I decided for the birth of my second child that I really wanted the chance to have a vaginal birth after having to have an elective Caesarean for my first child; this was due to a low lying placenta (placenta previa). I knew then my wish to have a vaginal birth became extremely limited and prepared myself for the Caesarean.
A friend of mine invited me to a meeting run by the Central Coast Maternity Coalition where women shared their birth stories and one women spoke of her VBAC experience at John Hunter Hospital. It was there that a midwife recommended John Hunter Hospital if I wanted to try for a VBAC.
I made a few phone calls and finally got hold of a group called “Yemaya” which is a group of midwives lead by an Obstetrician Dr. Andrew Bisits who specialises in VBAC and Breech Births.
After meeting with the midwives Val and Melinda from Yemaya for the first time, I knew I had made the right decision, they showed so much enthusiasm and reassurance for my decision which gave me confidence and support that I could have a natural birth, which made me very excited.
During the course of the pregnancy I also met with Dr. Bisits who wanted to make sure that I was fully committed in my decision to have a VBAC and aware of my choices. We also went through my birth plan together.
The day after my due date (Sunday) I started to get some sensation of cramping, more like period pain which kept up most of the day but never really got too intense just uncomfortable. I rang the hospital to speak with them and let them know what I was feeling and they suggested it was pre-labour pains so to relax for now but to keep in touch.
At 1am Monday morning I awoke with a sharp pain, I got up to go to the bathroom when my waters broke. I quickly woke my husband and jumped into the shower, while he rang the hospital to let them know but for some reason could not get through to them. We decided to make our way up to the hospital as they had instructed us to do this if my waters broke, so we drove up to John Hunter around 2.30am. Fortunately my mother had offered to have my son that evening just in case I went into labour.
We arrived at John Hunter Hospital at around 3.30am after an uncomfortable car trip managing contractions along the way, they were spaced 6 – 7mins or so apart at this stage. We were admitted into a delivery suite which we quickly made our own. My husband had compiled my favorite music for me to listen too and I bought aromatic oil to burn, we had the room completely darken and asked that all machinery volumes be turned down so not to hear any beeping.
Once we had settled in my first assigned midwife who had obviously just read my birth plan informed me that she is aware of my requests and that it isn’t normal hospital policy to allow a VBAC birth to have intermittent monitoring but would allow this as it was early days and I was only in pre-labour. Straight away my husband and I got a bad vibe that this wasn’t up to her to come in and question what I have already planned and discussed with the Yemaya midwives and Dr. Bisits for my birth. So the monitors were strapped on for 40mins to check the baby heart rate and then I was allowed to have 20mins off from the monitors to move around or go to the shower which is what I had requested in my birth plan.
At 7am there was a change in shift and a new midwife took over my care which was an absolute blessing. As soon as my new midwife Megan introduce herself I got a great vibe from her, she told me she had read my birth plan and was aware of my situation and what I was wanting from this birth, she straight away showed me different positions to be in so I was more comfortable and not restricted to the bed when the monitors were on.
At this stage I was still just breathing through my contractions which were 5mins apart by now. Megan suggested we do an internal just to see how far along I was, of course I knew I wouldn’t be much and I was a little hesitant to know but Megan reassured me that any progress is good progress. At 8.45am I was 2cm dilated.
I was informed by Megan and Daniel the two midwives I was dealing with that an entourage of Doctors are headed my way and they wanted to speak with me about my birth plan. I was a little uneasy but Daniel stayed in the room with me for support. I was approached by 4 doctors who were on staff for that day; they were firing questions at me about my requests in the birth plan. I didn’t realise I would have to negotiate with them about my decisions; I thought it was a done deal since I had Dr. Bisits approval for how I wanted the birth to go.
The Doctors agreed that all my requests were reasonable and would accept my decisions even though they didn’t agree with them. It was a huge relief to know that my birth was still going to plan the way I wanted it too. I kept reinforcing that Dr. Bisits has accepted my birth plan and has complete faith in me birthing this baby.
The contractions were still coming around 5mins apart sometimes a little sooner especially when I was in the shower. The intensity of the contractions were increasing but they weren’t coming any quicker or at a steady rate, so I just kept focused on my breathing and visualising the cervix stretching and opening up which I had learnt in my calm birth classes.
To try and bring my contractions closer together I had a midwife offer to do reflexology on my feet to help speed the process up and my husband gave me amazing support by giving me encouragement, breathing with me, massaging me and making sure I was relaxed to get through each contraction.
It was time again to check how I was dilating. At 12.45 I had dilated another 2cm which made me 4cm in total now and classed at active labour. Even though I had only dilated another 2cm Megan reinforced that it was progress and that’s all we needed to keep everyone happy (Doctors).
I was pleased now be classed as active labour and to have finally reached this stage. The contractions were coming now with more intensity and becoming longer although they were still staggered 3 to 5 mins apart and not coming at a steady rate. Since the contractions were becoming more intense I was moving around and trying different positions, sitting on the ball and on my knees leaning on the bed but I was getting such intense back pain that I didn’t feel I could deal with the contractions and as well as the back pain, I just couldn’t get comfortable. Megan then suggested I try water injections to relieve my back pain, she explained that it would numb the pain by using water inserted into the lower back.
The water solution was administered into my back by two experience midwives whilst I was sitting still on the ball. They explained that it was extremely painful and felt like wasp bites but I was willing to try anything at this stage for relief. Four injections were inserted in my lower back and instantly I had relief from the back pain.
By this stage I had been reassigned another midwife and had to let Megan go but I was happy to meet Amanda who seemed to be just as supportive as Megan. Also Melinda from the Yemaya Group came in to give me support, she had been popping in and out when she could.
My contractions now were becoming so intense I decided to lie down on a mattress on the floor with my husband next to me helping me through each one, I was so tired that I was nodding off between each contraction then once the intensity hit I gripped my husband and breathed through each one. Amanda told me that at 5pm we would do another examination to see how I was progressing. During the next few contractions I was feeling more than just the contraction but movement as well, the intensity was becoming full on now.
Amanda checked how I was dilating and she asked me did I want to hear some good news? I was almost completely dilated, I couldn’t believe my ears I wasn’t expecting that news. So without realising it I was in transition, no wonder I was feeling such intensity.
We decided to get me on my feet and let gravity help me with the last stage of dilation. Straight away my body started surging and pushing this baby down with so much force. I felt I needed to get up on the bed to start pushing, since my body was telling me it was time.
I was pushing with so much force with each contraction, my baby’s head was surging forward then popping back in, this seem to go on for some time. I decided to change positions on the bed and see if this would help but I couldn’t seem to get the baby’s head to pop out. We decided to go on the birthing stool after pushing for about 40 minutes. After a few more contractions I had my baby’s head crowning and I could feel it just there but the contractions seem to be taking so long between each one, so I had to wait for the next one to finally push my baby out, after another big push my beautiful baby boy was out and giving me a great big cry, It was the most amazing feeling.
I had opted to birth the placenta naturally but due to more bleeding then expected I was assisted with birthing the placenta.
Little Oliver (8lb 9 born @ 6:56pm) was then placed in my arms, we waited for the cord to stop pulsing then my husband cut the cord. I was then placed back on the bed and my beautiful son placed on my chest for skin to skin until he was ready for his first breast feed. Once Oliver had finished feeding the midwives carried out their routine checks on our son. I jumped into the shower to freshen up and we ended up spending the night in the birthing suite with our new little boy.
The feeling of accomplishment was overwhelming to birth my baby the way I had wanted too, I was so pleased with how it all went. I feel I had the right support behind me and nothing but encouragement the whole way through the labour and the pregnancy from my midwives and husband. I knew if I stayed focused and visualised what my body was doing I would get through it.
Thank you for reading my story.