Eleonora Fornelli

- Birth Story -

"My passion for pregnancy and childbirth - and the phenomenal way a woman’s life changes throughout maternity - began at an early age, when I had my first child at 25, in my home country, Italy.

During pregnancy, my baby was in a breech position (head up, feet down), and I remember trying several techniques including moxibuxtion to help her to turn, but it seemed that she preferred the breech position. In the end, my Doctor broke the news to me that I would have to have a c-section. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that, yet at the time, I felt this was the only option I had, and so we proceeded to book the surgery. I remember being inside the theatre room, looking at my husband through a glass window, as he was not allowed entry to the theatre room (hospital regulations), listening to the Doctors chit chatting and pulling & tugging at my belly. Only after few moments,  a beautiful baby girl was shown to me for a few seconds and immediately taken away for routine checks ups, bath and clothing…

and I remember looking at my husband, already being so completely in love, telling me “She’s beautiful! She’s perfect!”

While the Doctor was closing my incision, I asked him: “When will I be able to have a vaginal delivery?” He laughed and said “In 9 months!”… That got me excited, and I knew that my next baby would have been to be born soon!

After 17 months I was pregnant again and was extremely happy! Not only because I was expecting a baby, but also because I was excited to have MY natural birth! Everybody I spoke to at the time told me that I was crazy and that I should just go for another cesarean section, saying things like “Why do you want to suffer?” I knew why! Because I missed the experience of feeling my body working with

my baby to be born... because I missed that special moment when your baby is born and kept on your belly to crawl to your chest...

Because I researched and learnt the benefits of a natural birth for both mum and baby,... because I wanted it and knew I could have it!

Was is it easy to have a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After a Cesarean)? I had to go hunting for the right hospital that was going to support my wishes and was quite surprised to discover that in Milan, in 2008, only a few hospitals allowed VBACs. However, once I found the right hospital, I just waited for my baby to decide when she will come to see me.

My labor started at home at 3.30pm on a Saturday afternoon, with my waters breaking with a whole lot of gush and very tinted waters. The surges arrived immediately after, were very intense and almost non-stop.

My husband and I rushed to the hospital and I was told I was 5cms dilated. The baby was doing great so the midwives trusted me and let me enjoy my labor. I wanted to try many different positions since I had studied all about natural childbirth, and after 4 hours, I asked to go to the toilet (I was terrified of the idea of a bowel movement while giving birth!), but nothing no, that was not it… it was my baby trying to make it’s way out to meet his mama!

After about 15 minutes of “pushing” she was on my belly. And I remember thinking and saying to myself “Oh my gosh! She’s heavy!” Turned out, she was 4kg!

I felt so good and proud of what I had just achieved! I was a lioness! After 18 months I got pregnant (again!) and at that time I was studying to become a Doula.

I learnt how the mind can influence your body and how it is important for women to feel safe and secure, but then I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes and threatened to have to undergo a cesarean section at 38 weeks.

Lucky for me, my labour started when I was 37 weeks. The doctors came into the room and I ended up with an Epidural recommended by my midwife because my baby’s heart rate was not looking too good. I was actually coping very well with my surges pre-epidural but I believe it may have been the right thing to do as I managed to release my tensions and I delivered my baby after only 30 minutes!

Unfortunately, my baby was not breathing so well and she ended visiting the NICU for one week.

It wasn’t an easy experience to go through and I remember expressing as much breast milk as I could to provide her with the only thing I was allowed to give her at that time.

Once she was back home, she didn't not know how to latch effectively and was extremely sleepy. I doubted myself at the time but thankfully my doula friends were there to support me, and I remember then laying on the sofa for a few days with just her on my bare chest. It soon became time to leave my nest and tend to my other girls, so I got a baby wrap and I kept my little baby wrapped to me for the next 2 months!

I remember people on the street giving me strange looks asking, “Won’t you spoil her?” and I remember always replying “You don’t know what we’ve been through. I will never spoil her giving her my love”. As a result of our 2-month babywearing journey, my baby girl became a professional in breastfeeding, gained adequate weight and turned out to be a very strong and determined person!

In my “mothering journey” I had many ups and downs, but all of my experiences heightened my curiosity around pregnancy, birth and motherhood. I deeply believe that women need to be trusted and guided to trust their instincts in order to have confidence in their own strength, their own abilities and their own babies!"

- Ele



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