Vaginal Birth After a Caesarean
Angela Sowden, Scotland
"I had my first daughter by emergency c-section in January 2010 because she was extended breech. When I found out that I was pregnant with my second child I knew I wanted to have a vaginal birth so started looking into ways I could help prepare myself for that. Someone on an Internet forum recommended natal hypnotherapy and after reading some of the reviews on the website I decided to give it a go. I ordered the vbac preparation cd's and listened to the 'letting go' cd fairly frequently from 12 weeks. Up until then I hadn't really spent much time thinking about my c-section, or how I felt about it. After listening to the cd once I was very upset, it took a few times for me to actually be able to 'let go' of the negative feelings I didn't even realise I had about my c-section.
From 31 weeks I started listening to the vbac preparation cd, I had also ordered the birth preparation book and was reading that too. I really enjoyed listening to the cd, it gave me time to relax and rest but, if I'm honest, I didn't think the hypnotherapy was working. I felt awake through the whole thing and quite often found my thoughts drifting during the sessions. I had my husband sit with me and listen to the cd once as well so we could write down anything I thought I would be useful for him to remember and repeat whilst I was in labour, but I didn't think he really took it seriously. On the day I had our daughter I woke up, as I had done every morning for ten days, with painful tightening sensations. As it had been happening for a while I just ignored them and got on with my day. It was a bank holiday so my husband was at home with us and we had a very lazy morning. The sensations got a bit more painful as the morning progressed so I went and had a bath to see if that would help ease them off a bit (it had worked on some of the other days). I lolled about in the bath reading a book on my kindle for a while and then got out and made lunch for everyone.
The sensations that had tapered off while I was in the bath got stronger again and I started counting down from three and telling myself to relax in my head. It carried on like that for a little while and then my husband started to notice that I was stopping every so often, the contractions were now coming every twenty minutes and although they were painful, I was managing by just counting down and telling myself to relax (I even cleaned the kitchen and made lasagne for dinner). I didn't recognise the contractions as contractions as I wasn't feeling as much pain as I thought I would do, it felt like very very strong branston hicks (I had mildly painful Brixton hicks towards the end of my pregnancy) so I carried on ignoring the sensations as much as I could. I snuggled our daughter on the sofa and put on a film, she fell asleep and the sensations started getting stronger (although I wouldn't say more painful) so I started rocking backwards and forwards on all fours on the floor, still counting down and telling myself to relax, still not thinking I was in labour as it wasn't as painful as I had anticipated.
My husband was concerned that the sensations were getting closer together (now every 3-5 minutes) so I rang the labour ward for advice. The midwife on the phone told me that as my contractions were lasting for more than a minute I wasn't in labour, it was strong braxton hicks. She said I could go I and get checked out if I wanted or stay at home and see home things progressed. I had another contraction while I was on the phone but since I was already fairly sure I wasn't in labour (as it wasn't very painful) I decided to stay where I was. We sent our daughter to the childminder anyway as she was getting worried and I was having difficulty concentrating on relaxing whilst trying to reassure her. Whilst we were waiting for the childminder to arrive my waters broke and I immediately started pushing. My husband called an ambulance (he also rang the labour ward to tell them we'd called an ambulance - their response "you should have come in earlier" “roll eyes”). During the transfer from home the paramedics offered me gas and air, it took it as I had found it helpful when I had our first daughter and used it helped me focus through the transfer to hospital. I remember the midwife saying after I had transferred onto the bed that she didn't need to examine me as she could see the baby's head.
I got a bit unfocused during the transfer but my husband must have realised (and must have been listening more than I thought) as he looked at me and said "1,2,3 relax Angela" (okay, he got a bit mixed up with counting down) and I started again in my head. Less than fifteen minutes after arriving I gave birth to our second daughter, Annabelle. It felt like a much longer, the time in between pushing urges felt much longer than it must have been and I had plenty of time to recover and ready myself before the next urge came. I was on all fours for all of my labour (apart from during the transfer) and the midwife passed Annabelle through my legs so I could hold her while the cord stopped pulsating.
The midwife asked me if I thought the natal hypnotherapy had helped, at the time I wasn't sure (but I had just given birth and my head was a bit fuddled). Looking back I think that it helped me keep calm and relaxed and I'm sure helped with the amount of pain I felt. I have recommended natal hypnotherapy to loads of people."
I used the VBAC preparation CD in the third trimester of my second pregnancy, a bit reluctantly at first because I was worried about getting my hopes up about achieving a VBAC given that my private doctor was not keen on the idea at all and was only going to let my try for it if (a) everything went really well during the pregnancy, (b) I went into labor spontaneously, and (c) there were no problems during the labor. In fact, I was on the verge of sending off for the Caesarian preparation CD until I spoke to the team at the new local public hospital who convinced me that I had a really good chance of achieving a VBAC and I made the decision to have the baby there instead of at the private clinic where I had my first. And, I'm pleased to say, that we did it!
I say "we" as there is no doubt in my mind that it would have been possible without the support and positive attitude of the midwives who were with me for the birth because it certainly wasn't an easy ride!!! I started having contractions three nights before I actually went into active labor and these were the nasty kind (like an iron belt round lower abdomen, hips and lower back). With my first child (induced labor) the contractions were in my stomach, felt more or less like period pain and were completely bearable without any pain relief. However, these iron-belt ones were a completely different story, and after my first one I suddenly understood all the attractions of the epidural!!!
Anyway, after a couple of nights of on-off painful contractions that weren't enough to be getting anywhere but were just enough to keep me awake all night, on the third night I finally started having them every 5-6 minutes, but not getting any closer together. At seven in the morning, having spent the night on and off the birth ball, in and out the bath, and clinging on to the headboard, I woke my husband (yes, he'd managed to sleep through the whole thing!) and we went to the hospital where they confirmed that I was “ finally “ in active labor, and I could stay! Once I was at the hospital and I knew that things were actually happening, I started to relax a bit and the contractions became much more bearable. They gave me a birth ball and I found I was quite comfortable sitting on it next to the bed and leaning forward. I sat like that most of the morning reading and talking to friends on the phone, my husband was even working on his laptop!
However, I did decide to have an epidural because I was really tired after not sleeping for three nights and I wanted to have some energy left for the birth - a good decision as it turned out! I carried on dilating well all day and was at 8cms by 3pm, but at that point things slowed down. First of all they had to restart the contractions with oxytocin very slowly because of the previous caesarian. Then, four hours later when I had finally got to 10cms, they discovered that the baby's head was looking to the side instead of straight ahead. Instead of using the ventouse, they turned me on one side and hooked one leg up and waited for the baby to turn his head himself, which he eventually did!
So, at 9pm we were finally ready to start pushing, and, after a long expulsive phase with several anatomical complications, my son was finally born safe and sound (with the help of a midwife pushing down on the top of my stomach) at 10:20pm, with only two stitches - a miracle! I can't say that I was completely relaxed throughout the labor (I had a few ˜dark" moments where I was sure it was going to end up being another caesarian), but I know that I was a lot calmer than I would have been if I hadn't used the Hypnotherapy CDs, and the experience of giving birth to my son was completely worth it. I was lucky enough to have a perfect epidural which allowed me to feel what I was doing when I was pushing - yet without any pain - and I really enjoyed the whole experience I kept grinning at the midwives and saying how happy I was to actually be pushing!
ll in all, it was a wonderful experience and I'm almost tempted to have a third just to have the
chance to do it again!
Straightforward pregnancy though I was very nervous about birth - 1st time ended in emergency c-section and I was keen to not repeat this. CD's helped me relax lots during the later stages of pregnancy - I listened most days for the last 4 weeks or so. The messages then helped to calm me during the labour. This time it was a lot quicker and when I got to hospital I was fully dilated and ready to push with no time for any pain relief (I’d planned on a tens machine and using the relaxing birth music). Pushing stage was then quite short (26 mins) and I felt relatively calm throughout. I would definitely recommend these cds.
This was my second birth, the first was supposed to be a planned home birth. Baby was 10 days late which resulted in an induction a complicated labour and eventually an emergency c-section. This time round I was very frightened. I didn't want to go through all that again. That’s why I made the decision to use the hypnosis cds. The vbac preparation cd was wonderful. I felt that it really helped me resolve my issues about my previous birth experience and to move on and accept what had happened.
I felt that I had a much more relaxed pregnancy and was actually looking forward to the birth. When my due date this time round came and went I started to get nervous again, but once more the cds helped me through. I was so relaxed that even three days overdue I didn't realise that my labour had started! Though I had picked up what I thought was a stomach bug two days before the birth. I put the abdominal pains down to that and thought I would have a nice bath to ease the discomfort. However once in the bath the pain became stronger and I had to shout for my husband who was mowing the lawn. Although the pains were coming thick and fast about every two minutes I still felt in control.
My son was asleep on the sofa being looked after by his gran so we managed to sneak past without him getting upset! I got to the hospital at 3:05 only 35 minutes after my first pain. The car was abandoned in the bus stop and we made our way to labour ward where I was found to be already 9 centimeters dilated. That made the midwives hurry. I was moved into a delivery room still on the arrival trolley! I did use the gas an air. I was told at 4:55 that if I hadn't pushed that baby out by 5 they would have to do an instrumental delivery and that I did need an episiotomy anyway. (I have to say that threats of that nature really boost your pushing power!) By 5:15 pm I had a beautiful baby girl in my arms delivered naturally by a wonderful doctor and student midwife. I felt very relaxed and in control throughout the experience. A complete change from the last time. I would definitely recommend this programme to others. My birth was very fast, first pain at 2pm baby in arms at 5:15! Thank you.
Born at home
Having had a 3 day labour which ended with a c-section with my first child, I was terrified of following the same route with my second baby and advised by my midwife (I used the Caroline Flint service) to try the hypnotherapy CDs. I loved the time they gave me to think about the impending birth and do some positive thinking, especially taking time to realise that no two births are the same. My most recent child birth experience could not have been more different as a result - born at home, in 4 hours start to finish, with no pain relief (which was amazing since my second son was 10 pounds 8 ounces at birth).
Natalie - Newport South Wales
VBAC for third baby
I had had a fourth degree tear with my first child and then a C section with my 2nd child. When I was pregnant for the 3rd time I was determined to have a better birthing experience. The cd's helped me not only relax but feel prepared and less anxious about previous experiences. My third child was born without any need for stitches and I found it an amazing experience. I have recommended this cd to any pregnant friends and also bought the relaxing in pregnancy for my sister in law!
Home birth after two caesareans - 3rd baby
I found the VBAC cd very helpful, to get my mind and body in the right frame of mind for my third pregnancy. As I had two previous C-sections my last being 8 years ago I was certain that I wanted a different outcome this time if possible. I am glad to say that with the help of the cd, pregnancy yoga, gentle exercise, reflexology, healthy diet and an independent midwife I manage to achieve a VBAC and my third son was born on the 4/12/2010. I certainly referred back to the VBAC cd during my labour and believed this helped me focus during the contractions. Would definitely recommend it.
Bradford Royal Infirmary
“I first discovered natal hypnotherapy in the late stages of my second pregnancy prior to that I had been very anxious about going into labour because my previous birth experience had culminated in a traumatic emergency caesarean.
After listening to the CDs numerous times, I found that my attitude towards the impending birth began to change radically, my fear turned to a sense of positive anticipation.
The birth experience itself was one to remember rather than forget. I felt very calm throughout & remained amazingly composed even at the height of the strongest contraction. Being so centered during labour, I didn’t feel the need for any pain relief whatsoever or to rant & curse, although I did make some very primitive noises at the actual moment of delivery!
I have been so impressed by natal hypno-therapy that I have already recommended it widely!
Thank you for helping me to achieve my ambition of a successful VBAC”
St Mary’s, Portsmouth – outside the front entrance in a car
Listened to VBAC set 20+ times
“I am now the mother of 2 lovely little girls. Sophie joined the family in 2002 and although the birth was relatively natural using TENS and gas and air, I felt out if control and took 19 hours to get her out. The whole birth was difficult as I had had an emergency c-section for an ectopic less then a year before the birth so the midwife was concerned about me having a normal birth. Still, all went well and Sophie was born.
This time round I was probably calmer anyway, but determined to do everything I could to help my body cope. I saw your CDs advertised and bought a full VBAC set last November. Although I had already achieved a VBAC, I felt that I still needed to put some concerns to rest so I listened to the VBAC CD a few times just to ‘clear the air’. I then followed your whole course of preparation CDs, listening to them about 3 or 4 times a week when I had a chance around work and my toddler’s hectic social life. I put the CDs onto my MP3 player so that I could listen to them during my lunch hour at work. I worked up to 39 weeks, and as the birth approached I listened to the CD more often, just to fine tune my relaxing techniques.
Finally my due date arrived with twinges or hints. Sophie had been 10 days late and close to being induced, so I had prepared myself for a late birth. My husband Mark and I had arranged to meet up with friends for lunch at midday on the due date, so we went off to a nice pub in the country with Sophie.
After the meal, waiting for dessert and coffee, I went to the toilet and my waters started to break – nothing too dramatic, in fact my biggest concern was convincing Sophie not to tell the whole pub that ‘Mummy had wet her knickers a bit’. I left Sophie with her Dad and went for a walk around the car park, just to see if anything was happening. Ten minutes later I started to get mild contractions so we said our goodbyes and headed home.
Once home, things started to get a bit more intense so I put on my TENS machine and your CD on my MP3 player and started walking around the garden. Mark got our friends in to look after Sophie and settled them down in front of a DVD.
I was still walking around the garden, breathing slowly and saying ‘relax’ a lot – so when my husband came out he was surprised to find that I was now having contractions every 3 minutes – and my TENS machine was still only on level 1. He couldn’t believe how calm I was and that I was able to talk in between contractions. So, he rang the hospital and told them we were on our way, and we headed off on the 10 mile journey.
I climbed into the back seat to give myself more room – which was just as well because a few minutes into the journey the contractions got more intense, so I lay down. I was still talking in between contractions, and Mark was talking me through the breathing whilst driving. I turned the TENS machine up to level 2 (of 15) and put the CD onto continuous play and concentrated on breathing and relaxing.
Ten minutes later, I started to feel movement and I started to panic – we were still a good ten minutes away from the hospital and I was fully clothed – ‘Junior’ was starting to arrive! I yelled at my husband to stop the car and he pulled into the next available turning which was a Harvester car park. With the next contraction I felt a lot of movement and said to Mark ‘the head is out’ – I could tell that he was as scared as I was but the only thing to do was to keep driving. He turned the car round and we carried on.
After hitting every set of red lights, we finally made it to the front door of St Mary’s Hospital in Portsmouth. Mark ran in and asked the receptionist to get a midwife; then he came back to the car. He came round to the back seat and opened the door. I screamed at him to get my trousers off and when he did there was a little face looking at him. Knowing that help was on its way, he held on and with the next contraction was holding the new arrival up to the waist – now that my trousers were off there was nothing holding her in!
The midwife arrived and observed over Mark’s shoulder until she could take over and delivered the legs and cord. Mark jumped into the front passenger seat and leant over to hold my hand – the first time we had been able to comfort each other. I opened my eyes to a wonderful sight of my daughter being handed over to the front seat, with the words ‘congratulations, you have a daughter’. That was 16:05 – 2 hours after leaving the pub.
Half an hour later, I was sitting up in bed with a cup of tea. Mark had managed to get his coat off and Helen was lying there taking it all in. I guess that we could not have had a more natural birth – a hardly-used TENS machine and your CDs – and through it all, I felt as natural and in control as I hoped. We left the hospital that evening and Helen is now three months old and one of the most relaxed smiley babies that I have seen – but then I am biased!
I don’t think we will be having another one – but if we do, it will be a planned home birth and your CDs will be in use again. I have already recommended them to all my pregnant friends, who I hope will also enjoy their deliveries.
Thank you again.”
“Had very traumatic 1st caesarean birth + had panic attacks throughout 2nd pregnancy. Found leaflet in maternity shop + ordered CD’s.
Advised I could have a VBAC so went for it + had a sweep at 41 weeks, which started labour.
Waters broke 12 hrs later in labour 24hrs after that. After 9 hours of labour baby’s head still very high + in distress. So had emergency C-Section.
I found the contractions much more manageable due to the focusing I had learnt from the CD. I was generally much calmer + more in charge (such as not answering questions during contractions). Although I didn’t manage a VBAC, I felt I had done all I could thoroughly recommended the CD’s (in fact have to several people)”
With my first baby I ended up with a c-section for fetal distress. Then I had a hospital VBAC where I opted for all pain relief available. With my last birth I was determined to experience natural birth and I am delighted to let you know I had a wonderful successful HBAC and I owe it all to God and these CD's.
I listened to the VBAC CD for weeks and couldn't wait to start the birth preparation one. I averaged 3 times a week from 30 weeks on.
When I knew I was in labour I laid down on my bed and immediately felt entranced. Riding the labour waves without effort. I had terrible back pain, but I was able to separate it from the labor and found my coping mechanism and pressed forward. At 2.58pm after 14 hours of labor I delivered my son at home. Thank you!
“I had a very traumatic 1st caesarean birth and had panic attacks throughout the 2nd pregnancy. I was advised I could have a VBAC so went for it and had a sweep at 41 weeks, which started labour. My waters broke 12 hours later and in labour 24 hours after that. After 9 hours of labour baby’s head was still high and in distress so had a c-section.
I found the contractions much more manageable due to the focusing I had learned from the CD. I was generally much calmer and more in charge (such as mot answering questions during contractions). Although I didn’t manage a VBAC I felt I had done all I could.
I thoroughly recommend the CDs (in fact already have to several people).”
Royal Sussex County Hospital Brighton
"The first CD really helped me overcome a traumatic first C -section and so the best thing for me was the fact that during the labour, I didn’t once think about my previous c/section - not at all! The labour was long, hard and at times painful, but there was no sense of panic at any stage. The midwives were impressed with my coping so well. My husband didn’t want to be present so my best friend came. She had read the Natal hypnotherapy literature and we soon had our own rhythm & routine going. She says it’s the best thing she’s ever done. The comfort dial, breathing, and seeing each contraction as taking me one step closer to meeting my baby really helped. The best thing is having a wonderfully calm baby - I’m convinced this is due to the relaxation I experienced with the CDs in the latter weeks of pregnancy! As a result he made a calm, quiet entry into the world with no screaming or panic, in this own time on the day he was due. I can’t wait to do it again!"
Lindsey Freathy - Third time mother
“ I am delighted to inform you that I gave birth vaginally to a little boy, Luke, on 22nd April. This was after two caesareans. I found your CDs enormously beneficial and your advice on the telephone, invaluable. All were positive affirmations that a normal delivery was indeed possible. The CD made me feel like I was an active participant in the birthing of my baby right from the early days of my pregnancy. It helped me to bond with my baby in the womb and feel a sense of calm about it all. It also strengthened me in times of stress and re awakened my sense of self-belief. My husband and birthing partner also listened to the CDs, it made my experience one I shall look back on with awe and gratitude. Finally after 2 caesareans I had the birth I always wanted"
Successful VBAC in hospital
"I started listening to the CD around 32 weeks at night in bed. It was wonderful. I always fell asleep before the end and woke up relaxed and calm. Even my husband benefited from it.
I went into labour nearly 4 weeks early. I was very calm going about my business having afternoon tea with friends who happen to be doctors. I finally decided to go to the hospital at 5pm to be checked and I was already 4 cm!. Over the next hour the contractions got stronger so I had a bath which was lovely.
By 9.30 I was at the stage when I thought I might need additional pain relief, but I was then fully dilated and ready to push. I was so focused and relaxed that the midwives asked if I had done Yoga. Pushing was easy until the last bit when my husband passed out and split his lip needing A&E attention!. I felt great afterwards and very happy to have done it on my own,
All in all great experience - was ready to do it again within minutes."
”Once I knew I was in labour I felt really calm and focused on breathing.
I really believed the CD helped me as I could visualize the baby’s head descending and stretching my perineum. It was all very calm and as a result I had no cuts or tears. Within 2 hours of the birth I felt great, it was so much easier than a C/section. All the midwives I have seen remarked on what a great birth I had, especially being a VBAC. Within 2 hours of the birth I felt great having showered and dressed. It was so much easier than a c/s. Thanks for the CD, it may not have eliminated all the pain, but I am sure it made a calmer easier birth.”
This was my second child. I opted to use these CDs as I had a bad experience with my first child. After opting for a home birth I was shattered when things resulted in an induction a lot of pain and eventually an emergency c-section to deliver my son. This time round I was very scared that the sequence of events would repeat themselves.
The VBAC prep CD was wonderful it helped me resolve all of my issues from the previous birth such as feeling a failure because things didn't happen as I had planned. As a result of the CDs I approached this second birth very calmly using the breathing and visualisation techniques outlined within the programme. I didn't have time to use the relaxing birth music during labour as from first pain to baby in arms was less than 3 hours! I did use it throughout the pregnancy to unwind. I felt so much different this time round calm and in control. I only needed the gas and air and had a nice normal delivery of a healthy baby girl. I felt that my pregnancy was calmer and resulted in a magical birth experience. If I have another child I would definitely use the CDs again. Thank you.
Born at home
I had my son in Feb 2005 by c-section after a failed induction and planned on having my next baby at home with an independent midwife.
I was in pre-labour for three days and I found out the baby had turned posterior. Each night contractions would start but then come to a halt by the morning. Finally the contractions started up again and got progressively stronger very quickly. I got in my birthing pool and one hour later Mia was born!
I was in active labour for a total of around 4 hours which amazed me as I never laboured with my son - I expected a long labour like a first time mum. The birth itself was fantastic - very calm and liberating. As soon as she was born I instantly felt relaxed and elated. Two weeks later and I'm still feeling like a million dollars and so pleased about achieving a VBAC. I indicated that the CDs weren't very helpful during labour but this is only because I had a very quick intense and extremely painful labour (especially as it was back labour) and I don't think much would have helped. I used gas and air for the final pushing stage but that was it.
I do find that the techniques I learned from the CDs helped during pre-labour and even helps me now post natally. I've experienced some pain when establishing breastfeeding and have been using the relaxation techniques from the CDs during feeds - it works brilliantly! Also I was very nervous during this pregnancy as I had a missed miscarriage at 9 1/2 weeks just before falling pregnant with Mia. The CDs helped me to relax and feel more positive about this pregnancy and really helped me to regain faith in my body.