Baby K was born at 39 weeks. With my first child born through emergency caesarean at almost 41 weeks, I was feeling somewhat nervous around possibilities of a successful vaginal birth this time. Adrian and I agreed that we would give VBAC a go and we spent 2 days doing a private Calmbirth program with Suzanne – we both found the two sessions very informative and Suzanne was very patient and supportive in helping us learn the Calmbirth techniques.
I attended my 39 week midwife appointment, informing them that I have been experiencing contractions since 4am. The midwife was delighted, and I was encouraged to keep walking throughout the day. Feeling rather excited myself, I went for a walk, had lunch, and took a nap. When I woke up, the contractions got longer and closer. I took a shower and practiced my breathing techniques to manage the contractions. Once they were over, I continued around the house organising my 3 year old to stay home with my parents, not forgetting to nibble on snacks to keep my energy going.
As the contractions got to 60 secs and 3-4 mins apart, we decided it was time to go to the hospital, which was located about 15mins from home. When we reached the hospital, my contractions lasted about 90 secs each time. I had my TENS machine attached and it was helpful. When we got into the assessment room, I got onto the bed and we started vocalising (low humming) every time a contraction came along. Adrian would rub my back and he knew when another contraction was coming and he would guide me with the vocalising.
I was initially assessed and told that I was 2-3cms dilated. I was slightly disappointed hearing that, thinking I should be much further into my labour, though the midwife responded saying we have done some really good preparation and my cervix has ripen well.
We spent most time labouring in the assessment room as the birth suites were full. My contractions continued to intensify. I found it difficult to labour on the bed and I got down onto the ground, staying in child’s pose most times, and continued vocalising into the pillow I was holding onto, and I remember Adrian changing the vocalisation from low “hums” to low “ahhhs” instead to help me cope with the sensations as they got stronger. I found it helpful when the midwife brought me warm blankets – one for kneeling and one to keep me warm.
At one point, the contractions got so intense, I got really emotional. It was as if my mind knew I needed to find a way to cope, hence the thought of what Suzanne reminded me of – “my happy place” – the beach, came up, and for a moment, there was nothing but quietness...
2 hours from the initial assessment, I was checked again and the midwife could tell I was entering active labour. Minutes later, I could feel a really strong sensation in my lower abdomen, as if I was ready to push. It was then that my waters broke. Calmly, I told Adrian I think we need to press the button and call the midwife. As the midwife walked in, we told her that my waters have broken; I was checked and told that I was about to have a baby. We were lucky that a birth suite was finally ready and within minutes I was wheeled into the suite. At that point, it was pretty difficult to contain my voice and I was “ahhing” away rather loudly through the hallway.
I have been lying on my left throughout labour, and it felt natural getting into side lunge during active birth. I remember being asked to slow down my push and instead of vocalising during contractions, I was asked to focus all my strength on pushing. At this point there were quite a few voices talking in the room; it was helpful to hear Adrian’s voice repeating what the midwives said and he remained confident in guiding me through during this time. Within two to three pushes, I was asked to slow down again and did what Suzanne said to “blow hot chips”. Soon, I was told the baby’s head was out and I could feel her body being guided out and immediately placed on my chest. What a relief!
It was a very successful VBAC experience. With no time or opportunity given for other forms of pain management (except for the TENS machine which eventually came off since I was moving my body so much during labour), I fully relied on the calm birth techniques to manage the contractions all the way through, and it worked! All in all, we felt very equipped and prepared for the birth, and we are very thankful for the support we have received from Suzanne.