Friends of Belmont Birthing

Luca Rae

When I found out I was pregnant there was no question for me about where I wanted to give birth. I had heard of Belmont over the years and when my partner Luke and I went to check it out we were welcomed into a calm environment by staff that were happy to take the time to talk to us and show us around. Right away we were at ease and just knew this was the place for us. It turned out the woman I spoke with that day was to be our midwife. I could not have asked for a more supportive and just all round wonderful person to have cared for me throughout this exciting, daunting, happy, amazing time.

luca rae 2We booked in that day to have our baby in the Belmont birth suite. Luke (my partner) was not keen on the home birth idea, and thank goodness we did make that decision as our hot water system would not have gone the distance (one of the best pain relievers has to be hot running water).

I did have concerns about a natural birth. Would I be able to handle the pain? I have always experienced painful periods which I use pain medication for; this would be so much worse, right? How will I cope if I can't get through a period without assistance? It turns out period pain is not the best thing to compare birth to; period pain is the body in a state of dis-ease, pain during birth is simply the body doing exactly what it's meant to be doing. Looking back the body is kind with the contractions building slowly over time and just when you think "I can't take any more"' it starts to fade and you breathe a sigh of relief.

Luke and I wrote down our birth experience story for our daughter's keepsake book and I have included it here to share:

I believe things started happening at 4am on the 6/01/12 as I awoke to go to the bathroom and felt what I thought was my waters breaking (we never did actually find out when this happened as there never was a sudden gush and the midwife put it down to just a show). I spent the day taking it easy and effacing (the cervix thinning out) and by the next morning I was ready to head to the birthing centre.luca rae 3

I arrived at Belmont at 10.30am in a pretty uncomfortable state and I was shown into our birthing suite. Your dad and I were pretty much left to ourselves with the midwife, Julie, popping her head in every now and again. Julie was actually the one midwife I had not met from my midwifery team, but she was excellent. Murphy's law: my midwife Kim was on her day off, your Nan and Pop Johnson had just left for a week's holiday and I had a BBQ organised with some friends - of course it was meant to be your birthday!

So I spent the day in and out of the bathroom, the bath, bed and the shower to cope with the pain. As the intensity was building I was finding it harder to cope and so I tried water injections which certainly helped but hurt a lot in themselves to have done. When they wore off a couple of hours later I had some more but didn't get the relief I needed so opted to try some gas which was at the lowest setting. While it helped it turned out I was 9cm dilated by this stage and ready to push but I was too busy breathing in the gas to push so they took it away (not happy!). It was 4.30pm in the afternoon and I think everyone was a bit surprised how far I had come along, but during my prenatal visits Kim had always said business hours babies were much appreciated - I think you must have heard her.

Out of the bath and on hands and knees in the bathroom I pushed you into the world at 5.55pm. Dad was there encouraging me with the midwives (at this stage Angela had joined us too). You dived into the world, hands coming first with your head, so you caused some tearing, little miss, and a need for stitches. I held you to my chest and then Dad held you to his while I was getting cleaned up. Julie took care of me while your dad and Angela checked you over.

You had a feed and we headed home to rest and recover. Dad drove and I stayed in the back not wanting to leave your side for a moment. Your Grandma and Granddad were on their way and arrived an hour later to be your first visitors (they were so excited to meet their first grandchild)... Little baby Luca Rae Johnson. We were so excited to have started our own little family.

Some advice I will give you for when the day comes for you to have your own baby: breathing is important but, for me, constant movement and water were key elements to helping me get through it (and of course a strong partner - your dad was so good at supporting me).

luca rae 1Someone said to me later on that I was brave and must have been confident to go somewhere that did not offer pain relief medications. But the more I think about this I believe you have to be brave going somewhere where you don't know who will be looking after you. At such a beautiful, intimate time to have a complete stranger by your side seems like risky business to me. I know I did not know Julie before Luca's birth day but she was part of my midwife's team and they had worked together for so many years it was like Kim was still in the room with me.

Having Kim meet up with me for a cuppa on our visits before and after the birth to just chat meant the world to me and helped my confidence in being a new mum. I was only sorry when our visits came to an end but we have met up since to catch up (I don't think many people out there could say they formed a real relationship with their midwife, that it was more than just a job, but a genuine regard for each other).

I am really proud of myself for having a go and trusting that I could do this when there is so much in society that tells us we can't. That's my message for other mums to be; trust yourself and your body. You can do it!