Told in her own words, Katie shares her incredible VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean) birth story with the support of her Doula Anna, from Doula up North. After attending one of my pregnancy relaxation sessions, Katie went on to have a truly positive birth!
"Preparing a VBAC has been a big part of my pregnancy with Freya. With my last labour/delivery I felt cheated having been induced, so close to 10cm (anterior lip) and ending up with a c section.
Having a doula this time round was my non negotiable, and I was lucky to find Anna.
Anna was super supportive of all my plans and decisions and was great at providing me with research and just super easy to get along with. I honestly could chat with her for days on end!
Because I had a previous CS I had to have a maternity partnership plan approved to “birth out of guidelines” basically to treated as someone who hadn’t previously had a c section. I did a lot of research with support of my doula and my plan was as little intervention as possible.
My “due date” was 24th May however I had mentally prepared myself to go to 42 weeks with this pregnancy I was convinced I would go into Labour spontaneously by 41 weeks however I was wrong and as each day moved me closer to 42 weeks it made me more anxious.
My plan was no sweeps, no induction however as I got closer to 42 weeks I did start to reevaluate my options. The thought of induction really triggered me when it became a real possibility - which surprised me as I always thought the main aim for me was the VBAC but it turns out it was also going into Labour spontaneously.
On the morning of 41+5 I woke up and was surprised to see a bloody show!! Having convinced myself I may never go into Labour as nothing seemed to be happening.
I messaged my doula but tried to stay cool as I knew it could still be days or maybe a week away! I started with very mild cramps that morning which died off around midday. I had a fairly chilled day had a walk in the morning and fell asleep on the sofa watching titanic in the afternoon!
My doula had suggested a free relaxation zoom class ran by Emma at Blooming Births Hypnobirthing who was running that evening.
So I had a chill out that evening and at some point very shortly after the relaxation session the cramps came back and they were stronger than earlier in the day. I planned to go to bed and get some sleep but
I didn’t feel sleepy and the cramps were every 10 minutes. I kept trying to sleep and pottering back downstairs to see my husband. By midnight I decided I needed to get in the bath.
Adam set up a diffuser and candles for me and I soon realised these could be the real thing. I stayed in the bath for a good hour and half.
Around 1:30am I got out the bath and was knelt over the toilet seat having my contractions which were really ramping up now. I went and woke my husband and he set up my tens and got the wave comb for me. I then had to message my mum and the doula. Labour progressed really fast maybe due to being at home and being relaxed and chilled, so when Anna arrived it was time to get to the hospital as contractions were 1-2 minutes apart.
Anna was super calm and as my mum now tells me she (my mum) was stressing slightly as she thought she was going to have to deliver the baby on the bathroom floor!
Getting downstairs and to the car was an event in itself and the car journey was challenging.
Throughout breathing made such a huge difference for me in managing the contractions as well as the wave comb and tens machine.
We arrived at the midwife led unit at the RVI, it must have been pretty obvious I was definitely in active Labour as they wheeled me round to a room fairly swiftly. I was happy to have one VE on arrival but hadn’t planned on having any more and I didn’t want to know how dilated I was.
The midwife asked me if I was sure I didn’t want to know after checking me and I said only tell me if it’s good. Thinking maybe anything over a 6/7 she would tell me so I was in shock when she said I was fully dilated.
I got into the birth pool and Anna put on some relaxing music, got the tea lights out around the pool and the oils. The pool was amazing just what I needed at that point to relax and give myself a bit of a break as the last few hours had been intense.
As I arrived fully dilated, I was told I could push when my body felt the need to. Many contractions passed and after 3 + hours of pushing no baby. I chose to have my water broken to see if this would help.
I was against the hospital clock and they wanted me to go to the Labour ward for 20 minutes of continual monitoring. I took my time, reviewing all my options and I made the decision to transfer to the Labour ward. I was knackered, and I knew I needed some assistance as I hadn’t birthed the baby and it has been a while. My c section scar had started to ache at the end of each contraction and that did slightly concern me. I was ready to meet my baby by this point.
The consultant came in to see me and talk about risks and i immediately cut him off and just asked him to tell me my options.
The options were instrumental delivery or if that wasn’t possible a c section. I agreed to be taken to theatre. I think I knew deep down at this point I wouldn’t be having a section as it had sounded like she was in the birth canal and had done some travelling down!
In theatre I felt I was able to ask questions and was in control. I had a spinal (incase of the possible c section) I was quickly assessed and the consultant confirmed it would be a forceps delivery. If I’m honest having an instrumental delivery was not on my birth preferences but I had prepared myself for having to make multiple decisions around Labour and I was well informed and this was the best decision for me at that point. I felt in control, despite the change in my plans.
2 pushes and she was born with the help of the consultant and his salad tongues and placed on my chest for skin to skin.
The team had clearly read my birth plan, showing my my placenta once out and talking me through it whilst I was being stitched up.
I had a episiotomy and stitches but for me the recovery so far has been so much better physically and mentally.
I know throughout the whole pregnancy and labour process I was informed and made decisions for me and although some of them weren’t what I had on my original birth plan that’s okay because I made those decisions at the time based on the situation I was in and how I felt and what I wanted. Whilst I’ll always wish I had been able to push her out myself unassisted I am so proud of how I managed the Labour pains at home, getting to hospital fully dilated and achieving my VBAC on my terms.
I think Katie's birth story really highlights the importance of feeling fully informed for your baby's birth. She was able to calmly navigate her VBAC even when things didn't go to plan.
If you would like to feel informed, confident and prepared for your birth, I would love to support you. Check out my Hypnobirthing courses.
Blooming Births Hypnobirthing