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