“I’m so grateful I was able to trust my instincts so much. I was able to go deep, and I felt so comforted thinking this is just for today. It was beautiful. I feel like we were supported by our ancestors who had come before us, in particular Gus’s Great Grandmother, and I was so happy it went so quickly. I knew that I could do it, but I had a healthy dose of respect for the unpredictability of birth. ”
Flavia, Peaceful Birthing Mother
After having some challenges falling pregnant, my conception journey was helped by an Ayurvedic practitioner. I’d had covid earlier that year, so perhaps that stalled conception, but either way we fell pregnant naturally shortly after these sessions. I strongly believe this helped both conception and my very comfortable pregnancy.
The only pregnancy problem I had was two fibroids detected at 12 weeks, one was out of the way and the other may have caused challenges in birthing baby or bleeding, but neither ended up as a problem (we actually keep saying she was using it as a pillow!).
“I had no morning sickness and I worked in childcare until 38 weeks. I prepared with pregnancy Yoga, pregnancy Pilates and Hypnobirthing which was so important in our journey. “
Tuesday 20th June was a really busy day for me, doing some running around, a Pilates class, visiting my work colleagues and buying Gus a birthday cake (yes, they share a birthday!). We had a lovely day and evening, lots of laughs and love, it was all so normal and no indication of labour! Before bed I expressed colostrum, and I felt baby move so much, and I remember thinking baby is getting in position for birth. Soon the sensations were really weird, not painful just strange, I managed to get some sleep until Gus came to bed around 11.30pm and he said he could feel my belly go rock hard. All along the pregnancy I didn’t have any instincts about her gender, but as soon as I felt this movement, I just knew she was a girl!
“The sensations I was feeling just felt different, and soon I felt pain in my back. Gus called Simone our birth doula around 12.30am, she said it sounded like early labour so advised us to put the TENs machine on and prioritise rest. She said if I couldn’t lie down to put pillows around me so I could stay upright and have micro sleeps in between surges. This was the best advice, I felt like I could calm down between surges, and the TENs machine just saved me, I absolutely loved it! I also had some diarrhoea so I spent time on the toilet. It wasn’t long before I felt like I couldn’t take much more of this, so I sent a request to the universe to please make this quick. I looked at Gus and said ‘I don’t know if I can do this’, and beautiful Gus looked into my eyes and said ‘just one surge at a time, remember every surge brings our baby closer to us’. He also spent a lot of timing breathing with me.”
Around 2am I saw some blood in the mucus. Gus called the hospital to let them know, and they advised to come in to check it out. It took us another half an hour to actually get in the car, and during this time my waters released and it was such a relief! The back sensations lessened; it was like a balloon popping. So good! This moment felt a bit crazy. My mother was with us, and she came to the hospital too. I was already feeling the urge to bare down. It was all intuition, it felt like my body was doing it and my brain was just following it.
When we left, the surges were a minute long, with about 1 ½ minutes break in between. I was lying sideway in the back of the car next to my mum, squeezing the door handle and slowly breathing baby down. I had my eyes closed, ear pods in and Gus had put on relaxing music that we have chosen prior. I was still using the TENs machine, and I needed to keep it on the boost button the entire time! The other thing that kept me going was the affirmation ‘it’s just for a day, this is not forever’.
“We arrived at the hospital, did a little dance out the front, and Gus was trying to make light jokes but it wasn’t landing! I felt like I was in another world, between worlds, it was a safe place and it felt so surreal. I felt like I stayed in this zone until my baby was born, so focused. Once I arrived at the hospital, it was almost like the pain disappeared, acceptance of the process in its place. “
I was wheeled to my room first, the Midwifes (Kristy and Nikola) spoke to Gus about a vaginal examination, as requested in our birth preferences. During this, I had a huge surge, which sounded like I was bearing down, so the Midwife quickly made the decision to move us to the birthing suite. At this point around 4:30am Gus remembered to call Simone and asked her to meet us at the Hospital.
“I requested no vaginal examinations, but at the time I was curious. So when the midwife came over and asked me, I agreed, but asked that she be very careful about the way she relayed what she found, and how she communicated this. So I laid back on the bed, and immediately felt incredibly uncomfortable, but soon as the midwife looked, she said ‘oh, we’re going to have a baby soon’! She could see my baby’s head! ’“
With this new information, the midwife asked how I had envisioned birthing my baby. I said a water birth, and I could see in her face she knew there was no time, but straight away I thought ‘no one is going to take this TENs machine off me’ so that made me more accepting of not having a water birth. The midwife put a mattress on the floor, and I was on my knees leaning on the bed, with Gus right by my side. I was much more comfortable in this position. Then was able to continue bearing down, the sensation felt exactly like it’s the biggest poo you’d ever done!
“In my head I remembered from my Hypnobirthing class not to actively push if I could help it, but rather breathe baby down. I tried my best, though at times I felt like I did some big pushes. The midwives were trying to give instructions, but I just couldn’t quite register what they were saying. So rather than listen to them, Gus would translate in Portuguese (we’re Brazilians) and this really worked for me. “
I felt like I needed the Midwives there, and I really benefited from their support, words of encouragement, and giving me water. The midwives were also supporting my perineum with a warm compress (which worked, I only end up with a graze!). I felt safe. Gus asked for the bright white light to be turned off, which was on for the vaginal examination, and they were happy to switch this off, they had a torch instead. The midwives had a mirror, which Gus could see the progress, but I didn’t feel like I needed to look. In between surges I would answer questions, and the midwives commented ‘you are the most polite birth women I’ve ever met’!
“I breathed through surges, I felt more in my body by this time, perhaps it was the adrenaline. I felt really quite calm; I think I was still trying to adjust to how quickly everything was progressing. Perhaps it was a bit of shock, I felt like there was no other option but to just go with it! I was actually very happy at that time, enjoying the moment I dreamed of and looking at my partner with love and support. Feeling lucky! I was having this baby naturally. Just like nature designed it, it was so powerful. The crowning was hard and I did start to complain of the burning. But at the same time it was kind of funny thinking “that is the burn every women were talking about”
Baby was emerging, and then retracting. In that moment, I felt like it was too much, but at the same time it was almost like an out of body experience, almost like it was funny. It was crazy! Gus got up to have a little closer look, it was incredible. Each surge my entire body shook with the intensity. I was also talking to my baby, asking her to help me out. Sometimes I felt like I pushed too much, but I was really trying to go that little bit longer than the surge and breathe out. At this time, I could hear the midwives talking about the Doctor. Gus noticed it and asked me if I wanted the Doctors support and I said no, then he ask to keep only the 4 of us – nearly 5 – in the room. The Doctor did come in a little later after crowning, but he was respectful of our space and stood in the corner.
“The midwife asked if I wanted to change position, and this confused me as I thought I was doing great. She encouraged me to open my pelvis by putting one leg in front, like a lunge. This worked! Three surges after, her head came out! It was a huge surge and I was so vocal. Such relief.”
Gus put his hand on my belly, and it was like our baby could then kick off his hands. It was beautiful. Another three surges later her body was out. It was 5.22am! She dropped gradually onto the ground, supported by Kristy, and I was immediately back into my body again. As the gender was a surprise, I said ‘what is it… it’s a girl!?’ We were both a bit in shock, and she didn’t cry right away. This was a scary moment for us, the midwife had said to us that if she doesn’t respond how they wanted her to, then they’d need to clamp the cord right away and take her to the resuscitation table. That was probably the only thing that we were disappointed about, the cord being cut so soon. But regardless, as soon as she came out I looked up at Gus and said ‘it’s a girl, Julia is here’ and Gus let his tears stream out!
“As soon as she was born, all the pain and sensations were gone immediately. Just like that. Love and happiness fulfilled my body, the feeling of satisfaction and motherhood took place in my body. I was extremely happy.”
Once the Doctor had given Julia the all clear, she was straight onto my chest for skin on skin. Bliss! I remember coming back down from whatever in between place I’d been, and was back in my body. Julia fed right away, the blood loss was fine, and the Doctor asked if I wanted the shot to birth the placenta which was rejected by me, and respected by the team. The Doctor massaged my uterus gently, it didn’t hurt, and every so slightly tugged on the umbilical cord and the placenta slipped right out.
I DID IT! ALL DONE!
I’m so grateful I was able to trust my instincts so much. I was able to go deep, and I felt so comforted thinking this is just for today. It was beautiful. I feel like we were supported by our ancestors who had come before us, in particular Gus’s Great Grandmother, and I was so happy it went so quickly. I knew that I could do it, but I had a healthy dose of respect for the unpredictability of birth. I came from a culture where caesareans are really common, and vaginal births generally have epidurals. So coming to Australia, to hear so many women having these incredible experiences, I just felt such awe of the process. I then went to the Hypnobirthing class with Simone where I found the evidence to support what I was feeling. I believe in nature, I always did, but after getting more educated it changed the way we thought about birth. And then we actually did it!
Welcome earthside baby Julia!
Julia was born on 21st June (sharing her fathers birthday) 2023 at 5.22am weighing 8pd 2ounces.
Surprise! Birth is unpredictable and didn’t look anything like the text books have us thinking!
As their birth doula, I was disappointed I missed this incredibly quick birth (around 6 hours from first signs to baby out is quick for any labour, especially for a first birth!). However when I arrived at the hospital, to see this beautiful couple with babe in arms, I was thrilled for them. They didn’t need me there when the time came, they had it covered! They were knowledgeable, prepared, and most off all trusted Flavia’s body and the process. Gus was an incredible support, full of love and made Flavia feel safe.
I’m so honoured to have been part of their journey, even if my role this time was educational and gentle guidance rather than the normal hands on in person support I usually provide!
Much love to this special family in the coming sacred days and months.