In this post, Madeleine shares her experience of pregnancy and birth after birth trauma, during the Covid-19 pandemic.
If you are seeking support after experiencing birth-related trauma, you may wish to contact our peer support service.
In this post, Madeleine shares her experience of birth after birth trauma and having a positive caesarean section during COVID-19.
I’m a 28 year old registered nurse working in an acute area in a regional city. I had my first baby 2 years ago it was a traumatic vacuum and forceps delivery which has left me with significant damage to my pelvic floor and my mental health.
When I first found out I was pregnant with number 2 I was terrified. Terrified of ending up in a situation like my first birth. I had meetings will almost every obstetrician in town and found the most caring and respectful doctor. He supported me in having an elective c section where I could have skin to skin in the theatre, delayed cord clamping, pick my anaesthetic team and most importantly I would be in control. I finally felt like I was going to get the birth we needed.
Then whispers of covid started making their way to our small town. We were fitting staff members for masks, there was fear of ventilator shortages, we were rationing masks, and there was talk of turning our anaesthetic machines into ventilations for when we ran out. We were preparing for a storm that never quite made it to our little town. I was terrified of catching covid and passing it along to my little family and new baby. The hospital I was due to give birth at was the nominated “clean” hospital for the town which meant if I did get covid I wouldn’t get the doctor or birth I had worked so hard in advocating to get!
I ended up on stress leave. I was 33 weeks pregnant and My post natal depression and PTSD were impacting my life significantly and I ended up on 2 weeks of stress leave to try and get myself back together. While on stress leave the elective surgeries were banned and myself and all my colleagues were stood down from work without pay to wait until we were called on to work with covid patients. I was terrified and not well so my husband and I decided it was best for me to start my maternity leave 2 months early and stay home and try and stay safe and work on my mental health.
I had my baby at the end of May in the most beautiful c section. I got delayed cord clamping where my doctor “Milked” the cord to help give her that important extra blood and she went straight from my belly onto my chest. the birth was a very healing experience and I am so glad I got to have this special experience in the middle of a pandemic. Because we were still under restrictions I was only allowed my husband at the hospital and my toddler, parents and family were not allowed to visit. We FaceTimed but leaving my toddler and not being able to see him or for him to have that moment of meeting his new sister at the hospital has been one of the harder things to deal with. When we came home from hospital it’s so different from my experience with my first. I’m afraid to let people hold my baby. There is less visits from family and friends, Less cuddles, less presents and it feels like we have had this new little baby and then been forgotten about.
My new baby like my first had to have a quick lazer procedure to help us breastfeed properly. We traveled to Brisbane to have that done and we were lucky that this was our second baby and I had successfully breastfed before because I cannot imagine having to go through that without the knowledge I had gained from all the support with my first baby. I was terrified that we would catch covid walking through the city to the appointment. I was so afraid that I was exposing this tiny perfect creature in my arms to the potential of getting sick.
When my baby was 3 months old I developed mastitis. I had my first appointment to diagnose it over the phone and my husband got a script from the chemist for me. But when I got sicker I was afraid to go to emergency and ended up at an after hours Gp where the receptionist questioned me trying to make sure I was sick enough to get an in person visit. We went all wearing masks and I was given the choice to get more antibiotics at home or go to hospital and get iv antibiotics without the support of my husband or being able to see my toddler. I rode it out at home and it was hard but I didn’t want to be alone, unwell and in hospital with my new baby without my family support. Having a baby during the pandemic has been frightening and incredibly hard but I’m lucky that the c section has enormously helped my mental state and I’m so unbelievably thankful that I found an obstetrician that helped me and my family to advocate for ourselves and get the birth experience we wanted. It’s amazing that how much better out experience this time has been just by getting a better start!
If you would like to connect with a mum who has experienced birth trauma, please contact our Peer2Peer Support service to connect with one of our Peer Mentors.