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Episode 409

Steph – Induction, epidural, emergency caesarean

In today’s episode Steph takes us through her early pregnancy journey and explains her choice to have a private obstetrician. She prepared for labour and birth and the possibility of an emergency caesarean with The Birth Class and after her waters broke at 35 weeks, she was induced and opted for an epidural. Her baby’s heart rate was a concern and Steph’s obstetrician recommended an emergency caesarean which she agreed to. Her experience was incredibly positive and she wanted to share in the hope that she could inform and comfort other mothers in the same situation. She also details her breastfeeding challenges and her choice to formula feed for her own health and happiness.

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“We were planning to conceive and we fell pregnant the first month we tried but I had an early miscarriage. I started bleeding at home and it was quite light to start with but the next day it was quite heavy and my GP sent me for an ultrasound which confirmed I was miscarrying. It was hard; you still get your hopes up when you see a positive pregnancy test. Three cycles later we conceived Isla. I always had a regular cycle so I knew when I was ovulating and I was doing the early pregnancy tests and the test had a very faint positive line. I definitely felt more apprehensive; I was on edge and fearful of bleeding. It was until the 8-week ultrasound that I sighed with relief.

“My GP was really supportive through my miscarriage and referred me to my obstetrician. The private hospital has a programme called ‘know your midwife’ where you get to meet the midwives throughout the pregnancy in the hope that you’ll see a familiar face on the day of birth. My OB wasn’t the friendliest person but he was very professional and straight to the point and I felt very safe with him.

“I tried to relax into the pregnancy as much as possible and even though I had nausea, I was happy and excited and actively tried to put my worry to the side. I didn’t go into birth with too much of a plan and I didn’t want my heart set on a certain birth, but I did want a vaginal birth and to stay mobile in labour. I did The Birth Class and read Ina May Gaskin’s books so I felt pretty prepared.

“Late in the third trimester I was pretty uncomfortable with a sore back and pelvic girdle pain. Some days I couldn’t walk more than 200m, I had lightening crotch and it was so painful. A few days before labour started I had really bad back pain and we were at a picnic with friends and they were joking that I may have been in labour. I brushed it off but looking back I think I may have been as the next day my water’s broke.

“I went to the bathroom to put a pad on and my partner called the midwife straight away. We got in the car and went to hospital which was only five minutes down the road. They did the swab test to make sure it was my waters and it was, and they gave me antibiotics and steroids because at that stage I was only 35+5. They monitored me for a while because I hadn’t had contractions at that point. We stayed overnight and we didn’t get a good sleep because of all the machines beeping.

“The next day I had an ultrasound to check the fluid around the baby. We were back in the room when the midwife came in to tell me I was being induced as they had a lot of women coming in the next day for induction. We moved to the birthing suite and the syntocinon drip started and the contractions came on quite quickly. I used heat packs on my back and tummy and then I got in the shower. I started using the gas and it really relaxed me; the room was peaceful, we had music playing and my partner was rubbing my back. The anaesthetist came into the room and asked if I wanted an epidural and I told her that I would probably want one in a couple of hours.
At about 5:30pm I felt like I wasn’t coping with the pain and that’s when the anaesthetist showed up again. I couldn’t feel the needle but being in that hunched position and having to stay still, was really hard while I was having contractions. I was only 2cm at that point so I still had a long way to go. As soon as the epidural was in I went straight to sleep. While I was sleeping Isla’s heart rate had started dipping and it wasn’t recovering so the midwives called the obstetrician. There wasn’t really a choice but to have a caesarean.

“The obstetrician explained everything and told me we really needed to do an emergency caesarean and I was fine with that. He went to the operating theatre and I was taken up within an hour. There wasn’t any rushing and no one panicked. I knew what to expect from The Birth Class module on emergency caesareans but it was still confronting and it’s a bizarre feeling being awake for that kind of surgery. The sensation of them tugging and wriggling around was really awful, I was cringing. I had a midwife holding my hand and patting my head and reassuring me. It was little things like that that I really remembered.

“Isla instantly cried and they pulled the curtain down so I could see her and I instantly burst into tears. Because she was a bit early the paediatrician had a good look at her first and then she came onto my chest and we had skin to skin and she latched straight away. She stayed with me for an hour in recovery and then she went into special care and stayed for three nights. She was jaundiced and they were a bit worried about her sugar levels. Because I didn’t have any colostrum they had to give her formula to top her up till I could start expressing.

“They tucked me into bed and I instantly fell asleep. I would have loved to have been with her but I think the drugs just knocked me out. We spent hours in special care over the next few days and the lactation consultant helped me express colostrum, we gave Isla her first bath and we could hold her whenever we wanted. Breastfeeding was an interesting journey for me; she was latching well but after a few days my nipples were so painful. Finally one of the midwives recommended a nipple shield and that was instant relief and I continued to use them on and off for the first few months.

“Isla was feeding well but was very unsettled. I started to think that she may not be getting enough milk. At my 6 week check my GP suggest motilium and that doubled my supply but I still wasn’t keeping up with Isla’s demand and she was still quite unhappy. I started giving her formula and she was so much more settled; she was instantly a different baby. It got to the point that I was pumping every three hours and I didn’t feel like I had time to actually enjoy her because I was constantly thinking: I need to pump, I need to do this, I need to do that. I didn’t have time to just sit and cuddle her and feel relaxed with her. I realised it wasn’t worth the battle anymore and she was happy and so was I. I felt relieved because I wasn’t stressed and she was happy but I was a bit disappointed. I think next time around I’ll get more support and hopefully I can persist for longer.”

Topics Discussed

Breastfeeding challenges, Emergency caesarean, Epidural, Induction, Miscarriage, One baby, Private obstetrician, PROM

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Featuring 10 audio lessons with perinatal health specialists, you can listen from the comfort of your home when you’re relaxed and receptive to new information. The Birth Class is a conversation starter between you and your birth partner that informs, encourages and empowers you to journey towards labour with knowledge and confidence.

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