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Episode 221

Melissa Ayling

This week I revisit one of my very first interviews where I chat with @melissa_ayling - a hypnobirthing practitioner based in Geraldton, WA. Melissa’s story really encompasses the power of developing faith and trust in the body and its ability to birth. She talks us through her smooth first birth but it’s the arrival of her second baby that takes up most of our conversation. She discusses the techniques she used to actively prepare for labour and she talks us through the stages of birth, from first contractions to the way she let her intuition guide her through a side-of-the-road car birth, a calm, empowering and overwhelmingly ecstatic experience.

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Image by Arctic Moon Photography

Melissa opted for private maternity care with her first baby and when she arrived at the hospital the midwife informed her that she was 3cm. She had practised hypnobirthing throughout her pregnancy and had developed an unwavering faith in her body; news of being 3cm didn’t deter her at all. Two hours later she gave birth and the midwife exclaimed that it was one of the best births she had ever witnessed.

With limited pregnancy and birth support options in her area, Melissa decided to train as a hypnobirthing practitioner. She also cancelled her private maternity cover and opted to go public with her second baby.

“I really believe that it’s not about where you birth; it’s about who you are and knowing that birth comes from within.”

Aside from early pregnancy nausea and low iron in her third trimester (which was treated with an iron infusion), Melissa enjoyed a relatively smooth pregnancy. It was her final weeks that she enjoyed the most and she immersed herself in preparation because she wholeheartedly believes that preparing her mindset is the most important thing to do.

“I created a vision board with powerful affirmations, I added photos of natural birth advocates to remind me of my strength and my body’s capability, I put cari shells on there because they hold significant meaning to birth in many cultures, I listed to hypnobirthing albums, practised my breathing techniques

“I woke up early in the morning, at exactly 39 weeks feeling really emotional and when I went to the toilet I had a show.”

She spent the rest of the morning pottering about and when contractions started she inhaled clary sage to promote stronger, more productive surges. She looked at her vision board which reminded her of her strength and bounced on the fit ball as her baby was posterior and most of her labour was in her back. She also felt the urge to crawl around on all fours to encourage him to turn although she maintained steadfast in her belief that everything was progressing as it should – she didn’t want to force anything.

“I started timing my contractions and then the contraction timer told me it was time to go to hospital and I definitely didn’t think it was, I thought there is no way I’m going to let my phone tell me when to go to hospital, so I turned it off.”

She went into her bedroom and lay on her side with a peanut pillow between her legs while her husband read a lotus flower meditation to her. It was here that she had the longest, most intense surge of her whole labour and afterwards she no longer had any back pain but labour had stepped up and was progressing quickly; she knew that baby had moved into the best birthing position.

She got into the car shortly afterward after telling her husband that the birth photographer and student midwife should meet them at the hospital. As soon as she climbed into the front seat she felt the urge to push and her water’s broke.

“There was so much physical and emotional release, it felt really good. I was kneeling on the seat and facing the back, I felt so claustrophobic there and it was getting so intense. Five minutes later I asked Sam to pull over on the side of the road and get the midwife on the phone, and she said: oh, she’s got so much more time than she thinks, it’s so much safer if you get to the hospital but drive quickly.

“I agreed to keep driving but my natural expulsive reflex kicked in, I was whimpering and focusing on my breathing and I begged Same to pull over again because I felt the baby crowning.

“I was not scared at all, I was challenged and I was disappointed that my birth photographer and student midwife wasn’t there but I went completely inwards, was still and calm, the head was born and then felt my baby turn for the shoulders to be born and completely trusted that my body knew what it was doing…and he was born and this energy washed over me.

“The feeling….there was ringing in my ears, I was on such a high, I was ecstatic. I always remember reading Ina May Gaskin’s Spiritual Midwifery and women describing their birth as psychedelic, and that’s what it felt like.”

The ambulance arrived shortly after baby Lockie was born and took them to hospital where Melissa delivered the placenta and stayed the night, grateful for the support of her midwives.

Topics Discussed

Unassisted car birth, Hypnobirthing

Episode Sponsor

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