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Episode 381


In today’s episode Hollie shares her three very different vaginal birth experiences. Her first baby was measuring big on third trimester scans so while a few obstetricians told her a planned caesarean was the safest option, she chose to be induced. She opted for an epidural and birthed her baby within six hours of the syntocinon drip starting. Four months later she discovered she was pregnant again and at her 19 week scan the sonographer noticed that her cervix was shortening. Hollie had a cervical stitch inserted and later had it removed at 37 weeks. She went into spontaneous labour a week afterwards and noticed a significant difference to the induced labour with her first baby. Her third pregnancy was planned and her labour was fast; she birthed her breech baby at home before the paramedics arrived.

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“I did a test before my hen’s night because I was feeling off and it was very positive. I went to the GP and at 16 weeks I booked into the Perth Pregnancy Centre (the only bulk billing midwifery practice in Perth) and they took over my care from there. I had my own midwife and she did all of my pre and postnatal care (for six weeks after birth) but she wasn’t at my birth.

“I didn’t want to have a set plan but I just wanted to have a vaginal birth; that was my only expectation. It was a very uneventful pregnancy although at about 34 weeks I got hypertension so I went on medication for that and once he was born it rectified itself. I went for a growth scan around that time and he was measuring quite big so they suggested a caesarean because, as a few doctors said, his stomach was bigger than his head. I declined, I was consulting with a midwife at the pregnancy centre, and she was adamant that it didn’t warrant a caesarean. I was happy to be induced but even when I was getting induced, a doctor came in and told me I was putting my baby at risk.

“I had the cervadil overnight and then in the morning they put me on the syntocinon drip. I didn’t cope with the pain very well at all so I requested an epidural and I got to 10cm by 3pm. I could feel the contraction coming but there wasn’t any pain and he was out within 40 minutes. We knew we were having a boy and I just remember the sheer relief that he was here; it was amazing!

“I had really bad nipple damage and my supply was low so I pumped a bottle a day before I switched to formula. I found it really hard and beat myself up about it because throughout the whole pregnancy I definitely wanted to breastfeed. It definitely bothered me quite a lot that I couldn’t make it work.

“My second pregnancy was a surprise. Theo was four months when I found out I was pregnant with Artie and I just couldn’t believe it. The first thing I did was call the pregnancy centre and I asked for my midwife and she saw me through the whole pregnancy again.

“At my 19 weeks sca, they noticed that my cervix had started to open so I immediately had to go to the hospital that deals with high risk pregnancies and premature babies and they put in a cerclage, like a cervical stitch. I didn’t have to go on bed rest but I just had to take it very easy and not lift anything particularly heavy which was challenging considering Theo was still so little. I had another scan at 32 weeks and my stitch had held and my cervix had closed over the stitch and then they removed it at 37 weeks. I was 2cm as soon as they removed it and I ended up being pregnant for another week before spontaneous labour started. I definitely thought this labour would be quicker but I don’t think I anticipated it to be quite as quick.

“My waters broke in a big gush and I tested positive for GroupB Strep (GBS) so I went into hospital to go on IV antibiotics. They wanted me to be induced but I said that I wanted labour to start on its own. It was an entirely different experience to an induction. I went in the shower and once I was out the contractions got more intense but they were nowhere near the intensity of the induced labour. I was leaning over the bed when I pushed; although I didn’t really feel like I needed to push, my body was just doing it.

“After the birth I felt amazing and I was just so in love with my baby, it was so much better. I stayed in hospital as I really wanted help with breastfeeding and getting a correct latch. I got him to latch properly and that’s when I realised that I never had a good, comfortable latch with Theo.

“Having two so close together was crazy; it was absolutely hectic and the hardest year of my life. To be honest, it’s a complete blur.

“Sonny was definitely planned although we weren’t actively trying to have a baby. I was considered high risk because of the cervical stitch and I knew I’d have to have shared care between my midwife and the hospital. I was referred to the preterm birth clinic and I saw them at 12 weeks where they discussed my options. I was given the options of a preventative stitch placed or a progesterone pessary and fortnightly scans. Because the stitch worked so well the first time I had no qualms about having it again. They gave me a spinal so I was awake when they did it and then they kept me in overnight to monitor me. I had a scan before I left the hospital and then I had another once at 17 weeks, 20 weeks, 24 weeks and then he was breech so I had a later scan, too. I was disappointed that he was breech because my first thought was that I’d need to have a caesarean. I went straight home and started researching how to spin a breech baby.

“At 36 weeks I went to the hospital to get the stitch out and they suggested an ECV at 37 weeks. If it didn’t work, I could have the option of a breech vaginal birth. I don’t think I’d ever try an ECV again; it was very uncomfortable and they couldn’t budge him and it was painful. I was very bruised after that and I thought, if he’s happy, he’s obviously okay.

“Given my history of quick labours they wanted me to go to hospital at the first inkling of labour. One doctor mentioned I would need an epidural and to be monitored which confused me as everything I’d read about breech births is that I needed to be upright. I moved teams and the obstetrician was a leading vaginal breech birth expert so he told me I was the ideal candidate for a breech birth and he restored my confidence.

“I was 39 weeks when labour started. I’d had false labour for a few weeks beforehand. That day I’d seen my OB and he told me he was on call for him. He’d given me a stretch and sweep and I was already 3cm and fully effaced so I knew it wasn’t going to be long. I had a bit of cramping and once I put the boys to bed I got the first contraction and it was quite strong. Within a few minutes I got another one and it was stronger again. We live an hour from the high-risk hospital so I called my mum to come around and I just knew I needed to get going. The contractions were coming really quickly. I was leaning against the car and I was shaking because they were coming so quickly. I was focussed on getting through the contractions, I wasn’t too scared although I knew I wasn’t going to make it to hospital.

“Connor called the ambulance but it was 20 minutes away so the paramedic on the line told us to go inside. I lent over the kitchen bench and Connor was behind me, waiting for the baby. This was about 40 minutes after my first contraction. I started feeling the pressure of him coming and it was intense because my waters hadn’t broken. They then broke and Connor saw his feet. In the next contraction he was out up to his armpits and I knew I needed to get him out on the next contraction and then he just came out. He was quite blue and he wasn’t breathing at first so Connor was rubbing him and within a minute he came around. The paramedics still had arrived so I held him and then I transferred to hospital to birth the placenta. He fed for the whole drive to the hospital – that was over an hour. Once we got to hospital they wheeled me in and they sat me on the toilet and the placenta came straight out.

“I was in the birth suite to get stitched up and they did all of Sonny’s checks too. Sonny has been the easiest to feed of all three of them and my milk came in a lot stronger and I had a lot of it.”

Topics Discussed

Breech, Cervical stitch, ECV, Epidural, hypertension, Incompetent cervix, Induction, Midwifery care, Three vaginal births, unplanned breech homebirth

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