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Episode 254

Beth

You may already know Beth from her page Birth with Beth which is a wonderful resource for pregnant women and their support people. Today, Beth shares her story and details the challenge of the first trimester, the difficulty of Covid restrictions and the joy and hard work of bringing her daughter into the world.

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Based in Melbourne and accustomed to coming in and out of lockdown, Beth didn’t see her care provider face-to-face till 28 weeks. It was an experience she had guided many women through as a midwife but she admits that being on the other side offered a new perspective.

“It was funny because I had been doing phone appointments and I was the one reassuring families and then to be on the other side of it and realise how much you crave that reassurance of face-to-face care was really interesting.”

Beth was assigned a midwife who is also a co-worker; one she has an immense respect for in regards to her birth philosophy. That said, she did most of the first trimester alone, like most women, and vomited continuously throughout the day till 18 weeks. The physical toll began to affect her mental health but she was also focused on staying calm and taking a watch and wait approach.

“I just trusted that I was fine which was to my detriment because I really was quite nauseous and vomiting and showed signs of low iron and I could have been more vigilant. At about 18 weeks I started to feel like myself again; I got my personality and energy back. In the hospital system, even outside of covid, we don’t meet people for their booking till 16-18 weeks so often they’ve trudged through the first bit where they’re equal parts excited but also really struggling through each day. We’ve missed this whole transition and I don’t think that’s acknowledged nearly enough.”

Beth had an anterior placenta but felt baby Poppy moving from 15 weeks which really inspired and motivated her in the final weeks of her intense nausea.

“It felt like she was tapping me from the inside, really subtly, and I just lived for those moments, especially because I felt so rotten. As soon as I got home from work I would check in with her again. I absolutely love the movements but I’m not sure I can say that I loved pregnancy; it was a really intense time.

Beth knew so much as a midwife and birth educator but she wanted to do some birth preparation with her partner, Tristan. They opted for hypnobirthing and Beth admits that being anonymous and having someone else teach her, was really calming and reassuring.

“I did quite a lot of birth preparation because even as a midwife I wanted to get my head around accepting the pain. I loved the interview with Rhea Dempsey in The Birth Class – her work is amazing. And I loved Jodi Wilson’s interview about vocalising and the type of noise that you should make to help your body through the contractions. I processed every possibility with Tristan but I was really hoping to experience a low-intervention birth.

“When I hit 40 weeks I was so ready but I was also conscious of not saying I was over it because I knew it wouldn’t change when my baby would arrive. Even though we were in lockdown, I had the details of an acupuncturist and she did a session with me. I had a midwife appointment that afternoon. Poppy’s head was engaged from 36 weeks and it was the first time in pregnancy where I felt big and puffy and I was struggling to stay positive. I walked briskly to my appointment and home again and that evening I was so moody; I just felt really out of sorts and I got into bed and admitted to Tristan that I was over it. I had a big cry and started repeating my mantra I conceived, I grew, I will labour. I fell asleep and that night I woke up at 2am with period pain that came every 10 minutes or so. By 5am I realised that something was definitely happening because I just couldn’t get comfortable.

After a long shower, contractions intensified but Beth was realistic; she expected to labour for most of the day and she maintained this mindset, even though the reality was quite different.

“I’ve looked after so many first time mums who had long and drawn out labours, I was very conscious of the fact that I was in early labour. At midday I had the tens machine on and I was quite vocal and I started to worry because I thought I was in early labour and it was just so intense. I was swaying and moving and I just could not sit still and I gave myself a talking to because I was getting really tired…I got into bed with a heat pack and the contractions spaced out and I was sleeping between them.

“I had a lot of fear of intervention and I was so  scared of going into hospital and being put on the clock. My midwife really encouraged me to come in because she instinctively felt that I was holding on at home. As soon as I hung up the phone to her my waters broke, I had a show and the next two contractions were really, really strong.

“Within 10 minutes of being in the room at the birth centre I started transitioning. In my head, still after everything, I was still telling myself that it was early labour and as I was transitioning I felt panic, the adrenalin was rising, it was the first time I was scared. I instinctively felt Poppy move down and I couldn’t help but get on my hands and knees and I was getting really vocal. My midwife really encouraged me to lean into it and I told myself I was safe and I let the contractions roll over me. At that point the bath was full and I was in there for three minutes when I started to feel pressure and I started to push. All of a sudden I felt really hot and like I was going to vomit so my midwife got me out of the bath and I got on the bed on all fours and I was pushing involuntarily with every contraction.

“I was totally inward and almost high, I felt like I was screaming but apparently I wasn’t loud at all. As soon as I felt her head I just really went with it and I pushed for about twenty minutes when they told me they could see her head. It went back in so many times and my midwife was encouraging me to use different positions to help manoeuvre Poppy through the pelvis. After an hour and ten minutes she crowned and that was the most intense experience of my life; at that point they were really clear with me about breathing and panting and Poppy’s heartbeat was fine so we let her sit there and stretch the perineum and muscles and I credit that to not having a big tear. We eased her head out really gently and slowly and I birthed her and reached down and pulled her onto my chest and she cried straight away and it was amazing. I couldn’t believe it, I was euphoric and on a completely different planet.

“You’re so done when you’ve had your baby and about ten minutes later there was some separation and the cord lengthened and I birthed the placenta, it was the biggest one I’ve ever seen. No wonder I was so uncomfortable in those last few days. I had a bit of blood loss and my uterus wasn’t clamping down, my midwife thought my full bladder may have affected the uterus so I requested a urinary catheter which I felt was better than medication through a cannula and sure enough, my bladder emptied and my uterus clamped down.”

Twelve hours after birth Poppy was transferred to Special Care nursery because she had picked up an infection which was causing her oxygen saturation levels to be lower than what’s deemed normal for a newborn.

“She had her bloods taken and was given IV antibiotics but watching your 12 hour baby going through it was tough. We were super lucky as they only wanted her in the humidicrib to watch her breathing so that meant we could take her out for cuddles and feeds and skin to skin and we didn’t leave her side.”

Topics Discussed

Vaginal physiological birth, Birth educator, Midwife, MGP

Connect

You can connect with Beth at Birth With Beth HERE

 

Episode Sponsor

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