Blog| Emma’s Beautiful Birth Story

For first-time mum Emma the birth of daughter Lucy went better than she could have expected. The secret of her success? Trust, planning, a great birth partner and – by her own admission – lots of luck 😊

Describe your birth experience in 3 words:

Peaceful, joyful, awe-inspiring.

When was your birth?

Our adorable daughter Lucy was born at 10:59am on 26th June 2018, 11 days past her due date.

Was it your first?

Lucy is our first. Like many people, I was accustomed to hearing scary medical tales and anecdotes about the painful and horrifying nature of birth. My mum gave birth to all three of her children by caesarean and lots of my friends have had really difficult times. I’m not sure how or when it happened exactly, but the idea of having a low-intervention vaginal birth became important to me.

The only problem was that in the past I have fainted when confronted with strong pain, so I wasn’t at all confident that I could do it. I discussed my fears with my wonderful midwife Tammy and asked her about antenatal classes that could help. She mentioned She Births among others, and Ina May Gaskin. I did some research and felt confident from the evidence base that She Births was right for me.

How did you prepare for birth?

My husband Edwin and I completed a She Births® course with Radha on one extremely hot weekend in March and we found it eye-opening and really quite transformational. The skills we learned and the knowledge we gained made so much sense and gave us a lot to talk about after the course was over. I also spent a lot of time reading through Rebecca Dekker’s Evidence Based Birth website.

I went on maternity leave at 34 weeks, and spent the next 2-3 weeks winding up work, catching up with friends and getting ready for baby. I love being at home, and as Edwin is at home too I got to spend all my time with him and our dog which was great. I read and reread Juju Sundin’s “Birth Skills” which a dear friend had given me, and then Edwin and I wrote a birth plan and a labour plan together.

I had been following a lot of the She Births® protocols already, which I really ramped up from 36 weeks onwards. I had been doing prenatal yoga and walking the dog by the beach – right up until the day Lucy was born. I was also meditating daily, doing the Full Birth Rehearsal, practising my relaxation response, using a Fit Ball, doing breathing techniques, acupressure, pelvic floor exercises, using an epi-no, eating six dates a day – the works!

Despite knowing that due dates are just rubbish estimates really, it was still pretty deflating when my due date came and went with no sign of bub. We ramped up the natural induction methods, but no luck. At 41 weeks pregnant I agreed to some tests and spent a stressful morning lying on a hospital bed with a CTG monitor strapped to my belly waiting for my unborn baby to stop moving so they could get a ‘baseline’ reading. I was stressed about being overdue and frightened by talk about risk factors and stillbirths.

Three hours and a few tears later I realised that baby wasn’t going to stop moving unless I rocked her to sleep, and I couldn’t do that while lying down. I got off the bed and swayed her to sleep within minutes. The hospital got the reading they wanted, we had confirmation that our baby was well, and we could go home. It was a valuable reminder that we could still take control, and I vowed to remember this during my labour, especially if things didn’t go to plan.

After that, we took a weekend to ourselves. We went out for lunch, got massages, drove down the coast and ate ice-cream on the beach. It helped us both to take our minds off the pregnancy and just relax. The next morning on our dog walk I saw a whale jumping out of the water in a spectacular breach just off the coast and although I don’t usually believe in these things I did wonder if it was a sign … I was feeling energetic and felt like walking for much longer than usual which made us think that maybe, just maybe, the baby was coming!

How did you bring your baby into the world?

Lucy was born by waterbirth. A few hours after that walk I noticed some blood and started to feel like a period was coming on. Finally! Those ten days between my due date passing and labour beginning had felt like an eternity. We prepared a few things and Edwin cooked me the most amazing lunch, and later dinner. I rested, meditated, listened to my labour playlist, watched some Netflix and went to bed early. At 1am I woke and realised I was having regular contractions, so I put on the TENS machine that I had hired. It was too uncomfortable to go back to bed so Eddie made a ‘nest’ of pillows, blankets and heat packs on the living room floor and I went between there and the bathroom for the rest of the morning.

Edwin massaged my hips, kept water, tea and heat packs coming and fed me coconuts (which I kept vomiting up). We had to switch to shards of ice to maintain my hydration. I felt the contractions in my back mainly, and they lasted around a minute or so each. One of the weirdest things was that I slept between contractions the whole time, right up until the pushing stage. I actually think that practising all the She Births® meditations put me in a state of self-hypnosis, as I knew that I should rest deeply between contractions, so I did. Edwin was amazed (he didn’t sleep at all …)

I was so happy to be in labour and instead of feeling the fear I had earlier expected, I felt calm and at peace. As each contraction came on, I would press the button on my TENS machine, take 3 blissful belly breaths until the contraction peaked, then one cleansing calming breath as it eased off.

I felt completely in control and had many other techniques in my arsenal that I didn’t get around to using (aromatherapy oils, movement, and stress balls, I’m looking at you!) I did still have moments of fear, but I used mindfulness to step back from those thoughts and remember that my body was doing exactly what it was meant to do.

At around 3am I was having 3 contractions every 10 minutes, so Edwin phoned the midwife on call, but she and I both thought the contractions weren’t very strong and that I probably still had a long time to go.

At around 7am my waters broke, so Edwin called again. I spoke with the midwife and again we decided that as I wasn’t in that much pain, I was calm and could talk through the contractions, I was probably still a while off and could stay at home a bit longer.

My sense of time was very warped during labour. Suddenly it was almost 10am and my body started pushing, all by itself!! At that moment Edwin said he saw fear in my eyes for the first time. Luckily we live quite close to the hospital so off we went, with me puffing away in the back seat of the car through two more pushes, trying to keep the baby in! I had realised that my labour was progressing well and I had been noticing signs of transition, but I was truly waiting for the ‘big’ pain to come. I thought that as a first-time mum I would probably have to keep labouring all day. Nope.

When we got to hospital I told Edwin that I was ok to go to the front desk to be admitted – hilarious! The lady at the desk took one look at me and said “You look like you’re in some discomfort, perhaps you’d like to go straight upstairs?” Which we did. When my midwife checked me in the birthing suite, I was already fully dilated of course.

I had one or two more pushes as I got settled in the birthing suite. It wasn’t at all like the conscious ‘urge to push’ that I was expecting, instead it all just happened by pure reflex. And although the pushes were freakishly intense, between them everything was still calm. I felt good!

It was all going much faster and better than I could have hoped for and I felt so strong and excited to meet my baby!  I got in the bathtub and only a minute later I was touching Lucy’s head, feeling her hair – incredible! Then there was another push and her head came out; then she twisted, and another push and she was in my arms. That moment was just indescribable…

We hadn’t even been at the birth centre for half an hour and here we had our Lucy with us at last. It was 11 days after her due date and she was a pretty big girl: 56 cms long, 3.94 kgs, 36 cm head circumference with a fabulous set of lungs. We couldn’t stop smiling, laughing, staring at her, and shaking our heads in awe.

Edwin cut the cord once it stopped pulsing, then he took Lucy in his arms and I had a physiological third stage. I’ve never felt so proud or so powerful. We were on a high for days later, there were no baby blues for us! We had already felt so connected to our daughter throughout the pregnancy, and the incredible birth experience just made our love for her even more concrete and strong. To say that I feel lucky is an understatement.

I had a slight second-degree tear and seriously, the stitching up of that was more painful than the birth … and don’t get me started on the pain of breastfeeding when my milk came in! But that all settled down within a week or so, and my recovery from the birth was fine. And we are completely in love with our gorgeous, vigorous, funny little girl.

Who supported you throughout the birth?

Edwin was my number one support. He was out of this world, so calm and completely on the ball with anticipating my needs. I really don’t know how women do it without supportive, composed and knowledgeable partners on hand. I was also lucky enough to get into a Midwifery Group Practice and my midwife and her colleagues were on the other end of the phone. For the actual birth, it was just me, Edwin and Tammy. There was a slight tinge of meconium immediately before Lucy’s birth and Tammy was concerned that she might be becoming distressed so another midwife hovered outside just in case.

What was the most challenging part of the birth?

Without a doubt, it was how far baby went past her due date. I was so keen to let my hormones do the work and avoid induction and the possibility of a cascade of intervention. Each day I had to try not to let myself worry again and again. It was hard to keep telling people that no, nothing had happened yet, and no, I wasn’t being induced. But then when labour actually started I was filled with such a sense of relief and happiness, which I’m sure helped the hormones along.

What most helped you through the birth experience?

The sense of utter safety and security I felt. Edwin knew exactly what to do to support me, the midwives were available by phone, and I didn’t have to think or decide anything as I knew they would do it for me. Everyone shared my goal of a ‘natural’ birth and the belief in stepping in only as medically indicated. All I had to do was breathe, push the button on my TENS machine, and listen to what my body was telling me. My labour was ‘safe, undisturbed and unobserved’ as we had discussed in the course.

Was there anything that surprised you on the day?

I was definitely surprised by how easily I slept between contractions, but the thing that surprised me the most was the pain. I was really waiting for the ‘big’ pain to come, the type of pain that would make me feel like I was being torn apart, that would make me lose control and would render my strategies useless, and for me it just never came… Don’t get me wrong, the contractions definitely hurt a lot and the pushing was a next level sensation, but I always felt secure in the fact that I knew what was happening and how to address it, and for me the pain was manageable. Pretty amazing, huh?

What has been the best post-birth care for you?

Having Edwin at home with me 24/7 has been the best. Caring for a newborn is more than a full-time job and it is so helpful to have him here for support, to share the parenting, the housework and the care of our fur baby. We took note of Radha’s discussion on taking a ‘golden month’ or at least spending five days in bed, five days on the bed, and five days around the bed post-birth. We didn’t stick to it completely but used it as a guide to take things easy and keep life quiet for the first month or so. We also got a chest freezer and filled it with a month’s worth of meals while I was still pregnant and that was a godsend when you need to eat well but you don’t have the time or the energy to plan and cook a meal!

Birth Story | The birth of Aiden – by Kim Campbell

This week’s beautiful birth story comes from Kim Campbell who completed our Online Course.

Our Online Course is becoming more and more popular, reaching more and more couples around the world, which is super exciting. Next week, we will have a special announcement about our brand NEW Online Course – stay tuned!

When preparing for birth it’s important to understand that we never really know where our journey will take us.

But every now and then, things unfold exactly as we had imagined.

Kim Campbell had one of these experiences and her  “empowering, phenomenal birth journey” is something to behold.

As she describes, the much-anticipated arrival of son, Aiden was just about perfect and exactly as she had envisioned.

‘I wanted to feel confident about birth’

After suffering four consecutive miscarriages, Kim said falling pregnant with Aiden was a time of great joy and anxiety in equal measure.

I wanted to do whatever I could to ensure the birth was not only successful, but also an empowering experience. With no family in Sydney and a husband that was working 16 hour days, 7 days a week, I felt the need to reach out and gather as much information and support as I could. I wanted to feel confident about the birth and be able to let go of any anxious thoughts,” said Kim.

Kim’s research led her to She Births online course, and held most appeal because she could fit the modules around her work and life.

“What I found most useful was the information on the specific hormones that were involved in the birthing journey. Knowing what was happening within by body during the last days of pregnancy, the birth, and postpartum helped me to understand and accept the mental, emotional and physical changes that I experienced,” said Kim.

The labour journey

Kim’s birth preparation involved lots of walking and daily yoga as well as plenty of fresh dates and raspberry leaf tea.

She carried Aiden for 40.5 weeks when after a stretch and sweep the nurse told her she was “already 3cm dilated.”

“The following day I started to feel light contractions that continued throughout the night and into the morning, which I was able to managed with the TENS machine supplied by my Doula,” said Kim.

The power of breath

Kim and her husband arrived at the hospital at midday, she found the breathing techniques the most empowering of all her birth tools.

“Not the shallow breaths you see in the movies, but long deep breaths. Counting the length of each contraction, knowing that by the 8th or 9th second it will all be over – I had my husband repeat the words “This too shall pass” which reassured me that it’s only temporary,” said Kim.

“Even the midwives were amazed at how I handled it and commented that I basically “breathed him out” and that I should “start teaching the hospital birthing classes”!”

A drug-free and very efficient labour

Once at the hospital, Kim’s labour lasted approximately four hours and was completely drug-free. She found the stage before transition the most challenging part.

I started to feel very weak and thoughts of possible complications came to mind. This was terrifying for me and I knew I had to change that train of thought. This was then followed by a rush of energy and the strength to push through,” she said.

‘It was just as I had envisioned’

Kim described her husband and doula as the “perfect team”when it came to labour support.

And when she was ready to push, Kim brought Aiden into the world in the squatting position.

“It was just as I had envisioned,” said Kim.  “We arrived at the RPA hospital at midday, he arrived at 4pm, and we were home in our own beds by 10pm the same day!”

A seamless recovery

Little Aiden had no problems breastfeeding and “latched on and started sucking” while the placenta was still intact.

Five weeks postpartum, buoyed by her wonderful birth experience Kim remains delighted by her new life as a mum.

“I’ve had enough energy to be venturing out and about since week one, showing the world our healthy little boy,” said Kim.

“I’ve been recommending She Births® to everyone who has asked about my birth, and will continue to recommend it to any new mama’s to be!”

Anna’s Birth – ‘She Births® taught me skills for labour and successfully breastfeeding’

I had a great She Births® experience. Partially because of the skills I learned, I was able to have a drug free, natural birth, even with a posterior baby. I recommend She Births® for couples looking to make their pregnancy and birth a sensual experience. My husband and I enjoyed a Weekend Course with Nadine […]

VBAC Birth Story | The birth of Avi – by Louise Patel

The birth story of Avi

Innate. Fearless. Empowering.

This is the birth story of baby Avi as told by his mother, Louise Patel.

It took Louise some time to be convinced that baby Avi was really coming!

After all, it was only one week before what would be a super-fast arrival, that she and her husband had completed the She Births Weekend Course.

One week before she’d completed the She Births Weekend Course.

“After the course I focused on things that felt important and relevant to me. This included the breathing techniques and when they were to be used, visualisation of the birth from start to end, learning the physiology of the uterus and role of the naturally occurring hormones and the stages of labour and what roughly to expect,” says Louise.

A yoga devotee Louise says she also stepped up her practice and began to spend a lot more time in baddha konasana, upavistha konasana and the squat positions.

“I also took on a few more refinements in my diet according to the information we received in the course,” says Louise.

Labour begins (very unexpectedly!) at 31.5 weeks

The following Thursday Louise says she started experiencing some pains. The busy mum of twins put them down to how clingy her toddlers had become.

“I was spending a lot more time carrying them around and I put it down to this. I went about my usual routine going to yoga in the mornings both on Friday and again on Saturday and had spent most of Friday wandering around the markets carrying the kids and shopping,” says Louise.

On Friday night the pains startled Louise in her sleep and by Saturday they were coming every five minutes. Despite the decreasing time between pain sensation, Louise still did not reaslie she was in labour.

“It was too early! I assumed I had overdone it the last couple of days and purely went for a check to get my husband off my back!”

Waters were broken

On her walk to the hospital, Louise said the pain started taking her breath away:

“When I arrived at 3:15pm they put Avi and I on a monitor and did a fibrinogen test and established I was in premature labour. I was 2cm dilated. I was given nifedipine to stop the labour with no success and then given steroids to prepare Avi’s lungs.”

Louise says by far the most challenging part of her labour was right after her waters were broken:

“The sensation was intense. I also found the need to push confronting and different to how I expected. I felt I didn’t know how to do this, so I asked the midwives to tell me exactly what to do and after a few go’s I got the hang of it, says Louise.

“I remember hearing about “blowing out candles” for pushing but this was not the case in my situation. I was asked to hold my breath and bear down.”

A natural vaginal birth

Louise’s support team were her husband, midwife and her own mum.

As the contractions increased, Louise found her husband’s lower back massage and firm pressure on her lower back very effective.

The different breathing techniques during the different phases of labour were great for my concentration and helping me to relax in between the waves.

“Understanding the physiology of the uterus muscles and the role of the hormones and how and why these can be disrupted helped me to rationalise the sensation and enabled me to stay focused. It also helped me to visualise what my baby was doing… . By 6:55pm I was fully effaced, Avi was born at 7:15pm!”

“I was taking responsibility and owning the situation head-on”

Louise describes Avi’s birth as “unexpected” and has taught her to trust her instincts.

“I’m stronger than I thought I was …  My twins who were a planned c-section. I felt disconnected during the c-section experience and following the birth. I didn’t see my twins for quite a few hours and I was in a lot of pain and pretty bombed out on analgesia. My milk took a week to come in and my recovery was much longer with the caesarean,” says Louise.

“With Avi’s birth I felt I was connected and in control all the time. I felt like I was taking responsibility and owning the situation head on.”

Louise could not have been more pleased with her birth experience and credits the She Births course for the confidence it gave her to trust herself:  

“I have an enormous sense of maternal satisfaction that is hard for me to even put into words. This has been a life changing experience for both of us and we are richer as a result of it. We are so grateful that we did She Births®. You put me in touch with an intuition and knowledge that was already inside myself. It gave me permission and confidence to trust my natural instinct.”

The Birth of Poppy – by Sarah Hoffman

We have a beautiful birth story to share with you this week from Sarah Hoffman. Like many women, Sarah was fearful of childbirth… until she discovered She Births®. She put everything she learnt during the course into practice and “had the most amazing fearless and painless birth experience.”

It’s interesting that Sarah notes that people said she was ‘lucky’ to experience the birth that she did. But it’s definitely not as simple as that! Tough cards can always be dealt on the day but Sarah educated herself, put in the hard work of preparing both body and mind and had a great team around her. It’s the same in all areas of our life, and absolutely applies to birth.

Sarah sent us a lovely thank you note, but we wanted the juicy details – scroll down to read the full story!

“I just wanted to say a huge thank you! For as long as I can remember I’d always had a massive fear of childbirth and when I fell pregnant I was petrified – I remember at the first doctor’s appointment telling them that I wasn’t a hero and that I would be taking all the drugs I could get!

After lots of googling I came across She Births® and I was intrigued. I started to believe that maybe I could have a natural, positive birth experience. Before I attended your Weekend Course I went through all the online resources and started to prepare for the birth. The course itself was incredible and I left feeling really inspired. I did everything you advised and it really paid off!

I gave birth to my beautiful daughter Poppy on 17 August. My labour was 6.5 hours from the first contraction to when I got to hold her in my arms – I only just made it to hospital in time – literally with 15 mins to spare! So I didn’t get the water birth I had envisaged but it didn’t matter – I had the most amazing fearless and painless birth experience.

She Births® completely changed my thinking on childbirth and opened my eyes to a whole new world. I’m still in awe of what I achieved and what all women can achieve if they get educated, believe in themselves and trust their bodies.

Through She Births® I was put in touch with (your new She Births® Educator on the North Shore) Ellen Turchini who became my Doula – she was amazing and I feel so lucky to have had her on my birth team. I’m forever grateful to you for helping me experience my greatest achievement to date. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

 

Love and gratitude,
Nadine xxx

THE BIRTH OF POPPY – BY SARAH HOFFMAN

How did you prepare for birth?
I started preparing for birth quite early in my pregnancy. For as long as I can remember I had a fear of childbirth, so when I first found out I was pregnant I was slightly petrified and just assumed that I would take all the drugs available. However, as I started researching and getting educated I decided I wanted to attempt a natural birth – but I knew that in order to achieve this I would need to eliminate my fears (I learnt that it’s the fear that creates the pain!). We are bombarded with horror birth stories from friends and the media and so I realised that I would need to shut those out and surround myself with more positive stories. I started listening to a podcast which shared amazing birth stories, I listened to birth affirmations and I did lots of reading which normalised the birth process and helped me to overcome my fears.

After we signed up to She Births® I started going through the online resources – watching the birth videos and reading the notes. I followed everything that we got taught over the weekend course – I got acupuncture, saw an osteopath, had massages, listened to the meditations and visualisations and drank lots of raspberry leaf tea! I also stayed fit and healthy throughout my pregnancy – I walked lots and did regular prenatal yoga and reformer Pilates which definitely helped!

I viewed labour as similar to running a marathon – if I wanted a positive result then I would need to prepare both physically and mentally just like I would if I was training for a big race. Some people say that I was lucky to have the birth that I did but I don’t think that’s entirely the case – I really wanted a natural birth without interventions and so I worked hard for it. I’m just so grateful that it paid off!

How did your labour start?
I never had any signs that labour was approaching, there was no show, no water break, no cramps and no Braxton hicks. I woke up at 1am with contractions lasting about 45 seconds and coming 3 minutes apart. Although they were regular and consistent they were very mild so I just assumed it was probably the start of pre-labour which could go on for days! I didn’t want to wake my husband Chris if it was indeed a false alarm so I headed to the living room and used a heat pack and tried to get some rest. At 4.30am I woke Chris, spoke to my Doula Elle, had a hot shower and then got the tens machine working. Elle arrived at 5.15am and confirmed I was in labour (I was still questioning whether it was the real deal!) and that we would be meeting our baby today!

How did you bring your baby into the world?
Just before 7am I had a couple of contractions that were really intense – I lost focus, swore during them and doubted myself. At this stage I thought I was probably only a few centimetres dilated and wasn’t sure I would be able to manage hours more. Prior to these the contractions had been very manageable with breathing, movement and massage. Immediately after those intense contractions I had a strong urge to push. We then realised that I was a lot closer then what we thought – it was a mad rush to get out of the house as we hadn’t finished packing the hospital bag!

There was no way I was sitting in the car so I got in the boot on all fours and spent the 10-minute trip trying to resist the need to push. When we arrived at the hospital I literally ran into the birth centre (looking like a mad woman with just a t-shirt on and no shoes!) and climbed onto the bed where they checked me and confirmed that they could feel the head and that I could start pushing. I remember telling the midwife that I wanted a water birth but was told that there was no time! At 7.35am, after about 10 minutes of pushing little Poppy entered the world – I’ll never forget that amazing moment!

Who supported you throughout labour and the birth, and how?
My husband, my mum and my Doula. I had always wanted my mum to be present at the birth and luckily by coincidence she happened to be staying at our house the night I went in to labour – otherwise she would of missed it entirely. Although unfortunately she actually ended up missing the birth as she was parking the car! I tossed up with the idea of getting a Doula throughout my pregnancy but after attending She Births decided I definitely wanted one. I found Elle through She Births which was great as it meant she was familiar with the She Births principles. Elle was a huge support not only to me but also Chris – I know he is very grateful that she was there!

What most helped you throughout the birth experience?
Blissful belly breaths and strong massage – both tools that we learnt at She Births®. Also, just the presence and support of my birth team.

Describe your birth in 3 words:
Surprising. Beautiful. Empowering.

 

Photo by Erica Massingham

She Births® Daddy Doula Stories | Gretta Free

Birth of Sharma – Story by Gretta Free

DADDY DOULA: NICK

Nick was amazing in the preparation for our baby boy’s birth.

He was so inspired by doing our She Births® course… During our pregnancy he would frequently offer to practice massage and acupressure, we often had birth rehearsals initiated by his encouragement and many beautiful times together singing and chanting to our baby to come. These moments were so bonding and such a special intimacy, we all were connected in a deep and magical way.

Leading up to the birth we had a few days of pre labour that were on and off the two weeks before. He gently supported me through the unknown of those moments… Wondering if this ‘was it’ the big day! We went for some leisurely walks together and prepared our birthing space expecting to meet our Bub.

When the big day finally did arrive it was a funny morning of lots of life changing decisions and distractions for us. We accepted a job to move to the other side of the country and there was lots of organising and phone calls going on. Despite the low aching throb of my cervix and the gentle constant firmness of my belly I was largely ignoring it and getting on with my day believing it to be another false alarm! It was until about 11.30 that Nick suggested I call our midwife and describe the new sensations. She decided this was it and prepared to pack her car and drive 2 hours to us. I still was not convinced, so she advised me to have a relaxing bath and try resting. Nick decided to quickly zip out and restock the house with fresh vegetable & supplies. So I did as she advised and I listened to music whilst breathing through each surge in the bath.

When Nick arrived home I was having more frequent surges and there was no prospect of having a rest! So I put on the Tens machine whilst Nick prepared the birthing pool and our playlist, he quickly put away groceries and prepared a floor space for yoga. I decided that it was a good idea to sweep the floor of the house! Meanwhile he received a phone call about our new job. Just as he accepted the job and the moment he hung up the phone my waters broke in a spectacular shower and straight down my ugg boots in the hallway!! It was 2pm and finally at this point that I decided it was official the baby was coming! We notified our birth team and my circle of blessing-way women. The surges started coming very strongly. Nick reminded me to breath with each surge whilst he applied acupressure and massage to support me.

My support team arrived – my sister Hannah for photographing and my friend Alex to help with my son Atticus and to assist the midwife Gail who was still on the way. I got into the warm birth pool which was so comforting. Nick joined me in the pool at about 3pm. The surges were becoming very strong. He supported me between surges pouring hot water on my back and reminding me to relax as I spiralled with each surge. I could feel bubbies head coming down and felt the pressure of each surge pushing him closer to meeting us. I knew it wasn’t long now. At this point I got concerned the midwife might not make it! Nick gently assured me it would be ok.

She Births® Daddy Doula Stories | Gretta Free

Thankfully our midwife arrived at 3.30pm just as I was feeling a very strong urge to push. I leant into the cosy armchair of Nicks body whilst he supported me to rest and breath. This was my favourite position to be in. Each wave became so powerful, I felt that I needed to softly breath the baby down. To slow his progress as the head was crowning I used soft panting breaths and cleansing calming breaths between the surges. Nick gently encouraged me with his loving support. At 4.08pm with one J breath to slide his shoulders out Sharma glided peacefully into the warm water of the bath. He stretched out his body like superman! Arms above his head and back arched. He was born content and peaceful. Nick and I stared in amazement with intense love for him for 20 minutes of eternity as he rested relaxed on my chest.

Nick was my solid steady support and kept me grounded and focussed for our birth of Sharma. He knew what to do and say at each moment. For me the birth happened so fast and it was a whirlwind of intensity. Nick was there as my anchor and firm rock to hold me steadfast and in my zone. We felt like a team and he held space for me through each wave of contractions. Although the birth was absolutely amazing it was also the weeks after which showed me how strong and dedicated he is as a father. Nick singlehandedly packed up our whole house in preparation for moving to WA. He held the space between visitors and farewells and all the organisation, to allow for me to have a restful post birth month.

We are so blessed to have created the birth that we dreamt of and to have had the tools to accomplish that through the education we received from She Births®. I know Nick felt so empowered in his role in our birth.

Birth Story: The birth of Cole

Empowering. Wondrous. Life-changing.

 

There is a common misconception that second and third births are quicker and easier. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. It depends on many things – what you have been doing these last few years and so many other circumstances that come into play. Birth is a psychological process as much as a physical one.

Mostly I find that pre-labour can actually go on longer with subsequent births – which usually has to do with the first baby being taken care of, and mum allowing her body to go into labour. And sometimes we have spent so little time taking care of our bodies in subsequent pregnancies that we miss out on critical chiropractic and physiotherapy support leading to mal position. We forget that it’s critical to get back into ‘the zone’ of birth with our She Births® book and visualisations and talk with our partner about the upcoming changes. If you have done She Births® before remember that you can always sit in on a course a second time, or do the online program for revision.

This week’s birth story comes from Alena who gave birth to her third baby Cole in England. Alena’s story is a great example of how you can prepare the body and mind for a beautiful birth when equipped with the right tools and knowledge. It shows us that with each birth you are given an opportunity to learn something new about yourself, and to travel even deeper into the process and transformation each time. Alena was deeply committed to learning – she was humble in her preparation for birth even though she had done it twice before. She read more and continued researching birth all throughout pregnancy, and it paid off beautifully.

We LOVE hearing your birth stories so please keep them coming – either via facebook  or email. In sharing them with our community you help us educate and inspire others.

Love and gratitude,

Nadine xxx

I am an Australian living in Bath in England, and have just had my third child, Cole – born 29 December 2016. My first two were born in Australia and I completed She Births with Nadine back in 2012 before the birth of my second.

How did your labour start?

Being 44 (almost 45), I was considered “high risk” and despite a very healthy and straight forward pregnancy was being advised by obstetricians (called ‘consultants’ here in the UK) to induce at 38 weeks. In the hope of starting my labour naturally I went about doing all things ‘natural induction’ from specialist massage, acupuncture, sex, spicy foods as well as an Ayurvedic protocol designed by Dr Gowri Motha involving special oils in special body parts (!) to just resting, meditating and visualising whilst doing lots of practice birth positions, breathing and stretches, as well as using an epi-no to prepare the vagina and prevent tearing. What followed was a very slow onset of labour – a ten day ‘latent phase’ of low level, stop-start contractions at home. Some were so strong I had to breathe through them…leaving me unsure if I was in labour or not.

At 38 weeks I went to the local public hospital for a sweep. My induction had been booked for the next day, and the midwife said that my membranes were ‘ripe and bulging’ and that I would likely go straight to having my waters breaking without the need for any pessaries, that prepare the cervix for induction.

The following day the labour ward was very busy and so I was not called in that morning, as expected. It was strange to be at home expecting to be called and waiting to go to the hospital to have my baby. By the afternoon, the ward had settled down and I got the call to come in to begin induction.

Once admitted, I requested a room on my own (so I could get into the zone without distraction), which thankfully was available and I was examined.  It was decided that we begin with the milder hormonal pessary and give it 24 hours to work. My husband and I had our other two kids being minded at home by grandparents so we settled in. He was on a mattress on the floor, and I was in the bed.

The following evening, after not much change, they advanced to the stronger pessary and gave it another 6 hours to work. There was some monitoring of contractions, but they were relatively mild. Well, in fact, they were quite strong on the monitor and high range, but I could not feel them much. I think my uterus had been doing so much practice for the week prior that I had become accustomed…and my natural endorphins had been building up. Like we learnt at She Births® this can be an advantage of a longer pre-labour.

By midnight of that second night, the cervix was soft and ripe and I was ready to go downstairs to the birthing suite. It was very exciting, and again I had a flutter of nerves and anticipation as we packed up the room to go meet our baby. To say the build up had been long is an understatement. Preceding this story, was a three-and-a-half year fertility journey.

The midwife returned. The birthing suite was too busy. She would check again in the morning. The good news was we got to rest overnight after a very tiring few days of ups and downs.

By 8am the next morning it was all systems go, I had been booked into the birthing suite and we went downstairs with our essential oil vaporisers, music lists, and funky rugs in hand. The midwife showed me into a bog-standard hospital room. My heart fell. I asked if they had any other rooms available. We were shown into the most wonderful space. It had a birthing couch, a view of a green courtyard, a birthing pool bigger than any I’d seen before in a room off to the side and one of those cool chairs with long strips of canvas hanging above so you could sit learning forward to contract. No hospital bed to be found. Mats all over the floor.

This will do nicely, I said.

Next step, water broken, monitoring. Not much action. I went for a walk through the hospital which was just plain weird. I needed to be back in my nest. As soon as the monitoring stopped, my contractions started (no surprises there). I was out of the thinking brain and into the ancient, birthing one. My midwife had read my 2-page birthing plan diligently and was basically just sitting back and wandering in and out of the room by this stage, so it was just me, my husband and doula mostly.

About an hour after the waters were broken, contractions began in earnest.

How did you bring your baby into the world?

Moving from the birthing chair to the birthing couch, which was helpfully pressed up against the wall, I found the best way to handle the contractions once I got tired of dancing around the room, was on my side pressing my hands against the wall with the doula or my husband pressing against my lower back – that’s where most of my sensation was. I breathed (as I had practiced the She Births breathing) and made sure my mouth was wide-wide open on the out-breaths to keep all my diaphragms relaxed.

I was determined to only let the body push and do no active pushing, so I had asked the word to be omitted from the room. It worked excellently! By the time the baby was crowning I asked the midwife what to do and she just kept repeating, just do what your body tell you. It was the best advice. I got up on my knees at the end of the bed, leaned forward onto my husband’s shoulders, who was kneeling on the floor, and squeezed his neck. He got a quite intense massage while I breathed the baby out! I reached down instinctively to feel what was happening and touched the bubs head which gave me a great rush of hormones and drove me on. Nearly there, I thought.

In the last moment, I only found out weeks later, Cole had the cord around his neck. The midwife sat beside me and used a doppler (hand-held monitor) and realised the heartbeat was slightly reduced for the first time during the birth. She said, if you were going to do any pushing, now would be the time on this next contraction. So the very last contraction, I did one active push and out he came. I remember thinking at the time that it was curious that she turned the baby around before handing him to me once I lay down. She never mentioned the cord, not even once.

The head midwife on the ward that day was called in to watch the final stages. She told me I had restored her faith in birthing women. It meant so much. Still gives me chills remembering that. I think she really needed to see this.

Who supported you throughout labour and the birth?

Midwives, husband, doula (and my women friends all over the world with their thoughts and encouragement in the days preceding).

What was the most challenging part of the birth?

It’s hard to say. Possibly the expectations or birth starting being delayed by hospital busy-ness? Honestly, it was pretty amazing.

What most helped you through the birth experience?

The breathing and the support – both the hands-on (husband and doula) and the hands-off (midwife) kind. I had also done a LOT of preparation, for months, maybe even years. Deciding to go for a birth kneeling upright and forward, and with no active pushing, as well as preparing my body and mind for that, is perhaps the best thing I did. I spoke to a lot of people, read a lot of books and articles, wrote about things, researched things, and most of all was my own strongest advocate throughout the pregnancy – including standing up for myself in the face of skepticism from the occasional hospital doctor. I did say no a few times to medical advice, but always armed with properly researched, peer-reviewed and evidence-based information.

What did you learn about yourself this birth?

I learned that…

 

  • I am able to tune-in to my body and its messages – it can be simple and easy to understand if I am present in the moment and to what is happening / how I’m feeling
  • I actually have absolute confidence in this ability from training myself and physical / mental and spiritual preparations I had done prior to the birth
  • If I surround myself with the right people (who are also prepared and conscious of their presence), they can hold the space for me to be in my body and allow it all to happen
  • Being honest with myself about the stories I had told myself about the preceding births and being open to what I needed for this one were key processes leading up to the birth
  • Coming into it with knowledge, gratitude and flexibility helped me greatly
  • Anything is possible

 

In what way was this birth different to your others?

 

  • I did not consciously/deliberately push, rather allowed my body to do its own pushing until the very last contraction
  • I was in the UK, not Australia
  • I had a very experienced doula
  • My husband had ‘one under the belt’ and was a bit more prepared
  • There was less intervention medically and no doctors involved, only a very non-interventionist midwife
  • I did far more physical preparation (Ayurvedic oil pessaries, acupuncture, breathing practice, epi-no, yoga, massage, visualisation etc)
  • I was older (44)
  • I was more relaxed
  • I did a lot more research and asked a lot more questions of the doctors and the hospital, even meeting with the head of department to spend an hour asking questions about their induction policies and processes (knowing that would be likely)
  • I brought a lot more into the room – oils, music, rugs etc to create more of a nest
  • I requested the room I wanted and spoke up for myself, also told my support people what to speak up for
  • I had a long and thoroughly well-considered birth plan
  • I had an unmanaged third stage (after-birth)
  • I was not lying on my back for any of the delivery
  • I went into it with absolute faith in my body

 

Describe your birth experience in 3 words:

Empowering. Wondrous. Life-changing.

Alena has a natural parenting blog that inspires mums to feel healthy, organised and present www.soulmamma.org and you’ll find her on instagram @soul_mamma_

Photos by Olivia Moon Photography

Birth story: The birth of Claudia

How did your labour start?
I started getting very mild contractions throughout the weekend, 3 days before my due date. On the Saturday night I couldn’t sleep as I was getting up to go to the bathroom what felt like every 30 minutes. On Sunday evening about 10pm just as my husband Ben and I were about to go to bed, my contractions started to become more frequent. I was so excited it was finally happening so I stayed up instead, and within the hour dragged Ben out of bed. We brought all of our ‘tools’ into the bedroom – heat pack, yoga mat, gym ball, rebozo, the lot, and it all kicked off from there!

How did you bring your baby into the world?
After staying up all of Sunday night labouring with a heat pack on my lower back and Ben squeezing into my hips/glutes with every contraction (just as we’d been taught at She Births), we arrived at the hospital at 9am on Monday. I hadn’t slept for 2 nights and was sure that our baby must be close. When my midwife told me I was only 2cm dilated, I was devastated but adamant that I wasn’t going back home.

I desperately wanted to get into a bath but all of the birthing suites were taken so the midwife found me a room in the antenatal ward with a shower. My contractions seemed to slow down in frequency and strength and I started to doubt that I was even in labour. I was so confused! The midwives suggested I go home to rest but I couldn’t imagine staying up a third sleepless night so I told them that I was going to have the baby today and that I just needed to get into a bath.

At about 1pm they let me use a bath that isn’t normally used for birthing and I stayed in there for almost an hour but felt that my contractions had slowed down even further so Ben suggested that perhaps we do just go home. The midwife came and checked me, and I was 6cm dilated!! I couldn’t believe it, and neither could she! I was so happy! She sent us into the birthing suite which had a nice big bath and I got straight in.

One hour passed in a blur and all of a sudden I felt an urge to push and felt something come out. Ben was just about to press the emergency button as the midwife came in. I assumed it was the head and thought wow that wasn’t so bad but it was just my sack of waters perfectly intact! The midwife broke my waters and then it all got intense very quickly. Our baby girl Claudia arrived in the bath soon after! I pushed for 40 minutes, in the bath on all fours, with Ben outside the bath pressing into by hips – that was my only pain relief and it was incredibly effective!

Who supported you throughout labour and the birth?
My husband was with me the entire time (except for when he went to get some lunch from the hospital cafe). The midwife was only with me briefly when I arrived at the hospital and a few hours later to check my progress. She got us set up in the birthing suite then returned just as I was ready to push! She was amazing when it came to pushing but for everything else I was completely reliant on Ben – I hate to think what would have happened if we hadn’t done She Births!!

What was the most challenging part of the birth?
Just before I got in the bath I was questioning myself about whether I was really in labour as the midwives were saying I could go home. I was so tired I started to think that maybe I should have some morphine so that I could rest before labour really started. I began to doubt that I was strong enough to get through it. Luckily my midwife gently reminded me that in my Birth Plan I had said I didn’t want any drugs. And the pushing was definitely a challenge! That was intense!

What most helped you through the birth experience?
In the lead up to the birth I did everything by the She Births book – from eating dates, to perennial massage through to the visualisations. On the day, it was my husband that got me through labour and the hip press he had learnt at She Births!! I feel very lucky it all happened the way it did.

Describe your birth experience in 3 words:
Crazy. Surreal. Incredible.

Evelyn’s Birth – “I did everything you advised us!”

I just wanted to thank you, as my daughter was born last Tuesday, and I went into labour with confidence thanks to the She Births® course.

I did everything you advised us in the course; diet recommendations, the latest equipment that physios suggest in preparation for labour, your prenatal yoga routine and I read the books suggested.

The course gave me the techniques to cope with intense situations even beyond childbirth, through yoga, meditation and visualisation.  I went into labour armed with strategies and felt prepared. To me, this was the most valuable gift I could receive.

After following your tips to shorten labour, I was pleased to hear my obstetrician say it was the shortest labour he had seen in a long time. There was no time for an epidural, which I was surprised I managed without. I was fortunate not to experience any trauma during the delivery, an experience I had previously thought unavoidable.

I have you to thank because you really helped me through my labour from afar.   The information gained during the course significantly influenced my experience of labour, both physically and mentally.

Thanks so much Nadine. I will recommend She Births® to every pregnant friend I have!

Sam’s Birth – 3 hour totally drug free (!!!) birth

Our beautiful son was born on the 19th.

It was in incredible 3 hour totally drug free (!!!) birth with no complications apart from minor tearing. Skin to skin as soon as he arrived & breastfeeding going great!

As a father & male would like to personally thank you for the invaluable course. It provided me with so much strength & insight to assist my beautiful girl through this indescribable process (not that I’m taking any credit, Anna was simply incredible as was Maiya from the RPA birth centre).

You should know that the course you provide & work you do means so much to us & I extend so much gratitude to you.