The magic of midwives: first-time mum opens up about her experience

Erin, Carlos and baby Saskia Furtado.

First-time mum Erin Furtado gives her personal account of working with the Westmead Caseload Midwifery team, and why it made her delivery so much more special. 

As any mum-to-be will tell you, second guessing becomes your game of choice. As I ventured into the unknown of my first pregnancy those fears, doubts and anxieties that keep you up at night were put to rest thanks to one lady: Olivia Becker.

Erin Furtado, midwife Olivia Becker and Erin’s mum Roslyn McWhirter.

Part of the Westmead Caseload Midwife team, Olivia was with us every step of the way as we hurtled towards parenthood sharing her wealth of knowledge on pregnancy, childbirth and post-birth so we were armed to make choices and trust in decisions we had to make.

The word trust has a whole new meaning when it comes to pregnancy. You put trust in your body to carry to full term. Trust in the tests you undertake to be of positive outcomes. Trust in your partner, and trust in the health care professionals around you.

Mum Erin and Saskia.

It was a 10-minute phone call with Olivia in the early stages of my pregnancy that cemented my trust in her. She asked how I was, and then listened, and listened, and listened! Not everyone has the skill to listen, but Olivia quietly sat on the other end of the line without judgements as this mum-to-be rambled on and asked questions.

Working that onesie… Saskia Furtado McWhirter.

From that initial conversation Olivia was with us, part of our team to bring this baby into the world, and it wasn’t without a few bumps along the way. After our 13-week scan my blood results came back as being 1:66 chance of having a baby with a birth defect. It was a challenging time and a long two week wait for the next set of results to confirm all was fine with our baby, but Olivia didn’t waver. She stated the facts, told us our options and gave reassurance were she could.  Then, at 29 weeks I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Just like after the 13-week scan, thoughts of failure crept into my head – but Olivia was there to offer her support. In fact, she was always there 24/7 on call or text message when I needed her. “Call me any time,” she’d say, and more importantly she meant it.

Midwife Olivia with Saskia.

When I started having contractions my first call was to Olivia (yes, even before my husband, Carlos!). Olivia had been busy delivering babies that week and her caseload partner Janice picked up the phone. I’d never met Janice, but if Olivia trusted her than I did too. Three phone calls to Janice and seven hours later we made my way through the doors front doors of Westmead and up to the birthing suite. Janice put me at ease straight away. I was nine centimetres dilated, the baby was on her way and so was Olivia. She’d had enough rest in between births and was coming in at midnight to help us bring our baby girl into the world. I remember Olivia coming through the door and a smile stretching across my face – a bond had definitely formed.

Saskia Erin Furtado was born on her due date of Friday September 21, 2018 at 12.30am via a water birth at Westmead Hospital under the watchful and attentive eyes of Olivia and Janice. Home care visits by Olivia for a week-and-a-half after Saskia’s birth followed, putting our household at ease in those early stages of working out this new parenthood caper! But it hasn’t stopped there. Even now if I have a question I know Olivia will answer it such is her commitment and love of the work.

Midwife Olivia carries 3.4kg Saskia.

Without a doubt, the Westmead Caseload Midwife program made my pregnancy journey one of hope, joy and took the guess work out of what was set before me and what was to come. When there is so much negativity around birth, Olivia helped me discover the positives and put me in that headspace for the birth. We’ve made a friend in Olivia, and we’ll be forever grateful for her support in one of the biggest rollercoasters but best milestones in our lives.

Westmead midwife Olivia Becker with grandmother Roslyn McWhirter, dad Carlos Furtado, Saskia Furtado McWhirter (five hours old) and mum Erin Furtado.