Positive Birth News

birth stories, news and articles to encourage and inspire

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About Birth Journeys – positive birth stories to encourage and inspire

About Birth Journeys 

Birth Journeys – positive birth stories and encourage and inspire contains 29 birth stories and informative articles from Australian doctors, midwives and educators including Dr Sarah J Buckley, Prof Hannah Dahlen, Rachel Reed, David Vernon, Justine Caines OAM and the Maternity Coalition.

Birth Journeys is not a collection of ‘perfect’ birth stories. The stories in this book have been carefully selected to reflect different women, their unique journeys and their experiences of positive birth. The stories are diverse and they have been chosen to speak to different readers. Not every story will appeal to you – there may be some that you do not wish to read.

The stories in this book include: births in hospitals, birth centres and at home; vaginal births after caesarean (VBAC); a twin birth; and emergency and elective caesareans. There are: first births, second births and even fifth births; water births; and an unassisted birth. There are stories that give an insight into the experience of pregnancy and birth from a man’s perspective. The stories also show that there are many different experiences of labour: a strenuous challenge; a strong, determined fight; calm and deeply focused; a wild instinctive ride or a joyful and ecstatic trance.

In Birth Journeys, you will meet women who felt nurtured by carers, partners, family and friends during pregnancy and birth. They were celebrated and honoured. These women share the excitement and joy they felt as they anticipated their baby’s birth.

Some women carefully chose their place of birth based on their need to feel safe, private and comfortable. These women describe how important it was for them to find a carer who shared their values and beliefs about birth. Some deliberated over their choice, and others felt an immediate connection and just knew they had the right carer. Other women demonstrated open and respectful communication with carers.

There are women who spent considerable time reading and researching to educate themselves about labour and birth. They reflected on their beliefs and their past experiences. They filled their minds with affirmations and visualisations to become confident in their ability to have a positive birth.

Some women share a disappointing or traumatic first birth followed by a healing later birth. Many came from a place of fear, while a few entered pregnancy with feelings of ease and confidence. They had not been exposed to the culture of fear or a family history of birth ‘gone wrong’. For them, birth was a normal part of life.

There are women who stood firmly by their beliefs, intuition and wisdom in the face of challenges, and others who learnt the value of being flexible and willing to change. These women were graceful as their dream birth slipped away.

The stories are honest and real. They reveal the unique, deeply personal experiences of ‘everyday’ people. These women (and men) have generously shared their choices, feelings, beliefs and learnings. They have entrusted us with their precious memories.

(this is an excerpt from the Introduction to Birth Journeys)

Visit www.birthjourneys.com.au for more information or to buy your copy. We ship internationally to US, UK, NZ and Canada and Birth Journeys is also available as an ebook.

Birth Journeys is available at wholesale rates to retailers as well as other individuals and groups who would like to sell the book or include it in a package to clients or customers. These include: midwives, doulas, birth educators, birth photographers, yoga teachers, massage therapists, meditation and relaxation teachers, chiropractors, acupuncturists, wellness clinics and fundraising groups, playgroups, and friends who decide to buy together and take advantage of the wholesale price. Fill in the form to make an enquiry.


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Don’t Underestimate the Importance of How You Feel

Don’t underestimated the importance of how you feel – in birth and in the months or years after. Although the moment of birth occurs on one day (perhaps after many days of labouring) it is not just another day of no significance. It impacts a mother deeply, whether she is conscious of this or not. It influences the way she views her baby and herself as a mother. It influences the way she engages with health professionals and the support services provided for mothers and families. It influences how she feels about another baby and giving birth again.

If you (or someone important to you) is unconvinced, approach your mother, aunty, grandmother, or friend who is one or two generations older than you and ask if they remember their births and would be willing to share their story. Ask them to tell you how it was when they gave birth. And be ready with a cup of tea, a hug and plenty of empathy – no judgement.

Don't Underestimate the Importance of How You Feel

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Don’t Miss Out!

StoriesHave you signed up to my free monthly newsletter Positive Birth News?

Positive Birth News for June is all about VBAC and it will contain a fresh new birth story, an article “Once a caesarean always a caesarean?” and links to helpful resources for recovering from caesarean and preparing for birth after caesarean, including the guidelines from the obstetric colleges in Australia, US and UK (and these are really interesting to compare!)

The birth story shares Kush’s empowering journey to a straightforward and beautiful VBAC, but more than that, how she found the confidence to speak up for herself and her needs. I have been working with Kush to explore her story in the same way that I did with the stories in the Birth Journeys book (only in a week instead of a year so I know her story could go even deeper – it’s amazing what a few questions reveal!). So, this is more than a raw account of a birth – like the stories in the Birth Journeys book, it is a story with wisdom and positive messages for you to learn from.

I am trying something a little different this month and the newsletter content will not be up on the blog straight away! I want women who sign up for the free newsletter to receive something special, something that is worth signing up for – in addition to the content on the blog. It’s also important to me that when you read the newsletter, you don’t have to keep clicking on the blog links to finish reading! Each newsletter will now have a theme with a birth story, one in depth article and links to support you in your journey to birth or in your role supporting pregnant women.

I will continue to post articles, women’s stories, inspiring quotes and links to the blog and put the newsletter content up later on.

The July issue will be all about doulas and the August issue will be about having an empowering caesarean birth.

The Positive Birth Newsletter will be emailed out by the end of this weekend, so sign up now so you don’t miss out!

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Get Passionate About Your Baby’s Birth

Get passionate

We often do not realise, until it is too late, until after at least one birth, that birth matters and how we feel matters too.

We often do not see until it is too late that if we want a positive birth, a welcoming birth for our baby, and a positive beginning to motherhood, then we need to become passionate about this and take ownership. As parents we need to take responsibility, make choices and advocate for our children – and this starts before birth.

Sadly, the average or ‘normal’ birth experience in Australia is not a positive one. Of the hundreds of women who have told me their stories, many women have a disappointing or traumatic story to tell of their first birth in hospital. Mothers do not always feel safe, comforted and nurtured during labour. They do not always feel respected, understood or in control. They do not always feel strong, confident or happy after birth. For many women, birth is a complicated, risky and frightening experience, and they feel inadequately supported.

The experience of birth often comes as a shock. It may leave a woman feeling exposed and vulnerable, uninformed and unimportant. Women may feel they are failing if their labour does not progress according to expectations. Women may feel frightened and anxious as their labour and birth seem to spin out of control.

Mixed with pride and joy at the birth of their baby, women may feel a little disappointed after their first birth. Some feel betrayed and violated. One in three mothers are traumatised, some experiencing postnatal depression and post traumatic stress[1].

Too many women feel disempowered, bullied or let down when they come out the other end of their first birth (One would be too many but women’s stories sugest it is much more common than that). I don’t know how the dads feel watching their wife or partner go through this trauma but I’m pretty sure they feel hurt and powerless too. They may feel they failed because they couldn’t protect their love from this ordeal.

Some women come away believing they have failed. And some women come through angry and wanting to fight. They know somewhere inside that something was wrong. And it wasn’t them, it wasn’t their baby. It was the way their birth was managed and most importantly the way they felt during birth. Most women move on as best they can because we have been taught ‘That’s just the way birth is’.

But this is not true. Birth can be a safe and natural, powerful and awe-inspiring, beautiful and incredibly positive experience. Of course there are no guarantees. The only things that can be controlled are the environment we place ourselves in, the people we allow to care for us, and the way we approach birth. No matter what happens in labour, there should always be time and space for the little things that will make birth positive – a respectful approach, a loving word or touch, recognition that every birth is sacred, special and a once in a lifetime experience. Every woman deserves to have a positive birth.

Having a positive birth is not always easy, but it is worth striving for. If you agree that your birth experience matters for you and your baby then you need to get passionate about it. If you wish to feel supported and safe, respected and valued, strong and beautiful as you labour and bring your baby into the world, then you will need to work to achieve this.

It is not easy to stay positive about birth when you are surrounded by frightened people and frightening stories. It is not easy when you are told that you are insignificant and that birth does not work. It is challenging to hold on to your hopes and dreams when you are met with dismissal, resistance, or even derision.

  • Find a community of supportive people who share your positive view of birth and mothering so that you do not feel isolated and alone.
  • Find the carers and the place of birth that share your views on birth and will be able to support you and meet your needs. Make the choices and build the foundation you need for a positive birth.
  • Be an active participant in your maternity care. Don’t just sit back and go with the flow without first checking where the current is going!
  • Insist that you are treated with respect and dignity and be aware of how you communicate with others to set an expectation of mutual respect. Remember that you get more flies with honey than vinegar. There is a really wonderful read about this approach and how to get what you want without getting everyone else off side at Give Birth with Confidence. (And it works! I’ve used it when advocating for my child in an operating theatre full of medical staff!)
  • Reflect on the beliefs you hold about what birth is like and your own ability to give birth. Consider where they have come from and how they serve you.
  • Allow the beautiful images and words contained in the stories to seep into your mind, and use them to help you create and hold on to a positive view of labour and birth. The Birth Journeys book is a collection of positive and uplifting stories sharing the many different paths taken to a positive birth. I selected these stories with input from over 60 mothers, midwives, doulas and educators to offer positive, inspiring and believable stories that will help you feel positive, confidence and  excited about birth!
  • Listen to your inner self and also to your trusted carers.
  • Be open to new ideas and different perspectives on what makes a positive birth. Be strong but don’t be wilful.
  • Know that birth does work and that a positive birth, even an amazing birth, is a possibility for you.

[1] Effectiveness of a Counseling Intervention After A Traumatic Childbirth: A Randomized Controlled Trial, Birth, 2005 Mar;32(1):11–19, Gamble J, Creedy D, Moyle W, Webster J, McAllister M, and Dickson, P.

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!