I first met Bridie back in 2017 for a coffee in Melbourne. Although not yet pregnant, she had already started her planning for her healing VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean). She was carefully considering her options for care providers, place of birth, support crew and how she would prepare both physically and mentally. Her first labour experience was incredibly challenging, and Bridie worked hard to ensure this birth would be different. I just loved her drive and determination!
Bridie and her partner Edd attended my Geelong Born hypnobirthing course via Zoom in May of this year. They went on to have an amazing birth in July…just when lockdown 2.0 was hitting the state.
Thank you for sharing Bridie and Edd and a huge congratulations to you all!!
Thought I'd send you an email rather than just a text with all the juicy details of what was the best experience of my entire life!
I was convinced that I wasn't going to go into spontaneous labour - but had negotiated with the hospital certain milestones in my pregnancy. I'd declined a stretch and sweep since my 38 week appointment, and then at my 41 week appointment I was assigned a different OB and I had a bit of a cry to her when she asked me what I wanted to do. Induction was pretty much off the table because of my previous caesarean section and secondary tear, so I insisted on waiting as long as possible and to book repeat caesarean section instead for when I would be 42+3.
I was booked into twice weekly fetal monitoring and I had an appointment on the Tuesday where I had higher than average but still ok levels of amniotic fluid. Baby fine but not moving heaps and heaps - nothing concerning but definitely noticed a change.
Anyway when I was in the appointment Dan Andrews announced lockdown pt 2. Edd and I had been on a big walk that morning, but I had an urge to go to Chaddy to make the most of the open shops - and that's when I felt the first surges! I played it cool though and didn't tell Edd.
He cooked up a fabulous roast, oblivious to the fact I was having contractions lol, and i got myself ready for bed with a long shower, cleaned everything up, took hospital bag downstairs and read Scarlett about fifty stories in her bed.
We watched Breaking Bad whilst I bounced on the fit ball - and then I noticed my mucous plug started to come away but there was no blood - so I wasn't convinced it was labour. Contractions coming in about 1 in 10 mins/1:10
After doing some gutter walks like I'd done every night for weeks, i went to sleep around 12am.and awoke at 3 unable to sleep through the pain.
I rang the hosp but as I was getting 2:10 they said have some paracetamol and come in when it's 3:10 or I can't bear the pain. Having done the hypnobirthing course I knew I wanted to stay home as long as possible.
By now it's around 5am and the paracetamol did nothing and the contractions really amped up so I rang my mum. As soon as she got to my house she felt my belly and she's like 'this is it'!...so I finally woke Edd and he showered and shaved???(men) and we left for the hospital at 6:15.
The car ride there and walk up to pregnancy assessment was horrific! The contractions were stronggg. But all these people who saw us kept saying congrats and good luck .. someone even gave Edd free parking lol. It was a sign haha
I was assessed and told I was breathing through contractions really well and got sent to birth suite straight away - no idea how dilated I was.
Anyway then it hit us - we were in birth suite!!! Baby was coming!!
I laboured for about an hour as they hooked me up to CTG then doc came in and gave me a cannula and the antibiotics then some more time went by and I was vomiting and I started on the gas and air lol.
I had a dilation check and I was 5cm yay!
I kept labouring and baby was so so so low they thought she was going to come in the morning! They had me push but it wasn't time. I started to get an uncontrollable urge to push at this point and I felt like every bone and organ in my body was trying to come out and I had to breathe through the pain and stop it. That was unbearable. An hour or two later the doc broke my waters and after two hours of writhing around in pain abusing Kate middleton lol (whilst turning into a roaring cow, my labour animal) I had another check and I was 7cm but the midwife was worried as my cervix was swelling.
She suggested epidural so my body could relax. The pain from involuntary pushing and trying to stop that was terrible. I was worried the epi would stall my labour but she said it was likely going to be my best shot of vbac.
I agreed and even though it took an hour to come it was absolutely amazing.
I was still having surges and could feel pressure but no pain. For the hour I had the epidural in Edd went down stairs and I relaxed using hypnotherapy techniques and physically relaxing myself.
I was still having 3-4:10 contractions so I had another check and the doc goes "you're going to have a baby within the next hour! You're 10cm!" My body did it! It relaxed and opened up!
I rang Edd and after about half an hour of room set up including wheeling in the little baby cot, I was pushing. We put on some EDM music it was a rave party we were all so excited..
Then I started pushing! She told me she might need to give me episiotomy and I was so not interested in that so I used everything in me to push bubs out myself. My midwife kept me updated on progress by showing me with a mirror! I couldn't believe that was my body when i saw the little head crowning.
The pushing was so pleasant I didn't even feel myself tear and it was all over in 20 minutes! Within the hour as the doc said.
It was just awesome!! The feeling when I pulled her up to me omg I wish I could bottle it!! The most incredible experience.
I am so proud of this birth. My first birth was the worst experience of my life. This one was the absolute best.
I used hypnobirthing throughout, even though I didn't labour in water and had the epidural. The strength of self it taught me, the breathing techniques and the power of affirmations and visualisation contributed greatly to the success.
I also had incredible continuity of care - no more than 2 staff were in the room at one point and that wasn't because of covid.
I also had an incredible midwife. Supportive yes and quick thinking. Didn't Molly coddle me or be too hard. She was perfect.
I can't fault the experience..my vbac journey started years ago and lots and lots of mental and physical work went into it to give myself the best possible chance of success.
Thank you for being part of my story Rosie! Starting in 2017 with you and culminating this year in the weirdest of all years!
Thanks for believing in me and always being in my corner.
Rosie Fitzclarence is a Registered Midwife, Registered Nurse, Childbirth Educator (Geelong Born) and a Hypnobirthing Australia™ Certified Practitioner.
Rosie is based in Geelong and can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0419170783.
To find out more about her Hypnobirthing Australia™ classes CLICK HERE
My birthing story starts 18 months prior to the arrival of our amazing little guy “William Sunny”.
On the 24th of June 2015, I delivered my first beautiful babe Amelia via a caesarean section. This experience was everything I didn’t want and plan for. I was prepared physically and mentally for a natural, drug free, unassisted birth. My husband and myself had dedicated a weekend to undertaking Calm Birth, we had worked out a birth plan and I had planned out in my head what the arrival of my first baby would look like. All of this was taken away when I went to my weekly regular check up with the Obstetrician.
At this appointment, the doctor initially expressed concerns about the size of the baby and my blood pressure was elevated. I was sent to the hospital for bloods, urine sample, blood pressure monitoring and a fetal heart scan. The fetal scan showed baby wasn’t as active they would have hoped and admitted me to hospital for bed rest. At 6pm when the doctor did his rounds, he indicated that my bloods were of concern and that he believed baby needed to come out sooner rather than later. I was 37.4 weeks. At this point my husband was not yet at the hospital and I started to panic. The doctor assessed me to see if my body for favourable to be induced, however my body was not ready. The only option was a caesarean. I was prepped for theatre; I still waiting for my husband to arrive and my anxiety was heightened. All that was running through my mind was “I’m not ready to have a baby yet, I still have a few weeks to go”, “this is not what I had planned.” At 8.20pm my baby girl was “born.” After birth the doctor diagnosed me with HELLP syndrome. A condition that is only associated to pregnancy, with little information about what causes it but can make you critically unwell very quickly.
The birth of Amelia was very traumatic for me; I mourned not having the natural birth I had wanted. I felt guilty that I could not provide my baby the best possible start in the outside world. Although I loved her, I did not bond with her immediately. At day three post birth the “three-day blues” kicked in and they did not go away. My anxiety was always heightened and everyday tasks were difficult, I had no joy in becoming a mum. I had post-natal depression. This took a long time to ease, for my emotions to become stable and life to become manageable again. About seven months later I was being to feel semi-normal again, and begun to become the mum I had hoped I would be.
A few months later I discovered I was pregnant again. This wasn’t a part of the plan. My body and cycle had not gone back to normal, so we did not think there was any chance of falling pregnant. This discovery was a huge shock. The timing was wrong. It was too soon between babies and I was about to celebrate my 30th birthday. I spent the first eight weeks emotionally eating and crying my way through first trimester nausea.
When I went to the GP to confirm I was pregnant, I decided I needed some emotional support. I was linked into an amazing Psychologist Cath Corcoran. I spent time with her working through my initial experiences, and she helped me find ways to begin to connect with my baby. Cath suggested yoga as a means of having time for baby and me. I was recommended to try yoga with Erin Mieszkowski from Womb 2 Move. From the initial conversation with Erin I knew this was what I needed. Erin listened to my story and empathized with my experience of post-natal depression and associated anxiety. During my time with Cath I decided I want to try for a vaginal birth after a caesarean (VBAC). After a chatting to Erin at yoga one night I asked her if she knew of anyone who would be suitable for birth support and was in favour of VBAC. Erin suggested Rosie Fitzclarence from Geelong Born. From the moment I spoke with Rosie I knew she was the right person to have on our team. She came out and spent time with my husband and myself. She actively listened to our hopes and desires for this birth, and her knowledge and experience was amazing. I was well supported in preparation for a success VBAC experience.
At around 37 weeks, I started to feel symptomatic of pre-eclampsia and I spent a bit of time at the hospital getting monitored. My anxiety started to heighten; I needed my body needed to make it past 37.4 weeks. Rosie’s support and reassurance during this time helped me to ask reasonable questions and logically work through my anxiety and decision-making. The hospital staff were well aware of my desire for a VBAC, and made me feel empowered and supported in working towards this. They made suggestions such as, a stretch and sweep at 38 weeks but were respectful of the decision I made which I declined. Through my work with Cath and discussions with Rosie, I knew that I needed to allow my body to spontaneously go into labour to ensure my chances of a successful VBAC. I had mentally prepared myself to get to 41-weeks, and if I didn’t go into labour I would be at peace if a caesarean was my only option.
At 39 weeks, I was feeling very, very over being pregnant and started to worry that my body wouldn’t be ready to birth my baby in time, before the hospital doctors would want to book a caesarean, Rosie continued to reassure me that my baby and body would know when the time was right. I started focusing on this. I used a mantra card that Erin had given us at yoga and played this over in my head “Just like my body knew how to grow this baby, my body knows how to birth this baby.” At my 39-week doctors appointment, I did decide to have a stretch and sweep, as it was the most natural form of intervention. However, at this appointment, the Obstetrician that completed the internal did not believe my cervix was yet favourable and suggested we try next week if I hadn’t already gone into labour. I was preparing myself for another week of being big and uncomfortable.
At 3am the next morning, I rolled over in bed to attend to my toddler, and I felt like I had wet myself… I stood up and realised my waters had broken. There was so much fluid I needed to shower. I rang Rosie immediately. She was so excited which immediately took away my fear of unknown. Rosie advised to call the hospital but encouraged me to try and rest at home for as long as possible, and to let her know when I was planning on going to the hospital. I called my mum to make her way to our place, I needed to know that my little girl was safe and happy before I could start to focus to delivering our little man.
About an hour after my waters broke, the contractions had commenced but they were very irregular. Once mum arrived I spent some time relaxing and preparing myself mentally in the bath. I played mediation music that I had heard weekly at yoga and began to focus on my breathing.
Around 9am we headed into the hospital, as I was classified as high risk, due to my previous caesarean birth and they wanted to begin monitoring me and baby closely. My contractions were very irregular and at this point the hospital did not consider me to be in labour… I was in labour… I felt every contraction, as infrequent at they were. During the initial contractions or “waves,” I focused on these waves helping to open my body and move baby down. I visualised a flower opening and focused on breathing down to baby, as Erin had taught us during yoga.
By about 11am I was taken to a room on the labour ward, Rosie helped us set up and make the room as comfortable as possible. During this time, I stayed very mobile. Walking, rocking, swaying my way around the room. We set up the TENS machine and I used it to support me during my contractions. Rosie left my husband and myself at this point, giving us some space and time together. After about an hour, my contractions were still irregular, the midwife decided to organise a room on the maternity ward for me, as no one knew how quickly I would progress. Once I went up to the maternity ward, my husband went home for while for a break, and my mum came and sat with me. At this point I was becoming tired and decided to lay down and rest. During that time my contraction went from being very irregular to 1minute on, 4 minutes off. Mum rubbed my arm and talked me through my breathing with every contraction. The intensity of the waves were increasing and it was becoming more difficult to breathe through the contractions. We waited for about an hour before calling midwife, she believed that my labour had now started and took us back to the labour ward. My husband came back and mum left.
For the next few hours I sort refuge in the shower, again we had the familiar meditation music playing, I swayed my hips between waves and used my husband as a physically support to hold me up during the contractions. After showering my husband was becoming concerned with the level of pain I was in, he wanted me to try and use “gas” to provide some relief. The midwife set it up, showed him how it was administered and left us to it. During my next contraction, he wanted me to try it however it needed to be breathed in and this was the opposite process to the breathing I had spent 9 months practicing at yoga. I couldn’t use the gas!
By 6pm Rosie had returned, the contractions were so intense I had reached the point where I’d had enough… a crisis of confidence. Rosie reassured me I was doing a great job and to continue focusing on my breathing. We decided that an internal examination would help determine the next course of action. I was 6cm dilated… I turned to Rosie and said “that means 4 more hours, I can’t do this! I need an epidural” Again she reassured me that I could and reminded me of my breathing. The pain in my back was too much to handle, and TENS machine was irritating me, so we took it off and Rosie directed my husband to massage my back.
I was still trying to stay as active as possible between contractions, swaying my hips. During the waves I was hunched over the side of the bed. I tried to visual some of the important and inspirational women in my life and their successful birthing stories. I kept reminding myself that my body knew what to do. I focused on keeping my jaw and shoulders relaxed. Erin had emphasized the importance to staying relaxed to ensure the pelvis would open up. My husband consistently told me how amazing I was doing and how proud of me he was. He played music that was familiar and of significant to us both.
The hospital midwife had been having some difficulty finding baby’s heart rate with the external monitor, as a result an internal one was required. By the time they had successfully attached the monitor and I became mobile again I felt very heavy.
Very soon after that I began to have the urge to push. During this initial pushing phase, I felt a very strong burning sensation and a little blood loss. Rosie helped me to remain focused on delivering my baby as I was so close. I used the proceeding contractions to guide me in pushing and I allowed myself to use my voice to be a strong “warrior Mumma.” After a short time of pushing, the hospital midwife requested I lay on the bed to deliver due to some blood loss appearing. It took me a while to find a position on the bed that made me feel as though I had enough power to push. Once I found that position, it was only a couple more almighty pushes, and our little man arrived into the world.
I did it! I birthed our baby, naturally, without intervention and drugs!
He was bought immediately to my chest. I had an instant connection with him. We had delayed cord clamping and my husband cut the umbilical cord when the time was right. The final stage of labour, birthing the placenta, took some time as I was really tired and the contractions were still intense. We spent time bonding with our little man. I required some repair after the birth however, my husband stayed with our little man, having skin-to-skin contact the whole time.
The birth of William was the most wonderful, painful, surreal, beautiful experiences of my life. I was very lucky to have an amazing team (Erin, Rosie and Cath) behind me and the on-going support of my husband who respected my desire to have a VBAC; because of the faith they had in me I felt empowered to birth my baby naturally.