Melbourne Doula

Welcome to 'Melbourne Doula', the place where I share what birth work is teaching is me, and what I am learning from the wonderful families who have invited me to share this most special season of their lives. Here you will find information about me and the doula services I provide, birth stories from remarkable women and their loved ones, as well as all kinds of resources to enrich your own journey of discovery. And welcome also to BLISSFUL HERBS, the home of beautiful herbal teas and bath herbs to support wellness through every season of life.

Carrie's Triumphant VBAC

My first baby, made possible through IVF ICSI was born in August of 2005, a little girl at 28.6 weeks via emergency c-section due to placental abruption and placenta previa. I didn’t get to see my little girl for 24 hours, other than via a Polaroid photo. The first couple of weeks of Kyla’s life in the NICU were very stressful what with concerns for Kyla’s health, not being able to have her with me, breast feed or take her home with me. Nothing about her birth and first weeks of life were anything like I had imagined or hoped for. Instead of bonding with my baby through cuddles and feeding I was left looking at her through the humidicrib and touching her through the hand holes in the side, hanging out for the first cuddles, the second cuddle and each night dreading that we would get a phone call from the hospital saying that something was wrong.

The c-section was a horrible experience and so painful. I vividly remember the day that I had to leave the hospital for home without my baby. It was awful. Kyla was in hospital for about 10 weeks before coming home. We had a terrible time trying to get her breast feeding as her mouth was so small, she wouldn’t attach and when she actually did, would fall asleep. So the first few months of her life were spent with me trying to get her to feed, then bottle-feeding expressed milk and then pumping. After four months we finally went to formula feeding after I was advised by a psychiatrist that I shouldn’t be feeding on the medication that I was on.

We decided to try for another baby through IVF again in Feb of 2007, when Kyla was 1 and a half and doing so well. We fell pregnant on the first cycle and this time I was determined that if at all possible I would have the birth experience that I had missed out on the first time around - although I know that both Kyla and I were saved by the medical intervention we received and am forever grateful for the fantastic medical staff who were there during Kyla’s birth. So this time around, when asked about who would be my Obstetrician, I jumped on Belly Belly and looked up VBAC friendly Obstetricians. I subsequently booked in with Dr. David Freidin. Once my pregnancy was confirmed, I started my research into VBAC, reading Belly Belly articles and looking at other's experiences.

It was through Belly Belly and a lovely midwife, Alan, who had met up with me to chat that I located my Doula, Julie Bell. The first meeting I had with Julie and Alan was fantastic and I was given a lot to think about including considering having a home birth. Due to my last birth experience, however I was too nervous that something would go wrong to go with that option. After initially meeting Julie I arranged for my husband and mother (my birth team) to also meet her prior to making a decision as to whether to go with a Doula. Julie was happy to meet with them and answered all their questions and concerns.

Over the period of my pregnancy Julie and I met often, we talked through my concerns and worries regarding my first birth and my loss in confidence in my body to birth my baby naturally. We worked through The Pink Kit, did relaxation and some yoga, discussed my birth plan and literature that Julie had loaned me regarding birthing(as knowledge is power!)

During my pregnancy we did have some concerns as an ultra-sound at 20 weeks showed that I had a short cervix. I was put on rest and was so scared that again my baby would come early. After lots of prayer, worrying, stress and even more loss of confidence in my body, a subsequent ultra-sound revealed that my cervix had either lengthened - or that the first results had been wrong.

The rest of my pregnancy was blissfully uneventful. I had a meeting with Julie toward the end of my pregnancy where my husband also took part. We practiced labour positions and ways that my husband could help with my pain relief through massage or specific positions. At 39 weeks I was even getting sick of being pregnant! I went into labour at 39 weeks exactly after having gone on a long walk the night before in the hopes of inducing labour.

I was booked into Francis Perry (with Dr David Freidin), but on the day, I laboured the entire time at home. When I reached the hospital I was already fully dilated and birthed my baby an hour later! Dr. Freidin didn't even have time to get there!

I thought that I would be asked to come into hospital as soon as labour started (as was policy with VBACs), but when I called the hospital I spoke to a midwife who said to wait longer at home and to see what my Doula thought when she arrived. Once Julie arrived, she kept suggesting ways to manage my pain and to help put off going to the hospital until we thought that we couldn't wait any longer. I spent the entire labour standing and moving and in the comfort of home (which I think really helped). I remember thinking that if I was in hospital I definitely would have asked for pain relief. (As I was at home, I had to do it myself - which I'm now really proud of!). My favorite position was leaning forward on something (chair or bench in the bathroom) and rocking my hips.

My labour started at about 4am in the morning, but really kicked in at about 6 am. My contractions were all in my back and were only giving me a couple of minutes tops between each one the entire labour. There were times that I didn’t know how I was going to do it. Especially when it got to 11 am and Mum decided that if we were going to the hospital it was now or never. Julie set up a little 'nest' for me in her car. I got into the car and then got straight back out again thinking that there was no way that I was going to be able to sit for an hour in the car and that they would have to get an ambulance. Mum somehow managed to get me in the car again and took off before I could get out again.

The car ride felt like a turning point. I was so scared and gripped poor Julie’s hand nearly the entire time. She said a prayer for me and it must have done the trick as I somehow managed to go inside myself and found that if I pushed down a bit during each contraction, I could make it through them.

When I got to the hospital I lost a lot of my rhythm - the room felt awful- cold and with nowhere comfortable to set myself up. Fortunately, the midwife I was assigned was great. They did put on a mobile monitor so I could walk around, but it didn't stay on for long and I can't remember them paying much attention to it. I couldn't lie down (it was too painful) so Julie said that if they wanted to do an internal they would have to do it with me standing!

The internal revealed that I was fully dilated and my water broke straight after this. I remember thinking that it sounded like I had dropped a water balloon on the floor. My poor husband copped a fair bit of it too and soaked his jeans - hehe! The midwife said that I could now push when ever I felt the urge, which I did with the next contraction. My mum and husband were standing next to me and so I held onto them, standing up and pushed. Mum directed me over to the bed and I leaned over the end of it and continued to push. My boy was born after a further 15 min of pushing. I was then asked to stop pushing for a minute. I could feel the head there and didn’t know how it would get out of me, but it managed to - and I heard the midwife say ‘Here comes the head… and here comes the rest!”

I was exhausted and just wanted to rest, but they handed him to me and then I lay down and had bub put straight on my chest, between my breasts. He managed to ‘breast crawl’ his way over to my left breast and attach himself where he happily sucked away.

Soon I started to notice that I was having mild contractions again and was advised that this was the placenta. As per my birth plan, I didn’t have the syntocin but agreed to some traction. It was a relief to birth the placenta and to be pain free again!

Dr Freidin arrived and checked me over; I had no tears and needed no stitches. He was happy to leave us to it and check bub over at a later date.

Julie and Mum helped me have a shower and then I relaxed in a bath, such bliss after hours of pain. I was so happy to have done it and to have my beautiful little boy.

What a fantastic feeling! What a high! To have done it myself. And here I was afterward relatively pain free. Up and about straight away and wheeling my baby from the delivery suit to my room.

I am so proud of myself for birthing my little boy naturally. It was a fantastic experience and so healing after such a traumatic first birth. I attribute the success of my VBAC to:

1) Heaps of reading and research

2) A fantastic Doula

3) My Ob who was very supportive of my VBAC and allowed me to do things my way - as long as there were no major problems.

4) A detailed birth plan

5) Staying at home through the majority of labour

I did lots of reading, about VBACs, birth and intervention so that I knew what I wanted from my birth. I felt that this knowledge ensured that I would not be pushed into unnecessary interventions. I addition, I definitely recommend a Doula, someone who is there to advocate for you and your wishes when you are concentrating on more important things (like having a baby!) I don't think that things would have gone nearly so well without my Doula. I’m sure that I would have been off to the hospital early, allowing more time and room for intervention and the cascade of interventions, rather than staying at home where I was better able to cope with my labour.

Looking back on my birth experience 7 months down the track, there is not a thing that I would change.

Carrie's cup says, "Yummy Mummy"!

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