Bernhard and I met Leonie for the first time in May 2011, two and a half years before the birth of our daughter. Our friends, Michael and Maggie, had recommended her to us and they suggested that we go and see her before getting pregnant. At the time, I had been sick for more than 3 months as my immune system was not functioning well. Leonie took a full history of my health and performed a thorough examination. She picked up that I had gallbladder problems which I wasn´t aware of at all. She recommended a strict diet with herbal teas to drink to help with my immune system and some other things to help with my gallbladder and overall health. Coming from the West, growing up with doctors and pharmaceuticals, I was a bit sceptical at first about the herbal treatment but out of desperation I followed it religiously. Within 3 weeks of following this diet, I wasn´t sick any longer and had regained my strength. Later that same year, I went to Leonie again for an olive oil based treatment for my gallbladder, which also helped me to get rid of a parasite called giardia. After this, there was no doubt in my mind that Leonie would be the person to deliver my baby, and that she knew what she was doing. Having been born by C-section myself and coming from a country where the majority of births are done by C-Section I was filled with fear for natural childbirth. Despite of all these fears, I trusted Leonie 100% as a herbalist and midwife and I knew that she would be the person to deliver our baby when the time came. During my pregnancy we would see Leonie each month for a check-up and to talk about our feelings, fears and concerns. She had all the time in the world and did not rush through our appointments, whether it took 30 minutes or an hour and a half. Both Bernhard and I appreciated this immensely. The birth itself was a very special, magical and healing experience. When Leonie arrived at our house, she was super calm and organised. She suggested that I move as much as possible and while she was unpacking her equipment, herbs and oils, she was observing me, giving me space to just be and do what I needed to do. Leonie prepared a herbal bath for me in a big plastic container which they put in front of the fire. I got in and was covered with blankets and made myself as comfortable as possible. She told me to get some rest and even sleep, which I thought was a crazy idea because I couldn´t imagine falling asleep through the contractions. The herbal bath had a calming effect on me and I eventually dozed off. When I woke up it was very quiet around me and I felt like pushing. The pushing felt extremely good. After pushing for quite some time the baby´s heartbeat had dropped a bit low. I felt alarmed but Leonie was very grounded and made no fuss at all. She asked if she could perform an internal examination and told me that the baby hadn´t passed through the cervix yet due to extreme swelling of the pelvic floor, as a result of increased blood flow. She said that it was important for me to stop pushing and wait for the swelling to go down. Oh dear, this was not good news to me. When the next contraction came, my body automatically started pushing and Leonie urged me to stop pushing. I could easily have started to panic at this time but Leonie was extremely calm, grounded and professional. She was also firm with me and urged me to really do my best to not push. I sensed that this was really important for me and my baby. She reminded me that I don´t have to do all the work and allow my baby to do her part as well. It took all of my concentration and willpower to go against my body and not push but I understood that this is absolutely necessary. I trusted Leonie completely on this one. After a few hours it was time to start pushing again as the swelling went down. Leonie told me to make deep grunting noises with each push and to “bring my baby down”. After a while when the contractions reached a peak, I would squat on my haunches to help move the baby down and then move around again. Leonie applied hot compresses to my vagina which felt extremely good and comforting. As I gave the final push, I felt my baby´s little body slipping out of me and it was the most incredible thing I´ve ever felt. It was wonder, amazement and relief mixed together. I don´t have the words to describe this wondrous moment. I guess this is what a miracle feels like. Leonie caught the baby and within seconds Rose was in my arms. I had a wet, warm, wriggling and crying little bundle in my arms.. While bonding as a family, she cooked the placenta with basil and tomatoes, sprinkled it with sesame seeds and garnished it with a beautiful red rose from our garden. I instinctively knew that the placenta
would replenish my strength and give me new energy. I was starving at that point too and ate it without thinking twice about it. During the birth I had torn badly, partly due to the swelling. I was quite surprised as I didn’t feel my vagina tearing and wasn’t experiencing any pain. The sewing up part was the worst part of the birth as the anaesthetic only lasted a little while… Leonie couldn’t administer more anaesthetic as it would cause even more swelling than what there already was. It took nearly two hours to stitch me up and I had to practice a lot of patience! Although the tearing was quite severe, I healed extremely fast due to Leonie´s herbal medicines and compresses she gave me. My vagina healed completely and cosmetically it looks the same as before the birth. My birthing experience helped me to connect with my body in a new way and it reconnected me with my self-confidence as a woman. I could go deeply inside myself and connect with my inner strength and I found it to be an extremely empowering experience. It was the initiation into womanhood that I have been longing for my entire adult life. It deepened my bond with Bernhard and it brought a lot of healing to my relationship with Mom. It also taught Mom that childbirth doesn’t have to be a horrible and traumatic experience. If I were giving birth in a hospital, the doctors would have given me a C-section as a result of the complication. Due to Leonie´s experience and knowledge this was not the case and I have the utmost respect for Leonie. She created a supportive environment and gave me the space to do my own thing. I will be eternally grateful to Leonie as she made this natural birthing experience possible and I could not have done it without her! A million thank you´s to you Leonie!

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