Priceless Support

Cathy, Alex & Reuben  A number of friends and colleagues I know have had very positive home birth experiences. So when I became pregnant I had been visualising a labour and birth in a home setting for quite a few years. We had recently moved to Horsforth and Chris was recommended to us as an excellent independent midwife. Claire and Sharyn arrived together for our first meeting to discuss booking in for care with the Yorkshire Storks. We were both incredibly impressed by their knowledge and enthusiasm.

They took the time to listen to us and answered all our questions and even some I didn’t realise I had so that by the time they left we felt confident that we were making the right decision for ourselves and our baby.In fact on reflection I felt bolstered in confidence and resolve that I was making the right decision for our family in my birthing choices after every visit from them ante and post-natally, this can only be described as priceless support. I remember Sharyn making us aware of our options regarding the NHS Leeds Home Birth Team but ultimately the antenatal contact where we could get to know our midwives and them us, coupled with the post-natal support that they offer really made choosing the Storks as our care providers a no-brainer.

The timing of the antenatal visits was balanced very well, becoming more frequent towards the end of the pregnancy. I really appreciated this as there did seem to be more to discuss in the weeks leading up to the birth and the Storks were always extremely approachable by text or email for any minor concerns we may have had. We both appreciated Chris’s advice as to under what circumstances to contact them if I went into labour in the middle of the night, which turned out to be very useful as labour started at 2am. We held off contacting Debs until 6.30am while I listened to visualisation CDs and Alex got the birth pool ready and all the other bits of birthing paraphernalia.

The labour started promisingly but progress slowed at times. I recall clearly two moments of major despondency (those in attendance can probably remember more than two!) where I was truly fed up labouring and just wanted a break and to know when it would end. It was at those points where having people who knew me, were clear in what my personal birth preferences were and therefore knew what to say to encourage my mind set to get back on track when I was flagging that was invaluable.

We had a solid bond of trust in their clinical judgement and abilities so at no point were we concerned about the baby or me. The monitoring of the foetal heart rate was never intrusive and any checks were done with consideration and respect for the birthing “zone” I was in. I was also grateful to have people around me who seemed to share a mutual appreciation of the humour and the ridiculous that popped out of my mouth over the course of the labour.

Reuben newbornI think because I could share candidly what was going on internally in my mind and I felt confident in those around me that however eccentric it would be received with good humour instead of a frown, meant that I could be vulnerable. A state of feeling able to be open psychologically with those present at the birth certainly contributed enormously to assisting my body physically. It was only quite some time after I had given birth that I realised I hadn’t thought once about needing pain relief during the labour. Certainly in my case the presence of the Storks helped to create an empowering and overall pretty hilarious birthing experience. We were so grateful and delighted that our son Reuben was born safely at home.

Debs and Chris stayed with us when a trip to the hospital was necessary so I could be sutured and our baby boy also had a few checks which were all normal. They left us at the hospital early that morning and Sharyn arrived a few hours later to see how we were doing. Sharyn quickly identified that Reuben had a tongue tie which was affecting his ability to feed sufficiently. Observations from the Storks and adjustments to how I was feeding him as well as being guided by them to appeal for donor milk helped sustain Reuben. This action avoided him being admitted to hospital for excessive weight loss or dehydration which was a blessing.

We got the tongue tie snipped 4 days after he was born thanks to Debs putting us in contact with a lactation consultant which resolved his shallow latch issues straight away. The prompt diagnosis, advice on what to do to feed Reuben initially in spite of the tongue tie and taking quick action to see a lactation consultant to get it addressed has meant that I have had a very positive experience breast feeding which would have been derailed early on were it not for their help and guidance.

While each member of the team is most definitely an individual they all share the same values and passion in supporting women’s choices in childbirth, practising by the best current research and being sensitive to know when to be active birth guides and when to simply bear witness during labour. I would wholeheartedly recommend the Yorkshire Storks to anyone who is pregnant or considering starting a family.

Cathy and Alex Tansley