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Episode 317


In today’s episode I interview Kate @maydetea about her second birth. You can listen to her first birth story in episode 155 where she discusses her bicornuate uterus and her challenging induced labour. She admits that in retrospect, she was traumatised from her first birth experience; the pain of an induced labour and the lack of both consent and privacy culminated and led to postnatal depression. As soon as she discovered she was pregnant with her second baby, she saw her psychologist and actively worked through her fear of birth. She laboured in the midst of the Northern Rivers floods and while her experience was love-filled and positive, she talks at length about her unusual postpartum bleeding and the symptoms of a retained placenta. 

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Kate has a bicornuate uterus; this means there’s a septum at the top of her uterus which makes it heart-shaped. Consequently, her babies don’t have as much room to stretch out in the womb and when she’s birthing them, they birth on an angle. In both her births, this has caused her to tear in the same area.

Kate admits that now she’s had her second baby, she views her first birth as traumatic. She saw a psychologist at the start of her second pregnancy because she had a lot of fear about birthing again. While recalling her first birth with her psychologist she realised that there was a lack of consent which made her feel incredibly vulnerable. Her first postpartum was a whirlwind; she was working, she was in pain and eventually she was diagnosed with postpartum depression.

In her second pregnancy she opted for midwifery care at the Byron Birth Centre after her obstetrician from her first birth assured her that her bicornuate uterus would not affect her ability to birth vaginally.

“I was really clear with my midwife about what I needed, especially in regards to consent and privacy. My midwife reassured me that informed consent was standard practice and there was only going to be two midwives in the birth room.

“I was bedridden from 32 weeks as the pressure on my pelvis, due to the shape of my uterus and the way Ovie was lying, was incredibly painful. I had an iron infusion in my third trimester and then at 37 weeks, in the midst of the floods in Byron, I got covid. Ovie was also lying posterior – another consequence of the shape of my uterus – so despite doing spinning babies twice a day and seeing an osteopath regularly, he stayed in a posterior position.”

Her waters broke at 4pm and she was so relieved to see that they were clear. She had dinner and did a puzzle and kept the lights low as she was intent on getting her oxytocin flowing. After massage and consciously relaxing, it wasn’t long before her contractions were ten minutes apart.

“We decided to drive in sooner rather than later in case we got flooded in. We walked in and the midwife left us alone and Ryan started massaging me. We put on music, it was a huge room with a bath and double bed and I was just moving around and listening to the rain outside. I was laughing because it was so different, I was really enjoying it and just felt really good. The back pain was consistent but I did feel like I got a break between contractions; it was far less intense going into spontaneous labour without the induction. I was shocked at how different the level of pain was. I spent a lot of time in the bath and Ryan was in there with me doing hip squeezes as it really helped during contractions. I was leaning forward on the side of the bath and I was in there for a really long time. I thought I was pushing and I told the midwife that I had a cervical lip and she didn’t think I did but when I felt I could feel it. I was 9cm and I felt like I was doing really well but then I felt quite defeated by the cervical lip. I had to get out of the pool and lie on my side and my midwife manually removed it which was painful but it was also a relief. I eventually got in the bath and I started pushing and I freaked out because I could tell my baby was enormous. I had the mirror under me and I could see his head coming down and it looked huge. I remember thinking that is not going to come out. They told me if I didn’t get him out in the next contraction I would have to get in the ambulance and transfer to the hospital. It was great to watch him crown but I could also watch myself tear which was difficult to see.

“I was bleeding a lot and I saw the water turning red really quickly and I started panicking. I got out and got on the bed and they told me I was bleeding – hemorrhaging – so they told me I needed the syntocinon injection because I needed to birth the placenta. I ended up losing 500ml. Ovie did the breast crawl which was really amazing and he fed for three hours straight.

“After a while the midwives came back in and asked me if I wanted a shower. I felt really weak so they helped me into the shower with a wheelchair but I went to stand up and I sat back down and fainted. Once I got in bed my blood pressure started to come back up and I was fine to be discharged and return home. I was in pain and physically feeling not great but mentally I felt really calm and I was excited to get home and just have Ovie with me in bed. From the second I saw him I just loved him so much. Since having him it’s made me really close with Alfie, too, because I feel so healed from Ovie’s birth.

“My stitches came undone on my third day and we had to drive into the hospital to get checked. Getting on the bed and having people look made me feel so vulnerable. It was only the skin layer that had come undone but they offered for me to do bed rest which I was really happy with. My bleeding was unusual too because I would have sudden gushes of blood twice a day and it was quite a lot – it would spill over a maternity pad. This went on for two weeks and Ryan noticed that I wasn’t looking very well, he thought my face looked yellow. I was also having night sweats and feeling off but mentally I was feeling so good which was masking how I was feeling physically. We ended up calling Lismore hospital and the midwife told me I shouldn’t have been gushing blood and she told me to come to hospital straight away. She told me that I should have gone straight to hospital as soon as it started happening. It turns out that I had retained placenta and it was rare that I’d bled for two weeks without severe fever or illness. The OB did an ultrasound straight away and he gave me antibiotics and as soon as I took them I felt so different. He didn’t want to do a D+C and was sure the placenta would pass itself. That afternoon I passed the placenta in the toilet; it was the size of a grape so not big but I was really lucky that it came out. I bled a lot more after that as well but then it just stopped. I waited until I had finished the antibiotics and then I took three different kinds of probiotics to restore my system, especially because I was breastfeeding.”

Topics Discussed

Vaginal water birth, Bicornuate uterus, Birth centre, Cervical lip, Birth trauma, PND

Episode Sponsor

This episode of Australian Birth Stories was proudly brought to you by our friends at Bellamy’s Organic. With so many food choices, it is difficult to know what’s best. At Bellamy’s Organic, they only make certified organic, nutritious baby food. They believe that a meal is more than nourishment and that’s why they’re committed to introducing an early love of nutritious, wholesome organic food to children. Research shows that starting babies early on healthy foods early in development, helps foster healthy eating habits throughout life.

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