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Episode 262

Tara

In today’s episode Tara shares her intuitive journey to motherhood and the power of family-centred birth. She was working in the air force during her first pregnancy and was denied the opportunity to have a homebirth as Defense Force policy dictated care from a private obstetrician. Her pregnancy was stressful; she experienced workplace bullying and harassment which led to an official medical discharge during maternity leave. Her second pregnancy was a completely different experience and she planned and experienced a glorious family-centred homebirth supported by midwives. At three months postpartum after suffering low milk supply, she made the decision to have her breast implants removed. She fed her baby four hours post-op and her milk supply immediately increased, so much so that she could express 100ml from each breast.

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Image by Jerusha Sutton

Tara worked in the navy for nine years before transferring to the air force to be close to her husband. He was deployed to the Middle East and two weeks later she discovered she was pregnant; she had conceived on their first attempt. Defense Force policy dictates care from a private obstetrician so despite Tara’s dreams for a homebirth, she was immediately denied the opportunity. She met with her obstetrician for the first time at 7 weeks and was floored by her advice.

“The defence force has a strict medical scheme and stepping outside of it just isn’t something that’s done. I knew deep down that I wanted a homebirth and I was told I couldn’t do it, that’s what upset me the most. I got myself a doula and she really paved the way for my next birth. She opened my eyes to many more aspects of birth that I wasn’t aware of. We put my homebirth dreams to the side and I wrote a birth plan but I did see that medical coercion happen, I think because I was looking out for it. At my first appointment the obstetrician suggested a caesarean in order to prevent prolpase. She told me I was young and I shouldn’t have to deal with a prolapse at a young age. I went straight to the medical officer and demanded he find me a new OB or I was going to go ahead and have a homebirth. He did find me one and she was lovely and really supportive of my intention to birth vaginally without intervention.”

Tara ended up being medically discharged due to harassment and bullying in the workplace; despite being a personal trainer in both the navy and the air force, two colleagues continued to make official complaints based on Tara’s physical activity, suggesting that she was harming her baby. When her husband, Jason, returned home from the Middle East they did a Calmbirth course together and felt really prepared for the birth.

Tara was due on NYE but on Christmas night she noticed a deep pain in her lower back; the contractions were coming every thirty minutes and by 4am they were coming more frequently. At 6am her doula was at the door, welcomed by 15 members of Tara’s family who were staying for Christmas. By midday her contractions were four minutes apart so they made the ten minute journey to the hospital and upon arrival, her obstetrician offered to give her a vaginal examination. She wishes she never agreed; she was 2cm after 12 hours of labour.

“I was in the bathtub and it took away so much of my pain and I knew that if I could stay there, I’d be ok. At the time the midwife told me I couldn’t birth in the bath and I just couldn’t believe it. She pulled the plug because she thought I was close and as I got out I knew I was in transition but the midwife looked at me, she didn’t give me a full vaginal examination but she just looked, took her gloves off, covered up the birth trolley and walked out of the room. And then I just let out this huge roar and I birthed Bloom and brought her up to my chest. I didn’t want the syntocinon injection to help birth the placenta but when the midwife asked me if I wanted help to birth the placenta, I said yes not knowing that she was going to give me an injection till I felt it in my thigh.”

Bloom fed beautifully for the first two weeks but then Tara noticed a distinct drop in her supply. She started on motilium to help with milk production and it worked. She stayed on them for her entire breastfeeding journey despite the uncomfortable symptoms; dry mouth, headaches and exhaustion.

“When Bloom turned one we started trying for another baby and 14 months had passed without contraception. We left the defense force, built a life in Sydney, I was working shift work for NSW ambulance in the call centre and I presumed my strange work hours may have been contributing to my inability to conceive. I got to the point where I went to a fertility specialist and I did four rounds of clomid, accepting the risk of twins even though I really didn’t want to have twins. I felt terrible and it didn’t work and I refused to do IVF so we went back to trying; having sex every day, every seocnd day. A friend suggested acupuncture and on the month I had treatment I fell pregnant.

“There was no doubt in my mind that I would have a homebirth. I immersed myself in home birth because if I envisaged it, I knew I could have it. I knew I had to find myself a midwife and I knew I had to find one as soon as I peed on a stick. I originally wanted Jo Hunter but she couldn’t look after me because she was releasing Birthtime a few weeks after my estimated due date. She recommended Jackie Wood and within seconds of meeting her I knew she was my woman so we booked her on the spot.

“I did a lot of debriefing with her; I dived straight in and told her everything and she was very understanding and empathetic about it. I knew no one was in control of my birth but me and it was unfolding as it should. I also knew I wanted Jerusha Sutton to be at my birth but of course she was also doing Birthtime; I took the gamble and she made it. Her images are incredible and the video has moved people; I’ve been contacted by so many strangers about it.

“I knew I could get the waterbirth I so longed for. Jackie brought over the birth pool at 28 weeks and it was in eyesight every day and I’d just smile when I looked at it. It made me so happy to see it everyday, there were no overshadowing emotions, just the joy of anticipating it.

“I was due on the 5th of February and she was born that day. I was in bed and the contractions started and kept coming every ten minutes. I wasn’t comfortable in bed so I got up, Jason got a few jobs done – blowing up the birth pool,putting a note on the door – I’d stop every ten minutes to work through the contraction yet I couldn’t stand up. I needed to kneel or lean on something. They were coming every four minutes and it was 5:30am and I felt it best to call Jackie because she lived an hour away. My friend Jen turned up at the same time as Jackie and Jerusha turned up at the same time and it was then that I knew I couldn’t be on the earth anymore so I got in the pool.

“I wanted everyone to sit back and let me do it; I led the way. It was just Jason and I, he was there for every contraction, rubbing my back and pressing my hips. By 8am it was getting really hard and painful. Jason was just beaming because he knew it wasn’t far off. It was starting to ramp up and Bloom got in the pool and she was splashing around. I wanted her there and I wanted her to see her baby sibling being born. It was beautiful, powerful birth and I wanted Bloom to witness it.

“Jackie reminded me that I ddn’t need permission to p
ush, if I felt like I needed to push I should just push. I put my hand down and she was right there, right there. I birthed Amazona and looked between her legs and announced it was a girl. My husband was on one side and Bloom was on the other. I just couldn’t believe I’d experienced a family-centred birth. She latched straight away, I birthed the placenta and then we got out and just rested on the couch before moving into the bedroom. We slept till the evening when my parents brought dinner to us and we slept through the night, woke up the next morning and that was that.

“At 2 weeks postpartum my milk just dropped. I let a week pass, I saw a lactation consultant and she observed that there was no transfer of milk at all despite how well Amazona was feeding. I knew then that I needed to get my breast implants out. I also had breast implant illness; I had a lot of side effects from having them in for ten years. The implants I had were actually recalled as they were textured on the outside to prevent slipping and rotation. I found a surgeon who would remove them and he did an ultrasound on the breast and you could see how impacted the milk ducts were from the implant; they looked like squashed olives.

“We booked the explant for three weeks later. My biggest worry was not being able to feed her ever again. I pushed that to the back of my mind and I focused on what I could give her; it was my journey and I wanted to breastfeed her. I had the surgery, I was awake by 1pm and she had her first feed at 5pm. It was really emotional because it was working; she fed for forty minutes. I was in bed with drains for five days and couldn’t lift her so Jason brought her to me for every feed and he burped her and changed her. I was expressing 100ml from each boob, I was filling Amazona’s belly, she had full nappies. It was just so healing!”

Topics Discussed

Family-centred birth, Breast implant removal, Two Vaginal Births, Home birth

Episode Sponsor

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But she stresses the importance of keeping cookies aside for the hospital bag. Because seriously Mama, next to meeting your new baby, these cookies are the best birth incentive!! Follow along on her Instagram for tips & tricks when it comes to breastfeeding, happy vibes from Jewels herself & daily stories from the Mamas she is supporting. Jewels has kindly offered 15% OFF STOREWIDE using the code: ABS15

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