Birth Story: Olivia’s ‘incredible’ maternal assisted c-section

Posted in Birth Stories.

Mother holding her baby during a maternal assisted c section

After meeting through mutual friends and falling in love four years ago, Olivia and Ryan quickly knew they wanted to started a family together.

The Adelaide couple now have two young boys – aged just over a year apart – who were both delivered via elective caesarean section.

“We had our first son, Lincoln, in September 2021. He was our rainbow baby, after having an early miscarriage the month prior to conceiving him. Lincoln measured very big throughout the entire pregnancy, to the point where they were questioning my dates. Towards the end of his pregnancy, he was lying transverse and was not budging. I had fortnightly growth scans from 32 weeks and the decision was made to book an elective c-section based on the recommendation from my OB,” Olivia tells Mum’s Grapevine.

“We birthed in the public system in Adelaide through the Women’s and Children’s Hospital – I was lucky enough to be accepted into the Midwifery Group Practice (MGP) program. The elective c-section was a beautiful experience, it was very calm, and the team were wonderful. Lincoln was born a healthy 4.4kgs, and I had my lovely friend as our student midwife there to share the moment with us.”

A happy surprise

Olivia taking a selfie showing her pregnant belly

Just as Olivia, Ryan and Lincoln were settling into being a new family of three, life threw them an unexpected surprise.

“It was a big shock to find out we were pregnant again at 3 months postpartum. I say that he was our very happy surprise! It wasn’t in the original plan to have another baby so soon, but we always wanted more than one child if we would be lucky enough, so we processed the news and excitedly planned for his arrival.

“With both my pregnancies I suffered with Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG); with Lincoln I was vomiting up to 10x a day until 28 weeks and with Teddy it lasted until 20 weeks. I ended up needing IV fluids during Teddy’s pregnancy, but it was a big relief when it subsided at the halfway point of the pregnancy.

“Aside from the HG, it was a very straight-forward pregnancy. Again, I was measuring on the bigger side and given the fact that I had given birth recently, I was booked in for my appointments with an OB. It was discussed fairly early on that I would be having a repeat c section, which I was completely fine with.”

Making a birth plan

While Olivia was happy to have another c-section, she hoped this time would be even more special than the last.

“As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I knew that I wanted a maternal assisted caesarean. I had seen videos of them performed at other hospitals but had heard that the hospital I was birthing at had not performed them. I enquired at the first appointment, and every appointment after that haha. My OB for the appointments was very supportive of the idea, however, it really came down to whichever OB I was booked in with on the day of birth.

Olivia holding her toddler while heavily pregnant.

“I found this second pregnancy a lot more challenging towards the end; I felt exhausted running around after a newly walking 12-month-old and working with children as a speech pathologist. I was so eager for baby to join us! The morning of our scheduled c-section was very relaxed, we felt very confident having been through this only recently and knowing the procedures. The most difficult part was leaving my 12-month-old at home with his grandparents – I had never spent a night away from him. At this stage, I still didn’t know whether I was going to be having a maternal assisted caesarean or not, but I was hopeful knowing the OB who I had been booked in with (he happened to be the same OB who birthed Lincoln and was fantastic).

Squiggly line

When we arrived at the hospital, we were settled into our room and had an hour of down time to ourselves. We took some photos and talked about how we were feeling; excited, eager and nervous. My partner is a very relaxed, go with the flow type of personality so this helped me stay calm. We went through the normal pre-surgery checks and then we’re walked down to the theatres. At this stage, I started to feel very anxious about the spinal block (which I felt prior to the last surgery also), but tried to remember how seamless and pain-free it was last time.
It was during our final check that our OB came in and spoke to us about what was going to happen. He said that he had spoken to the theatre team and that everyone was onboard with going ahead with the maternal assisted cesarean! I cried with happiness, feeling so supported and knowing that I was going to be having some input into the birth.”

An ‘indescribable’ feeling

Olivia helps deliver her baby via c-section

After months of dreaming about having a maternal assisted c-section, Olivia’s worries disappeared as excitement took over.

“When you go into the theatre for a caesarean, it can be overwhelming to see the number of people in the room. I believe there are around 10-12 medical professionals (doctors, midwives, nurses, anaesthetists, paediatricians) all there for you. It was lovely to see a few familiar faces from the last birth, and this instantly put me at ease. The team were very excited to be a part of this procedure as they had never experienced a maternal assisted section before.

Olivia birth placenta in maternal assisted c section

“Again, the spinal block was over before I even knew it was happening and I was soon numb from the chest down. My hands and arms were gloved and sterile, so I was cued to hold my hands together and away from touching anything else (this meant I couldn’t hold Ryan’s hand during the procedure). My OB distracted me with questions about Lincoln and my job, and before I knew it the familiar suctioning sound was heard – this is the sound of them breaking the waters around baby and I knew that he would be only moments away! I’m crying as I write this, reliving the feelings of anticipation to meet my baby.

“The team lowered the drape at this point and talked me through the next few steps. They were going to bring his head and shoulders up and then I would reach down and pull him out and onto my chest. The feeling of doing this was indescribable. I remember feeling so powerful and yet so vulnerable. This was a once in a lifetime experience and I wanted to savour every second. I put my hands under his arms around his chest and pulled him out. He came straight onto my chest and it was one of the best moments of my life. I had no awareness of anything or anyone else around me, just him and I. He took a little time to catch his breath and needed a bit of stimulation but hearing him cry was a beautiful sound. Our Teddy!”

Olivia and Ryan meet their baby for the first time in theatre.

Olivia says she is very grateful to the team of doctors and nurses at the hospital for giving her the opportunity to help deliver her own baby.

“We went through the public system in Adelaide, so I wasn’t sure that they would be able to facilitate a maternal assisted section.

“It was the first one to happen at this hospital, and hopefully will allow other women to have the option going forward! We also happened to get a lotus birth, as my placenta came away as he was coming out, so he stayed attached for longer than would usually be given.”

Olivia in hospital breastfeeding her baby

A challenging recovery

On the 29/09/22, Teddy was born a healthy 4.2kgs — just a tad smaller than his older brother.

“He was very awake and alert for a newborn. We stayed 2 nights in hospital before being discharged. He was feeding well, but I had an inkling that he had some oral ties going on that were impacting his latch. 

“We returned to hospital 5 days after discharge as I was experiencing what I felt to be an abnormal level of pain in my wound. I was unable to walk even a few steps from room to room at home and it felt completely different to my last recovery. At this checkup for myself, the midwife took one look at Teddy’s colour and sent us to the paediatrician where he was confirmed as having jaundice. I wasn’t surprised at this, and had been questioning the visiting midwives about his colour since discharge. My other son had ABO incompatibility (which is where our blood types reacted against each other) and he also ended up being readmitted with jaundice. We spent another 2 nights at hospital for Teddy to receive light therapy before being discharged fully.

Newborn baby Teddy wrapped up

“Adjusting to life as a family of 4 has been surprisingly smooth, which I credit to Teddy’s temperament. He is an extremely chilled baby, and is very placid and easy-going. Lincoln didn’t take too much notice of Teddy for the first few months; I think he was too young himself to really know that Teddy was a permanent addition haha. Teddy did have some oral ties that needed remediating. This helped his latch enormously and we are still breastfeeding 6 months on. The close age gap has definitely added some challenges – there is only 12 months and 2 weeks between the boys, so essentially they’re both ‘babies’, just at different stages.

“Now that Teddy is 6 months and Lincoln 18 months, their relationship is blooming and Lincoln is showing a lot of loving interest in him.”

Olivia and her family with two boys under two

While it’s never easy parenting two under two, Olivia and Ryan are absolutely loving watching their boys beginning to form a lifelong bond with each other.

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