Prepare for your birth journey today with our birth class

Episode 308


In today’s episode, I interview Jo, a mother of two and GP who brings so much knowledge and advice to her story. She says that being a mother has definitely made her a better GP although she admits that so many of her expectations of parenthood were thrown out the window when she became a mum. She feels strongly about safe co-sleeping (she shares a lot of evidence around this) as well as extended breastfeeding and the societal pressures that often prompt early weaning. Lighthearted and joyful, Jo shares all the details of her two physiological births and the skills she embraced from The Birth Class to actively relax while her body actively birthed.

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Jo’s first pregnancy was unplanned and she had to consciously remind herself that she was now the mother, not the pregnant GP.

“I’ve seen a lot of problems, I’ve seen a lot go wrong, but I had to remind myself that my experience in training to be a GP showed me these experiences and a midwife friend had to reiterate that most births are normal, the large majority don’t have anything serious happen. My sister had two straightforward vaginal births and that was reassuring too.”

She opted for midwifery care in the public system and appreciated that the midwives didn’t presume her knowledge because of her profession but treated her just like any other mum.

“Once I stopped vomiting at 26 weeks, I felt really good. Physio and chiro settle pelvic instability and apart from that, I had a really smooth third trimester. I quite like the end stages of pregnancy, I stayed active and I never felt like I really needed it to be over. I chose to have an iron infusion at 38 weeks because I’m vegetarian and my iron was low and I felt confident to have the infusion at that stage. There’s a chance that you may react to the infusion and in that instance I would have needed to birth my baby soon after, hence having the infusion at 38 weeks felt good to me.”

Jo went into labour in the middle of the night and experienced frequent contractions but they weren’t very intense. She went to the hospital to get checked and was 2cm and opted to have a stretch and sweep while she was there. She returned home to relax to calmbirth tracks and snuggle with her dog (who wouldn’t leave her side).

“I had a TENS machine which I loved. About 8:30am I got in the bath but I hated it; my waters broke in there and then everything ramped up really quickly. I’m fairly sure I transitioned as I arrived at the hospital because I felt horrendous, I was hot and sweaty and I vomited. The midwives hooked me up to the monitors because I’d mentioned that I hadn’t felt my baby move between contractions. I went to the toilet mostly because I was worried about not weeing enough and then I told the midwife that there was a lot of pressure in my bum and I got on the bed and she told me that yes, I was fully dilated. I was really aware of James’ head moving down, the midwife was encouraging me through the pushes, I was on my side with one leg up in the stirrup. I can still vividly remember the feeling of him coming out in a rush. He came straight up on me and he did the breast crawl and he had a really great feed in the first hour. I felt amazing, almost high, it was really incredible. I had the syntocinon injection and I birthed the placenta soon after and it was all in one piece and I had a good look at it.

“I was a bit anxious about a few things; he didn’t wee for the first 24 hours, and then again for another 24 hours and it made me very paranoid. He passed meconium in the hospital so I knew his bowel was okay and I knew he could wee, so I started thinking he wasn’t getting enough colostrum although I knew I had a good supply because I had a freezer full of it. I topped him up with extra colostrum and he started weeing regularly.

“I always said I would never co-sleep but that’s the thing, you should never say what you will or won’t do till you become a parent. We’re still co-sleeping three years later. The evidence I found was life saving for me; we made a safe bed area and I would side-lie feed and we finally got some sleep. Since I’ve had Lucas the midwives now give out information on safe co-sleeping so that has changed.

“Becoming a parent has made me a much better doctor, that’s for sure. I started tracking my cycles in November and I fell pregnant in May; it took six months which is pretty normal. I saw my GP and enrolled early for Midwife Group Practice, I really wanted that experience. It’s so nice to have the same midwife and get to know them and enjoy seeing them. But because of covid they actually changed the MGP rules, I was 36 weeks at a time and it meant I wouldn’t get my midwife necessarily and I was okay with that. I understood their staffing issues and the importance of actually having staff to care for women.”

In her second pregnancy, James was diagnosed with epilepsy. It was the height of covid, too, so Jo admits it was a stressful time but she also had profound gratitude for the health system and the specialists at Monash childrens. James then contracted covid but thankfully, Jo managed to avoid it.

“I did The Birth Class because I wanted to see if it was useful for patients, as well as myself. I listened to Rhea Dempsey’s episode a few times and I listened to Jodi’s episode on breath and sound; they were the ones that really spoke to me and I took them with me into labour. It’s such a comprehensive, simple and useful guide – I tell all my patients about it.

“I was in bed and got up to the toilet and noticed I’d lost my mucous plug and once I was back in bed my waters broke. I got up and called mum who was an hour away so she jumped in the car and then I called the midwives. My contractions were coming every four minutes or so. Mum arrived about 6am and I felt like my contractions had really ramped up so we went straight to hospital. I hated being in the car, it was awful. That’s when I remembered the lessons from The Birth Class on softening the lips and opening the jaw and it really worked. I transitioned once I arrived at hospital, I had a contraction at the covid check-in. I felt really sick and hot – this was the adrenaline surge that Rhea talks about in her episode – and I vomited. I got on the bed, I was kneeling on the bed and leaning over the top of it. My body knew what to do, I didn’t have to push. I was actively having to release my breath and jaw so I didn’t actively push at all, I actively relaxed.

“They passed him through to me and I was laughing and crying. I turned over and I had him on my chest and he was a bit grunty which can be a sign that he’s not breathing properly but the midwives tickled his feet which prompted him to cry and he was fine after that.”

To find out more about Possums Online the sleep and settling course we mentioned head to Possums

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