Melody's Birth Story

Chloe writes the story of the birth of her first baby, Melody. It was an absolute honour to support this family as they welcomed their baby earthside!

In Chloe's own words...

As someone with a chronic pain condition, I don't have a good history with hospitals or pain medication. I was so scared I would need an epidural because I wouldn’t be able to handle the pain and then I didn’t want a needle going in my spine with my history of back problems. Just the thought of going to the hospital was making me very stressed out, at about 28 weeks I had been crying and just terrified of what the birth was going to be like.

After reading in a hypnobirthing book that doulas are worth their weight in gold we decided to contact Sandy. After our first meeting with Sandy my husband Pete and I felt so much more ready for the birth and my fears already started going away. Sandy provided amazing support throughout my pregnancy, not only in the prenatal visits but also being there to listen to and discuss any worries we had, and problems with the hospital policies.

We were so ready for labour, we had so much stuff ready to keep me busy and calm in labour, I had a huge bag packed and all my birth affirmations and music ready. We felt like the boy who cried wolf calling her many times in the middle of the night as my labour was on and off for two weeks and not once did she sound annoyed to be woken for nothing. She calmed our fears and frustrations as we went to 42+1 weeks pregnant also helping Pete to know the right things to say to me.

As we approached the 42 weeks we tried every home induction method available to avoid a hospital induction. We went in to the hospital for monitoring every day from 41 weeks in a deal we made with the hospital so we could push back the induction. I didn’t know anyone personally who had gone more than 16 days over so that was our final limit.

I was 4cm dilated a few days before labour and had 5 stretch and sweeps (I would avoid them in the future). We booked in for an induction the next morning, but after going home and giving the home induction methods one last go, my contractions finally amped up and they did so quickly! I remember having about two contractions at 10mins apart, then a few at 5 mins apart, and then they went to about 2 minutes then back to back. Pete rang Sandy when they were about 2 minutes apart and she asked if she could come over (since they had died off many times in the past) Pete said they would be okay, but very soon after I told him to ring her back and for her to come NOW. I was a bit shocked by it all as all the books I had ready had told me first labours are long and make sure you rest in the breaks, but I wasn’t getting any breaks! Pete quickly put the tens machine on and I spent a while just running back and forth from the toilet as I just kept feeling like I needed to do a poo.

Sandy arrived very soon after and at first I just wanted to be left on the toilet until I would get a break. Eventually I realised it was just going to get stronger and came into the lounge room. The lights were all off and Sandy and Pete were helping keep me calm through the contractions. I was struggling so Sandy suggested I have a bath. Once I was in there I did not want to get out! I am normally such a prude but I felt comfortable enough to just be naked and ended up doing my whole labour (except for the drive/walking through the hospital) in the nude. Sandy said we needed to leave if we were going to go to the hospital and if she wasn’t able to come in the car with us to rub my lower back I don’t think I ever would have gotten out of the bath! I felt like there was no way we’d make it to the hospital. Pete rang the hospital just before we left and luckily it was night time so there was no traffic. Sandy and I went up to the triage area and the midwife wanted me to lie on the bed in a lit up room. There was no way I would be able to lay down with these contractions (I don’t know how most women give birth on their backs). I asked for the gas and air and then Sandy asked the midwife if we could turn the lights off, so they moved us into a dark birthing room which made me feel so much better. I think they were a bit surprised by how far along in labour I was. I heard Sandy get the midwives to check my birth plan before doing anything.

The rest was a bit of a blur, I know there were cables everywhere; I had the tens machine on, the gas and air, they were trying to get my blood pressure/pulse, monitor the baby and give me a cannula for antibiotics (I was GBS positive). Pete then arrived from parking the car, I was so glad I had Sandy with me because I probably would have run out of the hospital after the triage room. I spent the whole time with my arms on the bed and knees on my yoga mat on the floor.

Before I knew it the baby was coming and because of some bleeding they got me up onto the bed in the same position and told me to push the baby out fast because they were worried. She decided to come out like superwoman with her first next to her head, once out she took a few moments to take a breath and I think I yelled out “What colour hair does it have?” Before I knew it, it was 11:45pm and I was holding a super slippery 9lb 14 ounce newborn in my arms. I had a physiological third stage and was allowed 1.5hrs for the placenta to come out. This gave us time to find out we had a girl and decide on a name.

I got the birth I wanted; the non medicated birth, lights off, time alone with our baby afterwards, delayed cutting of the cord. They said my birth took 6hrs start to finish but to me it felt like 1. I remember just after Melody was born saying I could do that again, no worries. I felt so empowered, I was able to birth without any fear! I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get to use any of my birth bag stuff and the giant snack bag was left in the car, but if that’s the worst of labour I think we did pretty well. I ended up with a third degree tear and Sandy stayed and helped me through that time (so much worse than labour). She made sure we were all okay before going home. The midwives left us alone in the dark room for an hour afterwards to just soak in our newborn, Pete ended up getting covered in Melody’s first meconium poo! Good thing he had brought a change of clothes for the bath. We didn’t ring anyone until later in the day as we just wanted to rest and enjoy our initial moments as a new family.

Overall it was a great birth and we are so glad that we had Sandy to support us. It meant Pete could do all the practical things while Sandy was keeping me calm and then he could be by my side when I needed him. Her massaging hands, supportive words and advocating for us with the midwives really made such a difference. I had read that doulas are worth their weight in gold and I believe that to be true!

Melody's Birth Story.jpg
melody--3.jpg
melody-.jpg
Melody Birth

"They just slap a filter on it"- Chatting Professional Photography

Hi All,

So, as many of you know, I offer Maternity, Birth and Newborn photography.

I love it. I love everything about it, especially including the editing. This is where I get to put my own little flair on these already gorgeous photos...

Unfortunately I see a lot of people commenting on my and other photographers offers of birth photography in particular- "Oh I could just do that on my phone and slap a filter on it like they do!"

Without hulk smashing my computer here, instead I am going to explain to you and show you just how much we DON'T slap a filter on your images.

Example number One!

Straight out of camera.jpg

Here is a our gorgeous model. At the place where I hold my Lush sessions (go check them out and book yourself in now, I'll wait!) there is this gorgeous window with curtains that are the brightest of bright red. While red is a colour I adore and is also a colour of my branding, red generally isn't a colour that looks great on peoples skin. So I took this picture already with the idea in my mind of creating a silhouette image.

So here you can see, 1- The image straight out of the camera. This means straight as I shot it, or how it looked on the day we took it. iF you were there when we took the pic, this is what ou would have seen (we me squatting awkwardly on a step to get the shot lined up!).

2- For fun I went through hall of the presets in Lightroom that I have that would make for the CLOSEST MATCH for the final image that I edited. I didn't want to put a "crappy" preset/filter on because I wanted to show you this and let the image run a fair race against my own editing!

3- My final edit... Can you see the difference between mine and the one with the "filter slapped on"? Its now a true silhouette. The light is sitting much nicer on our models face, showing just enough of an outline but not leaving her in too much shadow. I've made the rest of her body into that silhouette effect without wiping out or leaving in too many details. Ive also brightened those whites and darkened those black tones. 

 

 

So here is another example of "filter slapping", or NOT filter slapping to be exact.

filter.jpg

Here I have done the same thing- Taken the original image and compared it to the final version. A version with a filter on and no other editing, and a version that I had edited.

Again, I sorted through all of the presents (filters) I own and found the one that is closest to the way I edited the photos so that we were running the fairest race we could. I chose that present because I love the warm tone in particular.....

BUUUUUTTTT..... It doesn't quite make the image what the final result is, does it? It doesn't help the teepee sticks pop, it doesn't create a nice sharp focus on our model, it doesnt' highlight that wonderful chandelier above her head, it doesn't bring up he beautiful greens of the trees and grasses around her.. It also doesn't smudge out that road the runs behind her or the stump beside her....

So there we have it. "Filters" vs true editing... So the next time you hear someone say that they can "do it on my phone" or that professionals just have a fancy camera but "just slap a filter on the pictures", you can think back to this and know the truth!

I hope you liked this insight and that it made sense for you! Shout out if you have any questions of you would like to book in for a photography session!

Lots of love,

Sandy Tai,

Your Ballarat Birth Doula, Educator and Photographer xxooo

The image Facebook banned me for...

The image Facebook banned me for.png

"God forbid a woman presents as anything other than a sexual being even while giving birth..."

...........

Last night I was so excited to share this image with you, along with my words.

I wrote them up, added them onto Instagram and then Facebook, then found myself suddenly logged out of both! ... When I went to log back in Facebook notified me that this following picture went against community standards and counted as PORN....

You can imagine all of the swear words I spat out.

I then went to check Instagram, who quickly informed me of the same thing. My image had been pulled because the "bots" had immediately flagged it as being against community standards... Yet if you look on Instagram you will see babies being born our of vaginas allllll over the place..... Babies being fed from bare breasts and chests...

So.. Why did my image get pulled and what was this image?

It contained female body hair... The words includes things like "choose the amount of body hair that feels good for you, not because the patriarchy has brainwashed us into thinking we need to present in a certain way.". I spoke about how I often get asked by adult women "What should I do with my pubic hair for birth?" and how that question brings me fury and sadness...

God forbid a woman present as anything other than a sexual being even while giving birth... 

Know that my words were much more poetic than this blog post is... It had time and effort put into it... It was full of body love, body positivity and encouragement.....

So. Here it is.

The image that Facebook and Instagram didn't want you to see... 

The image that does not show any genitalia, hate speech or abuse so DOES NOT go against community standards.

Run, run, as fast as you can.. People other than men do and CAN have body hair..... Are you scared?

#SelfLove #SelfPortrait #BodyHair #PubicHair #UnderArmHair #NippleHair #LegHair

 

body hair.jpg

My Day as a Wet Nurse

My Day as a Wet Nurse

First off "what is a wet nurse?"
A wet nurse is a woman who breastfeeds a child who is not her own!

I can hear one half of you gagging and the second half rolling your eyes at the first half!

Ewwww... Gross... That's so wrong!

Well, if you are thinking that then now might be a good time to bugger off as I'm a person who likes to talk loudly about placentas and mucus plugs at the dinner table!
Also there are "brelfies" in this blog (breastfeeding selfies)!

So, what was it like, my day as a wet nurse?
Fun! ... And stressful (two babies!) , but mostly snuggley and fun!

The Deal?
My dear friend had to go to a conference for work a couple of states away so I offered to babysit her 5 month old daughter, Daisy.
I have a 10 month old daughter of my own (Lilly) whom I breastfeed so I also offered to wet nurse.
She took me up on it and off we went!

I have to say, I was weirdly excited about being able to feed a friends baby.
I think it's a beautiful connection and I knew it would take a load off my friends mind knowing her baby would be fed and cuddled while she was away.

The first time I fed Daisy she was just waking up from a nap and I think she was a little surprised to find someone who wasn't mum attached to the other end of the boob!
My daughter, Lilly, soon woke from her nap and they enjoyed a tandem feed together!
 

 

Feeding two babies and taking a photo is tricky! - Ballarat Birth Support- Tandem Breastfeeding Wet Nurse

The trickiest part was trying to keep them from wriggling and kicking each other!

The rest of the day was a snuggley mix Babywearing, boobing and convincing my daughter that she had to share her "milkies"!


I was going to give a brief history of wet nursing but there is just too much to say!
In short- it's (been) in almost every culture across the globe, it's noted in many Holy books, can be found in ancient artworks and old texts.
I do want to say that although wet nursing is a gorgeous act, it has often been used in inhuman ways by forcing servants, workers and slaves to feed children who are not their own. I encourage you to do some  research to better understand and support our Black brothers and sisters in particular.

Here are some pictures of wet-nursing throughout history-
ore Below

 

Source Unknown

 

"Wet Nurse". Library of Congress and Nurses. 1848

 

"Caritas"- Lucas Cranach, early 16th Century

 

'The Wet Nurse"- Marguerite Gerard. 1802

 

Mother Breastfeeding, Vigeland Sculpture Park, Norway.

 

Source Unknown

One of my favourite pieces of history on wet nursing is a text written in Ancient Rome titled Advice On Hiring A Wet Nurse.
It was written in 1st Century A.D and list hilarious "requirements" that a good wet nurse would meet.
A "good" wet nurse was described as being large formed, not younger than 20 but not older than 40 , has at least 2-3 children of her own, should be Greek, have "good colour" and have medium size breasts.
She should also not be known for murmuring or her maniacal ways!

Hilariously Soranus also explains that a potential wet nurse should abstain from sex, drinking and "lewdness" because if a woman is interested in sex her interest in the baby and her milk would "spoil and suppress"!

Very funny!

The Wrap Up?
I thought it would feel different or big and exciting to breastfeed Daisy... As I thought it was a Big Deal.
But come the day it was really just like any other day except with an extra babe in my arms!
The only way it really felt different was that my daughter has teeth and Daisy doesn't!


It felt so natural, to care for and feed another sweet babe.
It's part of being part of a tribe, a village, a community of friends and mothers who know that breastfeeding is just a normal part of parenting and caring for children

So, who needs a wet nurse?!

Love your wet nurse, bobbin' Doula
Sandy
xxxooo


ps- If you would like to know more about the ancient wet nurse requirements check out here!


Need some support with breastfeeding?
Australian Breastfeeding Association
Australian Breastfeeding Project
Kelly Mom

Looking for donor milk or a wet nurse?
HM4HM
Australian Wet Nurses

Our Cord Burning Ceremony

Before saying anything I want to state clearly that this is my personal experience and my personal beliefs.
By choosing to birth and parent this way I am no way making judgements on any other way others chose to do things.
I do not believe that my way is the best or only way.
I believe that this choice was right for me in this moment.
This is my own personal experience.
I support women from all walks of life wanting a variety of births and I love that.
My word is not gospel, my word is my opinion only here as this is a personal story.


Few quick facts on optimal cord blood-

  • -Up to a third of the babies blood can be in the placenta at birth and cutting it early deprives them of that vital blood.
  • -Babies who have immediate cord clamping have higher rates of anaemia and decreased fine motor and social skills later in childhood. 


If we lost a third of our blood we would die or be extremely weak so why are we making babies suffer this huge trauma on their very first day as they have to learn how to breath and feed?
Seems silly to me.
It was my desire to have a natural, spontaneous, undisturbed labour and birth and it was my wish to let the baby have all of her blood.


So in this blog I will share personal private photos of our experience with delayed cord seperation, natural physiological third stage and cord burning.

WHY BURN OVER CUT?
There are a few reasons I wanted to burn instead of cut and all of them are personal, so I do not believe its for everyone in every situation as each birth, baby and family are so unique.
I wanted a slow separating phase rather than a quick cut, and I also wanted a "ceremony" of sorts to recognise how important that moment of separation, and welcoming, was.
Burning the cord also promised no infection unlike clamping and cutting.

The Story
My daughter was born quickly (the "pushing" phase was less than a minute long). She was born so quickly that we couldn't catch her so she ended up plonking to the floor but was cushioned slightly by still being in the caul (her water bag).
After the birth we got comfortable and adored our daughter while waiting for the placenta to be born.
I wanted to birth the placenta before separating it from my baby.
My daughters cord pulsed on and on for 2 whole hours after she was born, and I birthed the placenta 2.5 hours after my girl.
(Compare that to the "regular hospital protocol"!)
Allowing my daughter to receive all of her own blood made me feel that we were giving her a healthier and stronger start to life.

With the placenta sitting happily in a bowl and my daughter snuggled on my chest having her first feed we carefully placed an aluminium dish under the cord and lit our two beautiful hand made beeswax candles.
I gently asked permission from my daughter to separate her from the placenta and explained that she no longer needed it as now there were yummy milkies to be had. 

My husband and I lit the candles and gently held them to the cord.
It took approximately 15 minutes to burn through the cord, all of which my daughter fed and we breathed in the atmosphere of the beautiful moment and beautiful candle light.

The burning itself had a very slight smell (it wasn't bad or gross) and every now and again a popping noise was made as it burned off.

Her Belly Button
The most surprising part of this experience however, was the fact that my daughters cord stump (which we kept apx 15 cm long) fell off and was completely healed before she was even 48 hours old!
Generally its expected to take 10-14 days to fall off and heal!
I attribute this to my daughter receiving absolutely all of her blood, the fact that the cord was completely empty and that we asked my baby and the placenta if they were ready to be separate.
Have a look here!


For more information on delayed cord clamping please visit
http://www.positivebirthmovement.org/pbm-blog/everything-you-need-to-know-aboutoptimal-cord-clamping

For more information on cord burning please visit -
http://www.cordburning.com

And as always, if you have any questions for me or about my experience then comment below, send me a message or email or feel free to give me a bell!

Much love,
Sandy
Your Ballarat Doula

My Groaning Cake Recipe

My Groaning Cake Recipe

A groaning cake is a wonderful tradition dating back hundreds of years.

The idea is this- a woman makes and bakes a cake when she is in early labour to help distract her from the exciting early surges of labour, and then the cake is hot and ready to eat once her baby is safely in her arms.

These cakes are made from rich and nutritious ingredients which help give Mama her iron and strength for those very important first few days of motherhood.

ere is MY groaning cake recipe!