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A text­book home birth with the help of a ‘doggy doula’

Little Treasures - - CONTENTS - FIRST LIGHT PHO­TOG­RA­PHY AS TOLD TO BIANCA ZAN­DER

Am­ber, Tobi and baby Macey

It took us three and a half years to fall preg­nant with Macey (in­clud­ing three rounds of IVF), so when we found out we were beyond ec­static. My preg­nancy was very straight­for­ward from the get-go. I stayed ac­tive, walk­ing each day with our dog and do­ing yoga. It was a Sun­day night, I was 39-and-a-half-weeks along, and we’d in­vited my sis­ter over for din­ner. I’d been off work for a few days and had sprained my an­kle on my first of­fi­cial day of ma­ter­nity leave. Ev­ery­one kept telling me to slow down and en­joy the time be­fore bub ar­rives, so it was a sign from the uni­verse to lie around and watch Net­flix. I woke up at 12.20am with a dull ache in my tummy. I got up and went to the loo and thought I’d head back to bed. But sure enough the aches got stronger and quickly turned into one-minute long con­trac­tions, five min­utes apart. I woke Tobi up at 2am to let him know but by 5am I en­cour­aged him to go back to sleep in case we had a few long days ahead of us. I’d al­ways known I wanted to have a nat­u­ral home­birth. I was born at home and when it came to work­ing out our birth plan with my hus­band, we both agreed that we felt most re­laxed and safe in our own en­vi­ron­ment. We found a mid­wife, Ar­lene Easthope, who was a perfect align­ment, and loves cre­at­ing holis­tic birth ex­pe­ri­ences. We’d set up the birth pool in our lounge room, and I’d pulled out lots of lovely-smelling can­dles and also had a playlist of re­lax­ing mu­sic to set the mood and keep me re­laxed. We kept all the cur­tains closed for the day, and we’d asked my mum to be present, so she and Tobi were mak­ing me drink wa­ter and sup­port­ing me through each con­trac­tion. I vom­ited a few times from the in­ten­sity of it all and had the shakes.

Dur­ing each con­trac­tion I’d get a surge of be­ing hot and then get re­ally cold so they were be­ing or­dered around to get me a cold flan­nel or a bathrobe ev­ery few min­utes. Through­out the day, my dog Astro fol­lowed me around the house and slept at my feet. He was so calm and in­quis­i­tive and in­cred­i­bly gen­tle. He pro­vided a beau­ti­ful en­ergy and dy­namic to the birth and we were so glad to have him in­volved. Pre-labour lasted about 10 hours, but from there when my con­trac­tions ramped up it was only a few more hours be­fore Macey ar­rived. Ac­tive labour was about three hours, so 13 hours in to­tal from first con­trac­tion to baby be­ing de­liv­ered. I’d done hyp­no­birthing too so had done a lot of work on my breath­ing and mind­set and it def­i­nitely helped me through the most in­tense parts of labour. Hon­estly, my birth was ten out of ten! I birthed at home, I had my hus­band, my mum, my doggy Astro, our in­cred­i­ble mid­wife, and I was in my home where I felt safe and re­laxed. Macey was to­tal per­fec­tion to us—af­ter wait­ing and hop­ing for some­thing for so long, when she ar­rived, I just couldn’t quite be­lieve it! It took me a few min­utes of just star­ing at her for it to sink in that we’d cre­ated her and that she was ours.

Right: Astro the ‘doggy doula’ stayed by Am­ber’s side; as did hus­band Tobi, below.

Left: Am­ber gave birth in a pool set up in her liv­ing room. Below: Macey Si­enna Kings­ley born 22 Jan­uary, 2018.

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