Natural Birth at Bankstown Hospital – Patrick’s Birth Story
My quest to find a Doula all started with the want to educate myself about child birth, especially after watching the documentary “The business of being born”. I met Virginia when I was 15 weeks pregnant and her presence instantly put us at ease about childbirth. We decided to hire her before she had left our house after the interview. I borrowed books from Virginia’s library and Adam and I did a Calmbirth course. All this preparation was invaluable to setting my mind at ease and conquering any fears about childbirth. I soon realized that my fears were fuelled by other people’s mis-information and lack of education that had often led them to traumatic birth experiences. Virginia was also a great source of information for my antenatal care and assisted us in making informed decisions for antenatal testing.
At 35 weeks I went into premature labour, of which Virginia was able to help stop with the use of herbs and calcium and magnesium. I went into premature labour 2 more times, each time we worked to stop the labours. After nearly 5 weeks of constant braxton hicks and stalled labours, I went into labour at 39+6 weeks. It all started the night before (17th October) when I began profusely vomiting, which continued all night with light cramps. Then at 10am on the 18th of October I was in the kitchen getting an ice block when my waters broke in a gush down the legs of my pyjamas, into my ugg boots! Adam heard my squeals and thought I had flooded the kitchen! I waddled into the shower to let the rest of my waters drain, all the while laughing at how hilariously gross it was.
Not long after I got into the shower the contractions started. We timed a few and they were erratic, but 1-3mins apart and I could barely speak through them. Adam called Virginia to let her know and she headed over to be with me as I laboured. I got out of the shower and sat on some towels while I waited for Virginia to arrive. Virginia’s presence when she arrived was calm and soothing. She sat with me through some contractions, then suggested getting into the bath. I continued laboring in the bath until we made the decision to transfer to hospital. Virginia gave me herbs to help calm me for the hospital transfer.
I was checked over by the midwife at the hospital and it was confirmed that my baby was in a posterior position. By this stage I was in quite a lot of pain and starting to ask for drugs but Virginia reminded me of why I wanted a drug free birth and encouraged me through it. Once we were in the birthing suite Virginia instructed Adam on how to use the rebozo technique to encourage my baby into the anterior position and how to massage my back to relieve my back labour pains. Meanwhile, Virginia ran the bath. Once the bath was full I hopped in and continued laboring in the bath. I was in lots of pain and started asking for drugs. Virginia encouraged me to do my own virginal exam, which I did and was able to feel my baby’s head and that my cervix was almost fully dilated. I found this very empowering. When the midwife came to check on my progress, I asked her to check my cervix to see if what I was feeling was right. She confirmed that I was 7-8cm dilated, which made me feel like I could get through it. I hopped back into the bath.
Not much longer after I got in the bath the contractions eased off and I got rest before I started feeling the urge to push. It was around this time that a shift change happened for the hospital staff and the midwife I had for my antenatal appointments came to check on me. I was so thrilled to see her and have her looking after my birth. Virginia suggested for me to check how I was progressing, so I did and I could feel my baby’s head only 1cm inside me! 2hours of pushing passed and I was exhausted and dehydrated from vomiting all night. I was asked to hop out of the bath so that the doctor could examine me. The doctor informed me that my baby was posterior and that a vacuum delivery would be best. Virginia gave me some herbs to help my labour and to calm me for the birthing of my baby. She also found the arnica in my bag and started giving it to me.
We transferred out of the birthing suite into another room. While the doctor was getting everything set up for the delivery, Virginia noticed that she could see my baby’s head in between pushes. The midwife got a mirror so I could see it. Adam had a look too, which before the birth he had said he would never do. The doctor informed me of the risks of the vacuum delivery and that I would need an episiotomy. The doctor made the incision and attached the vacuum to my baby’s head. On the next push my baby’s head was born and the following push the rest of my baby was born and he was placed on my chest. I had just long enough to look at my baby and discover that we had a son before his cord was clamped and cut and he was transferred to the baby support machine as he was having trouble breathing. They wheeled my son off to the special care unit. In the meantime Adam had nearly fainted from the overwhelming emotion. Once he recovered he went to be with our son. At some point I was informed that my parents and granddad had arrived (it was all a blur). I asked that they wait in the cafeteria until I was ready.
Virginia stayed with me while I got stitched up, which was great, otherwise it would have been just me and the doctor in the room. She showed me some photos of the birth, which was a good distraction. The midwife came in and suggested I have a shower, which I refused and firmly asked that I see my son. 1.5 hours after his birth, I was finally able to go and see and hold my son skin-to-skin! My parents and granddad came in to meet us shortly afterwards. Virginia continued photographing these precious moments we had as a family.
Virginia’s support continued through my post-natal recovery period. She encapsulated my placenta which helped significantly with my post natal recovery both physiologically and psychologically. I had no baby blues whatsoever! She made a balm for my episiotomy scar, which reduced and softened the scar tissue. She also gave me advice on how to treat mastitis naturally and gave me a tincture to take when I could feel mastitis coming on.
Once Virginia had edited the photographs she sent them to us and we were able to re-live the memories of the day with a joyful tear in our eye. Her photography captured the day in such exquisite detail yet remained un-invasive and private. Birth photography was not something I had considered too much before my son’s birth but I am very grateful to have had those memories captured.
I cannot thank Virginia enough in her support and gentle guidance through our birthing experience and journey into becoming parents.