Homebirth after 2 Cesareans (HBA2C) - Louise's Story
This amazing home birth story is told by Louise, in her own words:
"Where to start... When we found out in August 2020 we were expecting baby number 3 my youngest was only 9 months, to say the news terrified me would be putting it mildly!
I had had two unplanned cesarean sections with my first two children and the thought had very briefly crossed my mind when I found out, ooh maybe this one will be my chance at a vaginal delivery. I very quickly shut those thoughts down as a far fetched dream, why would this one be any different?
The pregnancy progressed as normal, baby was doing really well and my first Consultant telephone call was round the corner.
I have known Jade for years and TBU (The Birth Uprising) since it’s conception and had used the hypnobirthing for my second labour along with all the support that goes with it. So when I had my Consultant appointment (at this point I was very much convinced I would just book in for another section) I let Jade know what was said. It turns out I was just spouted a shit load of non evidence based ‘facts’ along with the offer of a sterilisation (horrific, right?). This was soon corrected and I was sent some actual evidence based stuff to read through by Jade and Alix which blew my mind.
I was told that during my second labour my scar had thinned which was potentially dangerous, Jade pointed me in the direction of a Doula, Ten Moons Birthkeeper, we had a brief chat about my previous births and she confirmed quite the opposite - the fact my scar had only thinned and showed no signs of rupture was actually an incredibly good thing especially since I’d laboured for over 19 hours.
Now don’t get me wrong, the doubts I had about not only my body’s ability to birth this baby but my mind's ability to get over the fears of previous births was still very present at this point and I hadn’t committed either way. I was terrified to even mention to my husband I wanted to try naturally because it filled him with fear when I had mentioned it as a flyaway comment previously.
Fast forward a little while, pregnancy is going very well but did feel different. Baby was doing well, I had no complications with scar or placenta positioning and it was through a quick conversation with Jade where she’d made a comment 'where would you feel comfortable if you did do it?' and I’d said at home. So she said, well transfer your care to the homebirth team...I had never in a million years imagined I would be ‘allowed’ to birth at home let alone be supported in that decision but I 100% was. I spoke to Kaz on the team who transferred my care, I then had a call from Chrissy on the continuity of care team who was brilliantly supportive.
And that was it, I was now planning to birth my baby at home...
I told my husband my plan and after a few conversations and reading the AIMS vbac book (a must read for anyone considering a vbac), we were both in a good place. I had a massive amount of built up fear, don’t get me wrong, and this wasn’t a decision I entered into with willfull ignorance - I knew the risks associated with my choice but I also knew the risks associated with a 3rd cesarean section and, when I weighed up the two, I felt far safer with my choice to birth in my space at home where I would feel protected and safe. If anything felt wrong I would head to hospital, no big deal.
Now to prepare for getting the baby out! I had had a private session with Lizzy at Lizzy Edwards yoga earlier on in my pregnancy and I got back in touch and we started doing pregnancy yoga every other week from about 30 weeks to help get my body ready for this baby. That’s the body bit sorted, Lizzy was incredible, not only did she give me confidence in my own body I didn’t know I had, she’s a beautiful person inside and out and listened to me when I wobbled and doubted myself, reassured me what I was doing was powerful and started to help with the mind side of things. She honestly helped so much in making my dream a reality.
I got my affirmation sorted and my awesome husband had it printed on a pillow case for me so I saw it every morning when I woke up and every night before I went to sleep. This helps, trust me, affirmations work.
When you read about the things that help with a vbac being ‘successful’ there are a few things that help:
Going into spontaneous labour - check (I had done with the previous two so knew that would be ok)
Having a horizontal previous section scar - check
Hiring a doula - ok let’s get this bit sorted
I had Jade on standby for this, she knew me and I knew she would stop me from spiraling into my own bullshit when things got difficult, however she found out she was pregnant and suffered badly with it and we both decided to maybe look for an alternative. I had been following Becki @mothersspirit on Instagram for a while and she always posted things that resonated with me. Jade knew her so I got in touch. From our first contact she never made me feel like I wanted was stupid or unachievable. We had a few chats and that was that.
Turns out having Becki at my birth would change it from just successful to being the most empowering and amazing experience of my life.
We were all set, pool was in my utility, hidden. I didn’t tell most people what my plan was and this was so important to me, the fight you will have internally to go against what everyone thinks is ‘utter madness’, ‘selfish’, ‘dangerous’ is enough, I didn’t need to defend my choices to anyone.
I had a horrific Consultant appointment and declined any further appointments from them, growth scans for a vbac and anything else they say you need - it's just bollocks and can bring up things that will sit in your subconscious and undo all the hard work you’ve done preparing for your birth. If I could do it again I wouldn’t have gone to that appointment at all - I knew more about the facts and figures and risk and benefits of my choices than they did. But now I’m glad I did because the ‘professionals’ who knew more than me, who told me I was more than likely to be transferred in and the worst thing “it doesn’t matter how you birth your baby so long as baby is safe” - you know what, it does matter and it mattered so much to me. I proved them all wrong!
The week leading up to my birth I had a few let’s call them false starts where my body would start contractions but they would just fizzle out. This was heartbreaking and hard going, but Becki, my midwife and Jade all said the same. It’s not for nothing - every contraction does something. They were right...my previous labours had been long and hard and I exhausted myself both times by not looking after myself. My body knew better this time so we had Thursday night, Saturday night and Monday night of a labour that started but never progressed and on the Tuesday morning I felt sad, defeated almost, and I came close to just calling the hospital to book in for a section, because the old doubts I’d hidden away about my own ability to birth this baby were screaming at me from somewhere. I knew this wasn’t what I wanted - I listened to some hypnobirthing MP3’s and had a nap. I then lost my plug and had some spotting so I knew my cervix was dilating and doing something the previous night.
Now for the good bit, the birth:
Tuesday afternoon comes around and contractions start up again, mild and every 10-15 minutes apart so we took the kids to the park, had some tea and didn’t think anything of it, just another false start maybe. I’m a pessimistic fucker on a good day so didn’t think this would be the start of anything. I was so wrong...8.30pm my waters went after putting my youngest to bed...calls were made to my midwife and Becki and whilst I was on the phone to her my contractions really picked up both in time and intensity, every couple of minutes. Becki, the midwives and my mum (to help look after the kids if they woke up) were all on their way.
I had a bag ready with all my birthing tools I wanted, lighting, candles, snacks/drinks, etc. Hubby grabbed it and got the lounge ready, pool was starting to be filled and we were all systems go.
By 9.40pm I started to have a melt down - why was I doing this? It was hard and painful and I questioned everything - was baby in the right position? was I dilated? how long would this last? I can’t do it all over again! All of this nonsense got spurted out my mouth during the next few contractions. I calmed myself down to endure another couple of contractions and then felt I wanted to shit myself. This is when Becki very simply said, 'do you remember transition?' I did, very much, but never imagined I would be there already. My words to Becki were something along the lines of 'how do I know I’m ready?' She calmly and simply said 'why don’t you have a see what you can feel?' Me, check myself??? ...madness! But you know what I did, I checked myself whilst crouching on the floor and I could feel my babies head at the top my vagina...then asked hubby to have a feel too...this in itself was amazingly empowering! I didn’t need a midwife to tell me what stage I was at. I was now in uncharted territory I had never got his far before and the constant reassurance from Becki to just do what my body wanted just made everything happen better. I checked myself a couple more times and I could feed babies head coming down after each contraction, it would then go back up but this is completely normal and stops major tears etc. The pushing contractions feel so different to the labour ones, they are deep and long and have a real purpose - I could feel my body doing exactly what it needed to and it felt incredible!
I then had a contraction which felt different and Becki knew - 'what did that feel like?' she said. It burned a bit - I had a feel down there and there it was, my babies head crowning...
I was doing it - I was birthing my baby!
Ten minutes later after a couple of really strong contractions baby flew out like superman with her hand in front of her face (causing a slight tear) I fished around in the pool and bought my baby to me, nobody but me touched my baby and I sat there holding baby in my arms just crying and in complete amazement at what I had done! Me, with two previous sections and such a feeling of failure, had done it! A few minutes of just holding baby with tears in my eyes, just overwhelmed at what I’d just done - someone said 'are you going to find out what you’ve had?' - I hadn’t even thought to look I was just so elated. So I looked and we’d had a little girl!
We stayed in the pool for about ten minutes and the cord was cut by my husband. I stood up and delivered my placenta with no injection got out the pool and just had skin to skin with baby. It was the best experience I’m my life, not only did I do it, but I did it without the need for midwife checks to tell me when to push, without doctors and being hooked up to machines.
My body knew what it was doing and I trusted it.
They say birth can be transformative but what they don’t tell you is that after two births that went so far from my original ideas and plans, a birth that is yours and a birth that is as amazing as mine was is healing. It’s undone so much grief and trauma from previous births and I will never forget how empowering it is to trust yourself and stand by your own decisions. I made my choices and stuck by them despite so many negative inputs and I did what I wanted because I knew it’s what I needed and I knew I could do it."
Thank you, Louise, for allowing me to share your story and your birth experience!
Here's some links to the amazing team that helped Louise feel confident and empowered during her pregnancy, labour and birth:
If you would like to share your birth story on the Mothers Spirit blog, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for reading!