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Episode 347

Teagan

In this episode, Teagan articulates the heartache of not being able to feel or see her baby being born, a moment she’ll never get back and one that still prompts a lot of sadness and regret. She had an emergency caesarean after an induction and this followed a covid pregnancy where she didn’t see a midwife till 37 weeks. Her story really highlights how imperative woman-centred care in the operating theatre is. After a birth debrief with an independent midwife, Teagan fell pregnant again and had done all the research on how to achieve a VBAC. She knew continuity of care with a known midwife was essential so she advocated for herself, got into an MGP programme and then at 20 weeks, found out she was moving interstate. So began her journey with a private midwife to prepare for a Home Birth After a Caesarean (HBAC). This is one of those episodes that covers so much ground and is absolutely brimming with pregnancy and birth wisdom. An absolute must-listen!

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“I always wanted to have kids. I went to LA to visit my brother and his pregnant wife and I had no idea what to expect so I started listening to your podcast. It was such a beautiful experience and I came back with a different look in my eyes but at the same time my career was taking off and I was travelling overseas a lot. We weren’t being super careful but we fell pregnant very easily; I thought it would be a lot more challenging than it was. There was also a lot going on in our life at the time so I really was shocked when the test said I was pregnant.

“All I knew was that there was public and private and that I wanted to be on a midwifery programme. I went to the GP and requested continuity of care because my partner was going to be deployed overseas and I needed that consistency so I requested to get into the cosmos programme at the Royal Women’s Hospital. I hadn’t heard anything after my dating scan and I was getting to 16 weeks and had no idea what I was supposed to be doing. I called them and they asked if I wanted a telehealth programme or to go into the hospital so I went in and they told me that my doctor had referred me for shared care. I just broke down, I was so upset and the midwife told me there wasn’t a good chance of me getting into the cosmos programme.

“I just had telehealth appointments with my GP because it was the early days of covid and he just asked me really basic questions. I also had an anterior placenta so I really consciously had to lie down and consciously wait and feel for kicks. I’d lost all my work, I’m a social person and all of a sudden we were in lockdown so I felt really unlike myself, it was really odd. I really fell through the cracks in the hospital system and I didn’t want to ruffle any feathers; no one had seen me or felt my belly and I was just so baffled because I had no idea what should have been happening.

“I got to 37 weeks without having a face-to-face appointment and I was anxious about the fact that nothing had been checked, no one had felt my belly and I didn’t know what I should be tracking or monitoring. The midwife noticed that Hugo was a bit small and a week later I went back in and he hadn’t grown. I was 40 weeks at my next appointment and the midwife looked at the chart and the ultrasound results and she started talking about induction. A doctor just walked into the room and announced that she was going to induce me the next day because I had borderline low fluid, the baby was better out than in and there’s no higher risk of caesarean with induction which I know now is absolutely not true.

“Craig and I packed our bags and we were given a private room and we were so excited to settle in for the night but then there was a midwife change and she told us that Criag wasn’t allowed to stay and could only come back once I was in active labour. They’d already put the cervical gel in and I was so hormonal and upset; I was bawling for an hour after Craig left.

“By the next morning I was having early labour contractions and I wish I had known just to wait but instead they did another round of cervical gel. Craig came in at 11am and I was thinking it was quite intense already (it wasn’t intense at all) and we went to the birthing suite. They put a cannula in my hand and it made the way I moved my hand and arm really uncomfortable, it was really distracting. They broke my waters and I started having back-to-back contractions with about 20 seconds between them and I thought that it must be close to pushing. The midwife kept adjusting the CTG belt and it was so annoying so she suggested the foetal scalp monitor but I couldn’t stay still long enough for her to do it and at that point Hugo’s heart rate was spiking. I was quite out of it at that point and I wasn’t really listening to her but Craig said she was quite stresse. I wasn’t in serious pain, I was just getting tired because there was no relief between contractions. The midwife kept stressing and before I knew it there were 20 people in the room and a doctor telling me they were giving me an injection to slow down contractions because my uterus was hyperstimulated. I was six centimetres dilated after nine hours which in hindsight was quite amazing.

“Once everyone was in the room I lost my flow and I snapped out of my internalised state and everything got harder. I started struggling and someone said I think we need to have a caesarean, are you okay with that? – I’ve tried really hard not to beat myself up about that because if I had been given more time, I think it would have been different. The whole way along I was just told what was happening, I was never asked for my preferences, I never practised informed consent.

“We went off to theatre and I couldn’t think of what I needed to ask for in theatre, all I could think of was delayed cord clamping. The birth was such a blur; it was a smooth and quick process. The most heartbreaking thing that still gets me is that they lifted him up and because I had a mask on I couldn’t see because it was over my eyes, I wanted to see and feel like I was giving birth, I wanted that moment of seeing my baby for the first time but all I could see was that it was a boy but I couldn’t see his face and they took him away and I expected him to be on my chest. I’ll never get that moment back and I was so confused as to why he wasn’t with me.

“Having a caesarean didn’t bother me, but not getting to touch him before all these other people, not seeing him be born, not being able to touch his vernix skin, I wanted to see the placenta and I didn’t get any of those things. I’ve since had a birth debrief and it was confirmed that it wasn’t that much of an emergency and I could have had options in the theatre. My experience will stay with me forever and the effects of it really do last.

“Four months postpartum I realised that whenever I thought or talked about the birth I would just cry. I was constantly heartbroken about my experience. I got my birth notes from the hospital and I didn’t know what they meant so I got onto Mama Midwives in Kensington and I had Jan Ireland go through it all with Craig and I and it was the best thing for us to do. After birth my trust and belief in my body was shattered and I felt completely disconnected; I couldn’t trust my intuition and it really affected my postpartum experience, especially with sleep and feeding. I got a mental health plan through my GP and I had five sessions which really helped me navigate that negative self-talk.

“I don’t know if I’ll ever feel completely okay with the birth but my next birth did allow me to have a lot more compassion for myself. In all of my research, the best way to have a VBAC is continuity of care with a known midwife. The second I found out I was pregnant again I called the Mercy Hospita and asked to be put on the waiting list even though I hadn’t had my bloods done. Then I went to the GP, told them I needed bloods done quickly and I needed a referral to the MGP programme at The Mercy. I had my first few appointments and it was so amazing that I felt sad for my past self. In my booking-in appointment my midwife asked me about my first birth and then what I wanted from this next birth. It’s such a transformative time in your life that talking to someone who will be there beside you at your birth is just huge.

“The risk of uterine rupture was not an issue for me because I’d done the reading, I knew the risk of it happening was very, very small and I just focussed on the fact that 99.8% of women don’t experience a uterine rupture. I felt really great throughout the first half of the pregnancy but at 20 weeks we found out that we were moving to Jervis Bay in NSW. I was shattered because I had to let go of that known midwife. I got on the phone to the hospitals nearby and there was no option for continuity of care; I just felt so lost and didn’t know what to do. That’s when I started researching private midwives because that’s how important continuity of care was for me.

“Jervis Bay is two hours from Canberra and it’s quite regional. There’s two midwives who service the area but only one was available. I called her straightaway and asked for her to support me and I was desperate, I didn’t even consider the money or anything. She could take me on – she literally had one spot. Private midwives offer the most phenomenal antenatal and postnatal care, even if they don’t care for you for your birth. They really get to know you; it was such holistic care and I had long, two hour appointments in my home.

“I’d seen the Birthtime documentary so I had home birth on my radar but I’m not the kind of person who you would assume had a homebirth. I just wanted to have great care and I wanted to make sure that nothing unnecessary happened to me or my baby. She was happy to support me in hospital or at home. I felt calm with whatever was to happen and she was so calm in saying that nothing was going to happen so we wouldn’t need to go to hospital.

I’d had the bloody show on the night of the 28th and it was about 3am. My early contractions picked up in intensity from then and I also vomited. I went into the other room to wake up Craig and he called the midwife and she encouraged me to keep going. I rested and I hid in my bedroom in the dark and lost track of time. I put the TENS on at about 6am – I love it, it’s the best. I had listened to The Birth Class and I did an active birth workshop in my local community hall and I felt like I had so many options to support me. My midwife called it a spurious labour because it would be intense and then peter off, then intense and peter off. Labour went for about 30 hours and my midwife would come in every few hours and use the doppler and sit with me, encouraging me.

“My midwife came back at 8pm and she encouraged me to rest and told me that if nothing had happened by the morning we might go into hospital because she was a bit concerned about my energy levels. Craig came and said right, let’s do these active birth positions and he got the scarf to do the rebozo method and I felt a sudden drop, she was so far down. I went straight to the bathroom and all my sounds were completely different, it was an instant change. Five minutes later I told Craig to call the midwife and I got in the birth pool.

“My midwife arrived and she reassured me that we weren’t going to the hospital. My body just started pushing, I just couldn’t stop it but I still had to focus on it. I focused on the downward breath that Jodi talks about in The Birth Class, really low and grounding. After a while I got out of the bath and onto the bed and Maeve just popped out. I grabbed her arms and lifted her onto my chest and she was crying and wriggling – all those things I’d wished for for so long. I was so proud of myself.”

Topics Discussed

birth debrief, HVBAC, Home vaginal birth after a caesarean, Birth trauma, Covid, The Birth Class, MGP, Private midwife, Induction, Emergency caesarean

Episode Sponsor

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