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

Episode 394


In today’s episode Bec shares her experience with a third-degree tear and the shock, grief and recovery that came afterwards. Her second and third pregnancies ended in miscarriage and she details the emotional toll it took on her and the way it affected her ability to connect with her next baby in pregnancy. Despite being told that she would need a caesarean birth after her 3C tear, she hired a private midwife, planned a homebirth and worked closely with a women’s health physio to actively prepare her pelvic floor and perineum for birth. She birthed baby Nyah in the pool and her perineum was completely intact; not even a graze! This is the inspiring story for all those women preparing for a vaginal birth after severe perineal trauma.

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“We were fortunate to fall pregnant really quickly with Rain. It was a textbook pregnancy and I chose to have a private obstetrician and a private midwife through two different clinics. I don’t think I understood what I needed but I knew I wanted continuity of care. In hindsight I would have done things differently and I did in my second pregnancy. I knew that my private midwife wouldn’t be able to attend my birth and I was fine with that at the time but I think my birth would have been different if she was there. My obstetrician was in a GP clinic so a portion was subsidised by medicare. A portion of my midwife’s fees were also covered.

“I didn’t really know what a low intervention birth would look like but I wanted to do it as naturally as possible. I did hypnobirthing over two weekends which actually helped more in my pregnancy than in my labour because I used it to ease my anxiety. I had a lot of fear around having a caesarean and I think that’s because a lot of the women in my family have had caesareans. When I was in labour I only used the breathing techniques but not so much other aspects of that course. I listened to a lot of podcast episodes and I think that’s what was most valuable; listening to other women’s stories.

“From 38 weeks my midwife kept telling me I was nice and low and my baby was going to come soon. I think I got my hopes up. At 41 weeks I went to my obstetrician and he offered a stretch and sweep but I declined. For the next week I did three acupuncture sessions but nothing happened and the day before my scheduled induction – at 41+5 – I went to my midwife and she did a stretch and sweep. I went to hospital the next day, they broke my waters, I went for a long walk but nothing happened so at 10:30am they started the syntocinon drip.

“I decided to actively come to terms with my induction…I was okay with it. On the morning of the induction I was just excited, there wasn’t much fear or anxiety. Labour started slowly and my obstetrician came back in at 1pm and he said: you’re far too happy to be in labour. He said it as a joke but it dampened my mood. At 3pm the midwives asked if they could do an examination and their faces said it all; I was only 2cm. That took a lot for me to recoup after that. It felt like a backwards step. They didn’t communicate anything with me but I think they did a bit of a stretch and sweep and turned up the syntocinon. My obstetrician came in at 7pm and asked to do another examination and I was 8cm which was reassuring.

“I really wanted water as a pain relief but they don’t have waterproof monitors so as soon as I was on the drip I couldn’t access the water at all. I was on my bed and using the peanut ball for a long time, then I switched to all fours. I felt quite restricted and frustrated with the cannula and wires.

“I asked for the gas at one point and I had a crisis of confidence which was transition. Around 9:30pm my midwife came back in and she told me I was almost ready to push. I didn’t think the gas affected me too much at the time but since my second birth – where I didn’t have it – I now know there was a huge difference. My body completely took over; I couldn’t slow it down. It was all too much. The pushing stage was only 18 minutes and it felt like Rain fell out; I didn’t have any awareness of where he was when I was pushing. The midwife handed Rain to me and I was just relieved.

“My obstetrician wasn’t there at birth. The midwives checked me and shortly after the obstetrician came in and that’s when I found out I needed to go to theatre. I didn’t know the significance or repercussions of a third degree tear; I was just on cloud nine at that stage. The hard part was being separated from Rain, it was really, really difficult for me; I cried all the way to the operating theatre. Thinking about it now just breaks my heart. After I was stitched I went into recovery but I was away from Rain for three-and-a-half hours.

“The next day the surgeon came in and I still hadn’t been out of bed at that point. He told me that any other births would need to be a caesarean and I would need some serious physio to help with continence issues that would arise. It was really hard to hear that and to know that my worst fear – a caesarean – would be necessary for another baby. Connecting with Rain after being away for a few hours; he almost didn’t feel like he was mine and that was really hard to process. It didn’t last for long but that first night when I was sore and medicated and feeling so down on myself; it was a really hard night. I remember saying to someone at some point; let’s worry about the next birth when it happens.

“One of the midwives came in and encouraged me to hold Rain. She sat with me and supported me and I’m really grateful that she did that. I’m also so grateful that I expressed antenatally and we used it all while we were in hospital. It definitely helped to build our bond. We didn’t have any visitors on that first day which was really important to build our bond and love and learn how to breastfeed. I stayed three nights in hospital all up and then my private midwife visited me at home.

“The first day, it’s a funny story, I didn’t know the level of the tear. I definitely had to rush to the toilet very quickly. Wee was fine but there were some close calls when it came to doing a poo. It didn’t last very long at all; I wound back on the medication to soften my stools so I switched to prunes which felt better. I had good control after those first few days in hospital and I started physiotherapy after my six week check. I continued seeing a physio for months after what was recommended because I was determined to have another vaginal birth. It took me quite a long time to feel comfortable to have intercourse again and it was definitely uncomfortable and painful the first few times.

“Rain was six months old when we went into lockdown and we knew we didn’t want to have a baby in that period of time. In early 2021 I fell pregnant but I lost that baby at 8 weeks. I really didn’t expect it and it took a bit of processing. I started bleeding one night and I knew then that I’d lost it. In August 2021 I miscarried again at 11 weeks. I went into hospital because I hadn’t had a dating scan and I wanted to make sure it was all okay. The bleeding increased and a scan showed that there was no heartbeat. I went home and it passed the following morning. I’d told people I was pregnant and it really took me by surprise; I really struggled afterwards and I found that no one wanted to talk about it. People were trying to protect me by not talking about it but I so desperately wanted to talk about it. I wasn’t processing it very well at all, so much so that I wondered if I even wanted to try again.

“The obstetrician said he’d only do tests if I had a third miscarriage. I saw a midwife and naturopath who did some tests; my iron was really low, my diet needed tidying up and I started tracking my cycle. I fell pregnant in February 2022 and I continued seeing my naturopath right through the pregnancy. I didn’t tell anyone I was pregnant; we didn’t talk about it in the house. It was me trying to protect myself because I was so scared that something was going to happen. I didn’t even want to talk to the baby or develop a connection for fear of losing it.

“I’d already established a relationship with my private midwife in my third pregnancy and she’d done a lot of research about supporting me with birth considering my third degree tear. My pregnancy was really different and at my 20 week scan my placenta was covering my cervix by two cm. Thankfully it moved on its own and by 36 weeks it was well outside the range to allow me to have a safe homebirth.

“During pregnancy I connected with a women’s health physio and I saw her from 30 weeks and she was doing regular massage on my pelvic floor, as did I. I also used an epino from 37 weeks because I felt like I needed to do as much perineal preparation as possible.

“I was having braxton hicks for ages but on my due date it felt different. I had some pink mucous and then the day after I had pains that were like period cramps and I felt a bit sick. I called the midwife at 10:30pm that night and that’s when my mum came as well to look after Rain. I didn’t think I wanted checks but at 3am I went to the toilet and my midwife encouraged me to have a bit of a feel and I could feel her head. I asked to be checked by her at that point and I definitely wanted to know and I was 3-4cm but she could stretch me to 6-7cm so that was when she called the second midwife. She encouraged me to lie on the bed with my leg hanging over one side and three big contractions later something changed and I was desperate to get in the pool. I was using a TENS machine which I love so I was hesitant to take it off but the water was amazing.

“I went to the toilet again and I could feel my waters bulging. After getting back into the pool my waters broke and then I had more contractions. I got back on the toilet and the contractions there were the most intense of the whole labour. She crowned while I was on the toilet and then they carried me to the pool. Amanda, my midwife was holding my perineum and the baby’s head and she did that so well. On the third contraction I birthed Nyah’s head and I was just waiting for the next contraction and I felt her move and then she was born and we all let out a big sigh of relief. Rain hopped in the pool and we stayed in there for half-an-hour and then I got onto the toilet to birth the placenta into a bag. My blood loss was fine and they checked me and I was completely intact; there wasn’t even a graze. The first day and first feed with Nyah was so special. I stayed in that beautiful bubble for a really long time.”

Topics Discussed

3C tear, homebirth, Induction, Miscarriage, Private midwife, Private obstetrician, Two Babies

Episode Sponsor

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