My beautiful birth story – How I manifested a VBAC natural drug free water birth.
My daughter Luna – Joy arrived 21 days ago. My partner and I knew we would have a baby girl called Luna as we had been manifesting her creation since we met 18 months ago. We conceived over the super full moon in July 2014 and I birthed her at 38 weeks and 2 days, just after the lunar eclipse in April 2015.
I have a 6 year old son, Lael. His birth was really traumatic for me. My waters broke at 39 weeks on a Sunday night and I went into pre-labour but my body didn’t progress to active labour. I was told I had to be induced because he was now unprotected from infection. I was induced at 11am on a Tuesday morning after very little sleep since my waters has broken. My labour went rapidly into action. It was really intense with no break from contractions and I couldn’t have a water birth or move freely around the room as I have strapped to a machine. I spent most of the time lying on my back. I wanted a drug free natural labour but by 4pm I was in told I had to have an epidural because my son’s heartbeat was dangerously low and by 4.40pm he was born via an emergency C- Section.
I was completely smacked out on drugs, fatigued and exhausted after a 30 hour labour. I held my son briefly before they wheeled me away to recovery, I wanted to ask for skin on skin but I couldn’t communicate from all the drugs and I was vomiting.
I spent the next few days in the hospital trying to sleep but was so wired I was begging for valium. I was trying to learn how to breastfeed but was so sleep deprived this led to my son damaging my nipples and I would wince in pain every time I fed him for 10 weeks until they healed. I was trying to cope with the enormity of what had just happened. On day three in the hospital, I had a emotional breakdown as this what not the way I had envisaged my journey with motherhood would begin. I was told this is a normal reaction from all the hormones but I have not experienced this with the birth of my daughter. I was been feeling elated and flooded with ocytocine, the love hormone. It took me about a year to mentally “let go” and be at peace with my birth. I lost that euphoric moment when you meet your baby for the first time and once it is gone, it is a moment time that cannot be replaced.
Sadly the birth with my son was a catalyst for more sadness in my life because by the time my son was 2 years old, my marriage had broken down and I found myself a divorced single mother. I really struggled with motherhood and this lead me to become a yoga teacher and create my business. I now teach kids yoga, family yoga and run mindfulness retreats for mums.
Fast forward 4 years and I was adamant that this time I would have the birth I had always dreamed of. I knew from my previous experience what I didn’t want and that I could make this happen by making conscious choices that would allow me to have a natural birth. We had gone private with my son and his birth had ended up costing us thousands of dollars as all the emergency costs of the C-Section were not covered via medicare of our health insurance. During my labour most of the care I had was from the doctors in the public system so I knew that I would choose to go public this time.
I found out I was pregnant the day before we were about to head to Europe for 7 weeks. I am from the UK and my partner is from Finland so we were off to celebrate my brothers wedding and meet each others families. I spent the whole time sleeping and eating. By the time we got back to Sydney I almost missed having the NT scan as I was 13 weeks but we made it by 2 days. I tried to get into a midwifery group as wanted to have my birth in the birth centre, not in the hospital like before. However I was told they were fully booked so I had to do shared care with my doctor and the hospital.
When I went to my first hospital appointment I gave a copy of my book “Mother Om” to the manager and told her my story and she referred to an obstetrician that was very supportive of VBAC births but she was still unable to get me into the midwifery group at the birth centre. When I met my obstetrician I did the same, gave him a copy of my book and told me if I wanted a VBAC, I had to be in the birth centre. The thought of being in the hospital filled me with anxiety. He made the call and I was booked in the Lavender Midwifery group. I will thrilled. The care from the midwives was exceptional. I loved the birth centre which is like being at home but you are still next door to the delivery suite if needed. There are risks involved with a VBAC and the hospital policy stated that Luna’s heart rate had to be constantly monitored so I had to sign a waiver to say that I was aware of the risks but I wanted to be left alone as much as possible and birth in the birth centre, not the delivery suite. My obstetrician wrote a letter for me to give to the obstetrician on duty in case he wasn’t there. I felt really supported and nurtured by all the care I received which helped to reduce any anxiety I was feeling.
The next step in the process was to become educated on the process of having a natural birth and learn how my partner can be involved as much as possible with the birth.
We had been offered an antenatal course free of charge (normally $300) at the hospital because I had had anxiety in my second trimester and had received some counselling sessions. I had a lot of fear around having a child with another man when my last experience ended in divorce but I knew from my journey that it was better to process and clear this anxiety before the baby came than risk sinking into post natal depression. Having done the hospital course before with my son, my focus this time was on having a beautiful birth so we decided to do an independent birthing course.
I met Nadine when I was writing my book. I wanted a birthing expert to contribute by writing a meditation for the chapter “Buddha Bellies”. I knew Nadine’s work as I had heard incredible testimonials from friends and she is a well respected yoga teacher. We instantly became friends and there was no question in my mind that for me to have a natural birth I had to do her course. I completed the course at 30 weeks.
The course provided me and my partner with the tools to have a beautiful birth, no matter how it would unfold. We learnt acupressure points and the stages of labour. I listened to guided meditations every day and played my belly healing mantra. Jarkko was with me for every contraction. He held me, rocked me, he rubbed my back, he applied acupressure, he played music and whispered in my ear “you are amazing, you can do this, I love you”. I nicknamed him my “moula” (a male doula).
I knew Luna would come early. My son was away with his dad for a week over Easter and we wanted to harness the energy of the lunar eclipse which represents birth. I started to have acupuncture at 36 weeks as I had not been sleeping well and knew I needed more energy as birth is a marathon. On Good Friday I was up all night with regular Braxton Hicks, I knew this was my body preparing for labour so I had another acupuncture session to induce labour on Saturday. On Easter Sunday I had a sweep at the hospital at 3pm and went home watched movies and went to bed. I woke up at 1am with real contractions. By 2am I woke up my partner as they were 5 minutes apart. I called my midwife at 4am and by 6am I knew I had to go to the hospital.
We arrived at 6.30am and filled the bath. I was aware of what was happening around me but was in the “zone”. I was 5 cm dilated. The bath brought instant relief but the surges were getting stronger and stronger so I got out and began to move, rock and help my baby go down the birth canal. The pressure was intense and after 2 hours I was 7 cm and felt the urge to push. I wanted to ask for pain relief but I knew that if I had an epidural I would have to have a C-Section as you are not allowed any pain relief with a VBAC because you have to be able to feel sensations in case of any scar tissue being torn.
I began howling like a wild woman and I knew I was in transition stage. We re-filled the birth pool and the urge to push was extraordinary, however my cervix was not fully open so I was told to resist the urge. For the next 45 minutes I had to squeeze every muscle in my body to resist the urge to push which felt like a volcano was erupting down below. My mucus plug literally shot out like a bullet and I knew, finally I was ready. I listened to my body and after 2 pushes, Luna was born at 10am on Easter Monday.
It was the most incredible moment. She was just perfect and I was overcome with emotion. Jarkko was in the bath with me and we hugged and kissed and he cut the umbilical cord. We lie there for a long time with her on my skin. Because it was Easter Monday we were able to spend all day in the birthing centre having precious skin on skin time drinking tea and falling in love with each other. I had a second degree tear which had to be repaired so after that we put Luna on my chest and let her find my breast. It was so magical watching nature at work. She latched on beautifully. I spent 2 nights in the delivery suite as I had Strep B and they wanted to monitor Luna but I also wanted help with breastfeeding. Every time I breastfed, I called the midwife to help me with the attachment. Luna was thriving and after a week has retained her birth weight and has been gaining week each week since her birth. My nipples are not damaged and I love breastfeeding my baby girl.
At night in the hospital I tried to settle Luna in her crib but she cried every time I put her in there and then would settle as soon as she was with me. I called the midwife to ask if I could co-sleep. Again, I had a sign a waiver because of the risks involved. I had not had any drugs so this was a safe option for me and Luna to sleep peacefully next to me while I heard other newborns crying all night because they wanted to be close to their mother.
On Wednesday my son Lael came to the hospital and met his baby sister and we all went home together as a family. Since giving birth in such a magical way I have been so insanely in love with my partner. The birth of our daughter has allowed us to start our journey of parenthood together full of love and adoration for each other. I could not have birthed naturally without Jarkko’s love.
The conscious choices I made throughout my pregnancy gave me the birth I had always wanted and I believe every mother should have this right. I had to stand up against the system to have a VBAC. I am very grateful to all who cared for me and Luna as their support was essential for such a positive outcome. I feel empowered, connected and calm in my role as a mother and I am savouring every moment with my precious daughter.
By Leonie Percy, yoga teacher, owner at www.yogamamata.com and author of an award winning book called “Mother Om – Connect with yourself and your child in one mindful moment a day”. www.leoniepercy.com.
Leonie’s birth preparation course www.shebirths.com.au