EMPOWERED BIRTH STORIES

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MADDY & KURT
Two wonderful Calmbirths

Before she started Calmbirth, here’s what Maddy said about how she was feeling about the birth:  “Excited, but also anxious about the pain, and anxious about how Kurt will cope seeing me in pain and not knowing what to do.”  “Ideally I’d like as little intervention as possible and to labour at home as long as possible.”  Any specific fears?  “Pain during labour, pain if I tear, recovery if I have to have a C-section.”

After the two day Calmbirth course Maddy and Kurt said they felt empowered, awakened and confident. 

“Kurt and I grateful that we invested our time and money to attend the Calmbirth course with you. I can’t imagine how ill-prepared I would be feeling if I had only attended to hospital birth education class – or perhaps I would not realise how much information we missed out on. Kurt felt really proud of himself being able to answer questions during the hospital class. He gained so much from the days we spent with you, thank you! He’s feeling so excited and confident going into the birth, I know he’s going to be amazing.”

THE BIRTH OF LUKA

I just wanted to share with you how amazing our birth story was, thanks to the information we gained from your classes!

Kurt and I had decided we would book in for an induction on the 12th September – I would be 39 weeks on that day and it was decided that there was no longer any benefit to baby staying inside and would be safer due to my hypertension for him to be out.

From 37 weeks, with the approval from our midwife, we commenced some labour-inducing and cervical ripening techniques in the hope of avoiding an induction – a lot of these techniques were learnt during your classes. Kurt started massaging my acupressure points most evenings, I spent most evenings on my exercise ball, we started hand expressing some colostrum, I was taking raspberry leaf capsules daily and regular sex! I was having period-like aches on and off, and Braxton hicks contractions on and off, but nothing regular.

Mum arrived from Tasmania on Monday 10th in the evening. At 2am Tuesday 11th September I woke up to mild contractions. It was the day before our booked induction. I woke Kurt up after about 40 minutes of them lasting 1-1.5 minutes and being 3-4 minutes apart. They were not getting any more intense, but I was finding it hard to lay in bed during the tightenings. I wasn’t convinced it was real, and was sure it was just Braxton Hicks again or practice contractions. But Kurt encouraged me to call my midwife anyway. I did, and she told me to try and relax, have a shower and call her back later if they become more intense or became shorter and more frequent. 

I told Kurt to go back to sleep as he had work early and I got up and had a shower. It helped a little, but felt better sitting on the ball with a heat pack. Mum got up with me, we popped some clary sage in my diffuser and put on the Spotify labour playlist I had put together. It was a really relaxed few hours. We laughed and chatted between contractions. During the contractions I started focussing on my calm breathing. I remember this vividly throughout the whole morning; it’s what got me through each contraction. Mum was also great – she would remind me to see each contraction as a wave, to ride it and once it’s over it was one less contraction I would have to feel before I met my baby.

At 5:30-6am Kurt got up. By this time I knew I was in labour and he cancelled his clients for the day. And from here, he took control and boy, was he amazing!! He was by my side the whole time, reminded me to focus on my breathing and just gave me words of encouragement as each contraction came. At 6:30am I decided the contractions were intensifying, I could no long remain still when they came and I was struggling to focus on my breathing. I called my midwife again, and as I am in the MGP (midwifery group program), she said she would come to our home at 8am to check my progress to save me going to the hospital and being sent home. 

From around 7am it got very intense. I now needed to be on my knees leaning over the bed during the contractions. Kurt was by my side, touching and massaging me and reminding me of what an amazing job I was doing. By 7:30 I was worried as I didn’t think I’d be able to get into our car anymore. The contractions were more frequent and really intense. I was still focused on my breathing, but I could feel myself struggling to relax during them. 

At 7:45 I found myself pushing! I started worrying that I was pushing too early and asked Kurt where the midwife was! He remained calm and reassured me she would be here very soon….at 8am she arrived. I don’t think she believed I’d be so far along, so she very casually set up a towel on the bed ready to assess me. Well, she was surprised! I was fully dilated! No wonder I was feeling the urge to push! 

She asked Kurt to call an ambulance as there was no way I was getting into our car. I was now standing in our ensuite leaning over the basin and with each wave of contraction I found myself bearing down into a squat, pushing. Here is where I started to get a little worried that if something went wrong, how would we manage. But I tried hard to focus on my breathing, swaying my hips and focusing on my task of getting this baby out safely. Mum ran around grabbing towels and pillows ready in case baby decided to come. 

Once the paramedics arrived, my membranes were bulging but had not yet broken. They were unsure if we would make it to SCUH (we live in Bli Bli) so decided that we would go to Nambour Emergency as it is much closer. I had to get on the trolley on all fours, so they were unable to strap me in. The trip was a slow one as they didn’t want me falling off the trolley. I don’t think I lifted my head once, I don’t recall seeing anyones’ faces – I was head in the pillow and focussing on my breathing. I do remember Kurt from the front seat of the ambulance encouraging me during the drive. He was unable to be in the back with me, the paramedic and the midwife! But he still managed to be the best birth partner from the front seat.

We arrived in emergency at approx 9am. I remained on all fours for most of the pushing, my head in the pillows and Kurt patting my head with a wet cloth. He also tried his best to keep me in a dark space covering my face, even though we were in the bright lights of a resus bay. 

Mum drove herself there and managed to walk in just as his head was coming out. She said that when his head came out and before the rest of him was born, he had his eyes open and was looking around the room – so amazing! I remember feeling his head coming, and visualised my perineum stretching. I reminded myself to take little breaths, blowing out the hot chips! And I believe that because of this, I was lucky to only experience a 1st degree tear that did not require sutures. 

At 9:51am Luka James Donald Davies was born. 

I am so proud of myself! Kurt and I know that it was the Calmbirth classes that allowed us to have such an amazingly calm, quick, intervention and drug free birth. So thank you Karen! I am so proud of Kurt, he was so calm and so supportive, I could not fault him. 

Our beautiful boy was a teeny tiny 5lb 5oz despite being 38+6. Doctors believe my placenta was not working too well due to my high blood pressure. Five days later and Luka was already above his birth weight and breastfeeding like a little pro. He is now 8 days young and has filled our hearts with so much love!

THE BIRTH OF LYLA

I woke up at 3:30am on the 4th of March feeling like I was wetting the bed. I was 40+1. As I stood up I could feel my waters slowly leaking. They were clear, which was good. At this point I had no tightenings. I woke Kurt and told him I think my waters were breaking or at least slowly leaking. He quickly got out of bed and pulled out the list I had written for him. This included things like texting our family to let them know I’m in labour, notifying my student midwife, lighting my clary sage candle, getting my playlist playing, putting our bags in the car etc. He was so excited.

Once again I was in the Midwifery Group Program at SCUH. I called my midwife. Unfortunately she was not on call so I spoke to another midwife in the team. I explained to her that my first labour was rather quick and that we never actually made it to a birthing suite, so this time I really wanted to get to the hospital with time to spare. She understood, but since I wasn’t really having any contractions yet, she said stay home until they get started and are coming at regular intervals.

After I hung up, I began having very mild tightenings. And from the very first tightening they came every 3-4 minutes. I went into our spare bedroom and woke my mum and her partner. As they were getting up and dressed Kurt applied the TENS machine to my back and I started using this during my surges. I really loved it. It was such a good distraction and I was still able to freely move around the house. I called the midwife back at 4:30am as the tightenings had continued at 3-4 minutes and were starting to slowly increase in intensity. I was slightly worried that we may have been going in a bit too early, but I also didn’t fancy birthing on the side of the road – better to be safe than sorry! The on call midwife said that she would notify the midwife that had followed me throughout the duration of my pregnancy and that she would meet us at the hospital. I was so relieved to hear this. Kurt let my student midwife know that we were heading in and we would let her know when things ramped up. 

The drive took about 10 minutes and during the trip I had 2 contractions. I felt like they’d slowed a little, likely because we’d left my “safe space” and some adrenaline was running through me by this point. We arrived at about 5am. Unfortunately when you arrive you have to sign in, so I had to stand at a very brightly lit birthing suite reception desk and confirm my details with the receptionist before she could allocate us a room. I can’t remember having any tightenings at this point. Once we got into our room I was so pleased to see the lights were dimmed and there were some battery operated candles around the birthing bath. The space felt calm and safe. Perfect. Kurt got back to work. He put up our fairy lights, turned on my diffuser with some clary sage oil and turned on my music. He made the room our space. It felt calm and safe. It was lovely! And I’m certain the oxytocin ramped back up again. 

My midwife arrived soon after we did. It was so lovely to see a familiar face. I had requested my labour to be hands-off with minimal intervention unless absolutely necessary, so I didn’t have any constant monitoring. Occasionally my midwife would use a Doppler to listen to baby’s heart rate. 

I was keen for a water birth but remembered my midwife explaining at a prenatal visit that I needed to be about 6cm to get in the bath… so at 5:30am I requested that my midwife perform a cervical examination. My contractions were still quite mild but I was curious….I was fully effaced and 3cm dilated. 

To be honest, part of me felt disappointed. I remember thinking oh no…this is going to be a really long labour. But something from within was reassuring me that it won’t be long. I got up off the bed and bounced on the ball. As surges came I’d ramp up the TENS and lean over the bed. Kurt would use gentle touch on my lower back. Between the surges I chatted with Kurt and Mum and enjoyed the moment as best we could. The running joke was that whilst I was still smiling at Kurt’s jokes, it mustn’t be serious yet. 

I decided I should get up and move around. My midwife suggested the shower. As I stood up off the ball and walked towards to bathroom, more of my waters went. I waddled into the shower. Surges ramped up now that I was standing. Baby was obviously putting more pressure on my cervix. I used the Calmbirth visualisation techniques and pictured my baby moving down the birthing canal. Through each surge I would envision breathing my baby down. Riding a wave and breathing her down. 

Once I was in the shower I had one shower head on my lower abdomen and one on my back. I found myself entering “Labourland” during my surges but still able to communicate with Kurt between them. This was very different to my first labour. With Luka, I feel like I had my eyes shut in labour land for at least 3 of the 7 hours. So I don’t actually remember who was where or what anyone else was doing. I was so focused on my breathing and visualising the waves. 

I think I was in the shower from about 6am. By about 7:30am I was feeling a lot of pressure. I remember being a little more vocal during surges at this stage. Deep moaning. I began feeling like I needed to squat and bear down. Still feeling quite lucid between surges I remember my midwife using the Doppler to listen to baby’s heart rate, as well as using her hands to feel my tummy during a surge. I believe this can help them ascertain how I am progressing. Using that and her visual assessment I could tell she thought I was close and likely in transition. She quickly ran the bath. I got in at 7:50am.

It was amazing. I felt weightless. I knelt down with my elbows on the step. It was a great position. I could feel my pelvis open up and with the next surge my body began pushing. I could feel her head coming down. I used my Calmbirth skills and allowed her head to descend with each surge and to then ascend between surges. I was visualising the perineum stretching slowly with each surge. The midwife used a torch and a mirror underneath me in the water so that she, Kurt and my Mum could all watch. My playlist was still playing and I vividly remember hearing Bohemian Rhapsody playing and thinking, oh I hope this song finishes before she’s born! I think it was only 2 or 3 pushes and her head was out. She’s The One by Robbie Williams began playing and then I remember thinking, what a beautiful song for our girl to enter the world to. 

At 8:05am Lyla was born! As her body was born I sat up and pulled her up from between my legs. Since she was born in the water it took her a few seconds to take her first breath. The midwife encouraged me to blow on her face which I did and then she started crying. It was amazing. I felt so much more in the moment this time than I did with Luka. Luka’s birth, although beautiful in its own way, was so fast that I delivered him on a trolley in a resus bay in the emergency department! So birthing Lyla in a space we had made our own, in a bath with just my husband, Mum and midwife (and the training paramedic) was perfect! Exactly what I’d dreamt of.  

My labour was recorded as a 41 minute first stage and a 10 minute 2nd stage. 

I got up out of the bath and onto the bed for the 3rd stage. Afterwards my midwife assessed my perineum to discover only a minor a graze – no stitches needed. I was so relieved. After nearly two hours on my chest I asked for Lyla to be weighed. 3.6kg of deliciousness. 

Within 6 hours of delivery we were discharged home. I was a bit disappointed not to have a night in the hospital…but as I was with MGP and such a straight orward birth, they insisted. As it turned out, it was nice to go home anyway. And my midwife visited us 3 or 4 times in the following 2 weeks. 

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MARINA
Pregnancy Yoga, Calmbirth, Newborn Secrets, Mums & Bubs Yoga, Baby Massage

I’m from Argentina and I’m a yoga teacher. Gabriel is from Venezuela and owns his own business making organic deodorant.  We live on the Sunshine Coast with our baby Coral. 

As soon as we knew I was pregnant, Gabriel and I watched the movie Orgasmic Birth, and after that we were convinced that was how we wanted to have our baby.  I did a lot of research, started to follow midwives and doulas on social media, and read a few books including The Positive Birth Book by Milli Hill, and Bountiful, Beautiful, Blissful by Gurmukh.  

We chose our amazing midwife whom we still adore.  During pregnancy I walked at least four times a week, walked up and down our stairs at home, and did my own meditation practice every day.  I taught yoga until five months.  I followed three doulas, two midwives, one lactation consultant and one paediatrician on Instagram.  I did a free online birth plan course with a doula and another one on breastfeeding. 

I found an incredible pregnancy yoga group where I met our tribe of mums.  Karen shared with us plenty of information in the classes and let us share doubts and fears or expectations in that space too.  And of course we did all her Calmbirth and new baby courses and the Balance class* so we both were ready.  We made plan A, B and C for Birth.

I was 38 weeks and 4 days.  It was Thursday.  I felt that my belly was huge and heavy.  February heat was present.  That afternoon I went for a walk from home to the viewpoint over the beach, four blocks away.  It took me 30 minutes to get there.  I told the baby that I was ready and she was more than welcome to come.  When I got to the viewpoint I saw a summer storm coming from the sea.  I decided to go home but the rain caught me.  The heavy rain and my heavy belly didn’t make it easy to keep walking but I continued and got soaked and was tired from all that effort.  At home I had a warm shower, cooked the dinner and we went to sleep early. 

Around 1:30am I woke up feeling the baby was moving a lot.  The contractions had started but were super mild ones that made me get out of bed and go to the bathroom every time.  Contractions continued, more than 10 minutes apart. My partner woke up around 4:30am and we started walking around the house and sitting on the yoga ball.

I would like to say we were really calm at this stage because everybody told us that a first baby would be born in weeks 40 till 42, so this could be a false alarm, and also labour could be 48 hours or more. I decided to try to sleep since everybody told us to take advantage of that time to rest.  But it was hard, so we thought that maybe we could sleep in the morning.

My partner went to prepare a bath that was on the ground floor of the house just to relax a little bit and meanwhile I was sending a message to my midwife to let her know I had started with mild contractions.  When I got into the bath the contractions started to get much stronger.  I had the feeling of having to poop and not being able to.  I’m not going to lie, it hurt a lot, but each contraction lasted less than a minute.  I went in and out of the bath.  I was sick, so I decided to go back upstairs where I felt more comfortable.

My partner called the midwife and asked her to come.  It was already 6am.  We stopped being so calm and relaxed and the energy started to be more intense.  The contractions were much longer, painful and continuous.  Gabriel started preparing the pool in our living room and I couldn’t get out of the bathroom.  With each contraction I called him and he ran to me, then when the waves stopped there was no pain at all and he ran back to keep going with the pool.  It was incredible how pain went from one extreme to the other.   In one of those contractions I heard a noise of water and a few drops of blood came out.  The midwife had not arrived yet and the pool was not ready. 

My midwife arrived 20 minutes later and I felt calmer. She helped me lay down on the bed and checked me out.  I was 7cm dilated.  I thought that the pool was not even close to being ready and the baby was going to be born in the bed.  I believe I lost track of time and space and it felt like just a few minutes, but according to my partner I was there for half an hour.  The midwife came and asked me if I wanted to go to the pool.   I was surprised, but said yes.  The pool didn’t have enough water so my partner jumped into the pool with me to make the water level higher.

I was squatting in the pool, leaning forward onto its edge, holding a small towel that I squeezed.  I would have loved to have had a squeeze ball.  My partner was behind me.  A contraction came and I said “She is coming!”  I felt her head coming down inside me.  I felt everything and every millimetre of the tear too.  Her little head was already out.  I had been offered to see her with a mirror but I couldn’t watch. 

We had to wait for another contraction for her little body to come out.  This one didn’t hurt, compared to the previous.  At 8:46 am Coral came out and twisted inside the water of the pool.  I brought her up with my arms then I turned around and sat down.  My partner was next to me holding us.  And baby Coral was smiling at us.  We stayed there for a while and welcomed her into this world. 

The second midwife arrived and after a while we decided to get out of the water.  When I got up another contraction came and the placenta came out.  That was a pleasant sensation.  We lay down on the couch.  Only then she cried.  I fed her for the first time in our couch.  After a few minutes without any rush my partner cut the umbilical cord.  We were skin to skin for a few hours before some stitches, then we moved to our bed and we had some lunch there. 

About an hour after the birth Gabriel facetimed my mum in Argentina.  When I heard her voice I started crying because I realised that I’d given birth, and I felt very emotional, and she was far away. Everything had gone so fast that I continued to feel a bit shocked until the next day.  It was hard for me to get my head around the fact that I’d given birth. I loved that it happened just as I wanted it to, at home with my partner and my midwife, in my own surroundings.

Both midwives stayed all day, checking us and cleaning everything, and one of them came back every day that week to do our mum and new baby checks.  

* Balance class is a class designed by Karen Shlegeris, Childbirth Educator, to teach pregnant women and their partners techniques to create balance in the body and space in the pelvis for a more efficient labour and birth.

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AMBER
You'll read Amber's first birth story in my book INSPIRED PREGNANCY, JOYFUL BIRTH. This story is the birth of her second baby, her daughter Inka.

I had numerous growth scans and an amniocentesis test because they were worried about baby’s high nuchal reading, then talk of induction once I went a week over the due date.  By the end of my pregnancy I really had no idea what type of birth I was going to have!  But thanks to Karen’s wonderful catch-up birthing class and amazing yoga I was able to use my mind at each stage to make informed choices and help me be at peace as much as I possibly could with the decisions we were being faced with. 

In the end, at 41 weeks plus 2 days, our gorgeous little girl finally decided to show her presence earthside.  I had an induction booked for the next day (which I knew it my head I wasn’t going to have) and I was very anxious about that, but I was listening to my relaxing hypobirthing music and trying my best to stay at peace and not stress my body and visualise the dream waterbirth that I wished for the second time round. 

At around 11 o’clock on Wednesday 6th I started feeling tightening and I remember just knowing that baby was going to be with us in the next 24 hours. We decided to leave for the hospital as my biggest fear this time round was having a very quick labour and not making it to the hospital in time, as we were living 40 minutes away.  We arranged for my mum to spend the night with our son Enzo and off we went. 

We arrived at Buderim hospital after midnight and because I wasn’t in labour they left me to it and just observed, monitored the baby’s heart rate, filled out paperwork and told us to get some rest.  Because I was booked in to be induced that morning at 8am there was not much point sending us home. 

As the sun came up I remember the midwives called in to see if anything had changed and had suggested I go for a walk, as everyone knew I absolutely did not want to be induced and wanted to bring the labour on myself naturally.

Five minutes into our walk my surges started; it was working.  Yay!  I was so excited.  By the time we walked around the car park I had to stop and lean over for each surge, and as they got so strong so quickly we decided to head back to the room. 

On the way back we passed our lovely midwife in the hallway who decided to head into the birthing suite to start filling up the bath.  While I went back to the room and changed into my togs and comfort sarong.  Mike put the hypnobirthing music on and at that point I decided it would be better to be in an upright, forward and open position so I started bouncing on the exercise ball.  The surges were so strong but I used my breathing through each one.  8.50am my water broke while I was bouncing on the ball in one big gush. We couldn’t believe it!!! Yay! 

By the time I got to the birthing suite it felt like the surges were every minute.  They were constant and strong.  I got straight in the bath while my husband set up the birthing music and the midwife dimmed the lights. 

I’d barely been in the bath when I felt my body bearing down.  I couldn’t believe I was at this stage already.  The midwife in the room with us was incredible; she was polite, funny, encouraging and never intervened.  And within another couple of down breaths her head came out.  I was able to reach down and feel her head and in another few surges she was born. Her cord was wrapped round her head but the midwives very quickly unravelled it and I brought her calmly to my chest.  I felt instant relief, and I was filled with so much love and joy. 

At 9.40am, just 50 minutes after my water had broken, my baby girl Inka was born!  I was so happy to have had such a positive natural water birth; the birth that I had wished for. 

Daddy was an absolute legend of a birthing partner once again.  Such an overwhelming and empowering experience. 7lb 9oz of pure perfection, an absolute dream and well worth the wait.

Inka’s middle name is in honour of her great Poppy Gray and her very special great Nana Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Copley.

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How do you describe the sensations of labour?

I went from light cramping to strong labour at a fast pace.  I could still speak and laugh in between contractions right up until my babies were born, but I guess that is my nature and the way I handle life in general.

How did you prepare for your births?

I did yoga and Pilates before I was pregnant so I just continued that during pregnancy, along with lots of soft sand beach walks closer to my due date.  Towards the end of my pregnancy with Enzo I found Karen’s yoga classes.  She changed my whole vibe of being pregnant.  Her classes gave me a sense of calmness and grounding and connection to yourself within everyday busy life.  I still love and miss the feeling I had during her practice: the dim lights, the smell, her peaceful voice and calming presence was just what I needed. 

We did Karen’s Calmbirth classes which were incredible and changed our whole prospective of how it was going to be.  It gave us some really good advice.  My husband was an absolute dream birthing partner and handled it all so, so well.  Karen assured him that he needed to keep the energy positive in the delivery room – he needed to make sure that I felt protected and in a safe space.

With Enzo (my first pregnancy) I ate six dates a day starting from about 36 weeks pregnant and did the same when pregnant with Inka.  I also took raspberry leaf tablets from 32 weeks with Enzo and Inka to potentially speed up the labour.

Towards the end of my pregnancy with Inka I had a really sore lower back from carrying my son Enzo around a lot as my husband was working away at the time. I  found pregnancy massage helped and gave me some time to relax as well as easing my discomfort.

At 40 weeks pregnant with Inka I tried acupuncture to bring on the labour.

We delivered both our babies in Buderim hospital in the bath and I’m so glad we did.  I have nothing but amazing memories of my births.  Both the midwives I ended up having in the delivery ward were absolutely incredible and just such beautiful, beautiful women!  I loved the thought of having a homebirth but not having medical care in case of an emergency gave me some anxiety, so we decided on a waterbirth in the Buderim private hospital and I’m so glad we did. 

I went into my both my birth experiences with a strong mind, knowing my body would do exactly what it’s meant to do; I just needed to ride the strong waves and breathe and move and ease my body into the process of birthing my babies.

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Amber and Mike live on acreage near Lake Weyba on the Sunshine Coast with their two beautiful children.  They always dreamed of bringing up their children on land not far from the sea.  Absolute bliss!

Amber is a stay at home Mum/stylist/content creator for Judy Copley Couture.  Mike is an Electrical Supervisor currently working on the Brisbane Cross River Rail. 

Parenting my children means giving my absolute all.  It is my greatest achievement in life and the most important and rewarding job on the universe.  We are shaping these little humans to be kind, caring individuals and I have loved every second of the crazy journey of parenthood. 

Jenny
Pregnancy Yoga + Birthing Together + Doula Client

I started coming to Karen’s prenatal classes when I was pregnant with my second daughter. Karen’s classes and her beautiful home gave me a much needed opportunity for me to wind down and have some me time. I walked away feeling physically great but more than that all the wisdom and birth education she shared each class gave me a sense of excitement and confidence about going into my next birth. My husband and I also went to a partner preparation workshop with Karen and it was such a beautiful opportunity for us to bond and prepare for our next arrival. She also created a really safe space for my husband to talk about fears and feelings he had about our first birth that he had never spoken to me about before.

I was also so lucky to have Karen as my doula and I will never forget the warmth and love she brought to our birth and after. Karen’s classes are so much more than just moving the body.. she is giving women the confidence and knowledge to trust in their bodies for birth. Karen is kind, nurturing and just a beautiful human. I wish every pregnant woman had access to Karen’s beautiful classes

Kellie Hart
KELLIE

We attended a Calmbirth refresher course with Karen which confirmed that homebirth was truly what we wanted.

For this birth, our second, we chose a homebirth with a midwife from a private group midwifery practice, and I shared care with the private obstetrician from my first birth. 

I had been having increasingly strong Braxton Hicks contractions on and off since 18 weeks and they were teasingly stronger and semi-regular at times towards the end. At 36 weeks bub was found to be in the breech position.  We had a stressful week with my obstetrician discussing the need for interventions if the baby didn’t turn, but after using acupuncture, moxa, Spinning Babies and even frozen peas, bub to turned head-down to our great relief. 

The weeks were flying by and then suddenly I was 40 weeks.  I had some anxiety as Dan was incredibly busy with work, even travelling to the Gold Coast from Traveston for jobs. Thankfully Mum and Dad made it up from Canberra when the state borders re-opened after Covid shutdown. 

I had been having Acupuncture daily, eating Medjool dates and pineapple, drinking raspberry leaf tea, walking and everything else they suggest for getting things moving.

At 41weeks + 3 days my midwife Allison was suggesting a stretch and sweep to get things going. But when the time came and I was having the examination everything in my body screamed NO! So I asked her to stop. What we did learn on a revisit of my cycle length was that my ‘due date’ was likely the 13th rather than the 10th of November.  This information allowed everyone to relax a little.

After the exam I started cramping and we thought things might progress but unfortunately everything petered out again. Saturday was very uneventful and I was starting to feel anxious about being induced.

Sunday  (41+5)

First thing in the morning my mucous plug came out, which is something that didn’t happen with Inara. This lightened my spirits. No big cramps or contractions, just the occasional Braxton Hicks. The day was quiet and normal, feeding animals and being with the family.

At 6pm I called Allison and she and I talked through my options for my appointment with Kirsten the obstetrician the next morning. She suggested I take my hospital bag as Kirsten would want to induce me. To this I said, no, I wouldn’t be taking it as I don’t want to be induced if everything is ok. At the very least she would probably insist on a stretch and sweep. I got quite stressed after our call finished but tried to just think positively and focus on relaxing.

We had had dinner and early birthday cake for my step-son Levi (turning 9) during which I had some very strong tightenings that made me stand up and walk around. At 7.30pm I stood up to take another walk as the tightenings were getting much stronger, and while making my way to the lounge room for the obligatory lap, my water broke. I stopped, smiled and announced it to the room.  Everyone couldn’t believe what I was saying, and Dan and Levi even jumped up and came over to check the floor, which was clean as it was only a trickle.

I called Allison and she didn’t really believe me either so said she would call back in an hour. I had two strong tightenings and then after a gap of twelve minutes or so felt my first ‘effective’ contraction, very powerful and a bit bitey.

At some point Dan put Levi and Inara (our two year old daughter) through showers and into bed. I remember giving Inara an especially big cuddle and thinking, “Sorry beautiful girl, your world is about to change.”

The rushes came every four to five minutes for half an hour so I called Allison, but she was unconvinced that I had established so wanted to wait a bit longer. The power of the rushes surprised me and at times my legs would quiver from the intensity. During the next half hour the rushes were three to four minutes apart so I called Allison again who finally decided to head up, much to Mum’s relief as she was panicking that they wouldn’t make it in time. 

After this call the rushes switched gears and I needed Dan to push on my back with every rush which was every one and a half to two minutes. Dan and Mum had been running around filling the bath and getting things ready in the bedroom. I had been labouring in the dining room, leaning on the table listening to music, breathing and vocalising. At this point I really wanted to be in the bath so got Dan to call Allison and ask if I could. She thought it may slow me down but I really wanted the relief I knew it would bring. After visiting the bathroom where I vomited and emptied my bowel I retreated to the bedroom where we had the birth pool set up.

I hopped in and it was so fantastic and blissful. Every muscle in my body sighed and let go. Thank goodness I got in when I did. Who ever invented the inflatable birth pool is a bloody genius. It allowed me to be comfortable on my knees, which because of my rheumatoid arthritis would normally be impossible, enabling the best possible position for birth. Dan called Allison and she instructed Mum to call the ambulance just in case.

I leaned on the seat and the side of the pool for only a few rushes and I started to feel like she was starting to crown but when I put my hand down to check, she wasn’t. With the next rush though she was coming which I told Dan, and Allison who was on speaker as she drove, about five minutes away. I put my hand down and felt a mop of hair (which in my mind was dark). She was facing backwards. The push that birthed her head was completely out of my control. I now understand the power of the fetal ejection reflex. In one rush her head was born with a little half push after the rush from me to birth her chin.

Then the familiar, expected but unbelievable and amazing moment that she turned from facing the back to facing the right. It amazes me so much that they are such active participants in their own birth. I can remember the feeling so intensely.

I could feel my body building for the next rush and knew that it would be a big one. “Here she comes!” I think I said. Still no active push from me but letting my body do its thing, and Lilah was earthside.

As I lifted her gently out of the water, I could feel that her cord was tangled somehow. It was around her chest then up over her shoulder, so I gently untangled her then sat back against the side of the bath and gazed down at my beautiful little girl who, like her sister, I feel like I have known all my life even though we have just met. Lilah let her presence be known with some good cries which reassured Allison and Mum that all was ok.

Allison arrived a few minutes later, apologising profusely for not making it in time. After a few minutes Allison got us up out of the water and onto the bed all wrapped up. My little Lilah was straight to the breast and fed immediately; it was such a relief. The paramedics arrived and just popped their heads in to check all was well.

About an hour after the birth, with some goading from Allison, I birthed the placenta. About an hour later I got up and had a wonderful shower. Mum made me tea and vegemite on toast, which was amazing.

We spent a few glorious hours basking in the afterglow of hormones and love and then the midwives left and Dan and Mum went to bed. Lilah and I were left to ourselves in the lounge room. What a strange, lonely but full-of-love happening labour and birth is.

I was still awake at 5.30 the next morning when Levi and Inara woke up – how they did not wake up during all the noise I do not know – and came out to meet their baby sister. So full of love and awe.

Lilah was born at 41 weeks + 5 days, at 3.65kg/8lb 4oz, 50cm long

How did you prepare for Lilah’s birth?

 I wanted to have a homebirth for Inara’s birth, but as I was 41, had rheumatoid arthritis and didn’t know if it might create complications, and as my mother was nervous about homebirth due to her background as a nurse, I chose to give birth to our first child in hospital.  

It went well so for our second baby, homebirth was a ‘no-brainer’.  I believe in continuity of care and also wanted to have people I know around me.  Our decision were also influenced by the fact that, with Covid restrictions being in place at the time (November 2020), I didn’t want to be exposed to potential bugs in hospital, and Dan may not have been able to be with me for the birth. However, Buderim hospital and my obstetrician were on call in case I needed to transfer from home, as was Gympie Hospital which was closer to where we live.  We had all bases covered.

I had a few visits to my obstetrician during the pregnancy but the rest of my antenatal appointments were with my midwife Allison at her Maroochydore practice. 

In the end, after all that lead-up, the labour and birth were over in a flash, and it played out like the ideal birth in my head; an undisturbed birth with just me, Dan and our baby.  I felt empowered, joyful and very satisfied with the experience. 

“I have felt so moved by my birth experiences that I would love to become a childbirth educator and open a women’s support facility in our area.”

Casey Hensler 6
CASEY

“It was an amazing and empowering experience.”

At 10:42pm we welcomed our little girl, Imogen Florence.  My waters broke spontaneously at 37 weeks, at about 12:30pm as we were about to go into Coles.  We rang our midwife as we were certain it was my waters, and she advised us as I was 37 weeks on the dot to come to the hospital and get checked.  We ducked home and grabbed some things as we had no hospital bag packed for me; luckily we had Imogen’s bag packed.  

We got to the hospital at about 2pm and I had some mild cramping, sort of like period pains which had started in the car.  While we were there we were monitored for about four hours, as they couldn’t get a good trace as little girl was moving around so much.  Finally we were given the all clear to go home at about 6pm to wait for the labour to progress.  As we were leaving the hospital the surges were already quite strong.  We got home at about 6:30 and I got in the shower to provide some relief as well as using the working breath through each surge.  

By 7:15pm Lachlan called our midwife and said I was having regular strong surges but they urged us to try and stay at home for a few more hours.  By 7:45pm the surges were extremely strong and we couldn’t stay at home any longer, so we rang the midwife and went to the hospital, arriving at  the birth suites at about 8:15pm.  I was examined and was at 7cm.  I jumped in the bath and used the working breath, water immersion, music, as well as gas and air to get to 10cm.  Lachlan supported me through the entire experience using the methods he learnt through Calmbirth.  

At 10:10pm it was time to push and she was out by 10:42pm.  Immy was born with me kneeling and leaning over the back of the bed in a natural vaginal delivery with only a small tear.  Weighing 7lb 3oz, length of 50cm and head circumference of 36cm, she is everything we could have wanted.  We wouldn’t have had the birth experience we did without Calmbirth.  It prepared us and gave us all the tools we could have needed to have the birth we wanted

How did the sensations of labour feel? 

I’m not going to lie, it was definitely painful.  But it was pain with a purpose.  I really wanted an intervention-free birth and wanted to let my body do what it was made to do.  My surges felt like intense cramping across my stomach, but with the working breath, movement and gas I was able to work through the discomfort and have the natural vaginal birth I wanted.  I’m actually excited to give birth again – it was an amazing and empowering experience. Calmbirth equipped up with the tools we needed.

Do you think your birth preparations contributed to your great birth?

I think that practicing the techniques learned at Calmbirth and also keeping an open mind definitely helped.  I had an idea of the birth I hoped for but I knew it was just an idea.  I found by just rolling with the surges and not expecting anything was very helpful as you have no control really.  I went with the flow and surrendered to my body and mind.  

I moved my body in the gym up until 32 weeks, I attended HIIT Kawana (still kickboxing and weightlifting, just modifying where needed.)  The goal was just to keep moving my body.  I took raspberry leaf tablets from about 35 weeks, and started expressing colostrum three days before I gave birth.   I spent a lot of time bouncing on an exercise ball in the weeks leading up to my birth and practiced sitting forward to try keep Immy in an optimal position for birth.    I had a pregnancy massage at 34 weeks.  I loved the massage, it was such a nice way to relax and treat myself before our worlds were flipped upside down.  I was on my way to get some clary sage when my waters broke. 

We were lucky enough to be a part of MGP [SCUH’s Midwifery Group Program], and it was honestly the best thing on our journey.  Our midwife Lauren was absolutely incredible and I couldn’t have done it without her.  The love, appreciation and gratitude I have for her is out of this world.  She knew exactly what I wished for, she supported us throughout the whole experience and she delivered our baby girl when the time came.  We showed up at birth suites and the lights were low, we were taken straight to our room where Lauren was waiting and she had already started running the bath.  She was encouraging and made the experience such an empowering and positive journey.  I only hope she can deliver our next bub when the time comes.  MGP was amazing.

 

Casey and Lachlan live in Yandina on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. Casey is a paediatric nurse and Lachlan is a Sales Rep.

“We just want to raise kind humans. We want to raise our kids as our equals and hope they are happy in themselves.  We want our kids to be raised with emotional intelligence and respect for their minds and feelings.  At the end of the day all we can hope is they are kind, happy and healthy. 

“I’m excited to give birth again.  I felt like superwoman and I can’t wait to do it again!  Bring it on! “

JEDA

At 36 weeks our baby turned breech, but after a week of chiro, acupuncture, moxa burning, spinning babies and lying upside down on an ironing board, our baby turned back head down on its own. At this time we were recommended to be induced because of the previous shoulder dystocia from our first birth, which we strongly declined.

From there we were full steam ahead doing everything under the sun to bring on labour with no luck. At 40 weeks our cheeky baby decided to turn posterior and luckily decided to turn back again!

My waters broke on Saturday 2nd January at 2.10pm, however labour didn’t commence. We declined going to the hospital for monitoring and opted to see if labour would begin overnight. It was disheartening waking up on Sunday still not in labour! We went for a big beach walk and then made a plan with our midwife to go to the hospital for monitoring, however as soon as we hopped off the phone to her at 8.30am contractions started. At that point we decided to labour at home for as long as possible. We knew were on a bit of a timeline due to my waters having been broken for so long but we were confident everything was ok.

Contractions started off slow and easy and at around 2pm we went for a short walk which kicked things into gear. We arrived at the hospital around 4pm and using our breathing skills and many different positions, labour continued to progress. Josh was an amazing birth partner and we were mostly left to ourselves. I couldn’t have gotten through the labour without him. At around 8.30pm I felt the urge to push, however the baby had turned posterior and my cervix wasn’t completely effaced. Having the urge to push cause my cervix to swell and our midwife advised I needed to resist the urge to push and that we needed to try and get the baby back in a favourable position. I hopped on to the bed to do a side-lying release to turn the baby, however being in that position on the bed and having the involuntary urge to push was all too much for me. I was using the gas at this point and contractions were very close and intense.

I could not stop pushing and requested an epidural which the midwife had also recommended as it would stop the involuntary urge to push. Waiting for the epidural to be organised felt like an eternity.  I requested to get off the bed because I couldn’t keep on top of the contractions in that position. As soon as I hopped off the bed I dropped to my knees for a contraction and realised that the baby was coming. My midwife rushed over and told me to breathe and not push as the baby’s head was right there, and within two or three contractions our little girl was born at 9.29pm. She was a bit shocked and bruised from the speedy delivery but otherwise perfectly healthy.

We are so happy we didn’t have time for the epidural and that our baby and my body knew what it needed to do.  We finally named her today, Bertie. She is so sweet and we are so in love.

testimonial-renee
Renee
Calmbirth + Doula Client

I too felt my second birth wouldn’t live up to the euphoria of my first. Totally different experience second time around but still amazing and wouldn’t change a thing.

Lena Kane
LENA

“A short intense birth of a beautiful healthy boy, filling us with absolute gratitude.”

When I was pregnant with my daughter, both my sister and sister-in-law kept telling me their horror birth stories. With this in mind I wanted to create a positive birth experience (and a positive pregnancy).  

Once I reached the three month mark I began pregnancy yoga which helped both my pregnancy and birthing journey by providing reassurance, support and skills.   It was a safe place for me to exercise as I was feeling apprehensive about my pregnancy because it took us a while to conceive.  For me, yoga is also very much about my mental health so it was important for me to continue this throughout my pregnancies. 

However it gave me so much more; it gave me a safe place to discuss all things pregnancy and birth, particularly when I was feeling scared or apprehensive about something specific.  It gave me a sense of community, particularly the second time around.  It gave me birth skills, comfortable pregnancy positions and stretches.  Having an open forum and knowledge from Karen and the other mums also gave me the confidence to believe in my body and understand that I was able to take some control of any situation thrown my way.

My husband and I attended an active birthing class and then a Calmbirth class with Tracey for Maeve’s birth, and did a Calmbirth Refresher prior to Ari’s birth.   These classes were paramount in providing me the skills and mindset during my births. They also provided Steve with skills to help partner me in the birthing experience.  This was probably the biggest asset I would say both courses provided us as Steve (along with the midwives) was my pillar during both births. 

I walked regularly (daily during my first pregnancy and whenever possible during my 2nd). I  read numerous books (both good and bad) during my first pregnancy, including What to expect when expecting, Up the Duff, Ina Mays Guide to Childbirth, The Fourth Trimester. I’ve  enjoyed Nathan Wallis’s teachings including The First 1000 Days. 

This was my second birth, and due to health conditions and being steroid-dependent[1], my specialists recommended an induction at 39 weeks and 4 days.

We went to the hospital on the Tuesday afternoon for an examination, thinking we would be induced that afternoon. However, upon the examination, my body was again prepared and my waters were set to be broken. Instead of breaking my waters that afternoon, the midwife completed a stretch and sweep, sending us home in the hope my body would be able to begin labour. Unfortunately, my body did not labour naturally and we returned the following morning at 6am. The hospital had had an extremely busy night and we were asked to wait another hour.

Once we were finally settled in a maternity room, a cannula was placed in my arm and I met my midwife Melinda and a student midwife. My medical history is rather large and Melinda was in the background going over it, seeming a little distracted which made me a little apprehensive at the time. I needn’t have worried though and after speaking to Steve who calmed my nerves, my waters were finally broken.

It was suggested again that I have the induction drugs via IV[2] however I asked to wait an hour as I had a feeling my body would begin contractions without them. My body did just that, with the first contraction coming within ten minutes after my waters were broken. Melinda went over our birth plan and I remember her stating, “Your body knows what to do. I will come in when you need me.” I had set up the room with our own music, a fitball and a mattress for the floor.

Contractions came in hard and fast, with me standing and bending over the bed for the first part of labour. I remember Steve saying the contractions seemed close together early on and I am pretty sure my body was contracting pretty much by the minute. I wasn’t phased at this stage and just asked the bed to be lowered so I could go onto my knees as my body started to tire.

My medical obstetrician arrived just before the contractions started to get intense. I remember her asking me questions however I am not sure whether I even answered her. Melinda had left me and my husband to labour by ourselves and not long after the medical doctor left she came and advised me that I was now in active labour and I would need to be attached to a drip (this was for my medical history unrelated to pregnancy).

Melinda spoke softly and calmly but with assertion. Whenever she placed a hand on my body she would let me know what she was doing and why. She barely interfered particularly in the first stages of labour. I was now on all fours and labour was intense with contractions coming hard and fast. I remember looking at the clock and realising I had only been contracting for about 1 ½ hours and I was shocked that time was going so slow.

Melinda had set up the bath at this stage per my birth plan, however once I was in, between the drip and the contractions, I just could not get into a good position so I opted to get back out. Once out again I was on all fours and my body took over. I have a very vague recollection of this time as my body took full control of breathing, using my voice (loudly) and my body through each contraction. Steve again was a pillar.

I remember at one point saying I could not go on and Melinda stated, “This is your body Lena, reach down and touch bub’s head.”  Once I reached and felt bubs’ head, I knew there wasn’t long to go. Pushing hard over a few more contractions, bub was nearly out. Another midwife suggested I lift one leg. I told her that under no circumstances was I moving, however the next contraction I lifted one leg up and within two more pushes, bub was out. Ari was born two hours and 40 minutes after my waters were broken.

Ari Thomas was born at 10:59am after a very quick intense labour, weighing 6pound 15.

Melinda was an amazing supportive midwife and had even taken some sneaky photos and video with our camera of Ari arriving into this world. We are so thankful for the support SCUH gave me during my pregnancy and the labour. 

[1] Requiring steroids to treat a medical condition.

[2] A cannula is a thin tube placed into a vein in the arm or hand allowing for intravenous fluids to be given to the woman.

Bess and Ben
Bess and ben
Calmbirth and Doula Clients

Arthur’s birth was incredible.   Bess was like a goddess.  She moved through labour like a mermaid swimming through the water, so much grace and purpose.  Faster, smoother and dare I say less intense for her.  We laughed after the birth, thinking back about how we couldn’t comprehend this birth being better as Adeline’s was so magical, but it was better.

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Pregnancy Action Plan

Early in pregnancy your baby’s birth can seem a long way away. Did you know you can start right now to prepare for a good birth? Want to bring your partner onto the same page? Want to know what you can do in between antenatal visits to enjoy a comfortable pregnancy and prepare for your baby’s birth?
To complement my book Inspired Pregnancy, Joyful Birth I’ve created this short, online course for you and your partner to watch together.
Do the course as early in pregnancy as you can and feel the relief of having a clear guide for the months ahead.
In around an hour you will have a complete understanding of all the strategies you can use during your pregnancy to improve your chances of having a fabulous birth. You may not hear this essential information anywhere else.