The Two Week Wait
10 Questions To Ask Your Care Provider
Pregnancy After Miscarriage: How Long to Wait Before Trying Again
Bleeding In Pregnancy
Birthing Your Placenta : Active Management versus Physiological Management
When To Stop Breastfeeding | Australian Birth Stories
5 Common Postpartum Experiences
In today’s episode I chat to @juliet_allen about her recent homebirth. There’s a fifteen year gap between her children so she came to her second pregnancy and birth with a profound sense of preparation and purpose. Juliet and her partner, Nick, consciously conceived and then birthed at home; they used touch and kissing to bring on surges and Juliet self-pleasured to ride the intensity of each wave. Once their baby was born, they embraced a traditional lotus birth where the baby stays connected to the placenta till the cord naturally falls off. This episode is rich with inspiration but Juliet also shares some incredibly practical tips; you’ll want to take notes!
Juliet was travelling overseas with her partner when she fell pregnant at the age of 23. They returned home to the Gold Coast and she actively prepared for her hospital birth but was confronted from the moment she stepped into the birthing suite.
“When we got to the hospital the midwife said: We’ve drawn up the morphine for you and it’s all ready…she told me it was my first birth and I would need drugs and that was the moment I felt quite uneasy. I was so determined not to have intervention but I spent the whole labour advocating for myself which I found really tough. We need to go inwards during labour, to prepare to birth and when we have to answer questions and stand up for ourselves, it takes us out of that space.
“I got to second stage and I was really tired and could barely stand up. I lay on the bed and pushing was taking a long time and there was a lot of pressure for me to get her out in a certain time. At one stage the obstetrician said: I’m going to give you an episiotomy and she held the scissors up and asked if she had my consent and I said:, no, you don’t and on the next breath my baby was born and I didn’t tear.”
Juliet had trouble birthing the placenta so she was taken to theatre to have it manually removed. She was told that she had retained placenta; a fact she never thought to question. However, upon accessing her hospital records fifteen years later as she prepared for her homebirth, she learnt that her umbilical cord had snapped; she didn’t have a retained placenta after all. It was a profound moment for her; her most prominent fear evaporated within minutes and she was left with a renewed sense of faith in her ability to birth her baby and her placenta at home.
While travelling Australia with her partner, Nick, Juliet fell pregnant three times in eight months. She grieved two early miscarriages before she conceived her son and she admits that her first trimester was fuelled by anxiety, so much so that she expected to see blood every time she went to the toilet.
From the outset, she knew she wanted a peaceful and easeful birth in the comfort of her home and she was inspired by her work in sex education and her awareness that the energy that brings a baby into the world also brings it out.
“We had planned to connect with lots of kissing and cuddling to bring that juiced up energy into the birth, to bring on surges and distract from the intensity of contractions. We worked really closely with Jan Hardwicke Collings – as a couple and singularly – to prepare for birth and we both felt like we’d done the work. My waters broke one day past my due date; a trickle that lasted for hours and after being outside on our property, I let the waters fall back to the earth and I went to sleep easily that night because the surges hadn’t begun.
“At 4am I woke up and felt one, it was mild but I knew that it was go time. My doula came over early and she made my very favourite muffins from my childhood and it was just lovely to have her in my space. Nick and I hung out in the living room and cuddled on the couch. He learnt about acupressure in labour and he used that to help manage the pain.
“I had a surge and felt intense pressure and said I thought I needed to push. I wanted the least amount of people in the space as possible. I got this urge to push so I got in the pool and that was really nice to get in the water and about an hour later my midwife arrived; I was fully dilated by then and she knew I was based on the sounds that I was making.
“It was cuisey; I never thought that it was too intense or too much. I’m still in awe that I got to fully dilated without feeling anything that I would call pain. My midwife checked his heartbeat and he was fine, as I was pushing she was looking with a mirror. I put my fingers inside me and I could feel his head within an inch of my vagina, it was the best feeling.
“I was fully dilated for about three hours and he was just sitting there, he wasn’t moving much. After two hours I was getting tired and the pressure was really intense; at one stage I said to Nick that we were never doing it again. I was on the toilet, trying to do a wee, when I told my midwife that I wanted my mum to come and look after me and tuck me into bed. And she just told me that mum wasn’t coming to save me, I was the mum and I needed to birth my baby.
“In the back of my head, I was worried that it was taking too long for him to come down. And that thought stemmed from being in hospital with my daughter and having the pressure of being on the clock. So I voiced it and everyone reassured me that it was fine, I was taking the perfect amount of time. The midwives and my doula went outside and they left Nick and I together and that moment in time was my favourite part of birth; it was blissful and quiet. We kissed and he was touching my breasts and nipples and I think that’s what got my baby out in the end. Before all this I had been touching my clitoris; if I put my hand there and applied pressure, it would feel good but it would also distract me from the contraction. That was really helpful in so many ways and I felt so grateful that my midwife encouraged me to do that, as I was raw and naked and touching my clitoris, not in a sexual way, it just was a beneficial part of that stage of my labour.
“My midwife suggested I get out of the pool and squat, I was leaning into Nick and the energy change from being in the water to having my feet on the ground was so good for me. I had a full lightening bolt of energy and I was ready to meet my baby. In the first surge his head came out and he sat there for the lull between the surge and the next one he was born.
“My placenta came about 20 minutes later and I won’t lie, there was a bit of fear, but it actually felt quite cool to birth it. We didn’t cut the cord, we chose to have a lotus birth which is where you don’t cut the cord, the baby and placenta are attached until they naturally detach. We put the placenta in a bowl and when we went to bed that night, we put the placenta in a sieve so the blood could start to drop away into the bowl. It drained for 24 hours and we watched the cord change colour, then we used herbs and lots of himalayan salt to cure a placenta. Everyday we would rub salt and herbs on it and then we put it in a bag that my mum sewed. There are a lot of reasons to do it but for me, it allowed me to slow down because I needed someone to help me move whenever I was holding my baby. I needed a good excuse to slow down but also, lots of osteopaths have done research into the energy between placenta and the baby and cutting the cord can interrupt that energy process.”
Hospital birth, Conscious conception, Lotus birth, Two Vaginal Births, Miscarriage, Home birth
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