Birth Stories: at the Birth Centre

Elaine's Story

Just wanted to let you know that my beautiful daughter was born on Monday 11th April, 2 weeks early, and we've called her Bella Daisy Byrne :o)

She is perfect in every way. Damian and I can't thank you enough for everything you've done and all your wonderful advice. I had the most amazing birth experience at Lewisham Birth Centre and she was born in the birthing pool less than 3 hours after arriving at hospital! Obviously very keen to meet us!

Your wonderful yoga classes and breathing techniques really helped and we are eternally grateful.

Kate's Story

My gorgeous little girl was born on Tuesday 12th April @ 9.20pm, 7lb 9oz. We've called her Maya Lily and she has made Thompson family history as she is the first girl born in the family since 21st April 1900!

My waters broke at 1.30am on the Tuesday morning but it was such a little trickle I wasn't sure if they had or not. Contractions & show started not long after. The contractions continued all day but didn't get any closer than 15 minutes so I was expecting it to continue into the next day. The breathing and circling movements helped me manage them well and I was happy labouring at home - didn't think I'd ever say that!

At about 4 I started moving round a lot more doing the walks from class and by 6 contractions had sped up to every 5 minutes and were more painful. So we made our way to Mayday and timed it just right as not long after we got there they really speeded up. I kept up with the breathing and found being bent over the bed the most comfortable during contractions with Steve rubbing my back. I have to admit I did lose the plot a bit around 8pm when they were coming thick and fast and I was convinced I was nowhere near being fully dilated and asked for epidural. Everyone was so positive saying how well I'd done and that along with me being 8cm meant no epidural and I'm so pleased I didn't.

I tried the gas and air which didn't really help much but gave me something else to concentrate on. I didn't do the breathing baby out technique which I'd wanted to try as I had such an uncontrollable urge to push but that's what worked for me on the day and no one forced me to do it that way. I didn't have to push for too long before our daughter was born. I had skin to skin for the first hour which I absolutely loved and will treasure that special time forever.


I'm pretty happy with how the birth went and found everything I'd learnt at Yoga & the birth class such a big help and made a real difference to my birth experience and managing the contractions.

We had to stay in Mayday for couple days which I hadn't wanted but Maya needed to be observed for 24-48 hrs so it was for her good. We came home on the Thursday evening and are so happy with our new addition to the family. Look forward to seeing you soon - hopefully I'll make it to mummy & baby nurture at some point during the new term.

Ruth's Story

I've been meaning to email you for a couple of weeks to let you know that Jaime and I had our baby - we had a baby girl (Emilia Sofia Maldonado Allan) on the 5th March (her due date!), although she had been trying to arrive since the Thursday beforehand.

As I mentioned, it was your email about the pregnancy yoga handouts that reminded me to write to you - they were really invaluable to us, and I thought I'd let you know how we got on with the birth and our experience using the yoga / birth prep exercises.

I don't know if you recall but we had planned a homebirth. We felt very well prepared for it all, having attended the Sunday pregnancy yoga classes and the birth preparation class with you, and we had every confdence in our midwives on the crocus team. After the birth prep class with you on the Saturday 12 Feb, I got back from my Sunday yoga class the next day to find Jaime had prepared a wall chart with all your pregnancy yoga and birth prep handouts, and he had colour coded everything - the notes and handouts - according to what exercises would be useful at the relevant stages of labour! (see attached photo)

Jaime's birth chart

He said that the birth prep class was very useful, but he needed to consolidate it in his own way as he was concerned he wouldn't retain all the information and be able to remember it on the day. However, on the day(s) things didn't quite go as planned - it was a very long, hard few days, not quite what we expected.

Early labour / regular contractions started in the early hours of Thursday 3 March, but then slowed down during the day and cranked up again that evening, and by 1am Friday they were very strong and regular and lasting over a minute each time. This continued all day Friday and we laboured at home all that day, with our midwife coming and going - I was in the bath and on the ball, doing the various yoga exercises, and breathing through the contractions (the yoga breathing definitely helped me through the contractions and although it wasn't easy, it was completely manageable).

However, by midnight the midwife had recorded 3 consecutive readings of the baby's heartbeat that were low, and she wanted us to transfer in to hospital for continuous monitoring. I'd also had my first internal examination by then and was only 3cm, despite the intensity and frequency of my contractions.

We tried to resist going into hospital, but eventually on the midwife's advice we ended up transferring to hospital in the early hours of Saturday. After being monitored continuously our midwife determined there was no problem with the heart rate afterall, and the baby had probably been grabbing her cord. However, our midwife recommended that given how exhausted I was, and the lack of progression, I should probably stay in. I wasn't keen, and the midwife knew that, and knew my birth plan etc, so she pushed for me to go to the birth centre, and managed to get me moved from the labour ward to the birth centre (something I'm told is not very common and very difficult to get the labour ward to agree to, once you've transferred in from a home birth).

Our midwife was amazing throughout and she continued to do everything possible to help us avoid the labour ward and induction / forceps / CS etc, which was a definite possibility due to the intensity of contractions but lack of progress and lengthy duration - over the next 12 hours in the birth centre there were a further three occasions when there was a suggestion that we may have to transfer back to labour ward for induction / intervention, etc, due to lack of progression.

But at each stage we were given all the information about the various options, and were always given the option of continuing to try for another hour before taking any decision, and so during that hour I'd be on the ball / doing the pink panther / charlie chaplin / camel walks, and the figure of 8 pelvic rotations, etc. These must have ultimately worked, as about 13 hours after transferring to hospital I eventually still managed to have a water birth with no drugs, just paracetamol and some gas and air for the last few hours in hospital - Emilia was eventually born just before 3pm on Saturday 5 March weighing 3.196kg (7lbs 0.4 ozs I think) and 50cm long. She was born with a bit of a wonky conehead as she was in a tricky position, hence the duration and lack of progress – it turns out she turned from a near perfect position to a back to back position with her chin flexed and her head wedged to one side, which was the cause of the delay. I'm told that if she hadn't had her head in that position she'd have been born Friday morning - she was just determined to wait for her due date!

Ruth and EmiliaRuth and Emilia

Apologies for the length of this email, but I wanted to say how useful the exercises, yoga handouts and birth prep class was to us, and how despite not getting our home birth, we ended up having the natural / water birth that we wanted, thanks to the persistence of our wonderful home birth midwives (they changed shift part way through, given the length, although the initial midwife still stayed way past the time her shift ended and the other midwife arrived - she was a huge support to us).

The only thing I want to add is to highlight a bit more about the benefits of the yoga breathing - Jaime read what I wrote to you and commented that I actually hadn't stressed enough how helpful the breathing was. He was surprised how calm and controlled I was throughout (as I can have my stressy moments!) I was using the golden thread breath throughout as well as the ujjayi / Darth Vader breath at times.

I generally knew that I could cope with each contraction (even at the end) by doing three long golden breaths. I just focused on the breathing throughout, and even at the final pushing stage I used the cafetiere / plunger breathing and I think this was definitely helpful to avoid needing sutures.


So thanks to you too, for all the great tips and useful information. Hope to see you at a baby yoga class soon.

Kirstin's Story

Thanks so much for all the pregnancy yoga advice, relaxation and breathing practices in all the classes I've been attending since January. The information in the birth workshop that Richard and I attended was also invaluable and I think the whole birth experience was so much better as a result of all of you - so thank you!

It all happened pretty quickly for us... I had waves of stomach cramps and backache Monday night, and could not get comfortable lying down, so had a long bath at some crazy hour in the middle of the night and that helped wonders. Looking back these probably were mild contractions (possibly encouraged by the sweep I had that afternoon), but I didn't think anything of it at the time as in pregnancy your body can go through so many changes and aches I just put it down to that.

I did time them Tuesday morning for about half and hour, just in case though, but they stopped about 7am and Richard went to work as normal. Nothing else happened or was felt for the the whole of Tuesday, so I meet up with others for coffee and carried on my day as normal. I got back home about 5.30 and those aches/cramps/contractions started again about 6pm and they were more intense than before. I tried a relaxing bath and shower and they didn't help at all this time, and most positions I tried were also pretty uncomfortable, but I kept upright and mobile as this was way better than lying down or staying still!

The contractions were happening so frequently that it was tricky to time them but they were about 5-10 mins or so apart. They got so bad and nothing else was working (and Richard was still at work), that I put on the tens machine, and despite not being convinced about if it would help at our NCT class (as it gave me a big shock on the lowest setting then!) it was the god send that got me through everything, along with the breathing during and in-between contractions. They all really helped me take control and take the edge of things, and focus my mind on something else.

Richard was still at work at 7 and I didn't know when he was coming home (as he'd been working long hours recently and sometimes was getting back after midnight). It wasn't great not knowing when he would be back, as I was on my own at home, and it was racing through my mind that he could be back about midnight again and I didn't know if I could cope on my own for that long. So luckily I got back in touch and he managed to leave work getting home about 8.30 (everyone else at his work stayed till about 1am so am glad he convinced them that he had to leave!).

We phoned the hospital when he was back home as he realised things were moving and could see how the contractions were affecting me and that they appeared pretty strong. We were told to just stay at home as I had only been contracting for a few hours. The contractions got worse, tens power went up, breathing exercises became more focused, pain went down and we phoned again and said we were coming in (thank goodness for the sanity of Richard to decide this - my brain obviously wasn't thinking/working properly, and I was still convinced I was in the early stages, would be sent home and that I had a long way to go still!)

It was a pretty tough journey to the hospital (a 20/25 min car ride) and I was feeling like I was getting pretty regular urges to bear down/push en-route (and luckily there was no traffic, as this kind of freaked out Richard a bit). Richard remained calm and supportive all the way through though - he was amazing and also helped to keep me calm and focused. We arrived at the hospital and sat in the waiting room to get checked in for an initial examination. My waters broke in the waiting room shortly after arriving (about 10.10), infront of some poor man and his child.

I got into one of the birth centre rooms at Croydon University Hospital to be examined shortly after, and was told I was 10cm dilated! Big shock, but relief that I wasn't going home to cope with more of the same in terms of contractions. Too late for a water birth or anything (although they did start to run it, but then realised the baby was on it's way) so it was yoga breathing and tens that got me through it all - and of course the amazing midwife and student midwife that were with us to encourage and help me.

Elliot Leon Ralph was born at 11.36 naturally, and we weren't rushed at all. Daddy cut the cord, Elliot remained skin to skin for ages whilst the placenta was delivered etc, and we had lots of time on our own as a new family of three before transferring to Mary Ward for the night.

Kirstin and ElliotElliot

We were told we could've gone home, but I chose to stay overnight so we could all get some rest and the next day Elliot had some more checks done and we got help with the feeding - which I'm so glad I did. Have attended a few baby feeding clinics in his first week and they also too have been invaluable and helpful. As soon as Elliot arrived we forgot the journey that it took to get there - it was so worth it to meet him in person, and the precious, unrushed moments we all shared after the birth we will treasure forever.

Kirstin and Elliot

I feel very lucky and fortunate that my experience was all so quick and I was so well prepared - so thank you for all the advice from the classes! However the journey, meeting our beautiful baby at the end was all that mattered! :) So thanks again and hope to see you soon.


Thank you for the many weeks of pregnancy yoga. I missed the last class as baby Jessica arrived ten days early; in fact, I think the Sunday class on March 4th started things churning as I was in the labour ward about twelve hours later!

It started off with a bit of a panic. About 11pm I had quite a big bleed, but no pain. The midwives at Mayday told me to come in for observation and bring my hospital bag 'just in case'. Once in hospital, the bleeding stabilised. Then at about 1am contractions started. I was examined and amazed to be 4cm dilated already. Out came the yoga notes and all the movements and breathing you taught us were put into practice. They really helped and I found this stage of labour really quite bearable. Our midwife was great too; very encouraging, with a good sense of humour, and interested in our birth plan.

Then the contractions stepped up and out came the gas and air, plus carrying on with the breathing. On the bed by now but trying to wiggle around as much as possible, and visualising golden threads all over the place! At 3.45am I was 8cm dilated and felt the need to push. The second stage was exhausting, but thankfully quick. I didn't exactly 'breathe' out the baby though - I did have to push like mad - but by 4.25am our daughter Jessie was born.

Jessie was almost exactly the same size as her sister - 9lbs and 56cm long - yes, another whopper! She is healthy and we're all besotted of course. I'm just about ready to venture into the outside world again, and look forward to joining the post-natal classes soon. Thank you again for all your help and understanding over the past few months.