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Birth Blog

VBAC after a breech caeserean ~ A personal interview

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I met Vanessa and her husband when they took a private birth course with me for their first baby. She had complete faith that she could birth her baby naturally and really wanted to birth at home.

What were the circumstances that led to your c-section?

At around week 35 I found out that my baby was breech. I was heart broken, as I really wanted to try and have a home birth. I knew that I would never forgive myself if I didn’t try to give birth naturally, so I weighed out the options with the gynaecologist and my husband. I decided that I would let my baby decide his own birthdate and on September 7, 2013 at around 2am my waters broke. I wasn’t feeling any contractions and knew that for the best possible outcome I needed to stay calm and move around, so I went into work! I worked though the early hours of the morning and called my husband to pick me up after I had finished baking cupcakes (I had a cup cake business at the time). We were told to come to the hospital, where I was induced (something I did not want, but was told it was necessary to make sure that I would give birth in the next 24 hours). My contractions grew stronger throughout the day and around 9.30pm I was ready to push. I pushed for nearly 1 hour, but after suffering severe leg cramps, being completely depleted of energy and baby not moving we were taken in for a c-section.

Did the c-section have any effect on your well-being?

While I thought that the c-section would traumatize me, it did not. The delivery team explained everything very well and to be honest I was so ready to meet my baby. I was able to nurse him with the help of the nurses within an hour after he was born and we both then got some much needed rest.

I did however have thoughts of ‘what if’ after. There was something inside me that had a feeling I could have been successful giving natural birth if I was only given the chance and different treatment. This was something that stuck with me all through my second pregnancy.

How did you know you wanted to birth vaginally this time?

For me it wasn’t even a question, I just KNEW I needed to try. I have this deep, almost primal feeling that this is the way birth should be. It was something that I needed to prove to myself, that I was strong enough mentally and physically to give birth as so many millions of woman had done before me.

What was your greatest hope for this birth?

My greatest hope was that I would have a successful vaginal birth and heal some of the wounds I received mentally from my first birthing process.

What was your biggest fear going into this birth?

My biggest fear was that I wasn’t strong enough and that my body was somehow defective. To be honest I was never afraid of the risks, as from reading the numbers I felt confident they were not very important.

How did you prepare for your for this birth?

I prepared by practicing yoga, watching videos, visiting a chiropractor reading and talking out my plan with my husband and Sophie.

About 1 month before giving birth I would sit on the balance ball every evening, willing my hips to open.

What was your biggest battle during the labour?

Overcoming my fear of failure. My body felt strong, but about halfway through pushing, doubt was starting to creep into my mind. Thankfully with the help of Sophie talking me through it I was able to push those fears away and focus my mind.

What was the moment you realized your VBAC was successful?

The true moment I knew I was successful was when I felt my babies head push free. Yes, of course there was pain, but nothing mattered in that moment other than having my baby brought up onto my chest. It was such an emotional moment for me, I felt amazing and was so proud of my body and my baby. I was also a bit in shock that everything had gone so smoothly, I couldn’t even seem to opens my eyes for fear that it might have all been a dream. One of the best moments of my life!

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What have you learned about yourself through this process?

I’ve learned that I am strong, mentally and physically. That no matter what has happened in the past, we should focus on the here and now, because that’s what truly matters. But most importantly I learned to trust myself.

Name 5 things that contributed to you successfully birthing vaginally.

  • An amazing mother who always told me how special it was to give birth. She never once told me how painful or scary it was. For her birth was a beautiful process and I believe this is something more women need to hear! It was my goal to feel that same way about birth and now I do.
  • Preparing physically by practicing yoga, sitting on the balance ball, chiropractic care, constantly chasing a toddler around and listening to my body. Taking a 4-hour walk the day before I gave birth might have also helped. 😉
  • Mentally preparing by talking through my fears, writing out a birth plan and just believing in myself.
  • SUPPORT! I knew this time around I needed the best support to help me mentally during birth. I knew I wanted my husband and Sophie by my side. I also feel really lucky that the birth team in the hospital that night was fantastic, calm and really supportive of my birth plan. It helped me to feel empowered.
  • A baby that decided to be in the perfect position for birth!

Water ~ One of the most underestimated forms of pain relief

When you discovered you were pregnant and you started thinking about the birth of your baby did you think about water as an option for pain management? You would not be alone if your answer was no!

The benefits are huge.

2016-02-26 Wiktor-23Placing a pool of water in a birth room changes the atmosphere immediately. Voices get softer, the mother stays calmer and everyone becomes less stressed.

The effect of buoyancy, that immersion in water creates, allows easy movement of the mother. No one has to help the mother get into a new position. She moves as her body feels the need. Movement helps open the pelvis, allowing the baby to descend.
When a woman in labour relaxes in a warm deep bath she is free from gravity’s pull on her body and her body feels amazingly weightless. The sensitivity and irritation women can experience in their bodies when they are in labour is also reduced when in water as the sensory stimulation is dulled resulting in her body being less agitated by external ‘things.’

When a woman is relaxed in labour she is less likely to produce stress-related hormones and makes room for her body to produce the endorphins that are the bodies natural pain relief. A labouring woman who is able to relax physically, is able to relax mentally as well. Immersion in water also gives a sense of privacy and a personal space to feel safe in. A sense of safety is also very important for progress in the birth process.

Many women, midwives, and doctors acknowledge the analgesic effect of water. The effect is very clear when you see a labouring woman immerse herself in water or stand under the shower. Many women who have laboured in water say they would never be able to consider labouring without water again.

 Research has verified many positive aspects of labouring and giving birth in water.

  • Water facilitates mobility and enables the mother to assume any position which is comfortable for labour and birth.
  • Can speed up labour
  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Gives mother more of a feeling of autonomy
  • Provides significant pain relief
  • Promotes relaxation
  • Conserves mothers energy
  • Reduces the need for drugs and interventions
  • Gives mother a private protected space
  • Softens the perineum and can reduce tearing
  • A gentle beginning for baby

Dangerous?

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Although water birth is becoming more widely accepted, for a long time many medical professionals thought it was dangerous to give birth in water. There were many unfounded myths surrounding giving birth in water. As a result of this it was not an option that was widely available. Still today, in The Netherlands, many midwives are afraid of supporting a water birth. Fears of not being able to measure blood loss or having to be more hands off during the birth of the baby are a few of the reasons given for not supporting water birth.

For an evidence based article on water birth and the research that has been done on it follow the link here: evidencebasedbirth.com

Maybe you really do not see yourself birthing your baby in the water …but let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water!! You don’t necessarily have to give birth to your baby in the water, although that can be amazing, what about just using it for pain relief?

Over the last year or two the options for using water for labour and birth have grown, definitely in my working area, The Hague, Delft and Rotterdam. Midwives are being trained to support water birth and hospitals are seeing there is a demand for it. Even though it is becoming more popular, the options are still very limited. (My next blog will provide a list of hospitals in these cities above and the options they have for water birth)

The shower is often not considered and is also underestimated as a good form of pain relief. Women who use the shower though during labour can stay in there for hours sometimes. It really can help manage the pain. Almost all hospitals have showers in the en-suite bathrooms. A fantastic option for pain management.

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Is water really an effective form of pain relief?

I cannot tell you how many labouring women I have heard groaning with relief at the effect the warm water has on the pain when they first enter the water. That feeling of heaviness in her pregnant body is lightened and there is an ease to which she can move and find comfortable positions in the water. The warmth helps the body relax and the contractions are often experienced as less painful.

Rianne, a recent client of mine, said about her experience:

“I still remember the moment I got into the water. The warmth of the water made such a huge difference, I felt more relaxed, calm and focused. I was better able to get into my own “bubble.” Outside the water I needed help to cope with the contractions and as soon as I got inside the water I needed less help and didn’t feel ‘unsettled’ anymore. The water helped a lot to ease the pain. My score for the pain outside the water was 8/10 and inside the water it quickly became a 4/10.”

Rianne ended up not giving birth to her daughter in the water but had no regrets about having taken the trouble to rent a pool, take it to the birth centre and (have her partner) set it up. It was worth it all for the amazing relief it provided her.

So why not consider using water for pain management. Talk to your midwife about the options. One thing is for sure no woman who used this option ever said it was a waste of time and effort!

*Remember that if you have a medical indication, and are giving birth under the Gynecologist, your hospital of choice may have a pool but it is (in most cases) only available for women giving birth with an external (1st line) midwife practice. More about this in the next blog.

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A glimpse of 2016

So excited to share my 2016 video with some of my favourite photos of last year. Some are my favourite because they are amazing shots and some are my favourites because of their special birth story. There are many, these are the ones I have permission to share. There are many special stories not represented here, that does not make them any less special. Enjoy <3
 
I love to figure out my stats and fun facts for the year. Here are some fun ones:
38 births, 39 babies
First twin birth 🙂
15 boys
24 girls
7/10 Successful VBAC’s (vaginal birth after cesarean)
6 Cesareans (1 planned)
19 First time mothers
30 Hospital births
4 Home births
4 Birth Centre births
7 mothers used medical pain relief!
4 Water births
6 mothers used a birthing pool for pain relief but did not give birth in water
28 international clients
5 repeat clients 🙂
1 birth missed (mother gave birth too quickly)
1 time (and the first) I sent my back up to a birth, because I had two at once.
3 Birth photography only

Not one but two Daniels!

On the 24th and 25th of December my last two births of the year took place. Two Daniels born to two different families in the same hospital and the same delivery room. I still got to spend Christmas eve(ning) with my family and Christmas afternoon with extended family. Apart from being a little tired I had a thoroughly enjoyable Christmas. Blessed <3

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A labour of love and letting go (trigger warning)

One day in the month of May, earlier this year, I received a request from a midwife to photograph a very special birth.

In the early hours of a morning in June I received a call that labour had started and asking if I could join. When I arrived at the house there was a peaceful atmosphere and Jorinde was labouring in the birth pool. The midwife, her sister and a friend were there too and her son was sleeping in the room next door.

What I was about to witness that morning was a very brave yet brokenhearted mother who had faced many tough decisions throughout her pregnancy. She had decided to carry her baby full term after finding out that he had a rare form of dwarfism and a heart defect and would not live long after birth. She had walked a lonely journey and met misunderstanding as she sought for a way to give birth as she felt she wanted to. She found a support team willing to support a quiet respectful labour at home and a hospital team as back up if needed.

Her labour was a labour of love and letting go. Letting go of the son she so loved. The son whom she hadn’t yet met but whom she knew so well. She knew his kicks and his movements better than the back of her hand and as he grew she knew his life inside her womb was life indeed. Knowing that that life would not be sustainable on the outside was something she wanted to postpone for as long as she could. Now he was very much alive and kicking.

The letting go was agonizing and the pain of labour mirrored the pain on the inside. She patiently went through the process and we with her. The journey took her to the hospital and finally to let go of her sweet Valentijn via a cesarean section. He came into the world and looked his mother in the face for a short while and then closed his eyes and passed away.

Sweet brave Valentijn you were so loved and so wanted, you couldn’t stay for long but will remain in the hearts of the family and the friends who met you.

And dear Jorinde,  your strength and determination is bold and beautiful and i hope it will carry you in your grief. Thank you for sharing your story.

Birth-valentijn

Lieve Sophie, ik ben je enorm dankbaar voor het feit dat jij bij de bevalling van mijn lieve Valentijn wilde zijn om hier prachtige beelden van te maken. De ontmoeting en het afscheid van mijn dappere mannetje! Ik kan uren naar de foto’s kijken en voel dan weer extra sterk mijn oneindig grote liefde voor hem ♥
Naast de prachtige beelden heb ik ook je support tijdens de bevalling als heel fijn en steunend ervaren, dankjewel daarvoor!
Liefs, Jorinde

Gaia

09-12-2016 ~ Welcome to this little bundle of joy who is Gaia! Glad her Dad made it back from his business trip just in time to welcome her into the world. So glad my paths crossed with this sweet family.

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Ska

3-12-2016 ~ And we have entered the last month of the year, the most festive time of the year. I welcomed the first December baby on Saturday evening. A very patient and brave mama laboured long and peacefully to birth her baby girl in the way she had hoped. #VBACbaby #rockinmama I was thrilled to receive this lovely testimonial from Laila.

“The birth of our first child via emergency c-section left me feeling “robbed” of the birth experience I had hoped for. After moving to the Netherlands, and falling pregnant, I consistently received positive feedback on doula support.
Sophie was recommended to me by a friend and after our initial meeting my husband and I decided to hire her. Turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made. Sophie’s wealth of knowledge was crucial in our decision making process regarding choice of hospital and birth plan. I really appreciate how she listed all available options but never tried to steer us in a certain direction.
As the big day came closer she frequently followed up and listened to my fears and concerns. Once I started having slight contractions a week before the due date she provided me with useful advice, made sure I got enough rest and most importantly spoilt me with a long massage, which I am convinced helped to speed up the whole early labour.
Throughout my long labour she was by my side and helped me focus on my breath, answered my husband’s questions, massaged some of the tougher contractions away and explained the steps along the way in a wonderfully calm manner. In a great team effort, together with my husband, she kept me going, resulting in the VBAC I was hoping for. A truly healing process which I will always be grateful for.” Laila Weinhardt

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Elin

30-11-2016 ~ Yay for girls! Another sweet baby girl? Welcome on this planet Elin. It was an honour to support your lovely parents and witness your birth-day

Chloe

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21-11-2016 ~ Darling little Chloe. With her 2,555 kilo’s and her dainty little body she entered the world keeping us on the edge of our seats, not that we were sitting any of us, til the last minute. I am thrilled to see this little one happy and healthy in her Mama’s arms. When Papa got his cuddles the relief and love for his Chloe was tangible Welcome sweet girl.

Maybe I want a doula after all!

21-08-2016 ~ Welcome sweet Ayden.

Some women move heaven and earth to create the environment that will optimize the chances of a natural birth. Women hoping to have a vaginal birth after a c-section (VBAC) sometimes feel options are taken away from them because of the risk of uterine rupture. Deborah had a dream team in her mind as she met several different doctors in different hospitals. She chose for a hospital that was willing to allow her midwife to do the birth with the full cooperation of the gynecologist. This meant that even though she had a medical indication her own midwife would do the birth but would discuss the progress and decisions with the gynecologist during the labour.

We had met early on in the pregnancy but she had not asked me to be her doula. As the time came closer Deborah realized she really did want the support of a doula after all. This birth was important enough to give it the best shot she could. She had prepared so well but kept having the feeling that a doula was missing from the picture. So a week before my vacation would start I agreed to support her if she went into labour before the Saturday evening. Ever since we met I had had the feeling this was a special lady and our paths were meant to meet. The week passed and Saturday came and sure enough labour started just in the nick of time.

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Despite all the preparation, it was tough going! There were moments of panic and despair, moments where Deborah wanted to give up, moments where the pain was so intense that she regretted not opting for the elective cesarean. Every time the panic came she would look into my eyes and we would breath together. With her partners firm hand to hold, we helped her through the process one contraction at a time. An epidural gave the needed relief but still allowed her to be present in her body and feel the process without the high intensity. Many women expect to feel nothing with an epidural and are disappointed when that isn’t the case. However afterwards I often get the feedback that they were happy they could still ‘feel’ and felt like they were still participating in the process. The epidural helped the process along and it wasn’t long before she pushed her baby out into the world and into her arms, just as she had dreamed of.

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The midwife, the doula and the Dr. were indeed the exact dream team Deborah had hoped for! Each one was important in the process, each one playing their part, and in the end she got her dream VBAC! And this doula made some pretty okay photos here and there when she could… yes, because Deborah is a birth photographer and that was pretty important to her too!! 🙂

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And it was a surprise boy!! I always love to see a happy relaxed mother looking on at her partner and their new baby snuggling together. Such sweetness, such pride and such awe <3

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Oliver & Merlijn

07-11-2016 ~ Welcome Oliver & Merlijn

(My 120th birth;)

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I have so much respect for this couple. They walked a path so different than they originally had hoped to because they were expecting identical twins, and they did it so graciously. It was a medical journey with many hospital visits and check ups. They made informed and sometimes agonising decisions throughout their pregnancy. This mama was(is) strong and determined and she grew her little ones on the inside for 37 weeks. Women bodies are AMAZING! They surrounded themselves with a supportive team: a favourite midwife, a rather special gynaecologist, and me (their doula;) and were lucky that exactly those people were working on the day. And she… she gave birth so peacefully and yet with such power. Beautiful Mama, beautiful woman
These two little ones have a big brother who is all of 18 months old. A precious family

Vimal

29-10-2016 ~ Vimal came into this world even faster than Santi! So fast that the midwife and I both missed it. People often say that they hope for a fast birth but don’t realize just how intense that can be. Vimal was caught by his Dad on the bathroom floor, midwife arrived just after shortly followed by me. It took quite some talking to process the birth and a week later the parents were still in shock. No home water birth as she had hoped for but an exciting birth story non the less.

 

Elijah

27-10-2016 ~ Oh Elijah, what a long journey your parents had to walk to have you. And here you are! Welcome little guy. What a pleasure to be part of your birth into this world and into your family.

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Milan

14-10-2016 ~ Milan

One long labour, one strong mother determined to have a VBAC, two fierce and loving midwives, one gentle sweet father, one big brother excitedly waiting at home with his rather nervous Grandmother and little Milan who, for reasons we may never know, needed to be born by cesarean.
Milan was placed straight on his mother after the birth of the placenta, had 5 hours continual skin to skin, his placenta stayed attached, his parents loved on him and the doula? She was allowed in the OR to document the whole birth!! So grateful

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I love seeing how excited parents are to show their older children their new sibling. I watch as their hearts expand with love for that new little baby and as soon as their firstborn enters the room the love that already filled their hearts is so loud and clear.  Big Bro Luca was oh so proud!

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Santi

11-10-2016 ~ Welcome Santi!

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We suspected this little man was going to come quickly and he did not disappoint. I was called shortly after Kim thought that labour might of started. I arrived at their home 25 minutes later and Kim was obviously in pain. Her older son was still at home and she did not want to be in labour with him around so was trying to tame it down a bit. Labour held off a little bit til the babysitter got there but not fully. Kim got in the water and within 55 minutes of the midwife and I arriving little Santi was born. Pure nature, hands off, just a mother instinctively birthing her baby. Such raw and primal beauty!

 

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David

2016-09-27-david-13Welcome sweet David. Born on 27-09-2016 after a long and intense labour that pushed his Mum to the edge of her limit many times! Every time she thought she could not go on any further she had even more endurance and surprised herself. The biggest surprise came when she actually pushed her baby out with her own strength. She was thrilled and could not have been prouder!

“I’ve changed my mind, I think I want a home birth!”

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The ‘Team Tula’selfie!

When I got the first phone call from Jessica she had found out she was pregnant a few weeks earlier. She was incredibly sick and her body felt so out of control that she just needed to talk to someone about it. I remember I had arrived at a postnatal appointment a little early and was sitting in the car when she called. I sat and listened as she talked and poured out her fears and experiences and just how weird she thought this pregnancy thing was. I assured her it was normal what she was going through, blamed the (wonderful) hormones and empathized with just how much it sucked to feel so crappy because your body is growing a baby. Being American she knew it was normal to wait a few weeks before going to the midwife but felt a strong need to talk to a professional about what she was experiencing. All she wanted was to hear some advice on how she could take care of herself and hear that what she was going through was normal.

I met her and her dutch partner, Emiel, a week or so later and they hired me to be their doula. Jessica had no idea what kind of birth she wanted, she just knew that she DID NOT want it to be at home and she was really strict about that from the beginning. Home births just aren’t part of how things go in the US where most people are convinced a room full of doctors is the safest way to birth. Emiel shared how he was only four when his brother was born at home and he remembered crying the entire time. It was not exactly a pleasant memory for him but he was open to whatever Jess wanted.

Jess had no plans either way in terms of pain relief, she was pretty much open to everything but more than anything she wanted to have options. I recommended a midwife practice and the midwife recommended a kraamzorg and after discovering it was a baby girl Jessica and Emiel gave her a name and ‘Team Tula’ was born. Jessica joked about getting t-shirts for everyone with ‘Team Tula’ on it.

As time went on they started discovering more about the birth process (at the Confident Birth Course) Learning there were limitations that came with medical interventions, like no longer having their midwife taking care of them and the use of water in any form being out of the question, caused them to reconsider their birth plan. Jess loves water and doesn’t love being hooked to machines and so this news started to change things for her. Sure, she still wanted the option for medical pain relief but was much more aware of the trade-offs that would be made if she opted for it.

So they came to the conclusion that a home water birth would provide a relaxed atmosphere and help Jess stay calm and feel safe during labour. This ended up being the birth plan, unless, during the process she decided otherwise. She was not closed to having an epidural if needed, she was just now open to trying warm water as a pain relief option instead of immediately jumping to a medical form of relief.

I went on vacation and had my back up cover for me in case labour started before 39 weeks. Two days after my return Jess was awoken at 3 in the morning with light contractions that were enough to keep her awake. They were uncomfortable but not painful and they continued for a few hours. In the morning they subsided and she was able to catch up on some sleep. She continued with her day aware this pattern could continue for some days still.

That evening they indeed started up again and she didn’t really dare to believe she was really in labour. She knew that early labour could stop and start before really kicking in and she kept thinking the contractions were probably temporary. However her husband saw they were progressing and coming quite often and decided it would be good to let me know. I encouraged her to get into the shower to see if that would make the contractions intensify or slow down and agreed we would have contact in 30 minutes or so again. The next time I talked to her she was very chatty but when the contraction came I could hear her breathing to get through it. I timed a few at every 2 minutes. This seemed to be going fast, so I said i would make my way to them and be there in an hour and that they should definitely call the midwife.

I arrived at the same time as the midwife and we went upstairs. It was 11:10 at this point and clear that Jess was in deep labour. Her favourite 80’s music was playing and Emiel said that 30 minutes earlier they had been dancing to the music. This was going fast. She was emotional and struggling to cope. I suggested the shower again while the midwife got the birthing pool set up.

water -birth-tula-delft-doulaThe shower was a dark place, she said later, where she later came to realize she had been in transition (the phase just before being fully open and ready to push the baby out.) It felt so intense and the contractions just kept coming with little break in between. She started to feel the urge to push and I encouraged her not to be afraid but to be mindful of what her body was doing and let it happen. We took turns to stay with her and help with the pool. When Emiel was with her he held the shower on her back and when I was with her I applied some counter pressure on her back. Meanwhile the midwife was working hard to get some water in the pool. I took over so she could go and check the heartbeat of the baby. The baby was doing fine. The midwife suggested Jess get into the pool.

Thuisbevalling-water-tula-DoulaAs soon as she got it in, the water soothed the pain in her body a bit. It felt good and she relaxed but then a contraction would come and she wouldn’t know where to grab or what to do! I brought to her attention that the space between the contractions had gotten longer again (this is common for the pushing phase so mother and baby can recover from the intensity of the contraction.) As soon as she realized that, she could relax better in the breaks because she had more time to. We talked about how if she pushed with the contraction the pain would likely be less and it was as if that suddenly clicked for her and during the next contraction she got more focused and in control. I could see she was mindfully feeling what was going on in her body, listening to it and gently pushing the baby down. The warm water was all used up so the sweet midwife continued to warm the water every way possible wanting to have enough warm water in the pool before the baby came and wanting to allow the father to be in the moment with his wife!!

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Jess moved onto her knees in the pool and after the next contraction all of a sudden said “I think something just came out” The midwife grabbed the mirror from her bag but as I looked down I saw a little tiny hand peeping out from underneath Jessica. The baby was already half born. Jessica and Emiel looked down together and there she was, sweet Tula, staring up at them from under the water. Jess wasn’t sure what to do but the midwife assured her she could just bring her out of the water herself. She did and pulled her baby’s wet little body up to her chest while sitting back in the pool. “There you are my little nugget” she said and as we all laughed with slight disbelief at what had just happened. The midwife said “Team Tula, Yay!” and we all cheered! It was just past midnight 🙂

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Tula let out a loud cry and then quietened down and enjoyed being in her mama’s arms in the water… which wasn’t quite full enough but was plenty warm enough. Playing in the background as she was born was “I want it that way” by the Back Street Boys! We laughed again and all put on our team Tula t-shirts as we had not yet had time to do.

Thuisbevalling-home birth-Doula-SophieThe kraamzorg arrived, put on her t-shirt and joined the team Tula selfie. The dogs were introduced to the new addition and were very relaxed about the whole thing.

After a few hours I went home with an Oxytocin high, a bit of jet-lag, a bit of doula-lag and needing to get up the next day to teach a new Confident Birth Course! Doula life can be crazy but I love it!

Welcome sweet Tula, you are already very loved… even by your furry friends who are starting to get used to you now too. Emiel and Jessica thank you for letting me share your story.

Elena

17-07-2016 ~ I love to witness the enthusiastic and loving support of a partner. Elena’s Dad gave amazing support to his wife last night giving relentless, and I mean relentless, sacral pressure through every single contraction. His wife, oh wow… she rocked it with a boat load of patience and determination and laboured and birthed their beautiful daughter, in water as she wished, during the early hours of this morning. Welcome Elena.

Juliette

08-07-2016 ~ This was a sweet family birth that I got to capture last week. Reminds me of that quote “There is such a special sweetness in being able to participate in creation” ~ Pamela S. Nadav
Welcome Juliette, you were surrounded with so much love, right from the very first moment.

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Lea

Lea ~ 20-06-2016 ~
I love my repeat clients. Especially sweet when the first hire was only for birth photography and the value of your presence during the birth meant so much that with the second baby they hire you for your doula support too.
This is one strong Mama! So much respect for her journey to parenthood.
Two photos of the two sisters, one born by c-section and one VBAC
Read big sister Anna’s, birth story here. https://www.doulasophie.nl/?s=anna

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Cesare

11-06-2016 ~ Welcome Cesare ? Repeat client, 2nd son, boy families rock!

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Greta

And there she is, Greta!! After a long but stressful pregnancy, that doctors tried to keep convincing her was high risk, this Mama kept on believing in her little girl and made it through to 39 weeks and 4 days of pregnancy. Her labour started naturally and was a long VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) journey.

2016-06-09 Greta Sneak Peek-3

After many hours with little progression she made the difficult decision to have an epidural. Thankfully she was rewarded by being one of those women where the process speeds up after receiving an epidural and she birthed her little Greta vaginally as she had so hoped to. VBAC mama’s are so strong. In the early hours of this morning the 9th of June 2016, little Greta was born joining her sister to make a family of girls. A long awaited VBAC birth. Welcome tiny little one.

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18 years of 3 boys!

On this day 18 years ago I gave birth to my third son. His was the only pregnancy we found out what gender we were expecting and i don’t need to tell most of you why. Yes he was to be my 3rd son 😉 After the initial disappointment that he was not a girl, I thought “3 boys, wow cool.”

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I would have so loved a daughter. And before you think it… yes of course it was important he was a healthy baby but when I was 27 I presumed my baby would be healthy, that’s just the honest truth. Knowing the gender before birth was more unusual back then. I knew that finding out before would help me prepare and not be disappointed at birth. An hour after finding out I was over it and so looking forward to having three boys!

I never imagined being a boys Mum but with hearing we were expecting another boy my fate was set in stone! More testosterone in my life than I ever imagined more sports in my life than i ever imagined and more ‘boy movies’ than i ever care to tell!!

 

When Joel was born he brought so much into our family. So many smiles and cuddles and he was my first super easy baby. Easy going and happy. We were more relaxed as parents I think and the older two boys had each other and did everything together which gave me more time to enjoy Joel as a baby. The age gap was a little bigger between son 2 and 3 than between the first two, this also added to the ease in which Joel came into our family. We lived in California where it was sunny all the time and the older two boys (then 3 & 5yrs) lived outside which suited their personalities really well. Yes Joel is our American son!

I sometimes wonder what our home would have been like with 3 girls. Maybe the house would be more cleaned up, maybe there would be less shoes left under the coffee table, maybe there would have been more reading and colouring (3 boys together don’t find themselves doing that very often:) maybe just maybe there would… well i can go on and I know for sure there would have been way more chick flicks!! But many of my friends tell me the clean house and less shoes is definitely not true with girls so I will be happy and thankful and keep cleaning up and tolerating the boy movies til they are all out of the house and I know I will long back for those moments.

Beach shoot

 

On the day we celebrate Joels 18th birthday I am so thankful. Thankful for all the happy times, thankful to have 3 healthy boys who have turned into 3 loving, healthy fantastic young men. And even though the house is too small for 5 grown human beings, from 1 family, I am happy that this evening we will eat together and celebrate 18 years of Joel in our lives.

Alone in the labour room!

For much of the time you are in labour you are alone with your partner, busy labouring in the best way you know how. My last blog talked about the reality of what it looks like for much of the time you are in labour and the misconception about the support you will get from your midwife or the hospital staff.

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How can you prepare for those hours alone in the birthing room with just the two of you?

1 ~ Follow a birth preparation course together. This can help you and your partner know more about what to expect during the process. Your partner will feel more at

ease because he knows how the process of labour works and will have learned some ways he can coach you through the process. It is very common for the pregnant woman to

do a lot of reading about labour and birth but the partner is often reluctant to read or just can’t find the time to.

Why take a course as a couple?

  • There is nothing better than having your birth partner be as educated as you are!
  • It forces you to spend time together preparing mentally and emotionally for the baby and not just practically (with all those jobs and endless lists that need doing/buying     and making.)
  • Good birth preparation is worth the money and will educate and prepare you for a better birth experience.
  • Preparing alone and having your partner just come to a ‘partner session’ is (better than nothing) but not even half as effective as preparing together.
  • It will blow your partner away because he will actually enjoy it and feel better equipped for the job and that… is awesome… for you and him!!

 

Not… be with just the two of you!!

2 ~Hire a Doula. Consider what a difference a doula will make to your birthing experience. I know it is quite an investment but you will not regret it. What ever your birth journey ends up being, doula support will improve your outcome. She can’t guarantee your dream birth or a perfect birth but she can support you and your partner in a way that makes the whole experience a more positive and supported one.

  • A doula will be with you from beginning to end. Better still she has gotten to know you a bit in the months leading up to your birth so she feels familiar and you feel safe with her present.
  • When labour really starts to kick in she will be making sure you are comfortable, helping you find whatever position feels comfortable, massaging you, giving you sips of water. At times she may sit in the corner chair and just “be there”
  • She will help your partner feel at ease and giving him ideas of how to “be there” for you.
  • She will encourage and motivate you when you feel like you can’t go on. She will believe in you and your ability to birth your baby.
  • If interventions are advised she will help you weigh up the pros and cons and walk you through whatever is necessary to make a healthy decision.
  • You will feel safe because she is familiar with birth. During those seemingly endless hours, she understands what is going on and will tell you that what you are experiencing is normal.
  • Your partner will feel less stress because he can ask his questions as they come up and not feel the responsibility of knowing if he should or shouldn’t call the midwife or the nurse AGAIN!
  • Your doula will do all she can to keep those stress levels down. Stress will hinder the process and slow it down so she will spend time in her prenatal visits finding out what your fears are and what causes you stress so she can make sure your birthing environment FEELS safe to you, so your birthing experience will benefit.
  • A doula lightens the load and brings a dose of humour to the atmosphere bringing a sense of calm and confidence.

If you are not planning on using a doula, or even if you are, be as prepared as you can for your birth, take a course and be informed about the birthing process so you can minimize the stress and the unknown.

Shameless plug: Check out www.birthinholland.com for great couples courses in English!

Hospital birth in The Netherlands

A lonely reality of hospital birth

“Oh I don’t need a doula, I am giving birth in the hospital” is a statement I often hear when talking to women expecting their first baby. The truth of the matter is that if you really knew how much time you and your partner will be alone in that labouring room, you may feel differently. One of the reasons for this misunderstanding is the expectation of how physically present the hospital maternity staff are while you are in labour.

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The reality is that upon arrival in the hospital you get a maternity nurse and a clinical midwife or resident doctor assigned to you. The nurse sporadically comes in and out to check on you or to do her routine tests and even more sporadically the midwife or resident doctor are with her to check how the labour process is going. If it is very quiet on the ward then you may get some extra attention, the nurse usually wants to assist you as well as she can, but if she has more than one birth at a time she cannot physically be in two places at once. If you are being transferred, or handed over to the hospital, by your midwife, because of a complication or the use of certain pain relief options, then she may or may not stay with you. Probably not! If you are under the care of a gynecologist for your pregnancy, because of a medical indication, then you will definitely not have continual physical support in the room during your labour.

The Gynecologist only comes if there is a complication. He or she is keeping an eye on your situation by looking at a computer screen, with your contractions and the baby’s heart rate, in the office room down the hall! They are in charge of the ward and are mostly referred to outside of your room. You will likely only meet them face-to-face if you need an intervention of some sort or if the midwife needs to confer about an issue in your presence.

At any time you can call on them by pressing a button that alerts them you need assistance or help and they will be there as soon as they can. But, in-between there are quite some hours that you and your partner are alone. Just the two of you!

birth-natalia-delft-doulaDuring the time you are alone with your partner, you are busy labouring in the best way you know how. You may appreciate being alone but it is very likely that your partner will feel helpless and have questions plaguing him like: Should I call the nurse now? What can I do? Isn’t it time? And, Why are they taking so long they said they would come and check again in 1 hour? What if the baby comes and no one is here? Is this normal, so much pain? He will want to support you but inside will likely feel stressed out however prepared he felt before hand. You will likely also have a variation of these questions circling around in your head at some point or another. A birth is very unpredictable and takes turns we don’t expect that can cause uncertainty and concern.

If you are prepared for this then you may be okay with the idea of labouring with just the two of you. If you and/or your partner are uncomfortable with the idea, then you may want to consider what a difference a doula will make to your birthing experience.

Tomorrow: Find out how hiring a doula can make a difference to your birthing experience.

“If interventions are advised she will help you weigh up the pros and cons and walk you through whatever is necessary.”

Guus

2016-05-27 Guus Sneak Peek-7-2

Nothing more precious than a fresh wrinkly newborn in his Dads arms for the first time. Little Guus was born a little before midnight on my birth-day: 27-05-2016 which was also the same date (different year;) that his parents had met!! Welcome little guy, you are so wanted and very, very special.

Isaac

9-05-2016 His Dad had gotten very impatient waiting past the due date for his son to be born. On the 18th April it was time. It was a gentle start to the labour and when active labour really kicked in these two slow danced their way through it until it was time to give birth. It was hard work and little Isaac was born in a beautiful hospital birth on the birthing stool with their wonderful midwife, Anouk. Sweet birth day! Welcome Isaac.

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My fears of choosing a cesarean section

Angela’s email continued: Read the first part here

“In general, a C-section seems to me a weird way of giving birth. A woman is about to experience one of the strongest transitions in her life and we add to this, a major abdominal surgery, which persé is a difficult operation to go through. After such an operation you need a good recovery time and a crying, hungry baby with the hormonal shifts you go through, make it really hard to recover.

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My fears of choosing a C-section

  • Not being in control and being completely dependent despite being a healthy human being. Passively watching other people intervening in something that is regarding me so much (my baby) and being the least active person in the room, drives me crazy. I am not having a heart attack and incapable of recovery myself, I am giving birth to my own child and I should be able to do that myself. The problem of this fear is that this bad feeling wouldn’t last only for the time of the surgery. A C-section implies I cannot be the main caregiver for many days. My child will be dependent on me while I will be completely dependent on my poor husband (at the least, if not on other helpers too)
  • I don’t know how painful it is to give birth naturally but I know how much pain you can feel with a C-section (without complications) It was very, very, very painful. A pain I was not happy about, and pain I really did not want to feel. I can imagine that when women ask for a C-section, they deal better with this pain. I didn’t. I hated my scar and the shape of my belly that for several months was blowing around this painful and ugly line. It would hurt every time I would breastfeed, I would sneeze, I would cough, I would go to bed and wake up. Every time I would remember what happened and this made me feel miserable. I could not exercise and I had to be careful and I did not quite understand why it happened in the first place and how I got here anyway. Why was this C-section needed? I hadn’t even tried to give birth.
  • C-section risks. Don’t need to list them, but the risks for both the mother and the baby are unpleasant. I would like to avoid them, but risks are a probabilistic matter, same reasoning made with the uterine rupture applies.
  • My physical and physiological recovery was really hard. I have mentioned that before. The part I suffered the most was that my heavy recovery did not allow me to enjoy my baby. For me breastfeeding was a torture and I kept doing it only because I believed it was right, but it was never pleasant. I feared the cry of my baby because that meant he was hungry. I was so mentally exhausted from what I had been through that I felt guilty, inadequate, and incapable to enjoy the moments with my baby that I had waited for so long. My baby was healthy, why was I not happy then? I would avoid a major surgery when having to take care of a newborn (and of a toddler too!). It took me almost 2 months to feel physically okay. It took much more to feel mentally okay. I started to feel better when I stopped breastfeeding, when my baby was approximately 5 months. I still have troubles accepting what happened. Am I okay now? I am not sure.

GENERAL REMARKS

I guess giving birth is never easy and becoming a mother is even harder. However, fear of dying, experiencing a surgery, being under the effect of a drug (morphine is amazing) and becoming a mother, all first time experiences and all during the same day can be quite challenging.

I feel angry because I am having a second child without the benefits of it. I don’t know how it feels to enter into labor and I don’t know how I would cope with it. Knowing that women experience shorter labor and quicker delivery with a second child is also disappointing. This is my second child and I don’t have a clue about how to give birth, just like I was a first time mother.

Here is a link to a helpful site with information if you are trying to decide on having a vaginal birth or not. http://vbacfacts.com/

Uma

Sweet Uma right where she wanted to be after waiting for her mama to come back from the operating room, cuddled up close to where she had been growing for the past 9 months. Born on Kings day 27-04-2016.

Welcome ‘little whale’ as your mama so fondly named you while in the belly. You are so loved.

Doula Sophie-Cesarean birth

Linde

26-04-2016 Just before Kings day Linde entered the world in a very speedy and intense, yet calm and empowered birth. This mama rocked her birth with such grace and power. Afterwards she could barely believe she had done it and that it had gone just as she had planned. Much intentional preparation paid off and had such sweet and joyful rewards.

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Welcome little beauty!

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2016-Birth centre doula

 

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