Age at interview: 40
Background: Beth and her partner have two children, aged 5 and 3. They live in a regional town. Beth is a report writer and is from an Anglo-Australian background.
Beth had many difficulties after the birth of her first child due to breastfeeding problems, her baby's sleep problems, isolation, and conflict with her partner. She found parenting easier after her second child was born.
More about Beth
Beth was in her early 30s when she and her partner began to think about having a baby. She said before this she had not been interested in having children, and described her change of mind as the result of an 'unspoken biological urge'.
At the time Beth and her partner lived on a large and isolated farm. Beth said her 'whole world just tilted' when she found out she was pregnant. Although she felt 'no connection' to her baby during the pregnancy, she enjoyed reading about pregnancy, labour and birth, feeling that 'knowledge is power'. Her local GP provided antenatal care, and Beth decided she wanted a 'drug-free water birth' at a birth centre with a doula present.
Beth's daughter's birth went to plan. She said although the midwives told her she'd had an 'amazing birth', she felt as if she'd 'been in a traffic accident' and would never forget how hard it was. Beth was critical of the midwives at the birthing centre for injecting her with oxytocin (PITOCIN) to deliver the placenta, and the nurses for persuading her to wake her baby for feeds on her first night.
Beth described having 'a lot of difficulty' with breastfeeding due to an oversupply of milk. Partly due to feeding issues, Beth's baby didn't sleep well. She co-slept with her baby and said she and her partner became 'complete zombies' due to her daughter's frequent waking.
Tiredness made resuming part-time work very difficult for Beth. Her baby also 'hated' being in the car, which added to their isolation. Beth said she 'was desperate' to find somebody in her situation. Although her partner was supportive and involved, Beth said that starting a family was 'like a bomb going off' and they experienced a lot of conflict.
Beth's maternal and child health nurse and GP both suggested she might have postnatal depression, but Beth thought what she was experiencing was 'quite normal'. She said she only realised later that not all babies were as wakeful as hers. She said she found support from friends, a natural parenting playgroup, and blogging about her experiences.
When her first child was 2, Beth became pregnant again. She described feeling exhausted during this pregnancy, and experienced severe back pain. Although Beth was disappointed she couldn't have a home birth as she was outside the hospital's catchment region, in the end she gave birth in the car on the way to hospital. Her baby was 'fine' and Beth said she was 'thrilled' with this experience.
Beth described her second child as her 'healing baby' and said she learnt from her previous experiences. Having moved closer to shops and services, Beth also felt she was in a 'more supportive environment'. She co-slept with her second baby and found this the best way to cope with her baby's night waking.
Beth advised expecting parents to read about different parenting approaches and the impact a baby can have on a relationship. She also said meeting other new parents might be helpful.