LITTLE AVA’S ARRIVAL
After becoming pregnant with my first child and speaking with my doctor I decided to go through my pregnancy via “shared care” which meant I would be looked after both a hospital and a midwife. It was important to me to have consistency and know who was going to be with me on the day. I embarked on the daunting task of finding a midwife familiar with “shared care” who could help guide me on the nerve wrecking and exciting road ahead.
After coming across the Mamatoto website and an initial chat on the phone, my husband and I went to meet Juliana. I immediately felt at ease with Juliana and was also impressed with how qualified she was. It certainly made me very comfortable as I was now wading in unfamiliar waters.
I had a very good pregnancy with both the baby and I in excellent health. However, towards the end of my pregnancy I probably did what a lot of first time mothers do and realised that I was going to have to give birth! I hadn’t had the best of luck with the hospital and was beginning to get very nervous about having to put my trust in them and allow them to deliver my baby. Even though I knew Juliana would be with me and would be my voice on the day, as I was a “shared care” patient this meant the hospital would be running the show.
My husband and I also attended a calm birth weekend where we learnt about the birthing process, various relaxation techniques, and met other prospective parents.
One thing that surprised me at the weekend was the number of parents that were having a home birth. I had always been the type of person that thought that if I ever had a baby I wanted it to be in a state of the art hospital with a medical team and plenty of drugs on standby. A home birth never entered my head.
When Juliana stopped by about four weeks before my due date for my final visit where we would create a “birth plan” I mentioned that I was very nervous about going to the hospital and was now considering a home birth. Much to my relief Juliana was very supportive of the idea and said it could be done. My husband on the other hand didn’t quite share my excitement! He was of the mindset that it wasn’t normal or safe to have a home birth – what would people think! Juliana was great in putting him at ease and letting him know that how he felt was just as important as me and that he had to be comfortable with the birth choices as well. Fortunately for me I have a very supportive husband and after a long chat about the pros and cons and endless hours of internet research, we decided to go for it!
Juliana spent a lot of time explaining how a home birth worked and what back up plans were in place in case I needed a little extra help on the day. This definitely helped a lot and reinforced that we were making the right choice.
The big day arrived a week after my due date. We kept in contact with Juliana by text and we knew at what stage we needed to call her in. With this being my first pregnancy I had no idea what to expect but once my contractions started (and I realised that yes, they were contractions, this was really happening) I felt extremely calm and in control (mixed with excitement). I am not sure exactly what it was, but I do think that being at home in my own surroundings and not having strangers around telling me what to do definitely helped me cope.
After what felt like no time at all it was time to call Juliana! She arrived very calmly and with a big smile and hug. Things slowed down a little initially but soon sped up – especially since Juliana made me walk around the block a couple of times and do figure 8’s on the swiss ball – not easy or comfortable!
Our beautiful daughter Ava was born after 8 hours of labour in a very calm and quiet living room. I believe that my confidence in Juliana’s experience and her calm approach during the labour (as well as the entire pregnancy), along with the breathing and calming techniques that I learnt in class helped me keep calm and relaxed and believe in myself and my body that I could do it. I hardly remember anyone else being in the room when it was time to push as I was allowed to just zone out and let my body do its thing.
Ava is now 9 months old and people always say how relaxed and happy she is. It probably helps that I am fairly laid back and had a good pregnancy but I also believe that the fact that she had a very calm birth also helps. Which of course comes from the care received before, during and after birth.
If I ever have more children I will definitely be wanting a home birth again as it was just the most positive experience for us. I would highly recommend having a private midwife – whether it is sole care, as part of “shared care” or for a home birth, I think if you find the right midwife for you then you have struck gold.
My only regret is that we didn’t get a photo of Juliana with our daughter!
My Birth Story.
This was my first pregnancy. I really believed that Percy would come into the world at his right time and that my body knew what it was doing. I never doubted that, I never doubted him! My due date was the 11th august. I knew he wouldn’t be born then as due dates are silly and what are the chances of him knowing today was the 11th, I better come out! I was very calm and peaceful leading up to the 11th and just enjoyed being pregnant and knowing I would see him soon and I couldn’t wait for the labour and birth! Once I hit the 11th and for everyday after, my head was a mess. It was so silly because I knew the due date meant nothing, but it all of a sudden meant that I was in ‘overdue’ territory and according to the hospitals and society, this isn’t good! But, I found strength from my midwife, Juliana and from Pete my husband, who would remind me of what I really believed, and that was, it’s up to my body and Percy, just wait for them to do their thing! Ignore everything else!
This was helpful and I was calm again, until I reached one week ‘overdue’ or one week until I had to be induced. The one thing I didn’t want was for any form of drug used in my labour, Percy’s birth. Knowing in a week’s time, all I wanted would go down the drain was so upsetting! I was getting calls from the hospital to discuss induction (a week away), which just put a big STOP to all my positive, calm, peaceful thoughts that my body was in control and that nature knows what it’s doing! We took a nice drive to Juliana’s house during that week and chatted about all this! I cried a lot. I expressed that I hated how the hospital and society doubt me, doubt my body and doubt Percy. I hated that as of Saturday the 25th, I was going to be 2 weeks overdue, and all of a sudden this meant Percy was in great danger (I’m being sarcastic obviously) and that my body would not know how to give birth to my baby!! To add to all this, the person in charge of inducing women, didn’t work on Saturdays (ever heard anything as silly as that) so I had to be induced on the Friday! This meant I lost a whole day to just be calm and perhaps, for my baby to come.
I hated that the hospital were so funny about dates, but wouldn’t even give me my full 2 weeks! I hated that the hospital had full control of my labour! Juliana, who never doubted me, once again in her amazing way, let me cry, calmed me down and reassured me, I still had a week, and anything could happen in that week. This last week was funny but also a huge stress. I’d never eaten so much Vindaloo curry in my life, I walked around my neighbourhood like I was training for the Oxfam walk, I saw my Chiro every second day, and saw an acupuncturist on the Thursday. We visited Juliana midweek for a stretch and sweep to see if it could help bring on labour and also to see if I was going to need prostin gel for my induction. I did as nothing was happening at all. She said she would contact the hospital to let them know the latest and so they were prepared! She was very confident though in my acupuncturist as she had many clients of hers go there and have some change in their cervix.
Thursday I got a call from the hospital to discuss what we need to do for induction and to book it in. They told me I had to come in early Friday morning and get the gel and basically stay in the hospital all day, and they would break my waters on Saturday. They said hubby wouldn’t be allowed to stay overnight but could come back first thing Saturday morning to be with me. I told them this was unnatural. I needed him and he wants to be with me through all of this. I told them he would sleep in the car in the carpark so might as well have him with me. This wasn’t allowed. I cried so much and felt like all my hope had finally gone. Now my husband couldn’t be with me. I hated everything. I didn’t understand why Percy wasn’t coming, I didn’t know why my body was just not working. I dreaded meeting him because it wasn’t going to be the way I wanted too. I rang Juliana so upset. She was very sorry for me. She suggested Pete and I go for a walk and just enjoy this last day together and to just not think about tomorrow because there was nothing I could do to change it. The walk helped. The streets were quiet and pretty. It was later in the day and the sky had a nice colour. This all helped to give me peace. Pete helped to remind me that we would be holding Percy soon and that is all that matters. He was right. I just couldn’t bare to think I would be lying in a hospital without him. I had to block it out of my head.
Friday morning came, and we had a spring in our step. I don’t know why, but we did. We arrived at the hospital, were greeted by a lovely midwife and shown to our room. All we could hear, was a women giving birth in the room next door to us. Um..am I about to do that? She doesn’t sound happy! It was the strangest thing hearing women go through what you were about to go through. They should really soundproof the walls.
First thing that needed doing was the prostin gel so that things could get started as they can take a while. They (Im calling them they, they being the hospital people) checked to see if my cervix was doing anything before they used the gel. The dr gave a cheery noise and said your 3cm dilated, we will break your waters now(no need for gel, no need for gel, hubby could stay, hubby could stay!). Before I could process what he just said, I saw all sorts of shiny silver tools going towards my nether regions! He said they want to see clear liquid and all of a sudden a huge gush of water came out and it was the best feeling. My waters were clear and all was good. Now, for Percy to get the massive hint and come out. The dr told me I had 2 hours for labour to start otherwise they would need to help me out with syntocinon. I told them I wanted 4 hours, and that I was delivering this baby, not them. Dr was lovely actually, but he did hesitate because of rules and regulations, but said ok. We rang Juliana, she dropped what she was doing and came straight over! The 3 of us put on our walking shoes and went for an intense walk up the hills of Ferntree gully, down the corridors, up and down stairs, all with the hope this would stimulate and start labour. My mum popped round at one stage with Nandos and cake, I was feeling happy and excited. Labour was not happening though. There was not a twitch. The only thing I could feel was my waters still trickling out, such a weird feeling knowing it was acceptable to wet my pants!
Four hours came and went and the dr was hovering. We asked for another hour and we snuck out for more stair climbing and bush walking!! Julianna chatted to us during this last hour about what would happen if we did agree to have some syntocinon. I told her I don’t want any drugs, and she understood, but explained where we were in the day. She knew what labours look like. She knew I wanted a completely natural birth, but knew that fatigue could hit and I could then end up on the table having a caesarean. She explained that sometimes doing a little intervention can prevent major intervention. Pete agreed and chatted to me about the fact that the day was getting on, and sooner or later I will get tired, let’s do this now while I have the energy! Peace came over me, and I agreed. I just didn’t want anything forced on me, I wanted for us to make the decision for everything, and once we had both agreed that this was best, I felt ok about it, and ready.
We returned back to our room and said we would start the syntocinon. Unfortunately this did mean being attached to a pole and having to be monitored for the whole thing, but technology these days made it much easier with everything portable, so I could still move around! We dimmed the lights, hung up a bunting, lit some candles (which were then replaced with plastic candles due to OH&S, haha), turned on our cd that Pete made with our favourite songs, first one being, Here Comes The Sun, and just relaxed really. We ate food, mostly chocolate for me, and jelly, and chatted, stood in silence and just let the moments roll in. I was overcome with emotion that I was finally going to experience the one thing I know my body can do, and do well, and that is give birth to my son. I never doubted If I could, I knew I could. Pete at one stage started sobbing from happiness too. It was just a really beautiful room to be in. It was the exact place I wanted Percy born into. Contractions started coming, quite thick and fast. They turned down the sytocinon to almost nothing, as my body took over and was now doing everything itself. In the beginning, swaying, standing still, being silent and bouncing on the gym ball was my best way of experiencing the contractions. As they got more intense, Juliana massaged my back and I found relief standing up burying my head in my bed while she massaged my back. As the contractions became more intense, I remembered the Calm Birth cd, with the breathing exercises and visualisations which definitely helped.
I don’t even know how long I had been in labour for, but I gotten to the point of feeling hot and bothered and annoyed, so that’s when all my clothes came off. I didn’t care. They say you won’t! Contractions continued to do their thing, and I just had to find ways to deal with them. Pete said I almost broke his hand at one stage but kept quiet. Swaying, burying my head and grunting as I visualised the pain leaving my body was so helpful. I wanted to sit on the toilet a lot, I was constipated. This didn’t help. Julianna examined me on the toilet at one stage and could feel Percy’s head. He was right there, but just not quite! The dr came in with some midwives and a student and said they needed to examine me to see how far along I was. This was the worst part of the whole labour. I had to lie on my back, on the bed and couldn’t do anything when a contraction came I had to feel it with no relief. This was the first time I was on the bed and lying down and it was the last. I found lying the worst. They examined me and told me I was 8 cm dilated (lucky for them I was so far along, because I had said not to tell me, but that was a good number to hear!).
I started to push while they were examining me. They asked if I was pushing and I said no, but I couldn’t really help it. I got off the bed, and found I had a little more energy, knowing I was that far along was exciting, it meant not much more of this labour, and getting to meet Percy.
I had no idea what the time was, we covered the clocks. But it means I can’t even tell you what time it was when things started happening. The labour started to get really intense to the point where I thought I could do no more. It’s not a nice feeling. I knew drugs were no option for me, so felt even more stuck. I sat on the toilet and breathed the best I could. I came out, saying I want to push. Juliana lay a mat on the floor, where I could squat or be on all fours. I spent the rest of my labour there, just experiencing the need to push and going along with it. Juliana told me I must have had a cervical lip which is why it wasn’t going anywhere but once the dr examined me and I started pushing, it’s because he would have moved it.
At one stage the wires attached to me to monitor Percy’s heart rate slipped off which caused a little stress in the room because they needed to have them attached at all times. There was a good 10 minutes of the midwives hovering around my belly trying to attach them which I found annoying at the time. I felt like saying stop doubting Percy he is fine, but I know they were doing their job. Pete felt a bit of stress at this point to, but I just wanted to be left alone and for Percy and I to meet. The urge to push was strong and I pushed every time. I found being on all fours the best position. To begin with I was pointing my bum in the air and pushing wasn’t going amazingly. I angled myself to be lower and pushing was then in full swing. Pete recorded the whole thing. He didn’t think he would be able to even look at what was going on, but found it to be so amazing. He could see the tip of Percy’s head, he could see his son! Juliana offered me a mirror so I could see as well so I could get energy from seeing how close I was. But as I pushed, Percy’s head would then go back in and disappear. I found this hard and discouraging and did not like the mirror. Julianna reassured me this was normal, and that I can try to bigger longer pushes. Every time the urge to push came over me, I tried with everything I had, and hearing Julianna say, more more, was just a slap in the face. I couldn’t do more, I had nothing left. But somehow, the body being the amazing thing it is, I could do more. I pushed soo hard, my arms felt like breaking. More more more, I heard and then his head was out. I couldn’t see this but I could hear the amazement in Peters voice. The joy. His head was out for a bit, while I tried to find more strength to push is body out. I had no idea where I was going to get it from, but next urge to push, I did and the most amazing feeling came as his body fell out of me! Percy cried and Juliana lay him on the mat and I picked him up. I didn’t cry, I think I was too exhausted to produce tears, but oh my gosh, was it the most amazing moment. Pete had his arms around me, and met his son. The 3 of us sat on the ground in awe (Percy was still screaming at this stage). I was so happy that Percy was born pink and screaming, I gave birth to the boy I knew would be prefect and know what to do!
Juliana asked if I wanted to get up and lie on the bed with my son and so I could pass the placenta. I got up, my legs like jelly and climbed into bed. It was the best feeling finally lying down to rest. I got so desperate to rest at one stage of the labour that everything looked horrible. Lying down now with Percy was the biggest relief. Percy attached himself to me to drink, and that was amazing, he did it all himself. I needed help, but he knew what he was doing. My midwives asked me to push one more time to remove the placenta. I think I almost kicked them in the face. But once again, I found strength, and out it came. The size of a well prized steak. Amazing! After a little while Percy got weighed and measured and Pete got to hold him for the first time. Once Percy was given back to me, we stayed nude, no blankets being wrapped or no wiping down the skin, I wanted everything to be left alone. I had a brownie in one hand and my boy in my other arm. I was tired and emotional but so grateful that I had experienced birth that way I know is possible! Thats’s what I really wanted. My mum and sister popped in briefly to say hi, see Percy Boy and give their love. Julianna packed up her things and said she was ready to leave the 3 of us to meet. I am so grateful to her for everything she did. Percy’s birth was exactly how I wanted it to be and it was because of her.
The three of us got up and walked across the hallway to the birth centre where we were given a large private room to enjoy as we started parenthood.
8 months later, Percy is thriving. He is the happiest boy, he is healthy and growing so quickly. He loves being tickled and already has the best sense of humour. He has completely changed our lives. I am so glad I met him on the Friday night and not Saturday. I am so blessed to have spent those extra hours with him. I am so glad the 3 of us had the night to ourselves as a family, quiet and still before showing him off the loving friends and family Saturday afternoon. I am grateful now for being induced as its meant I have had more hours of joy and love in my heart. I could sit and wonder when he would have come if we let things be, but I love that the 24th of august I met him, not any later.
The birth of Eliza
I must start this by saying a big thankyou to our wonderful midwife Juliana for her help and gentle guidance during the birth of our beautiful daughter. I truly believe your calming influence and experience ensured a safe and beautiful birth that our little family will always cherish.
I engaged the services of Juliana when I found out I was pregnant with my third child. My first born I had gone with an obstetrician and although a good birth had felt it was quite rushed and had been given an episiotomy due to this. My second child I had wanted a home birth but was persuaded by family to attend a hospital my sister worked at. I had an excellent birth but due to aggressive management of the placenta I had a PPH among other stuff ups. I felt with my 3rd I wanted a nice and relaxed birth from start to finish with only interventions that were needed not just as a precaution. Unfortunately I was excluded at the birth centre I was booked into at 37 weeks. I was devastated but after speaking with Juliana I felt much more content as I knew I had excellent care from her regardless of where I would give birth. As it would happen our little girl was born very quickly at home in a very calm and relaxed environment. I was able to have a natural 3rd stage labour as I had requested and believe the confidence I had in Juliana really made such a difference. I had very minimal blood loss and felt fantastic. Soon after her birth our two children were able to hop into bed with me while I breastfed their little sister. It will always be a highlight that we all will remember.
The Birth of Claudia
“After having completed a Calm birth course and several books on preparing for an organic birth, I was certain that I wanted an experienced private midwife to assist me birth my first baby, even though I would be giving birth in a private hospital context. I had an obstetrician on board and so it was a delicate exercise choosing a midwife who was both able to guide me to achieving the natural birth experience that I sought and able to work with my obstetrician who did not (until meeting Juliana) work with private midwives, only doulas.
Meeting Juliana was extremely refreshing. She was not judgmental about my birthing choices but rather simply embraced a slightly different set of circumstances. Juliana even expressed enthusiasm about meeting my obstetrician! My husband Scott, and I felt that Juliana was most professional and the perfect balance for us!
Juliana gave me much excellent advice during my pregnancy and links to some very good articles on matters such as the application of antibiotics during labour when GBS positive, and current research on the immunisation debate. In the end though, Juliana allowed me to balance my obstetrician’s pragmatism with Juliana’s informed views and to make up my own mind. Again, as a first time mother desperately trying to make the right decisions for my child, I greatly appreciated this!!
In the end though and despite all of the deep analysis that I did, I had the most amazing natural birth that I could have ever wished for! My labour started at around 11pm in the evening. I practiced my calm birth breathing throughout the night with my husband who rapidly fine tuned his knowledge of the tens machine ready for the next day. Juliana arrived early in the morning and supported me through more solid deep breathing. As I was GBS positive, Juliana considered it best that she did not examine me internally so as to reduce any exposure to the baby. She was therefore unable to tell for sure how dilated I was but assured me that she would know when it was time to head to the hospital. That time came an hour or so later following a cup of fresh lemon and ginger tea and a touch of acupressure from Juliana (to help with my nausea). I suddenly felt the contractions step up several notches in intensity and felt the need to push! And so it was straight to the hospital which was only a 5 minute drive from our home. I was only in hospital for one hour before I birthed my gorgeous baby daughter Claudia and happily, there was no time for antibiotics or otherwise! Juliana had an easy rapport with my obstetrician and the hospital midwives during the birth which was wonderful, and helped me to establish breast feeding immediately my daughter was born. It was all just such an amazing experience! Thank you so much Juliana for your professionalism, your rock solid support yet lovely and calming, uplifting energy – I couldn’t have asked for more than that!”
– Vanessa, 27 March 2011
Birth story by Caroline Hutton
In 2003 I geared up for what was to be the greatest moment of my life. My partner and I had made the decision to try to have a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean) for our second child. It is an uncommon enough decision to require some strategy and planning. I had employed the services of an experienced and well-known independent midwife and was booked into the only public hospital birth centre in Melbourne that would accept a woman with my obstetric history. At this birth centre I attended antenatal appointments and a childbirth class for women having second and subsequent births. My experiences were all positive. On the morning I went in – sort of in labour but also on the cut-off point for intervention – I was pleasantly surprised to be welcomed by a midwife – who introduced herself and then enthused about being on duty to support me through this day as I was a bit of a cause celebre for those who believed VBAC should be possible and encouraged when medically appropriate. She was to be my birth centre midwife while I was also supported by my independent midwife. Fast forward through the day…it was a very long and very hard day and much more so by the evening. At various stages we also had the GP/obstetrician attending as well as my partner. To sum up it was a rather difficult labour mostly because it was a very big baby and it was ostensibly a first-time birth. There was nothing particularly complicated – it was just hard work. At the end of it all, my team and I produced my darling second son, Sean Pierre, and in the days and weeks after this amazing and life-changing birth I had plenty of time to reflect on the experience. What I concluded was that although it was my independent midwife who had basically coached me to the point of believing I could do this and ably supported me through the pregnancy and afterwards with breast-feeding difficulties, it was our midwife who had been our angel that day. Even now 8 years to the day (as I write) I can remember her calm, reassuring, confidence-inspiring tone, her extraordinary professionalism, and yet the personal and loving way in which she cared for me. My partner and I both felt so supported, “held” if you will, by her competence, her technical expertise, her focus on my needs and on ensuring that our baby was birthed safely.
In the weeks and months afterwards my midwife and I became friends and when I became pregnant again in May 2004 I asked her if she would attend our next son’s birth as the hospital midwife. Through this pregnancy I saw the GP obstetrician and the antenatal clinic, and toward the end our midwife and I met up specifically to plan and prepare for the birth. At this stage we spoke about pain-relief options and explored what my birthing intentions were, as I was becoming unclear about my commitment to a drug-free birth. I remember my midwife facilitating those conversations in a clear, uncomplicated and focused manner. She was concerned that I was unwittingly opening myself up to drugs and medical intervention because I lacked clarity about what I wanted. If you want to have a drug-free birth (and I completely respect women who don’t!) then you have to be clear about it from the outset. This could have been a tricky conversation with a heavily pregnant friend who was having second thoughts about a “natural birth” but my midwife handled it beautifully.
The birth of our son Ryan Patrick in February 2005 was another marathon effort. The photo below speaks volumes about the experience – another huge baby born after days of sleep-depriving early labour followed by a solid 7 hours of the real stuff. By now, there was no doubt that for both me and my partner my known midwife’s presence was fundamental. A few weeks after Ryan’s birth I made a little photo book as a thank you present to my midwife. In it I wrote
“you really are the most fantastic midwife. We couldn’t have asked for a better person – we are in awe of your patience, calm, professionalism, concern and competence…so thank you again (and again and again!) for everything and for sharing this momentous experience with us”.
In July 2006 we had one more child. As may be obvious by now we couldn’t have imagined childbirth without our known midwife around and she agreed to be our dedicated midwife again. On this occasion there was one small difference. Our midwife was herself pregnant and made the decision not to tell me so that I would not be in anyway concerned or affected by her condition – leaving me once again to be the centre stage star. I remember when I found out later being struck by what a perfect example it was of her calm clear-thinking decision making process and, of course, her thoughtfulness. The birth of Holly Judith was a different experience to that of her brothers. Holly was born quickly, without much fanfare, and in fact was born as I stood up to get out of a bath. My midwife and I are always thrilled to share with Holly that she “fell out of me” and the slippery little fish was caught by the multi-talented (and pregnant!) midwife!
So nearly 5 years have passed since the last birth and my midwife and I still enjoy remembering our birthing experiences (as well as the parenting moments that come with it). It is an honour to tell you my story and to encourage you to invite a private midwife to be part of your birth story as she is part of ours. My recommendation of her midwife and labour support services is unqualified; she is a top-class midwife and will give you highly-skilled and professional midwifery care with a calm and supportive approach throughout.
– Caroline Hutton