Prepare for a positive birth with The Birth Class

Episode 471

Ashlee – gastric sleeve surgery, IVF, placenta previa, iron infusion, PPH

In today’s episode Ashlee details her long fertility journey including her choice to have gastric sleeve surgery. She conceived baby Luca on her first IVF transfer and chose private obstetric care alongside the support of a student midwife. Placenta previa dictated a caesarean birth so Ashlee purchased The Caesarean Birth Class and listened to each episode multiple times so she understood the process and didn’t feel overwhelmed about the surgery. Despite a PPH, Ashlee considers her birth a really positive experience because she was informed and supported by a wonderful team of specialists.

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“I went off the pill in December 2019 and I upped my private health so I was covered for obstetric care. Then of course covid hit but both Diego, my husband and I, were considered essential workers so we kept working. I was injured at work and I think the stress of it – a severe neck and back injury – affected my fertility because I had two really long cycles. I went to the GP and they suggested going back on the pill to regulate my cycle but I’ll never do that again because the emotional upheaval was too much.

“We started trying again in June 2021 and it was around that time that my psychologist asked me what I do for myself and I couldn’t answer her so I started photography alongside my career as a teacher. A fertility specialist suggested my weight being an issue and I feel like my weight is the first thing that’s mentioned because it’s surface level. From there I decided to have gastric sleeve surgery and it was successful; I lost 35kg. Fertility testing showed I had low AMH so we continued trying to conceive but eventually decided to do IVF.

“We conceived Luca on the first transfer. I got four eggs from the transfer but only two remained on day five so we’ve still got one in the freezer. I knew I was pregnant; my boobs were really sure, I was really nauseous and my dog wouldn’t leave me alone. I did a home test and it was glaringly positive; I’d never seen a positive test before and we were so excited. I tested again the next day just to make sure and a few days later I got the blood test and got the official phone call later that day. I decided to tell my boss early on because it had been a long time coming and she was really good about it.

“I called MGP the day I got the blood tests but I also got a referral to a private obstetrician because I wanted to keep my options open. I was constantly nauseous in the first trimester and I had a metallic taste in my mouth and that persisted for my whole pregnancy; it was like I had a mouthful of coins, it was awful. Once I got to 12 weeks we announced it to all our family and friends, and once I met my obstetrician I decided to stay with her because she made me feel so good from the start, we both felt really comfortable with her. I also had a student midwife and that was amazing, she was so good, and it was so lovely to have continuity of care with her.

“A scan showed an issue with Luca’s kidneys, one was smaller than the other, and I also had placenta previa. My obstetrician gave us all the facts and reassured me that we’d keep monitoring. I was referred to a maternal foetal medicine specialist who was also a sonographer and I had another scan at 29 weeks which gave us more information on the kidneys. It was a big day because if her only had one functional kidney it would inevitably impact him down the road. More scans at 33 and 35 weeks showed that both kidneys were functioning which was a relief, but one was definitely smaller.

“I bought The Caesarean Birth Class which was so helpful; I listened to Scott’s episode so many times because it outlined the process and it took away any overwhelm. I was required to go to hospital every 12 hours to get the steroid injections to make sure Luca’s lungs were developed for birth and I also had an iron infusion before surgery in case there was a lot of blood loss.

“We went to hospital at 6am on the morning of the caesarean and met our student midwife there. I felt really safe and I kept reminding myself that Luca would be safe, too. I had plenty of cannulas inserted in case I needed an infusion and the team was wonderful. The anaesthetist was chatting to me and keeping me really calm. I got the spinal and once I was lying on the table Luca was born minutes later and he was quickly checked and then he was on my chest. We were so glad to have him finally with us after three years of waiting.

“I had a postpartum haemorrhage but I had no idea it was happening. They had to use a special balloon to stop the bleeding and then I went to recovery and Luca had his first breastfeed. We had some breastfeeding issues, I used a nipple shield for a long time. I pumped for a while but eventually weaned Luca off the bottle with the help of a midwife who helped with our latch and she was just amazing. She saved our breastfeeding journey. We’re still getting three-monthly ultrasounds to check on Luca’s kidneys; one is still smaller than the other but we just continue to monitor that.”

Topics Discussed

Breastfeeding, Gastric sleeve surgery, Iron infusion, IVF, One baby, Placenta previa, PPH, Private obstetrician, Student midwife

Episode Sponsor

THE CAESAREAN BIRTH CLASS, is an informative and empowering online childbirth course that offers you education and guidance for caesarean preparation, birth and recovery. You may already know what day your baby will be born but no doubt you have many questions about the operating theatre, pain relief and your recovery. This online course includes four audio modules with perinatal health specialists and three caesarean-specific breathing and relaxation practices, The Caesarean Birth Class takes you through every aspect of birth and recovery, including:

  • Writing a caesarean birth plan and advocating for your preferences
  • Relaxation and rest in pregnancy
  • What happens before you go to theatre
  • The caesarean birth process, including Maternal Assisted Caesarean (MAC)
  • Skin-to-skin and optimal cord clamping in theatre
  • What to expect in recovery * Pain relief options and side-effects
  • Mobility in the first 24/48/72 hours
  • Wound care and healing
  • Recovery at home

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