Positive Birth News

birth stories, news and articles to encourage and inspire

After launching Birth Journeys in 2012, Amber Greene, author of “Creative Parenting for Fun”  interviewed me on her blog Parenting Fun Everyday.

From Amber: “A little while ago, I had the good fortune to make contact with Leonie Macdonald. Leonie is the Editor of the new book, Birth Journeys- positive birth stories to encourage and inspire.  I’ve been reading the book for the past few weeks, and every single story is a gift to motherhood.  Some stories have made me laugh out loud, others have made me cry but all have made me clucky!  Yes, when I read this book, my uterus starts stretching and I think, yes, I would love one more healthy bub.”

And yes…she went on to have another beautiful baby earlier this year!


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Sleep Deprivation: The Dark Side of Parenting

Sleep deprivation – one thing I had no idea about before my babies were born and it sure took its toll on me! We drew on Elizabeth Pantley’s ideas from her book ” The No Cry Sleep Solution” to make some changes and improve sleep for everyone. I still have some very disturbed nights with my youngest ( just turned 4) but at least with older children it is easier to get an early night and just sleep, sweet sleep when I really need to. I know I’ll be woken later on, but by then I’ve already had some lovely sleep in the bank! Another way to cope, that I learnt in pregnancy, is to use a 5 minute relaxation or meditation track and lie down for that short time. Five minutes of deep relaxation can feel as good as a sleep!

The Science of Mom

Sleep deprivation is an inevitable part of having a baby, and surely that’s been true throughout the history of our species. But we also live in a culture that seems to take some amount of pride in getting by on little sleep. We think of sleep as time wasted, as lost productivity. We forget – or ignore – the biological necessity of sleep.

Becoming a parent only further stretches our already-too-thin sleep allotments. Newborn babies wake frequently to feed or for comfort during the night. We try to “sleep when the baby sleeps” and piece it together to come up with a reasonable amount, but it often doesn’t feel sufficient. And now more than ever, new parents are really isolated as they make this transition; they don’t have much in the way of backup resources to help with the 24/7 job of caring for a baby.

This month, the…

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Creative Parenting for Fun – ebook giveaway

From My Bookshelf

I’m very excited that my friend Amber Greene has just published her ebook, Creative Parenting for Fun: simple secrets for transforming your family life, one idea at a time. I am reading Amber’s book at the moment and I am loving all the crafty inspiration! From songs, to toys, to simple ways to make each day special and flow a little more easily, Amber’s book is full of ideas, strategies and knowledge. Amber has worked with young children for over 20 years as a teacher and playgroup leader and she is the mother of an 18 year old, a 5 year old and a newborn.

Visit Amber’s blog Parenting Fun Everyday to see how Amber supports parents to live a creative life with their children. Amber sees creativity as a means to enjoying the journey and create win-win situations in the home to reduce frustrations, stress, and behavioural challenges too. Sign up to her monthly newsletter and receive a free downloadable Weekly Meal Planner printable.

Buy a copy of Amber’s book by May 30th and you will go into the draw to win one of 19 fabulous prizes donated by Amber’s sponsors! Creative Parenting for Fun is available as a downloadable ebook for $30 or as a special duo pack of ebook and paperback for $60.

Creative Parenting for Fun BookGiveaway

Amber is hosting a giveaway of her ebook for one lucky Birth Journeys friend.

To enter, follow both of these steps.

  1. Sign up to Positive Birth News
  2. Leave a comment below sharing a time when you used a creative or imaginative solution to make an everyday problem with your child easier and happier (eg bath time, getting dressed, sitting in the car seat).

Giveaway closes on May 20, 2013. My favourite comment will win a free copy of the ebook Creative Parenting for Fun.


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Women’s Wisdom – Making an Induction Positive

If you do need an induction, it may be helpful to learn from other women what made their induction positive.

Kate shares:

We had wanted to avoid induction as we were aiming for a natural birth. I was quite anxious about it and felt very vulnerable and out of control. It was a big shift but I decided I would remain open minding and just deal with things as they happened. I had heard that contractions in induced labour came faster and stronger so I was anxious about that, especially being my first baby.

When Jodie’s waters broke at 35 weeks and she tested positive for Group B Streptococcus, Jodie says the decision to induce was straightforward.

While I had not wanted to be induced, in the circumstances it was an easy decision to make.  We did not want the baby to be affected by something that we had the power to prevent.

Jodie’s labour progressed more slowly during the induction than expected but she was able to avoid further medical assistance by drawing on the relaxation skills and confidence she had developed during her pregnancy.

The midwife said that she’d heard I’d done calmbirth and suggested I could try relaxing and then bluntly outlined our options: increase the syntocinon to assist labour, which would most likely mean pain relief would be required, or wait for a couple of hours, at which point it was still likely that I would need to increase the syntocinon and require pain relief and maybe even a c-section.  I recalled at that point that induction often led to further intervention and this also made me feel quite sad.

I said to Matt that a c-section seemed inevitable when labour hadn’t started spontaneously and I might as well get it over and done with.  The only thing that made me balk was that I would need an epidural.  Matt was absolutely amazing at this point.  Instead of trying to rescue me (or simply agreeing to the c-section), he patiently listened, gently reminded me about what I wanted from my birth experience and then encouraged me by saying that I did have the strength to carry on and have what I wanted.  At this point, part of me wanted to run away from it all.

I felt so low. I couldn’t escape the negative feelings, which felt like they lasted forever (in reality it was at 5-10 minutes). I’m still not exactly sure what it was that turned my attitude around 180 degrees.  Most likely, it was the combination of the sharp shock of Cheryl’s stern talking-to and the reminder of the calm birth course, the strong support of Matt and the movement of getting up off the bed.

Cheryl reminding me to relax made me understand that I hadn’t been even though I’d been trying to. I’d been controlling my body with the vocalization, tensing my uterus so that the surges wouldn’t hurt. I had not followed the realisation I had during pregnancy: I have everything I need within me.  I told Matt that I needed to change position, something he had been encouraging for hours. Once in a grounded position, the room around me disappeared and I can only describe it as moving within myself.  I sat with my head lowered, relaxed my body and most importantly my mind with breathing and allowed the surges to wash through my body.

For other women the decision to have an induction may bring great relief from a high level of anxiety due to previous traumatic experiences or health complications. Nicki chose to have an induction at 40 weeks due to her mental wellbeing.

I had many years of infertility and 2 pregnancy losses. I was a nervous wreck by the time I got to 39 weeks. I had experienced a previous induction that had gone very badly so I was anxious, but with my mind racing with all the crazy things that could go wrong I asked my obstetrician how he felt about inducing me 3 days later. He told me to wait a few more days and if nothing happened he would support a induction. He gave me the full run down and informed me that he would be unable to proceed if I was not “ready” on admission to be induced.

My induction was my choice and I felt good about it, considering I was not coping mentally. I was also comfortable with an induction at 40 weeks because this baby was conceived via fertility treatments and we were sure of the dates.

Nicki says that although she chose an induction, she had prepared well for a natural birth and she requested a very hands-off approach from midwives and doctors.

I was 3 cm at admission even though I had not felt any contractions, so I was ready. My induction was a gel and I was 5cm after 2 hours of the gel being in. I progressed very quickly after I agreed to have my waters broken and my baby was born 4 and half hours later.

I refused an IV and requested intermittent monitoring (2 hourly) rather than continuous monitoring so I would be able to move around and use the shower. I rocked, walked, hummed, owwwed and moved though the contractions. I listened to wisdom from my amazing doula and best friend about positions and embraced the contractions instead of fighting them (well mostly!) This was fully supported by my obstetrician.

My obstetrician is very pro natural/water/mother led birth. He is a light in the world of obstetricians. He made me feel supported, educated and as though I knew my body and how to birth. He never doubted I would birth this baby naturally and left me alone for most of the birth.


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Positive Birth Story – A Mother’s Love: becoming an advocate for my children

Elaine & childrenThe following is a series of extracts from Elaine’s story “A Mother’s Love” – a beautiful story for Mother’s Day. The complete story of “A Mother’s Love” is published in the Birth Journeys book.

Pregnancy, birth and the experience of motherhood changes Elaine, giving her new confidence, trust in herself and trust in birth. Elaine’s love for her children drives her to speak out and become an advocate for her family. Elaine shares the story of her second birth and the hurdles she overcomes to have the birth she wants: missing out on her preferred model of care, disagreement over the estimated due date, and a transverse baby.

Elaine handles each situation with confidence and calm determination. She takes an active role in her care, trusting her body, her knowledge and her experience.

During labour, Elaine is supported by a gentle, encouraging midwife, who reminds her to trust and let go. Kiah’s birth in hospital is calm and peaceful. 

Disagreement over the Estimated Due Date

I had learnt in the two years since Kiran’s birth that I was more than capable of dealing with anything and everything. I had realised that I owed it to my children to look after myself and to be their advocates. It was amazing really, because the ‘old me’ hated confrontation. I would usually back down and go with the flow. Since becoming a parent, I have found that I will not compromise on things involving my children.

Kiran’s (my first baby) induction played on my mind and continued to niggle at me. When he was induced (13 days post-dates) he didn’t appear to be ‘overdue’ at all. I’m sure my baby did not like this forced exit from the womb before his time. I certainly didn’t!

This time I had done my research. I knew my dates and I was prepared to stand my ground. I had kept a diary with my cycles in it. My periods were like clockwork, exactly 31 days apart, and had been for six months. I also knew exactly when we conceived – we didn’t have many opportunities with a toddler in the family!

When my calculations put the estimated due date a full week later than the ultrasound dating scan, we made our views clear.

“No, we are adamant the estimated due date is February 20 and not February 13 as the ultrasound suggests.”

“No, we aren’t budging. We know that there is a margin of error of a week anyway.”

“We do not wish for an induction based on dates as with Kiran’s birth.”

They listened and they agreed. The obstetrician even changed the estimated due date. I felt at peace and empowered. I had done my part and the rest was up to bub!

A Transverse Baby

The weeks flew past and my belly grew. Kiran thought it was hilarious when the baby kicked out at him and he loved stroking my tummy and talking to ‘his’ baby. Week 34 came and all was well. My bub was in position – head down. Week 36 came and she had turned to lie sideways. There was talk of a caesarean if she didn’t turn.

I was scared. The thought of having a caesarean and needing to be in hospital for more than one night was awful. I was so nervous about being away from Kiran. I had never been away from him before.

We were scheduled for an external cephalic version (ECV), where the obstetrician would manually coax my baby to turn. It was explained to us that there was a very small window for them to perform the ECV and be successful. We had less than 48 hours!

I jumped on to the internet, spoke to my friends and found the Spinning Babies website that had information and techniques to encourage baby to move. It was the funniest thing. I had to kneel on the couch and lean over the edge with my hands on the floor. Then I had to crawl forward on my hands so that my bottom would be higher than the rest of my body. The idea was to give bub the extra space needed to turn.

This was not easy with a pregnant belly, and even less so with a helpful toddler who thought climbing on top of me was a wonderful game. I did a few sessions of these acrobatics and we did lots of praying and prodding to encourage bub to move. I just kept talking to bub trying to persuade her to turn.

We arrived for the ECV. The midwife hooked us up for monitoring and then she said, “Hmmm, that’s funny. The heart isn’t where I expected.” The obstetrician confirmed that bub had indeed turned and was now head down. No ECV was necessary! Apparently, it was quite a rare occurrence to have a baby turn in such a short time.

I was overwhelmed with joy when I realised that no intervention was needed. Together my body and my baby were firmly in control and we were on the home stretch now.

The Birth

I focused on every breath and surge bringing my baby closer to being in my arms. There were no words. I was aware of my surroundings, but I was in a world of my own.

Soon I felt the need to bear down, so I got upright onto my knees. I visualised my uterus contracting and pushing downwards as I breathed out. With Kiran, the midwife had told me when to breathe and push. This time, I was the boss and it worked much better.

I’m pretty sure it only took five or six pushes for Kiah to be born. From the first contraction to her entrance into this world, barely two and a half hours had passed.

When Rohit caught her and told me we had a girl, I was a blubbering mess of pure joy. I wanted to call my sister and ask her to bring something pink for Kiah to wear home! I had always imagined myself with boys and never dared to believe that I might have a daughter, so much so that I had not even prepared for the possibility.

Kiah was placed on my chest and we had our first cuddles. There was a lovely sense of peace and tranquillity in the room. We started our breastfeeding journey together soon after.

Kiah did not leave my side for a single minute. We stayed in hospital for only one night and Kiran coped beautifully without me. We went home the following day – our little family of four!

Throughout my pregnancy, I doubted if I had any room left for more love, but the minute I saw my beautiful girl, I knew that love has no boundaries or limitations.