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Episode 349

Renee

In this episode Renee discusses her surprise first pregnancy and the fact that she had no knowledge whatsoever of her birth options. She missed out on the MGP programme at her local hospital but requested to stay on their waitlist and managed to get a place at 30 weeks. From then on she felt deeply supported by her midwives and she actively prepared for a physiological birth. Her first labour was long but she birthed in the water and returned home the next day. As soon as she fell pregnant with her second daughter she requested to have a homebirth through the Royal Women’s Hospital in Randwick. There were a few obstacles in late-pregnancy that she navigated with informed and respectful conversation and despite a very swift labour she experienced a joyful birth at home.

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In this episode Renee discusses her surprise first pregnancy and the fact that she had no knowledge whatsoever of her birth options. She missed out on the MGP programme at her local hospital but requested to stay on their waitlist and managed to get a place at 30 weeks. From then on she felt deeply supported by her midwives and she actively prepared for a physiological birth. Her first labour was long but she birthed in the water and returned home the next day. As soon as she fell pregnant with her second daughter she requested to have a homebirth through the Royal Women’s Hospital in Randwick. There were a few obstacles in late-pregnancy that she navigated with informed and respectful conversation and despite a very swift labour she experienced a joyful birth at home.

“I had two-and-a-half semesters left of my degree when I fell pregnant with Freya. It was unplanned but a welcome surprise. At the time I didn’t know much about my birthing options and I see this so much in my clinic with newly pregnant women…it’s a really common experience. My sister is a doula and as soon as I told her my news she told me to call the Royal Women’s at Randwick and get into the MGP program. I contacted them at 5 weeks and they told me on that call that they were full and would put me on the waitlist. I ended up in shared care with my GP and I also hired a doula. When I was 30 weeks the hospital called me to say that a place had opened up on the MGP programme and I was ecstatic. It felt like home; being in that program just felt so much more aligned with my priorities. I saw a midwife almost weekly from that point on.

“I’d been at my sister’s births many years before so I had a really positive perspective regarding labour and birth. It was very early in the morning when I started feeling little twinges and I wondered if it was it. Nothing really happened throughout the day but at 4pm I knew that it was the beginning. I wasn’t comfortable unless I was walking or standing up and they were quite intense from the get go. Things started slowing down overnight so I told Glenn, my husband, and Paige, my doula, to sleep and I just listened to hypnobirth tracks. My parents and sister flew in to surprise me so seeing them boosted my mood and yet I was still labouring but it was so slow.

“I went to the hospital far too early. I wasn’t checked straight away but I think they knew that I had a long way to go. Having my waters broken was suggested to me by my midwife and it wasn’t in my plan but I’m glad I decided to go ahead with it because it was a relief and it helped my labour progress. I was in the bath but then labour slowed and my midwife encouraged me to get out and get active. Glenn was really great at coaching me when I really doubted my ability and I was pretty strong minded in regards to not having pain relief. When it was time to push Freya out, the midwives really coached me through that because I didn’t have the urge to push. Every time I had a surge I had everyone cheering me on and the energy in the room was incredible.

“Eventually it started happening and I was starting to work with my breath. When she was born, my midwife, Ben, scooped her up and put her on my chest. The adrenaline and the many hours it had taken to get to that point contributed to me feeling blank. I thought there was something wrong with me, there was no euphoria. The next day, when I was in the comfort of my own home, I connected with her. My breastfeeding journey was relatively easy although of course I fumbled and had nipple pain at the beginning…but I ended up feeding her for two years.

“We’ve always said that we would love a three-year age gap. When Freya was two I had blood tests that showed I was really depleted so I weaned her and focussed on rebuilding my nutrient stores. We started trying in April and on the second cycle we conceived but unfortunately we miscarried. I was so up and down for the weeks afterwards and I ended up going to the Early Pregnancy Unit at the hospital and I went for a final scan and was told that the pregnancy wasn’t viable and I decided to have a D+C.

“Glenn and I wanted to start trying again; I got my first period five weeks after the D+C. We fell pregnant on my second cycle and I was incredibly excited but I started spotting at six weeks so I went to a dating scan and thankfully there was a heartbeat. I saw the midwives in the MGP and the first question I was asked was whether I wanted a homebirth and my answer was: absolutely!

“My midwife picked up an ectopic heartbeat when I was about 33 weeks. She checked with the obstetrician and he said it can be transient and it’s often resolved before birth or shortly afterwards. The following week I had a CTG and there was no ectopic beat. It happened again a few weeks later and I had an ultrasound and the heart looked fine but the ectopic beat was present. The OB wanted me to have an appointment with the maternal fetal medicine and the doctor said the heart looked perfect and the ectopic beat posed no short or long term risks.

“I had my appointment at 36 weeks with my midwife, Petra, and that was when she told me that Dr Bisits, the head OB, was unsure about homebirth. She encouraged me to have an appointment with him and I was incredibly respectful in the way that I presented my case. I wasn’t going in to pick a fight with him because he’s worked so hard to establish the homebirth programme. I went in the following week to be monitored on the CTG and it was perfect after 45 minutes and he approved me for homebirth but he wanted me to do two more CTGs in the coming weeks.

“I was 40 weeks and it was just before 5pm when I had my first cramps. The contractions were coming every three minutes and lasting for a minute. I felt like it was too premature to call the midwives but we did and they were adamant that they come around soon after. I kept having surges while I was reading a bedtime story to Freya and while I was with her my waters broke. Unfortunately there wasn’t a second midwife available so I had to call 000 for a hospital transfer. It was disappointing but I knew it was part of the protocol and I was just happy that there was a room at the hospital and the bath was being filled.

“The paramedics arrived and they had a look and could see the head so I wasn’t going anywhere. I didn’t have to do anything but breathe; my baby knew exactly what to do, I didn’t have to push. Glenn caught her and I was just shocked; my entire labour was three hours. By the time I got to the hospital the umbilical cord was white and I birthed the placenta. After all her checks and a hot shower for me, we went home at about midnight.

“I had family support and a postpartum doula because I was intent on slowing down and eating all the warming, nourishing food.”

Topics Discussed

Breastfeeding, Doula, ectopic heartbeat, homebirth, MGP, Miscarriage, traditional postpartum, Two Vaginal Births, Waterbirth

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