What to pack for the Labour Room: Things to help stay grounded and prepare for the unknown

Quite a few new mums or mums who haven’t had a baby for awhile, have been asking me what I brought into the labour room with me! It seems like just yesterday I was carefully packing my bag. I had tried to keep things simple when I had Olive, but second time around, I wanted a bag full of things that helped me feel a little more in control, prepared and calm. I needed a few reminders to help me stay grounded throughout labour as I was so fearful of going through another traumatic birth. Sometimes being prepared gives me a little less space for anxiety and the unknown. Are you similar?

My bag of tricks for the Labour Room

Here are the things I brought to the birth suite when I had Ezra.

  1. Bliss Birth TENS machine To be honest, I was skeptical about the effectiveness of a Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator. I felt like it was similar to the advice my Mum gave me, “just breathe” through the labour! But this tiny device was what helped me experience a calm, focused birth! It was so easy to use, adjust and distract me from the contractions. A natural pain relief mechanism that helps to block pain signals from reaching the brain and increase endorphins. What a great tool! I used the TENS machine during the active phase of labour (when I was between 3 to 7cm dilated) and for a little while during the transition stage. Prior to being induced, Steve and I tried the TENS machine using the reusable electrode pads on our backs. The gentle buzzing of the pads and boost option to increase the intensity to dull the pain of a contraction was amazing! The machine also had a built in contraction timer which was useful during labour. I was so thankful to Ariel and the warmth and encouragement I received when communicating with her. She passionately runs Bliss Birth sharing practical tools, support and guiding women to a natural birth whether that’s a c’section, drug free or all the drugs, she hopes to support mothers to having that bliss moment when they meet their newborn. Hiring the TENS machine was easily done online, it included the Elle TENS plus machine, new batteries, brand new reusable electrode pads, easy to read instructions, lead wires, prepaid return envelope to send the products back to Bliss Birth. Go check out the Bliss Birth shop, blog and hire options! Click here to head straight over to the labour TENS hire info!
  2. Home Made Affirmation Cards So this is where I got all hippy in Steve’s opinion! But I needed all the tools I could think of to keep me grounded and calm during birth. I’m a visual person so I found these so helpful! I searched in Google for birth affirmations and printed out the ones that resonated with me. I also typed up a few of my own to help me focus and stay grounded if I needed them during labour. It was probably as we approached the transition phase where I asked Steve to help me find these cards. I placed them on the bed and paced around, rocked on the spot and read these cards. Reminding myself about the world outside this clinically, sterile environment and the purpose of the pain I was experiencing. I had written affirmations such as: “The power and the intensity of my contractions can’t be stronger than me, because it is me.”, “Breathe in peace, breathe out tension”, “The Lord God is with me”, “Women around the world are birthing with you right now.” … there are so many!
  3. Photos of my daughter, Olive I needed a reminder of what the pain during childbirth was for. Having some photos of Olive reminded me of the outcome of labour…. a beautiful creation from God, a gift of new life. I found I brought these photos out mid way through the labour to help remind me of the big picture. Our family was growing and she would be a big sister soon! Looking at her photos strengthened me to keep going, knowing that I would soon be meeting a little boy who would one day have his own personality of his own. But even if this is your first labour experiences, I would recommend bringing along photos of things that give you peace, remind you of the outside world, things that remind you of home or a place where you feel calm and relaxed. This helped my heart to stop racing and gain perspective.
  4. Eucalyptus oil and a USB charged diffuser from Kmart The moment we were shown to our room, Steve helped to set up a diffuser. Aromatherapy has its benefits and I chose a smell that I associated with home, relaxation and wellness. I bought a $15 diffuser from Kmart and it was very easy to use. You can find it here.
  5. Bible Verses and messages from amazing women in my life! Prior to having Ezra, some beautiful women in my church threw me a “Baby Blessing”. Many had walked with me after I had PND with Olive and been my “village” throughout my recovery. They knew my heart was burdened with the fear of labour, PND reoccurring and the anxiety of the unknown. These women were my rocks! Their thoughtfulness and prayers helped me stay focused on trusting God and knowing He will be with me. Many of them wrote down verses from the Bible to encourage me and letters of reassurance. I brought these with me to the birth suite too! A big fear of mine is being alone, and these visual reminders were great to have as I rocked and swayed throughout labour. Knowing they were praying for me helped to keep my eyes on the Lord.
  6. Vicks This is my ultimate comfort smell! I had been using it throughout the pregnancy and found it took me back to places in my childhood. I would hold the bottle or put some under my nose and tension points for comfort.
  7. Lavender Heat Pack Ok so there are a heap of conflicting smells going on in the labour room. But I would recommend a heat pack of any sort just in case. This was helpful to use on areas that were aching or just as a temperature distraction.
  8. Snacks for birth partner Energy drinks, lollies, chocolate… a few snacks for your birth partner if you have one is handy. That way they can be focused on staying by your side and have sustenance to have their hands squeezed for an unknown amount of hours!
  9. Battery operated candles I wanted to feel relaxed and the atmosphere of the room was important. Whether it’s bringing your pillow from home, a comfy blanket or wearing your favourite pair of socks. The ambiance of the room is what will help you feel less like a science experiment and more like the Mama Bear! I read that the body senses tension, fear and stress during labour and this can often slow down cervical dilation. You can imagine, if there’s fear pumping through your body, the last thing it wants to do is open up to bring a fragile life into the world. So observing the pain through labour as “healthy pain” with a purpose helped to get me through. Rather than interpreting the pain in a negative way and wanting to tense up and flee from it. You can find the candles I used from everyone’s favourite go to shop! Kmart.
  10. Maternity/Nursing Bra This is a great option for during the labour or in the recovery room. Prior to having Ezra, I had not heard of Mamaway. But they have kindly connected with me and gifted a Rose of Versailles Maternity Bra. It was comfortable with adjustable clasps, extra padding for those lopsided milky boobs and easy access for discrete breast feeding. I have added a link here if you would like to check out their range of maternity clothing, breastfeeding bras and more baby products.

Most importantly, I would say that having the support of women in my church, Steve and my family helped me feel reassured through the process. My husband and beautiful church friends knew how much the fear of the unknown and trauma from my first birth lingered on my mind. They all reminded me that God had got this. He was the constant support I had through my whole pregnancy and birth. We can try to be organised with all our tricks and tools, but at the end of the day, I knew God was who sustained me and went before me. I will be sharing more about my birth story with Ezra very soon! I would love to know what you found helpful to bring along to your birth. Send me a message or comment below!

A comfy Spell dress to feed in, heat pack, electronic candle and Spell calico bag to bring all these items into the hospital with me!

Interview with Gypsy and Rye

Gypsy and Rye is the creation of Liv Canning, a Melbourne based Girl Boss with a big heart for others living in poverty. Her experience and understanding of the hardships for those living in Indonesia led her to start her bohemian accessories business. With the ongoing benefit of giving support to families in Northern remote and South Bali. Read on to learn about how Gypsy and Rye is supporting 11 families, one bag at a time!

Tell us about yourself?

My name’s Liv, and I’m from Melbourne! I grew up in Rye with my sister, brother and a single mum. We moved up to Melbourne when I was starting primary school and I’ve lived in the same place ever since! Mum passed away when I was 16, so it’s been a long and difficult road for us to get to where we are now. I currently live with my partner of 5 years, a beautiful Indonesian man called Dede. We are making the move back to Bali soon, and we cannot wait!

Tell us about Gypsy and Rye and the origins of its meaningful name

Gypsy and Rye was birthed after my solo trip to India about a year and a half ago. I was so in love with all the stunning accessories in India and I couldn’t think of many places in Australia that stocked anything similar at a decent price. On the way home from India I stopped over in Bali and fell in love with basically every leather bag and wallet that I came across, and thus Gypsy and Rye was born! It took me months of brainstorming to come up with the name. It was actually the hardest part! I’m the kind of person where everything I do needs to be meaningful to me in some way, so I really wanted my brand name to be special, while also reflecting on who I am as a person and the direction I wanted my brand to go. I spent just about every waking hour for months on end using name generators, writing lists, looking at photos, drawing different things, whatever I could to come up with a name that stuck, and I finally got there! 

What is your dream for Gypsy & Rye? 

I started my brand with an audience in mind, and that audience is your everyday gal. I want everyone to be able to afford something from Gypsy and Rye and I want people to feel special when they deal with us and when they use their new item. I want Gypsy and Rye to become a household name, and to be the go-to for boho accessories. I have some exciting things planned for the future, but for now it’s baby steps to get us there! 

Who are your style icons?

I don’t really have one in particular. I am drawn to anyone who has an individual sense of style, and I love people who wear things that no one else wears. Anyone that’s confident in their style and who is completely them self is an icon to me!

You lead a very busy life! Any tips of balancing your online business, day job and life in general?! 

I think the key to balancing it all out is “you don’t have to say yes to everything”. I don’t let myself get too busy with over committing to different things, and I find this allows me the chance to fit in everything I need to do without rushing or being overwhelmed. I work full time at my day job, a not for profit organisation called Challenge. We support kids with cancer, so as you can imagine I am mentally and emotionally exhausted when I get home each night, so I keep my weeknights free and allow myself a few hours before bed for Gypsy and Rye. I don’t go out much anymore, so my weekends are a chance to relax or catch up with the girls. I keep it pretty low key!

What are 3 things you can’t live without?

Food, my phone, and my partner (sappy!)

Tell us about what you have observed in Indonesia and the families you have supported? 

I have seen and learnt a whole lot in the 10 years I’ve been going to Indonesia. I lived there on and off for three years and worked full time with a very well known orphanage. I observed this place take advantage of well intending volunteers, staff and even the children, and I learnt the hard way that it was very much a case of me going in there with rose coloured glasses and thinking it was different to the horror stories I had heard (but chose to ignore). A few of the families I support are children who have come from that orphanage, they can no longer look after themselves because the orphanage has cut them off from their sponsors. Other families I support have lived in the cycle of poverty their whole lives and don’t have the education or means to break themselves out of that cycle. I support one family by paying their son’s University scholarship. He is the first person in their entire family to ever attend Uni, and he is at the top of every class. He has scored 95% and above on every test and exam so far. Can you imagine someone that smart missing out on the opportunity to further their education and getting themselves a decent job, just because their family cannot afford the school fees? His life would have ended up much like his parents, working on the streets or in a little shop making no more than $30 a week. The small amount of money it takes to change these people’s lives is priceless!

Through your travels to Indonesia and seeing their daily challenges, what are some practical ways we could support those who are less fortunate?

Being a third world country, almost everyone you come into contact with during a trip to Indonesia is likely to be struggling in some way. I know lots of people want to help when they are on holidays, and this usually comes in the form of visiting orphanages or similar facilities. I would advise against this for many reasons, the main one being that it only feeds into the orphanage tourism industry and creates a chain of supply and demand with the children who are brought in from loving families just to keep the donations coming in. Another reason is, you don’t always know where your money or gift donations are going. Most of the time goods that are donated end up sitting in a cupboard gathering dust. As a general rule, ask yourself if you would be allowed the same experience in a Western country. For example, would a school or center for disadvantaged kids in the USA allow you to come in during your holiday for a quick visit, even if you had no qualifications or credentials, just because you wanted to “see the kids”? No, definitely not. If you wouldn’t do it in your own country, don’t do it in a third world country. What I have found to be the most authentic way of helping those in need is to look at the people around you. If you get to know the locals and learn about their lives, you will find there are simple ways for you to help them. Things like eating at local warung as opposed to a large chain restaurant. Hiring a driver off the street as opposed to using the hotel transport. Stopping at a tattoo shop to have a beer with the guys who are sitting out the front. It’s through these experiences that you connect with the locals and find different ways to support them. You could buy them a fan or water tank for their house, buy their kids new school shoes, top up their electricity, simple things like that which would cost us no more than $50, but would mean the world to someone who has a low and unpredictable income. Find out what it is they need, something practical, and go from there. This is how almost all of the families I sponsor have come about. It doesn’t always have to be a cash handout. Often, the most simple gestures are more than enough.

Any advice for those of us who would like to start a business and not for profit? 

In regards to starting a business, my biggest tip would be to just go for it. I umm’ed and ahh’ed about whether or not to give it a go, and I ended up annoying myself with how often I would talk about doing something but never following through with it. Make sure you put a lot of time and effort into finding a trusted supplier with quality products, and if you aren’t happy with their service then don’t be afraid to move on and try someone else. Also something I wish I knew when starting out was to not overdo it with the initial order of stock. I went way over the top and ordered 10 of everything, when I probably could have ordered 1 of everything and been fine! As for starting a not for profit, I will let you know once I have worked it out hehe 

Thank you Liv for sharing an honest outlook on the realities of life for so many living in Indonesia and how Gypsy and Rye is supporting the community.

If anyone would like to know more about the orphanage tourism industry and the negative effects these places and well meaning volunteers have on children, head over to ReThink Orphanages and have a read of the work they do. I’d also like to say thanks to all our beautiful customers. By purchasing from Gypsy and Rye, you are quite literally changing someone’s life. Education is something we take for granted, but it is the key to breaking families in developing countries out of the cycle of poverty, so we will continue to sponsor as many children as possible until my NFP is up and running!

Head over to @gypsyandrye to follow their journey and how  you can purchase beautiful handmade accessories that are ethically sourced and giving back to Indonesian communities.

Find their shop here www.gypsyandrye.com

Interview with Earthd

Amy Francis is the Creative designer and Owner of the eco conscious, ethically made and natural plant dyed company, Earthd. Instagram in all it’s weird and wonderful bot fuelled wisdom connected us! I have loved learning about the design, plant dyeing and manufacturing process for Amy’s carefully, artisan made pieces. Each one is made with the preservation of the earth in the forefront of her mind. It is a pleasure to receive a carefully considered and created piece for my family. The colours from the plant dyes are so rich and I am still amazed at the vibrancy of the amber, mustard, indigo and forest hues! But what attracted me to Earthd, was the story behind the makers. Enjoy this interview with Amy and let me know whether you have ever tried botanically dying fabrics at home!

Tell us a bit about yourself and your family.

I’m Amy, mamma to the sweetest little boy, Noah (3),  partner to Brent and fur mamma to the cutest whippet, Zeus! We live in the northern suburbs of Perth, Western Australia. 

Amy and her beautiful family


Earthd is a beautiful name for a thoughtful business, tell us about Earthd!

My business is Earthd. We make earth friendly,ethically made linen and clothing for little ones! The best part is that all our products have been plant dyed/botanically dyed with plants!! 

As a Mum to a toddler and fur baby, life is already busy! What led you to start your own business from home?

I am always creating something, it keeps me centered and is something I do for me! I am a really artistic and creative person with an active mind, so when I do “arty stuff” it helps bring me back to “earth”again! I started dyeing some cot sheets and singlets of Noah’s with avocado pips and skins, and then began really interested in natural dyeing and started creating my swaddles in my kitchen/laundry at home! My first two dyes I began to use were madder root and indigo.

All snug in a botanically dyed sunshine gold wrap

It’s amazing you can use botanically sourced colours to dye your fabrics. The colours are so vibrant! Can you tell us a bit about the plant dyeing process?

It’s a very lengthy process! But extremely fascinating. The colours that can be produced are endless. Natural plant dyes have been used dating back to ancient times well before the “synthetic” dye was created. Basically the dyes are made by extracting the colour from plants,leaves, roots, flowers, seeds. The fabric is then scoured to remove any chemicals, pre-treated with a mordant and then dyed. Usually this process can take up to a week! Plant dyeing means that there are no harsh synthetic dyes being used, therefore it is better for our skin but even better for our earth! 

When I started Earthd. I was doing the dyeing myself.As mentioned above, the two colours I started with were madder root (which produced a blush colour) and Indigo (a stunning blue). I wanted to offer my customers a wider range of colours, that were also consistent. I decided to outsource my dyeing to an ethical Plant dye workshop in Indonesia run by a family that have been doing plant dyeing for many generations. Not only has this enabled me to provide a wider range of beautiful tones, it has also enabled me to spend more time with my family and focus on expanding my little business!  The other great thing about this workshop is that it is completely eco friendly! Because the plant dyes are non toxic, the “waste” runs off into a local field and straight back into the earth! 

I visit the workshop every 3-6 months and have developed the most wonderful relationship with the men that take so much pride and care in creating my products. 

The plant dyeing process in Indonesia

It is a daily juggling act between all the areas of life. How do you balance mumlife, business and self care?

I only recently realised how important this was,another reason I outsourced my dyeing, I was spending every night, some nights until 2-3am in my kitchen dyeing swaddles. As well as all weekend. I really began to see how little time I was giving to my partner and little boy, and I knew something had to change. I also work 3 days a week in an admin role! So I am extremely busy! I try to plan my groceries and meals for the week on aSunday, I write lists, lots of lists! And make sure I am getting plenty of rest as well!  I spend my two days per week off, keeping on top of house work,and nap times for business planning, responding to emails etc…. it’s a bit of a juggle most days, but it seems to be working well!

Your work is unique and inspiring. Who inspires you?

I have met so many women on Instagram who are mums, just like me running beautiful businesses on Instagram.I am inspired by anyone that is driven to achieve their dreams, and just keep going with it. I have made some incredible friends through my little business and I am so thankful for it. One amazing woman and business mamma, Jame, of @earth.blended inspires and motivates me everyday to keep doing what I’m doing.I truly value her and the friendship we now have. I am also inspired by my partner Brent, he has been through a lot in his life, but is the hardest working person I know, with the most pure heart. He always encourages me to just keep pushing on.

What are 3 things you can’t live without?

Chocolate (even though I’m dairy intolerant)

My family

Coffee. All the coffee. 

Amy & Noah

Being a  mother to 3 year old Noah, what has motherhood taught you about yourself?

Wow. I have learned SO much about myself from being a mother. I have struggled with self identity combined with mental health issues for a long time. I never felt I had purpose before becoming a mother. The second my son was placed in my arms, I just felt I finally had a purpose. And all the tough times I’d been through, not knowing who I was or why I was here…. it just all made sense in that split second.   Motherhood has been the most beautiful thing, it’s been challenging, really, really challenging… but becoming a mum has been the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I’m learning more about myself and about life every single day and I am so blessed to have the most amazing little boy and supportive partner. I am so,so blessed. 

Beautifully plant dyed wraps in gold, blush, terracotta, forest and indigo

Between mumming, your day job, managing Earthd and more….What does a typical day in the week look like for you?

Monday’s I’m at my admin job! Business attire, packed lunch bag and copious amounts of coffee. Same as Wednesday and Thursday.  

Tuesday’s and Fridays I am usually in faded overalls or gypsy florals- or let’s face it, my pjs.  

I’m lucky to have a great partner and baby daddy who takes care of daycare drop offs on work days. I do pickups.  

Days off are spent generally eating too much coconut yoghurt and long nap times with my little man, spending time forming relationships and maintaining relationships with the amazing people I’ve connected with in the IG world, post runs, dreaming, emails and general small biz stuff! 

Thanks Amy for sharing an insight into your small business and the process behind the production of your beautiful linens.

I just want to thank anyone who has or is going to take the time to check out my little biz! It really is my heart and soul (apart from my family!) I value each and every one of my customers so, so much. You are the ones who are helping me take each stepping stone towards my dreams. 

Check out Earthd at @earthd_ on Instagram and shop online at www.earthdco.com.au Amy has kindly offered 15% off all orders using the discount code NATASHA15 at check out.

The gorgeous Earthd indigo blue wrap, 100% cotton muslin