Prepare for your birth journey today with our birth class

Episode 247

Emily

In this week’s bonus episode I interview Emily - the first of The Birth Class students to have a baby! From conceiving during lockdown in Melbourne to birthing her baby boy in Sydney’s current lockdown, Emily shares the highs and lows of her pregnancy, including her experience learning from the midwives, doulas and birth educators featured in The Birth Class. As an informed first-time mum she was prepared to go well past her due date so when she started contracting at 35+5 weeks she was in shock. The days that followed weren’t easy but she used the skills and strategies she learnt while pregnant - breathing techniques, meditations and mantras - and delivered her baby with ease.

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It took Emily and Brendan seven months to conceive Rafferty. Emily admits that with every month that passed her disappointment was amplified, especially considering they were in Melbourne’s extended lockdown. After the sixth month they decided to see a fertility specialist who ran a series of tests. The only issue that came back was Emily’s AMH levels; they were low for her age (26) and the specialist recommended she not wait to have her children which is something she’ll keep in mind when planning her next pregnancy.

“I didn’t feel pregnant at all but I was a serial early-tester. The first test I took 10 days post-ovulation and the second line came up. I had a bit of spotting early and her GP was concerned about my HCG levels which was scary but they were low just because I was so early.

“I called the RPA birth centre at four weeks but they told me to call back after my 12 week scan…so I had my scan, walked outside and called them straight away. I didn’t enjoy the first trimester; it was the only time where how informed I was was a disadvantage because I was acutely aware that miscarriage is so common and I was wary of not getting my hopes up.”

Emily and Brendan did a hypnobirth class at 20 weeks which she admits was probably a bit too early so when The Birth Class was released, she was ecstatic.

“It was the perfect refresher and I really appreciated that there were birth professionals featured. We learnt so much about the physiology of birth and the practical strategies we could take into the birth. If I could only do one preparation course I would definitely do The Birth Class.

“I’m so informed about birth so I was convinced that as a first time mum I would go to 42 weeks. Two hours after I handed in my final assignments on the 18th June I started having contractions, not thinking they were contractions. I was 35+5 so I really didn’t think I could be having contractions; I just presumed they were braxton hicks. We went about our morning, went to lunch at the cafe but I wasn’t happy there and I just wanted to go home. I called the birth centre and they told me to take a panadol and rest, they presumed it was my body preparing.

“My mum came over to drop something off and when she came in she watched me go through the contractions and she demanded Brendan pack a hospital bag. He ran around the house getting everything together so we waited a few hours and then, when they were quite uncomfortable and coming every 3-5 minutes, we drove to the hospital and I went straight to the labour ward. They hooked me up to the monitor and half-an-hour later the midwife came in to confirm that I was in threatened preterm labour.

“There were a lot of different opinions about what was happening over the coming days and the more senior the professional, the more reassuring the news was. They did tell us that it was likely Rafferty would need to go to the nursery because they can have difficulty breathing and sucking when delivered preterm so there was every chance that he would need to be tube fed.

“After being monitored and the contractions dying down, they discharged me, encouraged me to rest but they reinforced the importance of coming straight back to hospital if the contractions picked back up again. I managed to sleep at home and had a bloody show but before long I was back to contracting three times in ten minutes. I was 3cm and they gave me some panadeine forte and encouraged me to rest. They also did a bedside ultrasound, a urine test and they swabbed for GBS and infection markers but everything was fine.

“From the Friday till he was born on Tuesday, I was lying on my side, listening to the relaxation from The Birth Class and mentally repeating the mantra release, relax, let go. I was resting for days in a hypnotic state but every day when they’d do a vaginal exam, I was only stretching to 3.5cm and I had a crisis of confidence. I was tired of being in pain and not being in labour. The midwife told me the contractions were not showing up on the screen and she implied that I wasn’t coping very well, that I had no idea what real labour would be like and I should revisit my birth plan and be a bit realistic.

“I wasn’t going to be able to use water or even the tens machine because I was being monitored so I changed my birth plan to highlight that once I was in active labour I would be requesting an epidural. I had a big cry then and I started contracting quite intensely…for 45 minutes I had very intense contractions and they were the only ones I had to really work through. During that time I felt pressure in my bum and then it moved into my vagina but because I was told I wasn’t really in labour I just ignored it till I couldn’t do the contractions anymore. Brendan called the midwife back and she did an internal, ran out of the room and came back with the wheelchair. She told me not to push and then quickly wheeled me over to the labour ward. I was 10cm! It speaks to the fact that vaginal exams aren’t a reliable predictor of your labour and how long you’ll take to dilate. That ‘1cm every hour’ rule just isn’t a predictable measure.

“After being wheeled through the maternity ward and into the birthing suite, Emily got up on the bed on all fours and her waters broke. I felt a massive gush and looked down and was so relieved to see that they were clear. I was a hot mess when I was pushing, I didn’t feel any pain but I found it really difficult. I just kept thinking that there was no way I was going to get my baby out. I just felt the urge to push but they couldn’t pick up his heartrate so they turned me on my side with one leg up. I was yelling and crying and sweating but inside I was ok, telling myself this is exactly how I’m meant to give birth. I found it really reassuring, to be uninhibited, doing what I needed to do.

“He came out really alert, we were all so happy that he was here and the pediatrician said he was perfect and didn’t need to go to special care. I wanted a managed third stage and the placenta was birthed really easily. Rafferty did a bit of a breast crawl and he latched which was amazing. I needed stitches for a labial tear, it was split right down the middle but it’s healed really well.”

Emily stayed in the birthing suite for a few hours before she was transferred to the maternity ward. She stayed in hospital for four days as Rafferty was preterm and required monitoring. Emily loved having midwives on call and she was able to get a lot of lactation support before being discharged. Her first few weeks at home have been relatively smooth although she admits that not having regular appointments with midwives or community health
nurses has been a bit confronting.

Topics Discussed

Birth centre, Threatened preterm labour, One baby, Vaginal birth, The Birth Class

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