My first birth was tough. However, after my daughter had made her entrance, it was the sleep-deprived and soul-crushing first few weeks as a new mother that left me the most traumatized. I knew when I fell pregnant again with my second child that I wanted to do everything in my power to experience birth and the newborn stages differently. I had wanted to have my daughter at home but was required to transfer to hospital at a late stage. I was actually thankful of the change of professionals with the hospital transfer and the staff at OLVG West were brilliant. But I remember a blur of a lot of different faces both during labour and in the post-partum days after, people who cared for me professionally but without knowing me or my family. When looking back on that time, I really feel that change of care had a profound impact on me and my experiences as a new mother. As a result, it was very important to me that second time round I had continuity of care and a recognition from a care-provider that a mother’s well being needed support, love and nurture in pregnancy, labour and the during post-partum weeks. Working with Denise was the best decision I made to achieve this. It was wonderful to be able to gradually get to know someone over the course of my pregnancy and be secure in the knowledge that I would have someone with me at the time of birth to support me and my husband that we knew and knew us. Someone who knew our wishes, could guide us and ultimately in those early weeks – take care of us.

As with all these things, the birth of my little boy was quite unlike the birth of my daughter. My waters broke in the early evening on the couch, I went to bed as normal that night and slept! I woke up to contractions that I breathed through and was able to snooze in between. I listened to my hypnotbirthing tracks. I felt calm, rested, (kind of) prepared – all the things I didn’t with my first birth, despite my best intentions. At around 5am, my daughter woke up and I updated Denise on the night. With being up and about, my contractions started to become more intense and with less space in between. Denise suggested I take a shower and told me that she was on her way round. In the shower, my contractions started to bear down and I could feel my body prepare for pushing contractions. I was shocked (and thrilled!) and couldn’t believe I had gotten to this stage already. Things moved very quickly, luckily Denise arrived to be with me just before my little boy arrived. She adjusted my position on the floor of my bathroom – the shower still on – and guided me,supported me, holding my hand, rubbing my back, reminding me I could do this. My little boy’s head arrived before the midwife was up our stairs, and Denise gently helped me to find and hold his head as he was born. I know that for some people the thought of that sounds scary and daunting. But for me it was the most empowering experience of my life. I was in awe of my body, its intuition and ability and I felt safe and supported. I couldn’t have asked for more.

Denise helped me and our little baby boy move gently back to my bed and stayed with us for the rest of the morning, cleaning things up, cooking us food and being a gentle and supportive presence. Denise continued to support us through those early weeks. Having someone to come over and take care of me, make healthy and nutritious food, make tea, give me a massage, help with breastfeeding and my recovery after birth, was absolutely wonderful. It took the pressure off and allowed us to bond as a new family of four. But it was the consistency of having someone there – someone who had gotten to know me, had seen me birth my baby and get to know him in those early weeks, which proved to me so, so valuable. I look back on the birth of my baby boy and those first few weeks as some of the most happy and wondrous of my life. I feel so privileged to have been given the opportunity to experience that time like that. After my first birth, I used to think that women who described their birth or newborn days as glorious must have been completely delusional. But now I know, they must have just had a Denise in their life.

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