First Time Mum’s Home Water Birth

I had been anxiously looking for Doulas in my area since reading Rhea Dempsey’s Birth with Confidence. I wanted to experience birth in its entirety and I knew I needed a Doula to help me make it happen. I learnt of the shocking statistics of the private hospital I was booked into of mostly unnecessary interventions and hoped to avoid them. Why couldn’t I give birth as my grandmother did, drug-free and no fuss, assisted by the town Midwife in her own home? After a life-changing chat with Virginia, I knew I had choices. It wasn’t too late to make it happen at 28 weeks.

We then made the switch to a planned homebirth with an absolutely wonderful Midwife and Virginia, my Doula. I wondered – was I strong enough to birth without drugs, physically, emotionally and mentally? I spoke to Virginia of all my fears and she was the listening ear, the voice of reason and the voice of birth wisdom. I had been blessed with a smooth pregnancy, would the birth be as kind to me? I made use of her library of books and DVDs and just wished I had been in touch with her sooner. She opened my eyes to an amazing world where birth was completely natural and empowering.

After each of Virginia’s pre-natal visits, I felt refreshed and hopeful. So much so that less than 12 hours after she left my home, I went into labour! Virginia returned quickly, and helped me through each contraction, helping through the day in many, many different ways – from hand holding to encouragement to practical help to herbs and just being there allowing my husband to be more present with me. I also chose for her to photograph the labour and birth – a last minute decision which I am extraordinarily grateful for. I now have the most special photos ever taken in my life.

I would highly recommend that all women have the help of a Doula on their birth journeys – even for a planned hospital birth – for the invaluable support before, during and after the birth. Thank you, Virginia, for being the perfect Doula on our birth journey.

Dora Maher on the birth of Gregory (November 2016)

Natural Birth at RPA

When I found out we were pregnant for the second time, all I knew was that I wanted pictures of the birth! So my search began for a birth photographer.

Being due in busy October, most were booked out. In my desperate search to find someone available and book them ASAP, I stumbled upon information about Doulas. After doing some reading about what they do, and the benefits they offer, I thought that using the services of one might be a good idea for us this time around. Double awesome if they take pics too!

I don’t recall how I came across Virginia’s Natural Beginnings page or information, but luckily I did. She seemed pretty down to earth from her bio, took birth pictures and was available for my due month! Lock it in!

During our initial meeting with Virginia, all I knew was that I wanted a drug free birth. To me this simply meant no epidural. I wanted to feel it. All of it. What I didn’t know was they there was a whole host of other things I would end up wanting, thanks to Virginia’s knowledge of pregnancy and birth.

Virginia played a critical role in educating myself and my husband about our options, routine intervention, alternatives and the pro’s and con’s of each. This is something that I think is significantly lacking in pre-natal care, and found that hospital’s have a ‘everyone does, so it’s right and normal’ approach. Virginia was able to help us (but mostly me) make an informed decision around things that would impact me during pregnancy, during the birth and after. I ended up feeling firm and confident in my decisions, rather than our first birth where we took a ‘whatever happens, happens’ approach.

During our pregnancy journey, I came to conclusion that I still wanted an epidural free birth. I was however totally open to (and slightly looking forward to) using gas.  I wanted a natural third stage, not simply one managed with drugs, which I felt took a massive toll on me the first time around. I wanted delayed cord clamping. I wanted my husband to baby catch and announce if it was a boy or a girl. I wanted it to be on my terms. And we wrapped it all up in a birth plan.

I previously thought birth plans were for control freaks, but now I see and understand their purpose and value. A birth plans makes you think about, and decide on what you really want and don’t want. They easily and clearly communicate to medical staff of your wishes and wants.  And they empower you.

Baby #2 announced their impending arrival very differently than the first, with my waters breaking at around 10:30pm. Things progressed quickly and easily, which I felt was due to me feeling secure and confident, and calm about the process. My midwife read through my birth plan when I arrived at the hospital, and agreed that it was all do-able. They did however try to sway me back to active management of the third stage (syntocinon injection to deliver the placenta), yes while in labour, but I stayed firm in my decision to do it naturally.

Baby Mason arrived at a healthy 4.285kgs, after about 1 hour and 45 minutes of active labour and little pushing on my part. Drug free, I could feel my body bearing down and pushing him out. I clearly felt each contraction and despite enjoying the gas a little too much, I still felt it all and remember it clearly. Virginia was able to ground me when I began to panic, and reminded me of why we were there. It took about 45 minutes to deliver the placenta, which to my surprise, I ended up asking Virginia to take away and encapsulate.

I ended up getting the birth I wanted, with a happy and healthy baby, with pictures to boot! My physical recovery was significantly better and quicker than with my first, and I feel content about the whole experience. Breastfeeding was still a challenge, with it taking a good 6-8 weeks to feel as though it is well established. Mason is a big, healthy boy, and I feel very bonded to him, which I attribute much to his birth.

Virginia is a fantastic doula, and person all around. She is very knowledgeable about pregnancy and birth, and takes a natural, holistic approach. This I feel provides good balance, in contrast to the heavily medicalised environment in hospital based pre-natal care and birth.  In addition to all of this, Virginia operates her business professionally and effectively, which makes the whole process even easier.

Thank you Virginia! You are wonderful!

Alex, Simon, Max & Mason

“I got my NBA2C! (Natural Birth After Two C-Sections!!!!)” – Royal Hospital for Women, Randwick

It still sends shivers down my spine and brings a smile to my face when I remember the birth of my daughter – my third child, and my first natural, drug-free birth. Virginia was instrumental in helping us achieve this outcome.

Her knowledge, experience and care throughout my pregnancy opened up many opportunities for me to learn from my past mistakes. Ultimately she paved the way for me to experience an empowered, positive birth- something I had wished for more than anything!

Through Virginia I was able to gain access to many useful resources and opportunities, During the pregnancy this included art therapy, and a birth trauma release session.

Virginia’s library was a Godsend! She tailored my readings with books specifically dealing with NBAC’s and natural birthing and parenting. These resources together with the support groups that she found for me online helped get me in the right headspace, and all of a sudden I had answers to all my burning questions. It was also hugely encouraging to be surrounded by other women who had been through similar unfavourable circumstances and had later gone on to achieve a better birth outcome. I wasn’t the only one!

When my husband was unable to accompany me to my first OB appointment Virginia was there literally holding my hand. Afterwards I joked with hubby that it was probably a good thing that she had replaced him at that visit – having worked with my OB at previous births she confidently helped navigate a plan whereby my birth intentions would be supported and honoured. I will forever be grateful to her for that as I feel that this was a turning point in my relationship with my medical team. After that meeting there was no more talk of a repeat ceaserean and I was treated with the utmost care and respect.

As the time for the birth drew near, Virginia worked through pain management techniques and mindfulness exercises. It was important for me to experience a drug free birth and I drew on a lot of this preparation during my labour. It helped immensely!

I don’t know how she did it, but during my labour Virginia managed to fulfil the role of Doula and birth photographer beautifully.

My labour was so intense and at times I felt incredibly depleted and helpless. During these times Virginia supported me with herbs and essential oils and at just the right time she would give me a stern talking to or a gentle rub on my shoulders and I would find the strength to keep going.

I look at the amazing photos that she captured during the labour and birth and my only regret is that I didn’t get her to also do my pregnancy photos!

Post birth I had arranged through Virginia to encapsulate my placenta. I called them my happy pills! I am convinced they helped keep me balanced and energetic in those first few weeks after my daughter’s birth. And now, hanging in my daughter’s room is the most exquisite dream catcher which Virginia fashioned out of the placenta cord. A wonderful memento of what we achieved.

After all of these amazing experiences my favourite thing would have to be the beautiful ritual that Gin performed when she came to visit us at home after the birth. She did what is called “The Closing Of  The Bones” which was a postpartum healing ceremony to close my body and complete the birth process using using her hands and her rebozo.

I am so very thankful for Virginia – she restored my faith in birthing, and reminded me of the power of positive thinking and positive people.

Thank you Gin – you are a credit to your profession and I am so grateful for all that you did for us xxx

Yianna Tsakirios on the birth of Thea (May 2016)

Natural Birth at RPA

The best thing any pregnant couple could do would be to hire Virginia as their doula! Virginia put our minds at ease from the first meeting and I knew that she would be a fantastic support throughout pregnancy and during the birth. Virginia really took the time to get to know us, answer all of our questions and even patiently mediated some differences of opinion between my husband and I!

Virginia is a wealth of information for all things pregnancy and birth related. She has a great library of books and resources too, which was awesome in the lead up to the birth. We even got my husband watching some birth videos to get in the groove! It was good that he was prepared because he ended up getting really into it and even caught our daughter as I birthed her.

Although our birth didn’t go exactly as we planned (do they ever?!), I am so grateful to Virginia for all her support, reassurance and strength during the birth. It was a truly joyous experience and I felt so supported and cared for. Virginia’s presence during the birth and all the preparation we did with her in the lead up really gave my husband the confidence to be the Best possible support person. Virginia took care of everything from keeping me hydrated to diffusing essential oils, which allowed my husband to be completely present. It was amazing how Virginia knew when my energy was waning and was there with some juice or ginseng or some motivating words. I never questioned whether she had complete faith in my body and capacity to birth my baby. Amongst all of that she even found time to take photos of our birth, which I will always treasure.

I can never thank Virginia enough for her love and support

Emma Siegel on the birth of Sadie (March 2016)

Premature Birth at Royal Hospital for Women

My husband and I are very happy that we had Virginia as our doula.

We were planning a home birth with independent midwives, but due to premature labour we gave birth at the hospital.

For the first false alarm labour at 26 weeks gestation, Virginia was quick to come to the hospital and stayed with us until we felt ok. She helped me to stop the contractions with her special herbs, which worked so well. Thanks to her, the contractions stopped and I was able to keep my baby inside until 27 weeks.

Her emotional support was invaluable during my stay in the hospital.

When the real labour came at 27 weeks, our son was born too fast and only my husband was able to be present for me but Virginia came as soon as possible and helped us after the birth. Her presence was such a comfort for us.

She prepared placenta capsules very quickly which helped me with milk production and fatigue. It also helped me with my mood despite of the fact that I was not able to cuddle my son after birth for 14 days.

Virginia also organised a rebirth ceremony for me when our son was back home from NICU. It was such a special ceremony which helped me to acknowledge my grief, let go of it and be positive with my mind.

I cannot imagine how we could have been without Virginia’s support and wisdom.

Thank you Virginia for your wonderful service!

Noriko Amies (Doula) on the birth of Walter (November 2015)

Attempted VBAC at St George hospital

Virginia was my doula for my attempted VBAC. Straight away me and my husband felt comfortable and relaxed with Virginia. She helped me in so many ways for my labour with herbs, massages, encouragement and plenty more. I went into labour with so much more knowledge thanks to her guidance which helped me make informed choices in labour rather than just being told what to do by the doctors. Virginia also takes amazing photos which I will treasure forever.

Asheligh Tauteka on the birth of Tia (March 2015)

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.

Belynda Carrall on the birth of Patrick (October 2014)

Vaginal Birth at Sutherland Hospital

It was my first pregnancy, so me and my husband decided that we would like to have a doula to help us. We had been in Australia just for an year with no relatives or close friends here and an idea to have someone by our side during pregnancy and labour seemed perfect to us. We discovered Virginia via one of the mum’s forum as well as advertisement of her famous “Beer and Bubs” course. We bonded with her right from our first meeting. She is very knowledgeable, easy going and comfortable to ask any questions. Virginia provided us with information, helpful websites and print outs that have been very useful. She also helped us with our birth plan.

During the birth she was exactly what I needed! At the hospital she helped us establish a lovely atmosphere with aromatherapy, massage and encouraging words. My labour was long but Virginia was there with me the whole way even though things were moving very slowly. Herbal tinctures she gave me when I was in pain were invaluable support for me. Due to the very slow dilation the staff were suggesting  intervention to speed up my labour so I ended up with stimulation and epidural. It was hard decision for me because I really wanted to have a drug-free birth but she made it easier by supporting me in whatever I decided. She also managed to take some photos during labour and birth!

It was a very comforting experience for us to have that kind of support throughout pregnancy and labour. We can recommend Virginia to anyone looking for a doula!

I also had my placenta encapsulated by Virginia to give me energy I didn’t think I would have so my recovery was quick.

Virginia, thank you so much for everything you have done for our family!

Margarita Trubnikova on the birth of Diana (August 2014)

Cronulla Homebirth

My pregnancy and the birth of our son was a wonderfully positive experience as we were guided with Virginia’s wide depth of birthing expertise and high level of care. The photos she took were beautiful and we will be forever grateful for her support and giving us the confidence we needed to birth our son the way we wanted.

Kylie Ellis on the birth of Isaac (July 2014)

VBAC at RPA Birth Centre

I started researching for a doula late into my third trimester and only actually met and decided on Virginia when I was 35 weeks pregnant. Being my second pregnancy and not having experienced the natural birth I desired the first time around, my husband and I felt we could benefit from the knowledge, skills and expertise of an expert in birth support.

I chose Virginia as I felt she could help us achieve the VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Caesarean) we wanted. I liked the fact that Virginia was a herbalist and recommended many herbal options in the lead up to, during and after the birth. Virginia’s manner was always very honest and open. I felt at ease with her quickly and was able to speak with her about any concern I had anytime. Her continued support gave me confidence in the choices I made. I really valued and enjoyed hearing her wise words of experience and other birth stories as they helped me make informed decisions.

Virginia helped me remain positive which was imperative especially in the weeks after my due date. She was always very reliable and accommodating especially considering we lived quite a distance apart. The literature Virginia lent me was helpful too in educating and putting me in the right frame of mind in the lead up to the birth. I would not hesitate to recommend Virginia’s services to anyone.

Justine Hamilton on the birth of Jai (April 2014)