The birth of Alina.
Born breech on 26/07/2022.
My name is Stephanie Henriksen and when I became pregnant with my daughter Alina I was living a fast paced corporate life, working long hours and living close to Melbourne CBD. I was 35 years old at the time and although I had considered the possibility of having a child in the future, it was not something I had planned at that particular time. With the support of my amazing mother, I decided that it was the right time for me to have a child and was excited about the journey that lay ahead.
Following a GP referral to the Royal Women’s Hospital at around week 12 of pregnancy, I had not been presented with birthing options other than the standard hospital setting. By around week 30, and being a fairly opinionated person, I began having disagreements with the midwives from the hospital who I spoke with and felt like they were not tailoring the birthing experience to what I wanted. They told me how the hospital operated and I had to follow that specific path in order to birth my baby at that hospital.
I was keen to avoid the cascade of intervention that often happens when birthing in hospital, hearing many of these stories from friends. Additionally, following the severe mismanagement of the pandemic by the Australian government, I decided I wanted to avoid using the underfunded hospital services if possible so I started investigating home birthing options. Although only around 2% of births in Australia are via home birth, it’s much more common practice in countries like the UK and New Zealand, where the figure is closer to 25-30%, so I understood it was a safe and proven birthing method. Despite contacting Organic Midwifery quite late in my pregnancy I was grateful that Mal and Ramona were able to take me on.
From my first meetings with Mal and Ramona I knew I had made the right decision choosing home birthing with Organic Midwifery. All conversations were about what I wanted for my birthing experience and how they could create the environment that aligned with my values. From detailed birth plan meetings to check-ups, it was convenient having all the meetings in home.
My due date was 29/07/2022 and my water first broke around 12:30am on 26/07/2022. Mal and Ramona gave me good advice to rest as much as I could so I went back to bed and slept until around 7am. From there I stayed in bed with a hot water bottle until around 11am when the contractions became stronger. My mum was a great support, who helped me with the tens machine which I then started using. The boost function was great!
Ramona arrived at around 3pm and by 3:30pm I was in the bath as I wanted a water birth. Ramona then helped me deliver Alina at 4:36pm. It all happened very fast so we had Mal on the phone a couple of times during the last hour of labour. Alina surprised us by being in a breech position but luckily Ramona helped keep me calm and was a fantastic emotional support every step of the way. Due to Alina’s positioning I had some tearing, which fortunately Mal and Ramona were both skilled in stitching at home. I achieved what I ultimately wanted which was a birth at home, free from all interventions and pain relief and avoiding the need to attend the hospital at any stage.
Following the birth, Mal and Ramona met with me as many times as I needed, to ensure Alina and I were doing well, both physically and emotionally. I was grateful for both their guidance, which continued up until week 6, which also meant I didn’t need to use the council run maternal health nurse services. In particular their knowledge as lactation consultants was incredibly useful, with the result being Alina able to both breastfeed and take the bottle, which isn’t something I’ve seen many babies do interchangeably.
Alina is now almost eight months old. She is happy and healthy and developing a lovely little personality, and I love seeing her development which seems to occur on a daily basis. Unlike many of my friends I can look back at my birthing experience in a positive way, knowing I had control and created the comfortable in-home experience that I was looking for, free of any interventions or coercion that can occur in a hospital setting. Thanks Mal and Ramona!