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

Episode 377

Kaitlin – placenta previa

In this episode Kaitlin shares her experience with placenta previa. Her first pregnancy and birth was an incredibly positive experience and she birthed with the support of hospital midwives at her local birth centre. As soon as she discovered she was pregnant for the second time, she booked a private midwife but her plans for a homebirth changed at 20 weeks when an ultrasound showed her placenta was on the edge of her cervix. Kaitlin admits she was deeply disappointed but she informed herself, looked at all her options, prepared with The Birth Class and spoke to obstetricians to gain their advice. At 37 weeks when the placenta hadn’t moved, she booked in at her local hospital. She went into spontaneous labour but when she started bleeding she went straight to hospital and had a very surprising birth experience.

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“When I conceived we were in England with Charlie’s family and I think I just let go a bit and definitely wasn’t as stressed as I’d been in the months previously. I knew I wanted to go through the MGP programme at The Mercy. I called at six weeks and I got in and felt incredibly held throughout my whole pregnancy thanks to my amazing midwife.

“I had morning sickness every day in the first trimester although it wasn’t too severe. I sailed through the second trimester and then had quite bad hip pain in the third trimester. I went to a physio and the physio cream combined with the massage was the most helpful thing I tried, mostly because it allowed me to get some sleep.

“I did the Rhea Dempsey weekend birth course and after that I was inspired to switch to a homebirth but Rhea assured me that I was in great hands with my midwife. I listened to the podcast and did lots of reading.

“I went into spontaneous labour on my due date, at about midday. I had cramps to begin with and they intensified quite quickly and I didn’t really get any respite. I knew when I’d got to the point when I couldn’t stay at home anymore. It was relentless and I wasn’t breathing properly; I was just in survival mode, trying to get through each contraction.

“When I got to the hospital I didn’t want to be checked because I didn’t want to get attached to numbers. It was calm and dark in the room and both my midwives were hands-off. They ran the bath and I floated in there for half-an-hour. The midwife on the ward asked me to get out of the bath because I couldn’t birth in there and when I got out and walked across the room I could feel Arlo coming. I was really trusting in my midwives and I was in a really primal state. My legs were like jelly – I couldn’t stand – so I got on all fours on the floor. Charlie caught Arlo, with guidance from the midwives.

“I had two big tears and my midwife was a bit concerned about my blood loss so I had a managed third stage and I was really happy with that. I was also vomiting so I had some anti-nausea medication and I had gas when the obstetrician came in to stitch me. They healed really well; I had no trouble with them. We went home six hours after birth, I just wanted to get home. My midwife came out later that day to see us.

“We moved to Barwon Heads when Arlo was 20 months old and we fell pregnant with Arabella that month. I had a tricky first trimester; constant nausea and daily vomiting. It was so hard and the mental load was so overwhelming; I was keeping it to myself, life was stressful and it was intense. Looking after a toddler while growing a baby is another level of fatigue. My mood was really low; I couldn’t exercise, I couldn’t eat properly and I just wasn’t doing things that I was used to doing. It took a lot longer to feel good again in Arabella’s pregnancy.

“After my positive experience with Arlo’s birth I felt empowered to birth at home. I booked Judy from The Birth House in Geelong and she was incredible. I called her at six weeks to lock her in. I really wanted to birth in the water but I did want to focus more on how to breathe through contractions and I felt like I needed more coaching in that. It was so intense from the get-go with Arlo so I wanted to do more mental preparation for the contractions.

“I did The Birth Class and I listened to Jodi’s episode around breath and it absolutely helped. I felt a dropping, and opening, when I breathed how she suggested and that was a game changer. It was really about the sound for me; letting go at the end of the contraction and letting the sound go. When I really let go I felt complete relaxation and an opening.

“It was a shock at 20 weeks to discover I had placenta previa. There’s a few different grades of it but at 20 weeks my placenta was overlying the cervix and it was posterior. This meant that the cervix was blocked and because it was posterior, it was less likely to move as my uterus grew. I was very disheartened, I was really shocked. I was also annoyed that it came up at 20 weeks because most of the time, the placenta will move. But from 20 weeks it changed how I felt; it made me more anxious and less connected. The one upside was that I could prepare for a multitude of birth options.

“My midwife was very positive and she reassured me that it was still early on. But of course, placenta previa can often require a planned caesarean, especially for a grade four which is what I had at 20 weeks. I was really trying to think positively, I did a visualisation to music every night. Homebirth and caesarean are quite different ends of the spectrum and I really wanted to birth vaginally; it was really important to me.

“At 32 weeks I was holding my breath about the scan. Sadly the placenta hadn’t moved, it was still really close to the edge. It was positive in that it wasn’t covering the cervix, but it was still very close. The sonographer did an external and internal ultrasound to be sure and I just cried. At that point the recommendation was a caesarean birth but I was intent on getting another scan later in the pregnancy. I booked in again with a sonographer who was also an obstetrician and I contacted a few obstetricians in Melbourne and spoke to one who agreed I’d done my research and would support my decision to wait for a later ultrasound. At 37 weeks the scan showed that the placenta hadn’t moved and the tail end of the placenta was right on the border of the cervix. The obstetrician told me he would support a trial of labour because I’d had no symptoms and it wasn’t a highly vascular section of the placenta.

“I knew with the support of my midwife I would labour at home and then transfer to hospital and ideally birth in the birthing suite but if anything went wrong, the operating theatre was right there. My midwife booked me in at 38 weeks and then I had two hospital appointments that left me feeling really anxious; one midwife told me I would bleed out on the bathroom floor at home if I was going to do a trial of labour and that I’d probably be okay but they wouldn’t be able to save m baby.  I went into the hospital days later for a check-up and everything was looking fine. That night I did some journaling and my waters broke. I texted my midwife and she told me she would be over mid-morning.

“It wasn’t intense from the get-go; labour was coming and going. I went into bed because I was tired and I remembered Jodi’s voice and that’s when I started doing some of those breathing techniques and letting go and leaning into the discomfort and that’s when the contractions really ramped up. After a couple of those I found a warm trickle down my leg and it felt different to amniotic fluid and I knew it was blood. I had a sinking feeling and knew that others would be involved now, I would be birthing in the operating theatre.

“I went into spontaneous labour, my baby chose their birth date, I had that cascade of hormones. I was quite calm going into the hospital and Arabella was quite active so that helped me feel settled. At that time I didn’t have any contractions, I think my body had stalled. I was assigned a midwife at the hospital and my midwife met us there. They put the monitors on me and Arabella was happy. They said a caesarean birth was a recommendation and I asked for time alone with my husband and my midwife and we agreed to the caesarean. I was fully aware, conversing, and signing papers. They were trying to prep me for theatre and they couldn’t get a read on Arabella. They called a code green and people just rushed in. My midwife asked me if I needed to go to the toilet and I said I didn’t but then as I was rushed through the corridors I felt like I wanted to push and I couldn’t control it. I told the obstetrician I needed to push and he checked me and baby’s head was right there. I put my hand on her head and she was born in two contractions. I was so relieved that it was over, that she’d come into the world in the way I wanted and that it was a girl.

“I tore again and I was bleeding so they wanted to put a balloon in my uterus so I had a spinal block. I had to have antibiotics because of the balloon and it stayed in for 18 hours and I was so relieved when I got it out. I don’t have any trauma about the birth and overall I had really great care.”

Topics Discussed

grade four placenta previa, MGP, Private midwife, Spontaneous labour, The Birth Class, Two Babies

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