After a traumatic birth experience nine years ago at a hospital abroad with her first child, Alicia was determined to have a more positive experience if she ever had another baby.
“I was young and didn’t question anything,” said Alicia who endured a 72-hour labour with her first child Leo. She ended up having a vaginal birth but there were a number of interventions to help deliver Leo.
“I also had a retained placenta and experienced significant haemorrhaging which left me anaemic and struggling to look after my newborn baby, so it was a really difficult time.”
Alicia was determined that her next birth experience would be different and when she and her husband Charles found out they were having a baby, she didn’t hesitate to choose Royal North Shore Hospital (RNSH). Some of her friends had delivered their babies at private hospitals with mixed experiences but Alicia had heard only good things about RNSH.
“I live close to the hospital and have access to great public healthcare, so why would you choose to have a baby anywhere else? I couldn’t see the benefit of having a baby in a private hospital.”
Alicia booked into the RNSH Midwifery Group Program where she met midwife Emily. The Midwifery Group Program guides mothers through the antenatal period, provides continuous care during the course of the pregnancy including the labour, birth and postnatal check-ups.
Alicia explained her first birth experience to Emily who understood her concerns and offered reassurance. While Alicia was getting closer to her due date, she was growing more anxious and she was nervous about what could happen at the birth.
“Emily could see how distressed I was and gave me the option of electing to have a caesarean, providing it was cleared by the senior obstetrician,” said Alicia.
Emily coordinated a meeting with Alicia and the senior obstetrician at RNSH to discuss Alicia’s anxiety, the caesarean procedure in detail and the risks involved with the surgery.
Alicia elected to have her baby via caesarean on 29 December 2022 with Emily by her side.
“I felt empowered that I was in control of how I was going to give birth and Charles was very supportive of my decision.”
“It wasn’t intentional, but when I went into the delivery room, all the healthcare staff were female, even the obstetrician. It was very calm, maternal atmosphere and they even offered to put on my playlist!”
Blue-eyed Florence was safely delivered and weighed in at 3.4kg. “She definitely looks like Charles – I didn’t even get a look in.” “As soon as she was born, I had skin to skin contact and she stayed with me the whole time. In recovery, Florence stayed with me and was never apart from me except for her newborn check-up.”
Leo was born with a tongue-tie so as soon as Florence was born Alicia wanted her to be checked for the condition, however it wasn’t present. Even so, her midwife said she would make sure Alicia saw a lactation consultant to be given the support she needed with breastfeeding.
“Breastfeeding doesn’t come naturally to everyone but having support on hand eased my concerns.”
Alicia and Florence were at RNSH for four nights after the birth which is standard for a caesarean. Florence was in the same room as Alicia however when Florence didn’t settle, the nurses offered to care for her so Alicia could get some sleep.
“The nurses were wonderful. They were always there when I called, and they helped me with breastfeeding or any questions I had. They helped to ease my concerns.”
Emily continued to provide support with postnatal home visits for two weeks. “At the end I was very sad that I wasn’t going to see Emily again.”
Unfortunately, Florence developed a staph infection from neonatal acne soon after.
“When she woke up with a swollen and red eye, I took her to RNSH and they took her straight through and put her on intravenous antibiotics. We couldn’t fault the healthcare staff. The paediatrician who saw Florence was amazing and they all comforted us by taking us through what was happening, so we knew we were in the best hands.”
“I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend RNSH as the hospital to have your baby.”
Florence is now four months old and a very happy baby. She is also adored by her big brother Leo who is obsessed with her. As Alicia describes it, “It’s like she has three parents.”
Alicia had such a positive birth experience at RNSH that she says she would definitely consider having another baby there. “I might text Emily and see if she’s available to be my midwife next time!”