I wanted to write a piece that offered some uplifting stories – particularly for those Inner West Mums who are currently awaiting their bub’s arrival – and, following a call-out to the group, it is with great pleasure that I share the beautiful birth experiences of two members, Sophie Louise and Amelia Parkinson. Sophie Louise’s twins were delivered by C-section, while Amelia gave birth to her son vaginally.
Sophie had had three straightforward natural deliveries before her twins’ arrival, so the thought of a C-section delivery was daunting. But at 36 weeks pregnant, she and her partner learned that one of the babies was not growing. With both babies in breech position, she was booked in for a C-section with just five days’ notice.
Sophie had particular concerns going into the C-section. She’d experienced an epidural hitting a nerve previously, which had temporarily paralysed her legs, and was concerned about this happening again. But the staff at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital were understanding and supportive, and the epidural went smoothly.
‘Everyone was just so caring,’ she says. ‘As I prepared for the epidural, I was shaking and so a nurse held my hand through the procedure. The staff made me feel excited as they talked about how gorgeous my twins would be.’
Sophie recalls the C-section was quick and painless. ‘Archie was delivered first, weighing 2.2 kilograms, and then Charli, who weighed 2.8 kilograms. My partner Carlos was there for it all and had a great experience. He got to cut the cords and hold Archie and Charli.’
The twins were laid on Sophie’s chest to breastfeed and she and Carlos were left alone for a while to bond with the babies. Then they explained Archie had to go to NICU. ‘Thankfully they let Archie stay with me till the last minute, and Carlos accompanied him to intensive care. They understood how hard that separation is for a new mother, and once they took him they made sure not to let Charli leave my sight.’
Of the recovery period, Sophie says: ‘My pain was very well controlled and I recovered quickly, mainly because I was intent on getting to Archie!’ (Her son spent seven days in intensive care.) ‘The special care and NICU nurses made me feel so secure with his care. They brought him up to me for overnight visits and even offered me a room downstairs so I could be close to him. And the midwives were so warm and chatty and were always happy to hold one of the babies.’
The experience completely changed her view of C-section deliveries. ‘Initially I was against the idea of a C-section. I had been worried about the physical recovery, but I actually think I recovered faster than I did with the previous births, which had left me with tearing and stitches. I’d also worried about whether the C-section would affect my bonding experience with the babies, but thanks to the care and patience of the staff, I felt I bonded just the same with my twins as I did with my other babies.’
When Amelia went into labour at 40 weeks + 11 days, she was more than ready to meet her baby. She had been told she was carrying a big baby, and by that stage, she was experiencing ‘strong surges’ (contractions) for several hours each night. ‘My body and baby were just getting me ready,’ she says.
Amelia and her birth partner, her husband, were excited and very well prepared. ‘I had attended the antenatal education classes provided by the hospital in London where I was based at the time,’ says Amelia, ‘but I was left feeling dissatisfied, so I looked into “hypnobirthing”. I then attended a four-week relaxation, self-hypnosis and birth preparation course. My only concern about labour and birth was wanting to feel in control – I am a bit of a control freak – I wanted to know what where and when! I wrote a birth plan, and made loads of copies – even laminated ones too!’
Amelia’s labour was more or less what she had expected, with four to five hours of active labour. ‘My amazing midwife just let me get on with birthing; she didn’t disturb me in any way and let me progress at my baby’s and my own pace. I understood that the most effective place for me to be was in a state of ultimate relaxation and distanced from the physical sensations in my body. I had practised this a lot, and so had my birth partner. I stayed in my “Zone”, for 90 per cent of the labour. I had two freak-outs, but my birth partner and midwife got me back in my “Zone”.
‘I had no actual traditional pain relief,’ says Amelia, ‘self-hypnosis, relaxation, distraction and music were enough. I remember thinking, right at the end, Wow, this is burning! It would be great to meet my baby soon. And with the next surge I pushed him out! My midwife literally caught him as I was standing with one leg up on an armchair – she was just quietly, patiently watching and waiting. My hubby, who was sitting in the armchair, yelled out, “BOY!” I remember laughing and then just trying to work out how I could get my baby into my arms.’
Following her son’s birth, Amelia decided she wanted to help other women to achieve a calm, relaxed birth experience. She completed her training and now teaches other couples how to prepare for their impending arrivals. ‘Birth is not to be feared at all; it can be the most empowering, incredible experience you ever go through as a woman and also as a couple. It is my mission to ensure that every woman will have a positive emotional connection to her birthing experience – whatever type of birth it is.’
You can learn more about Amelia in our Getting to Know article:
More articles from Ginny:
Sleepy Heads: Surviving Sleep Deprivation in the Early Years
Welcoming Baby Number Two
RPA Newborn Care’s Baby Warriors
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When Two Becomes Three (or More)
Focus on Women’s Health: Childbirth Injuries
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Finding Peace: An Inner West Mum’s Story of Domestic Violence
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The Day Cale Met his Idol Guy Sebastian
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The Milk Wars
A Big Shift: How Three Women Transformed their Careers during Motherhood
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