April’s Story

I was part of a study happening at the royal women’s hospital in Melbourne trailing one-on-one care with midwifery.

At 41 weeks went in for general check I was told I was already 2cm dilated, and was given a sweep of membranes (no mention of risks etc)

After sweep of membranes had an ultrasound etc done.

During this time started to get my first contractions (about 12.30pm)
- went home and ate, contractions got stronger
- about 10.30pm I went and lay down for a while and contractions nearly stopped (1 every 15-25 minutes) during this time.

I dozed between contractions

about 1am they started coming every 5 minutes or so, then at about 2am my waters broke
- there was slight meconium in the water so was advised to go to hospital to get checked

– 2.30am was checked into hospital, was told to stop making so much noise (was mooing to get through each contraction)
- we were taken up to the birth suite, had it confirmed that there was meconium in the water, and was told I had to wear a telemetry strap to monitor baby (no bath for me)
- after an internal I was told I was 4cm dilated but very stretchy

– at about 4.30 they did another internal and told me i was about 5cm and not dilating fast enough, and they then would check me again at 7 and they wanted me to be about 7cm or they would want to give me oxytocin

– contractions were about 90 seconds long and anywhere from 3-7 minutes apart

– I was told that my contractions were too irregular and that to progress through to pushing and to still have enough energy to push i would have to have oxytocin (again no mention of risks or any alternatives)

– throughout labour I had been having drinks of water and cordial (for energy) as well as spoons of honey for energy

– i tried to get in the shower to have a change of scene, but was too cold as where i was wet was cold if the water wasn’t going directly on it, so quickly tired of that and got out again

– my friend tried to give me some TENS over the sacral points, but I wasn’t into it so it stopped
- at 7am another internal and I was only 6cm so again told I needed the oxytocin

– the nurse putting in canula attempted 2 times on right had with no luck and eventually got it in on left

– after 2 or 3 contractions of having the oxytocin i asked for gas
- the next few hours are pretty hazy, but i remember lots of laughing and “shooting” people with the gas applicator between contractions

– at 9am my midwife had to finish shift as she had been working 12 hours, so a new midwife came in, whom immediately I didn’t really like and felt like she was quite cold towards me

– once i got to transition I was convinced that i was going to die

– every contraction I would relive my life from the moment of my entrance into the world with my first breath/cry through to that moment, and every contraction I was sure that I was going to die by the end of it

– each contraction I would apologise to Paul for not being able to make it, and that it was ok he would be a great dad without me there etc. I wanted him to know that that I was ok even if I died.

– eventually I got through that and started pushing (gas was taken away once I started pushing)

– I pushed for an hour and 20 mins in total

– I remember being on the birthing stool and being given a mirror to see the progress, while on the birthing stool I also had membranes ruptured again as it was stopping head coming down

– with pushing I was holding my breath and giving it my all, having 3 pushes per contraction

– final contraction before birth I was on hands and knees, and i gave a 4th push and got a 4th degree tear

– Xavier came out with a compound fist which hadn’t been diagnosed

– he was passed through to me and I immediately held him close skin to skin

– the midwife went to cut the cord, I stopped her and asked that Paul do it (as was in birth plan) which she allowed

– the room filled with people, I was flipped over and jabbed in the thigh to start 3rd stage, and saw blood everywhere (i lost 1.6L)

– placenta came out within 7 minutes (lots of pulling on cord and pushing on belly)

– i was put up on the bed and told in no uncertain terms there was every likelihood that i would be incontinent both bowel and bladder and to please sign here so that i can be carted off to go under general to be stitched up

– I was wheeled to theatre and the midwife was nearly in tears and told me it was the worst tear she had ever seen (she had been midwife for over 30yrs)

– I was under general for 3 hrs
- when I woke up I had a chest infection and could barely speak and was coughing up (painfully) chunks of green phlegm

– during hospital stay was given antibiotics every 2 hours 24hrs a day by IV (great sleep!)

– was discharged 48hrs after birth 

and in regards to how it affected Xavier

– normal labour then changed to increased contractions from oxytocin

– effects of gas and artificial oxytocin on him

– undiagnosed compound fist would have made it harder for him coming out

– when born only about 5 mins skin to skin

– no chance to “fall in love” with me etc

– no chance for him to find nipple and start breastfeeding spontaneously

– when first met me properly I was still recovering from being under general and hardly strong enough to hold him
- all antibiotics being passed straight to him through breast milk/colostrum

– dad being stressed not knowing if I was going to live through surgery, so not being able to focus on new baby

Second Thoughts . ..

Overall the birth had a profound effect on me.

I felt like a failure that I was unable to birth without the help of drugs.

I felt let down by the midwives that knew my birth plan and insisted on intervention despite my wish for none.

I felt like I was missing something with my son as I had not had the crucial time straight after the birth with him, and I was extremely confused about all of the emotions that I had felt during transition and my readiness to die without meeting my son.

These all had a knock on effect, and I was not able to talk about my birth without bursting into tears for nearly a year after.

Physically for months after the birth I was weak and unable to stand for any period of time or do anything too physical or I felt like I was going to pass out.

I was told that I would not be able to have another vaginal birth because of the tear, and this caused me stress and anxiety as I wanted nothing more than to have a NORMAL birth without all of the crap that was put onto this one.

As a result of the birth that I had, it has pushed me to do a lot of research into birth, more so natural birth. I have realised since that so much of what I went through could have been avoided if only we had done things differently and been more informed.

For my next birth I am planning on having a doula at the very least, but ultimately I would like to have a home water birth.

I am going to prepare myself and my partner for the birth to ensure that we are on the same page and both have an understanding of where I am going and what I need/want.

I will NOT be pushing whilst on my hands and knees, or holding my breath while I push.

As a direct result of the birth I have decided to help other women who are pregnant avoid the situation that i found myself in. It has made me really look at the birthing process and critically think about how hospital staff relate to pregnant women.

It has made me realise that even though a midwife may know you and know what your wishes are, ultimately they are answerable to the hospital, and to them you are just another woman (not someone they would lose their job for).

It has put me on a path of self discovery, as well as finding a wealth of knowledge within Heather, who has really inspired me to do what it is that I want, the way that I want. This is in all aspects of my life- professional, personal, social etc.

I doubt that I would be on this journey of learning had i not had the experience that I had. I am grateful to be on this path; however I wish that I had not had to go through what I did to get here. but… that’s life!