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.

Two Births

During my doula training course, one of the assignments was to write about birth from the perspective of the baby.

This assignment coincided with another from a writing class I was attending at the time. The teacher of that class was Jenni Overend, the author of beautiful children's book depicting a homebirth, called "Hello Baby"

I remembered my mother in law describe her experience when she gave birth to her first baby, my husband, in 1964. She was a trained nurse and understood hospital protocols and routines, but was startled that her already loudly crying baby was held up by the ankles and, quite unnecessarily, spanked on the bottom. It was three days before she held her baby for the first time.

Her recounting of the birth was in stark contrast with the birth of our first daughter, many years later, at home.


My rhythm.
Slow, steady, around me, within me.
I am warm, I am safe, I am held, I am loved.
My world.

It intensifies, releases.
It builds again, and fades away.
My world is changing, but my rhythm is there.
I am secure.

Something’s wrong.
The massage suddenly turns violent.
It’s too tight. It’s too long.
My world is crying.
I am frightened.

Something strange surges through my blood.
I’m woozy and sick.
My rhythm changes.
Faster, harder!
I cannot keep up.

My world is upset.
I am worried about her. I must go.
But I cannot find the way.
“Lie down!” voices shout.
“Please!” my world is crying.
Which way?

My world is invaded.
A sharp, hard grip seizes my head.
I am pulled.
A powerful, impatient force.
It is not my rhythm.
It hurts.
Slow down! Please slow down!

I am dragged from my world.
I am freezing cold.
I recoil.

My walls have collapsed.
They are not there.
I am hanging upside down.
I am totally exposed.
I am screaming, I am screaming until I can scream no more.

I collapse into shuddering breathless paroxysms that no longer voice my terror.
I am strung up, my ankles bruised by a deft grip.
Suddenly, a sharp smack ripples up my spinal cord and into my soul.
My dangling body swings from the force of the blow.
“That’ll get his breathing started,” I hear.
Surely I cannot scream anymore. I can’t. I can’t.

I am dizzy and disoriented. I cannot get my bearings.
I need … I need …
All my limbs are trembling and flailing.
Something is beneath me. Hard, and cold, so very cold.
“7 pounds 8 ounces!” a loud, satisfied voice proclaims.

I am worn out with screaming.
I am learning fast that it is pointless.
No one hears, no one cares.
I know it is useless, but I cannot stop.
I am alive, therefore I cry. And cry.

A finger is thrust into my mouth.
Who is it? What is it? Why is this happening?
My knees are forced apart.
Burning fire pierces my skin. Burning fire is dropped into my eyes.
I try to fight. I am too weak. I am too shocked. I am too little.
They know best.

I need, I need ….
I do not know what I need.
My world is gone. I’ve lost my rhythm.

My body is tightly wrapped.
I am beyond caring.
It doesn’t feel like me anymore. It feels like someone else’s body.

I am picked up and held.
A jolt of longing sends a shudder through me.
It is not what I thought.
An odd-tasting thing is thrust into my mouth.
Then – warm sweetness.
It does not taste quite right, but I am desperate now, and easily satisfied.

I succumb to exhausted oblivion.
When I awake, the anxiety suffuses me again.
I begin to cry. I am so tired of crying.
I cannot help it.

Capable arms feed me, wrap me, and lay me down.
I am grateful. But still, something is missing.
I am desperately lonely.

A long, long time has gone by.
I have lost count of the feeds and the sleeps.
I have submerged my loneliness.
It is too scary, too painful to keep feeling it.

I am lifted, carried and handed into different arms.
“My baby! I finally get to meet you!”
I know that voice. I know I know that voice.
Relief swamps me.
I am exhausted.
“Come on baby. Come on, try to feed. Here it is. I can’t seem to get him latched on.”

I exist.
I am alive.
I am here. She is there.
We have survived.
Everything is all right.
Yet it does not feel all right.
I do not feel all right.
I never really have since.
I have lost my rhythm.


“I’m warm and cosy. I’m getting squashed in here. I can hear my Ones Who Love Me talking to me. I like the warmth. I like their sounds.

I feel squeezes. We are walking. I love it when we do that. I like the rocking. The squeezes are getting longer and stronger. Something big is happening to us. My Ones Who Love Me are not scared, so neither am I. I know this is the right time. We know what to do. Gravity guides me downwards.

My One Right Here is calling for me. Her voice is sounding, loud and urgent in the depths here where I am, like whale song. She must be patient in pain. I must be patient, too. I feel the effort of my One Right Here. She is strong, brave and noble. I feel proud of us. She wants me to come. I’m trying my best. She is swaying and angling her body, to help me find my way. All I have to do is go with it. I hear the steady voice of my Other One. I’m pleased he’s there. I know we are safe.

Down, down, further down. My body is squashed and massaged all over. I twist and wriggle to find my way through. My One Right Here is pushing, fighting with all her might. It is a tremendous effort for us. She cries out, her grunt becomes an awesome roar. I feel coolness on the crown of my head. My whole face finds the coolness. Now I can turn my head back in line with my spine. My One Right Here is crying. Her voice is keener now, no longer muted. I want to talk to her, too. I feel the atmosphere of anticipation. They are welcoming me. I matter. Another tightening - and my whole body slips out of my warm cocoon.

My arms flail about. Where am I? This is scary – this sudden nothingness is not like the snug closeness of before. Warm hands catch me. My head flops forward onto something soft and familiar. I feel a gentle touch on my back. I hear her voice and drink her sweet, wild fragrance into my soul.
Even in this strange new place, so cool and bright, she is still right here. We share the warmth and my muscles relax. The brightness fades. I can open my eyes now. Her voice washes over me. My fingers wrap around hers. I turn my head towards that sweet, special smell and look into the loving eyes of my mother for the first time.”

The contrast between these two accounts shows the positive progress that has been made in recent decades. But there is still much ground to recover, and simple things can make a big difference. They only require a few practical changes to current routines and practices. It’s simple common sense that these strategies will not only greatly enhance birthing for women and infants, but can only promote and improve clinical safety. Sensitive listening, undisturbed birth, privacy, respectful quiet at the moment of birth, uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact, un-rushed bonding time – I would like to think that in Australia, we can provide such things to all birthing women.

These are not just frills or extras. Marsden Wagner wrote: “Humanizing birth means understanding that the woman giving birth is a human being, not a machine and not just a container for making babies. Showing women---half of all people---that they are inferior and inadequate by taking away their power to give birth is a tragedy for all society. On the other hand, respecting the woman as an important and valuable human being and making certain that the woman's experience while giving birth is fulfilling and empowering is not just a nice extra, it is absolutely essential as it makes the woman strong and therefore makes society strong.”

When we dis-empower birthing women, we undermine society. When we respect birthing women by listening with the heart, it follows that we will be attuned to listen sensitively to her newborn. By actively listening to the mother, we empower her to in turn, listen with her heart to her infant and to her instincts. In this way we can help to protect and promote optimum bonding. We know that active listening is a key component of attachment parenting, or gentle parenting. So we see this overflow effect that we know can only enrich and benefit society. This is chain reaction of compassion and respect that starts when a birth attendant respects a woman, and listens with the heart to her voice, her song and her stories.

1 comment:

AngelsMum said...

That's just beautiful. It's certainly an eye opener from a baby's point of view.