Positive birth story series: My incredible VBAC story
Donna McCarney-Jones shares her incredible VBAC story.
What we did to maximise our chance of a VBAC
When our first pregnancy ended with a caesarean section, with some additional negative flow-on effects, we were adamant second time around we would try our very best for a VBAC. We wanted to ensure we were more educated in our birth rights and had a great support network around us to cheer us on.
So when we found out we were expecting the second time around, we teamed up with the Community Midwifery Program and also had the support of a student midwife to help us achieve our goal of a healthy happy baby.
We wanted to also feel that at the end of the pregnancy and during the birth, no matter happened, that we were informed and in control as much as we could be.
Like many, to remain in control I needed to let go of some of those common fears, especially around pain and knowing my rights. So this time we also decided to do hypnobirthing with Kelly Austin from Empowered Pregnancy and Birth Hypnobirthing.
Although we had a few challenges thrown our way
– At 24 weeks, at our first obstetric appointment, we were surprised to find I had additional tears on my uterus, which could increase the risk of rupture. This was based on complications during my first c-section (that we weren’t aware of). The hospital recommended a repeat c-section.
– At 31 weeks, the unimaginable. My waters broke, which resulted in a Royal Flying Doctor flight from Margaret River to KEMH and a week in hospital.
– Our little one was consistently measuring as a small baby, which was both a positive and a concern; it meant we were on twice-weekly CTG monitoring with a weekly scan.
Our hypnobirthing course constantly felt out of reach with the varying information about the tears on my uterus. When we finally booked it in we had to reschedule because my waters broke. Knowing then we could labour at any time and possibly between classes, we then smashed out the session!
It closed many concerns and fears I had, it gave me the tools to work through those fears if they did appear and gave me valuable knowledge being able to leverage the advice of Kelly from a midwifery and hypnobirthing perspective.
We actually then sat down and finalised a full birth plan, I even wrote my own birthing affirmations. I wanted to feel all the feels, whilst remaining in control and give it my all to be able to birth our second baby naturally.
I was ready!
We reached 35 weeks and wondered if and when we were going to go into spontaneous labour.
We had an induction conversation looming in the coming days, as the doctor’s recommendation, and preference, was that we deliver our baby by 37 weeks either via induction or caesarean section. This was based on the view that the risk of infection was more significant than the benefit of keeping bubs in, given it would be 6 weeks since my waters had broken.
My preference, obviously, was not to have an induction due to my only option being syntocinon (synthetic hormones), which would again increase our risk of rupture in our attempt for a VBAC.
The process begins
I woke up on the morning of the 28th March, at 35+2 weeks, after being unsettled most of the night. I spoke to my midwife in the morning and let her know that things were happening. I went off for my chiropractic adjustment and came home to rest.
I thought if this is go-time I want to be rested, not making another meal for the freezer. I then headed off for my acupuncture appointment. During the appointment, things escalated.
My contractions began to regulate and intensify. I got out of the appointment later than expected and called my midwife to say I think it’s time I went and got assessed, my husband to let him know I think it’s go-time and then my dad to come and look after our three-year-old.
We arrived at the hospital at about 6:30 pm and I was placed on monitoring for about 45 minutes; a condition for our specific VBAC along with a cannula. Around 7:30 pm I was examined and we celebrated being at 3 cm.
I had placed copies of my birth plan inside my hospital paperwork and had completely forgotten when I handed it over to the receptionist. It was great because the midwives actually saw it and were actively reading it to support us whilst in the unit.
We were pretty much left to our own devices. I moved around the assessment unit but found relief in being on all fours on the bed. My husband massaged my ‘surge blend’ of essential oils into my lower back during contractions, I popped some clary sage onto my ankles and when they started intensifying more my husband placed my headphones in my ears and popped on my hypnobirthing tracks.
We began to record the contractions into our mobile app to be able to let the midwives know when they later appeared. I also had some acupuncture points placed on specific parts of my body to help 1) engage baby, 2) support dilation and 3) for pain relief ready to trigger. They were becoming very regular and closer together.
My incredible VBAC story
My voice changed, my breathing changed and within four hours of arriving at the hospital, we were in ‘transition’ in the assessment unit, my midwife on her way.
We walked the hallway and headed down to our birthing suite, our birthing bag still in the car and not making it into our room.
My midwife completed an assessment to confirm dilatation and sure enough, we were 10 cm and she gave me the go-ahead to go with the urges to push and help bring our baby girl down.
Our little girl was a few weeks early so a paediatric doctor was called to attend the birth and when she arrived I knew things weren’t too far away. We also had a couple of doctors arrive to keep an eye on bub’s heart rate, mainly due to the risks that can be associated with a VBAC and ours specifically.
After 30 minutes of pushing and a head so close to appearing, we were spoken to about the potential use of intervention to help guide us if things didn’t progress as fast as they would like. With her heart rate declining and my heart rate spiking during contractions, we were offered the options of forceps or an episiotomy if we needed a bit of assistance after the next few attempts. After a couple more pushes and bubs heart rate becoming more of a concern I agreed to the episiotomy.
Then my midwife gave what felt like a team pep talk. I remember her looking at me and my husband and saying “Donna, you can do this. On the next push, I want you to give it your all.” She pointed towards the doctors and said, “…you don’t want them intervening, you can do this, next push…”
“I was like “yep, let’s get this baby out!”…
Bracing myself into position and having contractions every 30 seconds, we suddenly had this window of reprieve. We actually had a bit of a giggle but I was assured it was my body resting briefly to give me the strength to push our baby out. I knew this was my body resting briefly to give me the strength to push our baby out. I remember Kelly talking about this in her course.
With what may have only been a minute later, a quick incision on the push, our baby girl was born and placed directly onto my chest. It was amazing. My husband riding that wave of oxytocin just in awe of what we achieved.
We created a new positive birth experience with the help of an amazing support network of professionals, friends and family and lots of tools and techniques to draw on. We remained educated, empowered and felt respected every step of the way.
Thank you to Donna for sharing her positive birth story.
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Disclaimer: This personal account has been published as it was told to Wholehearted Family Health and does not reflect the opinions or constitute recommendations from Wholehearted Family Health or the businesses that work with Wholehearted Family Health. Always consult your midwife or doctor in regards to any medical advice pertaining to your unique situation.