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Mother of One | Emergency C Section HELLP Syndrome

Jahna has recently joined our Forget Me Not Journals team and we took the time to ask her some questions about her family and journey to delivering her gorgeous little boy, Benji. Her story may be of particular interest to those with HELLP syndrome, which affects less than 1% of pregnant women.

Tell me a little bit about you I am a mother of one, a content creator @jahna_barraclough in my spare time and as of recently part of the team here with Megan. I live in Auckland with my partner Chad, and our little boy Benji who is 2 years and 3 months old (I hate the terms 27 months… it confuses me)! I am European, my father was adopted so I am not sure on his side, and Chad is Maori.


Chad and I met when he owned a beer company and needed a promoter for the Auckland taste festival. His sister in law at the time was an old friend of mine and reached out to see if I was available for the weekend which I was. Chad and I had a really great connection when we met but stayed friends for about 6 months before dating.

We spoke about children very early into dating before we made our relationship official as Chad is a bit older and that was one of his biggest concerns. I, myself am quite an old soul and have always been very independent so I always knew I wanted to have children in my 20’s.


I found out I was pregnant with Benji very early on. I just knew my body felt different. I actually went to the dr’s for a visit to check when Benji would have only been concieved a few weeks prior and the test came back negative where the nurse actually laughed and said there was NO WAY I was pregnant. A few weeks after this, I took an at home test again one morning where almost straight away appeared two bright pink lines. By this time I was only 4 weeks along. Crazy how you just know, right?

I had such a mix of emotions when I saw the test. I was excited, nervous, a little bit scared….. but also sooooo impatient to tell Chad the news.

He was over the moon. I actually recorded the moment I announced it to him that afternoon after I found out. My phone was propped up on the window, I had a basket of baby things including a giant toy, romper and socks that said (I love dad) and the positive test. When he saw it there were instant tears for us both.

Who was the first person you told apart from your partner when you found out you were expecting? I think I text my best friend Chrystal. But we told Chad’s parents that night together after dinner. We went out and purchased little t-shirts that said grandma and grandad. They took a while to catch on but finally realized and there were screams of excitement since this was their first grandchild.

Did you experience morning sickness? I have no idea why it’s called morning sickness, because I was sick all of the time. I remember throwing up at work during the day, having a bucket next to me at dinner time… it was not fun!

What cravings did you have? My cravings changed often. I remember a whole week, I wanted cheese on everything. I mean everything, and A LOT of it haha! Then one day Chad made me dinner (pilled with cheese of course) and I looked at him in disgust saying “I don’t like cheese anymore”. He was so mad! I also loved Shweppes lemonade and juicies toward the last trimester as it was right in the heat of summer.

Did you have a birthing plan? No, I didn’t want to make a plan and then possibly be let down if I wanted anything to go a specific way. I stayed very open to all options.

What city/country was your child/ren born in? Auckland, NZ.

What did you pack in your hospital bag?

3 top items

  1. Breast pump
  2. Nightie/floaty clothing
  3. Adult nappies (highly recommend these, they also sit nice and high over c-section scars)

3 items that were a waste of time/unecessary

  1. Hair care (I just kept my hair up, you honestly don’t care after being so exhausted)
  2. Toys
  3. Dressy clothes, don’t do it. Comfort is key

How did you deliver?

I had an emergency C-section. We went to a clinic for a checkup to see if we should have a induction. They checked my blood pressure and then re checked and rushed us to hospital, I had no idea what was going on and we weren’t aloud to go home first to get our bags. They monitored me and found I had something called HELLP Syndrome. Something I had never heard of before. HELLP syndrome is a rare disorder, affecting less than 1 percent of all pregnancies. However, it is a major health concern and can be life-threatening to both the mother and the unborn baby. They told me later on after I got rushed for a c-section and once Benji was delivered that if I didn’t go into the clinic that day, I wouldn’t have been so lucky and it would have been fatal for me and my baby. This was scary and has been something I have wanted to bring awareness to for a while in the case where I could help another parent avoid this.

What feelings did you have with a c-section? It was hard not being able to do the first nappy changes, walking around to soothe my newborn and just doing everything Chad could do while I was bed ridden. Also, for a while after having Benji I became conscious of my scar, but in no time it heeled and it’s so low that you can’t see it over my underwear. There are days were I am more conscious than others with this, as well as my stretch marks which is normal, but I am just grateful my boy was delivered safely.

What was your recovery like? The first few days were really difficult and I was in a lot of pain. But I am a fighter and pushed through as mother’s do. I think it is important to rest when you can, easier said than done in my experience. I had a lot of family around helping, my mum delivered lots of food and snacks and stayed overnight with me in the maternity ward since men aren’t aloud in the ward overnight in the hospital where I birthed Benji. Chad was a great cheerleader and encouraged me to become stronger to walk again. I loved the positivity.

Baby’s Arrival

I had benji just before the big lockdown so I had about a month of visitors before we went into level 4. I had mixed emotions with this but I think lockdown was a blessing in disguise in some aspects as it allowed us a breather to all get to know eachother.

I honestly think next time we have another baby, I will say no to visitors for a few weeks because it get’s very overwhelming having every single friend and family member wanting to visit and I was already so tired and navigating having a new baby. I love having close family visiting but it’s a good idea to give a clear boundary to everyone else. Don’t feel guilty for this, they’ll understand.

Did you feel pressured by anybody to see the baby? I felt extremely pressured and honestly exhausted. I felt like I had to keep up appearances for guests and to be very open, I was not 100% present. It’s lovely having your friends and family over to meet your newborn, but as exciting as it is for everyone else you need to put yourself first.

Advice to new parents

My main advice is, everyone will jump at you to give you all the tips and tricks, advice. But every baby and parent is different. Take bits from people and what works, works. What doesn’t, doesn’t. Also don’t be afraid to stand your ground. I was bad at this and had strangers picking Benji up and kissing his head…. I had no idea what to do or say but it made me feel extremely uncomfortable. Looking back now, that is your baby and you have every right to pull someone up about something. Be the mumma bear you are!

One last thing, enjoy the little things. Time really does fly!

Adapting F45 while Pregnant (and Returning Postpartum)

It’s only now that I look back on my pregnancy, labour, and – perhaps most especially – the ‘fourth trimester’ (three months postpartum) that I truly appreciate how staying fit and healthy helped me along that journey. I’ve had a lot of messages on my personal instagram about how I ‘bounced back’ so quickly, and a continuation of messages about my journey with F45 while pregnant, as well as the choice to return to exercise just a few weeks after having Teddy.

I should start by saying, I did not experience severe morning sickness during my first trimester, but I was completely and utterly exhausted from the sixth week of pregnancy, right the way through to the 41st. From around the 25th week, I also experienced severe Sacroiliac (SI) joint pain pain and saw a physio once a week. I was still able to exercise, in some way, almost every day of my pregnancy, and was at F45 right until the day I went into labour.

I hope you find this article useful! Have a look at made with love – pregnancy journal before you go.

I’ve detailed my first and second trimesters at F45 earlier, so this will focus on the third and ‘fourth’ trimesters. I’m sure a lot of people will say that I did too much, or returned too early (I am sure of this because they message me to tell me…). I know I found it all a lot ‘easier’ than any other article on pregnancy or postpartum fitness would have me believe it was. This is the main reason for sharing my own fitness and F45 pregnancy/postpartum journey online – to dispel the idea (and fear) that it’s impossible.

I don’t know why I found it easier. Every body is different, but I certainly don’t think mine has any super powers over any other. Sometimes, I think those who find it ‘easy’ are afraid to say so, for fear of judgment, being accused of showing off, or making others (those who don’t find it easy) uncomfortable. Well, I’m willing to take those risks, to continue to be honest about my journey, and I hope it will encourage others to do the same. Fitness has always been part of my life, and in the past I’ve even over-done it, so during my pregnancy and postpartum journey, I was really mindful of my body’s limitations and the health of my baby, while also feeling amazing, fit and strong. If you’re exercising well into your second and third trimester, make sure to also look at Best Maternity Pants and Pregnancy Clothing – it made such a difference to me staying comfortable while exercising.

Third Trimester: F45 Adaptations, and lots and lots of walking…

I think it’s important, no matter what stage of your pregnancy (or postpartum) you are at, to remember the ‘why’ rather than just the ‘how’. In my humble opinion, it’s not just about how to adapt an F45 workout, or whatever exercise you are doing, to suit your body’s current capabilities, but also why you are making those changes, and of coursewhy you are continuing to exercise at all.

Certainly, during pregnancy, and especially during your third trimester, you’re not likely to be trying to increase your ‘personal best’, get fitter, faster or stronger. You’re not trying to lose weight or even tone up. My mindset had to completely change during pregnancy – I needed to stop being competitive (with myself or others) and completely surrender my body to the changes it needed to make. Instead, I wanted to allow my body to stay as fit and strong as it possibly could, while growing another little person inside it.

In my third trimester, this was especially so, because that little person was no longer feeling so little. My husband is 6’4 and I’m only 5’5, and as our midwife told us all along, we had quite a tall baby on board. I’d already reduced the intensity of my exercise significantly (goodbye box-jumps and burpees!), stopped anything with a falling risk (i.e. assisted pull-ups) and stopped lying on my stomach (obviously!) but the third trimester also saw me slow right down when it came to any cardio exercise. During my second trimester I was still able to do 9 cardio classes and 15 ‘mixed’ strength/cardio classes over the three months. During my third trimester I did almost no cardio classes, and the mixed strength/cardio classes I did do, I adapted so that they were almost completely strength based.

On the mixed days I would substitute exercises such as box jumps for step ups, and jumping lunges for plié lunges. Burpees became burpee walk-outs, and any running or jumping became resistant band lateral walks or wall sits. Late in pregnancy it is also advisable not to spend too long lying on your back, so I would also modify any of those exercises . At 31 weeks pregnant I filmed my entire work out and saved it to my baby on board highlight on Instagram so have a look at that here (it’s around half way through the highlight).

Weight wise: during my third trimester, quite honestly I felt so sick eating any more than half of a meal, or eating any fatty food. This, combined with my continued F45 journey actually resulted in me putting on no more weight than I had by the end of the second trimester. I kept asking my midwife whether that was okay and she assured me that it was.

Obviously my baby was going to weigh a lot less than 10 kg, which I had already gained, so she wasn’t at all worried that I wasn’t getting any heavier. The bump did continue to grow a little.

If you did have a look at my story highlight above, you’ll be able to see how big my bump was right at the end, as I pulled up my maternity activewear over the huge sphere. That was almost 41 weeks pregnant. I went into labour later that day.

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Happy due date baby, feel free to join us at your own convenience… ⌛️??????? #40weekspregnant

A post shared by Megan Hutchison ? (@meghutchison_) on

As well as continuing to enjoy F45 right until the end of that last week, we also went on lots and lots of walks – especially as I heard that they could help to induce labour when your body was ready. Apparently mine wasn’t, as even five days of acupuncture in the last week seemed to have no effect on my body. However, of course, when Teddy was well and ready he made it known he was ready to come out.

I can’t say for sure whether my level of fitness had any bearing on my birth, but I do like to think that it did help me to maintain the stamina and strength it takes to push a baby out, especially after hours and hours of intense and regular contractions.

The Fourth Trimester

I don’t miss my pregnancy at all… how could I miss having Teddy on the inside when I love him so much on the outside? However, I do already miss the ‘fourth trimester’ and we’re only just out of it. The fourth trimester describes a time when your baby is adjusting to their time outside the womb – and as a Mother you’re still adjusting to that too. I spent most of the fourth trimester holding, carrying or ‘wearing’ my baby, and indulging in letting him feed to sleep, or just fall asleep on me. I risked making a ‘rod for my own back’ by teaching him ‘bad’ habits, but it was worth it to enjoy every moment (and he’s since learned to self-settle and re-settle, so I think we are okay – touch wood).

The only time I actually took away from Teddy was to go to F45. It’s four minutes’ drive from my house, so it was less than an hour away, and usually when he was asleep. Many people (perhaps even many of you) will say that I was in too much of a hurry to return – doing so at four weeks postpartum – but I took professional advice and I know my body was ready. If you want to message me for a women’s health physio recommendation, I’m happy to help.

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Finishing off this morning’s workout with a little “body weight” exercise ????

A post shared by Megan Hutchison ? (@meghutchison_) on

Before recommencing exercise I saw a women’s health physio, and also spoke to my midwife, and felt very comfortable with my decision. That didn’t stop the warnings from others (unqualified others, might I add) – telling me I’d wreck my pelvic floor, if not do other damage to my body by returning to exercise. Well… he’s 18 weeks now, I haven’t peed myself yet, and so far everything else is working okay. I could feel a small gap in my abs (diastasis recti), or what was left of my ‘abs’, but that seems to have completely healed.

My current exercise looks like this most weeks:

1 x f45 cardio
2 x f45 strength
1 x f45 mixed (‘Hollywood’)
3-4 x outdoor walks with the dogs

I eased my way into it – I wasn’t doing any box jumps my first week back, that’s for sure, but after about four weeks (so, eight weeks postpartum) I felt totally back to ‘normal’ and was able to participate in all workouts, albeit possibly with a little less gusto than I used to. I definitely started off a lot less fit, but that was totally expected after a year without much cardio exercise. However, it was definitely a lot ‘easier’ than any article on postpartum fitness would have me believe. This was also the case for my pregnancy exercise, and the main reason for sharing my own fitness and F45 pregnancy journey online – to dispel the idea that it’s impossible.

I don’t know why I found it easier. Every body is different, but I certainly don’t think mine has any super powers over any other. Fitness has always been part of my life, and in the past I’ve even over-done it, so during my pregnancy and postpartum journey, I was really mindful of this, and I know I’ve done the right thing for me. I’m writing this to answer questions which are asked of me all the time, but I would never advise anyone to just blindly follow what I did. There are many specialised personal trainers and physiotherapists who can give you specific advice and let you know whether you can follow a similar pregnancy or postpartum fitness regime.

I hope you found this article useful! Please have a look at made with love – pregnancy journal.