Home Birth after Two C-Sections

Andrea shares her birth story (3rd Baby)

Unplanned HBA2C

Andrea's Baby

In 2007 I was delighted to find out I was expecting my first child. After a smooth pregnancy baby was not engaged at 42 weeks, I was overdue, showing no signs of going into labour and after monitoring I was informed an induction was the best option for us. Being a first time mum I trusted their decision as they were the professionals. If only I had more trust in my own body and didn’t “trust” the OB as much as I did at the time…..I have learnt lots since this birth.

First lot of gels was inserted, followed by more every 12hours. 48 hours later no sign of labour. Was given 12 hours rest and the following morning waters (that were full of meconium) were broken, drip attached and I laboured for the whole day. 10pm came and once again the OB decided the next step that a c-section was necessary as I was not progressing. After a horrific section that I felt as they were cutting me open. Baby girl was born – 9lbs 9oz.

Her section was something that I never wish any mum would have to go through. The pain of the epidural not working properly was horrific. I then ended up with a post op infection and a hematoma the size of a toilet roll tube on a muscle that was accidently cut. This section took about 6 months to heal from due to the problems after but emotionally it took a very long time to recover and bond with my little girl. The recovery meant I struggled to hold her any longer than her feeds which did not help with bonding. Deep down I was in a very dark place.

I was left with a lot of what if questions and the feeling of unknown as to why I “needed” a c-section.

Second time around I knew I wanted to attempt a VBAC. I had my MW from my first pregnancy for the first 20 weeks till we moved cities where I found a MW who took over our care.

In the first 20 weeks I had high blood pressure and bleeding problems that I was in and out of hospital. Each time thinking I would lose this baby and each time walking away being told to go on bed rest for a few days.

From 20 weeks on the pregnancy was going smooth. Baby was estimated to be big again, but that didn’t put me off wanting to attempt a VBAC even with all the pressure and lack of support from professionals around me. The day I went into what I thought was labour I was super excited that I might just do this on my own. After 3 nights of false labour from 10pm – 6am when it just stopped, I was exhausted. Finally after 5 days of no sleep I was off to the hospital for my pre c-section appointment. I came across the first professional who was supportive and encouraging of my wishes. This OB did a full check said that I was in labour for us to go home and she would see us later that night. We called our back up MW to inform her of the outcome and sure enough around lunch time the contractions started up again and were getting more regular. Our back up MW was Awesome. She came home to check up on us at about 4pm agreed to let us continue to labour at home and she would meet us at the hospital by 9pm at the latest if not earlier. We waited as long as possible as we knew home was the best place for us right now. We arrived at hospital at 9pm and hooked up to the monitors. My state of mind changed and from then on in I don’t remember much other than being in pain, panicked, confused and extremely exhausted after 5 days of no sleep. Finally after being fully dilated and no progress for a couple of hours as baby’s head was far too high, brow presenting and he was posterior I was taken in for another c-section. Yes I panicked and yes I begged them not to, but deep down I knew this was needed and I had to find strength to go through another c-section. Our back up MW somehow managed to calm me down and put my mind at ease. Baby boy was born weighing the same as his sister – 9lbs 9oz. This time I got skin to skin after about 15mins once he was breathing and stable. But once again left feeling gutted that it ended this way and so disappointed. At least this time I knew that the section was needed. The MW had to push him back up for the OB to get him out. It took a while for him to breathe and respond. The room was left in a panic as they tried to get him out and then to get him breathing. Recovery was much easier even with a tear that needed stitches from baby being pushed back and recovering from a “normal” c-section.

So after two c-sections and being so scared of having another if we were to have another baby and feeling like my body was broken and just not designed to have babies I decided that two children were enough for us…..someone else had plans for us as I became pregnant un-expectantly.

This turned into an emotional journey as I came to terms with being pregnant and the thought of another c-section. I didn’t want to go down that track again so decided to seek out a MW that would support me with attempting a VBA2C.

I knew straight away that if I was to attempt a VBA2C then the MW I had for my second birth was who I needed. She was more than willing to take us on and help us achieve a natural birth. Of course we got lots of talks about the concerns of attempting a VBA2C and also the issue of trying to convince the OB’s that I was a good candidate for attempting a VBA2C.  But I knew that she was in support of a natural birth if possible and her support was one of the most important factors in me achieving my goal. One thing I have learnt is that it is so important to have a Midwife you trust and feel comfortable with.

I remember the first appointment with the OB. The night before I was so nervous and worried about what they would say. When I was attempting a VBAC last time I got an OB who was not so supportive and pushed her views onto us. This made me nervous and unsure about what I wanted. This time I was prepared for the appointment. I knew what was to be expected and we were ready to go in with lots of information and stats ready for a heated discussion.  To our surprise the appointment went completely different.

The first thing we were asked was “so why do you want to attempt a VBA2C?” Our response was simple – “because it is better for baby”. The OB looked at us and said “that is very true and a good response”. She then went on about the “risks” of a VBA2C but quickly realised that we had done our research about it and understood it all. We walked away from the appointment ecstatic with how it went and ready to plan for a natural birth. The decision from that meeting was to leave everything as it is. The OB made an appointment for us to revisit her at 40 weeks and 2 days to discuss where to from here and to book a potential c-section date. She felt this was the best option as then we didn’t have a “date” looming over us and therefore didn’t have added pressure of a time restraint. We could not have asked for a better outcome.

 The next appointment came and once again I was a little anxious but the meeting was so simple and easy. She came in and asked how we were going, what our thoughts were, checked baby and said so when do you want to have this baby – what is your cut off date.

I responded with “10-12 days over due” knowing that she would think that is reasonable. In the end she made a booking for 15days over due to give us plenty of time to have a natural birth as baby was in the right position and she felt I should birth baby natural so wanted to give me as much time as possible to achieve a VBA2C. Once again very satisfied we walked away feeling in control of how things were going.

From day one we deliberately didn’t tell anyone other than a couple of good friends and the Midwife of the due date. We didn’t want the phone calls, text etc coming in all the time asking if baby had arrived. We also didn’t want people to know when the c-section date was booked once it was finally booked. The only people who knew were the people that were possibly needed to look after the kids.

At 41 weeks 1 day I had an appointment with our awesome midwife. She did a second stretch’n’sweep and said that things were only slightly better than the week before but still not favourable. She was not too hopefully that my body knew what to do, but still made us feel that it was possible and encouraged us to try anything natural other than castor oil to get things going. We had tried all sorts of tricks in the previous weeks….Acupuncture, herbal teas, curry etc. I am sure that the only thing that helped was the acupuncture, but hey it does not hurt to try everything else and it became a bit of a game in our house to “try” different ways to bring on labour. If anything it took our minds of the pending c-section date that we knew was coming up.

In the morning we had a scan to check fluids etc. We were told that baby was estimated to be 10lbs 6oz. After that scan I left thinking was this really the best option for me to attempt a VBA2C? If the other two really were too big for me to birth naturally then am I going to put myself through all of this pain to be disappointed, let down and rushed for an emergency c-section again. Would it really be better to just book in for an elective c-section and as the OB said have a “relaxed, calm and beautiful” c-section? As you can tell I was starting to doubt myself. I text the MW who responded with “wow big baby” and that whole afternoon and evening I was contemplating ringing her and booking in a c-section earlier. Luckily hubby said to wait and leave it and see how things were on the Monday……later during my surgery I learnt that the MW had been a little worried and was thinking that a c-section was needed and how she was going to convince me of this.

That afternoon we decided to have some family fun, to get my mind off things and try to bring on labour. We drove out to Raglan and walked down the bridal veils falls track…..Yes that is right lots and lots of stairs to run up and down. The stairs trick did not work with my first, but it was worth a try and if nothing else it would tire the two kids out and it was nice to get out of the house and keep my mind of it all.

 We had a lovely family day enjoying the sun, walking the track, visiting the beach and having fish and chips by the beach. Just what we needed and a nice way to spend some special time with the older two before baby arrived.   On the drive home I had a few tightening, but this was nothing new as I often got strong tightenings in the car. Of course once we were home they stopped.

41 weeks and 2 days I woke with period type pains but didn’t think much of it as I had them a couple of nights / mornings before.

While out shopping I said to my Hubby I think this baby might just come by Monday as I’m getting more tightenings. On the drive home I had a few more. We got home and I decided to do some sewing and the kids played till Granddad showed up and hubby took the kids out for lunch so I could have a rest. When they got home I was feeling a little blah, and felt like I needed to have a nap but decided that I should have a bath to relax first.

 A friend came over before I had a chance to get in the bath. During that time my tummy was getting tighter but nothing that made me think this baby would come today as they were still mild and not breath stopping. I had been having a continuous show most of the morning but once again thought nothing of it as last time it was 24 hours till I went into labour after a show.

Once my friend left I decided to have a rest. Hubby went to mow the lawns and the kids were off playing with the duplo. Thirty minutes later I started getting strong contractions. I started timing contractions – 40sec long and 1min apart. After timing them for a bit Hubby came inside and was a little surprised to see that I was in labour. We had a discussion about if we should call the MW. I decided we should leave it as contractions had only started and with my second pregnancy I had contractions like this for ages so it would possibly die out. I decided to go have a bath as I knew that would either slow things up and or make things happen. I took one step forward and felt baby drop so decided that possibly we should notify the MW. Hubby contacted her while I went to have a bath.  I kept thinking I was now in for a long few days so tried to keep my mind of things and found distractions welcoming.

Miss4 (my oldest) kept coming to me with book for us to read and I knew if I could manage that all would be good. Before I knew it I had to ask her to leave as it got stronger and sore.

Hubby came in with some Panadol tablets and informed me that our MW wanted me to take some pamol to take the edge of the pain – I laughed and said Pamol won’t help this Ill need more than a few pills to take the edge off this. He left them beside the bath (where they stayed as I never got a chance to take them) while telling me that the MW would come in an hour to check on my progress. By this stage I had been in labour for about 45min. Things started to move rather quick from then on in…..with help of technology storing times on cell phones our midwife managed to write up our one page of birth notes by using text conversations and phone calls to document the progress……

  • 16:00 MW was notified
  • 4.13 waters had broken and contractions were on top of each other – advised to go to meet at hospital, but mum was unable to make it to car. Arranged to meet them at home. (hubby arrange for kids to be picked up by a friend somewhere around now)
  • Bad traffic – arrived at home at 17.15. On arrival mum in advanced labour.
  • Midwife back up called, unavailable off duty midwife called in who are friends…….this is when I clearly remember saying to hubby – ring R and her mum and see if one of them can come. R was also the friend that came earlier and she happened to be the person who had the kids.
  • 17:30 backup MW arrived.
  • 17:30 – pushing with contractions
  • 17:43 Baby’s head born
  • 17:45 Baby born
  • 17:46 baby crying and handed straight to mum for skin to skin.
  • 18:00 Ambulance called and on the way to transfer mum to hospital to fix up third degree tear

 So that was it. Almost two hours from start to finish and with only one moment where I felt I could not do this – Hubby said to me “come on it is time to go to hospital” I turned around and said to him “please ask them to do a c-section I can’t do this” then in the next breath I turned around and said “I can’t move I’m not getting in the car”. That contraction I had dropped to the floor of the shower and that is when the MW who was on the phone to hubby realised that I was unable to be transferred and that she needed to be on her way. Poor lady it was all very rushed for her.

 The moment I liked the most was when the MW came rushing in and found us in the bathroom – me on hands and knees on the wooden floor. She says to hubby “I need warm towels”. That was the moment he realised that there would be no ambulance transfer to hospital and that we were now having a home birth. The next thing the MW said to me was would you like to go somewhere more comfortable……ummm no thanks I’m not moving from here. Crawling out of the shower about 3 feet away was hard enough. So baby boy was born in the bathroom.

 The whole experience was so amazing for me. I was on such a high, but also in shock. When baby was born and handed to me I remember sitting there thinking “shit I just delivered a baby naturally and at home after 2 c-sections……..wow how did that happen?”

It was so nice to be at home where it was so calm and quiet, yes no kids were around. My poor friends husband was left with 5 kids under 5 while she came and attended the birth…..isn’t he amazing. Funny thing is that he text part way through asking her where she was as he didn’t hear her say I’m off to deliver a baby.

After baby was born we were in the lounge, I lay on the couch in comfy clothes not a hospital gown chatting away waiting for an ambulance to transfer me to hosp. I was wide awake, aware of my surroundings and not wasted on drugs unaware of what was happening.

 Hubby who was not at all a fan of home birth’s now sees why people would want one and would do it again.

MW was saying that on the Saturday (the day after the birth) she received a rather long 2 paged  “birth plan” from our OB at the hospital. I wish I knew what it said.   She couldn’t wait to email her and tell her the birth plan was a bit late and baby had a mind of its own.

One questions I have been asked a lot – What birth would you prefer. A c-section or a natural birth. My response is a natural birth with a third degree tear any day.

But what makes me laugh the most is when people ask me “did you have a home birth because you didn’t realise you were in labour?” or “I guess because you have had two previous c-sections you have no idea what labour was so didn’t know when to go to hospital?” and believe me this is not just coming from other mums, I have had health professionals ask me these types of questions.

And then they ask “so a home birth…..no drugs……wow how was that. I bet it was painful?” but in all honesty I would not say it was “painful” just uncomfortable. The sore part was when I tore. I vividly remember that.

 So after 2 emergency c-sections and feeling like a failure and having such horrible birth experiences and bonding problems I had what I would call a perfect birth, fast, at home, for the first time out of all 3 babies I get to do all the new born baby care – 1st bath, changing the nappies, new born snuggle. All things I missed out on with the other two. But I did it, I managed to push out my biggest baby yet – 9.12lbs. My body is designed to have babies after all.