Morning coffee round up

Gnome Angel crochet

For your reading pleasure. I hope you’ll grab a beverage, sit down and spend a little time with me and the other readers. Got something to share that you think others may enjoy? Please feel free to share in the comments!


Yesterday was a big birthday day in my world! The Artist was 44, Soldier of Fortune’s boy was eight, The Cellist’s baby was three years old, my beautiful solicitor had a birthday and Junipah was one. *mushy heart noises* One year since she was born uneventfully at home and has been fed with donor milk since birth as well as mama’s milk. There’s so much for her and her family to celebrate. So enjoy this completely unremarkable entrance to the world and remember this is normal birth. But it makes the world go round and is the answer to all those questions about where love comes from. Happy birthday, darling Junipah!

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Can you read the signs? It’s never too late to change models of care and just stay home.

Top Ten Signs Your Doctor Is Planning To Perform an Unnecessary Caesarean Section on You

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Breech birth is one of the main reasons for booked caesarean surgery in Australia. Tomfoolery. Breech is a variation of normal and breech babies come out vaginas like head down babies.

Mechanism of breech

Once more I am compelled to write about Breech.  After the  study proving vaginal breech to be as safe as a section  you’d think the whole world would be back on board.  After all it only took a matter of months after the flawed Hannah trial for almost every Obstetrician to be convincing women that a major operation was safer than a normal birth.  But NO.  In Australia at least it is worse than ever and with the NHMRC guides saying that only “singleton cephatic 37 to 42 weeks with no other complications” should stay home, they could not be trying any harder to stamp out normal, unhindered birth in all it’s variation of normal.

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There’s no such thing as freebirth. Birth is birth. Words of wisdom over at The Little Leaf. Just beautiful!

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Support Brenda Capps – California.

Brenda Capps was arrested Thursday, November 15 and was charged with practicing medicine without a license. Please help us raise funds for her legal battle.

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Another of those lost pieces of knowledge around birth is what Kitzinger called “rest and be thankful”. I’ve heard from so many women that doctors and midwives, hospital and home, become anxious at this point and instead of supporting a woman to have a rest or a sleep, will start suggesting drugs, walks around the block, homeopathics or herbs. How about we trust birth and trust that bodies know what to do?

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Some amazing woolly goodness here! I totally agree that the repetition in this kind of work is delightful and delicious, even a bit d’lovely.

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I have to admit, I have quite the thing for rainbows of wool or cotton. What is it that’s so very incredibly amazingly satisfying about rainbows whatever the colours? Drool. Unrepentant drool.

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Another of those things that gives me immense pleasure and satisfaction is the making of dish cloths or wash cloths. I tend to use old, secondhand or recycled cotton because I think of them as money savers but for gifts it would be very tempting to buy some beautiful white cotton and some red…. Or some blue… or something contrasting… See? I get all carried away! How about you?

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Congratulations to this beautiful family

Birth, like life, comes in all forms. This is the story of a woman’s journey to mothering her two girls and the lotus transition of her new babe, Eleanor Carmel as well. I hope you feel inspired by this normal birth and beautiful lotus story too.

The unassisted birth of Eleanor Carmel is followed by the story of her lotus transition.

You can read more about the family here.

Like to help out with some research for a PhD student in Australia?

Mary Wollstonecraft.

Meet Emily Burns, PhD student at the University of Western Sydney’s Centre for Cultural Research. Looks like a great thesis in the making and sorely needed! Good luck, Emily!

This post is to ask if anyone here would be willing to participate in my PhD project on home birth and free birth experiences in Australia. This project is aiming to gain a better understanding of the role individual and collective spirituality plays on the pregnancy and home birth experience, as well as the effects of birthing outside medicalised birthing norms.

I’m looking for women who:

– are professional home birth attendants, such as a midwives or doulas, or

– are pregnant and planning a home or free birth in Australia, or

– have recently (last 3 years) had a home or free birth in Australia.

Participation will involve an interview, and if you have had a home birth, will include sharing that experience with me (I love birth stories!)

If you would like more information on the study, or would like to participate, please contact me, Emily Burns, for an information sheet. My email address (in anti-spam fashion) is emily dot burns at uws dot edu dot au.

Should you not wish to participate, no further action is required.

The interviews will be recorded, and transcribed, and all identifying information removed. In writing up the research all names will be changed, locations removed, and anything else that could identify you. All information is confidential, with only me having access to the information, with my supervisors having access only if I need help in the analysis phase, but even they won’t have real names.

So, if you have any questions or comments, you can email me. I have an info sheet to email out to anyone who is interested, but as per ethical guidelines, interested people need to contact me first, and I can respond with the info.

This study has been approved by the University of Western Sydney Ethics Committee and the confidentiality of all participants is assured.


Emily Burns

PhD Candidate

Centre for Cultural Research

University of Western Sydney

ph: 0422 685 354

Sarah’s first baby was homebirthed with doulas and her partner attending

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I have a bachelor of arts, with honours in political science. I’m a white, married, heterosexual. I am the mother of one homeborn daughter. She was born shortly after my 25th birthday, in the presence of her father and two doulas. Her siblings (of which we hope to have four) will be born at home as well.

I knew that homebirth was for me before I knew who would father my children! I had an interest in motherhood and reproduction and in particular feminist studies of these experiences. During my studies I found a wonderful homebirth community of which I became a part. I couldn’t imagine birthing in a hospital. My energy would be diverted from the work my body was doing to struggling against protocol and staff interests. I wanted to be free to do what felt right in the moment, to lose myself to birth and I could not do that in a clinical environment where the threat of intervention loomed.

At first I assumed that I, like most homebirthers, would hire a skilled midwife to attend me during birth “just in case” something went wrong. But when my partner and I started trying to conceive I realised that I was not comfortable with the idea of having any medical professionals in my birth space. We chose to homebirth without a midwife (freebirth) before our child was conceived. I was concerned that my focus would be on the midwife and “what ifs” should I homebirth with a midwife. I wanted to let go of my fears and focus on nothing but what my body was telling me in the moment.

My partner was very pro-freebirth. His main concern was that a midwife might suggest an unnecessary transfer to hospital, as we heard this had happened to others. We both agreed that no one should have the power to use the “H” word (hospital) in the birth space except for me: the birthing woman. Instead we hired two doulas (non-medical birth attendants) to wait on us. I had no examinations or tests performed on me while I laboured.

We definitely made the right choice. I experienced a 59 hour posterior labour in the comfort of my home. There was no need to rush. There was no threat of augmentation or caesarean, which I certainly would have ended up with had I been in the hospital system (a friend had a labour similar to mine at my local hospital and she was allowed 20 hours, then cut open, her baby and her birth taken from her).

My partner and our doulas worked in shifts to be by my side: massaging me, hand feeding me grapes like an Egyptian Queen, offering me water, holding heat packs to my back, whispering words of encouragement. My partner was a wonderful presence. When he held me I felt the pain of my labour decrease. He would whisper in my ear “you’re doing it”, never “you can do it”, every time he said it I felt so loved, my hard work acknowledged and I felt powerful!

It was the most intimate experience for us. My favourite memories from the birth were of my partner and I, alone, swaying in one anothers’ arms in our candlelit lounge room. My partner was such a perfect doula to me that we plan not to hire doulas next time.

After the birth I rang my father to let him know his granddaughter had been born. He was so thrilled, he told me he was excited not just about another addition to our family, but that I had got the birth I had prepared for. We realised that not only was I the first to homebirth as far back as we could remember, but I was the first to have a drug free birth as well.

At the time of the birth I was a full time student living on a scholarship and my partner’s income. My partner was on a $40K per annum salary. We paid for our homebirth by using the lump sum “baby bonus” the Australian government was offering at the time. Our doulas patiently waited for months after the birth to receive payment, for which we were really grateful. It cost us approximately $2000. In future, if we were going to hire people to attend one of my homebirths we would pay them in installments from the first meeting in early pregnancy until the last postpartum visit to avoid owing money months after the birth.
You can read the full story of my daughter’s home/water/lotus birth (complete with photos and links to articles and sites about birth) here:

Samantha has birthed at home twice

I live in Sydney, Australia.

I am Anglo.

I have a partner.

I am the first person in my family that I know of who has homebirthed.

I work from home so I can be a SAHM.

I have had three normal (textbook) births when I was:
– 27yo (hospital birth),
– 36yo (midwife attended homebirth)
– 40yo (unattended homebirth.)

We didn’t have a lot of money so we sold our car in order to pay the midwives fees.

I was unhappy with my experience birthing my first child in hospital because I received many unnecessary interventions that negatively impacted my birth experience and my ability to care for and bond with my baby immediately afterwards. I chose homebirth to avoid the medicalisation of most hospital births. I wanted to be in the comfort of my home where I felt safe and relaxed knowing that those two things would offer me the best chance of a drug free labour. In a home setting birth becomes a family affair and I feel it’s a place where bonding between mother and baby and baby and siblings is best facilitated. Since I was a healthy woman who had birthed well previously I did not anticipate needing any medical attention. I also prefer to birth without a crowd, with very little noise and low lighting and no interuptions or strangers which I could achieve at home.

Why be an autonomous consumer of the healthcare system?

In recent years as midwife-assisted homebirth has become more topical in the mainstream press, so too freebirth* or family birth, has also become more widely known. Our culture of control over women means that the shock value of women birthing autonomously is on a par with those women who chained themselves to parliament houses for the privilege of voting. The politicised nature of birth, and the heavily contested zone of women’s bodies, means that any choice outside of an external careprovider model is scrutinised, criticised and demonised. Those who birth in hospitals, with their poor outcomes and constant newsworthy crises are seldom asked to justify their decision despite the clear evidence that their choice is the suboptimal one. How refreshing it would be to see women in L&D quizzed over their reasons, research and capabilities to manage the system they’ve chosen.

*[Important nomenclature point: “Unassisted Childbirth” while a popular label, still epitomises the notion that the norm for birth is “assisted” and yet a woman birthing without a medical attendant is seldom actually “unassisted” just supported in different ways from assisted births.]

There are a number of broad reasons often given for those who choose freebirth – note that this is not the same as women speaking for themselves. Some reasons include the cost of private midwifery care, availability of midwifery care, fear of careproviders or previous trauma. All of these are still coming to us via a paradigm which assumes the only model for birth to be one in which women seek external care provision. This argument posits that only “damaged goods” or those without access to midwives would need or want to birth without an attendant, thus cementing the primacy of the external careprovider in birth. For some women, some of these factors do come into play. For many women these are not factors which they consider when planning a birth. Those living in major cities, for instance, have little trouble locating independent midwives.

The pressures on independent midwives are well known to those of us who work in birth and it cannot fail to be acknowledged as reprehensible that obstetricians who work without evidence or woman-centred care are favoured on every level over those who would seek to offer women something of benefit to them, their families and also the wider community. What some midwives fail to recognise however is that the very pressures on them from those bureaucracies which seek to stamp out homebirth are filtering down to clients in a very real way. The obstetric model of “care with strings” is the one promoted by these bureaucracies so women are forced to accept birthing under conditions which may indeed favour a midwife’s continued access to registration but does not support women to achieve the births they desire. However the end result is arrived at, some women are thus unable to find midwives to care for them and decide, given the demonstrable dangers of our hospital system, that they will be an autonomous consumer within the healthcare system and care for themselves.

Freebirth is thus not an attack on midwifery but for some women it is an indication that midwifery as it stands is unable to fulfil the needs of many consumers. Perhaps rather than viewing freebirthing women (and those who support them) as another enemy, it would serve some careproviders to use this information to reflect upon how to manage these issues without clients being affected. The use of freebirthing women’s stories to promote midwives’ campaigns for professional recognition is a misguided approach and only furthers the existing paternalism around birth. Midwives should be freely available to all women and to exploit some women’s decisions to birth without a midwife in order to further a very different agenda does not seem a deeply considered strategy. Increased availability of midwives, desirable as it is, will not alter every woman’s freebirth plans given the range of reasons women might choose freebirth in the first place nor should it since women’s right to choose within birth must be inviolable.

However a woman arrives at the decision to pursue freebirth, it almost always boils down to a desire for autonomy. Autonomy is not available to women in the hospital system, it is not available to all women choosing independent midwifery for complex reasons, some of which are stated above. In fact it is generally not available to (nor is it pursued by many) women in our lives outside of birthing. Some women want to truly make their own decisions around their bodies, births and babies. This can only be a radical concept in a world where women are seldom supported in their basic rights to bodily integrity.

Imagining women with an automatic right to full autonomy is disturbing to many of us, enculturated as we are to believe that women are communal property, subject to the invasive gaze of authorities both public and private. It seems a difficult concept for careproviders who come from a background of normal socialisation and through inherently misogynist training to grasp, but it is as difficult a concept for many women to grasp and those who do are a (maligned) minority. Some women even recognise that it is their response to the client/careprovider dynamic which leads them to choose autonomous birth and thus avoid their own socialisation to hand over their power. Careproviders might even find their own personal and professional satisfaction concomitantly increased by taking similar steps.

It would indeed be refreshing sometime to see the tables turned and women who choose birthing options known for poor outcomes, and venues in which their power is expected to lie dormant questioned about why they would make such dangerous decisions. Of course this can only happen in a world where it is no longer normal for women to unquestioningly accept what is offered as “care” in the maternity system and what passes for “choice” when you inhabit a faulty feminine body in a patriarchy.