rhian's birth story

My VBAC story: My experience with my first birth wasn't great - a long painful induction process followed by a cat 1 emergency c-section, I was desperate to have an easier experience with number 2! I watched a lot of videos on Youtube and fell in love with the idea of having a waterbirth + practicing hypnobirthing. I did an online hypnobirthing course in my second trimester. While the breathing and relaxing techniques were very helpful, the best thing about the course is that it teaches you how to advocate for yourself and to ask the right questions to enable you to make an informed decision about what happens during your labour. Feeling more confident, I decided to go against the hospital's advice to have continuous monitoring - something that I personally felt would increase my chances of having the birth I wanted.

I got out of bed on my due date and had a little trickle run down my leg. We weren't sure what it was (in hindsight I think it was some mucous from my plug), but we decided to go to hospital to check if it was my waters. When we arrived one of the consultants did a speculum examination to assess whether my waters had gone or not, unfortunately, she was unable to tell. She booked us to have a scan a couple of days later to measure the waters. We popped to the shops after the appointment to get some essentials, as we walked around I started having some regular (but very mild) tightenings. These carried on throughout the day and by 11pm that evening I was sure that I was in labour. We had hired a TENS machine and so I put that on and listened to some hypnobirthing tracks in bed. I didn't manage to get any sleep and at 5am(ish), we decided to make our way to hospital. It took us a while to get ready and the hospital was a good half an hour away, so we didn't arrive until 7am. A midwife examined me on the labour ward and I was 3cm, I was happy with that but dissapointed to hear that I would have to labour on the ward until I got to 4cm . I hated the labour ward, it was cramped, stuffy and S Club 7 was blaring on the radio (not the ideal hypnobirthing environment). I had some co-codomol and managed to have a little sleep in between contractions, I still had my TENS machine and my hypnobirthing tracks going. At 1pm, I was examined and finally allowed to go to a birthing room.

I was elated when we got in our room, very luckily there was a pool available. My contractions actually became less painful at this point, it's amazing how much environment can affect labour. I got into the pool and straight on the gas + air - I love that stuff. My labour progressed pretty slowly, but my baby's heart rate was perfect and there were no concerns, so we just let my body go at its own pace. Around 5pm, I was re-examined. I hadn't made a huge deal of progress (6 cm), the midwife offered to break my waters to try and speed things up and I consented. I was told to stay out of the pool for a bit to try and get things moving quicker. It worked as within an hour, my body was pushing involuntarily at the peak of each contraction. I got back into the pool where the pushing urges got stronger and stronger. The midwife advised to go with my body and push if that's what I felt I needed to do, I did for what seemed forever, but nothing was happening. I was re-examined to see why things weren't moving and was quite upset to hear that there was still a small amount of cervix there, I would have to wait and hour before I could try pushing again. I had a big wobble, my body was still pushing involuntarily and everybody was telling me sternly to stop (how?!). I decided that I had had enough and wasn't going to carry on! Transition - I asked repeatedly to have a c-section, it wasn't going to happen for me, I was sure I would end up with forceps or another emergency section. I don't remember being re-examined but I'm sure I was at some point, fully dilated and finally allowed to actively push. I could now feel the baby moving down with each push. I have no idea how long it took (maybe around an hour). Finally, the head came out (I had a burning sensation, but it wasn't as painful as I had imagined) and the rest of the baby was out in one big push. I reached into the water and brought my baby to my chest myself. A (surprise) baby boy! I had some delayed clamping, but it was cut short as I had lost a bit more blood than usual and they wanted to get me out of the pool. We'd had 7 mins, so I didn't mind at all. One of the consultants came in at that point as they wanted to get the placenta out and stop the bleeding. It took a while and there was talk of going to theatre, but that didn't happen. Placenta out + some stitches for a second degree tear, then we were left alone in the room to bond with our baby. We had skin to skin and my baby latched on for at least an hour! We moved to a private room for the night (expensive, but my partner wouldn't have been allowed to stay on the ward and I felt too exhausted to take care of baby alone). I didn't think that recovery from my c-section was too bad at all, until I had a vaginal delivery and realised how much easier everything was. I was shocked at how easily I could move around and things really weren't as sore down below as I was expecting. I would 100% recommend having a VBAC to anybody considering one!

*Birth story and pictures kindly shared with consent*