"I knew I needed Sandy by my side for my birth when she offered me a sip of water. Offering a sip of water may not seem significant, but let me explain………..
I knew all along that I was determined to have a natural vaginal delivery with no major pain relief…. this was my goal but I really wasn’t sure how I was going to achieve this…..I’m the sort of person that cringes at a paper cut and howls at a stubbed toe. So I began reading positive birth stories, including books by Ina May Gaskin, Rhea Dempsey and Sarah Buckley. The more and more I read, the more and more I realised that a professional birth support partner could help me achieve these goals. So, my husband and I asked Sandy to be a part of our birth team.
At 37 weeks, my baby was presenting breech. I saw all my birth plans of a non-medicated vaginal delivery go straight out the window. I was a mess, upset and very confused about my options. I rang my husband, who assured me it was going to be fine but we both didn’t know what to do. I immediately rang Sandy, and she came over right away. She also brought her ‘bag of tricks’ as I call them and I immediately had a huge range of resources and tips to get my baby to turn head down. None of these options were offered to me while I was at the hospital, I literally left the hospital with no options apart to wait and see. With Sandy’s suggestions, I felt like I was back in control. In addition to Sandy’s suggestions which included Chiropractor, Acupuncture, moxibustion, Spinning Babies exercises like the Webster technique and even oils, positive affirmations and much more. She also planted a seed in my head, a seed that grew over the coming week that told me to trust my body and my baby.
I worked hard to turn my baby head down but she was just too comfortable in that position. After a lot of research and chats with my husband and Sandy, we decided to attempt a vaginal breech delivery if an ECV was not successful [External cephalic version is a process by which a breech baby can sometimes be turned from buttocks or foot first to head first by literally moving the baby from outside the mother’s tummy. If you want to know what it looks like, you can check out a video here].
On 27 April, my husband, Sandy and I arrived at the hospital to attempt an ECV, I was nervous…. I mean really nervous! I was lying down on the bed waiting for the doctor and the team to arrive to attempt the ECV mauver and my nervousness was nearing closer and closer to fear. Sandy didn’t leave my side and immediately helped me with some hypnobirthing techniques and started to massage my feet. I began to ‘switch off’ and get myself into a different frame of mind…..a mind that would help encourage my baby to turn, rather than fill up with fear that would prevent my body from relaxing enough to turn baby. Once the doctors entered the room I started to lick my lips and get a bit nervous again…..that is when Sandy brought me a glass of water without asking (with a straw…. Sandy’s straws are just another great tool she has in her bag of tricks…. if you have given birth before you will know how helpful straws are). Once that water hit my lips, I knew I had made the right decision to have Sandy involved in my birth!!! While others were chatting aimlessly around me, Sandy was fully involved with just me.
Well, the ECV worked…..however, my baby’s heartrate started to drop dramatically. So low, the alarm bell rang, and a dozen people were called to into the room and I was immediately prepped for theatre for an emergency C-section under general anaesthetic. Apart from being very concerned about my baby, I also thought……No!..... my birth plan down the tube! In the corner of my eye I saw Sandy jump into action. She ran to my bag and pulled out my birth plan and brought it over to Henry. It reminded me to shout out to the doctor…. please delay cord clamp if you can and don’t rub down my baby. In retrospect, I’m not sure in an emergency situation I could have delayed cord clamped but I’m glad I at least asked. Thankfully, just before I was wheeled down for theatre, my baby’s heartrate returned to normal and the emergency C-section was called off…..my baby and I were safe.
After the successful ECV, I was able to wait for my baby to arrive. Oh….and did I wait! 40 weeks came and went and at 41 weeks I was booked into an induction. No one wants to be induced but I couldn’t understand why I needed to be induced at this stage, both my baby and I were healthy (and happy). I called Sandy and we discussed my options. She pointed out that a ‘normal’ pregnancy is anywhere from 38 to 42 weeks, so why was I being induced by the hospital at 41 weeks? I did more research and realised, thanks to Sandy, that I didn’t have any medical need to be induced so I decided I would cancel the induction. And I’m glad I did, because at 42 weeks and 2 days, my baby decided to choose her birthday herself.
On 28 May at 4am my waters leaked and I noticed meconium in the waters. I immediately called Sandy to let her know my labour was imminent and told her about my waters. She reminded me that it’s not unusual to see mec in the waters when a woman is past her due date and that it was not necessarily a sign of distress. I needed Sandy to remind me of this and I instantly felt better and more reassured. Sandy helped me make a plan and I decided to check-in at the hospital for a short monitoring period before heading back home to labour in the comfort of my home.
Upon arrival at the hospital my rushes were pretty strong and regular and I couldn’t envision another car ride back home (the first one was long enough) so we decided to stay and call Sandy for support.
I would like to think that my husband and I were very well researched on the birth and had a multitude of tools up our sleeves to help handle the rushes, however, in the moment, a lot of what you have learnt isn’t at the forefront of your mind. In fact, I couldn’t think of anything to help with the rushes. I now realise that this is the body’s natural mechanism to shutting off your mind so you can concentrate solely on your labour. Once Sandy arrived, she reminded us of the toolkit of resources we had planned to use and I was more able to manage the intensity of the rushes. What absolutely saved my sanity was a technique Sandy used called ‘The Double Hip Squeeze’ which I remember being the best pain management technique used on me.
Early on in the labour, I felt the urge to push, however, it didn’t feel quite right. Sure enough, I was only 2cm dilated and having an uncontrollable urge to push which is very dangerous in early labour as it can cause an anterior lip which usually leads to a C-section. I didn’t know what to do or how to stop it and the only suggestion given to me by the health care providers was to have an epidural. Again, my birth plan going down the tube! Sandy grabbed her scarf from her bag of tricks and we did some rebozo. I am 100% convinced that this technique saved me from a C-section. Within the hour, I dilated from 2cm to 8cm. Had I not had the rebozo to encourage my baby into a better position, I’m sure my labour would have ended in a C-section. I was later told that my baby was presenting with her hand to the side of her head which is why I felt the urge to push so early on without being fully dilated. Sandy’s rebozo gently encouraged my baby to get into a better position for a vaginal delivery.
Once my baby was getting closer and closer to arriving, Sandy suggested that I try and touch my baby’s head. I was convinced that I had hours and hours more of labour, but sure enough Sandy was right and by touching her soft head it gave me the encouragement to continue. Sandy then brought out her mirror for me to watch my baby’s progress.
After 12 hours of labour and 42 minutes of pushing, I delivered my first baby vaginally without any major* pain relief. We named her Daisy Mae and she was born at 3.42pm on 28 May weighing 7lb 8oz.
*Note: I did take about half a dozen puffs of gas n air so can’t say no pain relief.
It was the most magical moment of my life and I will never have another baby without Sandy by my side! If you are in doubt of hiring a doula, please take a moment to really think about these doubts. If your doubt is about cost, remember, you only get to birth your baby once, and you want it to go according to your plan as much as possible. For me personally, had I had the epidural or a C-section, I would have been devastated as this was not part of my plans.
If your doubt is about your partner’s role during the birth, let me tell you how much my husband appreciated having Sandy there. At first sceptical prior to the birth, he is now fully convinced that a doula should be at everyone’s birth! I was lucky to have a very well researched/informed husband, but in the thick of the moment he needed to be reminded of our plans and how to help me cope to achieve the birth we deserved. Sandy did not replace the support that was given to me by my husband, she did not get in the way of my husband enjoying the day he meet his first child.
If your doubt is whether, Sandy is right for you…..well you will only find out if you take the opportunity to meet her. Sandy is one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met in my life and I’m so pleased she was involved in my birth of my beautiful baby girl.
For me having a Doula truly helped me to have the natural vaginal delivery I had planned for, but the key word is planned. I would like to add that planning is the key to success. A Doula does not magically take the pain away or make medical decisions for you. You and your partner should be drafting up you birth plan together and researching and planning towards this. However, there is no doubt that an experienced and well trained Doula will have a big impact on your goals and plans, whatever they may be.
Thank you Sandy…………you have influenced my birth and life positively in so many ways."
- Emily and baby Daisy