Lené Gouws 
Baby Anel born 21 August, 2018 at Vincent Pallotti Hospital

Lené, her husband Willem and her friend Jamie and I met one sunny Saturday, months before she was due. Over breakfast we spoke about all things birth. Lené and Jamie are both doctors, which made for an interesting labour and birth. Here is Lené’s birth story:“Myself, my friend Jamie (who was also 36 weeks pregnant at the time) and hubby Willem arrived at Vincent Pallotti at around midnight to start my induction with gel. I was due to have two doses, and after the first dose was in, Willem went home to rest and Jamie spent the night with me. There was no need for a second dose as around 2am I started getting intense backaches which turned out to be contractions when placed on monitoring.

I lay with the heatpack and listened to music until 6am and then let our wonderful doula Charlene and hubby know that I need them to make their way to #VincentPallotti, as the pains were getting more intense. On the monitoring I was having short contractions, but very frequently, with few breaks in between. We all chatted and got the room ready excitedly.Charlene brought bunting and put up fairy lights and within an hour of her arrival our room felt like a safe (and organised) space to spend the day. She took control from the minute she arrived in her calm and gentle way, taking care of all the practical things we would never have thought to do. She also encouraged us all to have something to eat and started working on my lower back during the surges, which were getting nicely regular and more intense but with nice long gaps in-between to chat.

Dr Dumbrill came to check me at around 8am and I was 2cm dilated and officially in labour without needing any further induction meds. He did a sweep of my membranes (ouchies!) and ruptured my membranes (not so ouchies) and advised me that things might get a bit more intense after the water was broken. He was right. At that point Charlene was encouraging me to go for a long walk, but I very much just wanted to lie down and die, but she knew that I wanted to be mobile and wanted to spend some time outdoors if I was labouring during the day and encouraged me to try it, with a nice warm bath waiting on my return.On the walk my contractions became very intense. We were taking a few steps at a time before squatting through a contraction. Hubby held me and Charlene rubbed my back intensely during contractions, and talked me through them when needed “you only need to get through this one, don’t think about the next one, blow it away, each surge is bringing baby closer”. I started to moan and she encouraged me to make any sounds I wanted to as the moaning helped me stay inside myself.

We got back to the room (eventually) and things were very intense. Jamie finished making my bath. Everyone sat around me while I labored in the bath – encouraging me, handing me water sips and rubbing my back through contractions.We started using the entonox (nitrous oxide gas). It did nothing for the pain, but did help me to focus on breathing through the surges that were becoming overwhelming. No talking at this point, but Charlene just knew what was needed at each time and calmly provided them or encouraged my birthing partners.There was a point in that bath that I felt I might actually not make it through this and became tearful – it becomes so intense. I asked for an epidural and they checked me and said I was still only 3cm, 13 hours after my contractions had started… I couldn’t believe that this intense overwhelming stage could still be passive labour, but turns out I might’ve been measured incorrectly and that I was in fact “transitioning” and was rechecked and found to be fully dilated. I was very grateful for the mistake though, as it meant I still got an epidural even though I was actually fully dilated 🙂 I spent the next hour resting, pain-free and awaiting the time to push.

Charlene gave me an incredible reflexology massage and managed my nausea with aromatherapy. Baby was born after 30mins of pushing with no birth trauma to mom or baba. I firmly believe I would never have had this experience without such an incredible team around me. Having Charlene there to anticipate every moment and guide us all in her very special calm way, whether it be with massage, or a kind word, or positioning, or honey sticks was absolutely incredible. Having my husband there to hold me every step of the way and make me feel safe and loved and excited about our little one’s arrival was what kept me strong till the end. And having Jamie there to share this in the way that is our friendship was something we will remember forever as we raise our babas together.

I am also thankful to Dr Dumbrill for his gentleness and care during my pregnancy and ultimately, my birth.

Charlene, words cannot describe how much you meant to us during my pregnancy and delivery.

You were always there to reassure me and encourage me when I was unsure, especially during the last part of pregnancy.

Thank you for showing me that it is possible to ‘relax into birth’ with the right team around me. Can’t wait to share this process with you again in future!”

#relaxintobirth #charleneyaredwest #baby #babies #birth #birthstory#hospitalbirth #doulalife #doula

Lené Gouws, Vincent Pallotti Hospital

Michelle Renée Stevens
Baby Benjamin born on 15 of February 2017 at Vincent Pallotti Hospital

img_2183Here is Michelle Renée Stevens’s Birth Story… I so appreciate that it took a year to write it… If you are planning a VBAC, check out her blogs on the topic. She will always stay in my heart… Her second birth was a triumphant one – where she birthed in her way – where she felt empowered, strong and supported…

“Almost a year ago I had my beautiful, healing and empowering VBAC. Although I did write it at the time, I never shared my birth story until now because I wanted to let it settle before sharing. So here it is:http://athingofbeauty.co.za/my-second-birth-experience-vbac/ Thank you to everyone on this group for equipping me with the knowledge needed to achieve my VBAC and to my birth angel Doula Charlene Yared West from Relax Into Birth. If you are considering hiring a doula just do it!”

Michelle Renée Stevens, Vincent Pallotti Hospital

Sam Suter
Baby Tom born at Vincent Pallotti on 27 November 2017

21950CD4-B3F3-4820-850D-F788E087F4E2I met Sam Suter quite last minute, just a few weeks before her due date and she was looking to have a doula for her birth. “I had always wanted a natural birth, although I am hesitant to use that word now, as no birth is unnatural,” says Sam, who opens her birth story (below) with that line. As time went on, she developed an unusually high blood pressure and had to be induced. On the day of her induction her blood pressure just kept climbing and in the end a caesarean became necessary.

“The whole birth experience was not ‘perfect’ or how I had envisioned it, but I had to go with the flow, what was best for my baby and I – and I think that is a huge learning for parenthood overall – so for James and I learning this early was a gift in many ways,” says Sam. “To laugh, find the joy in every situation and make the most of it. Because we won’t always be perfect parents, and Tom won’t always be the perfect child. But we have love, and joy and should be present in every situation and just enjoy it as it unfolds.”

Since meeting Sam, James Suter and Tom, they have crept into my heart and are there to stay. A very warm family, beautiful souls. Here is Sam’s story of remaining flexible, birthing her baby and allowing the tigress within to emerge. Thank you for the honour – it was a very special caesarean. Much love to you special people… <3 Check out the breathtaking photos of Sam’s birth… xx #charleneyaredwest #relaxintobirth #empoweringbirthsandnewparents


“I had always wanted a natural birth, although I am hesitant to use that word now as no birth is unnatural.

At 36 weeks pregnant, my blood pressure reading was high and and continued to increase or remain too high. My gynaecologist kept a close eye on me and allowed my baby boy to grow and develop in my womb for another (almost) four weeks but at 39 weeks on one of these check ups with her, my reading was higher than it had ever been before, and she decided to induce me for natural birth.


663A2C9A-96AD-4358-859F-D5A8DBD63982I was induced with the hopes that contractions would start and I could have a natural birth, this was around at 10am in the morning and at 10pm at night, although contractions had begun, they were ever so slight and my blood pressure was continuing to rise. The decision had to be made to have a caesarean section and I could see that my gynaecologist didn’t want to tell me because she knew that I would be upset and that it was really the only thing to do, with me being at risk of a stroke and of course with labour comes pain which means that my blood pressure would generally increase even more. So, I had 20 minutes to get my head around the fact that I was going to have a caesarean, in between filling out paperwork and being prepped for surgery. It was difficult, and I was anxious but at the same time I knew that very soon I was going to meet my baby boy and so there was a sense of excitement as well of course.

I’ve heard a lot about caesareans and I’ve read a lot about them prior to my birth and I did have concerns – mostly around the natural hormones that are released during and post birth that my baby and I may miss out on, and on how the initial meeting between my son and I would be – I wanted it to be perfect. I wanted everything that should happen in his body and mine to happen the way it should to ensure that he had the best start in life and we had the best start at our relationship, because I think that all those things play a role later on in life. I went into a cesarean thinking that possibly there was something that I was going to miss out on or that Tom was going to miss out on because we weren’t having that natural birth experience.

However, I have to say that for me, I ended up having a beautiful experience, although traumatic, because it was honestly more than I could have hoped for and not only because it was a caesarean and I had concerns, but because obviously I never had a child before and It was really just simply amazing. I believe all birth experiences have an element of trauma, and this is all part of it – but for me the euphoria and the memory of seeing Tom for the first time way outweighed any trauma.

I had an incredible doula and that just made a huge difference, she ensured that all my requests were met as you are generally quite distracted during birth! Things like delayed cord clamping and that the curtain was dropped and I could actually see my baby boy come out. That skin on skin happened immediately and I could hold Tom just after he was born. We also had an incredible team, we had a couple of cameras in there because my husband and I are in the film and photography business and we had the anaesthetist and our doula picking up the cameras and snapping away – there was just this real feeling of being safe and everyone seemed as excited as us, with the best bedside manner, just so caring, loving and sensitive. That also just made it for my husband James and I. The people that were by our side through it.



What I didn’t know and what some people might not know is that even if you’ve had a caesarean, nature takes over and the hormone oxytocin is released – in both mom and baby, it’s not as though it’s not released just because you having a caesarean, even with anaesthetic our bodies are so incredible – nature is so strong, it takes over and you experience that high and you experience that bonding with your child with this natural hormone being released. I was definitely feeling the oxytocin and looking back the experience is such a happy one. Happy is in fact not the word to describe it – it was the most incredible human experience I have ever had.

Another thing that I think made it really great was Tom’s breast crawl. Because I never went into ‘hard-core’ labour, I didn’t have the opportunity to be offered any pain medication and so I didn’t have any pain medication in my system. I went into the cesarean without having anything other than of course the anaesthetic, but that was it – and so there was little that had a major impact on Tom.


Processed with VSCO with fn16 presetThey often say that when a baby is born via caesarean section that they are slightly less alert possibly because of these drugs in their system, however, Tom was none of these things and what was just a huge gift to me after all my concerns around a C-section. Not only was Tom incredibly alert, but when placed on me he started crawling towards my breast. My doula said not to show him where to go, that he should rather find his way himself, and I will never forget Tom on his tummy his neck up, head sort of bobbing trying to make his way to my breast. My husband used to be a full time game ranger and compared Tom to a new-born lion cub. We couldn’t believe this new-born child making his way toward my breast on his own, just showing such strength of character already and obviously giving me reassurance that even though we had had a cesarean section, he was just doing so well. We felt really blessed and I think everyone has a part of their birth experience that just really stands out for them and that moment really stood out for us, and will always.

The other thing that I think is worth sharing is that after birth, if you are in a hospital, there are a lot of people wanting to help you and wanting to guide you and this is all fair and well and it’s wonderful to have help but often these people can not have the instincts that a mother has and perhaps not do things the way you want to do things and they may push you in a certain way, so it’s always good to understand what you want and do your research prior to birth because then you are able to sift through which help you need when you are in a hospital. I had Tom screaming a couple of hours after the birth as babies do, and I had all sorts of nurses around me telling me how to breastfeed, wanting to help, … and the tigress within me came out and I told everyone to get out of the room and to just give us some time. I was able to shush Tom very quickly obviously being his mom (never question yourself as mom, you know best) and we were able to figure out breastfeeding on our own. It’s not that I never consulted someone or got help about breastfeeding, it’s just that the initial time is so precious – you don’t need a million people interfering , it just makes things more tricky.

The whole birth experience was not ‘perfect’ or how I had envisioned it, but I had to go with the flow, what was best for my baby and I and I think that is a huge learning for parenthood overall – so for James and I learning this early was a gift in many ways. To laugh, find the joy in every situation and make the most of it. Because we won’t always be perfect parents, and Tom won’t always be the perfect child. But we have love, and joy and should be present in every situation and just enjoy it as it unfolds.”

Sam Suter, Vincent Pallotti Hospital

Megan Taljaard
Baby Annabel born at Vincent Pallotti Hospital on 15-03-2016

I had the most wonderful natural birth experience and having Charlene as our doula and our midwife, Glynnis, there was what made it all possible. Charlene was so encouraging throughout my whole pregnancy and my husband and I feel as though she was a vital part of ensuring that the whole birth experience and atmosphere was as calm and relaxing as it could possibly be. Charlene’s reassuring presence helped me feel safe and secure, not turning to any pain relief or losing concentration throughout the whole process.

We felt as though everything we were doing was right and natural. It was very important to me to have Charlene there to support me but my husband feels the same way – she was there to support us both. My husband felt less pressure to make hectic decisions and try to discern whether or not what I was going through was normal – he was able to enjoy the whole experience much more with Charlene guiding us.

Charlene brought such a gentle, loving and encouraging feeling while I was labouring and I ended up giving birth naturally to our precious Annabel just 3 hours and 45 minutes after arriving at the hospital. We are eternally grateful for her presence at Annabel’s birth.”


Megan Taljaard, Vincent Pallotti Hospital

Lizzy Jahncke
Baby Sebastiaan born at Vincent Pallotti Hosptial on 15-06-2016

When I fell pregnant for the second time, I was sure of two things: I wanted a vaginal birth after c-section(VBAC) and a doula.

Meeting a doula is a lot like meeting a potential friend for the first time — right away you know if this is a good fit, if this relationship will work.

Charlene listened and put me at ease with her kind and attentive demeanor and (important to me) her humor. I left our first meeting thinking, yes, this will work.

My son was breech and although we tried various methods to turn him, he wouldn’t budge.

I remember driving home from my doctor’s appointment after the C-section had been booked and crying, upset that the VBAC I so badly wanted would most likely not happen.

Charlene was so supportive and helped me to see that try as we might to change the outcome, it is ultimately the baby that chooses its birth.

I’ll be honest, once I knew I was having a C-section, I thought, do I need a doula?

The answer was a resounding yes. The sense of calm and peace that I felt throughout my son’s birth day was due to Charlene’s presence before, during and after the birth.

I never thought that a C section could be a good experience. Charlene changed that for me and for that I am forever grateful.



Lizzy Jahncke, Vincent Pallotti Hospital

Pierre and Gwénaëlle Dereymaeker
Baby Emile born at Vincent Pallotti Hospital on 26-04-2016

When Gwen and I met Charlene, I was immediately drawn by her soft manner and reassuring voice. I could tell that Gwen also felt reassured, and that Charlene was exactly the doula we were looking for: her experience, knowledge and holistic approach to birth made her an obvious choice. The background was that our first child, Aliénor, had been born by emergency caesarean, and Gwen in particular was devastated. It took me months, perhaps even longer, to understand how much she had been affected by that first birth experience and how important it was for her to do everything possible to have a natural birth for her second pregnancy. Charlene became an essential part of that story.

Having a VBAC in South Africa is not that easy. Only a few doctors are willing to support mothers who want it. There is an element of going against the establishment and standard medical practice in South Africa, which can be intimidating. Charlene was instrumental in providing us with the moral, emotional, and practical support to go down the VBAC route with confidence. I particularly enjoyed the hypnobirth preparation classes a couple of months before Emile’s birth, which also allowed me as a father to understand much better what it involves to give birth and how I could support Gwen on the day itself.

As it turned out, Emile’s birth was pretty dramatic. Where labour for our first born had taken 12 hours before anything really happened, Emile was in a real hurry. Not only was he 3 weeks before his due date, but he wanted to get out extra quick. We barely had time to reach Vincent Palotti, but Gwen was ready, and Charlene’s soothing, calm voice was incredibly helpful to me as well. When Gwen’s obstetrician Dr Dumbrill walked into the labour ward, it appeared that Emile’s heart rate was irregular and that he was in distress. Dr Dumbrill had to make a call, and instructed everyone to prepare for an emergency caesarean. This was a devastating moment and my heart sank. I remember thinking that we had been through all these careful preparations for all these months for nothing. There was, of course, no way we were going to put our baby in any danger and we knew that Dr Dumbrill, who had given us amazing support over the months, was right. Yet Gwen, in between contractions, essentially put her foot down, and insisted on trying for a bit longer. She later told me she just knew instinctively that it would be fine, that her body was ready. I was not so sure at the time ! But at that moment, Charlene and Angela, Gwen’s midwife, stepped in decisively and gave Gwen just the little extra courage she needed to go on. Emile was born literally a few minutes later. I could not have been more proud, not just to be the father of a beautiful boy, but also that Gwen had made it! Without Charlene and Angela, we could never have found the determination to keep going. It was a huge relief and gave us a real sense of victory against the odds. We were filled by a sense of gratefulness towards Charlene, Angela and Dr Dumbrill.

Pierre and Gwénaëlle Dereymaeker, Vincent Pallotti Hospital

Tracy Horlin, Vincent Pallotti Hospital
Baby Ben, April 2016

I contacted Charlene as soon as I found out I was pregnant because I heard that she is in high demand. She was very helpful and supportive even though she did not know me at all. I felt very early on that I could raise any concern with her and trusted that she had my best interest at heart.

We first met Charlene at the Pregnancy Journey day at the Shamballah in Scarborough a few months after we had first chatted. I knew I wanted her to be our birth doula. Her presence is very calming yet assertive. We did the Relax into Birth course at the Bowwood Baby Clinic and found it very informative and useful and helped me feel less anxious in those last few weeks leading up to the birth. Charlene also did a visualization exercise at week 36 which is incredibly beneficial and relaxing.

I was pregnant until 42 weeks and listened to track number 3 on the Relax into Birth CD every night. I would recommend this to any woman as it helped me to relax into sleep at the end of my pregnancy.

At 42 weeks there was no sign of labour starting and the Midwife recommended a hospital induction. Early on Friday morning my labour was induced. I was very fearful and had tried to avoid a hospital birth, and my husband and I were very thankful that Charlene was there, supporting us through. She stayed with us the whole day and gave me the most amazing foot massages. I had a caesarean birth at 6pm that same Friday and Charlene stayed with us in the theatre. The experience would definitely be much more daunting had she not been there. She popped in to visit while I was in hospital and came to visit afterwards for an awesome postnatal massage. I very much appreciated having someone to talk to about the birth experience, because it did not go as planned and I played so many “what ifs” in my mind. Charlene was very empathetic and genuinely cared.

My husband agrees that having Charlene with us was a brilliant decision and we will definitely call upon her again if the need arises.

My advice to first time moms would be to fully explore your birth options and don’t get too fixated on things going a particular way. Be open to what is. This is what I have had to learn during my journey.

Tracy Horlin, Vincent Pallotti Hospital

Anne-Marie Kiwia
Baby Kiwia born on 06-03-2017 

Anne-Marie Kiwia came down to Cape Town from Tanzania to birth her baby. When I visited her prenatally, she was in holiday mode, relaxing and enjoying the sights and sounds of the city, using an UBER to get around. The next time I saw her was for the Relax Into Birth course and then after that, for her birth. That night her husband called me to come quick – ‘we think this is labour starting!’ Anne was strong, resilient and confident throughout her labour and her VBAC was wonderfully healing, as she laboured for a week when she gave birth the first time around in Dar es Salaam. I was proud to be her doula for this second birth in South Africa. Here is her story 🙂

“The first time I heard of the word ‘Doula’ was when I considered giving birth in South Africa. We live in Tanzania and had a very bad experience with the birth of my first son in Dar es Salaam.
After more than a dozen people had recommended I get a doula, I was keen to find out what it really was about – and how a doula could help me achieve my VBAC. I got in touch with Charlene three weeks before my due date and also chose a hospital that would be pro-VBAC.

I really enjoyed our appointments leading up the birth and it felt so good to have someone experienced and patient like Charlene to guide me and help release my fears which lingered from my first birth. After completing the Relax Into Birth course, I became stronger in my hopes to get the VBAC I wanted and also felt more positive about any outcome that would come my way – even if it meant another caesarean. One week after my due date my waters broke and I stayed relaxed, listening to her tracks. I stayed home until the contractions got closer together and more intense. When we all got to the hospital, Charlene had prepared the labour room with little lights and pictures on the wall. I remember thinking a few times while I was labouring that I felt like a princess as many women – back in Tanzania – could only wish for such an exclusive and positive environment to give birth in. My labor was only five hours long in the hospital and i made it without a tear and swear word 🙂

It was a successful VBAC with a Happy Ending! I think my amazing birth experience in Cape Town would not have gone so well without the positive presence and input of Charlene. People keep asking me back home how it was and all I can say it felt like a happy holiday with a successful mountain trekking trip. I was professionally guided up the mountain and i made it to the top! Thanks Charlene! xx

Anne-Marie Kiwia, Vincent Pallotti Hospital

Baby Remy born at Vincent Pallotti Hospital on 14 December 2016
Weight: 4.3kg

When I first found out I was pregnant, there was a lot of excitement accompanied by what I imagine to be a completely normal amount (although large!) of nerves. We had so many questions about what was to come and so many hopes and dreams for this beautiful life growing inside of me. As a woman, I think a lot of us are afraid of giving birth – afraid of the pain, the labour, the unknown. This fear is somewhat suppressed by the fact that it’s something that will only happen in many years and at a later stage in life, but when I fell pregnant, it became something inevitable and toward the end of my pregnancy it began to consume my thoughts and I was so confused and terrified of what was going to happen! I kept going back and forth on the decision to do natural birth or a Caesar, changing my mind almost daily. Luckily, my extremely supportive husband was happy with whatever I felt comfortable with, the hard part was deciding what that actually was.

After attending three sessions for our antenatal class and watching a few birth videos (which I thought would make me a lot more anxious about birth), I surprisingly felt this overwhelming calmness about natural birth and knew with every inch of my being that that was what I wanted to do. I was so thrilled with myself that I had made up my mind and I was proud of myself for knowing my strength and capability to allow my body to do what it was made to do, despite any pain that may accompany the process. I wrote a birth plan and I met with you [Charlene] in preparation for my natural birth. At first, I was somewhat skeptical about the idea of a Doula, but because of my tendency to get very anxious in certain situations, we thought it would be a good idea to at least meet with you to see what it is all about. That was the BEST decision we made. You made me feel at ease, comfortable and knowing that I had you with me to help get us through what would be the most difficult but amazing moment of our lives gave me confidence that I could go through with the natural birth, something I never thought I would have the strength to do.

Of course, things don’t always go as planned, especially when it comes to childbirth. At 37 weeks, our little bundle was weighing in at 4.2kg on the ultrasound and measuring at around 43cm in diameter around his abdomen, which was very large. That’s when our doctor brought up the Caesar. She was extremely supportive of whatever we wanted to do, but ultimately we felt that we didn’t want to take the risk and scheduled a Caesar for the following week. I was devastated. I had gone back and forth for months about my decision on the type of birth I would want, and I had proved to myself that I was strong enough and that I had the right mindset to go through natural birth and bring my baby into the world the way that women had been doing so since the beginning of time. And now, in the time it took to do a scan and consultation, all that had changed. Although I knew it was the right decision for us, I felt incredibly sad and even more terrified. In my mind, at least with natural birth we could trust that our body knew what to do, and even though it was out of my control, I trusted my body. With a Caesar, some women feel that there is more control, but for me, the idea of going into a cold theatre room and having doctors cutting into me and ripping my baby out from his warm and comfortable home that I’d created before he had decided to come out just felt like such a horrible thing.

That’s when I phoned you to let you know that we were changing our plans and that we would still like you to be a part of the birth, even though it was a Caesar. When I tell people that I had a Doula for a Caesar, some people look at me quite strangely, as I think it may not be something they deem necessary, as the doctor’s are there, and there is nothing to really ‘coach’ us through, as you would with natural labour. For me, getting through the Caesar without mounds of anxiety resulting in a panic attack was my main goal; something I thought would be extremely difficult to achieve in the mere six days warning we had from scheduling the Caesar to the actual procedure. I listened to your Caesarean birth preparation tracks twice, three times and sometimes four times a day. I envisioned the birth, the overwhelming love for my baby, and how beautiful the entire process can be. It’s then that my perception and mindset changed, and I fully believed that although it wasn’t natural birth, it could still be empowering and beautiful. And it definitely was. You were so supportive and never once made me feel like there was anything wrong with the decision we had made.

We arrived at the hospital at 6am and you were there shortly after that, massaging and chatting to me to keep me calm and relaxed. I hadn’t spoken to anyone over the phone, hadn’t texted any parents or family; I woke up that morning, listened to the track one last time and headed to the hospital to welcome our son into the world. My memories of those three hours waiting in the hospital room with you and my husband are so peaceful and happy. You kept me so calm, and amidst that calm the excitement crept through and when they said it was time to go to the operating theatre I didn’t feel scared one bit. I knew my husband was there, you were there, and my amazing doctor was there, too, and I trusted all of you with every inch of my being. You did that. You gave me the strength to trust everyone involved and that my baby would be perfect, no matter what.

I was happy. When they wheeled me on the hospital bed down the corridors I couldn’t stop smiling. Entering the theatre wasn’t scary. The spinal was not sore. Although I could feel some pressure and movement during the procedure, I knew it was normal and my baby was coming. All I kept telling myself was that I was about to meet my son, and that surpassed everything else. In the moments that I started to feel slightly anxious, you calmed me and brought me back to center. And then before we knew it, our beautiful son was there. We did it. And I can’t thank you enough for allowing me to have the birth that I had always dreamed of. I felt empowered. I felt like a strong woman and incredible that my body had grown this life inside of me for nine months. I didn’t for a second feel like my birth experience was any less because it wasn’t what I had planned. I look back on that day with so much joy, and you are a huge part of that. Thank you for being such an invaluable part of bringing our baby Remy into the world. You will always hold such a special place in our hearts and we are forever grateful that you were there for me when I didn’t think that I could be the woman that I am. I hope that more women are lucky enough to have you be a part of their journey too, whatever it may be.

Lots and LOTS of Love,
Erin xxxx

Check out Erin’s Blog here: https://mombodza.wordpress.com/2017/06/30/our-journey-with-a-doula/

Erin, Vincent Pallotti Hospital

Melanie Motherwell
Baby Reid Kerry Motherwell, born at Vincent Pallotti hospital, 14 may 2016
Birth weight 3.1kg

After having a birthing experience with my first born that did not go as I had planned, it was my intention to do as much as possible to have a positive one the second time around. Although my first born was natural, I ended up with an epidural and a very long, terrifying labour. I had heard about hypnobirthing but attended only an antenatal class and thought that would suffice…

So, when I found out I was pregnant second time around, I starting asking friends for advice on hypnobirthing courses. Relax into Birth came recommended and when I read up about the Doula service it only made sense. Then, the fact that Charlene was known at Vincent Pallotti sealed the deal for us, as I had had a good experience with the staff there first time around (plus my gynae is there) and planned to have my second birth there as well. So… we joined Charlene for her Relax Into Birth hypnobirthing course, and really liked her relaxed way so asked her straight after if she would be our Doula! Everything she taught in the course made perfect sense… listening to the recordings post course was like a meditation every day, and I truly believe that is what got me through my labour with Reid.

It started around 2am on a Saturday, so I had to go back to bed and try to relax until morning, knowing I would need to find someone else to take my four year old to his friends birthday party that day! I put my earphones in and listened to my “deep relaxation” track (I couldn’t really sleep again with surges coming every now and then) and before I knew it, it was daylight. My hubby shipped Jasper off to granny, and it was so weird because everything inbetween each surge was just like a usual Saturday morning. The first time I ever laboured, it was all a hype and I was tense and focusing only on the fact that I needed to have this baby, like a stress! This time, everything was like normal, except for during a surge when I needed to breathe. So my husband and I had breakfast, watched series like crazy, took the dogs for a walk up the mountain…. The whole day I kept thinking the labour was not progressing because I was so calm! I was sure that I was nowhere near dilated enough and didn’t want to make the trip to the hospital, for fear of not being far enough…. The day was wonderful in that Craig and I spent some quality time alone before number two arrived, and toward 4pm in the afternoon the surges got closer together so we though we best phone Charlene!

Well, as soon as I heard her voice on the phone my entire body relaxed! It was like a breath of air over me, as I was at the point where I thought I couldn’t take it any more….. She talked me through a surge over the phone and suggested instead of coming to my house, she would meet me at the hospital. When we got to Vincent Pallotti Charlene was literally right behind us, and walked me to the birthing room with surges now coming like clock work. I was so worried I would not be far enough but when the midwife checked, I was 9cm! Charlene had started running a bath as she knew I wanted to birth in the water, but Reid came so fast we didn’t even get in the water. I got the hospital just before 6:30pm and Reid was born 7:01!!

It was perfect. I could not have had it any other way; completely drug free and about 3-hours of active labour only…… I am convinced that the course, and relaxation and visualisation recordings received are what got me through on the day. Without a doubt. Mostly I listened when I went to bed so often fell asleep – but clearly it still works on your subconscious so when you listen again whilst you are labouring, your body just relaxes without even realising it. It has since left me feeling totally empowered, thankful, and I could have like 10 more babies!! Charlene is wonderfully calm and positive, about everything! If I’m ever brave enough to go for a third she will definitely be by my side…..

Melanie Motherwell, Vincent Pallotti Hospital