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Feedback from a father on the Antenatal Course
I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to you for today’s class.
Before today, my position in this miraculous process was largely illusive and I was mostly fearful as the days draw nearer, due to my naivety. Thanks to your insight and simplicity of conveying the message that needed to be heard, I now feel more in control and ready for what is to come. I also have direction and a definite task for the next few months which will spare some unnecessary disagreements. It is comforting to know what I should be doing and how I should be approaching things in a way that will enrich our relationship both while Ethan is in the womb and during the birthing process.
I think that much of the knowledge that was shared is, to a large degree, innate but dormant in men and we need to simply be reminded of our place. My father and his before were of the mind that the entire process of birth is the domain of the woman and no place for men, but this world view simply doesn’t resonate with me. I am grateful that I get to live in a time where freedom and voice are a higher virtue than blind submission to a flawed system. I’m also grateful that we have access to this knowledge, firsthand- thanks to people like you.
What I have taken from the proceeding, among other things, is that I must ensure Angel’s comfort and security while she is vulnerable. Also that she is embraced with love and affection, that she knows I will be there with her throughout Ethan’s life and that this is now a journey of family-hood (another important message from today).
Altogether it was a very enlightening, enriching and necessary experience for me. I believe any new father must go through this course, at least till man-kind has “re-awoken’’, whenever that might be.
Thank you again and much love! Gareth
Inez Rose- Birth Story
The role my doula played in my personal birth experience By Kirsty Ronné
With my first daughter my experience of birth was one of panic, feeling out of control and fear. I had a placental abruption at 38 weeks, so my labour was very intense and fast. This, combined with nursing staff who brushed off our concerns as inexperienced ‘first timers’ made the whole experience very traumatic for me. Despite this, the act of giving birth naturally was an amazing gift!
When I found out we were pregnant with our second daughter I knew that I wanted to be more in control and started to research the role of a doula. I was looking for the emotional support I knew I would need during labour, especially as I had fear stemming from our first experience.
I found an organization called Mama Bamba, who to quote an excerpt from their website ‘ encourage trust in the natural process of birth. Loving births, which are free of trauma have a lifelong beneficial impact on new-born babies.’ On that website I found Vanessa Pensato, a doula. When we met my husband and I immediately felt comfortable! We knew we had found what we had been looking for!
We met Vanessa a couple of times during pregnancy. I knew I could ask her any questions I had and she reassured me whenever I would start to worry! She had brilliant practical advice and was a great emotional support to me especially in the last few weeks of pregnancy. The scan at 39 weeks showed that the baby was positioned directly posterior. The doctor mentioned that if she was in this position at labour he would suggest a c-section. I was extremely nervous about this! Vanessa showed us ways of helping the baby to get into a more favourable position and reassured me that lots of babies turn during labour!
In the week leading up to labour I had a lot of Braxton Hicks contractions. On the 10th October 2012 at 4.45 I woke up to a stronger surge, but it was not unlike what I had been experiencing. Just after 5am I got up to have a bath and woke my husband up to let him know that it may be happening. I sent Vanessa a message to let her know as well. When I got dressed my water broke, so we started packing for hospital. I called my parents to let them know so that they could come and look after our oldest daughter. We got to the hospital just after 6am and Vanessa joined us there shortly after we arrived. The midwives were amazing and let me labour on the birth ball while monitoring the baby’s heartbeat. When my doctor checked me I was 3cm dilated and fully effaced. I then got into the bath which was wonderful! The water was extremely relaxing! During a surge I breathed with gas and air and my husband put as much pressure as he could on my lower back. I looked into Vanessa’s eyes as she breathed with me. Her eyes were so calming and reassuring! When I lost it, she would bring me back and help me to concentrate through the surges! It was amazing! In-between surges I was so calm, I was listening to my favourite music and even singing and slow dancing with my husband! The surges got more and more intense and I struggled to fight the urge to push. My husband, Vanessa and the midwife helped me through each surge.
After 5 hours from the first surge, I was fully dilated and ready to push! It was surreal! After 5 contractions our beautiful daughter Inez Rose was born into this world! I was shouting praise and thanks to Jesus for this gift and for helping me through labour! I was in awe of this little baby and so thankful for being able to experience this birth with so much love and support around me! After I delivered my daughter Vanessa helped me to relax through getting stitches which I found extremely uncomfortable! I also felt that my whole body struggled to relax after such an intense experience, so the relaxations she did with me were very benificial. She also assisted me as Inez latched for the first time which she did perfectly! We still meet and I look forward to growing in our friendship with eachother! I will recommend having a doula to everyone! It is a necessity in my opinion and I look forward to having Vanessa as my doula in the future!
My birth story by Kyla-Rei Mulligan
I am the kind of person who likes to be in control. When I fell pregnant with our first child, I have never felt so out of control! My body was no longer my own, my future was no longer mine alone, my husband and I couldn’t go out & enjoy dinner with friends…what else was going to be out of my control!
Well, I knew the best (and only) way to face this new adventure was to have a plan. But where to start? There was so much information in books & magazines, people had every piece of advice for us and we just didn’t know where to begin!
A friend recommended I check out Mama Bamba for a doula to help us prepare for birth so that’s what we did. We first met Vanessa & immediately felt supported by her friendly, direct nature. Our gynae supported our plan for a natural birth, as did the midwives at Kingsbury Hospital but the level of support from Vanessa was totally different. We felt like our birth story was special to someone other than us as the parents. And the preparation of writing up a birth plan (and a very useful post-partum plan), practising relaxation techniques & generally chatting through our expectations & fears around birth was really exactly what we needed for this life changing event.
Things didn’t go as planned and at 41weeks, baby Grace still hadn’t engaged. On 1 Oct I was induced early in the morning. Vanessa arrived around 11 as my contractions started & immediately Leigh & I felt a sense of relief that we weren’t in this alone. She did a much needed relaxation session with us (which left Leigh “unconscious” for about an hour! and just kept reminding me that the process for the arrival of our baby girl was definitely worth the pain! Vanessa’s presence enabled me to feel strong enough to walk a bit, eat and stay focussed, all vitally necessary to get through the long hours of labour!
At about 2pm, our gynae broke my waters and then the pain really set in! I was contracting every 20secs for what seemed like hours at a time!! Eventually, with focussed breathing & using the relaxation we’d practised, as well as a life-saving bath, the gynae returned to check-in on us. Grace still had not engaged & I had dilated only 3cm. We decided a c-section was the
best option and Vanessa was allowed to stay with us in theatre. The shock & exhaustion of having such a change in plan was overwhelming for me but I will always be grateful to Vanessa for her calming presence. I will never forget having a contraction in the middle of the spinal block injection & locking eyes with her across the room as she helped me breathe & focus through the pain, while trying to keep stock still!!
All in all, having Vanessa support us through Grace’s birth story was a very real blessing. I think the whole experience would have been far more scary & clinical without her love & care. Even though I probably won’t be trying natural birth any time in the near future, I will definitely seek the support of such a loving person to make birth a wonderful, joyful experience!