Jess gave birth to her second baby Arya Ruby, followed by a physiological third stage in a planned hospital waterbirth.
The hospital where Jess gave birth is located in the north-east region of Victoria in Australia. It has a maternity service that facilitates approximately 1200 births per annum with a level 2 special care nursery. This hospital recently began a Midwifery Group Practice, where eligible women are assigned a primary midwife (and secondary as back up) to provide public patients continuity of care from a known midwife.
(See this link for a summary of 2012 research by La Trobe University in Melbourne regarding effect of continuity of care by known midwife)
Jess says the ‘third stage of labour’ was “discussed at length with my midwives because it was important to me. Both of them were completely supportive of my aim to stay in the bath to deliver the placenta and to wait to cut the cord for as long as it took.”
Birth story with images of cord and placenta
Jess shares her birth story and images captured by friend and photographer Kellie Crosier Photography
Arya Ruby came into the world at 3.59am on Tuesday, September 4th 2012, which was her estimated due date!
I had been having pre-labour pains and contractions since 37 weeks, so by the time Arya’s due date rolled around, I was well and truly ready to have her.
On the Monday morning I was having some sharp pelvic pain and some semi-consistent contractions so I went in and saw my midwife – Leila – so she could check me out. As soon as she had a feel for Arya’s head, she told me that her head wasn’t even engaged despite the fact that it had been the week before, so the pain I was feeling was Arya trying to get her head back in position!
I nearly cried!! I was soooo over being pregnant and running around after my sick 15 month old, I just wanted to have my baby!!
So I went home and told my husband (who had stayed home that day, as he works an hour away and we thought something might be happening) that I was going to try castor oil.
We went and bought some castor oil and I took it at 3.00pm. I had no action until 7.00pm, when I had to go to the bathroom once and that was it, so we sat and watched TV for a while and by 9.00pm I started to have some consistent, strong contractions!
I live 2 minutes from the hospital, and I was always wary of going in too early, and wanted to labour at home for as long as possible anyway, so I went and took a shower then went to bed, because I wanted to make absolutely sure I was in labour (as I’d had so many false alarms!).
By midnight I was about 98% sure I was genuinely in labour, so we called my midwife and let her know (she lived 45 minutes away from the hospital) and I also called my Mum to come and stay with our daughter, Evie.
Mum arrived not long after I called her and by 1.15am my contractions were only a few minutes apart and getting stronger. I was happy to stay home but Mum was anxious for me to go, so we left for hospital!!
Leila arrived at about 2.00am and things were still very calm, I was just breathing through my contractions using the Hypnobirthing breathing techniques, so the room was pretty quiet! Leila ran the bath but asked if she could check me, given that I was still doing pretty well and Arya’s head had not been engaged earlier in the day (she didn’t want me to get into the water too early).
When she checked me, I was surprised to find I was only 4cms, given that I was already 2-3cms a week before and my contractions were feeling quite strong!
When she was checking me, Leila gave me a quick sweep and said she would leave us for a while before I hopped in the bath. I was happy with that because I still felt like I was probably a while off having Arya. Well, within a short period of time (not sure exactly how long) I said to my husband that we needed to get into the bath because things amped up very quickly!!
I was still able to breathe through my contractions , but they were beginning to really hurt, and Leila could tell things were getting a move on rather quickly.
At this stage it was about 3.00am, and Leila told Dave he should probably call our photographer because it seemed like Arya was not too far away. Kellie, our lovely friend and photographer arrived within about 20 minutes and not long after that, I had a great big, involuntary push!
I told Dave and he called out for Leila, saying I wanted to push, to which I apparently replied ” No, my body wants to push, I don’t!!”
After that, things happened very quickly, I had a 9 minute second stage!!
I had maybe one or two more involuntary pushes and Leila got the mirror underneath me and said she could see Arya’s head, and that she had hair! (I was happy!)
I could no longer really breathe through the contractions, I was quite uncomfortable by this stage and was waiting for the ‘ring of fire’ but it never came! I asked Leila if I could push and she said if I felt another contraction, I could breathe her down gently, so I immediately started because it felt like I was having continuous contractions by that stage and she came out almost all in one go, straight after my waters- no one was quite ready for her! My husband was supposed to catch her but it happened so quickly that I caught her myself
After I had caught her, we waited to birth the placenta naturally-which happened very easily after about 15 minutes, and then we just waited for the cord to go white and floppy so my husband could cut it.
One of the coolest things was at one stage I thought the cord was looking quite empty, Leila actually got me to feel the cord so I could see it was still pulsing and suggested we could leave it longer, which was fantastic! It was such a cool thing to feel while it was still connected to Arya.
It was important to me that we waited until the cord had stopped pulsing and was clearly empty of cord blood because I had done quite a bit of research this time around on delayed cord clamping and decided that it was something I really wanted to do.
My midwife also believed in delayed cord clamping so she put the placenta in a dish and sat it on the edge of the bath, above Arya and I so that it had the best effect possible.
I was very happy to have got through the whole labour and birth without any drugs or interventions and it has given me a lot of confidence going into any future births which I hope are all water births with physiological third stage with delayed cord clamping.
All in all, I feel very lucky to have had the birth that I did, not only did it give me a beautiful, healthy little girl but it went exactly how I wished it would and I felt absolutely amazing afterwards.
From the midwife
Leila, a midwife with experience from the UK and Australia, had this to say about her clients birth experience:
It was recently my privilege to attend Jess and Arya’s beautiful, natural birth. Jess had researched her options to have the best possible birth experience, and I was extremely happy to support her in her choices. A birth through water is a very calm entry for a baby, and the only way to further enhance this, is to have a physiological 3rd stage where the cord ceases to pulsate in its own time, and the placenta is birthed by the woman naturally. This ensured that Arya received oxygen continuously whilst she made the transition to breathing for herself, and also received her complete blood supply. It is now widely known, through research, that babies who do not receive their total blood volume are more likely to be anaemic within the first 6 months of life.
I am so pleased that Jess had the birth exactly as she had wanted, and hope that her story encourages more women to realise that they too can have their dream births.
Images of cord and placenta
The following images of Arya’s birth placenta and cord were also taken by Kellie Crosier Photography.
“My midwife was so into it, she was absolutely fantastic, she laid [the placenta] out for Kellie so you can see everything- it looks just like the tree of life and the cord is so nice and clear! The midwife also showed Kellie the inside of the cord and the arteries/vein are clearly visible too.”