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