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What is Informed Choice?
What To Expect in the Fourth Trimester
How to Plan for Postpartum
In this week’s episode I interview Kate, one third of the @kipandco team. Kate birthed three of her boys at home with the support of her midwife and she used hip-opening practises and active birth techniques during labour to help her achieve a water birth every time. She’s always been grateful for the opportunity to create a homebirth space, one where she envisioned her happiest moments occurring. So when she discovered, at 29 weeks in her second pregnancy, that her baby had died, she opted to birth in hospital with the unwavering support of her husband, her midwife and a team of empathetic nurses. Kate shares her grief of those days with profound vulnerability and talks about her healing journey in the years that followed. It was an honour to hear your story, Kate. Thank you so much for sharing.
Kate and her husband, Mal got married in late 2010 and discovered they were pregnant in early 2011. Kate had witnessed her sister’s two home births and knew, without a doubt, that she would birth her baby at home, too.
“My sister and I haven’t come from a family of home birthers and our friends haven’t had them. Both of our parents had passed away earlier in our life and had spent about 10 years in and out of hospital and I think we knew that we didn’t want to experience the joy of birth in a place that held so many sad memories,” she says.
Kate experienced a smooth pregnancy with little to no symptoms. She admits she loves being pregnant; loves the way she feels and the way her body grows. She did some birth preparation work with Rhea Dempsey and journeyed towards her due date feeling happy and healthy. She swam every day, walked the sand dunes and when her due date passed her by, she did everything she could to induce naturally.
“I felt really good and my midwife said that as long as I felt good and there was enough fluid around the baby she was happy to wait for labour to start naturally. I know every birth is totally unique, but with every one I woke in the morning with subtle contractions and knew that it was the day,” she says.
Kate was 16 days past her due date when she started labouring to bring Zig into the world. She started feeling contractions in the early morning but stayed in bed till 7:30am and got up to get her space ready for the birth. By 9am her contractions were frequent so her midwife, Lynne, came around and did an internal; she was 4cm.
“Lynne went back to the hospital for her shift and I laboured, feeling as though I had progressed a lot by midday. She came back to check me and I hadn’t progressed much at all. I laboured till about 6pm, moving around the house and staying active, using all the spaces I’d set up and waiting till the very last moment to use the shower. It was around this time that Lynne noticed that although I had been drinking, I hadn’t done a wee. I managed to do a small one in the shower and then I got out and used the tens machine before getting in the birth pool.”
Kate got in the birth pool and spent the next thirty or so contractions trying to push. Not long after her midwife thought that her bladder may be getting in the way so she manually drained it for her and then performed a hip opening technique to encourage the baby into the right position.
“Lynne suggested doing ten contractions in a squat over a mirror. She wanted to encourage me to push and thought that if I could see my progress, it would help. I could feel what was going on but I didn’t know how to make it happen so when I could see his head get bigger it was both beautiful and encouraging. On the first contraction his head was the size of a 50c piece and ten contractions later his head was the size of my palm.”
She got in the pool then and her waters broke; 4 pushes later she lifted baby Zig onto her chest. She stayed in the water for 20minuutes before her midwives encouraged her to get out s they were concerned about her blood loss.
She birthed the placenta and a big blood clot passed soon after. Her midwives were concerned, enough to encourage her to go to the hospital to get checked over.
“My husband and I always swore that if the midwives wanted us to go to hospital we would just be guided by them. They suggested I go to hospital to get stitched up properly and have an IV syntocin drip and I really didn’t want to but I went via ambulance and even though I felt absolutely fine I stayed in hospital for four hours and was home by 7:30am the next morning. I feel like I was robbed of that precious, undisturbed time post-birth but I’m also all for getting the baby out in the safest way possible and following the advice of my midwives.”
Kate’s second pregnancy was much the same as Zig’s; she felt wonderful and had no symptoms. At 29 weeks she was at home having tea with a friend when she mentioned that she had felt the baby shift weight but hadn’t felt any kicks or punches.
“She encouraged me to ring Lynne and she arrived soon after. Zig was three at the time and he was with me as I lay on the couch and Lynne got the doppler out. I honestly didn’t think much of it but I noticed her go quiet and she said that she couldn’t get a heartbeat. I think you’ve lost the baby.
“I was instantly an absolute wreck and I called Mal and he came straight home and we were both just devastated. I deep down knew that I didn’t need a scan but I went for one but I’ve erased that memory, although I do remember how kind all the doctors and staff were. Lynne was still happy for me to have a homebirth and I so badly wanted to but I’d created this space that I was going to have the happiest moments of life in and then when I knew the baby wasn’t going to be alive, I couldn’t honour that. I decided very quickly that we’d have a hospital birth
The doctor really talked us through what would happen and he suggested doing it in the next few days. We went home that afternoon, spent the night together and went into hospital the following day for induction. I really think I was still just in an awful amount of shock.”
Kate was supported by her private midwife, Sarah and after having a syntocin capsule inserted in her cervix, she wasn’t disturbed by the birthing suite staff. She laboured around the birthing suite and in the shower and had both gas and pethidine to assist her. But she admits that knowing her baby wasn’t working with her in the birth was confronting and she got to a place where she just couldn’t get through it.
“I was a wreck…and my biggest regret is that I didn’t give this baby the honour of the birth it deserved.”
Baby Pip was born and lifted into Kate’s arms. The nursing staff wrapped him in a hand knitted blanket and placed a beanie on his head before giving him back to Kate and Mal.
“We sat with him for about two hours and that was really special and a huge part of the healing process for us. We gave him back to the hospital staff and went home shortly afterward. I’ve done a lot of processing and healing through intuitive healers and kinesiologists but honestly, I pushed it to the furthest point in order to survive it.”
She was advised to wait three to six months till she fell pregnant again and she did, on the sixth month. Her third baby, Fern, had the very same due date as Pip. Surprisingly she didn’t experience any anxiety throughout her pregnancy but thoroughly enjoyed being pregnant and prepared for another homebirth with midwives Lynne and Sarah. She went into labour on Fern’s due date and, much like Zig’s labour, she contracted throughout the day, required hip opening practices in the depth of her labour and delivered in the water. Two years later she birthed baby Viv in much the same way and she speaks so fondly of those first few hours, hearing Zig and Fern walk upstairs in the early hours of the morning to meet their new brother.
Kate says she’s not really sure if she’ll ever feel like she’s done having babies, especially considering the loss of Pip. But she’s happy with her boy tribe, she adores her work and she’s grateful for the beautiful homebirths she’s experienced.
Postpartum haemorrhage (PPH), Placenta encapsulation, Waterbirth, Miscarriage, Stillbirth, Hip opening, Active birth, Home birth
To connect with Kate and see her beautiful Homeware and Bedding brand check out Kip & Co
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