The Two Week Wait
10 Questions To Ask Your Care Provider
Your Pregnancy Care Options
Common Symptoms in Early Pregnancy
Six things you may not know about the hours after a caesarean birth
What is Informed Choice?
How to Plan for Postpartum
A Quick Guide to Breastfeeding
In this week’s episode I interview Heidi Anderson about her journey into motherhood and the challenge of the days and weeks post-birth. After being told by her GP that it would be a miracle to fall pregnant naturally, Heidi fell on her first attempt. She was so shocked that she admits to feeling ungrateful for the first few weeks as she grappled with the inevitable and sudden change to her career and lifestyle. Once the doubt and first trimester nausea had passed, she embraced her pregnancy despite a Gestational Diabetes diagnosis and actively prepared for her labour with hypnobirth techniques. She was induced at 39.5 weeks, she birthed via cesarean and her baby boy, Memphis, spent his first few days in NICU with low blood sugar levels. Heidi is brutally honest about her experience as a new mum and she emphasises the importance of preparing not only for your birth but for the fourth trimester, too.
Image by Fliss & Co
“I was in my late thirties when my GP told me that my hormone levels weren’t great and that it would be a miracle if I fell pregnant naturally. My husband, Griffo, and I had planned a delayed honeymoon in America and the night before we left I knew I was ovulating so we conceived then. And halfway through the honeymoon, when my moods were wildly erratic and my nipples were really sore when I was swimming I suddenly thought that I could be pregnant.”
As soon as she peed on the stick it came up positive and while she was laughing hysterically she soon found herself having a bit of an identity crisis.
“I struggled for the first few months because I had all these things planned; I found it hard when people congratulated me and I went into my shell…I was protective of myself in case we miscarried. So while we didn’t struggle and we fell on the first go and I was super grateful, I was perhaps a little ungrateful as I processed it all. When I get anxious I tend to shut down a bit and that was definitely my experience in early pregnancy.”
Being a first time mum, Heidi had absolutely no idea what to do after she discovered she was pregnant. She had met a great obstetrician through work years before so she phoned his office and went from there. On the morning of her 8 week dating scan she had a panic attack outside the clinic but as soon as she heard her baby’s heartbeat she burst into tears; it was just the reassurance she needed.
Her first 16 weeks of pregnancy were spent feeling nauseous and trying to hide it. As a breakfast radio host in Perth, Heidi would get up at 4am every morning, a routine that felt even more draining than what it normally would. She surprised her colleagues and her listeners by announcing the pregnancy on air and while she was relieved to have the news out in the open, it was the results from her 26week gestational diabetes test that really shifted her perspective.
“Being diagnosed with gestational diabetes was a game changer. I hated it for the first few days, I felt like I’d failed but then I got really mindful and focussed and I opted to get help from my naturopath who dictated what I could and couldn’t eat and I was able to manage it with diet. It just made me really grateful and I was in this window of pure enjoyment and happiness, about being pregnant and preparing to be a mum.”
Heidi admits to having long-standing anxiety about childbirth so enrolling in a Hypnobirthing Australia course was a practical and positive step to changing her mindset and actively preparing for a conscious birth experience.
“I feel like everyone should be educated about childbirth this way. My obstetrician gave me the factual information but hypnobirth offered a calm space for me to listen to birth stories and learn about my options. My obstetrician was clinical and everything was black and white whereas hypnobirthing gave me peace of mind and that’s when I started to think of birth as a beautiful thing, not something to be feared.”
Because of her GD diagnosis she knew that induction was inevitable. Her OB wanted to induce at 38weeks but she pushed it back to 39.5 and while she had done acupuncture and had a chiropractic treatment, when she got to hospital her baby still hadn’t dropped. It was then that Heidi’s intuition spoke up and suggested that perhaps she wouldn’t be getting the natural birth that she’d hoped and prepared for.
She had a balloon catheter inserted overnight and her OB broke her waters the next morning. The room was just as Heidi had envisioned; dim lighting, hypnobirth affirmations, a salt lamp and relaxing music. However, she was shocked by the intensity of the contractions and left downhearted when, after a few hours, she was 2cm dilated.
“I just kept thinking that they were so intense and I was absolutely certain that I was going to have a quick birth and that I was almost ready to push but then they checked me and I hadn’t progressed at all. I used the tens machine and the contractions were a minute long and coming every minute and I just wanted to vomit. I got on the bed and told everyone that I just wanted to go home. The anaesthetist came in and explained the epidural to me and to me and Griffo and the midwife reminded me that I wasn’t failing if I had it. I reacted to it and got really itchy skin, like there were bugs crawling underneath my skin, so they gave me medication for that and while that was happening the baby’s heart rate started to drop.”
Being able to relax with the epidural, Heidi was grateful for the opportunity to discuss her options with her obstetrician. “All I wanted in that moment was a safe and healthy baby and at 2pm I made the decision to have a cesarean. They prepared me for it and Griffo and I had a really lovely time, connecting and just being together before we became parents. Once I had made my decision all my anxiety disappeared and I went in at 4pm and Memphis was born at 4: 17pm.”
After discovering that her baby was a boy, Heidi admits that she was thinking of all the things that should have been happening but weren’t: delayed cord clamping, skin-on-skin and breastfeeding. She finally got to hold him in recovery and he was with her for half-an-hour in their room before he was transferred to NICU as his blood sugar levels were dangerously low.
In the days that followed she was overwhelmed by breastfeeding and being away from Memphis and it only made her realise how little she had considered the days and weeks post birth.
“I focussed so much on the birth that I did hardly any preparation for the first few days; I wasn’t thinking about breastfeeding or expressing. But it’s one of the reasons I share what I’ve learned and why I talk about all the things that I wish I had known as a first time mum. Breastfeeding is one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life and I honestly thought it would be really simple but I needed nipple shields and lactation consultants and lots of perseverance but we’re nine months in now so it definitely paid off.”
Her advice for new mums is simple: “Educate yourself beforehand, find out your options before you lock yourself into a method of care and don’t be afraid to ask questions. But the biggest game changer is hypnobirth, I can’t recommend it enough!”
Topics include: Anxiety, gestational diabetes, GD, hypnobirth, induction, emergency cesarea
n, low blood sugar levels, NICU, breastfeeding challenges.
Gestational Diabetes (GD), Emergency caesarean
Today’s episode is proudly sponsored by Active Truth. The maternity activewear tights from Active Truth were a staple in my wardrobe when I was pregnant. Their Mama Tights provided snug and secure support that was magic for those pregnancy aches and pains, especially around your back, hips and pelvis. They’re designed to exercise in but let’s face it, they were so comfortable they were perfect for everyday wear! They’re smoothing and squat-proof and provide physio-approved support with none of the ugly of medical-grade tights! The best part is the bump band grows with you from your first trimester and is a great fit for your entire pregnancy, right to full term. Because they keep their shape you can even wear them as a recovery tight. I’m still wearing mine 10 months on! To get $20 off your order go to www.activetruth.com.au/abs for your exclusive discount code.
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