Our newest addition, Isla, really came into the world on her own terms! She was part of the 4% who actually arrived on their due date and to be honest we expected her to come at least 41 weeks like her sister. Her birth was definitely not what we planned but was such a wonderful experience that we wouldn’t have changed a thing! We prepared a little differently this time and I got an amazing support network of women that helped me in both pregnancy, labour and afterwards. Due to these women (my midwife, Marlene, my doula, Peta and Jodie my masseuse/labour preparation guru), I believe that they were instrumental in having this wonderful and empowering birth.
Our First Birth with Emily, we went with a private obstetrician clinic where there were 5 obstetricians on a rotation so it was luck who would attend your birth. Looking back there was no personalised care and the wait times were always horrible! Emily was born at 41 weeks and I would describe her birth as ok, not good or bad. I had envisioned it differently in my mind but felt I just didn’t get the support or guidance I needed to have the birth I wanted. There was a lot of pressure to confirm to time constraints and no information being provided to make informed decisions. I laboured at home for 10 hours and was utterly devastated that when we arrived at hospital as I was ONLY 3 cm!! I was transferred to the labour ward as I was ‘overdue’ and after another 4 hours of labouring, I got an epidural and she arrived another 4 hours later.
Doing things differently Second Time My husband, Sam, and I decided to go with a private midwife we felt like the hospital midwives were crucial in our first birth and postnatal care. I was also considering a water home birth although Sam was very hesitant. After some googling we found Marlene at Midwives First and following our first meeting with her, we knew we found our Midwife! After lots of discussions with Marlene about our options, we decided to birth at the RBWH Birth Centre so I could still have a water birth and Marlene was our primary caregiver but the hospital was there if needed. Going to the Birth Centre meant that there would be no pain medication options and if I wanted them, then I would have to be transferred to the maternity ward. The Birth Centre’s rooms were also set up more like a room than a hospital so Emily could be there as we had limited care options.
So on went our Pregnancy and we got such wonderful care from Marlene. I felt she really understood us, what are birth plan was and she provided us with so much information so we could make informed decisions every step of the way. Plus she included Emily in all the appointments and Emily became a little midwife in training! Another great part was that she could HOME VISIT which was especially helpful towards the end of my pregnancy when life was getting harder to move around and organise myself and Emily!
Birth Preparation I was a bit blasé this pregnancy and really only started thinking about our birth and life with a baby from about 37 weeks (whoops!). This resulted in a lot of last minute washing of baby clothes, eating dates (supposed to soften your cervix for a quicker and easier labour) and I started thinking about labour management techniques as medical pain relief wasn’t an option in the birth centre and I really wanted to birth there. I signed up for a Hypnobirthing Course which was amazing and empowering even though I didn’t finish or practice but it really helped mentally prepare and trust that my body would know what to do. I also made myself some playlists (relaxing and upbeat) as music has always been my go to as stress (and hopefully pain) management.
I was also recommended Jodie at Merakai Therapies who provided pregnancy massages as well as labour techniques. So off I went for some wonderful downtime before life would get hectic with a newborn. Jodie has such a calming energy and those massages I got really helped with all my aches and pains and I felt rejuvenated after every one. Jodie also provided a Labour Support and Massage Training where she came to our house and showed us all great labour positions and how my husband (and Emily) could massage and provide hands on support while I was in labour. It was fantastic for him to have tools to help and I started feeling more prepared and positive that I could do this!
With Emily being involved with appointments, she had started expressing an interest in being at the birth. She was already in love with her baby sister! My husband and I talked long about this as she could be present at the Birth Centre, she loved watching birth videos, her severe allergies made care difficult and she would get very upset when we talked about her not being there. We decided that she could be there but also made alternative arrangements in case it got too much for her. Sam’s main role was to care for her and that got me thinking about me and needing another support person as Marlene would be there but she couldn’t care for Emily when things got happening.
So at 38 weeks pregnant with lots of Braxton hicks happening, I decided to look into a Doula as a support person for both me and Emily. That way, we both would have someone with us and I wouldn’t have to worry about Emily or be alone in labour. Thankfully we found Peta Tuck and despite being so far along, she agreed to meet us. See super unprepared! At 39+5 weeks, we meet with Peta and she felt like such a great fit. Not only did she mesh well with me, Sam and Emily but she also talked about her role as a Doula and it was perfect for what we needed. At the time, I was really experiencing some intense Braxton Hicks but didn’t think much of it as we really expected her to come late.
The next day at 39+6 weeks, I kept doing everything like normal. I saw a friend, went grocery shopping, had dinner out with my brother and his girlfriend all while experiencing Braxton hicks (sometimes quite uncomfortable) but I was in complete denial that maybe this was early labour. I went to sleep that night and woke at 1am with a massive POP of my water breaking! With Emily, we had a slow leak of our waters but this time it was definitely a gush! As I’m yelling for my husband (who could sleep through anything), I remembering being in some shock as we really had convinced ourselves that she wouldn’t arrive until later. Hubby comes in and has his own mini freak out! He calls Marlene who talks us through it and to try and rest until the contractions start. So I go back to bed and poor Sam runs around packing our hospital bags, making sure Emily has food and puts the baby car seat in. We also texted Peta to let her know that today would be the day our baby was going to arrive.