Blog| She Births® the past 10 years, the present and the future by Nadine

I can’t quite believe it has been 10 years since She Births® began. That first Sunday was a simple cup of tea and a ‘birthing chat’ in my lounge room with two very dear friends, who went on to birth their little girl in a room of love and who also became my first goddaughter.

 

Today, well you know what we do and who we are and what I stand for. My vision and my amazing team. There have been big challenges along the way but there is much to celebrate and even more to be grateful for.

 

I am humbled by how much we have achieved just this last year with the HCF Trial, new Online Program, Podcast, new app, new community forums, new staff…all the while teaching & supporting hundreds of families around the world. We have been supported by so many of you to be here today. Thank you. Every one of you is special in this sacred community. Particularly because you are the early adopters and change makers. The believers and the leaders. You think outside the box, like us, and won’t be told what your birth or life is going to be like by external forces.

 

So as we grow, with your help, know that you also allow more families awaken to their innate power. To have better births – more enriching, empowering and loving transitions into family life. And awakening to that power continues to ripple into so many other areas of life and brings a transformation around the globe.

 

2019 is going to bring more change and growth as we expand into new places and start to shift the conversation about birth in the workplace and also in the developing world. I hope we can continue to awaken the true spirit of birth for many years to come and I hope that birth continues to be seen as a sacred teacher She is.

 

Birth has taught me so much over the years. About the power of love and the power of stillness, the power of connection and support, the power of surrender and letting go and most of all, the power of faith.

 

I hope you join us in person or in spirit this Wednesday at our Christmas celebration as we make a toast in gratitude to the power of birthing, the power of woman and Nature.

 

Xxx Nadine

 

Photo credit: Kath McLean Bright Photography www.brightphotography.com.au

Blog | In conversation with Anna Kooiman and Dr Jan Dudley

It’s been amazing to watch the evolution of She Births® over the years and see how couples have spread the word and as a result expansion happened organically. When we create something great – it takes on a life of its own and spreads into places far beyond imagined!

When I began teaching prenatal yoga and attending births as a doula here in Bondi Beach, about 90% of mums were giving birth in public hospitals and primarily birth centres. The other 10% were either giving birth at home or in a private hospital. This is the community that started and founded She Births®.

Now, She Births® is delivered to almost the exact same demographic that we see in the Australian population as a whole. Approximately 70 % give birth in a public hospital and 30% in a private hospital and 1% give birth at home. These figures are now close to ours, however, about 4-5% of She Births® families choose to give birth at home, and maybe this will increase too with the new Royal Hospital for Women home birth program.

I love that we have expanded and that in any She Births® course there will always be a cross section of people who are making different choices. Our families choose to birth in different environments, and hopefully, most importantly, where the woman feels most safe.  I think we all learn from one another through sharing a course and specifically learning to drop any judgement about others choices. This is integral to our She Births® philosophy and I believe essential to being a happy parent.

Even in our mothers’ groups we continue to learn about differences. For even though we say our Soul Mama Circles are for like-minded women, of course, everybody is unique and brings their own voice and experience to discussions.

My vision for She Births® has always been to reach every single woman on the planet, to provide her with an education in whatever way she needs, and impart some of the She Births® wisdom – help reconnect her to our innate strength and wisdom and realign with a trust in nature.

Today’s video is a sit down with the wonderful and inspiring Anna Kooiman who has worked many years at Fox News in New York before coming to Australia to give birth to little Brookes.  Anna had a natural posterior labour and delivery – which is amazing – because of the first-time mums who do have a c-section, over 70% are delivered posterior. We know it is not an easy feat!

 

Nadine Richardson, Anna Kooiman and Dr Jan Dudley in conversation.

We were joined by Anna’s Obstetrician, Dr Jan Dudley, who has over 30 years’ experience catching babies in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney. Jan is well-loved by many of our families, and talks about birth as an ancient art, the power of woman and the importance of surrender, as well as preparation.  

For me our video chat is all about choice and creating a team around you that you trust. Getting education, no matter where you are birthing, is absolutely critical.

I hope you enjoy

Xxx Nadine

 

Anna Kooiman and Dr Jan Dudley

 

Blog| An inspiring and necessary documentary on the birth system in Australia – Birth Time

On the back of Home Birth awareness week we spoke to from the team at Birth Time

Three long time friends of She Births®; fellow doula and birth photographer Jerusha Sutton  (who even came to a Weekend Course with her partner after many years of birth support), extraordinary independent midwife Jo Hunter and actress Zoe Naylor, who you also know from our She Births® Show are making an important film that I believe all of us who care about humanity and healing our planet need to watch and share.

Birth Time  knows, as do I, just how important it is that ‘the way a woman feels about her birth, and the way she was treated during her birth, will effect the way she lives the rest of her life.’ Birth effects everyone. The experience is so significant that we cannot even fully comprehend how impactful it can be. Plus, the choices and care available for women here in Australia are better than in many, but still far from perfect.

With interventions, depression and PTSD rates on the rise this dynamic team have been researching, interviewing, shooting and getting up at all hours of the night for the last 2 years to try and share with us solutions. I am super excited to watch the film, especially the interviews with Indigenous mums.

Have a look at the Birth Time page here, watch the trailers and consider donating so they can get the film finished! Or join me at fellow birth educator, Rhea Dempsey’s talk on Monday 12th November in Newtown. No one can talk as in-depth about the perception of pain and it’s management and meaning as Rhea!

What is Birth time?

Birth Time started as three women wanting to come together to make a documentary exploring the question, “What would it take for women to emerge from their births feeling physically well and emotionally safe”, but it has now grown from a documentary in the making, to more of a movement. We are hosting live events, such as our evening with the incredible Rhea Dempsey on the 12th November at Leadbelly in Newtown, and our Feminism and Human Rights in Childbirth night we hosted earlier in the year- the recording of which is available through our website. 

What inspired you to make this documentary?

Three of us came together through, of course, a birth. Zoe Naylor (actor, entrepreneur, speaker) hired Jo Hunter (privately practicing midwife) and Jerusha Sutton (birth videographer/photographer/doula) to support and capture the homebirth of her second baby back in 2016. Through that transformative birth not only was her son, Beau, born, but so too was Birth Time. We have since taken on a fourth member to our team, Olympian Selina Scoble. Selina works behind the scenes and is a productive energy we couldn’t do without.

Our inspiration came from a collective knowledge that the way a woman feels about her birth, and the way she was treated during her birth, will effect the way she lives the rest of her life. Given that interventions, PTSD and postnatal depression are on the rise, we wanted to look at where were were going wrong, and more-so, where we can make things much more right.

Who is it for?

Birth Time is not limited to any particular audience. Given that a woman’s birth will impact the rest of her life- it will impact the lives of her partner and family as well. And families feed out into broader families and communities and when you look at it that way you see that this involves everyone. Everyone is born.

What have you learnt about women and birth on this journey?

We’ve learnt that regardless of cultural background, socio-economic status or location, women want the same things. They want to choose where they give birth, to feel respected in their choices, and to be supported by the people they choose to have present throughout their birthing journeys. Women want continuity of midwifery care, regardless of their risk status, and some women need an obstetrician as well .

What do you want to achieve?

We want to achieve real change in maternity care for women in this country. In an ideal world we would assist in creating systemic change that would give all women a known midwife, and where midwifery care is the first port of call for pregnant women. We hope to inspire women to start taking their power back when it comes to birthing choices. To trust themselves as the masters of their own bodies and babies.

What have you gained and learnt from spending time with Indigenous community – or what can we learn from them?

Our hearts have been blown open by spending time with aboriginal communities. Their stories have hit us in the gut in ways no others have. We’ve learned that these women often endure the cruelest of treatment and circumstances whilst bringing their babies into the world, and yet so often they come through it with a fiery determination to make things better for their sisters and their daughters. Through the Birthing on Country project , indigenous women and their families are reclaiming their ceremony, ritual and ancient wisdom.  Community, country and tradition is everything to them. We can all learn something from that.

From your perspective, how important is birth education?

Birth education is especially important, particularly given the lay of the land in maternity care today. We believe it is incredibly important for women to educate themselves not only about their bodies and their babies, but also about the system. With the rates of birth trauma and postnatal depression on the rise, education is a very important step in taking back our power to be able to make informed, educated decisions.

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!

Blog| Watch, Listen or Read and we’d love to hear from you

We are coming up to our 10-year anniversary. 10 years creating a beautiful community of people from all walks of life, joined together on the journey of birth and parenthood.

I would love to know where you are within the cycle of parenting, what your interests are and then how often you would like to receive news from us at The Birthing Institute.

We’d love it if you could add your preferences in our quick 30 second survey.

Today’s blog is a selection that you can WATCH, LISTEN or READ.


WATCH: If you are keen to know more about the WHY behind She Births® (like what ‘She’ really means) and explore what is essential to being a better birth worker, watch this tear-jerker of an interview I did with Doula, Nathalie Solis.

HeartSpeak with Nadine Richardson from Nathalie Solis Pérez on Vimeo.


LISTEN: If you are keen to know more about the birth trauma debate and how we might help to prevent it – tune into an interview I gave with Shevonne Hunt at Kinderling Radio on Conversations here.


READ: Positive birth stories keep rolling in from families as a result of the negativity portrayed in SBS Birth Wars, which is a pretty cool community response. It’s actually been hard to keep up with them all so please bare with us. Here is a great story written by She Births® mum, Emma Canavan.

I hope you are enjoying Spring (or Autumn in the north)!
love, Nadine xxx

P.S. Please share our e-news far and wide! You’ll find us on Facebook and Instagram!

Blog| SBS Birth Wars, the behind the scenes…

Did you tune into BIRTH WARS on The Feed last Tuesday night? Catch up here on SBS Viceland and be prepared to have some of those birth buttons pressed 😉 You will also you get to see how She Births® is considered to be at the ‘forefront’ of the positive birthing movement.

I will try make my comments super quick today because I want to give space to the wonderful She Births® families who participated in the documentary. Aoife and Tom with baby Fionn and Kayla and Richard with baby Hunter were both in touch after the show to say they were disappointed in the way their stories had been told. Our community as a whole has been surprised that SBS seemed to edit towards such a negative bias.

There were some pretty crazy edits I have to agree, and a lot of what I said was used in a different context. For example, when I say everyone has an opinion about birth – it was in regards to pregnant mums being harrassed by the public about ‘how birth is meant to be and what birth is really like’ etc. Which can be a dangerous thing when you are pregnant and susceptible to influence – lost in a sea of ignorance, negativity, projections and fear.

In regards to informed consent. It’s important to be clear that there are two very different types. One occurs during the birth itself, say prior to a caregiver suggesting an episiotomy and the other is a long list of potential risks that may occur and is given to mum during pregnancy, almost like a disclaimer, so that you can make a so called informed choice between attempting a vaginal or electing a c-s delivery. Both two very different contexts that were getting a bit jumbled in the doco.

I believe VERY strongly in the former – and will talk more about this on Kinderling radio in regards to birth trauma on Wednesday 2nd October. But, I am quite reluctant to promote the latter because of the inappropriate way it is so often done. I do not believe in keeping secrets or having taboos around birth. I do not believe we should silence our negative or our positive stories. However, to give a list of the many potential things that could go wrong is not helpful for a majority, unless, you can also provide preventative education and empowerment skills for the poor mum that has just been overwhelmed by absolute terror.

For a lot of us it can feel like there is already enough negativity being shared in the general media and thus for a lot of us we are aware of so many things that can go wrong. To give information without preventative resources and guidance I believe is unethical.

That is why this week on our Private She Births® Facebook Forum page I will be joined by Lyz Evans, director of Women in Focus Physiotherapy  , who has just completed a 3 year research program tracking and measuring over 200 women with perineal and pelvic floor damage. Both Lyz and I believe that preparation is critical to preventing damage. Along with a revision of all the She Births® preventative measures we teach: pelvic floor assessments, perineal massage, patience and avoiding induction, water immersion during labour or birth, optimal positioning for the mother and our specific breathing techniques for second stage we will dive even deeper into this topic.

Prof. Dietz’ interpretation of data is definitely important to consider but in my experience the argument and data put forward by Prof. Dahlen was more convincing. At the end of the day however it seems like the She Births® data both in the public trials and in our own data collections prove that it is possible to have both an increasing normal birth rate (above 80% as the Govt suggests) while we also also reduce the rate of perineal trauma.

Here are the two very triumphant birth stories from our couples plus a comment from the amazing mum, Kate, who included her VBA2C story in the SBS doco. It is interesting that one birth story included informed consent and the use of forceps and one experienced a factioning within the hospital system, perhaps representative of the birth wars. Let’s just stay away from wars in general I say…and start to have more open and explorative conversations!

This is what the mums and dads had to say….

Kate

“I just wanted to pop over and give my two cents also. I was also interviewed for the segment shown last night, and everything I said was turned around and manipulated. They made it sound as though my VBA2C was traumatic. They put a lot of emphasis on the unfortunate emergency caesarian and really drove home how serious and urgent the matter was. While this is true, they failed to mention that the birth was also the most empowering and healing experience of my life. The trauma I discussed was from my first two unnecessary and ill-informed caesareans. They also edited specific sentences to make me sound quite irrational “her heart rate dropped…there was no emergency” – they edited out the part in the middle that mentioned that we waited 2.5 hours for surgery so… “it wasn’t an emergency”.

I’m so sad they’ve used my story of triumph and a message that trauma often comes from the way you’re treated rather than things that happen to make women even more fearful of birth. Also, there was no mention of any the risks associated with cesareans including increased risk of hysterectomy, increased risk of blood clots, increased risk of deep adhesions. I’m so sorry to hear that other stories were misrepresented as well.”

Kayla and Richard’s Birth story

How did you prepare for birth?

Richard and I read all the books you could think of. We researched any and every website we could get our hands on. We then completed our weekend course with our inspiring instructor Radha. (thanks to HCF*) 

Before attending this class I can openly and honestly say that I was absolutely terrified of going into labour. It was something that my anxiety wouldn’t let me shake and it was becoming a very big issue not only for myself but also my husband as when we spoke about things I couldn’t keep my head straight and I would panic and shut down.

During the course the amount of information I received was above and beyond expectations. I have attended so many different courses and by far was this course the only one that I sat absolutely glued onto what was being said. Not once did my mind ever wonder off and wish I was somewhere else. Instead I was so focused and wanted to continue to listen.

Radha was such a beautiful, absolutely beautiful soul who made this class just that so much better. Her honesty and her enthusiasm really fit well into our learning. She made us feel so comfortable and never once did any question be judged or was anyone afraid to ask anything (and I do mean anything).

I felt more than ready to bring this beautiful baby into the world with the help and guidance from Richard and every single thing we have taken away from our course. I would recommend this course a thousand times over to anyone.

How did your birth go?

My contractions started Saturday 18th of August and had stopped and started continuously until I went into full labor on the Wednesday night ( 22nd my due date) and Hunter was born Friday 24th August at 12:07pm.

We had a vaginal birth after a 42 and a half hour labor. We arrived to the hospital when I was unable to continue at home on Thursday. We got there at 1pm. I was only 4cm but they told me they needed to continue to check my baby boy’s heart as they were concerned.

We then heard nothing. By 730pm  I was given a shot of morphine then eventually I was offered to have gas by 11pm. They checked me again and I was only 5cm I was completely and utterly exhausted and in so much pain. Richard and I were left alone and unknowing as to what was actually happening for the majority of the birth.

My contractions were just over a minute apart and would last for 40-60 seconds. By Friday morning, while I was in the bath, the doctors tried to force me to have an epidural. I had already refused this many times, even though it was in my notes that I have a contraindication. I am unable to have one due to the risks with my intracranial hypertension.

Thankfully Richard was able to stand up to them. I was asked to leave the bath as I needed to be checked. This is when we found out I was only 7cm. By this point I had begged them for some help something/anything to help as I knew my body was giving up. I was then eventually given the drip to increase my contractions.

I was told very bluntly not to push if I felt the urge and then we were left alone again. Richard stood by my side begging me not to push until I was physically unable to hold on anymore.  I had started to push my baby out while only 7cm, this obviously caused some tearing internally and externally but within just 12 contractions Hunter was born.

It was then we found out he had actually had a stress poop on Thursday afternoon. This was only found out as the midwives were having a conversation about it while I was being stitched up. I also overheard as the nurses did a handover that I had fragmented membranes so I needed to be monitored continuously afterwards.

It was an experience that could have been managed a lot better, although having Richard by my side, I would not have been able to do what I did without his support and he wouldn’t have been able to support me without the knowledge we had learnt from the course. Richard was able to keep me grounded and we knew what stages of labour I was in during the whole process, which helped us make our decisions and kept us in control when we could be. As horrible as it was, it was still my labor and it was as natural as it could be for me.

What was the most challenging part of the birth?

Besides the whole thing hahaha – I would have to say the limited support and contact we had from the hospital. As much as I adore my husband and he honestly never left my side, it would have been a little easier on him if we had more of a support system. We were left alone for the majority of my labour which was a very daunting experience for the both of us.

What most helped you through the birth experience?

My husband and his knowledge from what we learnt in the She Births® course.

He kept me grounded and calm when I could be. He was able to reassure me the entire labor and kept me up to date with what was actually happening – I was honestly in and out of it due to complete exhaustion.

What surprised you?

The fact that they had my file, knowing the risks I had for an epidural and still they just pushed and pushed me for one and wouldn’t listen to us and what we wanted. I’m so grateful Richard was able to stand up to them.

I’m also surprised that after that many hours I was still actually able to push him out. Must have been all that good oxytocin.

What has been the best post birth care for you?

Having the support from my husband. Again I couldn’t do life without him

Describe your birth experience in 3 words:  

Horrendously Traumatic

Painful yet Doable

Totally worth it

* HCF is conducting a trial of She Births® with their members and offering the weekend course for free – click here for more information

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                 

 

 

 

Aoife’s Birth story

When was your birth?

I gave birth on the 18/8/18, a very auspicious date apparently. We plan on buying some lottery tickets and rubbing them on Fionn’s head

I was 9 days overdue, I had always felt that I would go quite a bit over as my mother had been almost two weeks late with me and my sister was 2 weeks late with both her children. I was very keen to avoid an induction and discussed this with my obstetrician so we agreed that if I had not spontaneously gone into labour by the 20th I would have an induction. I was happy with this arrangement as it is a fine balance between avoiding intervention and acknowledging the risks with going over 42 weeks gestation. It also gave me a deadline to work towards and I work best with a deadline in all aspects of life!

By the 17th I was really determined to get this show on the road, that morning I visited an acupuncturist in the hope of inducing labour. Afterwards I wanted to keep the energy going so I walked down to the beach and spent a long time listening to the pounding waves using a visualisation about the sea.

When I went home I decided to try some nipple stimulation. This is going to sound completely bonkers but I had read a small study where they had stimulated participants nipples using TENS machines to induce labour, although it was a very small study, only 21 participants, of the 21 participants 15 of them successfully induced labour. I liked those odds and using a TENS seemed preferable to tugging at my nipples for 3 hours!  

By late afternoon contractions were starting to become stronger and more regular. That night, the 3 of us (including the dog) went for a walk along Manly beach. We sat and listened to the waves until we got too cold. It was a very special time as we knew this would be our last evening as a trio.

I went to bed to try to get some rest but by 2am it was getting too intense to stay in bed. I got up and laboured on my own for a while, my husband joined me a short while later to support me.

By 5am we had contacted the hospital who suggested we come in. In retrospect I wish I had stayed a bit longer but as we didn’t really have a frame of reference we thought I was a good bit further along than I actually was. I think my poor husband was worried that he would be delivering his child on the spit bridge. Oh if only we knew then that we could have driven to the Sunshine Coast by the time this baby would arrive!

How did you prepare for birth? 

From the outset my obstetrician advised that staying active and healthy was one of the best things I could do to help my chances of having a natural birth. Prior to getting pregnant I was pretty active so under her guidance I continued attending crossfit and surfing until my 7th month of pregnancy, by which time it was really awkward to lift a barbell over my bump and even with my modified surfing position paddling was proving too inefficient to actually catch any waves.

I completed She Births® early on in my pregnancy as I wanted to give myself & my husband, Tom, as much time as possible to implement all the skills we learned during the course.

My main motivation for doing She Births® was I was really terrified about the idea of giving birth. I knew that I wanted to avoid having caesarean as my sister had quite a difficult recovery from hers, but I had know idea what I could do to help avoid this. I came to She Births® looking to help me physically prepare for this but surprisingly it was the mental/psychological aspects of the course that probably helped me the most.

She Births® really opened my eyes to a whole host of other resources that I hadn’t been aware of. After the course I started doing prenatal yoga twice a week with another She Births® Educator, Radha. I was never into yoga before so I was really surprised how much I enjoyed it. Radha is an amazing teacher and her classes were much more than just yoga, she encouraged the second and third time Mums to share their birth stories with the class, she peppered the classes with nuggets of birthing and parenting wisdom, the classes really helped cement all the skills that I had learnt during the She Births® course.

One of the other mums at yoga introduced me to a hypnobirthing podcast called ‘Surge of the Sea’ that she had found helpful in her previous birth. I used the resources on the She Births® members website and listened to the visualisation pretty regularly from about 27 weeks on.

The She Births® suggested reading list contained a lot of great books but it wasn’t until I was on maternity leave that I really had the time to start reading. One of the books that I found most helpful was ‘Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth’, the book contained dozens of stories of women who had given birth at her birthing centre. It was very affirming to read all these positive stories about real women who had given birth, this really helped get me in the right frame of mind about my upcoming birth.

Once I was a over 32 weeks I started to drink raspberry leaf tea and taking evening primrose oil, from 36 weeks we started perineal massage, unfortunately for my poor husband it was not the sexy thing he had envisioned….

How did the birth happen?

I will start off by saying that if someone had told me a few months ago how the birth would unfold I would have been pretty scared about what was in store for me, but by the time I came to birthing my baby I really felt that I had developed so much mental resilience that I could really just let go, go with the flow and find the beauty in that moment.

As previously mentioned we had left for the hospital at 5am that morning. I had laboured beautifully with the assistance of my husband for most of that time however as the day turned into evening things were starting to stall, by about 8.30pm it became apparent that we needed some assistance. My baby’s heart rate was decelerating during contractions and my contractions were slowing down. My obstetrician advised that we should think about a forceps delivery. I asked her if she thought a caesarean would be safer for my baby and I, but she was very confident that she could deliver him safely without injury to me and she wanted to give me the best chance of a natural birth for any subsequent babies I might have.

I was taken down to surgery, given a spinal block and Fionn was delivered with the assistance of forceps at 21.21 on the 18/08/18

Possibly part of the reason I had needed forceps was that Fionn’s cord was very short, this meant that when he was born they couldn’t put him on my chest until his cord had been cut. When he was delivered the team realised that he had passed meconium in utero, probably a few days previous as he was quite stained, because of this the paediatrician recommended that he be taken to the special care nursery to be checked out.

This is probably all sounding very traumatic for anyone reading but I can assure you that it was anything but, I felt so confident in the skills of the care team I knew that everything was going to be ok.

Seeing Fionn for the first time was the most amazing feeling, he was the most beautiful thing I ever laid eyes on. I am still in awe about how strong and all-consuming the maternal instinct is, the second I laid eyes on Fionn I was head over heels in love.

My obstetrician is pretty nifty with the old bbq thongs, Fionn didn’t have any bruising and while I did have a tear it healed well. Within two days of the birth I was sitting cross legged on my bed nursing Fionn.

Who supported you?

My husband Tom was my Daddy Doula. He was absolutely fantastic. He kept me calm and helped soothe me with massage. He was my cheerleader when I needed encouragement. I have never felt closer or more in love with my husband than on that day.

What was the most challenging part?

Every few hours the midwives needed to trace the babies heart rate for 20 minutes uninterrupted. Unfortunately, the foetal monitor was a bit flaky and it didn’t pick up the babies heart rate if I moved so I had to lie on the bed and stay very still. I found this quite uncomfortable and frustrating as every time the monitor dropped out they would need a further 20-minute trace. Somebody seriously needs to make better foetal monitors!

What most helped you the most?

I used the whole gamut of She Births® tools during my labour. i used a tens machine throughout my labour, I started with it on quite a low setting and gradually ramped it up, this was particularly helpful when I had to stay still on the bed for the trace. In the birthing suite there was a lovely large bath and a double head shower, I love water and found labouring in these really helped me.

This may sound odd but when the contractions became more intense I started scratching my head quite vigorously. It was an instinctive response to the contractions, I’m sure it must have looked like I had nits! I found that it was a great distraction as it is an intense sensation and it creates a lot of noise in your head, so it really helped take my focus away from the contractions. My husband Tom took on the duty of chief head scratcher once I got towards the later stages of labour.

I also found myself vocalising, not in a screechy way but in a long low sound, I joke with my husband that I sounded like the ‘Whale Rider’ sound track.

What surprised you?

How little I cared about being completely naked and in some pretty awful position in front of complete strangers. I had been a bit nervous about feeling embarrassed to be naked but within about half an hour of being in the birthing suite I gave zero f**** about it!

What has been the best post birth care for you?

I was very glad that the hospital had a standard stay of 4 nights post-birth it meant that I had access to great advice and support during that very intense first few days. By the time I was being discharged I felt reasonably confident with breastfeeding and caring for my baby, I think I would have struggled had I been discharged earlier as neither Tom nor I have much experience with babies and neither of us have family close by to help out.

Describe your birth experience in 3 words: 

Empowering, loving, joyful

 

Happy Daddy Doula Day 2018

We are so excited to share this wonderful story and thank you to all those She Births® mama’s who nominated their partners.

The 2018 winner of the Daddy Doula Aware goes to Oggi Yusuf. His partner Marje was so proud to share their story. This is a powerful one of complete support and belief in her ability to birth the way they wanted. We congratulate you Oggi!

Birth Story of Mavi and Daddy Doula 2018 Oggi Yusuf , by Marije Kleverlaan

When was your birth?
Mavi was born on 1st May 2018

Was it your first?

Yes it was my first birth, and Oggi’s second. He has a 10 year old daughter and being a second timer definitely
helped!. He was just so calm and knew what to do and how to support me being a first time mum.

How did you prepare for birth?

We did the She Births® course in March this year. Even though Oggi had experience, we loved the course and learned so many new things, to be able to support me having a birth as natural as possible.
Before She Births® I was not yet thinking about the birth and how the last part of my pregnancy would be. The weekend with Nadine, really shaped my wishes and dreams for my birth and also what to do before the baby would come. As I am 40, the hospital wants you to birth at maximum 40 weeks, so I wanted to try everything natural possible to bring on labour. We tried it all!

Oggi did not only cook every evening since I was 6 months pregnant, but made the eggplant parmigiana 2 times!! In massive portions, so spent hours in the kitchen looking after me and bubba. He cooked curries, made breakfast every day, and everything gluten and sugarfree of course! He gave pressure point massive, took me for walks and kept me sane generally :).

I also did the prenatal yoga classes with Nadine, that helped me connect with the little one and really communicate about birth and how we were going to do this together, the three of us.

How did you bring your baby into the world?

As I am 40, I was going to be induced at 40 weeks and 3 weeks before then, we tried to do everything we could to bring on labour naturally.
At 39+6 it was time to report to hospital and once again Oggi cooked food to ensure that I had fresh food to eat in the hospital instead of the terrible hospital food, he also carried the super heavy bag momma packed, into the hospital. Not knowing he would be doing this 2 more times! I had packed a rose quartz lamp, crystals, diffuser, healthy food, coconuts etc. And with a few “babe what did you pack it’s sooooo heavy” comments, he took the bag everywhere! Settled in hospital with cervidil.. both excited that we would meet baby soon…nothing. Tried to do the Foley’s catheter.. did not work. I was a little anxious of what was to happen next and when they said c-section, I got really emotional and Oggi was calm and collected and happy to do whatever I wanted to do and whatever felt right to me. So back home we went.

We were leaving home on Monday, enjoying our last Sunday night together, as we were definitely coming home with a baby, imagine the feeling of coming home… no baby!

On Thursday, we had to report back to hospital for another attempt at induction and once again, here Oggi prepared a spicy curry and carried our three heavy bags back into hospital to carry them back out 2 hours later as I did not want to get a c section. Once again, I felt so supported by him in my decision to do what I thought was best for me and for the baby. The hospital told us to come back on Monday so we enjoyed another last weekend alone together, and when we went to hospital on Monday afternoon, he did say “I am not coming home without a baby again”.
The catheter worked, and I had eggplant parmigiana once again for dinner, and again our room was set up with crystals, essential oils and music, as Oggi had carefully prepared 3 playlists. Momo (our baby’s nickname in the belly) up, Momo down and Momo Classical chants (on request from me). Midwives and doctors kept commenting on how nice the music was!

Tuesday morning, the catheter worked and I was taken to a delivery suite, waiting for Oggi to come back as today would be the day! We set up the delivery suite again, dimmed the lights, some nice essential oils and the music playing all day. They had to break my waters and give me syntocinon and Oggi stayed super calm and was just there. He is always the calmest person, which helps as I can be quite emotional, and he listens to what I asked. Which was the best, as I was clear on what I wanted (room is too hot, room is too cold, massage my back there, no don’t touch me, run the shower water on that part of my back, no not there, door open, door closed, water, no water) and without comment he just did what I needed whilst making jokes all the time. He let me squeeze his shoulder HARD, as the doctors kept putting me back on the bed and contractions were so much harder laying down, and was just being funny and saying that I promised him he could buy a new mountain bike, hoping that I would say yes as I was on gas! No tricking this momma! The doctors kept wanting to intervene and my doula as well as Oggi kept saying that I could do it, and I felt so confident knowing they had my back. And I truly believed that I could, because they told me I could.

The most magical moment and literal support was when my doula told me to stand up and when I was standing, I was leaning on Oggi a contraction came and in that one contraction I was able to push properly for the first time and there she was… our little girl Mavi. He wanted to catch her which unfortunately was impossible as I was still standing and leaning on him, but he did get to cut the cord!

Who supported you throughout the birth?
Oggi and my doula Lizzy Criner. Best team ever! Because of them we did end up bringing her into the world naturally!

What was the most challenging part of the birth?
From my first appointment in hospital they were telling me that I had to be induced, because of my age, which was not what I wanted to do. So with every appointment, and getting closer to the day, being “pushed” into induction. The emotional journey of getting to a point where I could accept this, was challenging. Then when we finally got there and the induction did not work, and they wanted to do a c-section straight away, we went home and spent Anzac day at home, and I wrote all of my feelings in my journal, I really
had to journal, and speak to Oggi as well as my doula, I cried all my tears and decided we would tell the hospital we wanted to have more time and wait. Of course when you decide to do that, they inform you that the risk of stillbirth is increasing etc., so it is being ok with the pressure building from the medical team vs knowing your body and believing it will do the right thing. With the support of Oggi and Lizzy, I knew that my decision of waiting a few more days was the right one. And it was… at least my cervix had opened by that time.

What most helped you through the birth experience?
My birthing team! They kept believing in me, talking to me, keeping me calm and just being there, knowing exactly what to do. I have never felt so supported!

Was there anything that surprised you on the day?
I know women are strong and amazing, but that my body could handle the “forced” contractions and that I was able to birth her naturally! Medical team could not believe it either, as usually women on syntocinon will end up with epidural and further intervention, the fact that we had gas only, was a surprise to them.

What has been the best post birth care for you?
Since then, he has been looking after us by cooking every night, keeping me calm in the first few weeks whilst I was learning to breastfeed. As he has done this before, he is just so calm and knows what to do and how to support me being a first time mum. I am sure there are times that I am too careful in his opinion, or cranky, or emotional, but he gives me all the space I need to figure out how to be a mum and how to look after myself and the baby, I could not ask for better support.

Describe your birth experience in 3 words:
empowering, love and trust

Marije – Thank you Oggi, we love you x

 

 

 

Working Dad’s we celebrate you!

As it is Fathers Day we wanted to say how encourage the conversations that are happening in Australia at the moment around supporting working Dads.

The transition to the role of Dad is one that is taken for granted. We forget that often after a few days off work they leave the family and head back to the office (or place of work). Their emotional needs as new Dads aren’t really considered and this continues the imbalance in society with regard to parental care of children. ‘One of the most effective ways we can make an impact that matters in achieving gender equity, is through the support we give to parents and individuals with caring responsibilities.’ Gilbert + Tobin.

Parents at Work held a discussion at the exhibition #Aussiedads this week which lead to some really interesting perspectives by actual working Dads. They looked at the support available and encouraged parental leave to be taken by dads.

Dr Vijay Roach, Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, received a huge applause from the crowd after saying “Be a father and allow men to be fathers, because it’s an opportunity. It’s our right. To parent our children, to feel that love, to make that contribution. Parenting is not just about women, it’s about men too. Society will be better off if we as men are given that opportunity.”

Some key reasons to encourage Dads to take parental leave are:
– Dads do not have as much opportunity to bond with their children and experience the work-life balance squeeze, particularly in the home.
– Women are most likely to take a career break and/or return to work part-time, leading to less opportunity to upskill or get promoted, less pay and less superannuation.
– Organisations miss out on the value that a well-balanced, newly upskilled Dad brings to an organisation, as well as women in leadership positions.
– Children miss out on a true reflection of gender equality due to the long-held beliefs and ideals around women and men’s roles in the home and workplace.

Emma Walsh Founder and Chief Executive Officer Parents at Work wrapped up the discussion by saying “It isn’t just about policy change, it’s about an underground movement from all of us, having these conversations. So the next time you meet a dad who is expecting a baby- ask them WHEN are they taking parental leave. Not IF. When.”

We’d love to hear from you, our She Births® Dads!

  1. Did being prepared and then involved in the birth of your child help you feel more connected to your partner and your child?
  2. Did it he give you a better start to parenthood?
  3. Did it help you be a more connected Dad and enjoy your parental leave more?

Please send us an email as we would love to know x

*As you know at She Births® we support marriage equality and respect the rights of all people regardless of sex, religion, age, gender, ability and lifestyle choice. And we recognise that it’s not always a ‘dad’ that helps mum through birth. Although we have named these awards the ‘Daddy Doula Awards’ please don’t let this discourage you from nominating your birth support partner. Birth is women’s business let’s be honest, so for most blokes it is a big ask to get the courage and the skills up to be actively involved on the day. And for this we say a big THANK YOU!

Birth Story | Rachel Campbell welcomes Indigo after 5.5 years of fertility challenges and with the help of her sister

Although we are ‘birth focused’ here at The Birthing Institute we are also doing our best to help families across the whole perinatal period. I believe that bringing a sense of value to the whole motherhood journey is critical to the restoring balance on our planet. Of course, everyone’s journey begins with fertility.

I have taught numerous fertility yoga workshops over the years and have taught hundreds of couples She Births® who have been down the IVF path. It can be absolutely heartbreaking to see families struggle with this element and I always take my hat off to them when the choose to prepare with us. It can be such a big leap to go from an often highly medicalised process, that very often shakes our personal confidence, to preparing for a more natural birth experience.

One of our wonderful mums, Rachel Campbell joined me at my She Births® course in January 2017 with her husband Pete. They have a very unique story to tell that will touch your heart – not only through because of their amazing fertility journey that proved successful after 5.5 years with the help of her sister, but also the beautiful birth story of little Indigo.

I hope you enjoy reading and learn more about the wonderful work Rachel does, so you can share that with other friends who may need support.

Nadine xx

 

When was your birth?

Indigo was born on 11 March 2017, after 5.5 years of fertility challenges. There really are NO words to describe the journey we’ve been on – it’s been a rollercoaster of twists and turns and highs and lows – but I wouldn’t change a thing. Our little miracle came to us in the perfect time and perfect way.

Was it your first?

Yes Indigo is our number 1 miracle baby. After 10 unsuccessful rounds of IVF using my own eggs and years of seeing natural fertility specialists and healers, my sister Suz donated her eggs to us. We were blessed to conceive on our second transfer. Creating our family didn’t look like we thought it would – we naively assumed we’d conceive on our honeymoon 7 years ago and have 2 or 3 babies by now.

Through the ups and downs of our fertility challenges we never gave up on our dream to grow our family. But it did happen. In our baby’s very own time and way. It happened (as I always knew it would) and I wouldn’t change a single thing about how our baby girl came into the world. Our story is 5.5 years in the making and we created a video of our fertility journey and pregnancy announcement in the hope of helping others who are struggling to conceive.

This journey has taught me so much more about love and life – more than I ever dreamed possible.

How did you prepare for birth?
I can honestly say I had the healthiest pregnancy and birth because of the pre-conception care and self love that I made an absolute priority (it was the gift of my fertility challenges). We had almost 6 years of preparation. From that moment back in May 2011 that we decided to start preparing for a baby, I nurtured my body with the foods I ate, the way I moved and the thoughts that passed through me. My pregnancy was super smooth once I hit the second trimester and left all the IVF drugs behind. I credit my amazing pregnancy and birth with all the nurturing and care I’d poured into myself over the years of my fertility journey. I was blessed to have a wonderful natural fertility specialist, naturopath, kinesiologist, acupuncturist, masseur and energy healer. Also the organic food, the plethora of supplements I’d consumed, my meditation practice and a mindful life – it was like the pieces of the jigsaw had finally come together. I was so healthy and happy. I was finally growing a little life inside of me – words cannot describe how amazing this felt.

It was during the second trimester that I started researching the sort of birth I wanted to have. We knew we wanted to birth our babe naturally after all the IVF intervention we’d been through (I felt like this was my gift to my baby – but I was also open in my approach and realistic that birth doesn’t always go the way we want it to). She Births® was a given for me, there was never a doubt in my mind that this was the best way for me to prepare to birth our baby. I met Nadine over 10 years ago in an outdoor yoga class and her energy and what she offers the world is just so special. I’d also had many friends go through She Births® and love it – so I just knew it was a must. It really is a treasure box in birth preparation (and the men just love it too).

We hired Nadine the Doula who was an absolute godsend – a doula is a must in my eyes to help with preparing for birth and during the birthing process.

And I was extremely grateful to find Sarah Buckley and her gentle, safe, natural birth philosophy which advocates a plethora of benefits for bub and mum and this strongly resonated with me.

We actually changed from having a private OB to the public system (which was incredible and I’m so grateful I followed my gut on this one). We wanted a natural birth and my private doctor wanted to induce me at 38 weeks and talked about a number or birth interventions. At 34 weeks we made the decision to switch to the public hospital in Randwick. Seemed like a BIG decision at the time, but was definitely the right one for us.

How did you bring your baby into the world?
After switching to the public hospital at 34 weeks, at 39.5 weeks my doctor asked me to go for a scan as he was concerned about my amniotic fluid levels. The scan revealed my amniotic fluid was slightly lower than what they would medically like to see, and as a result my doctor suggested I go home and drink lots of water, get some rest and and come back 2 days later to be re-checked. My levels were much the same 2 days later and my doctor recommended induction at 40 weeks. After much research we opted against an induction and decided to continue with close daily monitoring of our baby.
Feeling a little stressed by all of this (the stats, the pressure, the hospital recommending one way when my body was telling me another), I booked myself in for a healing massage (I always find bodywork the best when I start to disconnect from myself). I also bumped into Nadine at the shops and she gave me a few words of wisdom. One of my girlfriends suggested I go home and have a glass of red wine and a curry. Initially I wasn’t sure how I felt about drinking wine at this stage of my pregnancy, but I figured 1 glass of organic red wouldn’t do bub any harm. So after 9 months of not a drop (the longest I’d gone without a wine in 24 years) hubby and I found the nicest bottle and cracked it – I had 1 glass and Pete drank the rest of the bottle. I think it might have been the nicest glass of wine I’ve ever had…
Would you believe that I went into spontaneous labour the next afternoon (I swear it was that glass of red) on Friday 10 March about 4.30pm.
Hubby was out at an appointment and I started having a few twinges – the best way I can describe it is like mild waves inside my belly that lasted for about 10-15 seconds with a 15-minute break in-between. I’d heard all the stories about labour starting and stopping and was very comfortable at this stage. I spoke with my doula and she said to just ride it out and see what happened over the next little while.
We laboured at home initially. Pete cooked a BBQ, I made a salad and we cracked another bottle of organic red wine. I had 1 more glass – if yesterdays glass had been the catalyst for my labour, I really wanted to make sure this was it!
I text my doula, sister and mum giving them an update about 7pm. My contractions were lasting about 30-45 seconds every 9-15 minutes. My doula said to get some rest so Pete and I laid down, but there was absolutely no way I could sleep – I think this was when I really knew WE WERE IN LABOUR… Pete and I setup our lounge room with the fitball and other bits and bobs that we’d learnt about from our She Births® course. We worked through some deep contractions and I think it was then and there that I realised this was going to be the most challenging, amazing and rewarding night of my life.
I called my sister to come round as we’d asked her to be at the birth with us. Pete mixed me up a herbal tea with honey to help with labour and I vomited it straight up. From this moment the only thing I could stomach for the entirety of my labour was water.
My sister arrived to our house at about 11pm and we sent Pete to bed to get some much needed rest. Suz and I hung out on the fitball and she helped me through some pretty full on contractions. Little did I know that bubs was posterior and I was not prepared for the way each contraction placed such pressure on my back. I thought I was going to feel each contraction in my belly, but for me it was just a really intense sensation in my lower back.  
Nadine, our doula arrived to our house at 1am and she was a total godsend. As soon as she arrived to the house she started breathing with me through each contraction and this helped me unbelievably – just to have someone model how to breathe and then breathe with me changed the entire scope of my labour – I really don’t know how I would have got through it drug free without Nadine. I jumped into the shower. I wasn’t sure if I could make it to the shower, but once in the shower, I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it out. But I didn’t need to worry as my sister was there towel in hand ready to dry and hold me up. Out of the shower we woke Pete and went back downstairs to settle into a few more contractions. We then decided it was time to head to the hospital. Pete heated the bone broth I’d made for post labour and we packed the car. I remember feeling really comfortable as my sis drove us to the hospital. Pete and I were in the back and looking up at the sky I could see a full moon – I was so excited that our baby was going to be born on the full moon. We arrived at the hospital at about 3.15am and bumped into our midwife in the car park. As I had a contraction in the carpark I remember thinking ‘just get me to the birthing suite’.
Walking up to the birthing suite was surreal – it was so quiet with not a peep in sight (of course it was 3.30am in the morn). We settled into our birthing suite and the contractions came in waves thick and fast. I remember thinking how am I ever going to get through this?? I understand why people have drugs, no No NO… I can get through this, I know I can. I remember my doula saying… Today you get to meet your baby.
I was blessed to have the most amazing team with Pete, my sis, my doula and midwife – they knew my wishes for a drug free birth and supported me every step of the way. I chose to have intermittent monitoring so I could freely move around the room. This caused a bit of noise with my low amniotic fluid as the hospitals preference was to have me hooked up to continuous monitoring, but I knew once I went down this route any movement would be limited and I wouldn’t be able to shower or use the birthing bath – this stuff was all really important to me and I felt comfortable with my baby being monitored every 15 mins. A doctor came into the room and asked me to sign a waiver to say I was choosing not to be continuously monitored. At this stage a huge contraction came and I had no idea what I was signing, but trusted that my people around me knew what I wanted and what was going on.

Rachel supported by husband, Pete

bath at Royal Hospital for Women, Randwick

Labour was THE MOST amazing and also THE MOST physically and mentally challenging thing I’ve ever done. I’ve run half marathons, competed in Olympic distance triathlons and swam 2kms in the ocean and nothing comes close to the immense physical or mental strength that I required for labour. I’d created my birthing mantra’s which were like a guiding star…
Our baby’s birth transforms the soul of our new family.
I feel safe and calm. I feel strong. Birth is joyous.
They believed they could, so they did.
To be a star you must shine your own light.
It is said that women in labour leave their bodies… they travel to the stars to collect the souls of their babies, and return to this world together.
We birth our baby with waves, each one bringing us closer to the shore.
The knowledge of how to birth is deep within me.
Our baby created in love will be birthed in love.

Bub was posterior and pressing on my spine so every contraction was full on, but I was determined to push through and give my baby the natural birth we wanted (this was so important to us after 6 years of IVF and a plethora of IVF drugs). Plus I’d read all of Sarah Buckley and Ina May Gaskin’s books on the benefits of a natural labour for both bub and me. We almost got there, but at the end I needed a little medical intervention. I was trying to push bub out for what seemed like hours…
At 8am I was 9cm dilated
At 9am the top of bubs head was visible
Head on view at 10.30am, but bubs descent was slow and fetal heart rate was hard to find

I think my pushing was compromised from bubs sitting on my spine and the pain in my back and my exhaustion at this point. I remember my doula saying ‘You’re about to meet your baby love’. This helped me so much to keep on going as did gazing into Pete’s eyes and the way he squeezed my hips and hands. And my sister being there every step of the way – these were the things that got me through.

I pushed and pushed until I couldn’t push anymore – her head would peak out and then slide back in. My doctor came in and was a little concerned as they couldn’t get a fetal heart rate (I think this was because bub was so low in my pelvis – I wasn’t concerned – I just had an inner knowing all was ok). But because of this and bubs sitting on my peri and not advancing my doctor wanted to do an episiotomy (epi) and get our bub out. My midwife did the tiniest epi and out she came 2 pushes later (note to self, next time I’ll use the epi-no I bought).

SHE’S HERE! Floods of emotions, tears, overwhelm, so much love as my little girl came swimming out, caught by my sis and placed straight onto my tummy.
Watching Suz catch our baby (the gift she helped us create) took my breath away.
Pete’s not great with anything medical (he did so well for the entire labour), so he wasn’t quiet sure if he’d be able to cut he cord, but he did it! Pete cut the cord once it had stopped pulsating and started going white. This was a special moment to witness.
I was completely starstruck by this little person who had just rocked into our world.

Finally after 6 years almost to the day that we started on our path to parenthood, she was here and she was perfect in her own special time and way.
Pete, Suz, my doula, midwife and me were all in tears – never before had I witnessed such a miracle. 6 years of dreaming, hoping, longing, believing and knowing we would get out baby all came down to this very moment!

This was what I had wished for my entire life and in that moment when my baby girl was placed in my arms everything was perfect. She was perfect.
Our little treasure was here and we were smitten. I looked at Pete and said ‘Indigo Vera’ and he nodded with a big grin from ear to ear. Indigo was the girls name we’d had in safe keeping for 6 years and Vera, meaning ‘faith’ is my mum and great grans middle name. There were hugs and kisses all round. Kisses with my Pete – we’d done it – finally we had our Sprout. Hugs and kisses with my sister Suz – so much love and gratitude for the gift that she had given us. From the bottom of my heart I’m in awe of what Suz did for us. She is my angel, who made our dream come true! There are no words for this LOVE!

Unfortunately, reality kicked back in and I had a managed 3rd stage labour (I wanted to birth my placenta naturally, but it wasn’t to be). I was losing blood and there was a concern about me hemorrhaging. Even though having syntocin injected to birth my placenta wasn’t in my plan, I saw the look of concern on my hubby and sisters face and made the call to surrender to the advice we’d been given. I was happy Indigo was out drug free and I knew my body could cope with detoxing from the syntocinon.
Once the placenta was birthed we looked and touched it. I was in awe of this amazing organ that had been my baby’s lifeline for the last 9 months. It’s pretty phenomenal. We’d decided to take it home and plant it under a strawberry bush – return it to Mother Nature as a symbol of our immense gratitude for our baby girl. By planting our placenta with the strawberry bush, we felt that our Indigo would always feel grounded and connected to the sweetness of the earth – and this in turn would help her find her way in the world.
Next I had to be stitched up. Just 1 teeny-tiny stitch as I watched Pete and Indi have special skin-to-skin time… heart-explosion. My man and our baby! I had dreamed of this moment for a very long time. Pete’s cheeky grin says it all (I hope Indi inherits this).

that smile from Dad says it all

And then my sister and Indi had a cuddle – wow the special connection they had would bond them forever… I just loved watching them meet for the first time.
I sipped on my bone broth and chewed on my magnesiums tablets (the contractions in my uterus were going crazy). As soon as my stitching was finished my little girl was put on my tummy… I looked into her eyes, spellbound by her beauty. Time stood still and then slowly she started to squirm and squiggle her way up my tummy to my left breast, latching on and sucking away. She’d done the breast crawl.
This is nature at its best.
No forcing her onto the breast. Given the chance my little girl instinctively knew exactly what to do and how to do it. This was just one of the many benefits of doing She Births and having a doula. I’d watched a video and been educated on this but wow no one can prepare you for the miracle that is the breast crawl. What clever little intuitive bubs are birthed into this world.
Pete and and I then spent time watching our little Indigo feed as Suz went and made a few calls to share our news. The next hour was spent feeding and skin-to-skin as our doula and midwife got everything in order – the room was so calm, I was in a peaceful-bliss, exhausted yet ecstatic state.
After some snuggles with Indi and Pete, she was checked over and then I needed a shower to freshen up. Pete stayed with Indi and my doula and sis helped me to shower – and by gosh was it one of the best showers I’ve ever had.
The next 2 days in hospital were phenomenal. We had lots of visits from family on both sides. The grandparents, aunties and uncles and cousins were so excited to meet our little Indigo girl.
Who supported you throughout the birth?
My hubby Pete, my sister Suz, my Doula Nadine and my midwife at the Royal Hospital for women. I also had doctors pop in and out of the birth.

Out of the birthing suite I had my Village cheering me on and pouring all their love and support and healthy birthing vibes our way.

 

family of three, at last

Indigo with Aunty Suz

recommended reading

What was the most challenging part of the birth?
Bub was posterior and pressing on my spine so every contraction was a really intense sensation on my spine (whereas I’d always assumed I’d feel the intensity at the front of my belly). I was determined to push through and give my baby the natural birth we wanted (this was so important to us after 6 years of IVF and a plethora of IVF drugs). Plus I’d read all of Sarah Buckley and Ina May Gaskin’s books on the benefits of a natural labour for both bub and me. We almost got there, but at the end I needed a little medical intervention. I was trying to push bub out for what seemed like hours… My doctor was concerned as he couldn’t get a heartbeat so wanted to do a small episiotomy to help bub out. I also found giving in to having the syntocin to birth the placenta challenging. I’d read a lot about this and wanted a physiological third stage labour, but the doctor and midwife were concerned about the amount of blood that I’d lost and strongly recommended syntocin so that I could birth the placenta as soon as possible. I looked to Pete, my sis and doula and they were in agreeance. Pete had a particularly worried look on his face so I reluctantly agreed – this was challenging for me.
What most helped you through the birth experience?
My gorgeous husband, Pete with me every step of the way. Just having him there with me was the most important and incredible experience for us to share.
My sister’s calm and nurturing presence. She had donated her eggs to help us create our little miracle, so it was important to us that she was with us during the birth.
The She Births® treasure box of tools and techniques.
My doula… when she arrived at the house and I started to breathe in sync with her – this changed everything!
My caring and attentive midwife… she knew my birth plan and was not going to offer me drugs or anything that she knew I didn’t want unless it was totally necessary…. Hello syntocin and managed 3rd stage labour.
The love and support of my Village (parents, family and friends – who I knew were all cheering me on and desperate to meet our little one).

Was there anything that surprised you on the day?
The absolute AMAZINGNESS of the female body and birth. Nothing can prepare you for the marathon and heart explosion that is birth. That feeling of gazing into my baby girls eyes and seeing her for the first time – pure love and magic! I feel like I can accomplish anything in life after giving birth. It is truly incredible and I feel so much gratitude for being blessed to experience it.

Rachel’s mum, her sister Suz, her nieces and husband Pete

family portrait

What has been the best post birth care for you?
They say ‘It takes a Village to raise a child’ and I was certainly blessed with my Village post birth. I loved my post birth experience – it was such a magical time.
My hubby was and is there for Indigo and me every step of the way. This nourished and supported our little family so beautifully.
My mum was just the best – shopping, cooking, washing, ironing and cuddles with Indigo so Pete and I could shower or take a walk together. I’ve had some of my friends ask if my mum would adopt them – she really is that amazing!
My sister, brothers, nieces, nephew, Pete’s family and my friends all played an integral role in offering post birth support. I felt wrapped in love and support – it was pure bliss.
My doula, Nadine was so incredibly supportive. She was only a phone call away and checked in on me regularly to see how I was doing. I had a few small challenges with breastfeeding, but seeing a lactation consultant and a little time to heal my damaged nipples ironed out the issues I had here.
I read an amazing book ‘The First 40 Days’ by Heng Ou. Its based on the idea that the first 40 days after the birth of a child offer an essential and fleeting period of rest and recovery for the new mother. I followed these principles and was lucky enough to have the love and support of my Village during this precious time as a new mum.
I also joined the She Births® Soul Mama’s circle where I met some amazing mama’s who are now some of my closest friends.

Soul Mamas

Describe your birth experience in 3 words:
Strength, Love, Transformative.

 

 

Rachel Campbell dances in life to the tune that Anything Can Be.
She is passionate about supporting women to shine with confidence and grace, as they ride the ups and downs of the fertility roller coaster. As a certified coach and fertility mentor Rachel inspires her clients to reach for the stars and really live life on their fertile journey. She offers 1:1 mentoring sessions as well as online programs for groups. Rachel has a dream to help women feel more understood, nurtured, connected and inspired on their journey to motherhood.
Meet Rachel over at sproutandco.com.au

Birth Story | Charlene Cong shares her positive caesarean birth story

Birthing by caesarean section takes courage and stamina, requires love and support and of course the most important principle of birth, faith.

Most times during birth we need to have faith in nature and our amazing bodies. but when there is  a change of plan or things become complicated we must also foster faith in those around us and their very skilled hands. Faith is always there for you to choose during birth. It is the cornerstone principle of She Births® that every woman needs and yet only she can find in her own way. To birth our babies in a calm and connected way, in a proud and joyous way I suggest you find your way to faith and whatever that means for you.

One of the most fascinating and rewarding elements for us at She Births® is watching couples transform their fear of birth into positive anticipation and readiness to become parents.  Our mission is to support you in making your birth beautiful, no matter how it unfolds. It is possible to create magical, heartfelt and loving births in all scenarios. So much is about preparation, mindset and our participation in the process.

This week, Charlene Cong shares her inspiring caesarean birth experience. We are so grateful to her for taking the time to share her experience and tips and are delighted how she achieved her beautiful birth.

Love and Gratitude,

Nadine xx

How did you prepare for birth?

I listened to countless birth stories via podcasts, exercised regularly, and maintained a balanced diet to keep myself as healthy as possible in body and mind. We attended She Births® fairly early in the pregnancy as I was quite anxious and fearful about birth, and wanted to gain confidence as well as have access to tools that would help my husband and I feel more prepared. I followed the She Births® recommendations including practising yoga and meditation, cutting out wheat and sugar towards the third trimester, and eating dates. 

However, during the third trimester, our baby’s head was measuring off the charts and he started presenting in the frank breech position. I tried every trick on the Spinning Babies website, I had acupuncture 2-3 times a week, and we also tried moxibustion every day. Our baby was quite stubborn and refused to turn, so after several months preparing for a vaginal birth, we decided to take our obstetrician’s recommendation for a planned, family friendly caesarean.

I found it difficult to accept the idea of having a caesarean birth, especially as my husband and I had done everything we could to prepare for a vaginal birth. I then had to prepare for an entirely different birth by firstly processing my emotions and grieving/letting go of the birth I envisioned. We met up with Radha, our She Births® mentor, for a refresher lesson and she provided me with invaluable support as I slowly accepted the idea of having a caesarean birth. I also watched numerous YouTube videos of family friendly caesarean births (some were quite graphic!), I listened to specific caesarean birth stories via podcasts, and I read many articles on the recovery process. I also contacted She Births® for a copy of their caesarean info pack.

How did you bring your baby into the world?

As our baby’s birth was a planned caesarean, my husband and I had a wonderful and relaxed morning. We enjoyed our last breakfast together as just the two of us, and made our way to hospital when it was time to check in. We played our birth playlist in the car, and we were bursting with excitement to meet our little one.

Our son’s birth was very calm and joyful – it really helped that the medical staff were also calm throughout the process, and supportive of our birth plan. The gentle tunes of our birth playlist echoed through the theatre during the birth. I visualised taking a rocky boat on a journey to an island to meet our baby, with choppy waters that symbolised the sensations of pressure and tugging that I felt during his birth. I used horsey breaths as a way to counter the strong pressure and tugging, and my husband joined in even though we both sounded ridiculous! As soon as our son was lifted up, my husband and I were lucky enough to be able to reach out and touch our baby while he was still connected to me.

Who supported you throughout the birth?

My husband was by my side throughout the entire process, starting with our journey to the hospital. He was even allowed to stay with me in the surgical preparation room as I was given my cannula, and also in theatre when I was given the spinal block.

What was the most challenging part of the birth?

The most challenging part for me was actually prior to our baby’s birth. It was initially very upsetting and scary to learn that we had to give birth via a caesarean section. I had to let go of the birth that I envisioned, which was disappointing as as I had tried so hard to achieve it. As I processed my emotions and fears, more emotional space became available to accept these change of plans and start framing our baby’s birth as a calm and beautiful journey.

What most helped you through the birth experience?

Horsey breaths, visualisation, affirmations, and knowing exactly what to expect with a caesarean section helped me stay calm and positive through the birth experience. The reason I researched caesarean sections so thoroughly was because I wanted to feel connected to the experience by understanding what was happening to my body even though I was not in control during the birth.

Was there anything that surprised you on the day?

The medical staff were so supportive and respectful of our birth plan, from the maternity ward midwives to the surgical team. We couldn’t be happier that we achieved almost every part of our birth plan!

Describe your birth experience in 3 words:

Calm, positive and unforgettable.

What are your tips for mums and partners scheduled to have a caesarean?

Preparation

The obstetrician or midwife will advise when to stop eating and drinking but make sure you drink plenty of clear fluids up until the cut off period – this will help with plumping your veins for the pre-surgery blood test as well as insertion of the cannula.

Purchase several pairs of disposable mesh underwear eg. New Beginnings brand – you won’t want anything tight around your abdomen post-surgery.

Pack nighties/baggy dresses – you may be too sore to dress yourself in pants during your hospital stay, as lifting your legs up will be challenging.

Pack outfits that don’t have seams or anything that could rub against your incision e.g. stretchy leggings or yoga pants (as opposed to jeans).

Pack slippers or Ugg boots that don’t require you to bend and pull them up e.g. slip on shoes.

Your pubic region will be shaved for the surgery – you may feel more comfortable doing this yourself, otherwise the surgical team will do this in theatre.

Birth

Ask for the cannula to be inserted near the back of your wrist instead of the back of your hand to allow more free motion of your hand and wrist to hold bub (this was a suggestion by our anaesthetist).

For the spinal block, relax your whole body weight into the person in front of you, don’t tense any muscles. The local anaesthetic will sting and the sensation spreads across your lower back, but you won’t feel the spinal block at all. Ask if your partner can be in the room with you for support.

Ask if it’s possible for only the arm with the cannula to be outstretched on the surgery table. It feels less confronting/exposed than having both arms outstretched.

Horsey breaths help with countering the pressure during surgery.

Stay connected with your baby by visualising that you’re on a rocky boat journey to an island. The rocking symbolises the pressure and pulling sensation during surgery. Imagine the waters are choppy, and you’re lying in a boat floating towards the island where you’ll meet your baby for the first time.

Different obstetricians will use different dressings – mine used a clear, waterproof dressing that stayed intact until my 6 week postpartum checkup, which was when it was removed. It was great because it kept my wound dry and clean.

Postpartum

First 24 hours post op – expect to be interrupted every 2-3 hours for constant monitoring by the midwives. They will take your blood pressure and temperature, and ask how your pain is. If you are not using morphine via your IV drip, they will bring your pain medication when it’s due. These checkups can be challenging when you are trying to sleep!

Take advantage of the catheter (up to first 12 hours post-surgery depending on time of birth) by drinking plenty of fluids, even if you’re not thirsty. It helps with flushing out the medication.

You will be given cuffs to wear around your legs post-op. These inflate and compress to encourage blood flow and prevent clots in your legs before you take your first walk. Your first walk will be painful and very challenging, but try to get up and take a few steps, even if it’s a few shuffles as this will help with circulation and recovery.

Stay in your hospital gown or dress in a nightie/baggy dress while the catheter is still in use so that it doesn’t need to be threaded through pant legs.

Have a towel nearby for the night sweats. You may experience intense night sweats for the first few nights after birth as the medication wears off, combined with the release of hormones.

Make sure you are warm immediately after showering, as shivering is very painful after a C section, as is laughing, coughing and sneezing.

If your shower products are located on the floor, buy a plastic shelf/stool to raise them to a higher level. I used a bath toy scooper which has a suction holder that I stuck to the shower screen.

Apply pressure to your wound when you laugh, cough or sneeze.

Use a belly band or wear compression recovery shorts as soon as you can handle having something around your abdomen. This will help with preventing the feeling that your insides are going to fall out.

Journey home – have a towel ready in the car for the ride home to roll/fold up as padding for the part of the seatbelt that sits across your hips. Have your partner/driver slow down around speed humps, potholes and driveways as it can hurt to ride over these.

Keep your compression socks on for 2 weeks postpartum, until the swelling goes away.

Discuss with your partner that they may need to contribute more towards physical labour while your body recovers post-op. Ask family and friends to help with physical things around the house when they visit – housework, lifting things, etc. Ask them to help with caring for your baby as well, e.g. changing, bathing, settling as these are physically demanding tasks that may put a strain on your recovering body.

Avoid twisting your torso if you’re picking up bub.

Buy a “reacher” claw or have an extremely long pair of tongs with you at all times – in the first couple of weeks after a C section, you can’t reach or bend for anything as your wound will be too sore. I used mine to reach for things whilst breastfeeding, I used it to pick things up off the floor, and to help dress myself eg. pulling pants up. 

 

 

Can an induction birth be positive? Navaya’s Birth Story by Kimmy Smith

This week we have a great birth induction story for you. This was Kimmy’s third birth – so of course that does help things a wee bit – as muscular memory is present in all our stretchy bits 😉

But, every birth is different and you can’t just waltz into a second or third birth without preparing. Each pregnancy is an opportunity to gain more wisdom and deepen our trust, to prepare for the expansion that is coming in our bodies, minds and hearts.

Just recently I was just at a client’s third birth and although we both thought:

“You don’t really need me there as a Doula. You have had two natural births before.”

She just had an intuitive feeling and trusted it. As it turned out this was her most challenging of labours, mainly because bub was a lot bigger.

Kimmy’s birth was also challenging as she was induced at 40+1. Kim has a history of prolapse and incontinence as she grows healthy big babies. Her team wanted to manage the damage to her pelvic floor and to reduce risk of further prolapse damage. The induction was to encourage a vaginal birth over a c section as it would be better for her to heal her pelvic floor and core. Which is what Kimmy is now a total expert on by the way. Check out her site here www.kimmysmithfit.com

What we hear time and time again is that by doing She Births you are empowered and informed to be part of decisions like this with your team.

In preparation for this birth, Kim and her husband Ryan did She Births via the new video based online course . They welcomed Navaya Maree Smith into the world 6 weeks ago.

You will also want to check out how amazing Kimmy is too! She is an ex elite netballer, ex lawyer and has built a business around inspiring mums to exercise safely during their pregnancy and to be able to create a strong and healthy body after baby through positive movement and mindset. She is part of a growing community of Mum’s who want to support other Mum’s and help make this time of our lives as special and amazing as possible. We love her work!

How did you prepare for birth?

This was my third birth and I was actually quite nervous. I have pelvic organ prolapse and the thought of birthing and making the prolapse worse made me quite worried. I consulted with my physio (Liz Evans of Women in Focus ) and did the pelvic floor exercises on the Fit Mummy Project App religiously each day. This brought me comfort as I was actively preparing for the birth and I could feel my body getting stronger as my pregnancy progressed. I would also combine each workout with a positive affirmation or visualisations to help build mental strength as well as physical strength. I would say something like “ I am strong and capable. I am doing everything I need to do to birth this baby”. I started the She Births online course around the mid-way mark of my pregnancy and doing it online allowed me to work through it at my own pace. I honestly used the guided meditations each night as a way of calmly building positive resilience for the pregnancy and birth.  Other ways that I prepared were; weekly acupuncture, exercise and nutrition.

Here we go

How did you bring your baby into the world?

We birthed at Sutherland Hospital and I have to praise them. They were great. I was induced at 40 weeks and 1 day. I had heard a lot of scary induction stories which made me nervous about. I arrived at the hospital at 6:30AM and had my waters broken at around 7:30 – 8AM. I thought that they would break my waters and I would go into active labour straight away. But nothing happened.

So at around 8:30AM I started the Syntocinon via a drip in my arm. I started at a low dose. I had been having constant Braxton Hicks contractions since around 37 weeks, so the early stages of labour felt no different to the constant contractions I had already been having. They weren’t painful and I was like ‘this induction thing is easy!!’ So smug!

At around 10AM I was in active labour with the contractions coming in definite peaks and a lot stronger. A contraction during an induced labour feels a lot different to a normal contraction. A normal contraction follows a bell curve. It builds, peaks and falls away. An induced contraction comes on really strongly, but fades faster.

 

Couples that breathe together, stay together

Who supported you throughout the birth?

My husband Ryan was there actively participating in the birth with me.

We were really fortunate to be the only couple birthing at that time and so we had the entire focus of three midwives who were amazing. When I said “I think I need to push”. They said ‘Trust your body, if you want to push, push!

 

 

I don’t know if I can do this

 

 

What was the most challenging part of the birth?

Transition is where you move from being around 8cm dilated to 10cm dilated and ready to push. It’s the point where most women ask for the epidural, where you think you can’t do it and where you feel like you need to poo. I ticked all those boxes. My transition and second stage ended up being so quick, but it didn’t feel like it at the time.

 

 

 

 

What most helped you through the birth experience?

I managed my active labour using lots of the tools I learnt in the She Births course and a few of my own techniques.

Deep Belly Breathing – I breathed in for a count of 5 and out for a count of 5. Two to three breaths like that saw me through the hardest part of the contraction.

Visualisation – With every contraction I tried to visualise Navaya moving further down the birth canal and feeling one step closer to meeting her.

Exercise Ball – I used the Exercise Ball to roll my hips and allow her to move further down into the birth canal. I would also stand for the contraction and do slow squats in time with my breath. It distracted me from the contraction and helped me to feel like I was actively helping my body.

Massage – Ryan would massage my back and shoulders during a contraction. It helped to distract from the sensations in my belly. I remember saying “Harder!” Just dig your elbows in! Your pain tolerance is through the roof at this stage, so partners – go hard!

TENS Machine – This was a game changer! A friend lent me her TENS Machine and I am so glad I had it. It sends little electrical nerve impulses up your spine and basically confuses your brain as to what is going on! I placed the pads on my back and bum and would turn it right up during a contraction to help manage the pain. Sometimes I was a bit heavy handed and felt like I was electrocuting myself, but for the most part, this little machine was incredible! Highly recommend it if you can get your hands on one.

GAS – the midwives recommended I try the gas when the contractions were starting to get super strong. I hated the gas when I was in labour with Samara, it made me want to vomit. But they thought it would help to distract me and keep me focused on my breathing. It did work well for that, and I would have it for a couple of contractions and then have a break. However, it made me feel really drowsy. I think all the adrenalin of the morning had worn off.  I got up on the bed and tried to rest for a while.

Photos – I had a photo book the girls and Ryan made for me for our 10 year anniversary. I wanted to look at pictures of our family when I was struggling and know that this tiny little moment in time would be worth it for the beautiful family we were creating.

Kissing – Kissing helps to boost oxytocin – the love drug which causes your uterus to contract. Ryan and I have kissed through the contractions for all of our girls. It calms me and makes me feel grounded. Some women hate their partners during labour, but I couldn’t love Ryan more at that stage where I am so open and vulnerable.

All fours birth squat

Was there anything that surprised you on the day?

I thought when you got induced, birth happened soon thereafter. I had a 6.30 appointment so I asked mum to bring the girls in before school to meet their sister!! Needless to say that didn’t happen.

I was also happily surprised that the midwives didn’t check to see how far dilated I was like had happened during my other births. They kept saying “you’ll know when you are ready”. This was great as hearing that you are ‘only x’ cms can have an effect your mindset.

 

What has been the best post birth care for you?

Rest. After my other births, especially my first, I took great pride in being back at it straight away. This time I’ve learnt the value of taking it easier and listening to body so I’m doing things slower. I’m eating lots of healing postpartum recipes from the Nourished Mummy Project App , doing the Early Postnatal Workouts from the Fit Mummy Project App and continuing with my weekly acupuncture appointments. We are also so grateful to the support from our families.

How would you describe the online course in three words?

practical, positive and empowering

If had to explain to someone why they should do the online course, what would you say?

“The great thing about doing the She Births® Online Course is that we could do it at our own pace. We could go back over any areas whenever we needed and also engage via the Facebook Forum. Nadine was there to answer questions as we went along.” Kimmy Smith

I did it!

 

Love and gratitude,

Nadine xxx

P.S. We’d love to hear your birth story! Get in touch.

 

 

 

Photos credit: Beautifully captured by @tashwhittyphotography