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What is infertility?
The Two Week Wait
Prenatal versus Postnatal Supplements. What’s the Difference?
Why are prenatal vitamins so important in pregnancy?
How to Prepare for a Positive Induction
Postpartum Essentials to Aid Your Recovery
Today Renee shares her three physiological birth stories so consider this a wonderfully positive episode in honour of Homebirth Awareness Week. She was living in New York with her partner when she fell pregnant at 21 so they hightailed it home to Queensland and had a really positive birth at their local public hospital. Renee admits that the first year of motherhood was lonely; she didn’t have any friends who were also mothers and she had really high expectations of herself that prompted postnatal anxiety. By the time her second was born she had a community of friends supporting her homebirth and conscious postpartum and she trained as a birth doula soon after. Her third pregnancy was her most challenging but the birth was very quick.
“I was 21 and living in New York with my partner (now husband) when I found out I was pregnant. It was a big surprise! We were really settled there and having fun as any couple in their early twenties would be. I knew I wanted to come home straight away – I was instantly homesick and I knew New York wasn’t a place I wanted to raise a family.
“Once we were back in Australia I felt really lost when it came to the hospital system. We decided to have him at the local hospital but they didn’t have a continuity of care model at that time so I hired a private midwife and did shared care. I was really confident going into birth and I had pages of notes and birth preferences. I was 10 days overdue and I was feeling pressure from the hospital whilst also doing all the things to start labour and it worked; I went into spontaneous labour.
“My contractions started and were really random; some an hour apart, some twenty minutes apart. I rested and walked and that night I went to sleep thinking I would be woken but I slept right through and woke up quite disheartened. By early afternoon the contractions were getting more intense and I got in the zone, moving from the couch to the birth pool. By about 8 pm we decided to go to the hospital and when I got there the midwife wanted to do a vaginal examination and I consented. I was 4 cm at that point and my partner knew that unless I was in established labour I wanted to be at home and he really encouraged me to leave the hospital and the midwife reassured us that it was a great decision. We returned to the hospital at midnight and I got straight in the birth pool. I was really vocal and it was obvious that I was in active labour. It was instant relief; it takes the weight off the contraction.
“I was in the bath for four hours and then I felt the urge to push which was uncontrollable. It took me a long time to work out how to push, trying different positions but he was born two-and-a-half hours after I transitioned. I wanted to do a physiological third stage and my midwife was so supportive. It took about an hour for me to birth it but once I was sitting on the toilet it came out quite easily.
“I really regretted not researching breastfeeding and the hospital was really busy so I wasn’t getting much care or guidance. I went home after one night and it was so helpful to have the midwives help me in the home; they could be more hands-on and there weren’t as many distractions.
“I didn’t have any mum friends and I really struggled in the first year of Zephyr’s life. I didn’t feel like I was the ‘mother’s group’ type and I didn’t realise it at the time but I definitely had postnatal anxiety; I was consumed with being the best mum I could possibly be and it was stressing me out. It was hard and it wasn’t until Zephyr was one and we were going to parks and I was meeting mums there…that’s when I found my community. I think I was so deep in motherhood that I didn’t realise the grief I had about the life we’d left behind in New York and the shock of a surprise pregnancy. I felt so lonely and isolated and that’s when I realised I needed to prioritise taking care of myself.
“We’d openly discussed having more kids and wanted a two year age gap between them. I fell pregnant and knew I wanted a homebirth but the finances were prohibitive for us because we were living on one income. Thankfully my best friend’s mum is a midwife and she honoured a payment plan for us and was delighted to support me. I loved having my appointments at home and involving Zephyr in the process. I really wanted him at the birth so we watched lots of homebirth videos and he was fully immersed in it. He’s a beautiful, gentle soul and I knew he’d be an oxytocin boost.
“My midwife lived a few hours away so she was really thorough with what to do if she didn’t get there but she also emphasised that she would come as soon as I had signs of early labour. I was only two days over this time and I started to get contractions that really slowly intensified. We had dinner as a family and then I let my birth team know – my midwife, doula and mum – and then I went to bed to rest. At midnight I woke to a really strong contraction and I got up and sat by myself on the birth ball, all alone, listening to music. By 2am the contractions were coming regularly and everyone had arrived by 5am. My midwife walked in while I was on the birth ball and I think she could see that I was holding back a bit, not ready to go into the intensity. She reassured me and told me if I wanted to meet my baby I had to walk into the intensity. I sat on the toilet which was intense and productive. The contractions were coming back to back and I got in the pool and started pushing straightaway; I pushed for ten to fifteen minutes and he was born.
“I always want to get out of the water as soon as I give birth so I got on the couch and my mum fed me porridge while Blue breastfed. My breastfeeding journey was really smooth this time; I had no issues at all. I think I was also more confident. I had a real community of friends and planned a really conscious postpartum.
“I’d been thinking of being a birth doula for a while and a course came up which I did and it’s the best decision I’ve made. My husband works from home so he can step in at any point when I have to go to a birth. It’s hard being on-call and you need a support network that can be on-call with you. Your whole family is doulaing with you.
“We had a longer gap between Blue and Veia which was very purposeful. I could only think about another baby after he turned three. We’d just moved to our property in the Northern Rivers and we were living in a caravan while we were building our house. I was really sick and we only had a drop toilet; the smells were intense and it was really hard. As soon as I conceived I knew which midwife I wanted so I locked her in but I didn’t think about how it would work if we didn’t have a house ready.
“I couldn’t envision where I was going to birth and it was so upsetting. The house was a complete construction zone and my husband was feeling the pressure because he was building it so we were not best friends in the third trimester. I told my neighbour about our dilemma and she told me about a cabin on her property that she rents on airbnb and that was my back-up. I relaxed into it and surrendered to what would be.
“I’d felt from about 38 weeks that I was going inward; I couldn’t be in public for too long, I needed lots of rest and I was very emotional and tired. I was also having consistent braxton hicks from 27 weeks and my midwife thought I might have an irritable uterus because I couldn’t even drink raspberry leaf tea without lots of contractions kicking off.
“I woke up at 7am one morning and I had a contraction and there was something about it that felt different. We have no phone service at our house unless we have satellite internet and it broke that week. I got up and made the boys breakfast and then decided to go for a walk to the bottom of our property where there’s a creek and by then the contractions were coming three to four minutes apart – they were short but intense. My doula mind was telling me the baby was posterior because I had back pain and not long contractions. Short, sharp intense contractions continued right throughout. I called my midwife and even though I didn’t feel like I needed her to come straight away, she insisted.
“By the time I got back to the house I was in full blown labour. Our water had turned off so I made the decision to go to our neighbour’s cabin but we couldn’t call her…it was a shambles to be honest. We all got in the car and went down the road and my neighbour came running out and I was on the grass moaning. I was so grateful that she was there and she supported me so beautifully. My husband was frantic, he called the midwife, my neighbour put me in the shower and then took my boys into her house to watch a movie with her kids. It felt really out of control whereas with the boys I was in the zone and flowing through it. With this birth my mind couldn’t catch up to my body.
“All of a sudden I felt her drop into my pelvis and that was it, she started coming. The midwife hadn’t arrived but she was only minutes away and I felt safe, I didn’t feel stressed. Veia was born in one push and my husband came in and caught her. I still don’t feel like I’ve fully processed how quick her birth was. She wasn’t crying but she was very present, her eyes were open and she pinked up straightaway.
“My midwife put me into bed and Veia had her first feed and after an hour my midwife suggested I sit on the toilet and I birthed the placenta. We spent a few hours at the cabin and it was so nice; it was like being in a retreat space. My neighbour was cooking food and bringing it to me, my midwife was tending to me and then we packed up and went home.”
If you’d like to connect with Renee and find out more about her doula services you can find her over at Renee D’Arcy.
Doula, homebirth, physiological births, Spontaneous labour, Three babies, Water Birth
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