Before I had my son, Odin, I was a full time Birth Centre midwife. I lived and breathed midwifery and was on call 24 hours a day seven days a week, unless it was my day off. My days consisted of antenatal home visits, postnatal care, and once a week I taught a childbirth education class.
If I had time for myself, I would go for a walk around Lake Burley Griffin, practice yoga, cook, clean the house and socialise with family and friends. However, I always had to be very conscious that if any of the women I was attending were due to give birth, I’d need to be at the labour that evening. No day was ever the same.
Becoming a mother myself really changed my outlook on life. I feel an overwhelming sense of love for my child that’s beyond words. I also feel a longing to nurture and protect him in every way possible, but at the same time I want to foster independence and allow him to explore his surroundings.
There’s no manual, book or workshop you can attend that can truly prepare you for becoming a mother. In the early days, the sleep deprivation and the newness of the whole concept washed over me like a tidal wave, and there was no other choice but to sink or swim.
Each day has gotten better and better, and now I can fully appreciate what I’ve gone through and who I’ve become. I’m very fortunate to share my journey with my close-knit mothers’ group, who I bounce ideas off and release frustrations with. As they say, it takes a village to raise a child, and I consider them my village. I’m always learning and being challenged, and just when I think I have it covered, something new and complex turns up. I don’t think I’ll ever get the balance right, but I can only do the best I can. Sometimes motherhood is about doing the best you can and being happy with that.
As women, we tend to question ourselves based on what other people are doing. But I think if it feels right, then it is right.
I became a midwife after searching for a career that I could invest in for life – one that involved helping women and children. With a biology and nursing degree under my belt, I decided to do midwifery.
Volunteering in the Philippines cemented my passion to help women through such an important part of their life. Being exposed to public health in a developing country changed my perspective dramatically. It made me so thankful for all of the resources and education available in Australia.
I’m thankful that I can use my skills to help others locally in Australia, or while volunteering overseas. As a caseload midwife at the Canberra Birth Centre, I’m fortunate to develop a relationship with my clients and their families – so much so that some have become my friends long after their birth.
I never tire of witnessing a baby being born in water, or a partner catching their own child and handing their baby over to the mother. It brings me such fulfilment and happiness, and often times tears of joy shared with the new family.
I feel proud as a woman to see another woman demonstrate their strength, courage and fortitude as they grow a child within them. Many mothers come back looking for me after their first child, and request for me to be their midwife again. My heart skips a beat every time that happens.
Believe it or not, everybody has different concerns throughout their pregnancy. No two pregnancies will ever be the same, neither will a mother and daughter’s pregnancies be alike. However the most common concern is, ‘How do I know if my baby is okay?’ I always tell pregnant women that you are the closest person to your baby. You breathe the same air and you feel each other, you are ultimately one before you become two. I always encourage healthy eating, regular gentle exercise, and being able to sit down and listen and feel for your baby’s movements. If in any doubt, I always encourage them to call me or approach their GP, midwife or obstetrician. Being a midwife did help with my own experience of pregnancy and birth –absolutely. I believe having been a witness to so many births gave me the confidence to relax and not overthink my pregnancy.
Apart from morning sickness in the early days, I really enjoyed being pregnant. I was working until I was 34 weeks, as I was on call, however I relished the feeling of actually knowing what it finally felt like to be on the other side of the looking glass. I felt strong and healthy, and didn’t worry so much during the pregnancy.
In terms of my birth, I practiced hypnobirthing and yoga to get me through labour. Having a supportive husband and wonderful, experienced midwives who listened to me, cared for me, and empowered me, made all the difference. Because of my knowledge and experience I trusted the birth process and my body. My husband caught our son during the birth – that was very special moment.
Anne Stroud is a midwife and mother to son Odin, 13 months. Anne enjoys cooking and hosting dinner parties in her Scandinavian and mid-century styled home in Canberra, where she lives with her husband. She has a passion for photography and loves capturing special family moments. You can find some of her beautiful photos via her Instagram.
Anne and her family love to travel – so check out Anne’s previous child mags blog feature: Travelling with a baby under one.