Throughout her entire pregnancy Matilda Green would go to bed at night visualising her dream birth – a calm, natural labour at home with hubby Art at her side.
Although enduring more than 24 hours of unrelenting contractions, no sleep and even a power cut weren't part of the plan, on a sunny afternoon in September the young mum got her wish as the couple welcomed their adorable little man Milo Kenneth Green into the world in the comfort of their Warkworth abode.
"Taking in Milo's perfect wee face for the first time was the most indescribable, life-changing experience," beams 29-year-old Matilda. "It was an overwhelming feeling of relief that he was born safe and healthy, and pure joy that I was finally meeting the little person I'd been talking to in my belly all this time."
Finding himself with "front-row seats", proud dad Art, 31, was the first to clock eyes on their handsome little lad when Milo was born into his arms after a peaceful, drug-free birth on September 4.
He shares, "There's absolutely nothing that can prepare you for the moment you become a dad for the first time. Name any emotion, when Milo was born I was feeling it – there was laughter, tears, bewilderment, amazement, disbelief and intense concentration as I tried to keep a firm grip on his small, slimy little body.
"To top it all off, I'd just witnessed Matty giving birth to our boy, and my love and respect for her just went through the roof. Matty never gave up, she was so powerful, strong and in control – I was really in awe of her."
Matilda describes Milo's home birth as a "dream come true". From very early on in her pregnancy, the mum-to-be had her heart set on a drug-free birth at their family home and to prepare, she turned to calm birthing and hypnobirthing, two natural methods that use self-hypnosis and relaxation to holistically prepare.
She explains, "They're essentially another form of antenatal classes that teach relaxation, mindfulness and breathing techniques to create really positive birth experiences. Neither schools of thought are pro-home or natural birth necessarily, they are pro-empowered birth so wherever or whatever birthing option is right for your family, you feel present and in control."
A firm believer in mindfulness and meditation, Matilda – who at the time happened to be penning her second self-help book on these very topics – practised her breathing techniques every day and swears they got her through the birth, especially when it seemed Milo was in no hurry to make his grand appearance.
Indeed, Matilda's labour began with a hiss and a roar as she experienced sudden contractions no more than five to 10 minutes apart. But despite the couple's early excitement that things were progressing quickly, after 24 hours of uncomfortable labour pains, Matilda's midwife arrived only to say birth was still a long way off.
"After that 24 hours, I was really exhausted physically and emotionally, and after a night of tossing and turning, with next to no sleep, I phoned my midwife at 4am feeling quite upset.
"She could sense my frustration and recommended I have a bath to relax. I was feeling like a shell of a human, so while Art slept, I jumped in a bath of lavender oils and used the me-time to listen to my hypnobirthing affirmations and refocus on my breathing.
"It turned out to be a really peaceful morning and it gave me a renewed sense of energy knowing that today was the day we'd meet our boy."
As it turned out, Matilda was lucky to sneak in a hot bath when she did as shortly after there was a power cut that thwarted the couple's plans to use the birthing pool.
"In some ways, all the little challenges were kind of a blessing because it gave me a chance to practise everything I'd learnt throughout my pregnancy, so by the time I got to active labour, my breathing was on point," recalls Matilda.
"Milo entered the world into such a beautiful, loving environment and because everything was on my turf, it was on my terms, which created such a safe and comfortable space."
Watch: Matilda Green talks mental health, parenting and her love for baby Milo. Article continues below.
It's been just over eight weeks since Milo's arrival and the pair – who tied the knot on Waiheke in February of this year – feel like they've finally found their parenting rhythm.
Their sweet-natured little man, who is the spitting image of his dad at the same age, has found his smile, is a great sleeper and is now feeding well despite some early challenges.
"The first weeks of parenting were pretty tough for Art and me, and I'd find myself quite teary in those early days. Not only were we all trying to get to know each other and figure everything out, but physically I was still healing from birth and my boobs and nipples were out-of-control sore," tells Matilda, who is candid about her initial struggles with breastfeeding.
"I thought that it would be really instinctual, but in fact it was the thing that got me most down, and one of the main reasons we decided to stay a few nights at the Warkworth Birthing Centre following our first night alone at home with Milo."
The new parents were grateful for the midwives on staff who supported them through their first days of finding their new normal with Milo, and left feeling confident and excited to start their new chapter as a family of three.
Last week, the new mum celebrated another labour of love with the launch of her second book, The Feel Good Guide, which Matilda completed in the final stages of her pregnancy. Inspired by her own battles with self-esteem when she shot to stardom after appearing on The Bachelor with Art in 2015, the self-help guide is a practical resource full of helpful tips to living a happier, more fulfilled life.
"Dealing with social media these last few years has been a real learning curve," admits Matilda, who has since built a viable career using her Instagram platform. "My first taster all those years ago was pretty challenging as all of a sudden I had thousands of people watching my every move and I felt this pressure to live up to everyone's expectations."
"Over time that really affected me, but I found that regular meditation and using mindfulness techniques really helped build my own confidence, which changed the way I used and interacted with social media," explains Matilda.
"This book is full of tips on nutrition, movement and the psychology of self-esteem. Every chapter has an action plan full of things you can start doing straight away to boost your self-esteem in a positive way.
"I'm a firm believer that if you practise these things when life is good, you're much more equipped to cope and grow when things become challenging. My hope is that the book helps others going through tough times."
Becoming a twice-published author is just another high in what has been an incredible year for the doting couple, including their romantic nuptials and, of course, the arrival of their darling boy Milo.
"We are loving being parents," beams Art. "Every day is different and just when you think you've got it nailed, we'll have a day where he throws a bit of a curve ball and that day brings us back to earth with a bump.
"Yet we're just so in awe of this guy that every tough day is totally worth it. Milo's the biggest sweetheart and Matty and I feel so lucky he's all ours."
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