I went through the shared care program with the midwives at RHW. I had a great GP, Dr Lucinda Herron at Bourke Street Clinic in Surry Hills who looked after me beautifully, always thorough and sensitive to my concerns. I had a fairly positive experience with the midwife that I saw regularly although at times I must say, she was a little cold. In fact, when I was sure I was in early labour, she was a little dismissive and when I mentioned that Iris' movements had reduced, she responded with worry even though I showed optimism and was confident that the reduced movement was a direct result of early labour. However, at the birth itself, the beautiful Jessie made me feel incredibly safe and secure as she helped us to bring Iris into the world. We ended up in the Birth Centre by pure good fortune (or others' misfortune as there were ten inductions that morning and then needed the labour rooms) which was what we had wanted all along, but we had been sitting at the top of the waiting list and had never quite got in the door. Overall, my experience at RHW was really positive and I would recommend all women to forget the OB and go public with you, Anna-Maria - a much better way to spend your hard-earned money!
We had the desire to have a wholistic, calm and beautiful birth experience, free from unnecessary stress. We wanted the support of someone who could create this atmosphere and lend us her expertise. We wanted an extra person on our team so that we could simply ride the waves and relax into the labour without worry. We equipped ourselves with knowledge as best we could but thought that having an expert in the room could certainly be an asset! We felt supported from the very second we met Anna-Maria for a casual coffee. When she got up to grab a napkin, we turned to each other and said 'we love her' and that was it - when she sat back down, we said, 'so, what do we do next?' We knew immediately that she was a calm and beautiful soul who would be the perfect addition to our birth team. She exudes tranquility while feeling like she (excuse my French) really has her shit together and without coming across as too hippy dippy. She is grounded and real! We could not possibly have asked for a more caring person to be by our side. She is truly an expert and not only that, but now, a dear friend.
During pregnancy, she was able to calm my concerns and answer even the smallest and silliest of questions. During birth, she was the grounding influence, holding us all together without being at all overbearing. In the postpartum she was a wonderful companion who took time to simply chat, give advice if asked and reassure.
She provided natural methods for pain relief such as the shower, massage, positioning and essential oils. She spoke calmly to me and was always positive and encouraging. She was a quiet presence but an essential one. She helped to ease worries that my wife had, thus creating a calmer environment for the birth. She was like the glue that held us together! While Anna-Maria does not act as an advocate, she worked quietly and sensitively alongside our midwives, ensuring that our birth experience was everything that we had wanted.
I loved her quiet and calm presence during labour. She took the reins without taking over. I will never forget the moment that she met us on the labour ward, headed straight for the bathroom and got me in the shower, massaging my lower back with the double shower heads - absolute bliss.
At every moment she was able to identify exactly what I needed while always being sensitive and ensuring I was calling the shots at the end of the day. She was also an enormous support and calming influence to my wife, Gillian, who struggled to see me in the more intense moments and needed someone to tell her it was normal and it was okay.
[Would you recommend Anna-Maria?] "Yes, yes, 100 times yes".
This woman is an angel!! Difficult to sum up all that Anna-Maria offered me through my first child birth - such an incredible array of gifts, which ultimately allowed me to have the natural birth I wanted - without drugs! Despite a lengthy birth, huge baby, and post-birth complications, I can reflect on an amazing birth experience and know that I gave my baby the best possible entrance to life. I could never have achieved it without my doula, but she was incredible - and I became incredible too. Her support, guidance, comfort and encouragement were invaluable; not only to me but to my partner as well.
Her nutrition support and expertise an absolute bonus, and I still take advantage of it! Hard to sum up the extent of my gratitude, but truly worth her weight beyond gold
"I can reflect on an amazing birth experience and know that I gave my baby the best possible entrance to life."
I hired a highly experienced OB who had a good reputation for supporting natural childbirth. I certainly appreciated my OB's skill and calmness in the delivery room, however there was a significant amount of angst when my OB had several absences during the very very late stage of my pregnancy, and finding the 'stand in OB' who was not my cup of tea - I later learned she did not believe in doulas or birth plans!
I wanted to know and trust the people who would be in the room with me when I gave birth, so that I would feel safe and maximise my chance of a natural childbirth. I knew that the standard hospital arrangement was that I would not meet the midwife assisting me until the day I gave birth, so hiring a doula was my 'workaround' to ensure that I had continuity of care, and would know three of the four people in the delivery room. (I should add, in the end I really liked all the midwives I had!!)
[How soon did you feel supported after hiring Anna-Maria as your doula?] "Straight away, but particularly after I had a bad gut reaction to viewing the delivery suite at the hospital I had planed to give birth at. Anna-Maria was so supportive in assisting me with finding another hospital.
I enjoyed Anna-Maria's passion and knowledge of pregnancy and the childbirth process, and just thinking ahead to what I needed to do to best set myself up for a favourable outcomes for the gestational diabetes and the Group Strep B test."
[What was the main things you felt Anna-Maria helped you with in your pregnancy, during birth and in the postpartum?] "Gosh, so many things!!! It's hard to know where to start. During my pregnancy, anxiety management (particularly when I went overdue!), helping me reach informed decision on different aspects of my birth (we had many discussions about third stage), information about birth and labour the nature of contractions (I didn't know that they increased in intensity and then dissipate!), debriefing after we attended the SheBirths course, knowledge of birth tools, homeopathic remedies. During my pregnancy, Anna-Maria wrote a fabulous blog post about baby essentials, as I had gotten to 34 weeks pregnant and had not bought a thing for the baby! During the postpartum, Anna-Maria visited at the hospital and at home. It was lovely having her to debrief with, to me it was such an amazing accomplishment to have given birth without an epidural and it was lovely to have that share and debrief with. We chatted a lot about postpartum support systems, and food and nutrition as well. Anna-Maria was helpful in provided me with a tonic to assist with lactation."
"Anna-Maria's presence was very reassuring. My husband George was actively supporting me, and Anna-Maria was fabulous in helping him support me."
[Did you feel that Anna-Maria supported your relationship with your partner?] "Yes, absolutely. Anna-Maria involved my husband George in conversations when she came to our house for home visits, and asked him how he was doing and made him feeling included. Most importantly, Anna-Maria supported my husband during the birth. I was induced and my husband was remarkable in the support he provided. Anna-Maria respected the dynamic in the room and supported my husband in supporting me in the birth."
[Did you feel that Anna-Maria supported your relationship with your other care givers?] "Yes. She was respectful of my OB and the midwives I had.
Anna-Maria's presence was very reassuring. My husband George was actively supporting me, and Anna-Maria was fabulous in helping him support me. I remember being fed jelly beans, encouraging other positions and her not mentioning the time! I think not knowing the time during labour is a really good thing (I was surprised to learn after that I had been at 9cm for three hours and pushed for two). I think Anna-Maria was particularly helpful during transition in assisting me with my goal of no epidural. I asked for it, several times, but the support I got from Anna-Maria was helpful in getting me through.
A doula is essential!"
I went with shared care for this birth but I think next time I will be a part of a midwife group just so I know that I will be familiar with the midwives at the birth.
I wanted to guarantee a natural birth through the whole process, I wanted to be able to make the hospital space my own and as peaceful as possible.
I felt supported immediately after hiring Anna-Maria, even after our first meeting before I had hired her.
I loved the peaceful presence that was brought as soon Anna-Maria walked in the room. She also taught us so much about the process of birth. Because of our meetings pre-birth both my partner and I felt very prepared for labour and beyond. I also loved that I was allowed to contact her if or whenever I had a question or concern, her phone was always on. She helped educate us on what to expect pre, during and post labour. However during labour we found that she didn’t only help but was essential to the process, bringing massage techniques, knowledge, an amazing energy, and an incredible stamina. Also coaching me through every step of the way.
Anna-Maria allowed us to do our own thing together, recognising that both my partner and I were a team in the labour process. She only stepped in if she thought appropriate.
Being whatever I needed when I needed it. And not stepping on anyone’s toes in the process.
It [Anna-Maria's support and presence for you during the birth] was phenomenal, she brought such a calming presence to an environment that had the potential to become very stressful fast. Her support and knowledge of what I was going through was incredibly essential to my process. The most impressive part was her stamina, up all night with essentially no breaks and energy to last. She was the greatest support money could buy.
"I loved the peaceful presence that was brought as soon Anna-Maria walked in the room. She also taught us so much about the process of birth."
I don’t think I could ever have a birth without a doula now that I have had one. I think she was a big reason the birth went so smoothly with no complications. She helped me go into labour with such a positive mindset and I think that is the most important thing.
I would honestly recommend her to everyone I know who wants a natural birth.
Through She Births I decided that I would benefit from having a doula with me, especially as my family were not local and my husband was focused on opening three restaurants before the baby arrived.
I came across Anna-Maria and was instantly taken by her professional yet humble nature, and the depth of knowledge and experience she brought to our first meeting. Every time I met with Anna-Maria, I would walk away feeling more and more confident about the birth. I was able to discus my fears and worries, and pick her brain about all the possible medical complications that I was anxious about.
"After 4 hours of being in the hospital, our beautiful, healthy baby boy was delivered successfully and placed upon my chest. With placenta still intact he latched on and began suckling – that moment was the most incredible moment of my life."
When Anna-Maria arrived at our house before heading to the hospital, I felt a sense of relief overcome me. The trust I had in Anna-Maria allowed me to completely switch off from an intellectual state and really focus of what was happening within myself. She created a space within the birthing suite that made me feel comfortable, as if I was in my own home. This gave me the confidence to take control of the birth and allow my body to be in the position I felt I needed to be in. Instead of being strapped into a monitor on the bed I was able to give birth comfortably in a squatting position without the use of painkillers.
After 4 hours of being in the hospital, our beautiful, healthy baby boy was delivered successfully and placed upon my chest. With placenta still intact he latched on and began suckling – that moment was the most incredible moment of my life. After three unsuccessful pregnancies our little baby was finally here!
I can’t thank Anna-Maria enough for supporting my husband and myself on this empowering journey and look forward to doing it all again when it’s time for baby number two!
Anna Maria recently acted as doula for my partner Alexis and I on the birth of our first child, Vivienne.
Before meeting Anna Maria, I was completely unaware of the concept of a doula and what role they had to play in child birth. Since it was our first time, we were obviously quite nervous and unsure of what to expect from the whole process of labour and child birth in general.
"The key thing I found was that Anna-Maria understands the balance required between supporting but not being overpowering during the birth."
I found that impending fatherhood brought with it a huge range of emotions and questions for me personally. Part of this consideration was obviously in regard to the actual birth itself - how I would feel, act, re-act during this exciting but potentially stressful period!
When Alexis mentioned and explained the idea of being accompanied by a doula, I was initially slightly unnerved. My initial reaction was that I wanted the birth to be intimate and personal and having an outsider present may negate this!
I also worried that my role at the birth would become less important and that I would end up taking somewhat of a back seat while the doula took control.
On the contrary, having Anna-Maria present unquestionably enhanced the experience significantly. Her insight and constant re-assurance during the process gave both Alexis and I a sense of calm throughout and the extra support of a professional cannot be underestimated. The key thing I found was that Anna-Maria understands the balance required between supporting but not being overpowering during the birth. She maintained a constant presence but also gave us the space to maintain a personal closeness.
Because she has been through this a number of times previously, Anna-Maria had prepared for every eventuality both in pre-labour and at the hospital. This took so much of the pressure off of me, this may sound selfish but when it's your first time the whole experience can be quite daunting for a man regardless of how much you have prepared!
The important thing is that my partner Alexis was so much happier with the doula support, this is really the key for me.
If we decide to have another child, we will 100% be availing of Anna-Maria's service again.
I discovered unexpectedly that I was pregnant and that I would be continuing my pregnancy and birth without the support of a partner so I knew that I wanted the added support of a dedicated Doula to guide me through this exciting but uncertain time. I was a slightly apprehensive about finding one that I would feel comfortable inviting in to such an intimate experience but I felt instantly at ease with Anna-Maria.
Having been keen for the most natural birth as possible most of the way, I decided later on that I wanted to explore pain relief options - Anna-Maria was very supportive and non-judgemental of this and made sure I was as informed as I could be about it.
The support that Anna-Maria gave me post-birth was also invaluable. Being discharged from hospital with a tiny baby to care for can be very daunting and it was really reassuring to have that personal continuation of care into the early days and weeks of motherhood. She was also really great with my own mother who attended the birth and had her own worries and questions about the process, ideas of which had changed somewhat since birthing her own children.
My little Maisie is now nearly 8 weeks old and the positive birth experience that I have had, aided by the strong female support of Anna-Maria, has given me confidence in my ability as a mother, with the added reassurance that there is somebody that I can contact with new concerns at any stage if i needed who knows me and my baby.
For my birth team I had a great OB, midwife from the hospital, Anna-Maria as my doula and my husband. It was a great team and just the right amount of people I wished for on the day.
I wanted a female experienced professional in pregnancy and labour who can calm me and encourage me on the day of labour.
She helped me with nutrition, health questions regarding labour signs, massaging me during labour as well as holding my hand through it. In the postpartum she helped with a lot of my newborn questions.
Anna-Maria supported myself and my partner by giving us education on birthing and the postpartum so we are more knowledgeable and hence less stressed about what's happening.
My primary focus is to make you, the pregnant woman feel nurtured, cared for and to ensure your optimal health. A birthing mother is immensely strong and powerful, yet vulnerable, and as a birth doula, I work to hold space for you to feel supported, safe and grounded.
Breastfeeding and recovering in the postnatal period is a job best done with a caring community and my aim is to offer as much guidance as possible (and as needed) by educating and supporting you as a new mother.
I have supported and attended births at; Royal Hospital for Women - delivery ward and birth centre midwifery group, Prince of Wales Private, North Shore Private, North Shore Birth Centre, North Shore Public, Royal Prince Alfred in Sydney, Australia.