The clock ticked over to 7.26am on Saturday 14th July and our beautiful baby girl arrived into this world. We first met as she was lifted onto my chest for skin-to-skin cuddles, for a magical end to our homebirth experience. As we lay together right where she was born-infront of our wood fire, my body kept her warm and her long delicate fingers wrapped around her Daddy’s thumb. We named our bundle of joy Amelia Evie.
It was just twelve hours earlier when my regular surges (contractions) had begun. Over this time, we had used many holistic tools to promote a calm birth, in the dark and quiet of our own home. This relaxed environment allowed my body to feel safe and allow the stages of labour to progress naturally. The majority of my labour was supported by my husband and our primary midwife, Megan, and later our homebirth-accredited midwife also assisted with the safe delivery of Amelia into our arms.
How We Prepared
Heading back to pre-birth, we made the most of this time to become well-educated so we could bring our baby into the world in a nurturing and safe way. This included:
Late in our second trimester we joined a hypnobirthing class run by Rachel Oliver at Lily Bohemian Yoga, which ran over five sessions. This empowered us with positive information for our birthing and fourth-trimester journey, along with meditations, affirmations, massage and breathing techniques to support a calm labour.
I read books (many of which I’d already read in order to best support patients in clinic), including:
- The Healing Power Of Essential Oils, Dr Eric Zealinski
- Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering, Sarah J Buckley MD
- The Nourishing Traditions Book Of Baby & Child Care, Sally Fallon
- How To Have Well Adjusted Babies, Dr Jennifer Barham-Floreani
- Ten Moons: The Inner Journey Of Pregnancy, Jane Hardwick
- Hypnobirthing: The Mongan Method, Marie F Morgan
- Guide To Childbirth, Ina May
- The First Forty Days: The Essential Art Of Nourishing The New Mother, Heng Ou
- The Fourth Trimester, Kimberley Ann Johnson
These are a few of my favourite podcasts I listened to throughout pregnancy:
- Australian Birth Stories
- The Birth Hour
- A Quirky Journey, episode 56, Preparing For The Birth of a Healthy Baby
- The Melissa Ambrosini Show, episode 45, Dr Sarah Buckley MD
Together, we sat down and watched the following informative videos:
- Healthy Happy Child, A Holistic Approach, available here
- The Truth About Vaccination Series. The first one is free for viewing here
- The Journey Of Parenthood
Support I Turned To For Labour
Despite many hours of following exercises from the Spinning Babies website, our bubs remained posterior (spine on spine) right up until the second stage of labour. I was informed that a posterior baby can lead to greater pain during surges. As we had chosen not to use any pain relief drugs, I utilised holistic support to help ease me through the surges of labour and birthing our baby naturally.
As part of joining our hypnobirthing classes, we were empowered with meditations, visualisations, breathing techniques and positive affirmations. I found the different breathing techniques kept me focused but calm throughout the stages of my labour.
Herbs & Homeopathics
From around 36 weeks gestation, I had been using homeopathic medicines of Arnica, to help reduce bruising and Oxytocin to help with mother- baby bonding. Both seemed to work wonders.
This time of year means an abundance of wild nettle going in our garden, which I picked to make Vitamin K and Iron rich cuppas regularly in the lead-up to birth. Red Raspberry Leaf tea and capsules (to help tone my uterus and soften the cervix in preparation for labour), were also part of my pre-birth regimen from 34 weeks gestation, as well as helping to nourish me post birth. According to Eden Bromberg, MD, board-certified ob-gyn and medical director at Holistic Gynecology in New York City, “It (Red Raspberry Leaf Tea) provides B vitamins, Iron, Niacin, Manganese, Magnesium, Selenium, Vitamin A and astringent alkaloids that nourish and contribute to the healing process.”
While practising the breathing techniques and acupressure points, the warmth of water in the bath and shower helped ease the intensity of surges throughout the stages of my labour.
The emotional connection and physical support of both mother earths crystals and essential oils, played an important part of my birthing experience. I had a little ‘focus’ corner set up with crystals like Amethyst (which offers protection, tension and physical & emotional pain release); affirmation cards, as well as my birthing oils collection. Based on recipes from Dr Eric Zealinski’s book, The Healing Power Of Essential Oils, here are the main oils which supported me throughout my birthing journey:
Essential Oils For Easing Pain & Progressing Labour:
I made a pump bottle containing Fractionated Coconut Oil, Geranium, Roman Chamomile and Clary Sage (1), which was massaged onto my lower back and abdomen every couple of hours up until the transition stage of labour. Rose and Jasmine added into a blend of Clary Sage and Geranium have shown powerful effects through a Korean study to shorten the first stage of labour (2), therefore I layered overtop of the above blend, my pre-diluted Rose and Jasmine essential oils.
Simply using Neroli aromatically is also helpful for reducing labour pain (3), so I rolled on my pre-diluted (with Fractionated Coconut Oil) Neroli blend to my wrists, chest and back of neck throughout. Lavender was included in my diffuser blend, as it has also shown to reduce pain throughout the stages of labour (4).
Essential Oils For Releasing Fear & Anxiety:
To promote a relaxed environment, I diffused Lavender,Citrus Bliss (doTERRA blend containing citrus oils and vanilla) & Geranium (5) throughout our home as well as rubbing a mix of Lavender, Wild Orange and Fractionated Coconut Oil onto my décolletage, back of neck, wrists and hands, as needed. As Rose is also helpful for lowering anxiety at the onset of the active and transitional stages of labour (6), I also layered on one of my all time favs-my pre-diluted Rose oil, to help during these times.
Essential Oils For Energy:
A spritzer blend of Peppermint, Rosemary and Eucalyptus was effective when the time came to ‘breathe our baby down’ (second stage of labour ). I remember thinking how refreshing these blends were to help give me the stamina and courage to welcome our baby girl into the world.
Other Choices We Made
Aside from choosing to deliver our baby at home (providing all homebirth criteria was met and it was safe to do so), we also chose not to be induced before 42 weeks (I gave birth 9 days after my ‘due date’) and decided to have a natural vaginal birth (unless an emergency c-section was needed), without the use of pain relief drugs.
Twenty minutes or so after giving birth to Amelia, I had a physiological third stage, delivering my placenta naturally (which was kept for encapsulating later on) and it wasn’t until the 45 minute- 1 hour stage where her Dad cut the umbilical cord, once it had completely stopped pulsing and had turned a clear- blue colour. This is referred to as ‘delayed cord clamping’ and ensures the nutrient supply continues to the baby for longer.
As I watch over our precious bundle of joy while I write this post (between feeding, burping and nappies) I will be forever grateful for this miracle of life and that we have been dedicated to seeking the options to bring her into this world in a way that is aligned with our values and supportive for Amelia’s long term health and wellbeing.
We are still wrapped up in our new-born love bubble, but I plan to share with you soon, how I have nourished myself and bubs, during the important fourth-trimester.
For a more informative look at preconception and pregnancy care, see my latest book: Glowing Mumma, a Naturopaths Guide To Enhance Fertility & Support a Nourished Pregnancy.
Love, health & happiness,
*Note: Not all essential oils are created equally. I use doTERRA 100% pure essential oils due to their strict purity and quality standards. Each batch is tested for traces of solvents, pesticides, synthetics, fillers or any other chemical residues. They are solely bottled pure plant extracts. If they don’t pass the test, they simply are not bottled. This can be checked by entering the unique code on the bottom of each (single oil) bottle at www.sourcetoyou.com. The oils are also sourced from where they are indigenously grown (or where the highest quality plant for the oil can be found) in a sustainable and ethical way to support the farmers and the wider community. Higher purity and quality means increased therapeutic value.
If you would like to learn more about how these powerful gifts of nature can support your health, happiness and home, leave me a message over here.
(1) E. Burns et al., “The Use Of Aromatherapy in Intrapartum Midwifery Practice an Observational Study,” Complementary Studies In Nursing and Midwifery 6, no. 1 (2000):33-34.
(2) M. H. Hur and M.H Park, “Effects of Aromatherapy on Labor Process, Labor Pain,Labor Stress Response and Neonatal Status of Primipara: Randomised Clinical Trial,” Korean Journal of Obstetrics & Gynaecology 46, no. 4 (2003):776- 783.
(3) M Namazi et al., “Effects of Citrus aurantium (Bitter Orange) on the Severity of First Stage Labour Pain,” Iranian Journal Of Pharmaceutical Research 13, no. 3 (2014):1011-1018.
(4) P.H. Koulivand, M. KhaleghiGhadiri, and A. Gorji, “Lavender and the Nervous System,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2013, ID no. 681304 (2013). DOI:10.1155/2013/681304.
(5) F Rashidi Fakari et al., “Effect of Inhalation of Aroma of Geranium Essence on Anxiety and Physiological Parameters During First Stage of Labor in Nulliparous Women: A Randomised Clinical Trial, “Journal of Caring Sciences 4, no.2 (2015):135-141. DOI:10.15.15171/jcs.2015.014.
(6) M Kheirkhah et al., “Comparing the Effects of Aromatherapy with Rose Oils and Warm Foot Bath on Anxiety in the First Stage of Labour in the Nulliparous Women,” Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal 16, no 9 (2014): e14455. DOI: 10.5812/ircmj
P. Javari kia et al., “Comparison of the Effect of Aromatherapy with