Stories
Beautiful, positive birth stories to share

Birth Stories

The Birth of Jessica Rose Delahoy

I truly believe that education and preparation is the key to a good birthing experience. We were like sponges, we couldn’t get enough information and would give anything a go to help us prepare for a wonderful birthing experience such as yoga, naturopathy, perineal massage, relaxation/meditation, choosing a trained birth attendant/support person (doula) and my husband and I aren’t remotely the hippie/alternative types. Despite all the negativity (“trust me, go for the epidural”, “Take all the drugs you can get, you’ll need them”) and horror birth stories that people are so keen to share; we persevered.

Looking back our only poor decision was the hospital we chose for the birth.

When I was 30+, weeks the hospital informed me that I would definitely not be able to use their bath which was very disappointing as having a bath available was important for us and I would not have booked the hospital knowing that. The excuses they gave were pretty poor and included the fact that the bath was in a separate room and they were afraid that I may disturb other mothers with “all the noise I would make” and they also occasionally used the room to settle babies in. I thought it was a bathroom not a nursery!

In the end, I questioned the Director of Nursing and the nurse in charge of maternity about using the bath and was given an all out definite no from everyone, so I’ve now ruined it for other labouring women who may have been able to sneak in there in the middle of the night with the OK of a sympathetic midwife.

I began to worry what else the hospital might spring on us at the last minute, they were obviously not as flexible and “open minded” as they had been promoting themselves. Initially when we were booking in to the hospital, nothing was a problem and they would try to meet all our birthing needs (funny I never did get to see the birthing stool I requested during the labour, lost somewhere in a cupboard, risk of vulval bruising I was told and then further requests ignored, I wanted to give it a go, my choice or so I thought).

I discussed with Richard changing hospitals and was promptly told by one of my Dr’s midwives that I wouldn’t have a hope in hell of booking into another hospital. I considered switching to the Hawthorn Birth Centre which is a private birthing centre in Melbourne (which sadly now is closing) but I loved my own Dr and happy with my care and was also afraid of the additional costs of switching so I took it no further.

If only I had listened to my own gut feeling, it wasn’t overwhelming but deep down I knew that the hospital I had chosen was not for me and that I was risking further problems. Next time I will seriously consider a home birth or at the very least a birthing centre.

Anyhow, it all began on Monday the 23rd June 2003. I was four days overdue and I was desperate to avoid a medical induction. I had booked an appointment with the acupuncturist the next day to help induce my labour. In the meantime I had been going through a list of things to try to bring on the labour and resorted to taking some castor oil the night before (the sex didn’t seem to be working but it was keeping my husband happy!!).

Around 2pm that day my braxton hicks contractions began to organize themselves more regularly, every time I had one I would check my watch and it would be roughly on the quarter hour, so I knew something was starting. My waters broke at about 8:30pm that night (I never had a “show”) not a great deal but enough to warrant a change of clothes and a shower. At that time I cried. I was hoping they would break much later on during the labour because I was carrying the group B strep. Bacteria and my Dr had told me he would intervene only 6-8 hours after my waters broke if my labour didn’t progress well. He couldn’t risk the baby being infected by the bacteria present in my vagina and told me that this infection is the number one cause of death in newborns.

My contractions started coming 3-5minutes apart at this stage and I rang my doula to let her know what was happening and we remained in phone contact with her throughout the evening.

We finished getting all our stuff together and packed the car, it seemed like a lot of gear to take with us but everything Lina had suggested might be useful we took.

At around midnight the contractions were around 3 minutes apart and it was time to go but I wasn’t too keen to get in the car.

15 minutes later we were admitted to our birthing suite, we rang our doula to let her know to come in and began to set up our things around the room.

We dimmed the lights, set up the electric oil burner with mandarin, lavender and geranium oils, covered the clock with a sarong so we didn’t have to be reminded of the time, put on a reiki music cd (which pretty much played non-stop), filled our bucket with boiling water for the hot towels, put out our pillows and put the yoga mat in the shower (to kneel on). We had rescue remedy, homeopathic remedy (Caulophyllum), massage oil, wheat pack, wooden massagers, headphones for music, snack food, drinks, torch and mirror, a little bunny hat to focus on and the camera ready to go.

By the time our doula had arrived, we had created a beautifully calm and relaxing environment for baby’s arrival.

We had a support team of three consisting of Richard, my Mum and our doula which we opted for in case my Mum didn’t make it in time from overseas but she did and everyone was kept busy getting hot water, towels, supporting me etc and they could take turns at having a break and I figured the more support the better for me.

We had to have an hour of electronic feotal monitoring to start with to make sure everything was okay which was a standard requirement but I wasn’t happy having to keep still on the bed. I also had a shot of penicillin and an IV line put in for further doses of penicillin. This was to protect the baby from strep. B infection as the penicillin would reach the baby via the placental blood flow.

I laboured well throughout the night, I used the Swiss ball in the shower, the toilet to squat on with the hand held shower on my lower back, squatted whilst supported in the shower and hanging on to the end of the bed, used the mats on the floor and walked around a lot including visiting the babies in the nursery to inspire me.

The shower and hot towels on my buttocks and lower back were the best pain relief. If only the hospital would have let me use their bath.

The midwives at the time were great, they could see that we were under control and were coping well and only came in to check on us occasionally and to do feotal monitoring with a hand held device (a sonicaid). They were non-intrusive and respectful of our birthing plan.

When my Dr came in around 5am I was 7cm dilated.

I had opted for no routine vaginal exams, which was a really good idea as they were pretty painful.

I was becoming increasingly tired and I cried and begged for my support people to let me sleep. Forget the pain relief drugs, all I wanted was a good 12-hour sleep and then I promised I’d be back into it. I managed to cope with the contractions with lots of deep breathing that I practiced prior to birth with Lina’s breathing/relaxation tapes and made plenty of noise to help open and release.

My Dr came back at around 7:30am and I was 9cm dilated, I was ecstatic, we were going so well.

At this time we had a change of midwife and the new nurse was a traditional “medical model midwife” who was disrespectful of our wishes and active birth plan.

If she did read our birth plan as the other midwives had she may have realised that it was not for her and swapped with another nurse. I felt that she wanted to see us fail in our attempts to have a natural birth as she did very little to help encourage us, more so she began to go try to force us to do it her way.

She began by switching on lights, banging and crashing as she checked equipment, telling us to move things out of her way as this was her area to work from (well excuse me!!).

She would stand there with her hands on her hips watching me or timing my contractions and making inappropriate comments, repeatedly calling me a stupid girl for burning my backside with the hot towels (the next day there was not a mark to be seen) and she offered me pain relief even though we clearly stated in our birth plan not to be offered anything, we would ask if we felt it necessary.

I felt threatened and my special space was rapidly being eroded. I wanted her to leave.

My contractions began to slow and decrease in intensity. No one was game to ask her to leave; we didn’t know what we could do or how to get rid of her, my husband told me later that he was so close to telling her to get the F---k out but was afraid that the other midwives would be put off taking over after hearing of this.

My support team began to surround me in a cocoon of support and try to push out this woman’s negativity.

We discussed any possible emotional issues that may be slowing my labour but there was nothing. I pushed myself to cry for the release, we tried every position and everything we could think of (including cuddle time alone with Richard) but nothing was helping. I knew I was in trouble, the tiredness had got to me and the midwife was certainly making things worse. At 11.00am I was still 9 cm dilated, my labour had stalled, I had run out of time and I had little choice but to have a Syntocinon drip (a synthetic form of oxytocin) to start up the contractions again and fully dilate. I knew the Syntocinon would bring the contractions on hard and fast so I asked for gas to help me cope when the contractions kicked in again.

I also had to have more electronic foetal monitoring, I insisted that the midwife do whilst I was upright on the ball but she couldn’t get a good trace and told me I had to get up on the bed and was becoming increasingly impatient with me.

When I got onto the bed on my back she triumphantly said, “ Now that’s better, you shouldn’t be gallivanting around like a filly but lying here like a mare” and more unbelievably she said it twice. She still wasn’t getting a great trace and had to do manual monitoring as well and I was in a great deal of pain lying on my back and trying to keep still.

I changed position as soon as the monitoring was finished, Hallelujah!!.

When my Dr came back I asked him to ask the midwife to leave but he tried to comfort me and said that I was nearly there and to just hang in there with her. I felt no one would listen to me or take my distress about her seriously. I found out later at my six week check-up that he had two other complaints from patients about the same midwife and still he did nothing at the time, I felt betrayed.

I really thought I was more likely to be aggressive and abusive during labour based on my normal personality type but in fact I was so completely the opposite to what I would normally be like. I was very meek and mild and felt very vulnerable and couldn’t bring myself to tell this midwife to leave off, I just put up with her.

Second stage was a bit of a shock, not so much the pain but the intensity and the sensations. I was amazed by the capacity of my body to take over the pushing after the start of each contraction. I was told once that having a baby was like “shitting a football sideways”, I now know this woman was talking about second stage and the baby moving through the birth canal.

I had coped brilliantly with the contractions in first stage but I felt lost in second stage, particularly with my breathing but I suspect this is what loosing control and surrendering to the process of labour means.

I moved to the floor on my knees and Richard sat on a chair with my head on his lap. As the baby began to crown I was so not interested in looking with the mirror, I was totally focused on pushing and breathing. My Dr made it just in time (he only had to run down one set of stairs). He helped protect my perineum as the head emerged using his fingers front and back (God knows how there was enough room for his fingers in there as well).

Another push and at 2pm Jessica Rose arrived safely after 17 hours of established labour, 24 hours all up.

They handed her through between my legs in front of me, I could finally see my beautiful little girl. She was wide eyed and alert, sucking her hands and then began screaming. I couldn’t bring her right up as the cord was short so my Dr waited until it had stopped pulsating and then Richard cut the cord and then I lifted her up to my bare chest in total amazement and shock that we had done it.

I really wanted a natural third stage delivery and my Dr had suggested that I review it at the time depending on how tired I felt as he had only 2 patients in 1500 that had a natural third stage (it would be interesting to know how many of those1500 women knew that they actually had a choice). But I felt fantastic, high on my own endorphins and I wanted to do it on my own. When my Dr checked the placenta was already in the vagina, it had become detached and was right behind the baby due to the short cord, one push and it was out (make that 3 in 1500 now).

I only had a small surface tear on my perineum (all that perineal massage worked!!) and my Dr kindly got down on his knees whilst I lay on the floor and added a stitch. Lucky as they would never have had a chance in hell of getting me back up on that bed.

Everyone then left us alone together, our new family.

Overall, I did have a wonderful birth experience with healthy baby and all up it was very close to my ideal. But I was still angry, primarily with myself and also with my support people and my Dr for not doing something to stop this midwife from tarnishing the most special time in my life.

For weeks I would replay the labour again and again in my head and I had trouble sleeping, especially during the day so I became increasingly exhausted.

I found a post labour debriefing session with my doula (who is also a trained counsellor) very valuable in acknowledging my feelings and helping deal with these issues.

I have also recently written a letter to the hospital (although it’s taken nearly four months to feel in the right frame of mind to do so) outlining what happened, not complaining outright but positive suggestions for protocol that could be put into place to prevent this happening to other women in their hospital and to ensure that women and their support people understand what they can do if a similar situation should arise, although you would hope that there’s not too many horrible midwives still out there.

Writing our birth story has been very healing for me and has helped in the completion of issues surrounding the birth and I hope our experience may in some way help other women.

In the meantime, we will continue to rave about independant workshops to others and encourage education not ignorance about choices in birthing and how fulfilling natural, drug free birthing can be and YES YOU CAN DO IT!!


The Birth of Indigo Elm

Lael Stone

Indi’s birth unfolded, mainly due to the trauma I had journeyed with her brother’s birth. Experience and naivety lead you in many directions and I will firstly say that I am so very happy that I had the traumatic birth I did with Ky. Because without it, I would never would have discovered the beauty of homebirth and all that it holds.

Ky’s birth, 3 years earlier was a highly interventionist hospital birth, that eft me very traumatized and scared from the experience. Second time around I knew it had to be different. So after many discussions and meeting just the right people at the right time, we decided to have a home birth. When I first met my home birth doctor, Peter, I couldn’t believe how warm, nurturing and caring her was. He spent nearly an hour with us, discussing Kys birth and talked about our hopes and wishes for this next baby. When I met Jenny, our midwife, I instantly fell in love. Two beautiful care providers that were committed to natural, empowering birth and wanted for us what we hoped for.

The pregnancy was amazing. I felt strong and agile; I had acupuncture weekly and felt so positive about the up coming birth. I was still very naïve as to what natural birth involved, but I asked two of my friends to be present, to be my guide. Both of them had birthed naturally with all their children and represented to me what I wanted to achieve. My mum was to be there to look after Ky and I had also asked my acupuncturist to come and put needles in if I needed them.

AS the weeks drew closer to my due date I started to experience a never-ending pre labour. It began around 38 weeks and each night I would have contractions as the sun went down. They would last for a few hours or so and eventually I would get tired and go to bed. I would fall asleep and wake up in the morning to nothing going on at all. Sometimes they were really strong and others time very mild. We had quite a few false starts where I would assure my husband this was the real deal, only for it to stop. It was a great exercise in patience and trust and knowing that nothing was wrong. It was just my body preparing itself.

Eventually, around 12 days past my due date, I woke up around 6am to strong contractions. As I got up out of bed I felt a trickle of water come from me. It was like I was weeing, but I couldn’t stop it. The contractions felt stronger and more consistent and I knew that this time it really was the real deal.
I called my midwife and she said she would come on over and check me out and I rang my mum who was in the country to drive down to be with Ky.

This real labour was very different to the pre labour. The contractions at this stage were quite mild, but were very consistently every 5 minutes. Throughout the morning my birth team arrived, and there was a bit of a theory, that with all my pre labour and being a second baby that it would happen pretty fast. Well – I think that theory was a bit off the mark. Slow, seems to be the pace for me!!!

As my team filled up the birth pool and as my doctor arrived for a cup of tea and see how I was going, we began to discover that the birth pool was flooding. My husband had turned off the taps, but my mum thought he hadn’t and well the result was a flood in the lounge room of now very cold water. I stood in the door way with Peter, having mild contractions and laughing that you just cant get good birth help these days!! They then had to drain all the water out and start to refill it. Our plants got a good soaking that day!

Peter left with a promise to come back later and I decided to go out into the back yard for some air. It was the middle of winter, but a divine sunny day, so I was rugged up and stood in the sunshine. I remember leaning over my husband with the sun on my face, feeling calm and relaxed and excited.

We went back in side as the contractions started to pick up and the next few hours seemed to be a blur. I leant over a bean bag for what felt like hours, each time I would have a contraction I would have to be upright on my knees. The contractions stayed at 5 minutes apart, but started to get stronger in their intensity. Jenny my midwife was there, my mum, and my two beautiful friends, Kari and Rachel.

The day seemed to pass in a haze (thanks oxytocin ), but I remember pivotal moments that added to this amazing journey. I asked if my son could leave, because I was finding him very distracting. My mum took him to my mother in laws and I was quite concerned for a while that he was all right. After much re assuring I went back to concentrate on me.

At one point I was standing up against the birth pool and I felt so overwhelmed with a wave of emotion. I called for my mum, who stood beside me and I held her hand and couldn’t stop blubbering, “ You’re my mother, and I’m your daughter and I’m having a daughter and I’m her mother and you’re my mother” and my mother and I held each other as we cried and cried. I was so struck with the generational legacy that was being passed. I felt incredibly connected in that moment to where I had come from and where I was going. The women in my family continuing on.

I must add at this point that I really do believe in the saying that you birth how you live. I am a very emotional person that feels things deeply and often has to process everything emotionally before I can move on. So my births are very much the same. There is a lot of emotion that comes out in me in birth and a great deal of the time I was in tears. Happy tears and painful tears and tears of joy and elation. It was beautiful being surrounded by a team that was so accepting of my process.

As it started to get towards night time, I remember my birth team in the kitchen eating and me feeling like I was getting nowhere. The contractions were still 5 minutes apart and very strong and I was getting incredibly tired.
At one point Jenny (my midwife) came in to the lounge room where I was and closed the blinds. I thought this was a rather strange thing to do and then I realized why. All of a sudden out of nowhere I heard these angels singing. For a minute I thought I had died and I actually looked up to the roof and all around me. My whole birth team looked back at me, with beaming smiles. It took me a minute to twig and then I realized what was going on. My dear friend who lived across the road and who had a baby 5 weeks earlier was part of a gospel choir. I was blessed enough to have been at her birth and she was very aware of me being in labour. That night the gospel choir was rehearsing at her house.

They came and stood in my back room and sang me a birthing song. The sound was unlike anything I have ever heard. Of course, tears rolled down my face as they sang and the contractions kept coming. It truly was one of the most magnificent experiences. I think every labouring woman should have a gospel choir sing to them!

After the choir left I started to vomit, a good sign that things were moving. We also made the decision to call my acupuncturist to come and put in needles to try and speed up the contractions and help a bit with pain relief. I got in the birth pool. What divine relief that was and continued to contract. As the hours went on, I slipped more and more into an endorphined state. Feeling very sleepy and relaxed but each time a contraction hit, I would tense my whole body and resist it. I couldn’t let go and allow, but instead tightened my whole body. It is here that I started to hit my crisis of confidence. My head was going crazy with lots of self-talk. “ I can’t do this anymore, I just want a break. I am so tired “. I could barely speak in my endorphined state, but I kept looking at my birth team, just wishing I can change places with them.

By this time I had some acupuncture needles in and I was really off in labour land.

Jenny suggested I get out of the pool and my dear friend Kari, took me by the hand and said we are going to walk. In my dressing gown and slippers she made me walk around my backyard. Around and around we walked, not stopping for a contraction. I was complaining and moaning and more tears. Bless her heart, she kept me walking, no matter how much I complained. I hated her at that moment for making me do that, but it was what was needed.

My birth team was so strong and so amazing. Mike, my husband was often doing jobs, but so much of the time I wanted him near by. I remember quite often just needing to feel his body next to me and call on his strength. He was so solid in his support and belief.
As more time passed and we are getting closer to midnight, Peter returned to see how I am going. Around this time I really want to give up. Jenny suggests an internal examination to see what is happening. Of course throughout the day, Jennie regularly checks babies heart rate, and she is always completely happy in there.

I have an internal and I am around 6 – 7cms dilated. My waters are still intact so we decide to break them. As Peter does it I feel this great release. I will never forget as I had that internal, Jenny sat beside me, holding my hand so tenderly, reminding me to breath. So different from my first experience in hospital. Peter was so gentle and respectful. When my waters were broken, I was worried if there was meconium. My son had meconium in his waters and we had many issues with that, but my waters this time were all clear.

Mike and I were left alone for a while to talk. I wanted to go to hospital. My beautiful husband kept saying to me “ are you sure – I know you, if you give in, you will be disappointed afterwards “ At that point I didn’t care, I wanted out and the only way I thought that would happen was to get drugs.

As we were talking I had an almighty contraction. It was so strong, I stood up and howled. It was a double contraction and so powerful.
We told the team, we want to go to hospital. I didn’t even have a bag packed, so my team is running around, trying to find things to put in to it to take to hospital. As I am waiting in the hallway, Peter says to me jokingly, ‘ We will just drive behind you, sometimes these babies make their entrance in the car” I laugh and say, “ I wish! “

I tell everyone I have to go to the toilet before we go and my husband comes with me. I try to sit on the toilet and I am all agitated and just keep saying “ I don’t know how to poo”

Mike calls Jennie and she comes running down the hallway, takes one look at me and puts her hand between my legs and says “ that’s you babies head”

I say “ I can’t move, I’m having the baby on the toilet “

“ No your not “ she says and literally drags me out of the toilet and into the lounge where the birth pool is. I quickly try and rip my clothes off before the next contraction hits, so I can get in the water.

Jennie yells to Peter, “ Quick Pete, get the equipment “ which has since been packed up and put back in the car when we decided to go to hospital.

I remember her laughing that she’s never seen Peter move so quickly.
The energy in the room, started to tingle, there were excited claps from my friends and a surge of adrenalin through the room.

My body stared to push and I went with it. The feeling was very intense, and I couldn’t quite believe she was coming. 5 minutes ago I was going to hospital.

With the next push, Peter held his hand on my perineum and Jennie gently felt her head come out. Mike was behind me, holding me in the water.

Out came her head and I touched it and said to Jenny “ what do I do?”
She said, “ Are you having a contraction? “
“ I don’t know I said “
There was laughter and she told me to just pant and wait. The cord was wrapped around her neck 3 times and I wasn’t even aware till later that that was the case. Jennie so gently unwound it, without any fuss.

“ Do you want to catch you baby? “ Jennie asked me. I was leaning back on Mike so I couldn’t hold myself to catch her and Mike wanted to, but I couldn’t let him move. I told Mike to stay behind me; I needed his strength and holding.

On the next contraction Indigo Elm, slipped in to Jennie’s hands and then she placed my daughter into my arms. 1.07am.

I looked around in shock and asked Jenny if she was ok. She was covered in vernix and looked like a little white elf. Jenny assured me she was just fine as she became pink and vocal and I sat there in an exhausted, shocked, blissful state. I did it – I gave birth at home, in the water, just like I wanted to.

Indi had her first feed in the water and we delivered her placenta in the water about 2o minutes later. We floated her placenta in a bowl next to her and placed flowers on it. Mike cut the cord and eventually I needed to get out of the water.
I was incredibly exhausted and a little dehydrated, so cups of tea and toast were very welcomed. We climbed into our bed and Jenny checked over little Indi. She asked Peter “ What weight do you think Pete?” In his wise voice he said, “ oh I think about 6pounds 14 ounces. “

Jennie weighs Indi and looks at Pete and says, “ You are unbelievable! 6’ 14.”

Even though it was the middle of the night we were all completely buzzed. My mother in law arrived about an hour later. She was very fearful about a homebirth, so when she saw her granddaughter she burst into tears. She stayed for a quick cuddle and then about 4 hours later returned with our son Ky. Meeting his little sister was a blessed moment.

Indi’s birth completely changed my life. It made me realize my strength, power, determination and courage. Her birth so profoundly healed me and I will always be grateful to my beautiful daughter.


The Birth of Miss Muppett

Pip

My obstetrician metaphorically slapped my face and told me to stop stressing about the birth, that's one day of my life compared to 18 more years of parenting I'll have to wrap my head around. Rightly so, I thought, however I still had to get through that day, and probably night, of something that really was one of my greatest fears in this lifetime. Horror story after horror story rushed excitedly out of nearly every female friend, relative, acquaintance and colleague's mouth. It was almost like they delighted in telling me it was going to be the worst pain on earth but worth it, or no matter how much I prepared NOTHING will prepare you, or whatever you read triple the intensity of it and times it by a million. The logical part of my brain told myself that women have gone back again and again as they grow their beautiful families. Why would they put themselves through that, no matter how beautiful their little ones were, if it was such a heart-stoppingly horrific experience? Surely our bodies are built to deliver babies so why should I be afraid?

Nevertheless. I approached this challenge in my life like I approach every challenge. I researched. I was like a passionate scientist following a lead to a cure. I borrowed library DVD's on birth, I read Up the Duff, Baby Love, What to Expect When You're Expecting. I You Tubed every birth clip I could find. I watched it again and again. I absorbed myself in the world of birth. I thought well even if it will be the most hair-raising experience of my life, at least I'll be familiar with it. Despite reading, watching, listening and talking about every birth experience I could find my number one most valuable thing I did in the lead up to meeting my little girl was attend a Calm Birth workshop.

I admitted it was one of my greatest fears and this level of psychological fear needed something more than a charming story of quickly squeezing out a little one in record time with just a bit of pain. I knew I needed to tackle my fear at a deeper level. So I researched calm birth, otherwise known as hypno-birthing in the US, and asked a few friends who'd followed this path, who they'd consulted and I decided on Lael from About Birth . She sounded resassuringly calm, warm and positive over the phone, all qualities I craved when looking for support at this time. The course ran over two weekends for one day each weekend. Husbands were encouraged to attend as well, as they too learnt about this journey that, I had to keep reminding myself, we were both about to embark on. As it really does seem that given the woman has to spend nine months carrying the baby, the woman has to go through the entire birth herself, then the woman has to learn breastfeeding, give up her career and apply herself to this important role, that it's a bit of a lopsided experience. The man really does appear to be more a spectator of this performance as it rolls along gathers momentum and crescendos in the incredible birth day.

So with great trepidation we both gingerly walked in the door of this workshop expecting earthy, hippy types who told us that it's a natural thing to go through, the body knows what to do and that we'd sing kum ba yah my lord in a circle. How wrong were we?! As we slowly opened up and confessed our fears, excitement and emotions about this incredible time in our lives, we met many like-minded couples in exactly the same situation as us. The leaders of the workshop, Jules and Lael, were as honest as nannas and talked us through each of their own personal birth journeys so we completely understood what they brought to the course personally, not just from a teaching perspective. Their journeys had been extremely varied in all of the birth stories they'd had between then and I have to admit not altogether pleasant. I thought to myself, but they are the teachers, they should have sunny, happy, bouncy birth stories to share with us so we are not afraid. Then once the second day came to an end I realised it's not all about the sweetness and light of birth and covering up the scary, horrible and messy side of it. It's about preparing and dealing with the experience and whatever path your birth experience takes you on. It's about being ready to switch track, jump on a different train or change platforms once you know which station you need to get off at. Oh you're baby is breach - you're getting out at C-section Central then!, oh you're going to be induced - just be careful you may end up at C-section Central but hopefully you can change at Epidural Junction and arrive at Mummy Street in one piece.

Needless to say I walked out of that course a changed person. I was calm. I allowed myself to get excited and I no longer begrudged the fact that hubby would be standing by my side awaiting the little face that I was so painfully producing.

I studied the Calm Birth material like I was preparing for an exam. I vacuumed up all the birth stories in their literature and a few months before the due date I religiously played their CD's on my iPhone in bed every night as we went to sleep. I'm sure my husband was ready to deliver a baby himself after two whole months of the extremely relaxing, meditative voice repeating the philosophies each evening to us lulling us into a calm sleep.

So as D-day approached I was mindful that my expectations were more about what colour eyes she would have, who would she look more like and what type of personality would erupt from her rather than what experience I would have.

It was at the start of my 39th week that I started to feel a little uncomfortable. I'd had some pelvic instability during my pregnancy but really nothing to complain about. I simply stopped walking long distances and stuck to spin classes on a bike careful not to spike my heart rate. I also looked forward to the aqua aerobics I did with many fellow pregnant mates where we bounced on the water like a collection of inflatable beach balls. So I actually got quite used to not being able to see my feet. Stroking her little bottom, back or head as I lay on my side in bed of a night and feeling her constant hiccups as my belly bumped up and down in tune to her beat.

The night of the most dreadful mini-series I'd ever watched, Wills and Kate, in the lead-up to the Royal Wedding I started to get some pangs. I'd been very aware that I'd never had these braxton hicks everyone spoke about and I thought FINALLY, two days before my first due date (as I'd had two due dates given to me based on the first one from the end of my period and the other one when they scanned her and gave me a later date based on her size). So in my weekly phone call to mum I said I was finally getting some pains and that it meant that she's not too far off from meeting us! As I sat through this series I wondered if in fact the pains were groans from my little lass who already had such great taste as to realise that this program was absolutely terrible. As the mini-series progressed I realised that these 'braxton hicks' were a minute apart - crazy I thought, as I compared them to period pain, I didn't realise these were supposed to be painful! So I endured them for a few hours wondering when they would subside and I could get to bed. They didn't subside. In fact they started to get stronger. I began to google what braxton hicks felt like just to make sure it wasn't something else. It couldn't be labour I thought to myself a) I haven't had any braxton hicks or warning that she may be coming and b) they are a minute apart and I thought you generally started off with quite a while between contractions.

Well it turned out I was in pre-labour. Pale-faced, I hung up the phone to the hospital that I'd called, and explained the situation to my husband. Well then, he said, off to bed! As we both knew that as soon as labour started it was important to conserve energy as it's a long road to the final birth and the more rested the body the more energy you have to focus on the task. I'd also hired a TENS machine with the decision to take along my bag of tricks and try each magical little item to see which one produced the rabbit. So into bed we both went equipped with towel and the TENS machine. I lay on my side and breathed through each contraction attempting to sleep between each one, but as anyone in labour knows there's really no chance of sleeping as it seems like only minutes before the next one comes along. As the pain escalated I knew it was time to put on the machine in order to be prepared for the most painful ones. So my husband quickly taped the electrodes to my back and as I breathed through each contraction and escaped into my visual peaceful place thanks to calm birth I began my birth process. I was actually suprisingly calm. I was calm when I started to throw up after every third contraction as it started to get pretty painful and I think it was my body's way of coping with the pain and also to purge itself ready for birth. I also found I was frequently needing to go to the loo, which surprised me as I'd hardly had anything to eat, so I imagine it was also my clever body's way of focusing on the task and getting rid of everything else in me besides the baby. I started shivering between contractions as well which I vaguely remember reading was quite normal.

After about six hours I went to the loo for what seemed the twentieth time and I got the show, so I knew labour was close. I was however horrified at the amount of blood I also lost. Despite lots of movement in the contractions leading up to the show I was feeling my belly and she was still. So quiet it unnerved me. Worst case scenario Pip thought, oh my god. I've lost her. All that blood. So silent in my belly. I need to get to the hospital NOW! So despite doing as much as the labour at home as I could bear we grabbed the bags, which if I'm honest were only half packed as every first pregnancy is late isn't it?! and we waddled/rushed to the car. Of course for the first time ever there was a massive semi trailer loading the Spiegeltent outside the Arts Centre blocking the entire service lane we were hurtling down on the way to the hospital! Well, I've never seen my husband reverse quite so expertly or spine-tinglely fast up Flinders Street and suddenly I found we'd moved into the central lanes that were accessible to through traffic.

In my head I was frantically trying to remember all the tear-producing birth loss stories I'd read on Twitter and through all the mummy blogs I'd consumed in the preceding months. I honestly thought I'd lost my little girl as my belly was motionless. My contractions were still strong so I still knew my birth was progressing but I still couldn't get over the blood loss. I was calm but sad.

Once I burst through the hospital doors I positively jumped onto the bed and wrenched the monitors onto my tummy myself in an effort to hear her heart beat and check out this valuable little person to see if she was still in there. Calm efficiency enveloped me and the experts took over. Young midwives fluttered around me like pretty butterflies and patted my forehead, plugged in equipment and set about establishing what on earth was happening in my tummy.

'There's the heartbeat', one announced. 'She's just fine', the other said. Phew, I let out a sigh that I felt I was holding ever since I'd got off the toilet, along with another intense contraction. Then with all that weight of worry off my mind I felt I could endure labour another few hours. That's exactly what I did, I breathed, relaxed and visualised what she would look like, thought about how strong my body was and imagined how incredible it would feel to hold her in my arms. 'Now don't push please' said one midwife when she said that my cervix was still partially covered and I would tear if I pushed. I felt like the 'don't push' instruction was like the 'please don't vomit' request when you're in a car - not bloody likely. So trying not to push, even though my baby felt like one of those bulls waiting to be released at Pamplona, I lay on my side and went back to breathing. Finally my obstetrician arrived and I breathed my second massive sigh for the labour and she said 'right! you can push', so I flipped on to my back and pushed - her head came out immediately! - and they yelled, 'wait! we haven't got the blanket ready!'. I was thinking well don't tell me to push if you're not ready to catch her please. So I held on. Then when I was told I could push again I did. Although it was one of the weirdest feelings I think I will ever have and during the pushing I was actually thinking to myself I honestly can't believe I'm giving birth to a little human being, I didn't find it too alarming, scary or horrific - just amazing. I was truly amazed. So three pushes with a few breaths in between as she gradually made her way down the canal and she was out. In all her screaming, red, glorious beauty, my precious little girl had calmly and safely made her debut into our world.

She crawled up my tummy, sniffed out my nipple and started sucking. I'm sure nothing was coming out but just the motion itself was a relief to me. Relief to see her do what instinctively she knew what to do, and relief that this motion in itself was probably giving me a good chance to hopefully start breastfeeding. Relief that she was safe, relief that she was feeding, relief that she had arrived in the world, breathing, hungry and knowing she was in my protective arms.

That's the end of my first birth journey. Not horrific, quite calm and definitely the most incredible journey I think I will go on in my life. No doubt if I'm to go through it again it won't be the same, I'm sure it will be just as scary/exciting, and possibly just as planned and unplanned in some sections. I do admit though that I knew every journey is unique and as much as you try to plan, control and study up on the outcome, nothing can prepare you for this grand finale, but it can make your approach to it a heck of a lot calmer, and for that Calm Birth, I thank you with every grateful bone in my body.

www.bubsweatandtears.com


The Birth of Jack

Luci Pyman

Being in my body, was something quite new to me and something that is integral to a gentle birth. Being confident in my mind and body was what gave me the strength and knowing that I would birth how I wanted to and not how the medical profession thought I should.

I wrote a birth plan and read through it a couple of times a week to remind me of what I wanted. I only listened to and read about positive birth stories and meditated and visualized positive outcomes.

I went to Hypnobirthing classes with Nick where I was taught to put myself into a meditative state and given visualizations exercises along with some tips to alleviate pain. I practiced these in the third trimester 3 – 4 times a week then in the last month I did it every day until it became second nature to me.

At midnight on the 10th January 2007 I felt the first pangs of a contraction. I couldn’t get to sleep that night so I was just lying there thinking. I got up and wandered around, excited to be meeting my baby soon. I got into the bath for a couple of hours and did some sudoku and practiced my breathing and actually enjoyed those first surges and counting the minutes in between. They ranged from 7 – to 15 minutes apart. I knew I should try and get some rest, but I was to excited.

I woke Lael at 6am with a hushed phone call. She told me she was excited as well but I should really go to bed. I woke Nick and told him I was in labour. I put my hypno CD on and lay down. He got up and turned into action Dad, tidied the house and bought way too much food. I rang my sister Alice to tell her I thought that this was really labour but I’d call her later.

I rand my friend Nene To tell her I couldn’t catch up with her as I was in labour only to be told that she was as well. We wishes each other well and I sat on the couch and counted the minutes between my contractions.

At 12pm I rang Al. I was uncomfortable and citing moans I couldn’t suppress. She arrived as I was bent over the couch; I asked her if my bum looked big in this position. She replied “yes, but so does your stomach” We laughed as we always do and I asked her to make some sandwiches to take to the hospital.

Nick called Lael at about 1pm, we had spoken to her throughout the morning but now the surges were 7 minutes apart. When she arrived I felt an overwhelming desire to cry. My beautiful friend was here making me feel safe, my gorgeous husband was running around making sure everything was ready for our baby, my loving and supportive sister who hadn’t gone to work were all here for me and my baby. I curled up on our bed, Al spooning me and Lael stroking my hair and Nick at the foot of our bed while I cried a deep primal sense of loss that our mum was not here in body to witness the birth of her 2nd Grandchild. I cried for my loss, my hurt, my pain, I cried for my child who would never meet their maternal grandmother. I cried for my dad and my brother who had a baby 9 months before me and I cried for me. I was angry because my tears kept being interrupted by labour pangs and I was angry because I thought I had processed this grief beforehand.

Lael called the midwife at around 3pm, the surges were now between 3 – 5 minutes apart and she thought it might be time. I got on the phone but my moans were not “ ready” enough for her practiced ear. Lael got me off the bed and walking around the front garden. It was hot, 36 degrees and I lumbered around under the eucalyptus trees and lent on Als shoulders as I became overwhelmed by the surges. At around 4pm I could no longer hold a conversation, I was tuned completely inward and focused on the process they were 2-3 minutes apart and the thought of getting into the car was causing me some amount of stress.

I couldn’t sit down, so spent the trip leaning over the backseat into the boot, listening to my cds. It was incredibly uncomfortable and I found it very difficult to attune myself to the motions of the car. The outside world was intruding on my inner sanctum and I craved the solace of our house and its own sanctuary.

I am a big believer that we choose our own time to be born. We know when the planets are aligned and they will dictate some of our future. I also believe that if I had stayed at home I would have birthed Jack a lot sooner. By the time we reached the birth centre my contractions had gone from 2 minutes apart back to 5 minutes. The drive and the walk from the front door with its bright lights and hospital smells bought me into a reality I didn’t feel attuned to. I was focused on my inner world and me and all of a sudden I had to contend with people I didn’t know mulling around hallways and the emergency waiting room. By the time I had waddled my way to the birth centre I was in mid contraction bent over a chair in front of a bewildered family of four.

I lay on the bed on my side while Lael and Al set up my birth alter. I got in the shower over an exercise ball and labored there as they all took turns massaging my back. Nick coaxed me back into my meditative state with what we had learned during our hypno classes. I was incredibly reliant on Nick during the labour and found if he left the room the pain I was feeling would increase.

At one stage he was repeating the mantra “ NO pain, just pressure “. I had to ask him to stop using the word pain as I was focusing on it and feeling it as a result. He changed it to “ Just pressure “ and I was able to visualize my body dissolving. I became a part of the room and allowed the pain to wash through all of my atoms and particles and filter out to the rest of the world. I was apart of the “whole” I felt the pain but I could master it because I had the aid of the earth mother, the divine mother and my own mother and my own self. I was also incredibly supported by the people in the birthing room, Nick, Alice and Lael who all loved me and wanted the best for me, who were all working to encourage me and each other enfolding me with love and trust.

We all trundled into the birthing bathroom. I was on all 4s in the bath with bright orange kneepads on from Bunning’s with Al in her pants rolled up to mid thigh, massaging my back.

I sat between Nick’s legs as he supported me under my arms. I was having trouble keeping my meditative state as I had a sharp pain in my abdomen. I thought I needed to push but when I did the pain was unbearable. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was heading into transition. I started thinking I couldn't go on for much longer. I leant over the side and whimpered to Alice as I clung to the tap that “ I didn’t like it, I don’t want to do it, I can’t do it for much longer”. I then whispered to Lael that “ I need to surrender more, don’t I ?” She agreed. I couldn’t understand how that was possible and I was miserable. In my head I am thinking its all to hard, what was I thinking that I could do this drug free. I got out of the bath and the minute I set 2 feet on the ground my waters broke exploded onto the floor and all over Lael and Alice. We had thought up until then that this sort of water breaking, excessive and prolific was reserved for the movies. The relief was immeasurable.

We stumbled out of the bathroom and into the hallway. I was completely unaware that I was naked and in no way embarrassed by this. I remember complaining to Lael that I didn’t have anything comfortable and attractive to do my labour in. She tried to explain to me that my outfit would be the last thing I would worry about – she was right. I was nude most of the time with my bum in their faces.

I had a sense now of what I had to do and I needed to focus again. I lay on my side and did my breathing and managed to sleep between contractions. (Apparently I was snoring) I intuitively knew at this point that I was readying my body for the next phase. I got down on the floor and leant over the bed and felt a sensation in my body to push. I remember making primeval, animalistic noises as I tried to push down and get my baby out. Thank god for the kneepads. I strained and pushed during each contraction and felt like I was pushing against a brick wall, nothing was happening, nothing was moving; the number 9 kept going through my mind. I knew this to be the number of beginnings and endings but I didn’t know why it kept appearing.

In my head I know I had to surrender myself to this process but it was so uncomfortable and confronting. I screamed out in my head that I was surrendering. I called upon Quan Yin and Mary Magdalene, weren’t they the goddesses who presided over laboring women. I called upon my own mother and the mothers that have gone before me. I called upon that part of myself that had lain dormant in this lifetime.

“ I surrender”, I shouted aloud. I surrender myself totally to the sacred part of me that is bound to this earth and so amazingly intertwined with creation. I let myself go and felt a part of my old self die. In that moment I left behind the anger and my grief of my earlier life, the pain, and suffering I thought I had to endure, the misconception that I wasn’t good enough to achieve something That I had worked towards. In that moment I died and was reborn, transformed into a mother, in full control of what she had to do, sure of herself and her body, completely empowered.

I pulled all the energy from my crown and propelled it into my womb, commanded my baby to connect with the energy shaft, because it was time to be born. A few moments later I felt my body physically open and with the next contraction I was able to birth a head. I heard muted voices tell me to stop pushing, as the midwife was not in the room with us. Lael held our babies head as I breathed through the next contraction thinking I will tell my husband to stop pushing next time he was on the toilet.

My sister recalls 2 very alert eyes, open and looking around the room as we all waited for the next contraction. And there it was, a beautiful baby boy slithering out of me, perfectly pink with a rounded head. Eyes wide open and no crying whatsoever, curiously observing.
I was shaking with emotion and adrenalin, I had done it, we had done it, we had the perfect labour, the perfect birth, the perfect baby. I had achieved a gentle birth without intervention…….. So why was I feeling so numb. Why wasn’t I euphoric? Where was the natural high? Wasn’t this the moment to be celebrating? I felt only relief that the pain had subsided and that my baby was ok.

Two hours later all our families came in to meet Jack. I had laboured all up for 21 hours but officially it was 8 and a half hours from when the contractions were 5 minutes apart. I was overwhelmed by their presence and spent most of the time being stitched up with Lael and Al in the room with me. Nick was outside with everyone else showing off our son.

It took me a couple of days to discover what it was that I was feeling but a full couple of weeks to voice to Lael what was going on for me. Never before had I worked so hard for something without the aid of a glass of wine or 3 or cigarettes. Never before had I gone to such lengths to achieve something I had researched and learnt. I had delved into my psyche and revealed several confronting issues. I had died in a sense and surrender myself so completely I had lost control.

Looking back on it now, I realize that Jack has granted me a priceless gift. I have been initiated into the world of motherhood and had the rare opportunity of being pushed to the very core of my being. Birthing Jack has profoundly changed my view of myself and that of all mothers. I feel an instant connection with anyone who has labored, no matter how they choose to do it.

I will always be indebted to my beautiful friend Lael who mentored me through my intuition, my loving husband and sister who allowed me to become a loving, compassionate and empowered Mum.


The Birth of Mira

Elise

Mira’s Birth Story

29th July 2010

My due date given by Jennie our midwife had arrived. It was the last of our 4 due dates. 23/7 was from the ultra sound, 24/7 from conception, 26/7 according to the doctors. I still didn’t even feel close to giving birth so I went down the street and got my hair cut. The hairdresser freaked out it bit cause he thought I might go in to labour in his salon…… Needless to say I didn’t.

We went to bed that night with no expectations and I woke up with strong period pains at about 2am. I decided that pre-labour had begun and was a bit worried because the period pains were bad and I knew how much worse they could get. That sensation only lasted a little while before mild contractions began and they felt quite different.

I went straight in to the calm birth breathing during contractions and slept on and off all night. In the morning we called Jennie and she told us to have a nice day. She didn’t seem quite as rushed as we did ….. How did she know?? So Matt rushed off to uni to finalize his work and the contractions completely stopped. They started again a few hours after he came home at around 2pm. I was able to breath through each one and time them all on the contraction timer. They weren’t regular at all until around 5 or 6 pm. We called Mum and she came over to help. The contractions had reached every three minutes with about 1 to 2 minutes in between. I started vomiting and the mucus plug was coming out every time I went to the toilet. There was so much of it I couldn’t believe it and every time I went to the toilet so much more would come again.

Jennie arrived at around 9pm to find me sitting backwards on a chair in the kitchen. The only time I would move was to vomit or go to the toilet. Matt & Mum were reminding me to breathe & relax in between each contraction. They were all very intense but I was fine in between them. Jennie gave me an injection to help with the vomiting and suggested we do an internal to see where I was up to. I didn’t think it was necessary at all as I was well on the way and I really didn’t want to move. J was very patient and eventually the next time I went to the toilet I moved to the lounge and lay down for the internal. It didn’t hurt at all and when she was done she very kindly told Matt and I that my cervix had thinned nicely.

That sounded like the start of something I didn’t want to hear. She went on to say that I was 2 cm dilated and not actually in labour yet and that I should try to eat and SLEEP. I couldn’t believe it. Total shock. I tried to eat but found it impossible and had some headache pills which I soon vomited up anyway. I managed at about midnight to go to sleep. Jennie & Mum went home. Matt was still on a high so went around doing a few things and cleaning up the house. When he finally decided to sleep at 2am I woke up. This time in labour! Now the contractions were 100 times more intense and I could feel my cervix starting to open.

I couldn’t do it alone anymore. Matt became an angel reminding me to breathe and relax for every single breath. Mum came over a little later and did the same when Matt was doing something else. Matt’s energy was strong and kept me going, Mum’s was soft and relaxing. Both so different and so wonderful to have both of them there.

I got back on my favourite chair and again didn’t move except to go the toilet. It was just about being in the moment, relaxing and breathing. At one stage I thought I might like to go to the hospital for drugs but Matt said no.

I begged for Jennie to be called and she arrived around 5 am. Everything was in full swing and we had our rhythm going. I was hoping she wouldn’t suggest another internal as I was terrified I was only 4 cm dilated or something like that. She didn’t but eventually began to ask me if I could feel the sensation in my front or my bum. Bit by bit I could feel it more and more in my bum.

J asked if I’d like to go in the birth pool. I said no as I was hot and didn’t want to be hotter. She asked Matt to prepare it anyway. By 7 am I reluctantly got in. And what bliss it was. And then Matt started kissing me and telling me how wonderful I was and how much he loved me. Complete and utter bliss.

J called Peter Lucas. This made me really happy as I knew he wouldn’t be called unless we were near the end. Everything slowed down and I moved into the second stage of labour. With each contraction I began the calmbirth feather breathing. Nothing much happened so eventually J told me to hold my breath and push as hard as I could. The baby’s head moved down. J told me to put my hand to my vagina to feel. I remembered Larn telling me about Chloe and how she was shocked at how hard her head was. I could only feel something soft and bubbly. My first thought was that the babys head was somehow mangled….. As it turned out my amniotic sac hadn’t ruptured yet so I could feel her head only beneath that.

We went on for about an hour and a half gradually gradually I could feel the head more and more. Matt sat behind me holding me up while I squatted for most of the time. Peter started taking photo’s and video’s for us. Everything was going smoothly so he didn’t need to do anything else. After one contraction the baby’s heart rate dropped so J measured after each contraction until the end. That was the only time. All good from there. J asked me to change position after each contraction as we were heading for the crowning. I think it was Peter who told me that in one more push the baby would crown. Matt leaned over to get a good look and I pushed as hard as I could.

At 8:34am (on 31/7/10) I looked down in to the water and saw something. It took me too long to register that it was a baby. Not a head but a whole baby. J was on to it. Unwrapped the cord from 2 times round the neck and put the baby in our arms. I really couldn’t believe it. I was still stuck at the crowning business and I had a baby in my arms. We looked at each other, this baby had deep dark eyes. I was too happy and shocked for words. The baby was pale and slippery so it took about 10 minutes before Matt had a look to see that she was a girl. More surprise as there were so many people so confident that I was having a boy.

We got out of the birth pool with a huge amount of help and lay down on the futon. J put Mira straight to my breast and she started sucking. I couldn’t believe when Peter asked me to push AGAIN for the placenta to come out. I didn’t have it in me but eventually at around 9am it came out. There was a true knot in her cord. Luckily it was a nice fat cord so there were no problems.

J was an angel. Matt took Mira and J and mum helped me to the toilet and then the shower and then to bed. Mira came in to join me and fed again before we went to sleep.

We had such an amazing day and she is such an amazing baby. Matt, Mum, Jennie and Peter were all just brilliant. Matt and I formed a much deeper bond through Mira’s birth, which put us in a perfect place to begin life as parents.

Mira’s birth was one of the best and most profound experiences of my life.


The Birth of Baby A

C

I have been meaning to contact you and let you know about the birth of our baby girl - A - who has just reached two months yesterday. I am so sorry that it has taken me this long but I guess you know what its like!

Drew and I wanted to thank you for the two sessions we did with you in June because it made such an enormous difference for us during the birth. A was born naturally, without any drugs, after a pretty long labour which started on the Sunday morning and she was born at 6.40pm on Monday the 25th of July. I practiced the calm breathing techniques every day for a month or more and was able to use this to get me through - although I did have to push for two to three hours to get her out and eventually had an episiotomy - it was the most profound experience and the Mercy Family Birth Centre was wonderful. You said to me that labour can teach you what you need to know and I felt that my labour taught me two things - firstly that I am much stronger then I thought I was and secondly: how much I wanted her! I have never felt so proud of anything as I am of pushing her out! A is a very calm and happy baby and is getting chubbier every day - bright as a button.

I also found your reading list was wonderful and I am still referring to it.

I hope all is going well for you and your family,
The very best of warm wishes


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