I’ve been waiting for this incredible vaginal breech birth after caesarean story as I was so privileged to be a part of this birth as a doula, which meant being a part of the preparation, the fears, the tears, the excitement and the unknown as even though I have supported many VBAC births, I had not supported a vaginal breech birth after caesarean. I will never forget this birth and the powerful roar of Sara as she brought her baby Bodhi into the world while a storm was raging outside, which just seemed to give her so much more power – it truly was an incredible experience.
Here is Sara and Dan’s birth story…..
At 26 weeks for my first baby in 2016 I found out I had ‘Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR)’ and was placed on bed rest at home. At 32.5 weeks I was admitted to hospital until blood flow to my placenta had reversed. Unfortunately at 35+1 weeks I had an emergency caesarean section – that left me traumatised.
My baby was sent to the special care nursery (NICU) with my husband Dan while I was still being stitched up. I spent the next 7 – 8 hours alone waiting to regain the use of my legs before I could be wheeled down to the rooms on the other side of the hospital to see my son. I felt alone, forgotten and fearful. We spent two and a half weeks in NICU over Christmas and the New Year holidays – not really the celebration we had anticipated.
My second pregnancy I went with a private Obstetrician and my pregnancy was considered “normal” although my baby was in breech position from 28weeks. I tried everything available to me early on to encourage my baby to turn including Spinning Babies techniques, Optimal Maternal Positioning techniques, acupuncture, massage and chiropractic.
My private Obstetrician would not agree to do an external cephalic version (ECV) so we had to find another Obstetrician that felt comfortable doing so. I booked an appointment with another private Obstetrician at a different private hospital for an ECV at 37 weeks, and my doula Vicki came with me for support as Dan was away at work. Unfortunately the ECV was not successful although the Obstetrician made several attempts and I could feel the power she was putting behind her hand manoeuvres to try and flip baby. I tried to hide my disappointment, but it was very difficult to do so, and I was anxious about what lie ahead.
The next week I went to my private Obstetrician appointment where she confirmed that baby was still in breech and I felt gutted and fearful that my vaginal birth after caesarean was slipping away from me.
My Obstetrician had already told me that she was not comfortable supporting me in a vaginal breech birth. She asked me what I wanted to do as she said my only option in her care was another caesarean. We discussed having a maternal assisted caesarean, which was my best option if I continued to stay with her.
I told her that I instinctively felt like my baby was supposed to come out in the position he was, and I felt comfortable with that, and although a little anxious I had no fear. So, we started the process of transferring me to King Edward Memorial Hospital NBAC Unit, where they have a specialist breech birth team available.
My Obstetrician did ask me what I would do if I went into labour over the weekend (as she was not going to be available) but in my mind, since it was my first labour I thought I would at least get to or past my estimated due date.
On the Saturday morning, my dad’s friend came over to give me a relaxing energy healing to bring my mind, body and emotions back into balance so I could feel more confident about my choices. No matter how I birthed I wanted to be in a good head space and be cleared of any stress, which I knew from my Hypnobirthing Australia classes would interfere with the normal physiological process of labour.
During the session I felt some bigger movements low in my pelvis and I can only describe this as my baby rotating around on his own, but about 30 minutes after she left I started feeling what I thought was Braxton Hicks, having never experienced them before.
I really felt all the love and support from my wonderful doula, Vicki Hobbs and my Hypnobirthing Australia practitioner Kelly Austin from Empowered Pregnancy & Birth. I wanted to let my body do what it needed as I was aware I could have them for days or they may stop altogether, but on Saturday night they ramped up.
I was experiencing surges every 20 to 30 minutes, which woke me up every time through the night. My husband Dan was sleeping soundly next to me. I thought to myself “with all the knowledge he gained from hypnobirthing and Vicki I thought he would at least rub my back.” Lol. But I’m glad he did sleep so that he was wide awake to support me during the intense stage.
On Sunday morning we asked my dad to look after our 2.5-year-old son Marley for a few hours so I could sleep, and Dan could stay with me so that we could practice some of the hypnobirthing techniques we had learnt.
By Sunday afternoon we both agreed that I must be in early labour and had some major decisions to make. King Eddy’s had yet to be in contact with me so I was not sure if they would accept me in labour.
I wanted to be as transparent as possible and not just rock up at the hospital so decided to put myself in the hands of the universe and ring king Eddy’s. I was at peace if they accepted me or not. I was going to meet my baby in the next day or two and I was going to make it the smoothest transition I could.
I spoke to the midwife on duty and she said I would have to make the 30 to 40 minute trip down to be accessed before they would say either way. We dropped Marley at a family friends home and made our way down the freeway with the TENS machine on low. We also text Vicki to let her know what was happening.
I walked myself up to the birthing suite to be assessed and spoke calmly to the Obstetrician on duty that night, all while having some pretty major sensations.
After baby’s heart rate was okay and they pretty much just checked my mental health and I was not required to have a vaginal exam or any scans, I was overjoyed when they said they would support me.
We decided to head home as my surges were still 15 minutes apart and knew I could be like that for a while to come.
Enter a major storm heading home!
We got half way home and realised I had perhaps made a mistake as baby was definitely moving down and surges were pretty close together. I yelled at Dan to pull over every couple of minutes as my surges were becoming quite intense.
We made it home, and I took the TENS off and jumped in the shower thinking it would help. Nope!!
The tens machine was where it was at and I got that machine back on in record time.
I asked Dan again how long between contractions and he said “Oh shit. That was less than a minute!!”
While I was drying myself I wiped and saw my mucous plug in the towel. I showed Dan and he got really excited, knowing that this was it. We were going to meet our boy at 38+5 weeks spontaneously!!! I cannot describe the joy and excitement I felt with that and for any woman who is wanting a VBAC seeing that mucous plug while feeling those intense surges is like a celebration all on its own.
In my mind I was thinking there is no bloody way I’m getting back in our old Prado bumping around in a storm for 40 minutes!!! Call me an ambulance I said. Dan pretty much put me in my place and sternly told me to get in the car as he was rushing around getting everything together (I hadn’t finished packing my hospital bag. Oops). He also called Vicki and let her know that we were heading back to the hospital and for her to meet us there.
The ride down was pretty hectic but we made it to hospital. But this time I could barely walk. Dan raced off to get a wheelchair and I put my arms up on the hallway wall and breathed and was visualising everything I had been practising over the last few months, listening to Surge Of The Sea through my ear phones.
We met with Vicki in the waiting room and made our way down to the exam room. While we were in there I felt the urge to get on my knees and push. The midwife and student doctors were unable to get 3 IV attempts in (they told me this was a non-negotiable), but I was okay with it if it went in my arm, (not my hand) and I told them I needed more space and to leave me alone for a bit.
We made our way down to the birthing suite where Vicki asked them to move the bed out of the way and put a mattress on the floor for me. They also dimmed the lights, but I don’t remember that at all, I think I crawled on my hands and knees to Dan who was sitting on a chair and buried my head in his crotch for what seemed like ages, while he stroked my back and hair.
Then my waters broke hard and fast like a massive gush everywhere.
I had a vaginal exam to which I felt the vibe of the room change. I literally could feel the excitement in the air. I heard the midwife say 7or 8 and I knew things were going to move quickly now and I knew the next phase was close.
I was alternating between standing with one leg up on a chair and moving, to then getting down onto my knees and all fours to then just being held by Dan.
At one of the last contractions I told Dan and Vicki that I needed something for the pain. I knew they would say no, but I still asked. We had a plan in place that I had to ask three times and they would distract me with hypnobirthing techniques so that I would forget needing something for the pain. I crawled my way to a chair near the window as the gas line was too short for me to reach. You would think they would have a longer tube for the gas, rather than me having to crawl closer to the gas tank. I was kneeling and leaned my arms on the wall and looked out the window and could see the storm outside, which calmed me down a lot.
I was trying my hypnobirthing breathing but I had a cold and couldn’t breathe out of my nose! Of course that would happen to me – LOL. I remember Vicki telling me to breathe out of my mouth instead like a dragon.
“Just breathe, be loose and limp” she kept saying.
At one point I remember saying “I can’t do this” and Vicki reassured me squeezing my hand and said, “you can do this because you are doing this.”
I replied with “I will try” and she said, “there is no try, there is only do.”
I remember a few days later Vicki telling me that at that point the Obstetrician made a joke saying, “oh look at that we have Yoda in the room” and all the spectators laughed, so I told Vicki she should feel proud, because that showed she was the “wisest one in the room.”
We had our own laugh about that.
I was totally oblivious to how many people were in the room as I had my back to everyone. I was so in my zone and focussed on working with my body and my baby, but apparently it was such an exciting thing for all the staff to witness, so in addition to my own medical team of Obstetrician and my very excited midwife who was amazing, there were a couple of specialists, midwives, student midwives and student doctors in the back of the room, quietly observing and were all very respectful.
Another thing I remember is Vicki placing a cold towel on my lower back and it giving me the best relief.
Then I could feel my baby coming – this was it.
First was his testicles.
Then his legs fell out.
Then his arms and shoulders.
The next moments were pretty intense.
I knew his head was the biggest bit. I managed three or four pushes with the urge to push, and on the last push the midwife calmly told me I was so close to meeting my baby and I had done so well and to keep going.
She said “Come on Sara, one last push with all your energy.”
Dan was right there in front of me, encouraging, supporting and beaming with such pride while he took photos of our son being born, and he said at that point I went primal and he could see how strong I was.
Vicki was by my side and said firmly, “roar that baby out Sara, come on” and with one last push he was out, and was passed between my legs and I got to hold my baby on my chest straight away.
I did it, after absolutely every option had been taken away from me by the private hospital system and caesarean inevitable I went with my heart and my gut and achieved my BVBAC (breech vaginal birth after caesarean)!!!!
No drugs and no interventions at all.
A hands off birth.
I did have a tear that required 2 stitches.
I had over an hour of skin to skin with my baby and he was a perfect little 3.5kg boy.
I just want to thank the amazing team I surrounded myself with. There were moments where I wanted to give up, but you all kept me going and I am so appreciative that you did.
To the VBAC Australia Support Group and the Breech Birth Australia and New Zealand support page on Facebook all your comments, encouragement and advice were invaluable. What an amazing community we have to support each other.
To all the women currently in their VBAC journey, I just want to tell you, if I can do it, you can too. Believe in yourself and follow your heart.
Mummy’s know best!!
Sara & Dan
My name is Vicki Hobbs and I am a Childbirth Educator (Back to Basics Birthing), Hypnobirthing Australia Practitioner, Certified VBAC Educator, Remedial Massage Therapist specialising in Pregnancy & Postpartum Massage, Birth & Postpartum Doula, Certified Placenta Encapsulator, Hypnotherapist, Aromatherapist, Reiki Practitioner and Life Coach. I am a serial workshopper and learner, so that I keep up to date with new research and information so that I can provide you with up to date resources. My focus has always been on the mind, the body and the emotions and how they all need to be in balance for harmony. You can subscribe to my newsletter by adding your details in the box on the right-hand side and when you do I will send you a free relaxation meditation to help you feel calm and relaxed. I am based in the northern suburbs of Perth and can be contacted by email at [email protected] or phone (08) 9303 9111 or click here to go back to my Blog Page for more great articles and information.