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Australian Birth Stories
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Australian Birth Stories

Author: Sophie Walker

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A Podcast of Mothers' stories of childbirth. Weekly interviews with mothers giving their first hand accounts of child birth in Australia. Designed to help educate and inform first time pregnant women, parents wanting to have better subsequent births and birth enthusiasts who love to hear and tell birth stories. An entertaining and heartfelt resource for pregnancy, labour and delivery and postpartum.
149 Episodes
 On this week’s episode I talk to Justine Zampogna - @justinezappa - who used hypnobirthing skills in her three natural births - one in a birth centre, one in hospital and one at home. Whilst her two births with her boys are empowering and inspiring for any woman to hear, it’s her experience with her second baby - a girl named Gigi - that will stay with you long after you listen. In 2015, shortly after getting married, Justine fell pregnant and experienced a very smooth and joyful pregnancy. She admits that a fear of hospitals and anything medical prompted her to book in with her local birth centre. She found solace in hypnobirthing and after taking part in a course, she discovered the power of visualisation to prepare her for a positive birth experience. “It’s very hard for the mind to differentiate between reality and visualisation. So if you haven’t had a baby before, the only thing you can depend upon is the positive visualisation you create for yourself,” she says. Interestingly, her birth was very similar to the birth she visualised whilst pregnant, proof that it really is a powerful tool for women to use in preparation. Whilst she experienced a long second stage, her labour with baby Chase was relatively quick for a first birth and once he was born and the placenta delivered, she enjoyed uninterrupted golden hours, soaking him in. It was shortly after Chase’s third birthday that Justine fell pregnant with Gigi. She was severely sick during the first trimester and discovered at the 10 week Harmony test that she was having a girl and yet she admits that she felt like there was something not quite right. During the standard 12-14 week ultrasound she noticed (only in retrospect) that the sonographer was taking a long time. Two days later she received a call from the doctor who requested an immediate appointment. Justine and her husband were told that their baby had a neural tube defect and that they needed to terminate. To find out more tune into this week's show Follow the show on Instagram []
On this week’s episode, I talk to Madelyn who recently birthed her first baby, a girl named Georgia. Madelyn enjoyed a very smooth pregnancy, so smooth in fact that she didn’t really think about where she was going to birth until she was 20weeks pregnant. “In retrospect, I would have organised that earlier. I didn’t put enough emphasis on who to see, what to do, and the birth experience I wanted.” That said, she enjoyed the experience of shared care with her GP and the midwives at Sandringham Hospital who were, as she admits, the ideal support throughout her long labour. Madelyn admits that she’s always wanted to be a mum and yet she had never really considered the option of a natural birth. “My mum had cesarean births and I just presumed I would have one too. When I mentioned this to my GP she informed me that I had a low-risk pregnancy and therefore needed to prepare for a natural birth,” she says. This weeks episode is proudly sponsored by the memo
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150 | Christmas Special


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In today’s episode I chat to one of my Patreon supporters, Bridget French. Bridget used IVF in both her pregnancies and has experienced the highs and lows of fertility treatment. Her GP was the first to recommend a fertility specialist after running blood tests and discovering that Bridget had low AMH levels (the level of AMH in the blood can help doctors estimate the number of follicles inside the ovaries, and therefore, the woman's egg count) and an iron overload disorder called Haemochromatosis. Bridget and husband Rich always wanted a big family so they started IVF treatment straight away and after six rounds they fell pregnant. Bridget admits that she hates taking pregnancy tests so she always relies on the definitive blood test to give her the results and when the clinic called she was, understandably, ecstatic. She experienced a bleed at six weeks and sought the advice of the IVF clinic who encouraged her to rest and explained there wasn’t much anyone could do. At the 9week mark, she bled again and went to the ED to request an emergency ultrasound which showed a strong heartbeat. The bleeds could never be explained and thankfully, they stopped at the 13-week mark. Bridget had only completed two hospital birth classes and active birth classes before her waters broke and yet she laboured beautifully and stayed in her zone. By 11:30 am she was 5cm and regardless of her disappointment at having to lie on the bed for constant monitoring, she happily listened to Aretha Franklin and breathed deep through contractions. “I found it pretty manageable in my zone, I never got fatigued by pain and I was pushing my 2 pm. Within 4-5 pushes Molly was born and she came out breathing which was such a relief, especially for a premmie baby.” To find out more tune into this week's show Follow the show on Instagram
In today’s episode of the show I interview Liz Lim. Liz shares her two vaginal deliveries which she planned to be as water births at the Belmont Birth Centre. Liz saw a team of midwives for her care through Belmont, however when she went into labour, the centre had been closed for asbestos removal. She was sent to the John Hunter hospital where she saw a team of midwives she had not met before. Liz found her first birth quite traumatic and she did quite a lot of self study to try and prepare herself for an intervention free second birth. To her complete surprise, her labour progressed very quickly and she ended up delivering her second son in the garage with the help of her husband. They were trying to get to the birth centre however they ran out of time. To hear more of Liz’s story tune into this weeks episode.
In today’s episode I interview Hannah aka The Sleep Nurse. After birthing her second son she recognised a gap in support when new parents come home from the hospital. She was in the throes of exhaustion and anxiety triggered from sleep deprivation when she resolved to become a sleep support for new parents. She now works with families of newborns to 5-year-olds and admits that she loves helping frustrated, tired, overwhelmed families through the newborn period that she found incredibly challenging.  Hannah’s transition from hospital to home was a unique experience with her first son, Cliff. He had spent the first four weeks of his life in NICU and Special Care after being born at 32weeks so those first days at home were actually the very first time Hannah and husband Phil had been alone with their baby. “The day that we went home...that was the day that felt like he was born. It was the best day of my life,” she says.  Eight weeks prior she had left home with a suitcase and jumped on a plane to Bali with Phil. They had been together for a year when they unexpectedly fell pregnant, embraced the surprise and moved out of a share house and into an abode of their own. Hannah had nausea and dreadful heartburn but apart from that she was gliding through a trouble-free pregnancy. Phil planned their Balinese babymoon as a surprise and they spent the first week in a remote part of the island before heading to Seminyak to shop and eat. It was during dinner with friends that Hannah first started to experience period pain cramps that came every half an hour. She didn’t think much of it, put it down to the heat and went to bed that night to sleep it off. She was 29weeks and 4 days pregnant. The next day she woke with a sore lower back, went out to shop and when it was time to have lunch she couldn’t get comfortable enough to sit down so she went back to the villa with Phil. By evening she was in the hospital; her mucous plug had come away and she was regularly contracting.
In today’s episode I interview Amy Osmanhodzic, a hypnobirthing practitioner, birth doula and mother of four. You can listen to Amy’s firth three birth stories in episode 11 but today she chats about her fourth and final birth - a water birth in the presence of her older children.    After moving from Perth to Byron Bay and settling into their new community, Amy started working in a law firm in Lismore. Within weeks she found out she was pregnant with Daisy and while she has always wanted four children, she was shocked at first. “It took us a good few weeks to process and chat through it as it really was quite unexpected but we got there and when it came time to tell the kids, we took them to our eight-week ultrasound to find out why I’d been feeling so sick,” says Amy.    The pregnancy was smooth and uneventful even though everyday life for Amy, Kamal and the kids was busy as they started a new pizza business. Amy had always planned to have homebirths and this time was no different, in fact she was adamant that her final birth experience would be a calm and beautiful homebirth; a significant ending to this stage of her life. At 14weeks she enlisted the support of her chosen midwife, Bronwyn from Lismore Birth House, and immediately knew that she was the right caregiver. Towards the end of her pregnancy Amy met with Alex from Zandra Warland Photograph and planned to have her birth filmed. “It’s always so daunting sharing a personal birthing moment on social media but I want to continue to spread the message that birth can be beautiful and that it’s a normal and natural experience,” she says.   Her first three labours started in her 39th week of pregnancy and Daisy’s was much the same. One hour after the last pizza was served on a Friday night, Amy started to experience period pain and gentle surges that were about 10 minutes apart and lasting for 20 seconds (Hypnobirth refers to contractions as surges and Amy uses this term throughout our interview). At around midnight she got into bed but couldn’t sleep till 4am as the surges, while sporadic, were strong enough to keep her awake. She slept soundly for a few hours in the early morning and when she woke to announce that she was in labour the surges petered out almost immediately. “I knew it was because everyone was there and that it was crazy and loud. Thankfully mum and dad picked up on that and took the kids out of the house.”  She used the time when she was alone in the house to set up her birth space. She cleaned and organised, put on her birth playlist and lit some candles. “I went back within myself and then the surges ramped up, coming every 7minutes and lasting for 30secs. I knew that having the big kids present at the birth was a priority for me but it did change the experience a lot. I learnt how connected the birth environment is to the process of labour,” she says. When the kids returned her labour stalled again so after a big cry, Kamal took her for a drive and, with the help of lemon tarts from her favourite cafe, labour got well underway. They returned home and called their photographer and, within the hour, her birth team was in the home and supporting her with their gentle presence. Amy has never had a vaginal examination in any of her pregnancies or births and while she admits that they’re sometimes necessary, she has also witnessed the loss of confidence when a labouring woman is told that she’s not as far along as she presumed. “Midwives know what stage you’re at just by looking at you and I know that if I can’t sit still in a surge and that if I’m making noise then I’m close to 9-10cm,” she says. With the kids settled in bed and her birth team beside her, Amy got in the birth pool. Soon after, Kamal joined her and, as she had done in all her labours, she used touch and kissing to stimulate oxytocin and bring her baby earthside. “It comes naturally, we’re quite affectionate and there’s nothing like bringing a baby into the world to make your love even stronger.”  While her surges were strong Amy noticed that they were only lasting about 20 seconds. Instead of worrying about it, she felt the instinctual urge to change position so she flipped over onto her back and leaned against the side of the pool. This immediately changed everything; she experienced an almighty contraction, her waters broke, she yelled for her parents to get the sleeping children and they all made it back to the pool to see Daisy crowning. The cord was wrapped around her neck a few times and it didn’t have the strongest pulse so the midwife needed to rub Daisy to get her breathing on her own. Amy stayed in the pool to feed her and forty minutes later delivered the placenta naturally before she settled onto the couch and into newborn bliss.
In today’s episode, I interview Hannah Polites. Hannah is a midwife who worked in the hospital system for five years before she fell pregnant with her daughter, Avaliah. She speaks candidly about the pressure and the privilege of being a midwife giving birth and admits that during her first birth, she was acutely aware of the birth process and yet somewhat unprepared for the emotional and mental challenges. “I felt like I knew everything about the physiological birth process and what to expect but I didn’t know how I was going to personally handle it. I also knew that you can have all of these plans and it can all change so quickly,” she says. After 24hours of niggling, unproductive contractions following her waters breaking, Hannah and her husband Garth, a Paediatric Registrar, went to the hospital to check on the baby. Instead of being induced she opted for expected management yet it took three days of period pain cramps and acupuncture treatment to kick start labour. “I was over analysing everything because I’m a midwife and I was acting transitional so when I got to the hospital to discover I was 2cm I just lost it.” She agreed that it was best to have an epidural so she could relax but unfortunately her baby’s heart rate plummeted then spiked and it was decided that an emergency cesarean was required. Thankfully she could feel the deep pressure of the contractions despite the epidural and she asked her midwife to assess her. She was 10cm so the Obstetrician agreed to do a vacuum delivery. “I said: No, I don’t give you permission to give me an episiotomy and my midwife advocated for me. I was ok with tearing but unless absolutely necessary I didn't want an episiotomy,” she says. Hannah admits that coming so close to receiving an episiotomy - a birth injury - and then not tearing was a major part of her story. “That was huge for me and it took me a long time to get past it. I became scared of the birth process because it was an emergency situation in the end. Ultimately I felt so much pressure that as a midwife, I should have coped better.” She admits that she started questioning her personal and professional ability.  This guilt plagued Hannah when she fell pregnant with her second baby and she had terrible nightmares from the outset. She sought the help of a one-on-one hypnobirthing practitioner Shari Lyon from Belly 2 Birth, who helped her and Garth move through the birth trauma and actively prepare for her second birth.  “The first class was really about identifying my fears and how they made us feel and after that we debriefing and started building a tool kit of skills to take with us into birth. It was amazing how connected Garth and I were during Arlo’s pregnancy; we were doing regular meditations, breathing techniques and listening to tracks together. We opened up and talked about our issues...hypnobirthing helped us establish a very strong birth partnership.” Within three weeks of starting her hypnobirthing practice, Hannah started to get excited about giving birth and embraced her pregnancy despite nausea, low blood pressure, bleeding and early labour symptoms. She went into Arlo’s birth with a positive mindset and a skillset that literally carried her through the entire labour and to an ecstatic delivery.
In today’s episode, I interview Bianca Aiono. Bianca has been an elite athlete since she was a teenager and has always had irregular cycles. When she and her husband decided to start trying, they thought it might take a little while, and after two years they sought some assistance from a specialist. After having intrauterine insemination (IUI), Bianca conceived her first son Maverick. When Bianca began trying for a second, she discussed the possibility of having multiples with her doctor due to the follicle-stimulating hormones she was taking. While she knew this was a possibility she never actually thought she would conceive triplets. Bianca shares openly the discussions she had with her doctors about the risks of multiples. The doctor gave her the option of selectively reducing, and she shares how she was sure she couldn’t intervene in this way. She and her husband were happy to see how the babies progressed on their own. The triplets tracked along very well, and Bianca delivered them vaginally. To hear the details tune into this week’s episode.    Follow the show on Instagram
In today’s episode, I interview Renee. After trying to conceive for two years Renee and her husband went through IVF to conceive their first son. After a stressful two years of trying to conceive Renee felt nervous throughout her pregnancy. Her son Beau was in a breech position and Renee’s doctor recommended she have an elective caesarean. When Renee was being prepped for her caesarean they discovered that the spinal block had filed and she could still feel everything. Eventually, they were able to give her a high dose of epidural. Renee shares with us how she went on to conceive her second son naturally without the need for IVF assistance and she went on to deliver him vaginally. Devastatingly, earlier this year Renee’s daughter was Still Born and she opens up about Elodie’s birth and how she and her boys are all working through their grief.
In today’s episode I interview Aimee Winchester. Aimee shares the births of all five of her girls who were all born via caesarean section. Aimee gave birth to her first daughter at the age of 20. She knew very little about birth at the time and went in to be induced when she was over her dates. Aimee was fully dilated with an epidural when they discovered her little girl was in a posterior position and despite the doctors trying to manually turn her she needed to have an emergency caesarean. In her second birth, Aimee hired and doula and was all prepared to attempt a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean) To hear how Aimee’s labours unfolded tune into this week’s show.
In today’s episode, I interview Theresa. Theresa conceived her first son at the age of 22 while she was living with her husband in Perth. She had private health insurance, so she called around and booked in with an Obgyn who was available. In her third trimester, they sold their home and moved over to NSW. She quickly found a new Obgyn who indicated he probably wouldn’t be at her birth, but he was willing to take her on. Theresa was induced and as her labour unfolded, she ended up having an emergency caesarean section. Theresa was born in Singapore and as part of her family traditions, her mother came over and stayed with them for the first 40 days. She nurtured her daughter with very specific warming foods and teas and took over all the household task so Theresa was free to breastfeed and connect with her baby.  Theresa describes this confinement period as heavenly. To hear Theresa’s story and how she went on to have two VBACs tune into this week’s episode.
In today’s episode, I interview Luka, who is a midwife and registered nurse. Luka decided to give birth to her first child through her local birth center under the care of a private midwife whom she had worked within the past. Luka’s labour began when she was 40 weeks and 12 days. She used the TENS machine and stayed active throughout her labour. Her baby presented with his hand near his face, which resulted in Luka receiving a third-degree tear. After his safe delivery, she required transferring to the hospital where she worked to have surgery to repair the tear. To hear Luka’s full story tune into this week’s show.
In this week’s episode, I interview Laura Callea a women’s health physiotherapist. Laura shares her two birth experiences. With a wealth of experience behind her working with pregnant and postnatal women, Laura went into her first birth open minded. After being induced in her first labour, Laura’s cervix did not respond to the induction process and she ended up having an emergency caesarean. Second time around Laura spent her second pregnancy preparing for a Vaginal birth after a Caesarean or a term she prefers, TOLAC ,Trial of labor after cesarean. To hear what unfolded in Laura’s second labour, tune into this week’s show.
In today’s episode, I interview Hana. Hana shares her most recent birth of her twin girls, Mika and Bobby. While camping and traveling up the coast with her sister, Hana discovered she was pregnant. At the time, she didn’t feel quite ready for a third child having a 4-year-old and 2 year old, and she worried about how she would cope. It wasn’t until Hana was 13 weeks pregnant, and she had her first ultrasound that she discovered she was, in fact, having twins. When the shock of twins settled down, Hana began seeing a private obstetrician who worked out of Lismore Hospital. After having a home birth with her first son in Sydney and her second a home birth in Byron, Hana was determined to have a low intervention birth with her girls.   Hana was able to successfully give birth to both her girls vaginally without an epidural. To hear Hana’s full story including how she had her sister Mia Taninaka and her best friend Aimee Winchester present at her birth with their babies and how they expressed milk for Bobby, tune into this week's beautiful episode.
In today’s episode, I interview Trishna. Trishna gave birth to her first baby under the care of midwives through the Royal North Shore Hospital. As an avid gym enthusiast, Trishna stayed very active throughout her pregnancy and labour. She continued her F45 workouts, took pregnancy yoga classes and reformer pilates. Together with her partner Trishna took a  Calmbirth course to help equip her for the low intervention water birth she hoped for. To hear her full story tune into this week’s episode.
Lou and her husband were very career-driven and didn’t think they would ever have children. When they reached their mid-thirties, they had a conversation and decided they wanted to give it a try. After doing genetic testing and coming off contraception, Lou fell pregnant in the first month of trying. Lou had a history of anxiety, and this began to increase during her pregnancy. She had to modify the medication she was taking for her anxiety when she began trying to conceive, and she started seeing a psychologist who specializes in perinatal and postnatal anxiety and depression. Lou elected to be induced and shares her experience of going through a private Obstetrician, choosing not to breastfeed and sleeping challenges. To find out more tune into this week’s show.
In today’s episode, I interview Rachel. Rachel fell pregnant whilst living in Bali. She hadn’t planned to conceive, and suddenly she was forced to navigate cultural differences and expectations of her partner’s family. At 12 weeks pregnant Rachel came back to Adelaide to see her friends and family and try and have some space to think about where she’d like to give birth. She decided to stay and have the baby in Australia and wanted to wait and see if she would want to return to Bali with her new baby. In this interview, Rachel opens up about how she and her boyfriend broke up when she was 39 weeks pregnant. She went on to have a beautiful water birth at 42 weeks with the support of her mum, her midwife, and her doula.
In today’s episode, I interview Jayde Couldwell. Jayde shares her pregnancy and childbirth experiences with all three of her girls. Jayde suffered from Hyperemesis Gravidarum in all three of her pregnancies. Jayde had her second daughter through Tweed hospital and decided to have her third daughter there as well. After Yumi’s birth, Jayde started to experience heightened anxiety and mood swings. She went to her GP and explained her feelings; however it wasn’t until she went away with friends for the weekend that things escalated. Jayde suffered a series of panic attacks which lead her to ask her friends to take her to the Emergency Room. Jadye was diagnosed with acute anxiety and postal depression. She takes us through her journey and how she sought help to move through this challenging period.
After struggling to conceive for four years, Gemma conceived her first child Flynn through IVF. Her second son Arti was also conceived with the help of IVF so it was a complete surprise and shock when Gemma fell pregnant with her daughter naturally. Gemma suffered from Hyperemesis Gravidarum in her previous pregnancies; however, this time, it was much worse. She found it incredibly difficult to care for her 2 and 4-year-olds and her husband had to take over their care while she was forced to stay in bed. Despite her HG Gemma went on to have a magical water birth under the care of midwives. She used Hypnobirth Australia tracks to remain calm and focused, and she loved her birth. To hear Gemma’s story tune into this week’s show.
Comments (9)

Leone Loechner

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Aug 28th

Holly Castles

Such a beautiful episode. Definitely a tear jerker this one 😭😍 I loved hearing Stacey's story. Her voice reminds me of my late mum so it was bittersweet. The pregnancy hormones are flowing today.

Jan 2nd

Catherine Towiro

z mxmmxxz.

Dec 20th

Holly Castles

another tear jerker 😭 I love this podcast so much!

Nov 12th

Holly Castles

Im not crying, you're crying 😂😭😭😍😍😍😍 this was the most touching episode absolutely loved it! 🧡

Nov 12th

Jane Zervos

love love love this podcast! amazing work Sophie. thank you ❤

May 15th

Anna Wills

I love this podcast. I found it not long after giving birth to my second and love how mums are sharing their stories. it's a great cast to listen to each week.

May 5th

Laura Léntfér

This is my favourite podcast. Thank you so much for sharing your stories and for creating a platform that us new mummys can listen to them!

Feb 4th

Emma Lee

Wow! Thank you for sharing.

Dec 16th
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