Mother and Baby

“My doula helped me have a mindful home birth”

My doula helped me have a mindful home birth

Fiona McSheffrey, 34, lives in Yorkshire with husband Andy and Caitlin, five, and Zachary, two. She had a mindful birth with help from a doula. 

With my second baby I didn’t want to go down a medicalised path like I had with my first labour. 

I looked online for ways to have a relaxed, natural birth and found a website about mindfulness. The idea of being ‘in the moment’ and trusting your body really appealed. 

I contacted a doula. She taught me a breathing exercise where I inhaled for a count of four through my nose, then exhaled for a count of eight through my mouth.

She talked about visualisation techniques, like imagining blowing up a balloon during every out-breath, and gave me prompts to help remove tension, like ‘shoulders down’ and ‘loose lips’. 

When I felt my first tightenings, at 10 days past my due date, I was relaxed. At teatime the cramps got stronger. My husband Andy took our daughter Caitlin to his mum’s, while I ran a bath, and did my ‘in for four, out for eight’ breathing. The surges were every 10 minutes, but as soon as I got into the water they seemed to stop. 

It all kicked off again when I got out of the bath. I felt intense pressure around my bump for about a minute. It came regularly. I sat on my birthing ball, distracting myself by drying my hair and putting on make-up. 

At about 8pm Andy filled the birthing pool downstairs. He called the midwife, who said one of the team was on stand-by for when we needed her. My mum arrived at 9.30pm and helped by holding a electric massager against my back.

I had an urge to change positions. I leaned over, letting out an instinctive ‘mooing’ sound!

I had an urge to change positions. I leaned over, letting out an instinctive ‘mooing’ sound! I waited for the surge to pass before Andy and Mum helped me downstairs to the pool.

Andy had set the room up with soft lighting and calming music. He’d placed posters on the floor featuring positive affirmations like ‘I trust in my ability to birth my baby’. My waters started to break just as I lowered myself into the soothing water. Mum stroked my head as I knelt leaning over the side of the pool. 

He’d placed posters on the floor featuring positive affirmations like ‘I trust in my ability to birth my baby’

Within a few minutes I had an intense surge. I lowered my hands and said, ‘The head’s out!’ Andy took off his jogging pants and jumped in the water. I focussed on my breathing. With the next huge surge I let my body ease the rest of my baby out. Andy caught our little boy, and placed him on my chest. I felt elated. 


The midwife arrived half an hour later. I was in the pool, cuddling Zachary. After she’d helped me deliver the placenta, she said we were both healthy and didn’t need to go to hospital. 

I’m so proud of what I achieved by altering my thinking and being aware of my body.

I want everyone to feel as empowered, so I’m training to be a doula. I’m proof that a positive birth is about having a positive mindset. 

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