2020 has certainly been a year that no one will forget!
On February 17th, Andrew and I welcomed Claudia Elizabeth Minichiello into the world. Claudia weighed 3.3kg and was 10 days overdue. We were so delighted to become Mum and Dad and knew our lives would never be the same once she arrived. Covid-19 was in the news but fortunately did not impact my antenatal care or childbirth. I would like to extend my thoughts to all those who are/have been impacted by the pandemic whilst pregnant or postnatal.
Our journey to conception
Being a Mother has always been a dream of mine. I couldn’t have been happier with our positive pregnancy test in May 2019. This was following a devastating miscarriage 3 months prior. Our journey to childbirth and parenthood was far from smooth sailing. We underwent nearly 18 months of fertility tests and treatment under Dr Fleur Cattrall at Melbourne IVF. Fleur was an exceptional doctor and I could not recommend her more highly. Here is Fleur’s website: http://drfleurcattrall.com.au
Other than morning sickness and mild fatigue, I was fortunate to have an ‘easy’ pregnancy. I chose to have my antenatal care and delivery at the Royal Women’s Hospital. ‘Shared care’ was offered with my wonderful GP, Dr Sarah Lewis. At a 32 week scan we learned that the baby was breech (head up). At 37 weeks, bub was still comfortable being upside down. I underwent a procedure called an external cephalic version (ECV). This involved two obstetricians manually flipping the baby from the outside. The ECV was certainly uncomfortable but it thankfully worked.
Exercise whilst pregnant
I have always been a keen runner for both my mental wellbeing as well as my physical health. Around 10 weeks pregnant I tried running a few kilometres and was surprised at how uncomfortable it felt. The shortness of breath and extreme lethargy made for a very unpleasant run! I decided to plan a new exercise regime that I could safely continue throughout all three trimesters. I walked daily, did Pilates twice a week and rediscovered my love of the pool. MSAC became my second home and I swam 2-3 times a week. I loved the feeling of being weightless. It was also wonderful having exercise that was gentle yet effective at maintaining my strength and cardiovascular fitness. My delivery
When my due date rolled around (7th February), I did everything possible to induce labour. For instance, hot curry, 100 squats in a row, (not recommended) and raspberry leaf tea to name a few. All to no avail, our baby was way too happy on the inside! I underwent an induction on 16th February. I had a natural childbirth(with forceps and an epidural) the following morning. Andrew and I felt very supported with the wonderful team at RWH. We will forever be grateful for their exceptional care during this special time.
Taking Claudia home
Due to a high number of deliveries, we were discharged the following afternoon. Andrew has never driven so slowly or carefully in his whole life! Nothing could have prepared me for the huge life change (and sleep deprivation) that came following childbirth. We were so lucky to have great support and Andrew was able to take a month off work.
The emotional rollercoaster of becoming a mother
The combination of hormones, sleep deprivation and Covid-19 isolation hit me pretty hard around the 6 week mark. Dr Sarah Lewis diagnosed me with post-natal depression, something I felt deeply shameful about given our journey to conceive. I kept this very close to my chest and only told Andrew of my diagnosis. I sought the help of a wonderful postnatal psychologist, Dr Karola Belton. Karola helped me to navigate the emotional side of motherhood with practical tips and advice. With hindsight now, I will make sure to check in regularly with new parents as a matter of course. A link to Karola’s website can be found here: https://www.antenatalandpostnatalpsychology.com.au/dr-karola-belton.html
All things pelvic floor
With a childbirth that involved forceps delivery, I needed help regaining pelvic floor function. I sought the guidance of a brilliant pelvic physiotherapist, Elizabeth Crisp. Elizabeth discussed the implications of pelvic floor trauma following an instrumental delivery. She developed a program to help the tissues heal as thoroughly as possible. Creating a return to running program was important for my mental health. Elizabeth assisted me with developing this and ensured its safety and efficacy.
Life as a family of 3 (well, 4 including Maggie the dog!)
Claudia is now 7 months old and I am genuinely loving being her Mum. Nothing makes me happier than hearing her laugh. Motherhood is a rollercoaster of emotions, there simply is no sugarcoating it. I urge new mothers to ask for help if they are struggling. It is not a failing to admit you need physical or emotional support. Having a baby has given me a whole new perspective on Physiotherapy. I have a new level of empathy with our postnatal community. Motherhood is a blessing and I am so grateful for the journey I have shared with you.
Yours in health,
You may also find these previous blogs by Sheree or Sally helpful.