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Episode 151

Madelyn Carafa

On this week’s episode I talk to Madelyn who recently birthed her first baby, a girl named Georgia. Madelyn enjoyed a very smooth pregnancy, so smooth in fact that she didn’t really think about where she was going to birth until she was 20weeks pregnant. “In retrospect I would have organised that earlier. I didn’t put enough emphasis on who to see, what to do, and the birth experience I wanted.” That said, she enjoyed the experience of shared care with her GP and the midwives at Sandringham Hospital who were, as she admits, the ideal support throughout her long labour.

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Madelyn admits that she’s always wanted to be a mum and yet she had never really considered the option of a natural birth. “My mum had cesarean births and I just presumed I would have one too. When I mentioned this to my GP she informed me that I had a low-risk pregnancy and therefore needed to prepare for a natural birth,” she says.

“I started listening to your podcast and I was encouraged to surround myself with positive birth stories. The timing was crucial for me; I’ve learnt how critical it is to have people to support and empower your lifestyle choices.”

As well as seeing a nutritionist and receiving regular acupuncture treatments from Nat at The Pagoda Tree, Madelyn and her partner Ryan developed their birth skills through a hypnobirthing course. “Ryan really enjoyed it as he’d never even seen an umbilical cord so he was taking lots of notes. For me, it was really great at getting my head in the right space, to really trust my body, to really believe that I was strong enough and capable enough to bring my baby into the world naturally.”

Madelyn experienced a few days and nights of light, early labour – including discharge, lots of bowel movements, inability to settle and feeling hot and generally uncomfortable. However, it wasn’t until two whole days after she felt her first early contractions that she found herself in active labour. “When the contractions were 20minutes apart…that was when I really had to start focus on my hypnobirthing skills. It’s a mindset game, as soon as I said it’s hurting me, I’m in so much pain my whole body would respond so I just focussed on the fact that it was pressure and it was a positive experience.” With contractions coming every 4-5minutes and after frequently vomiting, Madelyn felt like it was time to go to the hospital, despite her fear of leaving the apartment. Her waters broke in the car and when they finally arrived at the birthing suite, Madelyn admits that she thought she was ready to get up on the bed and push out her baby. Little did she know that it would be another 10-and-a-half-hours till she would hold her little girl.

Despite blood loss after her waters had broken and the challenge of severe exhaustion, Madelyn reached full dilation without the assistance of drugs. However, she found the pushing stage to be tricky and expended a lot of her energy screaming. The midwives encouraged her to use her energy to push down instead of screaming out but despite her persistence, baby Georgia needed the assistance of a vacuum delivery.

Whilst her birth was long and arduous, Madelyn and baby Georgia were well enough to go home after one day in hospital. However, she talks candidly about the emotional numbness in the weeks after birth and her guilt surrounding her inability to feel love for her healthy, happy baby. “I just encourage new mums to be really kind to yourself because it’s really tough; it’s a whole new experience and it wasn’t anything like what I expected,” she says.

“I didn’t feel love towards anything or anyone…it was a really tough month and so I kept reminding myself that I was doing the best I could, I was very vocal and asked for help, I just had to let go of the expectations that I should have everything together.” She encourages new mums to talk about their emotions with family and friends, get out into nature and go on gentle walks and spend time in the sunshine; simple remedies that helped her navigate the difficult postpartum emotions that are a normal part of new motherhood.

Topics Discussed

Vaginal vacuum assisted delivery, Shared care

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