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Episode 157

Amy Gerard

In today’s episode I chat to Amy Gerard who discusses her three pregnancies and births with the honesty and humour that she’s so well known for on instagram. You can follow her at @amy.gerard.

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Amy and Ryan had only been dating for seven months when they unexpectedly fell pregnant with their daughter, Charli. Amy suffered severe nausea, migraines and nosebleeds and later into the pregnancy developed Polyhydramnios; a condition that creates excess amniotic fluid. As a result, Amy gained 30kg and when her waters broke at 37weeks, she lost 15kg in fluid overnight.

After going into the birth centre for a stretch and sweep, Amy returned home to labour but whenever she called the hospital to update them on her progress, they encouraged her to stay at home and come in the following day. She admits she felt really unsupported and was understandably upset. Eventually she heeded the advice of her mum who encouraged her to present to the birthing suite. At this stage she was stressed and anxious and not coping with the growing intensity of her contractions. “I had no idea what to expect…I had no idea what was happening and where I was at. I had fear of the unknown and it had gripped me,” she says.

After requesting an epidural, the anaesthetist had to administer it three times before it worked as Amy’s excess fluid made it very difficult to find the exact spot. Once she was pain-free she happily laboured for a few hours till she reached full dilation and when the epidural started wearing off she began pushing. Second stage took roughly 40minutes and Amy admits that she dug deep to access energy that she never knew she had. Charli fed well from the start and whilst Amy felt like she had been hit by a freight train, she returned home after two nights and settled well into new motherhood. However, she admits that the emotional rollercoaster of the first few weeks took her by surprise; she was teary, anxious and exhausted and perplexed by the fact that her new baby didn’t come with a how-to guide.

Eleven months later Amy and Ryan got married and she fell pregnant soon after with baby Bobby. Bobby’s pregnancy was a very smooth ride and apart from six weeks of antenatal depression during her second trimester, Amy enjoyed the whole experience. However, late in her third trimester she started to get itchy hands and feet, so much so that she would scratch at her palms with a hairbrush and brush her hands against brick walls. She casually mentioned it to her midwife at her 37weeks appointment who sent her straight for a blood test. The results came back the following day and her bile acid levels were incredibly high; she was diagnosed with Cholestasis and induced a few days afterward.

“The drip was administered and my waters broke and then I closed my eyes and lay there, listening to my music and focusing on my breathing. Ryan was rubbing the bottom of my leg and as the contractions were building I completely zoned out and thought about the lady in my calm birth classes who taught me about breathing techniques,” she says. Her midwife encouraged her to focus on opening her bottom with each exhalation and before long she felt like she was ready to push. “I was like: Yes, I did it! I pushed him out in 14 minutes! From when the drip went in to holding him in my arms was 90 minutes. I honestly felt great!”

Her third pregnancy was unplanned, unexpected and as soon as a wave of nausea hit her she knew exactly what was going on. Once the shock wore off she started dealing with the onslaught of pregnancy symptoms including vomiting, migraines, constant aches and pains, skin tags, skin pigmentation and incontinence. “I documented a lot of it on instagram so that if I ever get clucky I can go back and read the factual truth,” she says.

At her 19 week ultrasound the baby was measuring in the 99th percentile and continued to measure big in the months following. As a result, Amy was induced at 38weeks and once the drip started working she found most comfort in standing, leaning into Ryan and swaying through contractions.

“I found holding onto Ryan and his presence to be so helpful. I couldn’t have done my third birth without him. During my first birth, with Charli, he was shouting at me from the corner like a football coach and my second birth, with Bobby, was a blur but I remember him rubbing my legs which offered me some comfort. But it was my third birth when we were really in sync with each other and I felt like he came on the journey with me.”

When she was nearing transition she started making deep, primal noises which she admits is something she hadn’t done in her previous labours. It was around this time that her baby’s heart rate started to drop so the midwife encouraged her onto the bed. Soon after there were 15 people in the room and a concerned Obstetrician. “I could tell that the doctor was trying to be calm but she had a sense of urgency in her voice and she wanted me to push on every exhalation, not just during contractions.” Amy’s baby, Kobe, was in the birth canal but was stuck and his heart rate wasn’t recovering after dropping during contractions. Thankfully she mustered the energy to push him out once the OB had removed the umbilical cord from around his neck. He was limp at birth and required oxygen for 5 minutes; a scary and traumatic experience for Amy and Ryan. However, once he started crying he recovered quickly and fed well from the start. Amy spent two nights in hospital before returning home to her busy brood of three under the age of 4.

Topics Discussed

Nose bleeds, Migraines, Polyhydramnios, Cholestasis, Recessed chin, Tongue-tie, Incontinence, Midwifery care, Natural birth, Induction

Episode Sponsor

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