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Pain thresholds, fighting and 4am breaks: Natascha from One Born Every Minute on what it's really like to be a midwife.

In her eight years as a midwife, Natascha Dastur has learnt a lot. But she says one of her most important lessons is this:

Birthing mothers don’t like to be told what to do. Ever. 

Don’t tell them how to be, how to react, or that they’re “not actually in active labour yet.”

Just don’t do it.

Things pregnant women never say. Post continues after video.

Video by MMC

Natascha is one of the midwives featured on the new Channel Ten show One Born Every Minute, based at Sydney’s Westmead Hospital – which brings 5,500 babies into the world every year.

From water births to emergency caesareans, Natascha says no two births are the same, and giving birth is probably the most unique experience a woman can go through.

“When I started as a midwife I didn’t want to be one – I was just using it as a stepping stone to do something else. But when I got into the profession I realised it wasn’t a job, it’s completely a 100 per cent description of how I would like to help people,” the 32-year-old told Mamamia.

“The more I worked as a midwife the more I understood that I was working with elemental forces and these forces are the birthing mothers. It’s in the same sense as there’s thunderstorms, hurricanes, gravity… and you need to understand this energy flow and have love and respect for the magnificence of it,” she explained.

Working in the birthing unit has changed Natascha as a woman and as a human being.

Natascha Dastur
Natascha Dastur works at Westmead Hospital. Image: Western Sydney Health.
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She's part of a group of people who often leave work as the sun is rising, bond with colleagues over 4am Doritos breaks and more importantly, she gets to be a part of one of the most special moments in a woman's life.

"I am not a crier in general but I think the spirituality of some birth rooms when that baby is born - when you know the family's history or the life they've had before that moment there's something that triggers the tears. It's the women's oxytocin," Natascha laughed. "Being in the birth room and hashing it out with the women and letting our emotions flow with them - it sort of makes us one, it binds us together in that moment."

While no two births are identical, there are similarities and midwives are looking for three distinct changes in behaviour in a birthing woman.

"One is when a woman is getting into that active stage of labour. Then they get to the 8-10 cm mark and they feel like nothing is working anymore and they've just had it with the world, and then they have this amazing rush of hormone and then they have a baby," Natascha told Mamamia.

No two pain journeys or pain thresholds are the same either, but it's a topic that most expectant mothers are eager to talk to Natascha and her colleagues about.

"We try to explain it as, this is not the kind of pain you'll experience when you're in a car crash or when you cut your finger or break your foot, it's different. Your body is actually working to help you - that oxytocin is giving you pain relief at the same time as contracting your uterus. So with pain thresholds some women don't even like to call it pain - they'll call it a contraction or a surge or a rush. Just to deviate their minds from the fact it's different and not the same as other pain," she said.

Natascha with one of the couple's who give birth on episode one of the show. Image: Ten.
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When it comes to husbands, boyfriends and support people, Natascha thinks they deserve their own show.

"We do see a diversity of men but a lot of them are just really shy and don't know what to do," she told Mamamia.

"Husbands and support people in the birthing room are the most underrated people because you don't know [how] your loved one is going to behave... or what she'll want in the moment. I feel like they're not looked after enough, they're not cared for enough," said Natascha.

Her priority in the birthing suite is obviously the birthing woman, but their support person is a close second.

"Our role sometimes is telling them, 'why don't you come and massage her feet?' or 'come and sit with her and tell her you love her'. Because sometimes they're sitting in a corner and they want to do something but they think that we're [the midwives] there with her and they're left feeling a bit helpless," said Natascha.

Natascha has a few bits of advice for mums-to-be and the first one is to be grateful. Grateful that you're having a baby and that your partner is there helping you. It's an experience you only do a few times in your life. "Make the most of it," said Natascha.

"As a birthing mother you're the main channel of life force - you are a selfless, powerful, brave, cooperative and empowered woman who is making so much energy for everyone including your baby who is being born. So make the most of it and get your head into this mindset where you can get as high as possible out of this entire experience."

Natascha also thinks it's important to keep your sense of humour and make your own story. "Don't be influenced by other's stories, make your own," she said.

"And no fighting with your partner after 35 weeks. No fighting - only love," she told Mamamia.

One Born Every Minute starts October 22nd on Ten, 8:30pm.

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