#MYGRACETALES: Anne Stroud, Midwife, Mother To Odin



Anne Stroud with her 13 month old son Odin

“Motherhood has taught me unconditional, overwhelming love...
To be mindful and present. To live the life I’ve always wanted and to never hold back. Time is so precious that there really is no room for regrets. I want this to trickle down to Odin in whatever way that may be. I want him to see that there are no limits to our goals or imagination, only belief in ourselves. Motherhood has strengthened my patience, resilience and taught me that each and every woman will parent their children differently and whatever works for them may not work for you.

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I have been following a routine for Odin since he was six weeks old...
I believe he thrives on it, and I do too. Odin was never a good sleeper from birth and when I adapted a routine earlier on, he started sleeping through night after night and had long restorative naps during the day. He became a really happy baby to be around and is curious and mischievous. My favourite thing to do with Odin is our evening baths together. Every night without fail I jump in and have a bath with my son and teach him how to blow bubbles, sing songs and tickles. His dad will then put him to bed. My husband and I revel in the fact that Odin is always in bed by 7pm and that we can spend quality time with one another over a glass of wine or our favourite TV show, which at the moment is The Fall or Homeland.

I became a midwife after searching for a career that I felt I really wanted to do for a long time, one that entailed helping women and children...
After a Biology and Nursing degree under my belt, I decided to do midwifery. It was while I was studying in the Philippines and volunteering with Red Cross youth that drove my passion to help women through such an amazing part of their life; pregnancy and childbirth. Being exposed to public health in a developing country really changed my perspective dramatically, it made me so thankful for all our resources and education available in Australia which lit a fire within me to pursue midwifery so I can utilise my skills to help others whether it would in a local capacity in Australia or volunteering overseas. I completed my training at RPAH in Sydney. What I love most about midwifery is the relationships that I form with my clients. To be able to witness and help women in such a transformative process from pregnancy to birth and motherhood is humbling. To be able to equip families with information, skills and encouragement in order for them to make informed decisions about their birth and their bodies is a role I hold dear to my heart. I believe women are powerful, strong and courageous and more than ever during this time in their life need guidance, support and love.

My job as a birth centre midwife is filled with so many memorable moments that it's difficult to pick one from the other...
However collectively, the look when a mother first meets her baby for the first time has always been a memorable moment for me and I never tire of it. The privilege of just being there and being able to help a family bring a new baby into this world is remarkable and the trust they place in me is very humbling. From my experience, women that have positive birth experiences have realistic outlooks and a prepared mind - one that is free from fear and is adaptable to change. It’s not necessarily that they have a normal birth, an assisted or caesarean birth. What makes a calmer birth is a woman who has prepared herself for any outcome, receptive to changes in labour and one who is able to cope with the dynamic nature of a natural process of a woman’s body.

My tips for a labour and childbirth are...
1. Preparation. Educate yourself about your choices in labour and birth. Talk to your midwife, GP or obstetrician about your preferences.
2. Communication is key, make sure you voice your preferences with your support team, birth partner as well as health professional.
3. Attend a childbirth education class, get your birth partner involved so that they can support you physically, emotionally and mentally.
4. Practice meditation, mindfulness or yoga.
5. Be active in pregnancy and enjoy a well balanced diet.
6. Be kind to yourself.

Our biggest tool to bring into labour and birth is our mind...
I always tell my clients that our mind has so much control over how we perceive labour. It’s very challenging to stay in control in a natural event where there is no control over what our bodies are meant to do. What we can do is to train how we perceive and cope with pain, pleasure, fatigue, discomfort and changes happening to our body and to accept that labour and birth is dynamic and impermanent and it’s how we accept this fact that can greatly affect our birth experience.

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Photos: Christine Pobke

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At the moment I’m doing continuing study...
My week is usually planned out around Odin's activities and I then work around his nap times around midday and manage to do some reading, housework and lunch. By the time it’s late afternoon, I’m preparing meals for dinner then our structured bedtime routine before 7pm. I think I’m always going to be juggling the balance between time for son, family and me time. My husband tends to remind me when I’m looking overwhelmed to go out for a massage or a walk.

My style has always been classic...
The only change in my style would be that it’s more relaxed and suited to running around after a boisterous toddler. I always seem to be wearing Breton stripes, neutral knitwear distressed jeans, relaxed tailored trousers, ankle boots and since we live in a colder climate, a staple coat and down jacket.

I try to keep my beauty essentials fairly basic...
I use Rationale products religiously, Eve Lom cleanser and Ren Radiance Renewal Mask weekly. For the day I used By Terry Light Expert foundation and Nars blush and some Chantecaille lip gloss.

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Having grown up in Sydney, moving to Canberra took some time getting used to...
However, I kept myself open to change and the Canberra around me has grown into a cosmopolitan, relaxing and beautiful place to live. It has the perks of a city with great restaurants, culture, museums, annual events, growing coffee culture, charming people without the traffic, noise and lack of space that big cities come with. It’s a great place to raise our son.

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For my son’s first birthday, I wanted it to be what he liked and kept it really simple...
He loves colour and he loves balloons. So I tried to make the decorations as colourful and fun as possible. I decorated our house with honeycomb paper balls, paper fans, streamers and of course balloons!  I had decided I wanted to make his cake and to keep it as healthy as possible. So I made a three tiered gluten free cake with cream cheese frosting. I got the inspiration from Martha Stewart to create an ombre effect on the cake using colouring – it was harder than I thought but it looked beautiful. I also baked carrot and quinoa cupcakes for the children, pulled pork sliders for the adults and an array of fruit platters, cheese and quiches for afternoon tea.

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We live in a mid-century home designed by Canberra architect Neville Ward...
I fell in love with this house for its floor to ceiling windows and large eaves. We bought it at auction four years ago. My husband and I are big fans of modernist homes and Scandinavian design. I’m very lucky that we both share similar taste and over the years have collected quality pieces that were beautiful and practical. We recently completed our renovation and have stuck to simple white scheme, grey walls and touches of oak. We both gravitate to calm, simple spaces with pops of colour from artwork and soft furnishings."

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Anne's little list of loves:

Odin and his Dad.
The change in seasons in Canberra is magical.
Coffee from The Cupping Room.
Yum Cha at Akiba.
Our weekend farmer’s market trips.
Cooking fresh seasonal produce from the Canberra region.
Santa Maria di novella bath oil.
Visits from my family and friends from Sydney and having a good laugh.
Dancing around the kitchen.
Planning our next holiday overseas.

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Follow @annestroud

-As told to The Grace Tales. Cover image by Christine Pobke

The #mygracetales series puts the focus on the lives and routines of The Grace Tales' wonderful and inspiring community of readers.


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