Birth Story: “I had my heart set on a VBAC”

Posted in Birth Stories.

Laura O breastfeeding her newborn baby in a hospital bed

Laura’s first birth had been anything but what she envisioned. Ending in an emergency c-section and resulting in birth trauma that was hard to shake. When her son was 15 months old, Laura discovered she was pregnant again and had her heart set on a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) but she was soon to discover, that no matter how much you plan, birth is unpredictable.

Moving to Australia

Laura moved to Australia from the UK in 2013. She met her husband, Matt, a year later in 2014 when she was just 19 and he was 20. They were married in 2018 and had their first baby, a boy in 2019. Luckily for Laura her mother was a midwife and a big support to her during her first pregnancy and birth. Unfortunately, her first birth ended in an emergency c-section and left Laura feeling emotionally scared.

Pregnant Again

In 2021 Laura fell pregnant again. She spent a lot of time researching VBAC’s as she really wanted to try for a vaginal birth this time around.

“The last thing I wanted was another out-of-control emergency and major surgery. I got into the MGP (Midwife Group Practice) program which was new to my local hospital, and I had one awesome midwife called Phillipa who was so onboard with the VBAC goal. My mum was also a massive support, giving me plenty of research, a listening ear and supported me every step of the way.”

Laura’s pregnancy was going smoothly and then in December 2021, at 24 weeks pregnant she suddenly experienced intense pain.

“I was home alone with my son and the mobile service in our area was down and I started to experience excruciating pains. I managed to call my husband in tears who then called my midwife. She told me to come in but I couldn’t reach any of my friends or family due to the outage, so my husband had to call an ambulance.

Baby was in the way

“We arrived via ambulance where they checked bub, she was fine, but they sent me for an ultrasound to try and find what was causing the pain. Turns out I had a kidney infection or kidney stones – they couldn’t actually diagnose because the baby was in the way.

“The sonographer thought something might be wrong with the placenta and c-section scar, so I had a nervous wait for two weeks before having a scan at the Mater Mothers Hospital in Brisbane. Luckily, they advised that the placenta was well clear of the cervix and that it was not growing into my scar as initially thought. Phew, I thought my dreams of a VBAC were gone!”

Family portrait of a pregnant Laura O and her partner and first son

After the scare with kidney stones, Laura continued to have a smooth pregnancy until she went for a scan at 37 weeks.

“I went in for a routine scan where bub had managed to flip herself around and was now breech. My midwife couldn’t attend the appointment but my heart sank as I knew that if bub was breech my small local hospital wouldn’t want me to attempt a VBAC and I would have to have a c-section. I was shattered, I called my mum and told her and cried. Mum suggested I speak to a doctor straight away as they could try an ECV (external cephalic version).

“I wasn’t too keen on this because it’s only a 50/50 chance it works and if bub gets distressed it’s an emergency section there and then, the very thing I wanted to avoid. I spent the good part of four days so disappointed thinking I wouldn’t have a choice in the matter after so much planning and researching. I had to think of some positives of having a repeat section so I could come to terms with it before it would happen.”

The decision was mine

“I then went to my next appointment where I spoke to the doctor and midwife at length about all the things relating to an elective section. The doctor then did a bedside scan and that’s when we saw bub had flipped back around and was in the correct position!

“I was happy with that but now I felt I wasn’t in the right head space and thinking of all the things that could go wrong, coming to terms with a repeat section and now suddenly the decision was back up to me.”

Laura was 38 weeks along and it was time to make a choice. She decided that she would change from her VBAC plan and go for a repeat caesarean. She was booked in at 39+4 for her c-section.

Laura O birth story 4

“The day of the c-section felt so strange, saying goodbye to my son who had only just turned two eight days before, and I wasn’t in labour nor was I experiencing any contractions or struggling to walk into the hospital. My mum stayed at home with my son and my husband stayed by my side during the section. I was nervous and definitely experienced some trauma pop back up, especially once they raised the curtain, I had a little cry but my husband, midwife and doctor reassured me.

“The procedure went well and our beautiful baby girl was born. Surprise genders for both. She was 8lb 10oz (son was 7lb 14oz) so I felt a relief that I didn’t attempt the VBAC (my son got stuck, meconium in waters and heart rate declined, forceps couldn’t get him out either and lack of communication from doctors and change of midwife was not a good experience).”

“My midwife was talking us through the whole procedure, and she was immediately brought over to me once they wrapped her in a blanket. I fed her in recovery and my husband got to cut the excess umbilical cord.

“Overall it was a positive and healing experience from my first birth and I’m so grateful to have had lots of support to help me feel supported and empowered in choosing whether to attempt the VBAC or not.

“I got up later that day for a shower and the next morning had another shower and was then able to pick my baby up out of the bassinet and carry her over to the bed and breastfeed her. Something I couldn’t do with my son until day four!”

Laura O birth story

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