman. My waters hadn’t broken at any point and it was clear in an odd, you could sort of see water in water if that makes sense, that my waters were still intact and that baby was being born in the caul. With one little push the rest of baby literally swam to the surface. I must have broken waters lifting him out and he cried immediately. At this point we didn’t know if we had a boy or a girl and for some reason we didn’t even check. Martin picked phone back up and told 999 that baby was born and crying and seemed fine. But neither of us looked at the clock. We have a rough time of birth based on the fact that the ambulance crew got the call at 1.35 and there computer flashed up at 1.40 that baby was born. Not exactly how long you would class the 2nd stage begin but about 20minutes I think.
Martin and I weren’t quite sure what to do next but I didn’t feel quite ready to get out of the pool so baby and I had skin to skin in the water. I was looking at the water thinking where is the blood etc and it barely looks like the pool was used. Ambulance crew arrived at 1.50 and think the two blokes were slightly shocked to find me in wearing nothing in the pool. They were happy to wait for midwife to arrive to cut cord but by 2am I was beginning to get cold and wanted to get out. It was then we looked to see if baby was a boy or a girl. Once out the pool I sort of collapsed on to the sofa. My nice ‘homebirth’ box of shower curtains etc was still upstairs unopened. They cut the cord and took Isaac to be wrapped up. I had only just managed to put the heating on at about 12.55 so the room still wasn’t that warm. I started to panic slightly at this point as part of the agreement I had made with SOM was that I would have a cannula insitu due to 900ml blood loss with Henry but I already knew I didn’t feel as poorly as then. Midwife arrived 5minutes later (actually the 2nd on call arrived before the 1st on call). She opened the boxes. It is now approximately 40 minutes since Isaac had been born and there was no sign of the placenta so I agreed, as had been my original plan, to a managed 3rd stage so had the syntocinon and CCT. Plancenta was delivered 5minutes later and looked brilliant. I never saw Henry’s so was quite excited to see it. She examined it and said it was perfect. Door rang and 2nd Midwife appeared. She started caring for Isaac, vitamin k etc, while 1st examined me. Henry appeared at this point slightly confused by the 4 extra adults in the room and didn’t appear to notice Isaac. He happily went back to bed, still half asleep.
My reasoning for a waterbirth was to try and avoid tearing as I had required a fentons repair operation after Henry. Unfortunately I still tore but not as badly as last time (Minor grazing to labia and 2nd degree (but only just apparently) to perineum.) I asked if it was possible to avoid stitches but both midwives thought it would require stitches. I had 5 (compared to 8 with Henry). At this point I suddenly realised I had no clothes on and managed to get my dressing gown back on and move to the sofa for a proper cuddle with Isaac and paramedics left. Midwives then did paperwork and checks on both of us and weighed Isaac. He weighed in at 8oz heavier than his big brother at 7lb 40z, not bad for 3weeks 2days further gestation. It is now about 3am and despite a couple of attempts in pool Isaac hadn’t fed but suddenly began rooting and latched on perfectly for about 5 minutes before going back to sleep. Midwives tidied away etc and then asked if I wanted a shower/bath. I said I’d like a shower and 1st midwife left. 2nd midwife came upstairs with me and made sure I was ok in shower, re did obs etc and then left. I got into bed and put Isaac in his crib. I’d had some paracetamol for after pains so was a bit worried about having him in bed. Martin then came upstairs and by 4am we were all in bed again as if nothing had ever been different. Isaac was fast asleep but making lots of noise so I told Martin to go into spare room to get some sleep as there was no point in is both not getting any sleep. By this point I’ve had only 75minutes sleep (between 10.30-11.45pm) but despite being shattered I couldn’t get to sleep. I brought Isaac into bed at about 4.30 to feed and he then stayed in with me. He might only be 3hours old but he’d already commandeered ¾ of the bed. He stayed asleep till 6.30 and I dosed on and off. Isaac then woke at 6.30 and latched on immediately just as Henry walked into the bedroom and simply said ‘morning baby’ as if Isaac has always been here. Martin then came in too and we spent the next hour or so in bed together.
Henry absolutely loves Isaac. Even the dog is impressed. He has fed like a pro several times, longest stretch being 40minutes. My midwife came this afternoon and we have had some visitors but only specially invited ones (my best friend and martin’s best friend, both of who are Henry’s godparents). Happily the midwife is happy and we are being left alone till Wednesday. She rang GP to arrange the paediatric newborn check and said that will be Monday. So all in all a very eventful day. Oh and to top it all off I text Simon Mayo and Drivetime ‘all request Friday’ on Radio 2 to give a shout out to Martin for being so calm etc and Simon Mayo dedicated the rest of the programme to as he put it ‘the midwife and ambulance all rolled into one’.
Not all stretchy wraps are created equal”
First the basics – What is a wrap? A wrap is a continuous piece of fabric which when tied in a variety of positions allows you to carry your baby. There are two main types of wrap: stretchy and woven. I am going to focus on explaining stretchy wraps, as often this is a person’s first introduction to a using sling. Stretchy wraps are suitable from birth and can be used with premature babies during Kangaroo Mother Care. But it is important to remember that although we tend to group this type of wrap together, that not all stretchy wraps are equal. Each brand of stretchy wrap has different qualities, such as the size of the wrap, the stretch, elasticity, size of tapers and even the thread used. This makes finding the right stretchy often as difficult as finding the right woven wrap or other type of sling. I hope therefore to be able to explain the differences and enable parents to find the right stretchy wrap for them.
Stretchy wraps are extremely popular as an introduction to wrapping. Manufacturers such as Moby, Kari-Me and hybrid carrier ‘Caboo’ by Close Parent are often the most easily accessible in mainstream shops and websites. The basic skills of learning to wrap with a stretchy wrap can easily be transferred across if parents decide to switch to a woven wrap. As mentioned earlier, not all stretchy wraps are the same and this includes each manufacturer choosing to have their own name for the same type of carry. This can be highly confusing for a first time user. The main carry advocated by manufacturers is the Pocket Wrap Cross Carry. This carry can be pre-tied and remained tied after baby has been removed, allowing you to place baby back in the sling again without having to re-tie. This carry is also known as the ‘Hug Hold’ in Moby Wrap instructions, ‘Tummy to Tummy’ in Moby and ‘Love your baby hold’ in the Boba Wrap (formerly Sleepy Wrap). Yet it is the same carry. This carry allows parents to hold their children upright (which can be done from birth) with their legs either in or out.
Now we need to talk safety. As with any sling it is crucial to remember the TICKS guidance. This can be found here. Carrying your baby in a sling is a very enjoyable experience and has many benefits for both the baby and caregiver but it is crucial that it is done safely. Some manufacturer’s instructions include instructions for how to do cradle carries, forward facing out and back carries. I would never advise the use of the cradle position or, if using a traditional stretchy wrap, a back carry. With cradle carries it becomes more difficult to keep babies spine supported and their chin off their neck. When sling deaths have occurred it has been from babies being carried in the cradle position. The nature of a stretchy wrap means that it will stretch and unfortunately this means that a baby can if on the wearers back lean backwards and fall out. Most manufacturers have now removed this carry from their instructions and as a rule I would advise no one to undertake a back carry with a stretchy wrap, with one exception. That is if you are using a stretchy hybrid such as the Je Porte Mama Bebe (JPMBB) or Wrapsody Bali Breeze Stretch.
Traditionally stretchy wraps are 100% cotton but the JPMBE for example is 95% cotton and 5% spandex. A comparison of the main stretchy wraps on the market can be found here on the Natural Mamas Sling Clinic Facebook Group. This document has attempted to simply compare sizes of wraps, linen mixes, weight etc to allow parents to compare different slings in one place. But it is not just the mix of thread used to create the fabric but also the weave of the fabric which is important. When considering different types of stretchy wraps we should remember that how much a wrap stretches is different to how much elasticity it has. The stretch of a wrap is the pull from A to B, and the elasticity is the pull back (A to B to A). It is the elasticity of a wrap which offers the wearer and baby the support. The more elasticity the more supportive the wrap will be and the longer it will last. The direction of the stretch, whether width ways from top to bottom rail or length ways from end to end also effects how supportive a wrap is. Most wraps stretch because of the way they are woven not because of the fibres they are made from. The rib knit of most stretchy wraps means they cannot stretch vertically, horizontally and diagonally. The more ways a wrap can stretch the more supportive it will be. For example the JMPBB wrap is the only one that stretches in every direction. The density of the fabric also means that it can be used comfortably to carry older children, where as those which are not as dense do not offer the same levels of support. Stretchy wraps which only stretch in one direction are harder to carry older children in and this can result in the fabric sagging as the child gets heavier. When a wrap has started to sag it can often be revived by washing it. The ‘just washed’ factor helps to tighten the fibres up and make the sling more supportive but this is a temporary fix.
In summary, when considering what stretchy wrap to buy consider the following:
· The stretch
· The elasticity
· The density of the fabric
The weight (grams per metre)
I'm Rachel, an experienced babywearer and consultant. In July 2011 I decided to establish the NESL to help the NE to carry their babies big and small. I'm mama to Henry (5yrs) and Isaac (2yr).