Category Archives: Pregnancy and Birth

Birth story

First published in The Mother magazine, Issue 72, Winter 2016

My watch stopped at 6.15am on 8th March 2013, at the same moment my body told me it was moving into the first stages of labour; the show felt like a plug suddenly unblocking. I hoped for an active VBAC home-birth with my independent midwife, after a traumatic first labour almost three years earlier, resulting in an emergency caesarian under general anaesthetic. I was emotionally and physically ready for labour, vowing to stay out of hospital at almost all costs.

The morning passed peacefully as my surges gradually intensified. I vividly remember nursing my 33-month-old son Ewan, crying silently as he suckled, treasuring this moment knowing it would be his last feed as a single nursling. When my surges became too much, I gently unlatched him. He cried and cried as if sensing a sudden catastrophic change was about to take place.Ewan in the birthing pool Continue reading Birth story

The need to name

This article was first published in JUNO magazine, edition 31, Spring 2013 

The need to name: holding a baby naming ceremony 

The need to name

On the birth of our son we were keen to celebrate his arrival in a formal but non-religious ceremony, shared amongst family and friends. My husband and I are spiritual people, who believe our son should be provided DSCF8378the opportunity to develop his own spiritual or secular ideas about life as he grows. A naming ceremony was therefore ideal. It enabled us to welcome Ewan into his community in a unique way whilst including all our guests, regardless of their own belief system. Having made this decision, we began planning the practicalities of the day and exploring its deeper meaning.

Communities seek to name and announce their newest members in a huge variety of ways. A child’s name is significant in many societies. The image of a parent holding its newborn to the sky, sun or moon and repeating his name transcends time, place and culture. It can be that simple, or it can be an elaborate affair, involving the whole community. In the UK it is traditional to hold a Christening, but as we become a more secular society naming ceremonies are growing in popularity. For our family it was a deep spiritual need to present Ewan to the earth, for the world to recognise him. Continue reading The need to name

Newsflash; Stoneageparent is taking a break

Tessa Rose Cole
Tessa Rose

Stoneageparent has been busy over the last few months preparing for the arrival of our second child. Tessa Rose was born at home on 9th March. We hired an independent midwife, who was wonderful during the labour and birth, without her help my long, posterior labour would have undoubtedly have meant a medicalised hospital birth. Instead I laboured in peace at home in a familiar space. It was the most difficult as well as the most amazing and profound expereince of my life.
Continue reading Newsflash; Stoneageparent is taking a break

Stepping out onto the path of motherhood

The path

At the age of twenty-nine I became a first-time Mum. In my twenties I struggled to carve out a place for myself in the world, navigating along a complex path which at times led me to a feeling of clarity and purpose, but more often to stress, confusion and uncertainty.

Pregnancy provided me precious time to reflect on my childhood and early adult-years, as well as the opportunity to look forward to the kind of world I wanted my son to be brought up in. On the cusp of motherhood I experienced a kind of epiphany. I suddenly felt with all my being my role in life was to take unending care of my son. The path appeared inviting and bright, yet cluttered with demons and traps to set me back.

Continue reading Stepping out onto the path of motherhood

Labouring naturally: nature’s gift

Welcome to the June 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Embracing Your Birth Experience

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have written about at least one part of their birth experience that they can hold up and cherish.

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It is the journey, not the destination that matters. Here I describe the most beautiful, spiritual aspect of my labour, the first stages along a bumpy road to giving birth. My firstborn child, a son, was born in June 2010. Ewan’s birth was far from the ‘perfect’, natural birth I had envisaged, prepared for and naively believed I would have. Instead, I gave birth by emergency caesarean under general anaesthetic. Lying unconscious, I missed the first three hours of my son’s life, and then spent the next few days too ill to care for my son, recovering in hospital.

My suffering, the pain, trauma and long period of postnatal recovery were far outweighed by the child standing before me. My son was born a very healthy little boy, who nursed like a dream. Our first meeting was indescribable, as I instantly felt overwhelmingly attached to my son, an outpouring of unconditional love which knew no bounds.

Now, almost two years on, I can reflect on and celebrate this profound experience, cherishing the joy of labouring naturally, even though I could not in the end birth naturally. In this post I share the period before the second stage of labour, holding these hours up with strength, pride and happiness for all to see.

Continue reading Labouring naturally: nature’s gift

Postscript to Ewan’s birth story: Part Two

Ewan James


Living with failure

I shall never know whether within such a peaceful, familiar environment we would ever have achieved a natural birth; I can only say the chances would have been much higher. Instead, I missed the birth of my son and the first hours of his life. I still carry within me unresolved birth trauma, which at unguarded moments suddenly pulls at my heart strings, with it a feeling of inadequacy when I hear of natural birth or see it on the TV.

I live with this failure, not helped by some women who believe you cannot truly bond with your baby if you have had a caesarean. I defy this belief in the strongest possible terms; it is narrow-minded, judgemental, cruel and totally untrue. From the moment I saw my child I loved him unconditionally without end, our bonding blossoming. I know this to be the case of many other women too. Admittedly, caesareans can impact hugely on bonding and postnatal recovery, but they don’t per se, or habitually. To write off all women who have had caesareans is wrong, even more so in an age when caesarean rates are increasing.

Perhaps it is this extreme belief that natural birth is the only way which sets so many women up for massive disappointment and failure, like it did me. Just like failure to breastfeed can.  Women need to be made aware that having a caesarean is a real possibility, so they can plan and prepare adequately for this, emotionally and physically. Also, hospitals should make caesarean births far more mother-and-child friendly than they are, allowing the experience to be as natural as possible within the confines of the artificial environment of theatre. For instance, mother’s should be allowed to hold their baby skin-to-skin as soon as possible.
Continue reading Postscript to Ewan’s birth story: Part Two

Postscript to Ewan’s birth story: Part One

A caesarean birth did not affect how I bonded with my son. Joy on both our faces.

Why a postscript is necessary

Writing and sharing Ewan’s birth story has been cathartic; helping me come to terms with the experience and accept the loss I suffered of not being able to birth Ewan naturally. The response from my family, friends and now the blog community has been amazing, which is why I have decided to add a postscript, as final points to this series of writings.

So many people have shared with me, in person, on Facebook and on my blog, their own experiences of giving birth. All these contributions are to be celebrated, because it sparks a much needed conversation about this often neglected area of many women’s lives, the birth of their children. These comments have illustrated to me the suffering, indignity and lack of control so many women feel when giving birth in hospital. Hearing their stories adds rage as well as sadness to my own experience, knowing many women suffer similar, or worse, treatment than I did. It also clarifies my own thinking on this subject, of which I share a few salient, final points below.

Intellect versus instinct

Our intellect can be a hindrance when giving birth. I wrestled with mine when in labour, thinking about what I’d read, what I’d heard, letting these thoughts interrupt the birthing process. In the end I let this intellectual chatter go, turning inwards into another level, one I had never ventured into before. My body believed in myself, was sure and certain, even if my intellect wasn’t. This physical being took over, directing me to follow my instincts, switching off from the invasive, artificial world surrounding me.  It simply knew what to do and how to do it. I completely switched off from my intellectual brain.
Continue reading Postscript to Ewan’s birth story: Part One