After having placenta praevia and accreta in her previous pregnancy resulting in an emergency caesarean birth at 35 weeks to her beautiful son Kayden, Chloé was (in her words) obsessed with having a completely natural birth this time round. Here’s her VBAC story and stunning video montage of the birth…
The closer I got to my due date the more I was letting myself get stressed with my birthing plan. My VBAC was beginning to sound like everything I didn’t want…lots of talk about being strapped down on monitors to a hospital bed, possible scar rupturing, emergency caesareans and so on.
I really was hoping to have my birth in the Rosie Birth Centre (midwife-led unit) but was told straight away: “No VBACs take place there.” I knew this wasn’t entirely true but tried to move on and not let it get me down. After attending a VBAC antenatal class at the hospital, I left feeling positive and decided I was going to try and have my water birth on the delivery ward at the Rosie and use wireless monitoring.
One week before my due date, I began to feel like the baby was ridiculously low. I found myself walking like the women I had previously giggled at…I didn’t walk, I waddled…very, very slowly. I had been on the birthing ball all night this particular evening, ate lots of pineapple and in a last bid to get the ball rolling, we had some intimate time! (around 11pm, to be precise!).
3am and I had been to the toilet around four times in the last hour but not urinating properly. I thought baby was just laying awkwardly and this was going to be a rough night’s sleep again.
I had a stomach ache that I couldn’t shift but I couldn’t work out if it was trapped wind or if I had eaten too much pineapple. Thirty minutes after getting back in bed, my tummy was really really aching, my partner was awake with me at this point, we were both pretty sure I had wind as this was a common nightly occurrence throughout this pregnancy haha!
Then the ache began turning to a lingering pain coming in waves, “is this it? do you think I’m in labour?” I kept asking my partner wanting him to be able to tell me a definite yes or no. I never went into labour with my last pregnancy and I couldn’t be sure this was it! I was worried I’d go to the hospital and then the pain would stop and I’d have caused a load of unnecessary fuss. Plus the fact it was fast approaching 4am and my son was in his bedroom sound asleep, with school to get up for in a few hours. We decided on timing my pain and checking with a few apps and the internet we was almost positive this was contractions, I found myself beginning to pant through them and they were coming every 3 minutes!
EVERYONE UP! We began rushing about grabbing school uniform, maternity pads, toothpaste etc. My son woke up super excited and we all got in the car as soon as we could.
The pain was manageable and I thought I had everything under control, I really had no idea how painful labour was at this point in time. We was all on a giggly high excited to meet the new baby. We dropped my son of to his grandma’s and set off for the delivery ward.
Checking into hospital I handed over my birthing plan which was more what I like to call my birthing preferences, I knew what I wanted but I also knew I had to be open minded and do whatever was best for baby.
I stated I wanted minimal vaginal examinations to reduce the risk of infection and stop me from clock watching my progress (I would recommend this to everyone, the time flew by and I just let my body do its thing without any pressure of how long it was taking me to dilate). First examination I was 3cm, after around an hour and a half of being in a normal delivery room, the pool was ready for me. What a blessing that pool was! the pain was getting worse every minute and I couldn’t get comfy in any position, I didn’t want music on or to be massaged, I was in my own zone trying to cope.
The water was lovely and warm, the room was dark with mood lighting. We were quiet (for most of the time) and everything was going perfectly. I asked for gas and air and it really helped me with the pain for a little while…but above anything it helped me just control my breathing which I think made the world of difference.
The time really did fly by and before I knew it, it was around 8am. I had been in the pool for HOURS (didn’t seem this long at the time) and the contractions were coming really strong. We had a change of midwives and our new midwife was Irene, she was an angel. Bringing me ice, holding my hands when my partner popped out for phone calls/drinks etc. And most importantly, when I was breaking and begging for an epidural, she reassured me I could do this! “Chloe this is what you want, this is your dream, you’re going to have your beautiful water birth really soon, were going to meet your baby, you can do this mummy, your nearly there, you don’t need it come on Chloe!”. If she had said yes to my begs and pleas for an epidural (transition is a bugger) without questioning me, I would never in a million years have had my water birth. But she didn’t, she believed in me and at the time I hated her for it because obviously I felt like I was dying and wanted SOMETHING, ANYTHING to help haha.
My second and final examination showed I was 9cm, I got straight back into the pool and she said whenever I feel like I wanted to push I can.
I couldn’t help myself from pushing, my body was pushing him out for me, yes the pain was far worse than I could ever in my wildest dreams have imagined. I swore to myself I wouldn’t scream and make myself look silly, and for the most part I couldn’t even make a peep as I felt like the life was being sucked out of me. However they have told me when I was in the transitional phase I did apparently soak them whilst having a little breakdown resulting in me punching the water. (I have no memory of this.)
Ten minutes of pushing and I was retrieving my little baby boy, I pulled him out of the water and straight onto my chest and it was the best feeling in the entire universe. And it’s true what everyone says, after that you don’t feel the pain.
I was numb, exhausted, overwhelmed, and besotted with my new love.
It was an amazing experience I will treasure for the rest of my life, I could never have done it without my partner and Irene, they made the perfect support team.
We named our little boy Harvey, he weighed 6lb 120z.
He has brown hair, dark eyes, dimples when he smiles and nice big rolls on his thighs and is adored by his older brother.
Next time, I will most definitely use water as a pain relief and hopefully for giving birth in as well, I’m even considering a homebirth but I’ve still got a few years to consider haha!
If anyone is considering having a water birth in the delivery unit, go for it! And as a plus, the room is HUGE! It’s like being in a private hospital!
Good luck to anyone else in similar situations!
There’s information about this hospital on The Rosie’s Hospital VBAC data page, including its VBAC guidelines and VBAC rates.
Here’s a blog we wrote about how women planning a VBAC can gain access to midwife-led units and birth centres, it’s called “Let me in!”
And for monthly face-to-face support, there’s the Cambridge Birth Choices free drop-in group, held on the second Friday of the month at Cambridge Women’s Resource Centre and the last Friday of the month at Satyam Yoga Centre.