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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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Positive Birth Story – My Monkey Self

My Monkey Self

This is an excerpt from Birth Journeys. Christina’s journey is one of healing and accepting responsibility for her wellbeing and birth. After a traumatic first birth in hospital and the break down of her relationship, Christina moves to be near her family. She is pregnant with her second child and now faces pregnancy and birth on her own. Her baby is born in a beautiful water birth in a birth centre just as she had planned and dreamed.

Although I knew I was in labour, part of me was still in denial. I had been waiting for this moment for so long that I was beginning to think it would never arrive. When I phoned my midwife, I told her, in between contractions, that I might not be in labour. Anna laughed and said that I was definitely in labour and to meet her at the birth centre in 30 minutes.

By the time we arrived, the contractions were a couple of minutes apart and very intense. I promptly vomited! The midwives Anna and Penni were wonderful. They were very relaxed about the birth. Anna filled the most amazing bath I have ever seen, and I gladly stripped off and hopped in.

Kneeling in the bath, with my arms resting on the rim, was the most relaxing pose. With each contraction, I would lean over a bit more and Penni would massage my lower back. These massages were heaven. I would concentrate on the feel of her hands, and before I knew it, the intensity subsided.

After a little while, Anna asked me to lean back into a squatting position. She was unable to see what was going on and wanted me in a better position before my baby arrived. I really didn’t want to move. I was so comfortable.

At first, the contractions were hard to cope with as I had lost my focus – I started fighting them. I said to Anna that I didn’t think I could do this, and she replied, “Of course you can. You’re designed to. Women give birth every day. Why do you think you can’t go on?” I really needed that. With Lucas’s birth, when I said I couldn’t go on, no one talked me through or encouraged me. They just got the drugs out.

I remembered my little chant – “my monkey self can do this” – and I felt strong and empowered. Of course I could do this. Amazingly, the contractions slowed down. I relaxed and listened to my body. I even fell asleep between contractions. I was enjoying the experience again.

Every feeling was intense. It started raining heavily, and the rain on the roof was like a drumbeat that went through my body, relaxing me even more. I was able to sense my baby. I knew where he was, and I was able to visualise him moving down. I lay back in the bath and thought, “How beautiful! Here I am, lying in a warm bath with scented candles all around me, soothing music in the background, the sound of rain on the roof, and I’m bringing my baby into the world.”

Soon my waters broke, and all the pain melted away. Time seemed to stop. I was able to reposition myself so that I could reach down to touch my baby’s head – very much an out of body experience. I watched his head pop in and out, before coming out fully. All the pushing stopped, and I breathed my baby into the open. I watched in amazement as he turned around and slipped gently into my hands. It was a beautiful, heart-stopping moment.

I placed Noah on my chest straight away, and he stared intently into my eyes.

Christina and newborn baby Noah

You can read the complete story of Christina’s journey to this beautiful water birth in the Birth Journeys book.

Birth Mantras

Christina’s story is called ‘My Monkey Self’ because this mantra helped her to refocus and surrender to labour when she was feeling vulnerable and overwhelmed.

She explains, “Positive affirmations were important to me. There was a quote in Spiritual Midwifery by Ina May Gaskin – ‘My monkey self can do this!’ For me this meant that monkeys don’t think about birth or fear it, they just do it, it’s a natural part of life.”

What mantra or phrase do you plan to use or have you used to help yourself, or others in pregnancy, labour or in everyday life?

Share your mantras and positive affirmations in the comments below.