Birthtalk was officially born in 2002, with the banding together of Debby Gould, Karen Hoffman and Melissa Bruijn - three women passionate about birth, each with a different area of interest. Debby, as a midwife and mum, had seen how amazing birth could be, and how this impacted upon women’s entry into motherhood, and wanted to educate women before they were in labour, to increase their chances of a positive experience. Karen had experienced a caesarean followed by a homebirth VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean), and wanted women to hear those positive stories of birth that are rarely heard, but which can encourage a woman’s belief & understanding that her body is made for this job. And Melissa had experienced a traumatic emergency caesarean, then found herself isolated, unheard and unable to find support, and knew there needed to be a place for women to receive support and validation, without anyone saying “At least you have a healthy baby”.
A few casual conversations led to months of spirited meetings, where a name was decided upon, mission statement and aims were drawn up, and the content of today’s Birthtalk meetings began to be formalised. Meetings were open to the public from September, 2002, and a steady stream of women looking for better ways to approach birth, and support in healing came through Birthtalk’s doors. Unfortunately, Karen decided to move on after a time, as her boys were getting older, and she was moving out of the birthing phase and into the world of schools, tuckshops and homework. Her presence was missed by all at Birthtalk.
And then Melissa and Debby both became pregnant again. Debby’s second birth confirmed to her all that she already knew and felt to be true – that a woman supported by specific knowledge and understandings and a great support crew, could emerge from an extremely challenging labour and birth feeling strong and confident. And Melissa, as a support for Debby, witnessed the most amazing example of birth, where a woman is nurtured, supported and important. These images were with Melissa as she prepared for her own second birth, working towards a much different experience than last time.
Debby was there to support Melissa as she met her second child, in a very full-on but empowering VBAC. The ripple effect of such a positive birth has meant that Melissa has vowed to support as many women as she can, because the outcome of such an experience has affected every area of her life.
Through Birthtalk Melissa and Debby have met some amazing, strong, courageous women and their partners. They have laughed, cried and shared with them as they planned a new way to meet their babies, or grieved over previous challenging and difficult paths to birth. And along the way Melissa and Deb have found a new awe and respect for women, as they rise to the tremendous challenges birth and motherhood can present, face some difficult and heart-breaking truths, and take on the task of digesting new information, all for the sake of their babies and families.