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 (2014)

Natural birth at RPA Birth Centre

From our very first meeting with Virginia my husband Joel and I felt like she was very trustworthy. Importantly for me Joel was very comfortable with her and we booked her straight away. She was very comfortable with the idea that we might like our other daughter Olive present at the birth and Olive just adored Virginia. She was the Doula for us.

I felt so relieved that if I had a question, I knew I could email her and would get an answer. When I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes she really listened to my concerns and I felt confident in knowing that she was there. It was wonderful that she could prepare some herbs for me to help keep my blood sugars in check- I had not used herbal remedies before and was very impressed.

I felt the prenatal appointments were very useful and really helped to get me in the mindset for giving birth and having a baby, something which I had been too busy with a toddler to really focus on! Virginia also helped us with some pain management techniques, which I drew on during my early labour. Virginia had some really useful information about stretch and sweeps so I could have both sides of the story and make an informed decision when I chose to have this intervention when I went ‘over’ my due date.

When I felt the first few niggles of labour I went to bed, and slept most of the night only waking for surges. At about nine in the morning I decided that I was probably going to have the baby that day and messaged Virginia that I was having irregular contractions. I called her around 10:30am to say I was leaving to go to Birth Centre and for her to organise childcare. I got to Birth Centre at 11am and I was 6cm dilated (“Hooray!” I thought). Then I started to get really overwhelmed by the contractions and got in the bath, asking for some gas from the midwives.

Virginia arrived at the birth centre about 20 minutes after Joel at 11.50am. I was so happy she was there and I remember how I welcomed her with a big “Virginia!” – the room had been very serious before she came in and she had perfect timing to brighten everything up. I then felt like my baby would be here soon and was surprised at how low the head was when I checked. The very next contraction after Virginia arrived, my waters broke (coincidence?). The waters were heavily stained with fresh meconium- everyone remained calm but I had to get out of the bath and get the baby out very quickly. His head was out with the next contraction and the rest of him followed shortly. It eventuated that Virginia was at the Birth Centre for about 8 minutes before he was born! Somehow she still managed to get some lovely photos, which I absolutely cherish.

She also rubbed Bear’s head with some Australian Bush Flower Essences, which were absolutely beautiful. I feel like this contributed to the overwhelming sense of wholeness that Bear radiates. I was so impressed with everything that Virginia had to offer us and would highly recommend her.

I’d like to thank Virginia for helping us welcome our new family member in such a celebratory way! We will always be grateful.

Ellen Croucher (Doula) on the birth of Bear (2014)

Waterbirth against all odds at Sutherland Hospital

My husband and I are very happy and satisfied with Virginia’s doula and placenta encapsulation service. She is very supportive, respectful and well informed.

We had a hard time with the hospital throughout the pregnancy until the birth because the hospital wasn’t very supportive, didn’t provide holistic care at all, plus we had a terrible midwife at the birth. With her support, we could remain strong to enjoy and celebrate this blissful moment of life and I had a beautiful natural water birth.

So if you are looking to hire a professional support person for your pregnancy and birth, we highly recommend Virginia without a doubt. 🙂

Bitna Choi-Castillo on the birth of Aila (2013)

Homebirth transfer to hospital

I met Virginia during the first 3 months of our pregnancy when we interviewed her. This was the first and only interviewed we conducted, having felt we had found the right doula for us. Virginia came across as extremely passionate about supporting women through their birth experience, and certainly very knowledgeable regarding many aspects of the birthing process.

As our relationship developed and our pregnancy progressed Virginia shared more of her knowledge with me, helping me to make informed decisions that would result in more favourable outcomes for us – given that we faced several ‘medical’ challenges along our pregnancy. Even more empowering for us, she helped me to overcome my fears around the possibility of home birthing – the ultimate birthing experience for me – and clearly had the necessary contacts and experience to help us make this dream a reality. I also personally loved that despite not having had experience in lotus birthing, she was supportive of my wishes and informed herself accordingly. When bub finally arrived, she was more than ready to step in and guide us/support us around this process.

Overall, during the lead up to our birth Virginia provided us with contacts, resources, her time, and a couple of added bonuses – like a beautiful Blessingway ceremony, pre-baby photos and henna belly which made the journey even more special. When it finally came to the labour, her unwavering support became truly evident. She stayed with us throughout our 48-hour labour – no easy feat if you can imagine how truly exhausting that would be for anyone…. And despite helping us to arrange a homebirth, she was fantastic in counselling me as I arranged to transfer to hospital – attempting to make sure I was mentally and emotionally prepared for this turn of events in my labour.

Even after the birth she continued to check in with me, to make sure I was coping well despite everything. Her encouragement, belief, patience, natural concern for mum and bub, and willingness to share her knowledge with us makes her a great doula. If you are looking for a doula with experience, knowledge, passion for birthing rights of mum and bub, and varied but complementary skills that can support you in your birthing journey, then Virginia is the lady for you 🙂

Raquel Grant on the birth of Koen (2013)

Vaginal Birth After Caesarean

Thank you so much for the energy and time you gave me during my birthing time. Since hiring you as my Doula I instantly felt really comfortable with you. You supported me so beautifully leading up to my birth and during my birthing time. There were a few times during my birthing time that I needed a boost and you were there. Your positive words and actions helped me continue with confidence and ultimately helped me get my VBAC. Thank you so much.

Crystal on the birth of Chiara (2013)

Quick Waterbirth at Sutherland Hospital

The decision to hire a doula for our second birth happened for a number of reasons. One was so that my husband could feel he could leave if our older child needed one of us, and two because we needed the extra support this time around so we could both feel more confident. We hired Virginia as we are lucky enough to have her as a friend, and both myself and my husband felt comfortable with the idea of having someone we both knew around us.

Virginia was an amazing support throughout our pregnancy and especially throughout the labour. Before going to the hospital she was great while I was having contractions and our two year old was just wanting her daddy. She did great massage, helping me to relax in between and letting me know that I would never have to have that contraction ever again and that each one was a step closer to meeting our baby.

We had an all natural water birth at Sutherland hospital and it was an amazing experience. Virginia made sure I was comfortable in the water by providing me with cool face washers and anything else I needed – she seemed to always pick the right moment for the cool washers and this meant my husband rarely left my side. He also felt much more confident having Virginia around to help out, if he didn’t know what to do. She offered advice and tips during the birth without being pushy or in the way. Virginia has a lot of experience and knowledge, and will not intimidate your husband, just support.

We have some amazing photos of the birth of our daughter thanks to Virginia, and we now have this amazing experience to look back on whenever we want. At no point during the whole experience did Virginia get in the way, she was literally there when we needed the extra support. I would recommend Virginia highly, especially for couples who find it hard to relax or feel comfortable around people they may not know very well or in general.

Sarah Cawardine on the birth of Amelia (2012)

Natural birth at St George hospital

I decided to hire a doula fairly late into my second pregnancy. When I met Virginia , she seemed grounded and unflappable, I felt she was at ease within herself – all good qualities for a birth support person. My husband and I met with Virginia several times before the birth and we emailed and talked on the phone too, so by the time the of the labour we all felt very familiar and comfortable with each other.

Virginia’s knowledge about pregnancy and labour were really helpful when talking through my birth plan. She introduced me to some birthing techniques that I had not been familiar with . I also found being able to utilise Virginia’s skills as a herbalist during my pregnancy was a real bonus. She helped to treat a pregnancy related medical condition [low platelets] and went out of her way to look into all the treatment options available. The energy and enthusiasm Virginia showed here was characteristic of how she approached her role as my doula.

As the labour approached I felt that my husband, Virginia and I were a little team, that they were there for me, allowing me to focus on getting through the labour and acting as buffers, protecting me from the potential unpredictability of the hospital environment.  A real sense of safety had developed which really helped me through the labour. My husband also felt supported by having Virginia at the birth, which allowed him to be more present for me.

On a practical level, Virginia did all the little things that make a huge difference and are so easy to forget when labour starts; reminding me to keep my fluids up, applying lip balm, dimming the lights, fetching hairclips. This freed up my husband to stay right by my side, where I needed him. Virginia’s skills as a doula and herbalist were also great during the labour, suggesting positions when I felt stuck, giving me herbs and flower essences when I needed an energy boost, and encouraging me to voice my feelings when they intruded into the progress of the labour.

The birth of our son was natural, short and uncomplicated. It was an intense yet manageable experience . I look back now proud of giving birth the way I wanted to and will always treasure that experience. I have no doubt that having Virginia as my doula  greatly contributed to this outcome.

Kerrie Webb on the birth of Geordie (2010)

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 (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 (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 (2008)