I suffer from anxiety and fear of childbirth (tocophobia) and as soon as we met Kay I felt relieved and reassured. We wanted to find an independent midwife to support us throughout my pregnancy and birth, to be a constant presence, someone with knowledge and experience, who would get to know us, be honest with us and who would act as an advocate if we went to hospital. My anxiety about the baby and the impending birth was making my pregnancy stressful enough, but when I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes (GD) it went into overdrive. I had never heard of it before and she had experience of it and was so supportive and reassuring that things were ok - she really helped me to normalise things.
In our area, all pregnant women are tested for GD, in the next county 5 minutes down the road the test is not offered routinely, only if you are high risk. I was tested and failed, I was just on the border but on the wrong side! The impact was huge, on a day to day basis in terms of managing the condition, emotionally in terms of worrying about how it was affecting the baby and then the longer term issues, the birth and mine and the baby’s future health. From then on I had appointments in a clinic every 2 weeks - the hospital was over half an hour away and the clinic took hours, mainly waiting around getting more and more stressed as each bit of new information became more confusing and more worrying. Having a toddler made it difficult not just logistically, but also emotionally, as just at the time when I was wanting to spend as much time with him as possible, I had to be away from him for hours on end. All our plans for the birth were turned upside down, I had conflicting information and opinions, big decisions to make, and was trying to keep my blood sugar levels under control when I had no idea what I was doing. I had to finger prick 4 times every day, and having had a blood and needle phobia for my whole life, this was really traumatic for me. The stress of trying to control my levels was affecting our family life daily, meal by meal. Panic that high levels would harm the baby and make him too big and being told that I would most likely need to go onto medication and be induced and not have the natural birth I was wanting. It was affecting my mood and therefore impacting my husband and my toddler also.
I was managing to keep my levels so under control that I was not convinced the GD was a problem and my original birthing plans might be achievable, so I asked to be re-tested. Although my results were lower this time around, they fell directly on the border so my diagnosis remained. This meant that I could not go to a midwife led birthing centre for the birth and the consultant would much prefer me to be in hospital rather than at home. I was disappointed with this but with the level of uncertainty around the condition I opted for hospital and Kay agreed to come with us. I was going to call her when I went into labour and she would either come to me at home and then transfer with us to hospital or meet us there.
As it turns out, my labour was pretty drawn out so Kay came to us at home for a few hours before we made the decision to go into hospital. It was so lovely having Kay there monitoring how things were going, reassuring me and helping us to decide when it was the right time to transfer. She even called the hospital for us which was one less thing for us to worry about. It was great to have Kay with us for the birth - I knew that she was going to be there constantly and so I felt much more relaxed, knowing if there was a problem she would pick up on it and that I could ask questions about anything. Our baby was born in a birth pool in the very same room that our first son was born and it was amazing.
Also important to us was at home afterwards. I struggle with the postnatal period, worrying that things are ok with myself and the baby. Having the knowledge that Kay would be visiting and the reassurance that she would be checking us over regularly was invaluable, both physically and emotionally.
Kay is lovely and very professional, she has a vast amount of knowledge and experience and shared this with us, even coming to a hospital appointment with us and supporting us in our plans when they weren't exactly as the hospital was suggesting. Having Kay with us for the birth made me so much more relaxed and we are sure this was a major factor in our very positive birth experience.
Having support from someone we knew and trusted, who supported our decisions and was there whenever we needed her, from pregnancy right through to post birth, made all the difference. We are so grateful we found Kay, now our friend - her constant presence was invaluable in so many ways.