My twins were premmies and we spent almost 4 weeks in Neo back in 2015.

Everyone is unique so I offer these tips not as gospel but as things I found useful or wish I'd known as a NICU mum...

1. Wear layers - NICU is hot!

2. Ear phones - if you want to express ear phones mean you are free to talk on the phone, listen to music etc whilst you double pump in the Neo expressing room.

3. Milk it like a cow - You can buy special pumping bra's so you are hands free (click here for more info). This is something I wish I'd had at the time - yes perhaps it makes you feel more like a cow being milked but for free hands - I'll take it!

4. Breast pumps - You can hire (sometimes with a special hospital discount - ask the ward) double expressing machines. Click here to find out more.

5. Remember to eat & drink! Especially if you're a mum trying to express - eating maybe the last thing on your mind but you need to be nourished to be there for your baby.

6. Call whenever you want - We'd spend 7am to 10pm in the unit - we were luckily able to do this: Tom's work were great and we didn't have any other children to look after. Leaving the unit every evening was horrid. Yes we knew we could call the unit day or night but I'd feel guilty about disturbing the unit, the nurses. But in the middle of the night when you can't sleep and your baby isn't where they should be (by your side), it was lovely to be able to speak to the unit. I wish I'd called more. Don't feel guilty. Pick up the phone!

7. Allow the emotions. I was sad, scared, angry. I grieved the birth I never had, the newborn cuddles I missed out on. I wanted the twins home so desperately but was terrified of leaving NICU. Having a premmie or a baby in NICU comes with an avalanche of emotions. I swallowed them, went into survival mode. Little did I know this would come back to bite me - I wish I'd spoken about how I felt, allowed the emotions, accepted the support of friends, family and professionals. Please get in touch if I can support you. Bliss also offer brilliant support for parents of babies born too soon or sick.

8.  Write a journal. For us so much of the first couple of years were a blur and this started in NICU. We look at photos, with scenes we don't remember. We wrote a daily diary whilst in NICU. Just a few small notes every day. We still have the book and one day I'll share these with the twins - their amazing start in this world. Yes it may not be what I imagined, or would ever have wanted  but it was incredible - they were incredible and, although I may not have thought so at the time, now I want to be able to remember it, to share with them just how amazing they were and are. 

I'm sure there are many more tips from many more parents - if you have any let me know. 80% of NICU parents experience some form of mental health problem as a direct result of having a child in NICU (source: Bliss, 2018) - wouldn't it be great if we could support parents and see this stat lower.

And yes, I do also want world peace! Well I can dream can't I?!

Ok I’m with you, I totally didn’t believe this myself and my c-section probably wasn’t what I would call positive. Yes, I needed to have one (I had something called HELLP syndrome). And yes, my babies were safely delivered –  despite being premmies they both (yep Twins!) came out screaming before being whisked off to neonatal. But positive? No, probably not the word I would use to describe the birth of my twins.

Almost 4 years later and I now know that my experience doesn’t have to be your experience. Ok so maybe you didn’t imagine a c-section but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a positive experience. Here’s a few hints and tips I wish I’d know back then:


There was music playing in theatre, but not my music. And I don’t remember what song was playing when my twins were born.

I had no idea you could have music playing in theatre (obviously situation dependant). So at your next antenatal appointment ask the question and start putting together your positive c-section play list! And there is no right or wrong music play list. If you like Disney, choose Disney; old skool garage – go for it. For me it would have been Jack Johnson – without a doubt puts a smile on my face. Music can make you laugh, smile, cry and fall in love. Why wouldn’t you want that at your babies birth?!


So you’re right you can’t have a scented candle or a reed diffuser in theatre. But how about essential oils on a handkerchief or getting your birth partner to wear the aftershave/perfume you love. Scents can act as an anchor, reminding you of nice memories and can really help to keep you feeling calm in theatre.  

The moment your baby is born

Personally I’m a little squeamish but did you know you can choose to watch your baby being born? Ask for a clear drape and birth partners don’t forget the camera!

Skin to Skin

Unless there is a medical reason why it’s not possible, just because you are in theatre doesn’t mean skin to skin has to go out the window. Ask for IV’s to be placed on your non-dominant hand and monitors on your back, and wear your gown like a shirt, with the opening at the front.

If for any reason you can’t have skin to skin straight away then ask that your birth partner has skin to skin as soon as possible instead. Birth partners – unless you want to take your top off I suggest wearing a shirt that you can unbutton.

Optimal cord clamping

So I was completely ignorant on this one! But did you know that when your baby is born 1/3 of their blood supply is in their umbilical cord. Delayed cord clamping means your baby gets to benefits from all this extra blood. And all being well on the day, you can request delayed cord clamping as part of your abdominal birth plan.

Before & after

Don’t forget about the before and after!

Before theatre keep yourself relaxed and calm. Listen to your favourite music, watch some Netflix (Friends is always a winner for me) and keep the lights low – do whatever makes you feel calm and relaxed. If that’s bringing your favourite teddy (shhhh don’t tell anyone!) then bring your favourite teddy!

And the same goes for afterwards – nice music, low lighting, your own pillow from home and a snuggly dressing gown which smells of your favourite scent. The perfect environment for getting to know your new little one!

These are just a few little hints and tips but hopefully gives you the idea that a c-section or abdominal birth (I prefer this, what about you?) can be positive!!!

Some people know they are having an abdominal birth in advance others don’t but either way, taking some time to research your options and jotting down some abdominal birth preferences can help you navigate your babies birth and have a positive experience whatever happens on the day!

If you want to know more please get in touch, I’m happy to help with any questions you have. I teach The Little Birth Company hypnobirthing full courses, short workshops and pregnancy relaxation classes at The Nesting Place, Chelmsford.

And watch this space for Positive C-Section workshops coming soon!!

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