Prepare for your birth journey today with our birth class

Episode 341

Eliza

In episode 340 Eliza shares her pregnancy and birth experience as a mother and a student midwife. Her first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage and she takes us through her grief and loneliness as well as her choice to miscarry naturally at home. Her next pregnancy was smooth and straightforward right up till 39 weeks when a late scan showed that her baby’s head was small and she was advised to have an induction. She went into spontaneous labour but after 28 hours she opted for an epidural that worked really well for her; she relaxed, dilated quickly and birthed her baby girl with ease. She had continuity of care with a known midwife for her second birth and she loved the lessons in The Birth Class which prepared her dream waterbirth.

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“We got married in 2018 and I was studying to be a midwife and we knew we wanted to start trying about a year afterwards. It happened on the first go but I actually miscarried that pregnancy at about 8 or 9 weeks. I started having some spotting at first and the problem with studying midwifery is that I knew too much…I think I knew it my heart that it was a miscarriage. I went to emergency and had a scan and they discovered that there was no heartbeat and it looked about 6 or 7 weeks in size. It really was devastating and I felt really alone afterwards. I felt like I wanted to miscarry naturally at home and I felt like it would happen soon after being in hospital and it did; it only took a few days. I wanted to be in my own home where I felt safe and comfortable. I found it really painful and I think that’s what I carried for a long time; you actually feel like you’re in early labour. I woke up in the middle of the night and I had a big gush and it was an overwhelming amount of blood and tissue.

“I wanted to try again straight away. It took about two menstrual cycles to get regular and then I fell pregnant on the third cycle. I was excited and happy but I definitely had the feeling, that hesitancy, that I should wait for the dating scan. I really tried to be excited despite my concerns though.

“I’d only done midwifery rounds in public hospitals and I felt really comfortable in the public system but I really wanted to have continuity of care with Midwifery Group Practice (MGP). I was 20 weeks by the time I saw someone at the hospital where we live just outside of Geelong so unfortunately I didn’t access continuity of care. I saw a different midwife at each appointment and it was hard, explaining my history each time was difficult.

“The week I went into labour was the week the world went into covid lockdown. I was trying to shut the pandemic out and get in my labour zone but it definitely affected me in the end. I had seen a lot of births and I’d been present at my sister’s birth and she’s a birthing warrior so I had a good idea of what I wanted. I did a Calmbirth course and I wanted to aim for as little intervention as possible. I had a birth plan but I liked to think of it as a wishlist.

“I had to do a scan towards the end of pregnancy to check that my placenta had shifted and at 39 weeks, I had to go straight to hospital as the scan showed that my baby’s head was small and I was measuring a few weeks behind on my fundal height. The obstetrician came to see me and told me she needed to book me for an induction and she offered me a stretch and sweep which I agreed to because I wanted the best chance of going into spontaneous labour.

“I went home and had tightenings and they progressively got stronger and closer together. I had a TENS machine and I put it on early and then, like a classic first labour, it went on and on and on. I went to the hospital and I was only about 3 cm and this fabulous midwife encouraged me to go home and relax. When I went back to the hospital I was about 5 cm or 6 cm so I got in the shower at the hospital and then they broke my waters. I’d been labouring for about 28 hours at this stage and I was exhausted and I made the decision to get an epidural. As soon as I had it my body relaxed and after 40 minutes I was fully dilated and ready to push. I could feel things happening down there and the obstetrician came to check on me and told me we were ready to go. I had my legs in stirrups and thankfully I had a few fabulous midwives to guide me. I was only pushing for about 25 minutes and I was able to pull her up onto my chest so we had skin to skin straightaway. I was super excited to look at the placenta but it was quite small and it turns out that I make small babies, hence the concern with her head size. I was 39+2 and she was 2.8kg but apart from that she was perfectly healthy and in proportion.

“I stayed for three nights because Ruby had low blood sugar so she needed some formula top-ups. It was good to have a night or two to help establish breastfeeding…even though I’d helped women with their breastfeeding journey it’s a whole different experience when it’s your baby so I was so grateful to have those extra nights in hospital. I had a midwife come to see me a few days after I was discharged which was really comforting. There was so much unknown, considering it was the start of the pandemic, so at the time we just did what we had to do.

“We started talking about having another baby and I tracked my cycle. We were trying quite casually but it wasn’t happening so I ended up getting the ovulation sticks so I knew when my fertile window was and it was different to what I thought. As soon as I found out I was pregnant I made an appointment with my GP, got a referral to the hospital and I got into MGP and I’m so thankful, it was just incredible.

“I connected really well with my midwife; the continuity of care was the biggest thing for me. My midwife was incredibly nurturing and we talked through Ruby’s birth because I felt that there were a few things I was blindsided by and she made me feel heard and cared for. She kept an eye on my fundal height and 20 week scan but she thought I just had small babies and she wasn’t concerned. I was aiming for a water birth and we talked about it early on.

“I knew I wanted to do The Birth Class and it was one of the best things I did. It was great, especially alongside continuity of care. I had read Rhea Dempsey’s book and I had highlighted all these passages, she’s amazing. It was so great for Will, my partner, to listen to Rhea’s module on the power of hormones in birth. He knew not to feel pity because he understood that labour pain was functional, physiological pain and it comforted him as a birth partner.

“I went into spontaneous labour at 39+3 so pretty much the same as Ruby’s birth. Another thing that I learnt from Ruby’s birth and The Birth Class was that as soon as I felt the first niggles, I just rested. I stayed in bed all day and managed those light contractions and it was the best thing I did because the night was very eventful.

“I cooked dinner and put Ruby to bed and once she was asleep I came out and I put the TENS machine on but I was still trying to stay really relaxed. I was taking it step by step and I decided to lay in bed for a bit because my contractions were about 10 minutes apart at that stage. Then I got to the stage that laying in bed wasn’t comfortable anymore and soon after I felt pressure in my bottom so Will called the midwife and she encouraged us to come in.

“When we got to hospital I was 4 cm and my midwife encouraged me not to focus on the number and instead focus on the now. She told me to stand up and use gravity so I got in the shower and I was there for a couple of hours and then I got the classic I can’t do this, I want to go home. Will kept encouraging me, he was so calm and kept telling me I could do it, he wasn’t phased at all by my doubts. My midwife was there when I needed her and she checked me and I was 8cm and she told me that by the time I walked to the bath I’d probably be fully dilated.

“As soon as I got in the bath it was so good and I felt like I needed to push. I was very vocal and I just went with the sensation. It was so nice to have no hands on me; I was just floating in the bath. Then Indie was born in the water and I was able to pull her up myself and it was beautiful, everything I wanted and more. After I’d had some time in the bath holding Indie, I got out and walked to the bed to birth the placenta. I had spoken to my midwife about trying for a physiological third stage but it didn’t end up having because in the moment I felt more comfortable having a managed third stage.

“I went home after five hours; I had no tearing and I felt physically and emotionally well and I wanted to be in my own space. It was so nice to be able to share those early moments with my family because we didn’t get to do that with Ruby. We actually ended up back in hospital when she was 8 days old because I had pneumonia and she had RSV which was really scary. My midwife came to see me at home and she was the one who encouraged me to take her back to hospital because she had dropped below her birth weight, she was pale and had trouble breathing but after fluids and a few days in hospital she recovered which was a relief.”

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