Today's post was written by a past client Andrea and her experiences with a c-section birth of her first son and her successful VBAC with a doula present (me!). Thank you so much Andrea for taking the time to share your story!
I believe that because of my two Doulas, Cole Chartier and Amanda Beaver, I had a natural successful VBAC and I will be forever grateful.
I am no longer obsessed, fixated, frustrated, irritated, annoyed, or disappointed about my first birth, which ended in a C-section after 24 long hours of labour. No one will ever be able to determine exactly when and why my first son got stuck, but I believe that if I had had a Doula for that birth, it would have been a much more enjoyable experience without the emotional trauma that followed my C-section.
I also suspect that because I had an epidural and I was forced to stay in a bed, my first son became positioned improperly, which most likely led to the C-section. I wasn't able to get up and move around and use gravity to help me birth my son. I had an epidural after 9 hours of intense contractions. The contractions were so intense and so often that I could no longer cope.
As soon as my water broke, I had very intense contractions, lasting at least a minute and coming on every two to three minutes. After 8 hours I was only 5 cm dilated and my midwife told me that at this rate of dilating only 0.5 cm an hour, I probably still had another 10 hours left of dilation and 2-3 hours of pushing ahead. Talk about deflating me and making me feel completely defeated.
The thought of that intense pain coming on that often for another 12 or more hours made me give up and ask for an epidural. My midwife knew that I did not want an epidural and that I very much wanted to have this baby naturally. She did not even attempt to dissuade me from having an epidural. As soon as I requested it she left the room and ordered the epidural. The anesthetist came an hour later.
I believe this medical intervention led to the next medical intervention, which was the C-section. I believe that if I had had a Doula present for this birth, either Cole or Amanda, she would have coached me through the first 8 hours of labour, during which I did not cope well.
When my midwife told me I was only 5 cm dilated, she should have told me what an accomplishment I had made and should have made me feel proud of how far I had come. She should have helped me get through the next 5 cm which I've since been told go faster than the first 5. As it turned out I was fully dilated after 7 more hours, not the projected 10, and I'm told that an epidural slows dilation down so I may have been fully dilated after only 5 more hours. I would have been able to stay standing and walking or could have kneeled during dilation and pushing and this would have probably prevented my son from getting into the wrong position by cocking his head incorrectly and subsequently getting stuck. No one will ever know for sure but this is what I believe.
If Cole had been present, I would have coped better and she would have helped me get through it without medication.
Because I had a successful VBAC with my second son, I now feel "cured" and I am so grateful for my birth with Cole. Cole helped breathe deeply and keep my moans and groans low-toned. Sometimes I started to yell and even scream but she centred me and helped me express it in low tones to save my energy and my voice. She also held my hand and let me squeeze it as hard as I needed. What Cole said to me and how she listened to me got me through it.
Cole agreed with me and believed I was right when I said I thought I had just gone through transition. She was in tune with me and completely aware of what was going on with my body. It didn't surprise Cole when I was fully dilated and ready to push about 30 minutes later. She listened to me and supported me through the whole thing. My son was sunny-side up, which I'm told is a difficult position to birth a baby. With Cole's encouragement and motivation, I pushed him out with great determination and in a record 50 minutes. Cole told me I was a rock star for pushing him out so quickly in that position. That made me feel amazing.
My son was born with some sort of infection but it wasn't determined what it was, although the doctors suspect it was GBS. I also needed extra medical support after the birth because I haemorrhaged. Cole stayed for hours and hours and supported me and my husband through the uncertain time. I was in the ICU after an hour of surgery and Cole stayed with me and made sure I was okay. She also spent hours in the NICU with my husband and our son.
I also want to mention why I officially had two Doulas. Amanda Beaver was originally my Doula and led the 6 wonderful and informative birthing classes. Due to childcare challenges, Amanda made sure she had a back up plan for my delivery. She introduced me to Cole 6 weeks before my due date and Cole attended the birthing classes in order to establish a relationship with me. I thought that was very proactive on both their parts. As it turned out, the day I went into labour unfortunately Amanda did not have childcare so Cole was called to attend my labour. She met me at the hospital immediately and in fact beat me there. I had a lot of anxiety in the morning before my water broke and Amanda kept me steady, calm, and focused. Once my water broke she talked me through my initial contractions over the phone before I reached the hospital where Cole was able to take over. I know how badly Amanda wanted to be there with me. She was so supportive and was in contact with Cole throughout the day and evening. Both Doulas were extremely supportive while my son was hospitalized for 11 days. And both of them came to the hospital to visit us and spruce up our day. My husband and I are so grateful for all the support and kindness we received from Cole and Amanda.