• Kathryn Bell

Sage's birth

Just in time for her 1st birthday it's a pleasure to share the story of Sage's birth.

It was so great getting to know her parents, Clare and Dan, and an honour to see them bring Sage into the world with such love (and laughter:-)). I'm especially thankful to Dan for sharing his honest perpsective, including his initial reluctance about the idea of a doula. Lots of dad's feel this way, understandably. They always become advocates like Dan :-)

Happy birthday little lady <3

From Clare:

"Leading up to the birth of my first child I was filled with anticipation for the big day. I wasn't nervous but excited to meet this little being growing inside me. I was looking forward to the challenge of birth and wanted to make it as positive as I could.

Early into my pregnancy I decided I wanted a natural, drug free birth with minimal intervention if possible. I know they say to leave the birth plan at the delivery door but I was determined I would get the birth I envisaged!

As part of my preparation I got a doula onboard and practised a lot of meditation, yoga and hypnobirthing visualisations throughout my entire pregnancy (Clare & Dan did the Hypnobirthing Australia™ course with fellow certified practitioner Katie Kempster at Harmonic Hypnobirthing). I was conscious to remain relatively active despite the fact I had a quite bad sciatica which was really uncomfortable.

I got Kath on board relatively early in my pregnancy. We were going through the public system at Royal North Shore which was great but I was aware I may not know the midwife or doctor there for my birth.

At 5am on the day before my estimated due date I woke up with a sharp, cramping sensation down low. I'd been having Braxton Hicks on and off for weeks but this was something else. After about 15 minutes the cramps stopped, I felt a kick and heard a pop. My waters had broken! No contractions started so I tried to relax, made sure my hospital bag was packed, walked the dogs and dropped them off at my parents before letting Kath know we were making our way to the hospital to get checked out at 2pm.

The hopistal wanted to induce me because labour hadn't started and I'd tested positive for Group B Strep. I was desperate to not have this intervention. They left us alone to discuss our options and I just sobbed. I could see my birth plans crumbling around me! We talked to Kath on the phone and after much deliberation we made a compromise with the doctors that we would stay the night in the hospital and wait until the next morning to be induced. I was hopeful that buying some time would allow natural labour to kick in. At 5pm they sent us for a walk to grab some dinner and literally on that stroll to the hospital cafeteria the contractions started quite intensely. By the time we ordered our food I felt quite strong contractions that had me bent over a table telling Dan I think we should go back to the maternity ward. I was in no headspace now to sit down and enjoy my meal!

The contractions were coming quite regularly and were intense. They admitted me into a postnatal ward room where I spent time in a hot shower trying to find relief. Dan called Kath at 8.30pm when we were taken to the delivery room. It was now taking all my energy just to breathe and my awareness of my surroundings was lessening.

I hadn't been checked by a midwife yet but I felt I was in full blown labour. Kath arrived at 9.30pm and provided a lot of encouraging words and kept the wet towel over me as I felt like my body was burning up.

The nurse offered to do an internal check but we said we would would wait half an hour. I spent most of my labour sitting on the toilet of all places! I knew just before she came back to check me that if I didn't get good news about dilation I would be asking for drugs!

She did an internal check at about 10.30pm and announced I was 10cm and ready to go. I was in shock!

I pushed for nearly 2 hours as Sage was posterior which isn't the ideal. I still had no drugs or gas and I used all my might to birth her finally! Dan caught her with the final push and I have never felt so much relief in my entire life when she was out. She was born a healthy 3.7kg at 12:43am after a relatively uncomplicated 6 hour labour, yet I was exhausted!

I've never been so happy as I was when she was put on my chest. I felt so proud of myself. After it seemed like all my birth plans going out the window I'd managed to bring her into the world as I had planned! I had a minimal tear that required no stitches much to my relief and after immediate skin-to-skin Sage was feeding well within the first hour, alert and looking at me.

I stayed awake the rest of the night bonding and cuddling her. With all the oxytocin and

endorphins flooding my body I was way too excited to sleep!"

From Dan:

"When Clare first started talking birth plans I was totally out of my league. When she started talking about hypnobirthing and doulas I thought she had gone a little crazy. I couldn’t get my head around why we would need extra support. We’ve got a really supportive family, a great network of friends and to be honest I really wanted to be the main man that Clare would feel she could rely on and that she was in safe hands. When we first met Kathryn, honestly I was a little cold towards her, I thought that this was all a bit of a con and still couldn’t understand why. She’s not a nurse, or a close friend, or relative. I just didn’t see how she would fit into the equation. She came across as a really lovely lady who clearly had experience with births, but still all I saw was the cost.

I went along with it, after all Clare was the one going through it and if it made her happy then that’s all that mattered to me.

Leading up to the birth Kathryn gave us advice which was really helpful. The day of the birth was when I was totally won over. We had a few decisions to make which we weren’t sure of at the time and felt a little pressure from the hospital staff. We called Kathryn and she was able to give us unbiased information about our options, which empowered us to confidently request what we wanted. When Clare went into labour I called Kathryn and she was there shortly after. It was perfect timing because as a man during your first birth you really have no idea what to do. We'd done hypnobirthing and had some great tools for me to help Clare by setting up the room, being encouraging in the right way and helping through some visualisation techniques. The thing is though, labour goes for quite a while and after a couple of hours I definitely felt like I was just repeating myself and at one point was firmly told to ‘shut up’. Literally within 30 seconds of being told to shut up Kathryn arrived. It was perfect and Kathryn was great! To a degree Kathryn was talking Clare through many of the same things but she was much more confident, had better timing and I think it really helped Clare to hear it all coming from another voice. Kathryn didn’t totally take over by any means. She would pull me in to support and sometimes we would take turns or both work together. It felt like a great team effort. After Sage arrived Kathryn was there to support us both and congratulate us, even taking some photos.

I can wholeheartedly say that having Kathryn there was a world of difference and I would recommend her to anyone. The support we received during the birth was more than we could have asked for. Also having Kathryn’s advice early meant that leading up to the day we felt really informed. We knew what to expect and felt confident to deal with any unexpected changes that might occur during the process.

One thing that I learnt from it all was that your friends and family tend to give you advice based on their own beliefs and experiences, whereas a doula is much better placed to provide options based purely on what the parents want.

I’m sure that most guys out there who aren’t familiar with doulas will think just as I did which is why I wanted to share our story from my perspective.

Clare and I plan on giving Sage a little sibling or two in the future and we both hope that Kathryn will be there to support us as she did with Sage."

Thanks for sharing your story Clare & Dan! Love to Sage xxx

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