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  1. Having completed the Devonmama course by 34 weeks of an easy pregnancy I felt very positive in the final weeks prior to my daughter's birth. Experiencing this course with my husband was important to me so that we could both set our expectations for the birth together, and for me to know that my husband had all the tools to be a fab birth partner and advocate to make informed decisions for me if necessary.

    What I took most from the course was the confidence that my body and my baby would know what to do when labour kicked in and that all I had to do was relax into it, which I felt I achieved even though I didn't have the birth I'd written into my ideal birth plan.

    I went into the early stages of labour naturally at 39 weeks, just a few days after going on maternity leave from my office job. My body was preparing for labour the weekend my husband was away so I was willing it to all start properly when he came back, which thankfully it did! It was early on the Tuesday morning when I felt the surges start and we decided my husband would go to work and I'd call him home if necessary.

    Rushing around trying to get things ready for baby's arrival meant that I hadn't really practiced the course as much as I'd have hoped but the way the MP3 tracks were presented meant that I easily felt calm and relaxed when I put them on during the course of that day. When my husband arrived home normal time from work we packed up the final things for the hospital but as soon as we were ready to leave the surges got less frequent, and it turned out that my early labour was set to last over 36 hours!  

    During that 36 hours my surges were pretty intense and coming no fewer than every 30 min. They kept ramping up to around every 5 min, only to then become slightly less frequent and not enough to be allowed to go to hospital. Nor did they tail off enough to enable me to rest or want to eat properly and I got quite exhausted, so we eventually made the decision with the triage midwives that I needed to come in and try to get the labour progressed.

    Even though this part of my labour was quite drawn out I was able to keep fairly calm throughout and had been able to breathe through the surges, so I knew that it wasn't fear of the birth that was preventing labour progressing (I was later told it was the baby's poor position that caused it).

    At hospital they let me use the pool for a bit to relax, gave me some oral painkillers and a sweep to get things progressed. I could have kissed the midwife who gave me the sweep as it soon led to my waters breaking and the active labour stage! My waters broke at around 11pm on the Wednesday and I had my daughter at 7.24am on the Thursday, so that part was a normal length thankfully.

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    Unfortunately they discovered meconium in the waters meaning that I couldn't go back to the birthing pool as planned and had to go to labour ward. There was talk of the induction drip if I didn't progress quickly but I knew that all I needed was some rest to get myself to the pushing stage, so I decided to get a shot of pethadin for that reason alone, as I was dealing with the pain side of things fine with the breathing techniques. I had a lovely 4 hours where I was aware of having surges still but then promptly snoozing again straight away in between! Once the pethadin had worn off I was pretty much ready to deliver and so swapped onto gas and air and with a last bit of effort my daughter was born! My husband was amazed that I didn't make a sound throughout and there was minimal hand squeezing!

    I wanted to have an unassisted third stage (of delivering the placenta) but it turned out I needn't have worried as it followed baby immediately out, which I later found out is quite unusual!

    Despite needing some stitches I had a quick recovery and I believe this was also helped by the Wise Hippo programme. Hypnobirthing is something I definitely would reccomend to prospective parents as it was one of the things that gave me the grounding to being the best mum I can!

  2. As the third trimester begins everything seems to change, the reality that the baby will be born soon starts to sink in and you really have to start getting prepared. As a first time mum you don’t have a clue what to pack for hospital, what will you actually need? And as a mum who already has children you can't really remember what you took last time as its all a bit of a haze. Ideally you should have your bag packed and ready from 36 weeks just incase.

    I’ve put together an essentials list, this is for you, for baby and also your birth partner, yes they have a bag to, a very important one and this lets you concentrate on the things that you really need.

    hospital check list


    Loose Fitting Nighty 1-2 - A loose fitting nighty is a great idea, its comfortable and great for birthing in. Take a spare as you don't know how long labour will be and its always nice to have a freshen up or to change once baby is here. A button down nighty can be great for breast-feeding.

    Comfy Big Black Knickers - Big knickers are a must, comfort over style for sure and black is more forgiving so get down to Sainsbury’s for a pack of 5 :)

    Socks - Believe it or not your feet can get quite cold in hospital so packing some comfy socks with keep those toes warm if needed.

    Maternity Pads - You cant have enough of these to be honest, the actual maternity pads are very absorbent but can be rather large, so another option is overnight absorbent sanitary towels. Have a few types to see what you find most comfy. Or you could always opt for deposable knickers, which are big hit with mum blogger 'Mother of Daughters'.

    A Feeding Bra - Essential for breast feeding, easy access to feed, giving you soft comfortable support.

    Wash Bag - For all your essentials such as toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, hair bands (get that hair out of your face during labour), deodorant - pack a natural, light or no fragrance as this is best for breastfeeding, lip balm, face wipes etc.

    A Pillow (V or pregnancy) - Bring in your favourite pillow; it will help for getting comfortable but also for feeding baby.

    TENS Machine - Amazing little devices, you can buy these or hire them, usually from Mothercare or your local children’s centre. I swear by them, they really help to take your mind off your surges.

    Breast Pads & Nipple Cream - Although your milk may not have come in yet, some breast pads may come in useful. Also initial breast-feeding can be painful at times so some nipple cream will help sooth you. I’ve always used Lanolin and can highly recommend it.

    Change of clothes - You will want a change of clothes for when you leave the hospital or Midwife Led Unit, whether that’s a spring dress like Kate Middleton or something more comfortable like lose fitting trousers and hoody its up to you, just make sure its comfortable and loose. Your baby bump will still be there for a little while.



    Baby Grows & Vests - It’s difficult to know exactly how big your baby will be, Id recommend taking 2-3 baby grows of different sizes just in case. Also as baby may need changing whilst still in hospital.

    Hat - Baby is in the big wide world all of a sudden and needs a bit of help with warmth so a little hat is a must.

    Blanket - Take a cellular, or breathable blanket with you so you can snuggle baby up or swaddle them in the cot.

    Nappies - Babies can go through 10-12 nappies a day so make sure you pack enough for your stay.

    Wipes / Cotton Wool - For newborn skin cotton wool is advised, but there are special newborn wipes on the market now.

    Muslin Squares - These are so handy, to drape over you when holding baby to catch any sick.

    Snow Suit - If your baby is born in colder months think about what they’ll wear travelling home, it’s not advised to put them in a car seat with a snowsuit.

    Car seat - You’ll arrive as two but you’ll be leaving as three, so remember to bring your car seat and have had a practice on how to fit it before you arrive.



    Mobile Phone - You may have your hypnobirthing tracks on your/partners phone, also a surge timer app so it makes your mobile very handy.

    Camera - Don’t forget to capture your beautiful new baby, although photographing mum during labour might not be what she wants.

    Bluetooth Speaker/Headphones - These are great little speakers for your playlists, whether that’s your hypnobirthing tracks, or just your favourite relaxation music.

    Phone Charger -You may need to top up your battery with listening to music so don’t forget your chargers.

    Snacks and Drinks - You will both need little energy boosts along the way, bringing some snacks and drinks you’ll enjoy will help you. I recommend the Lucazade sport drinks they give you energy without making you wired like energy drinks would.

    Hypnobirthing Book - If you’ve done my course you’ll know how important the book is, it’ll give you your checklist of things to do during labour and birth.

    Maternity Notes- These are essential for the midwives, so please don’t forget them.