Real births: Jane attempts VBAC after traumatic first birth

The birth of her first child was stressful and Jane was hoping things would be different second time round

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After having an emergency caesarean section when her first child was born, Jane was keen to have a much more positive experience, and ideally a vaginal birth after caesarean section (VBAC).  

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Here’s Jane’s story in her own words:

Was the baby on the way?

“The birth of my first child was very traumatic and ended in an emergency section under general anaesthetic.  So after months of tying myself in knots over whether to go for a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean section) or a section birth with my second child, I decided to try for a VBAC.

“It all started with a massive gush of fluid whilst I was in bed.  I called the hospital who asked me to go in.  I was examined and it turned out it wasn’t my waters but just discharge so I went home disappointed! That night (Monday night) I kept waking up feeling crampy, but the cramps weren’t regular.

“On Tuesday I had arranged to meet a friend and we spent the afternoon in her garden soaking up the sun with our kids. I was still getting cramping, but nothing major.  During the night the cramping was every 10 minutes, lasting 30-50 seconds.

“At 3.30am I got up, told my husband I was having regular contractions and ran a bath.  The contractions continued to get stronger so at 6am I asked my husband to put my TENS machine on and by 7.30am we had called the in-laws and asked them to come and collect our daughter.” 

Hospital bag at the ready

“By now the contractions were coming every 7 minutes or so and I was pacing around, so we decided to call the hospital. They said I could go in, but that I ran the risk of being sent home if it was too early.

“The in-laws arrived at ours at 8.30am and were still there at 10.30am!  I just wanted to be with my husband, but I couldn’t ask them to leave, so I shut myself away upstairs until they’d gone.  Contractions carried on getting stronger but were very irregular going from 4 minutes apart to 12 minutes apart.  I wasn’t sure what to do as I wanted to spend as long as possible at home and I really didn’t want to go in only to be sent home again, but on the other hand I wanted to know if anything was actually happening.

6cm dilated…still 6cm dilated

“We decided to go in to hospital at 4pm.   They examined me and announced that I was 6cm – woo hoo!! I was admitted and shown to the labour room.  All was going well.  My contractions were regular and I was up and mobile as I wanted, despite continuous monitoring.  My midwife was fantastic and accommodated most of the things I asked for. 

“At 8pm there was a shift change and my new midwife was equally fab and very supportive of all my choices.  She examined me at 9pm only to discover that I was still 6cm!  I felt totally gutted. She asked me if I wanted her to break my waters as my baby was back to back and her head wasn’t pushing on my cervix.  I agreed and she did it without too much pain. 

“Contractions ramped up immediately and I still only had my TENS machine for pain relief.  I decided it was time to try out the gas and air as the pain in my back was unbearable, even though I was up and walking about.  My husband was a star rubbing my back, applying pressure whilst timing my contractions and mopping me with a cold flannel.  He was just brilliant and so supportive.

“Then at about 11pm I asked for an epidural as I couldn’t cope with the pain anymore. My midwife was great and said perhaps she could examine me to see if I was going through transition and was in fact nearly there.  So she examined me and…..still 6cm!  

“Totally gutted. So she agreed that perhaps an epidural was the best route in case my VBAC went out of the window.  The epidural went in at about 11.30pm and this time there were no problems.  I was so relieved and I now knew that whatever happened I would be awake for the birth.  

Making a difficult decision

“A consultant came to see me to discuss my options: basically syntocinon drip or a caesarean section. The consultant was great and didn’t try to make me decide one way or the other.  My husband and I discussed the birth of our first child with our midwife, including the fact that it all went wrong when the drip was administered and ended with an emergency section.  

“After a long chat we decided on a caesarean.  I had been stuck at 6cm for more than 7 hours and my baby was back to back, so even if the Syntocinon worked I might not be able to push her out or I could easily end up with a bad tear or a forceps/ventouse delivery.

“The consultant agreed and I went to theatre at about midnight.  It was so relaxed compared to last time.  No rushing about, just a nice calm environment.”

“It was an amazing and positive experience”

“Our baby girl was born at 1.36am weighing 8lbs exactly.  My lovely midwife made sure I got skin to skin straight away before she was even weighed. She laid across me and we were just looking at each other – it was amazing.  And my husband got to cut the cord.  

“Our midwife made sure lots of photos were taken and our baby girl was then assessed and weighed and I was breastfeeding in theatre within 30 minutes of her being born.  So although it ended in a section it was an amazing and positive experience and I got most of what I asked for in my birth plan. 

“I can’t thank the staff at Medway Hospital enough. They were all just fantastic!”

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