Podcast Episode #49

Birth Story: Spilling the Milk with Alex

Today’s episode is another spilling the milk episode where I explore the birth story of a real mum. 

I’m joined by Alex, a single mother by choice to 6 month old Sophie. We explore her journey from deciding to become a single mum, getting pregnant, all the way to six months of motherhood. She talks about the complications after birth and offers insight on how she navigated that difficult period of time.

It’s a lovely birth story you won’t want to miss, enjoy!

Episode Links

Free Postnatal Workshop: Returning to Fitness After Birth

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Free Pregnancy Workshop: 3 Ways to Prepare for Labour: www.fitnestmama.com/challenge

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Birth Story: Spilling the Milk with Alex

Transcription

DISCLAIMER:

Please note that this transcription was completed with computer voice recognition software. Quite often unanticipated grammatical, syntax, homophones, and other interpretive errors are inadvertently transcribed by the computer software. Please disregard these errors. Please excuse any errors that have escaped final proofreading.

INTRODUCTION

If you are pregnant or you’ve recently had a baby, this podcast is for you. I am your host Kath Baquie. a physiotherapist working in women’s health and mum of three. Join me each week as we dive into all things pregnancy care, childbirth, and postnatal recovery, helping you have a wonderful pregnancy and afterbirth experience. And don’t forget to hit subscribe so you don’t miss any episodes.

KATH BAQUIE

Welcome to Episode 49 of the FitNest Mama Podcast. I’m your host, Kath Baquie. I’m a mum of three young girls, a physio for women and I have an online community, FitNest Mama, which helps to provide pregnant and new mothers with the exercises, support and resources they need to feel good from the inside out as they prepare for and recover from childbirth. FitNest Mama has workout set. A tired-mum friendly, aka mum friendly and toddler friendly that you can do in the convenience of your home, at the end of a long day, whilst you Bubba sleeps, or whilst your toddler is running around causing havoc.

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I had the pleasure of chatting to Alex today. It’s part of the Spilling the Milk Series of Birth Stories for the FitNest Mama Podcast. In this episode, Alex is really open and honest about her experiences of becoming a single mother by choice. She tells us about her forceps delivery and having a baby in Niku for a few weeks. Alex has a lovely calming and positive aura about her. And I’m sure if you love a good birth story, then you will love what Alex has to share.

Before I do dive in. I do want to share something exciting that is happening in the next few weeks. So kicking off this coming Monday, the 30th of August 2021 is a three-day workshop to help you prepare for labour. It’s free. And I’ve been running these free events every few months and is super popular. If you would like to come and join us and come and join me for this free live workshop. Then sign up via the link in the show notes. So this event you will learn about pelvic floor, how to care for your pelvic floor in the lead up to end after childbirth. And this will include discussion about perineal massage to help potentially reduce your risk of perineal tears and episiotomy. We will also be touching on active birth positions. So what are some positions that you can use during the different stages of labour. And we also chat about your after birth recovery to really help you recover and feel amazing after birth. As a women’s health, physio, everything I will be sharing in this workshop are things that I believe every woman deserves to know when pregnant to really help with a childbirth and after birth experience. To register for this free workshop before the doors closed, head to www.fitnestmama.com/challenge and the link is also in the show notes.

Alright, let’s get into this episode.

Hi, Alex. Thank you so much for joining me today on the FitNest Mama Podcast.

ALEX

Hi. It’s nice to be here.

KATH BAQUIE

I think I’ve been asking you for months and months to come and chat to me. So thank you.

ALEX

Oh, it’s lovely to be here. Sorry, it’s taken so long, but it’s just trying to find a bit of a time and the first few months was a whirlwind. And so I sort of, I put it off in a couple of months that it will be okay. And then of course Sofia is sleeping horribly right now.

KATH BAQUIE

And how old is Sophie?

ALEX

She’s six months, now almost seven.

KATH BAQUIE

Oh my gosh. Unbelievable.

ALEX

It’s gone so quickly. It’s been incredible, though. But oh my god, it’s just flying by.

KATH BAQUIE

So tell us a little bit. Just give us a small little version of you and your situation at the moment.

ALEX

So my name’s Alex. I’m 37 years old. I’m a single mum by choice. And I have a beautiful baby girl called Sophie that’s six months old.

KATH BAQUIE

Amazing. So for those that haven’t heard, been listening to this podcast for a while, if you scroll back, you’ll notice every few months I tried to grab one of my members who’ve had a baby and have a chat because I do feel there’s a lot that we can gain from speaking to other mums who have just gone through the thick of it or they’re in the thick of it, I should say who just gone through pregnancy through childbirth, ups and downs, challenges, highlights lowlights, all the works. So that’s what we’re talking about today. So let’s start at the start, Alex. So you said you’re a single mum by choice. Do you mind divulging a little bit about you know, how did you become pregnant? How was that journey for you?

ALEX

No, not at all, Kath. I think it’s so important to be able to talk about and share so that people have a bit of an understanding about the options out there for them. I had been wanting to be a mum for a long, long time. And I just never met the right guy. And I sort of lucky, my sister actually went through the journey before me. And so she’s a single mum by choice. And so I was thinking about it. And I got to about 36 years old, and I was like, right, probably need to start now, because you never know what’s going to happen with your fertility. So I went to see a fertility specialist in Canberra, and just started the journey there. So she ran a whole lot of tests on me and then had a look and said, “Oh, you’re looking pretty good. I then had a choice of having to find a sperm donor.” So I decided to go with an anonymous sperm donor. So we actually got one from the fertility clinic brings in sperm from the States. So I was able to do it that way. So your sort of looking through a huge catalogue of different guides and trying to pick someone that fits with what you would like.

KATH BAQUIE

So why was it one from the States? Was there not much of a bank of Australian? Or was that just a choice?

ALEX

Yeah. In Australia, there’s very small bank of sperm donors because it can’t be paid for. So we can’t pay the donors for their donation. Whereas in a state, it’s a much more common thing for people to donate. But if you bring in one from the States, it has to be under the same rules as Australia. So it’s very strict. Even if you go overseas, it’s just, they’ve got a bigger catalogue over there to choose from. And the ICT, being a smaller area didn’t have many donors. So my clinic didn’t offer any local donors if you wanted an anonymous. You could of course, go with a known donor, if you wanted.

KATH BAQUIE

What do you mean by known donor?

ALEX

So that would be someone that you know who they are. So it could be a friend, could be a friend of a friend. But some of that decides, you know, that tries to donate versus an anonymous.

KATH BAQUIE

And had you considered having a known donor?

ALEX

Not for me, I just didn’t have that friend or someone that I would feel like asking for. And I thought I’ll go the anonymous route first and see how it went and took me a while. I was looking for a couple of months, and then a new donor came up. And I was just like, “Oh, he just fitted the way that like his interests and what he’s done in life and the family. I sort of thought all that sounds quite nice and worked for what I was looking for.

KATH BAQUIE

Interesting. So tell me about that catalogue? What information do you get access to.

ALEX

You get access to a lot. So genealogy, you can filter by ethnicity, height, eye color. And also they do extensive screenings for any genomic abnormalities. So like, one of the things I went through first was I’ll just get rid of anyone that has any of the genomic issues, and then look through the ones that don’t. And then if I can’t find anyone there, I’ll go back and choose one that might have a genomic issue, and then they could have screened me for it. And if I don’t have it, it’d be okay to use them. But I sort of thought it’s easier. If you don’t have anything, then you don’t have to go for that extra screening.

KATH BAQUIE

Yeah, right. It’s quite an involved process, isn’t it? How long does it take from the first visit to your fertility specialist to becoming pregnant?

ALEX

It took me, I think it was about six months. And you could do it quicker. I was happy to sort of spaced it out because I had a date in my mind when I wanted to do it. And so I was pregnant about 3 months after that, because actually getting the sperm that I wanted, I had to wait, the donors had some in the bank overseas, but they wait three months from when they give their donations, and then they bring the donors back in to do the STI screening on them again. So they don’t release any of that until after that screening. So I was waiting for that time. And then it came up and I was able to buy it and they shipped it over. And then COVID hit. So I had to make a decision. Did I want to go ahead with it during COVID? And what were the differences with COVID? Like how did that affect the process? I was lucky that I was going to do an IUI to start. What they do is they put me on a mild medicated cycle. So that makes sure that the egg becomes fully formed and that they can track when the eggs about to ovulate and then they give me a trigger to ovulate at the right time. And then you go into the clinic and sort of like a pap smear. They open you up and then they squirt up the semen inside to make it into the cervix. All of that was still able to happen during the early parts of COVID. When we’re in under that lockdown. So long ago. It was just, it was a really a no one thing in March. I was having to make the decision March 2020. Did I want to go ahead? Or do I want to wait a couple of months and see and I just sort of thought, “Well, IUIs only got about a 10 to 30% chance of working, it depends on who you are and what the fertility specialist thinks of your situation. So I thought, “Oh, well, you know, on those odds, it’s probably not going to work. I’ll go and give it a go anyway.”

And that first cycle, unfortunately, didn’t work. And then I thought, “Oh, look, I’ll do it again. And then we’ll have done the two IUIs. And if it doesn’t work, I can then move to IVF. And keep going.” But I was lucky. And on the second time Sophie was in me.

KATH BAQUIE

That’s amazing. So for one batch of sperm donation, I guess how many IUIs is that? How many shots did you get?

ALEX

So when I brought the sperm in from the place that I was bringing it in for they international transfers over, you have to buy five vials. And one vial would be for one IUI. I believe that if you do IVF, because they need much less sperm, because they’ll pick out the ones that they think are the best swimmers and put that one sperm in to the egg, you use less of the vial. So that sort of also was part of my things of doing either two or three IUIs, which is what the fertility specialist sort of recommended, depending on how you go. So they tweaked how they did it on my second cycle a little bit. So they just changed a couple things up because obviously sort of first cycle and how it went. I thought “Okay, we could do it a little bit differently and make it a little bit more percentage likely that would work.”

KATH BAQUIE

Interesting, isn’t it? It’s amazing, science, love it. So does that mean you were going to do two to three IUIs, and then you had two vials leftover for IVF. Is that right?

ALEX

Would have had two vials, if I did the third, I would have had two left over. I guess the advantages of going IUI over IVF is there’s no surgeries involved. It’s much less medicated along the way. So it doesn’t put your body in as much stress. And it’s a little bit cheaper. So that definitely helps.

KATH BAQUIE

Amazing. And the second one you found out you’re pregnant. How was that feeling? Like what was going through your head at the time?

ALEX

Oh, I think it was a little bit of shock. Like it was interesting. Or like the first cycle I didn’t really change. And that cycle, I started getting all these pimples a couple of days before on my chin light. And I was like, “Oh, this is a little bit differently”. Like all these hormonal pimples had come through. My sister was like, “It could be.” Like a, “Probably not. We won’t get our hopes up.” And then I’ve got the call from the clinic. Like, “Oh, it’s so good. You’re pregnant.” I was like, “Oh my god!”

KATH BAQUIE

Amazing.

ALEX

So it was fantastic.

KATH BAQUIE

So once you were pregnant, did the cost of your pregnancy change from regular pregnancy? Or like, did you need anything more considering it was an IUI?

ALEX

So what they do is they put you on progesterone during the first 10 weeks afterwards to try and help that embryo in bed properly and give it a chance to stay. And that’s what they do with IVF I believe as well. So yeah, I was on that from the insemination all the way up to 10 weeks. And then with the fertility specialist, they monitor your levels and then they start bringing off the progesterone slowly and then checking that your natural levels have kicked in and taking off.

KATH BAQUIE

Yeah, right. Amazing. So did you have a fertility specialist as well as an obstetrician like how did that work?

ALEX

So the fertility specialists that does insemination and follows you through, they track you through till about 10 to 13 weeks depending on how you go. I got my first scan at seven weeks, which confirms that it is a live pregnancy and that the baby’s in the right spot in your uterus and all that until they do that at six to seven weeks. I had it seven weeks because the fertility specialist was away for the week six. So I saw her colleague a week seven and then I saw her, my fertility specialist at week nine and got discharged from her to my obstetrician. But my obstetrician liked seeing everyone starting at eight weeks. So I’d seen him the week before being discharged from my fertility specialist. So I was really lucky. I had a scan at week seven, week eight and week nine. So it was lovely to be able to see her growing inside.

KATH BAQUIE

And reassuring.

ALEX

And it made it real like this little speck on the ultrasound that you can see.

KATH BAQUIE

Yeah, it’s lovely. And who came with you to all those appointments or were you by yourself?

ALEX

I was really lucky. The two ultrasounds were at a later point when the COVID restrictions that started to lift so I was able to bring my sister to one and my mum came to the other. It was really special to be able to share that with someone.

KATH BAQUIE

It’s so brave, what you did Alex. it’s amazing. Was there any point during that process that you thought, “Oh my gosh, what am I doing or were you just sit the whole time you were?

ALEX

I’d thought through it a fair bit before. And the really good thing is that when you go through and use donor sperm through a clinic, you actually have to go through mandatory counselling. So you go to two counselling sessions before you can go through the whole process. And I found that really good. Like I was fairly certain this is what I wanted to do. But having someone impartial talk you through it and make sure that you’ve thought through all of the things that could come up. And then when you do have the baby, like, how do you introduce to the baby that they were donor conceived. And her advice was just very early on, make sure that you talk to them, like it’s shouldn’t ever be a secret. You just bring that up to them. That you know, like they talk through support and how you’d go, and how you feel if it didn’t work. You know, if it didn’t work, would you go down other options? Oh, it was really good. I think the process of doing it helps so that people are mentally prepared for the process.

KATH BAQUIE

And so thorough, that’s great. So moving further along in the pregnancy journey. How was the journey? And how did you prepare for childbirth?

ALEX

Pregnancy, I was extremely lucky. I didn’t get any morning sickness, which I think is a little bit genetic. My mum didn’t get any. My sister didn’t get any. But oh my god, the fatigue. In the first trimester, I have never been so tired in my life, like my mum had talked about and said, “Oh, you’re going to be really tired.” And I was like, “Yeah, sure, whatever. I’ve been tired before. I’ll be able to go.” But it hit me like a freight truck. I was so exhausted. And I was actually lucky. Like, with COVID, I was moved from working in the office, and I was working from home. So I would come and have a nap. In my lunch break, I would just go lie down for half an hour. And that was the only thing that got me through. And then I got to about 12 weeks, and I started feeling better. And I was able to go for a walk at lunchtime instead. So that was really good.

KATH BAQUIE

That’s one brilliant way how COVID helped you. That’s so great that you were able to get that sleeping. Because just imagine what would have happened otherwise?

ALEX

Well, yeah, I got to sleep in, in the morning, because my commute was literally five minutes, I get up, walk next door to the table and sit down with a cup of coffee for the morning meetings, versus having to drive and my commute to work ranges anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and 20. So depending on which office I’m going to. So you know, not having to do those long drives during my first trimester was brilliant, because I think with the tightness that I was, I would have had to talk to my boss earlier who’s amazing would have been super supportive. But I think having to come out like as a single mum, especially that pregnant early on, when there’s so much chance that anything could go on, would have been a bit nerve racking for me. So that was probably the biggest concern that I had, in that early stages. Was that something could happen.

KATH BAQUIE

Okay, well, that’s great that that fatigue started to lift then. Yeah, so it was good. And then after that was pretty good until about 20 weeks. And then I got really bad pelvic girdle pain, right at the front of my pubic bone. It was excruciating. And before that, I’ve been walking a lot. And then I needed to go and I needed to keep active during pregnancy. And I was like, “Well, what else can I do? And so I really wanted to be informed about the pregnancy and the childbirth. So I’d signed up to an online membership by an obstetrician called Grown with Baby. And I’d asked in that group and said, “I’ve got this pain. I need to change my exercise, what can I do?” And someone said, “Oh, go to FitNest Mama. She does online Pilates. It’s really good.” And I was like, “Okay, I’ll give that a go.” So I signed up to your course. And it was fantastic. And at the same time, I’d booked in to see a women’s health physio, and that took me six weeks to get in. So it was like, I’ll just go to different physio, and see how it went. And I went to the other physio, and they were good, but didn’t really make it that much better. And then I went to my women’s health physio, and she actually got down on my pubic bone, bone and pulsated it and it was out of alignment. And so she put it back into alignment. And after that, like the pain went from like an eight, down to a two. Unless I did something really aggravating to it. Like standing up to get dressed, had to sit down to put trousers on and such.

KATH BAQUIE

Oh, that’s amazing to hear. And I remember having a chat to you when you did have that pelvic girdle pain. And yeah, remember that relief that you felt? So that’s brilliant.

ALEX

Oh, it was like I was at that point of going, “How am I going to get through the next 20 weeks?” It was painful from getting up to going to bed like just walking down the hallway, I was like a six out of 10 in pain. So yeah, going to see someone and going to see the right person that has the experience in it made such a difference.

KATH BAQUIE

That’s so good to hear. And for those listening like everyone, all women, but especially all my members that talk to me about pain issues, I’m always saying, “Don’t put up with pain. Yes, I can help you with pelvic girdle pain friendly workouts, and I can help you to stay active and modify your exercise.” And instead of going for a long walk, that’s going to stir you up, we’ve got some amazing, low impact exercises that will help but always you need to go and get that treatment. You don’t want to put up with pain, and it’s better to nip it in the bud sooner rather than later. And sometimes you do just need that hands on treatment, I’ve got a lot of self-management strategies inside member hub. But as I said to you, like just go, let’s go get it seen to get that hands on treatment to nip it in the bud so that you can enjoy the rest of your pregnancy.

ALEX

Oh, and it was brilliant. So she was able to give me a like a belly band that she’d actually figured out the right way to put it on me. So it would give my pelvis the right support. And just getting that right message in those spots was brilliant. And then I went and had just remedial massages from a massage therapist every like three weeks through the rest of my pregnancy, to just get that little bit of constant work in those areas, because my glutes would get really tight. And that would flare up the pelvic pain, again.

KATH BAQUIE

And Alex, you are really amazing! Shout out to you. Because like a lot of women, when they get pelvic girdle pain, everything sort of falls in a bundle. And they stop all movement and activity, which can sometimes make things worse, whereas you got their hands on treatment. But then you modified I remember you’re turning up to those live classes spot on every single week or twice a week, like it might not have been your normal activity or your normal exercise. But you are still able to really help your body stay as strong and as mobile as possible.

ALEX

Well, it was a great thing with your classes so that I could actually just turn up during we had ones in the evening, I think which were really good early on, and then their lunch breaks. So I was able to fit them into my day. But you also modified everything for my specific issues. So once you knew I had the pelvic girdle pain, you’re like, able to tell me what I could do and couldn’t do. And that was really good. So I think that’s great if people are coming to the classes, at least go to one live, because you’ll get to know what you should do and shouldn’t do. And then you can do the online ones afterwards.

KATH BAQUIE

Yeah, well, thank you, Alex. You didn’t need to say that. But I do encourage all the members even in the Facebook group to post, you know, what are your concerns? What are your issues? Because I can adapt, and I can create a workout to help you. So it’s got that individualized approach. Okay, so tell me, Alex, you did this course, To Grow My Baby course. But how else did you prepare for childbirth?

ALEX

I was actually quite concerned about childbirth, especially having an induction because my sister had preeclampsia. And she had to be induced, and I watched that, and it went from zero to 100. So quickly, and I was like I could see the pain that she went through really quickly. Actually, that was probably the whole thing, our whole pregnancy that I was like, I don’t want an induction. I don’t want an induction. But in the back of my mind, I was like, “I’m 36 years old. I’ll be 37 years old, when the baby comes.” The chances of me having to have an induction is actually quite high. So I thought let’s go and get myself better educated. And I might be a bit more informed about how this could go. So I had a look online for either calm birthing, which my obstetrician midwife suggested. But I couldn’t find any face to face in the ICT at that time, there was a hypnobirthing course face to face. So I went along to that it was five weeks of two hours an evening. So I was like, that’s pretty good. It’s spaced out. Because in the evening, I’m exhausted and taking all that knowledge while pregnant, I didn’t think I’d be able to go and do a whole weekend and be able to absorb it all. So that was good. And I just came away from that a lot more relaxed about my choices, and had some really good breathing techniques and some movements that I could do to make it better.

But actually then being in the online membership, the medical knowledge I’ve got from that really suited me because I’m an engineer, so I’m very more scientific and just wanted to understand it all. And so I went through it all and sort of understood. If I did have an induction, what would go through and what my options if it went to different medical assisted deliveries? What would happen and how it would go? So I went into the birth feeling very informed about what could go on.

KATH BAQUIE

Amazing. So proactive and empowering yourself with knowledge. That’s Brilliant. And for those that do want to learn more about induction, my first ever episode of FitNest Mama Podcast was with the lovely Beth Ryan and we talk through tips for helping with an induction. So scroll back right to the start if you’re listening to this if you want to find out more about induction because that’s also another good resource. Okay, so you’re you’ve done five, lots of hypnobirthing sessions, you’re feeling informed, how does labour happen? Tell me about childbirth experience.

ALEX

Yes, so this was early, January. So we’ve just got past the craziness of Christmas. And I was 34 weeks pregnant at Christmas. So I decided to start my leave then. And then I went to my sister’s 40th birthday, was on the 30th of December. So we had a New Year’s Eve party for her. Huge size, running around probably doing way too much that like 35 weeks pregnant that I should have been got to the party. And I’m like, I’m exhausted.

KATH BAQUIE

Free number one on the dance floor, Alex.

ALEX

No. I was not dancing. Not too hard to get all by that said. Anyway, so it’s lovely. So you know, there wasn’t really much that you can do with COVID around that stage. And I was feeling really good at 35 weeks, but we decided to not go away for Christmas, because you just don’t really know what could happen. And I talked to my obstetrician about and he was like, it’s okay, but if you go down the coast, they’re just going to fly you back to Canberra if something happens. So we decided to not go away. But I thought let’s go for a little staycation. And my sister and I went and had two nights at a hotel, and just had a bit of a break and got myself mentally prepared to you know, in a few weeks, the baby’s going to be here. And that last night that we’re staying now sitting up in bed, I was like, I’m really uncomfortable, but just thinking it’s a different bed. It’s making my back’s sore. So it’s not good. And then I woke up the next morning and I was like, I’m feeling really uncomfortable, now. I’m just going to go and have a bath. And I said to my sister, I don’t really want to go for breakfast, I’ll just have a bath and have a rest. And then we can go home.

And my sister was like, “This is a little bit unusual. Alex has been talking about going out for breakfast at the hotel, but for weeks, maintain. I want to go have breakfast in a restaurant, and just have really nice Elecard breakfast because they weren’t doing buffet breakfasts due to COVID. And I’ve got to that day, and I didn’t want to do it. And as that day went on, I was feeling more and more uncomfortable. And this is just like I think you should call your obstetrician and just have a chat, okay.

KATH BAQUIE

Where were you feeling uncomfortable Alex?

ALEX

Lower back pain. And it started feeling like really mild period cramping, which was like I didn’t actually expect contractions to hurt, I don’t know why. But down in that period, uterus area, I was always expecting them that they had hurt right up the top. Yeah, so I just called my obstetrician and the midwife that he has working with him call me back and you said, “Oh, what’s going on?” I just said, “Just feeling really uncomfortable.” She said, “What do you think it could be?” And I was like, “It could be early labour.” And I was 35 plus seven at this stage. So it was Wednesday. It’s the first day would have been 36 weeks, exactly. And so she said, “Well look, come in, into the hospital, and I’ll check you out.” So I was like, “Oh, okay, I’ll go home.” I’ll get my bag which was 90% packed, and we’ll go back into the hospital, in case anything happened that I had to stay.

KATH BAQUIE

Where was your staycation? Where was the hotel? Was it in Canberra?

ALEX

In Canberra, yeah. Okay, so we didn’t go far, we just sort of thought, well, we’ll just stay in Canberra and do that. So it was like a 15-minute drive back to my house. And then it was a 10-minute drive back to the hospital. So you know, and at that stage, I wasn’t escalating. It was still just this occasionally, maybe like once every 15 to 20 minutes, I’d get like a bit more of a cramping pain, and it would go away. So I went to the hospital and they put me on the monitoring and then they’re like, “Oh, we think you’re just having Braxton Hicks. Nothing to worry about.” So I went home and I was like, okay, kept being uncomfortable. I had a shower, and then I went to have a lay down in bed. And I got up and had this gash come out of me. And I was like, “Oh, what’s that? And I looked down and I’m like, pretty sure that’s my mucus plug on the floor.” So I called, it was about 4pm at that stage and I called my obstetrician backup. Now like I’d do an internal and you and I said no. And I could sort of sense that the midwife was like, hmm, they should have done an internal I knew that was pretty bad not to. So they said come back in and come in and see us and my obstetrician will do a check-up on you. So I went in to see him and they did the scan and he was like, “Oh yeah, she’s looking perfect that she’s really big, which we were expecting the whole way through my pregnancy. She’d been scanning in the 95 plus centre. So we’re at about 28 to 30 weeks, we’d started talking about options for delivery, because if she went to full term at 40 weeks, he was predicting that she’d be four and a half kilos, which was setting up a whole lot of risks in the back of his head to deliver a four and a half kilo baby, first time around.

I went in and then so it’s like our, I think we’ll look at doing a C section because I decided that if she was really good, leave her and as long as possible women have a C section at 39 weeks, versus trying to induce earlier and about 38 weeks and go through the induction process. He just talked through all the risks either way to me, and I was like, “Okay, we’ll leave and a little bit longer and let it bake. And I’ll have a season.” And then he went down to do the internal and he was like, “Oh, you’re one centimetre dilated. And 50% of paste.” We went for the booking in that C section. And I was like, “Okay, so I’m not going to make it to 39 weeks.” And then I hadn’t had the swab. The GBS swab done. And he was going to do that. And we walked out of the exam. He was like, “Oh, we didn’t do the swab.” And I was like, “Oh, we should go.” And then he said, “Oh, no, don’t worry.” And at that stage, I was like, “Right. Baby’s going to be here, probably before Monday.” So I went home and was really uncomfortable. Well, I wouldn’t say really, like mildly uncomfortable. contractions would come on, every now and then I was able to sleep that night, and then woke up and potted around, had gone over to my sister’s house because she has a bath. And I don’t. So I went over to her house and was just sort of hanging out there during the day and having baths. And then at about three o’clock in that afternoon. on a Thursday, I got up and my waters break and I just gusset everywhere. And I was like, pretty sure I didn’t pee myself. And that was my waters break.

KATH BAQUIE

What were you standing on that time?

ALEX
I was on carpet. And I managed to make it to the bathroom without too much getting onto the carpet.

KATH BAQUIE

You always hear those stories, don’t you?

ALEX

And so then I just called the hospital up and they said, “Come back in. And we’ll check you out.” And I got to the hospital and I was three to four centimetres dilated now like “oh, three to four minutes, centimetres dilated at 36 weeks. We’re checking you in and putting you on monitoring for the whole time.” And I was like, “Okay, cool.”

KATH BAQUIE

How did you feel when they said that?

ALEX

Because I’d seen my observation the day before. And I was like, “Cadent say bub’s is going to be here soon. But I just taken some of the things that had happened during that appointment is going, ‘She’s coming.’ You know, it might be two days, it might be three days, but she’ll be here until then my waters broke.” I was like, “Right. It is what it is. You can’t change it.” And I know I’m in the best place that I can be for it. I was a little bit disappointed because I wanted to be able to hop in the bath that was really helping me with the pain. And because they wanted to continuously monitor her. They had put CTG pads on me and they can’t be submersed in water.

But the hospital is really good. They put portable ones on me. And so I could go and stand in the shower. And I could stand up and move around the room. So that was good.

KATH BAQUIE

It’s great. You could still be mobile and moving.

ALEX

Yeah. So we got there. And I got there. And I was like, ah, my sister was with me because she was going to be my best support person the whole way through. But I really wanted my mum there as well. And then I got there. And I was like, “Can I have two people?” and they were like, “Yes, you can.” So I called out my mom and was like, “Come in. You’re able to be here as well, which was brilliant.” Because that was at about 4:30 in the afternoon. So I knew it was going to be this into the night. So having a second person was really helpful. Yeah, so just sort of went into the room and we hung out and it started getting more and more painful. And so then at about seven or eight in the evening, I asked for gas and started on the gas. Then at about midnight, they checked me and I was progressing okay, got about seven or eight centimetres. They did a changeover. And then about three hours later, another midwife came in and she checked me again and she’s like, I’m still at that eight centimetres, you’re not actually having regular contractions either. Like I’ll have a contraction. And then I’ll wait five minutes. And then I’ll have another two, like really close to each other. And then they’ll take again space, which you said that’s not ideal, you really want to be having them at a regular interval. And so she was like, we might want to think about putting you on the Syntocin drip to speed it up. And so that they start to become regular to help you go. And I was like, “Look, I’d really prefer to not have that if I can avoid it.” And she said “Well, I can also feel you knew that you’ve lost your hind waters but not your fore waters. So I’ll go and call the obstetrician, but I think will break your fore waters as it is, and I made it to that stage.” So, you know, breaking the fore waters was fine. And so we said, we’ll do that and see how it progresses you.

So we broke my fore waters, and it started to get more painful. The contractions were coming on more regularly. And then at about 1am, she came back in and she was like, ah, how are we going? And she said, I will be posterior. And I was like, I didn’t realize she was sitting in a posterior position. She said, let’s get you up and get you moving a bit, and we’ll see how you go. And then she said, I think you might need an epidural. and I was like, “Oh well, been doing okay at this stage. And I really think I’m not going to need an epidural” but got up and moved around. And “oh, my God, from lying in the bed on my side to standing up, pain went from about a five to a six to a 10. And I stood out for about three or four minutes had three contractions because I went from, I don’t want an epidural, we’ll wait it out. And see. And the reason that she’d asked was because it was about one or 2am and the native test had come in to give an epidural to the person next door. And she was a very experienced midwife. And so looking back, I could see that she’d been looking at me and gone through and gone, you probably going to need an epidural somewhere along this track. He’s here, I don’t really want to have to bring him in twice in the space of an hour. So she had asked earlier, which was good. And then when I got up and moved, I was like, from not wanting one to “Oh my god. Yep. Let’s have this epidural, please.” So then I wait around, and he came in. And he gave me the epidural. And I just felt amazing. I was like, “Oh, my God, this is incredible.” It’s really nice. But of course, you then can find it a bit. So there’s some negative aspects to it. But it was about 2am. So then I had, I had to sleep for a few hours. And then she came back and checked me and she’s like, you’re at 10 centimetres. So what sort of progress stop using the epidural, because we’ll be wanting to start pushing soon. And so then you’ll be able to have some feeling back when the pushing comes in, because it will wear off. So I was like, oh, okay, and then she came back and checked me again. And she’s like, she’s just not coming down the birth canal. So we’ll put you on this in in the Syntocinon drip. And see if she comes down more. And it will make your contractions more regular. So I was on the Syntocinon drip for a couple of hours. And we came back and checked in Sophie still wasn’t progressing down. So she called my obstetrician and was like, we’re at this point, Alex has been 10 centimetres for I think it was about two hours or so at that stage. And he was like, right, she’s not moving, we’re on syntocinon we’ll have to go forceps delivery. So I was like, Okay, he’s coming in and going forceps. I’m like, I trust you explicitly. And he’s like, we’ve got to wait, we’re about an hour to two hours away from being able to do four sets in their theatre, because they had two caesars, emergency caesars in front of me. So okay, we’ll just hang out here. And so for forceps, forceps are not an emergency, they don’t want to do it in the birth suite. They want to take you to the surgery theatre in case the forceps delivery doesn’t work. And they need to progress to a caesar really quickly. So that’s fine. That’s fine. We’ll just hang out here ratcheted up the epidural back again. And I was like in bliss.

KATH BAQUIE

Did you have any sensation that you needed to push at this stage?

ALEX

No. I think she was quite a faraway backup in there. And it was interesting because one of the things in the hypnobirthing thing was don’t get internally checked. Because when you get to 10 centimetres, they put you on a clock. And I was like, oh, okay, but I did it. And there wasn’t really a clock for me. Like they just kept checking and being like, what, where is she and she was still midway up at 10 centimetres for me. So when we went to the forceps at four hours at 10 centimetres or four hours, plus, she still was nowhere near descending down. So it was going to be a forceps delivery or an assistant delivery.

KATH BAQUIE

And how did your doctor describe that to you?

ALEX

It was just that the midwife had sort of said it to me a little bit before. She was like, I’m going to can because your 10 centimetres and I can feel it but she’s still further up. And she was posterior, which I knew was more difficult to come out. She hadn’t moved. So I’d been like having done the online course. through all of that I was very informed about when they came in and said things, what it would mean and what the likelihood of happening once.

KATH BAQUIE

And it sounds like you were quite calm. Like the way you’re describing it now is that you’re quite calm. Did you feel like that during the whole process?

ALEX

Yes. The whole way through like, I didn’t want the epidural when she came in and asked me for it. And I was very No. And I can see my mom and sister were like, “oh, maybe you should listen. I’m quite stubborn and I was like, “No, I don’t want it.” And then she was like, “oh, we’ll get you up and get you moving. And then I’ve got up and got moving.” And I was like, “yep, I want it.

KATH BAQUIE

I love it.

ALEX

When I stood up and she was posterior, and she must have just moved that little bit and was right along that pain sensation. And I was I was on the gas at that point. And I was like, not going to be able to handle this. So epidural, looking back, best thing ever, like I would have been very disappointed to have not had an epidural, and then gone all the way to needing a forceps delivery. And they’d given me one. Yes, and they would have to give me one for them to try and do a forceps delivery without a major bit of pain relief. And going into needing potentially needing a caesarean they’d be highly unlikely that you wouldn’t have some something. So because I’d already had the epidural, they were just able to put a spinal block on me for the delivery. It is what it is. I couldn’t feel anything. But they just wheeled us into the theatre. It was very calm, relaxing, you know, it is what it is. My sister came in, couldn’t have my mum into the theatre, my obstetrician came in, talk me through it.

You saw the need of her to just come back and talk to me and talk through the process. And then the paediatrician came and said hi and said, this is what’s going to happen. And I said, Oh, well, I’d like to like cold campaign. And he said, he said, Oh, you need to talk to your obstetrician about that. Then I was like, Oh, that’s okay. That’s fine. And I talked through it and she was lovely. Then we wield in, it was all going okay. And the midwife can put our heads on my tummy because I couldn’t feel anything. So then she would be like, Alright, there’s a contraction happening. Push, which was the weirdest sensation. I’m like, I can’t feel anything like dead in there, like I think I’m doing it. And the obstetricians using the forceps to assist with the delivery. And then she came out, and then they put Sophie on my chest. And she was on there for maybe like, five seconds or under. And then they said, they shouted something. And it was like cord. And then she got whisked away. So what happened was a very, very rare thing that her cord had snapped after she was delivered before that, clamped it. And so she started to lose a little bit of blood. And my obstetrician with his reflexes just grabbed her cord and used his hand to clamp it and then clamped it off. And so they whisked her away for checking down to the special care nursery. And they thought they’re not really sure that she had a seizure on the way because I started flickering, which is a sign of that. But she had no body movement. So they weren’t really sure. And then she stopped breathing as well, which was I didn’t see any of this, I was still on the theatre bed gone, “What the hell’s going on?” This is what I got told afterwards. And so then, as a precaution, because I was in a private hospital that didn’t have an NICU, they said, we’re going to transfer her to the bigger hospital with an NICU to do some monetary. And I was like, oh, whatever you have to do to make sure that she’s okay, we’ll just do that. I think that was the toughest thing through my whole pregnancy journey so far has been that little bit where, you know, you expect to have that lovely experience of the bulb being put on your chest and enjoying it and then just get whisked away for the treatment. Which, you know, it’s better. She’s alive than having a bad day of your chest. But, you know, you see all of that. And that’s what you think, child that’s going to be, and it turns into something a little bit different.

KATH BAQUIE

I can’t imagine how you feeling just then can you describe what you were thinking when they took your baby away from you?

ALEX

I was just like, okay, you know, the paediatrician came and said, she’s okay, but we’ve got to go and take her to look after, you know, she’s a lot, you know, and I was like, oh, okay, didn’t really know what was going on then. So I was like, Oh, it’s okay. You know, these things happened. But then, when I went to recovery, my obstetrician came back and said, Look, they’re going to have to take it in an NICU. I was like, Oh, this is all serious, then it would have thought I didn’t actually know at that point that had caught her clench. It’s a bit fuzzy, actually, that whole bit of when someone came and told me that Oh, there was issues and what was going on? Yeah. So I was just sitting there. And I was, the registered nurse was like, Oh, you’re doing really well.

And I was like, Well, I’m not I don’t stress very much. I’m not a worrier. And then I was like, oh, shoot she could die. Like, that hit me that she might die. And that was really hard. And then my mom came and sat with me, which was nice having someone there and we just sort of chatted through it. And that then, and my sister who had gone with Sophie said, I need to swap. You know, this is pretty tough, like watching them do all that research on her then so my mum went to switch over and be with Sophie, my sister came and sat with me, which was lovely. It was nice having someone with me at that point that you could just talk. And then they said, “Oh we’ll be taking Sophie to the NICU.” And I said I’d really like to see her before she goes and so they said “oh yeah, we’ll take you down there.” Like I was thinking it’s going to be this really quick process, which actually wasn’t it was took about two hours from when she came to when they were ready to transfer her to the NICU because they’re very methodical about making sure that she was stable as they transferred her through to the ambulance team that common do that.

And that’s what that whole team does, is they do those types of transfers for really young babies. So that was good. And then the paediatrician and then the NICU doctor had both come in talks through what had happened and what it was. So it was really good.

And I was pretty calm at that point. Like they were very good at explaining what was going on and what they were going to go and do. And then they came and asked for consent for different things with Sophie over there. So you know, simple things like, am I okay, giving her glucose, which they like, because it’s a little bit of a pain relief for the babies, formula, dummy, and antibiotics and stuff like that. And I was like, yep, yep, yep. Yep. Just give it anything that she needs to make her comfortable and that you need to do.

KATH BAQUIE

Wow, what an experience for you, Alex, how long was she in the NICU for.

ALEX

She was in the queue for two days. And then she was in this special care nursery for 14 days after that. So she came, it’s 36 plus two. And so she was in a new queue. And by the time I’d got to be able to go and see her, which was about eight hours after she’d been there, she’d been alive for about 12 hours at that stage. She was off sleeper. And they put little brain monitoring on her to monitor for seizures. And she’d had no seizures since I was like, “Okay, this is looking pretty good. As far as things can go, not ideal. But you know, there’s been no other problems.” So she was there. And then the next day, we went in and talked to the consultant, doctor, and he’s like, everything’s looking really good. We just need to stabilize her sugars, get her off the glucose strip, which comes through with the sailing. So they stabilize the sugars that way. And because I wasn’t producing any milk, I was getting like one mil of colostrum, I said, well, we’ll give a formula to do that. And they were waiting on a swab to come back for infection because they injected sailin, effectively straight through her umbilical cord to raise her blood pressure. So that’s the risk of infection to her, because it was done as quickly as they could, but in an emergency situation.

But normally, they did it in a non-emergency, they do it like they’re getting you ready for surgery, you know, the paediatrician would wash your hands for 10 minutes, they’d swap you for like five and everything. But it was just like all straight in. So though the current risk is that she’s got an infection from that, but we’ve put her on antibiotics early, because for a little bub, it’s far better to have that little bit of antibiotics and not need it than to have an infection and be chasing that infection later on.

So we had to wait 36 hours, and they’d come back with whether or not she had an infection from that or not choosing the NICU and going really well. And we were just increasing the formula over time, and then decreasing that glucose drip and they were just checking her blood sugars to make sure that they were stabilized. And they were and little things like she was under heat lamps at the start that were taking off the heat lamps and everything slowly. So that was good. And I’ve got my first cuddle, which was lovely.

KATH BAQUIE

At what stage was your first cuddle?

ALEX

Oh, that was on that first visit. So that night. Yeah, so she was doing quite well. So they still had all the monitoring like on it on her. But they were able to get her out of the shoe bed, which I mean, credibly lucky to have even like for any cue baby to have had a couple, you know, 12 hours after she turned up so.

KATH BAQUIE

So can I ask you about you in your recovery now. So you’re in theatre, and they obviously stitched you up? What was the process and with because usually you do it feed and that sort of thing? Did they talk you through the expressing of the colostrum and that sort of thing?

ALEX

It was probably the bit that I’m still annoyed about. So they stitched me up, and they gave me a shot of something. So I’m not really sure what it was, but I thought they said it was to help with the breastfeeding. I asked actually, if he’d given me an episiotomy because I was expecting that and he said no. So I had grade two tearing, which was fantastic for forceps delivery. It was brilliant. Yeah. So then my recovery was pretty good. I wasn’t that sore. I was on. I think endo the first day or two. And then mum called from the NICU and said, they’ve asked you to start expressing colostrum. So I called up the nurse and said “They’ve asked me to start expressing colostrum, can someone come?” And they took four hours after I called for them to turn up to help me. And so I was really annoyed about that. Like they came in and said, I’ll come back in later. I’m really busy. I’ll be back later. And then it was four hours later and I was like, hang on.

KATH BAQUIE

So how long after birth was this?

ALEX

Oh, eight hours? because it took ages for the safe to get set up for the new queue transfer and everything over so I was probably only in my room. It would have been about three hours after birth. Then I was back in my room. And then mum was over there. And then she’d obviously they’d said, Oh, we want colostrum called me and I rang. So she came in really quickly and said, I’ll be back to help you. This is the lactation consultant that works at the hospital with the midwife. And then I think I had a nap because I was really tired. She came back in and said, Oh, they told me you’re napping. So I didn’t come in, not sort of like no, no, you should have come on waking me. But that’s the one thing is I wish I’d advocated more for myself in to get them to express their colostrum for me, but I wasn’t really aware of what you had to do and how quickly it needed to be done. So I’m the only hand expressing and we were setting it up getting really small amounts, and they weren’t clear that I should have been doing it every three hours. So that’s the sort of thing I think, in my whole journey, I’d spent a lot of time educating myself about the pregnancy and the childbirth, not very much about the breastfeeding component, sort of just think I will, it will happen. So I think a little bit more education on that would have been really good. Let’s sign up to a course that the one at a time up to I don’t think it was very good. It didn’t give me the stuff that if it goes wrong, this is what you need to do, which would have been really helpful. So I was doing that.

And then over in the NICU, the next day, so that was the Friday but she came on a Saturday. They had a lactation consultant come round, and she started me pumping, to help with stimulation to get the colostrum and the milk coming in. And a really good tip she had was like to turn the bottles. So they’re facing like up at the ceiling, and you collect in the bottom of the expressing bit, and you can just suck it out. Whereas if you have the bottles facing down, like you’d normally put milk into, it goes all the way down, and you lose about a mil worth of what you’re collecting through the filters.

KATH BAQUIE

Yeah, right. jumping forward, how’s the breastfeeding journey been?

ALEX

It was tough at the start. So being 36 weeks, didn’t really have a sock reflex. So that’s why when we got transferred back from NICU to special care nursery, she was perfect, except she wasn’t feeding. So we had an NG tubing to feed. And then it was like, slowly try and get her to suck. She’d hop on the boob. I had flat nipples. So it was really hard. So we had to use a nipple shield, and she was not really doing much at all. So we went to doing a little bit of that, and then bottle feeding twice a day. So she wouldn’t get too tired either. So I was expressing eight times a day, that stage and my milk was slowly coming in.

KATH BAQUIE

Wow. That’s a lot of it.

ALEX

Yes, it was tough. But then I got discharged from the hospital at day five, and she was still there. So it was actually nice for me to have something when I was at home and not with her to focus on doing. It was like right, you know, express, and we’re working through, you know, doing that. And then they said, “Look, you need to express eight times during the day. So maybe do a few closer during the day. And then you can have like a four hour break overnight and not have to get up every three hours overnight to express.” So that was good. And it took maybe six, seven days until my milk had come in to the point that I was able to express as much as what she needed to consume through the NGO bottle feeds. So before that we were formula topping up with Express breast milk. And then she was taking the bottle really well but wouldn’t feed off me very much. So she’d suck for a little bit. But then you didn’t really know what she was getting. So that was fine. I was like, you know, she’s taking the bottle, we’ll just increase the frequency that she didn’t take the bottle. And we’ll get out of here and we can deal with breastfeeding stuff as she gets stronger.

I was lucky that I knew a lactation consultant that my sister used. So I went to see her. I booked in before I even left the hospital to see her and had an appointment the week after, like the Friday after Sophie was discharged. So we’re able to go and see her and get support through progressing her from the bottle and onto the boob more. It took about eight weeks until she was able to just completely breastfeed. And I think that was just…

KATH BAQUIE

Is that all? I was expecting you to say longer.

ALEX

No, like eight weeks old. Yeah. Then seven to eight weeks. And we were like, right, we could probably drop the bottle. I think she might have been ready a little bit earlier. But I’m at about that point I was able to also drop the nipple shield and she was able to just do it.

KATH BAQUIE

That’s amazing, Alex. Because I do hear a lot of babies that do end up going to NICU and bottle feeding. That is a big challenge. So that’s great that you were able to, I guess overcome that.

ALEX

Yeah, I think to me, like the things that really helped was I had support at home. So when Sophie came home, and we were doing the night feeds, I had someone that would get up and help and so I would feed her we did about we were doing about five minutes where she’d feed on the breast and then would give it a bottle top up so I do the breast feed and then she would go to my mum and my sister in they’ll bottle feed her that bit and I just get straight to expressing. And then we get back to bed early. So that helps because otherwise when you breastfeeding bottle topping up and then expressing, it’s a lot of time. It took 20 minutes to half an hour to express a feed for her. So, you know, when she started breastfeeding, it was up to 45 minutes of her breastfeeding, she was very slow.

KATH BAQUIE

Your whole day and be zapped with all the feeding, changing nappies sleep and then old days gone, isn’t it?

ALEX

It was like that first eight weeks, it was like, you’re sort of doing that. And the other thing is, I was very regimented about making sure I had a nap in the afternoon. And so someone would look after Sophie. Like she was sleeping. So she was that first six weeks was very easy, because she had a bit of jaundice. And she just wanted to sleep. So we were actually having to wake her up every three hours during the day to feed and then four hours nightly to feed, she would have just kept sleeping, and she needed the calories to keep growing. I think you just do what you have to do. But support. And if you don’t have anyone that comes to mind, just reach out to friends. Like I’ve had so many friends that have offered. If you need anything, just ask, you know, close ones that said, if your parents need a break, if your sister needs a break, I’ll come over and stay with you. You know. So there’s lots of people around that can help.

KATH BAQUIE

Sounds like you’ve got a great little village around you, Alex.

ALEX

Yes. Which I think you need. Anyone does.

KATH BAQUIE

That’s brilliant. So Sophia is now six months old. How have things changed since a blur of those first few months?

ALEX

The first few months were tough. And it was really just a sleep, feed, change, tiny bit of play. She wasn’t very much time. She would just fall back asleep after a feed. Go for a walk maybe for my mental health and get a bit of exercise. So we put her in the pram, bassinet every day, and I’d go out for a walk. So that was the thing that I liked, out of all of the things that I bought was one of the best having the best bassinet. And that would just go on to the stroller. So you could just take her for a walk, and she’d sleep in it really easily. And she’d also sleeping that during the day if you had her out in the living room. Or if I needed a bit of a break overnight. And she would be really loud. Because at first when I’m asleep, she could go and sleep in that next to my mum and my sister in the next room. So it would give me a bit of a break not having her right next to me if I was exhausted. And then they’d just bring her in when she needed the feed. So it’s just got easier and easier. And then you know, six weeks, they start to smile and interact like she was probably seven or eight weeks at that stage. It was really nice. And you know, now she’s like she does her own little chatting and smiles and she’s rolling over and starting to sit up and just got a tooth. So she gave me a first little nip yesterday or the day before. That I was fine. Like she likes pulling my finger into like chewing into the mouth and then bit down.

KATH BAQUIE

And how has been the forceps delivery, how’s your body recovered with the pelvic floor side of things?

ALEX

It’s been a lot of work for me to do my pelvic floor exercises. So having seen a women’s health physio beforehand, I was actually meant to see her just after Sophia was born for like a 36 week check. And she was going to talk to us at the start and then some of the perineal massage that I could have done, never got to it. So I moved her out to just after I’d had my check up with my doctor, and she checked me and she was like, right, you’re right on that borderline danger Zone. But the stretching inside and my pelvic floor was very weak.

She used the Oxford scale. So like a two out of five, which was like, right, we’re going to do pelvic floor exercises, three times a day, lying down. And I was like, okay, so I just lie down and have to do lifts, you know, tends to hold for five seconds, I think at that stage 10 times like very basic pelvic floor, and some quickly if so I was doing that for about six weeks, and then she was like it’s getting better. So we can now do them sitting up. So I do them every day. Either when I was feeding Sophie or right before I went to sleep I just put a little show on and I watch that with her online like a app counter that would talk me through the time and do that. And then now doing standing up.

KATH BAQUIE

Is that a squeezy app? So if anyone wants a little app timer for their pelvic floor, the squeezy app is brilliant. It’s was developed by some women’s health physios, the NHS and UK but $3 or something but you can plug in your particular numbers. So if you can only hold for five seconds, you can pop in five seconds, so well worth $3 for anyone listening.

ALEX

Yeah, I think I paid $6 or something. To the one that I’ve found, it’s the same. I think it’s I think it’s called squeezy though. So I’ve got a different one, but it was the same like I could actually go and put in the numbers and then my, how long it used to hold for the rest and how many repetitions I needed to do. And I found that really good. So it would just talk me through it. And then the quickflix as well, because do those, but they’d change depending on what I was doing, how many I had to do and how many reps. So that was really good to have something to visualize also doing with them, so you didn’t have to keep counting. And so they’re now doing them standing up in the shower. So I’ve gone from like a two to a five on the pelvic floor strength. So that to start doing them with the weights as well.

KATH BAQUIE

Brilliant.

ALEX

That’ll be interesting.

KATH BAQUIE

So for those that don’t know what we’re talking about, some vaginal weights that you can put inside. And this is really great research coming out. And it’s great for multitasking too for busy mums. So for example, you might pop it in, and depending on what your strength is, but then you might get on with your day, get your, you know, breakfast ready. And then before you leave the house, you take it out. So yeah, it’s great, brilliant, great for multitasking.

ALEX

That’ll be good as I progress. So yeah, that’s good. And then I forget what the width score that they do is, but I was like at nine centimetres, which is in that danger zone bit. And it’s come back to seven. And so she’s like the pelvic floor exercises and everything that I’ve been doing, has really helped to bring that back in which she said it’s all non-danger zone right now. I think that’s good. And I think it’s really important to spend that bit of time on you, even during those early weeks and months, because the risk of incontinence or prolapse later on after childbirth is so high and pregnancy. So I was like…

KATH BAQUIE

100%.

ALEX

Do anything that you can do to avoid that.

KATH BAQUIE

Yeah, exactly. And those first six weeks as well are crucial for helping with that pelvic floor recovery, I like to think of the pelvic floor like elastic bands, that gets stretched during pregnancy. And we want that natural recoil to be able to occur as much as possible. And so Alex, how did FitNest to best help you?

ALEX

I think during pregnancy, it was good that I was able to keep active and do some just things that work at that stage. And as I got more and more pregnant, I was able to modify what I could do, because it got harder and harder to keep active. So I was doing the online stuff with you once to twice a week. And I signed up to a yoga course, which I was doing in person, which was really good, like just very gentle moves. But I think that stretching and just being able to keep moving your body in really gentle ways was really helpful. And I would walk I do like half an hour, 20 minutes, half an hour, nearly every day, which was really good to just keep active. So it was good. But then also like, you have the online portal, so you can keep looking through all of the educational aspects of it, which was really good. And then I was really informed from your staff about what to do post birth. So I knew that that first six weeks, you meant to spend a lot of time lying down, I probably didn’t do as much of that as needed, because I was up and getting to back and forth between the hospital with Sophie. But I would just try and take make some time and lie down even five minutes horizontally.

KATH BAQUIE

You’re having a nap in the in the day. So that was good.

ALEX

Yeah, I’d have a nap nearly every day. So that was really good. And then just getting back into some slow, gentle walking. And knowing that like, you know, start out five minutes and then go up to 10 and 15 and 20. So it was really this Okay, actually, I’m not going to be back at walking that 30 minutes straight away, like the walk to and from the car park to go and see Sophie was enough for me that first, you know, two weeks. And then when she came home, we were like, Oh, we can go a little bit longer and stuff. So it was really good.

KATH BAQUIE

Yeah, brilliant.

So for those that don’t know, Alex was talking about the first afterbirth recovery module where I talked through the walking program, a pelvic floor program, and how to help enhance your recovery after having a baby. So thank you, Alex. So I could probably talk to you all day. But to finish up with what words you’ve offered a few of them throughout this chat. But what final words of wisdom do you have for pregnant mums who are listening?

ALEX

Look, I think try and enjoy your pregnancy as much as possible, but then reach out for whatever sort of support and education and learning that works for you. Because what works for me isn’t going to work for everyone. But like, I really like to get into different online communities and modules. And then I think, take advice that works. But one thing that I found and that I was told quite early on when I had Sophie is just, if you’re going to get advice from someone get advice from one person and listen to that, and follow that. Don’t go seeking multiple bits of advice from different areas, because they’ll quite often counteract each other. And you’ll be like, but should I do this? Or should I do that? So when I was seeing the lactation consultant, the match nurse came and did the check-up, Sophie. And so we were talking through all the issues, and she’s like, “Oh, you’re seeing a lactation consultant? Just listen to them. I’m not going to tell you anything. Because having two different bits of advice can make it really bad, tough.” So just have one bit of advice and follow that. And if you get to a point that’s not working, go and see someone else and listen to them.

KATH BAQUIE

Great advice. And I think that’s also good. Like in hospital, you see so many different midwives, and everyone does have their own opinion. And yeah, it’s tricky, isn’t it? So that’s why it’s good that you had your own lactation consultant, because they were your one protocol. So you could get lots of advice from different midwives. But at the end of the day, you had that one port of call that you relied upon.

ALEX

Yeah. And so I’d go to her and she worked through what we were doing. Sophia, and how it will bring her down off the top of bottles and transferring over and even the pediatrician was like, “You seeing her, which is fantastic. I’m not going to talk to you about the feeding things. You just go with what she’s saying. Like it was all working fine. So that was good.

KATH BAQUIE

Well, thank you, Alex. I know I’ve just taken an hour and a half out of your time. And you’re a busy mum. So I really do appreciate the chat. I think it’s so great to hear such a big range of experiences, you know, relatively unique, and everyone’s got a different story to tell. And thank you so much. You’re a good storyteller. I love it.

ALEX

Thanks, Kath. It’s been good to have this chat. And I think anyone that wants to be a mum, just go about being at by whatever means possible. There’s so many different avenues out there to become a mum. So that’s excellent, best thing I’ve ever done.

KATH BAQUIE

That’s so lovely to hear. Thank you so much, Alex. We’ll see you soon.

ALEX

Thanks, bye.

KATH BAQUIE

Before I sign off, remember my team and I will be putting together the show Notes for this episode with all the links at www.fitnestmama.com/podcast and also don’t forget, if you are pregnant, to register for this free workshop, which is kicking off on Monday, the 30th of August. Have a fabulous day everyone and I look forward to you joining me next week for another episode of the FitNest Mama Podcast.

Thanks for listening to the FitNest Mama Podcast brought to you by the FitNest Mama Freebies found at www.fitnestmama.com/free. So please take a few seconds to leave a review, subscribe, so you don’t miss an episode. And be sure to take a screenshot of this podcast, upload it to your social media and tag me, @fitnestmama, so I can give you a shout out too. Until next time! Remember, an active pregnancy, confident childbirth, and strong postnatal recovery is something that you deserve. Remember, our disclaimer, materials and contents in this podcast are intended as general information only and shouldn’t substitute any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. I’ll see you soon!

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