I witnessed this couple become parents 3 years ago when they hired me as their doula after taking the Confident Birth course which I teach at Birth in Holland. Then earlier this year I got a sweet text message saying they were expecting again and couldn’t imagine giving birth without me. Walking back into a family after a few years is so natural and feels like seeing old friends, like I am their family doula.
They became a family of four in the summer and I was at their side all the way. You can read about Orla’s birth here. This gorgeous photo was taken a few days later. Having seen both these girls come into the world is so special. What an honour, what a job.<3 <3
Lifestyle Newborn shoots. I give a 50 euro discount to doula clients and particularly love it when I get to photograph repeat clients. Check here for details.
Welcome sweet Sofia. You Mama dug deep to bring you into the world and had to make some tough decisions along the way. Your Papa was there by her side all the way never missing a heart beat to be there for you both. And when you were finally there all the pain was gone and there was so much joy and instinctive nurturing. You are a lucky girl with those two sweet Sofia <3
Welcome to Toby, Chris & Iarla.
Turn the lights down! This little one kept his hands in front of his face for the first 15 minutes of his life on the outside. Babies need to get used to the light change from inside the womb. If you give the baby some shade with your hand or turn the lights low they usually open their eyes very soon after birth.
Most of my clients use the TENS machine. See here for an explanation of how the TENS works. The use of the TENS is hugely under-rated for early labour, during active labour and I discovered recently that it is also awesome for post birth contractions! Many insurance companies will cover the cost of the TENS machine for labour and birth, so check with your provider before purchasing one. Midwife practices also have them often to rent. As far as I have observed in my practice the TENS never has negative affect. I have observed several times that the cases where I have had mothers not like it has been when the baby is in a posterior position. The TENS does, at a certain point AND usually during the transition phase, have less of an affect. If you take it off at that point the woman often notices and wants it back on again. This would suggest it is still having some affect.
The research on the tens machine for labour is not very extensive but here is a link to Evidence Based Birth for a summary of the research.
The TENS machine is also fantastic for induction. It is best to start using it simultaneously when the synthetic oxytocin is administered and it will trigger the bodies own hormonal system to produce endorphins, your natural pain relief. These are the hormones that are released to help you cope with labour. They are bypassed when synthetic oxytocin is administered into the blood via an IV. This is the reason many women experience induction as more painful than natural labour. The natural hormones are not helping with the process. The TENS can help with that or help tide a woman over until she can get medical pain relief.
This beautiful VBAC mama used the TENS machine to help her through a very long labour It supported her past that dilation point of her 1st birth, and onto a natural vaginal birth. If the TENS is only put on during active labour then the affect will be much less as the pain being experienced is usually already high.
Double natural pain relief. The TENS does not interfere with other pain relief options except for water of course. So getting your partner or doula to do the hip squeeze & having the TENS machine on is a great combination and can help even better against the use of medical pain relief. .
Doula Sophie at work during a long early labour
Gentle cesarean! Mother & baby are not separated during or after the operation. Baby is born, checked and then tucked under the sheets for skin to skin cuddles with Mama while the operation is finished. Better for mother, better for baby, better for bonding and breastfeeding. This helps to make this un-natural but sometimes necessary way of giving birth a little more gentle and a lot more enjoyable.
In The Netherlands, when you have had a cesarean in your history, you have the option to opt for a vaginal birth or a planned cesarean. With a planned cesarean it is usually a gentle one. When the labour process ends up in a cesarean it is always worth asking for a gentle one. Most hospitals will try their best to facilitate this if they can.
When their first daughter was born she needed help to breath and spent a night in the NICU. Now she is an energetic healthy girl as you can see here above. So when they got pregnant the second time there was a strong quiet hope that their new little one would not have this problem at birth and be able to stay on her mothers chest for a long time, skin to skin after being born. They knew this one was strong and energetic, she let them know that throughout the pregnancy, but still there was a silent fear that when the time came to push her out, the same thing would happen.
When she was born the baby’s first cry was mixed with an audible cry of relief and joy from Mum and Dad! Sometimes it can be certain small things that mean a lot more because of past experiences. Welcome Orla Valentina
When you always thought that a fast labour would never happen to you and then it progresses so fast and you think you can’t make it and ask for pain relief. When you are not prepared or willing to accept the fact that there is not much point in pain relief because you are almost ready to push your baby out. When there is water, warm water that helps you through transition. When your doula convinces you to change your mind set because quitting just isn’t an option. And then you do!! You change so incredibly well that you birth your baby on the birth stool and rock it like a boss! Thats when you show yourself you are strong and enter motherhood with a bang!
Super proud of this mama. Welcome Delphine Rose
Last week this lovely repeat client gave birth to the cutest baby boy ever.
Labour & transition in the bath. Completion, longer pauses, desperation, agitation, searching for the right position, feeling where the baby is, on the birth stool. Changing it up and making space on the floor. Wanting instruction but realising you are the only one that can finish the task at hand! Back on the birth stool, birthing the baby right in your very own bedroom while nestled in your partners arms. Feeling the release and the baby in your arms, here he is, finally! Joy indescribable
In the early hours of yesterday morning a sweet 1st time mama had a very special birthday gift. In super tempo she gave birth to her baby boy unexpectedly at home in the bath. I arrived, 2 whole minutes before the midwife arrived, and just as the head was being born.
Shortly afterwards the papa grabbed a mug so he could pour warm water over the baby in the bath to keep him warm and we all smiled when we saw what was written on the mug: Easy like Sunday morning!
Happy Birthday mama and son!
This sweet little baby boy is the little brother to Jan whom I also witnessed come into the world. Welcome Edward.
If you’re a parent, grandparent, family member or babysitter, learning first aid can give you confidence to save a life when it really counts.
In our First Aid workshop – EHBO, we cover a range of different conditions and techniques – including the most common household accidents that occur with babies and young children. You will learn first aid advice for many household accidents, from dealing with a choking child or baby, to recognizing the signs of meningitis and other illnesses.
Our PBLS (Paediatric Basic Life Support) workshop focuses on resuscitation techniques for young babies and children following the European Rescuscitation Council guidelines.
The workshops are designed to be interactive, giving you the chance to practice the skills you learn. After completing the workshop PBLS you will receive an NRR approved certificate and a summary of the most important information.
Join us, it is a lot of fun, you will love it and feel more confident afterwards!!
“After attending the ‘First Aid for Parents’ I feel very well prepared for having to deal with any of the scary situations we may go through with our child. A very hands-on and dynamic workshop. A must go!”
This course gives new Mums and their babies the opportunity to meet and spend time with other new Mums while developing new nurturing skills and spending time gently activating their bodies.
My partner, Farola, and I teach four morning sessions. We try to create a supportive and nurturing environment that will set mothers up with skills they will find useful now and for months or years into the future.
The sessions begin with baby massage and movement for optimal infant development. The new Mums will develop skills on how to handle their baby confidently, helping them to relax more fully as well as discovering how to support them developmentally.
There is of course time for tea and the opportunity to get to know others in the group. There is space to share experiences as well as discuss issues relevant to new life as a Mum. This is a wonderful way of learning and increasing confidence.
The day after… welcome little Theo. You are so loved <3
“Pffff, stuck with these two!”
Welcome James to this crazy and beautiful world. These two are going to love you to the moon and back <3
Doula’s are NOT just for natural birth. Doula support is valuable whatever twists and turns your birth may take AND/OR whatever way you decide is the best way to birth your baby. See this feedback from a client.
29-01-2018 Welcome Sweet Aaliyah.
Sometimes birth is so damn hard, sometimes you are that woman that falls into the high risk percentage. Sometimes you have to fight with every fibre of your being to birth your baby in the way you feel is best for her despite yourself. But when she is born and put on your chest you forget the pain of the past and for a moment it is worth it despite the price.
25-01-2018 Welcome Max It was a long 9 months and patiently your Mummy and Papa waited for you and now here you are safe and sound and all cuddles and your parents are crazy in love.
It has been a busy January. My partner Farola and I taught a Confident Birth course for 10 lovely international couples, took a postpartum doula training and welcomed Alicia, Mateo and little Koen into the world.
Look out for postpartum doula services coming soon. I am so excited to be able to offer more consistent and complete support to families who need something extra in the transition to parenthood.
Time to share some of my favourite images from 2017 and some interesting facts about the 31 births I supported.
14 boys and 18 girls, 27 hospital births, 2 vaginal breech births(both personal highlights) 7 women used medical pain relief, 8 used birth pools for pain relief and 4 gave birth in water. 5 C-sections, 2 of which were failed inductions at 42 weeks. 6 inductions. 3 vacuum deliveries and 2 of those without episiotomy. 18 international families, 19 first time parents, 3 midwife mama’s, 1 surrogate birth, 1 vaginal twin birth and 4 births doing photography only.
I am very thankful for a year of supporting so many wonderful families. It will never stop being such a privilege and honour to be a part of so many peoples stories.
“When I look back on my birthing experience I feel strong and proud. A sense of awe for life, for the female body, for my body. Awe for how I carried my daughter for 9 months and for how I brought her into this world: all the pain, angst and desperation I had to face in myself and in the end overcame. Supported by the people around me and in deep connection with my husband I could finally surrender and get in touch with my inner strength, the strength that gave me the power to birth my daughter without any help and made me free and transformed me. The circle is complete.”
“Wanneer ik terugkijk op mijn bevalling voel ik mij krachtig en trots. Ik ervaar ontzag voor het leven, voor het vrouwelijk lijf, voor mijn lichaam. Voor hoe ik mijn dochter negen maanden lang droeg. Voor hoe ik haar daarna op de wereld zette; alle pijn, angst en wanhoop in mijzelf aan moest gaan en uiteindelijk aan kon gaan én overwon.
Gesteund door de mensen om mij heen en in diepe zielsverbinding met mijn man, gaf ik mij uiteindelijk over en kwam in contact met mijn oerkracht. De kracht die me in staat stelde mijn dochter zelf te baren, zonder enige hulp, en die me vrij maakte en transformeerde. De cirkel is rond.”
This was another special one!
On a beautiful Sunday evening in October, at home, in the pool and beside the open fire, Ode was born.
He was welcomed by his whole family. It was very clear from the very first minute he was born that he will add a special sweetness to the beautiful chaos that is this family, as only newborns can.
Welcome little man, you are going to get a lot of loving. And did you notice the cool double knot in the umbilical chord?
For some women it’s a way to give back and make a difference in the world in a meaningful way.
For others it’s a calling.
Some are moved to surrogacy by knowing someone who is faced with infertility and this is their way of helping.
Some want to experience growing new life and giving birth again.
These Mothers love their babies, they love being mothers, and they want to simply share their gift with others.
It’s a gift of life. It’s a gift of joy.
This is the journey of two families brought together and now bonded for life by their love for a sweet little girl.
You are so loved!
Voor sommige vrouwen is het hun manier om iets terug te geven en een verschil te maken in de wereld.
Voor andere is het een roeping.
Sommige worden draagmoeder omdat ze bewogen worden door het verdriet van vrienden die onvruchtbaar zijn.
Sommige willen ervaren hoe het is om weer zwanger te zijn en nog een keer te baren.
Deze moeders houden van hun kinderen, en van het moeder zijn en willen dit met andere delen.
Een kostbaar geschenk. Een geschenk van vreugde.
Het verhaal van twee gezinnen samengebracht en voor altijd verbonden door hun liefde voor een lief klein meisje.
Jij bent zo geliefd.
11-05-2017 ~ I had just finished catching up on some sleep, after a long birth, when at 9am I got a text message from Mayana saying she was feeling a lot of pain and some contractions. Mayana was 36 weeks and 4 days pregnant so it was a little on the early side plus her baby was in a breech position. She had a meeting with the Gynacologist planned at 11am the same day to try to turn the baby head down.
She sent me a picture of the contraction timer she had been using and there were 3 contractions on it with 20 minutes in between, lasting a minute long and she said it was already quite painful.
I called her immediately and after hearing she had spots of blood too I told her to call the midwife and then call me back.
The midwife told Mayana to go to the 11am appointment and she would be checked there. I agreed to meet her there in an hour as her husband Juliano had left the house 2 hours earlier and was on his way to Germany for a 2 day business trip. Usually this contraction pattern is very early labour but I felt this could go either way and just had a feeling this was very possibly more than it looked.
A few minutes later I got a call from Juliano in which he wanted to hear my opinion. I told him either the baby was coming today or it wasn’t good news and something else was going on or the third scenario… it would just stop and start again another day. He decided he did not want to take any risks and would turn around straight away and start driving back towards Rotterdam.
I knew that Mayana was a strong woman and was not going to let on very easily that she was in pain. She had already told me during our preparation meetings that she had a high pain thresh hold. I didn’t trust this was nothing and took my doula bag with me to the hospital.
On the way I spoke to Juliano again and asked at what time he was going to arrive and asked him to pick up the hospital bag on his way.
I arrived at the hospital at 10:30 and as I came up the escalator and saw Mayana’s pale and slightly greenish face I knew something serious was going on in her body. I sat next to her, saw her have one contraction and knew we needed to be seen quickly.
Mayana was waiting to register as she had not been in this hospital before. There was one number before us and I managed to hurry us to the front of the line and a woman magically appeared with a wheel chair to take us upstairs.
We arrived at the day care where the scheduled appointment was to take place and had to wait in the waiting room. Mayana was having very regular contractions at this point and was in significant pain.
At 11:00 I texted Juliano: “Can you pick up the hospital bag on your way. Still haven’t seen anyone but contractions are coming every 3 minutes or so now. I think the baby is coming today”
Eventually we were shown to a room and had to wait again. I felt a real urgency but there was no-one to hurry up and we just had to wait. That 15 minutes or so felt like an age as the contractions quickly started coming every 2 minutes, we called Juliano at 11:17 to say it was picking up fast and he talked to Mayana and encouraged her to stay calm and breathe.
When finally a midwife came in at 11:30 to evaluate Mayana for the external version (attempt at turning the breech baby) she saw that she was clearly in labour and did an internal exam to find that she was 4/5 cm dilated already. The midwife asked if Mayana had thought about how she wanted to birth a breech baby, caesarean or vaginal and did she know the risks. Mayana had already told me in the waiting room that her preference was still for a vaginal birth if the Gynecologist was okay with that.
We were quickly taken to a labour and delivery room. The contractions were clearly getting stronger with every new one that came. I wanted to call Juliano to tell him the situation and to forget picking up the hospital bag but Mayana needed me and I didn’t get to it.
The same Gynecologist who was scheduled to do the external breech version, came into the room. She repeated the question if Mayana had thought about how she wanted to give birth and talked briefly and very quickly, and in between two contractions, about the risks of vaginal birth vs Cesarean. The contractions were coming very fast and it was very intense for Mayana. The Gynecologist checked Mayana again and she was 8cm dilated. It was 11:45!
At this point the Gynecologist said that it was too late for a caesarean and that the baby would be born very soon. I looked at my phone to try to call Juliano and saw that he had tried to call me at 11:46. I tried to call him back but no answer so at 11:55 I quickly texted him before the next contraction came:
“8cm, going vaginal”
A few minutes later he entered the room.
Mayana was happy to see him and even though he was all dressed up in his work clothes, he embraced her straight away and helped her try to focus through the intense pain. Very quickly her body started to push with the contraction and it was clear the baby was coming soon. The Gynecologist checked she was fully open and felt that the baby’s bottom was almost at the opening. She guided her through the process and after two contractions we already saw the baby’s little bottom coming out. Truly amazing! With the next two more contractions Mayana pushed like a champion and two little baby legs flopped out and then the Gynecologist helped guide her head out and there she was, sweet little Helena!
We have lost the art of vaginal breach birth because in recent years Gynecologists have tended to advice women to choose a cesarean birth for a breach baby because they believed it to be safer. This is not necessarily true. It is so great to see that the wisdom and experience is slowly being gained again as women and Gynecologists are daring to choose to birth breach babies vaginally. I have been thrilled to witness two this year!
As you prepared for the birth of your son, you came to understand that birth is never a straight forward line but that birth has many twists and turns along the way and the labour process is very much a journey. You knew I would be there for you wherever the journey took you, that I would inform you and educate you of the choices before you and hold your hand as you made the best possible choice for you and your baby.
As the weeks went by… 40, 41 and then getting very close to the 42 weeks you had to wrestle with a possible induction. You kept saying you felt the baby and your body were not ready yet. “What if he wants to come tomorrow and we induce today?” you asked. “What if… what if… ” You had never thought it would get to this point when you were hoping, as many Mama’s do, that your baby would come earlier rather than later.
You made the choice to induce hoping he would still come of his own accord… but the morning of the induction came, you checked into the hospital and a plan was made to induce the labour process.
First breaking the membranes… then medication.
It gave you contractions… but no dilation! Your body responded and contracted but did not open.
You remained strong and determined… but the lack of progress made the pain harder to handle… the hours passed by and you worked Oh so hard… we all worked hard, your birth team of three… and not to forget the baby!
A tough decision for pain relief was made, your decision, the right decision. And relief it was, with a small part of your belly still feeling the contraction pain. You knew that epidurals were not always the perfect pain killer but it was exactly what you needed and you were actually glad you could still feel something. (Yes you said that!)
Then… 9 hours further (4 with epidural) with intense contractions and only 1 added cm of dilation.
A tough decision for a c-section was made, your decision, the right decision. This was not working, your body was not responding… this is what they call a lack of progress, and was now officially a failed induction. You can’t force a body to open.
At one moment you looked into my eyes and said “Sophie, will you be disappointed in me if we go to cesarean?” and without hesitation I told you “Of course I won’t.”
As your doula it is my job to be there for you, to keep you as comfortable as possible, to make you laugh, help you relax and make space for you to cry, to help you process decisions and emotions and to celebrate with you when your little one is finally in your arms. I go on that journey with you whatever that looks like, wherever it may take you and support whatever decisions you make along the way.
I know without a doubt that nothing I said in our preparation for this day and up to this moment led you to believe I would be disappointed in any decision you made. But at that moment you still needed to hear from me, and your husband, that we were behind you, supporting you and loving you through this decision. You needed to not be disappointed in yourself and hearing us affirm you (because, after all, one of your love languages is ‘words of affirmation’;) helped you accept your own decision.
Nothing in me, no fibre of my being was disappointed in you Nan. This was your journey not mine. A journey you and your baby went on together. You were amazing, you were strong, you endured and you even rocked the labour that got you no-where and definitely didn’t get you the birth you were hoping for!!
We may never know the answer to the ‘what ifs…’ but I was honoured to journey with you, to ease your way a little and to help you have no regrets. I was so happy today, 4 days later, to hear you say you have no regrets.
And now here he is, your little one… and you are a little bit more prepared for the twists and turns of parenthood because of the birth journey you have already taken.
It has been such a pleasure to support and get to know you,
With deep respect and a special fondness,
(Doula) Sophie x
Especially when there is an older sibling… all was tranquil until BIG sister came in… so proud, so gorgeous, so wanting attention and Oh so sweet with her new brothers in a “I’m not yet 2” kind of way… I don’t think she will have any problems stealing the show from her twin siblings! So much joy and fun in this family
Congratulations to this lovely family. You may recognize big sister as the little one on the homepage birth photography slider. Those gorgeous dark eyes <3 Tomorrow she turns two!
So excited… this was the 2nd vaginal breech birth I have supported in 3 months. So glad that women are daring to make the choice to give birth vaginally instead of going straight for a cesarean and that Gynecologists are gaining more experience with breech birth. There is still a lot of lost time to gain as breach birth has become a lost art in Gynecology and midwifery. But could it possibly be that the tide is slowly turning and vaginal breach birth will become a normal choice and not an exceptional one.
And don’t you just love the moment when the baby, that was just minutes ago in her mothers womb, hears her Papa’s voice, turns her head and looks him straight in the face. I see this so often when babies hear their fathers voice. Always such a precious moment ❤ If you look carefully you can see her wonderfully breech baby legs up by her face and see her sweet hand holding her own little foot.
Welcome sweet girl <3
Another brave mama whom, after a traumatic 1st birth, could not believe that birth COULD be a good experience… had a good experience birthing her son today.
Good preparation and support can change how you experience birth. Welcome little man.
I have been doing newborn lifestyle shoots for doula clients for a while now and am excited to start offering it to other families.
Invite me into the comfort of your own home to document a moment in time during the first weeks with your newborn baby. A time that passes so quickly, a time you don’t want to forget! I look forward to hearing from you. The costs are €200 (€150 for doula clients)
After struggling to get back into the work flow after my vacation, I had two births this last week. One I only photographed, a baby girl who decided coming out a bit sideways was a good idea making it extremely tough for her very brave mother who still managed to give everything and birth her at home.
And a rather sweet little boy who had a long journey and a rather rough start but is doing well now and hopefully can go home today. I have so much respect for his brave and courageous mother who could have given birth on her positivity alone. What a gift!
Welcome Nathan. You sure surprised us when you actually decided to come on your own. But here you are and you are a perfect bundle of sweetness.
When you have experienced a sickness that robs you of the basic trust in your body, going through labour has the potential to help you regain that trust and give you the power to transform what you have come to believe about your body. What a gift
This mother wrote the day after giving birth:
“I can’t put into words how much it has meant to me to regain the trust in my body after my sickness”