In today’s episode I interview Amy Osmanhodzic, a hypnobirthing practitioner, birth doula and mother of four. You can listen to Amy’s firth three birth stories in episode 11 but today she chats about her fourth and final birth - a water birth in the presence of her older children. After moving from Perth to Byron Bay and settling into their new community, Amy started working in a law firm in Lismore. Within weeks she found out she was pregnant with Daisy and while she has always wanted four children, she was shocked at first. “It took us a good few weeks to process and chat through it as it really was quite unexpected but we got there and when it came time to tell the kids, we took them to our eight-week ultrasound to find out why I’d been feeling so sick,” says Amy. The pregnancy was smooth and uneventful even though everyday life for Amy, Kamal and the kids was busy as they started a new pizza business. Amy had always planned to have homebirths and this time was no different, in fact she was adamant that her final birth experience would be a calm and beautiful homebirth; a significant ending to this stage of her life. At 14weeks she enlisted the support of her chosen midwife, Bronwyn from Lismore Birth House, and immediately knew that she was the right caregiver. Towards the end of her pregnancy Amy met with Alex from Zandra Warland Photograph and planned to have her birth filmed. “It’s always so daunting sharing a personal birthing moment on social media but I want to continue to spread the message that birth can be beautiful and that it’s a normal and natural experience,” she says. Her first three labours started in her 39th week of pregnancy and Daisy’s was much the same. One hour after the last pizza was served on a Friday night, Amy started to experience period pain and gentle surges that were about 10 minutes apart and lasting for 20 seconds (Hypnobirth refers to contractions as surges and Amy uses this term throughout our interview). At around midnight she got into bed but couldn’t sleep till 4am as the surges, while sporadic, were strong enough to keep her awake. She slept soundly for a few hours in the early morning and when she woke to announce that she was in labour the surges petered out almost immediately. “I knew it was because everyone was there and that it was crazy and loud. Thankfully mum and dad picked up on that and took the kids out of the house.” She used the time when she was alone in the house to set up her birth space. She cleaned and organised, put on her birth playlist and lit some candles. “I went back within myself and then the surges ramped up, coming every 7minutes and lasting for 30secs. I knew that having the big kids present at the birth was a priority for me but it did change the experience a lot. I learnt how connected the birth environment is to the process of labour,” she says. When the kids returned her labour stalled again so after a big cry, Kamal took her for a drive and, with the help of lemon tarts from her favourite cafe, labour got well underway. They returned home and called their photographer and, within the hour, her birth team was in the home and supporting her with their gentle presence. Amy has never had a vaginal examination in any of her pregnancies or births and while she admits that they’re sometimes necessary, she has also witnessed the loss of confidence when a labouring woman is told that she’s not as far along as she presumed. “Midwives know what stage you’re at just by looking at you and I know that if I can’t sit still in a surge and that if I’m making noise then I’m close to 9-10cm,” she says. With the kids settled in bed and her birth team beside her, Amy got in the birth pool. Soon after, Kamal joined her and, as she had done in all her labours, she used touch and kissing to stimulate oxytocin and bring her baby earthside. “It comes naturally, we’re quite affectionate and there’s nothing like bringing a baby into the world to make your love even stronger.” While her surges were strong Amy noticed that they were only lasting about 20 seconds. Instead of worrying about it, she felt the instinctual urge to change position so she flipped over onto her back and leaned against the side of the pool. This immediately changed everything; she experienced an almighty contraction, her waters broke, she yelled for her parents to get the sleeping children and they all made it back to the pool to see Daisy crowning. The cord was wrapped around her neck a few times and it didn’t have the strongest pulse so the midwife needed to rub Daisy to get her breathing on her own. Amy stayed in the pool to feed her and forty minutes later delivered the placenta naturally before she settled onto the couch and into newborn bliss.