Birth Stories

Some of our clients graciously permit us to post their birth stories. Grab a cup of tea or coffee, sit back, and enjoy!

birth stories

Birth of Lieke

Dirkie and Dewald’s HypnoBirthing 2VBAC at Home

Our birth story:
Lieke Pienaar – Messenger of God – Angel
Isaiah 43:1
We found out at the beginning of lockdown (unexpectedly, because I was tandem nursing my toddlers) that we were expecting our third baby. It was a difficult time, emotionally, but I knew she was God sent, and I started praying extremely hard about this birth, as after my last VBAC, I was terrified of going through that kind of pain again. I read the book Supernatural Childbirth, and spent more time praying and meditating about this pregnancy and birth. I have never been afraid of pain before, and knew now that birth was not supposed to be the painful, unpleasant experience that has been engraved in our minds.
Halfway through my pregnancy, I learnt that my birth with Thea was never as unmedicated as I believed, and I immediately moved healthcare providers, as I realised that I had previously been kept safe by God, under some seriously disturbing circumstances. I was referred to Sr Sarah and Sr Elrika from Great Expectations Midwives, who instantly encouraged a homebirth. Knowing they had amazing backup at Genesis Maternity Clinic, and after seeing their calm nature and hearing the words from them, “The less we do, the better,” I chose them.
I knew Aliki would be my doula again; she has just always been amazing and supportive, and has become my friend.
Tamryn contacted me about doing a HypnoBirthing course, and I was equipped with so much information and tools to use for our birthing day. I continued to practise what I had learnt until the end. My mind and body were ready and well prepared.
I had lots of practice surges in my third trimester, and from 39 weeks I started getting some stronger surges during the night, which would fade during the day. Every day I hoped that they would stay and things would get going, but I remained patient with my body. I started losing pieces of my uterine seal the Sunday. On Monday, 30 November, at 40w4d, I woke up at 07:00 after a quiet, restful night. I felt the faintest surge start, but I didn’t want to get excited in case they faded again. I did some exercises to help baby into a good position and hopped on the birth ball. I saw my midwife at 09:30 for our weekly check-up and mentioned the surges to her. We had not done a single internal and had no clue if I was dilated or not, and we would keep it that way. Sarah said she would probably see me later, but as we left and by the time we got home, the surges had completely faded.
Around lunchtime, I hopped on the ball a little, got myself into a relaxed state and decided to lie down and rest with the children, at which point I got woken up by a surge. I jumped up and started cleaning a little, breathing through them easily using the HypnoBirthing breathing techniques during and between surges. I tried to time them, but they just weren’t forming a pattern, and sometimes I was even doubtful anything was happening.
By 16:00 I bathed the kids, and after trying to do too much, I could feel myself spinning out of control – pain starting – and at that point I asked my husband to come home. I updated my midwife, she told me to let her know when I needed her. I also asked my doula and photographer to come and help me, but it was as if my body realised that I was struggling, and the surges eased off. They were never the same intensity throughout. My surges were 8–10 minutes apart, and as soon as I managed to breathe and calm myself down, I would notice pressure (I had to focus), but not pain.
By 17:00 my husband had arrived, and shortly after him my doula, Aliki, also arrived. The kids were playing with daddy. I put some pretty lights on and we had music playing in the background. The surges were coming; I could now focus again and breathed through them. Aliki applied pressure to my back and suggested some positions to help my body and baby, which we kept up throughout. I reminded myself that what I was feeling was pressure and not pain. In between surges, I did some more breathing, we laughed and chatted, and I was still often doubting if I was actually in labour.
The children were coming in and out of the room, playing with the kittens, showing me things, hubby checked in often with hugs and kisses while also busy with the house and children. I used some visualisation techniques from HypnoBirthing and kept myself in a happy space, as I had realised from what I had learnt in my preparation, and now throughout the day, how important the role of oxytocin was in this labour process.
Aliki kept timing surges; they got to about 2–4 minutes apart, intensity and length still varying – my body was being so good to me. At around 18:30 she suggested we phone the midwife, Sarah, to ask her to come closer. Sarah wanted us to wait a little longer because I was still very calm. I told Aliki she would miss it, so she screengrabbed an image of the surge times and sent it to Sarah. Sarah let us know at 19:40 that she and a back-up midwife were on their way. We had also let my mom and sister know that they should come. In this time, I had completely lost sense of time. I started feeling warm, so I got into a shower to cool off and to ease some of the pressure on my back. I really needed the birth pool that my midwife had to bring, but there was no sign of her.
As I got out of the shower, the surges kept coming every 2–4 minutes, but I just couldn’t find a comfortable position anymore. Aliki reminded me to keep to my HypnoBirthing breathing and how much of a difference it was making, and I realised this, so I shifted my focus again. I started feeling tired, and after finding positions on the floor too uncomfortable, I went to lie on my side, with a pillow between my legs, on the bed. My husband realised I was starting to struggle, so he climbed in behind me and started doing light-touch massage and putting pressure on my back while I continued to breathe.
The midwives arrived at 20:26 and started unpacking the bath. At that point, I heard a popping sound and felt the warm sensation of my waters releasing where I lay. I told the midwife that baby was coming as I felt the urge to push and there was just no time to set up and get into the bath. They monitored baby’s heartbeat; she was really happy.
The children entered the room with all the commotion and then everyone stepped back and held my birth space.
Two long, strong surges came with the urge to push and bear down. I could bear down a couple of times during the surge, together with the birth breathing I had learnt in the HypnoBirthing. I vocalised and used my breath to help me and reminded myself not to hold back, as at this stage it would increase the pain and delay my baby moving down. No one coached my pushing. The burning sensation of her head only lasted a few seconds. My husband told me that her head was out, I felt so accomplished. Her head came out and her shoulder hit me on the perineum on the way. I had another powerful surge, bearing down a few more times with each birth breath, and out slipped the perfect little baby girl body, which the midwife handed to me right away. 
She was born about 15 min after the midwives arrived, at 20:39. I was so happy and relieved, talking to baby and saying, “hi.”
My husband and I just admired this little vernix-covered baby body as she took her first breaths and cried. The other children came closer to welcome our new little person.
Lieke – Angel.
I birthed the placenta calmly with help from the midwife; no one rushed us.
The midwives checked me – no tearing or stitches. No internals. No complications. (There was meconium in my waters and we had a nuchal cord.)
Completely unmedicated. Undisturbed.
In our own home.
I was disappointed about the birth pool, but God had a plan and prevented all interventions. It was completely out of my control, but I felt safe and I kept my focus on my body and birthing my baby.
It was an amazing journey, experience and birth. A birth so unpredictable, but it was absolutely incredible and what God had intended for our birth to be.
We are truly blessed. ❤️ 
Photography by the extremely talented Sam Schröder Photography.


Birth of Akira-May

Mari-Luise’s Empowering Birth – Despite The Odds (premature vaginal birth in hospital) 

I had just finished my last day of work to start my maternity leave. My husband and I went out for dinner to celebrate! 🎊 We were so excited that our little girl was coming soon – but we had no idea exactly how soon she’d be coming … Our due date was 28 February 2022, so we knew we had 3-4 weeks before she was coming … or so we thought.

At 4am on the 28th of January, I suddenly woke up soaking wet. I walked to the bathroom and had gushes of water coming out of me!

We were caught off guard completely. Suddenly, panic sunk in. None of the hospital bags are packed, none of the baby clothes washed. I frantically packed while fussing with my husband to wake up. I tried to practice relaxation techniques, but I was simply too excited.

I was admitted into hospital; however, I had not yet gone into active labor. We both got our Covid tests done and until I was in active labor hubby could only see me during visiting hours. I was placed in a room with another lady who had her baby at 27 weeks. As I lay in my bed waiting for my body, I could not block out the conversation the other mom was having with her counsellor about premature babies.

Her stories and words terrified me – created a whole storm in my mind, as my baby girl was also going to be born prematurely. I suddenly started crying and could no longer be in the room, so I went for a walk. My husband reassured me our baby girl would be okay; she was in good hands.

My doctor had given me steroid injections to help with our baby girl’s lungs so she would most likely not need NICU. 

I was placed on a drip – 2 bags 3 times a day of antibiotics to prevent infection due to my water breaking without active labour setting in yet. I had blood tests done daily to monitor for infections.

Overall, I am petrified of needles, and all the prodding and pricking gave me massive anxiety … and my labour was not progressing. They scheduled an induction for the 1st of Feb in case I still hadn’t gone into active labor by then. I felt hopeless, like everything had gone wrong and my body was not capable of doing what it’s naturally supposed to do. I was also overly emotional that I had to sleep away from my husband for the first time in years. On top of that, I was having heavy menstrual cramps that, according to the machines, were not contractions – but caused massive discomfort and prevented me from sleeping. They checked and I was 1cm dilated. Because of possibility of infection, they refused to check again until I thought I was in active labour. So, I was left with no way of knowing if I was making progress but rather told (since the machines picked up no contractions) that I was not progressing .

I woke up the next morning crying. And then I heard my doctor’s calm voice in the passage … Suddenly I felt a wave of calm come over me. I knew my doctor and I trusted him. Finally, someone who can tell me what is going on. He explained my options – he explained the cramping is probably the start of labour and the machines don’t always pick things up accurately. He assured me our baby would have the best chances with the antibiotics and steroid injections. And, most of all, he told me I have time. He scheduled my induction for the 1st of Feb at midnight. That would be 2 days from when he told me. so I suddenly felt relieved – I had time for my body to figure this out.

It was at that moment I realised I had forgotten everything I learned in my HypnoBirthing classes. I was so stressed and tense that I was stopping my labour from progressing. So, I decided to go into a calm state. I had essential oils out on cotton pads. Listened to my birthing affirmations, ate my dates, drank my concentrated raspberry leaf tea. I even took a nice warm bath. At this point, I had a room all to myself as the nurses wanted me to be alone in case I went into labour.
My husband came to visit me and that evening we watched our team play. Stormers vs Sharks. I told myself if we tie, I’m having this baby before Monday! 🤣 And boom! Our team tied. I was so ecstatic and happy for our team. I was laughing and felt so much joy the nurses looked at me and told me I don’t look like someone who’s going into labour .

The next morning, I woke up with intense pain after a wonderful night of sleep. As soon as they hooked me up to the machines, the pain disappeared! 🤣 Freaking every time!!! The machines always said nothing was happening. The nurses laughed about how crazy it was.

My husband visited me in the morning. After he left, the cramping came back . Eventually, I saw I had the purple line. I sat in the tub, pouring warm water over my tummy to ease the cramps, and I thought to myself ,”I’m going to have this baby now, I better get out the tub”.
This is my first baby, so I examined my thoughts with great skepticism and cast them aside.

After a few more intense cramps, I eventually called the nurse, as my thoughts were alarming me that the baby was coming, and I couldn’t put them aside. My husband was on his way for visiting time.

Finally, after 3 days, the nurse agreed to check how far dilated I was 4 to 5cm!!! Yes!!!!! Active labour time!!! I overheard the other nurse shocked that I was 4-5cm, as none of them thought my cramps were contractions since the machines didn’t pick them up.

I was moved to a big private room and told I’d be there until I gave birth and my hubby was allowed to be with me.

That’s when things got real. I spent most of my active labour in the bath tub with my husband pouring water over my back and tickling my back between surges. The surges intensified, and eventually I started to feel nauseous, yelling loud at my hubby to pass me the bin. The nurses heard me shouting and came rushing in. They asked how I was doing, and I looked up at her from the tub and said, “I really want to push”. I asked her how much longer I’d be like this and they told me they expected the baby to arrive around 12am. 6 HOURS 😕 I looked at my husband and said, “Baby, I’m not going to make it 6 more hours like this, give me the pain medication.” I had gone 3 days without taking any form of pain relief. The nurse said she needed to call my doctor about the pain meds. She asked me to get out the tub so they could strap me to the monitor and make sure baby is okay. They also wanted to check what was going on.

I kept having intense surges (well, what felt like period pains – nothing like how contractions were explained to me; the hardening of my tummy didn’t hurt, it was painless) and begged her to not make me sit, as sitting made it worse. She pleaded with me that she needed to make sure the baby was okay, so I forced myself to get out the tub and sit back on the bed. I faintly said, “I really want to push.” She realised the baby was coming and told me not to push (they were waiting for doctor to arrive, as our baby girl was prem and there could be complications) but I could not help it 🤣 My body pushed despite me trying not to, and it felt so good to push and so painful to hold back. On the second push, our little girl’s head popped out and the 3rd push she was born. This all took 10 minutes from when I asked her if I could have pain medication! I didn’t even get a second chance to ask for it before my little girl was born. They expected me to be in active labour all night. In total, my active labour lasted 2 hours! They were very surprised and scurrying to get everything ready! 🤣 She barely had all the linen savers put out before catching our little girl. Akira-May had the cord wrapped around her neck twice and wrapped around her body like rope tying her together. The nurse calmly unwrapped the cord and handed her over to me. It was at this point that I saw my husband had recorded the entire thing! 🤣 In my mind I was screaming, but as per reality (I watched the video) I was soft, calm, and focused on breathing. I hardly made any noise at all. Definitely nothing like the screaming in the movies!

The moment I laid eyes on my little girl, I had a huge smile on my face, calling, “My baby girl, my little girl, mommy is here.” It was unreal. She was healthy, breathing fine on her own and no need for NICU. My doctor was in the parking lot, rushing to the ward – that’s how fast it all happened. The moment she was unraveled from the cord she started to cry, and a second later, when she was placed on my chest, she settled. She knew who I was. She knew she was safe.

My doctor told me the moment the nurses asked him about the pain medication, he knew baby was about to come. He was surprised – “Mari, asking for pain meds??? Never … Baby must be coming!” 🤣

I got everything I wanted. 100% natural labour and birth. No pain medication whatsoever, not even a Panado. Our baby girl was 100% healthy and could breathe on her own. It was amazing. I was stunned at how tiny our baby girl was, how thin the umbilical cord looked and how tiny my placenta was. She is this perfect tiny angel 👼.

I had no need for an episiotomy. No tearing – thanks to perennial massage 💆‍♀️.

I was left to labour how I wished and with my husband there to help me. It was everything I dreamed of.

62 hours of labour and 2 hours of active labour.

After she was born, I had so much energy and I was just so happy. HypnoBirthing classes helped tons. My husband was my rock through all of it.

I cannot say thank you enough to my amazing OB-GYN Dr E Majachani – he made sure our baby girl had the best chances of survival. He respected my wishes for no pain medication and for a natural birth. He did everything in his power to make sure my birth plan was taken into account – how amazing is that, and in a hospital setting! The nurses at Sunninghill Hospital went above and beyond; they were so caring, so calm, and allowed me to have my privacy as I requested in my birth plan to have minimal nurse interference during my active labour.

Overall, I had the most incredible, empowering birth experience I could have ever asked for, and in a hospital setting. To me, it seems the high quality of medical care in South Africa shone through. Most of the nurses are also trained midwives, so for those ladies afraid of hospitals because of the lack of midwife care, this hospital was (for me) the best combination between a hospital setting and using a midwife to birth at home.

I am ever grateful to my doctor, the nurses and my husband for creating an experience I will never forget. A positive, wonderful memory of birthing our little girl into this world. And I am ever grateful to God for making sure that this day all came together perfectly and that our daughter and I received the best care.

This is proof, ladies, that even if things don’t go according to plan, you can still have an empowering birth ❤️ Don’t give up on yourself. You can do this.

Birth of Thando

Lerato and Dudu’s Empowering Birth (Caesarean following transfer from birth house)

After months of preparation and anticipation and a couple of false alarms, it was a day past my due date, and pregnancy had reached the peak of discomfort – so I was more than ready to meet my baby.
It was a lazy Sunday and, for most of the day, I was still trying to be sure I was really in labour. With our doula (Tamryn), midwife and birth photographer on standby, bags packed by the door, my husband was more convinced than me that this was it. After spending the early evening watching a horror movie (my favourite movie genre) and taking a warm bath to calm the contractions, we were about to nap and rest before the big moment. As soon as we settled in bed, I told him, “It’s go-time!”
We called our birthing team as we headed out the door and drove to the birth house. Upon arrival, the midwife examined me and said that I was 8cm dilated. I was ecstatic! I had done most of the labouring at home as planned, I still felt good and headed for the final stretch. I had my husband, midwife, doula and birth photographer there and everything was going amazingly well. I soon got into the bath (a very welcome relief) and before long it was time to push. I was well on the road to my wonderful water birth.
But this is when things took an unexpected turn. I tried to push my baby out but to no avail. In between contractions baby was monitored and she was happy and doing well, but mommy was becoming more and more exhausted. My husband and I ultimately decided to go to the hospital due to prolonged stage 2 labour.
At 07:18 on Monday morning, my beautiful baby girl was born via C-section. It was the happiest day of my life, but I felt guilty and like I had somewhat failed because I felt like I didn’t have the birth experience I had hoped for. After a few days of reflection, my guilt turned into gratitude. My daughter’s birth ended in an unexpected way, but it was still beautiful. She was never in distress, had an APGAR score of 9 at birth, and I recovered very well from surgery. I am grateful that I had access to medical intervention when I needed it, my husband got to be a big part of the labour process, we captured a lot of beautiful moments of my labour, and it all resulted in a happy and healthy baby.
Looking back and recalling how I went through labour and had an unplanned C-section at the end of it, the experience makes me a badass mommy, if nothing else, and I am extremely proud of myself for it. I now realise that bringing life into the world is a multi-faceted process that involves more than just the moment a baby enters the world, but also consists of everything that happens before and after that exquisite moment.
Being a HypnoBirthing mother empowered me to be in control of my birthing experience. I can now say I had a C-section because my husband and I decided that was the best course of action for us and nobody pressured us into any decision. Since my baby’s birth, she has been a very calm and happy baby (even doctors say so) and I believe our HypnoBirthing experience has contributed greatly to this. We had minor breastfeeding hiccups in the beginning, which Tamryn helped us through by referring me to a lactation consultation. I fortunately only needed one consultation and have been successfully breastfeeding since.
HypnoBirthing has been a gamechanger for me before, during, and after birth. It has helped me trust my instincts to know what’s best for my baby. I would highly recommend it and definitely do it again.
Photography by the extremely talented Sam Schröder Photography.

Birth of Malik

Jennifer and Chan’s HypnoBirthing Water Birth at Genesis Maternity Clinic

39 weeks – 3.53 kg 

We found Shakti Births purely by accident; we had a rough idea about having a natural birth and that HypnoBirthing would assist with the experience. Must I say, my husband and I have no regrets having Tamryn, as she smoothed out all of our uncertainty and answered all of our questions without us even asking them. She provided us with great information and education is definitely everything. This eased these first-time parents greatly. 

Leading up to the birth, I experienced practice surges quite regularly. It was only on the day that I started experiencing some slight discomfort with each surge during lunch, still thinking they were practice surges. I still breathed through them like how we trained.

Around 6pm, I noticed some light blood after going to the bathroom – I didn’t think too much of it as I was still thinking I’m going through practice surges. Because my husband and I worked from home, we were working into the late nights (Yes! I was still working during my surges, come to think of it). I called it a night around 11:45pm, showered and went to bed. I was then woken up from an intense surge at 3am, and it finally hit me that this is the real deal. I proceeded to do my HypnoBirthing breathing techniques during and between surges, on the toilet, in the bathroom;  just to give my husband extra time to sleep in before what lay ahead. Timing between the surges was roughly 4-5 minutes. It was not until 3:30am that I realised we hadn’t packed our things into the car yet and, knowing it would take a bit of time, I woke Chan up to let him know what was happening and that we should get going. 

We arrived at Genesis at 4am and were greeted by one of the midwives on duty, Sr Dwan. She checked me and I was already 5cm dilated. I didn’t realise I was so far along already and was delighted to hear from the midwife that this birthing process may be a quick one. My surges became long and intense, making me want to push and bear down, and this was when the rest of the birth show released. Soon after settling into our room, the birthing tub was ready for me. Thankfully it wasn’t long before I got into the pool, which felt AMAZING and was a big relief. My husband joined me in the tub – this gave me much comfort.

HypnoBirthing doesn’t block out the pain – I was very aware that I was in a lot of discomfort. But it teaches you to deal with it – I kept telling myself that I am going to meet my baby soon and I would count down the contractions whilst using my breathing techniques, which really worked. Throughout the birthing experience, my husband read positive affirmations and applied counterpressure to my hips and back (I had an anterior placenta, so a lot of the pressure was here). Because the surges started to become regular to every minute, my husband’s arms eventually gave in, so he quickly switched to using his knees to apply the counterpressure. This was my saving grace, as it was more effective than using the hands. The next hour was a blur and I even felt sleepy. We switched between multiple birthing positions every few surges, which made me progress faster than others.

At 7:25am, we welcomed baby Malik into the world.

I completely put down my experience and birth being how I’d hoped because of all the practice and preparation we did, with prenatal yoga, HypnoBirthing and the guidance of our wonderful midwife, Dwan.  She even stayed with us instead of going off when her shift ended, so as to see our birth through. The result was a positive experience, attitude and overall mood in bringing our baby home.

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