Birth Stories - Rhia Stanger

Birth story from Rhia Stanger

I just wanted to say Thank You for creating your course!

I did the online version as I live in a remote community 2hrs from the Wodonga maternity hospital. My first birth ended in a C-section at 38wks due to vasa previa and minor placenta previa. I was devastated and determined to have a natural birth for my 2nd however during an appointment with the hospital I was told that I would HAVE to book in for another C-section as my pregnancies were too close together (17 months between birth dates)!


It was the knowledge that I gained during the She Births® course that gave me the strength to make an informed decision and find myself another option.


I ended up searching for and paying top dollar for an Obstetrician that fully supported my VBAC. It meant traveling 4 hours to Canberra for appointments and I had to relocate at 37weeks to appease the ‘just in case factor’. It was well worth it in the end, my Obstetrician met me at the hospital when I arrived in labour, and basically acted in my defence when hospital policies were against me (eg. they refused me a fit ball, a bath, and tried to make me lay still on a bed to get readings from fetal monitor for over an hour). I called my OB and he ensured I got everything I needed. I was amazed that in my search for an Obstetrician that the person I found that fully supported me was a man (not that I’m a man hater, it’s just I felt like having an all woman entourage with the exception of my husband). My midwife was also male. It was funny, I laboured for all of International Women’s Day, surrounded by men and couldn’t have felt more supported.

My daughter Siobhan was born on March 9th 2018 at 3:30am, after a successful VBAC after 29hrs of labour, the gestation was 40wks and 3days. Again, hats off to my OB, there was no pressure from him to induce. Additionally throughout the pregnancy I was asked by my GP, ‘how long will he let you labour?’. This was an interesting concept, my natural thought was, ‘well how long is a piece of string’, you know, doesn’t it just take as long as it takes?… Anyway, the comment made me nervous so I called the OB, he said that it was an archaic attitude towards birth, that I would labour for as long as I needed to. It is so interesting what an impact an ‘off the cuff’ remark can have, which is what I believe you were getting at in the interview that was edited quite noticeably, everyone has an opinion about pregnancy and birth and they seem to want to share these for better or for worse. Unfortunately pessimistic comments often result in undermining the confidence a women has in herself.

So again, thank you!. . . Thank you for helping me to realise that I have a voice; I can ask questions and I will make my own decisions!


Kind regards



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.”

Luna Joy’s Birth – VBAC creation

My daughter Luna – Joy arrived 21 days ago. My partner and I knew we would have a baby girl called Luna as we had been manifesting her creation since we met 18 months ago. We conceived over the super full moon in July 2014 and I birthed her at 38 weeks and 2 days, just after the lunar eclipse in April 2015.

I have a 6 year old son, Lael. His birth was really traumatic for me. My waters broke at 39 weeks on a Sunday night and I went into pre-labour but my body didn’t progress to active labour. I was told I had to be induced because he was now unprotected from infection. I was induced at 11am on a Tuesday morning after very little sleep since my waters has broken. My labour went rapidly into action. It was really intense with no break from contractions and I couldn’t have a water birth or move freely around the room as I have strapped to a machine. I spent most of the time lying on my back. I wanted a drug free natural labour but by 4pm I was in told I had to have an epidural because my son’s heartbeat was dangerously low and by 4.40pm he was born via an emergency C- Section.

I was completely smacked out on drugs, fatigued and exhausted after a 30 hour labour. I held my son briefly before they wheeled me away to recovery, I wanted to ask for skin on skin but I couldn’t communicate from all the drugs and I was vomiting.

I spent the next few days in the hospital trying to sleep but was so wired I was begging for valium. I was trying to learn how to breastfeed but was so sleep deprived this led to my son damaging my nipples and I would wince in pain every time I fed him for 10 weeks until they healed. I was trying to cope with the enormity of what had just happened. On day three in the hospital, I had a emotional breakdown as this what not the way I had envisaged my journey with motherhood would begin. I was told this is a normal reaction from all the hormones but I have not experienced this with the birth of my daughter. I was been feeling elated and flooded with ocytocine, the love hormone. It took me about a year to mentally “let go” and be at peace with my birth. I lost that euphoric moment when you meet your baby for the first time and once it is gone, it is a moment time that cannot be replaced.

Sadly the birth with my son was a catalyst for more sadness in my life because by the time my son was 2 years old, my marriage had broken down and I found myself a divorced single mother. I really struggled with motherhood and this lead me to become a yoga teacher and create my business. I now teach kids yoga, family yoga and run mindfulness retreats for mums.

Fast forward 4 years and I was adamant that this time I would have the birth I had always dreamed of. I knew from my previous experience what I didn’t want and that I could make this happen by making conscious choices that would allow me to have a natural birth. We had gone private with my son and his birth had ended up costing us thousands of dollars as all the emergency costs of the C-Section were not covered via medicare of our health insurance. During my labour most of the care I had was from the doctors in the public system so I knew that I would choose to go public this time.

I found out I was pregnant the day before we were about to head to Europe for 7 weeks. I am from the UK and my partner is from Finland so we were off to celebrate my brothers wedding and meet each others families. I spent the whole time sleeping and eating. By the time we got back to Sydney I almost missed having the NT scan as I was 13 weeks but we made it by 2 days. I tried to get into a midwifery group as wanted to have my birth in the birth centre, not in the hospital like before. However I was told they were fully booked so I had to do shared care with my doctor and the hospital.

When I went to my first hospital appointment I gave a copy of my book “Mother Om” to the manager and told her my story and she referred to an obstetrician that was very supportive of VBAC births but she was still unable to get me into the midwifery group at the birth centre. When I met my obstetrician I did the same, gave him a copy of my book and told me if I wanted a VBAC, I had to be in the birth centre. The thought of being in the hospital filled me with anxiety. He made the call and I was booked in the Lavender Midwifery group. I will thrilled. The care from the midwives was exceptional. I loved the birth centre which is like being at home but you are still next door to the delivery suite if needed. There are risks involved with a VBAC and the hospital policy stated that Luna’s heart rate had to be constantly monitored so I had to sign a waiver to say that I was aware of the risks but I wanted to be left alone as much as possible and birth in the birth centre, not the delivery suite. My obstetrician wrote a letter for me to give to the obstetrician on duty in case he wasn’t there. I felt really supported and nurtured by all the care I received which helped to reduce any anxiety I was feeling.

The next step in the process was to become educated on the process of having a natural birth and learn how my partner can be involved as much as possible with the birth.

We had been offered an antenatal course free of charge (normally $300) at the hospital because I had had anxiety in my second trimester and had received some counselling sessions. I had a lot of fear around having a child with another man when my last experience ended in divorce but I knew from my journey that it was better to process and clear this anxiety before the baby came than risk sinking into post natal depression. Having done the hospital course before with my son, my focus this time was on having a beautiful birth so we decided to do an independent birthing course.

I met Nadine when I was writing my book. I wanted a birthing expert to contribute by writing a meditation for the chapter “Buddha Bellies”. I knew Nadine’s work as I had heard incredible testimonials from friends and she is a well respected yoga teacher. We instantly became friends and there was no question in my mind that for me to have a natural birth I had to do her course. I completed the course at 30 weeks.

The course provided me and my partner with the tools to have a beautiful birth, no matter how it would unfold. We learnt acupressure points and the stages of labour. I listened to guided meditations every day and played my belly healing mantra. Jarkko was with me for every contraction. He held me, rocked me, he rubbed my back, he applied acupressure, he played music and whispered in my ear “you are amazing, you can do this, I love you”. I nicknamed him my “moula” (a male doula).

I knew Luna would come early. My son was away with his dad for a week over Easter and we wanted to harness the energy of the lunar eclipse which represents birth. I started to have acupuncture at 36 weeks as I had not been sleeping well and knew I needed more energy as birth is a marathon. On Good Friday I was up all night with regular Braxton Hicks, I knew this was my body preparing for labour so I had another acupuncture session to induce labour on Saturday. On Easter Sunday I had a sweep at the hospital at 3pm and went home watched movies and went to bed. I woke up at 1am with real contractions. By 2am I woke up my partner as they were 5 minutes apart. I called my midwife at 4am and by 6am I knew I had to go to the hospital.

We arrived at 6.30am and filled the bath. I was aware of what was happening around me but was in the “zone”. I was 5 cm dilated. The bath brought instant relief but the surges were getting stronger and stronger so I got out and began to move, rock and help my baby go down the birth canal. The pressure was intense and after 2 hours I was 7 cm and felt the urge to push. I wanted to ask for pain relief but I knew that if I had an epidural I would have to have a C-Section as you are not allowed any pain relief with a VBAC because you have to be able to feel sensations in case of any scar tissue being torn.

I began howling like a wild woman and I knew I was in transition stage. We re-filled the birth pool and the urge to push was extraordinary, however my cervix was not fully open so I was told to resist the urge. For the next 45 minutes I had to squeeze every muscle in my body to resist the urge to push which felt like a volcano was erupting down below. My mucus plug literally shot out like a bullet and I knew, finally I was ready. I listened to my body and after 2 pushes, Luna was born at 10am on Easter Monday.

It was the most incredible moment. She was just perfect and I was overcome with emotion. Jarkko was in the bath with me and we hugged and kissed and he cut the umbilical cord. We lie there for a long time with her on my skin. Because it was Easter Monday we were able to spend all day in the birthing centre having precious skin on skin time drinking tea and falling in love with each other. I had a second degree tear which had to be repaired so after that we put Luna on my chest and let her find my breast. It was so magical watching nature at work. She latched on beautifully. I spent 2 nights in the delivery suite as I had Strep B and they wanted to monitor Luna but I also wanted help with breastfeeding. Every time I breastfed, I called the midwife to help me with the attachment. Luna was thriving and after a week has retained her birth weight and has been gaining week each week since her birth. My nipples are not damaged and I love breastfeeding my baby girl.

At night in the hospital I tried to settle Luna in her crib but she cried every time I put her in there and then would settle as soon as she was with me. I called the midwife to ask if I could co-sleep. Again, I had a sign a waiver because of the risks involved. I had not had any drugs so this was a safe option for me and Luna to sleep peacefully next to me while I heard other newborns crying all night because they wanted to be close to their mother.

On Wednesday my son Lael came to the hospital and met his baby sister and we all went home together as a family. Since giving birth in such a magical way I have been so insanely in love with my partner. The birth of our daughter has allowed us to start our journey of parenthood together full of love and adoration for each other. I could not have birthed naturally without Jarkko’s love.

The conscious choices I made throughout my pregnancy gave me the birth I had always wanted and I believe every mother should have this right. I had to stand up against the system to have a VBAC. I am very grateful to all who cared for me and Luna as their support was essential for such a positive outcome. I feel empowered, connected and calm in my role as a mother and I am savouring every moment with my precious daughter.

Oscar’s Birth – VBAC wisdom

Our first baby was born via emergency c-section in May 2012.  It was a case of me being naïve and undereducated and simply going along with what my private (and very expensive) obstetrician recommended. Intervention lead to more intervention and I had a really horrible time with my post birth recovery.  It was at least 4 months before I could get out of bed/a chair/the car or even climb the stairs in my own home without pain.  It wasn’t until almost halfway through my second pregnancy that I realised how traumatised I was from this first birth experience, and went through a difficult and stressful process of changing care providers from private obstetrician to public midwifery.  I hired a doula and enrolled in the She Births course.
My partner David and I really enjoyed learning from Nadine.  The information provided helped us secure the belief and knowledge within ourselves that my body could birth my baby.  Oscar was born in October 2014 via a beautiful drug free water birth, where I laboured for about 8 hours at home prior to arriving at the hospital in transition and just about ready to push, and bub was born 1.5 hours later.  Throughout the labour at home, I reminded myself of the positive affirmations in the SheBirths meditations – I thought of my cervix thinning and opening, the uterus contracting, my baby facing the right way and moving himself down, slowly stretching the skin and perineum.  Blissful belly breaths helped me get through each surge. Without the She Births course I wouldn’t have been as prepared or reassured that what was happening inside my body was exactly what my body was meant to be doing… it also allowed my husband to feel secure in how he could help during the labour.
Recovery has been so much easier this time round – I only had some external grazing and a small internal tear that didn’t require stitching.  This VBAC journey was so empowering and has given me a new found belief in myself and my body.  I highly recommend this birthing course so that you too can be well enough informed to be in the driver seat of your birth experience.  Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that you can’t do it – YOU CAN… that your baby is too big to push out – FALSE… or that a c-section is easier/safer – NO!!!… you can birth your baby naturally!  Find care providers and surround yourself only with people that believe in you.


Amanda & David Bernstein

Archie’s VBAC – Too much mis-information out there

The birth was everything we had hoped for! Everything we wanted happened and it was the most amazing and magical time for both Tim and I. Using all the skills and information from She Births® was invaluable and also having our doula meant we had so many resources. We were both really well prepared for his birth.

I was 5 days late when I started pre-labouring. We stayed at home until they were 3-4 min apart which was around 2am. Once at the Birth Centre then gave me an internal and I was 3cm, the contractions continued increasing in intensity but also giving me a break in between.

At 7am I was 6cm – everyone was pleased apart from me as I let the numbers get to me and thought I wouldn’t be able to do another 4 hours of intense contractions. The midwife also felt that Archie’s head was slightly to one side which might prevent him coming down so they put me in a few different positions for a number of contractions – this meant I couldn’t move through the contraction which was incredibly painful. But it worked as by 8.30am I went through transition – I don’t remember much about this time but Tim has filled me in.

I was in the bath for Archie’s birth and he came out very fast, in just a few contractions. Just after – all I kept saying was ‘I did it, I did it’. I was shocked, stunned and in love with my little boy. He was born at 9.01am I had to have a few stitches and we had him checked over and were able to leave and get home for 2pm, 12 hours after we left.

I am so pleased, amazed and thankful that I was able to experience a natural labour and give birth to a healthy baby boy, Tim constantly tells me how proud he is. It still surprises me that people are so shocked when I say I had a natural birth after a C-section, there is so much mis-information out there about a VBAC.