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Birth Stories, Next Birth After Trauma

Thanks to ABTA, I was able to get the support I needed – Penny’s postnatal mental health journey

Penny after giving birth to her daughter Paige ABTA helped her deal with her birth trauma.

At the delivery of my second daughter Paige Abbigale, after a very quick induction due to my gestational diabetes at 38+3 weeks, we were faced with an umbilical cord prolapse, which turned into a medical emergency with both my life and the life of my daughter in the hands of my OBGYN. One minute I was going to be rushed for an emergency C-section, but no time, I had to push. All I remember is the room filling with people. I kept asking if my baby was okay, and no one gave me an answer. When she was delivered she was blue and not breathing, and she was rushed over to the incubator. I was told we would have to be taken to the Royal Women and Children’s Hospital in Brisbane as they felt she may have been without oxygen for some time and may need special treatment to preserve any brain injury. I just remember lying there being stitched up, and just thinking we just have to do what we can and that everything will be okay. I prayed and prayed. I remember the look on my poor husband’s face, horrified at what had just happened and what we may face now. I also remember asking my midwife to call my mum, as I needed her, I was scared.

Fast forward about two hours, Paige was in the special care nursery. She was her mother’s daugher, she was a strong fighter too… Her Apgar score, which was not so good at birth, improved, and as her vitals stabilized I was able to go and hold her for the first time.. Our pediatrics doctor said we weren’t out of the woods yet, but if she kept improving we might be able not to have to go to Brisbane. I sat with my little Paige (2.8kg) in my arms, with all the cords dangled around us, for hours. I just held her, and just loved her.. Six hours later she was doing better. I remember feeding her on and off, trying to get as much colostrum into her as possible. She was so small, but mighty!!

After many tests, brain scans, hearing tests, blood tests, she was diagnosed with mild hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), which would mean monthly check ins with doctors, physios, for the first six months of her life. But, by some miracle, we were given the all-clear and we were both discharged from hospital four days later. I was so, so blessed to be going home with my girl.. Still in shock of what happened, but being the strong person I was, I just put all the energy I had into Paige and into giving her all the things she needed to thrive!!

About a week into being home, my mental health took a turn, although I was surrounded by family, lots of love and their support. I still felt in shock about we went though, and didn’t understand why or how. So, scrolling the internet at the wee hours of the morning, in-between feeds, I found the Australasian Birth Trauma Association – ABTA. I am so thankful I did, as in the moments of dispair and feeling so alone with my newborn, I was able read about birth trauma, and understand my birth experience more. I was able to talk through my thoughts, questions, and fears, I was able to get the support I needed. I knew I was not alone..

So many women face and experience birth trauma and find it hard to relive, talk, share or seek the help they need. We need to change the way birth trauma is talked about. We need to change the way women are left feeling after the fact. And, even though 16 months later it still brings me to tears to think about it, I am speaking up to help other women know it’s okay not to be okay, and to speak up and share!

Healthy and happy Paige (19 months old)after a stay in NICU

Paige is also now almost 19 months old and is so sweet, cheeky and sassy as ever! She has had regular checkups in her first year of life and is happy and healthy, a beautiful little soul.

A big thank you also to Buderim Private Hospital – the staff were so so amazing. And Dr George Bogiatzis who is THE best OBGYN in Australia.

If you or a love one need support, there is help available.



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