BC Birth mum Hershey
Hershey Gargash, 40 from the UK, had her daughter Noura in January 2020. Image Credit: Stefan Lindique

I always wanted a birth that didn’t involve having an epidural, or pain killers. I don’t know why… I just really wanted to experience a natural birthing process without any intervention. Ideally, I would have loved to have had a home birth but we can’t do that in Dubai.

My husband’s family have a tradition of having their babies at Mediclinic City Hospital and luckily, they have a water birthing pool there. So, we booked that early on in the pregnancy, but there were no guarantees – when you arrive at the hospital in labour, it’s a ‘first come, first serve’ basis.

I felt so fortunate with my pregnancy. I didn’t have morning sickness and didn’t even know I was pregnant for the first month. I was hoping to fall pregnant but I was just planning to see how it went for six months or so.

My husband didn’t realise I just wanted a general check and booked us an appointment at an IVF fertility clinic


In fact, before we started trying, I wanted to go for a check-up to make sure everything was OK. My husband didn’t realise I just wanted a general check and booked us an appointment at an IVF fertility clinic.

The doctor we saw said, “You haven’t got many eggs because of your age. So, if you want kids, we need to start IVF right now.”

My instincts told me to have confidence in myself and that it was just a money-making scheme. I totally ignored her and two months later, I was pregnant. Imagine if I had listened and spent all that money – and put my body through that needlessly?

BC Mum Hershey
Hershey was determined to experience her birth without medication Image Credit: Supplied

Natural mum, natural baby

I am normally very healthy and active and I also exercised during my pregnancy. I enjoyed pregnancy pilates, light workouts at the gym and kept to my vegan diet. My husband was worried the baby wouldn’t get enough nutrients, but she has always been very healthy and she was a healthy weight when she was born.

I made sure that I ate good natural food and I was cautious about only using non-toxic products on my body. I have always been into natural beauty, but during my pregnancy, this became a passion for me. My friend Mouna also felt the same during her pregnancy, so we recently launched an online platform for clean, high-performance, sustainable beauty products, called Hoiisa.

Being around women who were also going through it was so valuable – especially for a first time mum


I did an amazing hypnobirthing course with Jasmine Collin that eased me into the birthing process. Being around women who were also going through it was so valuable – especially for a first time mum. Also, to have my husband there was great so he could understand a bit of what it’s like to go through a natural birthing process. He loved it – he actually surprised himself with how much he learnt.

Show time

A few days before my due date, I started to get worried as I had heard that, if I was 10-days late, I would be given an induction, which I didn’t want. I tried a lot of natural methods to induce myself… I was active going to the gym, doing pre-natal classes and walking. I tried reflexology at the Alternative Medical Centre and with Claire Saez at Wimbledon Reflexology in Dubai. I also did acupuncture with Dr Lu at Synergy Integrated Medical Centre. Dr Lu said that women normally need between one and five sessions to induce birth. So, we started a few days before my due date, with a session every other day. After three sessions, I went into labour.

I chose hypnobirthing and a water birth because I have always been into meditation and I wanted the most natural interaction with my body and my baby


I chose hypnobirthing and a water birth because I have always been into meditation and I wanted the most natural interaction with my body and my baby. I felt like medicine would stop me feeling as much as I would feel without it.

I also thought about all the women in other countries and women from the past who went through it without medication and it felt like a rite of passage as a woman. So, I was really head-strong and determined to do it without pain relief.

Before the labour, I thought the only point I would say I wanted painkillers, or intervention, was if there was a life or death scenario, which there wasn’t, thank God.

I was relaxing at home after the third session when the contractions started… I called my husband at about 6.30pm to say I was having some pains and that I would monitor them. A few hours later, I was still getting them.

Originally, I wasn’t going to have a doula as I felt like my husband was so incredibly supportive, which he was, and I thought I didn’t want anything or anyone to interfere with our experience together.

But in my last month of pregnancy, I asked my doctor about delayed cord cutting and she was really unsupportive and critical. She said, “You should be thinking about losing weight, rather than thinking about these things.”

I really didn’t want to hear that – especially in my last month. So I immediately swapped to another doctor. At this point I thought that maybe I needed a doula.

We hired Louise Atkins – she was amazing. If I have a second child, I would definitely go back to her again.

My labour lasted 22 hours from the first contraction to delivery. I spent the first ten hours at home and used an app to measure contractions and used the 5-1-1 rule to tell when we should go to hospital (meaning when they are five minutes apart, lasting for a minute each time and continuing for an hour).

We went to the hospital and checked in and managed to get the birthing room with the pool.

At that point, I was 4cms dilated. Within an hour, I was 5cms. They said I could get into the water when I was 6cms.

By that point, the pain was quite unbearable so I was relieved to get into the water. In hindsight, I wished I had gone in a bit later as I ended up being in there for seven or eight hours. But I couldn’t have managed any more pain and the water totally soothed it away… it was unbelievable. If the pain was an eight out of 10, the water took it down to a six.

If I hadn’t been in the water, I don’t know if I could have handled the pain. But once I was in, I thought, “I can definitely do this.”

I meditated, listened to positive birthing affirmations, had my playlist on with meditative tunes like Gayatri Mantra, and visualised a jellyfish and lots of soothing colours, whilst I was breathing through each surge.

I didn’t eat, or sleep, during that time – both were the last things on my mind. I was pretty much meditating the whole way through and taking breaks when the pain eased off, to relax. In the last few hours, I took some water and apple juice.

Finding a way

Through each surge, I was gripping onto either my husband or Louise’s hand for dear life. I remember at one point, my music was on and I was squeezing Louise’s hand so tightly through each wave of pain and I was vaguely aware of her head dipping. It was only looking back on it that I realised I was really hurting her hand!

I found a comfortable position on all fours in the pool and I wasn’t comfortable with squatting position, but now I know that I could have speeded it along a little if I had moved to another good position sooner. My midwife was brilliant and she helped me into a sideways position where my feet were braced against the side of the pool which gave me more power.

I gave four pushes and breaths in that position and she popped out. Amazingly, the midwife had put her hand on my perineum so I didn’t tear, which meant I didn’t need any painkillers after the birth. Interestingly, when I gave birth, the feeling was like going to the toilet – which is something I didn’t know before and I think is a really good thing for mothers to know.

We waited for ten minutes before cutting the umbilical cord – until it stopped pulsating. I wanted to ease Noura into the world as gently as I could.

It was such a gentle birth experience…. I don’t remember hearing Noura crying at all, although I know she probably did.

And then very quickly she was on my chest. I couldn’t have imagined an amazing experience – the only way it could have been better was if I was doing it at home. It was one of the most beautiful experience that I have ever had.

Noura is such a bundle of joy and she is so happy and connected and she can support her own head after three weeks and she has strength in her legs… She is so alert. I feel so grateful that she is so healthy.

Soon after the birth, someone asked me if I would do it the same way again without medication and I wasn’t sure. But now, a couple of months on, I know I absolutely would want to do it exactly the same way again – medication-free, a water birth with a doula and hypnobirthing. I used affirmations a lot during pregnancy and during the labour and I particularly loved this one: “My body is strong and capable of anything”. All it takes is a second of fear and you might choose an epidural. You have to really believe that you can do it. I believed my body could do it and it did. It was perfect.

BC Mum Herhsey
Baby Noura at 6 weeks Image Credit: Supplied
The hypnobirther
Jasmine Collin is the co-founder of Love Parenting UAE, a hypnobirthing specialist and child birth educator. Here she tells us about the part she played in preparing Hershey for birth.

“My ‘Love Birthing” Hypnobirthing classes are a way of preparing pregnant couples for a positive birthing experience. During the four classes spread over four weeks, couples learn how women’s bodies are designed to birth and how to maximise the natural process. We also prepare them to deal with whatever path their birthing takes.
“Mums learn how to create a positive mindset for birth, release their fears and replace them with calm confidence and dads learn how to be a calm and competent birth partner – tools not just for birth, but for life.
“They also meet other couples and create long-lasting friendships.”

“I remember Hershey and Yousuf very well indeed. I think, like most dads, Yousuf was unsure about the classes at the beginning, but he soon got involved in the class discussions and practical elements. He was a lot of fun to have on the classes and Hershey was calm and collected all the way through. I loved getting to know them both.”

“I am extremely honoured to work with former midwife, lactation consultant and baby massage instructor Amy Vogelaar. We’ve been working together now for over six years offering classes from pregnancy to toddlerhood, packed with evidence based information to empower parents with the knowledge and skills they need to trust their own wisdom and abilities to birth, nurture and parent their children calmly and confidently. Our mission is to help parents enjoy their pregnancies, have fulfilling births and to love parenting!
“We would love to invite mums and dads to join us for our monthly Bumps and Babes Community Coffee Morning on the last Wednesday of the month at Bounty Beets, Le Meridien Mina Seyahi. We also have two community Facebook groups where they can expect great information and support to help them on their parenting journeys.”

For more from Jasmine, visit www.loveparentinguae.com or find them on Facebook at ‘Love Parenting UAE Support Group’ and ‘Informed Pregnancy and Birth UAE’.

Good for you and good for the planet

Health and wellbeing enthusiast Hershey has recently turned her attention to the world of natural, sustainable beauty

“Hoiisa is a new online platform offering clean, non-toxic beauty products, which are perfect for pregnant mums. We also have products for babies and children, as well as for men, and will be adding more brands each few months. The aim was to source the best sustainable and clean beauty brands from around the world and to make them available to people in the GCC, not just for beauty reasons, but also for our better health and for a healthier planet.”

Visit www.hoiisa.com or find them on Instagram at @hoiisalifestyle

Read more:

“Labour was more powerful and beautiful than I could have imagined”

“How hypnobirthing helped me give birth to my 5kg baby drug-free”