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Episode 230

Marley

In this week’s episode, I chat to Marley Morgan an Indigenous woman who is raising her three children on Gumbaynggirr land. After a surprise pregnancy at the age of 26, Marley was confronted by a variety of health concerns that took a toll on her mental health and led to an ante-natal depression diagnosis. Her journey into motherhood was challenging but when she reached out to her local mother’s group she recognised the importance of a supportive village. She’s birthed three boys in four years and has consciously worked on her mental and physical health, has grown a successful business that celebrates women and motherhood and has experienced the joy of intervention-free birth with the support of midwives.

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Image by Barefoot Wandering Photography

Marley was on birth control when she fell pregnant with her first baby at the age of 26. She was incredibly low in iron and had extreme morning sickness till 14weeks.

“It really did take a toll on my mental health; I didn’t know what I was in for and it was such a big shock falling pregnant while on contraception. And then being hit with extreme morning sickness and losing a lot of weight and being weak from anaemia…it was a lot to process.”

After being placed on iron supplements and an eating plan, her iron levels increased but she found it difficult to gain weight. The Aboriginal Maternal Infant Health Service (AMIHS) offered ongoing support and made home visits to ensure she was supported as she was living away from her family network.

“I was terrified of the pain and what was going to happen with my body. I had written a birth plan and I’d planned out every detail; what I was going to wear, what photos I wanted to be taken, what music I wanted playing….but nothing really went to plan.”

It was during one of her birth classes that she felt incredibly uncomfortable; she couldn’t stand for long, her back was sore, and she had mild abdominal cramps. For the rest of the week she rested and after days of early labour, a bloody show and her waters breaking, she went to hospital and was 6cm. She got straight in the bath but felt overwhelmed with the contractions so requested an epidural. Her anxiety kicked in when she felt like she was losing control (a typical response to transition) and she felt like she couldn’t push when the midwives asked her to. She was given an episiotomy and her baby boy was delivered with the assistance of the vacuum.

“He went on the breast straight away and the pain just went away…but afterwards I did lose a lot of blood and I felt quite unwell. Within the first 24 hours he had jaundice so he was taken into the nursery within a few hours of being born. He was there for five days and I was lucky to see a lactation consultant during our stay which was great. I was breastfeeding and topping up with formula for two weeks but then I started to really get used to feeding and started to enjoy it.

“I was anxious and very emotional once my partner went back to work and I felt quite isolated again. I felt so numb and not like myself but I joined a mothers group; they helped so much. Just having someone to talk to was really nice. My mental health really improved when I started to get out in the community and have friends at the same stage of life as me.”

When she decided to have a second baby, she fell pregnant easily and while she coped well with the nausea and hormonal shifts of the first trimester, she admits that having her partner home a lot more helped her navigate the hormonal shifts. She felt so much more confident in herself and her mothering abilities and she had built a beautiful support system.

“I had gained a lot of healthy weight, I was exercising and I was offered the iron infusion at 37 weeks; I felt amazing, the colour was back in my face and both physically and mentally I felt a real lift. I started looking into hypnobirthing and downloaded the app. Leading up to the birth I felt really calm and relaxed and ready.

“I started getting quite intense contractions and the hospital told me to go home and rest and have my bag ready. I was 3cm dilated but my contractions were erratic so I went home and by 10pm they were really intense. I started to bleed and they told me to come in right away. We rushed into the hospital and they checked me and I was 6cm. I breathed through each contraction and then I felt a really strong sensation to push so the midwives guided my hands down to his head and I lifted him up to me. I had tested positive for strep B so I had antibiotics as soon as I arrived at the hospital and stayed for a few days after birth for monitoring.”

She fell pregnant with her third baby by surprise and while she felt amazing, at eight weeks she was struck with intense abdominal pain and was diagnosed with appendicitis. She received keyhole surgery and spent a week in hospital but apart from increased back pain and heartburn, she had a relatively smooth pregnancy.

“When contractions finally started I walked to get them going and when I arrived at the hospital I was 8cm so it was too late for any pain relief. I used the gas and my partner was rubbing my back and the baby’s head was pressing into my hip so the midwife suggested I squat and hold onto the bar. Towards the end I did one really push and his head was born and he was already crying and looking around the room, and then with one more push his whole body was out and he was placed on me and did the breast crawl to my breast and started feeding.”

 

Topics Discussed

Indigenous Australian, Antenatal depression, Appendicitis, Three vaginal births

Connect

You can connect with Marley Morgan and Barefoot Wandering Photography HERE

Episode Sponsor

Today’s episode of the show is sponsored by Who Gives A Crap. The lovely team at WHO GIVES A CRAP are offering my listeners $10 off your first subscription. Just head over to Who Gives A Crap right now and use the coupon code Birthstory to get $10 off your first subscription.

That’s $10 off your first subscription purchase at Who Gives A Crap with coupon code Birthstory.

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