Rebekah's Birth Story

fibroid uterus pre-eclampsia pre-term birth Sep 21, 2023

Pre-eclampsia, a fibroid uterus, and a pre-term birth... things were anything but boring for this first-time Mum! 

Rebekah shares so generously the eventful journey to the arrival of her gorgeous little girl. 



Can you tell us a little bit about life 'before' the birth of your baby?


I live on an acreage, in Regional Tasmania, with my husband and various farm animals, and I work as a General Practitioner.

Our pregnancy was planned, and so, armed with my medical knowledge, I had baseline prenatal bloods, made sure my immunisations were up to date, and took prenatal supplements in the lead up.

I have a family history of Pre-eclampsia, so my obstetrician advised I take aspirin from 16 weeks.


Tell us about your pregnancy:


I elected to see my lovely private obstetrician in Launceston, where you give birth as a private patient in the public hospital.

My first trimester went by ok, mild morning sickness and fatigue, however at my 20 week scan I was found to have a fibroid uterus (which means benign tumours grow in the wall of the uterus).

This came as a bit of a surprise! I had never had menstrual issues or pain prenatally.

During pregnancy, these fibroids grew quite large. I could feel one on my left side larger than a golf ball!

And even more concerning - I grew a 17cm cervical fibroid, which resulted in our baby lying transverse, and made it clear a Caesarean section was on the cards.


At 32 weeks, I developed a mild persistent headache, and ended up diagnosing myself with Pre-eclampsia.

I then had a 3 day hospital admission to stabilise my blood pressure with medication.

I also got loaded up with steroids, via two very painful injections into my thighs, to help my daughter's lung development.

I ended up leaving work far earlier than planned, as it became evident I was unlikely to make it to term.


10 days later, after noticing reduced baby movements, we returned to hospital for monitoring. I was found to have very low amniotic fluid (oligohydramnios), a complication of the Pre-eclampsia.

I was admitted for an emergency C section, at 33 weeks plus 5. 


How was your birth?


Due to being premature, and my baby lying transverse, I ended up having a Classical Caesarean (where the incision is made vertically, instead of horizontally).

This means I can't try for VBAC in future pregnancies, due to increased risk of uterine rupture, and it also makes for a bit of a bumpier recovery!




What happened after the birth?


Our daughter was 1.9 kg at birth and born crying, but had to be whisked quickly away to the NICU, so I only briefly got to see her at the time. 

After I was stabilised in recovery, the staff wheeled me down to NICU, where I got to have brief skin-to-skin contact, although I was feeling quite unwell and we couldn't have her out of the humidicrib for long.



Unfortunately several hours post delivery my pain increased and my pre-eclampsia became out of control.

I had to be moved into a different section of the maternity ward and have IV medication to stabilise me. This meant being bed-bound for the first 24 hours post delivery.

Fortunately the paediatric nurses were able to bring my baby down in her humidicrib several times for short visits.




What were some positives about your birth?


No-one plans for an emergency c section, let alone a premature delivery, but I am so grateful that modern medicine allowed for the safe delivery of my baby. My husband and I felt so well supported by the theatre team, midwives, our obstetrician, paediatrician and the paediatric nurses. I also feel my medical background came in handy.


As I'd known I was likely to have a C-section, I had the opportunity in my 2nd trimester to see a Pelvic Floor Physio which I found really helpful. I encourage all my pregnant patients to see a physio during pregnancy!


What was surprising, or negative, about your experience?

It was a bit disheartening to miss out on the "golden hour" with my baby after the delivery, but I could rationalise it given her medical needs. 

Being a moderate preterm baby, she required nasogastric tube feeds for her first 5 weeks, so we didn't get to breastfeed until a lot later on too.


How was your physical recovery?

Physically, my recovery the first week was a bit rocky, with bladder spasm pain, managing pre-eclampsia and trying to get my breastmilk supply established. It was quite an experience getting my colostrum "milked" by the midwives every 3 hours after I first delivered, until I was well enough to express myself!


Hats off to those mums who are up and at it so quickly after a C section, I don't know how they do it!


I was fortunate that my private health insurance allowed me to stay 10 days postnatally, in a private room, for my own recovery and to establish breastmilk supply for my daughter via her NG feeds.


I was lucky to have lots of input from the hospital lactation consultants and the pelvic floor physiotherapist for the 5 weeks post, whilst my daughter remained in the special care nursery. I recognise this is something most mums don't get, which is so unfortunate.


Once I was home, it was quite difficult not being to drive for the first few weeks, and having to rely on others for the 40 minute trip to the hospital each day (each way!)

I recommend other mums who have C-sections to check with their doctor when they are fit to drive - my obstetrician gave me the all clear about a month postnatally.


I have slowly started back up with Pilates at home too, focusing particularly on my pelvic floor and I hope to get back into indoor cycling soon!


What tips would you share with other Mums?


  • Educate yourself about C-sections birth, even if you don't plan to do one. I did a birthing class online which was helpful.


  • Visiting a pelvic floor physio as a preventive measure antenatally if available to you, and certainly postnatally if any concerns.


  • Consider antenatal expressing of colostrum (but check in with your treating team first!). I didn't get the chance to do this as baby came before 36 weeks! 


  • Take your pregnancy pillow into hospital! It will make sleep so much more comfortable, particularly after a C-section


  • Avoid constipation with plenty of fluids, fibre, fruit and gentle exercise postnatally! Leaning forward on the toilet seat in a braced position will things so much easier too!



Thank you SO much Rebekah - your story was packed with so much goodness. I especially loved your helpful tips at the end!



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