Zoe Naylor always assumed the “best” way to give birth was in a private hospital under the care of an obstetrician. When the time came for her to deliver her first baby, Zoe had what is medically considered a “normal” vaginal birth and, apart from some tearing, she felt physically fine. “[But] I definitely wasn’t emotionally okay,” she says. While acknowledging that first-time motherhood is hard for everyone, she believes her birth experience contributed to her having elements of postnatal depression.
When Zoe, an actor and producer, was due to have her second baby, she decided to learn more about her birth options. This time around, she chose to have the same midwife help her through the entire journey from pregnancy to birth, and through those turbulent weeks after delivery.
Zoe’s second labour was physically more difficult than her first but emotionally, the experience was like chalk and cheese. “I emerged from that birth totally transformed in a way that I never knew was possible,” she says.
Zoe credits this to having the same person care for her throughout. Having someone who knew her so well guiding her through labour helped her feel calm and in control.
Zoe was so rocked by her experience she decided to join forces with midwife Jo Hunter and doula and birth photographer Jerusha Sutton to create Birth Time, a film and movement designed to bring change to birth experiences in the developed world.
One of the main aims of Birth Time is to spark conversations between women about their birth options and experiences. The team also wanted to push for a system that ensures women emerge from birth feeling physically well, along with emotionally safe.
The trio believes one key way of achieving that is by empowering women to have one midwife care for them throughout pregnancy and birth.
“We know that women who experience a traumatic birth are more likely to experience postnatal depression,” Hunter says. That’s particularly concerning as Hunter notes that one Australian woman in three describes childbirth as traumatic.
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