Home, water, lotus birth - Kings Langley
'Corina and Cheryl were my midwives and I saw them regularly since about week 5 of my pregnancy. We clearly discussed how I wanted the birth to be completely natural, I had wanted to be the first person to touch my child and for the birth to be in water, and I had wanted to have a Lotus birth.
Although labour took 3 days and at times I was desperate to go to hospital, if I had another baby I would do it the same way at home. I’m sure giving birth naturally (apart from gas and air) is why I healed so quickly and why I felt and still feel so empowered by the experience. Jasper is an incrediblly calm and content baby and I often wonder if this is because we birthed him so naturally.
I will be forever grateful for the strength, wisdom and love that both my midwives showed me, because of them I got to experience the birth I had wished for even though it took 3 days to get there!.’
Home birth of baby Asher - Old Street, London
After dropping my daughter to nursery at about 8:30 on Wednesday 15th July I phoned to arrange for a final scan to see the position of the baby. I got one for 11 o'clock that day. On my way to the scan I did feel some very very slight cramping low down at the front of my tummy but I persuaded myself that it was just general discomfort because the last few days of pregnancy had been quite uncomfortable. At the scan they confirmed that he was head down and when I mentioned that it hurt slightly on the right hand side when she prodded me there she did look surprised and said the baby might even be here "this weekend!"
I decided to walk home to see if anything started moving. I called my husband and I called mum just to alert them to the fact I had some rumblings but that I didn't think it was anything. When I got home I made some picnic items for the 'great sponsored pirate toddle' that my daughter had in the afternoon.
Then I went to the nursery at 1300 to pick her up and to meet her little friend who was coming along with her nanny to join in. We put more face paints on them and pirate hats and then set off to the park. I shared with the nanny and a couple of the other mums that I thought I might be in labour so they started timing me and we are all in great humour making lots of jokes etc!
We stayed at the park for about two hours and my husband joined me for the last hour. It was definitely best place for me because my contractions started coming every five minutes but we were surrounded by children, we were having a picnic, the sun was shining, and I was chatting away to other parents. So I was really nicely distracted and felt totally relaxed. When my contractions started to be more like four minutes we decided to slowly wonder home.
We stopped at a café but my contractions were a bit stronger so we decided not to stay too long. Cheryl the Midwife then called me to say that she was on her way. I said I thought it was a bit early and that she needn't come just yet but she asked me a few questions like how I felt and what are my plans for the next couple of hours and presumably she felt that by my answers I definitely needed her! When we got home my husband and friend started putting the pool up and I continued managing my contractions by walking up and down in the kitchen. The nanny had stayed with my daughter in the cafe and my mum was on her way. It was perfect timing because they were just walking through the gate downstairs and my mum's car arrived so my mum put her in the car straight away without her needing to come up to the flat. (My daughter was very excited to have an extra sleepover on Wednesday night with her grandma!)
Every time I had a contraction I would cover my eyes with my eye mask and ask everybody to remain silent. They were quite painful but I could breathe through them quite easily and certainly didn't feel like it was unmanageable. I was starting however to be very grateful that Cheryl had discounted what I said that I didn't need her and that she was on her way! In fact the midwives had seemed to do the opposite as to what I had advised because they were even worried about Cheryl getting here on time so had sent in as another backup midwife to come to the flat just in case.
When she came in (a midwife I hadn’t met before) she saw how I was contracting and felt that I could be in labour all night - what was really interesting is that my contractions slowed right down to every nine minutes. I was lying on the couch then and I asked her if I should keep moving to keep labour going but she said that I could save my energy because I probably would need it because I had quite a long way to go.
Then Cheryl arrived, and ask me how I was. She touched my arm and looked me in the eyes and my contractions literally just got going again!
My friends left and my husband and Cheryl started to fill the pool up. I continued to lie on the couch for a little bit longer having some more contractions but then Cheryl suggested I go to the toilet so I got up but I felt a pressure bearing down so I couldn't move and Cheryl suggested that I got in the pool. I said that I thought maybe I should save the pool for when I couldn't bear it any longer but again she suggested that I just got in and see what happened.
When I was in the pool the water was so nice and warm that I thought things were progressing pretty quickly. I put my eye mask on and hung over the side of the pool. Contractions got much stronger but they were totally manageable. In fact in the water they didn't seem to hurt at all- I could just feel them. I then started to make doing noises like a cow! It was very strange, I almost couldn't control it. But it seemed to help. I then felt very strong pressure and bearing down into my bottom and I decided not to push it all and realised properly for the first time that my body would just birth my baby all by itself.
At this point I remember smiling to myself and my husband saw this too because I realised that we were nearly there and that it wasn't that bad at all! I also felt really proud of myself that I was doing it, I was really doing it!
Corina arrived at some point then and one of the midwives asked if I wanted any help from the gas and air. But I really didn't need it and so said that I was fine. Two things kept going through my head. The first was that women can give birth when they're in a coma. So there was nothing I needed to do. In fact, I kept saying to myself 'Maggie keep out of it, keep out of it, there is nothing you need to do, don't get in the way of this, your body is going to do it all by itself.' The second thing that kept going through my head was the name of my first child and then the name of the baby that was coming. I kept saying the two together over and over again and that really encouraged me.
I was very aware of the head crowning and very aware of the last moments when the baby was coming out very slowly but even that didn't hurt at all. Cheryl then said to me 'ok sit back and grab your baby.' It was the first thing she had said in ages and I realised that we had pretty much done the whole thing in silence! So I tore off my eye mask and looked down and saw my son for the first time, his eyes wide open, floating up towards me. I lifted him out and he gave a little gasp. The whole thing was utterly beautiful and I would do it over and over again. It was the most amazing experience I've ever had in my life. And I think it was for my husband also.
In terms of the final stage, I sat in the water just cuddling Asher and after around an hour with a little help from Cheryl telling me to cough and tugging very lightly at the umbilical cord, my placenta came out. Corina then had a genius idea to put it into pill form for me! I'm still taking his now.
We then ordered a curry from Tiffin Express and sat around the table and ate it. It was one of the happiest moments of my life.
I just feel so grateful that Corina and Cheryl even dared to mention a home birth to us a few weeks earlier. We were so far away from a home birth. It was never something I would've considered at all. But when I was describing to them for my ideal birth it became pretty obvious that this would be so much easier to achieve if we did it at home. The whole thing from start to finish was an amazing experience that I wouldn't have believed could happen if it happened to anybody apart from me! I would recommend exactly the same format for any other woman, especially for second labours but I so wish I had had the support of these midwifes on my first labour as it would've been very different.
It was a very special day full of excitement and anticipation from the start for both Jaydeep and I and I often think on it now with such pride and fondness.
Birth Stories and Testimonials
Best postnatal care decision I made
- West Hampstead, London
The best postnatal care decision I made was to book the team at Neighbourhood midwives. Corina and her team helped us through a major transition period in our lives and the effects are still ongoing. Through her help I am adept at breast feeding, understand my son's needs and am undoubtedly a more confident and therefore happier mother. Both Corina and Ayesha were really lovely and most importantly easy to be around at a time when you have just had a baby and feeling exhausted and bewildered. There was no clock watching approach but the better attitude towards focusing to help us to get to grips with being first time parents. Five months on I hear 'oh you are so lucky that Leo drinks from the breast and bottle'... Let me tell you luck had nothing to do with it! It was the magic of Corina and Ayesha helping us to get to grips with it all! I can not highly recommend enough.
I would use them again in a heartbeat.
Katie and Rowan’s birth story - Barnet
We met Corina at an expectant parents’ event in Mothercare when Katie was just a few weeks pregnant. She was there to offer some free advice to the expectant mothers and fathers, and we had plenty of questions to ask! From the moment we met Corina we felt she had a bond with Katie, and I remember how reassuring she was, touching Katie’s arm and offering some words of comfort. We went away from that event with a leaflet about Neighbourhood Midwives, and soon started to think about hiring Corina as an independent midwife for the birth of our first child. We were anxious about pregnancy and birth, having had some issues the year before, and we felt it would be hugely beneficial for us to have the continuity of care and personal relationship that unfortunately isn’t always available through the NHS.
Over the months leading up to the birth of our baby, we had regular home visits from Corina and her colleague, Cheryl. They performed a series of medical checks at each visit, which were really reassuring. Perhaps even more reassuringly, they were always there to have a general chat, talk about how we were feeling and any concerns we had, and they never seemed to be in a rush. We felt that we got to know Corina and Cheryl really well, so when the time came for the baby to arrive it felt like having friends in the room.
We didn’t plan on having a home birth at first, as we were nervous about not being in a hospital environment. However, as the time went on, we became more comfortable and knowledgeable about birth, and soon we found ourselves feeling confident about having a natural home birth with Corina and Cheryl.
Our birth journey started 5 days before our son was due when there was a bit of bleeding when Katie went to the toilet. We called Corina straight away to ask for some advice and it was great to hear a calm and experienced voice on the phone.
Katie spent the next day relaxing and having contractions. At 11pm that night we went to bed again but Katie couldn’t sleep as the contractions were now fairly intense and regular. At 3am on Sunday morning we gave up on sleeping and moved downstairs again. The contractions continued to build until about 7am, when I estimated that they were close to 3 in every 10 minutes.
I called Corina and she arrived at 9am and spent a couple of hours sitting with Katie and performing a few checks. She timed the contractions but decided that Katie was not fully into advanced labour yet, and that it might still be some time (this was our first baby). She left at 11am and we said we’d call if anything changed.
The next couple of hours flew by as Katie seemed to be entering “the zone”. She sat on the edge of our bed and had contractions so regularly that she struggled to change position, stand up or do anything else in between them. She seemed very focussed. At around 1pm Katie said she felt an urge to bear down. I called Corina again and she was back with us 10 minutes later. She decided to do an internal examination of Katie, so I waited downstairs nervously. After a few minutes Corina came downstairs and said Katie was 6cm dilated, and that I’d better start filling the birthing pool! A quick call to Cheryl and she was also with us 30 minutes later.
Katie was amazing throughout the labour, hardly complaining at all, and not using any pain relief. She later attributed this incredible achievement to feeling relaxed and at home in her own space, with people that she knew. Cheryl and Corina had gas & air with them just in case, but Katie said that the warm water was a huge relief on its own.
Our baby boy arrived in the world at 7:21pm on Sunday. Katie lifted him out of the water and put him on her chest straight away. His breathing was a bit ragged, which terrified Rowan at first, but Cheryl explained that he was just a bit “shocked” by his arrival – which is not unusual. After a bit of help from Corina and Cheryl, his breathing picked up nicely and he “pinked up”. He sat with his mum in the pool and Corina and Cheryl helped him to do some early breast feeding. Katie looked at him and knew right away that his name was James. I couldn’t help crying. I think it was a mixture of exhaustion, happiness and relief that everyone was OK.
Unfortunately the placenta didn’t come out straight away, and there was some bleeding. Cheryl and Corina were amazingly professional and competent. They administered an oxytocin injection and helped the placenta to come free, before stopping the bleeding. We remember being impressed by how efficiently something like that could be done in a home environment!
The next couple of weeks were hard for us. The birth had taken its toll on Katie’s body and James had a little jaundice (very common in winter babies). Typically, breastfeeding was difficult to get going. We were classic anxious parents – we still are – and found the period very difficult. However, we couldn’t have got through it without Corina. She came to our house every day for a week after the birth, helping us with breastfeeding, talking through our worries, and checking James’ development. She never rushed, and always gave excellent advice.
James is now nearly 5 months old now and he’s amazing. We’re so in love with him and he’s a genuine joy to have. I can’t imagine life without him and I’m the proudest dad in the world. It turns out I love babies now, and I go around admiring other people’s in Waitrose. Maybe that’s weird but I don’t care. We’re grateful for all the help we received from Corina and Cheryl and they’ll be the first people we call if we ever decide to do this all again!
Rowan, Katie and James.
They listened! - Egham,Surrey
The at home visits, guidance, and 24/7/365 from Neighbourhood Midwives was wonderful. However Corina and our team came into their own when our pregnancy didn’t go according to plan; they listened when we went undiagnosed with a major health condition, finding solutions to make the pregnancy manageable. With hand on heart, we can genuinely say it is because of their continued support, advocacy with the NHS, and depth of knowledge that what could have been a disaster, resulted in a safe hospital delivery for us and our daughter. Post-delivery, the weeks that followed provided us invaluable advice and knowledge as new parents, giving us the right start as a family. Thank you for everything you did for us and when it’s time for number 2 we will definitely want you again!’
The most joyous and most challenging experience of our lives -
Belsize Park, London
We have chosen Neighbourhood Midwives because they were the only 'institutionalised' provider of pre, during and post pregnancy care consistent with the principles we deeply believe in: Ina May's spiritual midwifery (including home birth) and attachment parenting principles.
Corina and Cheryl have been exceptional guides in preparation for the home birth of our first child. Their regular home visits as well as availability over email, phone and texts pretty much 24/7 proved to be invaluable for us as first time parents. They definitely go the extra mile for the mums to be and their partners. First pregnancies are particularly tricky and full of anxieties and more or less minor scares. Our expert midwives have ensured that at no point have we lost a night of sleep over those fears. They have also provided both of us with all the necessary resources to prepare for the delivery at home and early stages of parenting. Neighbourhood Midwives fully respected our strong preference for as few medical interventions as possible. For us, and for them, birth is not an illness requiring constant medical monitoring and hospitalisation but a natural joy of life, and should be experienced to the fullest. At the same time, NM are fully capable of offering more conventional ways of navigating through pregnancies, and respect birth plan preferences of the soon to be parents.
As a part of our package Corina and Cheryl have also organised for a massage therapist to visit Kristina regularly, which has been of immense help in providing relief for back pains and discomforts especially in the later stages of pregnancy. Equally, we have found it incredibly convenient to have received our baby first aid course at home at a time convenient for us.
Kristina's contractions began on Friday the 5th of February. We were in touch with Corina all along (Cheryl was recovering from a bad cold!) and all of us decided it was best for Corina to come over to see Kristina on Saturday afternoon. Corina stayed with us for another 12 hours (!!!), navigating and supporting Kristina through all the stages of labour and helping us set up the birthing pool (husbands, you are not left to your own devices on this one!). Cheryl, despite her time off, joined Corina around midnight and stayed with us all the way until Josephine was born around 5am on Sunday. Cheryl and Corina have ensured that at no point did we want to give up on the idea of delivering at home, and at no point were we scared or anxious (or confused!) over either Kristina's or Josies well-being. Corina also made an exceptional (the husband did not get to try though) placenta and summer berries smoothie for the new mum, to help her recover.
Following the delivery, Cheryl and Corina have visited us regularly for over 2 months, remaining as accessible as they were all the way during the pregnancy. They have guided us through breast feeding, co-sleeping, Josephine's health checks and nappy changing, carrying the baby, and numerous other areas.
The home birth of our daughter has been the most joyous and the most challenging experience of our lives and we are very happy to have been through it with Corina and Cheryl. We have already decided for our next baby to be also delivered by Neighbourhood Midwives, and also at home!
Kristina and Dominik
Dream day hospital birth - Maida Vale, London
I cannot speak highly enough of our experience with Neighbourhood Midwives. Lizzie and I so often tell our friends that our investment in Neighbourhood Midwives was the best money we have spent. I only wish we had made the decision sooner and taken full advantage of the knowledge, support and confidence it gave us.
I am a passionate supporter in the concept of the NHS but sadly we did not have a happy experience throughout the pregnancy. Having Neighbourhood Midwives as our advocate throughout the labour and post-natal eases the process so much.
As for the labour itself; we were so fortunate to have a dream day. But I don't see this as lucky. I really believe we have Neighbourhood Midwives to thank for how well the day went. And that relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere throughout the labour has continued in the early days of Lili's life and our adventure as parents.
Both Lizzie and I have several friends starting a family and we have strongly urged all of them to engage neighbourhood midwives. I simply cannot overstate the importance of having such a strong, sympathetic and experienced advocate to be at your side throughout this most remarkable experience of life.
Video testimonials and more stories
Transition into parenthood made easier - Gabi, East London
'My husband and I feel that thanks to Monica's support, patience, calm attitude and availability 24/7 to answer any questions/concerns, the transition into parenthood has been made that little bit easier.
We always felt listened to and our worries taken into serious consideration. We felt that no problem was insignificant and Monica was excellent in allaying any fears we had with her calm yet considered professional approach.
We'd highly recommend Monica to any new parents.’
Confidence with breastfeeding. Cesarean birth - Catherine, Pinner
I had quite a stressful pregnancy with my first child so when I fell pregnant with my second child, I decided to get as much support as possible. In particular, I wanted breastfeeding support and extra monitoring of the baby for any signs of infection. Corina from Neighbourhood Midwives came highly recommended and it was a great relief to have had her by my side when I needed her. She was robust when she needed to be (eg. insisting on being allowed in the recovery room despite the staff's protestations) and gave me the confidence with breastfeeding that I lacked first time round. Every penny was well spent.
North London Neighbourhood Midwives forms a part of Neighbourhood Midwives, a fully insured, 100% employee owned social enteprize registered with the Care Quality Commission.