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Episode 182

Anna Davey

In this week’s episode I chat to midwife and mother of five, Anna Davey. While her first and second pregnancies were big surprises she went on to experience smooth and straightforward deliveries. Her third birth was a dream water birth that left her wanting just one more baby so no one was more surprised than her when she discovered she was pregnant with twins. She sought a private midwife and an OB for her twin birth and declined the recommendation for a precautionary epidural, successfully delivering naturally with her second twin being a footling breech. Anna brings a wealth of knowledge to her stories and discusses a range of common labour and birth experiences.

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Anna spent her formative years living in an Indigenous community in Darwin before she met and fell in love with her former husband, Aaron. She fell pregnant at 22 and while it was a surprise, it wasn’t uncommon for women in her neighbourhood to start their families at a young age. She opted for shared care with her GP and was induced at 41weeks. There was an expectation that Aaron’s mother would be present at the birth and she, along with Anna’s mother supported Anna through an induction and an eight hour labour.

“I feel like a hypocrite when I encourage woman to get up and move in their labours because I spent almost all of my labours lying in the foetal position on the bed; it just felt right for me,” she says.

Her breastfeeding journey was difficult to begin with and the challenge and pain of feeding wasn’t something she was prepared for. “I really did overthink it. In the Indigenous community the women walk around with their baby on the breast the whole time and I just presumed it was going to be easy but I really struggled. I over-thought it, took the baby off the breast every time it felt uncomfortable, got severely cracked and sore nipples and at three-week postpartum I got mastitis. I dreaded every single feed but I persevered and gave myself till six weeks to give it a go and it was between week three and four that something clicked. I fed till she was 13-months-old and she weaned herself. In hindsight that may have been because I was pregnant but I didn’t know at the time.”

Anna and Aaron were living in Melbourne when she discovered she was pregnant again. She booked in to the team midwifery program at Monash and ended up being care for one midwife throughout most of her pregnancy. She went into labour naturally and while she swore she wouldn’t have pethadine again as she hated the way it made her feel, she ended up succumbing to it, and regretted it once again. Her labour was quick and her breastfeeding journey easy.

When she was pregnant with her third child she requested a scan as she had no pregnancy symptoms and didn’t feel pregnant at all. Everything was perfectly fine and while she expressed to Aaron that she would love a homebirth, he didn’t feel comfortable about it. She booked into the birth centre at Monash and saw a team of midwives from Birth Centre Care. Her pregnancy was smooth and uneventful until the end when baby Marley had flipped to a transverse position so an OB had to manually turn him. One of the midwives filled Anna with fear by telling her the very worst case scenario. “She really put the fear in me and told me that if my waters break I needed to call an ambulance immediately because if the cord drops down I’ve got seven minutes until my baby dies. I was recently looking after a woman whose baby had an unstable lie and I simply told her that if her waters break and she feels something hanging between her legs, she needs to get on her hands and knees with her bum in the air and call the ambulance. There’s no need to tell women the very worst thing that can happen and fill them with fear.”

Baby Marley ended up engaging after early labour and Anna laboured beautifully with the support of a male midwife. “It was a really lovely birth. Aaron was there, the grandmothers and my two daughters. It was so beautiful and whilst I said I wanted a physiological third stage once he was born I asked for the syntocin injection because I just wanted the placenta out so I could snuggle in bed with Marley.

“I had never been overly maternal but after I had Marley, I’m not sure if it was because of the amazing birth or the fact that he was such a dream baby…it was the most beautiful time and I just had to have another baby. Aaron wasn’t so keen, he was really happy with three but lo and behold, we fell pregnant. We had driven to Adelaide to spend Christmas with Aaron’s family over there and I was really tired, completely wiped out but I had no sickness. There were a few families in the same house and it was busy and stressful and I woke up one morning and was bleeding. I thought I was miscarrying so I went to the hospital and after they did bloods they did a scan. I was 10-11 weeks and they confirmed that I was definitely having twins. I may have cried for two weeks afterwards but the rest of the family were completely elated as there’s quite a few sets of twins in the extended family.”

Anna had booked into the birth centre again but once she discovered she was having twins she was transferred to the twins clinic through Monash. In her third trimester she contacted private midwife, Jan Ireland, as she felt like she needed someone to advocate for her as there were so many requirements and recommendations for a twin birth.

“The hospital policies regarding twins were overwhelming. I didn’t feel confident declining things and yet I felt like I was being bullied into doing things I didn’t want to do. I wanted her to be an advocate for me and she knew an OB that would support my wishes for an epidural-free labour. I booked in with him and he was happy for Jan to see me for the remainder of the pregnancy.  She’d come to my house which was much easier than sitting in the antenatal clinic at Monash for hours with a toddler. However, he did encourage a preemptive epidural because if he needed to reach up and turn the second twin, it’s much more comfortable if I can’t feel it. There’s also a chance that the second twin may have to be delivered via cesarean and if that’s the case, there’s rarely time for an epidural and it would mean I would have to go under general anaesthetic for the birth. I thanked him for explaining it all to me but I politely declined.”

Anna saw her OB at 38 weeks and they agreed on an induction at 39weeks. The day before she had an acupuncture treatment, expressed milk and Jan gave her a stretch and sweep.

“We went in at 7am to have my waters broken and I asked for a few hours to move around and encourage labour naturally before they put syntocinon in. Nothing happened though so at about midday they started the drip and the first twin was born 90minutes later; it was just Jan, Aaaron and the midwife there. I distinctly remember choosing to switch the controlling part of my brain off and it’s surprising how quickly Archie was born after that. For the second twin, Issac, the OB was there as were the grandmothers, my other children and my friends. I had my own little circus. Isaac was born footling breech and there was a moment, shortly before he was born that I regretted not having the epidural. It was a brief moment of panic but everything was ok in the end.”

The twins had their own placentas which had fused during the pregnancy so Anna delivered it as one. She rarely breastfed them together but instead took the time to fed them separately and felt like it was a beautiful way
to connect with each of them. After completing her midwifery degree she moved to Cairns when the twins were four and started working in the maternity ward of the local hospital.

“I work in the midwifery group practice program which I love. Continuity of care is so lovely and because Cairns is small you bump into people you’ve looked after and it’s just really, really nice.”

Topics Discussed

Pethidine, Transverse, Twin birth no epidural, Footling breech, Indigenous, Water Birth, Pelvic instability, Private midwife, Induction, Breastfeeding

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