Prodromal Labor, Walking Epidural, and Postpartum Anxiety

Originally from Toronto, Canada, Melody and her husband, Brian, were living in San Diego when they decided they wanted to start a family. They chose to move back to Canada to be closer to their families, and they settled in Vancouver. After having trying for a couple of months, Melody found out she was pregnant. She registered with an OBGYN team in Vancouver. Brian was offered a job in Toronto and they decided to take it, as most of their family and friends in Ontario. Melody was working in Vancouver and decided to continue working through her second trimester in order to qualify for maternity and parental leave, so Brian flew back and forth between Toronto and Vancouver during those three months.

In August, at the beginning of her third trimester, Melody flew home to Toronto. She registered with a midwifery practice and never looked back. Her sister gave birth to a baby boy who had to be rushed to SickKids in Toronto due to Coronary Heart Disease that went undiagnosed in pregnancy. He was at SickKids from August until October and Melody spent a lot of time going to the hospital to play with her niece.

This experience sparked anxiety and shaped Melody’s birth plan. She was open to anything, but decided to have a hospital birth, in case anything went wrong. Melody had prodromal labour for 3 weeks before the baby was born. She had two stretch and sweeps – one at 39 weeks and one at 40 weeks.

Finally at 41+2, she went into labor. It was early on a Friday morning and she was in denial over it for most of the day, due to the prodromal labor she’d been getting used to. She took the dog for a walk in the late afternoon and finally decided she was in labor. Her midwife checked her at around 8pm that night and she was at 2.5cm, which was what she had been at during her last stretch and sweep. Contractions were getting very intense and very close together within a couple of hours after her midwife left, and Melody decided she wanted to move to the hospital and get an epidural.

After an interesting ride in a Lyft (that poor man), she was admitted and promptly given a walking epidural at 11:30pm. At 2:30am, her midwife broke her water. At 8:30am, Melody was fully dilated, but her midwife suggested that they wait an hour or so before pushing, to let her body move the baby down on its own.

At 9:30, Melody started pushing, but the baby’s heart rate would go down with every push, so she would push for one contraction and then sway and do deep breathing for two contractions before pushing again. The baby was also stuck coming around the bend, so the midwife brought the OB team in, in case a vacuum assist was required. At this point, about 8 women and Brian were circling Melody, encouraging her to keep pushing, that she could do it without any assistance – it was like having a cheer squad around her.

prodromal labor

At 10:28, their baby was born and immediately brought to Melody’s chest. The midwife asked Brian if it was a boy or a girl and he couldn’t tell because the cord was in the way. So they had to tell him it was a girl. She had a nuchal hand, so the back of her right hand was resting on her cheek, when she was born, which is why she was having difficulty coming out. Melody had a 2nd degree tear that they stitched up. The next couple of hours were peaceful. Melody and Brian chose her name – Lily – and Brian got her dressed. Melody’s dad and sister were both in town so they were able to come to the hospital to meet Lily. Within a couple of hours after the birth, they were home with Lily. 

Postpartum, the first couple of weeks were incredibly difficult. Melody suffered from baby blues in the form of near crippling anxiety. It was terrifying. She spoke with a perinatal psychiatrist – OHIP covers all post-natal therapy for the first year after a baby is born – and also joined a mom group that focused on therapy for anxiety and depression. Luckily, after a few weeks, she started to feel like herself again and things have been looking up every day since then. 

Melody Brownton Bio

Melody lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband, Brian, and their 7-month-old daughter, Lily. She was a digital project manager and is hoping to enter into real estate once the world opens up again. She’s also an avid baker. Her instagram handle is @melodybrownton.

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