In 2007, pregnant for the first time, I knew I wanted one thing: continuity of care. Based on the experiences of those around me, I had formed the opinion that birth was a medical event. Therefore I had determined that the only option for us was to find a private obstetrician to ensure continuity of care and that ever-so-important medical expertise. I wish that back then someone would have told me that the decisions you make for your first birth will affect you for the rest of your life. I wish that someone would have told me that although birth is one day is still requires a lot of preparation. My first pregnancy ended in an elective c-section because we were told that baby was too big and too high and a natural birth was just not going to happen. My second pregnancy ended in an emergency c-section because after spontaneously going into labour I was told that our baby was distressed and I was not progressing. It felt wrong, and I felt robbed.
Our journey to a home birth after two c-sections
Then came 2011, and we were fortunate enough to be having a third child. I was annoyed that I had let the system dictate my first two births and adamant that it was not happening again. I had read that statistically your chances of a vaginal birth after c-section were higher in a public hospital, so I started there. I called the local public hospital’s antenatal clinic and set out my story, I’d had 2 possibly unnecessary c-sections, was planning a vaginal birth, and didn’t want any trouble. They put me in touch with a caseload midwife who was eager to take me on, I was told this was my best bet. I was excited, this time would be different. I had also read that statistics show having a Doula decreases intervention rates and increases positive outcomes, so I was certain we needed Jacinda, an acupuncturist and Doula who I met during my second pregnancy.
At 18 weeks I received a phone call from my caseload midwife advising that the team had agreed that I would be fighting an uphill battle against hospital policy and procedure to have the birth I wanted. She arranged an appointment with a public obstetrician to “seek permission” for a trial of labour. I called Jacinda, flabbergasted and afraid that I’d never find someone who would believe that I was capable of giving birth. She suggested we look into homebirth, an idea way out of my comfort zone. I agreed to speak to a couple of independent midwives, but we also decided to meet with the public obstetrician to hear what he had to say.
I spoke to four independent midwives about homebirth, about my c-sections, about the risks of repeat c-section versus the risks of vaginal birth, and I could not believe how supported I felt. They all gave me the impression that I was perfectly capable of giving birth, that I was not insane for wanting to try. When I saw the public obstetrician however, he could not understand why I wished to deliver my baby vaginally. He agreed that there were a number of risks of repeat c-section, he stated that my first two c-sections were down to “Dr having a holiday booked and just bad luck”, he even informed me that I had a “favourable pelvis for childbirth”. In conclusion he said he would allow a trial of scar but with conditions and that if he was not on duty on the day I went into labour, no other obstetrician there would agree to this.
Mark and I knew that if we stuck with the hospital, we would end up with another c-section. But we still weren’t entirely comfortable about the idea of giving birth at home, so we asked an independent midwife to come and meet with us. Hazel was passionate about VBAC in particular and after chatting with us for a couple of hours and answering every fathomable question with a well researched and evidence based answer, she had us buzzing with excitement. We were going to do this, we were going to bring a child into the world in our home! We went to see our beloved, trusted GP to tell him the plan and his response was “Oh no, you can’t do that, your uterus doesn’t work, you need to have another c-section.” I laughed it off.
A few weeks later Hazel called to say her family had to relocate to Orange and she could no longer be our midwife. I was now about 22 weeks and panicking, what if we couldn’t find another midwife? I met Emma and instantly loved everything she stood for, her passion, her energy, her intelligence, and her faith in the human body. PLEASE BE MY MIDWIFE!! It turned out that Emma worked as part of a Private Practice of Midwives, and when you book with them you have a second midwife attend the birth. I loved the idea of this, there is safety in numbers after all. Melanie would be my second midwife.
The rest of my pregnancy was a dream. Prenatal visits with Emma were relaxed, we talked about any concerns we had and made plans for the birth. Finally, here was the continuity of care I had longed for since 2007, this was bliss. Jacinda and I talked through my fears, came up with coping strategies, and prepared for birth. My confidence was now at 100%, I had found a birth team who believed in and supported me. We went to a local GP to get a script for some medication (syntocinon just in case, etc) and he lectured us about homebirth being far too risky and that babies were not consumable goods that you could just throw away and try again. We laughed that off too.
At 41 weeks I developed terrible back pain and Melanie told me that the baby had turned around and was now posterior. Excellent. On Saturday night I had a show and the following day, I woke in the morning feeling like something was starting. I had mild contractions throughout the day and night, and then it stopped. And then nothing. Emma came to visit on Monday, and she said that the baby now appeared to be anterior, so she suggested that the early labour I had experienced was just to help turn the baby around.
A contraction woke me at 3am Tuesday morning, it was now Hunter’s second birthday. By 6:30am, they were so strong that I could no longer lie in bed. They were coming about every 7 minutes and I just had to move through them. We had made plans to take the boys out for Hunter’s birthday but I stayed home and lab