The Two Week Wait
10 Questions To Ask Your Care Provider
Your Pregnancy Care Options
Common Symptoms in Early Pregnancy
Six things you may not know about the hours after a caesarean birth
What is Informed Choice?
How to Plan for Postpartum
A Quick Guide to Breastfeeding
In this first episode of the year, I chat to Kate who shares the beautiful story of her two pregnancies, including her recent twin vaginal birth. Her first pregnancy ignited her passion for pregnancy and birth and after a positive and empowered experience, she trained as a birth and postpartum doula. Her intuition was undeniably strong when she discovered she was pregnant for the second time and her 12-week scan confirmed what she already knew; she was pregnant with boy/girl fraternal twins. Kate shares lots of wonderful resources and tips; just the inspiration you need to get informed, advocate for yourself and actively prepare for your birth.
Kate admits that she’s always looked forward to the pregnancy, birth and early motherhood season of life so when she discovered she was pregnant for the first time, she spent all her spare time reading and preparing. She joined the midwifery group program at her local public hospital and adored her midwife.
“Her continuity of care was absolutely invaluable. Most of my antenatal appointments were at home, we got to know each other and she understood what I wanted and respected my wishes. I dedicated my spare time to educating myself on all things birth, I listened to all of your episodes, I read Spiritual Midwifery and gained so much respect for Ina May Gaskin which sparked my interest in working in the birth field.
“I didn’t consider a homebirth; my plan was to give birth in the hospital but go in at the last minute. With my second pregnancy, I had already booked a homebirth but then we found out I was having twins. While I educated myself completely and knew what I wanted and what my birth was going to look like, I didn’t relay that effectively to Rory, unfortunately, and that was definitely realised once I got to the hospital and felt quite alone in my labour.”
Kate had hyperemesis for the first half of her pregnancy and was vomiting consistently. It passed at 20 weeks and she basked in feeling well and healthy and spent the remainder of her pregnancy eating well and staying active.
“I knew when I ovulated and when we had conceived and my period has always been 26 days so I felt like the 8th was the date my baby would come. I was having regular tightenings and by the time I realised they were consistent and I was in labour, I couldn’t sit still. I spent the night in the bath which was really beautiful, it was sacred and quiet and a lovely way to spend the last few hours of pregnancy. I got out of the bath in the early morning and I used the tens machine and called the midwife. My plan was to labour at home for as long as possible, go into the hospital at the last minute, birth a healthy baby and come home with minimal intervention.
“My midwife came and did an internal. I was 5cm and she could stretch me to 7cm. It was a really pivotal point in my labour. Prior to that I knew my contractions were strong and I was making sound and moving through them. Shortly after my midwife checked me we went to hospital but unfortunately for me the change in environment stalled my labour and I lost my rhythm.
“I remember being in the birthing pool and feeling like I was doing it on my own; I felt that Rory, my mum and sister were witnessing me giving birth but they weren’t in the contractions and doing the surges with me. I also realised at that time that even though I had educated myself and knew everything I wanted and needed, I didn’t realise that when you’re in the birth portal that I wouldn’t be able to advocate for myself or communicate what I wanted or needed from them. I was at the hospital for a few hours and I had another internal and I was still at 7. I asked for pethidine and that allowed my body that was so tense to relax and I dilated quite quickly after that. Josie was showing signs of distress so the lights went on and the room flooded with people and I connected with the obstetrician and I asked her for an episiotomy and she used the vacuum to help me birth Josie. We didn’t have that immediate oxytocin love rush that you hear of, probably from sheer exhaustion and lingering effects of pethidine, but early the next morning after we’d had some rest, I woke up and there she was looking at me and we had our moment then.
Kate had a breast reduction ten years ago so whilst she had every intention and hope to breastfeed, she was also prepared for the possibility that it may not work for her. She was incredibly grateful that her milk came in and Josie latched beautifully (she’s still feeding today, alongside the twins).
Within days of finding out she was pregnant for the second time, she was floored by hyperemesis and spent most of her first trimester on the couch, slowing life right down.
“I often joked with Rory that we would have twins. I’d actually had a reading and she shared that she could see me with two babies, I’d had dreams where I had twins and my mum had her suspicions. I also used to babysit identical twin girls. I knew as soon as I found out I was having twins I kissed my homebirth goodbye and started preparing for a very different experience. I was feeling really grateful for my knowledge and experience as a doula and my growth as a woman. I was willing and ready to stand up and fight for my birth wishes if I had to.
“At Geelong Hospital the have a twin clinic so you’re seen by obstetricians throughout the pregnancy and I was seeing the same one throughout; I’m not sure if that’s normal but I like to think that she took me under her wing and we had a lot of respect for each other. I trusted her and I knew she was on board with my birth wishes which was really important. I was asking the big questions from the beginning and she had all the time in the world for me. I knew I still had a big journey ahead of us – this was at 26weeks – so I had in mind how I wanted everything to look but it wasn’t till later on that we started having the big conversations about birth; caesarean birth, epidural and induction.
“From 26 weeks we started having regular growth scans and Pixie was measuring small, she dropped back quite a few times and Dusty started doing the same thing. Their tummies were smaller which can indicate that the placentas weren’t keeping up. I just knew that it was going to be a bit of an issue and we were having a lot of hard conversations around a caesarean birth and the twins being born earlier. I knew I would be ok with a caesarean birth but what kept me up at night was having preemie babies, the NICU experience, how it would affect my fourth trimester and what life would look like if they were in a hospital two hours from home.
“Reaching 34 weeks was really reassuring and it was a lovely reminder to trust my body, my babies and the process. Their growth stabilised and they were small but they were fine, they were both head down and it felt like the stars were aligning for the birth I dreamt of. I was feeling really good until 34 weeks; I did a lot of growing in those final weeks and then my body was telling me to really slow down and I did because I wanted to hang in there for as long as I possibly could.
“My twins were fraternal, a boy and a girl, each in their own sac with their own placentas. It’s the least risky type of twin pregnancy. I never had any intention of being induced, I never even considered it because I’m very aware of the cascade of intervention. We had a random induction day booked when my obstetrician was but I had absolutely no plans of going to that. However, in the final weeks I had a few false starts and my interactions with the other obstetricians was uneasy; I could sense that my questions made them uncomfortable and my intuition was screaming at me. I felt that if I was going to birth at the hospital, it needed to be with my obstetrician who I knew and trusted. The caesarean rate at my local hospital is really high and that’s for single births so I didn’t want to end up in theatre because of someone else’s fears or their lack of experience with twin vaginal births.
“As the induction date was approaching, I knew my body was preparing. I was going to the bathroom a lot, I had that dull backache and if I was on my feet too long I started to get light contractions. I got out my clary sage, I went on big walks, I was breastfeeding Josie a lot and we tried to have sex but it was difficult with my big twin belly. I had an appointment the day before my induction and I had a stretch and sweep; I was getting surges and I was sure I was in early labour so I decided to go in the following day and have my babies with my doctor.
“They offered the balloon catheter but I declined and so I went home and breastfed Josie and then before we went to the hospital I climbed the stairs at the beach a few times. When I got to the hospital I lost my mucus plug which was a really affirming sign. They broke my waters but my contractions didn’t start straight away and I was trying to get into my space; we dimmed the lights, I listened to music and I asked the midwives to give me privacy and they respected that. I also had a sign on the door that asked them to read my birth wishes before they came in. By midday I decided to start the syntocinon drip but I said on my birth plan that no one was allowed to touch the drip before talking to me first. It was really interesting to feel what a difference it made to my contractions. Prior to that it was gentle and nice and familiar but as soon as that drip was on, it was on. It was quite violent. I was on my feet, swaying, Rory was putting lots of pressure on my back. I found it really hard to gather myself and get my breathing under control. Luckily my midwife from my first pregnancy was around and she really helped, she was a welcome distraction. It was quite peaceful and strange to be quite present with everything that was going on. I had an epidural and a sleep and that really helped my headspace. It wasn’t too long and my obstetrician came in and mentioned that the babies’ heart rates were changing and she checked me and I was 10am. I was so happy and excited to meet my babies!
“Being a twin birth all of these women flooded into the room – pediatricians and special care nurses, a few midwives and another obstetrician – they were all happy and excited and saying the loveliest things to me. All the things a mother needs to hear when she’s in a vulnerable space. I’ll never forget what those women said to me that day. I was pushing and I could feel her head coming down; it was only 10 minutes and it was so satisfying to feel her crowning. She was bright-eyed and it was so amazing to have her in my arms. I wanted to hold her while I pushed Dusty out but I needed to concentrate on birthing him. Pixie was given to Rory. I expected there to be a bit of a kerfuffle between births and I tried pushing while his waters were intact but he wasn’t moving so they broke my waters, he was a bit harder to push, he was a bit bigger and he couldn’t work out which way to turn. Same thing again – I felt his head come down and then I reached down and brought him to my chest. I love the theory that when you birth your baby you birth yourself as a mother. This birth gave me the courage and strength and self-gratitude and love that I had never allowed myself to feel. It was powerful and euphoric and I’m still on a birth high.
“I started birthing the placenta and after that I started feeling really awful and I ended up vomiting for three hours. I think it was a response to the adrenalin, the syntocinon drip still being on and the epidural. Pixie needed to be taken to special care just for her glucose levels but she was fine and all in all, the birth unfolded much more smoothly than I anticipated.”
Three caesarean births, Maternally Assisted Caesarean, Ectopic pregnancy
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