Birth story - Amy and baby Hugo

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Positive vbac delivery story. My first birth was an emergency C-section under general anaesthetic, so although I planned a home vbac this time, I had a very long list of positive birth scenarios.

I woke up the morning before my due date at about 4am with some surges every 20 minutes until my toddler woke up at 6, then didn't have anymore until she went up to bed at 7PM. Started out at 20 minutes apart again, until 10PM when they were every 5/6 minutes. Tried to go to bed to conserve some energy but found my surges too powerful to lie down with, so told my partner I was going downstairs. Watched Gavin and Stacey whilst alternating between swaying stood upright and sitting on my exercise ball. Got to midnight and felt like they were getting quite close together, so asked my partner to come downstairs to time them. Turns out I was having three in ten minutes, so it was time to call the home birth team... Except we couldn't get through! Tried for another two hours and I had my first wobble: I can't do this, I need to go to hospital etc. So my partner called triage to see if they knew where the home birth team were (as protocol is that they notify triage if attending a home birth) and they hadn't heard anything from them either, cue another two hours of both triage and my partner trying to make contact.

All the while I was absolutely exhausted, still using my up breathing during surges but also needed a hot water bottle against my lower back. I was taking it in turns to lie in the bed and then running to the toilet every 3/4 contractions. We kept trying to get into contact with the home birth team until 6am, at which point I made the decision to go into our local labour ward. It wasn't an easy decision, but using the BRAIN anagram it was obvious that it was the best place for both baby and me to be, as continuous monitoring is advised for vbac attempts, and I'd had none.

We waited for our two year old to wake up at 6:30 then got my partner's aunt to come and babysit then off we went. Got to the hospital by 7:30 and was examined: found to be 5cm dilated with a back to back baby, which explained the discomfort in my lower back. Used gas and air from arrival until I asked for an epidural to be administered at 9, received it at 9:45. Up breathing coupled with gas and air was still incredible during surges, but I was so tired at this point that I knew my body needed rest.

Home birth midwife arrived at the hospital at around 8:45 and apologised for the lack of communication, she had no idea what had happened. We found out later in the day that her two colleagues had forgotten to redirect their phones before going on holiday which is irritating, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise as the hospital was the best place for us to be in hindsight, as baby boy had a low heart rate baseline

After my epidural was administered, baby's heart rate stopped picking up after surges, so we had a lot of people rushing into the room. As this is what led to my previous C-section, I immediately started crying but my partner reminded me that I needed stay calm and keep the oxygen flowing to my uterus to give baby the best chance to recover, so I used the up breathing through my tears. Really can't recommend up breathing enough, not even just for surges. Thankfully after moving to my other side, baby's heart picked up and we were back to being calm and I napped until 11:30, where I was found to still be 5cm. It was then recommended that I have my waters broken to encourage baby to turn and contractions to pick up. After speaking with both my partner and midwife, we decided to go ahead with breaking my waters.

I then napped on and off until 2ish, when baby's heart rate started to dip again. I'd also noticed my surges starting to get stronger and longer, so much that I could feel them even with my epidural, so I went back to up breathing to cope with the discomfort. I was examined and found to be 10cm, so my body had begun to push without me even realising. Although I'd been planning on using down breathing to give birth, baby's heart rate was really struggling so I pushed through the next two surges and got him down the birth canal. Unfortunately, his heart rate was taking longer to recover after pushes, so ventouse was recommended. Going back to BRAIN, I asked how long I'd be able to push for before it would be considered dangerous to decline intervention. The midwife was wonderful and basically told me to keep pushing while they sorted the equipment out and if I had him, great. If not, they'd recommend ventouse as soon as it was ready. As mentioned before, I had a long list of acceptable birth outcomes so I accepted ventouse with an episiotomy after watching his heart rate dip lower after each surge.

He was born within ten minutes and delivered straight onto my chest, it was so incredible being able to reach down and feel his head coming out and then seeing his shoulders follow. We had uninterrupted skin on skin for an hour, with breastfeeding starting after the first five minutes, delayed cord clamping. My partner got to cut the cord and, even better, we both got to be physically present for the birth of our child.

It's strange I guess, to call this a positive birth story when the outcome was so far from my birth plan, but it honestly felt like everything happened for a reason and I'm so completely thrilled with how my birth went and I can't thank The Positive Birthing Company enough for that. Without up breathing and BRAIN, my second birth could have so easily followed the same path as my first. The course gave me the information I needed to feel happy and confident in all the decisions I made.

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