Posts Tagged "baby"

There is hope…

Posted by on Jun 20, 2016 in Writings

There is hope…

Two weeks ago I came back home to South Africa after a full and busy tour of teaching and presenting in various countries in Europe. I don’t think I quite realised what I had signed myself up for when I said yes to all the commitments I had made but for three weeks I ended up either teaching or travelling every single day. This was my itinerary: 14-15 May, Additional Skills and Information Session Weekend for Doulas at DO-UM in Istanbul, Turkey 17-18 May, Helping Babies Breathe and other obstetric emergencies for home birth at Da a Luz, in the Alpujarras, Spain 20-24 May, An Introductory Course to Midwifery at Vale dos Homens, Portugal 26-31 May, book launch of Italian translation of my book, The Basic Needs of a Woman in Labour, in Rome and various towns on the island of Sardinia. I flew to Istanbul mid May to teach doulas and student doulas at DO-UM, a space run by Nur (the first ever doula in Turkey) and Sima. These two doulas are pioneering and bearing the torch of birth through education and birth attendance in Turkey. Turkey has a rising caesarian rate which matches our own here in the private sector in South Africa. The majority of births are attended by doctors and most end in caesarans. But DO-UM and other places are trying to shift this by offering doula courses, as well as childbirth classes for expectant couples. Then I went on to Spain where I spent two days teaching the last workshop of Da a Luz Midwifery School’s second year in operation. The school, is the vision and idea of Vanessa Brooks, a British home birth midwife residing in Spain. It is still a work in progress but what I have seen in visiting the place twice  in the last two years, is that it is coming together very nicely, and growing as a course which supports women in choosing the path to true midwifery. Students sign up for a year’s apprenticeship and have the added challenge of having to provide completely for themselves in terms of accommodation (living in tents, vans, yurts, caravans, and one student even building herself a little cob hut), living off the grid and living communally. The school building, is slowly being built and has gone from being a pile of stones to taking on a majestic presence of its own. I look forward to seeing it when it is done but for now, classes still take place mainly outdoors, on rugs, on the grass, under the olive tree. I am very inspired by what Vanessa is doing at Da a Luz because we all know that there is something lacking in midwifery training nowadays, and that is often a lack of trust of the birthing process. Da a Luz aims to instil a sense of confidence and faith in birth. Last year I taught the Helping Babies Breathe course to a group of doulas in Portugal. After that course, there were numerous requests to build on that and for me to provide a longer, more detailed course, exploring some of the skills of midwifery. Hence,An Introductory Course to Midwifery  was born. At the beautiful venue at Vale dos Homens we spent five days discussing, exploring and mostly laughing our way through basic midwifery skills, sharing birth stories and discussing what birth and midwifery meant to us. You can see more pictures from the course on the True Midwifery FaceBook page. After the course in Portugal I had to catch a plane to Rome where the Italian translation of my book, The Basic Needs of a Woman...

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My Mother was the First one to Touch my Baby

Posted by on Oct 11, 2015 in Writings

My Mother was the First one to Touch my Baby

Thursday 11 October 2001 I fell pregnant when I was 20 after returning from a hitchhiking session through Europe with my younger sister, Kate. I came back home to pack up and move to Ireland to study drama but when I realised the constant nausea was morning sickness, I made plans to move to a nearby farm community. I wanted  my child to be born into the world in a natural setting. I had grown up on a farm North West of Ceres and my mother while not trained to, had fallen into the role of being the farm labourers’ midwife. When I was expecting my first baby, I saw no reason why my mother should not be the person to support and assist me. I wrote the following two years later when I was expecting my second child. * I woke up with a desperate urge to shit at about one in the morning. I went to the toilet, came back to bed again and lay down again. I tried to sleep. Again, I wanted to poo, so again I went to the toilet, relieved myself and came back to bed. I tried to snuggle up to Nolan but my boep* was in the way, so I turned around and tried to sleep. Again, I needed to poo, so off I went, but this time only dribbles of shit came out. My abdomen cramped. I went back to bed. The cramps kept on coming. Building up…building up…building up…ebbing away…ebbing away…ebbing away… I sat up. I put on the bedside light. I sat and felt the pains come and go…not sure. Scared to wake Nolan up. Eventually I did. He sat up immediately… I phoned my mother. She was at a friend’s house. She told me to time the contractions. If they were less than a minute apart, she said, I would have to go into hospital because she wouldn’t able to get to me on time. My mother was going to go and fetch my sister Kate and then would be on her way. I timed the contractions. 1 minute and 35 seconds apart.  1 minute and 20 seconds apart. 1 minute and 40 seconds apart. They felt fast and hard. I panicked. I didn’t want to go into hospital. I was set on a home birth. The night before I had read (funnily enough) that to relax and slow down labour, a warm bath would help. Nolan ran a bath while I tried desperately to breathe through the rushes of pain. Breathing was impossible and painful, unbearable. Easier to grit my teeth, not breathe and bear it. Once in the bath, great relief flooded my body. I relaxed in the pink hue of the candlelight. I could begin to breathe with the pain. I phoned my best friend Nikki (who was studying in Jo´burg) from the bath. Nikki phoned me back from her dad’s cell phone. So good to speak to her, wished she was there, so far away. Nolan had been instructed by my mother to line the bed with black bags. To get all our towels and sheets together. To put a pot of water, with a pair of scissors and a string in it, on to boil I ate a paw-paw in the bath. After an hour in the bath, I got out, wrapped in a white towelling bathrobe. The starkness of the light in the kitchen brought on the pain tenfold. It slammed into me. At that moment, my mother arrived in a rented car. I hung on her. Hello Mom. Back in the...

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Sai Girl

Posted by on Sep 20, 2015 in Writings

Sai Girl

This is story of my daughter Sai Ngiah’s birth eleven years ago on Tuesday 21 September 2004…she is my second child and my first daughter and she decided to emerge face to pubis, nine days after her ‘due date’ on Spring Equinox. I woke up at 12. Midnight. With pains. Ever increasing pains. And so woke Derek up. He sat up and rubbed his eyes. “ Are you sure?” he asked. “ Yes! It’s really sore this time!” He had reason to ask. For the last three weeks I had been having pangs of pre-labour. I had phoned the midwife (Karen) and my mother countless times. I decided to sit and wait a bit. Just to make sure. I didn’t really want to be caught crying wolf again… This baby’s gotta come out at some stage…it’s nine days overdue. The pains increased. I tried to lie down and rest but couldn’t. Instead, I wriggled around trying to breathe into the pain. I finally decided to phone Karen at two. She came around. “ These pains look more intense,” she smiled reassuringly. Karen checked how dilated I was, “ Three cm dilated ,” she said, pulling off her rubber glove. “ If I may, just give one piece of advice, don’t hold back with each contraction. Let go into it, you’ll find it goes much easier…”  Karen smiled (her smile so reassuring), “you’re doing fine, I’ll come back later, phone me when you need me.” I phoned my mother. My mother asked, “are you sure?” I rolled my eyes and reassured her that yes, this time I was definitely in labour. Derek and I went downstairs (we didn’t want to wake San) and made a fire. The pains were increasing. I began to moan softly to myself. I breathed deeply and moved with each one. This labour felt so different from my first. I didn’t feel frightened. I didn’t feel scared. I didn’t feel bewildered. I didn’t feel freaked out by the pain. I allowed myself to go with each pain. I allowed each pain to take over my body. I rode it. And within that I felt unbelievably strong and powerful. The pains began to increase. Derek phoned Karen. My mother wasn’t there yet. Where was she? I phoned her. Between contractions. Just to check where she was. She answered her phone. Mumbling. Still fast asleep. “ Mom! It’s happening! Where the fuck are you?” “I’m still in Prince Alfred Hamlet,” she mumbled, “ I thought it was another false alarm when you phoned earlier, so I went back to sleep.” “Well, it’s happening and I need you to be here to look after San, so get moving!” I switched the phone off. I was livid. My mother! Karen arrived at about five. My mother soon after. My mother sat and watched me. Karen made tea. I squirmed and writhed on the floor. Derek held me. Breathed with me. Rubbed me. Spoke soothing reassuring words to me. I squirmed and writhed in pain. On the floor. On the mat. In front of the blazing fire. The pain increased. I began to do push-ups. I felt strong, so powerful. I grunted and moaned. My mother sat. On the red velvety piano stool. Her hands clutched between her thighs. Watching me.  I wonder what she thinks and feels watching her daughter go through this? I sat. Kneeling with knees apart. Breathing softly. No pain. Relaxing. The pain starting again. It began to build up. Coursing through me. As the pain reached its crescendo, I jerked forward and arched my back. And roared....

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In This Moment I can Only Love you.

Posted by on Sep 14, 2015 in Writings

In This Moment I can Only Love you.

In this moment I can only love you. I can only be there for you. Open my heart. And just be. Open. Empty. You grip my hand, tightly, your nails digging into my flesh. You are on your knees, on the floor. Your body bearing down. All concepts and ideas of how to birth are gone and all you can do is just be with your body. Allow your body to just take over. I am here. And yet I am not. I try to disappear because the space you are taking up is huge. Massive. The universe groans as it makes space for you to birth this baby. It does feel as though time suspends itself. It really does. Nothing else can exist in this moment. I have to become nothing. Empty. Open hearted. Here. and nowhere else. For you. You are incredible. Amazing. Did you know that you were capable of this? I am in awe. In this moment. I can only love...

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What Does Midwifery Mean to you?

Posted by on Jul 13, 2015 in Writings

What Does Midwifery Mean to you?

Midwifery means seeing each woman for who she is and really seeing her, seeing that spark in her when even she cannot sense it.

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