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The Harshe Podcast – Episode #37: Birth Without Fear Australia Conference Recap

The Harshe Podcast – Episode #37: Birth Without Fear Australia Conference Recap

January and Brandon return from their brief hiatus to recap the Birth Without Fear Conference in Australia that took place in Sydney at the end of May! They discuss the reality of January going to Australia alone for a week while Brandon stayed home with the kids, preparing for a conference overseas and how January’s grandmother helped improvise some of the conference preparations from 8,000 miles away, the speakers, and the impact the Harmony Circles at every Birth Without Fear event have on the attendees. They get sidetracked by Brandon’s weird ass giggle and some Game of Thrones talk, but they manage to refocus nicely for your listening pleasure!

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Click here to download Episode #37: Birth Without Fear Australia Conference Recap!


Considering certification as a childbirth educator but haven’t quite found the right fit yet? Interested in creating inclusive classes where birthing people can become educated about their options and patient rights?

If you’re eagerly nodding your head along to one or all of these questions, we got ya! Become a childbirth educator with Doula Trainings International‘s Childbirth Edu Training program. 

The online platform will take you through certification requirements, tracking your participation progress for your own review of the curriculum and corresponding teaching guide, required scholarly reads and required videos.

This training is available for both conference attendees and those only seeking Childbirth Education Teacher Certification at DTI’s inaugural Born Into This Conference on July 12-13 in Austin, TX. What you would normally get in our 3 month online program, you will get in this 2 day in person training. You’ll walk away ready to go!

Check out for more details!


January and Brandon will end the 2018 event schedule with a Birth Without Fear Conference in Phoenix, AZ on November 10! Early bird registration for Basic and Partner tickets is now open! Register a!

The 1st Birth Without Fear Conference in Australia!!!

The 1st Birth Without Fear Conference in Australia!!!

Saturday May 26, 2018 was the first Birth Without Fear Conference in AUSTRALIA!!!

It was a huge success and we can’t wait to come back!!!

A post shared by Kayla Rees (@kayla_rees85) on

Got to catchup today with these awesome women at the @birthwithoutfear Sydney conference!!! Thank you @januaryharshe for your total awesomeness 😘 and it was so cool seeing my Doula sisters @doulawisdom and @withloveformama you gals are the best ❤❤❤ #birthwithoutfear #birthwithconfidence #hypnobirthing #hypnobirthinginternational #sydney #doula #2lifedoula #childbirtheducation #Repost @doulawisdom ・・・ It was sooo great to spend the day in Sydney at the @birthwithoutfear conference 🙌🏼 @januaryharshe is so friendly and inspiring. She glows inside and out 😍 Thanks for the fun times @2lifedoula and @withloveformama 💕#birthwithoutfear #doulawisdom #birthwithoutfearconference #loveismyfilter #selflove❤ #doulalife #oxytocinboosting

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Can’t even put into words… what a journey, so many moments shared throughout the years, of words shared at exactly the right time, of rewriting of old beliefs and stories! Mama J thanks for all you do in this world, it’s so important, inspiring and uplifting. Thankyou for opening up my mind, heart & soul to a life full of love I could have only dreamed of. For shedding light on dark times, the importance of self care and not giving a shit about what anyone thinks. Thank you for opening me up to possibility and allowing me to hear the whispers of my soul and know that it’s more than ok to have a big family and it’s ok to not be “done” I am forever grateful for the impact you’ve had in my life! #youdoyouboo #birthwithoutfear #birthwithoutfearconference @birthwithoutfear @januaryharshe

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Today was so surreal. I have followed @birthwithoutfear for years! I think I first discovered BWF as a student midwife and being obsessed with reading women’s birth stories. I came across the blog and then Instagram and just fell in love with the love and acceptance promoted. The no agenda, we love you no matter what your birthing choices are message was such a revelation for me and it really helped shape me as a midwife and I encourage all my clients and friends to follow these accounts in the hopes they feel the same positivity towards birth and their bodies. Also personally, I have always struggled with body image/acceptance. I have been fat, skinny and fat again and that shit really messes with your relationship with yourself and your body. @januaryharshe message of self love and self care really resonated with me today, and has over my years of following her. And I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you January for helping me understand mothers perspectives better, for making me a better midwife and mostly for helping me feel at peace with myself. . . . . #birthwithoutfear #birthwithoutfearconference #birthmatters #choicematters #selflove #selfcare #midwifelife #bodypositive #mgp #blissbirth

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Birth Without Fear Conference in Sydney, NSW, Australia – May 26, 2018

Birth Without Fear Conference in Sydney, NSW, Australia – May 26, 2018

find your village, birth without fear, january harsheGet ready to join January Harshe for the first ever Birth Without Fear Conference in Australia! We will be celebrating the eight year anniversary of Birth Without Fear, in Sydney, and we want you to come help us celebrate!

Register for the Birth Without Fear Conference in Sydney, NSW, Australia here!

This will be an intimate day of inspiration, support, and validation the likes of which January Harshe and Birth Without Fear have become known for. When the event is over, you will leave with a sense of empowerment that you can do anything you put your mind to!

Registration will open at 9am AEST and this is where you will receive a Goodie Bag with some of January’s favorite items! We will have coffee, tea, and definitely need unicorn cake and goodies to celebrate!

Register for the Birth Without Fear Conference in Sydney, NSW, Australia here!

The Birth Without Fear Conference will then begin at 10am AEST (10:15am Global Standard Momma Time) with January Harshe offering her signature brand of inspiration on the topics of pregnancy, birth, postpartum, self care, self love, and body positivity throughout the entire day.

Further details on the Birth Without Fear Conference, including the schedule, guest speaker(s), and a VIP ticket option will be announced soon, so make sure to follow January and Birth Without Fear on social media for those updates!

Register for the Birth Without Fear Conference in Sydney, NSW, Australia here!


General Admission $99.00 USD

VIP Add On: Coming Soon

*Lap children are more than welcome to this event. 

**Pictures may be taken, but video recording will not be allowed.

***Schedule and venue are subject to change.

****All ticket sales are final. No refunds. Transfers allowed up to 30 days prior to the event.

find your village, birth without fear, january harshe

Arlo’s Birth Story

Arlo’s Birth Story

I was 38 weeks and 1 day, and it was it was 2:30am on the morning of my husband Jeremy’s birthday. I was trying to sleep when my cat, Sparky, crept up to me and purred as I patted her and she snuggled into my tummy. I adjusted my hips slightly and suddenly felt a ‘pop’ inside me. I jumped out of bed and, sure enough, felt the liquid that meant my waters had broken.

I stood at the end of the bed, and roused Jeremy. “Sorry, but I think we’ll be having this baby on your birthday,” I said. We had both agreed that this was the only day we didn’t want the baby to come, so Jeremy could still have one day that was just about him! I guess that was the first lesson – babies come when they are ready and he must have been ready!

Jeremy jumped up and found a pad for me. It was only a small amount of fluid, but it was enough for us to think that it might be a bit green. It was very pale and we weren’t really sure. We started getting a few things together and rang my mum at 3am to tell her to start heading down. She lives nearly two hours away and was our ‘plan A’ to care for our two year old, Jasper, in a very complicated list of alternative plans which depended on when and how I went into labour.

Things were very calm for us at home. I hadn’t had any contractions, just the occasional crampy feeling, much like a Braxton Hicks, but nothing I had to concentrate on at all. We left it a little while and rang our midwife, Jo, at about 3:45am. We let her know what had happened and that we thought the fluid may have been green, but we really weren’t sure. She asked us to come in to the hospital and meet her at 5am so she could check the fluid, just in case. We rang our neighbour, Mel, who was also part of ‘plan A’, so she could come and be in the house for Jasper, just until my mum arrived.

Before I left, I had some very, very mild tightening that I wouldn’t even classify as contractions – just a crampy feeling again, without much need to focus on them. I got a little teary with some mixed emotions when we left Jasper at home – his life was about to change in ways he couldn’t imagine and I felt sad for him knowing he would have to adjust to not being the baby of the family any longer, but also excited that he would have a little brother to share his adventures with.

We arrived at the hospital at 5am and walked into the examination room. Jo met us and asked me to lie down on the bed for 20 minutes so she could check if the fluid really was green. As soon as I lay down, the contractions began. They were immediately intense and extremely uncomfortable. I wasn’t able to move around and I really struggled to deal with the intensity of them just lying still.

After 20 minutes Jo checked and confirmed that the waters were green, which indicated they contained meconium, which can mean that the baby may be distressed. She also confirmed that I was 5cm dilated and would be having this baby soon.

I remember finally being able to roll onto my hands and knees and crying into the bed that I wasn’t ready. He was two weeks early and I just didn’t feel ready to deal with what lay ahead in the next hours, and the next months. Jeremy and Jo reassured me that I was ready and the next contraction came, which took all of my focus to deal with.

We agreed to head to a birth suite, but sadly, not the one with the new birth tub. I was meant to be one of the very first women to have a water birth in that hospital’s new purpose made baths, but because of the meconium, I wouldn’t be allowed to get into the water.

I was now having very strong and painful contractions which felt like they were very close together. No-one was timing them, but I could only take a few steps before another one would stop me in my tracks. I required extra monitoring, again because of the meconium, so on arrival at the birth suite I was fitted with a mobile monitor, so thankfully I could still move around. It was a little annoying though, because it wouldn’t stay in the right place, so Jo would have to readjust to make sure it was just the monitor and not a problem with the baby’s heart rate.

I was kneeling over the bed and really struggling with the pain. Jeremy was pressing a heat pack into my lower back, which helped a little, but any breathing I was doing wasn’t helping me at all. I felt like I was trying to escape from the pain in my body rather than breathing through the waves like I did in my first labour.

As per our ‘birth preferences,’ the midwives suggested sterile water injections. This worked almost instantly with my first labour and was well worth the intense stinging as the water was injected. Unfortunately, this time it didn’t work at all. On reflection, the pain was very intense and all-encompassing, whereas in my first labour it was very specifically in my back.

We moved into the shower so I could have the hot water run on my back. This offered some relief, but I really wasn’t dealing well with the pain. I think maybe we had been in the hospital just over an hour. I spent some time trying to find a position that I could manage the pain in, but still felt like I was trying to get out of my body and away from the pain.

It was some time when I was in the shower that the baby’s heart rate dropped into the 90’s and stayed low for a while. There was some concern from Jo, but there were no suggestions to make any urgent changes. My waters seemed to break a second time around now – and not just a trickle like I had at home, either!

My body started feeling like I needed to push. Jo checked me and I was at about 8cm with a small lip of cervix. I tried as hard as I could not to push – such a challenge! My body was doing what it wanted to and I had to try with every ounce of my being to go against it. Jo managed to push back my cervix and I was able to work with my body and begin to push my baby out on the birth stool. His head very slowly emerged after only a few pushes. When the next contraction came, I pushed again, with all I had. But, my baby didn’t move. His shoulders were stuck.

The emergency buzzer was pressed and, within seconds, the room was full of people – more midwives, a paediatrician or two, and an obstetrician. It was quite amazing the speed at which they were able to get to me. All this time, I understood that he was stuck and I was watching Jo – her face was one of serious concentration, but certainly not panic, which I am grateful for.

Two midwives moved my legs up and back, into what’s called ‘The McRoberts manoeuvre’, while Jo manipulated the baby slightly, and I pushed with everything I had. Thankfully, this was enough, and out he came, with the cord around his neck. He was placed onto my chest, but I was told not to stroke or rub him (in case he startled and breathed in the meconium which may have been in his mouth). He was very floppy and not breathing or moving. Jo quickly cut the cord, and my baby was taken over to the table. The paediatrician intubated to remove any meconium from his throat, and placed the oxygen mask over his face. Jeremy and I were watching this happen and it felt like hours, but in reality was probably less than a minute. Suddenly Jeremy yelled out “He’s opened his eyes!” and we were both filled with relief as he started to cry. It was just before 7am.

Meanwhile, I had a minor haemorrhage and was given sintocinon to speed up the delivery of the placenta, which was slightly ragged. The bleeding abated and I was able to lie on the bed and my baby was given back to me for a skin to skin time. He was 9lb, 12oz!

I was shaking and felt quite shocked at how fast everything occurred and it probably took a good hour or two before those feelings began to subside and I was able to focus properly on our new son. He had been delivered less than two hours after arriving at hospital and having my first real contraction. What a birthday present for Jeremy! (And quite a surprise for his parents who rang a little later to wish him a happy birthday!)


We stayed in hospital to be monitored, but all was well, so we were able to go home the next day to begin life as a family of four. Three days later, our two year old son Jasper made the decision for us to name him Arlo Thomas.


Although pretty much nothing went according to my birth preferences, I always felt informed, supported and cared for by Jo and the rest of the team who helped to ensure he arrived healthy. I feel so lucky to have had such amazing care, especially in the public hospital system in Australia.

shannonFinal Photo by Shannon Langbecker

A Fast {Unexpected} Home Birth

A Fast {Unexpected} Home Birth

My home birth I always wanted…

She’s dropped. Its 3 1/2 weeks till my due date; I’m a little disappointed because I’m pretty tuned in with my body. I wanted her to come full term – a nice 7pounds she would be, the doctor said. I knew she wouldn’t last in there any longer than a week, this pregnancy was exactly the same as my first, except this little miss felt lower!

I rang my family, told them if they wanted to be here when she was born, it would be best to come ASAP.

My sisters were there the next day, my eldest (Trudie) flew from another state. I researched home birthing and self-examinations, I had a feeling I was going to need it. We spent our days plotting around my island and my home. We even went to the mainland to do shopping (bit of a mission sometimes).

My Braxton Hicks were progressing into my back; they weren’t painful, just very uncomfortable.

It’s just before 8pm, two days before Trudie is flying home. Bless her heart; she has a way of making things happen! I’m on the toilet for the 100th time that day, she tells me, “You better have this baby before I go home miss. I flew all the way up here”.  Her magic words! “I know, I’m telling you she’s going to come before you go!”, I replied.

I exit the toilet and make my way to the couch (3 meters max), briefly converse with my younger sister. I’m feeling light headed, so I put my foot on the couch and proceed to sit down on my folded leg.


Well I thought I heard pop, I definitely felt it. I look at my sister in shock,

“Did you hear that??”

“Hear what??” she said.

That’s when I feel the flow… I quickly get off my recliner to stand on the white tiles, drop my pants and there it is – dark green fluid.

My eldest sister stops washing dishes, I remember her saying, “I’ll call the ambulance”, as I went to sit on the toilet.

As soon as my waters broke, my contractions were STRONG, HARD AND FAST.

We rang the ambulance at 8:05pm. I was told to make my way to the bed as I couldn’t sit on the toilet anymore, so I waited for my contraction to ease before moving. It never did. I got off very slowly, and then I got relief. I quickly waddled to my bed, and laid down on my side, tried to rest and breathe deeply.

Trudie came in still on the phone to 000, informs me she needs to do an examination. I’m in labour, but that’s still weird!!!

I say no, I can do it myself.

I remember reading about dilation and what it would feel like, that part I completely forgot. I felt something round, and hard. “I can feel her head”. Not sure if anyone believed me in that moment, but hold on, this where it all gets very fast!!!

Here comes a big contraction, back onto my side I go. I’m informed the ambulance has arrived. I didn’t really care; I just wanted to slow things down, it all happened so fast I missed it.

I’m not going to move, as contractions are sending my mind into a storm, I can’t think straight.

I’m under my bedroom lights which radiate heat (its Christmas summer in Australia), so the heat is making me vomit. My 3 year old is by my head, but I’m struggling to keep my cool. She ends up in the lounge room engrossed in cartoons with ice cream, where it’s nice n calm. The ambulance officer enters my bedroom; I’m relieved I’ve met the man before. Especially when I’m dropping my pants for another examination, this time the pants stay off but I get a towel to cover my butt which is baring all!!! No time for embarrassment.

He instructs me we have to get downstairs and onto the stretcher. I think he’s crazy. I could barely talk but I managed. “You will have to carry me,” I said. This baby would not stay in there if I’d gone vertical. I knew this. He agreed and went downstairs to set up his stretcher, etc. While he was down there, I was still having contractions on top of each other. Next minute I’m on my back, with a head in view. Kelly, my youngest sister, runs outside and yells down to the ambo, “We can see a head!!!” Hope my neighbours enjoyed that bit, hahahaha!

He changes tactics and grabs the birthing kit, and runs back upstairs, forgot a valuable tool, had to do the trip again. He was getting a great workout! Meanwhile, everything is happening so fast, no one hears my calls for water, or pain relief. So instead, I yell, I had water within seconds and a green stick shoved in my mouth (by the time that took effect, it was too late). A big contraction comes and the need to push. Then the need stops as I’m crowning.

My first birth went a lot differently, I pushed her out in one push; I didn’t know better. This birth was complete opposite, very fast labour and slow birthing process.

Now I am back to crowning, no contraction but I’m still pushing. I just want to push her head out for some relief (once again I didn’t know better).

“Do you need to push???” the ambulance officer asked.

“No” I answered, defeated.

“Then don’t push or you will tear,” he said.

“It’s a bit hard when there’s a head there,” was my reply.

“I know”, was his answer.

Do you really Mr.Ambulance man??

I feel a contraction straight after, one more big push and she was out… RELIEF.

I keep asking if she is OK, and finally my sister says, “Yes, she’s fine, you can hold her.”  I lift my head, open my eyes and take my tiny, 5pound, 8ounces baby girl in my hands. She fits perfectly there. She’s so little. So precious. So perfect. SO MUCH LOVE.

I put her against my breast, but she didn’t want to feed yet, she wanted to look at me.

Hello Rubii-Rayne. She can’t see me, but she knows I’m there, she can feel our bodies still touching. She can hear my voice saying how much I love her and I’m so glad that she is here. She was born around 8:30pm but we’re not exactly sure on the minute. My placenta came an hour and half later.

Unfortunately we ended up in hospital that night as safety protocol. I’m one of those people who won’t complain, but I was cold, hungry, in pain and very alone with a new baby. I was so emotional and needed a hug so bad.

She had some jaundice that left her in a few weeks due to me constantly feeding her and flushing her system out.

I’ve breastfed for 6 months now and I’m so proud. I don’t know about everyone else, but it was hard those first 4 months. Now it’s the best part of my day! I love birthing and being a mum 🙂

She was born December 18, 2012. My name is Rebekka-Rae Gooley and I birthed without fear. Except I feared I would need a new bed after it all.





A Natural Hospital Waterbirth {Delayed Cord Clamping, With Pictures}

A Natural Hospital Waterbirth {Delayed Cord Clamping, With Pictures}

[Thank you Jessica Douglas-Monks for sharing your story and beautiful pictures with us!]

I had been having pre-labour pains and contractions since 37 weeks, so by the time Arya’s due date rolled around, I was well and truly ready to have her.



On the Monday morning I was having some sharp pelvic pain and some semi-consistent contractions so I went in and saw my midwife Leila so she could check me out. As soon as she had a feel for Arya’s head, she told me that her head wasn’t even engaged despite the fact that it had been the week before, so the pain I was feeling was Arya trying to get her head back in position! I nearly cried!! I was soooo over being pregnant and running around after my sick, 15 month old, I just wanted to have my baby!!

So I went home and told my husband (who had stayed home that day, as he works an hour away and we thought something might be happening) that I was going to try castor oil.

We went and bought some castor oil and I took it at 3pm. I had no action until 7pm, when I had to go to the bathroom once and that was it, so we sat and watched tv for a while and by 9pm I started to have some consistent, strong contractions!

I live 2 minutes from the hospital, and I was always wary of going in too early, and wanted to labour at home for as long as possible anyway, so I went and took a shower then went to bed, because I wanted to make absolutely sure I was in labour (as I’d had so many false alarms!).

By midnight I was about 98% sure I was genuinely in labour, so we called my midwife and let her know (she lived 45 minutes away) and I also called my mum to come and stay with our daughter, Evie.

Mum arrived not long after I called her and by 1.15am my contractions were only a few minutes apart and getting stronger, I was happy to stay home but mum was anxious for me to go so we left for hospital!!

Leila arrived at about 2am and things were still very calm, I was just breathing through my contractions using the hypnobirthing breathing techniques, so the room was pretty quiet! Leila ran the bath but asked if she could check me, given that I was still doing pretty well and Arya’s head had not been engaged earlier in the day (she didn’t want me to get into the water too early).

When she checked me, I was surprised to find I was only 4cms, given that I was 2-3cms a week before and my contractions were feeling quite strong!

When she was checking me, Leila gave me a quick sweep and said she would leave us for a while before I hopped in the bath. I was happy with that because I still felt like I was probably a while off having Arya. Well, within a short period of time (not sure exactly how long) I said to my husband that we needed to get into the bath because things amped up very quickly!!

I was still able to breathe through my contractions , but they were beginning to really hurt, and Leila could tell things were getting a move on rather quickly.

At this stage it was about 3am, and Leila told Dave he should probably call our photographer because it seemed like Arya was not too far away. Kellie, our lovely friend and photographer arrived within about 20 minutes and not long after that, I had a great big, involuntary push!


I told Dave and he called out for Leila, saying I wanted to push, to which I apparently replied “No, my body wants to push, I don’t!!”

After that, things happened very quickly, I had a 9 minute second stage!! I had maybe one or two more involuntary pushes and Leila got the mirror underneath me and said she could see Arya’s head, and that she had hair! (I was happy!)



I could no longer really breathe through the contractions, I was quite uncomfortable by this stage and was waiting for the ‘ring of fire’ but it never came! I asked Leila if I could push and she said if I felt another contraction, I could breathe her down gently, so I immediately started because it felt like I was having continuous contractions by that stage and she came out almost all in one go, straight after my waters – no one was quite ready for her! My husband was supposed to catch her but it happened so quickly that I caught her myself!





After I had caught her, we waited for me to birth the placenta naturally, which happened very easily after about 15 minutes, and then we just waited for the cord to go white and floppy so my husband could cut it. My midwife also believed in delayed cord clamping so she put the placenta in a dish and sat it on the edge of the bath, above Arya and I so that it had the best effect possible. One of the coolest things was when the cord was looking quite empty and Leila told me to just feel it to see if it was still pulsing, and it was! Such a cool thing to feel while it was still connected to Arya.





It was important to me that we waited until the cord had stopped pulsing and was clearly empty of cord blood because I had done quite a bit of research this time around on delayed cord clamping and decided that it was something I really wanted to do. 





I was very happy to have got through the whole labour and birth without any drugs or interventions and it has given me a lot of confidence going into any future births which I hope are all water births with physiological third stage and delayed cord clamping.

All in all I feel very lucky to have had the birth that I did, not only did it give me a beautiful, healthy little girl but it went exactly how I wished it would and I felt absolutely amazing afterwards.


Arya Ruby came into the world at 3.59am on Tuesday, September 4th 2012, which was her estimated due date!


More photos here: Kellie Crosier Photography

Birth Photostory | Rebecca Colefax Photography

Birth Photostory | Rebecca Colefax Photography

“This beautiful family of 5 just became a family of 6! Labour was very fast and extremely powerful – but mummy was strong, empowered and courageous. A wonderful inspiration to her daughter who was present throughout and was the best little birthing assistant I’ve ever seen.

This birth was an amazing experience for me as a photographer for this was the first time I’ve attended a birth in Australia where not a word of English was spoken the entire time, yet I still understood everything. Just goes to show no matter where you come from or what language you speak – in birth we all speak the same language – LOVE!

The placenta image might be too much for Facebook… but I just love it so had to send. The blue tint is the refection from the blue birthing pool.” Rebecca Colefax Photography


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The midwife is the wonderful Anne from Precious Life Midwifery Service in Noosaville, Queensland.

“Welcome Earthside, Baby” {an Australian homebirth}

“Welcome Earthside, Baby” {an Australian homebirth}

I spent my last week at work, my 37th week of pregnancy, revelling in the gentle tightening of my belly from Braxton Hicks and although I was so ready to meet you, I was hopeful that I would have a week of maternity leave to finish preparing our home before you arrived.

Of course, it turned out to be many more weeks before you made your way into my waiting arms. I went on a nesting spree; scrubbing the walls and very steep stairs to the loft and then washing and sorting your tiny clothes. On the last days with you in my belly, I drank raspberry leaf tea in the room where you were to be born and watched a pair of Sri Lankan turtle doves build a nest in our backyard. I wondered if they chose our backyard because I was also building a nest and whether I would see their babies before I saw you.

As the end of my 41st week of pregnancy approached I was tired, swollen and frustrated. After weeks of signs that labour was imminent, I still woke up each morning without you in my arms. I saw our osteopath for a massage and our midwife G reminded me that you would come to meet us when you were ready to. It turned out to be her last visit before you were born.

On a Friday night, your Dad cooked a delicious prawn and banana flower salad for dinner. We relaxed together and climbed into bed just before midnight. I was giggly and full of energy for the first time in days and your poor dad was exhausted and tried in vain to go to sleep as I chatted excitedly to him. I eventually wound down and started to fall asleep but felt a huge surge of energy and pressure that woke me up completely. Confused, I got out of bed for a few minutes and wondered if the chilli-laden dinner was giving me the worst reflux of my life. The feeling passed so I returned to bed and it happened again; I checked the time, 12:15am.

Then again, now 12:23am.

Ah! This is it. Unmistakable. Labour! Finally!

Your dad stirred. I told him you were on your way and to keep sleeping, that I’d wake him when I needed him. I knew it was early and that I needed to sleep and conserve my energy. I fell asleep with my hand on my belly, feeling your little body curled up inside mine. I woke every 8 minutes throughout the night, breathing deeply and sometimes needing to get up and rock on my hands and knees.

I got out of bed as the sun rose, and dozed on the couch in between surges. When I couldn’t sleep any more, I talked to you about what lay ahead. Your dad woke, we had some breakfast, I had a long shower and your dad ducked out to pick up some last minute things. I did a final load of washing which took me an hour to hang out, having to stop every few minutes to breathe and rock my hips.

I sent a text to G at 11:31am to let her know what was happening and that we would need her in the coming hours. Her reply, ‘lovely, stay in touch. Talk soon x’ made me smile and filled me with confidence – everything was so normal.

An hour later a message came out of the blue from a friend, ‘thinking of you xxx’. I nervously replied and she sent her love and perfect words of support – ‘you gorgeous thing – do what you know you can.’ I had a massive adrenalin rush; I’ve declared it, this really is happening! The waiting is over and I’m going to meet my baby.

By this point, surges were about 6 minutes apart and had been happening regularly for just over 12 hours. I say surges and not contractions because that’s exactly what they were – surges of warmth and energy that took me deeper into myself. Each one expanded my mind, my heart and my body. They left me feeling hazy and blissful as they ended. Like afterglow.

The sun soon started to set and your dad got busy cooking batches of vegie lasagne; some for dinner and some to share with our midwives after your birth. I sat on a fit ball and listened to Antony and The Johnsons, circling my hips and singing to you, focused inwards.

Yearning for more than a blue day
I enter your new life for me
Burning for the true day
I welcome your new life for me
Forgive me, Let live me
Set my spirit free
Losing, it comes in a cold wave
Of guilt and shame all over me
Child has arrived in the darkness
The hollow triumph of a tree
Forgive me, Let live me
Kiss my falling knee
Forgive me, Let live me
Bless my destiny
Forgive me, Let live me
Set my spirit free
Weakness sown, Overgrown
Man is the baby

Your dad and I shared our last meal as just the two of us and tried to watch a movie together. I needed rest but had to get up and move each time my belly tightened and released. We set up a pillow mountain for me to drape myself over and rest in between surges, getting up to rock on my hands and knees when they coursed through me. It approached midnight and I sent your dad to bed. I smiled in the quiet darkness, loving feeling us work together. I rested my hands on my belly and thanked you for teaching me to love and appreciate my body. I told you I would miss feeling you move in my belly and you kicked my hands.

Surges became stronger and closer together after that moment.

I realised I had started vocalising through them and was keeping my head down and eyes closed, trance-like. Too excited to be away, your dad returned to me after only a couple of hours of sleep and held heat packs on my back. It was his birthday now! I wished him Happy Birthday and we laughed that you better be born today because I hadn’t organised a gift for him.


Exhaustion started to set in and I decided I needed some extra support. I asked your dad to call G who came straight away, arriving just after 3am. She sat with me through a few surges, massaging my back and watching me. She gently encouraged me to make low sounds and reminded me to relax my shoulders and relax my jaw. Her presence gave me the reassurance and fresh energy I so needed. She told me we were doing wonderfully and sent us to bed. I managed to sleep in between 5 minute surges for a few hours and woke after another sunrise (I never expected that I’d labour through more than one) feeling well rested.

I had a long shower, savouring the hot water and how it lessened the intensity of the surges. When I came out, G told me she could tell from my voice that we were making good progress. I asked if we could get the pool ready and she suggested holding out for a bit longer. I kept moving – walking the hallway, rocking on the fit ball, climbing the stairs. When my belly tightened and released, I closed my eyes, breathed and moaned. The surges were longer and closer together, and their centre much deeper in my pelvis than before. Your body had noticeably descended.

G asked if she could listen to your heart. During her last visit, G accidentally dropped and broke her doppler so was now using one she had borrowed from another midwife. She gently put the doppler on my belly and I waited to hear your heartbeat. No sound. I could feel myself start to panic as G adjusted some buttons and tapped on the doppler to check it was working. She tried again to find your little heartbeat again but still no sound. Hot tears started to fill my eyes and your Dad squeezed my hand. G pressed some more buttons and tried again. Oh, there you are! Your strong little heart beating in perfect rhythm, like racehorses galloping under the sea. I asked if you were okay and G smiled and replied, ‘of course, darling! You knew that.’ She was right – I did. I asked if I could get in the pool now, and she agreed that sounded that like a great idea. Your dad went to fill it up and I stayed in our bedroom with G, working through surges with her at my side reminding me to breathe deep. Relax my shoulders, relax my jaw.

Just as I started feeling a bit sorry for myself and thinking I’d love a little break from all of this work, your dad came to tell me the pool was ready. I waddled into the lounge room, undressed and submerged myself in the warm water. Your Dad fed me watermelon. I floated on my back, finally weightless and able to rest my swollen, aching body. Each time a surge started to wash over me, I flipped over to my hands and knees and your Dad and G took turns pouring water over my back. After each one, I rested my head on the edge of the pool and slept until the next one woke me. I remember thinking this was blissful and easy, saying ‘I could do this for days,’ out loud. Your weary Dad didn’t look impressed and asked G if she thought we’d see our baby today. She smiled and said, ‘wouldn’t that be nice!’


I spent hours in the pool and eventually needed to get out to go to the bathroom. Giggling at my prune-like waterlogged fingers was cut short when the intensity of a surge doubled me over and left me breathless. I’d been feeling like a serene birthing goddess in the pool and now that I was out on land, I could feel my shoulders and thighs tense as I felt a surge beginning, bracing myself for the pain.

Pain. For the first time I felt pain rather than energy, pressure and intensity.

Although I was desperate to get back in the pool, G encouraged me to take the opportunity to move and create some more space in my pelvis. I climbed stairs and did sideways lunges with one foot up on the stairs. I was scared of the pain and tensed up, trying to escape it. My legs shook and I whimpered and complained like a petulant child. G spoke to me about how this hard work was helping to make room for you to move down and to not be afraid. She massaged my thighs, wobbled my hips (she called it ‘shaking apples’) and soothed me with reassuring words. I found my groove again and started to enjoy doing those lunges. I felt stronger and more powerful than I ever thought I could be and loved feeling my body being so productive. The more I relaxed into it, the more the pain dissipated.

When my legs started to falter under my weight, I climbed back into the pool and promptly vomited over the side and across the room. Surges were much more intense than before all of those lunges and despite the weightlessness I struggled to get comfortable.



It must have been close to 4:00pm when G said she was going to call the second midwife, M, to come and help. Shortly after there was a knock at the door and as your Dad answered, I moaned loudly through a long, powerful surge. Your Dad returned alone and I asked where M was. Your Dad told us it was a raffle ticket salesman who looked confused and distressed by the sounds coming from inside the house and quickly apologised and left. In my oxytocin haze, I laughed and wondered what he thought was happening.

M arrived shortly after – I felt her presence in the room and looked up to see her wide-eyed and smiling at me while I worked through a formidable surge.


I climbed out of the pool again, exhausted and uncomfortable. The pressure on my cervix was immense and it was incredibly difficult to walk. Your Dad and I spent some time alone in our room, working through surges together. He was such an incredible support – reassuring me, holding me and also understanding my need for space at the right moments. I was frustrated that you weren’t here yet and felt stuck – like I’d been in the same place for hours and that we weren’t getting any closer to meeting you. I started to wonder whether I could labour for much longer and told your Dad I was going to ask G to check my cervix.

Your Dad was so smart and wonderful. He knew that I didn’t want any exams and that G rarely did them. He asked me why I felt I needed it and how I would feel if the exam told us something I didn’t want to hear. After day and a half of labour, very little sleep and me voicing my fear that I was stuck and ready for this to be over, your Dad was still so patient and wise, trusting my body and trusting you.

G came in the room and I asked her if she would do an examination. She said she could, but that I was progressing wonderfully and that you would be born regardless of an exam. She asked me the same questions as your Dad. I was so grateful for my support people – they understood and respected my wishes and had such faith in you and I. I considered it for a few minutes and insisted that yes, I did want G to check.

She was so gentle but having to lie on my back, even just for a few minutes, was unbearable. Your Dad lay beside me and held my hand while I tried in vain to relax. G told me that my cervix was fully dilated on one side and about 7cm on the other side – you hadn’t fully rotated your little body just yet. She told me that if I wanted to help you rotate and descend the most useful thing to do would be to lie on my left side with my right leg slung across my body and to stay there for about 40 minutes. She warned me that it would be difficult. It seemed impossible.

I tried to get comfortable, your Dad spooning me and G sitting at my feet. A surge began and as it peaked, I screamed. It felt so counterintuitive – having to lie still when I desperately needed to get up and move. The next surge I shouted that I couldn’t do it. Your Dad held me tight and G massaged my feet and ankles and it was soon over. After a few more, I finally found a rhythm and was able to get through each surge. We all slept in between each one. It felt like only 15 minutes later when I was sure I was about to wet myself. I asked for help to get up and was shocked when G told me an hour had passed. The downwards pressure in my pelvis was unbelievable and I waddled as quickly as I could to the bathroom, hoping to avoid any surges while I was there. As soon as I sat down, I feel sick and yelled out for your Dad. Before he could get to me, I vomited across the floor and heard an audible pop. Your protective bag of water had finally released. I shouted out to G and M, ‘uhh…I think my waters broke.’ G shouted back from the lounge room, ‘I know! We heard it!’ It was 6:47pm on Sunday.

I tried to bounce on the fit ball but felt unsteady and wrong. I vomited again. Surges were coming over the top of each other and I could barely catch my breath between them. I wanted to get back in the pool but the water was now cold. M set about re-heating it and I returned to the bedroom. I was exhausted and started to panic. I cried and told your Dad I couldn’t do this. I was just a little girl. Not ready to grow up. Not strong enough for this. Not ready for a baby. Not ready to move forward. I told them you were never coming and that I wanted a caesarean. G told me that when I said that, she knew I was very close to meeting my baby. The logical part of my brain understood that this meant I was transitioning, but I still didn’t believe her. I growled again that I wanted a caesarean. Your Dad told me I was doing beautifully. G told me to surrender. To trust my body and go with it. That you were close. That birth is like making love.

Just surrender. Let go.

I whimpered and insisted again that you were never coming. I asked again for a caesarean. Your Dad told me I was doing it and that the pool was almost ready for me.

And then I focused and decided it was time to move forward. Time to claim this birth and time to be independent. Time to grow up. Time to be a woman.

I called out to you, ‘come on baby!!’

Almost immediately, I felt a huge rush of energy, as though I’d just woken up from a long sleep. Your head dropped through my cervix and started to descend.

‘Oh wow the baby’s coming! I can feel it moving down.’

I dropped down on my hands and knees, my hips low to the floor. I roared. Roared like a lioness. I had imagined a gentle, quiet birth, breathing my baby out but instead was primal and animal and LOUD. Instinct took over and my body involuntarily pushed with each surge. After existing in a hormone fog for days, I was now completely lucid. I could feel your every move and was captivated by how powerful we were. Awesome doesn’t come close to describing how I felt. This was our beginning.

Our awakening.

I touched the top of your head, almost ready to be born. I heard M’s voice saying the pool was ready. I got up onto my feet, power walked to the lounge room and climbed into the pool – faster than I had moved in months. I kneeled and leaned over the side of the pool, reaching down to stroke your head, about to emerge. I felt the next surge build, squeezed your Dad’s hands and roared. I heard G remind me to breathe, to slow down. Another surge started and as it peaked, I thought my pelvis would split in half but then immediately came sweet relief. G told me your head was born, that your shoulders were rotating and with the next one, your body would be born.

I breathed, waiting for the next rush. One final roar and I felt your slippery little body wriggle through mine. I turned over to see you under the water.

You were white, with your eyes closed and arms outstretched with long fingers extended.

Time stood still for a moment as I realised the enormity of what had just happened.


I scooped you out of the water and brought you up to my chest. Your Dad wrapped his arms around me and I heard him crying as he gazed at you. I said hello to you and told you we had been waiting so long for you. You opened your eyes and looked up at me but hadn’t yet taken a breath. I kept saying hello as I rubbed your little chest and tickled your tiny feet, calling you in. I blew gently on your face and you woke up. You took your first breath and let out a big cry.

Hello baby!


I asked if it was still your Dad’s birthday – it was! 8:55pm on Sunday the 20th of November, 2011.

I kissed your Dad and told him I wanted to do it again.

We marvelled at your beautiful dark hair and long toes. We giggled that your umbilical cord was wrapped around your little ankle. Realising we didn’t know your sex, I unlooped your cord and moved it aside.

A little boy! Wow! Our baby boy.

Welcome Earthside, baby.

We started to get cool in the water so climbed out and sat on the couch. You looked for my breast and attached easily. I immediately fell in love with breastfeeding you. We drank tea and ate the vegie lasagne your Dad made while I laboured with you.


You were born with your right fist tucked under your chin and your head deflexed. It was the same hand you were holding up in the only ultrasound we had, and the same hand that you insisted on having free from your swaddling in your first few months of life.

After about an hour, I felt your placenta separate. It felt heavy and disconcerting inside me but I was too interested in you to make any effort to birth it. G helped me wiggle forward on the couch and with one push, it was out. G and M checked it over and showed us the different parts, explaining how it nourished you for the 42 weeks you spent in my belly. It had an extra node and G asked if she could take some photos to show her students. We buried it under a bay tree on my first Mother’s Day.


Our midwives tidied up and prepared our bed. I wanted to shower and get into bed and asked if we could cut your umbilical cord. G made sure we didn’t want to have a lotus birth then explained to you that she was going to clamp your cord and then your Dad would cut it. She reassured you that it wouldn’t hurt. I will always remember her explaining what she was going to do before she touched you. I will always be grateful that the only person to touch you in the first hours after your birth apart from your Dad and I showed you respect, reverence and love. G was a true ‘with woman’ midwife and such a blessing to us.

I showered while you and your Dad cuddled, skin-to-skin. We climbed in to our bed together and our midwives tucked us in, leaving just after midnight.

Your Dad and I smiled at each other, kissed you goodnight and fell asleep.


Your birth changed me forever; it made me a Mama. It also forced me to see and accept my strength and my vulnerability. I worked hard to birth you. It was blissful, rewarding work. More rewarding than I ever could have imagined.

And yet, while life changing and transcendental and blissful, your birth was also perfectly ordinary, normal and uneventful. You were in my arms and it was like you had always been here. Sometimes I find it hard to remember what life was like before you were born.

A year on, you have spoken your first word in the same bed where you first slept and you have taken your first steps on the same floorboards I kneeled on when you were born. We will leave this memory-filled home one day, probably before you will be old enough to remember living in it. You have filled my life with joy and laughter and you have taught me so much about love, life and myself. Thank you for being so generous and thank you for being here.

[Us sitting on the spot where you were born on the day we moved out of that home]



A Natural Hospital HypnoBirth in Western Australia

A Natural Hospital HypnoBirth in Western Australia

I was 40+4, ready and waiting for my baby to be born. I had lost my mucus plug at 40+2 and kept it in the fridge in a container because I was so excited. It had been a very hot week with temperatures in the high 30’s and low 40’s and I was feeling it! I had not had a good night’s sleep for a couple of weeks as my hip was achy from lying on my left side all the time. I had tried all of the old wives tales to bring on my labour and had been to an acupuncture session a couple of days ago to prepare my cervix. At my last birth centre appointment the midwife had offered ‘membrane sweeping’ and broached the topic of medical induction which I desperately wanted to avoid. She had also told me that my baby was posterior, so despite my best efforts to stay relaxed and positive, some doubt was creeping in.

Even though it was a Saturday, hubby (‘L’) was busy working and I did not want to be alone all day, so I went to my parent’s place. They later told me that they had planned the day for me to try and get my labour started! We had a nice coffee and muffin at the Book Cafe in the morning, then went to Swanbourne beach. It was a stinking hot day, around 41 degrees and I had barely slept the night before and here we were, trekking along the beach! We walked for quite a while then had a lovely refreshing swim. I was very drawn to water and the ocean all through my pregnancy. We stayed at the beach for a few hours then headed back to my parent’s place to relax.

When I got home, I could not stop thinking about what the midwife had said about my baby being posterior so I rang my doula (‘H’) for reassurance. Her relaxing voice and words put my mind at ease. H said gently “your baby is not posterior! You will go into labour soon; my babies always come on the weekend!”. She told me to look up the Spinning Babies website and to map my belly, which I did. The belly mapping confirmed what I knew instinctively – my baby was in the perfect position! My confidence grew.

Exhausted but much happier, I flopped into bed just before 10pm. L was asleep immediately. Five minutes after getting into bed, I felt a strange internal popping sensation around my cervix. I thought “that could not have been my waters breaking, could it??” I went to the toilet to check and could not feel anything. I had a wee and after I had finished, the fluid kept coming! When I went to wipe myself I noticed it was clear and thick and gooey and draining very slowly. I realised that it was my waters and that this meant that labour would not be too far off! I would get to meet my baby soon. Excited but calm, I put a pad on, sent H a text to let her know and then went back to bed. She told me to Iet her know as soon as I wanted her to come over. I said that I would be fine for now. I did not wake L yet as I thought it may be a long night ahead! I started listening to my rainbow relaxation though my headphones and tried to rest.

An hour and a half later at 11.30pm, I had my first surge. I had been having painless practice surges regularly but randomly for the past three weeks so it wasn’t an unusual sensation, just slightly stronger tightening and more rhythmic and wave-like somehow. I did my surge breathing and it felt really good, like it finally made sense! Five minutes later, another surge and then another. I was surging every 5 minutes for 45 seconds. I was so excited! I took some time to put on my special labour nighty, set up the lounge room with the oil burner, some candles and the fit ball. I put on my yoga CD and gave my belly a rub with clary sage oil. I lay on the couch and breathed through the surges, going deeper and deeper. By 1am the surges were stronger, still 5 mins apart for 60 seconds. Time was going fast and I was feeling really good. At 2am, I rang H and woke up L for some company. H arrived at 2.30am and led me through an amazing relaxation script which really deepened the surges and got things going. I was really relaxed and completely lost track of time. H suggested using the fit ball and also the all-fours position so that I was more upright and L did the light touch massage and applied the hot pack to my lower back. The only time I felt uneasy at home was when I stopped feeling my baby move for a while. H told me to lie down and drink some cold water and soon she was moving again!

I had no idea but H tells me that my surges were 2 mins apart and 90 secs long at about 5am. It was at this time that I stopped talking between surges and was making some noises during the surges. H thought I was probably about 6cm and said that we should start getting ready to go to hospital soon. I stayed put on all fours, focusing on my surges while hubby rang the birth centre and got things organised. Before I knew it, H and L had me in my dressing gown and ugg boots and helped me climb the step ladder into the back of the car. They had put a mattress in the back of the car for me to kneel on and I started the journey on all fours, but it was too bumpy and the surges had become very uncomfortable. I had to lie down, which made the surges very painful. The trip to the hospital was a shock to my system and although very painful, my surges slowed right down. I only had three or four on the 20 minute drive to the hospital! We got to the birth centre just before sunrise (about 6.30am) and were greeted by the midwife. I stopped for a strong surge at the reception desk and then she showed us to our room. She asked if she could check my dilation and I agreed but I told her not to tell me if it was less than 5cm, (they recommend that you do not get in the birthing pool if you are under 6cm as it can slow your labour down). I lay on the bed and she checked my cervix. She started to say very gently “your cervix is very thin and your body has done a lot of work” and I knew straight away that I was not very dilated! I said “tell me how many centimetres”. She said “under five”, and I said “I don’t care, I just want to know”. So she told me I was two centimetres but that my cervix was paper thin.

I tried not to be discouraged and H reinforced that my cervix was paper thin and that I would not have long to go. However, after labouring all night and thinking I was more than 2cm; I have to say that I lost my groove for a while. I did not realise this but at this point (probably 7.00am) H had to spend a while convincing the midwife that I should be allowed to stay at the birth centre as they really wanted to send me home. H encouraged me to squat deeply while holding onto the end of the bed through the surges, which were now not regular at all and were very painful.

After a while, I think we were all exhausted and started to think that perhaps this labour would take a lot longer than expected. H said I should lie down and try to get some rest. She went to lie down herself and it was at this point that I started to feel a bit out of control. Lying down was WAY too uncomfortable, my head was in the wrong space and things had slowed down to one surge every 15 mins. I was pacing the room and saying to L “I just don’t know what to do next!” A lady came in with my breakfast and L made me try and eat something. I grabbed a boiled egg and nearly threw up trying to force it down. Needless to say, he ate the rest of my breakfast! Then he lay on the bed and fell asleep.

I was alone. This allowed me to search deep within, to look for my strength and resilience again. I stripped off all of my clothes and got in the double headed shower. I knelt down on my knees and turned the hot tap full bore and let the water pound my back and my belly. I began to remember all of my HypnoBirthing training and started to relax, focusing on my surge breathing, visualising the rose bud opening, chanting ‘cervix open, baby down, cervix open, baby down’. I started using my energy to connect with the millions of women who have birthed before me, thinking of my grandmothers for inspiration. Surge by surge, the labour quickly started to build again as I went deeper and deeper. The pressure of the hot water was amazing and I was feeling good again. I vaguely remember the midwife checking on me what seemed like every five minutes but apparently it was every half hour. Each time, I wished she would not talk to me! I had no ability to think of words, the labour was all consuming. At some point, L came into my shower sanctuary to ask me what I wanted to order for lunch and dinner. This was so impossible to conceive that it wasn’t funny and I snapped at him “I don’t care, just order something” thinking that I would never want to eat again!

The surges were coming regularly and very strong now and it was a completely visceral experience. Each surge took every ounce of my focus. The sensation was so intense it was very nearly completely overwhelming but I took each for what it was and never thought of the next one. I praised myself each time the waved peaked and then started to subside.

After a while I felt like I may lose control again when the midwife came to check on me I think I said “can you get my doula?” that’s all I could manage at that point. So H came to help me in the shower. She asked “what can I do for you” and I said “my affirmations” so she put on my HypnoBirthing affirmation CD and took my shoulders and gently swayed me from side to side through the surges. This helped immensely and it was wonderful just having the presence of her in my birthing space.

Soon after, I felt pressure sensation and I managed to mutter to H “pressure, I feel pressure”. I did not trust this feeling as it was similar to what I had felt just before we left for home the birth centre and I was only 2cm dilated when we arrived at the hospital! H asked if she should start running the bath and I nodded. She left to get the bath running and I before I knew what was happening, I instinctively dropped to my knees from the chair I had been sitting on. I could feel something was about to happen. Was my baby coming? Before I could think about it, my body started to push with all its might and I let out the most primal, guttural scream that I had ever heard! It was incredible. H and two midwives came running and hubby woke up with a start. H said to L, “don’t go anywhere, your baby is coming!”

I had no control over my body at all, I fully surrendered and I felt like I was merely watching on, amazed. I could feel my baby moving down as my body pushed through the first surge and it felt good. I felt very mammalian and very powerful – this is how we are supposed to birth – it felt like my right of passage as a woman!

There was a break between surges but I have no idea how long it was. Then the second push came and the scream. I don’t think scream describes the sound properly, I don’t think there is a word to describe this sound! It was an unbelievable sound, so intense, so powerful. It was strange though because the sound was not related to the sensation I felt – the pushing was actually not very painful – but my body had to make the sound anyway.

I forget whether it was two or three pushes but I started to feel that familiar burning sensation of the baby’s head crowning (I had practiced a lot with my Epi-no and regularly pushed out the 10cm balloon). My baby was coming, fast! The midwife said “your baby is crowning” so I reached up to touch her head and I will never forget that feeling! I am reminded of it now every time I wash her hair. At this point, the midwife told me to pant and relax while my baby’s head gently stretched my perineum. With the next surge, my baby’s head was born. We had planned for L to catch her, but it all happened so quickly and as her body was born, I reached down and caught her myself and pulled her up onto my chest! It was an absolutely unbelievable moment. She was so little and perfect, our Lucy Isobel. It was so surreal and wonderful to finally meet our daughter. I pulled her close and did not ever want to let go.

newborn skin to skin bonding

alert newborn natural hypnobirth



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