Mother of two, Brittany Darling, talks to Vida Glow about her experience during pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding and beyond.
I'm going to give it to you straight. I didn't have the easiest time with my babies. I didn't have Post Natal Depression but at times, I was probably on the fence. I had lots of support from my husband, sister, parents and in laws and this is what got me though. Looking back I wish I wasn't so hard on myself, stressed out and just enjoyed being in the moment.
My first experience of childbirth was intense, to say the least. I had done Juju Sundin's birthing course and I had a very clear and simple natural birth plan. Juju is a physiotherapist that specialised in active labour and pain management. She was a great teacher and her book Birth Skills was a great resource. I used her skills in the birth of my second baby as my first labour was more complicated.
The first stage of labour stated around midnight. I just suddenly woke up with period type pain. The pain very quickly got worse so I got into a hot bath. After topping up the bath with hot water maybe 4-5 times, I had lost count of how frequently my contractions were and I couldn't even grasp the idea of getting dressed and walking to the car to get the the hospital. By this stage, I couldn't even stand up right. My husband dressed me and did his best attempt of carrying me to the car. I really should have gone to the hospital much earlier. We arrived at the hospital safely and my husband didn't get lost. This was my greatest fear at the time! We settled into the delivery suite and I tried to put all my "birth skills" into action. I was really not coping with the pain, particularly in my lower back and had gone very primal, making noises that I will unfortunately never forget. I had completely lost control of the pain and it had defeated me. I was very quickly offered lots of help and pain relief options from a handful of midwives. I think my noises were scaring the ladies in the neighbouring rooms. Essential oils were not going to cut it, I decided to have an epidural with self administering top ups. After having the epidural, I lay in bed watching Sunrise on TV. I felt the pressure on my tail bone again, I was ready to push. I hadn't topped up my pain relief for about an hour so I had a reasonable amount of sensation and could assist with pushing. This final stage was the easiest. Out came Leonard, who was absolutely perfect and weighed 3.5 kg.
I won't go into too much detail about the birth of my second child, but let's just say it was so much easier. I went to the hospital pretty much as soon as my contractions started, conveniently after dinner. Clementine was 2.5kg and looked like a baby Tony Soprano (she's gorgeous now).
Breastfeeding my first baby Leonard was tricky. By the second day I had very sore cracked and bleeding nipples. The midwives suggested I "express and rest". Which basically means you pump every feed and bottle feed the baby the expressed milk so your nipples can heal. He had a few formula feeds in the hospital as he had dropped a little too much weight. Once my nipples had healed, I continued breastfeeding using silicone nipple shields.
We got Leonard home and by the second week, I wanted him back inside me! He was a very unsettled baby and would vomit a lot. He would cry pretty much 24/7. He would fall asleep for 20 minutes at a time then wake up screaming again. Long story short, after seeing a handful of specialist he was diagnosed with a dairy allergy of some kind (possibly anaphylaxis). We didn't get the complete clear diagnosis until we met with a friend of a friend, Dr Sam Mehr, a paediatric allergist (in Sydney), when Leonard was about 9 months old. He diagnosed Leonard with FPIES (food protein induced enterocolitis). It's not an allergy, but a gut mediated relation to food proteins (Leonard's was casein). It explained all his symptoms, unsettledness, bouts of extreme vomiting and a couple of emergency hospital visits. We was to be dairy free and breastfeed until his allergy challenge at 15 months old. Fortunately, I knew a lot about healing the gut. Leonard was a frequent drinker of bone broths and took a handful of supplements including a probiotic (dairy free). By 15 months, he no longer had FPIES which was a miracle as most children don't grown out of it until they are 2 to 3 years old.
Sleep was another roller coaster ride we went on with Leonard. In the early days he was unsettled and colicky. He was waking every 2 - 3 hours at night. I would go to his room and breastfeed him back to sleep. I was so exhausted. I was desperate for a good nights sleep. At one point I considered throwing myself down the stairs so I could spend the night in hospital (crazy I know). By the time he was 12 months old, I was pregnant again! The fatigue was bad but the nausea was worse and we decided to call in a "baby whisperer". We used Jo Ryan from Baby Bliss. Within 3 nights he was sleeping and has slept almost every night since. Clementine was a good sleeper. We went though a rough few months with her but nothing compared to Leonard. I was stricter with sleep routines with her and wasn't as paranoid as I was previously. If you are having trouble with your babies sleep, I urge you to get help. Sleep deprivation has a massive impact on your health and mental ability.
My children are now aged 3 and 18 months. I feel sad there is no longer a baby in the house to cuddle but I look forward to cuddling my nieces', nephews' and friends babies in the future!
If you are interested in consulting with Brittany or have any questions, you can reach her at email@example.com