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Episode 362


In episode 362 Jessica describes her two very different vaginal birth experiences. After a gestational diabetes diagnosis, induction was advised in line with hospital policy and Jess experienced the cascade of intervention including epidural, vacuum-assisted birth and episiotomy. For her second birth she had a lot of conversations about avoiding induction with her obstetrician, she did her research, got informed and embraced the lessons shared in The Birth Class. She went into spontaneous labour and experienced a physiological birth which left her feeling incredible. Jess’ story is a beautiful example of how powerful birth education really is.

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“We got married in November 2018 and when we got home from our honeymoon in April 2019, we started trying. I had really irregular periods and my GP sent me off for an ultrasound and it was confirmed that I had PCOS. In my early teenage years I had really irregular periods but then I went on the pill and that regulated them…but then as soon as I went off the pill they were irregular again so it was quite confronting not knowing how it was going to affect my fertility journey.

“I was referred to a gynaecologist who was very reassuring and he started me on a round of clomid. did two rounds just before Christmas but I hadn’t ovulated. Early in the new year I had one day of feeling really nauseous and I did a pregnancy test and I was just so shocked to see it was positive. It was the nicest surprise.

“I’d always assumed that I would go private as we’ve always had private health insurance. My GP referred me to an amazing female obstetrician and she was brilliant. It was the height of covid so there were no hospital classes but we did a zoom class with our obstetrician which was great.

“I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes at 28 weeks and I was quickly put onto insulin to control my fasting blood sugar levels. The discussion around induction came up quite quickly; it was hospital policy to induce at 39 weeks but I didn’t realise it was an open discussion and something I could have declined or postponed. I agreed to it not knowing that I had a choice. Induction was booked for 39+2 and we went in for routine monitoring and then we waited for a few hours for the induction process to start. Unfortunately my obstetrician was caught up in a covid issue and she could only come in the next day once she had done a negative test. We opted to go home which was actually really nice because I could relax and prepare myself.

“The next day we went in, they did the monitoring and my obstetrician inserted the gel at about 4pm. I had a lot of cramping that night although I did get a bit of sleep. The next morning I went around to the birthing suite and they hooked me up to the syntocinon and I had my waters broken. The contractions were coming thick and fast and I can see now that I was tensing my body and fighting the contractions. I was still 3cm after four hours and I was devastated. That was when I tried the gas which made me nauseous and out of it. I asked for an epidural and thankfully there was an anaesthetist available so I didn’t have to wait too long for it.

“The rest of the afternoon was a bit of a blur. After quite a long pushing stage Noah went into distress so my obstetrician used a vacuum and episiotomy to help me birth him. I was in complete awe of my beautiful baby and it was so lovely to spend a few days in hospital in our little bubble. My obstetrician wrote me a carer’s letter so my mum could come and look after me for two weeks after we were discharged from hospital.

“My physical recovery was really hard; the hours of pushing and the episiotomy made me feel really swollen and sore. I also had nipple damage and it just felt like everything hurt.

“I got my period back 10 months postpartum and they were really regular but in the back of my mind I thought it may take us a while. We started trying when Noah was 12 months old and we fell pregnant in that first month.

“I went with Dr Natalie Elphinstone again because I just loved my experience with her the first time.  I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes very early on, at eight weeks. I knew that there would be discussion around induction but I’d done more education and I felt more informed the second time so I had a lot of conversations around induction and birth. Natalie gave me fact-based information and she referred me to evidence based birth so I could do my own reading. Ultimately I decided that I didn’t want to be induced and on the scans Amelia wasn’t big so that was reassuring.

“I did The Birth Class and I can’t recommend it highly enough. I really loved that it was audio so I didn’t have to sit down and watch something; I listened in the car and I gave Sean the modules I wanted him to listen to. In the Rhea Dempsey episode she emphasises the importance of not pitying me, so his view of me shifted and he was in awe of what my body was doing. He understood what was happening and it was so helpful for him.

“My aim was to avoid the cascade of intervention that I had with Noah. I wanted to limit the interventions this time around. I started acupuncture towards the end of pregnancy and they knew I was trying to avoid induction so they did a strong treatment and five days labour I went into spontaneous labour. I had a bit of cramping on and off all day but it was just a bit uncomfortable. I lost my mucous plug that afternoon so I called the hospital but they told me to call only if my waters broke. At 9:30pm that night my waters broke and they were clear and the hospital encouraged me to stay at home. I called my mum and she made her way over to look after Noah and in the half-an-hour it took her to get to me, I was having quite regular contractions.

“I’d bought a TENS machine so before I got in the car I attached it and most definitely needed it for the car ride. When I got there they sent me straight to the birthing suite and I was doing really well. I’d practised some breathing techniques in pregnancy and I could feel I was much more relaxed and managing the contractions well. And then all of a sudden it changed and the contractions felt like continually crashing waves and I remember thinking it must have been transition but then the other side of my brain started thinking that I had hours to go and I was in a world of pain.

“It was transition and I was fully dilated and pushing. I pushed for only 5 minutes and didn’t tear. It was amazing! By the time Natalie arrived there was nothing for her to do. It was the most incredible birth and I feel so grateful to have experienced it. I felt so good afterwards; I walked to the maternity ward and had a shower and my recovery was so much easier. My milk supply was better and my milk came in a lot earlier, too.”

Topics Discussed

Clomid, Epidural, Episiotomy, gestational diabetes, Induction, PCOS, Spontaneous labour, The Birth Class, Two Vaginal Births, Vacuum

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Today’s episode is brought to you by Lunch Lady, a quarterly print magazine that celebrates the beauty and the reality of modern day motherhood.

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