Story by Stephanie Juan
I wanted to send a warm thank you to the team at Calmbirth for whom I am so grateful that I learned so many skills for both my births.
My first baby was born January 2020 via cesarean due to her being breech. I refused an ECV and was happy to go ahead with the cesarean as the option I felt most comfortable with. I had done Calmbirth assuming I would have a natural birth. Even though this wasn’t the case, I used all the breathing techniques to get through the caesarean. The doctors even commented how steady my heart rate was throughout the surgery.
For my second, I knew if I didn’t have another breech I wanted a vbac. And I knew I wanted to use Calmbirth techniques once again.
On June 20 2023, which also happened to be my dad’s birthday, I reached 39 weeks of pregnancy. The doctors had advised me to ideally give birth by 40 weeks spontaneously. Although I had been experiencing cramps for a week, they hadn’t progressed further. Determined to kickstart the process, I decided to have a stretch and sweep on the same day as my second acupuncture session and a long walk.
By dinner time, while at my mom’s place, my cramps started intensifying, but I wasn’t entirely convinced it was labour yet. After putting my toddler Madison to bed, I attempted to sleep but found it impossible due to the strong cramps. Uncertain if these were contractions, I stayed up in the lounge room, watching Brooklyn 99 and googling the signs of labour.
Around midnight, I finally became certain that things were progressing. Remaining calm, I focused on my breathing and practiced the techniques I had learned in my Calmbirth classes. At this point, I let Randle (my husband) sleep and decided to call Jayda (my MGP midwife), as my contractions were occurring every 5-6 minutes. She advised me to wait until they were 3-4 minutes apart.
By 1 am, Randle woke up, wondering why I wasn’t in bed. I told him that labour was happening. He quickly started preparing everything and suggested we call my mom to come and take care of Madison. At 3 am, my mom arrived, and I found leaning over the coffee caddy and breathing through contractions while squatting to be the most manageable position.
Randle loaded the car, and by 4 am, my contractions were now 2-3 minutes apart. I called Jayda to let her know we were heading to the hospital, and she was pleased with the progress. At this point, I could hardly speak or move during each contraction.
Upon arriving at the hospital, we were directed to a birth suite and waited for Jayda to join us. A CTG monitor was placed around my belly, but I declined the IV, wanting to avoid any disruptions to my labour process. I undressed, and Jayda checked my progress, revealing that I was already 6 cm dilated, which was fantastic news. Randle played soft music to create a soothing atmosphere.
We experimented with different positions under Jayda’s guidance, but I found squatting while leaning on the bed to be the most comfortable. At one point, I became overwhelmed with emotions, thinking about Madison, but Jayda reassured me that it was entirely normal. We later tried the shower and bath, with the shower providing relief as Randle held it over me. However, I felt cold, and the monitor kept causing issues. In the bath, I couldn’t find a comfortable position, and lying down made my body tense instead of relaxing. We decided to exit the water due to the monitoring difficulties.
Jayda suggested using a head monitor on the baby instead, and I agreed. It was then that I discovered I had progressed to 8 cm dilation, and my waters broke. The contractions became incredibly intense, leading me to spontaneously vomit. Jayda assured me that this was a sign of great progress and the transition phase. This was a surprise to me but reassuring.
We continued trying different positions, and back massages provided some relief. By this point, I was making a lot of noise through my breathing. Jayda then suggested trying gas, and I gave it a go while on the bed. Shortly after, I vomited, and Randle came to the rescue with a bag. We also attempted using the toilet, where I felt the urge to push. Gripping Randle tightly during each contraction, I could sense that I was nearing the pushing stage.
Jayda later checked my progress and confirmed that I was ready to push. Despite my exhaustion from lack of sleep, I attempted to hold my breath and push, with Jayda providing guidance. However, the doctors entered the room, requesting that I have an IV inserted as a precaution. They also realized that I hadn’t signed the consent form. In between contractions, I was pricked and had to sign, which I found ridiculous but wanted to get it over with.
On my knees at the top of the bed, holding Randle’s hands, I reached a point of extreme fatigue, feeling like I couldn’t continue. We changed positions, returning to squatting on the side of the bed, as it still felt the most effective for pushing. Everyone encouraged me to breathe and push while holding on, but it became increasingly challenging, and I started feeling disheartened.
Jayda informed me that I could feel the beginning of the baby’s scalp, which gave me renewed hope. After more pushes, I experienced what they call the “ring of fire” – an intense pain like nothing I had felt before. I screamed and cried, but the sensation indicated progress. With the next few pushes and encouragement, I managed to deliver the baby’s head. With one final push, the entire body emerged, and I collapsed onto one knee, feeling an immense sense of relief.
The baby cried immediately, and I was able to bring him up between my legs, experiencing the most incredible feeling in the world. We discovered that he was a boy, and we were overjoyed, shedding tears of happiness. Jordan was born beautiful and healthy on 21 June at 9 47am weighing 3.02kg.
Barely noticing, Jayda gave me the injection for my placenta. It came out in tact not long after. I was able to hold my baby on my chest immediately and witness him attempting the breast crawl. After a refreshing shower and feeling on top of the world, I was able to walk with my baby over to the maternity ward, something I could have never done after my cesarean.
This success in my vbac is my proudest moment as a mum and a woman standing up for the procedure I believed all along I was well capable of.