Although we are ‘birth focused’ here at The Birthing Institute we are also doing our best to help families across the whole perinatal period. I believe that bringing a sense of value to the whole motherhood journey is critical to the restoring balance on our planet. Of course, everyone’s journey begins with fertility.
I have taught numerous fertility yoga workshops over the years and have taught hundreds of couples She Births® who have been down the IVF path. It can be absolutely heartbreaking to see families struggle with this element and I always take my hat off to them when the choose to prepare with us. It can be such a big leap to go from an often highly medicalised process, that very often shakes our personal confidence, to preparing for a more natural birth experience.
One of our wonderful mums, Rachel Campbell joined me at my She Births® course in January 2017 with her husband Pete. They have a very unique story to tell that will touch your heart – not only through because of their amazing fertility journey that proved successful after 5.5 years with the help of her sister, but also the beautiful birth story of little Indigo.
I hope you enjoy reading and learn more about the wonderful work Rachel does, so you can share that with other friends who may need support.
When was your birth?
Indigo was born on 11 March 2017, after 5.5 years of fertility challenges. There really are NO words to describe the journey we’ve been on – it’s been a rollercoaster of twists and turns and highs and lows – but I wouldn’t change a thing. Our little miracle came to us in the perfect time and perfect way.
Was it your first?
Yes Indigo is our number 1 miracle baby. After 10 unsuccessful rounds of IVF using my own eggs and years of seeing natural fertility specialists and healers, my sister Suz donated her eggs to us. We were blessed to conceive on our second transfer. Creating our family didn’t look like we thought it would – we naively assumed we’d conceive on our honeymoon 7 years ago and have 2 or 3 babies by now.
Through the ups and downs of our fertility challenges we never gave up on our dream to grow our family. But it did happen. In our baby’s very own time and way. It happened (as I always knew it would) and I wouldn’t change a single thing about how our baby girl came into the world. Our story is 5.5 years in the making and we created a video of our fertility journey and pregnancy announcement in the hope of helping others who are struggling to conceive.
This journey has taught me so much more about love and life – more than I ever dreamed possible.
How did you prepare for birth?
I can honestly say I had the healthiest pregnancy and birth because of the pre-conception care and self love that I made an absolute priority (it was the gift of my fertility challenges). We had almost 6 years of preparation. From that moment back in May 2011 that we decided to start preparing for a baby, I nurtured my body with the foods I ate, the way I moved and the thoughts that passed through me. My pregnancy was super smooth once I hit the second trimester and left all the IVF drugs behind. I credit my amazing pregnancy and birth with all the nurturing and care I’d poured into myself over the years of my fertility journey. I was blessed to have a wonderful natural fertility specialist, naturopath, kinesiologist, acupuncturist, masseur and energy healer. Also the organic food, the plethora of supplements I’d consumed, my meditation practice and a mindful life – it was like the pieces of the jigsaw had finally come together. I was so healthy and happy. I was finally growing a little life inside of me – words cannot describe how amazing this felt.
It was during the second trimester that I started researching the sort of birth I wanted to have. We knew we wanted to birth our babe naturally after all the IVF intervention we’d been through (I felt like this was my gift to my baby – but I was also open in my approach and realistic that birth doesn’t always go the way we want it to). She Births® was a given for me, there was never a doubt in my mind that this was the best way for me to prepare to birth our baby. I met Nadine over 10 years ago in an outdoor yoga class and her energy and what she offers the world is just so special. I’d also had many friends go through She Births® and love it – so I just knew it was a must. It really is a treasure box in birth preparation (and the men just love it too).
We hired Nadine the Doula who was an absolute godsend – a doula is a must in my eyes to help with preparing for birth and during the birthing process.
And I was extremely grateful to find Sarah Buckley and her gentle, safe, natural birth philosophy which advocates a plethora of benefits for bub and mum and this strongly resonated with me.
We actually changed from having a private OB to the public system (which was incredible and I’m so grateful I followed my gut on this one). We wanted a natural birth and my private doctor wanted to induce me at 38 weeks and talked about a number or birth interventions. At 34 weeks we made the decision to switch to the public hospital in Randwick. Seemed like a BIG decision at the time, but was definitely the right one for us.
How did you bring your baby into the world?
After switching to the public hospital at 34 weeks, at 39.5 weeks my doctor asked me to go for a scan as he was concerned about my amniotic fluid levels. The scan revealed my amniotic fluid was slightly lower than what they would medically like to see, and as a result my doctor suggested I go home and drink lots of water, get some rest and and come back 2 days later to be re-checked. My levels were much the same 2 days later and my doctor recommended induction at 40 weeks. After much research we opted against an induction and decided to continue with close daily monitoring of our baby.
Feeling a little stressed by all of this (the stats, the pressure, the hospital recommending one way when my body was telling me another), I booked myself in for a healing massage (I always find bodywork the best when I start to disconnect from myself). I also bumped into Nadine at the shops and she gave me a few words of wisdom. One of my girlfriends suggested I go home and have a glass of red wine and a curry. Initially I wasn’t sure how I felt about drinking wine at this stage of my pregnancy, but I figured 1 glass of organic red wouldn’t do bub any harm. So after 9 months of not a drop (the longest I’d gone without a wine in 24 years) hubby and I found the nicest bottle and cracked it – I had 1 glass and Pete drank the rest of the bottle. I think it might have been the nicest glass of wine I’ve ever had…
Would you believe that I went into spontaneous labour the next afternoon (I swear it was that glass of red) on Friday 10 March about 4.30pm.
Hubby was out at an appointment and I started having a few twinges – the best way I can describe it is like mild waves inside my belly that lasted for about 10-15 seconds with a 15-minute break in-between. I’d heard all the stories about labour starting and stopping and was very comfortable at this stage. I spoke with my doula and she said to just ride it out and see what happened over the next little while.
We laboured at home initially. Pete cooked a BBQ, I made a salad and we cracked another bottle of organic red wine. I had 1 more glass – if yesterdays glass had been the catalyst for my labour, I really wanted to make sure this was it!
I text my doula, sister and mum giving them an update about 7pm. My contractions were lasting about 30-45 seconds every 9-15 minutes. My doula said to get some rest so Pete and I laid down, but there was absolutely no way I could sleep – I think this was when I really knew WE WERE IN LABOUR… Pete and I setup our lounge room with the fitball and other bits and bobs that we’d learnt about from our She Births® course. We worked through some deep contractions and I think it was then and there that I realised this was going to be the most challenging, amazing and rewarding night of my life.
I called my sister to come round as we’d asked her to be at the birth with us. Pete mixed me up a herbal tea with honey to help with labour and I vomited it straight up. From this moment the only thing I could stomach for the entirety of my labour was water.
My sister arrived to our house at about 11pm and we sent Pete to bed to get some much needed rest. Suz and I hung out on the fitball and she helped me through some pretty full on contractions. Little did I know that bubs was posterior and I was not prepared for the way each contraction placed such pressure on my back. I thought I was going to feel each contraction in my belly, but for me it was just a really intense sensation in my lower back.
Nadine, our doula arrived to our house at 1am and she was a total godsend. As soon as she arrived to the house she started breathing with me through each contraction and this helped me unbelievably – just to have someone model how to breathe and then breathe with me changed the entire scope of my labour – I really don’t know how I would have got through it drug free without Nadine. I jumped into the shower. I wasn’t sure if I could make it to the shower, but once in the shower, I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it out. But I didn’t need to worry as my sister was there towel in hand ready to dry and hold me up. Out of the shower we woke Pete and went back downstairs to settle into a few more contractions. We then decided it was time to head to the hospital. Pete heated the bone broth I’d made for post labour and we packed the car. I remember feeling really comfortable as my sis drove us to the hospital. Pete and I were in the back and looking up at the sky I could see a full moon – I was so excited that our baby was going to be born on the full moon. We arrived at the hospital at about 3.15am and bumped into our midwife in the car park. As I had a contraction in the carpark I remember thinking ‘just get me to the birthing suite’.
Walking up to the birthing suite was surreal – it was so quiet with not a peep in sight (of course it was 3.30am in the morn). We settled into our birthing suite and the contractions came in waves thick and fast. I remember thinking how am I ever going to get through this?? I understand why people have drugs, no No NO… I can get through this, I know I can. I remember my doula saying… Today you get to meet your baby.
I was blessed to have the most amazing team with Pete, my sis, my doula and midwife – they knew my wishes for a drug free birth and supported me every step of the way. I chose to have intermittent monitoring so I could freely move around the room. This caused a bit of noise with my low amniotic fluid as the hospitals preference was to have me hooked up to continuous monitoring, but I knew once I went down this route any movement would be limited and I wouldn’t be able to shower or use the birthing bath – this stuff was all really important to me and I felt comfortable with my baby being monitored every 15 mins. A doctor came into the room and asked me to sign a waiver to say I was choosing not to be continuously monitored. At this stage a huge contraction came and I had no idea what I was signing, but trusted that my people around me knew what I wanted and what was going on.
Labour was THE MOST amazing and also THE MOST physically and mentally challenging thing I’ve ever done. I’ve run half marathons, competed in Olympic distance triathlons and swam 2kms in the ocean and nothing comes close to the immense physical or mental strength that I required for labour. I’d created my birthing mantra’s which were like a guiding star…
Our baby’s birth transforms the soul of our new family.
I feel safe and calm. I feel strong. Birth is joyous.
They believed they could, so they did.
To be a star you must shine your own light.
It is said that women in labour leave their bodies… they travel to the stars to collect the souls of their babies, and return to this world together.
We birth our baby with waves, each one bringing us closer to the shore.
The knowledge of how to birth is deep within me.
Our baby created in love will be birthed in love.
Bub was posterior and pressing on my spine so every contraction was full on, but I was determined to push through and give my baby the natural birth we wanted (this was so important to us after 6 years of IVF and a plethora of IVF drugs). Plus I’d read all of Sarah Buckley and Ina May Gaskin’s books on the benefits of a natural labour for both bub and me. We almost got there, but at the end I needed a little medical intervention. I was trying to push bub out for what seemed like hours…
At 8am I was 9cm dilated
At 9am the top of bubs head was visible
Head on view at 10.30am, but bubs descent was slow and fetal heart rate was hard to find
I think my pushing was compromised from bubs sitting on my spine and the pain in my back and my exhaustion at this point. I remember my doula saying ‘You’re about to meet your baby love’. This helped me so much to keep on going as did gazing into Pete’s eyes and the way he squeezed my hips and hands. And my sister being there every step of the way – these were the things that got me through.
I pushed and pushed until I couldn’t push anymore – her head would peak out and then slide back in. My doctor came in and was a little concerned as they couldn’t get a fetal heart rate (I think this was because bub was so low in my pelvis – I wasn’t concerned – I just had an inner knowing all was ok). But because of this and bubs sitting on my peri and not advancing my doctor wanted to do an episiotomy (epi) and get our bub out. My midwife did the tiniest epi and out she came 2 pushes later (note to self, next time I’ll use the epi-no I bought).
SHE’S HERE! Floods of emotions, tears, overwhelm, so much love as my little girl came swimming out, caught by my sis and placed straight onto my tummy.
Watching Suz catch our baby (the gift she helped us create) took my breath away.
Pete’s not great with anything medical (he did so well for the entire labour), so he wasn’t quiet sure if he’d be able to cut he cord, but he did it! Pete cut the cord once it had stopped pulsating and started going white. This was a special moment to witness.
I was completely starstruck by this little person who had just rocked into our world.
Finally after 6 years almost to the day that we started on our path to parenthood, she was here and she was perfect in her own special time and way.
Pete, Suz, my doula, midwife and me were all in tears – never before had I witnessed such a miracle. 6 years of dreaming, hoping, longing, believing and knowing we would get out baby all came down to this very moment!
This was what I had wished for my entire life and in that moment when my baby girl was placed in my arms everything was perfect. She was perfect.
Our little treasure was here and we were smitten. I looked at Pete and said ‘Indigo Vera’ and he nodded with a big grin from ear to ear. Indigo was the girls name we’d had in safe keeping for 6 years and Vera, meaning ‘faith’ is my mum and great grans middle name. There were hugs and kisses all round. Kisses with my Pete – we’d done it – finally we had our Sprout. Hugs and kisses with my sister Suz – so much love and gratitude for the gift that she had given us. From the bottom of my heart I’m in awe of what Suz did for us. She is my angel, who made our dream come true! There are no words for this LOVE!
Unfortunately, reality kicked back in and I had a managed 3rd stage labour (I wanted to birth my placenta naturally, but it wasn’t to be). I was losing blood and there was a concern about me hemorrhaging. Even though having syntocin injected to birth my placenta wasn’t in my plan, I saw the look of concern on my hubby and sisters face and made the call to surrender to the advice we’d been given. I was happy Indigo was out drug free and I knew my body could cope with detoxing from the syntocinon.
Once the placenta was birthed we looked and touched it. I was in awe of this amazing organ that had been my baby’s lifeline for the last 9 months. It’s pretty phenomenal. We’d decided to take it home and plant it under a strawberry bush – return it to Mother Nature as a symbol of our immense gratitude for our baby girl. By planting our placenta with the strawberry bush, we felt that our Indigo would always feel grounded and connected to the sweetness of the earth – and this in turn would help her find her way in the world.
Next I had to be stitched up. Just 1 teeny-tiny stitch as I watched Pete and Indi have special skin-to-skin time… heart-explosion. My man and our baby! I had dreamed of this moment for a very long time. Pete’s cheeky grin says it all (I hope Indi inherits this).
And then my sister and Indi had a cuddle – wow the special connection they had would bond them forever… I just loved watching them meet for the first time.
I sipped on my bone broth and chewed on my magnesiums tablets (the contractions in my uterus were going crazy). As soon as my stitching was finished my little girl was put on my tummy… I looked into her eyes, spellbound by her beauty. Time stood still and then slowly she started to squirm and squiggle her way up my tummy to my left breast, latching on and sucking away. She’d done the breast crawl.
This is nature at its best.
No forcing her onto the breast. Given the chance my little girl instinctively knew exactly what to do and how to do it. This was just one of the many benefits of doing She Births and having a doula. I’d watched a video and been educated on this but wow no one can prepare you for the miracle that is the breast crawl. What clever little intuitive bubs are birthed into this world.
Pete and and I then spent time watching our little Indigo feed as Suz went and made a few calls to share our news. The next hour was spent feeding and skin-to-skin as our doula and midwife got everything in order – the room was so calm, I was in a peaceful-bliss, exhausted yet ecstatic state.
After some snuggles with Indi and Pete, she was checked over and then I needed a shower to freshen up. Pete stayed with Indi and my doula and sis helped me to shower – and by gosh was it one of the best showers I’ve ever had.
The next 2 days in hospital were phenomenal. We had lots of visits from family on both sides. The grandparents, aunties and uncles and cousins were so excited to meet our little Indigo girl.
Who supported you throughout the birth?
My hubby Pete, my sister Suz, my Doula Nadine and my midwife at the Royal Hospital for women. I also had doctors pop in and out of the birth.
Out of the birthing suite I had my Village cheering me on and pouring all their love and support and healthy birthing vibes our way.
What was the most challenging part of the birth?
Bub was posterior and pressing on my spine so every contraction was a really intense sensation on my spine (whereas I’d always assumed I’d feel the intensity at the front of my belly). I was determined to push through and give my baby the natural birth we wanted (this was so important to us after 6 years of IVF and a plethora of IVF drugs). Plus I’d read all of Sarah Buckley and Ina May Gaskin’s books on the benefits of a natural labour for both bub and me. We almost got there, but at the end I needed a little medical intervention. I was trying to push bub out for what seemed like hours… My doctor was concerned as he couldn’t get a heartbeat so wanted to do a small episiotomy to help bub out. I also found giving in to having the syntocin to birth the placenta challenging. I’d read a lot about this and wanted a physiological third stage labour, but the doctor and midwife were concerned about the amount of blood that I’d lost and strongly recommended syntocin so that I could birth the placenta as soon as possible. I looked to Pete, my sis and doula and they were in agreeance. Pete had a particularly worried look on his face so I reluctantly agreed – this was challenging for me.
What most helped you through the birth experience?
My gorgeous husband, Pete with me every step of the way. Just having him there with me was the most important and incredible experience for us to share.
My sister’s calm and nurturing presence. She had donated her eggs to help us create our little miracle, so it was important to us that she was with us during the birth.
The She Births® treasure box of tools and techniques.
My doula… when she arrived at the house and I started to breathe in sync with her – this changed everything!
My caring and attentive midwife… she knew my birth plan and was not going to offer me drugs or anything that she knew I didn’t want unless it was totally necessary…. Hello syntocin and managed 3rd stage labour.
The love and support of my Village (parents, family and friends – who I knew were all cheering me on and desperate to meet our little one).
Was there anything that surprised you on the day?
The absolute AMAZINGNESS of the female body and birth. Nothing can prepare you for the marathon and heart explosion that is birth. That feeling of gazing into my baby girls eyes and seeing her for the first time – pure love and magic! I feel like I can accomplish anything in life after giving birth. It is truly incredible and I feel so much gratitude for being blessed to experience it.
What has been the best post birth care for you?
They say ‘It takes a Village to raise a child’ and I was certainly blessed with my Village post birth. I loved my post birth experience – it was such a magical time.
My hubby was and is there for Indigo and me every step of the way. This nourished and supported our little family so beautifully.
My mum was just the best – shopping, cooking, washing, ironing and cuddles with Indigo so Pete and I could shower or take a walk together. I’ve had some of my friends ask if my mum would adopt them – she really is that amazing!
My sister, brothers, nieces, nephew, Pete’s family and my friends all played an integral role in offering post birth support. I felt wrapped in love and support – it was pure bliss.
My doula, Nadine was so incredibly supportive. She was only a phone call away and checked in on me regularly to see how I was doing. I had a few small challenges with breastfeeding, but seeing a lactation consultant and a little time to heal my damaged nipples ironed out the issues I had here.
I read an amazing book ‘The First 40 Days’ by Heng Ou. Its based on the idea that the first 40 days after the birth of a child offer an essential and fleeting period of rest and recovery for the new mother. I followed these principles and was lucky enough to have the love and support of my Village during this precious time as a new mum.
I also joined the She Births® Soul Mama’s circle where I met some amazing mama’s who are now some of my closest friends.
Describe your birth experience in 3 words:
Strength, Love, Transformative.
Rachel Campbell dances in life to the tune that Anything Can Be.
She is passionate about supporting women to shine with confidence and grace, as they ride the ups and downs of the fertility roller coaster. As a certified coach and fertility mentor Rachel inspires her clients to reach for the stars and really live life on their fertile journey. She offers 1:1 mentoring sessions as well as online programs for groups. Rachel has a dream to help women feel more understood, nurtured, connected and inspired on their journey to motherhood.
Meet Rachel over at sproutandco.com.au