It is with great sadness that we advise our members of the passing of Akal Khalsa, a dear and treasured midwife, long time support and one of the founding members of our organisation. Akal was an incredible asset to the homebirth community and she will be dearly missed by our community, her friends and by her daughter, Pritham Khalsa, and grandchildren, Jasmine Sherlock, Kaha and Mārū Packman and Forest Khalsa. Below are some words from those who knew her personally.
I met Akal when I first arrived in Sydney in 2006. She was a long standing private midwife and word about town was she could ruffle feathers. With this information, I knew we would be friends and we were the best of friends up to the day of her passing. As an elder woman and midwife, she was my friend and mentor and was always there with down to earth advice.
We came from very different generations of Midwifery practice and not all of her advice I would take on. She once looked at me very seriously and said, “Now Jacqui, do you get your ladies to prepare their nipples for breastfeeding?” I told her, I did not; she looked at me sternly and informed me this was something she always did and advised me to consider this in my practice. Suffice to say, this is not something I have taken on.
In her retirement, she moved to New Zealand to be with her Daughter Pritham and 3 grandchildren; Kaha, Mārū and Forest. She had just completed the ski season for 2021, attended pilates regularly and had taken up bee keeping and was an active member of the bee-keeping group. She was very happy and thoroughly doted on her family.
I think of her now reunited with her son, Raj who passed away in 2010. She will be looking down at me telling me to dry my eyes and stop being silly. I loved her dearly and will miss her terribly. Goodbye my love.
I am sad to hear the news of Akal’s passing. My only real peer in Australia. Starting our practices in 1978 as homebirth midwives in Sydney, from very different backgrounds and varying in our approaches. Akal was such a fierce mother for the women who were her clients. In the tiredest of times when I needed another brain to work through a situation at a birth I would call her and we would talk it through. She did the same with me.
Akal did me the honour of asking me to be her midwife when she became pregnant with Raj Gopal Singh. It was a lovely birth. Tragically, 11 years ago Raj was killed in a catastrophic road accident. Akal called to tell me the news. I’m glad that we were able to connect and see each other and talked about Raj and the next steps in our lives. Akal believed she would be with her son after her death and this is where I see her now.
Akal was one of the most fierce and forthright midwives I’ve ever met. To be honest, I was a little afraid of her!
It wasn’t until I had birthed my third baby that I actually saw her the way her clients saw her. I was not one of her clients, however, at our midwife meetings, Akal showed me such tenderness, and concern, I was blown away.
The way she made me feel will always be in my memory.
I don’t believe Akal had an easy journey in this life, but she was an asset to women birthing at home for over 40 years. Akal, you will be missed, and forever in the thoughts of women, whose lives you touched during their birthing journeys.
Akal was one of the few home birth midwives in Sydney in 1994 when I approached her when I was pregnant for the first time. I immediately liked Akal as she was direct and straightforward informing me that if I didn’t plan to breastfeed, she wouldn’t assist me. I valued her honesty and truthfulness.
I will always be grateful for the care Akal gave me. My waters broke many hours before labour. Akal arrived immaculate in her white dress and matching white turban as usual for her at that time. We decided to transfer to the hospital due to the colour of the waters. Akal stayed by my side and was my constant advocate during my labour. I can still clearly remember her stroking my shoulder and sweetly advising me during this process. She remained with me for some time after the birth and in the days that followed helped me with breastfeeding. With her finger she invisibly wrote “SHOULDERS” on the wall to remind me to relax when feeding my precious newborn – this memory still comes to mind when I am tense.
I have nothing but gratefulness to Akal for her midwifery skills and her care of me and my tiny newborn. She was forthright, strong and defended mothers like a lion. I felt a great loss when I heard of her passing which was all too soon. She paved the way for other midwives and women who wanted home births.
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