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Episode 241

Claire and Luke

In this week’s episode, I chat to Claire and Luke who are new parents to baby Beau. They talk in detail about Claire’s two miscarriages, specifically the lack of awareness surrounding the physical pain of the process. Before she fell pregnant for a third time, Claire discovered that she carries a blood clotting gene and her fertility specialist recommended blood thinning medication as soon as she conceived. A subchorionic hematoma was discovered at her 12 week ultrasound but after resolving itself, Claire felt like she could relax into the pregnancy and spent a lot of time practising hypnobirth techniques which proved invaluable for her very positive induction.

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Claire : “During my first pregnancy I started bleeding lightly at 9 weeks but it stopped soon after. I waited two days to go to the GP and she sent me for an ultrasound and that’s when I found out I had miscarried. I chose to miscarriage naturally and that started at 11weeks and honestly, it was absolutely horrendous, it was more painful than labour. I lost a lot of blood and unfortunately I still had retained tissue so by week 13 I had to go and get a D+C.

“No one tells you the details of a misscarriage. I suspected it would be a heavy period but the doctors gave me no forewarning of just how painful it was going to be and how much blood I would lose. I got my period within three weeks of the D+C and we fell pregnant two months later but I lost that baby as well. It was a much easier miscarriage; it was more like a painful period but I lost it at 7 weeks.”

Luke : “It was a loss for both of us but Claire was the one going through the physical loss and I just tried to support her as much as possible. We just didn’t think it would happen to us. After the second miscarriage we really worked on our mental health and finished our van and started travelling. We were more relaxed and it definitely helped.”

Claire : “After seeing a GP who sent me off for a lot of testing, she discovered I had a gene that causes blood clots. They presumed I was blood clotting the foetus and expelling it, hence the miscarriages. She referred me to a fertility specialist and said I would need to take Clexane – a blood thinner – for the next pregnancy. We were in The Whitsundays when I fell pregnant so I called the specialist and he recommended progesterone and a clexane injection every day for 18 weeks.

“We were waiting for the 12 week mark to find out that everything was fine and at the scan they picked up a subchorionic hematoma (a blood clot in the womb) which can cause miscarriage. The doctors recommended I return home to Melbourne as my pregnancy was now classified as high risk and I needed regular monitoring. I booked into Sandringham Royal Women’s Hospital which, in hindsight, I’m so thankful for.

“I’d always wanted a water birth but since being high risk, that went out the window. We did a hypnobirthing course with Belly to Birth and while I had researched birth for years, for Luke it was an introduction to the birthing world.”

Luke: “There was a lot of information which was amazing, you want to be there to support your partner but I also wanted to be hands-on. I learnt the importance of the language I was using, words of encouragement, soft-touching and massaging as she was contracting from pre-labour to active labour to birth. There was a lot to learn but it was amazing to learn and I was ready to really support her, help her stay confident and advocate for her. Watching the birthing videos is just incredible – it’s so empowering – it’s just incredible to watch. When you watch these films, it reinforces what an incredible experience it is and how incredible the female body is.”

Claire : “By 20 weeks, when the hematoma had cleared, I was considered low risk so I stayed with the hospital and went with it. The first sign of labour…well, it was long.

“On the Tuesday I had a tiny gush, but not enough to wet through my pants, and an hour later I lost my mucus plug. I rushed out to Luke who was cleaning the van and told him it was happening! I told him I was going to have a nap because I presumed labour was going to start soon after. I woke up with period pains in the night but they dissipated and I woke up the following morning and wasn’t contracting at all. I had a bloody show and had a little gush again, very tiny, nothing happened on Thursday and on Friday I went in for an appointment. They presumed my waters hadn’t broken but they wanted to check for amniotic fluid anyway and it turns out they had broken. They strongly advised me to have an induction, there and then.”

Luke : “I just said: are you giving us a choice? But they basically said they weren’t going to let us go.”

Claire : “They gave us time…I did a meditation and some breathing and calmed myself. From that appointment we transferred straight to the birthing suite and they broke my waters. Fortunately I was already 2cm so it was a really nice place to start an induction because my body was ready. The minute they started the drip I started feeling contractions.

“Part of the reason I didn’t want an induction was because I wanted to stay mobile. The ball was my go-to labour plan, I had quite bad back labour, I just concentrated on my breath and sat on the ball, rotating my hips. It was amazing and I could do it while staying connected to the drips.

“Luke helped me remain calm. I told him my cue: remind me to breathe and relax my jaw. He was also doing counter-pressure on my lower back. I liked any touch…I went so internal and was so focussed on my breath that I wasn’t completely sure what Luke was doing but I liked knowing that he was there.”

Luke : “I could tell where she was feeling it…it was hours and hours and it’s a long time to be massaging. I could gauge how she was benefiting from it, especially towards the end. I felt pretty confident throughout the whole process. She had a lot of back pain but she had the sterile water injections and they really changed everything for her.”

Claire : “I thought the shower would help but I found it awful. I think I was reaching transition and I went into full-body shakes. That’s when it was really hard to focus on my breath and remain calm. The midwife suggested sterile water injections and they were incredible…well, they’re not too pleasant but the back labour went instantly! There were two midwives, they drew crosses on my lower back and at the peak of my contraction they injected. They work on acupressure points – they are so painful that they trick your mind. And it worked.

“Within half an hour I was on the toilet, pushing. The injections calmed me so much and I wondered whether my labour was progressing because I wasn’t in pain anymore. I thought I needed to go to the toilet and as soon as I sat down my body took over. The midwives ran in and checked me and I was 9cm and I got onto the bed and was on all fours. I used my breath to push him down….that was the most amazing part of the labour for me. I did nothing; my body did everything to birth Beau. That ejection reflex is phenomenal. The midwife put hot compress on my perineum and it felt really good. Once his head was out he was born really quickly.

“They passed him through to me but he took a while to cry so they had to take him off me for five seconds to rub him with the towel and then we had skin to skin for about two hours.

“I hadn’t done any research about breastfeeding; I knew nothing. The midwife helped me latch him but he didn’t get it. I started expressing myself at the hospital and continued when we got home and the midwife came to visit me when my milk was coming in. She gave me a nipple shield and he immediately latched with it. It wasn’t ideal, it wasn’t what I wanted, but about a week afterwards I took it away and he’s been feeding beautifully since.”

Topics Discussed

Clexane, Subchorionic hematoma, Positive induction experience, Vaginal birth, Miscarriage, Induction

Connect

You can connect with Claire Falconer @coachedbyclaire and follow Claire and Luke on their travels @vanlifestraya

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