Ella Rose’s Story – 17th May 2006
Niall and I attended Lina’s workshop in April 2006, after my sister insisted we needed to attend. She had attended and reported learning a great deal.
We had already been to the hospital classes and done a lot of reading so felt we already knew a lot and already knew what we wanted. The workshop did not really tell us any new information as we already knew about the pharmacological pain relief options and the cascading effect they can have. What we found the workshop useful for was giving us confidence to negotiate our birth plan and to hear positive stories of natural birth. We also found the information on how to manage the labour extremely useful. Both Niall and I have a health care background and we found this already gave us a level of confidence, but knowing the positive stories of childbirth gave us more resolve about our ideas and how to negotiate this with medical staff. We also heard from Tania regarding her recent birth story and as it turned out this was pivotal for Ella Rose’s birth.
My pregnancy was uneventful and everything was going to plan. Len, our obstetrician, was going on leave and would be returning 3 weeks before Ella was due, so we were fine to iron out our final birth plan when he returned, or so I thought. This probably jinxed us as Len was away and my waters broke on Saturday 13th late afternoon, I was almost 36 weeks pregnant. At first I tried to ignore it for numerous hours, and thought if I kept still I would be OK for another week, however I stood up to get a drink and I gushed. There was no turning back now!
I had a couple of fears at this point. My obstetrician, Len, was on leave for another week, what bad timing that was. And to make it worse Niall was in Brisbane for work and was due back late Sunday night. The week before Niall had been in France for work so I was relieved he wasn't quite so far away. I called my sister who was at a dinner party about to have some lemon delicious pudding. Like all good sisters she came home immediately with a doggy bag of pudding for later.
Whilst my sister was on her way I decided it would be best to ring the locum obstetrician to discuss my options. He was not altogether helpful and insisted I went to hospital immediately and take a pad with me so they could check if it really was my waters. When my sister arrived we packed my bags (I had thought I would do that next week), and off we went into the hospital.
My brother-in-law was given the task of finding my partner in Brisbane and getting him home. Niall had turned off his mobile and was not at the hotel so this was going to be a big job. Later on when we tracked him down he informed us he had turned off his mobile, as he did not think I would go into labour!! Let that be a lesson to all you dads out there.
When we arrived I was taken into a birthing suite, which we had not seen – again one of those things I was going to do over the next 4 weeks. I dutifully tried to show the nurses my pad for them to confirm it was amniotic fluid but they said they trusted me. I was not having any contractions so after 2 hours I was moved to the ward. I had still not seen the locum obstetrician but was told he would be seeing me in the morning. Finally at about 10am on Sunday I saw the obstetrician who was not happy that the nurses had not checked my pad.
The leaking had slowed, and he questioned me about whether I was sure it was amniotic fluid and not urine or mucous. As I had not experienced any incontinence and had been religiously doing my pelvic floor exercises, I assured him I knew the difference between urine, mucous and amniotic fluid. He did not seem convinced, but I think decided not to argue. I was insulted that he thought I was too stupid to know when my waters had broken and that I would want to come to hospital and have a baby 1 month early whilst my obstetrician was on leave. The locum doctor was someone who did not really discuss things with you, he told me. This did not sit well with me, as I liked to discuss things.
My partner was still not back – but had been found and was on the plane. Because of this I felt I could not really do much negotiating with the obstetrician, as I did not have back up. My sister was at home with her two kids, my contractions were not happening, and there was disbelief about whether my waters had actually broken or not. The obstetrician wanted me to agree to being induced on Monday morning and was extremely rude telling me I was placing my child in danger by not doing so. I requested some stats on what the risk of infection was to my child, however he was not forthcoming with the information, instead telling me that he was the doctor and I should listen to his advice. Needless to say that this patient – doctor relationship was not getting off to a good start. I managed to get the obstetrician to agree to NOT examine me but to just wait and see if I went into labour over the next 24 hours. I was happy with this as I did not want to open myself up to infection risks, and by this time Niall would be back and a new locum obstetrician was going to be on duty.
Niall arrived back by mid afternoon on Sunday and we discussed our options. My GBS swab was negative, I did not have a temperature, so we decided if we could postpone the induction, until Len came back, we would. I saw the new locum obstetrician on Monday 15th early morning and we openly discussed my options and the risks associated with my waters breaking and the ongoing risks of not being induced in the next 24 hours. He was far more pleasant to deal with and gave me the stats and information on the risks to Ella. We agreed that I would go home on antibiotics, I would have to take my temperature twice a day, come in for daily foetal monitoring, and he would book me in for induction on Wednesday 17th or Thursday 18th. Luckily for me he could not get me in until Friday 19th so I had one more day. I was not able to get him to agree to waiting until Len came back, but I decided I had come out with the best scenario possible for now. My plan was to try again later in the week if everything was fine and I did not have a temperature.
So by Monday afternoon I was home and now came the challenge to go into labour before Friday to avoid induction. Niall and I discussed what our options were. We also talked with my sister who is a naturopath and homeopath, and we decided to contact Lina via email for another opinion. It was appreciated how quickly Tania and Lina responded to my query. Tania responded by phone and Lina responded by email with some great advice.
My sister was not happy using herbs to bring on labour as she felt this would be a harsh induction; she gave me some homeopathics to take over the next few days. After speaking with Tania and reading Lina’s email we decided our best option was to try acupuncture to start my labour. I rang Mychelle and arranged to have acupuncture on Tuesday 16th. We packed our hospital bags and placed them in the car ready just in case we needed to get to hospital. We also wrote our birth plan (another one of those things we were going to do in the next few weeks), as Len was not going to be delivering and we felt it was vital to get our choices down on paper according to what we had agreed with Len already. We also knew that we needed to be prepared in case our birth plan did not happen as we envisaged. We knew that we needed to be flexible, in case unpredictable events occurred.
We were both anxious about avoiding a chemical induction, however I was also worried about Ella being born safely. I did not want to be too stubborn about the process as I may put her in danger or be disappointed if it did not happen how I wanted it to. Neither of us had ever tried acupuncture before so did not know what to expect. What we were sure about is that we needed to try all natural options before the medical ones.
At 1am on Tuesday morning I began having contractions irregularly, however they were becoming closer together and stronger. I was relieved about them starting, and I am sure the fact that Niall was home and we had made some decisions about the birth contributed to this.
At 10am when I met with Mychelle for acupuncture. Mychelle worked with me for 1.5 hours and offered to see me later in the day to move things along some more. As my contractions had started already she advised that we needed to get me into labour over the next 24 hours and we no longer had an option to work with me over the next 3 days. The acupuncture was painful, not a good intro to this form of treatment/therapy. Mychelle explained that this was the only option for getting me into labour sooner rather than later. Mychelle generously offered to come into the hospital in the evening to perform more acupuncture should I go into labour fully.
After this we had to get to the obstetricians rooms for foetal monitoring. We left Mychelle at 11.30 and headed to East Melbourne. All was fine with Ella; I did not have a temperature so we now had to make a decision how to spend the rest of the day. Within 1/2 hour of the acupuncture my contractions were becoming stronger and more frequent. I was still able to talk during a contraction so we decided to have lunch in town rather than go home. We ate Yum Cha however during this meal it became more difficult for me to talk during my contractions. We rang the hospital, and because my waters had broken on the weekend, they asked us to come in and by 2pm we headed off to the hospital on the advice of the midwife.
I did not really want to go to the hospital as my contractions, although strong, were still irregular. They varied from 10 mins to 3 mins to 6 mins etc apart. Once in the birthing suite I was examined, this now meant I had 24 hours to go into full labour or I would be induced. I became anxious about the examination and then my contractions slowed down considerably. This only served to make me more worried, as I now knew that induction was imminent if I could not go into labour. Not a good thing really, I should have gone home, but it was too late for regrets. The good news was my cervix had thinned and I was 1 cm dilated, so at least I was starting to go into labour. We rang Mychelle who said she would come into the hospital around 8pm to help.
Then came the next battle. I was told that I must have constant foetal monitoring. Of course I did not want this, as I would be tied to the bed. I managed to get off the machine after 30 mins as I explained how I needed to walk around and how important it was to me not to be attached to the machine. After a little nagging from Niall and I the midwife agreed to occasional monitoring as all the signs were good and the baby was not in distress. At least we did not have to worry about this anymore.
I continued with contractions, however they were irregular and fairly weak still. The tell tale sign for me was whether I could talk during the contraction or not. Mychelle came to the birthing suite and helped to induce contractions for 4 hours through acupressure. God that was painful, in fact I think the acupressure was more painful than the contractions. Mychelle did a fantastic job. I had strong contractions, however they were still not regular – 10mins, 5 mins, 2 mins and then back to 11mins apart. The midwife assured me I was not in labour, so at 12am I was so exhausted we decided to continue in the morning so I could get some rest. We still did not believe I was in full labour, however no one had checked me since 4.30pm and it was now 12am. I had been up since 1am the night before with contractions and I just needed to sleep.
Approximately 30 mins after Mychelle left I was still having strong irregular contractions and I suddenly had the urge to push. The midwife suggested I get into the bath and this may help me sleep, she also insisted that I was not likely to be in labour but would check my cervix. Luckily she did. I was 9 cm dilated and almost ready to give birth. As you can imagine we were all shocked as I had been told I was definitely not in labour. I got into the bath to relieve the pain from the contractions and the obstetrician was called.
I continued to labour and began to push our little girl into the world, not easy with irregular contractions. I was so exhausted that I actually fell sleep between contractions. After another 2 hours it was decided I was going to be unlikely to be able to push Ella out. My contractions were varying in strength and were still extremely irregular so it was becoming harder to push her through the birth canal. I had been able to get her to crown, but was unable to push her head out.
The options were discussed with Niall and it was decided to use the ventouse to suction her out. Not my ideal scenario but it was certainly necessary. I was actually relieved when this was decided as I was so exhausted I did not know how I was going to be able to continue with the pushing.
At 3.05am our new baby, Ella Rose was born. The cord was tightly around her neck so they worked quickly to cut the cord and get her fully into this world. I also haemorrhaged badly so required an injection and drip after the birth to stop the bleeding. However Ella arrived as a beautiful healthy 3.625kg baby. Everything becomes irrelevant after this.
My plan had been to not have any pain relief, to birth our baby naturally and then deliver the placenta naturally before the cord was to be cut.
I had managed to achieve most of my goals, and was not disappointed, as I had given it a good go before needing medical intervention. The medical intervention was necessary to ensure the safe birth of our baby and to ensure I was medically OK. Our baby was 1 month early, however was 3.625kg. Not bad for a 36 weeker, imagine if she had gone full term.
The next day the obstetrician came to see Niall and I. He said he had learnt something. He was impressed that despite irregular contractions that I had been able to dilate and deliver the baby without any drugs and minimal intervention.
He also told us that had he known I was in labour with irregular contractions that he would have intervened earlier. This was likely to have been chemical induction, epidural and potentially a Caesarean. I can tell you I was relieved that no one thought I was in labour.
Niall and I also discussed the birth and we were both happy with how it had occurred. We had achieved the most vital objective of having no drugs during labour. Ultimately we had minimal intervention and we had a healthy baby girl – what more could you ask for.
I guess what we have learnt from all this is you can be assertive if you are informed. Ask questions and be willing to be firm and flexible. Don't be disappointed if it does not all go according to plan - that is childbirth!! Lina’s workshop assisted us with this.
I am fortunate to have a medical background so it did make it easier for me to be assertive and question what was happening. I am also fortunate that Niall is assertive and also has a health background and is not frightened by the medical model. He was also an excellent birth partner as he was able to negotiate for us all, but be sensible about what needed to happen ultimately.
I think it is also vital to be comfortable with the choices you make and the people assisting you. You need to feel safe and ready to have your baby. I was not prepared to have my baby 1 month early and I believe this resulted in me struggling to go into labour. Ella was obviously ready to enter the world, but I did not feel ready and I had some unfinished business. I had to work really hard to get ready for Ella's arrival after my waters broke. I needed to resolve in my mind that our daughter would be born early and that I was not going to be able to get everything ready as I had planned. I actually spent time talking with Niall about all the things I had planned to do. He helped me by talking about how we would still get these things done once Ella was born. Once I resolved this and had a plan, I was able to go into labour and give birth to our daughter
There is room in the birth process for both natural medicine and modern medicine - you can combine them to achieve the best result – a healthy baby.
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