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Episode 290

Chantel

In today’s episode I talk to Chantel about her three births. She suffered Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) in every pregnancy and was medicated early on to stop the vomiting. Her severe symptoms eased by 20 weeks but she still had to navigate intense nausea till the end of pregnancy. After two vaginal births in the hospital, she accessed continuity of care in a birth centre for her third. At 34 weeks she was diagnosed with placenta previa (where the placenta covers all or part of the cervix) and after grieving the waterbirth she couldn’t have, she planned a gentle caesarean birth with her priority being skin-to-skin in theatre and recovery.

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Chantel fell pregnant while on the pill and was overwhelmed with Hyperemesis Gravidarum till twenty weeks. She approached her birth thinking that the midwives at the hospital would just tell her what to do. It’s a mindset that she now regrets but it’s one that’s quite common for women in their first pregnancies.

“I had a stretch and sweep at 40+2 and I got cramps for a few days which made it hard to sleep but they weren’t strong enough to be classified as labour. I was positive my waters had broken but it was a slow leak and the midwives didn’t believe me but they did that test and it definitely was amniotic fluid. They put me straight on the syntocinon drip and I requested the epidural straight away because I was so tired and scared of the pain. I slept then, I was so tired, and I didn’t have any sensations of labour at all.

“I struggled to picture in my mind how my baby would be born. I was very scared but I trusted everyone that was there. When he was born he was put straight on my chest but we both had a temperature so he was put in the Special Care Nursery for 48 hours to monitor him for sepsis. My husband was feeding him colostrum through a syringe.

“I still look back on the birth and feel like it was really traumatic. It was hard having him in the nursery and not being able to be with him but I was so grateful for him to be out of special care and we went home straight away. I’d put the birth to the side and only thought about it when it was time to prepare for my next birth.

“I was quite content with having one baby and I love being a mum. Having HG and considering my birth it took a while for me to feel ready to conceive again. I went with the public system but I went to a different hospital and I did like the idea of labouring without an epidural.”

Chantel saw a different midwife for every appointment and occasionally saw an obstetrician as her baby was measuring small. Again, she had HG that improved at 20 weeks but she still felt very nauseous, however it was a relief for her to know that she could keep things down.

“I didn’t do any birth preparation but I knew my body could give birth which made a huge difference. I had a stretch and sweep again and later that night I went into hospital. I really loved the experience of labouring without pain relief. I loved the pain and knowing that it was bringing my baby to me. I was on the bed waiting it out, taking each contraction as it came. I honestly thought I was going to be labouring for a lot longer. I was lying on my side when my water broke and they checked me and I was 10cm. He latched straight away and we had a great couple of days in hospital; lots of skin to skin and cuddles.

“We conceived easily again but then I had a miscarriage. It was a really horrible time. I was seven weeks when I miscarried so I hadn’t known for long that I was pregnant but we’d made so many plans and I got excited so it was such a shock and so sad. It happened the night before my son’s birthday party and I miscarried at home. I was really open about being pregnant and it was so much easier when we miscarried because our friends and family gave us a lot of support.”

Chantel conceived again four months later and opted to go through the family birth centre. She started visualising and manifesting a water birth and was started to get excited about the possibilities of what they would look like for her.

“At 20 weeks I was told I had placenta previa and it was marginally covering my cervix. I found out that 95 percent of the time it moves and I felt really confident that it would. I had an ultrasound at 34 weeks and it turned out that it hadn’t moved. I was so shocked that it was still covering the cervix because I was convinced it had moved. I knew it was pretty serious and I just focused on how grateful I was for her health because she was absolutely fine. I was a mess for the rest of the day.

“They needed to do the caesarean before labour started as there’s a risk of placental rupture and I was told that if I had any bleeding I was to go straight to emergency. I was confident in my obstetric care and I was still able to have my midwife from the family birth centre. She really helped me plan my caesarean birth as I wanted to have that initial skin to skin and I got that which I’m thankful for.

“I was 39 weeks when I had the caesarean. There were quite a few things that I wanted to change about the caesarean process, especially opting for skin to skin immediately after birth. I met the anesthetist after being wheeled down to the theatre and I asked for some of the monitors to be placed in different positions so it wouldn’t interrupt my skin to skin experience; instead of on my chest they were near my shoulder and instead of a finger monitor they put it on my toe. I had low platelets and there was a risk of bleeding and they did tell me that there was also a risk of having a hysterectomy if they couldn’t stop the bleeding which made us quite nervous. Thankfully it all went really well and I’m so thankful for all the support we got. She was on my chest while they stitched me up and she stayed with me in recovery.”

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