My personal experience of VBAC

Joanne tells of her experience of VBAC with her daughter following the caesarean birth of her son who was breech.

When I found out that I was expecting my first child in March 1999, I was overjoyed. Everything went OK until I reached week 34. On the Thursday I had been for a routine ante-natal check, which was OK. I was told the head was down and everything was fine. However, the following Tuesday I had a routine appointment at the hospital with my consultant. I was a little concerned by the way he kept reading my ante-natal notes and re-examining my abdomen. He then told me he thought the baby was breech and I would need a scan to confirm this. He was right. An appointment was made for me to be admitted to hospital for a caesarean, unless I went into labour naturally before then.

My membranes ruptured three week later, three days before I was due to be admitted. My healthy baby boy was born by caesarean weighing 7lb. Whilst I was in hospital recovering from my caesaren, I had to be reminded by the midwives to be careful as I was recovering from a major surgery, and that they were on hand to help me care for my baby. Yet I wanted to do it myself and didn't see the caesarean as being major surgery, just another way of delivering a baby.

When I attended my post natal check at the hospital I was told by my consultant that I should wait a year before trying for another baby, due to the scar tissue, and also any future pregnancies may result in having a caesarean section, and that if I did want to try a vaginal delivery I would be monitered all the way through labour because of the strain it could put on the scar tissue. This didn't put me off!

When my little boy was 18 months old I found out that I was expecting my second child. When I went to the hospital for my dating scan, the staff were a little concerned about the positioning of the placenta - it was a bit low down. I had an appointment with my consultant at the same time, who informed me of my options. If the placenta stayed in the same position - I would have to have another caesarean, but if it got pulled upwards, as my bump grew, then she had no problems with me wanting to try a vaginal delivery, as long as I was aware if there was a problem with the scar tissue then I would have to have another section. And also if I was 10 days overdue I wouldn't be able to be induced I would have to have another section.

I thought at this point I would contact one or two support groups to try to prepare myself for another caesarean if it was needed. I had two further scans to show the positioning of the placenta - which thankfully had moved upwards, so as the pregnancy developed and my due date drew closer, I become quite nervous about what to expect during labour, as I have had no previous experience, except of my membranes rupturing.

I finally went into labour, three days after my due date, on 15 July 2001. I was having regular contractions, every three minutes and they were lasting 45 - 60 seconds. So I went into hospital.

As soon as I got there I was taken to a delivery room, where I was examined to find how how dilated I was, and put on a foetal monitor. I was disappointed to find out that I hadn't started to dilate. After all I was having regular contractions and they were beginning to be quite painful.

After about two hours the contractions stopped, so I was taken up to the labour ward, where I was re-examined by two midwives, who both tried to "walk the cervix", to try to work out if it was the baby's head they could feel, the membranes or just the cervix.

After a while my membranes ruptured and at the same time I had a show, closely followed by strong contractions. I was taken back to the delivery room, and placed on the foetal monitor. At first I could breathe through the contractions, but after a while they became too strong to bear, so I had pethadine, as well as gas and air.

It was at this point one of the local midwives took over. I felt a little better having someone I had seen during my regular ante-natal visits, caring for me during labour. As the pain was so bad she suggested an epidural, and with myself in agreement, went to find the anaesthetist, who administered the epidural.

As soon as the epidural had taken effect I was quite relieved. My midwife examined me again and told me that I had started to dilate, and that I would probably dilate 1cm every hour, so on that basis I estimated my baby would be born about midnight! As the epidural had blocked most of the pain I was able to get some sleep. When I awoke my midwife was about to finish her shift, but told me not to worry as another local midwife would be with me. I was really pleased when I discovered it was a midwife who lived a few doors from me and had visited me at home after I had my first baby.

Again as she came on shift and took over I was re-examined and the foetal monitor readings checked, she then had to see my consultant to inform her of how the labour was progressing. However, as soon as the midwife went out of the room I had to call her back, as I had a overwhelming urge to push. So the midwife and consultant came rushing into the room, where I was told to push. The consultant, who was in her gowns left after the first two pushes, as it appeared she wasn't needed.

After 45 minutes of pushing, at 11.00pm I finally gave birth to a healthy baby girl weighing 6lb 13oz. I had a slight tear, but it didn't need stitching, and I felt so proud to think I gave birth vaginally after a caesarean and didn't need stiches! (But I had read somewhere that by massaging the perineum with cocoa butter or oil from week 30 can assist in the stretching of the perineum - so I had given it a try). A few minutes after the baby was born the consultant re-entered the room, still in her gowns, to see if I had delivered. I still couldn't believe that I had done it!

The following day I was allowed home to be with the rest of my family.

© Joanne 2001

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