Birthing where and with whom you want should be your legal right. Unfortunately in Australia, if your plan is to birth at home, who you choose to have attend your birth has become restricted by ever increasing government requirements for midwives and in the case of hospital offered homebirth programs, many of the rules for access have made personal choice very limited.
This leaves the growing-in-popularity option of unassisted birth, also known as freebirth.
In the past, freebirth was seen by most as a fringe activity chosen by few. But with the ever-growing restriction of midwifery attended homebirth, the decision for women to freebirth has increased dramatically. The interesting thing to note is, that freebirth is seemingly now being treated by women as a choice in its own right.
Women are no longer just choosing it because they can’t have a midwife at their birth, freebirth is being chosen because women feel that they can. Birthing autonomously is fast becoming a normalised birth option for many women. With access to online social networks and well-established resources, such as the Free Birth Society, women are finding a community to support their desires to birth how they want.
Despite threats to many women, such as being told freebirth is illegal or threats of being reported, this choice isn’t lessening in popularity. Access to independent care - care that holds women and their decision-making at the centre - isn’t going to increase, so for women who want to take full responsibility for their births, then this is the birth they are choosing.
And whilst women are receiving threats, so too are many non-medical birth attendants. They are warned off from attending freebirth, however those of us who believe women make wise decisions for themselves and are able to discern the difference between a midwife and a doula, we show up. We smile, we sit and we celebrate women’s choice, because it is always theirs to make.
What do I do and why is it different?
What do I mean when I say I help women discover how to have births that are aligned with their needs?
We’ve never had more access to information than right now. If you want to learn about what happens during birth, you can find it. If you want to know what it looks like, you can literally watch live-stream births. If you want to know what positions you should do in pregnancy and/or birth to move baby into a certain position, you can find that too. If you need to ask a question, there are thousands and thousands of online groups.
But in this amazingness of abundant information, comes a unique challenge. How do you figure out what it is you personally need?
Everyone has an opinion. I am constantly astonished (although I probably shouldn’t be) by the confidence with which other people tell a woman what she should choose.
And here lies the difference with me.
I don’t think you SHOULD do anything. Whilst I do have an abundance of birth knowledge and I am of course happy to share that with you, the work I do with my clients means I’m first listening to what they want for themselves. And all too frequently I hear of the barriers that they face (often times self-erected ones) to get what they want. Our work together is about discovering how everything they hear and know is swirling in their heads clouding their pathway forward. Maybe they also need to learn something they didn’t even know they were missing. This work enables them to really see clearly which decisions they are comfortable with and if they are ready to delve further to sit in a place of discomfort in order to grow to make decisions that actually feel ultimately better and more aligned. Decisions for who they want to be and what they want their birth to look like.
This is the process of deep preparation that creates clarity, confidence and an alignment that will guide the absolute best decision-making for your birth.
The process works, the results are life-changing.
Why is navigating the system so hard?
Are our care-providers offering us options, sharing their knowledge and expertise in an unbiased way and accepting our responses as the final word? They should be, right?
Most of the time women tell me they dread their appointments. They know they are going to face a range of tactics to convince them to agree to certain interventions or procedures. Ones they want to say no to but are frightened they will agree to.
In online groups I hear over and over how you can just say no, but this is ignoring the complexity of power dynamics, our upbringings around authority figures and the added subtle message that to say no makes us selfish and uncaring of our babies.
Whilst undoubtedly most care-providers genuinely believe they are providing the safest care to women and babies they are overlooking the most vital of factors – they are ignoring women, the person who cares THE MOST about their baby.
It seems increasingly impossible to maintain this status quo – care-providers not listening and women unwillingly handing over their fundamental rights in birth.
What can we do? Can we change the way we respond to conversations; do we walk away from these conversations all together – as an ever-increasing volume of women are choosing to do?
I don’t have the answer for you – because the thing I know is each woman is on her own journey to discover what she needs.
And the other thing I know is that immense shifts are possible when women are asked the right questions, when they are placed at the centre of the conversation, when we trust them to make all the best decisions.
It’s time to change, and the system isn’t doing the changing, so it’s down to you. What are you prepared to choose, what are you going to do, to make sure this birth is exactly what you need it to be?
If this makes you think YES! If this is what you know you are ready for. If this is what you know you need to make your birth your own, then let’s talk.
Do you know yet what you want, what you’ll choose? Can you feel the certainty? Do you trust yourself and the process?
Is that space inside, deep in your gut, telling you that you can let go now? That you’ve worked through your worries, released them. In the moment do you trust that you’ll know what to choose no matter what and it will be exactly right for that moment?
Do you know that even in the hardest situation, the toughest process, you’ll be able to keep going?
And when it’s over and you look back, will you know you trusted yourself and feel good about it?
If you don't, what's stopping you?
Not long after I watched the blue line appear on my pregnancy test, and only a day after hanging out the washing and holding a peg in my mouth which weirdly and immediately made me gag, I excitedly and urgently rang the office of my sister’s obstetrician. Desperate for an appointment, I wanted to ensure I didn’t miss out on her care.
The thing is, whilst I did get in, I made a HUGE mistake.
I began attending appointments where I was weighed, had confusing conversations about my wee, was told which test I’d need to take next, and shown the door.
As the months went by, I enjoyed researching more about the type of birth I wanted. I was excited and frankly blown away by the intricate cocktail of hormones our body produces in labour – not only to birth our baby, but to feel good whilst doing it. Suddenly I wasn’t scared anymore, and I looked forward to my birth. Awesome right?!
I’d also learned how interventions could interrupt this delicate balance of hormones, so I really wanted to talk to my care-provider about how to help me avoid those. But at each appointment there never seemed an opportunity or an opening to begin the conversation.
Towards the end of my pregnancy, I had been told I would meet the midwife who worked with my obstetrician. I hoped this would be the time where what I wanted during my labour would be discussed, rather than with my busy obstetrician who had, so far, shown no interest.
Finally, on the day of my midwife appointment, I clutched the birth plan I had written and made my way into the office. I waited for the invitation to discuss my needs. It didn’t come. After a confusing discussion about wanting to look at my nipples to see if I would be able to breastfeed (hint: that’s not a thing, folks), I tentatively asked the midwife if she wanted to see my birth plan. She threw her head back and laughed. Feeling shocked, I didn’t say anything more. She made me feel so small.
From this point on, I realised that this model of care was not on the same page as I was. I didn’t feel cared for, listened to – in fact I didn’t feel like I mattered at all.
Now, after almost ten years of working with women, mentoring them through their pregnancies and births, I know that one of the most critical things that impacts a woman’s birth is the one thing I wish I’d known before I chose my care-provider.
And that one thing is this: Each care-provider (obstetrician, midwife, doctor) has their own philosophy and thoughts around birth – your birth. And these philosophies differ from provider to provider. I wish I’d known that my obstetrician would care more about what they wanted for my birth than what I did.
So, I want to share with you, before you choose your obstetrician or midwife, consider first the birth you want to have. Ask yourself what you want – what is important to you? Then, and only then, will you be able to choose the care-provider to best support you, so you can emerge from your birth feeling like it went the way you wanted, in a way that made you feel heard and valued.
I wish I could tell you that I had a magical a-ha moment, where I ran (waddled?) from the unfriendly, uncaring doctor and her nipple-checking midwife, into the kind and gentle arms of someone who wanted to support the kind of birth I was looking for. But I didn’t. I truly thought I could make it work. But, as I had suspected, the birth that I wanted was never further away than during those hours I worked so hard to bring my baby to me in an unsupportive environment.
So please know, you and your birth matter. You have the opportunity to find out what you want, and find someone who wants that for you.
When I see this – women making choices aligned with their needs – it really is amazing. I smile, because I know I learned the answer. And now I get to share it.
Sign up here to access my FREE alignment process webinar that provides you with my step-by-step approach to help you consider if you are making the right choices for your birth.
Often, from the stories we hear or from our own previous birth experiences, it feels like we can never control the outcomes of a birth. It can feel like we should just go with the flow, follow the guidance and influences of our care providers or the people around us.
But there is another way.
Birth most definitely takes its own path. And it’s true that at times the outcome can be an unwelcome one. But I know that in cases like this - where birth takes a turn you didn't expect or want - it is still entirely possible to feel okay, even confident. Feeling heard, understanding information, taking action (or not) in your own time when possible – these things can alter the way that you ultimately feel about your whole birth experience, for the better.
When you gain knowledge about your body and birth, when you delve deep within yourself, and when you uncover a clarity about how you make decisions - all this self-discovery can ultimately lead to a birth that feels so much more aligned to you. A birth that honours what is important to you.
And these feelings that I see emerge, as women and their families step into a space that is so different than where they started?
This is a magnificent sight to behold.
The woman poised - ready, willing, open and calm – waiting for her birth to begin.
Can you imagine it? Do you want it?
If you do, now is the time, take the first step, you won’t be disappointed where it takes you.
I had a difficult birth experience.
It seems so long ago now, and in more ways than just time.
It wasn’t until months afterwards that I began to put all the pieces together, learning, unpacking, trying to understand why the outcomes of my baby’s birth did not make sense. It was afterwards when I faced the regret of not knowing, of not understanding and not exploring. Afterwards was when I wished I had known more.
And this is why I have developed into this particular type of doula, one who knows how it feels to have made unexamined choices. This is why my greatest wish for women isn’t a particular type of birth, but a birth you can feel is your own. Even if your birth takes twists and turns to a place that isn’t wanted, it can still be understood why you are there.
Helping women carve out a space for themselves to listen to their own voice - to explore and discover their own needs - has become an integral part of the work I do. When I was having my own baby I didn’t realise how noisy the world of waiting for birth was. I took it as normal that everyone would have opinions about what I should do and how I should do it. I surrounded myself with people who didn’t show me that my voice mattered. And that is so far from how it should be.
So I have found myself here as the years have passed, providing space for women to hear their own voices. These voices are wise, because deep down you know what you want. You might not know how to get there yet, but your voice is strong and loud - you are just waiting on all the noise to quieten so that you can be heard.
Each and every day, I’m walking beside women as they let out their voice and their desires. If you want help to tune into yours, send me a message so we can find the right pathway for you. You deserve it
Every time you show up, every time you think about the birth you want, every time you consider what might be holding you back and work towards releasing it, you are one step closer to a better birth than you were before.
This is your work – and every single bit you do towards making your birth the one you want, is a win.
It is worth it, it is success, it is beautiful. Keep showing up for the birth that you want, it counts. How are you showing up? How are you making it count?
For many of us we carry so much junk into our births. A lifetime of birth images shown on screen, an adult life of terrible birth stories from people we know and for some, our own previous traumatic birth experiences.
We are told so often that our body knows how to birth, and I believe this and I’ve seen this. But one thing I know, is for our body to know what to do in birth, first we need to ask our mind to move out of the way.
And how do we do this? It isn’t as hard as it sounds, but it might take time to understand.
And because we are all different, the way we do this will differ from woman to woman. It might be talking it through, identifying and examining our triggers and fears, and actively letting it go. It might be re-writing those old stories that our mind holds. It might be filling ourselves up with positive birth images and phrases. It might be a combination of these and more.
When our minds get out of the way, our bodies are free to birth the way they know how. This is possible, this is attainable, this is beautiful.
What have you done to process what has been going on in your mind to clear a path for your body to birth?
Need help with this? Send me a message to ask me how