My husband and I attended your easy birthing course back in July and I thought you may be interested to know my recent birth story as I am under no doubt that the techniques and general awareness learned over those couple of days contributed hugely to the positive experience of the birth of our son at the end of August.
You may recall from our first conversation that I wanted to transfer from Swindon to Salisbury hospital to try and ensure a successful VBAC this time around. My first baby (now 21 months) was born early at 36 weeks and after my waters broke, we discovered she was breech so I then followed a standard c-section procedure at Swindon.
This all went well and I recovered quickly etc. However, when I discovered I was pregnant again I was surprised that Swindon offered me the ‘choice’ of another c-section or an attempt at VBAC. I actually found this choice quite difficult to process as I didn’t think I would have any option but to try for a vaginal birth considering there was no medical reason to suggest why I shouldn’t.
Anyway, after investigating matters, I came to the conclusion that I should at least attempt a vaginal birth. This then led me to consider how, in an ideal scenario, id like the birth to be and what I needed to do to help get my head around the matter of trying for a natural birth. I must say, at this point, I did feel very daunted by the thought of giving birth and actually quite anxious but felt that I should go for it.
With this in mind, I spoke to a number of friends, and professionals – in both hospitals, my midwife, and a local doula and did quite a lot of web research into natural births. For me, the most basic need was that I wanted to be upright, mobile, and active as much as possible to aid the birthing process and due to the fact that Swindon doesn’t provide a mobile monitoring system (telemetry), this most basic birthing need wasn’t able to be met there.
I was told I ‘had’ to be constantly monitored once in active labour due to the previous c-section and the slight risk of scar rupture. So, after speaking to a number of midwives in Salisbury as well as their VBAC clinic (which was fab that they even had such a thing) I found out that they have a mobile monitoring system that would enable the medical need to be met of me being constantly monitored but more importantly for me, it allowed me to be active…should I wish to be so. It also allowed me to be in the water.
I also found the midwife approach at Salisbury to be much more forward-thinking and encouraging in allowing women to have an as natural birth without intervention as possible. The procedure for VBACs in each hospital was actually quite different and for me, the approach of Salisbury seemed a lot more ‘natural’.
So, I quite quickly decided that overall Salisbury seemed to be able to provide the kind of environment and approach that most matched what I wanted – in an ideal scenario of course as you can never predict childbirth. I transferred to Salisbury hospital and we attended the NHS session that you run as well as the follow on two Saturday sessions. This, and the various discussions, massively put my head into focus and I had a completely different and now confident view of my looming birth. I was actually quite excited about it!
The birth itself was a wonderful, peaceful, and quite incredible experience. My main goal was to try and attempt a natural birth but I was totally realistic in that this was effectively my first birth and what would be would be. I was open to pain relief (bar pethidine) and just wanted to be active if I felt the need. I also wanted to try being in the water pool. As it was, I gave birth to our little boy Finley John (8lb 9oz) in complete calmness and in the water, and without any pain relief throughout!!
I just used breathing techniques such as blowing my contractions into a balloon and then releasing them at the end of the contraction and also breathing in the colour of calm and breathing out the colour of tension. I used this one a lot!! The birth in total lasted 32 hours (!) although from 3cm to actual birth, it was about 8.5hours which was pretty good. The lengthy part was getting into established labour at 3cm. I still can’t believe I managed that length of time without pain relief!! That wasn’t how I envisaged it at all but I just focussed on dealing with each contraction one by one and consequently was off somewhere else in a world of my own just focussing on getting the baby out.
The birthing room was lovely, we had aromatherapy (provided by the hospital) and the only lighting was in the pool so it was very tranquil – now there’s a word I never thought I’d use when describing childbirth!! I used my TENS machine in early labour which i found helped, probably as it gave me something to do when trying to manage the contractions. My husband was allowed to stay with me the entire time we were in the hospital (Sunday 11pm-ish until Tuesday evening) and although we knew the midwives were supportive and were there if we needed them, we were left to get on with things ourselves which were great. The aftercare was also lovely and we were back home the same day i gave birth which was wonderful given my last 4-day hospital stay after the c-section.
I totally surprised myself as I no way expected a birth like that but reflecting back now, from that initial panic at 4/5 months pregnant, once I’d made my decision to try for a natural birth, I got my head into gear and became quite focussed and more importantly relaxed and calm about the process. I think this really helped as once I was in labour i wasn’t frightened or anxious, I just knew I had to get on with it as no one could do it for me so being calm and rational was the best course of action.
I have over 10 friends who are currently pregnant (with first and second babies) and it was lovely to come back and tell them a happy positive birth story as you don’t hear many of them. I would recommend to anyone pregnant to try attending a course like yours as it does help provide an alternative, natural view of birth not the predominantly scary, pain-driven one portrayed by many. But I would also encourage women to not just accept hospital protocol as being entirely right for them as individuals.
Just because a consultant tells you to do something, it doesn’t mean that he or she is 100% right. Childbirth is a natural process and we as women instinctively know what to do – even when we think we don’t. Medical professionals are there to support and ensure events run as safely as possible for both mother and baby and of course, we should listen to their advice. However, it makes me feel both frustrated and sad that other women in my position who may not have explored all VBAC avenues, could end up having intervention/c-sections when they aren’t necessary. But as you must be well aware, this forms part of a much bigger debate and one that will take a lot longer to conclude.
Anyway, thank you for providing the course, and also thank you to Salisbury hospital for including it to prospective parents as a foundation knowledge course as it really is useful. I wish you continued success in the course and when the time comes for baby number 3, I’ll definitely be back to see you for a little refresher course.
With kind regards
Carla, Greg, Isabella, and Finley Watts