Australian College of Midwifery presentation

Australian College of Midwifery presentation

I was invited to give a presentation at the Australian College of Midwifery’s annual conference this weekend, with my beautiful and inspiring friend, Jenni Doust who is the manager of Hunter Midwifery Group Practice and Belmont Midwives. Unfortunately I already had women booked in to give birth at the time when the conference was scheduled, so I was unable to travel at that time. Jen suggested that I video my part of the presentation and she would present in person for us both. As it turned out, I was actually photographing a beautiful homebirth at the very moment when Jen was presenting. It was the type of undisturbed birth that we both believe in to the depths of our beings, so I was very much with her in spirit.

This is my part of our presentation, which also includes a slideshow that celebrates 16 years of Belmont Midwifery Group Practice providing the most beautiful care for Hunter women.

The Unassisted Homebirth Of Brooks

AP3A9617On a warm February morning, I received a message from Gini to say that the day had finally arrived. Her baby had chosen his birthday, albeit a little later than she was expecting. The midwife was on her way but driving from a distance away meant that she wouldn’t arrive for at least an hour and a half. I had a feeling that this birth might be quick and I wanted to ensure Gini felt supported so didn’t waste any time getting out the door.
I crept into the house to find Eli racing around getting the birth pool filled and Gini expertly working through her surges. Thankfully Eli’s Mum was also on hand -as Gini’s waters broke it was becoming increasingly evident that this baby would be arriving before the midwife. I tossed the camera aside to bucket hot water into the birth pool and stopped to hold Gini’s hand when I noticed her unattended for a moment. Her baby’s crowning head was in her other hand so I just smiled and reminded her to keep her baby under the water as it emerged. But she knew what to do anyway, her body knew, it was already happening.
With no time to check camera settings or warm towels or make any kind of plan, everyone stepped into their instinctual roles and baby Brooks swam into the hands of his family.
When I started out in this work, my whole purpose was to show the world what birth could look like. What birth CAN look like! Gini showed us all that morning not just what birth can look like, but also the postpartum moments when birth is undisturbed. Take it in. K. X

The Birth Of Hugh

AP3A5487It’s such an honour to be asked to photograph a birth, but to be welcomed back a second and third time by a family truly humbles me.
The birth of Mel & Ryan’s son Max was one of my first ever births, followed a couple of years later with the arrival of his sister Eadie. Late last year we got to do it all over again when they welcomed the final piece of their family, sweet baby Hugh.
I fell in love with their family right from the start (they are spectacularly good people) and also with the way Mel approaches birth, with complete confidence and excitement. This most recent birth was no different. They arrived at hospital with Mel already 9cm dilated and almost ready to meet her baby. Ryan had ‘caught’ the previous two babes and was eagerly ready to do the same again. Mel laboured beautifully with Ryan utterly attentive as always, until the time arrived for him to kiss her one last time before carrying out this monumental moment of fatherhood.
I don’t have the words to adequately thank this family for sharing their most important days with me but the thought of Max, Eadie and Hugh being able to see the way they were welcomed into this world brings me endless joy. XO

The Birth Of Wilfred

AP3A7068The birth of Wilfred was long awaited. For a mother who had been vomiting for 41 weeks it was more awaited than most. It was ironic then, that after all the waiting, he arrived so suddenly that I would have missed it had it not been for the intuition of a wise midwife who knew to call me after only 20 minutes of labour.
Jasmin was the picture of an empowered woman, labouring on her own terms to bring her 4.25kg boy Earthside. She was strong and determined and stunningly beautiful, but it was the way she kissed her child with such a fierce and immediate love that truly took my breath away.
Peter brought to the room his humour and relaxed nature and Ash brought her beautifully gentle midwifery care. And afterwards, Henry and Sadie brought the laughter.
Eternal thanks Shumack family for gifting me such a day. XO

The Birth of Pippa

AP3A5078The birth of Pippa was a journey. A much longer and harder journey than the birth of Jaime’s last baby who arrived unexpectedly on the bathroom floor at home. This time Jaime’s waters suddenly broke but no labour followed. Little Pippa was in a posterior position and after the decision was eventually made to start the induction process, Jaime endured a difficult and relentless back labour. She showed such INCREDIBLE strength and endurance, while being supported so attentively by her husband Trev and best friend Bec. The intensity of the labour was only matched by the overwhelming joy that followed Pippa’s arrival. Those precious little people are always worth it in the end.
Huge thanks to Jaime and Trev for allowing me to share their most sacred moments with all of you. X

The Homebirth Of Theodore

AP3A3447If you have followed me for a few years you would likely recall the beautiful homebirth of Quinn. He was born in a birth pool on the hottest day of 2017 with his two big brothers watching on.
On a cool night in September, Quinn took his place with his two big brothers beside the birth pool to welcome their newest brother, Theodore! Andy was the perfect support person again, knowing exactly what his wife needed at any given moment and Akushla birthed this baby just as spectacularly as she had the others, trusting unequivocally in her body and her birth team. I missed my own daughter’s birthday cake to attend Theo’s birth but felt utterly honoured to share a birthing day with this incredible woman and mother.
Endless thanks to Andy & Kush for allowing me to share their moments with all of you, and also to the beautiful Belmont Midwives who continue to inspire me with their undivided care of women and families. X

The Birth of Noah

AP3A1377Some months back I was asked by one of our beautiful Belmont midwives if I would be available to photograph the birth of her Grandchild. Of course I said yes!
Emily had a couple of frustrating days of early labour before she decided the time had come to head to the Belmont Birth Centre. We had the birth centre to ourselves, and a few glorious hours settling into the environment ensued during the afternoon. Emily’s little boy Finn had come along to welcome his brother into the world and he was free to run around and play whilst his Mum prepared herself for birth, both mentally and physically.
Emily was shown the gentlest of undivided care by her midwife Jen, intuitively knowing exactly what she needed at any given moment. After the sun had long gone down and the world was quiet, with big brother Finn watching on, baby Noah arrived into the waiting hands of his Mother and Grandmother. My deepest desire is for every mother to feel this level of care in her birth, regardless of how or where it takes place.
K. x

The Birth of Finnick

LS6A3830Finnick was born on a Sunday in the late afternoon. It had been a journey to get to that moment. A little over one year earlier his parents were in the Delivery Suite facing the toughest moment of their lives, when his brother Link was born still, at 35 weeks gestation. The sheer resilience and mateship I witnessed from Laura and James over the weekend when Finnick was born, was breathtaking. I can’t thank them enough for allowing me to share their precious day with all of you. You are a supermum Laura, I’ll never stop saying it. X

The Boxing Day Birth Of Ruby

LS6A3872The call from Mel came just as I was sipping a cup of tea following Boxing Day lunch. Baby Ruby had decided to let us all enjoy a relaxing Christmas, but today was to be the day!
The last time I was in a birth suite with Mel and Ben, it was to photograph their first baby Zoe arrive in a natural breech delivery. This second birth was no less inspiring, with Mel calmly working her way through the surges and trusting the ability of her body. Ruby didn’t keep us waiting long, soon enough we were drinking tea (again) and eating Christmas cupcakes with brand new wide eyes looking up at us. What a perfect day to be born!
I have so much gratitude to Mel and Ben for once again showing such generosity and openness with their precious images. And also to Nettie, one of the greatest midwives I’ve ever encountered. X

The Births of 2018

LS6A1732I feel like I struggle to explain sometimes just how mind blowingly incredible my job is. I get to see brand new people arriving into our world! People who I imagine I might run into years from now, and I might tell them that I watched them take their first breath. I see partners in times of such vulnerability and completely overwhelmed by the instinct to protect their loves. And I get to see women in the most magnificent moment of their lives, beaming with absolute radiance! I am privileged and honoured.
Here is my attempt to show you some of what I saw in 2018, complete with snippets of video so you can really feel it. To the medical professionals who I work alongside (often in the middle of the night), thankyou for always making space for me and making me feel like a valued member of the birth team. To my clients from this year, and every year before, I am forever indebted to you for gifting me such a spectacular career. K. XO

The gentle homebirth of Gabrielle.

The gentle homebirth of Gabrielle.

I was supposed to photograph the birth of Sarah and Oceane’s first baby back in 2015, but little Dominique had other plans. While his mamas were trying to ascertain whether Sarah was actually in established labour, Dominique suddenly arrived before they even had time to call me! So when they again booked me to photograph their second baby’s birth, I was so excited to get a second chance at being with this beautiful family on such a special day.

Oceane was still a couple of weeks from her due date when her waters broke whilst they were out for breakfast. I had plenty of notice this time as Oce still had a full day and night of work to do before they would be meeting their baby. I arrived in the evening to find one of the quietest and calmest birth spaces I’ve ever worked in. Oce is a midwife so she understood the importance of minimal light (hence no flash on my camera), quiet voices and gentle music.

Whilst Dominique slept the night away in his bedroom accompanied by Oceane’s mum, the three of us had a blissful few hours together before the midwives arrived. Watching the way these two mothers worked together through labour was like watching a stunning film play before my eyes. They moved together so effortlessly, rocking through the surges. There was occasional excited chatter about the long awaited day having finally arrived, and how they would soon be parents of two!

It was almost dawn when baby Gabrielle came swimming into her mother’s waiting hands. A perfect baby girl! It may have been the squeals of excitement in the room, but Oceane’s mum awoke and came rushing out to kiss her daughter with pride, and Sarah carried Dominique out to meet his baby sister. The porridge was soon bubbling away on the stove while the midwives finished their paperwork, and the sun rose on a new day and a new life.

When starting out in the journey that is birth, all that can really be hoped for is a healthy baby and a healthy mother, but sometimes you also get the perfect birth experience. The smile on Oceane’s face following birth was one of pure empowerment. It was the smile of  a mother basking in the knowledge that her maternal strength had carried her through and given her little daughter the gentle birth they had dreamed of.

K. X


The footling breech homebirth of Nylah


LS6A1954WMSkye was just a few weeks from her due date when her beloved father died. She planned to say her goodbyes and work through her overwhelming grief, before tackling the next challenge that lay before her of bringing her baby into the world. But on the day of her Dad’s funeral as she walked into the service, she felt her waters break.

Determined to give her Dad the farewell he deserved, Skye wasn’t going to leave before saying goodbye. Someone passed her a disposable nappy which she sat on throughout the lengthy service, with amniotic fluid gushing with every surge. She gave her heartfelt eulogy from her seat, explaining to the congregation why she couldn’t stand up. And at the conclusion of the service as her family and friends gathered to support one another, Skye, her husband Matt, youngest daughter Tahlei and best friend Kat quickly headed for home. It was at this moment when I first spoke to Skye. I could hear the urgency in her voice as she explained that things were moving along quickly and she wasn’t overly confident about making the 30 minute drive home. A contraction hit while we were speaking and I could hear the heaviness in her breathing, and by the time the contraction passed I was walking out my front door.

When Skye and her family arrived at home, the first midwife Dan, was already in the driveway unpacking his car. I arrived very soon after, followed by the second midwife Maria. We were all moving quickly, there was no time for chats and introductions as all the equipment was carried in and the birth pool filled. Skye was beautifully managing the surges that were rhythmically rolling in.

When the pool was barely half full, Skye asked if she could get in. Dan agreed but suggested that Matt should hop in also to help raise the water level. She knew her baby was just minutes away but it was on the next contraction when things suddenly became interesting. Skye reached down expecting to feel her baby’s head emerging but instead she felt two tiny feet. Dan began talking Skye through this unexpected breech delivery of her baby and Skye became very quiet and calm. It felt as if the whole world stopped in that moment. Dan assured Skye that she would be able to deliver her baby and all would be well but Skye didn’t need convincing. She just confidently replied “I know Dan, I’ll push her out”.

Within 40 minutes of Skye arriving home that day, her baby was in her arms. Nylah arrived quietly and gently, with nobody handling her until she was completely free. She lay against her mother’s breast, gazing at the world around her and her adoring family. They knew why she had chosen that day to join them, she was their sunshine on an otherwise rainy day. Skye’s mother and older daughter Caelan arrived soon after and the emotion of the day was palpable.

Sometimes mothers tell me they are scared of the uncertainty of birth. Unsure if they will be able to manage the intensity of it. I try with all my might to convince them of the strength within them, a superhuman strength they have not yet encountered in their life. To see a woman on the most difficult day of her life, draw on this strength left me speechless.

It was greatness. X