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Episode 258

Amy

In this week’s episode I interview Amy from @mother.other about her two birth experiences. Her first pregnancy ended in an early miscarriage so she navigated her first trimester with profound anxiety, recalling the relief she felt after the first scan, then the second and finally, when she felt her baby’s first kicks. Not one to think or prepare for birth till the third trimester, she enrolled in an online birth course and was inspired by the physiology of birth; once she knew how the muscles actually work in labour she was excited for what was to come. Her first birth was long and challenging but her second was a joyous water birth that left her empowered and ecstatic.

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“My partner and I have been together since we were 16. We’ve always known we wanted kids; it was just a matter of when. When I was 27 we decided that we’d stop being careful and we fell pregnant but I miscarried at six weeks. It was pretty overwhelming and traumatic but I ended up falling pregnant with Dorian on my next cycle.

“I was really anxious about miscarrying again for a long time. We really didn’t even get as excited as we could have, we were just paranoid that it would happen again. It’s a sad experience because looking back we should have just embraced it, but you can’t deny your worry. The first scan made me feel a lot more relaxed and then when I felt him kicking I knew I was fine.”

Amy’s GP referred her to the Mercy Hospital Midwife Group Practise early on and she was assigned her own midwife who offered continuity of care throughout her pregnancy. She couldn’t afford in-person hypnobirthing classes but discovered an online birth course that taught her the physiology of birth and gave her skills to use in labour. Despite her brith education, she still didn’t feel confident in her ability to birth.

“It always takes me till the third trimester to fully embrace birth preparation. By then I’m in the zone and I’m ready…I watch every birth video, visualise my own birth and actively plan for it.

During my first pregnancy I didn’t even want to think about birth for a really long time because it made me feel so anxious. The birth course was a great way to relax myself and understand the physiology of birth, literally knowing what my muscles would do in labour helped me get so excited. I remember thinking: My body is made for this, I know what to do now.”

Amy experienced the frustration of going past her due date, her body heavy and sore. She watched a lot of British Bake Off, bounced on the fit ball, had lots of sex and ate curry. She admits she’s not sure if any of it actually worked but it was a good distraction from the fact that she was overdue.

“I was in prodromal labour for a week before I went into proper labour. They were only light contractions but they were on and off for a whole week. I was timing them and they were getting consistent and then they’d stop. My mental state was so bad because I was so over it. By the time I went into labour I was actually exhausted.

“I had the Hollywood experience of my waters breaking quite dramatically. I was out for breakfast with a friend and had the urge to return home to my nest and block everyone out. I bounced on the fitball and napped for the afternoon and as I was going to bed at 10pm, I heard a loud pop and all of a sudden there was fluid going all over the bed, over me. My first thought was to check the colour and it was fine. I had a shower, put on a pad and went to bed. But within thirty minutes it was just too intense so I put the tens machine on. During both my labours the tens machine was so useful. I’ve never experienced not using it but both times, knowing that I could press a button and get through a contraction, was really helpful. I had control over the tens machine; it was mental assistance but I feel like it helped me physically, too.”

Amy called her midwife at midnight who encouraged her to stay at home and call back at 5am. Amy felt really defeated by her advice, even though she knew that once she got to hospital she would be on the clock and likely need intervention if she laboured for too long. By 4am Amy and her partner made their way to the hospital. When the pain got too intense for the tens machine, Amy was in and out of the shower. There were two distinct times when Amy felt overwhelmed by the intensity of her labour; when her waters were fully broken by the midwife and when her baby’s shoulders were rotated to assist with the second stage. She recalls how intense and daunting the pain was and yet, she persisted and started pushing soon after.

“I went to the toilet and then I got straight on the bed and I was pushing straight away. I had my arms wrapped around the back of the bed and I pushed for over two hours. It was a long and intense experience and I found it really difficult to push; I couldn’t work out how the muscles worked to birth my baby. I was almost deranged at this point and then the really kind midwife came up to my face and she pushed my hair out of my face in a motherly, gentle way. She looked me right in the eyes and said: Just trust in your beautiful body, you have got this, you can do this. Hearing those words turned the whole thing around and Dory crowned soon after. I felt completely defeated by the time he was on my chest. Because of my second degree tear and Dorian’s short cord, I had so much pain and was so distracted by it.

Early in the pregnancy Amy was diagnosed with gestational thrombocytopenia – low platelets – so she had to be aware of birthing the placenta promptly after birth. After having stitches and basking in the oxytocin high while eating banana bread, she had a shower and needed help to wash herself and get dressed. Amy stayed overnight and the midwives picked up that Dory had a tongue tie the following day. He was a determined feeder but Amy had such painful nipples which lead to mastitis and later on, duct thrush. It went on for six months and she had to explain, over and over again, what she was experiencing because there’s no visual symptoms. She found a lactation consultant who recommended a treatment as advised by the Royal Womens – fluconazole – and thankfully, it worked. She successfully breastfed Dory till he was two and weaned him just before she gave birth to her second baby.

In the midst of lockdown in Melbourne, Amy fell pregnant with Banksia. They had already decided to move back to the Central Coast of NSW to be with family so as soon as restrictions eased they started packing up. Amy got through to the midwife group program at the local hospital and met with her midwife for the first time at 4 months. The second trimester was intense and chaotic – they were living between houses and hadn’t yet unpacked. Once they moved into a house of their own and settled into their nest, Amy felt like she could actively start repairing for birth. She returned to the same birth course she had done during Dory’s pregnancy, she did a lot of perineal massage, she played her birth playlists every night to get in the zone, she wrote a plan for who would look after Dory and a postpartum plan, too.

“I went to Gosford hospital and they recently had their birth suites renovated; each room was so big and had a bath and there  was dim lighting which makes such a difference in the birth space. I was convinced I was going to go into labour early because I was so big and heavy. I ended up giving birth at 40 weeks which was earlier than my first. I woke up one night because of reflux and then I heard my son’s door open and I heard him vomit and I thought Oh my gosh, we’ve got gastro. Once I’d cleaned up Dory, I was vomiting. We vomited every hour or two until late the next day. It was the most intense vomiting bug I’d ever had. I stopped vomiting at 5pm and then at 10pm I started feeling contractions but I was so tired that I just ignored them. But then it was so consistent, they were coming every two minutes, so I got the tens machine on, my sister came to look after Dory, and we got in the car to go to hospital. The car ride was difficult because each contraction felt like I was sitting on a watermelon. My midwife was very kind and gentle. She got us some essential oils to use and she just left me alone, respected my wish to not have any checks and just went about her work in the corner of the room.

“All of a sudden I wanted to get in the bath. I was leaning over the bath, fifteen minutes after I got in, and I started moaning and pushing the baby down. It was intense but it really didn’t hurt that much. I pushed and pushed and after two minutes her head was out and I was guiding it with my hand. She was en caul so it was like a balloon coming out and she fell into the bath. I was in complete shock that it was over and she was out. It was so easy and I would do it again a million times. I was in shock but not in a bad way, I was just so stoked. I got out of the bath to birth the placenta and we went home a few hours later.”

Topics Discussed

Prodromal labour, Gestational thrombocytopenia, Water Birth, Two Vaginal Births, MGP

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You can find out more about Amy and her podcast Mother Other HERE

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