Stephanie’s rural home birth
Andy and Stephanie Gudgeon are seasoned Waikato farmers and have chosen to give birth to all four of their children at home. Heidi, Eden, Isaac and Hazel (who are 11, nine, six and three respectively) were all born on different farms over the past 11 years. Farming has helped them to see birth as a process that takes time and the right environment. Here Stephanie takes us through Hazel’s birth.
Did you have a birth plan?
Stephanie: Yes we did, well, kind of... Our birth plan was formed and unified over many cups of green tea when Kirsty, our midwife, visited. We had a very good understanding of what each wanted from the other and hashed out a plan. We talked a little about if things went wrong, and what the plan would be if the midwife didn’t arrive for the birth. As this was my fourth, I wanted to make our older children feel welcome at the birth and provide them with things to do for me during labour, and also quiet things to do away from me.
How did you know you were in labour?
I started to feel a ‘tickle’ in my knickers and dull period-like cramps. I had a heavy feeling in my belly with gentle tightenings coming irregularly. After two or three hours of this, I had what’s called a ‘bloody show’.
I’d been zooming around as much as I could doing a few chores – making beds, hanging out washing and getting last-minute things ready for the kids so they could be present at the birth. As the morning went by I was no longer able to focus and tasks were becoming difficult for me to do. That’s when I knew it was time to slow down and focus on my task ahead.
Did the birth go to plan?
Yes, it mostly went to plan. When I went into labour there was a high probability that Kirsty would not make it in time, as she was in Hamilton. That meant Andy would potentially have more to do for me, the girls and our baby, so we decided to leave Isaac at preschool.
Moving around in different positions during each tightening really helped a lot. Then I would rest in child’s pose or leaning over the ottoman. Labour was very strong and intense but I knew I had to ride with it to allow it to happen. If I resisted my body, I knew I’d have to endure the pressure for much longer.
The actual birth was more amazing than I’d thought it would be. Moving with uncertainty and overcoming obstacles with Andy made it so empowering. As expected, this birth was much faster and my midwife Kirsty didn’t arrive in time, which added a new dimension!
How long was your Labour?
Established labour with Hazel was around one hour. Early labour for me is quite long and I seem to do most of my mental preparation and opening when I’m busy focused on other tasks. My head is distracted which allows my body to just do its thing. Now I can see why birthing at home is so important for me – I find it easy and comfortable to transition to active labour at home.
Describe the moment you met your new baby:
Joy and relief. I felt so strong and empowered. Hazel was a pink, alert and perfect little baby. Our older girls were happy they had a sister. I picked her up from under the water and she cried straight away. Her cord was very short and I held her to my chest and scanned her body to make sure she was okay. She started squeezing her hands and I knew she was ready to latch on. That’s when Kirsty arrived, to find a clean pool (showing I had lost no blood) and a healthy breastfeeding baby!
How did you prepare for labour?
During pregnancy I had a few mantras for overcoming negative thoughts. They were, “My body is growing a strong, healthy baby”, “My body is made to do this” and “I am strong and will let my body open”. I practiced yoga throughout all my pregnancies and used these mantras during every labour. I also love walking in pregnancy. I feel like the gentle jiggling movement encourages Baby into a good position, helping them to move down in the pelvis, ready to engage for birth.
Pearls of wisdom for expectant mamas:
When I was in early labour, I called a good friend to talk about it – sharing the situation gave me strength. I’d also encourage other mums to believe in the process of birth; trust that your body was made to do this and embrace the magical journey that is birth. Joy is waiting for you at the end!
AS FEATURED IN ISSUE 48 OF OHbaby! MAGAZINE. CHECK OUT OTHER ARTICLES IN THIS ISSUE BELOW