“I got my VBAC!”

The trials and triumphs of one of my beautiful Mama clients. She had a hope, a desire, a plan of action and the tenacity to pull it all together.

Her story, her words.

Jan 2018 induced at 40 weeks due to high BP, very unfavourable cervix. Basically tried all induction methods, cascade of interventions including early epidural ending in emergency caesarean. Had a panic attack during the operation, went into shock and then they couldn’t get on top of my pain so was given morphine which completely zonked me out.
All in all terrible experience.

This time I was all the more desperate for a VBAC, I so wanted to know what it felt like to go into natural labour and be able to labour at home. I took out private health insurance and chose a hospital with a team of 4 obstetricians. From the beginning I could tell some were more VBAC supportive than others but ultimately they all agreed to my wishes, the main one being to be left alone until 42 weeks. Their policy was not to induce but to go straight to c-section if I got past this point. With my experience with induction from last time I was ok with that.

I enlisted a Doula, completed a hypnobirthing course, had acupuncture, chiro and osteo, took raspberry leaf capsules and diffused clary sage from 40 weeks. I was prepared ?

Throughout my pregnancy (and with the covid19 restrictions in force) we had regular zoom meetings with my doula where we worked through my issues and fears from my first pregnancy and birth which really helped me make decisions during this pregnancy and birth that weren’t influenced by fear.

My whole pregnancy was low risk and uneventful and generally a lot more comfortable than my first. I made it to 41 weeks before the tricky conversations started.

I saw one of my favourite OBs and she informed me bubs was posterior for the first time with a deflexed head. She was getting uncomfortable with me being past 41 weeks and wanted to book me in for a c-section. Although she was fine with me saying I still wanted to wait until 42 weeks, she made it very clear she didn’t think I was going to go into labour naturally. I was shattered, especially given I thought she was one of the more supportive OBs of the group. My c-section was booked for 42 weeks and for the first time I started to really lose hope.

That afternoon I had an appointment with my amazing chiropractor and she filled me up with positivity again and directed me to practice spinning babies techniques and do absolutely no lounging back. She also suggested I double my raspberry leaf intake.

The next day I spent pretty much the whole day on my hands & knees or doing hip circles on the fit ball. I also did an inversion and went for a walk on the beach. That night I noticed my tummy was tighter again and thought baby may have moved around.

I got hubby to do a clary sage massage, had sex and went to bed when I started having tightenings from midnight about 10 mins apart. This happened a couple of weeks before and they fizzled out so I was trying not to get my hopes up, but once the sun came up, they started getting closer together and more intense. I called my doula to come over around 11am and she helped put to practice all the techniques we had been discussing and learned through hypnobirthing. The tens machine, fit ball and rebozos were my most used tools. I managed to labour at home until about 3:30pm when I could no longer cope with the surges – I originally had wanted to rock up to hospital at 10cm ready to push but natural labour was tougher than I thought ? 

Working together using the rebozo, TENS machine and hypnobirthing breathing techniques

[ This is where I had to leave this beautiful couple; due to the covid restrictions still in place, once the security guard had got us through all the doors to the birth suite, it was time for me to say goodbye. As hard as it was to depart mid-labour, I knew she had this. She had worked so hard and so beautifully and she was ready to make any decision necessary to achieve a positive outcome. ]

After a hellish 15 min car trip we arrived at hospital and I got straight on the gas. I agreed to an exam and I was only 3cm dilated so I requested an epidural which I was previously 100% against- even had it in my birth plan. I was so scared it would slow or stall my labour but my obstetrician (favourite one!) seemed very confident this show was on the road and thought an epidural was a great idea. At this point I was barely getting a break between contractions and they were SO INTENSE!!

The feeling of relief and being able to have a rest after the epi was amazing. It was self dosing so I used it super sparingly and was still able to feel my contractions. My amazing midwife helped me move into different positions. 2 hours after the epidural I had another exam and was stoked to discover I was 8cm (I never made it past 4cm with my first). At this point he broke my waters which had meconium.

Two hours later baby’s heart rate was getting high. OB completed another exam and found I was fully dilated but was he pretty anxious about getting bub out ASAP. He said bub was not quite completely turned and was still facing slightly to the side so he used forceps to turn her a tiny bit, no episiotomy needed. He then removed the forceps and I pushed her out over two or three contractions! We didn’t know what we were having and I was so shocked it was a girl!! 

I was given immediate skin to skin and reminded them I wanted delayed cord clamping while I received stitches for a minor tear (bubs head was 36.5cm – smaller than her brothers but still big!!). She was quite mucousy from the meconium and the peadiatrician was going to take her to suck out her nose and mouth (which would have meant cutting the cord) so I asked him if he could do it on me. He said he’d never done it before but managed to get the tube to reach and made it work ?

We ended up having uninterrupted skin to skin for 3 hours, we didn’t know what she weighed and hubby didn’t even get a hold in that time ?

My whole birth plan went completely out the window but I ended up with the most positive, empowering experience and I just can’t believe I did it!

I got my VBAC!

Especially after feeling so dejected on Monday. I feel so lucky to have found the VBAC support page on Facebook where I started educating and inspiring myself before I even conceived my babe. So very grateful to the amazing team I had backing me up and believing in me the whole time – all of them messaging me after hours and even making house calls post-birth:

Beth McDonald- Popbellies Doula

Carrie Nisbit- osteo, bump & bub health Hub

Hannah Watson – Acupuncture Wellness Co

Rosie Fitzclarence- Geelong Born Hypnobirthing

Kaitlyn – Pioneer Chiropractic

Lindsay Ingleton – Naturopath

And last but not least the amazing Dr Michael Shembrey who remained so respectful of my birth preferences even when most of it was going out the window and my amazing midwife Meg who supported me through the second half of my labour & birth and was just so caring! Epworth Geelong ???

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