On episode 53, we have Heather sharing her third pregnancy, this time at 41. She is a veterinarian from Canberra, Australia. At 35 she tried for over a year to have her first child but had an early miscarriage. It was devastating, so she thought it might not happen. One more cycle after that her first child was conceived. After her first was born, she wanted to try for a baby right away. After her cycle returned, it took seven months to conceive her second baby. She now has three kids, her oldest is six, the middle is four, and baby Leo is just four months old.
It’s a normal thing to have babies in your 40’s.
Heather didn’t feel like she was done having kids after her second baby. As her two daughters grew to three and five years old, she was starting to think she wasn’t going to have any more children. Instead, she focused on her career. She went to a veterinarian conference and holiday in Darwin, Northern Australia. She had just come back. She was sure she wasn’t pregnant because there had been some bleeding. She assumes now it was implantation bleeding, but it only lasted a day which she knew wasn’t normal for her. A few weeks later she took a test to find out she was pregnant. It was a surprise and a bit of an adjustment. Then she was worried about working in an emergency center during her first trimester, but she did start eventually.
It was my most tired (pregnancy)… but I don’t think it was harder than the others.
Heather says her pregnancy was really good. She was tired but she doesn’t think it was because of her age. She thinks it might have been harder for her husband because she was totally useless in the mornings. She was tired because she had low iron. For all three of her pregnancies, the first trimester is just exhausting, though. In her first trimester she didn’t tell anyone she was pregnant, she didn’t look pregnant, and yet she felt like she’d been hit by a bus. Everything was just so tiring. She vomited every morning and at least once more every day. She was sick all the way through. Physically, everything was fine. She went on less walks with this pregnancy but she doesn’t think it did much to her blood sugar. Her blood pressure wasn’t bad but creeped up at the end. High enough that they were keeping an eye on it.
She had a strong opinion about doctors when it came to selecting her care. Her goal of her pregnancy was to never see a doctor. She feels like she made a sport of it to argue with doctors during her care. She had midwife care the whole pregnancy. She had her first appointment at 16 weeks with the intake midwife. She was hoping for the birth center program again, but she didn’t get it.
She was stressed because technically she had gestational diabetes with her first two pregnancies and worried she would have it again. Her blood sugar was fine until she did something silly, she recalls. She didn’t want to be diagnosed again, so she tried to manage it herself before she declined the test. At 20 weeks, she got a call from one of the birth center midwives asking if she was still interested in joining the program. She excitedly said, “yes, of course!” She wanted less intervention. She declined a 39-week induction that the hospital wanted her to have. Her midwife had to speak with the head obstetrician to allow it because the induction was policy. She feels that midwifery care is more wholistic care.
She doesn’t feel like she’s ever had cravings with any of her pregnancies. Knowing she had to monitor her blood sugar, she’s been really mindful of her carb intake. She eats more mindfully in pregnancy than when she’s not. She likes eating real food. She remembers having a super smell with her girls but not much with her third pregnancy.
At 10 weeks, Heather had the prenatal noninvasive testing done. She had the results in her email, but she didn’t want to know the gender. Since she had two girls, she just assumed it would be another girl. When she saw her GP, she told Heather she put her glittered results in an envelope at the front desk. She felt obligated to pick it up, but she hid it up high in her room the entire pregnancy. She was committed to the surprise. The gender has been a surprise with all her babies. She believes finding out the gender at birth is life’s greatest surprise. She likes finding out in the moment. She was so confident it was a girl, she decided she would name her third daughter Claire.
Heather says life with two girls is busy, and she wanted to get more work in before the baby came. She set up a bed and eventually a car seat but not much more preparation for her third child. She remembers the pain with her first birth was an 8 out of 10, and her second was definitely a 10. She regrets not taking a refresher course with Calm Birth which is Australia’s version of Hypnobirthing. She feels blessed she had been given quite a bit of baby clothes for her third baby.
Her hope for her third birth was another water birth with minimal interventions. She was thinking her baby would be arriving early based on the birth of the first two. She had an appointment at 39 weeks 4 days with her midwife buddy. She told Heather if she hasn’t had the baby by the weekend, then she’ll have another appointment to see her progress. On Thursday night at about 11 pm, she was in bed when her water broke like the flood gates had opened. She knew she would be on the clock, so she asked her student midwife when she should come in. She had mild contractions, but they picked up and were 2 and 5 minutes apart. She considers herself an experienced mom, but she still wasn’t sure when to leave for the birth center. She’s still only given birth two other times and each time was different. At 4 am she called her friend to pick up her girls, and her midwife buddy told her to come in. When she got there, the fairy lights were on and the bath was running. The midwives were there and ready. After all the prep to go to the birth center, labor stopped after she arrived. After a few hours, it didn’t start back. The one time she saw a doctor this pregnancy he came in to tell her the risks of infection after her water has broken. She had an option to be induced or she could take antibiotics. She didn’t think she needed antibiotics. She had a CTG that told them she was indeed having contractions. She could go home if she wanted. She wanted to go home because she felt her home was a safer place to labor. She went home at 9 am. She felt down about waking her friend up in the middle of the night and now nothing was happening. At home, nothing really happened for the rest of the day. Her midwife called her that Friday night about 7 pm and suggested if she wasn’t in labor by tomorrow, she recommended inducing her. Heather asked about the risk if she didn’t take the antibiotics. The midwife told her there was a 1% chance of infection if she didn’t take the antibiotics. She declined them. Labor returned about 9 pm. She called the midwife about 10:30 pm, but the midwife suggested she stay home a bit longer. The contractions strengthened in the next few hours. The midwife also suggested using a contraction app and said that’s what the ‘younger’ pregnancy women were using to time the contractions. Her husband used the app to help time the contractions. When the app told her to go to the hospital, she definitely felt like she needed to go. She was in enough pain that she was vocalizing it at home. Every contraction hurt at that point.
She met her midwife and student midwife at the hospital at about 1:30 am. She felt a bit panicked and teary, but she was in transition. Since her water was broken, they didn’t want to do any exams because it increased the chances of infection. The bath was running when she got there again. While she labored in the bath, she looked at her husband and listened to her midwife talk to her with words of encouragement. One time her midwife asked her where it hurt. Heather replied, “it just hurts, everywhere!” She tried to feel for the baby but she couldn’t. Then she could feel the head. The baby’s head came out but it took awhile for his chin. The midwife was a little concerned about that. The midwife was observing the baby with a mirror in the water and asked her to push a little to get the head out. Once the baby’s head was out, the body was born really quickly after that. The midwife scooped up the baby about of the water, untangled the cord and put the baby on Heather at 2:59 am, weighing 8 lbs 3 oz. Heather said, “IT’S A BOY!” Heather’s first thoughts were relief. Then the magic kicked in, being in the bath holding her new son. He cried a little bit. Skin to skin and delayed cord clamping was important for Heather to have with her baby. Heather cut the cord and wanted to look at the placenta. Her research found the hormones in the placenta could affect her breast milk supply, so she had no plans to ingest it.
She breastfed her oldest to three and weened her second just after two years. She feels lucky she didn’t have to put much effort into breastfeeding with them. It had been easy for her. Her son didn’t latch straight-away. Then he wouldn’t latch after a few hours. The midwife helped her express some colostrum. She had skin to skin with her son for about three hours but she couldn’t get him to feed. Her midwife was worried about his chin. The doctor suggested he had a syndrome where he wouldn’t be able to feed without a feeding tube and would have low oxygen levels. The doctor wanted to take him to special care for 24 hours. Because her membranes ruptured for so long, they wanted to keep her there for 24 hours. She was excited about the thought of someone else bringing her food. She expected to stay for 24 hours because of herself but didn’t expect her baby to be in special care for those hours. She thinks it’s because he was her third baby that she agreed to let him go to special care at 9 am. She was woken up every few hours to feed him. Her son just had one little monitor on his food to monitor his oxygen level, but she found it challenging to deal with. They wanted her to use nipple shields which she was able to get him to latch with. Then later without a nipple shield. After 24 hours the sensor came off his foot and the doctor didn’t even feel the need for a follow up appointment. She was free to go home. Nothing ended up being wrong with his chin and he doesn’t have a syndrome.
Heather had second degree tearing that they stitched. She had minimal pain relief with medication. She said it was a great recovery and was back to normal quite quickly. She felt pretty good. She thinks this recovery was about the same as her other two. She had energy straight away. Her plan was to wear the baby as much as possible and carry on with normal life. Fortunately for her, her son likes to be worn.
After she got home from the hospital with her son, she opened the envelope to find blue glitter inside. She was still incredibly surprised to have a son. She knew she didn’t want to call her son Claire. During the recording of the show, her son is a few days shy of four months old. Heather’s iron level is fine now despite not changing anything. She thinks she is sleeping better after her son was born than when she was pregnant. Her son likes to be worn and goes right to sleep when he’s being carried in the marsupial baby carrier. She has paid maternity leave for 18 weeks. She plans to start back at work a little later this year.
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Real Food for Pregnancy / real food for gestational diabetes / by Lily Nichols https://realfoodforpregnancy.com/
Marsupial baby carrier: https://marsupiaustralia.com.au/collections/marsupi-baby-carriers
The great birth Rebellion podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-great-birth-rebellion/id1639430316
The Midwives Cauldron podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-midwives-cauldron/id1523178579
Australian Birth stories podcast: https://australianbirthstories.com/podcasts/
Down to Birth Show podcast: https://downtobirthshow.com/ Instagram: @downtobirthshow
Sara Wickham: https://www.sarawickham.com/ Instagram: @drsarawickham
Evidence Based Birth: https://evidencebasedbirth.com/
Instagram Recommendations: @coreandfloorrestore @melaniethemidwife @theserenitydoula