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Ann, Alex and baby Theodore November 2017

It didn’t go to plan but was still ideal!

I was pregnant with my first child and anxious to learn as much about the birth process and try to ensure a positive birth experience. I had followed the active birth method books, but felt it would be great (especially for my first labour) to have some additional support for my husband and myself. I did a lot of research on the doula’s available and Cheryl was the only doula I felt comfortable contacting. I wanted someone with a wealth of experience with births generally (I believe Cheryl is well over 1000 now) and the hospital system in particular. I wanted someone to be supportive and informative, and respect the labour I was comfortable with rather than forcing a particular perspective on me. Cheryl was all of these things and more.

In our meetings prior to the birth Cheryl always put my mind at ease and offered another set of ears to sound our questions and concerns. She gave me the confidence to ask more questions and think about how I envisaged aspects of the birth so I could discuss what was important to me with my obstetrician. Please note that Cheryl was never interested in being in opposition to my obstetrician but helped me find my voice in the highly medicalised environment. It was important to me that there was no tension between my obstetric care and my emotional support person. On the big day all these questions and discussions helped, although nothing went according to my birth plan…. It almost never does.

My waters broke at 2:30am the day before Theodore’s due date. My husband and I went to hospital to get monitored as I was not in active labour. The baby was fine but my obstetrician didn’t want me to go home and wanted to augment the birth process with Syntocinon. I rang Cheryl as I wasn’t sure about augmenting the labour on the same day as the waters had broken. The decision became to do it then or do it the next day and given the baby and I were feeling full of energy we felt it was best to go ahead. My husband and I were in birth suite half an hour later when Cheryl arrived. She made me feel calm and confident about my decision to move forward. 11:30am the Syntocinon was started at low doses. I actively birthed until 2:30pm where I was examined and was 2cm dilated. With the syntocinon ramping up and being only 2cm dilated I started to lose my focus on the present moment and began to think about whether I could do it. Cheryl brought me back to the present and got me to think about the now. I chose to have some morphine as I was early in the process, and was given the gas while it was kicking in. Cheryl got my mind back on track and, with the help of the gas, I was able to take control of the birth experience. Cheryl, my husband and I got into a rhythm (although I did hurt his hand holding it during contractions) and I was able to start to find the process fascinating, profound and even enjoyable.

I began to feel rolling contractions that were different from the other contractions, but given the timing did not think anything of them. After having a number of these in succession I lay on the bed the midwife checked the baby’s heartbeat and she couldn’t find it. It as a scary moment until she walked around and realised that the baby was crowning. This was 5:45pm when only hours earlier I had been only 2cm dilated. The midwife pulled up the mirror and told me to blow out and out popped Theodore at 5:53pm. It was such an amazing experience that all of us, including the midwife, were on a high. My obstetrician was surprised and made her way in only to put in a few stitches. I got to have my baby on me for over an hour. I don’t think I would have been able to be present in the important moments if Cheryl had not been there to give me confidence. Her support of my husband and myself allowed us to be happy with our decisions and work with what we had in front of us – which was nothing like our plans – but still in the end was an ideal birth!


“ If there was a machine that cost $200,000.00, reduced the caesarean rate by half, cut the length of labour by 2 hours and decreased other interventions, hospitals would have 2, 3, or 4 of them. It’s hard for us to believe that human support can have such a profound effect on a medical outcome. ”

Dr. Marshall Klaus M.D., co- author of Mothering the Mother

Stork Talk

Delivering Strategies for your ideal birth.

Give yourself the best chance of a positive birth in a hospital setting. A new book by one of Australias leading doulas, Cheryl Sheriff.


Sharing wisdom from her 30 years experience as a midwife and doula, and her presence at over 1000 hospital births.


After reading this book you will have more direction, and feel confident, excited and less daunted by the experiences to come.


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