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Episode 373


In this episode Kristy shares her journey with MS alongside her first pregnancy. She opted for continuity of care with a private obstetrician and admits she was happy to go with the flow for her birth options. At 37 weeks, when protein was detected in her urine and her blood pressure was elevated, her obstetrician recommended an induction because she had concerns about preeclampsia. Kristy’s birth experience was incredibly positive but in the days afterward, when new MS symptoms arose and her baby lost over 10 percent of his birth weight, she started to feel overwhelmed by the challenges facing her. She takes us through her postpartum and talks honestly about her experience, especially regarding her decision to stop expressing at 4 weeks so she could go back on her MS medication.

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“I came off the pill and we just wanted to see what happened. I was quite late on the third cycle but that was a false alarm and then we ended up conceiving on the next cycle. After my positive test I went to a GP at a local clinic.I had quite a lot of cramps the night of my positive test and I was convinced my period was coming and when I mentioned it to the GP she sent me for an urgent ultrasound because she was quite concerned about an ectopic pregnancy. The scan showed the pregnancy was in the right place but the sonographer couldn’t see the yolk sac so at the time he couldn’t say it was a viable pregnancy. It was a long two weeks between scans and thankfully there was a heartbeat when we went at 6 weeks.

“I was diagnosed with MS in 2010 when I was 22. For about six years I didn’t have any symptoms or medication. About five years ago I got additional lesions and symptoms and I’ve been on medication since then that’s administered by infusion every six weeks.

“When I went to my second GP appointment we discussed my care and because I’ve got MS I have top health care so I went with a private obstetrician. I had reached out to my neurologist and he recommended a female obstetrician so I just asked my GP for a referral and went from there. When I met her I felt like I’d known her forever; she’s so lovely. I was so naive going in that I didn’t know what I needed to ask and I left most appointments with more questions. I was very much just going with the flow.

“My neurologist had a plan in place; he told me I’d come off my medication at 24 weeks because research shows that pregnancy protects the body. He said that once I had the baby if I wanted to breastfeed I would have to go on another medication but then he changed his tune…he told me I could breastfeed for four weeks and then I’d have to stop because I’d need to start the infusions again. I was devastated and it took me a long time to process.

“I joined facebook groups and for a while there it felt like I was the only person with MS that had ever had a baby. Clint suggested I get a second opinion from another neurologist but even that felt hard because it was a matter of trust. It was really tricky and I didn’t find a lot of answers at all. It was also in the middle of covid so I attended most of my OB appointments alone.

“I was absolutely terrified of a vaginal birth but I was just hoping that it would all go well. My OB booked me in for an induction and there was no real reason; I was tracking bigger and to be honest I think it was a bit more on the convenience side for her. At my 37 week appointment I did a urine sample and they noticed protein in it and my blood pressure was higher than normal. The midwife took me in to see the obstetrician and she did an ultrasound and vaginal examination and I was 3 cm and that’s when she told me that she would induce me the next day. I just burst into tears because I didn’t expect that news at all.

“My obstetrician called while we were on the way to the hospital and told us she couldn’t be there as she had gastro. I was really thrown but thankfully the backup obstetrician was lovely and she worked with the anaesthetist to get the cannula in. When she did the vaginal examination I felt a pop and my waters broke and I was shocked; she hadn’t asked me or told me she was going to break my waters and I felt really strange about it. I had an icky feeling after it but again I was just going with the flow.

“I knew I was going to get an epidural and I got to the point where it felt like my pelvis was getting crushed. I called the midwife into the room and requested an epidural and thankfully it was all done quite quickly. At midday the OB checked me and I was at 5 cm and they left me to rest and sleep. At about 4 pm I woke up to some back pain and the midwife checked me and asked if I was ready to have a baby. I couldn’t believe it; the lights went on and it was time to push!

“My legs were absolutely numb so I had no sensation. I pushed for about forty minutes and when his head was crowning they told me to stop pushing but I couldn’t control it; I was just involuntarily pushing. He was born and went straight to my chest and I just remember being in shock that he’d come out of me. He had to go to the crib for some oxygen and I wasn’t worried at all because the midwives were so calm and were talking to me and telling me what was happening. They brought him back over and he latched straight away which was just amazing.

“We were in hospital for four days but he’d lost 13 percent body weight so we had to stay an extra day. My blood pressure also went up on the second day and I started getting bad symptoms from my MS in my arms, shoulder and back and that stressed me out. Luckily my neurologist came in to reassure me; he reminded me that my body had been through a lot and I’d had the epidural so he encouraged me to watch and wait. I was terrified and felt like he wasn’t taking me seriously and I really started questioning myself.

“My milk came in on the day we went home and the engorgement was so painful. In the end the midwife came and advised me to have a plan in place to wean at 4 weeks. She advised to pump and give him the milk rather than breastfeed him as it would be really hard to end it emotionally. I was really happy with that advice because it was starting to get really stressful for me, especially with all the different opinions I received at the hospital. I had no idea that breastfeeding was going to be as hard as it was and I must admit that at the 4 week mark I felt quite relieved to give it up and put him on formula.”

Topics Discussed

Breastfeeding, chronic illness, Epidural, Formula feeding, Induction, MS, One baby, Private obstetrician

Episode Sponsor

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