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Episode 324

Claire

In episode 324 I chat to Claire @thelifeofclaire_ who shares her first pregnancy and birth experience. After discovering that fertility rates fall dramatically after the age of 35, she organised a preconception blood test with her GP, got her mirena removed, tracked her cycle and promptly fell pregnant. She chats about her lifelong experience with migraines, the welcome relief of an iron infusion and her choice to change obstetricians halfway through her pregnancy. She had a really positive induction experience and was intent on staying active and working with her body to bring her baby into the world.

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“At the end of 2020 I turned 35 and then I googled infertility rates and got a rude shock. I went to see my GP and she reassured me that I didn’t need to worry and then encouraged me to get full bloods done and make sure all my immunizations were up to date. I got my mirena out and monitored my cycle for two months. And then we fell pregnant on the first go and not for a second do I take that for granted.

“The obstetrician that both of my sisters had recently retired and I wasn’t sure where to go for advice without telling everyone we were pregnant. I went with a practice that had five obstetricians and I actually changed from a female to a male obstetrician at 20 weeks. I didn’t feel comfortable with her, there were a few inconsistencies and I just didn’t feel like she was my person. But in the end I was so happy with my chosen obstetrician, it was the best decision we made in our pregnancy.

“I couldn’t take my normal migraine medication because it’s not allowed in pregnancy. I toughed it out for a while and then found a medication that was suitable but after 18 weeks pregnant I didn’t get any migraines and I haven’t had any since. They say pregnancy can shift your migraine experience and I’m really hoping that happens for me as I’ve suffered from them since I was 10.

“I wanted to give birth naturally, if possible. I was really open to all sorts of scenarios, and I had a real awareness of what can happen at any stage from listening to your podcast. Both my sisters wanted to be in the birthing suite but because of covid restrictions I could only have my partner with me.”

Claire had an iron infusion at 26 weeks which lifted her energy levels and apart from that, she felt incredibly well throughout her pregnancy. She did antenatal expressing from 37 weeks and built up a great supply of colostrum which impressed the midwives. One of the midwives recommended that she keep some for the six and four month immunisations as they’re full of antibodies.

She was induced at 40+3 after her obstetrician recommended induction based on her age. Induction started with a cervical gel which prompted mild contractions and they continued overnight. At 8am the next morning she was checked and hadn’t dilated at all so she was given more gel. She had a bloody show in the early afternoon and then her OB came in at 2:30pm and ruptured her membranes.

“Contractions were consistent from when I got hooked up to the drip. I stayed really active and at 5:30pm I put the TENS machine on and I loved it, really loved it. The drip did make it harder to be active but I managed. That stage of labour was really beautiful; I had a playlist, a diffuser and it was really calm and relaxed. The contractions were one minute on, two minutes off and started to get quite uncomfortable at about 8pm. I could feel one coming and then once I’d reach the height, they’d filter out again.

“My OB came in at 8pm and I was 4cm. I was pretty uncomfortable by then, I had vomited, I was freezing cold and had a warm blanket on me. My OB told me I didn’t need to be a hero and there were probably six to 10 hours of labour left. I asked what my options were and I opted for morphine, it made me feel really calm, it was amazing.

“At 9pm I went to the toilet and told the midwife I needed to push. She told me not to as I wasn’t ready to push and so I opted for an epidural. But just before the anaesthetist gave me the epidural, my midwife checked me and told me I was fully dilated. I went with my body, I was just really calm and I remember a couple of contractions where I didn’t really have the urge to push. But then I could feel the head crowning and it was uncomfortable but I didn’t push too much then. I pushed for about 20 minutes so it was a quick and beautiful process. He came straight to my chest and it was just so special.

“He was on my chest for a few minutes but I felt him go a bit limp. That was a frightening minute or two but after a bit of oxygen he came back to me. He knew how to find his way to my breast and that was just magical. I had the injection for the placenta and it was a bit stuck so my OB had to give the cord a bit of a tug and it came away.

“I stayed in the hospital for four nights and I really liked having the support there. My milk came in on day three and it was more painful than giving birth; it was so painful. I was in agony and had three ice packs per breast. Obviously I was grateful that my milk came in but still. I felt confident in feeding once I was discharged but since then it hasn’t panned out the way I thought it would and that’s ok as well.

“At three weeks he was still 250 grams under his birth weight so we went to his paediatrician and he told us we needed to measure his feeds so I started expressing. It was really hard, it still is, and he’s below the chart despite the fact that he’s growing steadily now. We’re mixed feeding and I’m ok with that now. It’s a big and sensitive topic but now that I’m a mother, I know that whatever works for your family is fine.

“My milk dried up a few weeks ago and on that same day my period returned but I’ve still got a good stash of breastmilk in the freezer and that should last another month or two. Emotionally I’ve been great although there was one day when I just cried so much, at all the love. I feel really at ease, it’s challenging and the days are long, but it’s really amazing.”

Topics Discussed

Mixed feeding, Migraines, Private obstetrician, Iron infusion, Positive induction, One vaginal birth, Active birth

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