“When she slipped out of me I just couldn’t believe it! That was it! I gave birth and it seemed so easy!!!” – The Birth of the beautiful Cassandra!

If you are in need of some inspiration for your birth, then read this birth story! There are so many wonderful comments from mum stating how amazing birth can be….

“I didn’t lose control for a second”

“A positive beautiful birth with no stress, no fear, almost no pain. A totally un-medicated birth that seemed like a walk in the park and I can now say we are born to do it this way! “

“Hypnobirthing classes gave me the strength to become a mother again and feel like I had the birthing experience every mother deserves!”

 

“Hello Kerry,  

I want to update you with our amazing news. So little Cassandra Anna Ingaldo decided to make her entrance in this world on Friday 25th of May at 1.27 in the afternoon.

 Her birth was calm, easy and quick! 

 I started having very soft and gentle surges around 4am in the morning. I listened to the ‘surge of the sea’ album and managed to fall asleep till 7.30am in the morning. When I woke up I was having gentle surges every 5 minutes and managed to have breakfast, read a book and play with my boy.

John couldn’t believe I was in labour – he was getting ready to go to his job. I told him better to stay home as you never know how things develop. I was right around 10am it started getting more intense. I went to my room listened to my meditation playlists, had a shower and concentrate.

I put all the hypnobirthing knowledge to use. It helped so much. I was in total control having surges that were lasting more than a minute every 3 mins, I wasn’t feeling the urge to go to the hospital!

Finally at 12.15 the waters broke and it became very clear we needed to go as surges were coming very close and more intense. Still I was in control.

I was at the hospital at 12.30 and the midwife was preparing the pool. I got in the pool at 1pm feeling the urge to push and baby came out at 1.27pm

I didn’t lose control for a second. I was able to listen and follow the midwife instructions and breath my baby out. I didn’t have any tearing. When she slipped out of me I just couldn’t believe it! That was it! I gave birth and it seemed so easy!!

John – who was an excellent partner holding and talking to me all the time – said he couldn’t believe how in control I was and how easy it seemed. He finally admitted our hypnobirthing classes helped a lot to achieve what we wanted.

A positive beautiful birth with no stress, no fear, almost no pain. A totally unmedicated birth that seemed like a walk in the park and I can say now we are born to do it this way!

Thank you very much. Hypnobirthing classes gave me the strength to become a mother again and feel like I had the birthing experience every mother deserves. Positive and empowering. Keep up the good work so many expecting mothers need to know about it.

Kind regards

Zenia & John”

cassandra anna ingaldo (zenia)

How can a doula support you before, during and after birth?

Virginia Maddock from Natural Beginnings is here to tell you more…

Introduce yourself in 50 words or less…

Hi. I’m Virginia, otherwise known as “Muuuuuuum!!!” to 2 boys (6 and 9yo) who were born naturally at home. I have been a doula since 2006, and am also a herbalist and nutritionist, so I am passionate about the natural side to everything in life. I am equally passionate about human, women’s and animal rights which infuse into everything I do.

How can you support women BEFORE birth?

I support women before birth by filling in any gaps in their knowledge about the process of birth; by making them aware of ALL their choices including place of birth, antenatal medical testing, hospital policies, and pain relief alternatives. I help them with writing a birth plan to reflect their vision for how they would like to be treated in the birthing room and what choices they have made for their labour and birth, by helping them to face and overcome their fears, giving them tools to manage pain so they can cope with the intensity that labour brings, and giving them techniques to create the space needed for their baby to engage in an optimal position for birth. By the end of their pregnancy women should be optimistically anticipating the rite of passage that will be their labour and birth instead of dreading its arrival.

How can you support women DURING birth?

I support women during birth by giving them the knowledge in my head, the compassion in my heart and the warmth in my hands. I help to create the ideal internal and external environment to eliminate fears and help women feel safe during birth, help with pain relief and endurance with warm touch, massage and natural alternatives where warranted, and help support their voice to advocate for their ideal vision of birth when interacting with health professionals. I also offer birth photography as an add-on to my package if women would like to capture their precious birthing and baby memories forever. My service is designed to give women the comfort, compassion and control they need to birth their babies with confidence.

How can you support woman AFTER birth?

I support women after birth by being an empathetic ear to listen to their birth story, by bringing my experience as a mother if they need some guidance, a shoulder to cry on when things feel overwhelming, or I can help facilitate referrals to other specialists when things feel too complicated. I also offer a ‘closing the bones’ ceremony to complete the birthing process and help the transition from a pregnant and birthing woman to mother. As an add-on to my services I offer placenta encapsulation to help women feel fantastic in those early days, new family photography to forever capture that delicious newborn period which will otherwise quickly fade into a fuzzy memory, and traditional postnatal belly massage to nurture the well-deserved, post-birth body.

What are the main benefits a pregnant (or recently given birth) women could gain from your services?

In the modern world where pregnant women can feel isolated and overwhelmed, hospital policies can be very impersonal, and birth is seen as an emergency waiting to happen, the benefits women receive from my doula service are evidence based birth education, knowledge about all her options, feeling heard, gaining trust in her body, her baby, and the choices she has made, and having the hands on support she needs to birth her baby with confidence.

What do you love most about your job?

I love watching couples change from hesitant and fearful to bold and empowered. I love seeing women make a smooth and amazing transition from maiden to mother, and the look of admiration and pride on the dad’s face when he witnesses the power that his partner has within her. Seeing new life emerge is the icing on the cake!

If you could give pregnant women 1 piece of advice, what would it be?

Know your options, face your fears, trust your intuition and find your voice. And don’t birth without a doula, especially in the hospital – you need someone to hold the space and be in your corner!

What’s your favourite quote/mantra?

This is not exactly birth related, but it applies to everything in life and is what drives me to be an activist, especially for health, birth and animal rights… “Never, never be afraid to do what is right, especially if the wellbeing of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.” ~ Martin Luther King

Please provide details of your business

virginia maddock photo

What is a Doula and how can they support you in your goal of achieving a great birth experience?

Amanda Sydney doula services east ka huna massage pilates

 

Doula’s are becoming increasingly utilised by women as a form of support during their labour and birth of their baby.

Here, Amanda Bernstein from Essential Me gives you a detailed run down of what a Doula does and how one could support you, and your partner, during the birth of your baby…

 

Often I meet people in the street and they ask what I do.  Often I’m met with “Oh a jeweller! Cool, are you wearing any of your work?” or “Do you mean something like fencing where you fight people?”… Alas, no.  My mum is an awesome jeweller though!

Hi, I’m Amanda Bernstein and my business is called Essential Me.  I’m a Sydney based birth and postnatal Doula, supporting mums in the East / Eastern Suburbs, Inner West, Lower North and Southern parts of Sydney.  It’s a combination of Doula services and you can choose one or the other, or both.  The word originates from the Greek language and used to mean “slave woman” which overtime became “servant woman” and is now “support woman”.  Essentially, I support women and couples during their pregnancy, at their birth and in the postpartum period, providing continuity of care in their journey to meet their new baby.  Every time I’m at a birth it’s super special to me – I feel honoured that a couple who were effectively strangers invite me into such a personal time in their lives.  It’s a privilege I don’t take lightly or for granted.  Your baby will only be born once and I do everything I can to help make sure it is the best possible experience you can have.

Amanda Bernstein Sydney Doula Services Eastern Suburbs pregnancy massage

As a Doula, I work alongside your medical team – whether it’s your midwife, GP or obstetrician – and play a very different part to them at your birth.  A Doula is a non-medical role – I’m there to support you emotionally, physically and informatively.  Usually we meet for an obligation free interview, a kind of “get to know you” chat.  I think this is really important as if you’re going to invite me to your birth – one of life’s most intimate moments – I want you to feel 100% comfortable in my presence.  You need to be able to speak your mind, share your feelings and not hold back what you really think.

If you wish to proceed from there, we arrange for at least two further prenatal meetings.  At the first one, we discuss your preferences around birth (all your hopes and wishes) and I go over with you what your options are.  I truly believe that you have choice and evidence based information is important.  From this conversation I create a birth plan (AKA birth preferences – as things don’t always go to plan!) and send it to you.  This is an important step as it means should something not go to plan at your birth, you understand why.  There will be a medical reason why things will deviate from your preferences and you won’t have trauma around them after the birth.  The birth plan is something I can use as a Doula in the hospital setting to advocate for you – for your wishes – and to make sure you consent to anything that strays from this.  You’ll take this plan to your pregnancy care provider to sign off on during your pregnancy, so there are no surprises about your requests at the birth.  It will give you a chance to discuss anything out of the ordinary with them, or anything that may clash with your wishes – like potentially hospital policy.

In the second meeting we discuss your fears around birth and address any concerns or queries that you may have around the process, and what happens next.  We’ll talk about natural things you can do to be in optimum shape and condition to birth your baby, and can even go over some positions for birth, breathing techniques and visualisations.  Though of course, you may have already done this in your independent birthing classes.  Importantly, it’s spending more time getting to know me (and me you!) and feeling more comfortable and at ease in my presence.

Then, from your 38 to 42 weeks gestation (ie your due month), I’m on call for you.  You can contact me 24/7 with concerns, queries, questions, and importantly if you think you’re in labour.  I then attend your birth with you.  If you’re low risk, your hospital may even offer you access to a homebirth or their birthing centre instead of the delivery suite – and I can support you and your partner in your labour and your birth in all of these locations.

To your birth, I bring my giant Doula toolkit (or some say a bag of tricks!).  This includes lots of things like motivation and encouragement, massage and acupressure, essential oils and homeopathy, rebozo techniques, photography and more… Most importantly, I truly believe in you and your ability to birth your baby.  As a non-biased support person, I’m there for you no matter what and will back you in your choices.  I can provide you with lots of information so that you totally understand the risks around the decisions you make.  I strive to ensure that you are 100% present for your journey, that you consent to every step of the process, and that if this deviates from your birth plan, you fully understand why.  Given in 2018 we have postnatal depression rates of something like 1 in 7 women, 1 in 16 partners and PTSD in 1 in 10 new mums, I truly believe that having a Doula is a massive step towards improving these numbers.

We’ll meet after the birth to debrief your experience.  It’s the chance for you to own your story and having been at your birth, I can help you to fill in any gaps.  Often during a birth, time is warped and it can be hard to judge how long there was between each event or even which part came first.  Debriefing is an important step to ensure you have no question unanswered or “stone left unturned” so to speak.  I can also help you with feeding and settling techniques, and go through an approximate “what to expect” for a 24 hour cycle with your newborn baby (not quite a routine).

In this postnatal Doula role, we call it “mothering the mother” and so I do whatever it is that you need to best be able to look after your baby.  I can help you fold a load of laundry, hold the baby so you can shower, cook a nutritious meal and even pick up some groceries for you on my way.  And if you don’t have much support around, you can book additional postpartum Doula sessions with me too. My role encompassing all Doula services, is varied and allows me to offer a true range of support for you in so many different ways.

 While I absolutely love this Sydney based doula support work, it does mean I need to juggle some other things in my personal life.  My children are young (currently 6 and 3.5 years old) and are at school / preschool 5 days a week.  My amazing husband can help cover the nights and weekends, and we have a demi pair (like a nanny) who lives with us who helps with the drop off and pick up times from school.  Given I have to drop everything on the fly to attend a birth, it’s essential that I have these sorts of measures in place.  It also means I don’t commit to very much personally.  When we are invited to something I can only say “I’m on call for a birth at that time so while I’ll do my best to be there, there is a chance I’ll be supporting a Doula client”.  Also, as I mostly see my clients on nights and weekends (as they work in the day and that’s what usually suits them), it does significantly limit the time I can spend with my husband and kids.  I try to keep one week night free a week to spend with my husband, and at least one of the weekend days to spend as a family – tricky when we juggle things like swimming, jiu-jitsu or dance classes – plus kids birthday parties etc…  I see this mostly as a sacrifice for loving the Doula work I do.  Every job has its ups and downs, and the “job” part of being a Doula doesn’t feel like work to me as I love it so much, it’s more the missing out on other opportunities in my life that is the down side.

In addition to my Doula services, I’m also a Ka Huna bodyworker and a Pilates instructor.  Ka Huna massage is an incredible Hawaiian style that uses long flowing strokes from head to toe and back again, over and under the body, and this underbody work is so unique and different to any other style, making Ka Huna a full body massage in one sweeping motion.  You are encouraged to relax deeply on the table and truly let go – physically, emotionally and spiritually.  I didn’t get into Ka Huna to become a massage therapist, rather it’s the personal development that comes with it that I gain so much from.  You see in Ka Huna, we focus on the flow of love energy, and if I can stay present and focused, not thinking about the laundry or what’s for dinner or any negative things that may be happening in my life, then I feel so much more positive in general.  When giving a massage, I draw on my Lomi Lomi Heartworks (another Hawaiian style of massage) techniques which makes the massage like a meditation – I imagine I’m breathing air in from my head to my heart, and love out my arms and hands into the body on the table.  I’m trained in pregnancy massage and bring a little bit of flow to each birth with me too.

 As a Pilates instructor, I specialised in pregnancy Pilates and postnatal Pilates for recovery.  I offer a unique mobile service to you where I come to your home in Sydney and help you apply functional Pilates exercises back into your everyday life.  This helps to reduce the risk of injury and allows your body to adapt as your baby grows.  This is available during pregnancy and usually as a postnatal service.

Thanks so much for reading all the way through this blog article.  I hope you have enjoyed my sharing all aspects of my busy lifestyle and exactly what’s involved in being a Doula (or hiring me).”

 

If you’d like more information or to connect with Amanda Bernstein, the Sydney Doula, please check out:

Website: www.essentialme.com.au

Phone Amanda: 0411 607 608

Facebook & Instagram: /essentialmeservices

The birth of the beautiful Isla Belle – “Isla is the most placid and happy little baby, Nick and I are completely smitten and loving every minute of this journey.”

“We were lucky enough to be blessed with a little girl on February 21st, Isla Belle Roberts was born at RPA at around 12pm.

In the lead up to her birth with weekly ultrasounds we were constantly being told she was going to be a very big baby, finally as I reached 38 weeks she was running out of room so we decided it was best to induce labour and welcome Isla a little bit earlier to ensure there was no complications with this huge baby being born.
I was lucky enough that after the induction my waters broke naturally and contractions started themselves so there was no need for intervention or oxytocin drips, this baby was ready to come out itself!
Due to the induction, labour was quite long and my surges started straight away being 3-5 minutes apart and 1-2 minutes long. Having the hypnobirthing techniques we learnt and practiced were crucial in the first few hours of getting through this labour, I was able to go into myself, calm my self and baby’s heart rate down in order to get through the long hours and control my breathing the entire time. Practicing my breathing became the most crucial tool I had to get me through the relentless surges. Once I felt I was ready to push, Isla came into the world in only about 8 pushes, with the obstetrician saying he could tell I had been practicing my ‘pushing breath’ as it was perfect and I got through the birth without a single tear or graze!
Although the labour and birth went nothing like we planned it didn’t matter at all, in the end it turned out being the most perfect birth to a beautiful baby girl, weighing in at only a normal 3.4kgs after all that…
Isla is the most placid and happy little baby, Nick and I are completely smitten and loving every minute of this journey.
Thank you again for all your help, I’m so glad we did this class with you and can not recommend it highly enough to soon to be mothers!”
Amelia & Nick – parents to baby Isla

The beautiful birth of baby Ernie – “It was the most incredible experience and I would do it a million times over.”

I love receiving positive birth stories – it’s why I do what I do. To know that other women have experienced really powerful, beautiful and amazing births that leave them feeling like they would give birth again “a million times over” is what it’s all about for me.

Check out the wonderful birth story of baby Ernie and read how his mum and dad have been telling everyone how great his birth was!!
“Hi Kerry!

You’ve been on my mind too, it’s been a very full few weeks but I’ve been dying to let you know how we went with the birth.

Little Ernest Dilanchian was born at 2.58am on Sunday the 4th of feb – my birthday!

I’d started having contractions on Thursday evening, they progressed over night, Sevi and I taking turns to time them, then died off during the day on Friday.  I kept in contact with my midwives at the birth centre and kept listening to the affirmations and meditation music to get me through the nights.  F

riday day came and went, in hindsight now I can see how I could have helped the process progress through the days but TBH I was happy to sit quietly with my husband Sevi and enjoy Netflix, recuperating from no sleep the nights before!  Friday night the surges were regular but still 20 mins apart and then on Saturday things started to progress, I spent a lot of time in the shower and on our exercise ball, saying my favourite affirmations over and over in my head – in particular “my body and my baby know how to work together” and “every surge brings me closer to my baby”.

Around 11pm on Saturday night I started feeling like I couldn’t manage the pain on my own so asked if we could come into the birth centre.  We went in, I was given a panadeine and a sleeping pill as I was only 3cm dilated and we came back home to see if we could keep riding it out.  I was at this stage in the shower constantly, Sevi was napping as we didn’t know how much longer we were in for.

By midnight I had a strong urge to push so we made our way back to the birth centre.  My favourite midwife was there and she had the bath ready for me to get straight in, which I did.  I was vocalising a lot by this stage, Sevi and my midwife we quietly encouraging but I was in my own zone.

At this point I remember being incredibly aware of everything happening in my body and not feeling pain – just incredible power with each surge.  Pretty much within an hour of getting to the birth centre again I was giving birth to my baby boy!

My midwife reminded me to hum so I wouldn’t lose my voice which I am eternally grateful for and I hummed him out in the bath, on my knees.  I can remember the crowning being a sharp feeling, but I focussed on my baby and imagined him moving downwards.  The affirmations were running through my mind every time I felt myself being overwhelmed.

All of a sudden he was slipping out and I scooped him into my arms.  It was the most incredible experience and I would do it a million times over.

Sevi and I both tell everyone how amazing the birth was at every opportunity!  I wanted a water birth and I am so thankful that it all went to plan, and honestly I have you and hypnobirthing to thank.  Can’t wait to catch up in person and talk it all through, Ernie would love to meet you.

Thank you so so much for your sessions and for staying in contact, I will be forever thankful!”

Victoria – Mummy to baby Ernie!

The beautiful birth of Clara Ann!

Below is the birth story of the gorgeous baby Clara who is one of the few babies who actually arrived on her due date!

Here is her hypnobirthing superstar mum Holly writing about Clara’s birth…

“Hi Kerry! I just wanted to let you know about the birth of our daughter, Clara Ann on 8th February. She was born at 19.40 weighing 3.74kg (8lb 2oz for us Brits!) Andy and I are over the moon with her and it was an amazing surprise to find out we had a little girl at the end of it all.
Here’s my hypnobirthing story…
I knew a bit about hypnobirthing before I fell pregnant as I knew friends who’d used it and had amazing births. As soon as I saw that positive line on my test, I knew I would be getting in touch with Kerry to book into a course. The hypnobirthing classes and the material we went home with were invaluable in starting me off on a route to a positive, informed and empowered birth. The best thing about hypnobirthing for me was that it gave me the power to own my own body and realise what a natural process pregnancy, labour and birth are. I was able to thoroughly research everything armed with reliable research links sent to me through Hypnobirthing Australia. There wasn’t anything I didn’t feel I was unprepared to discuss at any of my hospital appointments.
I chose to have a hospital birth because this was my first baby and I wanted the safety and security of a hospital. What I will say is that during the 9 months I carried Clara, I found myself more and more wishing I’d had a home birth as I was so keen to test out all those natural hormones! I complimented my hypnobirthing with a shed load of herbal teas designed to help prepare your body for birth and followed some research I found on eating dates to help labour (although after 4/5 dates a day for 4 weeks I’m happy not to see another one for a while!)
Hypnobirthing was an amazing way for me to involve my husband with the pregnancy and the birth. He learnt alongside me. We avoided baby books and google and just went with all the vast array of sensible research you sent us. We’d practise light touch massage and in the weeks running up to my EDD we’d do the birth rehearsal. I put up affirmations in my kitchen onto personal photos I loved and felt represented each one. I read them daily and practiced my tracks as much as possible. All of this led to me feeling calm about the birth. I didn’t feel scared at all. Only in the last couple of weeks did I start to feel apprehensive but it was more fear of the unknown than fear of birth (besides, I don’t think I’d be normal if I didn’t have a few wobbles before the big day!!)
Unbelievably, Clara arrived bang on her due date. I think she felt as ready and prepared as I did! I put on my tracks at the start of early labour and tried to focus my breathing as much as possible. Everything went well at home although I found that a lot of my plans to lay and listen to my tracks went out the window as it took a lot of focus for me during  my surges. I assumed early labour would be slow going and I’d have time to chill between surges but my body was having them every 5-10 minutes from the minute I woke up that morning. I tried to labour at home as long as possible but once my waters released we thought it was time to go!
Once I got to the hospital, things ramped up quickly. I was that women in a wheelchair in the lift with her waters flooding over the floor!!!  I’d packed all my candles and got playlists on my phone ready for labour. I even took my laminated affirmations to have around me in the labour suite. We never got them up though as we were so focussed on the labour. The ‘Quiet please we’re hypnobirthing’ sign did make it onto the door and our amazing midwife, who knew nothing about hypnobirthing, took our birth preferences and info pack off for a read and came back a convert I think!
I arrived at the hospital at 1.30pm at 2cm dilated. I’d asked not to be checked but Clara had meconium in the waters so they were needing to check me and her heart rate. I felt a little twang of disappointment that I felt so far along yet wasn’t dilated. I managed to get in a bath surrounded by my candles and Melissa reading me the affirmations. By 4.30pm I was 10cm dilated and by the miracle of nature I felt my body change and experienced spontaneous pushing. Unfortunately, Clara took her time to get out and I pushed at full dilation for nearly three hours, although I had no idea it had taken so long as I was so exhausted and high on birthing hormones. All my hypnobirthing felt like it went out of the window and I thought I’d never do it. I heard myself say over and over “I can’t do this” and I was shaking and feeling totally overwhelmed. Looking back it was classic transition signs.
Time had no meaning for me and I look back and feel it was like I was in a daze. Only now can I see how all those birth hormones were working! My husband was simply amazing. I couldn’t have got through without him and his constant encouragement (even if he did say he wanted to throw the iPhone and Melissa and the tranquil chambers out the window since it got stuck in a loop that neither of us were in a position to change!)
When Clara arrived and they passed her into my arms I think I was in shock that I’d done it. I’d birthed my baby safely and naturally without any pain relief at all!
Afterwards, I looked back to analyse my birth and felt like I’d ‘failed at hypnobirthing’ because everything I thought I’d do I didn’t. I wasn’t that calm women laid in a bath from the course videos. I was a noisy shouting women finding that I could get through each surge so I could get through the next. I might not have been actively focusing on ‘every surge brings my baby closer to me’ but I’m pretty sure it was there in my subconscious! Things on my birth preferences kept not happening, such as I wanted a physiological third stage. They advised against it as I was bleeding heavily. However, I was already knowledgeable as to why this could happen and the risks involved so I didn’t need to ask what they were doing and was able to make conscious decisions to say yes to the drugs I needed to help me.
However, as the week has passed, I now look back and think to my myself what did hypnobirthing do for me? And the answer is it empowered me to feel like I owned my body. It taught me that my body is strong. My body is amazing. It gave me a positive view of pregnancy and birth and guided me away from all the negativity we hear about how awful labour is. It gave me strength to feel relaxed in my physical and mental preparation for birth. Above all hypnobirthing gave me the tools to calmly face whatever turn my birthing took.
As Melissa (Hypnobirthing Australia Director) says “I am a strong women”. We are all strong and we all deserve to experience a positive birth no matter what turn that birth takes. I for one cannot praise Hypnobirthing Australia enough and I will now go forwards as one more women to help share with others that birth is a natural process that we should all own.”

From planned vaginal breech birth to caesarean section and calmly meeting whatever path your birth follows!

The absolutely adorable baby Alfie was born recently and here mum Emily talks about how her planned vaginal breech birth was going so well but ended in a caesarean birth, yet that didn’t stop this hypnobirthing star from having a very positive and inspiring birth….

 

“Hi Kerry. Sorry for the delay, just thought I’d send some pictures and info on the birth of Alfred (Alfie) last week. I can’t believe he’s already 9 days old.

Thank you so much for your guidance and support with our breech baby. I really think that if I hadn’t done the HypnoBirthing course I’d have rather different feeling about the outcome of the birth. Apologies if I’m repeating myself on  what you already know regarding the birth story.

On Friday 19th Jan after our follow up session I’d prepared for a house warming party at ours and thought about the new affirmations we discussed. At the end of the party I felt a small amount of liquid and wondered if it could be my waters. Although the amount was negligible, it definitely wasn’t wee or discharge and it kept coming every time I moved (but like I say, it was a really small amount). I slowly started to move people out of the party and pulled my husband aside, asked him to put down the beer in case we needed to go to the hospital. I remember at first thinking, ‘oh crap, what do I do, there are people in the house, I’m tired, I need to clean up, this isn’t supposed to happen for another week or so!?’

Then I immediately smiled and though, if this is it, this is it, bring it.

After clearing out the house at about 11pm I called the hospital, as we were attempting a natural breech birth they’d asked us to give them a shout as soon as we thought we might be in labour. The hospital staff were really relaxed and said to come in and they’d check me out to see what’s going on. Chris roughly finished packing the bag while I sat and relaxed. I told him not to bother with half the stuff as i felt like I’d be coming home in an hour or so anyway. We took an uber to the hospital and as I got out of the car I took 2 steps when my waters really really broke. There was no question or doubt in my mind then, baby was enroute. Despite having a laminated hospital bag packing list, we of course forgot half the contents. With a natural breech attempt they like to monitor any contractions and bubs heart rate continually on mobile devices to check all is in order. So they had me tucked up in bed with a cup of tea and some monitors. At about 2:30am I think I started to feel some contractions which came about every 10minutes and I managed to sleep in between each one. Having downloaded the HypnoBirthing tracks onto my phone I found it really helpful to have them playing through the night. They really kept me relaxed, especially the affirmations. Relaxing into each contraction I felt in control and content that my body knew what to do.

By 7am they were coming every 5-7mins and felt stronger but in my docile relaxed state I don’t really remember. I let the midwife know things had ramped up since I was admitted and they got me going comfortable in the delivery suite advising that the breech specialist was enroute and there were two breech attempts happening that day.

At 08:30am I was examined and was 4cms. My husband had set up the room into a relaxed environment and was launching into some light tough massage which really helped. However, we’d forgotten the heat packs.

Just when I was getting into my ‘marathon mindset’ things sped up. A lot. Maybe I should have prepared for a sprint? By 11am I was at 10cm and was ready to push. Breathing and vocalising through each surge really helped but I could tell the endorphins had kicked in. Everything else was still and it felt like i was only concentrating on 1 thing which was getting through each surge. Saying to myself, ‘if I got through the last one, I’ll get through this one’ helped although I was surprised how quickly they’d ramped up. At one point I said I couldn’t do it, not recognising that I was in transition. I asked for gas, had one blow and spat it out, I think it was easier with nothing.

Once I’d started to breath the baby down things felt quite different, slower and more time between surges for which I was thankful for. The drs were very hopeful and commented that everything was ‘textbook’. I even felt my baby’s bum with my hand which was encouraging. However, the babies heart rate began to drop and very quickly the specialist advised I was going to be taken in for a cesarean. I don’t remember much else, other than feeling like I totally trusted the team to make the safest decision for my baby. The babies heart rate dropped again and there was no time for an epidural. I was put under general anaesthetic and my baby was delivered at 12:07 without me even being awake or my husband in the room.

None of that mattered, my baby boy was healthy, happy and safe. When I awoke 2hrs later I was united with my baby who immediately fed and settled on my chest.
HypnoBirthing really helped me ‘calmly accept whatever turn my birthing took’. If I’d have known that my first birthing experience would have ended like this I’d have never believed it but it was still a positive experience. Just to have my boy healthy and with me is all that matters. I’m not going to pretend that being rushed into theatre isn’t traumatic. Hearing words fly around like ‘don’t push, no time for epidural, we need to get her under now’, are things that will stay with me but trusting the medical team looking after me I truely feel like birthing was a positive experience. No I didn’t have my dream water birth surrounded by candles, letting the surges pass silently with my husband at my side for the delivery but I got my baby, healthy, bright eyed and hungry. It doesn’t mean that I can’t aim for that next time.

Thanks again for your support. I have been recommending your course for my prospective mums-to-be in Sydney.

Best, Emily & Chris.”

The home birth of the gorgeous Archie!

Giving birth at home used to be the norm. Whilst the majority of births today take place in a hospital, with the right support, knowledge and preparation, giving birth at home can be the most amazing and empowering experience. Here mum Azure talks about the home-birth of the gorgeous baby Archie…

 

“On 4th August 2017 I woke up at 2:30am having Braxton Hicks. As I had experienced this all pregnancy I didn’t think much of it. I’d had a couple by 3am and started thinking to myself I wonder if today is the day. By 3:30am I started pottering around and knew it was the day. My husband Dan came out of my toddler Mia’s room and asked what I was doing. I told him we would have a baby today! He said ‘should we fill the pool?’. I said no and that he should go back to sleep for now. I turned the lights on in that space and listened to my Spotify playlist which included ‘I’m not afraid’ and ‘I feel it coming’. I waited until a decent hour of the morning, 4:30am, to text my midwife Jo Hunter saying it reminded me of 10 hours before my daughter Mia was born. I was scared and in denial of becoming a mother of 2 under 2 all pregnancy! I only accepted that this was actually happening at around 3am!

My next job was to set up the go pro. I had read about having a labour project, that was important – well it sure did take my mind off the surges. It was possibly the most frustrating hour of my life and I was using Wi-Fi so I had to swap over into my downloaded The Hypnobirthing Mum tracks from our private Hypnobirth course. I became quite passive aggressive with the affirmations like “I am calm” because I wasn’t feeling so calm dealing with technology.

Mia, my 23 month old toddler, had been waking upwards of 10 times a night for most of her life, yet this night she didn’t wake up at all until 6 o’clock in the morning calling out for a breastfeed. I lay with her hoping to get another hour out of her. Due to vaspospasm and aversions I usually breastfeed with gritted teeth and curled toes, however the surge of oxytocin amped things up so her painful latch was the least of my worries. I texted Jo letting her know that I was starting to struggle during the contractions. I didn’t want her driving all this way in case it faded out. I was conscious of peak hour traffic  prepared in the pregnancy in case she didn’t arrive prior to the birth. We got up and Mia and I played between surges, during which I’d run to the loo, my position of choice. I texted her again asking her to come now, mostly for moral support as my waters hadn’t broken, something they did when I was 3cm 41mins prior to Mia’s birth.

My waters broke at 6:30am. Now, in addition to pressure in my back and belly, they felt like someone was trying to fit a triangle shape through a circle. It was becoming harder to play in between surges and Dan was torn on who to look after so I asked him to text my mum, who moved from Brisbane to three levels above us, to come take Mia. I was a little bit disappointed that she would miss the actual birth, but I think she knew what was happening which was important to me. I guess this is why people have doula’s, to tag team baby sitting and birthing woman’s support with hubby!

At 7:30am I was then able to relax a bit more knowing little Mia would be happy with her grandma and Dan could focus 100% on me. It was clearly transition as I started to get demanding, barking instructions for ice each surge like in Yoni Yoga Birth Couples yoga preparation for childbirth class. ‘How did he not know what I needed’ I thought? ‘I need to push’ I told him, thinking to myself omg Jo isn’t here yet! But I knew I could do this if she didn’t make it! And of course a few surges later she arrived and I had a wave of calm, something I felt every time I met with her, even if I had a rough time with Mia’s sleep or work dramas. I really started to lose control, Jekyll and Hyde style. Why did I choose home birth? I then rationally thought it would be the same pain if not worse in hospital with less oxytocin. Then I had a bit of a reprieve and asked if I had the purple line up my bum, she said ‘yes you do love’…I wanted so badly to ask for a quantitative answer to correlate with dilation but knew to trust the process. I was flipping around the birth pool like a maniac trying to get comfortable in vein, then thought maybe the baby was descending? I should try feel his head! An inch or so away gave me great hope! But moved back up after each push which was cruel and something I hadn’t experienced but had heard of. Jacqui arrived at 8:15am (I never expected her to make it as my daughter’s labour was 41mins) and I again felt so much love and support and simple encouragement from everyone. Once his head was out I felt like I wanted to pull his body out with my hands but just gently guided him. It was much slower than my daughters 3 pushes which makes sense now we know how big he was comparatively. And then he was here! I did it! We had another baby! Oh look its an anterior tongue tie…

One of my favourite things about this birth experience was not being rushed. It was really important for me to birth the placenta naturally using gravity as my wish was denied last time for no medical reason which was the most painful part of her labour and delivery. My husband Dan said seeing my strength through the birth was such a powerful experience he asked, ‘How could we not do this again?’. I thanked him for unlearning societies conditioning on the safest way to bring babies into the world over 9 months and becoming so informed. He watched many videos, read articles and talked to other Dad’s at Homebirth Access Sydney’s Dad’s night out! One of Jo’s other clients said it best, ‘thank you for your unwaivering support, your compassion, your calmness, your involvement, your empathy…just thank you’.”

Azure Rigney is tandem breastfeeding 2yr old Mia and 1mo Archie. She had fertility treatment to fall pregnant with Mia and after finding out about MTHFR midline defects such as ties, diet and life style changes…surprise Archie! Azure is currently on maternity leave from the Army who she’s worked with for 7 years, almost as long as she’s been with her hubby, Dan!

Maya’s amazing water birth!

Many women use water either during their labour or for the actual birth of their baby. Here is the beautiful account of baby Maya who was born in the water…

 

Welcome to the world Miss Maya Joy Settecasse… born 8.09pm on Monday 16th October 2017.

Your due date was Monday 9th October, and that date passed. Then Friday the 13th rolled around and we thought that you might match your brother and come on that day. Nothing! I guess you were cosy inside. However I did feel like you were very low, and that my body was doing lots of cramping and tightening, so you must be close.

You were such a strong and vigorous little baby the whole pregnancy… then at almost 1 week overdue, you decided to have a bit of a rest and make me worry that you weren’t moving enough.

Monday 16th I headed into RPA’s birth centre for my 41 week appointment and a sweep by the midwife. I mentioned that I had to lie on my side to feel you move on the weekend, and that comment was promptly followed by a half hour heart rate scan (which was all normal) and a full ultrasound (which was also perfect). I headed back to the labour ward obstetrician with the results, thinking they would send me home and all was good, but the young obstetrician and her colleague were not going to let me go home. They wanted this baby delivered today. They threw a few really comforting words out there like ‘risk of a dead baby’ etc, which made me more mad than anything else, because I know how scare tactics are used to get women to comply with doctor ad hospital protocol. It made sense that if the placenta is tired that bub could also be tired, but they didn’t need to be so threatening – after all, I was there on my own and already had that anxious feeling of being overdue. They said because I was already 2-3cm (possibly because the morning’s sweep had already taken effect) they could break my waters and see how we go. They were quick to point out that if I wasn’t in full blown labour within four hours of the membranes releasing that I would be put on a drip, and therefore a waterbirth would be out of the question. Very keen to speed things along, they also wanted to break my waters right there – before I had a chance to call Paul or even contemplate that I was having a baby today. I gathered some strength and asked for ten minutes to call my birth support team and make sure they were on their way. They hesitated and said that yes, call them back to the room when i was ready. Phew! Something is going my way, they listened. I felt a bit of strength coming back and less vulnerable than ten minutes ago when I felt a few tears coming on. It didn’t matter (I comforted myself), we were having our baby so I tried to stay excited and not worried. I called Paul and told him to bring all our stuff in and leave Diego with his parents and explain to him what was going on. I called Astrid my birth support to make sure she was also on her way. After that I felt a little more relaxed, so even if things started to happen really fast at least they knew where to find me.

To my delight, a friendly birth centre midwife appeared to ask how I was and see if I was ok. She said she would break my waters, then hand over to a new birth centre midwife who would stay with me in the labour ward until I delivered. I couldn’t believe my luck – it really didn’t matter to me where I gave birth, but to have someone on my wavelength with the best natural intentions for me in the same room was a great relief. She pulled out the good old crochet hook, stuck it up the ‘vagina pipe’ (as Diego calls it) and broke my waters. Just like wetting the bed really! I padded up and stood up, then was shown to a great big delivery suite with the most amazing view of fig trees outside. I sat down and again took a few breaths to think about getting excited to meet my baby today. I smiled and looked at these beautiful surroundings and was very grateful that the level of care in Australia is the best in the world. Not much later Paul arrived – another relief. He distracted me with stories of what crazy Diego was up to that day. I got back on the bed to have a cannula put in my hand incase I had blood loss like my last birth – something I was told would happen so I was ready for it. They had a few goes at getting a vein, which was gross and painful. One midwife and nurse tried and failed, then they called an anesthetist to do the job properly. At the time I was cursing, but actually this delay was fortunate because the new midwife Michelle arrived, and immediately said ‘um – hang on a sec, can you please put that in her forearm? She will need her hands during labour so I would prefer it was in her arm.’ Yes! I loved Michelle immediately! Assertive but not arrogant.

Michelle, Paul and I chatted about Yorkshire tea bags and Nannas and parts of England, then she suggested we go for a big walk and check back in an hour later. She explained she would be with me the whole time, and that she only had a six hour shift (gees that doesn’t give us much time I was thinking). She also made my day by saying I could give birth in the bath (she must have read my preferences in my file), because the heart rate monitors were waterproof.

Astrid arrived armed with the most amazing almond meal muffins, so I grabbed a few in hand and we all strolled around the oval near the hospital. I was seriously waddling by this stage, like her head was in my undies. The surges had definitely kicked in. No more period pain like the last week, this was quite central inside me and enough to stop me walking A few minutes apart. We stopped, surged, laughed at how ridiculous we probably looked, chatted and walked, until I thought I better head back inside and sit on the loo. Just like all the books say, my body needed to purge itself for the final stages.

We cruised back in past Michelle, and I had a big smile on my face. She didn’t even have to ask me what was happening – she knew I was surging strongly and very excited. We put on the hypnobirth affirmations track and I got changed into a couple of sarongs. This was it! Finally! I’m in it now, listening to the same track I had been practicing and visualising to for so long. MIchelle suggested I bounce on the ball and rub my nipples to fully get my body going strongly, but every time I sat down I needed to get back up again and lean on the bed and sway to get through a surge. I had a sarong over my face and leaned into my hands and breathed through the surges. I had clary sage on the sarong, and a bit of ylang ylang too. Michelle came over and put a few fingers on my belly to feel what was going on. She said to me that her shift finished in five hours, and that she really thinks she will be delivering the baby! Yes! That was such great motivation to keep doing what I was doing and let my body do its thing. Astrid and Paul took turns getting me drinks, holding my sacrum and hips. and applying the heat pack to my lower abdomen. The breaks were so nice – I stood up, smiled, talked to Paul and Astrid about how they felt, then got back in the zone and leaned over again. That worked well for ages – possibly over an hour, but then all of a sudden I had two back to back surges, and the intensity ramped up.

I moved over to the padded floor mat and got on all fours to get some pressure off my legs and feet. I swayed a bit and got my team to again press my back. During each break I just sat back on my heels and sipped water and got back in touch with my surroundings. I drifted in and out of listening to the affirmations, but every now and again I would catch a really good one that settled my mind and brought my tone and breath back down. I was making soft low noises through surges. I had in my mind I might try to be silent, but I thought the sounds were helping me and not taking away too much energy.

The pressure was moving into my bum a bit more, and was again intensifying. I recognised transition when I loudly pleaded for Paul to tell me where he was. Like a really brief moment of panic or something. He assured me he was right here beside me. Paul had the bath all ready, but I was waiting for the right time to get in. I think this was finally it! I also felt a bit cold so was very keen to get in a warm bath. I asked the team to slowly get my socks and other stuff off so I was ready. I waited a couple more surges to kind of psych myself up for the walk over to the bathroom ( a whole 4m!). I think I surged about four times between standing up and making my way to the bath. I never panicked or rushed, I simply paused and let the surge take its course, and continued toward the bath. Rushing was a really big thing for me last labour, and probably the things I had most worked on in preparation for this birth. No matter how long things needed to take, I was going to be relaxed and okay with it.

Gosh it was good to get in the bath. After so many surges one after another, it seemed like eternity for the first one to come on in the bath. Finally it did. I was in a normal bathing position, and Michelle explained the baths were not deep enough to squat or anything, so I would be semi reclined to give birth. I was not that keen to catch my own baby anyway (…for some reason. I know it looks miraculous in all the videos but I couldn’t see myself doing it) and Michelle would be in the best position to catch her anyway since I was reclined.

Astrid was above my head, putting a cold cloth on my forehead, and Paul was by my side next to the bath holding my hand and giving me water.

Michelle was on the other side, gloves on, and every now and again telling me to trust my body. Her low slow voice was exactly what I needed when my breath got a bit shallow. I did trust that my body can do this, and all I needed to do was be patient enough to let it all happen. It was going really really well so far and I had my peeps around me, and the knowledge from the hypnobirth course. I kept thinking about the uterus pulling and stretching up behind my baby. I also knew the heart rate was perfect so I felt very safe. The warm water and walls of the bath made me feel so at home and comfortable. The room was nice and dark and the team were all in good spirits. It was awesome.

Michelle suggested we get the camera rolling, and Paul started to get some clips of the surges. I then heard Paul say ‘shit, it’s telling me there’s no more memory.’ After many conversations about freeing up phone memory last week, I really had to breathe through not killing him at this point. Quick thinking Astrid suggested he delete the deleted folder to make space, and we were back in business.

I asked Paul if he was ready to catch some poo, and Michelle reminded me that this was just the feeling of baby really moving down the birth path now. How frickin exciting! The next few surges were really something else… more stinging around the vagina and cervix and I felt like I needed to move my legs apart more. I didn’t want Paul to hold my hand or touch me anymore. After the next surge Michelle said she could see the baby’s head! The next few breaks in surges I swore a lot under my breath because they really stung. Paul gripped my left ankle really tight through surges (something I heard in an American hypnobirth track), and that was helping take my mind of the burning sensations.

The team saw the head almost out three times in the next three surges. I breathed through them all. Michelle explained that the water makes bub slip back in, so if I wanted the head to fully come out I could bear down or push if I wanted. Yes, I really did want this baby’s head to come out, I was ready. So with the next surge I kept the bearing down going as long as I could and made some noise – finally – the head and chin were out under the water! Astrid and Paul were saying ‘wow’ and well done, and it was so close and so exciting – the last few hours had absolutely flown by. I asked if she had hair and they confirmed she did. She was facing down still. I think I used the next couple of surges to get myself ready for the actual birth and to meet her. Yep – this was it. The next surge I really bore down and used my arms to prop up and bit and move my legs even further apart. I made even more noise and SLIP! Michelle grabbed our baby and brought her up and onto my chest. We heard a few good cries and she was truly born into this world. An extra midwife that Michelle had called at the last minute rubbed her a bit with a towel and put another warm towel over her. Paul was crying, I couldn’t see Astrid. I was catching my breath for the emotion, and kissing her wet slippery head and saying hello. My eyes were all blurry and teary. Her wet little body was just perfect. The feeling of relief was incredible. After the worry of the morning and the awesomeness of the labour, and to have her in my arms was another level of satisfaction.

I was promptly helped out of the bath in case bleeding was bad, but the whole time they held her against my chest which was beautiful. We dried off and lay on the bed while a saline drip was put in. I was still surging, and Michelle helped me deliver the placenta fairly soon after. This was easy – I had heard that this could be quite full on but it was nothing. Almost ten minutes after the birth, Paul cut the cord and Michelle got to work putting a few stitches in some minor grazing. Another huge relief to know my body had done its thing and me staying relaxed had obviously helped the perineum stay in tact.

This next hour was really precious – as Paul Astrid and I admired the little creature and patted each other on the back. And drank shite loads of fluids! She was sucking her thumb vigorously so I helped her over to my nipple and she sucked for ages on the left then on the right. I had been getting some colostrum before the birth so I think she was happy!

Michelle asked me about names, and I said that Maya was on the cards. She said it was a sign, because Maja (one of my favourite midwives) was about to come in and take over! Yes that was the final sign I needed to confirm Maya as her name, but I waited until the next morning to decide anyway.

Maya was weighed and checked, Paul bought me in a huge burrito from Newtown, and I was able to get up and have a shower by myself – which compared to my last birth was an achievement in itself! I felt so healthy and powerful.

I couldn’t sleep that night I was so excited about her arrival and so happy that I had really achieved what I had set out to do, and that was to deliver naturally and all by myself with nothing more than mind power, knowledge, preparation and the right support around me.”

5 years ago today I was ready and “due” to meet our first baby – but she hadn’t received the memo!

It has just occurred to me that 5 years ago today I was “due” to have our first baby! Little did I know then that (in a further 10 days time) I would be giving birth and it would be the most wonderfully empowering experience of my life!

I am so thankful that I stumbled across hypnobirthing because up until that point I thought birth was an extremely painful and agonising event that I just had to get through if I wanted to have a baby.

But once I found hypnobirthing it made so much sense to me. In every other aspect of my life if I have an important event coming up – a job interview, moving house, starting a business – I put plans in place to make this transition go smoothly. So why hadn’t I been doing anything about preparing to give birth and meet our baby?! I don’t mean preparing for a baby in terms of getting ready by buying all the items they need, I’d done plenty of that and like many first-time mums had got carried away buying lots of cute things that I didn’t actually know if I needed or not. It was the actual physical act of giving birth that I had done nothing about, I was literally going to turn up on the day and hope for the best because I didn’t know there was an alternative.

Hypnobirthing gave me both the practical techniques and strategies to manage the birth that awaited us and also the mental and emotional confidence to go into birth feeling like I was made to do this. And I WAS made to do it! I distinctly remember saying after Hollie’s birth that “I would do that again today”! And that attitude carried through to the births of our other children Bethany and Jack, who by the way were also “overdue” by 12 and 8 days respectively.

Since training as a Hypnobirthing Australia™ practitioner I have become more informed about due dates. The course I initially did to prepare for my baby’s birth wasn’t anywhere near as comprehensive and informative as the Hypnobirthing Australia™ programme. Prior to this I wasn’t even aware that a normal length of pregnancy was anything up to 42 weeks gestation.

So 5 years ago I did find myself feeling a little sad and admittedly a bit nervous about the fact that my baby was going to be “overdue” if she didn’t make an appearance today. Thankfully I had caregivers around me who were happy to mindfully watch and wait for baby to decide when she was ready to make an appearance. Baby was doing well and there were no indications that they needed to intervene at this stage – or at any stage over the next week and half.

And as a result of this approach, our firstborn Hollie decided that on this day 5 years ago, she wasn’t ready to be born yet, John and I would have to wait another 10 days until we were to meet – but her and the birth she gave me were more than worth the wait!

If you’d like to find out more about due dates then some useful articles to start with include:

https://www.bellybelly.com.au/birth/induction-of-labour-to-induce-or-not-induce/

https://midwifethinking.com/2016/07/13/induction-of-labour-balancing-risks/

Kerry – The Hypnobirthing Mum