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Episode 252

Hannah

In this week’s episode, I chat to Hannah The Sleep Nurse who shared her first two birth stories in episode 147. In her third pregnancy, she was immediately categorised as high risk because of her history of preterm labour so she opted for a cervical stitch at 18weeks to prevent the onset of contractions. Intent on labouring without induction, Hannah focused on hypnobirthing practices and, after getting her stitch removed at 36 weeks, she embraced every natural induction technique imaginable. After two weeks of prodromal labour she got to the hospital with only seconds to spare. Hannah tells an informative and, at times, hilarious story that is both entertaining and inspiring.

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Hannah loves coffee so when she went off it all of a sudden she knew something was up. Her surprise pregnancy came as a shock but she was also determined to actively prepare for her birth.

“I was more educated this time and I wanted to prepare for a low-intervention experience even though my options were really limited in regards to choosing my care provider.”

Once she had seen her GP to confirm her pregnancy and then she was referred to a public obstetrician who consulted with the team at John Hunter hospital.

“I didn’t feel I clicked with her but she seemed confident that she could manage my incompetent cervix with monitoring. I was really happy to do that instead of choosing to have a preventative cervical stitch. Every two weeks I would have cervical ultrasounds and they would measure the cervix…they’d only intervene if necessary.

“It was long and closed for the entire first trimester. I felt really good within myself and then we had a routine mentoring scan at 16 weeks and they noted that the cervix had gone from 4.6cm to 2.1cm and it was funneling at the top which means that any kind of pressure – eve form coughing – would prompt the cervix to open. My obstetrician referred me straight to John Hunter where I saw the Maternal Foetal Medicine Team led by Professor Craig Pennell. Anyone in the preterm birth world will know of him, he’s a bit of a guru. I made it quite known that I wanted the least amount of intervention possible but with my history, the change in my cervix was concerning.

“I was nervous about what could happen between then and my next ultrasound and so I agreed to a cervical stitch. I went under a general anaesthetic at 18 weeks and they basically make an incision in the cervix and insert what can only be described as a cable tie – it’s not just a little stitch. I stayed overnight because you do bleed and they want to monitor the baby. Over the next few weeks my cervix grew longer again which was great and I continued to be regularly monitored.”

Hannah continued to see her local obstetrician but she admits that there was no continuity of care, even though she saw the same person at every appointment.

“I had to explain my situation every time I saw her. It’s the nature of being a regional obstetrician. It’s just not progressive. I was adamant about the birth I wanted whereas she believed that a birth was a birth and it wasn’t worth talking about.

“Phil and I took it upon ourselves to do the birth preparation that we wanted. We signed up for hypnobirthing online; it was tailored to people who had fear around birth which wasn’t me, I love birth and I was excited to do it again, but I loved the practical skills they shared.”

Once Hannah had passed 29 weeks and 4 days – the exact day she went into pre-term labour with both her boys – she felt a tiny bit of relief but she was still on edge. The next few weeks were incredibly uneventful and she went into hospital at 36 weeks to get her cervical stitch removed.

“It can be quite uncomfortable and they do it in the birth suite because there is a risk that they can break your waters in the process. It’s a touch worse than an uncomfortable pap smear and it kicks off a big contraction because they’re pulling at your cervix.”

Her anxiety peaked in the last few weeks of her pregnancy as she attempted to induce labour naturally. A week after the suture came out Hannah had a morning of persistent mild contractions. They continued for two weeks, as prodromal labour does, and she was frustrated and fed up. She was also losing blood and mucous most days which contributed to her sense of overwhelm. She listened to Natalia’s episode on the podcast (episode #180) and she really connected with the concept of getting out of the way of her birth and trusting that it would happen as it should. Her mindset changed once she surrendered and one night, after going to bed after a particularly spicy curry, the pains were significantly worse than they previously had been.

“They were so consistent and painful that I couldn’t sleep. We started timing them and the contractions were significantly different because it was the first time I’d laboured without syntocinon. With syntocinon, the contractions started in the uterus and these contractions were in my thighs and vagina and it was just so different. I just couldn’t get comfortable, I was moving about and getting into different positions and then my waters broke, but I thought I’d just wet myself, so we decided to go to hospital, even though I felt at this stage that they’d just send me home.

“We got in the car and I had my little bottle of clary sage which I loved smelling. Twenty minutes into the drive I was on all fours and moaning and breathing. They were coming very fast but it wasn’t the worst pain in the world; it was painful but it wasn’t as intense as I thought it would be. I said to Phil I’m having this baby, get to the hospital this is getting insane. I put my hand down into my pants and I could feel the head but I could see the hospital so we just went for it. We walked into Emergency and I just fell to the ground and yelled help me!

“I started ripping my clothes off in Emergency and I just started pushing and within a second her head was out. Phil still had his bags on the shoulder and the keys in his hand. They had got a midwife and she arrived to catch Daisy. She was quite flat when she came out because it was so quick but the midwife told everyone that it was ok and they put Daisy on my chest for skin to skin. One of the best things you can do is give the baby to the mum…she had a big cry and was fine.”

Hannah delivered the placenta and had a good look at it. The midwife stitched her second degree tear and they went home later that morning; home for breakfast with their little girl.

Topics Discussed

Pre-term labour, Incompetent cervix, Cervical stitch, Three vaginal births

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Hannah is offering 10% off her The Sleep Nurse sleep programs with the code ABS10. This offer is valid until the 18th of August 2021

Episode Sponsor

Today’s episode is brought to you by tooshies by TOM. Tooshies by TOM wipes. Toxin free, plastic free and biodegradable. Available at select retailers. Or, shop directly at thetomco.com and receive 15% off your first plastic-free wipes order with promo code ABS15.

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