Birth Story: ‘My water broke at 20 weeks’

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Birth Story PPROM Samantha Dos Santos

Samantha’s second pregnancy took her by surprise. While she and her ex-partner had an amazing co-parenting relationship, she never imagined having another baby with him. Especially while the world was in the grips of Covid-19.

Her first baby was 10-months-old and Samantha was still breastfeeding when her life took an unexpected turn. And then, at 20 weeks pregnant Samantha’s water broke, leaving her with an agonising decision.

An unexpected blessing

Birth Story Samantha Santos

Samantha had her first baby boy Dallas in winter 2019. And while she separated from her long term partner Jason before the birth, the couple still stayed on great terms as co-parents.

“Covid shocked the world and every face to face interaction I was attending was cancelled leaving me and a lot of others isolated,” Samantha told Mum’s Grapevine. “During this time Jason and I unexpectedly conceived. I have always wanted a big family but life doesn’t always match our expectations. I didn’t find out I was pregnant until seven weeks along as I was still nursing Dallas and had irregular periods. Although surprising, I saw this pregnancy as a complete blessing and once Jason found out he was completely on-board.”

Birth Story Samantha Santos

Birth Story Samantha Santos

At her 20-week scan, the NSW mum found out she was having another healthy baby boy. and was excited for the second half of her pregnancy.

“Five days later at 20+5 I did the grocery shopping and came home with my then 15-month-old boy to have my waters break. I called the hospital and was told it was unlikely but to come on in to test. Unfortunately, the worst was confirmed and from there, things were pretty doom and gloom.

“I was told I wasn’t at viable gestation and that I would almost certainly miscarry so options were discussed to induce to avoid infection. I denied this straight away as bub’s heart rate was still strong and I couldn’t make the decision myself. The doctors started me on antibiotics and explained that I would be admitted into birthing as it was expected that I would go into spontaneous labour within 24 hours. I was warned that even if I didn’t go into labour that I was going to have some tough decisions ahead of me surrounding the quality of life projected for a “foetus” at this gestation with preterm premature rupture of membranes.

“Devastated I turned to the Mums Grapevine Autumn 2021 Baby Facebook Group and was given some much-needed advice, guidance, and support. From there I was put into contact with a PPROM support group where I found hope and educated myself on how best to proceed.”

Birth Story Samantha Santos

Birth Story premature rupture of membranes

Birth Story Samantha Santos

Samantha says she ‘stuck to her guns’ and refused intervention from the doctors, staying in the hospital for the next three days for monitoring. Once home she stayed on antibiotics and had a month of bed rest, before she was given the all-clear to resume normal activities, with pelvic rest.

“Every appointment I was met with daunting and very slim statistics of survival for my baby. At 28 weeks I became one of the rare cases that have had a full reseal and regeneration of normal AFI (amniotic fluid index) and went on to have a relatively normal pregnancy.”

A long-awaited birth

Birth Story Samantha Santos

At 37-weeks pregnant Samantha noticed her baby wasn’t moving as much as usual. She took herself to the hospital birthing unit three times over a fortnight for monitoring. Thankfully, her results were always positive.

“At my last antenatal appointment, I expressed my concerns with the midwife then the OB and after five hours of CTG monitoring and conversation the cervical ripening balloon was inserted and I was sent home to dilate with some manageable contractions I went to bed and had a broken yet good sleep.

“I was told to come in the next morning and was checked to see that I was three centimetres at 11am. I then had my waters broken and Pitocin drip started around midday. I explained my pain threshold was not great in labour so I would like to have an epidural. However, by the time the anaesthesiologist came, explained risks, and started to perform the procedure I was feeling extremely painful contractions and pressure with an urge to push.

Samantha Santos birth story

Birth Story Bearon

Birth Story Samantha Santos

“They told me to stay still and the needle was inserted twice as the first failed all during contractions that were so strong and close together that it wasn’t long before I started involuntarily pushing. I was laid down and checked and was fully dilated and it was time to meet our son. Holy Moly I thought to myself there is no way I can do this. But just like that Bearon John was born just after 1pm – one hour in total.

“Due to a very fast birth (my first was 27.5 hours) I did get a second-degree tear but I feel so much better than I did with an episiotomy in my first. I had the choice to leave after 4 hours but it was recommended that we stay for 24 hours to monitor for infection due to history. I am feeling beyond blessed to have my sweet boy in my arms safe and sound.”

What is PPROM?

What happened to Samantha when she was just 20 weeks pregnant is called PPROM or Preterm Premature Rupture of Membranes, and it’s actually not too common. It’s when the sac surrounding bub breaks before 37 weeks of pregnancy, and it can be serious.

While the causes aren’t known, there are some factors that increase the risk of PPROM including having a previous preterm birth, having an infection, having particular STDs, having a placental abruption, being pregnant with multiples, having vaginal bleeding during pregnancy, and smoking during pregnancy.

Symptoms of PPROM include:

  • A sudden gush of fluid from the vagina
  • Leaking of fluid from the vagina
  • Feeling wet or moist in your underwear

If you have any of these symptoms, get in touch with your doctor or midwife. The only way PPROM is diagnosed is by an examination and fluid testing. If your water has prematurely broken, you’ll have close monitoring, most likely in hospital. And depending on how far along you are in your pregnancy, you may be induced.

(Images: Lauren Stella Photographer)


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