Birth Story 1

"Having a baby is a life changing experience, especially when you are living overseas. My husband and I temporarily relocated to Sydney, Australia, from Chicago, and decided to start a family there. I had always known I had wanted a natural childbirth, but I had never thought about what that really meant.

I was about to find out.

I attended the classes on a weekly basis. They gave my husband and I an enormous amount of preparation and information about labour and how to effectively deal with the pain, in addition, how to keep the labour moving along efficiently.

I learned in great detail what physically happens to the body during labour. So many of my fears were alleviated because I knew exactly what my body was going to experience.

Therefore my 'healthy pain' of contractions took on a meaning and a purpose. As well, the pain management techniques made perfect sense. I learned that sound blocks pain. I learned that I had to keep active in order to release adrenalin and allow the labour hormones to keep flowing...this promotes a more efficient labour. I also learned to focus on the thing that doesn't hurt, such as sound, a physical action, a mantra, visualisation, or many other things. We learned the theory of active birth and pain management, and practiced over and over again.

My husband and I felt so prepared and confident about the birth that we actually looked forward to the birth, and looked forward to trying out some of the techniques we had learned.

I stayed at home for the first five hours of my labour. The car journey was interesting as I needed to get out of the car each time a contraction came and stomp my way along a very busy road at peakhour! On arrival at the hospital I was seven centimetres dilated. The next part of the labour involved applying all the appropriate techniques for the enormous pain of transition and then pushing out our beautiful baby. I truly believe that my quick labour and wonderful birth experience was a direct result of the belief in myself that I could do it. I am absolutely certain I would never have been able to achieve a natural birth without the classes. It really was an amazing event.

We called our daughter Sydney...what else?"

(name withheld)

Birth Story 2

"Thank you for making me aware of all the personal internal and external resources available to me to help get through the pain of childbirth.

It's amazing what a bit of knowledge, encouragement, enthusiasm and a healthy change of outlook can do to change the whole labour experience around. Attending the classes helped me change my perceptions of the process and I began to view it as a challenge. I also realised that although it was going to be very tough, it was also going to be possible.

I changed my expectations of myself and came to understand the the actual process a little differently.

You always encouraged your women to share their birth stories. This is mine:

In early labour, about 3am, I was too restless to sleep. The period like pains were getting more frequent and I needed to walk around slowly and rhythmically each time they came.

I went to my obstetrician's appointment as scheduled the next morning at 8.30am. The internal revealed that I was 5cms dilated and was told to go straight to the hospital! At first I just walked around during contractions. Then I progressed to stomping and stress balls. As the pain intensified I began to use controlled sounds, as you'd taught us to. (During class practise, I had always been worried I wouldn't be able to do it as my husband might think me silly).

Other things that helped at this time were: using hot water in the shower with Steven massaging me; using a hot pack; listening to melodious music; and focusing on the smell of a beautiful bouquet of fragrant flowers Steven had bought for me.

I adopted upright positions, remembering how you had encouraged us to get gravity working for us. I mentally visualised some of your catchy phrases such as 'healthy pain', 'opening pain', and 'positive pain'. I remember whimpering with agony and visualising you in the classes demonstration the same and telling us that WE COULD TURN THIS VULNERABILITY AROUND. It picked me up and I regained control, changing the wimpering to strong powerful sounds. And yes, it sure was EMPOWERING. The midwives were fantastic and completely supportive of everything I did.

I have to tell you, my husband really surprised me. When I tried to discuss the techniques from your classes he showed no real interest other than being pleased that I was feeling more confident. Anything I brought up for discussion seemed to go in one ear and out the other. On the day, frankly, he put on a star performance. Not only had he taken in all the information, but his help, his support and his encouragement were incredible. I was so proud of him. He was the one who encouraged me to 'do my thing', with whatever rate, intensity or rhythm I needed.

At 9cm, (almost there!), my contractions started to slow down. I was exhausted. I dropped off to sleep between contractions I was so tired. I tried the gas but it did not help very much. Suddenly I experienced a strong urge to push and I did exactly what you said to do (not easy!). Soon I was 10 cms and was able to push my little girl out.

When they put her little body on mine I experienced one of the most supreme moments of joy in my life. It was certainly worth all the hard work and intense pain that the birth required.

During the birthing process so much of what you had taught me came back with crystal clarity. I know I could not have done it without the classes."

(name withheld)

Birth Story 3

"Gosh, where have the past eight weeks gone?

Both Adrian and I look back on the birth of our daughter as a really positive experience. Adrian played such an important role and and he felt very much a part of my labour. I felt that WE gave birth to our daughter - further enhancing our relationship.

Anyway, here are some details: The labour was approx 7 hours (not bad for a first baby,huh?). It was a bit confusing in the beginning as I went straight to contractions 2 minutes apart. I managed to fly solo using all the class techniques until about 6cms. Adrian very creatively used a diving analogy (we have done lots of diving together) describing the sparkling water and the colourful fish. When I began using the gas towards the end, I imagined the mouth piece was like a diving mouth piece.

The words that I kept hearing from the classes were 'prepare to be adaptive'. That is exactly what we did. It was also very important to understand what my body was doing. We 'problem solved' as we went along. I used the rocking, moaning and stress balls as well as Adrian's brilliant underwater images. He did not stop talking to me for 7 hours and in doing so, took me on a fascination positive and encouraging journey. The poor chap got no break - if he paused, he got into big trouble from me.

The concept of 'stepping outside of the box' we had learned about, certainly got us through. We used stress balls, aromatherapy, heatpacks, rocking, moaning, music, AND Adrian's voice. THis incredible experience has given us a wonderful start to parenthood."

(name withheld)

Birth Story 4

"The birth of our beautiful daughter went without any major problems. There was no need for drugs, other than gas, and no stitches required.

I was so impressed with the whole experience and the way we worked through the pain (previously thought impossible!), that I thought I would add my perspective as a support person.

I must admit I was sceptical at first when Helen started your course. I knew in theory these techniques could work, but I felt I didn't know enought about them to do my job on the day. Afterall, all this was completely new to me. It wasn't until we did the advanced pain management course with you that I realised we could make them work. My main concern was that on the day it would all fall to pieces in a combination of pain and fear.

In the first stage Helen was using a stress ball and heat pack to get through the contractions. I was timing them and she found it easier if I told her when to expect the next one and she would start bashing the ball before it hit. This worked well for some time.

After arrival at the hospital Helen used a combination of stress balls and a hot shower on her back and stomach. During each contraction I would remind her that the cervix was opening and that the baby was moving down. I would then tell her to visualise this.

After 5 hours of this we were sure she would be close to the second stage. Unfortunately, after an internal we learned she was only 2.5 - 3cms. From then on, during each contraction, I would continually say 'visualise your cervix opening to 5cms', 'we are pushing for 5cms'.

After another one and a half to two hours the midwife and doctor returned to do another internal. I told the doctor she would be 5cms. The midwife said regretfully that it had only been two hours and that there was no way. She was 5.5 cms! That was the first time in my life that I had seen the power of positive thinking actually work. I was amazed.

After the doctor broke her waters the contractions and pain intensified. The shower and balls were not working as well with this new level of pain. Also the urge to push was starting. The pain was becoming too much. Helen seemed selfconscious about making too much noise (the quiet breathing was now useless), so when the contraction hit, I started making more noise than her and told her to keep pace with me. I knew we had to get rid of the adrenalin. She was leaning on my shoulders and I could see that she was concentrating on the sound of us going 'AHHH,AHHH,AHHH' - and this was keeping the pain under control. I could actually see in her face when the pain was getting too much and I would tell her 'not to let the pain control her' and 'to be in charge of the pain'. This actually worked and I could see her getting back in control. It was fantastic to see the techniques work. It was only in the very last stages that Helen had to use the gas. She said later that the gas didn't relieve the pain it was just something else to do.

Once Helen started pushing I just kept coaxing her to hold the push and keep pushing. I also described everything that I could see, especially when the head came into view, hoping that would keep her going. It had been about 23 hours of labour, and she was wanting to give up.

Luckily the pushing stage lasted only about one hour and at 9.14pm on the 13th of January our beautiful baby daughter was born. It had been 24 hours and 14 minutes since the first contraction.

It is the most beautiful thing I have ever experienced and after watching and helping Helen through 24 hours of labour, I now believe there isn't anything she can't do! I now look at her in a different light.

I am astounded by how effective your techniques were for us. It really did make a difference."

(name withheld)

Birth Story 5

"Hi Ju Ju,

I have been meaning to write to you since last November where I an awesome experience of giving birth to my daughter, Eden.

You helped me so much, I could hear your voice constantly, and my husband, Nathan, also could hear your voice in his head as the Labour progressed.

I had been to the intense course of yours when you had broken your foot, and then Nathan had come to the couples class. These were the best investments that we will never forget.

So I thought that I would tell you the methods that I used.

I went into labour one night at 830pm. I did not tell Nathan until 1030pm til it was more regular. But it was straight away 20 seconds apart til the end of my labour.

I was walking around the room with my hands on my hips breathing in rhythm to the sound of the vowels.."aaaa, eeeee, iiiiii, ooooo, uuuuu". Each 1 minute of the contraction was controlled and it felt really comfortable. So I continued til I was tired of standing.

Then I had a picture on the wall of the surf, and I imagined that each 1 minute contraction was me catching a wave. This was amazing visual, my husband could join in this one, but it was so painful and quick by this time I slept in between which was still only 20 seconds but it was what I needed til the next contraction.

Then I had to change position. I had to be on all fours looking at the floor. I breathed in and out and made 'ahh' sounds in rhythm of four to the beat of the contraction. I had a squashy ball that turned from red to green each squeeze to focus on too.

By 130am, which went so so quickly, I had to go to the hospital. They words, Healthy Pain, helped and thinking about holding about this baby did too.

The car trip was limiting to my pain. I screamed out the window as much as I could in 'ahh' so to ignore the pain. I remember people at a bus stop looking at me which did not phase me, Nathan turned up the music, it made me want to be sick, it was so annoying but I thought, I can only handle it for the duration of the trip to the hospital and that was it! That was surprising to me because I thought that I would use music to focus on but I just needed quiet. I am glad that I had other things prepared to focus on.

When we got to the hospital I was 3cm dilated.

I could really visualise my pelvis was terrifying but it was fantastically amazing!

I had a shower and getting on all fours as Nathan had the shower head on my back, my feet, my tummy. I had to let my tummy hang. I tried to sit on the too uncomfortable. Before each contraction I searched for anything that had four points....four legs of the chair in the shower, four points of a tile, four points of the bath. vowels again and each four point I breathed out a vowel. I could not believe I was using sound. Ju Ju's voice was saying in my head, you will use sound, it sounds embarrassing now, but you don't care when your there. And sure enough I did not care if the whole suburb could hear me!!!!

My knees got sore so the midwife got me to get on the bed, they had to put a drip in me as I was dehydrated. So as the doctor and midwife tried to keep me still I had to improvise.....breathing out the vowels to the four corners of the room, four corners of the ceiling, four corners of the light, the mirror, the four people in the room. Nathan said to me after he could see me concentrating, my eyes darting to one thing to another as I barked out 'ahhh'. I looked at the ball I still had in my hand and it was completely flat in my palm, I think that I killed it.

Nathan was amazing, he worked so hard. He had ice on my feet, telling me to concentrate on each toe, parts of my leg. Then he would hold my hand and go with the rhythm of the contraction as I breathed in. He called out what was happening with the baby, what the midwife was doing, what was going to happen when it was all over. He was my rock.

My waters had not broken I knew that I had a long time to go. I had two heart monitors that were strapped to me tummy. They were so heavy and tight. But I could hear one beeping....annoying....I asked them to turn it down....they said it was the baby's.....then, I went quiet. In those very words, I realised this is what it was all about.

The midwife said I was doing a fantastic job and in a little while I am going to be holding my baby. I thought even if I am going to go through this all day coming, this time tomorrow, I am going to have my baby in my arms.....I got another surge of energy as if I had started all over again.

I totally relaxed and concentrated. I was tired and a couple of contractions I could not concentrate and I forgot about the sound, visual everything. Those contractions were so painful and I felt so out of control that it took all my strength to get back into my zone again. I just had to keep on going in this zone.

Within 40 minutes of my last measurement I was 8cm dilated! I could not believe it. Then she said 'go for it, as soon as you feel like pushing, go for it' Then she broke my waters like a huge gush of coloured water. By this time they had put a mirror up and it was like I was watching it on TV. So all up it took 6 hours. And in that whole time I did not let Nathan go to the bathroom himself once!

The two midwives asked Nathan if I had a plan because I looked so controlled and focused, He said "Yes, we went to see Ju Ju." and they replied "We thought so, I could tell, you guys a great example that it really works."

So thank you Ju Ju from the bottom of my heart. I had a amazing birth. I have told so many people about you, it just makes sense."

Nathan & Sarah Tulloch

Birth Story 6

"Dearest Ju Ju,

I'm sure you get thousands of these letters, but I wanted to make sure you got a thousand and one. Because I wanted to say thank you. You gave me the power, confidence and skills to deliver my beautiful little man, George David Scammell.

I was very keen to try and deliver my baby naturally without any pain relief (if possible) so when my wonderful obstetrician Dr. Keith Hartman mentioned your course in our first appointment I rang up and booked in straight away.

And I was so glad I had the opportunity to experience the course. It was the first time in my pregnancy I actually felt like I had control. I felt like I had control because I had positive knowledge and skills for labour.

I loved the practical exercises, the mantras and I loved going around the big pictures stuck on the wall and hearing all the detailed stories about what other women had done to get through their labours - I remember the lady with the bike and the lady with the stress balls in the bath - I loved those stories and they helped me in my labour.

I left your course feeling so pumped and eager to get into that delivery suite, but with 6 weeks to go I so didn't want to forget anything. When I got home I re-wrote the notes I'd taken and packed them in my delivery bag. I even bought your book from Dr. Hartman for my husband, Dave to read.

Two weeks before I was due I saw Dr. Hartman and I was 2cm dilated (which I thought was pretty cool, as that hadn't hurt at all!) we thought I'd have a week or so left before the big day. But that Sunday (10 days before my due date...who says all 1st babies are late!) Dave and I were doing the Bondi to Clovelly 6km walk along the ocean when I first got a little twinge, I didn't think much off it, I had a drink of water and it went away. We then went out to lunch with friends. Came home read the papers and had dinner and crawled into bed around 10pm. Then at 11pm my waters broke in bed. We rang the hospital and Dr. Hartman wanted us to go straight in. However, I didn't want to... You see Dr. Hartman and I had made a bet. I said to him, "I'll bet I get to 5cm before I go to hospital", and he said to me, "I'll be surprised if you get past 3cm!". Dave was obviously very keen to get there quickly, but I kept finding things to do around the house. I pretended to pack my bag (it was already packed), had a banana sandwich (for the energy) and checked the baby's room. I wasn't having contractions, so I wasn't in any hurry to get to hospital and I'd imagined I'd have a long 40 hour labour so I didn't want to be at hospital for the entire time. Finally Dave got me in the car and we arrived at the Mater Hospital at 1am (via a stop at a corner store as I felt like lemonade?!?) 10 minutes after we checked in I started having contractions and when they first checked I was 6cm dilated, 6CMS!!!! (This so wasn't what I'd imagined, how bloody exciting, I was nearly there!!!).

So Dave and I managed the first stage doing squats against the wall and I just pictured myself in a pump class. It didn't feel like we were doing it for that long, (but Dave tells me it was close to 2hrs). Then our amazing midwife, Denise said things might start to get a bit more intense so suggested we try a bath.

It was now 3 am and the contractions were coming faster and were definitely building in intensity, but they were still manageable. I thought back to your class and the pictures on the wall. I remembered the story of the lady in the bath with the stress balls, so I asked Dave to get mine and I started banging one on the bath when a contraction would come. After a while I had both the stress balls in one hand and I was thrashing them against the side of the bath (the poor person in the room downstairs). I clearly remember having to step up the distractions - I remember the pain getting bigger than me, and I wasn't going to let that happen. But I must admit there was a split second when I thought drugs could so easily take away the pain away, but then I remember thinking to myself...I know heaps of women who've done this without drugs and they're not as tough as me, so I can do this! I took a deep breath, thrashed my stress balls against the bath, 'arghhed' really loudly and Dave counted me down like I was running a 200 metre race, Denise had the hot water running over my back and I got through one contraction at a time.

At about 5am Denise checked me in the bath and I was 9cm dilated, so she told me she was going to call Dr. Hartman and then get me out of the bath. Before she went she asked if I wanted anything, to which I jokingly replied "Maybe a panadol?". "No darling" she said "you don't even need that".

So I got out of the bath and headed down on the swiss ball. It was now around 6am and Dr. Hartman arrived, he couldn't believe how well I was doing so he kicked back in the recliner chair and left me to focus. Suddenly I got the urge to push. So I started to huff and puff and push, but it didn't feel right. "Push like your going to the toilet" Denise said. So I tried again and still nothing. And then I heard Dr Hartman say, "How would Ju Ju tell you to push". "COFFEE PLUNGER" Dave yelled (the only part of the book he'd read was Sarah's introduction) and I remembered - I got it. But I was still feeling uncomfortable, I didn't feel like I was in the right position so Keith suggested I get on the bed and squat, at first I didn't want to because I thought it would be uncomfortable, but it wasn't, it was so much better the gravity was helping. Then came the burning sensation. I looked at Dave with a 'please help me' look in my eyes and he knew it was up to him to help push me now. To be honest I can't remember what he said, but whatever it was, it was perfect, in about 5 pushes we saw our baby's head. I was totally overcome. I knew I had a baby inside me, and I know it sounds strange but I didn't really realise it was until I saw it's head, I made everyone in the room look at the baby I had inside me (I'm sure they all thought I was totally mad). Dr. Hartman told me to keep pushing so we could see the rest of it. So with a massive push - George David Scammell arrived at 7;12am on the 18/08/08 weighing 3.2kg and 50 cm long with a 40 cm head (which didn't feel like a watermelon at all!!). My labour was 6hrs and 17 mins and it was unreal!

I absolutely loved the whole experience. I know I was very lucky to have such a wonderful birth. I think my body is so amazing to produce something so beautiful. I tell all my friends who ask about labour that's it's the best experience! I wasn't sure it was possible but I love Dave even more than before. His support gave me strength, he was truly fantastic!

I feel like I can do anything, we can do anything!

There's so many people that made my experience on the day so fantastic - Dr. Keith Hartman, Denise, Dave, The Mater, but it was feeling prepared with skills I'd learnt from you before I went into labour that I believe made such a real difference. So thank you. Here's a photo of our little man that you helped bring into this world."

Mandy Scammell

Birth Story 7

Dear Juju,

I didn't attend your birth skills classes, but my midwife suggested reading your book "Birth Skills' at one of my antenatal visits. I am so so grateful that she did. Your positive and passionate attitude toward birth, as well as practical, tangible measures to take (and logical, physiological and understandable reasons behind them) made me feel reassured, even looking forward to the big day! I did have an incredible birth just like you wrote about.

For the last trimester of my pregnancy I read and thoroughly digested your book at least five times, and got together a labour kit with stress balls, oils, pictures, music etc. I incessantly urged (ie nagged!) my husband to read the book from cover to cover at least once, as he had previously only flicked through it. He obliged and we practised together and discussed what we thought might work best on the day.

The big day rolled around and I awoke at 2.30 with my first contraction. Initially they were 20 minutes apart and I could sleep in between them. After a while lying down was too painful during the contractions and I began pacing and counting to 4, making aaah sounds (trying not to wake the neighbours at 3.30am)!

The labour ward at our hospital was experiencing an extremely busy time when we arrived, and many babies had decided to be born on the same day! When we arrived several other women were in the pushing stage, meaning the staff were very much tied up with other patients. After being monitored a while, we got to our delivery room and I got down on all fours on a bean bag and kicked my legs, banged my stress balls and aaaahed during each contraction. My husband massaged and applied pressure to my lower back, which was where I was feeling the contractions at this stage. My doctor and midwife didn't really think that my labour was really well established, though my contractions were consistently 6 mins apart. I mentioned to my midwife that I felt the urge to do a really big poo (charming I know!), at which point I had my first internal examination. We were so excited to hear her amazed announcement - "oh my goodness, you're 9 centimetres!"

A few contractions later and I was ready to push, which went smoothly and only lasted 15 minutes. Our beautiful son was born 3 hours after arriving at the hospital. I did end up having a tear, though my midwife said this was due to my son having his hand up next to his head as he came out. Absolutely nothing in the scheme of things.

My husband said he was so glad he read your book - without it he could have easily felt panicked and angry at the staff about the unavoidable lack of guidance during the first stage of labour, due to absolutely uncontrollable circumstances. I also would also have been panicked and scared, and I think things would have turned out very differently. Instead we knew what to do, and were completely calm and in control! Our midwife complimented our exercises and my husband's coaching! He did do a fantastic job!

My mantra as I rested in between contractions (as this is where I had more time to think - and consider the worst case possibilities...) throughout the whole labour, was "I can do this". Lying down for the initial monitoring wondering how this day would end up, would this be a long labour, would I need an episiotomy and forceps and a caesar..... "I can do this..."

That mantra has been mine ever since the birth and I think it always will be. Learning to breastfeed and very sleep deprived..."I can do this." Going home ...."I can do this." It's my motto now and what I say to myself as I consider everything in my future, whether related to childbirth, work, everything.

So now I'm promoting your book to all of my pregnant friends (actually, prettly much to all women of childbearing age!) I think they're getting a bit sick of me saying "I've got this fantastic book you should read..."

Thank you again for your book, for your effort and expertise in putting together the "Birth Skills' book.

Sean and Jessica - Sydney

Birth Story 8

Hi Ju Ju,

I can’t believe it’s about 12 months since I did my class and it’s taken me this long to write to you and thank you.

I had my first baby back in 1993 and even though things had gone quite well with that birth, was a little bit daunted by the whole prospect of going again at 40 ! However, my concerns were nothing to my husband’s. He has two children, both births (especially the first) had been difficult for his partner and he was very concerned this would be the same, so much so that he was already saying we wouldn’t have any more after this one (even though we’d planned on two).

In the end though, thanks to you (and the miracle stress balls), the birth was a wonderful experience. I’d read about these births that were intimate and where the couple worked together and I hadn’t thought it possible, but we experienced it. I stomped, and breathed and banged the balls and yelled my way through it and when it came time for the delivery I visualized that tissue and delivered Paige Nadia Copley with no drugs and no tearing.

As for my husband … 20 minutes later he was ready to go again ! He was so committed we bought the double kit for our pram and are now happily 6 weeks pregnant again.

I tell anyone who will listen about your class and how much it helped us.

Thank you so much. All my very best wishes to you


Birth Story 9

Dear Juju,

my name is Emma and I live on the North Coast of NSW. I just wanted to say a huge thank you to you (and Sarah) for the gift that is your book "Birth Skills". I came across it accidentally in my local library when I was preparing for the birth of my baby at the start of this year. I had not heard of your courses (because of where i live) but once I started reading your book I really started wishing I could attend one of them!! However I feel that the book is just as empowering for women who do not live near you to attend the course!! I read it from cover to cover, took notes, made cue cards and practised and practised the skills. I was hoping for a natural waterbirth at the birthing centre at Mullumbimby hospital and I achieved that after a 17 hour labour!! I truly believe I could not have done it without the skills from your book and understanding the physiology behing the "healthy pain" (this was one mantra i kept repeating the whole time). I definitely "matched the pain" with vocalising (and thought I had permanently damaged my voicebox in the process!!) and kept moving the whole labour. I had been trying to get my hands on some stress balls a few weeks before the birth but did not get any in time as my little girl came early - just before we headed to the hospital my husband grabbed 2 squash balls from our garage (i didn't even think he had been listening to me talk about the different skills I was going to use!) and I squeezed and banged these for much of the labour. I just felt so in control and the midwives said i was amazing - they were stunned that I only said once during the whole labour "I don't think i can do this" (which i felt after 4 hours of pushing!) before I was back in "the zone". I had so much confidence that I could do it but was also open minded about the possibility that things could turn out differently (the birth stories of the women in the book helped me come to terms with that possibility). You do such an important and wonderful job and I am very emotional writing this as I feel that even though I have never met you, you played a major role in helping me achieve the birth that I so wanted. You will touch so many lives with that book and I recommend it to every friend who is pregnant.

Thank you again.

Emma Waters (and Mali Jeanne born 22/5/10)

Birth Story 10

Dear Juju,

I went to your birth skills class on April 19 and May 3 and gave birth to my daughter on Saturday 3 July. I just wanted to let you know how amazing my birth was and how much your book and class helped me handle what ended up being a short but extremely intense labour. It also absolutely empowered my husband, he was so amazing during the birth, using all the techniques he learned from your book, instead of just standing around feeling helpless and not knowing what to do, which is what he was like for our first baby.

I had a 3.5 hr labour which went directly from nothing to full established labour in about 20 minutes after having a show at 9 am and my waters breaking about 30 seconds later. I used breathing for about the first 30 minutes and then went straight to the stress balls when it became obvious this baby was well and truly on her way. On the way to the hospital I banged the stress balls yelling "red, red, red" at the top of my voice, and also in the hospital foyer, which certainly got me alot of attention, as my husband parked the car.

In the labour ward, I panted to the midwife, "I've done juju's birth skills class" in between contractions and she seemed to know exactly what that meant. The stress balls were my lifesaver - they helped me control my breathing and kept me focused and in control through extremely intense 40 second contractions, 2 minutes apart. I also used sound, using a loud "ahhhhhhhh - aaaahhhhhhh" (almost singing, nothing like an out of control scream) that got louder and louder as the contractions reached their peak and then softer as the contractions eased. My hubby yelled "Dilation-Rotation-Descent" and "Good Pain, Healthy Pain" and "Use the adrenalin" and that really helped alot, once again helping me to stay focused. He also called out the stress ball colour when I couldn't talk anymore, while I bashed them so hard I am surprised they didn't burst (I guess they don't call them stress balls for nothing).

I stayed upright throughout the labour, kneeling over a bean bag, relaxing completely in the breaks, the whole time keeping my body semi-upright.

My daughter came at 12.25 pm with two almightly pushing contractions.

The photo attached is me seconds after birth, just before I delivered the placenta - you can see from my face what an amazing empowering experience I found it, so different to my first birth where I really felt completely out of control.

So I am well and truly a Juju sucess story. Thank you for teaching me what I needed to know to have a natural active EMPOWERED birth experience!!



Birth Story 11

hi Juju,

Just a quick email to thank you for allowing me to participate in your classes, the skills you taught me allowed us to succeed with my VBAC and have a wondefull and empowering birth experience!!

My 4yr daughter Lily Rose was born 6.5wks prem weighing just 1.4kgs via emergency ceasar in what was the most stressfull and petrifying experience of my life, i had absolutely no control over the situation ( my placenta had died and i was told by the fetal maternal team that my child had a better chance out than in!) and didn't get to hold her for 24hrs after the surgery as she was whisked away to the NICU and i spent the night in cardiac after a vasa vagel episode left my RHR at 31 for 6hrs. We had 5wks in hospital with Lily initially and i suffered postnatal depression requiring therapy. I had lost all my confidence and had become this anxious nervous stranger....a far cry from my usual outgoing happy energetic self!!

It took 3 yrs for Lily's health problems to settle down and for us to consider trying for another child, we are both fit and fell pregnant very quickly and this time round i decided i was not going to be the victim and was going to do all i could to make this experience different. I was classified as high risk and under the care of Prof Jonathan Morris so our health and wellbeing was covered, i started swimming 3 times a week very early on to keep myself fit and my core strong and all i had to do was deal with the birthing process as it was still my area of weakness.

I was reccommended to you from my mothers group and although my chances of a vaginal delivery were minimised due to my previous ceasar i couldn't wait to do your Birth Skiills course and a friend lent me your book. I came home from each session feeling so confident and immediately started coaching Kev,my husband, on his role in my active birth..i wanted yelling and noise and figured as a Clearance Diver he was the perfect person for the job.

I ended up having a heathly pregnancy and went 8 days over when we decided to break my waters, things started slowly but progressed very quickly and i went from 5 to 10cms dialated in 40mins in what felt like one long contraction, up to that point i was handling the pain with the balls, counting and stomping but i'll be honest and tell you that once things sped up i completely lost my focus and was asking for the ceasar...but then my husband stepped up and started counting loudly in my ear and became my voice. He kept counting and telling me it was all healthy pain and working pain was annoying the crap out of me with his persistance (and i knew where i wanted to shove his healthy pain!!) but my anger towards Kev managed to sway my focus away from the worst pain imaginable and we were able to continue as a team and deliver our son vaginally (and i held him for almost an hr before they even weighed him!!!)

Kai Troy Grinham was born 16.6.10 at 3.53pm weighing 3.85kgs. 52cms long with a 37cm head.

I am still on a high and this time round i am confident and calm and feel i can handle anything! And to top it off Kai is a very chilled out little person who sleeps like a dream!

Warm Regards,

Lisa and Kev

Birth Story 12

Dear Juju,

I have been meaning to write to you for the last two months and just interrupted my house cleaning to sit down and do it – otherwise I figure it will never happen!

I just wanted to thank you so much for your Birth Skills book. A number of my friends had recommended it to me before the birth of our daughter on June 24th. One friend even said that one of the stupidest things you could do before giving birth was to be told about your book and then not read it. Another friend said that during her first birth she had found the experience out of her control with no idea of what was going on – after reading your book her second birth was a very positive experience, she had more idea of what was happening and the baby did not have to be suctioned at the end.

I read your book and highlighted sections for my husband to read. I really appreciated how balanced you are around intervention if required etc and in the first few chapters where you talk about the physiology of pain and the fact that it is possible to have control – I have to tell you that I had a little cry as I read those bits (just because I was so relieved that it seemed possible to manage what can seem like an overwhelming situation).

Funny when I mentioned to people at work that I was reading your book and the strategies you recommend many of them gave that little knowing smile – you know the ‘oh she thinks she will be able to control the situation – but she will find our soon enough!’. Strange how us women are each other’s worst enemies sometimes.

I was induced at 39 weeks due to placental in deficiency (on the day that Australia got their first female prime minister – so I must say for the first little while all of that drama happening on the TV provided an excellent distraction). I had been 2cm dilated for about a week and the doctor had expected me to go into labour on my own, but she was not going to budge on her own. I was induced at 7am and contractions started soon after. They counted labour from 11.30am. Initially I used movement and the massage tool but soon moved to using the stress balls. Those stress balls currently are still sitting pride of place on the dressing table in our bedroom. One of them is totally split at the seams and they serve as a little reminder to me of the hard work I put in that day with the help of my husband! I banged them together through the contraction concentrating on having the blue sections together and saying the word ‘blue’ over in my head. My husband was excellent and had retained everything from your book – he made sure he knew what I was doing and kept me on track. I can’t remember what time it was but I was 8cm dilated around 1pm and that was when I used the gas (thank goodness for the gas), as transition was inevitably full on and many times I felt like I was going to lose it. The thing that got me through was the use of mantras and concentrating on saying the same thing over and over again. As for pushing – well my husband said he could see me very obviously using the ‘coffee plunger’ technique and I consciously relaxed through my shoulder many times during it. I was amazed at how your techniques just kept coming back into my head even during the most intense parts of it. Our daughter Sibylla was born at 2.30pm, I did have to have an episiotomy but only a few stitches in the end.

The midwives told me that they were so happy to see a good natural birth experience as the majority of women who go to Figtree Private go because they can elect to have an epidural. They also said that most people start on the gas at around 4cm so for me to wait until I was 8cm was excellent. The thing was it wasn’t until that point that I actually even thought of using the gas and I know that is because I was using your techniques. The other thing that the midwife mentioned was that because I was such a good pusher the doctor did not have to suction her out , as it almost got to that point because I had started to haemorrhage. Once again your techniques in action!

So the girls at work had to take their smug smiles back!! I can honestly say that the whole experience was overwhelming positive and my husband even said how he had expected it to be quite traumatic but it had not been at all. Not that I am saying it was a breeze and there was a point there where I thought ‘why didn’t I have that epidural!’, but definitely it was what I learnt in your book that pulled me back and kept me in control and made Sibylla’s birth such a positive experience for myself and Tim.

I have been telling everyone about your book and honestly Juju I cannot speak more highly of it. Thank you so much. I am sure you get a lot of women telling you how much they appreciate it, but I really wanted to let you know myself how important it has been to us.

With Thanks,

Lena, Tim & Sibylla