ASIYA'S BIRTH STORY | PREGNANCY CARE + HOMEBIRTH PLAN
I feel like every time I sit down to write a blog post, my mind is always like "where do I start?" So while a lot of you have messaged asking how the birth went and although I do want to get straight into it, I think it's important that I first talk about the care we chose during our pregnancy and the kind of birth we wanted.
Before we fell pregnant, actually, before I even got married, I knew I wanted to have a homebirth. It was a mix of not feeling comfortable in a hospital combined with the feeling of 'this is how it should be done' and hearing the homebirth story of a dear friend who said she loved her birth so much she would love to do it again and again. To have a homebirth there are a few different options, some hospitals in certain states in Australia have hospital funded homebirths, unfortunately QLD doesn't offer this. You can then either hire an independent midwife or freebirth. Freebirthing is birthing with no medical professional present and although that would make one feel totally bada** it can also be very unsafe. We wanted to go with the independent midwifery care as it would allow us to have continuity of care by one midwife. Although this type of care is expensive and is the main reason why many women decide to freebirth, it was important to us as I knew I needed to know the person who would be helping bring our baby earthside and I needed them to know us too. We needed to have complete confidence and trust in our midwife and I knew that could only be achieved by having the same midwife care for us throughout pregnancy and be with us for the birth.
When we finally fell pregnant we were living in Sydney in a 1 bedroom, 7th floor apartment. It was tiny and we were surrounded by neighbours on either side, above and below us with only a wall between. This made me a little uncomfortable as I could just imagine our neighbours hearing me give birth and I couldn't imagine sharing an elevator with them again after that lol! But, I still wanted a homebirth, so I looked for a homebirth midwife in our area but found they were way out of our budget. So it took me a while but I settled for giving birth at the hospital my husband worked at after hearing lots of great feedback on their new water birthing suites. I also decided to hire a doula and had a meeting set up with one but we found out the day before that there was a high chance we would be moving to Toowoomba.
After researching the one hospital in Toowoomba and realising they don't offer water births, calling the Toowoomba birth centre to try and get into the Midwifery Group Practice (a model of care where you see the same midwives throughout your pregnancy and birth) and being told that in order to get in I should call as soon as I pee on the stick as the program is so coveted, I decided to try for the homebirth again. So I went on a mission to find a homebirth midwife in Toowoomba and I came across Sonya Beutel from Nurture Your Birth. I gave her a call and after one conversation I was ready to book her. Because I would already be over halfway through my pregnancy by the time we would start seeing her, the cost would be significantly reduced as I had already had appointments at the hospital and all the scans we wanted done. I was so excited to tell my husband when he came home but wasn't met with the same excitement from him (can you blame him though, his wife was all set to birth at a hospital and then one day you come home to her telling you she's found a homebirth midwife in Toowomba, oh and keep in mind at this stage we were still only 90% certain we were moving lol). While he agreed on the benefits of a homebirth, he was still nervous about it and felt like perhaps as it was our first baby we should be at a hospital. Again, I didn't give up and instead insisted he meets with Sonya when we move and speaks to her about all his concerns and then he can decide. I felt like as all the information he was getting was coming from me, he needed to hear it from someone else.
Well, after he met with her, he was more than happy to go ahead and I can't tell you how happy I was. From that initial phone conversation and our first meeting I knew Sonya was the one, it's safe to say I fell in love with her and felt so confident and safe under her care. From that moment forward we started seeing Sonya regularly, she was so patient with us and answered all our questions and often we would end up spending 3 hours at what was meant to be a 1 hour appointment just talking to her about everything and anything and having a laugh (tbh Sonya laughs at my jokes and that's probably why I love her so much). I can't praise Sonya enough though, not only as a midwife but as a human being. She is one of the kindest, loveliest and strongest women I have had the pleasure of knowing and being cared for by. She loves what she does and she genuinely cares for mother and baby and it's apparent in everything she does.
Her values aligned with ours so much that we didn't even have to speak about many of the choices we wanted to make because she just knew. We were on the same page with everything and she respected every decision we chose to make but made sure to give us information from all aspects so we could make an informed decision. She went above and beyond in every single thing she did, whether it was sending me links to articles on a topic I was curious about without me even asking, replying to all my texts no matter the time of day about every little thing I was suddenly worried about, seeing us at 6am so my husband could make it to the appointment before work, letting us hang out at her clinic (which is part of her home) for hours talking about everything even though her husband had dinner ready (oops) and then getting a call that another mum was in labour and having to leave without eating said husbands dinner (oops again, sorry Sonya!) and a million other big and small things she did for us. I could go on and on about Sonya and our care, but I think what sums it up the best is that before we even gave birth my husband said to me "I don't think I could ever do this any other way."
Sonya is now more like a friend to us and an Aunty to Asiya. We will forever be eternally grateful for all that she has and continues to do for us. I agree with my husband, even though we didn't end up birthing at home, I don't think I could do this any other way.
The birth that I had envisioned was a calm birth at home in the water. Surrounded by soft lighting and my familiar safe space, my birth board to keep my head in the right space and my husband and Sonya by my side to help and guide me through it all. I strongly believe in my body's ability to grow and birth a baby, I believe that Allah swt made my body so that it can grow and birth a baby and I believe that Allah swt would never burden us with more than we can bear. It's for this reason that I wasn't afraid of giving birth and of any pain that may be associated with it. I also knew that I needed to prepare myself for birth, because although childbirth is natural, I knew I needed a range of tools to help me through labour because I knew it was going to be tough. I researched pregnancy, labour and birth every single day in order to prepare myself for what my body was about to go through. The internet is a wealth of information and although I learnt a lot via it, the biggest source of knowledge and empowerment for me were reading Ina May's Guide to Childbirth and Spiritual Midwifery both by Ina May Gaskin as well as learning Hypnobirthing.
I had heard a lot about Hypnobirthing and although initially was uncertain of whether it aligned with my Islamic values, I decided to try it out. As we were moving interstate I decided to do the online Hypnobubs Australia course which worked perfectly for me as I could access each session whenever and wherever I was and rewatch parts I felt I needed to hear again. Although not for everyone, Hypnobirthing worked for me. I could not have gotten through labour without the techniques I learnt through it and it enabled me to have the calm labour at home that I envisioned as well as be calm and prepared for whatever happened that wasn't in our plan.
The biggest part of Hypnobirthing is your mindset. Tapping into your subconscious mind and training it so that it's prepared and ready when you need to use it during labour. The course provides you with information on labour and birth, what happens to your body during labour, what your body needs to help labour progress and what will slow your labour down, the interventions that commonly occur in hospitals and the risks and benefits of them and then equips you with a toolbox of techniques such as breathing and deep relaxation. The most important part of Hypnobirthing is to practice these techniques as much as you possibly can so that your subconscious mind knows them and when you're in labour you won't have to use your conscious mind to think about what to do (as this can slow your labour down).
Hypnobirthing also changes common words associated with labour, while I found most of these word changes to be irrelevant to me the one that I did find helpful was referring to contractions as rushes or surges. So when you read rush or surge in the next part, know that I am referring to contractions.
Okay, I think now I'm ready to delve into the long, intense but fun, empowering and beautiful labour and birth story of our darling daughter.