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Episode 284

Ahlam

In this week’s episode I chat to Ahlam @theveiledspeechie about her three births. She was under the care of the midwifery clinic at Bankstown Hospital for her pregnancies and admits that she did no preparation at all for her first birth which ended with an episiotomy and a vacuum delivery and led into a painful and challenging postpartum. As soon as she discovered she was pregnant with her second she started researching and preparing as she was determined to experience a positive water birth, which she did. Her third labour was fast and intense but she felt confident in her choices and her ability to advocate for herself. 

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“My first baby was breech and at 38 weeks I had an External Cephalic Version (ECV) to try and turn him into a head-down position. I was more scared about having a caesarean, to be honest. I didn’t really know what to expect but it only took two minutes and he turned and stayed down, thankfully. They just kept an eye on his position for the remainder of my pregnancy.

“I didn’t do any birth preparation in my first pregnancy and I was very unprepared. I was just going with the flow…I didn’t know what to expect, all I knew was that it was going to be painful. I was just thinking it would unfold as it should and the hospital would know what to do.

“I was getting light contractions about midnight and because I was so nervous I couldn’t sleep. By 5am they were 5 minutes apart so I went to the hospital with my husband and mother. I was 4cm but the contractions were light and not very painful. They checked his position and he was still head down. I had to get antibiotics because I was Group Strep B positive. I remember everything just escalated very quickly…the pain got a lot worse and I tried the gas but it didn’t do much apart from making me feel like I wasn’t there…I was spaced out and it made me tired without actually helping with the pain. I really didn’t like that feeling at all.

“When I was pushing I was trying to push the right way, push down, and after twelve hours in labour I wanted it to be over. I ended up birthing with the vacuum and they gave me an episiotomy. If I was more present perhaps things could have been different. I’d never really heard of the vacuum and when he did come out he had a cone shaped head and it was kind of confronting, it was hard to see and experience all of it and feeling like I was in the dark about it all. There were quite a few interventions and the recovery was very difficult. I think I did feel like I was failing; everything was so painful, the sleep deprivation was so bad and my mum was very helpful but I needed to find the rhythm and adjust to being a mother – it took longer than I expected.

“When I fell pregnant with my second I was much more prepared; I did a lot of research and reading and wanted to have a water birth. The midwives told me that if I was positive for Group B Strep (GBS) I wouldn’t be able to have a water birth but thankfully it was negative. By the time I got to the hospital I was fully dilated and the midwives had the bath ready and the lights dimmed. I had a plan in mind and I really wanted to stick to that plan. I wanted to be there, be present and experience it and I did and it was amazing.

“I wanted to stay in hospital because I wanted to know she was latching properly and wanted the support from the midwives and lactation consultant. I also did a breastfeeding class at the hospital which helped a lot.

“When it came time to prepare for my third birth I wanted to replicate my second labour because it was absolutely amazing. It was painful but I longed to have that experience again. I was negative for GBS and the hospital were fine with me having a water birth. I stayed at home till the contractions were quite intense and when I got to the hospital I was only 4cm…I moved around a lot to get things moving. The pain was increasing with each contraction but then I asked for the gas and then I was feeling woozy, as I lay down on the bed my water broke and the midwife noticed meconium staining in the water. I had to be monitored then in case my baby had ingested the meconium but he was fine and I started pushing and he was born within a few pushes. I was in shock! I liked that it was just my husband and I there…we were more experienced and able to advocate for ourselves, we knew what to do and we felt confident. I had a periurethral tear so they stitched me up and I had a catheter put in for 24 hours but it healed really quickly.

“My husband caught Covid a week later and isolated in our son’s bedroom at home. It was such an intense week but thankfully the rest of us stayed negative. It wasn’t the postpartum I envisioned but it worked out ok in the end.”

Topics Discussed

GBS, Water Birth, Breech, ECV, Three vaginal births, Vacuum, Episiotomy

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