Quick and peaceful homebirth

We were planning a homebirth with our second child and started looking for a doula to act as our support person for our 3-year-old son during the birth.  Virginia was recommended to us and after meeting her we felt that she could provide the support we were after – she had experience looking after children, had also homebirthed and was enthusiastic about attending ours.

We met a couple more times to get to know each other better and talk about what we wanted during the birth and Virginia was kind enough to lend us some books from her library.

When labour finally got going, it was the middle of the night and our son was asleep.  Virginia came to our home promptly and quietly started helping out.  She helped physically during the birth with massage and afterwards she was ready with towels and whatever else was needed.  Although we didn’t end up needing her to support our son at the birth, we are very glad Virginia was there, providing another pair of capable hands and unobtrusively assisting wherever she could.  She took photos and created a beautiful photobook of the birth which we are very glad to have.

Thanks Virginia.

Tamara and Tom on the birth of Jeremy. (October 2009)

Challenging 2nd birth at RPA birth centre

We decided to use a Doula for the birth of our second baby as my mother attended the first birth and I found it useful to have another pair of hands around. It allowed my husband, Stephen, to concentrate on me a whole lot more whilst getting some much needed support. Read More…

Virginia was excellent for both of us. We are so glad we employed her services, as the second birth was unexpectedly long (although not really that long) and at times I found it really difficult.

My first birth was very smooth, contractions started at 5 minute intervals and increased according to the clock thereafter. After 6 hours of “real” labour my gorgeous girl, Dahlia was born. Because this was such a smooth and relatively quick labour, all the midwives (at the Birth Centre) and my GP thought the second birth would be fast and furious. It really wasn’t!

My contractions were erratic right from the start. Sometimes close together, sometimes not, sometimes extremely strong but often not so much. They continued to be erratic the whole labour, which was the main thing that I found difficult to handle. It was so different from my first labour! I found Virginia to be calm and reassuring, and her suggestions of different positions or activities were really useful.

Because everyone was worried about a very quick birth, I went to the birth centre a little bit early, and as a result they slowed right down and then stopped. Virginia suggested that we walk up and down the stairs (7 flights) a few times to get them going again, which it did, as my contractions started up again during the trek up and down the stairs. Still, they were erratic and unpredictable and not particularly close together.

I laboured and laboured and laboured. This time, it felt like forever that I was labouring. Virginia and Stephen had taken down the clocks, so that I wouldn’t be worried about the time that was passing, however I really wanted to know – so every now and then I’d sneak a look at the clock in the bathroom. It didn’t phase me at all, but I just wanted to keep track of what was going on. Don’t ask me why, it’s completely irrelevant and made no difference to the process or how I was feeling.

The whole labour my contractions were erratic and unpredictable. I’d have quite long periods (relatively speaking) of nothing and then long periods of them being close together. Some were very strong and some were not so full-on. Very different to my first labour, and I think I found that more difficult to deal with than anything else, such as how much time was passing or anything like that.

A few times I just wanted to give up, but was nervous to let either of them that I wanted to give up and not do things naturally. Eventually I told Stephen and he and Virginia put their heads together and gave me some drops. I’m not sure if they were Australian Flower Essences or Homeopathics but within a minute or two I felt like I could do it and was doing fine. I remember very clearly thinking to myself “why didn’t I say something sooner”? I’d obviously made myself suffer needlessly! So the next few times I felt like giving up, I was happy to let them know so they could “fix” it. And that worked, it got me through.

Anyway, eventually I felt the urge to push – it was almost irresistible. I was in the bath, as I really wanted a water birth with my first and didn’t get one as she’d done a maconium poo and I had to get out pretty much at the beginning of 2nd stage (what a nightmare)! So, I was determined with the second to try again for the water birth. Unfortunately, I still didn’t get to have a water birth, but more on that in a moment.

For some reason I felt like I wasn’t allowed to push, don’t ask me why, so I tried to hold on and said a number of times “I really want to push … I need to push”. After eliciting no response from anyone, I decided to take matters into my own hands and pushed away. It is odd that I felt I needed “permission” to push, but I guess the “good girl” in me extends even to the most stressful situations! Anyway, the whole time Virginia was massaging, encouraging and supporting both me and Stephen, helping us through and making sure we were okay. She was making sure that I was hydrated and kept me cool with ice-cold facewashers. Honestly, it felt like heaven when she put them around my neck or on my back!

Anyway, the problem with the pushing was that baby didn’t want to come down. He was still well up there, not moving, not holding up his part of the bargain! I was pushing and pushing and getting more and more tired, and my baby just wasn’t coming down. He just didn’t seem to want to come out.

So, eventually, I forced him into the birth canal, and he slowly started to move down to the light at the end of the tunnel. I gave a couple of huge pushes, and he more than crowned, his head came out almost up to his eyes, and then he scooted back up the birth canal again (at least, that’s what it felt like). I couldn’t believe it! I finally got him almost to the “easy” part, and he goes all the way back up again. My heart dropped and I thought “oh my G-d, I have to do it all over again”.

Then the midwife, Sarah, who’d been monitoring the baby very closely (thank goodness) said “his heart rate has dropped, you have to get out of the bath”.

I thought “oh no, not again” to myself, and looked at the side of the bath and thought “how the hell am I going to get out of here”? It was hard enough at the beginning of 2nd stage last time, but unbelievable at the end of 2nd stage this time! Anyway, I guess I may have looked as though I was hesitating (rather than trying to figure out how to achieve this physical feat) so Sarah said to me, in a pretty urgent tone:

“You have to get out of the bath, NOW”.

So, this 9½ month pregnant woman (me) leapt over the side of Mt Vesuvius and then Sarah said “get down on the bed, lie on your back”. I remember looking at her as if she was insane – are you kidding? I couldn’t even lie on my back in the bath, let alone on a bed!

Anyway, I said to her “No way, not doing it” and thought to myself “this baby is coming out … NOW”.

So, before I even got to the bed, while I was standing up, I grabbed hold of Stephen and had one massive contraction – the baby’s head and shoulders came out in that one push and Sarah pulled the baby out the rest of the way. I saw something around his head and neck and he looked a blue/purple colour.

Sarah said “the cord’s around his neck” and quickly – moving quicker than the speed of light – unwrapped it while telling me to lie on the bed and get ready. I lay down and once she’d unwrapped the baby (the cord was around his neck 3 times – no wonder he went back up, he had his first, and hopefully his last, bungee jump) Sarah lay him on my chest and then blew on him and moved his limbs until he took his first breath. As soon as he did he turned a normal colour again, and his apgar scores were 8 and 9, so he recovered very quickly. All of this happened in what felt like a few seconds, so quickly that we didn’t even get a chance to realise what was going on (thank goodness).

Virginia gave me and Sam some essences, to ensure a smooth passage for him into this life with me, Stephen and Dahlia, which I found very reassuring and quite lovely. She also gave me something, though I can’t remember what. All I remember is feeling absolutely wonderful, and loving my beautiful baby boy.

We hadn’t made the final decision on the baby’s name yet, as I wanted to see him to see which name suited him best. Most of the pregnancy I was fairly set on the name Max, however I started to feel differently towards the end of the pregnancy, so we decided to wait and see. We eventually decided to call him Samuel (Sam), as he seemed like a really relaxed, easy going boy, whereas when I think of Max, I think of a more mischievous type, and perhaps a bit more cheeky and “fun”, so to speak. I found it reassuring that Virginia agreed with our assessment of his personality (as she obviously was an objective bystander). Sam was born at 5:38am, exactly 10 days after his estimated due date. He was born naturally, with no intervention, as I wanted him to be, really thanks to Virginia and her calming presence and amazing knowledge of appropriate flower essences and other remedies.

If I were to have another baby, I would not hesitate to ask Virginia to assist with the birth. Thanks so much, Virginia!

Natanya Mandel on the birth of Sam. (November 2008)

VBAC trial at Prince Of Wales Private

After a disappointing hospital experience giving birth to my first child two years ago, I employed Virginia as my doula while pregnant with my second child in the hope that we could achieve a much more positive birthing experience the second time around. Virginia met with me regularly to discuss my birth plan, provided invaluable phone and email support; and as a qualified herbalist, treated me for insomnia in the early stages of my pregnancy. Read More…

When I finally went into labour, Virginia was on my doorstep within half an hour. She accompanied us to the hospital, liaised with the midwives, made sure I was comfortable; and generally brought a very supportive, reassuring presence to the process and for the duration of my labour. Unfortunately, events took a different turn when my son became very distressed and required emergency surgery to get him out; but during the entire labour I felt calm, supported, and most importantly, in control of the situation.

After  the birth, Virginia stayed with us for several hours to make sure we were all OK, and visited me on the ward and at home to see how things were going and to debrief. Virginia also encouraged me to write my birth story while it was all still fresh in my mind – for which I am eternally grateful – as it was very cathartic for me, and I never would have remembered all the details had I left it until I got home.

Virginia remains a good friend of ours, and if I were crazy enough to go for a third baby, I wouldn’t hesitate to ask her to be my doula again.

Amanda Reitzin on the birth of Leo. (July 2008)

Very quick birth at RPA birth centre

It was great to have Virginia as part of our birthing team. We engaged her services very late in my pregnancy (about week 36) and found Virginia to be very willing to work with us in terms of scheduling meetings and talking on the phone at short notice.

In our pre-birth meetings she really helped Doug and I to think through and further understand many things about the birthing process so that we could develop a birth plan that worked for us.  I originally was not going to have a birth plan, however found the exercise really valuable.

Unfortunately, due to a very fast delivery, Virginia just missed the 2nd stage, however, arrived for 3rd stage and helped me to identify feelings of shock after a quick birth.  Her verbal reassurance and assistance with massage helped me to calm down and deliver the placenta without an injection.

Although early in her career as a doula, I found Virginia to be competent and honest about her experiences and her knowledge.  She was eager to research areas she wasn’t sure about and conveyed a genuine interest in helping to make the birth experience positive for Doug and I.  She also provided a detailed summary of our work together which forms a written memory of the birth of our daughter, Hannah.

We are glad that we chose to have a doula support our birth and really enjoyed working with Virginia.

Jodee, Douglas & Cal on the birth of their daughter Hannah (November 2007)

Unplanned Caesarean at RHW

During my 2nd trimester, my husband John and I made the decision to obtain the services of a doula for the birth of our first child. My family was in Canada and we didn’t have any familiar birth support in Australia, so we felt that having a doula assist at our baby’s birth would give us peace of mind and help us to achieve a natural birth with minimal intervention.

We looked at various doula websites and came across Virginia’s profile on findadoula.com.au, as well as in our copy of the Natural Health Guide Sydney. We were impressed with Virginia’s qualifications and that she was trained at Birthing Rites Australia under the highly respected Marie Burrows. In addition, Virginia is a herbalist, and using herbal remedies to cope with labour and to encourage healing after birth was something that appealed to me and influenced our decision to choose Virginia as our doula.

Virginia made two home visits, during which she helped us draw up our birth plan and answered our many questions. When we discovered that the baby was still in a transverse lie at 36 weeks, I called Virginia and she made suggestions to encourage the baby to turn including moxibustion, acupuncture and seeing a chiropractor who practiced the Webster technique. My three visits to Dr Darren Chan and a visit to a local acupuncturist helped the baby to turn head down by my next prenatal visit, although the baby’s head was not yet engaged.

The day following my 38 week prenatal visit, I noticed very few foetal movements and sensed something wasn’t right. I rang the Birth Centre and was advised to come in for observation. After a few hours of foetal monitoring, both in the Birth Centre and Delivery Suite, the doctor advised a caesarean section as the baby was in distress. John and I were disappointed that we wouldn’t be able to have a natural birth but we knew that it was more important to get the baby out quickly.

It was 10pm when John rang Virginia to let her know what was happening, as we had requested her presence in the event of a C-section. Within the hour, Virginia arrived at the hospital. She brought with her a bottle of Emergency Essence to help alleviate any feelings of distress and fear, and for this I was very grateful. Unfortunately, hospital policy did not allow Virginia into surgery but she waited outside to offer her support post-surgery.

After the birth, our baby girl, Lila was resuscitated and placed in a humidicrib. I was still in recovery when Virginia caught up with John and Lila, who was being taken to Newborn Care. During the settling in at NCC, Virginia was a great support to John. Lila’s blood sugar levels dropped and she needed to be fed quickly. There was no time for me to hand express colostrum (I was still in recovery) so John had to choose between a formula feed or drip. He chose the less invasive option of a bottle feed. Lila initially suckled, but then stopped breathing and the nurses suctioned her and resuscitated her using a squeeze bag. This episode was extremely distressing for john, and Virginia was very reassuring and supportive.

Once Lila was settled, Virginia left John at NCC and came to check on me in the maternity ward. She filled me in on Lila’s progress and assured me that she was healthy and beautiful. She then asked me how I was feeling and I told her that I was tired and sore, but very happy. I was getting pins and needles in my feet – the after-effect of the epidural wearing off, and Virginia gave me a relaxing foot massage and spoke reassuringly about the baby. She suggested I take Emergency Essence every few hours along with the hospital prescribed pain medication.

It was nearly 3am when Virginia went home after ensuring we were all well and promising to visit later that day after work. Virginia also visited us again the day before I was discharged from hospital, when she brought with her some herbal medicines to assist with healing of my wound and with bleeding.

Throughout the latter stage of my pregnancy, and especially during my birth experience, Virginia was a committed professional, passionate about her work, and a calm, reassuring presence. Even though we didn’t have the natural birth we had hoped for, Virginia’s support and experience was invaluable and we wish her much success and joy as a doula.

Donna & John on the birth of their daughter Lila. (October 2007)

Waterbirth at RHW Birth Centre

We had been deliberating about whether to enlist the services of a Doula for some time before the birth of Jonah, and in hindsight, we could not have done without the assistance and support of Virginia. Prior to Jonah’s due date, Virginia met with us on a number of occasions, and helped us to finalise our birth plan, working out our priorities, ideas, goals for our birth, as well as talking through some of our fears and concerns around the birth. Jonah was 11 days overdue, and in the lead-up to labour Virginia would regularly phone in and offer support and advice, which helped to allay our anxieties.

When an induction became necessary, Virginia accompanied us to the hospital and, given that it was an invasive procedure conducted in a suite in the ante-natal ward, helped to make the ordeal more comfortable. She was able to know when to give us time alone, and when to be present and with us, to make it all bearable.

Once labour started, Virginia provided an invaluable extra set of hands; she ensured we were both well hydrated, that there were plenty of hot packs and cold face washers at our disposal, liaised with the midwife, and provided emotional support and encouragement. With Virginia’s help, we felt as though we could remain together throughout labour, but importantly, it allowed Mark the opportunity to take five and regroup without feeling as though he was leaving Amelia on her own.

Throughout labour, Virginia was present but in an unobtrusive way, allowing us to feel totally supported but without imposing on our ability to work together as a team to birth our son. The experience of labouring to birth our son was immensely challenging, yet sublime, and ultimately, incredibly enriching. We know that this is, in part, attributable to Virginia’s presence and are grateful to her for being at the birth.

Mark van Grootel & Amelia Frid on the birth of their son Jonah. (January 2007)