Little Pandas Photography Blog

Homebirth – Frequently asked questions

Homebirth. Its a subject that divides opinion. Some see it as the worst thing possible, going against science and medicine and all the progress that has been made to make birth “safe”. Some see it as the ideal, a calm and peaceful way to bring their baby into the world with minimal intervention (and in some cases, without even medical personnel present).

The reality is that both opinions are right, and wrong. Homebirth isn’t right for everyone. But neither is hospital birth. Having had both (and a birth at a midwife-led unit too!) I can hand on heart say that I am in the latter camp. Hospital birth, with all its restrictions and medicalisation, just isn’t for me. I made a choice to have two homebirths after my 3rd pregnancy ended in a caesarean section (hbacs). I didn’t make this decision lightly, I researched extensively and weighed up all the pros and cons. In the end I felt the benefits for myself, my baby and our family far outweighed any risk. I will touch more on hbac at the end of the blog, so if you’re here for that then just skip to the end 😉

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Before my 3rd pregnancy all went wrong, I was planning to have my baby at home. With a previous (horrendous) hospital birth and a (lovely, but fraught) MLU birth. It felt like a natural progression for me. Plus my circumstances had changed somewhat. My childcare options were more limited. My husband didn’t drive at the time, and my Dad (my only real emergency transport option) was awaiting a hip replacement. Being at home seemed to be the obvious choice. But I still had questions.

So I wanted to cover some questions I had myself, and some of those I’ve seen and heard asked many times in various parent groups and forums.

Is it safe?

The NHS Choices website states that for women having normal, healthy second or more pregnancies and with no previous obstetric history that could pose a risk, homebirth is as safe as hospital birth. For first time mothers there is a slight increase in risk to baby (from 5 in 1000 to 9 in 1000). Its important to bear in mind though that this increase still adds up to less than 1% of cases.

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Will I be allowed a homebirth?

Some women may have had a previous pregnancy or birth that makes them automatically “high risk”, even if they are having a perfect pregnancy next time around. Some women may have some issues with their pregnancy, or suffer from a medical condition that puts a question mark over whether they should be in hospital or not.The general consensus amongst consultants, and even some midwives, in this case is that homebirth is not recommended. But each woman should be treated as an individual, and each woman is entitled to make her own choice about where to give birth. No-one can tell you you’re not “allowed”, although believe me, some consultants will try! They can only inform you of any risks, and give you the information to make an informed decision.

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Is it messy?

In my experience, no. Not at all. I had a birthing pool for both of my homebirths. I also had some cheap shower curtains (Asda do great quality ones in their basics range) and puppy training pads (Home bargains!) in strategic places (for me that was the floor between the pool and the sofa, and on the sofa itself). Once I’d given birth and was sat snuggling my new little bundle, my wonderful midwives just scooped thee up and put them in the bin. My husband set up the pump to empty the pool, and once it was empty he washed it out and sterilised it with Milton sterilising fluid. It took around an hour in total. Apart from some towels that needed a wash, all was back to normal!

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What pain relief can I have?

Not much. You can’t have an epidural at home. If you reach a point where you are really not coping and really feel you need one, your midwife will discuss transferring to hospital with you. Pethadine is available in some areas, but would need to be prescribed by a Dr beforehand for the midwives to administer. Gas and air is available, although you are limited to what the midwives carry. This is usually two or three canisters. You are free to use a TENS machine and water, be that the bath or a dedicated birthing pool (although obviously the TENS would need to be removed before you entered the water! Hypnobirthing  is also popular.

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For those local to me I will include some links to hypnobirthing practitioners. Its definitely worth it, even if you birth in hospital!

The good news is that many women find they need less pain relief than they would have in hospital. Being in their own surroundings, with less medical interference and able to move freely, eat and drink when they feel like it and have their own things around them is often enough to help a woman get into a place mentally where she copes better with the pain. This leads to less interventions and a calmer, happier birth.

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What will i need?

As mentioned above, shower curtains or tarpaulins, puppy training pads (or potty training/maternity bed mats, although these tend to be more expensive), old towels. A large bowl or bucket for the placenta (although they will bring a tub to take it away in if you don’t want to keep it, they will need to examine it to ensure it is intact at delivery). A pool if you are wanting a waterbirth, and accessories to go with it such as a clean hose to fill/empty it, a water thermometer, a mirror.

The midwives will provide everything else you need from a medical point of view, either bringing it with them on the day or dropping off a homebirth kit in the weeks before.

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What about my other children?

If you want them there, then there is no reason for them not to be there! With my first homebirth my younger children were both in bed upstairs, whilst I laboured and gave birth downstairs with their Daddy and their big sister watching and supporting me. I’ll never forget their little faces when they woke and came down to us cuddling up to their new baby sister 🙂 With my second homebirth, all the other children were awake before he was born. I ended up sending them to my neighbour for the last half an hour or so, as I found myself focusing on them and worrying about scaring them, instead of focusing on my breathing and birthing. They were fetched back within minutes of my son being born. My older daughter was my birth photographer!

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What if no midwife is available when I go into labour?

Sadly for some women, home birth isn’t that well supported. Sometimes you will ring and be told you will have to come in, as no-one is free to attend you at home. This can be an upsetting and stressful time. Labour can be stressful enough, without having your plans changed at the last minute. No-one can make you go to hospital. You are free to give birth where you want, and you have a right to be supported in that choice. If there are genuinely not enough midwives available then an ambulance may be called, and paramedics on hand to deliver your baby. But often the case is that when you make it clear you will be staying at home, a midwife is made available to you. Of course you don’t have to stay at home. If you aren’t invested in a homebirth and don’t mind hospital then you can go in. Your body, your birth, your choice 🙂

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What if something goes wrong?

Midwives are trained to spot problems. When you labour and birth at home you will have one, in most cases two, midwives present. These midwives are there solely to make sure you and your baby are safe. Unlike in hospital, where you may be sharing your midwife with other labouring women, they are entirely focused on you. In the majority of cases they will spot any potential issues very quickly, and transfer to hospital can be arranged. In the event of something unforeseen, such as shoulder dystocia at birth, they are trained in methods to deliver baby safely. They carry the same equipment as a MLU should baby need some help to breathe, and carry medication to help slow bleeding in the case of maternal haemorrhage.

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What happens afterwards?

Bliss! Total and utter babymoon heaven 🙂 The midwives will do yours and the baby’s checks when you are ready.They are really inobtrusive. Baby’s APGAR score is observed at one minute and five minutes after birth (it is also sometimes done at 10 minutes, if needed). You probably won’t even notice the midwife doing this. You are free to cuddle your baby, have skin to skin, cuddle your partner, whatever you want. You can drink champagne, eat a full 3 course meal or just have a cup of tea and beans on toast, all in the comfort of your own bed, chair, sofa or wherever you fancy! At some point the mdwife will want to weigh baby, but theres no rush. Usually one of the midwives will stay for an hour or two after the birth, to help with the clean up and just observe yourself and baby. But you have no restrictions. If you want your whole family to visit straight away, thats fine! If you want no interruptions and just to cuddle up as a family and enjoy your new addition, thats fine too! You can sleep when you want, with no other babies or ladies (or their partners, if your hospital stay was anything like mine!) keeping you awake, no Drs coming to poke or prod you. This is where homebirth really comes into its own 🙂

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A special note about HBAC (homebirth after caesarean), and other high risk pregnancies

As I mentioned above, both my homebirths were hbacs. Both were technically against medical advice. But I was confident in my own ability to birth my babies, and I had 100% trust in the midwives’ ability to spot any problems early.

So lets look at the specific risk factors for HBAC. The biggest “fact” you will have thrown at you is the risk of uterine rupture. You will probably be told that your risk doubles once you have had a c-section, and technically this is true. What they don’t tell you is how small that risk still is. In a normal pregnancy, with no history of c-section or other scarring, the risk of uterine rupture is less than 1%. In a VBAC that risk can increase to up to 2%. But looking closer into these figures, they have actually included all scar disruptions, even those that caused no problems. The risk of a true scar rupture during VBAC is actually closer to 0.35%. Interestingly, the risk after a repeat caesarean is 0.12%. But that of course is only one risk factor of repeat c-section, infection being the biggest.

I saw a consultant before my first homebirth. He told me a horror story about a woman who’s scar ruptured during a homebirth and she lost the baby, very nearly losing her life. A horrifying situation for sure. After further questioning though, it transpired that this lady lived quite some distance from the hospital, and it took around half an hour for her to arrive there. I asked how long it takes them to perform an emergency c/s once the need has been identified. I was told 10-15 minutes. I know that I can drive from my house to the hospital in 10 minutes (I have sadly had to do so when my son had an accident as a baby), and thats without blue lights and sirens. I asked the consultant what difference it would make if I were to be en-route by ambulance whilst they were prepping theatre and paging staff, rather than in a hospital bed in the delivery suite. He admitted it would make none, as the paramedics and midwife would be suitably trained to look after me in that situation and they would be preparing for my arrival so I could be taken straight into surgery.

With these concerns assuaged I was able to address the more mundane aspects of hospital VBAC vs HBAC. I was told I would need continual monitoring, so wouldn’t be able to have an active labour. But further research showed me that there are many other signs to show that a rupture may happen. Pain in the area of the scar and/or between contractions, rapid maternal pulse and possibly shock, excessive vaginal bleeding and slowing of labour. By having two midwives in attendance at home, regularly taking my pulse and temperature and observing my demeanor, I felt I would be safer than just being stuck on a monitor in a hospital room, with midwives popping in and out. Midwives are also able to listen to baby’s heartrate at home, even underwater.

My other main concern was the fact that my c-section had been performed due to failed induction, which was largely put down to my previous bad hospital birth experience. In simple terms, my body had entered it’s fight or flight response. I was petrified, I didn’t feel safe, and so my body refused to go into labour. I didn’t see any reason why this wouldn’t happen again, were I to attempt a VBAC in hospital. So my choice came down to a repeat caesarean, which isn’t to be taken lightly, and carries its own risks just like any other major surgery, or a HBAC. Being in my own home, with my children and my husband allowed to stay with me and all the other positives, won out for me. My homebirths were both magical experiences. I delivered both of them myself (with midwives present), shared precious moments in the pool with them whilst waiting for the cord to stop pulsating so it could be cut. Being able to sleep in my own bed, with all my children with me, was bliss. I found breastfeeding easier in a less distracting and pressured environment, and my recovery was much much quicker (36 hours after my first homebirth I attended my eldest daughter’s last primary school May day celebration. My baby girl even got a special mention as the youngest audience member!).

Thats not to say it would be the right choice for everyone. If you are considering a HBAC then you should do your own research, and decide what is right for you 🙂

Here are some links to start you off 🙂

Caesarean.org

NCT-VBAC

Heathline.com – Uterine rupture

Babycenter – uterine rupture

Good sites for general homebirth questions are Homebirth.org and NCT – Homebirth, and AIMS is great if you are experiencing unfair resistance to your homebirth plans 🙂

As promised, here are some local (Kent, UK) hypnobirthing links:

Hypnobirthing in Kent (clinic in Hythe)

JMHypnotherapy Folkestone

Kent Hypnobirthing

I hope I’ve provided information that is useful to you! I loved my homebirths, and I am always happy to take enquiries for anyone wanting someone to capture theirs on camera 🙂 The photos on this post are from my own last homebirth, taken by my then-16 year old in very challenging conditions (I like to labour with the light really REALLY low). I treasure them.

Kelly.x

 

 

 

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And the winner is……

So that exciting day is here! Time to announce the winner of my Facebook competition!

I’m using random.org to generate my winner 🙂

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So here is my list of entrants 🙂

Good luck everyone!!!



The numbers all entered into the randomiser!

And the winner is…………….


Number 5 – Holly Cunningham

Well done Holly  🙂 Please contact me to arrange your shoot!

Thanks for all your entries, and for sharing your beautiful photos with me!

As a thank you for entering I’m offering 10% off any shoot booked by the end of January to all my entrants.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Kelly.x

Something a little different! Kitten Xmas mini shoot

This week I had the pleasure of stepping out of my comfort zone and taking on a new challenge – pet photography!

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A Christmas mini shoot with a difference 🙂 4 cats, 2 boys and 2 girls. Lots of props and Xmas set-ups. Endless fun!

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Marvin wasn’t feeling very sociable, so I had to improvise!

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Marley wasn’t going to get in a basket, no matter what we tried 🙂 So I had to capture her as she investigated my props.

Photographer Hythe Kent pet cat

Four furbabies with very different personalities. But all with two things in common – Their human Mummy and Daddy adore them, and they are all incredibly cute!!!

Furbaby and reptile shoots available now. Please see website for details 🙂

 

 

Christmas mini sessions – James

My Christmas mini sessions were so much fun! It was a busy day, a busy few weeks, but Sasha (my eldest daughter, and assistant) and I had a lovely time. Getting to wear a Santa hat and play Christmas music at the beginning of November particularly pleased Sasha!

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Little James was a star. He is such a smiley baby, his whole face lights up and it is beautiful to see. I had such a hard time narrowing down the photos for his gallery!

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I’m so excited for Christmas now. And I really can’t wait to plan next year’s Christmas minis! Bigger and better next year!!!

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Meanwhile, sessions are available as usual. Sessions or print package make great Christmas gifts 🙂

Just use the contact form or message me on Facebook to enquire or book.

Magali and Miles – Breastfeeding mini session

I love babies. I love everything about them. Small ones, big ones, ones with hair, ones without. I am a baby person 🙂 I find them equally as cute no matter how they are fed. But there is just something about seeing a mother breastfeeding her child that speaks to me deeply. It is something I feel passionate about, something that I truly believe is special. Not in a “breastfed babies are better” way, not at all. But in a primal way.

I am so honoured every time someone hires me to capture these moments for them. Often I am asked not to share, and obviously I completely respect that. For some feeding is a private thing that they want to record just for themselves, and that is absolutely ok 🙂 But that just makes it even more special when I am allowed to share!

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Magali is one of those few who have consented to sharing. From the moment she told me she would prefer a public shoot to a home session I knew we were on the same wavelength! I think we were both overjoyed that the weather was kind on the day of the shoot, so we were able to head to the park.

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The autumn colours were out in force and gave the location such a beautiful palette!

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Miles was just adorable, giving me lots of smiles. Such a happy baby! Thankfully he was hungry too, so we were able to maximise the variety from the session.

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I am so happy to have been able to capture these memories for Magali and Miles. The photos make me smile, and hopefully by sharing them we are doing our bit to help breastfeeding be seen as the natural, biological, “normal” act that it is.

#normalisebreastfeeding

Kelly.x

 

Breastfeeding mini sessions are just £45*, bookings available for home or public sessions.

*A 50p per mile surcharge is payable for sessions taking place 15 miles or over outside the Hythe area.

 

Mini Sessions – What are they and why should I book one?

Its that time of year again, when the shops start filling with Christmas cards and tinsel, mince pies and yule logs. Yep, it must be early October! For portrait photographers, this time of year inevitably brings up the same old question; to offer Christmas minis or not.

This year I’ve decided to go ahead and offer them. They are not my usual thing, although I will happily try a mini for a newborn. But being a photographer often means stepping outside your comfort zone and trying something new! One question keeps cropping up though. What exactly is a mini session? What do I get out of it that I couldn’t get out of a full session? So I thought I’d write a post to answer those questions 🙂

So, what is a mini session?

A mini session is like a taster, a try before you buy if you like. Its a short session, so you can get a sample of how I work and who I am before committing to the cost of a full session. In the case of Christmas minis, its a chance to get photos of your child or children for gifts or cards, without having to pay out for the whole kit and caboodle that goes with a full session. Because who wants a whole plethora of photographs of their kids in Christmas hats or jumpers that they can’t display all year round right?! So a mini is the chance to pay less, and get just the few shots you need.

Why should I book one?

A mini session is for you if:

  • You’re not sure about committing to a full session, you want to try it out first
  • You just want a few photos to use as gifts
  • You’re not sure how your child is going to react to being photographed, so want to start off small
  • You don’t want lots of set changes or costume changes, and are happy with just one set up.

 

Hopefully that answers any questions that you may have, but I am always on the end of a message if there is anything else you would like to know 🙂

Most of all, mini sessions are fun!!!

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My mini sessions are booked for Saturday 5th November, at Palmarsh village hall in Hythe, Kent. Sessions take place for approx 20 minutes, every half hour (starting at 10.30am). Spaces are limited, so advance booking is essential.

Kelly.x

More education – Adding another string to my bow!

I’m so excited! Tomorrow marks the start of a new journey for me, something I have wanted to do for a very long time.

Tomorrow I have my first Sure start volunteer training session. And the day after that, my very first Breastfeeding peer supporter training session! Eek!

I’ve been passionate about breastfeeding since my third baby was born. We had so many issues, from a c-section birth to 10% weight loss in the first week, to being hospitalised at 6 weeks seriously ill with bronchiolitis, to undiagnosed silent reflux and all that goes with it. I managed to get through them all. And I couldn’t have done it without the help of a forum full of ladies who were a font of all knowledge when it came to breastfeeding. Some were professionals, some just spoke from experience. But they helped me so much. I have tried to pay that forward ever since. So being accepted to train as a peer supporter is a dream come true for me!

I already feel that I’ve learnt so much about breastfeeding, but I know there is more to learn, and I’m so excited to have the opportunity.

It also means that I can provide an extra service to my clients, if needed. Which makes me so happy, because I can combine two of the things I am most passionate about!

I’ll keep you all up to date with my training journey.

Kelly.x

My first guest blog!

I was so pleased and excited to be contacted by a good friend of mine who I have never met (we all have at least one of those right? The internet is a wonderful place!), Louise over at My three and me, asking if I would be willing to write a guest post for her blog for her Tracks of my years series.

Of course I jumped at the chance! I’ve always used music as a soundtrack to my life, as I know many people do. There are so many songs that instantly take me back to days gone by as soon as I hear them. So this was the ideal first guest post for me.

Please pop over to Lou’s blog and give it a read, and if I know you in real life it may even bring back some shared memories for you too!

The post can be found here http://www.mythreeandme.co.uk/2016/09/tracks-of-my-years-little-pandas.html

I had so much fun writing it, I hope you enjoy it too!

My Three and Me also can also be found on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

Kelly.x

 

The benefits of Hiring a bespoke home photography service

I know it’s not the norm. You think portrait or newborn photography and you automatically think studio right? And you’d be right, to a degree. There are many many great newborn photographers who work out of a studio, be that in their home or in a separate shop front.

But not me. I offer something a little bit different. The service I offer is tailored to the needs of a new parent, with experience gained from being that parent, five times over.

So let me run through some of the benefits you gain from hiring me, and my bespoke home photography.

  • You don’t have to leave the house

Those first days and weeks as a new parent can be tough. Adjusting to sleep deprivation, feeding, acclimatising yourself, and possibly siblings, to a new little person. Just simply getting to know this new tiny member of your family. It’s exhausting. I know for me it was hard to get everything together and get baby ready to just get out of the house, without having an appointment time or a deadline.

Imagine if you didn’t have to go through that. If you could just roll out of bed and open the door in your pjs, ready to have a mini studio set up and your baby’s beautiful photos taken. Well you can! That is the service I offer. I don’t care if your hair is a mess, if you have bags under your eyes the size of suitcases and baby sick on your shoulder. I don’t mind if you want to curl up on the sofa and catch up on a little bit of sleep whilst I work my magic with your little one. I’ve been there.

  • You, and baby, are in your own environment

Your baby is very sensitive to new surroundings. Everything is brand new, and a little bit frightening. Home is the one place they should be starting to get used to, and as a result they tend to settle better there.

I know from experience that I wanted to be at home in those early days too. Recovering from giving birth isn’t always like the soaps and the media make out. And a more relaxed mummy makes for a more relaxed baby.

  • Home comforts

Only like one brand of tea? Couldn’t even think of drinking anything but your favourite brand of bottled water? Comfiest in your own special armchair? There are so many benefits to staying at home and letting me come to you.

  • Essentials all to hand

In those early days, especially if you’re a first time parent, its hard to know exactly what you need to take with you when you leave the house. How many nappies? Outfit changes? If you are formula feeding , how many bottles and how much milk? Do I need to bring a dummy/pacifier? What if it falls on the floor? Should I bring a spare just incase?

You don’t need to worry about any of that with a bespoke home newborn shoot. Everything you need will be close at hand, and you don’t have to worry about forgetting anything on the day.

  • No childcare

If you already have children it can be awkward finding childcare for them whilst you bring baby for their shoot. But with a bespoke home newborn shoot you don’t need to worry. Siblings can stay at home with you, they can play with their own toys and nap in their own cot or bed. Siblings are much less likely to disturb the session if they have their own things to keep them occupied and are in their own surroundings.

  • No need to worry about transport or traffic

I know not everyone has a car, or has access to one during the day. A bespoke home newborn shoot means you don’t have to plan and pay for public transport, or worry about walking somewhere in bad weather. No concerns over getting stuck in traffic and arriving late either.

  • Lower costs

Because I have no studio overheads to pay, I am able to keep prices competitive and accessible.

 

With my bespoke home newborn sessions I aim to provide a high level of service whilst allowing you to relax and be comfortable. I bring everything with me that I need, including lighting, props and my posing beanbag. It may look like I’m moving in when I arrive! I clear the space that I need, and put everything back as I found it when I finish. All you have to do is feed and comfort baby if needed!

 

Kelly.x

 

 

Education is key

This week I was lucky enough to attend a newborn training workshop with the wonderful Tracy Willis of Tracy Willis Fine art photography. I have long been an admirer of her work, so I was very excited (and nervous, very nervous) to attend.

Our model was a gorgeous little 3 week old girl, Aria, with the most stunning head of hair. She was a little star.

These are some of my favourite images from the day 🙂

I loved every moment of my training day. In a profession where trends change often, education is most definitely key. It may be a cliche, but you really don’t ever stop learning. I can’t wait to put everything I’ve learned into practise!

Newborn sessions are available, but availability is limited so advance booking is highly recommended.

 

Kelly.x