Certified Doula, HypnoBirthing Educator & Birth Videographer
My positive birth story...
I had always wanted to experience a natural (unmedicated) birth. When I got pregnant with my first son, I thought I had done everything I needed to prepare for my epidural-free birth. However, when I felt those contractions for the first time, I lost myself completely to fear. Everything I learned in the hospital birth class seemed to be helpless, and there was nothing in that moment that could have kept me from begging for an epidural. (Don't let that scare you... I promise this is a positive birth story...)
Both of my sons (now 9 and 7 years old) had pretty text- book hospital births. I had gone into labor on my own and arrived to the hospital at 8cm. However, both births were fully augmented... meaning they broke my water, I had an epidural and then Pitocin. I was not allowed to eat or drink, and was tied to the hospital bed with IV's, pressure cuffs and constant fetal monitoring. When I was 10 cm, the doctor quickly announced it was time to push, and in doing so, I broke a bunch of blood vessels in my face as I 'purple pushed' my baby out. The umbilical cord was cut immediately, and baby was swept away to the warming table so the staff could perform their usual tests. 30 minutes seemed like eons, before I finally got to hold my baby. Those two births were not traumatic by any means, by they also didn't feel right.
The worse part was immediately after. They warn you that you may not bond with your baby right away, and they teach that it's normal. You learn all about postpartum 'blues', and are assured its also normal and will 'go away soon'. I just felt so incredibly disconnected.... from my body, from my experience and most certainly from my baby. The truth was, I was in debilitating emotional pain and was suffering from severe post partum depression. I just remember constantly crying thinking "this can't be normal?! There has to be a better way to treat this besides antidepressants" (which can be a hard decision to make if your breastfeeding).
You see, I am one of the lucky ones, who walked out of the hospital with no complications even though there was plenty of opportunity for them to arise. The only 'trauma' I experienced was not because of a painful, scary or emergency birth experience, but was from the inability to bond with my baby, and being told that my depression was 'normal' and to 'give it a few more weeks'. I was lucky to have found placenta encapsulation after the birth of my second, which was helpful with my postpartum period, but even then, I still struggled to bond with my baby. I still felt incredibly disconnected with my body and my experience and I knew deep down inside, this possibly can't be how birth (or postpartum) is supposed to be like.
When I found out I was pregnant with my third baby, I swore to myself this birth would be different. I had a friend who had a homebirth, and who eagerly shared her birth video to anyone who wanted to see it. She raved about the experience and just gushed over her new baby. That was the turning point for me. She helped me to find a midwife and doula, and before long, I was preparing for my very own home birth.
I am not exactly sure how I came across HypnoBirthing, but at some point, during my research for 'natural child birth', I remember being told that HypnoBirthing could offer a calm, peaceful, possibly even pain-free birth. Seeing as how my first two births were busy, rushed, loud & full of pain, fear and pain-meds.....I had a hard time believing these claims! I mean, I FELT those contractions when I was 8 and 9cm. I KNEW they were painful....so how can HypnoBirthing honestly say labor can be any other way? I wasn't going to argue, though I had my doubts. I had nothing to loose, and I was determined to have this homebirth regardless of what pain I was in. So I dove in.
I took an in-person HypnoBirthing class and submitted myself completely to the practice. I enveloped my life with child birth education by reading every book imaginable, and by joining Facebook groups with other like minded women. Because I was terrified of the reactions of friends and family... I didn't tell anyone of my plans.
When I went into labor, I hardly knew it. Nothing was 'painful' or regular but something inside me said it was time and to call my birth team. They all arrived about 30 minutes later and in 2 hours I had delivered my baby girl in my home.
My birth was so beautiful, so calm, and so incredibly peaceful. Most amazingly, it was, in fact, pain-free! It happened so quickly that once it was all over, my midwife and doula confessed they had a hard time knowing when I was even having contractions because I was so calm and quite. The best part is that my postpartum period was incredible. My body wasn't flooded with pain meds and Pitocin, so I was able to freely produce oxytocin that allowed me to not only bond with my baby, but actually be joyous and cheerful in my postpartum. It was absolutely life changing. And needless to say, I became a pretty hardcore believer in HypnoBirthing.... and in natural birth.
After my homebirth, I felt God was calling me to the birth world. I felt that I could help educate and support other women who also believed or wanted a chance at a better birth. I wanted to help be apart of the revolution of birth workers that are making it known that YOUR BIRTH MATTERS!
I have since had a second home homebirth where I welcomed my 4th baby (second daughter) Earthside.
I am a certified doula through Maternity Wise Institute, and am a certified HypnoBirthing educator with the HypnoBirthing Institute - The Marie Mongon Method. My training as a doula began with attending homebirths, and I did not start to work hospital births until I was well into my first year as a doula. My passion is to educate on childbirth, HypnoBirthing and postpartum care. I love being able to teach women how to advocate for themselves so they feel safe, supported and uninterrupted in their labor and birth. I am fully insured and legally set up to work as a doula in the State of Ohio.
my training & certifications...
"Oh my goodness! So you felt EVERYTHING?"
"Yes I did! That was the whole point! I felt how powerful my body can be. I felt my baby move through me into this world. I felt every hormone that gave me euphoria, that acted as natural pain killers, and that allowed me to love and bond with my baby once she was born. I felt a joy and inner strength that I never knew possible, and I would feel it all again in a heartbeat."
my life outside of birth work...
I have been a professional photographer for the past 8 years with an expertise in maternity and newborn portraits. The first year I spent studying as a photographer, I dedicated completely to learning and perfecting the art of working with newborn babies. Learning how to console babies with colic or reflux, mastering the craft of getting ANY baby to sleep, posing, and of course safety! As my reputation grew in the newborn community, I was getting more and more inquiries for maternity work. While I love working with newborns, I found a spark and a special love in working with maternity that just can't be explained. I was named Ohio's best maternity photographer three years in a row, and have been recognized internationally for my maternity portraits. I currently judge international photography competitions and teach photography courses on several international platforms. I still work full time as a photographer and am blessed that my work has grown to include births. I invite you to please visit my photography page at www.elliemelliephotography.com
I am based out of Medina, Ohio and live with my husband, our four kids and two dogs.