Gail's story - Heather's birth

My first child was breech and born by planned caesarean section. It wasn’t the birth I had hoped for so second time around I was excited at the prospect of experiencing contractions and going into labour. 

My aim was to have a home birth, but since it would be a VBAC we were fully prepared for the possibility of having the baby at hospital. I was feeling very positive about the birth and that we had every possibility available to us. I felt empowered and excited. 

On the day I went into labour I experienced cramps all day, but I thought nothing of it because we had had a previous false alarm a few days earlier. As the evening wore on my cramps intensified and it became clear they were not just cramps but contractions. Our doula came over around 10pm. We laughed and joked and she suggested we all go to bed and get some rest.  

Once I went to the dark and quiet of my bedroom the contractions suddenly ramped up - A LOT. I was now unable to function normally between them. Our doula returned around midnight. Things progressed quickly and before long I felt the urge to bare down. I got on the floor, lent over our footstool and said I needed to push. My doula told me to do whatever felt instinctual. I felt completely calm and in control. I just went with it.   Just as my doula was helping take off my pyjamas a big contraction came, I pushed hard and suddenly my baby popped out and landed on our living room carpet!

I picked her up myself. I felt a huge surge of love and ecstasy. We sat there like that, looking at one another. It was perfect. It was quiet, intimate, undisrupted.

I am thrilled I had a VBAC. Both my husband and I were desperate not to have another c-section. We both had a stressful experience with the c-section, even though it was planned and everything from a medical perspective was uncomplicated. The oxytocin high after my VBAC seemed to last for weeks. I felt physically and emotionally strong, not weak like after my section. My husband was free to drink up all the joy, not worried and anxious about my well being like he was after the section. 

I'd recommend that people identify what their concerns are with having a VBAC might be and address them. If you like being informed then read. Lots. Talk to the consultant midwife at your hospital's midwife suite. She is the most experienced midwife and the one who can talk you through all your options. Guidelines are just that. They are not written in stone and it is your choice how you labour. The consultant midwife will work with you to write a birth plan the other health professionals have to follow. You can decide, within reason, how many VEs you have, type of monitoring, communication and so on. I’d also suggest you talk to the lead midwife of the home birth team. They tend to be very woman focused and will be happy to chat regardless of whether you decide to have a home birth. 

Hire a doula if your budget allows. One with VBAC experience. They will help you navigate the hospital hurdles and help make sure the setting and environment are as conducive to a VBAC as possible. They can be a terrific source of experience providing guidance and support throughout your pregnancy and birth. 

The postpartum periods following my c-section and VBAC were at opposite ends of the spectrum. 

Until I had my VBAC I didn’t think I needed any emotional healing following the section. Im just not that kind of person. Im a practical, tell it how it is kind of person. But in the weeks following my VBAC I realised the whole experience had been incredibly healing. I had successfully laboured. I felt every contraction, the waters break, delivered a placenta, held my baby skin to skin the moment she arrived. I was successfully breastfeeding. The emotional healing I experienced changed me forever. 
The physical healing following my VBAC was incredibly quick and easy. My uterus contracted quickly, my bleeding was minimal, I felt strong, almost energised. I had second degree tearing which healed quickly and without issue. I was able to run around after my toddler!