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Akushla’s Birth Story of Beautiful “Angus”

It gives me great pleasure to share Angus’ birth story; our little man arrived in quite a hurry about 12 weeks ago. My pregnancy was normal and trouble free, apart from some morning sickness and fatigue which lasted until about 20 weeks. As the pregnancy progressed, my husband Andy and I decided that we would have our antenatal, birth and postnatal care with the Belmont Birth Centre, which caters to low risk women in the Belmont Hospital’s Birth Centre as well as at home, should the woman and her family wish to have a home birth. We chose the birth centre;  we loved the idea of caseload midwifery, where you see one or two midwives throughout the whole pregnancy, at the birth, and postnatally. They also have beautiful birthing pools, which I knew would be helpful during my labour. Throughout the pregnancy we had wonderful care from our two midwives Kim and Jane.

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Akushla 39 weeks and 1 day

In my work as a midwife in a birthing suite, I had the privilege of being witness to birth everyday. I guess you could say that I knew what to expect from labour and birth! Still, antenatal education is vital, so Andy and I enrolled in a Calmbirth course which explores the physiology of birth and the benefits of relaxation to better cope with labour and birth as well as becoming a parent. We already knew that we wanted to go into our birthing experience as relaxed as possible, and the Calmbirth course provided us with those tools to do so. I also read some books by ‘the mother of midwifery’ Ina May Gaskin, which I highly recommend in preparing for labour and birth. I took a friends’ advice and used some of her words as mantras and affirmations for the birth.

In the weeks leading up to Angus’ birth, I experienced quite a few strong Braxton Hicks contractions, and whenever one of my midwives, Jane, saw me, she commented that she could see my body was getting ready for birth. I kept having hot flushes, and pains in my legs. “Your cervix must be effacing” she would say.

The day before Angus arrived, was my due date. I wandered up the street to the health food store to buy some Clary Sage oil, which I intended to use in labour to move things along if they were slowing down. In the past, I had seen it have great effects while caring for labouring women at work. I booked myself in for an acupressure massage the next day. That evening I went for a walk with my friend Mel, and she said she had a feeling that labour would happen soon.

I woke up at 2:15 the next morning, to go to the loo. While sitting there, half asleep, I felt a ‘pop’ high up in my belly. I wondered sleepily if my waters had broken, but I didn’t feel a gush of fluid. I went back to bed, but it soon became apparent, when I rolled over, that my waters had broken. About 15 minutes later, I had my first contraction, and I remember smiling to myself; our baby was on its way! Andy was away at the time,  working about an hour and a half from home, so I decided to wait a little while longer to call him, to allow him to get some sleep. I called him at 3:30, and he was excited to get the news. At that stage, my contractions were still mild, and about 15 minutes apart. He left straight away to come home.

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Akushla a few days before Angus was born

Soon, I was having to stand up during contractions, gripping onto the door frame and swaying my hips like a mad woman and focusing on keeping my face and breathing relaxed. It was such a relief when the pains were gone, I would lie down and rest. Just before Andy got home, at 5:30, I pulled myself out of bed for a surge and felt my hips stretching apart, a very peculiar sensation. There would be no more lying down for me! My plans of having something to eat quickly went out the window as well, as my contractions became closer together, about 3 minutes apart, I would say. Andy jumped straight into his role of supporting me, rubbing my back during the contractions. Strangely enough though, I couldn’t bear to be touched, so I jumped in the shower, while Andy started to get my bag together. We planned to stay at home for as long as possible, but wanted to be ready just in case.

Just before six, Andy suggested we call Jane, our midwife on call. She was excited to hear I was in labour, and I told her I was coping quite well. Then, I had a contraction on the phone, and Jane said it sounded like I was well into established labour, and that she would leave home to come to our house. If we decided we wanted to go to the Birthing Centre in the meantime, she would meet us there. Jane lives about 30 minutes from us, and it would take about twenty minutes to get to the Birth Centre from our house.

About half an hour later, I remember having a strong contraction which I now know was my transition, because I was thinking to myself…I don’t know if I can do this all day…I’m going to need that big beautiful bath soon..and maybe even some gas! I started saying my affirmations to myself … “this is normal muscle working”, “our baby is coming” and, a favourite of mine from Ina May “loose lips, loose vagina” (!!) and focusing on keeping my mouth and face relaxed. I then had a vomit and noticed a bloody show, and remember commenting to Andy that I must be either 3cm dilated or fully dilated. I didn’t imagine that our baby was so close to arriving, but soon afterwards, I felt a strong urge to push, to expel some of the pressure feelings in my body. As I sat on the loo and bore down, I could feel our baby descending. It felt great to push, but I could feel every muscle stretching. It was very intense. Not believing that everything was happening so quickly, I decided to have a feel to see if I was correct…I could feel lots of hair on our baby’s head, and said this to Andy. He was very calm and got on the phone to Jane, and said we were going to the birth centre. “No” she said “I’m 10 minutes away, stay there”. Lucky for us, every midwife with the group practice is well prepared for home births, and carry bags of equipment in their cars, such as delivery packs and baby resuscitation equipment. Andy, still appearing very calm, sat down on the edge of the bath opposite me, and said “Ok, we are having this baby at home, what do we need? Towels?”….. “Yes, old towels” I said….”and boil the kettle”. I don’t know why I said that…Blame it on the TV Series “Call the Midwife” We laughed about it later.

True to her word, Jane arrived ten minutes later, at 7am, and Andy helped carry her bags in from the car. Thank god for Andy, he was such an amazing support. At this stage, I could feel our baby’s head crowning, and I was doing my best to hold him in!  I really didn’t want to get off my comfy toilet seat, but Jane convinced me to get down on hands and knees. It felt good to push, but at the same time, the stinging feeling was so  intense, and I was making a fair bit of noise at that stage. Jane and Andy reassured me, and within a couple of pushes, bub’s head was out, right into Andy’s hands. Bub was in a hurry, and just kept coming, until his shoulders and body slipped out as well. What a relief, as Andy passed him through my legs to me, and I unwrapped the cord, wound loosely around his body. Our little man looked up at us with big eyes, and was amazingly calm. He was covered in vernix and, as we knew, had lots of dark hair. We sobbed with joy…our baby was here! A quick check a few moments later revealed that we had a son! The feeling of holding our baby in my arms is indescribable. I was on such a high, and I felt unbelievable joy.

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The Happy Family in bed after birth – Akushla, Andy and Beautiful Baby Angus

We planned to have a physiological third stage, where the placenta is born by the mother’s effort. I sat on the loo again, and about 15 minutes later felt another urge to push, after which the placenta was born. We then cut the cord which had stopped pulsating and was drained of blood. It made us happy to know that Angus had received it all.

By that time two other midwives had arrived to give Jane a hand, although they had missed the action! We snuggled up in bed while they did some paperwork at the kitchen table and put the boiled kettle to good use with some cups of tea. Angus snuggled in and soon began making his way to the breast to suck…a true ‘breast crawl’. He was still calm and alert….we felt so much love for this little one. It was amazing to be at home, in our own bed, with our new baby!

I still can’t believe how lucky I was to have the birth experience that we did. I had the advantage of knowing what to expect in labour, but I really feel that preparing for the labour and birth, helped me so much. I don’t think I had any of the fear that comes with being worried about the unknown. This is where good antenatal education and preparation comes into play. As mothers to be, educating ourselves makes us incredibly powerful, in our bodies and in our minds.

Angus is thriving and brings us joy every single day…we love being parents.

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Angus at 12 weeks

Akushla xx