Ever been curious about what a homebirth is really like? I interviewed Aja from MilkieBra.com and she shared her amazing story with us.
My personal story of childbirth is a little traumatic and I won’t share that now but it happened in a public hospital and was a long, 20-hour labour. I have always been curious about homebirths and I recently connected with Aja from MilkieBra.com through Instagram, where she mentioned she had a homebirth and what a beautiful experience it was for her. I had about 100 questions I wanted to ask her so Aja kindly agreed to be interviewed and I thought I would share my interview with her, here on the blog for everyone. Aja’s story really is an incredible one and I hope my interview with her helps you to learn a few things about home birthing in Australia, as I now feel a lot better informed and if I did ever have another baby, this is definitely something I would consider!
I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I did!
My interview with Aja from MilkieBra
Liz: Hi Aja, thanks so much for agreeing to be interviewed. I’m excited to hear about your homebirth story! Can you tell me a bit about yourself?
Aja: Sure! Thanks so much for inviting me! My name is Aja Perez, I’m the person behind MilkieBra.com, I live on the Central Coast of NSW and I have 2 kids – Leo (4 years old) and Joey (19 months).
Liz: Can you tell me a bit about your business, the Milkie Bra?
Aja: Yeah, that came about after having Joey, I was doing a late-night feed and I was leaking everywhere and it just came to me. I thought, there has to be more. What if like the period underwear, there was a similar design, but in a bra. So I did some research to see if I could find something like that on the market. I went to Target, Bonds, K Mart and I couldn’t find any products out there like that so I put a pattern together myself and went and found a dressmaker on the central coast, worked with her to get it made and one thing led to another. I found a production house in Bali and they get made for me over there.
Liz: Wow, yeah, personally I had a lot of leaking when I was breastfeeding. I would wear breast pads to bed overnight and I would still wake up soaked.
Aja: Everyone is so different in their breastfeeding journey but I just thought, I can’t be the only one dealing with leakage, and it even became later, when I wanted to start going out a little bit, and I just found the nursing bras to be so frumpy, they didn’t fit under my clothes properly, and I didn’t want to feel like a frumpy old lady, so I wanted something a bit more low cut, with a low back, so I could feed easily, wear my cute clothes and not have big wet patches on my shirt. So they’re just like the period undies, the milk absorbs straight into the fabric and they get easily washed later.
Liz: So where can people buy the Milkie Bra, and what are the prices?
Aja: Just head to my website – MilkieBra.com to find out more and to make a purchase. The bra is $55 for one, or 2 for $100. I wanted it to be an easy price for mums and I feel like 2 is a good number to have because you can wear one while washing the other one. I’ve had the website up and running since February, and I’ll be providing XXL sizes very soon.
Liz: That’s fantastic, you’ve seen a gap in the market, you’ve gone for it and started your own business, well done!
Liz: So, tell me a bit about the homebirth?
Aja: Yeah, so I had a homebirth for my second, not my first, but I always wanted one. I started later in life to have kids and one of the things I manifested was to have a homebirth. Fast forward to 2018 when I was pregnant with Leo. I got a doula, we spoke about having a homebirth but it just wasn’t an option at that stage. There were no midwives on the central coast that were doing it and I just had to let it go. I had an amazing birth but I just got to Gosford Hospital, right in time. I arrived at the hospital and Leo was born 10 minutes later. So when I was pregnant with Joey, I got the same doula and we spoke about having a homebirth and then I actually decided against it, as Gosford Hospital was all new and I wanted to do the water birth there, but then Covid hit.
I had researched homebirths, I knew about the cost and everything and I always wanted the homebirth and I knew Joey was going to be my last. I felt like my rights were getting taken away from me in the hospital due to Covid – my doula probably wasn’t going to be allowed to be there, my husband was probably going to have to wear a mask, I would probably need the mask and I just didn’t want all the rules and the protocols. I moved house, about 50 minutes away from the hospital, and I know that I birthed quickly. I had visions of myself giving birth on the side of the road, I was thinking, at what point in labour do I leave home, so at 36 weeks, I decided it would be a homebirth.
Normally, the midwives wouldn’t take on homebirths from 36 weeks, but we had formed a relationship and because of Covid, she was happy to do it. I was a low-risk pregnancy, I was healthy and I decided on the homebirth. From then, the visits started at home, I knew I had made the right decision and it was just so nice to have all the appointments at home, on my bed, with my son Joey. Because it was towards the end of my pregnancy, they came weekly, and all the appointments were exactly the same as if I was visiting the hospital.
Liz: So, when you decide you want a homebirth, how does it work? Does it go through the public system?
Aja: So, it doesn’t go through the public system. It was a private midwife business on the Central Coast. You pay extra for the midwives to come out to you. The pre visits and after visits are partially covered by Medicare, but the actual birthing fee is not covered by Medicare.
Liz: So how much did the Midwife cost?
I came in much later so I didn’t have all the appointments from the beginning. If I had booked the homebirth from the beginning of the pregnancy and had all the appointments from the beginning, it would have cost a bit more, but it was roughly about $3000. I was able to do a payment plan with her too which was great! It was the same with the doula – I was able to go on a payment plan with her too. I don’t think I would have had a homebirth if it wasn’t for the doula.
Liz: So what does a doula do that the midwife doesn’t?
Aja: The midwife is for the baby and the doula is for the mum. If every mum could have a doula, I feel like there would be so many more positive birth stories going around. They’re so helpful, they’re there for Dad, and for the mum. They’re not just for the birth either. I had mine from 8 weeks of pregnancy. If I wanted her to come to a medical appointment with me, she would come. You get together throughout the pregnancy, you talk about the birth that you want, and working towards getting that kind of birth. She’s like your voice when you are birthing. She knows everything you want to do. She can talk to the midwives and the Drs, and you can just be in the zone, knowing everything is taken care of.
You’ve talked about it before, so you’ve worked out all the different scenarios. If there has to be an emergency caesarian, you’ve discussed your options. The doula knows how you want things to be. If you want the lights dim, if you want music on, if you want to be the first person to hold the baby. She’s there as your advocate. As a first time mum, you can get pushed through, and things can happen that you’re not comfortable with. The doula is in the hospital all the time and can help you with information as well as be your voice.
Liz: So, is the doula usually a midwife as well?
Aja: No. Midwives are more the medical side of things. The doula is more of emotional and physical support – helping you with positions, especially positions during labour. She can guide you through, and help to guide your husband on ways to support you too. The doula and your partner can actually tag team. One can go and get food, the other can be supporting you.
Liz: So how much was the Doula?
Aja: $1000, for the whole pregnancy and up to and including the birth. There are levels though. You can pay extra to have a doula around after the birth too. You can also go on payment plans for the doula if needed.
Liz: So tell me about the actual homebirth itself
Aja: I had the doula and the midwives booked for the homebirth. My contractions started at 10pm, I could feel them all through the night and I just dozed and slept through them. In the morning, they ramped up a bit more, so I called the doula and the midwife to come out. They came out and everything slowed down. They told me it was normal, you can be in your own zone and things can just slow down. So they waited for a while to see how things went. They hung out with me through the day and things slowed down even more. In the afternoon, they decided to leave, giving me some time with my husband. My sister was living with me at the time and she was with my older son.
So after they left, I got in the bath and the contractions started to ramp up again, coming hard and fast. So we called them and let them know. They were on their way, so I got out of the bath. I was on my way from the bathroom to the bedroom, and I could feel him coming, I knew the feeling from before. I was standing in the bedroom with just my husband, and the two of us just birthed him right there! The doula and the midwife hadn’t made it over yet and it just happened so quickly! My husband held it together quite well. Afterwards, he says he was quite scared but in the moment, he just did it. He had done it before as he actually birthed our first son, with the help of the midwives. He caught him as he came out.
From the first birth, I knew I had to push through each contraction, I pushed his head out, waited for the next contraction, and pushed his body out. My husband Perry caught him and was going to walk off with him and I had to remind him, ‘He’s still connected!’ He pushed him through my legs to pass him to me and I was just in shock. I just sat on the end of the bed, I couldn’t talk, I was just holding my baby we had both just birthed ourselves. We had the midwife on one phone, 000 on the other phone and we had the doula on another phone. So we had all this help around us on the phones, giving my husband help and information as we needed, but we did it all ourselves. It was wild!
When the doula and the midwife arrived (about 5-10 minutes after the birth), the doula just went straight into action. She grabbed me, propped me back into the bed. She made sure the baby was on me, she put blankets on me and the baby. The midwife arrived shortly after the doula and she just started checking the baby.
I actually had delayed cord clamping too. I had Joey connected to me for about 40 minutes after birth. I waited until the cord had stopped pulsating and had changed colour. We cut it after about 40 minutes. After birthing him, I got into bed, I breastfed him while still connected, the midwives did their checks on him and he was still connected and then my husband cut the cord, and then I birthed the placenta.
After that, my husband, my other son, my new baby and me, we just all crawled into bed and all went to sleep together.
Liz: What an amazing story, that is incredible you did it all yourselves!
Liz: So did you plan on a water birth at home?
Aja: Yes, we had the water pool set up in the lounge room. It’s just like a blow-up pool. I didn’t think it would all happen so quickly. I was only in active labour for an hour.
Liz: How do you feel about how everything happened?
Aja: When I look back on it now, it was actually so perfect. We had all the help before, we had all the help right after when we needed it, and for the actual birth, it was just me and my husband. It was in the spot where my Joey now sleeps, where he was conceived, it was all in the same spot!
Liz: That’s just so beautiful!
Liz: So, if you’re planning on a homebirth, when do you usually need to book it in?
Aja: Like when you start having appointments with your Dr, it would usually be from about 12 weeks. You would call the private midwife to book that in. They are actually trying to move towards getting it all on Medicare. You will need a referral from your GP for the midwife. You will get some of the pre-natal visit costs back from Medicare.
Liz: What equipment do you actually need on hand to have a homebirth?
Aja: The midwife brings the birthing pool, the hose and connections. They also bring the absorbent pads and sterilized equipment. You get the pool from about 37 weeks. It’s up to you when you actually set it up. If you choose not to have a water birth, you don’t need to.
You will need:
- A pool liner (you can get from the midwife)
- Clean towels
The midwife brings all the other equipment. They also clean everything up after the birth.
Liz: So is there a risk of the baby drowning during a water birth?
Aja: No, not really. The pool water is warm, the baby just gets birthed into the warm water and they take their first breath when they come out of the water. I think there is a specific way to drag the baby out of the water so the water doesn’t gush up their nose. (You can find more info on Water births here).
Liz: What do you think are the biggest advantages of having a homebirth?
Aja: For me:
- I found my postpartum healing was a lot quicker.
- I was able to rest properly at home, in my own bed.
- I was close to my own bathroom and shower.
- I had all my own food.
- I could bond with my baby in my own home
- I could have my family around me, without restrictions
- If you want to change your mind during the actual birth, the midwives can always call an ambulance to transport you to hospital
Liz: What about the drawbacks of a homebirth?
Aja: I don’t think there are many!
- If it is a high-risk pregnancy and potential for complications, it might not be suitable
- Less pain relief options for homebirths – no morphine or epidurals (I went with breathing techniques from hypnobirthing, as well as acupuncture for pain relief)
- You have to know you can do it. It’s about confidence and mindset. If you’re nervous and unsure about it, it might not be for you.
Liz: So what would you say to other women considering a homebirth?
Aja: If it’s right for you, there’s no reason why you can’t do it. If there are issues or complications, that’s a whole different story but there are so many women that go to the hospital to birth and go home so quickly. Just take out that middle part, just do it at home.
The midwives checked in on us each day after the birth for about 3 day, and then every second day, and after a short time, we decided we didn’t need any extra visits and we waited until the 6-week check-up with the doctors. The midwives did the vaccinations as well.
You do need to have ambulance cover to be able to go through with a homebirth so that’s worth noting.
More and more women are choosing homebirths. I used the Central Coast Midwives and we have a meetup every couple of months. It’s for mums that have had homebirths, women that are considering homebirths, and we just talk about our experiences, help mums to be with advice and support each other.
Liz: Aja, thank you so much for sharing your story with me, I’ve learned a lot! I really appreciate you being so open and sharing your experience with a homebirth. I think my readers will gain a lot from your story and from what we’ve chatted about.
Thank you SO much to Aja from Milkie Bra for sharing her story with me.
I’ve learned so much about homebirths and I hope this has provided some value for you too.
There are many helpful resources online regarding home births such as:
Don’t forget that First Aid knowledge is crucial for any parent. Kids First Aid run a 2 hour online course, covering the 10 most common emergencies involving children. You can read my review of the Kids First Aid online course here.
If you’ve had a homebirth, or you’re thinking about having one, please let me know! I would love to hear from you in the comments!