Manawatu Home Birth Association proudly presents the Manawatu screening of the Microbirth Movie on Saturday 1 November 2014, 7-9.30pm, Community Birth Services, Westside Chambers, Level 2, 151 The Square, Palmerston North.  There will be supper and discussion after the movie if you would like to stay on, all sectors of the community are welcomed to the screening – hope to see you there.

Entry will be $5 on the night, please bring cash as there will be no eftpos facilities on the night.

Manawatu Home Birth Association's photo.



‘Do you love helping women and their families make informed decisions about birthing options?
Enjoy promoting home birth as a safe and empowering birth choice? 
Believe more women would birth at home if they had the confidence and were supported with the right information?
If that is you and you’re local, join the Manawatu Home Birth Association committee and make it happen by being involved in monthly get-togethers and regular events throughout the year. 
Do something that makes a real difference in peoples’ lives!’


The topic for this month’s get-together is ‘Waterbirth’.  There are lots of great reasons to labour and/or birth in water, so come along and share your tips/experiences and knowledge or get some ideas if you are planning a water birth.  It’s happening next Wednesday 9 July, 1.30-3pm at CBS, Westside Chambers, Level 2, 151 The Square, Palmerston North.  There will be a FREE afternoon tea, information, lending library. 

Your questions answered and birth stories

Our next get-together on 11 June 10.30am-midday focuses on your questions about home birth.

How safe is having your baby at home?

What about all the mess?

What if something goes wrong?

Why would someone want to have a home birth any way, when there are hospitals for that?

How will I cope without an epigural/gas etc at home?

All these questions can be answered and there will be an opportunity to hear birth stories from home birth mums.

Remember there will also be a free morning tea, free library and sibling kits, birthing pools and stools available for hire.  So come along and get rid of some of that baggage!

May get-together: ‘Posterior/transverse/oblique/breech babies and home birth’

Fetal positions

Our next get-together is 14 May 2014, 1.30-3pm and we meet at Community Birth Services, Westside Chambers, Level 2, 151 The Square, Palmerston North, NZ.  The topic for this month discusses posterior, transverse, oblique and breech babies, how they can be encouraged into a good birth position and the implications for home birth in each of these situations.

Note we have changed the hours for get-togethers to 1.30-3pm for afternoon get-togethers (May, July, Sept, Nov) and 10.30am-12 for morning get-togethers (June, Aug, Oct).

We offer free afternoon tea as well as a library full of books, magazines, DVDs, stickers etc.  We also provide support, information, sibling kits, stools and hire out birthing pools and califonts for heating water.

Perineum Care – What saved your bum?



Our next Manawatu Home Birth Association get together takes place on Wednesday 8 May 2013, 1.30 – 4pm, Community Birth Services, Level 2 Westside Chambers, 151 The Square, Palmerston North.

We’ve decided to run a series of discussion topics over the next few months, similar to the way our sister group ‘Nurtured Babies: Naturally’ runs, on a variety of home birthing topics.  This month we concentrate on perineum care.  We’ve all heard about the ‘ring of fire’ and similar comparisons but does it have to be this way?  Is there anything we can do to make birthing easier, less painful and stressful/traumatic for mum and baby as he/she comes earthside?  Find out at our next get together!

We welcome anyone interested in home birthing and of course this discussion topic will be useful for those who wish to birth in hospital too.  We have a free library of books and DVDs, information, sibling kits, birthing stools and birthing pools for hire and like-minded people happy to chat about birthing and parenting.

The determined homebirth of Aiden Jared McMillan

Aiden at birth

By Kate McArthur

I didn’t know how I would ever write or tell Aiden’s birth story and suddenly here it is.  Aiden is my third and last baby.  My first, Zyanya, was born in water at home more than 12 years ago and Arran was born at home in the water two years ago.  I knew Aiden was large and going to be a big baby.  Carrying him was heavy and despite numerous visits to the chiropractor I was limping around in the final weeks.  I had been expecting him to arrive well before his due date (I am impatient by nature) and I had very persistent and often painful contractions from 35 weeks, some of which were strong enough to take my breath away.

Preparing for birth I listened to a lot of hypnobirthing and relaxation recordings, talked about birth often with my friend Aileen and read heaps of birth stories.  There were two things I wanted from this birth: to let baby come in his/her own time and to avoid any synthetic oxytocin (which I had post-partum with my earlier births for various reasons).  So although I was super impatient for Aiden to be on the outside, I held off asking my midwife to do any stretch and sweeps, I avoided anything that might start birth early, and I waited.

A week before Aiden was due my two year old came down with the flu, shortly afterwards my husband also succumbed, great.  A few days into that week I was ready to go, baby was in a great position, I had a slight show, I was excited and apart from back ache I felt well and vibrant.  The birth pool was set up, meals frozen, everything was ready.  However, the day before Aiden’s ‘due date’, I awoke with the flu.  My midwife would be off-duty for the coming weekend and I was not in any condition to give birth.  So I took to the couch and talked quietly to baby about waiting a few days until I was well again.  My Mum arrived from out of town and started to dispense hot lemon and honey drinks.  I assured my midwife that baby would not come while I felt so awful (yeah right!) and wished her a restful weekend off.

That Saturday morning at 3am I awoke to a popping sensation.  Was that my waters breaking?  No, no, no, not now please.  I lay there ignoring it, thinking either something will happen or I’ll go back to sleep.  All the time I was hoping I was wrong and that something else had woken me.  After half an hour I felt a weird sensation low in my belly and decided the time had come to sit up and work out if I was going into labour.  Waters leaking, damn I’m not ready, I’m still sick!  I woke Rob and let him know it was time to start filling the pool (which he had done at high-speed for Arran’s quick birth).

I got up, grabbed a nappy to catch the leaks and started to ready things, waking Mum on my way past her room, lighting candles, turning on the heater in the bedroom.  I called my friend and birth supporter Aileen and asked her to come, texted another friend Inez and allowed my excitement to build as the contractions began.  As with my last labour they were short and frequent right from the beginning but mild enough to keep moving around and to drink a hot lemon and honey.  Soon I needed to focus a little more for each wave so I put a hypnobirthing track on my MP3 and started relaxing and breathing into each one.  Not long after that I hit the floor on hands and knees as the waves quickly increased in intensity.  I found pushing my face into a soft pillow and vocalising through each wave helped.  Between waves I gave instructions for setting up my floor ‘nest’ next to the pool, asked someone to wake my daughter and asked the on-call midwife to come (I hadn’t seen or spoken to her in the two years since she was second midwife at Arran’s homebirth).

When Aileen arrived I was smiling and breathing through the contractions, it was a relief to have her by my side as I was starting to feel a little lonely labouring alone while the others filled the pool and I needed help to hold the hot pack on my belly through each wave.  This labour felt very different from both previous births, this time I had no back pain at all and sacral acupressure, which I had found so helpful before, made no difference to my comfort level.  At some stage my friend Inez and the midwife both arrived, she set up her gear and started to check my vitals, the interruption to my focus was irritating.  After a while things started to get tough, the waves were overwhelming me and I asked when the pool would be ready.  It had been ready for a while (thanks to conscientious husband) so I moved into it over the space of two strong contractions that were starting to feel ‘pushy’ at the end of each.

I looked forward to the wonderful relief of the warm water and weightlessness but as soon as I was in the pool I felt totally alone and desperately wanted someone to hold me.  Thinking Rob wouldn’t want to get in the pool with me I didn’t ask him (he later told me he would have).  Instead Aileen applied some counter pressure to my hips and for the next while she and Inez interchangeably squeezed my hips together through each wave to help open my pelvis.  Just having them touch me and wash water over my lower back was a comfort but nothing seemed to touch the pain.  The plan was to breathe baby down, as I had with Arran, so I breathed through the contractions as well as I could.  But, the urge to physically push with each one was strong and after breathing through I don’t know how many and not feeling any descent of baby I let Aileen know that I was going to have to push this baby out.  And so the hard work of pushing began and it felt just like pushing with my first.  During this time the second (back-up) midwife, who I had never met, arrived.

First I pushed on my knees, leaning over the pool until my arms grew numb and then I tried sitting back in a squat with my back to the pool side.  When I moved into this position I felt baby moving around in my belly with little feet kicking me in the front and I asked baby out loud what it was up to?  But all of the pushing was to no avail, I felt like I was pushing against a wall.  I was frustrated, upset that I had to push and hold my breath which was the opposite of how I wanted things to be, really thirsty (although Zyanya was fabulous at getting water to me between pushes) and so tired from being ill.  During this time the midwife voiced her concerns that I wasn’t pushing hard enough or down into the right place.  Which to be honest made me really mad and if I could have easily reached her I may just have smacked her one (not a great frame of mind to be in for birth).  Having birthed two babies before I was pretty sure I knew where to push towards!  At some stage I replied “actually I AM pushing as hard as I f%#king can!”  Inez wrote down another frustrated comment I made “this better be a good baby!”  At Aileen’s suggestion we tried pushing with my feet braced against the pool holding a rolled up towel in a tug of war with Rob, and then my Mum.  The pool started to cool and then became over-full as Rob tried to get it hot enough again for baby.  There was a lot of bustling around to get this to happen; I found my concentration totally broken.  And still no movement down from baby.  But baby’s heart rate was strong and normal every time the midwife listened, so all was well, I just had to find my way to bring baby out.

Despite the good heart rate the midwife was more regularly voicing her concern (and what I read in her face was pure anxiety) about how long I had been pushing with no ‘progress’.  I examined myself and felt how far away baby’s head still was.  My frustration began to turn into an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness and confusion that I could not bring this baby out on my own.  This was a dark place for me in my head.  No rainbow-filled images of opening eyes or sensations of riding over waves in the ocean like previous labours.  The endorphins I felt before getting in the pool were gone and I was not in any way connected to the flow of this labour.  I felt lost and I felt a failure at this birth.  I was so tired, I wanted to give up; I wanted someone to rescue me.  At the same time the midwife was talking about transferal to hospital and frequently voicing her concerns about lack of progress.  If I could have physically handled the move to hospital I may just have packed up and gone: thinking this added to my feelings of failure.  Thankfully I did not voice any of these thoughts out-loud but they must have showed on my face when I looked to Aileen for help.  She kept reassuring me that everything was fine and I was doing well, but I had lost all confidence in myself.

Aileen asked what was going on for me and I cried that there was too much happening around me and I was worried about my son being frightened if he woke up alone at the other end of the house.  Aileen gently asked everyone to leave except Rob and we quietly pushed through a couple of contractions with just the three of us.  Mum and Zyanya went to wait in the next room for Arran to wake and the midwives and Inez went out to the kitchen.  After some quiet time the midwives were invited back in.  The peace helped ease my external worries but I was still getting nowhere with bringing baby down, despite being coached (ick!) to hold my breath and push by the midwife.  I started to feel my contractions weaken and shorten.  Time to get out of the pool (someone suggested it, maybe me? The midwife? Aileen?) and try to move around.  The midwife wanted to give me an exam to see if she could feel why baby wouldn’t descend.  When I tried moving onto my back for her I felt like I was going to die and told her in no uncertain terms that that position was not going to happen.  She seemed unwilling to try and examine me any other way so we carried on.

I laboured on my knees sitting up but still to no avail and now I was on land, unfamiliar birthing territory for me.  And again with the concern and transfer discussion from the midwife (Rob later told me that he blocked her out completely, if only I could have too).  Aileen suggested I try lying on my left side with a leg up.  She and Rob supported me on either side and the midwife held my leg.  I felt secure lodged between the three of them, the physical contact really helped.  I continued to push with everything I had, until I felt my lungs would burst and my eyes pop out.  Finally, after a little while, some movement!

Now I got really scared as this was no blissful or gentle opening of my pelvis as baby came through, this was raw and visceral and hurt like hell.  I backed off from the pain for a little while but soon came to the realisation that the only way to make it end was to go through it to the other side and it took me a while to find the courage to do that.  I started to hold my muscles taut between pushes to make sure baby didn’t slip back.  My strength was waning fast and I knew I had to bring this to an end soon.  Then baby began to crown and oh the burn!  I have never felt this before since I have always birthed in water.  I voiced my displeasure at the sensation (more swearing) and continued to push through the pain.  Then it became unbearable and the midwife was telling me to pant.  Confusion reigned and I didn’t know if baby’s head was out or what was happening and the pain was mind-numbing, everything seemed really loud and my blood was rushing in my ears.  Somewhere in all the confusion of the final pushes someone told me that baby was posterior (aha that would explain a lot!) and through the doorway Inez caught a glimpse of him ‘star-gazing’ as he appeared.  At 7:30 that morning I pushed baby out in a fluid filled rush along my leg.  The intense relief, it was over and a wet squalling baby was bundled onto my chest. Hearing the cries everyone rushed in from the next room, I was so relieved I forgot to see if baby was a boy or girl.  After being reminded I looked and found he was a boy, another beautiful boy for our family!

We shuffled over to the nest to get more comfortable and so everyone could move in for a cuddle.  His cord had stopped pulsing quickly so Rob and Arran cut it and I let the midwife know that I did not want any syntocinon unless I haemorrhaged and that the placenta would come in its own good time.  Now that baby was safely out and the stress of the birth was over for her she was happy for me to take my time.  To help the placenta along I blew in a bottle but that made no difference and I relaxed and decided just to wait. Despite the less than gentle birth and with a red welt across his forehead, a grazed cheek and a bruised-up misshapen little head, baby Aiden crawled up my chest and latched onto my breast like a pro, feeding immediately, which had never happened with either of my other babies. I was amazed and overjoyed that he was OK enough to do this and it really helped reduce the trauma I felt in the hours after birth.

Rob and the midwife checked and weighed Aiden; he was 10lbs 3oz (!) and perfect apart from some bruising.  No small wonder that it took some hard-out pushing and just the right position to bring him out.  I birthed the placenta after half an hour and was checked to find a surface tear that was left to heal without stitches.  Mum and Zyanya were disappointed that they had missed his birth; they cuddled Aiden while I ate and drank.  I talked to my lead midwife Julie on the phone and cried “that was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life!”  She told me I was Superwoman and that she was proud of me for birthing a great big posterior baby without any pain relief.  As she left the second midwife told me I had restored her faith in natural birth.

But it has taken me several weeks and a number of talks to Julie, Inez, Rob, and Aileen for me to feel like Superwoman.  When we were eventually tucked into our own bed and Arran left to go to Gran’s to play for the day, I felt relieved that my beautiful little boy and I were safe at home and that we hadn’t gone to hospital and been mangled by some suction-wielding obstetrician.  But I also felt an intense sadness that I hadn’t been able to have the birth I wanted and anger at the way the on-call midwife had introduced such anxiety and stress into my birth space.  Looking back at my notes there seems little for her to have been so stressed about, apart from one mention of ‘poor progress’, which made me mad when I read it.  My entire labour was only four hours long and both of our vitals were strong throughout.  So why did she want us in the hospital?  Checking on me later that afternoon she told me I was a very determined woman to birth a big posterior baby at home.  But to me my birth wasn’t abnormal or dangerous; it was just one of the many facets of birth that I had read so many stories of.  It was hard going, at times frustrating and painful, and yes; I had to be determined to fight against carers who weren’t on the same page as me when I was at my most vulnerable.  I was glad that this wasn’t my first time and that my supporters and I had an unwavering commitment to homebirth, otherwise our outcome may not have been as good.

The waves of oxytocin washed over me as I fed Aiden more and fell in love with him, this faded my memories of the pain and eased the physical side of the trauma.  Rob told me in bed that afternoon that he had always believed in me and knew that we were both fine and safe, that helped ease some of the emotional trauma, but the rest has taken me some weeks to work through.  So although I had a labour and birth that was not gentle, dark or quiet and although I had to push instead of breathe baby out, and despite a midwife who did not trust in my ability to birth, I can proudly say I birthed all of my children at home and we were safer and healthier for it.  I am especially grateful for the calm and reassurance Aileen brought to both Aiden and Arran’s births and the strong, quiet support of my husband.  Those who attend birthing women would do well to remember the lasting effect of the attitude and language that they bring into the birthing room.  To steal some words from Ina May Gaskin “If a women doesn’t look (or feel) like a goddess in birth then someone isn’t treating her right.’