Aria Olive was born 3 weeks ago but it feels like she’s been a part of our family forever! What a little darling she is and I’ve loved getting to know her and watching my son, Finn, build a special bond with her. Many of you that have been following my pregnancy journey on instagram have asked about my labour experience; so even though thinking about labour makes me cringe, I thought I would share how the pregnancy story ended!
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4 WEEKS TO GO!✨Little photoshoot to remember how amazing the body is. Special thanks to: – hubby for the – Finn for makeup touch ups (lip balm he found on the ground ) – @underarmourau for the workout wear. Absolutely in love with this new UA floral collection!! The lines are so soft & feminine but the colours so rich, strong and full of love – just like all the amazing Mama’s out there. Have a great weekend celebrating the special Mothers in your life!
I don’t particularly enjoy pregnancy, but this one was relatively good especially in comparison to my first pregnancy which I struggled through. Unlike last pregnancy where I put on 23+kg because I didn’t exercise and ate my weight in chocolate everyday, I was able to exercise and attend gym classes with modifications until about 36 weeks. I still ate a lot more carbs than usual, but otherwise my diet was pretty consistent throughout. As a result, I only put on 10-11kg! In saying that though, I did start about 4kg heavier than last pregnancy.
I also focused on enjoying my self-care and fashion throughout pregnancy, which helped me enjoy the bodily changes rather than facing them kicking and screaming.
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I’ve loved discovering fashion beyond my daggy maternity clothes this pregnancy. I’ve just worn normal clothes in a bigger size! Whatever stage of life you’re at, everyone deserves to feel confident and happy in what they wear. If you have some clothes that don’t make you feel like this – send them to the op shop! It’s so freeing. I’ve had less clothes this pregnancy, but the ones I have been wearing – like this gorgeous outfit from @marcopoloaustralia – really make me feel good and I love it. PS. Only 22 days until our little cherub is due to arrive! Pretty crazy and exciting! #marcopolo #discovermarcopolo #discoverwinter19 #workingwithmarcopolo #36weekspregnant #photographedat30weekspregnant
What is a doula?
Towards the end of pregnancy I engaged a doula. A doula is a trained professional who provides physical, emotional and informational support to a mother before, during and shortly after childbirth to help her achieve the healthiest, most satisfying experience possible.
Why did I choose to have one?
I choose to have a doula for a few reasons:
- Reis was away in the middle east until one week before my due date and my family live interstate, so I wanted to have a back up support person on call.
- I wasn’t sure how much attention I would get from the midwives in a public hospital having only birthed previously in a private hospital, and
- I knew what I was getting myself into this time and to be honest I was a bit scared so wanted to relieve that fear. I wanted to ‘enjoy’ the challenge of labour and be best prepared to handle it.
- My doula, Ashely from Birth Simply (pictured below), is a friend and I felt that we gelled well together. She also has a masters in Psychology so I knew she would be well equipped to help me tackle my hesitations around labour. As a side note, I think it’s really important to make sure you feel like you connect with your doula – if you don’t feel like you’d be a good team you could have a very different experience to mine.
Braxton hicks or early labour?
I was messaging my doula, Ashley this photo of my belly (pictured below) at 5pm because it was such a strange shape. She messaged back asking if it was a braxton hicks (not so much pain but more the sensation of tightness and sometimes taking your breath away)? I said I’d been having them all day and worsened when I walked the dogs that afternoon. The tightness was quite low between my hips and often followed by a shooting pain in my left glute and hipflexors (I’d had a lot of sciatica nerve pain in the last few weeks of pregnancy).
Ashley advised that braxton hicks would increase/continue with exercise but stop with rest and water, however early labour would not stop with rest. So I decided to rest and put my feet up, then an hour later had a bath (magnesium flake baths were like a reset for my back pain during pregnancy!).
After the bath, about 7.30pm I messaged Ashley to let her know I had been having the pulling feeling across my hips every 5 min for about 40 seconds for the 25 minutes I was in the bath and then when I was sitting after the bath. It was achy, low level pain like period cramps. Hello, early labour!
Strategies I used in early labour
Well aware I could be doing this for a while (Finn’s labour from start to finish was 2 days long), I decided to get things ready for hospital and try to sleep. Unfortunately, by the time I got into bed at 11pm (so much for the early night) I was in too much pain to sleep. Reis fell asleep and I left him there because I thought it was better one of us get sleep.
Then I used some of the strategies Ashley had taught me in our ante-natal meeting – they included:
- guided meditation (mind the bump is a great free app for this!),
- walking around the house and swaying, circling my hips,
- cat & cow positions to relieve the pressure on my back (SO GOOD),
- breathing through the contractions slowly – in for 4 seconds, out for 8 seconds,
- using a heat pack (this is always a big comfort to me!),
At midnight I messaged Ashley to let her know my contractions were 3-4 minutes long for about 50 seconds. The pain and frequency had increased but I didn’t want to go to hospital too early.
Call the midwife!
I called the midwife at 12.30pm and she said ‘okay, things are progressing well. By the sounds of the contraction you just had, we are going to suggest you come in – actually I will be firm, it’s time to come in now.’ EKKK!!!!
Ashley was on her way to my house. I quickly arranged a baby sitter for Finn (thanks Phil – you’re a legend!) and then woke Rees up to say ok we are going to the hospital. He looked at me like I was crazy and like ‘come on I’ve only just gone to sleep – surely it’s too early to go to hospital!’ He only really got up when I said Ashley and Phil were on there way – haha! My darling is not the best at waking up quickly.
Ashley and Phil arrived about the same time. Rees organised things for Finn for the next day, while Ashley helped me breathe through contractions. I felt quite nauseous. Ashley also did some hip squeezing to help with hip pain and suggested some time on my hands and knees again. Contractions were 1 minute long 3-4 minutes apart.
Arriving at the hospital
Around 2am we arrived at the hospital and I was 4cm dilated. I felt ill, was shivering and my teeth were almost constantly chattering uncontrollably all throughout labour.
Strategies used at the hospital
During my time labouring at the hospital I tried the following to manage the pain:
- walked around the hospital floor,
- laying on my side,
- labour dance with Reis,
- accupressure on legs,
- listening to music,
- back & feet massage,
- cold wash cloth on head,
- bath (unfortunately my temperature rose too high and I had to get out, but this helped reduce some pain although my contractions went up to 2 minutes in length and slowed down to 4-5 minutes apart),
- deep breathing,
- moaning (wasn’t big on this sometimes I found being quiet helped me to mentally focus on the time left for each contraction – I could hear myself think more),
- exhaling, and
- sitting on a stool and leaning forward on the bed (I didn’t find this helped me).
I was so thankful for Ashley’s suggestions of these techniques and her ability to guide me through my breathing because I was at a point where I could hardly think myself and just wanted Reis to be there to comfort me.
Reis was a rock for me as usual, he is such a strong, caring, respectful, kind and loving husband. He would jump at the chance to help and not take offence if the thing he was offering to do wasn’t something that I felt would help. He held my hand through excruciating pain and I have no doubt he prayed for me throughout.
The pain was getting way too much to bear any longer and I was scared of it getting any worse. I didn’t know if I would cope with ‘the ring of fire’ people talked about as last time I had an epidural at 4cm dialated.
At about 5am I started to have gas which didn’t do much to ease the pain, although it did make sure I was breathing through contractions because I was not going to miss the opportunity of sucking in that gas in case it reduced the pain!
By 6.30am and at 6cm dilated, I had an epidural. Epidurals are magical. You go from ‘I’m going to die‘ to chatting away like normal! The hardest thing though was how long it took to set up and do the epidural. Every contraction I thought was my last one, but that went on for about 40-60 minutes. KILLER.
Unfortunately where epidurals aren’t so good is that they slow down the labour. To speed things up, at 7.30am I was 7cm dilated the midwife broke my waters. My shoulders and neck were quite tense so Ashley brought me a heat pack.
Meditation & relaxation helped
I lay and listened to a 15 min birthing relaxation meditation Ashley and I had previously practiced in our ante-natal meeting. This relaxed me so much and was the biggest help in progressing my labour after I had the epidural. After I had done this, I actually had a big bleed and lost about 500ml of blood. They weren’t sure the cause of the bleeding, but I was now ready to push. Before this, there had been talk of me having oxytocin to increase the contractions again, so I was glad that I didn’t need to have that and that my body was able to relax enough to do what it needed to.
After just 25 minutes of pushing, our darling girl entered the world. I was the first one to notice she was a girl too which was exciting! The midwives were focused on baby because she didn’t breathe for about a minute, was quite blue and had swallowed some meconium and potentially blood.
Delayed cord clamping
The midwives had read my birth preferences and knew I wanted delayed cord clamping for her, so rather than whisking her straight away to , they asked if one minute of delay would be enough. The obstetrician advised the research says that the ideal time for the benefit of it anyway. I agreed.
Meconium aspiration syndrome
After Reis had cut the cord, Aria was taken to a table where the paediatrician and her nurse suctioned out the meconium/blood/fluid to clear her airways and get her breathing. This was a bit concerning because when I asked a couple of times ‘is she okay?’ no one answered me and there were two doctors and about 4 midwives/nurses in the room. I suppose they didn’t know yet.
Although I thought it was a bit odd, at the same time I had a real peace from God that he would look after her. I felt the medical staff knew what they were doing and whatever it was it needed to be done. God did look after her, and she breathed normally. When she was put back on my chest and she coughed up some more gunk but then was fine.
We had beautiful skin to skin time while the midwife sewed me back up (2nd degree tear both muscle & skin – sorry if that’s too much information, but that’s child birth for you!). Looking back on it they took forever to do the suturing but I didn’t notice the time – I was too in love with my baby girl. What a little darling!
We didn’t actually have a name chosen before Aria was born because we didn’t know if we were having a boy or girl. We had a boy name in mind but still only a short list of other names. Aria was on the bottom of the short list for me (Reis loved it), but when we saw her the other names didn’t suit her and suddenly I loved Aria too!
The name meanings were really important to me. Aria in Hebrew means ‘lioness of God’. Olive, her middle name, is my Nan’s middle name and means ‘symbol of peace’. Aria Olive, my little princess!
Welcoming Aria home & Finn’s response
Aria and I stayed in overnight for observations and came home the next morning. Over the last three weeks Finn has adapted really well to having Aria as part of our family. He is so sweet to her. Yesterday she was crying in the car and he said to her ‘don’t worry, you’re safe, I’m here to help you’. MY HEART MELTED! He’s 3 years old in a month and has such good emotional intelligence. What a little champion.
Yes, I’ve already decided if God’s willing I would like another, especially if I can put the order in for one like Aria who only gets up twice a night (so far!). Mostly though, I’m excited to attack the mental preparation required for labour again to strengthen my ability to deal with the ridiculous pain. Mind over matter! It really works, but takes practice. Bring on the challenge! Sounds crazy, but I am a little crazy when it comes to tackling the difficult things in life. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?!
Hats off to all the Mama’s out there. Labour is bloody hard work. You are amazingly strong! Thank you to everyone who has supported us throughout this pregnancy, your kind words and actions do not go unnoticed. I am very blessed to have such a supportive community around me.