Hospital Birth- Unmedicated VBAC- Durham, NC
***Birth stories, images, and video shared with permission from client***
Alex and Matt hired me as their doula pretty early on in Alex’s pregnancy. Alex had a cesarean section with the birth of her first child, Jack, due to him being breech. She put a lot of effort into it, and was able to have a gentle/family friendly cesarean with him. She was the first at that hospital to do immediate skin to skin in the OR. This is now routine procedure at the hospital. Although all went really well with her cesarean, she greatly desired to have a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) this time. Alex worked so hard and did a lot of research and preparation in order to increase her odds of having a successful VBAC. She stayed with the same care providers that had been so supportive during Jack’s birth, Women's Health Alliance Midwifery. She knew she would be in good hands with them, and that they had a great VBAC success rate. She was very open and honest with her care providers, making sure to address every concern she had and that her wants and needs were known. She took a private VBAC class from me. She worked out and kept her body healthy and strong all throughout her pregnancy. She even forced herself to eat dates, in hopes to avoid going past due and being induced. All her hard work paid off!
On November 22nd, 2015 at 7:30am, Alex sent me a text to let me know that she had been having lots of prodromal labor, and that the night before things were a lot worse than usual. She also said she had lost her mucous plug and had some bloody show the previous night. I told her those were all good signs and to keep me updated. At 1:30pm, Alex called me to let me know that her contractions were now in a regular pattern. They were about 10 minutes apart and 30 seconds long. She said she could easily walk and talk through them, but that she felt the most comfortable sitting on the ball. I recommended that if it was at all possible that she try and take a nap, and to also make sure to continue eating and drinking. Around 4:00pm, she called again to let me know things had picked up some. Contractions were now 7-8 minutes apart and more intense, but they weren’t lasting quite as long. She could still walk and talk through them. She said she was going to eat dinner, and then try and take a nap. I told her I thought that was a really good plan. I figured it’d be a long night, and she’d definitely need her energy. At 6:35pm, Alex called again to let me know things had really picked up a lot. Her contractions were now 4-5 minutes apart, but still only 20-30 seconds long. She said she could no longer walk through contractions, and it was getting a lot harder to talk through them. Alex wanted to wait as long as possible before heading to the hospital, but she didn’t want to be too far away, just in case. Alex’s good friend, Kim, lived about 10 minutes from the hospital, and was completely open to having Alex labor there. Alex and Matt decided to head to Kim’s house, so they’d be close by.
At 7:18pm, Alex sent me a text to let me know that she had called the midwives just to give them a heads up that she might be coming in soon. Alex decided to go to Goodberry’s and walk around for a little while and see how she felt before deciding on going to the hospital or not. I decided to take a quick nap before she needed me. At 10:16pm, Alex let me know that the contractions were now 6-7 minutes apart, but that they were getting a lot more intense and were now lasting closer to a minute. She said she was feeling them more in her lower back, and that she was feeling a lot of cervical pressure. She said that she could manage, but it was definitely getting tougher. Matt called shortly after that, and I talked to them, and listened to Alex work through a contraction. She was really having to stop and breathe through it. I told her I would head her way.
I arrived at Kim’s house around 11:45pm. Alex was in Kim’s bedroom on the bed on hands and knees. Matt was standing behind her and pulling on a rebozo that was under her belly. Alex was working hard through each contraction. We talked some. She would lie on her side and rest between contractions. They were still about 7 minutes apart. Alex looked tired, and I recommended that she sleep between contractions, if she was able to. I went and heated up the heat pack, and we had a routine of putting heat and counter pressure on her back and pulling up on the rebozo during each contraction. The contractions slowly began to space out. Matt went and took a nap, and Alex was able to actually sleep for a while. One intense contraction hit, and she woke up. She said she felt well rested, and that she’d like to try to speed things along if at all possible. I suggested we try walking and squats first to see if that would pick things up a little. We hung the rebozo from the doorway and Alex would alternate between walking around the house and doing squats. Still the contractions stayed spaced out and sporadic. We tried side lunges, nipple stimulation with the pump, belly sifting, binding her belly, and anything else we could think of. Unfortunately, nothing seemed to do the trick. Finally, around 4:30am, I suggested that Alex cuddle and kiss Matt to try and release some natural oxytocin. Kim and I left the room, and took a short nap.
After a few hours, Matt came out to check on everybody. The cuddling seemed to work. Alex’s contractions were consistently 4-6 minutes apart and fairly intense. She was side lying in the exaggerated sims position, and resting in between contractions. We decided we would wait an hour or two to see if the contractions continued to stay consistent, and if so, we would call the midwife and head to the hospital. The contractions stayed this way for about an hour, then things once again started to space out. Matt decided to go out and get breakfast and coffee for everybody. The midwives changed shifts at 8:00am, so I suggested Alex wait until then to call. We ate breakfast. Unfortunately, Alex’s contractions had all but stopped by then. She called in and spoke to Leigh Ann, who was the midwife on call for the day. Leigh Ann suggested she call the office and make an appointment for a labor check.
Around 9:30am on November 23rd, we went into the office and Anne Brand came in to see Alex. She talked to us, and then checked Alex’s cervix. She was 3-4cm dilated, and her cervix was very soft. Anne said that the baby’s head felt like it was in a great position, but that Alex’s cervix was a little far back. She asked Alex if she would like her to move it forward, so that the baby’s head would be hitting the middle of the cervix, rather than the anterior wall. After asking the risks, Alex decided to let her do it. She did, and Anne said Alex was definitely in labor. Unfortunately, it was just one of those labor patterns that would stop and start, but she was hopeful that pulling the cervix forward some would help. As Alex’s contractions were still few and far between, we all agreed to go home and get a nap in. We figured that things would probably pick up again that night. I arrived home around 11:00am. Alex texted me at 11:21am to let me know that she had 4 semi-intense contractions on the way home. Things were already picking up again! She felt that she would be okay for a couple of hours, and she was going to try to see if she could get a nap in before things got more intense. I took a quick nap. At 1:00pm, I checked in with Alex to see if things were still intense. She said when lying down contractions were about 10 minutes apart, and she had been able to get some rest. The contractions were extremely intense and 1-1.5 minutes long, and she felt like she wanted my help.
I arrived at Alex and Matt’s house around 2:00pm. Alex was in her room resting on her side, while Matt was upstairs trying to get Jack down for a nap. While Alex was lying down, contractions were still about 10 minutes apart, but clearly much more intense. I suggested that she get up to see how close together they were when she was up and about. Alex really enjoyed sitting on the birth ball during contractions so she did that. Contractions were much more frequent, but also more bearable while sitting on the birth ball. I continued to apply heat and counter pressure to her back. While on the ball contractions were staying about 5 minutes apart, and lasting 1-1.5 minutes. Things continued this way for about 30 minutes. We then decided we should head to the hospital soon. In order to avoid rush hour traffic, we agreed that we would leave the house between 3 and 3:30. Jack was now asleep, and Alex and Matt got showers and got ready to go. We left the house at 3:15.
We got to the hospital shortly before 4:00pm. Matt pulled up and got a wheel chair. I wheeled Alex up to labor and delivery while Matt parked the car. The car ride had been really difficult for Alex since she couldn’t get in the positions that she wanted, so things were very intense at that time. They were very quick to get her into a room. Once in the room, she was able to sit on the birth ball and get back into a better rhythm. The nurse came in and set up the monitors. Around 4:30pm, Amanda Ditzel, the birth photographer showed up. Alex continued to work through contractions on the birth ball. At 5:00pm, the midwife, Leigh Ann, came in. She checked Alex’s cervix. Alex was 4 cm dilated, 90% effaced, and the baby was at a 0 station. Leigh Ann said that was great progress, because the baby was significantly lower than when Anne had checked Alex’s cervix earlier that day. Alex’s hips and legs were hurting her, so she decided to lay down and rest on the bed for a little while. She rested on the bed in between contractions from about 5:30-6:30. At 6:30pm, she said her hips were really bothering her, so she got up and stretched some. She did different hip stretches between contractions. They definitely seemed to help. Things really started picking up in intensity around 7:30pm. Matt, Amanda, and I would alternate having Alex lean on us, while the other did a hip squeeze with the rebozo and applied heat and counter pressure to Alex’s back.
Around 8:30pm, Alex was beginning to really feel overwhelmed by the intensity of the contractions. She was feeling a lot of lower back pain. We suggested she try the shower for a little while with the detachable shower head spraying on her lower back. This seemed to help a lot. She was definitely going through transition at this point. She tried many different positions. Finally the one she settled on was squatting during contractions. I tied a sheet to the shower bar. Matt sprayed water on her low back. She did a beautiful job breathing and moaning through each contraction. At 9:30pm, Leigh Ann checked Alex’s cervix again. She was completely dilated, and the baby was nice and low. Alex pushed during a few contractions in the shower, and then she decided to get out.
At 9:50pm, Alex got out of the tub, and squatted next to the bed to push. She did this for a little while, and then her legs started getting tired. The nurse and midwife were able to set up the bed in a way that Alex could rest her legs, but still push in a semi squatting position. She pushed, and she kept saying that the baby was never coming out. At 11:05pm, less than an hour shy of Alex’s “due date”, Frankie was born and placed immediately on her mom’s chest. Alex and Matt were so glad to finally meet her. Alex got her VBAC!!! She worked so very hard for it. She was the picture of strength during labor and birth. She rocked every second of it, and looked so amazing doing it!
Check out Alex's beautiful birth video by Amanda Ditzel at Raleigh Birth Photography below:
Please feel free to share your birth stories here. The more women can read empowering birth stories, the more confident they can feel in their own births! Please email birth stories to firstname.lastname@example.org