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In this week’s episode I chat to midwife and mum of four, Jas Summerfield - @chasingthesummerfields. After a quick 45minute labour with her third baby which resulted in a car birth, Jas always knew that her fourth baby would be born at home, surrounded by family. She also knew that her mindset would dictate how she coped during labour so essential oils and reiki got her in the zone and once in the birth pool she laboured without pain and delivered her baby into the hands of her eldest daughter, Quinn. Jas’ story is both informative and inspiring, I think you’ll really love it.
Image by Home Grown Photography
I highly recommend listening to the story of Jas’ first three births in episode #38. Today she talks about her fourth birth with baby Neve.
Jas was diagnosed with PCOS shortly before she fell pregnant with her first baby. When it came time to try for their fourth baby, Jas and her husband, Simon, decided to start “trying, not trying” when their third was 15 months old.
“It took three cycles for us to fall pregnant with Neve and the kids and I surprised Simon with the news on his birthday. We all went to the dating scan together and shortly afterward I applied for the community midwifery program and I had my first visit at 17 weeks.
“All of my appointments up until the third trimester were done at the local community clinic and I had a primary midwife as well as a backup midwife who comes and does the final home visit and makes sure the house is suitable for the program. It’s these two midwives who are usually at the birth but my primary midwife has never been at any of my births!”
After recovering from severe nausea by 16 weeks, Jas sailed through the rest of her pregnancy and lent on the support of her tight knit family when she needed help with the children. She’s always been very open and honest about pregnancy and birth with the kids so when it came time to talk about the birth of their sibling, she was open to them being in the birth space.
“The kids had a lot of questions so we used a few videos to help explain and then we moved onto a week by week documentation of what happens to the baby as it grows…we then talked about birth and I showed them a few birth videos. From quite early on Quinn was adamant that she wanted to be there for the birth. It was quite a natural process; kids are conditioned to be comfortable with what you’re comfortable with. There’s never been any form of secrecy about birth, we have always been honest, open and truthful about it, about all the ways to give birth.”
Towards the end of the pregnancy, all three of Jas’ children – Quinn, Theo and Caris – said they wanted to be present at the birth so Jas organised for three adults – her mum, dad and sister – to be responsible for one child each. The kids thought it was such a novelty and it allowed Jas to have the space to labour without also needing to mother.
In her final month of pregnancy, Jas and Simon decided to renovate their bathroom so they had to move in with Jas’ parents. They moved back home when Jas was 39weeks and a week later she woke in the morning and knew that she’d have her baby later that day.
“The day that each of the kids were born I woke up with a feeling that I was going to have them that day and with Neve I woke up in the morning and I just had that feeling. My intuition was telling me that it was close. We went to mum and dad’s house in the morning and I was getting regular tightenings all day and then as soon as Simon took the kids home for their afternoon nap, they stopped.
“Mum did some reiki on me, she balanced my chakras, did some massage, applied essential oils and I got myself aligned to be open and willing to labour…it was a really special few hours.”
As soon as the kids walked back through the door, Jas’ tightenings recommenced and she breathed through them. Around dinner time she had the feeling that she wanted to be at home so they packed up, called the midwife and birth photographer and headed home for the birth pool. She laboured at home, gently and easily, and waited for the midwife to arrive.
“I had the most hands off pregnancy and birth. Apart from two scans I declined all tests and I declined palpation, I only had blood pressure tests and my midwives checked the foetal heart rate on a few occasions I was free to trust the process and trust my body without needing to know what was anatomically going on,” she says.
During labour, Jas could feel what was going on and where Neve was lying; she was posterior and Jas ad back pain that radiated around her hips. After labouring in the bedroom for a while, she got in the birth pool and before long all three kids were in there too.
“When they started doing laps around me and using me as a tunnel, we moved them into the bathroom. It was funny though, I felt like we laughed our way through the labour and birth; it was just us and that’s what I loved. I felt really comfortable because they were being taken care of and I had the freedom to escape into labour land. I cried though, knowing that I was in the middle of having the birth I wanted and also sad that it was the last time that I’d get to experience it.”
Jas admits that when she was in the water she couldn’t feel her contractions at all which wasn’t an experience she particularly enjoyed because she likes knowing what stage she’s at and what’s happening with her body. She started to push which was a strange experience for her as with her second and third births, the pushing stage was completely involuntary.
“It was only 10minutes long but it felt a lot longer. I was lying down and Simon was behind me and Quinn was ready to catch her baby….she kept saying push mum, oh she’s going back up…..we noticed she had her cord around her neck, the midwife helped untangle her under the water, she took a while to be untangled and then Quinn passed her up to me onto my chest and then we moved Neve’s leg out of the way and Quinn announced that it was a girl.”
Jas stayed in the pool for an hour and breathed through intense involution pains (after pains) which she admits were terrible and far, far worse than contractions (she later rubbed jasmine oil into her abdomen and it definitely eased the pain). Afterward she went to the bedroom and her midwives checked her blood loss and observed both her and the baby. They made the decision to keep Neve attached to the placenta for as long as possible and when it was finally time to cut the cord, Simon, Quinn and Theo did it together.
They have experienced a beautiful fourth trimester as a family of six, with baby Neve being Jas’ best feeder and sleeper. “Apart from a little case of mastitis a few weeks in, she’s been a delight and she’s definitely my most content baby.”
Midwifery program, Essential oils, Reiki, Family-centred birth, PCOS, Waterbirth, Home birth
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