I was able to keep my head thanks to all the techniques I learned despite the hectic circumstances .
Nov 18, 2020
Trigger warning: my birth had a number of special circumstances which led to some instrumental help and a distressed baby. This could be traumatic to some.
I wanted to share how I used my hypnobirthing tools to help me achieve my VBAC. It's a long one so strap in!
Tuesday the 10th Nov in the morning, I felt and heard 'POP' lying in bed and jumped up. A little gush of fluid came out and continued a steady trickle. The hospital asked me to come in to confirm waters had broken as I'd had no real surges yet. I told my husband to take the day off work and we had a pretty normal morning just getting ready for the day and packing the toddler off to Gramma's.
About 2 hours from waters breaking I had my first surge. They were well spaced apart, so on confirming it was my waters, the hospital sent me home and asked me to come back in 18 hours (10pm).
I went home and just listened to music, used my breathing and visualisations, especially hanging out in my bubble of comfort, and my husband rubbing my back or using counter pressure. I spent a bit of time in the shower too which helped keep me relaxed.
When we reached about 7 minutes apart, we headed to hospital at about 6.30pm as I did not want to be too uncomfortable in the car. My surges were still irregular but intense enough that I needed to stop moving and breathe through them. Midwives put me straight into a birth suite when I arrived and things continued to progress steadily as my partner set up my candles and I settled in.
I had no VEs at all but as a VBAC patient I had already consented to continuous fetal monitoring, but was happy anyway with just using the bed/floor/my husband, walking in small circles or swaying my hips.
At some stage around 8.30pm I suddenly started to feel worried things were not progressing as they should and that this baby would get stuck. Surges seemed to be tapering off. The Dr was there so I consented to be examined to see where I was at. The moment I laid on my back, what must have been 2nd stage of labour hit and surges started coming very intensely. I was 5cms so it must have been transition! From there things happened fast and intense.
I must admit at this point I started to get VERY noisy! It took all my concentration to ride the surges. I visualised waves sometimes, other times I just had to concentrate on my breath and the noises I was making (mooing like a cow, basically and growl-like breaths out) and the sensation of holding onto my partner. I was repeating mantras in my head 'baby down and out...chin tucked, moving down' etc. I was moving up and down on the bed, sometimes on my side or hands and knees.
A couple hours later, I started to get the unstoppable urge to push and bear down and I was making so much noise! I could not believe the noises I was making. However I was not quite fully dilated so the midwife offered to push my cervix out of the way so I could be free to push (relayed through my partner), which I agreed to as I wanted to push!
This is where things took a bit of a turn. I was bearing down quite strongly for quite some time and working HARD. Looking back I wish I had slowed down and breathed more at this point, but the instinct to push was incredibly strong. The midwives were ready to catch baby but he seemed not to be coming. I pushed and breathed and growled for over an hour.
At this point I started to feel that something was amiss. Baby should be coming but wasn't - I could feel the strength of my surges. I was moving around. I even managed to get off the bed and empty my bladder in case that was stopping him. The Dr offered to check his position and said he was slightly deflexed. I agreed to him adjusting his position manually which was intense! He managed to get him into a seemingly better position but still no appearance of his head.
Though overall Ok, bub also was showing occasional signs of distress. We all felt we might need some help to get him out fairly soon after a couple of decelerations. After a discussion in between surges (they were very respectful of not speaking to me or touching me during them), we decided to do a trial of vacuum delivery with episiotomy in theatre, ready for c-section if that didn't work. I ultimately opted for the episiotomy in this case due to the use of an instrument, though the Dr did offer to do the procedure without it as per my birth preferences and outlined the pros and cons.
My midwife encouraged me that if I could keep pushing, I may just get bub out before the theatre team arrived as they could JUST see bubs head. This meant giving it my all with no holds barred so I pushed as much as I could through each surge all the way down to theatre and onto the gurney.
I was barely aware of my surroundings and just concentrating on pushing and breathing down into each surge. We got set up in theatre, the vacuum went on and I pushed as the Dr pulled. My surges had become quite short so I agreed to just a touch of syntocinon and this gave me 2 good long surges and baby's head popped out! It was such a relief! Not exactly a calm, quiet descent but amazing nonetheless after that HUGE effort!
At this point his shoulders were also a bit stuck so the Dr had to push on my stomach to get him out.
Turns out he had the cord wrapped around his neck twice and a knot in the cord, all of which resulted in him getting stuck and unfortunately he also became very pale and floppy due to the restricted bloodflow and oxygen and needed to be taken straight to special care.
This was the worst part for me as I did not get to have those beautiful first moments with bub I had longed for. I had skin to skin with bub an hour later, but could not breastfeed until the next day when he came off oxygen.
This birth was far from the ideal scenario, but at every step of the way the Drs and midwives respected me and my birth preferences. I was clear-headed enough to discuss each option and consent and offer my own suggestions. I must admit that by the end, I would have gladly welcomed an epidural just to get a break! But there was no time. There were only about 2 moments in all of this where I felt I was losing control a bit but my partner brought me back to my zone. Everything was completely drug free apart from a bit of local anesthetic - I did demand they give me something before cutting me!
Afterward, the Dr told me he was incredibly impressed with how in control I was and how well I breathed through each surge.
It was not the dream VBAC or hypnobirth scenario, but it was close, and I was able to keep my head thanks to all the techniques I learned despite the hectic circumstances to achieve a vaginal birth...and my baby got the expert care he needed due to some very special circumstances well beyond our control.
It will take me a while to process everything that happened, but I feel like an absolute superwoman for getting through and being able to smile and laugh moments later.
Thanks for reading this manuscript! I feel it is a doozy of a story and was keen to share.
Welcome to the word, Raphael. Born just past midnight 11 November at 3.5kgs.