Confidently prepare for a positive birth experience – Join The Birth Class

Episode 366


You can listen to Madelyn’s first birth experience in episode 151 but today she takes us through her surprise second pregnancy and the emotional turmoil of feeling disconnected from her baby. Her labour was powerful, intense and positive but the real challenge began in postpartum where she juggled a toddler, an unsettled newborn and her own dark thoughts. Madelyn details her most vulnerable moments with acute honesty and takes us through the choices she made to acknowledge her challenges and prioritise her mental health in motherhood.

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“I had such a beautiful pregnancy with my firstborn, Georgia, and felt really connected to her. I was quite fit and had time to nourish myself so I really loved her pregnancy. I had a really long pre-labour with her – for about two days – and then active labour for about 10 hours. It was a long journey but it was a super positive birth. In retrospect the longer labour was easier on my body and I was able to stay in my power and trust the process.

“Rocco came as a big surprise. Reflecting back it was all divine timing because we’d just moved to Geelong after covid lockdowns and we had more space and I felt like space had opened up for me. I really struggled when I found out I was pregnant because I’d just spent so long with the challenge of work and lockdowns. It’s hard for me to talk about the challenge of my pregnancy because I hold so much guilt. At times I was really upset that I was pregnant but I also knew that so many women would love to be in my position.

“I intuitively knew I was pregnant; I was just sitting at the park and felt that I needed to do a pregnancy test. It quickly became a really dark time for me; I have really vivid memories of me collapsing onto the laundry floor in tears. And then came the guilt which made me more upset; I didn’t feel capable or ready. It was the polar opposite to my pregnancy with Georgia where I felt so connected but this time around being pregnant felt very foreign.

“I had the NIPT test at 10 weeks and found out I was having a boy. At 20 weeks I started to enjoy it and feel connected and at about 30 weeks I got reiki and a psychic reading. The reiki practitioner gave me a beautiful insight into the baby and his purpose in the family and why he chose us. She told me a lot about his personality and it was the most incredible experience to have because I felt so at peace and so ready to meet him.

“I was accepted into the midwifery programme at Geelong Hospital and I had my own midwife which was amazing. She would come to my house for antenatal appointments and she really involved Georgia in my visits. But my husband was working in South Gippsland where my parents lived so I called the hospital there and spoke to the head of midwifery who was amazing. I just told her that there’s every chance I could go into labour there so I had Geelong send my pregnancy record over so they had them on file and that’s where I ended up birthing.

“From 37 week I got crazy lightning crotch and I was convinced I was going into labour. But it was weeks later that I woke up to a contraction I knew it was on. I went back to sleep but then in the early hours of the morning they were coming regularly but I was able to stay in my power with my breath. I was totally in my zone and had my TENS machine on which I now think is my number one thing to have in labour.

“Things started to escalate and I screamed for my mum. The contractions went from 20 minutes apart to one minute; really powerful and hard contractions. Mum called the hospital and they told us to come in whenever we needed. I needed to go to the toilet and that’s when my mucous plug came out and shortly after we got in the car. Dad called Ryan and told him to go straight to the hospital. I knew things were moving fast and that I wouldn’t be in labour for days. I knew exactly when I needed to go to hospital whereas with Georgia I kept second guessing myself.

“We got into the birth suite and I felt like it was really hard and I asked for drugs. That’s when the midwife examined me and I was 9 cm and she was so incredible in noticing that I was starting to panic but she helped me feel so confident and in my power. I got the confidence again to trust my body and Ryan kept encouraging me, telling me I’d done it all before.

“I started needing to work with my contractions to birth my baby but I’d forgotten about that shift from first stage to pushing stage. I remember feeling fear and that’s when Ryan helped me get back on track.

“I got on all fours but that was horrific and I actually felt like I was going to die. I just remember thinking why would anyone do this? I switched to lying on my back and that’s when I felt more positive and started pushing. That moment was so different to Georgia’s birth where I’d been pushing for so many hours and with gas and a whole team of people coaching me. Whereas this time it was quiet and I was fully present and felt quite alone in that I was the only one who could birth my baby. It was really hard and painful.

“I asked for an episiotomy and the obstetrician came in and did it and then my waters broke and soon after Rocco was born. They pulled him out and he was completely grey and didn’t give us any signs of crying. They put him on my chest and warmed him up but it was like he was so unaware of where he was.

“With my first birth it was like my body had time to catch up to the pain but with Rocco’s birth it felt like so much intensity for my body all at once. It was so quick and fast that my whole body was in pain and the adrenaline wasn’t helping.

“Ryan went back home to be with Georgia and I got the worst afterpains, they were so intense. A day or so later I found out I’d had a postpartum haemorrhage and after that it felt like my body went downhill. I had a private room in the hospital and the midwives were checking on me constantly which was such a blessing. I stayed in hospital for one night and the whole next day because I didn’t really feel okay till early morning.

“We brought Rocco home and introduced him to Georgia and she was beside herself which was incredible. I feel like that definitely lasted for the newborn bubble for about five days. After that things really started to turn; he was quite unsettled and his sleep was disturbed. It was a really hard process bonding with him. The first three-and-a-half months….I feel like I’m looking back differently but I was in survival mode and I didn’t connect with him at all. I trusted myself to care for him but I didn’t feel happiness. By week three he was really colicky and feeding him was stressful and he went on a colic medication.

“I was in a really dark place by one month postpartum. I was having dark thoughts, I wondered why he’d chosen me, it all felt like a huge weight on me. I like to feel like I’m a really positive person and I work in the health and mindset space but I lost the ability to find perspective. I just felt like I’d lost all my confidence because nothing I was doing was helping Rocco. And the only place he slept was on my chest.

“I’m pretty good at blocking out noise; it may not be healthy but it’s my survival mode. I knew that I needed to feel this and stop squashing it and I was really open with my mum about how I was feeling. At around four months I was at the point where I admitted that I needed help. I stopped breastfeeding and put him on formula and that was a huge weight off my shoulders. My parents saw the warning signs of PND and they invited me to come and stay with them for 10 days and mum took the load off and it was just so nice to have some time to spend with Georgia uninterrupted and that was possible because they could give Rocco a bottle. My guilt on weaning him so early dissipated when I noticed such a huge improvement in my mental health.

“A big thing I learnt during that time is that everyone’s “hard” is different. It was okay for my hard to be hard. I just allowed myself to feel all my emotions instead of pushing them away or having guilt for feeling them. It was around this time that I really fell in love with Rocco and I remember feeling so grateful for him. Obviously I loved him the whole time but it was then that I really fell in love with him.”

You can connect with Madelyn on instagram and you can find her podcast The Hustlers Hustlers here.

Topics Discussed

colic, Episiotomy, identity crisis, Midwifery group practice, Physiological birth, Postnatal depression, Surprise pregnancy, Two Babies

Episode Sponsor

Today’s episode is brought to you by my new book The Complete Australian Guide to Pregnancy and Birth.

‘I wish someone had told me!’ – it’s a phrase uttered by countless women after they give birth for the first time.

The Complete Australian Guide to Pregnancy and Birth draws on the expertise of dozens of doctors, midwives and other health specialists to offer the most comprehensive and up-to-date information about pregnancy, labour, birth and early postpartum in Australia.

For a limited time, you can receive a free audio episode on Breathing in Labour when you pre-order the book.

“Breath Awareness for Labour and Birth” is a 12 minute guided relaxation that takes you through three different breathing practices that you can use in labour. Valued at $19.95 consider it an essential aspect to your birth preparation you can pick it up now for free by simply pre-ordering your copy here.

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