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I gave birth in a midwife-led unit: Katie's story

One M&B reader shares her story of giving birth with midwife-led care

Katie Tomlyn, 30, a web content facilitator, lives in Leicestershire with partner Tom, 31, and daughters Olive, four, and Mabel, 12 weeks.

Why did you choose midwife-led-care?

I had my first daughter in a midwife-led unit and, although the labour took 24 hours, I felt safe. I’d heard plenty of stories from friends about their births on traditional labour wards with medical intervention like forceps and c-sections. I hate needles, so just the idea of having an epidural was awful!

“I hate needles, so just the idea of having an epidural was awful!”

When did your labour start?

I was nine days overdue when I was woken at 2.30am by a period-like pain. I paced around for the next few hours. Tom woke at 6am and took Olive to my parents’ house. He called the midwife who advised me to stay put. I tried to have a bath but my waters broke as soon as I got in it. Tom called the midwife again, and she told us to come in. 

What was the room like?

Absolutely nothing like a hospital! It was more like a living room and had an adjoining pool room. 

How did labour progress?

When I was examined, I was 7cm dilated. I couldn’t wait to get into the birth pool. After half an hour, an urgent need to push overwhelmed me. The midwives didn’t say too much, but gave me gentle reminders like ‘don’t forget to relax your legs’. I was comforted by their presence and, importantly, they made me feel confident and in control.

What was the delivery like?

As I knelt in the water, Tom whispered words of reassurance in my ear. After five minutes of calm but intense pushing, I felt a stinging sensation, followed by a pressure as Mabel’s head came out. With the next push, her shoulders emerged, followed in the third contraction by the rest of her body. Elated, I scooped her tiny body up and held it against mine.

How was your care afterwards?

Even though I had a straightforward birth, I stayed in the midwife-led unit for four days. Mabel was more interested in sleeping than feeding, and the midwives helped me sort this out. They showed me how to latch her on properly, and helped me to express my milk and feed her tiny amounts in a syringe. It was the kind of care you would normally never get in a hospital and I was so grateful. My experience was wonderful from start to finish.  

Three things I’d tell my friends

  1. If you want a natural birth but are apprehensive, tell yourself you can do it. Be confident, positive, and stay focused. 
  2. Trust your midwife. She will usually let your body take the lead to allow labour to progress naturally. Listen to what she suggests and also to your body.
  3. You will be told when you can be discharged from the unit but that doesn’t always mean you have to leave. If you feel you need further support from the midwives, you can stay for longer.
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