Mindy had always dreamed of having a water birth, but it wasn’t until her fourth baby was born last October that her wish finally came true.
She and her husband, Mark, have been married for 20 years. After battling through years of fertility struggles, including five miscarriages, they both feel blessed to now have four beautiful children.
“Five years into our marriage we decided to start a family but unfortunately it wasn’t as easy as we had expected. We tried everything, including IVF, but finally, five years later, we fell pregnant naturally with our first baby. Our journey to have a second baby was unfortunately almost as difficult, but thankfully babies three and four were easy and actually a bit of a surprise,” Mindy tells Mum’s Grapevine.
“I had my first three babies in a private hospital but had cancelled our obstetric health cover after baby number three – our ‘last’ baby. I had liked the regular appointments going privately and also the aftercare but I hadn’t really loved the birth experience at the private hospital as I found it very medicalised.”
Mindy planned to have a home birth with baby number four, but her husband wasn’t as keen and so at 20 weeks, she decided to give birth at her local public hospital.
“I had hopes of being accepted into the Midwife Group Practice program but unfortunately wasn’t and I was worried that because of that, my birth wouldn’t be at all what I was hoping for, but it turned out to be amazing.
‘I was desperate for a water birth’
“I had an uneventful pregnancy and apart from a couple of extra scans due to my age, my pregnancy had gone perfectly. Due to my previous healthy pregnancies, the hospital obstetricians had agreed that I wouldn’t be induced at the usual 38/39 weeks due to my age but that they would let me go to 40 weeks.
“I was desperate for a water birth (as I had been hoping for one since baby #1) so I really didn’t want to be induced. At my 39-week appointment, they wanted to book me in for induction at 40 weeks but I just asked if I could wait until 41 weeks and they were actually quite ok with it and they didn’t even try to pressure me to change my mind, so I was very relieved.”
Much to her delight, Mindy went into spontaneous labour at midnight when she was 39 weeks and six days.
“I woke from a deep sleep to a “pop” and a huge gush of waters. I grabbed a couple of towels to put on the bed and put on some postpartum undies and laid back down hoping to get some rest. I tried my best to relax hoping that things wouldn’t kick off properly until a reasonable time the next morning when the kids were awake. However, within an hour, my contractions were getting stronger and I accidentally woke my husband up (I was trying to keep him asleep as long as possible cause I knew as soon as he realised what was happening he’d to be wanting us to rush off to the hospital).
“We talked and laughed between contractions and tried to decide what we should do with the kids. My dad is the closest family member to us and was happy to look after them, but I wasn’t sure about calling him at 2 am – especially as I had told him the evening before that I didn’t think anything was going to happen anytime soon!”
With Mindy’s contractions growing stronger and closer together, it was decided they’d bring their kids to the hospital and have someone pick them up from there later in the morning.
“I wasn’t sure what the midwives would say when we turned up with three kids in tow, but they were amazing! They quickly got us in and they gave us a room next to a birth suite to stay in for a while. The midwife asked if I wanted a vaginal examination but I declined. They then started filling up the birth pool next door and said we could go in there when things started getting too much. We stayed in the room together for a couple of hours, me walking around the room through contractions whilst my husband tried to get our three-year-old back to sleep for a bit – but he fell asleep instead!
“Just after 5am, I asked to go into the birthing suite so I could go in the water. As soon as I got into the warm pool, the pain just disappeared, it was amazing! Things really slowed down once I got in the water but the midwives were so lovely, we just chatted and laughed whilst the kids coloured in and played on an iPad together. At one point, a midwife went out and came back with three different-sized exercise balls she’d collected from other rooms for them all, so then I was laughing at them bouncing around the birth suite on exercise balls!”
‘The fetal ejection reflex kicked in’
Mindy happily stayed submerged in the water for the next couple of hours watching her children play, all the while wondering if her labour was making much progress.
“I was worried that the midwives would get me out of the water and there was no way I was getting out, so I decided to pretend my contractions were a bit painful so they knew things were actually progressing!!
“I continued labouring leaning over the side of the birth pool and at 8am I started getting some pressure and got excited, because with my previous births as soon I had felt that, my baby was out in less than 10 minutes. But I think possibly because of the water, this stage went a lot slower than previous times. By 8.30am I was getting a bit frustrated that he wasn’t here yet. The fetal ejection reflex kicked in not long after and I was in such a hurry to get him out that I pushed with each contraction, which in hindsight wasn’t the best idea because my body was doing its job anyway, but I was getting really impatient and just wanted to meet him.
Finally, just after 9am, I felt the burn and within ten minutes his head was out and I reached down and felt the cord around his neck. I told the midwife that I’d felt the cord. Two minutes later, he shot out into the water and the midwife untangled the cord and I brought him to my chest.”
After giving birth to a baby boy with her husband and kids cheering her on, Mindy was then helped out of the pool and onto the bed to have skin-to-skin with her new son, who they named Tommy.
‘A beautiful experience’
“The kids all came over to see their new brother. They were instantly in love – even our eldest that wasn’t happy when she found out she was getting another sibling was so happy to meet him. They still talk about the birth now and I’m actually really glad that they were able to see birth firsthand as such an amazing and beautiful experience.
“My husband took the kids home just before I birthed the placenta because we weren’t sure how they’d go with that bit. Then after just under two hours of skin-to-skin with the baby, the midwives weighed and measured him. He looked so much like my other three children as babies that I just assumed he would be around the same weight, but he was a whopping 4.47kg and I had birthed him with almost no pain!
“Due to his size, he needed to have his blood glucose levels checked a couple of times (I didn’t have Gestational Diabetes, he was just a big baby) so I was given the option of going home and coming back the next morning or staying overnight.
“We opted to stay overnight and went home healthy and happy the following morning.”
Mindy and Mark are now enjoying their life as a family of six with the kids eager to help with their new little brother.
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