Birth story - Rachel and baby Leo

Got the digital pack pretty late in my pregnancy, 38 weeks, but still found it a fantastic resource and the materials and videos really helped me. My first was born two years ago by c section after a failed induction. Won’t go into details but I’d given up early on and didn’t progress past 2cm. I was determined to get my VBAC this time.

My story isn’t a pain relief, intervention free one, but I’m so proud of it because it’s very different to my last birth. I made lots of positive decisions and felt in control. This is a long read I’m afraid, mostly a ramble or stream of consciousness perhaps!

Fast forward to my second pregnancy. At around 39+4 I started to wake every night by tightenings, this happened for a week. It got me excited but a tiny bit impatient to meet my little boy! Woke at 1am at 40+1 with irregular surges. I knew this was different and that he would be on his way soon, but was prepared for a long one ahead. I managed a couple of hours of last minute prep and called the in laws to collect our toddler. My waters broke at 4am, another thing that hadn’t happened last time. Called the hospital and they asked me to come in after an hour. Ran a bath and had a nice soak, concentrating on baby’s movements. Got to the assessment unit at 5ish, didn’t rush. Did get a bit nervous though which slowed everything down all of a sudden. Monitored for a bit, agreed to an examination and was told I was almost 3cm - again a boost as I’d never got that far and it had been no bother thanks to being positive, relaxed and using up breathing.

However, as a VBAC they didn’t want me to go home, but I was able to do pretty much what I wanted while I was there. I listened to the MP3s, played myself some music, sat on the birthing ball. It wasn’t quite home though and while the surges progressed, they didn’t start getting regular. I got through the day and night with paracetamol and codeine. I started to wobble a bit through the night, and would have gladly taken a c section again as I was getting nervous. I was told I’d have to be taken to a delivery room at 4am as it would have been 24 hours since my waters broke. 4am came and went, no news on the delivery room and I got anxious. The surges were getting stronger and I was struggling to cope. Baby was back to back, so no position was comfortable at all.

I agreed to an examination at 6am and was surprised to hear I’d got to 6cm, another well needed boost. I was in a fair amount of pain at this stage though and was questioning how I’d manage. Moving to the delivery suite was a step closer to meeting my baby though. I got into the delivery suite, with my previous pregnancy and my high BMI I was high dependency and hadn’t considered asking to move to low - so was in a very ‘hospitaly’ environment. My birth plan had been very much that I wanted to get by on as little pain relief as possible, would take meptid if needed and have an epidural as a last resort, but overall was happy to change plans if necessary. My midwife was fantastic and I’d agreed for a student to be present. She noticed my breathing and use of gas and air was good, so was really interested to hear about the techniques I’d learned and how I had prepared myself for labour. The midwife did lots of little things to make the room more comfortable. She dimmed the lights, and tied some fabric with lavender oil on to my gas & air mouthpiece. As soon as this happened I felt much more comfortable again. Everyone was really encouraging, nobody ever told me what to do. My partner put music on and I was feeling much better.

I did have a lot of doctors, consultants, senior midwife and so on come in now and then. They were all so friendly though and involved my partner and I. They were concerned about how baby’s heart rate wasn’t recovering as it should after some (not all) surges. This had happened with my first baby

The only thing I struggled with was my position. I ended up staying on the bed but was upright as much as possible. Baby’s position meant that I couldn’t stay upright and couldn’t walk. As the surges got stronger an epidural was discussed. I was given a short break from surges as I was struggling and baby wasn’t recovering from them as he should have. Despite this, I was really calm. This really was totally different to last time round and I felt so much better for it.

I got to 10cm on gas and air. I felt fine, albeit quite tired, but when the time came baby just didn’t want to come out - despite my best efforts. This was the part where I took a lot of coaching from the midwife as policy for VBAC is that I shouldn’t push for long. 45 minutes in, still with irregular surges and no sign of baby coming, we agreed to a trial of labour. Even if it ended in a c section, I knew I’d tried my best and achieved so much more than I did last time. I was prepped and taken to surgery - there was 12 in the room plus me and my partner but I never felt scared. The team were brilliant and we were all joking along. I was given a spinal and I was really relaxed and excited to meet our second son. Shortly after, via forceps, our son Leo was born. I got to hold him straight away (different to last time), then got plenty of skin to skin. Quickly established breastfeeding too - something I struggled with last time and felt bad about for a long time.

Forceps wasn’t what I’d expected to happen but thanks to the digital pack I coped so much better than I ever thought I would. Spontaneous labour, not needing all the pain relief they would throw at me, generally being calm - thank you!

For all those hoping for their VBAC - you can do it xx

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