During her first birth, Emma experienced “failure to progress” which lead to a c-section.
For her second birth, she wanted to explore her options around having a VBAC.
Her partner knew that this was important to her so together they committed to it.
They choose a supportive midwifery continuity of care model.
They took hypnobirthing.
They did the work.
And Emma had a healing water birth VBAC!
Being told that you “failed” during birth does not mean that you or your body failed!
“Failure to progress” is often a failure to provide supportive care, or failure to provide a safe environment, or failure to wait!
Your first birth does not need to set the tone for subsequent births.
Emma proved that she is fully capable of giving birth…in fact she is more than capable, she rocked her birth!
Here is Peggy’s birth story as told by her superstar mother.
With photos by Aimee Catt Photography.
First off, I want to say a very big thank you for your course and what we learnt, it was incredibly helpful and gave Ben and I so many more tools, and a much greater understanding of the physiology of labour and birth. Ben is a true convert and cannot stop recommending hypnobirthing to everyone, he truly thinks it should be the mandatory antenatal course. He went into this second experience with so much more confidence and purpose and I have to say, when the time came he was an amazing birth partner. A true rock, he remembered so many more affirmations and helpful cues than I did, and without him I don’t think I could have quite made it through like I did.
During the last month or so of my pregnancy, I did have an up and down time mentally. I appreciated all your emails – they always seemed to pop up in my inbox at exactly the right time. I meant to respond and I even meant to call and have the chat you offered, but for some reason I had a mental block and never actually did those things. I think I started a lot of conversations in my mind with you (in the non creepiest way). I suppose it was simply a way for me to work through those thoughts myself. A very strange time!
I reached my “due date” and had decided based on a chat with the OB and midwife that I would give myself until just past 41 weeks to go into spontaneous labour. I personally didn’t want an induced labour experience so if bub didn’t come on her own, I planned a positive elective c-section experience with drapes down, skin to skin, delayed cord clamping. Luckily we didn’t need to go to Plan B though!
At my last midwife appointment on Tuesday 29 June, I asked for a stretch and sweep, however my cervix was still completely closed and this wasn’t possible. I snagged myself an acupuncture appointment immediately afterwards and had some acupuncture for the first time! I was hopeful, but tried not to expect anything too soon. Well, less than 2 hours later I had some fluid release (not my full waters), lost my mucus plug, and some tightenings began!
I did the usual afternoon – dinner – bedtime routine with my 4 year old as the sensations were only like mild cramps occurring roughly 15 minutes apart. Things continued to progress gently and naturally throughout the evening and just before midnight I spoke to my midwife who suggested trying to get some rest. I lay down and despite feeling the contractions that were now 8 minutes apart, I did surprisingly manage to rest and breathe through them until about 3:00am.
I then spent the next 3 hours pottering around home by myself while Ben slept (I knew he would be so much more helpful the next day after a good night of sleep) and continued to use my breathing to get by, bouncing on the ball, rocking in the bathroom, listening to music, having a shower. We spoke to the midwife again at 6:00am and decided to head into the hospital at 7:00am. I definitely had reservations about leaving it too late and, while it was good to labour at home, I really wanted to get into the space where I would give birth and settle in there and get in the zone.
I have to say walking into the pregnancy assessment unit knowing I was going to be seeing my Kindred midwife and spending the day with her was so reassuring and comforting, I knew I had made the right decision going with the midwifery care. I had a VE and was 4 centimetres, fully effaced and excited to be able to move to birth suite. The stars continued to align for me as my midwife also secured a birth suite with a pool – the chance of a water birth was still on the cards!
Contractions were still very manageable at this point and it all felt very calm and civilised! My membranes were bulging so we decided to labour for another few hours and at midday have them ruptured if they hadn’t gone by themselves. This is what happened and boy oh boy did that amniotic fluid gush out! Like a fire hydrant, the midwife had to make a swift move to not get soaked! As expected, things ramped up after this and I moved around the birth suite using different positions (pretty much all standing – vertical) to stay as comfortable as possible. I used the shower, the pool, the bed in an upright position leaning over the back on my knees, and when that got too tiring I moved the bed to it’s highest possible setting and stood next to it for support.
They had up until now been using the wireless CTG monitors (but as predicted) they did keep slipping, losing the trace. Our midwife persisted for a long time tweaking them, and then she asked about the foetal scalp clip, but we declined it all and they agreed to remove the monitoring.
After that initial check in the assessment unit we had said we were happy to not hear anymore dilation reports, which my midwife was good with. There was just an unlucky moment while she reported to the hospital supervising midwife due to our decline of monitoring that I overheard I was at 7 centimetres. The contractions had become a lot more intense over the last couple of hours and Ben said he could see my face visibly drop at that information, as I had definitely been hoping to be further along. Then came the crisis of confidence which he got me through and I moved to the shower where things ramped up again.
While I continued to manage my whole labour with breathing alone I definitely had a LOT of doubt in my mind during that transition period and I thought all the thoughts about drugs, epidurals, and c-sections. I didn’t vocalise that much, there were just a few “I can’t do this anymore” but everyone in there cheered me on and I realised I was surviving another and another and another surge which was encouraging. I got back in the pool where I spent about two and a half hours until little she was born.
The pushing stage was a lot longer than I anticipated, but very intuitive (I had no more checks after the one where my waters were broken) and I believe in the end that the “I just need to get this done so she’s out” feeling along with the right encouragement from my midwife gave me the final boost I needed to birth my baby.
Our Peggy was born in the water at 8:12pm on Wednesday 30 June, a happy and healthy baby. We got our skin to skin and I had a natural delivery of the placenta on the bed once I was out of the bath (the cord wasn’t even clamped or cut till after this). Would you believe my successful and very healing VBAC water birth was a 4.4kg baby! So glad I didn’t know that prior, but what a testament to the female body and natural childbirth, especially after my first ‘failure to progress’ emergency c-section experience. Very proud and very happy! It took a while to sink in that everything I’d hoped for had actually come true! And of course now I want to share it with everyone who will listen.