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Episode 339

Madi

In this episode Madi shares her experience with PCOS which was diagnosed when she was seventeen. She was warned that she may have fertility issues so when she was 21 she conceived her baby girl, Flow. Living in rural Tasmania, she opted for independent midwifery care through Launceston Birth Centre, despite the two-hour drive from her hometown. Her birth experience was quick and joyous but as she explains in detail, her breastfeeding journey has been nothing short of challenging and resulted in a hospital stay due to severe mastitis.

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“I’ve had a lot of hormonal troubles since my early teens and I was diagnosed with polycystic ovaries when I was 17. I was suspected to have endometriosis as well as it runs in my family. I was quite concerned about my ability to have children and Brodie and I discussed it and agreed we really wanted to have children…and then I fell pregnant immediately.

“I was disheartened by a lot of the things I was told; I was told it wasn’t going to be easy and it may not happen. That was really hard because I’ve always wanted a family. I had no idea what it would look like going into pregnancy but I did want to try to conceive naturally before moving onto fertility treatment.

“Sometimes I would go two months without a period and then sometimes my cycles were really short which made it really hard to know when I was ovulating. I thought I was roughly 10 weeks at my dating scan but the measurements showed I was 7 weeks. Unfortunately, the ultrasound technician kept alluding to the fact that I may miscarry which was really upsetting and really affected me for the weeks afterward.

“We went for our 13-week ultrasound and everything was perfect. It was a wonderful feeling and we told our family and friends straight away; it was so lovely to start enjoying it. I really had no idea about my birth options. I wasn’t nervous to have a baby, I was excited by the thought, so in that sense I had a basic idea of what I wanted.

“I was referred straight to my local hospital and I went to my first appointment there and it just didn’t feel right for us. I was told I would see a different midwife at every appointment and I knew I wanted continuity of care so I googled and found the Launceston birth centre. At my first meeting I immediately felt so comfortable there and my midwife, Jamie,  was so warm and nurturing and I just knew that was where I wanted to go. It’s about two hours away but I just loved it. It’s a renovated house that’s close to the hospital and I felt like it was worth the commute.

“It’s run by independent midwives so it was mostly out of pocket although we got a slight rebate through Medicare after I’d given birth which covered some of my prenatal care. It cost around $5500 and that included antenatal care, Jamie’s presence at my birth and then six weeks postpartum. We’d go once a month for the pregnancy and then in the last month we went more frequently. It was a really lovely time to travel and listen to birth stories and often we’d stay in Launceston for a few nights to make the most of it.

“Jamie held a birth class with a bunch of families who were preparing to birth at the birth centre which was mainly focussed on natural birth although they did discuss what would happen if you had to transfer to the hospital. Towards the end of pregnancy I really felt the fatigue but I really did lean into the late pregnancy mood. We had the key to the birth centre and Jamie gave me a basic idea of when we should start driving there.

“I lost my mucous plug at 40+3 at night but I didn’t have a niggle so I went to bed. I woke at 3:30am to a sharp pain and went to the toilet and noticed lots of blood. It certainly made me nervous and the contractions were strong so half-an-hour later we called Jamie and she reassured me that it was quite normal. It was also so good to know that she was on shift and would be able to care for me. Based on the intensity of the contractions and how close they were together, she advised us to leave home and settle in at the birth centre.

“The car was comfortable, I was able to breathe through the contractions. They were coming every two minutes and lasting for a minute so I feel like I was definitely in active labour. It wasn’t long after we arrived at the birth centre that I felt like it really stepped up a notch and then it got really debilitating. In retrospect I can see I was in transition but at the time it felt too soon and that’s when I started doubting myself. I got very uncomfortable in the bath and I felt like I needed to escape my body. Brodie helped me out of the bath and I got on the toilet and I think that’s when he called Jamie. It was at this stage that the contractions turned into bearing down and pushing and my waters broke while I was sitting on the toilet which was convenient.

“Jamie arrived and she chatted to me and reassured me and I was feeling pretty good. It was intense but good. I really enjoyed the switch to pushing; it felt a lot more productive. My body just beared down and all I had to do was go with it. I enjoyed that feeling more than the contractions in active labour. I got into the birth pool and everything got so calm. It was early morning and the sun was peeking through and the second midwife, Lauren, had arrived too. No one was talking, it was calm and beautiful.

“I was off in labour land and by that point I knew that I was just having a fast labour. Crowning was the most intense part for me, it really felt like I was sitting on fire. I felt okay with it though because that sensation only lasted a few seconds. When her body was born it felt like she really shot out. Jamie tucked Flow through my legs so Brodie and I were the ones to greet her and see her first. I don’t think in the moment I even realised she was out, everything felt so slow. I scooped her up and….it just felt euphoric.

“Jamie asked if I was having any more contractions and I was, so she encouraged me to get up on my knees and I birthed the placenta. It didn’t feel like much effort on my behalf. Jamie did say I was borderline haemorrhaging so she was monitoring my heart rate and she gave me lots of electrolytes to drink. I snuggled in bed and Flow had her first breastfeed and when I got in the shower I felt really lightheaded so I got back into bed. Jamie offered to put a catheter in to empty my bladder so the uterus could contract back down but I declined that. Overall the bleeding stopped quite quickly.

**Please note that Madi’s midwife wanted to clarify this point that Madi was in fact losing a lot of bloody show and not haemorrhaging **

“Flow did have trouble latching to begin with, she was eager to feed but her latch was quite shallow which hurt my nipples. We spent the whole day in bed there, you normally stay for 24 hours in the birth centre. I was nervous leaving the birth centre but we did have accommodation booked nearby. I just didn’t expect breastfeeding to be as hard as it was; you need to learn it, like a skill, and so does your baby.

“Breastfeeding remained hard for a very long time. I tried different positions, different latching techniques, hydrogel discs were wonderful to ease my pain because my pain was making me reluctant to feed, even though I knew I had to. Unfortunately I ended up in hospital with mastitis a week postpartum. I had the redness and I was working through that but it kicked in one night instantly. I had the highest fever but I was shivering and I went to the hospital and they wouldn’t let me have her in emergency. Brodie ended up sitting in the car with her and I stayed in there and I was so emotional because I knew I needed to feed her. I felt very bullied. Three hours went by and I told them I couldn’t wait any longer so at 2am I was sitting out on the concrete and thankfully a lovely security guard was disgraced by my situation and he opened the mother’s room for me so I could feed her in there.

“I ended up getting a bed on the birthing suite and Flow could come in with me and I stayed there for a few days. We had a lovely midwife there and she managed to find space and Brodie was able to stay on the second night to help me care for Flow. Thankfully there were lots of midwives who helped us over my time there. I ended up getting mastitis four times.

“We put in a complaint but we never heard anything back. I can’t change what happened to me but I would hate for it to happen to someone else, you’re just so delicate after birth. I’m glad I persisted and pushed through the challenges because I really do enjoy it now. But it certainly was hard and there were so many negative feelings attached to it.”

Topics Discussed

Birth centre, Breastfeeding challenges, independent midwife, Mastitis, Miscarriage, One vaginal birth, PCOS, rural Tasmania

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