What our clients say

Casey Quinton
Baby William Quinn Allwright born on 2 August 2015, Weighing 3.7kg
Place of Birth: Vincent Pallotti Hospital

Casey meets her beautiful boy William for the first time.

I knew before I fell pregnant that I wanted my pregnancy and birth to be as natural as possible. I hadn’t realised how difficult it is for a woman today to make that happen.

I have known Charlene for many many years (we were BFFs in primary school but had mostly lost touch since we were 10 years old) and followed her Facebook posts on hypnobirthing with interest but very little understanding. I’m always keen to get involved in everything, so when I fell pregnant I signed up for every pregnancy / birth / childcare course I could find (antenatal classes, baby workshops, first aid, preggy exercise classes, etc.) and added Charlene’s Relax into Birth course into the mix (I didn’t want to miss out on anything baby-related).

Charlene’s course changed the trajectory of our pregnancy and birth. Those two evenings made me even more determined to make every reasonable effort to experience the miracle of natural birth. Walking out of the course on the last day, my husband and I immediately agreed that we wanted Charlene to be our doula. We loved her gentle and calming presence, and how passionate she is about a woman’s ability to birth her baby.

Casey, Peter and their son William ❤

After that, and empowered with knowledge, we had the appropriate discussions with our gynae (who had been my gynae for many years and therefore it hadn’t really occurred to me to explore his child-birth philosophy before then). He was neutral on the c-section vs natural debate. At 30 weeks into pregnancy, my baby was still in breach position. My gynae knew I was pro natural but started already preparing me for the possibility of a c-section. We asked him what the likelihood was of a natural birth and he implied that we should start getting used to the idea of a c-section. We decided that, although we would be happy with a c-section if medically necessary, we wanted to make every effort to avoid unnecessary surgery. We started exploring the option of having a midwife birth, and within a few days we had met with a midwife from the Birth Options team (and a back-up gynae who would be on standby in case he was needed) and switched hospitals to Vincent Pallotti to accommodate our new birth plan. It was a big decision to change care-giver and hospital so late in the game, but it was the best decision I could have made. I cannot count the number of times I had to explain to people (i) what a doula is, and (ii) why I would want my baby delivered by a midwife instead of a doctor, but I didn’t look back for a moment.

Charlene was there for me during my pregnancy, checking in on me and making sure I wasn’t anxious about the upcoming birth. I listened to the Relax into Birth CD on a daily basis and could picture myself in that beautiful garden with the lotus flower-filled pool. I was physically and mentally prepared for labour and I felt nothing but excitement for the birth of my son.

At 06h00 on 1 August 2015 (10 hours after leaving the office on my last day on the job), my water broke. I got hold of Charlene and the midwife shortly thereafter (I didn’t want to wake them too early, because it was likely to be a long day). Active labour hadn’t yet started, but Charlene was in contact with me all day to give me support and talk me through what to expect. I met up with Charlene later in the day and she helped me with some natural methods to bring on labour. The midwife assessed me and my baby and sent me home to wait it out or else return at 08h00 the next morning to be induced. We had our last supper and watched some TV, waiting for the action to start. Finally, at 23h00 that night I started getting my first real “surges”. Things were getting heated by 03h30 the next morning, so my husband lined up Charlene and the midwife to meet us at the hospital at 04h30.

Best friends since school… I got to be at her birth – what a gift! ❤

At the hospital, Charlene ran me a bath, rubbed my back, lit candles and stayed by my side the whole time. Having your own midwife is amazing during labour, but your midwife is mostly “down there”. Charlene was “up here”, talking to me, encouraging me, giving me sips of apple juice to keep my blood sugar up, bringing me ice to suck on, and fanning me when things got hectic. She encouraged me with different positions to help with the pain and to facilitate the process along. Nobody knows how your labour is going to play out, so having someone there who understands the system and who calmly and gently reassures you makes it a loss less daunting.

My labour was not easy – I was weak from hours of nausea and struggled through about three hours of hard pushing. Charlene kept me in a good head space and kept reassuring me, while the midwives (I eventually had two midwives because their shifts overlapped and the original midwife didn’t want to leave me so far into the birth) patiently allowed my birth to unfold in its own time without rushing me. My baby was happy and I felt empowered in my labour, supported by Charlene, my midwives and my amazingly brave husband. My beautiful son was born completely naturally after 10 hours of active labour.

My birth was the most amazing experience of my life. While I know that it was a messy, painful, exhausting process, all I have is beautiful memories of that magical day. I feel incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to experience the birth that we did.

My son, William is absolutely perfect. He has been the most content and happy little man since the moment he was born.

Casey Quinton, Vincent Pallotti Hospital

Sam Futcher
Baby Olivia born  in October, 2016
Place of Birth: Vincent Pallotti Hospital

Sam and Baby Olivia meet for the first time as proud dad Matt looks on 🙂

A friend had recommended using the services of a doula for our birth. We had not given this too much thought but went to meet with Charlene and decided to go for it…..and boy am I glad we did!!  Im now of the opinion that it is savage to go through normal labour without the service of a doula!

Charlene is one of those people you don’t come across too often in life – she is kind, considerate and has an enormous generosity of spirit – she does not stop giving!

Matthew provides loving support to Sam and her belly.

We immediately trusted her to be part of this very private moment and she handled some of our very dark moments with the utmost of care and sensitivity.

Charlene was incredibly attentive to our needs…I received countless massages and not once did she wince – through my lengthly (to say the least) labour!!

We really had the A team at the birth of our daughter and I cannot thank Charlene enough for being part of it.

First magical moments for Matthew cradling Olivia skin to skin.


Matthew Futcher, father of Olivia 
‘My wife and I decided to bring Doula Charlene into our birth plan after we heard a great review of her support services. We met with Charlene and instantly felt reassured and in safe hands. We didn’t even see any other Doula’s and booked Charlene immediately.My wife had a particularly long labor; we had reached almost 41 weeks and the doctor had started the induction process.  Hours passed with little or no sign of the baby showing up. During these hours my wife’s contractions were becoming more and more painful. Charlene showed me ways to soothe her and feel like I was playing more of a part in the whole process.
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Creating a relaxed, safe space at the hospital.

Charlene set up the labor room with essential oils, subtle lighting and meditation music so that it felt calm and tranquil, not bright and anxious. She ran baths for my wife and seemed to be administering a calming massage every few minutes! This is what I found truly wonderful about Charlene: Nothing was too much. She stayed with us for hour after hour until my daughter, Olivia, was born. She even stayed with us for a few hours after the birth to ensure Olivia was latching correctly and showed me how to have skin on skin cuddles with Olivia. We had a wonderful birth experience and I put that down to having Charlene join us. She is one of the most selfless people I have met and she will empower you (Mum & Dad!) to experience child birth as it should be: An incredible shared experience that will stay with you forever.’

Beautiful smile from baby Olivia 🙂

Sam Futcher, Vincent Pallotti Hospital

Nooraan Khatib
Baby Hud Geyer born on 29 December 2015, weighing 2.77kg.
Place of Birth: Cape Town Medi Clinic

Nooraan meets Hud for the first time 🙂

Charlene was introduced to us at an ante-natal class and her calm personality instantly caught my attention. I had a fairly uncomplicated pregnancy up until the 36th week where I developed a low risk case of hypertension. My gynaecologist had a mind-set of taking my baby out at 38 weeks. I was adamant that this is not what I wanted. Given the fact that it was low risk and I did not have all the high risk factors associated with hypertension, i.e. No protein in urine, no swollen feet, no blurred vision etc. Charlene supported my decision 110%, she did not force any decision upon me, instead provided me with information and much needed support.

On 38 weeks 5 days my water broke at 3:30am, not the typical movie depiction of water breaking in one swift gush, but squirts throughout the day. I called Charlene and she guided me through what I should do. We were in contact throughout the day. I was admitted at 14:30 that day at only 2cm dilated, but my contractions only started at about 18:00 that evening. By 21:00 the stand in gynaecologist (mine was on holiday) suggested a bit of medication to help regulate the cramps. Charlene arrived later the eve upon my request. She dimmed the lights, set up some scented candles and the room instantly felt more homely. She suggested I get some rest for the tough day ahead. Charlene spent the night at hospital with me.

The next morning the gynaecologist offered an epidural, but first suggested I spend some time with Charlene trying ways to help the labour along. Wow was she awesome at helping with the contractions. My husband was truly in awe of the way she helped and supported me throughout the pain. He was totally lost and admitted that had it not been for Charlene he would not have known what to do to help. The methods used to alleviate the pain during contractions were amazing. I would describe it as a “drug to numb the pain” without actually taking any drugs. I walked up and down the hospital and parking lot while she assisted with contractions. I even took a warm bath and enjoyed a foot massage!

Parkinglot massage… a new modality! 🙂

By 11am I had dilated 5cm and given that the baby had to be delivered within about 24 hours or be prone to infection, I opted for the epidural. I dilated about a 1cm each hour and by 16:51 welcomed our beautiful little boy, Hud.

Hello world…

I was so grateful for having Charlene with me throughout the entire labour and birth experience, I could not be more thankful. My husband, who was fairly indifferent when I suggested a doula, will surely be calling Charlene for baby number 2 before I do ;)!

Nooraan Khatib, Cape Town Mediclinic

Sabine Otten
Place of Birth: Home birth, Constantia
Birth Date: December 31,2015 New Year’s Eve


After I fell pregnant with my South African friend Denzil, we both wanted to experience the birth together in South Africa and as naturally as possible.

With support from our families, it didn’t take long to book appointments with the Birth Options midwives and Doula Charlene to help us create the best possible chance of a homebirth in South Africa.

I come from a medical background and am a doctor living and working in Germany where the concept of Doulas are not well known. It wasn’t easy to explain to my German colleagues and friends why I wanted to try a homebirth with a Doula and a Midwife in South Africa. However, with the support of Charlene and my own deep trust in myself, I knew this would be the best option for my baby and for me and that I would be able to deliver my child without further medical assistance and epidural anaesthetic.

My biggest issue and lingering fear was imagining what the pain would be like during labour. I was also afraid of facing any complications.

Three weeks before the birth we met Charlene for the first time. In her company, I felt immediately safe. She is a warm, calm and very gentle person. She listened intently to our story and I was pleased that it  was possible for us  to join her Relax Into Birth course.

The hypnobirthing theory, exercises she suggested and her Relax into Birth CD helped me to prepare my body and mind for the labor.    

I’m so glad that I could experience the birth of our son like we did. During our five hour and very intense birth process, I was surrounded by five people I trusted in and Charlene was an amazing and supportive member of this team.

They supported me and helped me to stay calm and relaxed after each surge and reminded me of breathing techniques I had practiced. They helped me to change my birth positions when necessary and lead me through the whole process, with my baby. Until the end, they all gave me the feeling of being strong, self confident and empowered. Every woman should feel like this.

With Charlene I had my perfect Doula for our perfect home birth. From the very first interview, her Relax Into Birth course, during my labour and birth and the home visits before and afterwards, it was a wonderful choice to have hired Charlene. I would always choose to do it the same way.

Now I know that emotional, mental and physical preparation provided by a doula like Charlene is a powerful tool and is as important as the independent midwives and medical back-up team.   

Sabine Otten, Home-Birth

Lauren McShane
Baby Caleb born on 18 October 2015, weighing 2.69kg.
Place of Birth: Home-birth

Lauren and Vaughan meet baby Caleb for the first time:-)

Before falling pregnant I was always the ‘give me drugs’ person who promised to have an epidural when I gave birth one day.  Why experience intense pain when you can numb it right?  That was until I fell pregnant with our first child whilst living in Malaysia.  Only then did I really start doing some real research into natural and intervention-free birthing. I had never heard of a doula and was not sure what the role of a midwife was as I figured everyone just used a gynae. What I discovered that women with low-risk pregnancies only needed a midwife, I became set on this option as I had enjoyed an incredible, comfortable pregnancy. I read the positive birthing stories on Angela’s website ( she came highly recommended) and decided then and there that I wanted a water birth.  I love bathing, am quite a water baby and find warm water very relaxing so this made sense plus I’d discovered that with each intervention ( e.g epidural, forceps etc.) there were cascading consequences for myself and my baby.  So I’m became set on having a drug free birth with a midwife and started reading the hypnobirthing book. Once I read the stories of women who were able to relax and nap during birth it seemed insane not to try. I was never a ‘home birth’ type of person, but coming back into South Africa with no medical aid meant unaffordable costs at a hospital.


Oxytocin fills the room as three bond to become a family.

Two weeks into our antenatal classes at The Birth Hub with Angela and three doulas, we decided to have a doula, Charlene, with us during our home birth. Unlike a medically trained midwife who is your primary caregiver, a doula is there to provide emotional and often physical support to you and your husband during birth. Luckily I asked Charlene to be my doula on Thursday, as my contractions started a day later.  Walking on an icy Muizenberg beach at 38 weeks, I started to feel menstrual-like cramps and aching in my abdomen and lower back which was strange as it had been a long time since I had felt period pain.  My husband started to panic as he had read that this could mean the onset of early labour.

I calmly messaged Charlene and Angela and asked what this meant. Charlene mentioned that this could excitedly be the start of labour! We were in shock.  We were staying with my parents who were away for the weekend and there were still so many baby goodies that we had to buy. Angela advised me to eat, rest and sleep.


Hip squeezes in the pool.

With contractions that ranged from 10 to sometimes 5 minutes apart, sleeping was easier said than done. I slept and woke and tried to go to the toilet often to ease the strange sensation of contractions or surges.  At that stage I didn’t realise that the increasing lower back pain was actually back labour which would make things a lot more challenging for me later on.

In the morning, Angela said we should pop by to her place to pick up the pool and come for a check up and have our first official meeting with Charlene. Up until then we were still in denial.  But upon examining me, Angela confirmed that labour had in fact begun and that my cervix was started to thin and prepare for labour.  “ Birth could happen anytime from midnight tonight”, Angela said and that sent Vaughan and I into a mild shock. Tonight? But we still didn’t feel ready and my contractions were starting to become more and more intense but never got closer together.

Labouring on all fours and later in the pool.

Another night of hardly sleeping, this time with unbearable back contractions that felt like hot ash up my behind.  The front contractions, I could handle, the back- not so much.  After a rough night, I messaged Angela in the morning saying that I could not do another 24 hours like this and that I needed help and tips on coping. Both nights I had fallen asleep to the Relax Into Birth hypnobirthing cds and used visualisations which I had luckily just learnt. But Sunday morning, I didn’t think I could continue this way.  Angela popped in for a checkup and luckily I had already dilated to 4cm, which meant that a weekend of contractions were not for nothing. We realised that my back labour was being caused by the position of my son’s head.  He was in the right position for birth but had his head back against my pelvis. She was able to push his head slightly away so that it provided momentary relief. I was physically and emotionally spent, but Angela encouraged me to see it through and not transfer to my backup hospital Mowbray as they seldom gave epidurals anyway. “I’m very proud of you for your fortitude”, seemed like all the encouragement I needed to continue.

Later that Sunday afternoon when the intensity of my contractions worsened but never quickened to shorter than 5 minutes apart, Angela returned to break my waters and speed things along.  She cautioned us that if the water was not clear it would mean that I’d have to go to hospital.  But thank God it was all clear.  Things really sped up then and Charlene arrived and started helping Vaughan to set up the room for the birthing.  Preparing the candles to be lit, filling the birthing pool with 37 degree water and doing hip/butt squeezes on me to provide some relief with each contraction, Charlene was absolutely amazing and much-needed support. Curtains were drawn and the family were told we would see them after the birth. It seemed like an age until the pool was ready and I was able to leave the bed ( sitting on ball was much too uncomfortable) and jump in the warm water.  Once I was in and my active labour began it all went fairly quickly.  On all fours, I held onto my husband for support while lifesaver Charlene continued to give me butt squeezes with every contraction and Angela assured me that I was doing a great job.

A beautifully calm entrance into the world.

The best and most intense part of it all was when I got to feel Caleb’s little hairy head crowning. The second last surge brought his head out and Angela encouraged me to wait until the next surge to push again. In the meantime she told me that I would feel him wriggling to get his shoulders out and sure enough I felt it. What a magical feeling! The last surge brought his body out into the water and into Angela’s arms. What pure joy and relief! I was able to hold him to my chest immediately, thereafter Vaughan could cut the cord and I delivered the placenta easily. No hospital, no separation from my baby just out the water and onto a bed where I was shown how to breastfeed.  I cannot thank my midwives ( Midwife Ciska joined at the end to assist) and doula enough for this special experience. Straight afterwards we walked into the lounge with our baby boy to family waiting with champagne and singing Praise songs to the sounds of a guitar! What a moment! I feel truly blessed to have birthed my boy in the way I wished- in warm water at home with no pain meds.


Lauren McShane, Home-birth

Gwyneth Daniel
Baby Samuela born on 22 April 2015, weighing 2.96kg.
Place of Birth: Vincent Pallotti Hospital 


Baby Samuela and Gwyn meet for the first time, skin to skin ❤

Without the care, love, support, friendship, know-how and skills of Charlene my VBAC birth would not have happened.

The birth of our daughter Samuela was more than just a successful VBAC, it was also a failed scheduled C-section. A rare event indeed!

After having a C-Section medically prescribed, it seemed fait accompli. But it was her sure and steady presence, accompanied by Doula Janine Doerheit, which calmly guided the powerful arc of the birthing journey back to me and my body and my soon to be born baby.

Charlene – You helped me move full-circle from the scars of a very traumatic 1st birth, through to healing and happiness in a second birth.

For this and so much more I owe you an exceedingly large debt of gratitude. Thank you deeply.

I cannot recommend Charlene highly enough…

Gwyn Platter, Vincent Pallotti Hospital

Katherine Newman
Baby Logan born on 03/07/2015
Place of Birth: Vincent Pallotti Hospital 
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Katherine meets her son Logan for the first time.

I knew from the very first moment I met Charlene at our hypnobirthing course, that I wanted her to be our Doula.  Unfortunately, with it being our first pregnancy, I was a little deluded about childbirth and thought that it was something that I would very easily be able to manage, with a little help from hubby.

Katherine and Logan rest 🙂

Boy, was I wrong!  It was an extremely long, and hard labour and although my midwife was amazing, and hubby really did try his best to help me through it, he just really didn’t know ‘what to do’, even though there isn’t much that he was really able to do, apart from hold my hand and help me with breathing and tell me ‘you can do it, you can do it’.  It was only when I thought back on this, that I knew that for our second time around, there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted another lady there with me, all for me, on my side completely, to help me through, and I just KNEW that it had to be Charlene.

Stuart gets ready for skin to skin with Logan.

From our very first conversation, I felt instantly calm, relaxed, tranquil.  Every conversation you have with Charlene you can truly feel that she is deeply listening to everything that you are saying to her, that she truly cares about you, and that she is a fierce warrior that you need on your side during the most important, arduous task you will ever endure in your lifetime! She helped guide hubby, so that he felt like he was being useful, even if it was just asking him to go and fetch some ice, or go to the shop for water.  He really felt like he was more helpful this time around just because he had a little womanly guidance when I was unable to be there for him.  He wasn’t convinced the first time I told him that I absolutely had to have a doula for the birth of our second son, but afterwards, his first words to me were ‘I’m so glad we had Charlene’.

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Katherine in labour, moments away from meeting baby Logan.

Charlene, I can’t thank you enough for everything you were to me on that day.  For the eye contact, for the love, the support, the advice, the sounding board for many ‘bad words’, and for driving me to the hospital when hubby had to take our little toddler to school.  Even for afterwards, when I was back at home, for coming by to chat, for rubbing my feet and for showing me how best to latch our little Logan while breastfeeding.  For the photos you took, and sent to me that captured Logan’s first breaths, absolutely everything you did will never, ever be forgotten and I am so grateful that you shared that day with us because you were 100% part of every single moment and I will never forget you!

Watch “Birth Story Of Logan Newman – 3rd July 2015” on Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/137132828


Katherine enjoys some time out in the bath…

All the images used in this testimonial were taken by Sherra-Lyn Breebaart – Maternal Birth & Photography; 0829218244, sher@breebaart.co.za.  


Katherine Newman, Vincent Pallotti Hospital

Mrs E.B. 
Baby boy born on 1 March 2015 weighing 4.1kg.
Place of Birth: Constantiaberg Hospital 

Mrs E. B. and baby cuddle, skin to skin.

I didn’t have the goddess natural home birth I had wanted so badly. I laboured at home for 24 hours and then we all had to pile into the car and race, over the mountain through a blazing fynbos fire to the hospital to have an emergency c-section just before midnight on a Sunday

This could have had disastrous emotional repercussions for me, had it not been for Charlene. We had done the hypnobirthing course with her and admittedly I longed for the rose petalled intimacy of a home birth and had hired Charlene as our Doula.

My baby was breech for a long time before turning and it looked like I would have to have a c-section. I remember Charlene sitting on our couch sharing her insights and knowledge about cesarean births with my husband and I. She addressed all our concerns, shared her wisdom and experiences, made us laugh and gently helped me to let go of the outcome in order to prepare me for whatever was to be.

Most beautiful baby boy.

She assured us she would be there whatever happened and she was. An emergency c-sect can be frightening, traumatic even, but I felt safe and supported even through the worst of the contractions right before they administered the spinal block.

Charlene was an incredible support to my husband as much as she was to me and we are both so grateful to her for sharing her skill and being there for the birth.

Charlene has a mystical quality to her but she is a grounded, earthy, compassionate person whose ability to empathise is remarkable – these attributes make her invaluable as a doula.

Mrs E.B., Constantiaberg Mediclinic

Diane Willson du Toit
Baby Huxley Grant du Toit born 28 August 2015 at 14:08 weighing 3.4kg.
Place of Birth: Constantiaberg Hospital 


Diane, baby Huxley and sister Niah 🙂

I met Charlene when I was pregnant with my first child, Niah – I attended the hypnobirthing course with her. When I was pregnant with my second, i decided I wanted to have Charlene as my doula this time.

Having Charlene’s guidance and support during my second pregnancy was very educational and reassuring.

Her calm demeanour on our birthing day was invaluable and even her visit after the birth was so kind and supportive.

Thank you charlene for being involved with both of my children’s entrances to this world.

I will forever be grateful. As an added bonus her full body and foot massages are divine.

Diane Willson du Toit, Constantiaberg Mediclinic

Simone Hasselbach
Baby Ella-Marie born on December 10, 2014 weighing 3.86 kg
Place of Birth: Vincent Pallotti Hospital


Simone and Christian and their sweet baby daughter, Ella-Marie.

My husband and I had quite a few “chats” before actually deciding to have a child and the decision was most certainly not taken lightly. That being said, we were very excited at the prospect of bringing a human being into this world and into our lives.

Isn’t it great that God has blessed/empowered women with the ability to grow tiny miracles within us? I think it is absolutely amazing!!!

We were quite lucky in that we succeeded in conceiving after just one try. Lol. My husband was of course very upset as he was looking forward to the advice from others that was to “hump like rabbits.”

I was over-eager and used so many ovulation kits and pregnancy tests which were either too early, too late, negative, etc. that I eventually just stopped checking. Three weeks later I got the flu and felt a bit weird in comparison to how I normally felt when I got sick,  so I took a pregnancy test.

The positive lines were quite faint, so I called hubby to the bathroom, showed him and he just said “so….?”. Off to the doc we went, used test (wrapped in a tissue) in hand. “You have the flu,” said the doctor, “and you’re about 4 weeks pregnant.”

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One-year-old Ella-Marie 🙂

It was a candid camera moment as we just sat there awestruck. Couldn’t believe it had happened so quickly and was just thinking “What now?”…

I cannot tell you just how much I used Google when I was pregnant. If there was an award for “most frequent user of Google” – it would definitely be me :-/

The first thing on the list was finding an ob/gyn. It was a hard task. We weren’t sure about which birthing route to go and wanted someone who wasn’t biased and only for a natural birth or only for C-sections. After more extensive Googling, we were lucky to find Dr. Jacky Searle at Vincent Pallotti. At our first appointment we got to meet “Poppy”. At only 10 weeks old, she was 6.5cm and we could actually see her head, tummy and feet quite clearly. The feeling is second to none – that’s all I can say!

Next was antenatal classes that were preferably held on the weekends, as both hubby and I had demanding jobs and worked late hours during the week. After chatting to Dr. Searle at our first appointment, we were thrilled to hear that someone offered classes close to home and on a Saturday!

So we enrolled for classes and started going from September 2014. Again, proud as punch we were for finding Emma Nomanoglu. She is absolutely wonderful! It was here that we learned all about the different ways of giving birth, the pros and cons to each method and also the fears that couples generally have in association with birthing. We were 9 couples attending the September class and we still keep in touch to this day.


Simone enjoying skin-to-skin with Ella-Marie.

We also heard about doulas for the first time and of course when you hear the word – your first thought is “What the heck is a doula? And why do I need one?” We met a doula called Sarah who came to one of the antenatal classes and explained what her role as a doula was and what her service included and we decided then and there that we needed one. We contacted Sarah in the hopes that she would be available around the time I was due but alas she was going overseas for the entire month of December. *sigh* I was actually tired of Googling at this point but as the saying goes “everything happens for a reason” and indeed it did.

I chatted to Sarah and she sent me some recommendations for other doulas and maybe it’s just me but I look at people’s profile pics and I kind of think whether or not I like the look of them (if that makes sense at all? ;-)) and Charlene’s pic stood out immediately for me. I popped her an email and a phone call or two later we decided to meet for coffee.

When we met Charlene, she struck both of us as a sweet and gentle soul that we instantly knew was the perfect match for us. Being first time parents, everything seemed dark and scary, but she kept reassuring us the entire time. We had fears, preferences, dreams, expectations, hopes and everything else that comes along with being pregnant and preparing ourselves for having a child. Charlene was nothing short of amazing and immediately picked up on my fear of having a natural birth. She recommended coming to her hypnobirthing classes and without blinking an eyelid, we signed up and started attending a few weeks later. I learned the best techniques (in my not so professional opinion) to calm my inner self and to prepare my mind and my body for our child’s arrival. We learned all about birthing options as well but more about how our bodies could cope perfectly well without any drugs to birth our babies and doing the exercises at home and just attending the classes reassured me even more that I was ready for a natural birth.

I planned to use the bath at the hospital, made my mini posters with my reassuring words, did practice runs with hubby for my contractions and just mentally and physically prepared myself for what was coming – my baby! I was so hyped up. Packed my hospital bag, got her room ready, had Charlene on standby and was starting to get impatient. At 40.5 weeks, I couldn’t feel the baby move. I panicked. All day long I tried to urge her to move. Ate hot stuff, then cold stuff, then hot tea, then coke, and, and, and… at about 7pm that night I told hubby to get the car ready – we needed to go to the hospital. My nerves were shot. Got there and they immediately put me on the monitor. Five minutes later she started moving. Shoo! What a relief. I couldn’t handle the suspense, honestly!


Ella-Marie fast asleep on her dad, Christian.

The next day we went to Dr. Searle for our last checkup and internal exam. The news – not what we were expecting to hear. The cervix was still closed, baby was a week late, star gazing and in posterior position. This child did not want to budge! We were given two options – hormones that could take up to 36 hours to kick in or a C-section. We were stumped. How had all our plans just made a 180 degree turn?! From natural, hypnobirthing option to hormones to induce birth or a C-section? I was in shock and didn’t know how to digest the information. We had a few hours to make a decision…

I immediately texted Charlene who called me straight after and chatted to me about how things change and that we shouldn’t feel that we failed. Again, things happen for a reason but I felt I wasn’t prepared to make a decision so quickly. If it wasn’t for Charlene’s advice, I don’t think I could have made an informed decision in such a short amount of time. It was as if she lent me her strength in that moment and I was at peace with what we decided and knew she would support us either way.

I decided to do the C-section as I was tired and uncomfortable and I didn’t want to put my baby in any distress with the hormone treatment and the toll it would probably have taken on my body. So in two days I would be “giving birth”. A caesarean birth <3.

D-Day – Charlene met us at the hospital and made the build-up before going into theatre a relaxing and calm time. She chatted to us and gave me a full body massage while we waited. I was so freaked out when they came to collect me that I was sure my heart was going to pop out of my chest and bounce down the passage. Like literally… In the theatre Dr. Searle was waiting for us with her assistant and the injection dude, the anaethetist. I always thought his proper title is just way too long to say every time so he will just be injection dude!


Ella-Marie, a few minutes old in her dad’s arms.

And to spare you the truckload of details about the wonderful experience of birth – the point of the story is that Charlene was there for us even though our plan had changed completely, even when we had to make a very important decision – she indirectly helped us make the right one, even though doulas generally aren’t for C-sections (as we read) – she was there to support us every step of the way, even though people thought we were crazy for having a “doo-what?” – she proved her importance and necessity with every phone call, whatsapp chat, email, visit, etc. and even with a very nervous husband in the theatre – Charlene was there to take the most amazing pics so that he could hold my hand and when he had to go with our baby to get weighed and measured – she took over for him and reassured me and congratulated me. Even after the surgery and hospital stay, Charlene offered us support. She still keeps in contact with me to this day and she will always hold a very special in our hearts, in our home and in our baby’s life.

So, if you’re thinking about whether or not a doula is for you – chat to people about their experiences. We found that in the end – you might be able to Google something or someone but it’s only after speaking with others about their experiences that you can make the decision and pick the perfect person for you. In this case, Charlene was our perfect person. Thanks again Charlene, we cannot express our gratitude enough for what you did for us!

Ella-Marie Hasselbach was born on 10 December 2014, at 14:37pm, weighing in at 3.86kgs and 53cm in length. She is the absolute joy in our lives and we couldn’t imagine life without her…

Ella-Marie, born via caesarean birth ❤


Simone's workmates celebrate the news of the birth of Ella-Marie at the same time that she was born!

Simone’s workmates celebrate the news of the birth of Ella-Marie at the same time that she was born!


Simone Hasselbach, Vincent Pallotti Hospital