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I moved to Canada when I was 20 weeks pregnant with our first child. It was both daunting and exciting this wasn't a planned pregnancy and I was getting to grips with the Canadian ‘system’

As a former midwife I was mortified and resistant to discover that all the midwifery offices were fully booked and I would have to go to an obstetric-led maternity clinic and give birth in a hospital under the care of an obstetrician.


At 38 weeks pregnant, on a wintery evening the phone rang: “Hi, this is Melissa from the Calgary Midwives Collective. We wondered if you would like to join us for your care?” I almost burst into tears (and again now reading this back)

“YES” I replied. Within a few days we were all booked in for a home water birth! My pregnancy had been uncomplicated I had felt energised and was excited about giving birth, so this was the icing on the cake. One of our midwifery team, Hilary, was British too, so that was a nice comfort in a foreign land!


40 weeks came and went and like any first-time mother I was anxious to meet our baby. I was fortunate that a generally relaxed and positive outlook coupled with with background knowledge meant that I was going in to birth relatively fearlessly. Yes, I knew the potential complications, or possible risks; but I wasn’t worried, I was excited to experience birth.

At 40+4 I had my second ‘sweep’. I had asked my middle sister to come up from the States to be extra Birth Support for my husband and we all went to bed as normal after watching TV. Just as I was drifting off to sleep I felt a ‘pop’ and a gush I had heard people talk of this internal pop, but never fully grasped what they meant It’s a strange feeling, literally like a balloon gently popping inside of you. Within 15 minutes I had vomited the paracetamol I had taken prophylactically thinking it would be ‘aaaages’ until things got going, and the contractions were coming thick and fast. I waited until I’d hit the ‘requisite’ 2 hours of contractions, coming every 5 minutes and lasting 1-2- minutes. They were intense and I was beginning to feel overwhelmed. Luckily Melissa lived a few streets away and although I think she, and I fully expected her to come, assess, and go home again; when she arrived 30 minutes later she advised us I was in transition and that we should fill the birthing pool ASAP. This was all relayed to me at a later stage as she was the calmest, quietest, most respectful soul, and I was deep in the meditative fog of labour so my memory of birth is hazy at best.

I remember it feeling strange that I was walking myself through labour from a midwife’s point of view. I recognised the shift from contractive to expulsive contractions, and was acutely aware of the baby’s descent into my birth canal. It was a very cool, empowering feeling. So when I informed Melissa that the baby was coming, only a short while after her arrival, she was surprised to find I was fully dilated and the baby was advancing rapidly. I got into the birth pool before it was ready, but I didn’t care. I knew everything was going as it should be. 15 minutes later, and to everyone’s surprise, our beautiful baby girl was born after only a few pushes. Hilary, our second midwife arrived as Melissa was examining the placenta and we were engrossed in this tiny human that had arrived like a tour de force! It was an incredible birth. At only 4.5 hours from start to finish, we were all a little shell shocked!

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