Vivienne and Andre Du Preez gave birth to twins Skye and Eden at their home in Muizenberg on the 12th April 2014. It was the ecstatic culmination of many years of planning and 9 months of carefully preparing and carrying the twins after they were conceived.
Vivienne always knew she wanted a homebirth and was even more determined after she learnt she was carrying twins, and especially as Vivienne herself had been born at home. Vivienne was super fit during the pregnancy practicing yoga and belly dancing daily in between swimming and long walks on the beach. Headstands were practiced until 34 weeks of the pregnancy.
Vivienne and Andre eat mostly organic foods, a pescatarian diet including superfoods, such as hemp seed powder, maca powder, chia seeds, organic dairy products as well as highly nutritious organic brown rice, vegetables and fruit. Most mothers gain 15kg in the pregnancy with one baby in the womb; Vivienne gained only 15kg with two babies in the womb. Prior to conception, both Vivienne and Andre ensured they were in peak fitness and health. They were unwaveringly committed to preparing for a natural waterbirth at home and were an immensely inspiring couple to work with. The dichorionic non-identical twins, a boy (Skye) and a girl(Eden) were born calmly on a windless afternoon in their home overlooking the Muizenberg Fynbos. Both babies were born in the water.
Vivienne took no pain relief during labour as she had attended a hypnobirthing course with Kim Young of Beautifullyborn Hypnobirthing during the pregnancy. Vivienne also sought out a midwife team who would assist her at home, despite opposition from medical doctors and midwives alike. Marianne Littlejohn facilitated the births of Skye and Eden, with the assistance of Lana Petersen and second midwife Lydia Du Toit on stand-by, with Cape Town’s Mowbray Maternity Hospital as the back-up facility in the event of transfer.
The birthing pool was set up in the lounge area with a view of the sea in the distance and the soothing sound of waves rolling rhythmically onto the long sandy shore. Water helps to keep a labouring mother warm and this is important for the rhythmic and optimal release of synctocinon and vasopressin, the hormones that synchronise the uterine contractions and culminate in expulsive efforts. The warm water also keeps a mother calm so that she does not take fright and release adrenaline, which might antagonise the hormone oxytocin, thus interfering with or stopping the labour. To ‘not’ disturb the mother is even more critical with the birth of twins and setting up an environment where undisturbed birth can happen is of paramount importance, especially with regard to the birth of the second twin. The mother needs to be as confident and as calm for the birth of the second twin as she was with the first, so that her body releases the necessary hormones for the birth all over again.
Skye slipped into the water first and took to the breast soon after birth, eager to stock up on reserves before his sister was born. Eden arrived 6 hrs later after a little encouragement from her Mum and midwife, who waited until Eden was in a good position before popping the bag of waters around her. Vivienne birthed both placentas about an hour after the birth, after which we tucked the twins into bed with their parents and the twins enjoyed a nourishing feed. Vivienne made it look easy, which belied the superhuman effort of birthing her babies of 2700gms and 3300gms respectively at home.
Note from the author:
The immense opposition and fear of the medical personnel and family alike prior to the birth was more difficult to contain and mutual encouragement and ‘keeping our heads’ was vital to maintaining the atmosphere of calm required for physiological birth to occur spontaneously. At the same time my observation and monitoring skills needed to be focused and my whole being in a state of receptivity and responsiveness to the slighest nuances in the mother’s and the babies’ states of wellbeing. My midwifery emergency equipment was at the ready but thankfully was not needed. The room was warm, the lights dim, silence was the norm except for the hypnobirthing meditation audio that Vivienne used to guide her state of calm. It was as if Vivienne was in a trance state, like being asleep yet wakeful at the same time, the result of endorphins being released by her pituitary gland.
While her mind rested, her body responded magnificently.