An Interview With Layla

Welcome to another interview with one of our readers.  Today you will get to meet Layla.  I have to admit I love these interviews.  It is just awesome to get to know these like minded mothers from around the country and the world.  Isn't it amazing how we can touch each others lives through the Internet?  


I love birth stories, so to introduce yourself, give us a brief synopsis of your births and how they affected you.
I'm Layla and I'm a reader from the UK.  I knew even before I got pregnant that I wanted my birth to be as natural as possible, although I wasn't sure I'd be able to manage it.  I took some classes which gave me good information about the pain relief on offer, and enabled me to make informed choices.  I decided to go to hospital for the birth, but hoped to have a drug free, active labour.

Two days after my due date I started having mild contractions.  These continued all day, becoming stronger late that night.  I got up and had a long bath.  A four hour long bath in fact.  The water really soothed me and in the still, quiet house I felt I was preparing my mind for what was to come.  Looking back, it amazes me that I wasn't nervous.  It's true how our bodies take over from our brains during labour if we'll let them.   I woke my husband just before dawn and we spent a day together breathing through contractions.  I was using a TENS machine at this point which I think really helped.

Once in hospital, my contractions spaced out again and I started to panic.  The pain was growing and I began to feel out of control.  Thankfully, a midwife suggested using a birthing pool.  While I was pregnant I had discounted the idea as I thought it would get icky and I wanted to be able to walk about.  By this point I felt I could hardly stand, so I jumped at the chance.  Looking back, I was so scared at that point, I would probably have accepted any pain relief offered.  Thank goodness she had read my birth plan.  Although I hadn't mentioned a birth pool, I had said I wanted to try to keep my labour drug free.

On getting in to the pool, my pain melted away.  The contractions were still painful, but manageable, and in between I could chat with the midwife and my husband.  The lighting was low and the room was warm and comfortable.  I was amazed at how little intervention there was.  I was checked once, but apart from that the only things the midwife did were to check the baby's heart beat and the water temperature.  After 7 hours of active labour and half an hour of pushing the head was crowning.  Despite the advice to push gently to stop myself tearing, I gave an almighty push and my baby, Alice, was born.  I lifted her put of the water and cuddled her, bursting into tears.  It is still such a treasured moment seeing her rush into the world.  I can never forget that image.

We waited until the cord stopped pulsing before cutting the cord.  The placenta was born shortly afterwards without me needing an injection.  I immediately put my baby to my breast and she latched on well, although hiccups kept interrupting her for a while!

What first got you interested in a natural lifestyle or natural birth?
I've always been amazed at the process of pregnancy and birth.  It seemed like the most natural thing and I didn't want that to be interfered with.  Since having my baby, those feelings have intensified and I'm working on living a more sustainable life.

What subject would you say you are most passionate about (circumcision, birth, vaccines, etc) and why?

Probably breastfeeding.  I have been very fortunate that I have had a good experience and my family and most of my friends have been totally supportive.  It really saddens me, however, that some people object to seeing a mother nursing her child in public and makes me even more determined to do it.  I'm planning to allow Alice to self wean, but already at 9 months I have had some comments about her being too big to still be breastfeeding.  I hope, in a very small way, that by discussing the facts about breastfeeding with those around me, and by continuing to feed her in public as long as she wants to, I will be helping to encourage others to give it a try and to stick with it

How do you incorporate your passions into your lifestyle through work or education? (ie doula work, childbirth education, blogging, or just talking to friends.)
I volunteer with a charity that promotes sustainable living.  They've been fantastic about allow me to come along with Alice in tow.  At the moment, I feel like I am absorbing so much new information.  Having a child and the actual process of giving birth has made me view life differently, so I spend as much time as I can researching and reading about ways to live life more naturally.  I'm hoping to set up a local group to discuss natural childbirth and attachment parenting.

What are some of your favorite resources for new mothers? (books, web sites, etc)

Finding the books by Dr Sears has made a big difference to me.  I've also found The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding by Judy Torgus has some fantastic advice and encouragement.  Finally, Three in a Bed - The Benefits of Sleeping With Your Baby by Deborah Jackson gave me the information I needed to answer those who were concerned at our decision to share a bed with Alice.

My pregnancy was tough.  I had hyperemesis until 24 weeks, then shortly after started having fainting fits due to the position of the baby.  I was unable to get up without having someone with me.   It wasn't how I had hoped my pregnancy would go, and I admit that I thought my body wasn't doing what it should be.  As soon as my contractions started, those thoughts melted away and I realised that I was able to have this baby without intervention.  It was hugely empowering.  I felt after the birth that I had changed deeply as a person.  I'd become a mother and I was surprised to find that rather than finding the responsibility scary, it felt like I'd become what I'd always wanted to be. 

What do you see as the biggest challenge/problem in obstetrics today and how do you think it could/should change? How are you trying to bring about change.
My personal experience of birth in hospital was fantastic. Everyone read my birth plan without me asking them to, and they all worked to ensure that we stuck to it.  The after care however was less good.  I encountered lots of outdated views and wasn't allowed to sleep in the same bed as my baby.  I would like to see mothers encouraged to have as much skin to skin contact with their babies as possible after birth and that non urgent checks should come second to that.  I'd also like to see staff who are well trained in supporting breastfeeding.  I talk to anyone who'll listen, and quite a few who won't, about the importance of mother's instinct in childbirth and raising a baby.

Share with us you blog or web site so everybody can get to know you better!