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My second birth story- home birth to VBAC.

I started researching VBAC’s WAYYYY before I was even pregnant again. I knew I wanted to have another one, the need to heal from my previous traumatic birth and wanting to grow my family were equal in the pull to have another child.

I did so much research during my postnatal period around breastfeeding, sleep and starting solids. I was already in a place where I could take on more research. Hypnobirthing helped with planning for my next birth.

I knew I wanted to have a VBAC (vaginal birth after c-section), but through research and the positive numbers coming from planning a HBAC (home birth after c-section), I felt that this was the right choice for me and my family.

Studies have shown that 93% of birthers who plan an HBAC go into spontaneous labour. (1) and Women who planned VBAC at home had a significantly increased chance of a vaginal birth compared with those planning VBAC in an OU—(82.6% vs 53.7%) (2).

I liked these odds. My birth partner and I decided that I would either VBAC spontaneously or, if I needed medical interventions, I would go straight in for a c-section. I did not want to go through the induction pathway. This made research much more manageable by taking that scenario out of the equation.

I declined consultant care which here in the UK you are automatically assigned when you have had a previous c-section due to the “increased risk”. However, I understood I did not have to accept any care offered to me.

The issue I encountered with the Kettering General Hospital care was the refusal to accept my position when it came to my care. I made informed choices throughout my entire pregnancy and birth. With consultants/doctors phoning me at least 3 times and sending me poor bedside manner letters.

Not only this but the midwife advocacy team wanted to speak to me to ensure I understood the risks. I did.

At this point, I decided to get a birth doula to help me and my birth team get the VBAC I deserved. Having that additional support was so beneficial; it felt like you had another person on your side and fighting your corner.

I ended up going into “false labour” around 38 weeks for around 6 hours. I really felt disheartened at the time. Otis just needed some help to adjust him into a good position—lots of signs over the next two weeks that labour was on its way.

The actual labour started around 40 weeks and 2 days (on the hottest day of the year) around 4 a.m. This was the most relaxed day we had. While I was having contractions, they started gently and fairly close together, but I could definitely cope. We went on lots of short walks, I went in the water frequently, and my birth partner rested when he needed to, with my doula popping in to check progress throughout the day. Around 11 p.m. the midwives came in and Becki (our doula) briefed them on the birth plan. I felt that the birth was stalling around 12ish so I asked for a vaginal exam. I was 3 cm, I was devastated at this so I made a decision to transfer to the hospital to get an epidural to get some rest to be able to continue.

Once I got into Kettering General Hospital, the urge to push became overwhelming. In hindsight this feeling of birth stalling and being upset around the dilation was transition. Everyone in the room read my birth plan and made sure all of my wishes were respected; I did not need the epidural in the end and just went for it!

Within one and a half hours, Otis was here, and we were home by 5 a.m. This birth was so healing for me and my birth partner.

(1) Latendresse, Gwen, Patricia Aikins Murphy, and Judith T. Fullerton. “A description of the management and outcomes of vaginal birth after cesarean birth in the homebirth setting.” Journal of midwifery & women’s health 50.5 (2005): 386-391.

(2) Hollowell J, Rowe R, Townend J, et al. The Birthplace in England national prospective cohort study: further analyses to enhance policy and service delivery decision-making for planned place of birth. NIHR Journals Library, Southampton (UK); 2015. PMID: 26334076.

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