This incredible woman has given permission for her positive second birth experience story to be shared, a vaginal birth after caesarean. So often I hear from women that they are feeling scared of birth, particularly after a difficult first birth when planning their second birth experience. While there are often several things I suggest for these women (Counselling with a Birth Trauma aware practitioner, Calmbirth classes, assembling a great support team for the following journey and birth debriefing/planning being some), I do believe there is a special power in story sharing. The Australian VBAC stories podcast is one way of hearing these stories, as is being part of the VBAC community at the VBAC Australia Support Group, but today we get the opportunity to read a little about how the first experience can shape a woman and support her in preparing for her next birth experience.

Thank you, Julia, for allowing me to share this story ?

The first birth, a caesarean after induction

In August 2020, I gave birth to my first child, my son via “emergency caesarean”. My OB at the time had maintained from my first appointment that because I was short and had small feet, I had a small pelvis and I could not birth a baby naturally. This should have been a red flag, but I didn’t know better.

I told her that I wanted a natural birth. She told me that she would allow me to “try” for one.

I trusted her.

She induced me on 6 August 2020 at 39 weeks pregnant, because she was going on holiday the following week. I was induced on a Thursday morning using the tape. She then broke my waters and hooked me up to syntocinon on Friday morning. They also gave me the Epidural (at my request). I believe I may have had an allergic reaction because I was extremely lethargic and unable to keep my eyes open.

Approximately 4 hours later, after I had progressed, “Just 1cm more to 3cm”, she called a failure to progress and wheeled me to theatre. Her exact words were, “It’s time to call it quits – I could let you labour longer, but you’re just going to labour for 40 hours and end up with an emergency caesarean anyway”. She gave me the consent form and I signed it – I was not at all mentally present. Baby was fine, I was fine. She had places to be. There was no discussion about options or explanation from her as to what was about to happen or why. My questions about my body or baby were not to be answered and there was no permission sought by her – she had made the decision for me. There was no consent given by me, let alone informed consent. 

Processing the first experience

I believed immediately (that night) that my caesarean section was medically unnecessary. Over the course of 2 years I began to learn that it was brought on by the actions of my OB, who had set me up to fail. I grieved for a long time and felt robbed of my initiation into motherhood. Feeling misled and that my body and birth experience had been hijacked; I felt betrayed.

About 10 months after my son’s birth I consulted with another OB. This OB obtained my hospital notes and confirmed the following to me:

  1. She called the csection before I was in active labour.
  2. The csection was labelled as an elective csection on the report. This was despite leading me and the hospital to believe it was an emergency csection.
  3. It is extremely unusual to call a failure to progress before 15 hours.

I was devastated.  

The positive second birth experience, a vaginal birth after caesarean

After this experience, I educated myself and surrounded myself with the right people. I had my VBAC on 4th December 2022 with the birth of my daughter. I was supported by another OB who is pro VBACs, and my doula Aimee Sing.

It was the most beautiful, empowering and enlightening experience of my entire life and I am so thankful for it.

It completely healed me.

Although my first birth wasn’t the birth I wanted, it shaped me. It opened my eyes and showed me what kind of mother and woman I wanted to be, and am. It was a necessary part of my journey.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about Julia’s positive second birth experience after her previous difficult experience. Story sharing can make such a phenomenal difference to others who are trying to learn more about their options. If you’d be willing to share your own birth story, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

Aimee xx

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