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

Episode 414

Billi | Postpartum – homebirth and hospital transfer, NICU

In this episode Billi discusses what it was like to discover she was pregnant at 14 weeks, subsequently missing her entire first trimester. She hired a private midwife for her birth and planned a homebirth that required a hospital transfer after her baby was born. Billie’s postpartum plans had to pivot, an experience that she found really mentally challenging despite being a clinical psychologist. She goes on to share the highs and lows of postpartum, the imposing nature of the mental load and the inevitable relationship challenges as she and her partner adjusted to parenthood. She also sings the praises of being in a mother’s group because of the diversity of preferences and the perspective-shifts and realisations that come from having conversations with other mums.

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“I had a surprise pregnancy. During covid they stopped producing the pill I was taking so I went off it and started tracking my cycles…I’ve never had a regular cycle, some months would be 45 days, other months would be 28.

“I got busy with my thesis and had a negative pregnancy test and a strange bleed and I was busy doing my thesis so put my fatigue down to that, cold sores because of stress, congestion which I put down to going outside again after lockdown, my skin cleared up and my body odour changed. I went to Noosa with my partner and sister for Christmas and when I slowed down to really sit with myself I thought I’d better do another test…and I was pregnant.

“I was 14 weeks at my first scan. It was the weirdest series of events, blitzing through the first trimester and only having six months to get my head around having a baby. Because I was so late to find out I didn’t have the opportunity to upgrade my health insurance and I’d missed all the good public hospital programmes. One of the best things about your podcast is hearing women speak of the importance of continuity of care for good birth outcomes soI really felt like I’d missed all the good opportunities.

“I found a private midwife through Mama Midwives who supported us through the whole pregnancy and homebirth, too. I had a waterbirth and Murph had a bit of fluid on her lungs; she didn’t cry when she was born and the midwives gave her oxygen and told us we needed to transfer to hospital via ambulance. It was nowhere near what I planned and when I got to the hospital, everyone was focussed on Murphy and it was a real shift from at home. She was in NICU for the first 48 hours on CPAP and I was put in a birth suite where I got stitches for my second-degree tear.

“I had such a beautiful outpouring of love from friends which helped me process my feelings. I had just come out of a clinical masters in psychology having worked with people who had so much guilt and shame and so much black and white thinking, yet I was not able to do any of that stuff on myself. My initial postpartum wasn’t what I’d planned and there was stigma at the hospital because we were a homebirth transfer and there were a lot of assumptions made about my choices. I’d really carefully planned my postpartum, especially that first week in bed after my homebirth, and instead I was sitting in the NICU on uncomfortable chairs, with a painful perineum and I wasn’t producing enough milk because I was so stressed and going home every night before returning to the hospital in the morning. There’s a continuity of care gap if you end up in the NICU but we finally got to bring her home. We had a test-run in the family suite before we went home and that was when I had a consultation with one of the Mama Midwife lactation consultants who reminded me to relax because a baby wasn’t going to attach to a tense, wooden plank.

“Even when I was at the hospital I was wary of the importance of sleep. I have the calm app because it has excellent meditations and they have a postpartum section and I listen to it every night, alongside melatonin and my sleep routine. The four-month sleep regression was very real for me…nothing broke me as much as the sleep deprivation. I wasted so much energy being stressed and anxious about sleep. The circuit breaker for me was going home to my parents at Christmas which I think reiterates the importance of support. I was still putting on a front, because you don’t want people to think you’re not competent and you need to show up for your baby.

“I feel like everyone needs to give their mother’s group a go. My mother’s group was such a diverse range of women with diverse preferences and experiences but the validation from them was so nice. It gives you the perspective you need because otherwise you’re just looking on social media and a lot of what you’re seeing is American and it’s not really applicable to our context.

“I can have a conversation with them and often I realise I’m carrying the same weight as them…but I only realised it when they verbalised it. One of the mums was talking about getting more than three hours of sleep and now she can cross the road without worrying about the car that’s 500 metres down the road will hit the pram and my baby and I said: “I do that, too” and I didn’t even realise. I even feel when I go to the shops that people will come up to my baby and want to touch her. I think you can easily get into the headspace where you’re perceiving so many things as a threat because you are so anxious and sleep deprived. It’s helpful to have conversations with other mums and have that shared perspective.

“Comparison has been really hard for me; it’s really hard not to compare yourself with other mums, to get past the expectations to bounce-back, to keep your relationship going. The marathon continues after birth and you need to think about how you’re going to adapt to it. Motherhood is just another transition and you really do just need to step through it and give yourself grace.”

Topics Discussed

homebirth transfer, Postpartum

Episode Sponsor

We have two wonderful sponsors today:


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