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How, where and with whom did you give birth and how has it impacted you?
I was born in the Netherlands, the 5th of 6 children who were all born at home. My parents engaged a midwife and a doctor for the birth. My father was present at all our births which were natural and without drugs.
The midwife stayed to care for my mother and help with the nursing of the child for 14 days after the birth.Our family doctor attended all the births and called on my mum regularly This was such a happy time for the family.
In 1970 I had my first daughter alone, in a room at the Royal Brisbane Womens Hospital, drugged by gas, which I had no idea how to use, nor instructed by a nurse or a doctor on how to use the mask. I screamed the place down(apparently) because a doctor came in and told me to "shut up for goodness sake"!
Hubby was not allowed in and was at home. I felt alone and terrified. My 2nd one was a similar story, but luckily I decided not to use gas. I considered having my next 2 at home but this was strongly discouraged by medical staff. I wished I could have had a choice.
Well as the mother of 8 children I actually have quite a few amazing birth stories, but the easiest to access are the stories I have on my blog. The first story was that of an attempted home birth that became an emergencey caesarean, and was totally respectful and amazing after being one of my biggest fears....that story happens in three parts, and starts here....http://spunoutpost.blogspot.com.au/2009/11/how-to-work-towards-empowered-caesarean.html and within 21 months, I was birthing twins as a VBAC, water birth, homebirth, and they were born two days apart...helluva birthing story, in two parts that starts here......http://spunoutpost.blogspot.com.au/2010/11/natural-birthing-of-twins.html And not long after that, I was pregnant again, had another amazing birth and story, birthed out of water which was big for me, and had a totally sexual and empowered experience. That story is in three parts starting here...http://spunoutpost.blogspot.com.au/2012/01/baby-that-came-bearing-gifts-part-1.html
Many years ago, my second baby was born at home in Gippsland with my husband, Midwife Sue and Dr John (now deceased) supporting me.
An obstetrician from the Latrobe Valley offered to support me at the hospital if there were any issues. I felt so empowered by the experience, no drugs, intact peri and almost pain free. An anterior lip made transition challenging for a couple of hours. I fully believe that with great antenatal education, support and the right environment that every woman can achieve the best possible outcome for her.
Collaboration in the current climate of litigation and power hierarchies is challenging, but I believe that it can be done. Midwifery care supported by obstetric care is a direction that I believe in. I had the benefit of this a long time ago, and I hope that other women can also have this support.
I had my son Marley at home with my midwives, my partner and older son and my mother around me. I felt so comfortable being in my own space and knowing my surroundings.
My older son was asleep in his bed and that was so special knowing he was absorbing this amazing energy in our house, he actually woke up just as Marley was being born which I thought was quite special and amazing.
I felt so safe with my midwives, especially my primary midwife whom I had gotten to know throughout my pregnancy, she had so much experience and confidence and I when I was labouring I felt like she knew exactly where I was with every contraction.
My family were comfortable because they were at home in their own space. The next day we didn't have to pack up and transfer and put our little baby into a car, we didn't have to go anywhere, it was purer bliss to be able to relax at home. I loved my home birth and I wish everywoman knew the truth about its safety and that every woman had access to it. xx
After the planned hospital birth of my son, i was left terribly traumatised, depressed and completely detached from my little baby. So detached that we are still building a delicate relationship 5 and a half years later.
After dealing with a miscarriage and lots of tears and soul searching, i was feeling that my mind and body were healed enough to go through pregnancy and birth again, we were pregnant with son #2!
This pregnancy was so, so healing to me, I was in control this time, I made the choices, I was empowered. I had the most wonderful midwife, Gaye Demanuele, who has been with us for all 3 homebirths, this beautiful woman has changed my life!
Fast forward a trouble free pregnancy to 12 days past my EDD and I was literally pulling my hair out, IT WAS LABOUR DAY!! This was a very gentle birth, physically and emotionally. This birth healed those wounds, all was well in my world again. And I got a beautifully chubby 9lb,9oz baby boy Hamish. We have had 2 more beautiful homeirths since!
I like to say I have done one of each - an emergency section for breech, an elective section just because, a VBAC in hospital after 2 sections with no interventions whatsoever and finally, a home birth in a small town in northern British Columbia.
Considering I was 'diagnosed' with extreme CPD, I think I did quite well to go from a 6.10 first baby to a 9.6 4th baby, quite a jump in size.
I am also happy to report that I have attended the births of my 5 grandchildren and so far, no sections, just lots of squatting and long labours in the tub. My VBACs changed me profoundly in such a good way. I know I can do anything I set my mind to. If you want a more detailed birth story, I am happy to oblige ... I look forward to seeing the film!
My two daughters were both born at home.
First with Peter Lucas and an independent midwife, second with two midwives. I always knew that I would not choose to birth in a hospital. I did a lot of research on the topic during my first pregnancy. I believed that as a woman I am physically made for natural birth and that I am able to birth at home. My partner and I attended Rhea's weekend workshop and got a lot of affirmation for our decision.
My first home birth was mystical and magical, lasted only 8 hours and was a powerful, empowering experience.
My second was longer and more difficult but with the help of my midwives I got through it and it turned into a "family event" birth that I remember also with some fondness (though not so magical as the first). Would not have done it any other way!
I Will always fight for women's right to choose how they birth. Looking forward to seeing the film. Regards.
INDI’S STORY Indi’s birth unfolded, mainly due to the trauma I had journeyed with her brother’s birth. Experience and naivety lead you in many directions and I will firstly say that I am so very happy that I had the traumatic birth I did with Ky. Because without it, I would never would have discovered the beauty of homebirth and all that it holds.
Ky’s birth, 3 years earlier was a highly interventionist hospital birth, that left me very traumatized and scared from the experience. Second time around I knew it had to be different. So after many discussions and meeting just the right people at the right time, we decided to have a home birth. When I first met my home birth doctor, Peter, I couldn’t believe how warm, nurturing and caring her was. He spent nearly an hour with us, discussing Kys birth and talked about our hopes and wishes for this next baby.
When I met Jenny, our midwife, I instantly fell in love. Two beautiful care providers that were committed to natural, empowering birth and wanted for us what we hoped for. The pregnancy was amazing. I felt strong and agile; I had acupuncture weekly and felt so positive about the up coming birth. I was still very naïve as to what natural birth involved, but I asked two of my friends to be present, to be my guide. Both of them had birthed naturally with all their children and represented to me what I wanted to achieve. My mum was to be there to look after Ky and I had also asked my acupuncturist to come and put needles in if I needed them. AS the weeks drew closer to my due date I started to experience a never-ending pre labour. It began around 38 weeks and each night I would have contractions as the sun went down. They would last for a few hours or so and eventually I would get tired and go to bed. I would fall asleep and wake up in the morning to nothing going on at all. Sometimes they were really strong and others time very mild. We had quite a few false starts where I would assure my husband this was the real deal, only for it to stop. It was a great exercise in patience and trust and knowing that nothing was wrong. It was just my body preparing itself.
Eventually, around 12 days past my due date, I woke up around 6am to strong contractions. As I got up out of bed I felt a trickle of water come from me. It was like I was weeing, but I couldn’t stop it. The contractions felt stronger and more consistent and I knew that this time it really was the real deal.
I called my midwife and she said she would come on over and check me out and I rang my mum who was in the country to drive down to be with Ky. This real labour was very different to the pre labour. The contractions at this stage were quite mild, but were very consistently every 5 minutes. Throughout the morning my birth team arrived, and there was a bit of a theory, that with all my pre labour and being a second baby that it would happen pretty fast. Well – I think that theory was a bit off the mark. Slow, seems to be the pace for me!!!
As my team filled up the birth pool and as my doctor arrived for a cup of tea and see how I was going, we began to discover that the birth pool was flooding. My husband had turned off the taps, but my mum thought he hadn’t and well the result was a flood in the lounge room of now very cold water. I stood in the door way with Peter, having mild contractions and laughing that you just cant get good birth help these days!! They then had to drain all the water out and start to refill it. Our plants got a good soaking that day! Peter left with a promise to come back later and I decided to go out into the back yard for some air. It was the middle of winter, but a divine sunny day, so I was rugged up and stood in the sunshine. I remember leaning over my husband with the sun on my face, feeling calm and relaxed and excited. We went back in side as the contractions started to pick up and the next few hours seemed to be a blur.
I leant over a bean bag for what felt like hours, each time I would have a contraction I would have to be upright on my knees. The contractions stayed at 5 minutes apart, but started to get stronger in their intensity. Jenny my midwife was there, my mum, and my two beautiful friends, Kari and Rachel. The day seemed to pass in a haze (thanks oxytocin ), but I remember pivotal moments that added to this amazing journey. I asked if my son could leave, because I was finding him very distracting. My mum took him to my mother in laws and I was quite concerned for a while that he was all right. After much re assuring I went back to concentrate on me. At one point I was standing up against the birth pool and I felt so overwhelmed with a wave of emotion. I called for my mum, who stood beside me and I held her hand and couldn’t stop blubbering, “ You’re my mother, and I’m your daughter and I’m having a daughter and I’m her mother and you’re my mother” and my mother and I held each other as we cried and cried. I was so struck with the generational legacy that was being passed. I felt incredibly connected in that moment to where I had come from and where I was going. The women in my family continuing on. I must add at this point that I really do believe in the saying that you birth how you live.
I am a very emotional person that feels things deeply and often has to process everything emotionally before I can move on. So my births are very much the same. There is a lot of emotion that comes out in me in birth and a great deal of the time I was in tears. Happy tears and painful tears and tears of joy and elation. It was beautiful being surrounded by a team that was so accepting of my process. As it started to get towards night time, I remember my birth team in the kitchen eating and me feeling like I was getting nowhere. The contractions were still 5 minutes apart and very strong and I was getting incredibly tired. At one point Jenny (my midwife) came in to the lounge room where I was and closed the blinds. I thought this was a rather strange thing to do and then I realized why. All of a sudden out of nowhere I heard these angels singing. For a minute I thought I had died and I actually looked up to the roof and all around me. My whole birth team looked back at me, with beaming smiles. It took me a minute to twig and then I realized what was going on. My dear friend who lived across the road and who had a baby 5 weeks earlier was part of a gospel choir. I was blessed enough to have been at her birth and she was very aware of me being in labour. That night the gospel choir was rehearsing at her house. They came and stood in my back room and sang me a birthing song. The sound was unlike anything I have ever heard. Of course, tears rolled down my face as they sang and the contractions kept coming. It truly was one of the most magnificent experiences. I think every labouring woman should have a gospel choir sing to them!
After the choir left I started to vomit, a good sign that things were moving. We also made the decision to call my acupuncturist to come and put in needles to try and speed up the contractions and help a bit with pain relief. I got in the birth pool. What divine relief that was and continued to contract. As the hours went on, I slipped more and more into an endorphined state. Feeling very sleepy and relaxed but each time a contraction hit, I would tense my whole body and resist it. I couldn’t let go and allow, but instead tightened my whole body. It is here that I started to hit my crisis of confidence. My head was going crazy with lots of self-talk. “ I can’t do this anymore, I just want a break. I am so tired “. I could barely speak in my endorphined state, but I kept looking at my birth team, just wishing I can change places with them. By this time I had some acupuncture needles in and I was really off in labour land. Jenny suggested I get out of the pool and my dear friend Kari, took me by the hand and said we are going to walk. In my dressing gown and slippers she made me walk around my backyard. Around and around we walked, not stopping for a contraction. I was complaining and moaning and more tears. Bless her heart, she kept me walking, no matter how much I complained. I hated her at that moment for making me do that, but it was what was needed. My birth team was so strong and so amazing. Mike, my husband was often doing jobs, but so much of the time I wanted him near by. I remember quite often just needing to feel his body next to me and call on his strength. He was so solid in his support and belief. As more time passed and we are getting closer to midnight, Peter returned to see how I am going. Around this time I really want to give up. Jenny suggests an internal examination to see what is happening. Of course throughout the day, Jennie regularly checks babies heart rate, and she is always completely happy in there. I have an internal and I am around 6 – 7cms dilated. My waters are still intact so we decide to break them. As Peter does it I feel this great release. I will never forget as I had that internal, Jenny sat beside me, holding my hand so tenderly, reminding me to breath. So different from my first experience in hospital. Peter was so gentle and respectful. When my waters were broken, I was worried if there was meconium. My son had meconium in his waters and we had many issues with that, but my waters this time were all clear. Mike and I were left alone for a while to talk. I wanted to go to hospital. My beautiful husband kept saying to me “ are you sure – I know you, if you give in, you will be disappointed afterwards “ At that point I didn’t care, I wanted out and the only way I thought that would happen was to get drugs. As we were talking I had an almighty contraction. It was so strong, I stood up and howled. It was a double contraction and so powerful. We told the team, we want to go to hospital. I didn’t even have a bag packed, so my team is running around, trying to find things to put in to it to take to hospital. As I am waiting in the hallway, Peter says to me jokingly, ‘ We will just drive behind you, sometimes these babies make their entrance in the car” I laugh and say, “ I wish! “ I tell everyone I have to go to the toilet before we go and my husband comes with me. I try to sit on the toilet and I am all agitated and just keep saying “ I don’t know how to poo” Mike calls Jennie and she comes running down the hallway, takes one look at me and puts her hand between my legs and says “ that’s you babies head” I say “ I can’t move, I’m having the baby on the toilet “ “ No your not “ she says and literally drags me out of the toilet and into the lounge where the birth pool is. I quickly try and rip my clothes off before the next contraction hits, so I can get in the water. Jennie yells to Peter, “ Quick Pete, get the equipment “ which has since been packed up and put back in the car when we decided to go to hospital. I remember her laughing that she’s never seen Peter move so quickly.
The energy in the room, started to tingle, there were excited claps from my friends and a surge of adrenalin through the room. My body stared to push and I went with it. The feeling was very intense, and I couldn’t quite believe she was coming. 5 minutes ago I was going to hospital. With the next push, Peter held his hand on my perineum and Jennie gently felt her head come out. Mike was behind me, holding me in the water. Out came her head and I touched it and said to Jenny “ what do I do?” She said, “ Are you having a contraction? “ “ I don’t know I said “ There was laughter and she told me to just pant and wait. The cord was wrapped around her neck 3 times and I wasn’t even aware till later that that was the case. Jennie so gently unwound it, without any fuss. “ Do you want to catch you baby? “ Jennie asked me. I was leaning back on Mike so I couldn’t hold myself to catch her and Mike wanted to, but I couldn’t let him move. I told Mike to stay behind me; I needed his strength and holding. On the next contraction Indigo Elm, slipped in to Jennie’s hands and then she placed my daughter into my arms. 1.07am. I looked around in shock and asked Jenny if she was ok. She was covered in vernix and looked like a little white elf. Jenny assured me she was just fine as she became pink and vocal and I sat there in an exhausted, shocked, blissful state.
I did it – I gave birth at home, in the water, just like I wanted to. Indi had her first feed in the water and we delivered her placenta in the water about 2o minutes later. We floated her placenta in a bowl next to her and placed flowers on it. Mike cut the cord and eventually I needed to get out of the water. I was incredibly exhausted and a little dehydrated, so cups of tea and toast were very welcomed. We climbed into our bed and Jenny checked over little Indi. She asked Peter “ What weight do you think Pete?” In his wise voice he said, “ oh I think about 6pounds 14 ounces. “ Jennie weighs Indi and looks at Pete and says, “ You are unbelievable! 6’ 14.” Even though it was the middle of the night we were all completely buzzed.
My mother in law arrived about an hour later. She was very fearful about a homebirth, so when she saw her granddaughter she burst into tears. She stayed for a quick cuddle and then about 4 hours later returned with our son Ky. Meeting his little sister was a blessed moment.
Indi’s birth completely changed my life. It made me realize my strength, power, determination and courage. Her birth so profoundly healed me and set me on my new career path of becoming a birth attendant and a childbirth educator. Her journey showed me that birth can be blissful, beautiful and a supported experience. I want to inspire and share with other woman what I had experienced. I will always be grateful to my beautiful daughter, who awoke in me a deep passion to empower and educate women and families.
I was equally terrified of labour and a caesarean when I first became pregnant. Stories of my mother's births left me believing I would need a caesarean as my pelvis would be 'too small'.
But as I fell in love with my baby inside I began to learn about birth. I was planning a hospital birth. I didn't know any different. I hoped to use meditation, breathing and active birth to get a drug-free natural birth. I almost got what I wanted. When I began to think about another baby I knew I wanted a homebirth. I was nervous about taking so much responsibility for my maternity care - but when I met my independent midwife and doula I knew I was in good hands. My husband was happy with it too. I felt so much confidence during my second pregnancy.
I really enjoyed preparing for birth with yoga, meditation and hypnobirthing. I felt like a birthing goddess! The birth caught me surprise - a fast, beautiful, powerful, ecstatic and pain-free water birth at home. It inspired me to create Birth Journeys - a birth stories book.
I was introduced to the idea of homebirth when I was 7 months pregnant with my first child by a local doula. We planned a homebirth attended by an independent midwife, which, after a very long, hard labour, ended in a transfer to hospital, and a safe, although for me, traumatising delivery of our baby girl.
My son Valentine was born, as planned, at home, attended by two lovely midwives, Gaye Demanuele and Jan Ireland, and our doula Julie Bell. The two experiences were very different from each other, especially the subtleties that are hard to quantify in medical studies about outcomes. I FEEL differently about each birth. And that impacts on my life, and family's life. And that makes a difference in the world. I often have opportunities to talk to pregnant women who are thinking about, but are very scared of, choosing homebirth, and I am in the unique position of having planned two homebirths, but experiencing hospital birth along the way. Birth matters.