The beautiful Belle Verdiglione and daughter Isabella (3). Belle is also mum to son, Orlando (5). Belle was very excited about having a natural birth her first pregnancy and found a provider who she was happy with. She went to 42 weeks and then discovered he was breech. After taking the weekend to consider her choices they ended up having an elective cesarean birth. She was devastated after that. Belle was determined to have a VBAC with her second pregnancy and went to a VBAC clinic at the hospital. When it came time for her mandatory appointment with the doctor she said to her, "Wow, 4.3 kilos? I bet you're glad you didn't have to push him out!". It was then that Belle realized she couldn't deliver in hospital. She found an independent midwife and had an amazing experience at home. The birth was intense after a really long labor but she feels it healed her very much from her first birth. Belle has had a wonderful breastfeeding relationship with each of her children. She weaned Orlando around 12 months and this time had a goal of 2 years. She made her goal and has just gently come to the end of weaning her daughter. Belle is a talented photographer who works almost exclusively with women and new mothers. She wanted to participate because she often asks those women to be brave and vulnerable in front of the camera for her and thought it was time she found some of that bravery herself.
The tremendous Tania Henderson with her daughter Lily (4) and son Tyler (2). Tania feels lucky to have had two healthy, uneventful pregnancies. She went through their community midwifery program and delivered both of her children at home. She had a short labor with Lily and thing went a bit longer with Tyler. She had a day of prelabor and contractions began but stopped as they all slept through the night. They started again in the morning and Tyler was born about 30 minutes after her waters were broken. Breastfeeding, particularly natural term feeding, if very important to Tania, she nursed Lily all through her pregnancy with Tyler and is still tandem feeding now. Tania hopes that sharing her experience will help not only herself but other mothers feel comfortable with theirs.
The amazing Maz Pedersen with her son Avery, and daughter, River (16 months). Maz had a healthy pregnancy without complication. She had hoped to have a homebirth but couldn't find anyone to facilitate so they chose to have a natural delivery in hospital. The babies kept turning breech and though she tried everything they needed to be born via cesarean. She did all she could to make it as family centered as possible, walked into the operating suite, had the curtain down, no epidural just a block so she could get up after and the babies were able to have skin to skin with her and her husband immediately after birth. She breastfed straight away and continued with supplementation until the babies weaned at 10 months old.
The lovely Jessica Pilton with her daughters Alannah (4), Tiffany (2.5) and son Mason (10 months). Jessica's first pregnancy was a bit of a surprise and she felt like her body went into a bit of shock. She had a lot of pelvic girdle pain, felt quite sick and could barely walk. At about 15 weeks things got a lot better and she felt that she was then able to get excited about becoming a mum. She was given a pregnancy and parenting book by a friend, read it as the truth and decided to follow it's methods without really looking further. She had planned to birth in hospital and labored at home in a lot of pain over a few days before they would allow her to come in. Once there she got an epidural and was given an episiotomy without her knowledge or permission. While Alannah was born without complication Jessica was not pleased with how things had gone. Once home she found herself to be a distant parent because she thought she had to be. Having her daughter scheduled with breastfeeding and crying it out since day one. She became pregnant with Tiffany when Alannah was just 6 months old and knew she wanted to do things a bit differently. She very much credits the village of mothers she's connect with online to help her become the mother she is today. For her second birth she wanted to do things more naturally and used gas and pethidine to help her through. She brought her daughter earth side on all fours and was able to breastfeed right away. Jessica started to become a more gentle of a parent and by time her son was born really felt she'd come into her own. She chose to deliver Mason at a birthing center with midwifery care and enjoyed this care model and birthing experience most of all. Jessica is still breastfeeding Mason and says that after years of feeling embarrassed by her large breasts she is finally learning to embrace body. She feels that she's learned and grown so much as a mother since her first daughter was born and credits the community of women who have supported her for so much.
The phenomenal Kylie Teloar with her children Bethany (9) and Angus (15 months), her mother Julie-ann Brown and her grandmother Shirley Rose.
Kylie took quite a bit of time to conceive each of her children. It took about 3 years to become pregnant with Bethany. They were just on the verge of trying IVF before she fell pregnant naturally. She had a healthy pregnancy and delivery in hospital without complication. It took 7 years of trying again to conceive Angus and several rounds of IVF. She chose to have a homebirth this time and things went very well. Kylie was able to breastfeed without issue. Only a short time with Bethany and Angus is still nursing now.
Julie-ann has three children, Kylie (32), Jasmine (30) and Emily-Sue (25). She also lost two daughters Laura-ann, to prematurity at 28 weeks, and Alicia was still born at 21 weeks. Julie-ann had all natural births and babies that came very quickly. Her older children were present for the birth of her youngest daughter and she arrived in all of 20 minutes. Julie-ann was was able to breastfeed all of her children without issue. She has 6 granddaughters and 2 grandsons and has loved the transition from motherhood to being a grandmother.
Shirley Rose has 6 children of her own, she's had all natural deliveries and breastfed each of them. She has 21 grandchildren and 19 great grandchildren.
The radiant Ruby Johnston with her daughter Louella Johnston (9 months). Ruby had a great, healthy pregnancy without hiccups. She had planned for a natural birth with no interventions at a birthing center. She started having contractions on New Years Eve and labored at home for quite some time, she went into the birthing center the next morning ready to have her birth but when they did her internal examination they felt Louella's bum rather than her head. They immediately sent her to hospital for a cesarean due to Louella's breech position. Ruby says the whole experience was quite awful but she didn't have a full birth plan which made her feel like she could be more flexible. She was very well supported by her husband and mother for the first six weeks after her delivery and her recovery went very well. Ruby loves breastfeeding and is adoring the relationship with her daughter. Ruby has had a hard time embracing her body and said that she hasn't looked at herself in her underwear even in the mirror in a long time but wants to love her body so she can teach her daughter to love her own, and some times it take brave, scary things to get there.
The inspirational Hayley Lane with her daughters Oceane (7) and Keoki (5) and son Teal (2). Hayley is currently 9 weeks pregnant with her 6th baby and birth mum to twins Kim & Kay (21). Hayley became pregnant for the first time at age 13 and gave birth to twins at the age of 14. She stayed at school until she was 6.5 months pregnant but nobody knew. She stayed at home for the next 2.5 months, in fear of anyone finding out, holding so much shame and guilt. Around 38 weeks she went to the hospital for an anti-natal check up, she was told that things weren’t good and was admitted into hospital, that night she went into labour. It was a very traumatic birth and had her parents by her side to support her. From the staff at the hospital, she felt like she was treated like a number, legs in stirrups with no emotion or care. She woke up in the morning in the silence of a single room, all by herself, in a bed full of blood, locked windows and didn’t know what to think or what to do. She went back to school two weeks later and everything seemed to be swept under the carpet.
Hayley spent the rest of her school, teen years and early twenties in a lot of turmoil. She didn’t know who she was, what she was doing, why her body was full of stretch marks. She had self esteem issues and wondered why it had to happen to her. She reached a point of no return and decided she might as well end her life. She had low and dark moments but was able to dig deep and move to heal herself. She found yoga and with it the only thing in life that brought her peace. The sense of stability in her mind manifested into something she’d never experienced in the flesh. At 24 she’d studied and done degrees but still didn’t know who she was and what she wanted to be. She decided she wanted to become a yoga teacher so she went to the states to do her yoga training and when she came back life started to get rosy.
Years later she met her partner, landed in Australia and fell pregnant right away. She was worried that everything was happening all over again but took it as her opportunity to instead dig deep, do the work and heal. She saw some great therapists and ultimately realized that this time she could be in control of herself and her birth experience. She found the most incredible midwife who has since attended all of her births. She was able to have a beautiful homebirth with Oceane after 5 hours of later. She another homebirth after 4 hours of labor with Keoki and says it was an enlightening spiritual experience, she was smiling and her daughter was crowning. With Teal, she wondered what would go wrong because it just had to at some point but he was born in 90 minutes to a room full of women and it was a very empowering experience. Hayley laughed as she said she’s always dreamed of giving birth outdoors in a teepee so lets make it happen with this new baby.
Her passion in life is empowering women so they can love themselves, their bodies and have the births they hope to have.
The amazing Carrie Thornton with her daughters Ellie (2.5) and Jemima (4). Carrie got pregnant with Ellie within a few months of trying. Other than some early morning sickness she cruised right along and was very healthy. She chose to have a private OB and hospital. Towards the end of her pregnancy Ellie had turned breech. Carrie and her husband discussed options for trying to get her to turn with their doctor but in the end decided that what would be would be and if she turned great, if not she'd deliver via cesarean. Ellie stayed breech and they were scheduled for a cesarean. Ellie decided to come a few days prior so Carrie got to experience a natural onset of labor, went into hospital and had Ellie in her arms within the hour. She though breastfeeding just happened but was told that she had flat nipples and couldn't breastfeed so Ellie was given formula her first day of life in hospital. Carrie continued to try at home but by about 13 weeks admitted to her husband that she had postnatal depression and the cycle of trying to feed, pump and give formula was too much so she weaned. They decided to start trying for baby number two about a year and a half later and found out at about 4 weeks. They immediately started planning and got very attached only to learn that she'd miscarried. Carrie had lost her father about 6 months prior and that coupled with this loss took a toll on her. They took a month off and conceived again straight away. She had another healthy pregnancy and wanted to attempt a natural birth this time. She found an OB who would allow her to have a trial of labor and once labor started she'd just see what happened. Jamima was a few days post dates but Carrie went into labor naturally, her waters broke but things didn't really progress from there. It was a public holiday and they were eager to deliver her so they kept upping the Pitocin and Jamima's heart rate was dropping. Carrie decided she couldn't take the stress and elected for a repeat cesarean. The midwife this time helped her breastfeed right away and she's enjoyed a wonderful breastfeeding relationship thus far. Carrie had a uterine infection just after birth and had to go back in hospital but was able to recover fully and keep her baby by her side.
The lovely Laura Murray with Mia (4) and Poppy (2). Laura's first pregnancy was quite easy in the beginning. So much so, she didn't believe she was pregnant even after seeing the scans. Things went really well until her first trimester screen when she learned her daughter was at high risk for having Down Syndrome. She struggled with what to do, and they ended up having an amniocentesis. The testing was done on Christmas Eve, so they had a couple of stressful weeks before they discovered she was okay. The next few weeks went well until Laura was diagnosed with high blood pressure and preeclampsia. She ended up delivering via emergency cesarean at 36 weeks. During her second pregnancy, she also had high blood pressure and preeclampsia and ended up hospitalized from 34 weeks and delivered via cesarean again. When her daughter was about 2 weeks old, she stopped breathing in her sleep. Laura was alerted to it by an Angel Care monitor which she originally thought was malfunctioning but as she watched, her daughter she stopped breathing again. She was rushed to the hospital via ambulance and had to endure lots of painful testing and spend 2 weeks in NICU. It was determined she had apnea due to parainfluenza 3. She credits the device for saving her daughter's life. Laura says the most difficult part of motherhood for her has been balancing the guilt of balancing work, motherhood, being a wife, part of the universe but she feels she's slowly getting the hang of it.
The gorgeous Melissa Gordon with her children Grace (6), Jack (5), Kate (23 months) and Nina (4 weeks). Melissa has had quite a variety of birth experiences. With her first, she was very scared of the pain of labor and knew going into it that she wanted an epidural, feel nothing and get the baby out vaginally. The epidural slowed everything down, and she had to have induction medication and almost a cesarean. They were able to use the vacuum to get her out safely which caused some pelvic floor damage for Melissa. She was ultimately very happy with how it all went. With Jack, she decided to approach birth a different way and used hypnobirthing to manage her fear and the pain. She had a beautiful drug free labor at home and only transferred to the hospital 30 minutes before Jack was born without complication. With Kate, she decided that her previous birth was such a success they wanted to have a water birth in a family birthing center rather than the hospital. She used hypnobirthing again, and her husband caught Kate, which was wonderful. However, Melissa couldn't get out of the bath after her birth, and it was determined she'd damaged her pubic symphysis quite severely. She couldn't walk for 5 months and was ultimately diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis and Arthritis. They'd always wanted four children, but Melissa wasn't sure she could endure another pregnancy and delivery. They got pregnant by surprise and on the recommendation of 5 specialists and lots of research decided that rather than have a natural birth she'd have an elective cesarean. Nina was born by cesarean at 37 weeks bringing her birth experience completely full circle. Melissa says she would have loved to have a natural birth, but you can't always predict the outcome, and the outcome for her family has been perfect. She's had a difficult time recovering from her surgery due to her chronic pain but it's going well now, and she's starting to feel better. Melissa has been able to breastfeed all of her babies without issue. She chose to participate in the project to show her children that they don't need to aspire to be something that's impossible, who they are is perfect.