Story by Jen & Jeremy Ponsonby
I am really excited to share our wonderful VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Caesarian) journey where we welcomed our second child, a gorgeous little boy into our family in the early hours of Anzac Day 2022.
Our journey to parenthood began almost 3 years ago with our model of care for our births being through a private Obstetrician in a private hospital. My Husband Jeremy and I both instantly had a connection with our private Obstetrician and felt she had our best interests at heart, supported our wishes and gave us a sense of empowerment. Despite being well throughout my whole first pregnancy and being of low risk, our little girl was frank breech from 24 weeks onwards and unfortunately never even looked like turning around for a vaginal delivery, so we made the decision at 38 weeks for our planned caesarian. I was initially upset as I always wanted to birth my children vaginally, but knew that this was the safest way we were going to meet our first baby.
So in May 2020 we birthed a beautiful baby girl Audrey via Caesarian with music playing, no drapes so I could watch and see her be birthed, had immediate and uninterrupted skin to skin and began breastfeeding whilst on the table. Then Jeremy, Audrey and I all went to recovery together as a family. This was a wonderful experience becoming a mother and I will be forever grateful of how Audrey entered the world, but I knew deep down that my body could birth a baby vaginally and so the plan for our next baby whenever that would be was to have a VBAC.
When we were pregnant with our second baby, VBAC was on my mind from day one and my private Obstetrician was so supportive and encouraged me that a VBAC was possible, so then began our preparation. Several friends recommended Calmbirth, and so Jeremy and I went along to learn some tools that could help me understand my body and mind and its role in labour and birth and provide Jeremy with ways that he could support me. After attending Calmbirth we both felt empowered and excited to use the skills and knowledge we learnt leading up to and during our birth.
Then on Saturday at 39+4 weeks, I began getting a lower back ache that would come and go but never painful enough that it stopped me from my daily routine of chasing after our toddler and these pains disappeared overnight. Then on Sunday morning with our due date fast approaching and being a sunny day we decided to take a nice family walk as the three of us to the park and had lots of fun watching our daughter play. Later that afternoon about 4pm, my back aches began again and this time I found sitting on the exercise ball helped relieve the pains. I remembered from Calmbirth that in early labour its ideal to just relax and keep doing life as usual, so was able to take a nap and then spent the afternoon playing with my Daughter. I had planned to try and stay at home as long as possible to try and remain as comfortable and in control as possible. The back aches, which had obviously turned out to be contractions were irregular every 20-45 mins and only lasted 30 secs and I was able to be distracted and keep going on with my day, and thinking that I’d be in for a long night ahead so just continue what I was doing. We then had dinner, I bathed my Daughter and put her to bed as I would usually do, then decided to go to bed for an early night and chill with some Netflix.
No sooner did I hop into bed, my back pain got worse and started coming every 10-15 mins and lasting for almost a minute, but I was still able to be distracted at this point.
Over the next hour and a half I danced around the house, swayed my hips and breathed through the back pains that began getting more frequent and regular that I realized that my labour was going quicker than what I had expected. Jeremy thought it was best to call my Mum to come over to watch my Daughter and to call the hospital and ask when is the best time to come in with this being a VBAC birth.
Of course the hospital told us to come in straight away, especially with the 40 mins drive to the hospital and needing monitoring for the VBAC birth. Once we got in the car my contractions were every 5 mins and lasting a minute and my waters broke whilst sitting in the front seat on the first turn leaving our house. During the drive we listened to a music playlist, I practiced my breathing and continued to sway my hips while sitting with each contraction.
We arrived at the hospital at 11pm and my contractions were now every 3 minutes and lasting for over a minute. It took all my concentration now to get through each one, continuing to sway my hips and breathe. The midwife asked if I wanted to have a vaginal exam to be checked and to my surprise I was 7cm and my waters were completely broken. I was hooked up to fetal monitoring being a VBAC which was all wireless which meant I wasn’t stuck to the bed. Over the next hour I continued to walk, sway and lean over the bed during contractions trialing some gas to help and this also helped me focus on the calm breath techniques.
I found telling myself out loud “I can do this” over and over and Jeremy reassuring me all the time helped me keep in the zone and focused.
At about midnight I started feeling the urge to push and the midwife checked me again and I was fully dilated so it was soon time to meet our baby. Our Obstetrician arrived at this time and as she walked in the room and saw me she said with a big smile on her face “Let’s have this baby”, and for me this a huge sense of achievement already to feel that I was supported and was on my way to having my VBAC. With Jeremy beside me the entire time encouraging me, I continued to change positions on the bed from kneeling to squatting to being side to side, as it turned out this baby was posterior hence all the back pain, so it was best for me to keep moving to turn him into an ideal position for delivery.
I was beginning to tire and so was baby with over an hour of pushing and baby’s head had been going up and down, so I consented to an episiotomy to make some more room for baby’s head. As soon as this was done and a couple of pushes later I delivered our baby boy Darcy at 1:14am, I was able to reach down and pull him up onto my chest. I had done it!! And only 2 hours of being in hospital, turns out I had done all the hard work at home and in the car. I was so excited and relieved to have achieved my truly desired VBAC and it was amazing!
I had a great recovery post my birth and an entirely different experience, both physically and emotionally to Audrey’s caesarian birth recovery. I was able to go home 2 days later and Audrey got to meet her new brother Darcy and we loved our newborn bubble as our family of 4.
Calmbirth definitely helped us achieve my VBAC, it gave us so many tools and techniques to use in early and established labour and supported a sense of empowerment that if I listened to my body then it could do this.