I'm an SMC (Solo Mother by Choice) & since my doula was going to be my primary support person during labour I felt like it was extra important that I find the right one. I chatted over the phone & interviewed several doulas in my search for the right pregnancy & birth support & as soon as I began chatting with Melissa I knew I she had the experience & the gentle, judgemental-less & professional manner that I needed.
During our antenatal sessions Melissa was very committed to getting to know me, how I operated, my relationship to pain, etc. This all came about through casual conversation & I didn't feel like there was a set criteria we had to follow yet I had a good sense after each session that we'd covered everything. Melissa was very influential in helping me put my birth plan together, suggesting things that might be good to think about and, being the client-centred practitioner that she is, only offered further information (always evidence based) if it was something that was important to me.
My waters broke at 39 weeks & my contractions didn't start naturally. I was very sad as I didn't feel ready to say goodbye to my pregnancy & I was terrified of being induced. I waited 2 days to go into labour naturally then consented to an induction, the night before of which Melissa helped me realise & accept that at that point, in her words, 'we needed to roll with plan B'. I don't know specifically what it was about that conversation with Melissa I had a huge emotional shift immediately afterwards & I went from being very sad & scared to 'I'm ready! Let's have a baby'.
Most of my labour is a blur to me however there are a handful of crystal clear memories of Melissa saying exactly what I needed to hear when I was really struggling. One of my favourite parts of my birth story is when I felt like I was giving up & Melissa reminding me of a previous conversation we'd had about the mind trying to take over & I remember thinking 'I'm terrified but this person knows what's happening to my body & I trust her'. I believe this 'pep talk' was crucial in having an intervention-free labour as it helped me to surrender & allow my body to open. I truly believe I would have had an epidural if it weren't for Melissa. But I simply can't leave out the best part - seconds before my baby was born I heard Melissa's voice saying 'Athena reach down & catch your baby'. Melissa knew how important it was for me to catch my baby & made sure I experienced this, which is without a doubt the best moment of my life!
I think the extra skills Melissa possesses due to her her background in counselling and social work are vital to the way in which she supports women. Now after having birthed & said goodbye to Melissa as my doula I still have no idea of her opinions on any interventions or own attitude towards labour. She was casual & friendly to the point that I felt like I had a friend as my main support person, & not only a doula, yet extremely professional to the point that she never crossed the boundary of exposing her own agenda and this, I believe, is essential in feeling unconditionally supported. Since birthing my daughter I have said several times that choosing Melissa to support me is the 2nd best decision I've ever made, after having my baby of course. Now I know that it wasn't just hormones talking, she truly was fantastic. I have no doubt I will request her support if & when I have a 2nd child, whether I'm partnered or not. Thanks so much Melissa, I really couldn't have done it without you.
Strength and Surrender...
I was suffering from a challenging pregnancy due to Hyperemesis Gravidarum which left me feeling very emotionally vulnerable and in need of a support person to help build back my confidence and give me the best possible chance of having a natural birth and smooth start to becoming a mum. I knew from the very first moment that we spoke on the phone that Melissa was everything I needed! Through her wonderful nurturing care over the course of my pregnancy, I gained trust in myself once again and welcomed what was to come.
The wealth of knowledge Melissa shared with my husband and I during our prenatal classes was second to none. We also learned relaxing techniques from our hypnobirthing sessions which we used extensively during labour as I ended up labouring at home for over a week! I can honestly say that my courage during this time would have failed had it not been for all the preparation work we did together, but also the continuous support Melissa provided during this time. I can't recall the number of times we spoke on the phone or the amount of texts as there were so many! Melissa gave me the strength to keep going, and her invaluable advice helped me limit medical intervention on numerous occasions allowing me the greatest chance to birth the way I wanted to. In the end my body and my son had other plans and he came into the world via emergency c-section. Having Melissa there by my side, talking me through what was happening kept me calm and positive about my birth experience. Melissa I could not have done it without you, thank you!
I highly recommend Melissa, she is warm, compassionate and knowledgeable, a truly gifted birth support partner.
Izabela, mum of Noah.
Hi Melissa, I can't believe our little guy is 3 months old already! It seems like only yesterday that we called you on that cold, wet, wintry night to let you know that our little boy was getting ready to make his grand entrance into the world. I just wanted to thank you again for all your support during my pregnancy and the birth of our son. Although it was not the birth we had anticipated, you were an amazing source of strength and support for me and I honestly don't know how I would've got through it without you. I can't tell you how happy I am that we chose to have a doula for our birth and how grateful we are that we found you! Thank you. Xx ~ Fiona
First time parents...
Dear Melissa, As we reflect on the arrival of our beautiful baby boy, Luke; we are just in awe of how amazing birth is. We are so thankful for how well things went during pregnancy, labour and after the birth. We want to acknowledge you and your support as a VERY special and important part of such a precious experience. You truly have been blessed with a unique gift. Thank you so much for all your support and advice before, during and after our labour. Your encouragement and reassurance and hands on support were so empowering and gave me/us peace and strength to get through the most exciting yet intense experience of our lives. We think you have chosen and extremely taxing yet rewarding vocation... and we are very thankful you did. May you and your family be richly blessed as you continue to bless and support other families in the future.
Lots and lots of love and thanks Heather and Steve
When plans change...
My story is relevant if you are having a beautiful home birth....or a hospital birth. Melissa and I connected from afar while I was in Turkey planning my birth back home. I felt isolated so Melissa's support helped at a time I was aware of the major event coming. After alot of research, I decided on a home water birth and Melissa was in tune wıth the plans for a natural, calm labour. When we met, I knew her relaxed, connected, wise nature would really guide me at that special time.
All my committed plans for a gorgeous water birth with my strong team at home changed when my baby was diagnosed with a hole in his diaphragm impacting on his lungs. Melissa helped me reframe my concept of a hospital birth as I grieved over the home bırth which I felt was imperative for the emotional well-being of Coconut (baby's nickname). She also supported me so that I shifted my vision of how traumatic I thought it would be when they removed Coconut from me at the time I dearly wanted to give him sooo much skin to skin love. Although his diagnosis was very serious and some doctors warned of potential dıre consequences, I chose to remain as relaxed and optimistic as possible; Melissa consistently checked in and made sure I was on track wıth the new plans for this birth.
Melissa was my birth partner the night Coconut chose to arrive. My fiance was stuck in Turkey as his visa for Oz had not been approved. She constantly reassured me, reminding me she was available any time I needed her. Thank goodness she sensed my labour was further along than I was expressing and met me at the hospital soon after I arrived. Most first time Mums get to hospital well before birth but I laboured at home and ın the car...I didn't know when the contractions meant Coconut was really coming until the final two hours...not that my experience was painless at all.
I was able to have a natural birth without any medical intervention. I regret there wasn't time to really experience Melissa's arsenal of pain relieving support - Josh was born within an hour of being at hospital. Melissa's role was to ensure I knew she was right there with me and I totally benefitted from her gentle negotiations with nurses and doctors to ensure my voice was heard. She stayed by my side for the manual placenta removal.
Melissa has been a constant support and provided so much relevant, important information and resources. I've really benefitted from her insights on pain relief in labour, the best way to assess potential medical intervention, options for the placenta and more. Even today she visited and gave great assistance with breast feeding. Josh is finally home and each day he shows us how strong and healthy he is.
Love Tanya and Josh XX
From a dad...
My wife suggested using a doula for the birth of our of our first baby. I felt unsure of this at first; with midwives there, a doula would surely take away the role of 'support person' that I had pinned for myself. We decided to meet with Melissa and after the first meeting I said we 'needed' her to be at the birth. She made it really clear that she was there to support the process, to help my wife through the different stages, but also help guide me to support my wife in the best possible way.
Before the birth we had a really good chance to get to know Melissa and she was able to get a great understanding of what we were both like and what was important to us. I found her extremely perceptive, honest and understanding. She shared experiences but never once tried to influence our choices. She was just happy to support our decisions and offer suggestions when we asked.
My wife went in to labour on a Friday night - Melissa was the first person called and she was in the car and at our house in a short time. She was able to normalise everything and suggest when it might be time to get the midwives around. As well as giving lots of practical suggestions to my wife through the birth (working alongside and with the midwives) - she also helped take the pressure off me in running the household, but keeping me completely invovled as the primary support person.
We became pregnant with our second child and of course we asked Melissa along again. This time her support was even more valuable as I had a 2 year old that I needed to keep happy.
Thanks Melissa for all your support. (From D)
After many years trying to conceive, finally our wish came true in August of 2010. I had recently been on a personal journey which led me down a path of surrender, allowing my mind and body to let go of the past and the hustle and bustle that was my normal everyday life. It’s amazing what a little bit of personal growth and development can do!
It was at the time of conception that I knew my husband and I needed to have a Doula present for our journey ahead. This was the most profound and awaited event that we would have together, and I wanted to be sure we both experienced a positive and informative journey.
After meeting a number of Doulas (just to make sure we had the right person for our journey) we decided that Melissa was the one for us. From our first meeting she was warm, compassionate, caring and had a wealth of information for us. In particular she was non-judgemental about our wish to have a Lotus Birth.
We decided to birth in a hospital environment and having Melissa with us was integral in the outcome of the birth of Luella. Having Melissa present (and I mean it – as a true Doula, she never left my side !!!) alleviated the stress that my husband would have endured had he been alone with me during the labour. Although it was not a long labour, I was very emotional and quite vocal which I know would have been frightening for my husband. He was able to ask questions, get ideas on how to comfort me, and take a break when he needed to without feeling that he was leaving me on my own. (Hospital midwives were very busy and left us on our own for long periods of time).
The encouragement Melissa showed me was instrumental in the natural (only 2 panadeine) delivery of our beautiful baby. Her warm touch, soft encouragement, and her being 100% present for us was what allowed me to be the birthing woman that I think most women want to be. It allowed my husband and me to take the journey with the knowledge and support that is truly needed for such a life changing event.
Thankyou Melissa. You are an inspiration!
With love, Felicity, Rob and baby Luella
My VBAC journey...
"My journey to homebirth after caesarean was a steep learning curve for me and something that changed the way I view birth and my body forever. I went from thinking my body was broken after assisted conception, a long posterior intervention riddled labour in hospital and inevitable caesarean section to KNOWING how amazing my body really is and that birth is wonderful and powerful. *I* am powerful! Since the lack of support, emotional as well as practical had such a negative impact on my hospital labour (for my traumatised husband as well), I sought the services of a doula to complement the independent midwives I had chosen for my home birth. I was committed to having my baby naturally and vaginally at home, and having a cheer squad along for the ride was integral. What I did not realise when I engaged Melissa’s services as a student doula was how much more I would be getting! Melissa was kind, companionate, flexible, committed and extremely knowledgeable. She lent me books that broadened my mind, DVD’s that showed just how ecstatic birth COULD be, massaged my feet while answering my endless questions, and kept telling me just how amazing I was when she was called to my side in the early hours of that October morn. Thank you Melissa, for helping me find the birthing goddess within. For helping me to experience a truly ecstatic birth. For being ‘with woman’ and giving my son the welcome into the world that he naturally deserved. You have forever changed us. xx"
"I was fortunate to have Melissa as my doula at the birth of my first baby, she was calm, caring and a great source of support. During my pregnancy Melissa played a large role in developing my confidence in my body's ability to give birth. She spent time with my partner and myself and provided as much information as we asked for. During the labour Melissa made me feel strong, confident, reassured and capable. She worked collaboratively with our midwives and knew when to offer my husband and I support. I had a long labour, and Melissa stayed with us during the early stages of labour right through until the baby arrived. After our baby was born Melissa was fantastic at providing breastfeeding support and came to our home for several postnatal visits. We will definitely use Melissa again when we decide to have a second baby". (Love C)
What couples say about Melissa's Childbirth Education Workshops...
"The Fourth Trimester was a really comfortable place to revisit some earlier concepts (as a mum of an almost 2 year old), and learn some new and up to date, relevant, evidence based information from two passionate, professional, warm and welcoming facilitators. There was plenty of space for questions, comments and sharing in an information and comfortable, but extremely well managed venue. The information was practical, interesting, reassuring and thought provoking. It definitely supported my desire to further understand newborns, and new mums, and I left the workshop with more underderstanding of what to expect in the first 3 months, with an increased feeling on confidence to navigate thru this critical time of change" ~ Fiona
"Just a quick message to say a big THANK YOU to you both!! Through my pregnancy I have attended the prenatal yoga classes and also the birth class on 12th July - the skills I picked from both of you were so useful in the active birth of my beautiful boy Samuel on Wednesday morning!! I was able to breath, squat, use different positions and just feel in control through the labour and birth. My husband was also able to stand up for me when the nurses kept trying to get me on my back on the bed. So thank you both for passing on your knowledge - what an empowering feeling I got from birthing my boy... A totally different experience to my epidural and forceps delivered first baby. I shall definitely be recommending you guys to any mummas-to-be"!! Cheers, Sharon Bennett
"I wanted to thank you both for such a great session, Birthing Class on Sat 23rd November. My husband and I were so grateful to have learnt some great things which have not been mentioned in the books and classes we have read and attended. Learning about the role of hormones and brain activity has been instrumental in our preparation! I really wanted to leave you this feedback to know we, as a team, are ready to experience the birth of our first child. I spoke to a midwife at Casey hsoptial just this week about how great I feel due to my prenatal yoga class and birthing class offerd at Yoga Plus! She was impressed with my positive state of mind! Can't thank you both enough for the session and we look forward in sharing our news very soon!' Regards, Samantha & Mathew Jinnette"
"Such a positive and informative session. There were so many things covered which I had not read about or been told about through the hospital classes. I'm really looking forward to my first birthing experience" ~ Samantha
“I learnt so much in this class. Before walking in I thought I was well informed. How little I knew” ~ Ron
“The class was very informative and has given me the knowledge and a sense of readiness to complete my pregnancy and give birth. The tools that we have been given are useful for both myself and my husband and I believe will be the difference between an ‘enjoyable’ and ‘painful’ labour” ~ Jill
Was great to be shown some hands on techniques and natural ways to assist my partner and I to have a natural birth (prepare for a natural birth) the best way we can! Thank you" ~ Jenelle