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5 Common Postpartum Experiences
In this week’s episode I interview Bridget from @midnightmums about her third pregnancy and postpartum experience. Bridget had been so excited about having another baby and yet for the first half of her pregnancy she was absolutely floored by nausea, exhaustion and breathlessness. She came up with a myriad of excuses for herself and simply put it down to tiredness and the reality of growing a baby and looking after two busy boys. However, when she mentioned her breathing troubles to her OB, alarms bells rang and he sent her for a myriad of tests. She was diagnosed with blood clots on the lungs and had to endure twice-daily injections of blood thinning medication for the rest of her pregnancy and till three-months postpartum.
Image by Hilary Walker Birth Photography
If you would like to hear Bridget talk about her first two births, listen to episode #19 on the podcast. She birthed her two boys in Adelaide but had returned home to Melbourne to be close to family when she convinced her husband to have a third baby. She admits that she never really felt complete with two and was always inspired by the 96,000+ women who had joined her facebook group, Midnight Mums, over the years. She started it when her firstborn was 7 weeks old and wanted to connect with two friends on facebook. The group literally snowballed and is now an incredibly supportive and educational resource for Australian and international women. “It has really opened my eyes over the years to what other mums go through, from trying to conceive right through to sending their kids off to school,” says Bridget.
When Bridget and Luke decided to have their third and last baby, they fell pregnant easily. Bridget had learned so much about pregnancy since starting Midnight Mums and she was so looking forward to embracing a weekly bump photo, prenatal yoga and birth preparation practises. However, she had endured a knee operation the year before she fell and she’d gained a bit of weight as a result. She felt like she started the pregnancy on the backfoot and never really caught up.
She describes her first trimester as being absolutely rotten; she survived on a diet of hot chips and gravy and when she wasn’t taking her boys to and from school, she was on the couch. She was late in finding an Obstetrician so she did a google search and opted for Dr. Stephen Cole. She was also adamant that she wanted a student midwife so she connected with Amelia, a 4th year student, and she came to all of her appointments and was present for her birth. “She was incredibly knowledgeable and passionate. I loved having the extra support…her care was wonderful and I highly recommend getting a student midwife if you are able to.”
Despite Bridget’s nausea getting better in the second trimester, her exhaustion and breathlessness did not. She blamed it on the hot weather, her extra weight and the general busyness of looking after her boys. However, she was so tired that she couldn’t even listen to her boys talk after she picked them up from school; all she wanted to do was sleep. Her student midwife brought up Bridget’s breathing issues in her five month OB appointment and alarm bells were raised.
“At the time, I felt like I didn’t want to be perceived as a hypochondriac. I cruised through my first two pregnancies and I jus kept coming up with excuses. Dr. Cole sent me straight to a physician who was able to give me a full examination. She ordered a series of tests and basically did a process of elimination. I was on the couch when she called to tell me that they had found four blood clots on my lungs and that I needed to get to hospital immediately. I heard what she said but it was so hard to comprehend; it was like the penny hadn’t dropped. She really emphasised the importance of taking it very easy on my way to hospital so I organised for my parents to help and I spent the next three nights there.”
Both her OB and Physician explained the severity of the situation, the most dire consequence being a heart attack. While her baby was safe, Bridget definitely wasn’t so she was admitted so she could relax and get educated on the situation and to learn about the medication that was vital for the rest of her pregnancy and throughout the fourth trimester.
“Clexane is a blood thinning medication that I had to self-inject twice a day for the remainder of the pregnancy. It was really painful and challenging and I battled with every single injection. I took 240 injections in total and I really did struggle with each and every one…it’s so hard to inflict pain on yourself. I found that numbing the area with ice first definitely helped but the bruising was incredibly bad.”
Bridget’s Ob said there weren’t any reasons that she couldn’t labour naturally but she would have to be induced so they could monitor her closely. The risk of taking Clexane and going into labour naturally was that she would have a PPH and essentially bleed out because her blood was thin from the medication. Bridget stopped the injections 24 hours before she was induced so her blood could return to normal for the labour which was an intense and brutal four hours.
“The clexane and blood clot journey just overtook the whole experience and the birth was just about delivering her safely and for me to move forward with treatment. I was quite worried about my inability to breathe properly and deeply during labour…I was still having problems breathing while talking, and I got quite anxious about it. Because of the induction and the fact that the drip was turned up so high, my after pains were absolutely horrendous, so much so that they had to give me pain relief for them.”
She went back on the injections hours after baby Bonnie was born and stayed in hospital for seven days to go through a series of tests before she was discharged. She spent the first month at home on bedrest which was a beautiful time for bonding and breastfeeding. Three weeks after birth a scan showed that most of the clots had dissolved but she continued taking the injections till the three-month mark just to be safe.
In the days after Bonnie’s birth, Bridget and Luke discovered a little red mark high on her cheekbone. “It was the faintest little spot but it started to grow and after 10 days we questioned it. She was diagnosed with a Strawberry Spot or Hemangioma is superficial but it also affected her nose which had a bit of a blue tinge to it. There is medication that you can take to reduce the growth but we opted against it as they are beta blockers that slow the heart rate.”
Image: Hilary Walker Photography
Connect with Bridget and her Face Book group Midnight Mums here.
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