Anna's Healing Home VBA2C - Get Your Birth Team Assembled!
I can not begin to even explain the feeling of joy reading this birth story brings me. I have known Anna and Olly for 5 years and have been part of their journey with all 3 of their children. However Ottlie's birth and the journey leading up to it will go down as a very treasured memory and experience in my life.
The true strength of a woman/birther, when they are fully supported, listened to, educated and empowered is just the most amazing thing to witness! Anna goes in to wonderful, honest and raw detail about her pregnancy, birth and previous experiences that have brought her to this point. As always, I am blessed and grateful for permission to share this story and be part of their experience.
Everything below is Anna's words:
🌟 🌟 My Birth Story🌟 🌟 💜super positive homebirth 💜Surprise baby GIRL! 💜8lb 7oz 💜HBA2C 💜post dates 42+6 💜planned healing homebirth 💜planned water birth turned amazing land birth 💜long latent labour 💜long active labour 💜long time to ‘push’ out baby 💜hypnobirthing 💜doula
It’s a long story!! But I figure it is a very relevant one because sadly woman are still being induced needlessly, we are still being told what to do rather than given all the accurate information/data/latest research and not given autonomy over our bodies. Woman are still having unnecessary cesareans, sweeps etc. Don’t get me started on the whole 40 weeks length of pregnancy- in short women should be looking to birth from 37-42 weeks, one size doesn’t fit all!
So... .my pregnancy and birth are the super positive aspects. My History contains possible triggers but I haven't gone into much detail.
👀HISTORY 🤰PREGNANCY 🤱BIRTH ⚠️ TRIGGERS
👀 History: My first birth in 2015 I felt well-prepared and supported and not too stressed as my husband and I were supported by Terri my hypnobirthing instructor. This was an IVF baby after 4 yrs of TTC. After really rubbish care by the one Trust in Cornwall we changed care at 42weeks to Exeter. They were fab but obvs freaked out that I was post dates and had had no signs of labour.
At 42+5 I agreed to induction, which resulted in baby doing a huge movement and monitor falling off. They couldnt find heartbeat panicked and rushed me to labour ward where they then found heartbeat. They call this failure to progress/failed induction. I agreed to a VE and was told I was locked up like Fort Knox and baby only going to arrive via csec.
I didn’t know then what I know now. Most babies react to induction via pessary like this and also I could have and should have left but instead they said I couldn’t go home. We did have a fab csec experience-dimmed lights,bob marley playing, delayed cord clamping, and very kind staff!
👀⚠️2nd Baby 2018- different story. I had terrible care from 8weeks where my pro-csec midwife said I should and would have another csec. She wasn’t supportive of my vbac choice and did everything in her power to scare me. I truly believe her negativity and then the stress of fighting the system led to conditioning my brain that I couldn’t deliver vaginally, that my body would fail me. I had some diabolical meetings with two consultants who told me i was going to die if I attempted vaginal delivery,at best I would have a hysterectomy. This alongside my midwife who said she would be calling for the air ambulance if I chose to homebirth.
⚠️From 40wks the pressure intensified and although I will leave out most of the story I was bullied, coerced,scaremongers and on reflection abused when a registrar after taking a consented swab to check if waters had gone dove back into my vagina for a fiddle, which I had not consented to, I had in fact stressed I did not want a sweep or a VE. My husband had to push the guy off me as I screamed out in pain and shock. We also had a terrible female consultant who disrespected my wishes at every turn including repeating her ‘you will kill your baby line’ by going past dates and attempting a vbac...all in all my experience resulted in PTSD-i diagnosed 2 years after his birth and I didn’t bond with my baby for the 12 months post birth resulting in awful post natal depression.
With my diagnosis came the opportunity to have a Birth Reflections session with a wonderful Consultant and Deputy Head of Midwifery. I talked at length (cried hysterically) about my second pregnancy. This was in April 2019 and I fell pregnant in the October.
🤰I was offered a Birth Rewind session but due to Covid I ended up having this through my amazing Doula Terri of Cornwall Hypnotherapy and Hypnobirthing.
Just before lockdown I had a meeting with the same consultant and DHOM and was introduced to my new midwife who was in my community and could offer continuity of care. Hannah was an angel! I am so lucky that she was placed with taking care of me.
So...... that was around 20weeks mark then Covid happened and I was incredibly ill for about 4months-Covid was suspected when I had a lung infection discovered at the start of May. Yep my pregnancy had been spent being ill, lethargic (low iron) and in bed- my poor husband. However, after treatment for lung infection and iron tablets I began to improve and by June was feeling much better! YAY
So I got in my birthing bubble.
The Birth Rewind was successful I went from a 10/10 trauma to now about a 2/10 which basically means I dont hyperventilate and hysterically cry every time I think about that pregnancy and birth. Due to Covid my Birth Rewind and subsequent Doula sessions were held via Zoom which actually was just as good as session in person.
Other than being categorised as high risk due to two previous csec and for going post dates with those pregnancies, my health, BMI etc was all good.
The great news with this pregnancy is that I started to get light cramping and experienced braxton hicks for the first time. Having felt nothing with previous pregnancies and had no signs whatsoever this was amazing! I felt like a first time mum!
40 weeks came and went... I had a slight issue with my consultant wanting to make a plan (they were nervous that I had no plan in place other than to not have a plan other than to homebirth). My Doula Terri gently batted them away at my request and defended my birthing space perfectly. This took so much stress off of me which really helped to keep me calm.
40+ 4 I thought I was in labour from midnight til 9am. Messaged my Doula saying back pain unbearable ( had hot water bottle), bowels emptied, had to breathe through surges, and tried to time them but kept forgetting. However after 9am they all but disappeared! My Doula suggested this could be Pre-labour warm-ups - my body was getting ready - yay!!
The next day -nothing- so i went on a mega long walk to punish my body. The walk included 200 steps 🙈
41 weeks- I had acupuncture and a midwife appointment which was great- no pressure and no discussion of induction, plans, post dates the lot. Hannah told me that all of the community midwives supported me and had it all crossed that I would go into spontaneous labour and get the healing homebirth I craved. This really reassured me. I also decided to paint strip and repaint the downstairs bathroom- nesting at its finest?
41+2 had a night of cramps and surges again but by 6am they disappeared. 41+3 same thing... 41+5 had second and final lot of acupuncture as he said if nothing happened after 2 sessions there was something else preventing labour. I did feel that the acupuncture had released something 🤷♀️ 42 weeks- did a hypnobirthing ’baby come out session’ with my Doula Terri (also a clinical hypnotherapist) and the message that came through was that baby wasn’t quite ready. 42+1 saw a midwife for NHS aromatherapy session- she palpated baby and said she was in an odd position. Instructed to do side-lying and inversions to encourage a better position. 42+2 watched the new Jack Whitehall on Netflix- laughed a lot and had surges from 11pm. Freya app said I was in established labour- she lied! 42+3 had the same surge pattern and timing from 11pm til 6am. Latent labour carried on for 4 days in this way 😱 42+5 latent labour session began a little earlier that evening but I was quite frankly f**ked by this point. Having continual surges like this for days had wiped me out! The hubby meanwhile had enjoyed nights of peaceful slumber. 42+6 I woke Olly at 0400 to say I could no longer cope I was exhausted and wanted to go to hospital to get pethidine and get a good sleep he wasn’t impressed haha. He said to call the midwife and Terri but I never got to call Terri- after I had called Hannah my surges were coming thick and fast with no gap. Olly called Terri and asked her to come over.
The rest is a bit of a blur.
Hannah arrived just before 0600. I begged for pain relief and to go to hospital- I cried and said I just can’t do this anymore. This was the first of many times I proclaimed I couldn’t go on. Despite my reluctance (⚠️trauma relating to previous pregnancy and an assault by registrar) to a VE she explained that if I was at 4cm she could call 2nd midwife and I could have had and air.
Hannah said she knew going to hospital wasn’t really what I wanted. Call me fickle but the gas and air won me over. I had a VE and I was 4cm 🙌 I have no regrets with any of the VE’s as Hannah was super gentle and reassuring.
Terri arrived and instantly started rubbing my back- heaven! Terri also got the essential oils going and helped Olly to fill the pool.
Second midwife arrived at 0647 with the Gas and Air. I got in the pool- naked- and it felt good but my goodness the surges were taking all my strength to breathe through. I don’t normally agree with G&A as it makes me go a bit crazy but Hannah talked me through using it and it really worked...
0800 the second midwife left and the amazing Chloe arrived - I now had two angel midwives caring for me. Around this point they asked me where the pain was and I said in my bum and back.
The pain was permanently in my bum and back and had been all week. I felt as though I was on the verge of pushing. My Doyla and midwives also got excited as the infamous purple line had appeared on my derrière. I was so happy-I was doing this!
10am, still no baby but I had been J breathing my arse off for hours. It was a hot sunny day but I had no concept of time, my eyes were closed and I think I opened them about three times during the course of labour. Around this point I had a euphoric moment where even with my eyes closed everything went white, there was a bright golden light- and everything went quiet- it was as though I had died and physically left my body- it was weird but amazing.
However, after on and off baby monitoring by the midwives and many different birthing positions baby wasn’t coming earthside so it was suggested at 1130 that I get out of the pool and try different positions- i walked a bit but my surges were too overwhelming and intense so tried leaning on wall,all fours on the bed, back to front sitting on the loo.
At 1326 I had involuntary pushing and at 1340 I wanted to get back in the pool.
Apparently I had been losing my plug in the pool prior to getting out of pool the first time and whilst I was on all fours on the bed-all the right signs for imminent labour were there it just wasn’t happening. Fast forward a while later and a few more canisters of gas and air it was suggested I got out of the pool again. By now I was well beyond exhausted and My Doula fed my some energy purée thing 🤢 and some teaspoons on jam 🤢
I hadn’t eaten since 5am when my hubby had fed me a bitesize date bar from Holland and Barrett. I was running on something, maybe adrenaline and lucozade sports drinks!
1447 I was out of the pool again, completely naked, no make up and looking awful I proceeded to the bathroom to sit on loo. I have a very vivid memory of coming to when having surges and catching myself biting down on the loo seat 🙈 I remember thinking thank goodness I scrubbed it clean yesterday!
Hannah wanted to do a VE as it had been over 2hours since last VE conformed I was 9cms. The surges had been back to back for hours and unbearable but I just kept going and so did the team,supporting me,loving me, reassuring me.
I have had to look at my notes for most of this because although I remember snippets as I said at around 6am I zoned out ...
At 1500 it was confirmed I was 10cm. An interesting point raised by my notes is that monitoring and checking was always performed with my consent,and a lot of the time throughout the day I said no or wait,or not now. With the surges being back to back I remember that it hurt sometimes when they listened into baby ( not intentionally) I was just hyper sensitive. Hannah was very respectful and did as I asked. From here on out we all accepted that I would have to push this baby out- like push with all my might! The J breathing and hypnobirthing had got us this far and I was calm, my baby was super chilled but baby was stuck and kept turning from ROP to b2b.
My midwives coached me through different positions-evidently the most effective for getting baby through/past the pubic bone was using the rebozo (see pic). The nidwoves suggested the position using a towel or their arms where with the contraction I pushed and pulled with my hands- Terri had a rebozo in her Mary Poppins kit and the midwives loved it!
The other position was hanging off Ollys neck an squatting. Oh my did I squat- I squatted so much that I felt like I was giving birth to my entire back passage. I went back and forth from squats to on the bed pushing numerous times. Baby wasn’t getting the heck out.
At 1550 a third midwife arrived. Emma. She had finished her shift but wanted to come join the party. She also bought more gas and air I believe.
At 1618 ambulance transfer was discussed but I said could we hold it off. Apparently we were running out of time in terms of home delivery and pushing and to be honest I kept saying I wanted to go to hospital all day. However Hannah, Terri and Olly all knew deep down what I wanted, they believed in me, and said no -I was having this baby at home.
At 1635 ambulance was called as we had run out of time. However I was determined to get this baby out, we all were. So a change of positions-toilet then squatting off ollys neck then back to bed.
Sitting upright with knees bent using rebozo I would breathe in as I got closer to the peak of the surge and then would instead of breathing out I would push to where Hannah had lightly placed a finger on my vagina guiding my efforts. As I ran out of ompf I would snap in another breath and hold baby in that position preventing it from slipping back as it had been.I would then carry on pushing riding the surge well and truly. Hannah supported my perineum with my permission to try and prevent tearing whilst Chloe gently manoeuvred baby using her hands internally.
This really helped and at 1719 head was born. No ring of fire though!
I didn’t really acknowledge at the time but they had said baby was stuck and the reason was how baby was presenting itself. Instead of all tucked in nice and neat, baby was looking up and slightly to the side which had caused a massive lump to form on the skull which had caused a bit of a blockage in the birth canal (see pic).
A few seconds later baby was delivered. Cried immediately and was placed on my chest.I could feel the cord between my legs but at this point I had just stopped. I was so happy but so so so tired.
We had done it! 💜
I was in shock but everyone else was crying ,Olly,Terri, and all three midwives were balling their eyes out and I just wanted to sleep. 10 minutes passed and they said you don’t even know the sex! Olly looked and couldn’t believe we had a little girl- flabbergasted!
The ambulance was outside waiting for permission from the midwives to come in (apparently that’s a thing). They said they had 40 waiting calls but I was priority and were they needed. An answer couldn’t be given until placenta had been delivered and confirmed as intact. By this point I just wanted to sleep and although a physiological stage was what I had planned I asked for the injection. It took 7mins from injection to delivery and of course this all happened after we waited for white and cut cord. I did have a 2nd degree tear but it wasn’t really that bad (just skin not the muscle). All stitches were performed at home.
Chloe and Terri helped me to shower and dress and Terri sorted me out with tea and toast.
All in all my ridiculously long labour was worth it and I would do it all again tomorrow. I feel healed but not only that I suddenly and instantly loved my 2nd born more than ever- it’s like a mist has been lifted.
If you have read this far - well done 👏👏and thank you.
I have included a few pics-the one on the bed with the midwives and Terri is hilarious as they are all smiling and posing whilst I have completely passed out!
Welcome to the world 💝Ottilie June Waterton-Gullick💝 (All photo's taken by our Doula, Terri)
Conclusion written by me (Terri) - If you are planning or working towards a VBAC, having a supportive team around you can make all the difference. A partner who is fully on board and invested in your birth plans; a fully supportive midwife who believes in and give person centred, individualise care and is fully supportive of your preferences; a Doula who unwaveringly advocates, supports, stands by your side, and believes in your ability to birth your baby how you choose. Assemble your birth team - do not leave it to chance!
If you are considering a Doula to support you during your pregnancy, labour and birth get in touch to book your free, no obligation consultation.