by Amy O’Donnell
My first pregnancy and birth was fairly “normal” as pregnancies and births go I suppose. I think what was extraordinary about it was that this does not seem to be common these days. I was lucky in that my pregnancy with Oscar was low risk, so I could choose exactly how I wanted to birth with no restrictions. A good friend of mine who is also a midwife (although he is male… so is he a mid-husband?? With a nursing background this is something I should know!) let me know of all the options I had and said that the Ryde Midwives offer a really good service and has an exceptional reputation. I, like most people planning for a pregnancy, made sure I had the right health insurance so I had the option to go private – because if we are paying for something, it should be better than something we get for free right???
Well, upon meeting the midwives and learning more about the service, I learned that this was not always the case.
My midwife was amazing in her knowledge about the pros and cons of birthing in either public, private or through the Midwifery group practice, which is adjoined to Ryde Hospital. She was very supportive and did not want me to make a decision there and then, wanting me to have a think about all my options. However, after speaking with Jane it seemed a no brainier that I would birth with the Ryde Midwives. Here are some reasons why:
- I could see the midwife at my convenience – which was usually after work. She was flexible with my appointments and I could reschedule if needed
- There is always someone on call throughout the pregnancy
- I would get to know and trust my midwife very much before the birth and I was lucky enough to have her all the way through the birth
- After the birth, she (or another midwife) was on call if I had any issues
- A midwife came to my place the morning after, the day after that and each day for the rest of the week to ensure I was healing and that baby was ok
- I would have had out of pocket expenses for an obstetrician even with insurance (which I did not need)
However, the biggest selling point for me was the outcomes that the Ryde midwives had on their stats board. It is proven to have the best outcomes for women with low-risk pregnancies and their babies. This means, yes I know you are thinking it – less tearing! More skin to skin time with baby (that first hour is so important), less interventions, and the list goes on.
Wednesday May 20, 2015 was the expected due date of little Oscar. That night I played trivia at Three Weeds pub in Rozelle, thinking it would be one of my last nights out before babies…. I was wrong. The weekend came and nothing. The following Wednesday came and still nothing… I was getting desperate at this point. I was doing acupuncture, primrose oil, walking, my husband making me jump up and down, riding over speed bumps……. and I had my first stretch and sweep. By that Friday 29th still nothing after more acupuncture, that tea you are supposed to drink and more jumping. Finally, on the Saturday evening/Sunday morning after another stretch and sweep, I started in early pre-labour where my contractions were like period pain and not close together. I still went shopping and left the house. By the Sunday evening, they were full on and the sleep was a few minutes here and a few minutes there. Monday Morning I had had enough and went into the birth centre.
I thought I was tough. However, the sounds that came from me were, when I think about them now, cringeworthy! But normal (I hope). I thought I would be one of these women that did not struggle with the pain, but alas, I am no different.
I was fortunate enough to have a water birth, which is a proven pain reliever during labour. I went back and forth from the shower to the bath as required and sipped on sparkling apple juice (my choice of drink). I did try gas to see if that would ease the pain, but vomited on it instead. The main thing that got me through was being able to squeeze the life out of my husband’s hands and I kept telling myself that tomorrow is another day and it will all be ok.
Once he came out, the midwife who was accompanying my midwife (they always have 2 during labour – one for mum and one for bub) said I had a shocked look on my face when holding my son for the first time. It was surreal to have this little person in my hands and I was terrified of dropping him. I had a good hour of skin to skin time with my son and he tried to feed himself (which is what they usually do). We took photos and had something to eat while the midwives were measuring and ensuring he and I were ok – only after the hour was over, there was certainly no rush.
I delivered at 5pm and was home by 10pm. We all slept that night and Oscar was eerily quiet, but I suspect he was tired as well. The midwife came in the morning and checked Oscar was well and feeding OK. We didn’t wash him for about a week as I heard that the covering is good for them.
I did a little Q&A for the birth unit a couple of weeks after to people who were thinking of birthing at Ryde. I really feel it’s important to give back in any way I can to this unbelievable service that does not cost a cent.
I am expecting my second in two months. I feel extra lucky to have the same midwife, Jane, again as she is amazing.
The picture is with my midwife, Jane, little Oscar and me with a bruise between my eyebrows from the acupuncture the day after his birth.
Read more personal stories of local mums who have birthed under the care of the Ryde Midwifery Group Practice: