Bristol, the best place to have a baby!

clifton-suspension-bridge-balloons-bristolIn 2013 Bristol was named best city in the UK to live in. This came as no surprise to us Bristolians, we know we’ve got it pretty good living here. Just one look online at right move will tell you that many are flocking to our city to grab a piece of the action, flippin’ house prices going through the roof – arghh!!! So why do people love Bristol? Well it’s not just the place itself but the people: Us Bristolians are a pretty chilled out, unassuming lot.

When the one born every minute cameras set up camp in one of Bristol’s large obstetric units in 2014 we could see for ourselves how easy going the midwives were. We watched as they supported many women birthing their babies in water, standing up, on all fours, surrounded by bean bags, pillows and mats etc. Even HYPNOBIRTHING got a mention! Fair play to those midwives, as any midwife will tell you keeping birth as natural as possible on a busy, highly medicalised labour ward can be a challenge, it takes a fair bit of encouragement from the midwives to make this happen.

Across the city at the other large obstetric unit things were even more easy going. Yes it’s true; a therapy dog did in fact accompany a woman in labour as she birthed her baby on labour ward, and what a cracking birth partner he was!! Sitting quietly in the corner, no demanding cups of tea every half hour, no questioning ‘how long is this all gonna take’. Maybe we should replace all the dads with a lovely Labrador and see how well the women birth then. I’m sure the famous French male obstetrician Michel Odent would be up for that cos he’s not too keen on dads at the birth!

Meanwhile, a few floors up on the induction of labour unit, a couple decided to use their initiative to induce labour naturally. An overdue pregnant lady and her chap were caught having jiggy by one of the cleaners. Brilliant!! What gets them babies in also gets ‘em out!  News of this reached America to the famous birth guru Ina May Gaskin who was also really impressed. She said on her facebook page “Good for St Michaels hospital in Bristol. The prostaglandins in semen can be most effective in starting labour. I hope it worked for this couple and thought the reporter should have found out!” Ha, her comment was liked by over 4k of her followers!

The daily mail got a hold of both of these stories and the readers were quick to leave their thoughts in the comments section no doubt thinking that us Bristolian midwives are completely bonkers. No we’re not bonkers, just open minded.

You’ve also got a great choice of where to give birth in Bristol. Over the last 3 years many babies have been born at the brand spanking new Cossham birth centre. The first baby girl born there in 2013 was a bumpsnbabies hypnobaby! Read Andrea’s birth story here.

And both the major obstetric units in the city have also opened new midwife led birth suites alongside their labour wards because research shows that a relaxing home from home environment with care from supportive midwives encourages the birth process. 4946776-large

This month the St Michael’s midwife led unit officially opened by the late Lynda Bellingham back in June 2013 was ranked top in the country for it’s maternity services!! How proud are we!!

Of course let’s not forget home birth too. I know of a few roads in Bristol that are ‘hot spots’ for home births, keeping those community midwives busy!!

Bristol is also a mum and baby friendly place to be, which is a good thing cos it’s a city literally full of bumps ‘n’ babies. As you walk down North street in Bedminster you feel like you’re on some sort of assault course negotiating all the pregnant women and buggies. The tobacco factory, bubbahub and the hungry caterpillar are just some of the many breastfeeding friendly cafes in the area; you’ll often see a babe on the boob as mumma sups a latte. No need to head off to the loo to breastfeed here. And no wonder the women here are happy to get their ‘Bristols’ out because did you know that in 2010 Bristol was the first city ever in the UK to receive the prestigious UNICEF baby friendly award for promoting and supporting breastfeeding mothers. Go Bristol!!!

And for those of you wondering why boobs are called Bristols, well here’s your answer, its good ol’ cockney rhyming slang for ‘titties’  ‘A fine pair of Bristols Cities’ = ‘titties’. What is that all about? How does a bloke manage to link the football team Bristol City with women’s boobs?

A few other Bristol things to rave about:

The fab free positive birth meet ups for expectant parents and anyone else interested in the world of birth.

Bristol’s street art, even that happens to be mum and baby friendly, this one by artist El Mac is obviously our fav! street art

So there you have it, just a few reasons why Bristol is the best city to have a baby, but shhhh don’t tell everyone, especially those from the big smoke thinking of relocating to a smaller city cos did I mention the housing market here? and for us midwives at bumpsnbabies trying to move house right now it’s a bloody nightmare!!

Sharon x


10 things a midwife has heard many times


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  • ‘Never again!’   The classic phrase muttered by many women usually in the throes of labour. Of course us midwives believe you, even though we know you’ll be back again for baby number 2, 3, 4, 5.
  • ‘We don’t care whether it’s a boy or a girl, as long as it’s not ginger!’  Said with true conviction by many a mum or dad-to-be, please remember though there are ginger midwives within ear shot!!
  • ‘I think the parking ticket has expired’   A popular phrase said by the dads . The parking, that one job he has to take care of as the woman has the momentous task of birthing a tiny human. No don’t leave her just as the baby’s crowning to sort it out, she won’t thank you for it!
  • ‘This stuff is frickin’ amazing!’  Said by the woman who has just been handed the gas and air, and yes she is right!! Who ever came up with this wonder drug is a hero, we salute you!
  • ‘Don’t put it on facebook …!!’  Said by both new parents to the mother-in-law as she takes it upon herself to announce the new arrival to the whole world via social media before the woman’s even had chance to birth her placenta and put her knickers back on.
  • ‘But what if I poo?’  Said by the mum-to-be in early labour. The midwife’s response – ‘You might, you might not, don’t worry about it, sometimes in life sh*t just happens….!’
  • ‘I’m not looking forward to having a poo!’  Said by many a new mum on the postnatal ward. Midwife’s response – It’ll be fine, trust us, once that first post birth poo is passed everything seems right with the world.
  • ‘When can I go home?’  Said by the excited first time mum with a newborn just a few hours old that hasn’t quite got the hang of breastfeeding yet. As opposed to ‘How long can I stay?’  Said by the mother of baby number 4 who has a pile of washing waiting for her at home, along with 3 other kids and a hubby that all want feeding.
  • ‘Pass me a nappy, no they’re not in that bag, they’re in the other bag, no not there, more towards the left under the sleep suits, no that’s a vest not a sleepsuit!’  Said by many a new mum to her hubby as she recovers in bed with a baby attached to her boob. Word of advice from us midwives – get the hubby to pack the birth bags, then he’ll know where everything is!
  • ‘God I’ve had such a great night sleep on this busy postnatal ward’ – Said no new mum EVER!!!


Sharon x

A Trip Down Midwifery Memory Lane

call the midwifeSo after a crazy few hours on labour ward one night, suddenly all became calm. A chance for us midwives to recharge our batteries before the pregnant women of Bristol began contracting again. We all headed to the staff room to grab a cup of tea, eat cake and catch up on the gossip. The team that night consisted of a few fresh faced student midwives and a few ‘golden oldies’- those midwives counting down the shifts to their retirement. And so the conversation began….
Oh remember when…..? My ears pricked up. I love the remember when conversations, listening to the golden oldies telling us how things used to be in the world of midwifery, like watching an episode of call the midwife.
‘Oh remember when we used to give all women a pubic shave and an enema in labour. Yes without fail even if the head was visable and baby was on its way, she still had to have a pubic shave or sister would go mad if she didn’t!!’
‘Oh remember when it was unusual for the woman to have her husband with her in labour, and there was no such thing as a birth plan in those days’.
And so the conversation continued….
Now I’ve only been in the game for 13 years, I am by no means a golden oldie (yet!) but even I can join in these conversations now with my own remember when moments and this got me thinking how routine practice and procedures can change or disappear almost overnight, just like fashion, an end of an era. So here are my top 3 remember when midwifery moments…..

Number 1. Remember when we used to suction out the baby’s nose and mouth before it was even born!

The baby’s head would be out, but the baby still not yet fully born. Everyone in the room would be waiting in suspense for the baby to arrive with the next contraction. Now at this moment, if the amniotic fluid was green because the baby had opened its bowels in the womb, we would poke a thin plastic tube up the baby’s nose and in its mouth to hoover out the green stuff. We did this to try and avoid the baby inhaling it once born which could cause breathing difficulties. However this hoovering method wasn’t very effective and achieved very little. It may even have done more harm than good as it stimulated the baby, encouraged him to breathe too soon, so he could potentially inhale the green stuff anyway, thereby defeating the whole object. So this no longer happens. Now we assess the baby once it’s born and decide then whether suction would benefit the baby or not.

Number 2. Remember the payphone on wheels?

This was before everyman and his dog owned a mobile phone. If a woman on bed rest asked to make a call we would drag in the heavy payphone on wheels and plug it into the wall for her to make the call. The payphone on wheels has long gone, nowadays the women are tweeting, texting and updating facebook on their smart phones whilst in the throes of labour! I kid you not! Modern technology in the birth room, a good thing or not?? Lets save that question for another post!

Number 3. Remember when we used to ‘feel for the cord’!

I remember this from my days as a student midwife. The baby’s head would be out, and again that ‘weird moment’ – everyone waiting for the next contraction for the baby to be born. My midwife mentor would bellow at me ‘feel for cord! Is there cord around that baby’s neck, does it need to be cut?’ With direction from my mentor I would fiddle around the woman’s rather sensitive nether regions searching for cord. The woman and partner would both look at me with terror in their eyes waiting to hear if their baby had been strangled by its own cord. Then came the dreaded moment of me telling my mentor that ‘yes I can feel cord around the neck’. Back then some midwives would have told me to clamp and cut the cord to ‘free the baby’ before the next contraction. Thankfully I’ve never had to do it, I’ve seen other midwives do it, but it happens very rarely these days because we know so many babies are born with cord around their necks and it doesn’t usually cause a problem. I looked after a woman who birthed her first baby naturally without any drama and was suprised as I unravelled 4 loops of cord from around its neck! That baby didn’t seem at all bothered during labour that it was wearing its cord like a scarf.
So now we avoid ‘feeling for the cord’ and there is a move towards delayed cord clamping which is becoming more common practice. Rather than cutting the cord as soon as the baby is born, we are more likely to wait a while, until the cord stops pulsating before we cut it because research suggests there are health benefits for the baby.

All this got me thinking about the future of midwifery. What’s the ‘in thing’ at the moment? What might change? Maybe in years to come I’ll be sat in the staff room, older and wiser with a few more grey hairs and I’ll be saying….
‘Oh remember when we used to cut the baby’s cord as soon as it was born?’
Maybe in the future we won’t cut the cord at all? Maybe the postnatal wards will be full of baby’s in their cots snuggled up to their placentas waiting for their cords and placentas to detach naturally (AKA a lotus birth)?? Only joking!! The golden oldies would be shuddering at the thought I’m sure!

I’ll sign off with this fab quote by Maya Angelou ‘Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better’.

Sharon x

5 Things NOT To Say To A Pregnant Woman

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As midwives we know that pregnant women can be sensitive beings. We know we should think before we speak and we should choose our words wisely as even the most innocent remark can be misinterpreted and leave the expectant mother in a rage or in tears, or both!

Pregnancy can be a walk in the park for some women but for others it can be an emotional roller coaster, so surely we should cut them some slack, after all they are growing the next generation inside them, and that’s a big deal!

Slightly tongue in cheek but here are our:

Top 5 things NOT to say to a pregnant woman

1. Oh God you’re massive, are you sure there’s not two in there?

2. You’re hypnobirthing??! Don’t be ridiculous, take all the drugs they offer you!

3. Don’t bother with a birth plan, cos it won’t go to plan, it never does.

4. Don’t have a home birth what about all the blood and other stuff you’ll have to clear up at the end?

5. Youre going to call him Dexter? How lovely that’s my dog’s name!!

Sharon x

Coconut soup for the soul

pregnancy food bumpAnother of my interests aside from mums, midwifery and hypnobirthing is good food and nutrition. Essential for wellness and a happy life. I love to cook and I love to eat even more.

Marie Mongan, founder of HypnoBirthing believes many common ailments of pregnancy can be alleviated by simple changes to ones diet. For example, anaemia in pregnancy may be reduced by introducing more red meat and fresh greens first as opposed to pharmacological methods.

I am now back at work as a community midwife three days a week which means I need a good lunch inside me to deal with our workload and the toddler nursery pick up at the end of the day. In our office at the moment we are all going crazy for homemade soups. Some of the girls have special gadgety soup makers, however I just use my blender to make mine. A new one I’m trialling is from a new book of mine – ‘Hemsley-Hemsley’. It’s a no cook recipe which I’ve just whipped up in about five minutes while the little one is napping. You just whack all the ingredients in a bowl and melch them up with a hand blender. This is a great recipe for busy mums on the go and for pregnancy. It contains good fats from avocado  and coconut milk. And immune boosting lime, garlic and ginger. Great for the chilly, headcold weather we’ve been having. Enjoy.

No cook coconut soup:

1 tin coconut milk

80g tomatoes

1 avocado

1 garlic clove

1 thumb size piece root ginger (I used ready chopped lazy ginger from a jar)

3tbsp miso paste (readily available in supermarkets)

juice of 1 lime

2 spring onions

Warm through once blended. Yummy. Though I’ve boxed mine up straight into the fridge. Three days worth of packed lunch for work sorted.

Jade x

Style conscious mama

When I became a mum I was determined not to lose my sense of style or identity. According to Gok Wan (I love him) we are a nation of comfy casual clothes lovers; which is great news if you’re a mum (high maintenance dressing does not exactly go hand in hand with toddlers).

Im loving the collar/jumper/necklace combo at the mo. Practical, easy to put together and stylish. Win. Team with skinnies and ankle boots (or metallic converse) and a slick of bright lippy and you’re ready to roll. Or, like me today, go to a Baby Sensory Class.


Shirt: Warehouse

Fine knit jumper: H&m

Necklace: Topshop

Scarf: Primark

Lippy: Revlon


Jade x

The Labour Survival Kit


For friends who are due to give birth we like to make them a labour survival kit as a present. This would be a great gift for a baby shower.  Or for yourself if you are preparing to give birth. Most items are also useful for after the birth too.

Here is what we include;

    • A flannel – The most useful tool for labour.  Hot for lower back, and to cover bump in the bath. Cold to mop brow, neck.
    • Lavender oil – Few drops in pool or bath or in oil for a massage.  Also helps healing after the birth added to the bath or on your pad.
    • Rescue Remedy – calms and soothes
    • Glucose energy tabs, Isotonic drink, sweeties, honey – To give you energy when you are flagging.
    • Small spray bottle – can fill with cold water to spritz your face
    • Lip balm – mouth gets very dry with gas and air
    • Paracetamol – Great for early labour and after the birth
    • CD of relaxing music – may also help settle baby
    • Mini bottle of Prosecco – to celebrate afterwards!
    • Dark chocolate – to boost iron level after the birth
    • Raspberry leaf tea – Nourishing, helps uterus to contract in labour and after the birth


Katheryn x