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VBAC Birth Stories

Melissa Merino & Stephanie Byrne

21 episodes

Jan 20, 2021

27 | Vanessa's accidental homebirth following an emergency caesarean after induction; PROM, Private Hospital, High BMI, Doula, GP-shared care, Public Hospital 

Welcome to Season 2 of VBAC Birth Stories! In this our first episode of 2021 we hear from Vanessa, a Brisbane mum of two who had an accidental homebirth with her VBAC baby.

Vanessa’s first pregnancy was textbook all the way through and when her waters began to leak at 38 weeks she headed straight into hospital to be assessed, and it was then she was told she would be induced the following morning. Vanessa, like many first time mums we speak to, did not know at the time that she could have declined and was not given any other option other than to admit herself into the hospital that night. After her caesarean she experienced the baby blues in a bad way, but didn’t get assessed to see if it was possibly post natal depression. She was grateful to still be able to breastfeed although it wasn’t any easy start for her.

Vanessa honestly recounts her treatment in this hospital, which may be triggering for some our listeners, but an important listen, especially for our healthcare professionals to understand the potential impact of their actions and words on birthing women.

After experiencing an early miscarriage Vanessa fell pregnant with her son and she knew by this time she wanted to do things differently. She hired a doula for starters and joined the VBAC Australia Support Group to get informed about birth. She was told early on she would need to take two Gestational Diabetes tests because of her BMI, which made her question a few things. This pregnancy although also textbook Vanessa did need to advocate for herself particularly towards the end stages and she did this brilliantly. Vanessa had her hospital birth game plan all figured out, but little did she know her body and her baby had made plans of their own…

~ Notes ~



Post Natal Depression/Anxiety support: If you or anyone you know is affected by PND symptoms particularly at this time of COVID-19 please don't hesitate to contact the following support networks.

The Gidget Foundation
https://gidgetfoundation.org.au/get-support/,

PANDA
https://www.panda.org.au/info-support/pandas-national-perinatal-anxiety-depression-helpline

Beyond Blue
https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/get-immediate-support

Cope
https://www.cope.org.au

Pregnancy Loss:
https://www.bearsofhope.org.au
https://rednosegriefandloss.org.au
https://miscarriagesupport.org.au

**VBAC Birth Stories features women's lived experiences. It is not intended to replace medical advice. Should you have any concerns during your pregnancy please always consult your healthcare provider.

Please connect with us on Facebook or Instagram: @vbacbirthstories

Dec 9, 2020

26 | Siobhan's drug-free VBAC following elective caesarean due to breech positioning; Posterior Labour, ECV, Student Midwife, MGP, Birth Centre at Public Hospital 

In this the final VBAC birth story episode of 2020 we chat to Siobhan who lives with her husband and two children in the Gold Coast. Siobhan’s first baby was presenting footling breech towards the end stages of her pregnancy and after an unsuccessful ECV (External Cephalic Version) she reluctantly signed on the dotted line accepting a planned caesarean birth. Whilst the caesarean was text-book and she wasn’t separated from her baby, she did experience challenges with breastfeeding and also a bit of postpartum anxiety. In her next pregnancy she knew she wanted a VBAC from the beginning, but a second breech presentation and no support from her local hospital in attempting a breech VBAC led Siobhan to take matters into her own hands, determined to have a successful ECV to give herself the best chance of experiencing the kind of birth she always wanted.

Siobhan raises important points on breech birth and how the maternity system can better facilitate breech presentations and potentially prevent many elective caesareans which are performed for this reason, often times without the presence of fully informed decision making.

We look forward to bringing you more VBAC journeys in 2021! :)

~ Notes ~

Breech Birth Australia & New Zealand Support Group:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/breech

VBAC Australia Support Group:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/342851302473349

Specialist breech obstetrician:

Dr. Andrew Bisits
https://www.seslhd.health.nsw.gov.au/royal-hospital-for-women

New QLD Health VBAC Guidelines (see notes on Breech VBAC and ECV):


Birth Trauma & PND/Anxiety Support:

PANDA
https://www.panda.org.au/info-support/after-birth/child-birth-trauma

COPE
https://www.cope.org.au/preparing-for-birth/things-dont-go-plan/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd-2/

The Gidget Foundation
https://gidgetfoundation.org.au/get-support/,

Beyond Blue
https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/get-immediate-support

**VBAC Birth Stories features women's lived experiences. It is not intended to replace medical advice. Should you have any concerns during your pregnancy please always consult your healthcare provider.

Please connect with us on Facebook or Instagram: @vbacbirthstories

Nov 26, 2020

25 | Nikii's drug-free VBA2C; Emergency caesareans, Epidural, Meconium in waters, Short Inter-pregnancy Interval, Public Hospital, Hypnobirthing 

In this episode we speak to Nikii, originally from New Zealand and now lives with her partner and 3 young boys in Brisbane. Nikii experienced two emergency caesareans and then a deeply healing vaginal birth. Prior to her primary caesarean Nikii had not done any education about childbirth, and just went with the flow, which was the flow of her care provider- a local public hospital. She laboured for 17 hours before being taken into theatre and describes this birth as traumatic.

Hoping for a VBAC in her second birth, which was only 13 and a half months after her first, she did educate herself a little bit more however her baby had other plans. She believes she possibly experienced a bit of post-natal depression after this birth and shares with us why she felt that way.

Nikii gave birth to her third son in August, and it was during his pregnancy that she really stepped into her power, determined to birth on her terms despite facing resistance from her hospital. Listen to find out the number of things Nikii did differently to prepare for her healing VBA2C.

There’s a lot to take away from this episode. Here are some key themes discussed:

  • Mistreatment by healthcare professionals
  • Post natal depression (PND)
  • The importance of continuity of care and trust during labour
  • Education of birth
  • The power of intuition and inward connection
  • Self assertion and speaking out
  • The impact birth can have on the mother-child dyad

~ Notes ~

New QLD Health VBAC Guidelines:


Birth Trauma/PND Support:

PANDA
https://www.panda.org.au/info-support/after-birth/child-birth-trauma

COPE
https://www.cope.org.au/preparing-for-birth/things-dont-go-plan/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd-2/

The Gidget Foundation
https://gidgetfoundation.org.au/get-support/,

Beyond Blue
https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/get-immediate-support

Pregnancy Loss:

https://www.bearsofhope.org.au
https://rednosegriefandloss.org.au
https://miscarriagesupport.org.au

**VBAC Birth Stories features women's lived experiences. It is not intended to replace medical advice. Should you have any concerns during your pregnancy please always consult your healthcare provider.

Please connect with us on Facebook or Instagram: @vbacbirthstories

Nov 11, 2020

24 | Michela's Homebirth after an Emergency Caesarean (HBAC); Breech, ECV, Private Obstetrician, Private Midwife, Doula 

In today’s episode we chat to Michela, a mum of two living with her husband in Brisbane. Michela knew before she fell pregnant that she wanted to approach birth in a way that resonated more with her life philosophies and hired a private midwife initially to support her at her local hospital’s birth centre, but as her pregnancy progressed she decided a homebirth would actually be a better fit. Unfortunately circumstances changed, and Michela’s plans to have an intervention-free birth at home turned out to be the complete opposite of what ultimately transpired.

She knew she wanted to do things differently in her next pregnancy and highlights to us the key difference between her first and second birth and what she learnt along the way to her healing homebirth after caesarean. We hope our listeners can take away a lot from Michela’s learnings throughout her VBAC journey.

Episode sponsor:

~ Notes ~

Private Midwife: https://www.ittakesavillagemidwifery.com

Doula: https://www.michellepalasia.com

Sunshine Coast body worker: Jemma https://www.instagram.com/womb.whisperer/?hl=en

Pregnancy/Post-natal massage therapist: Marissa Giannake https://www.nurtureherwellbeing.com

Birth Trauma and Post Natal Depression/Anxiety support:

The Gidget Foundation
https://gidgetfoundation.org.au/get-support/,

PANDA
https://www.panda.org.au/info-support/pandas-national-perinatal-anxiety-depression-helpline

Beyond Blue
https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/get-immediate-support

Cope
https://www.cope.org.au

**VBAC Birth Stories features women's lived experiences. It is not intended to replace medical advice. Should you have any concerns during your pregnancy please always consult your healthcare provider.

Please connect with us on Facebook or Instagram: @vbacbirthstories

Oct 29, 2020

23 | Catherine's drug-free VBAC following an emergency caesarean with a posterior baby; Private Obstetrician, Private Hospital, hired Midwife, Low PAPP-A level, Hypnobirthing 

In today's episode we meet Catherine from the Central Coast of NSW. She is a mother of two boys who speaks to us about her fertility struggles and emergency caesarean which was actually a refreshingly positive experience. Her first baby was posterior and she laboured for a long time with him before being taken into theatre guided by her private obstetrician who she had a very good relationship with.

In the early stages of her VBAC pregnancy she was told she had a low PAPP-A level (placental related function associated with increased chance of low birth weight, pre-term baby and other pregnancy related complications) and she shares how this was managed by her obstetrician. Catherine speaks about the unspoken doubt of approaching a VBAC birth and the variety of tools she used to assist herself the second time around.

Listen to find out what lessons Catherine took away from her first birth and how she gave herself the best chance of experiencing the kind of birth she always wanted and ultimately achieved.

~ Notes ~

IVF Australia:

https://www.ivf.com.au

Catherine's Obstetrician's website:

https://intuitionprivate.com.au

Catherine's Midwife for her VBAC:

https://www.thenurtury.com.au

You can find Catherine on Instagram if you would like to connect with her: @catherinesammut

**VBAC Birth Stories features women's lived experiences. It is not intended to replace medical advice. Should you have any concerns during your pregnancy please always consult your healthcare provider.

Please connect with us on Facebook or Instagram: @vbacbirthstories



Oct 15, 2020

22 | Midwife Hannah's positive induced VBAC following an emergency caesarean with a posterior baby; Gestational Hypertension, Public Hospitals, Continuity of Midwifery Care 

In today’s episode we meet Hannah, a midwife and mum of two living with her husband in Brisbane. Hannah was not expecting her first birth to end in a caesarean at all, but despite a difficult and challenging labour her son’s birth was overall a positive experience.

Hannah suffered an early miscarriage in-between her son and her daughter’s births, but knew when the time came to give birth again she would definitely try for a VBAC.

Her third pregnancy was going pretty smoothly until she was diagnosed with gestational hypertension. Her hospital’s policy was to induce, which concerned Hannah as she knew the risks involved with induction and how it could potentially negatively affect her chances of experiencing the vaginal birth she was hoping for.

It was her midwife colleagues who restored faith in her, and Hannah ended up achieving a swift drug-free induced VBAC that even caught her by surprise.

Possible trigger: Please note there is mention of infant mortality in relation to uterine rupture in this episode.

~ Notes ~

Book reference: Silent Knife by Nancy Wainer Cohen and Lois Estner.

Pregnancy Loss:
https://www.bearsofhope.org.au
https://rednosegriefandloss.org.au
https://miscarriagesupport.org.au

**VBAC Birth Stories features women's lived experiences. It is not intended to replace medical advice. Should you have any concerns during your pregnancy please always consult your healthcare provider.

Please connect with us on Facebook or Instagram: @vbacbirthstories

Oct 1, 2020

21 | Kristi's drug-free VBAC with a 4.75kg/10 lbs. baby following emergency caesarean after induction for Cholestasis; PTSD, Posterior babies, Doula, MGP, Public Hospitals 

In this episode we meet Kristi, a mum of two living with her husband and two boys in Brisbane. In Kristi’s first birth she was recommended an induction due to Obstetric Cholestasis (liver disorder presented in pregnancy which causes itchiness). Despite dilating to 10cm and reaching the pushing phase of labour, Kristi was taken into theatre for an emergency caesarean. She did not know what actually caused her caesarean until years later.

After a difficult start to breastfeeding which involved a tongue tie, Kristi was diagnosed one year after her birth with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and she bravely and honestly shares the forms this took with her and her coping mechanisms to deal with the psychological trauma inflicted by her first birth. Sadly up to 1 in 10 Australian women emerge from their birth with PTSD.

Kristi understandably really struggled with the decision on whether or not to book an elective caesarean or go for a VBAC during her second pregnancy. This was compounded by a meeting with an obstetrician who gave her a less than 40% chance of having a successful VBAC as he suspected she may have a narrow pelvis. But ultimately, with the support of her husband, her primary midwife from her public hospital’s Midwifery Group Practice (MGP), and her doula, Kristi went on to naturally birth her 4.75kg (10 lbs.) baby.

~ Notes ~

Resources Kristi used:

Book by Dr. Kristin Neff:
https://self-compassion.org

Birth education:
https://evidencebasedbirth.com

Doula:
https://www.idealbirth.com.au

Birth Trauma and PTSD support:

PANDA
https://www.panda.org.au/info-support/after-birth/child-birth-trauma

COPE
https://www.cope.org.au/preparing-for-birth/things-dont-go-plan/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd-2/

The Gidget Foundation
https://gidgetfoundation.org.au/get-support/,

Beyond Blue
https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/get-immediate-support

Pregnancy Loss:

https://www.bearsofhope.org.au
https://rednosegriefandloss.org.au
https://miscarriagesupport.org.au

Sep 17, 2020

20 | Sophia's story of emergency repeat caesarean with her baby with Down syndrome following elective caesarean for Polyhydramnios and suspected large baby; Private Hospital, Public Hospital, Midwifery Group Practice 

In this episode we meet Perth mother of two, Sophia. In her first pregnancy Sophia was diagnosed with Polyhydramnios, a condition where there is an excess of amniotic fluid. Her obstetrician recommended a c-section based on the findings of this but also the risk of shoulder dystocia given the baby was predicted to be large. Sophia begrudgingly elected for a c-section and while she describes her experience as perfectly fine she immediately knew she would want to try for a VBAC next time around.

Falling pregnant again Sophia was given the news that her second baby has Down syndrome and after a difficult decision making process she and her husband decided to still proceed with the pregnancy and sought to welcome their baby girl via VBAC.

Sophia's story speaks of the struggles of breastfeeding, the importance of knowledge and preparation in birth, and the love with which she welcomed her daughter into the world.

~ Notes ~

Down syndrome support Australia:
https://www.downsyndrome.org.au

Facebook support groups, please search:
321 PREGNANCY CARE
T21 Mum Australia Network
Celebrate T21
VBAC Australia Support Group

Pregnancy Loss:
https://www.bearsofhope.org.au
https://rednosegriefandloss.org.au
https://miscarriagesupport.org.au

**VBAC Birth Stories features women's lived experiences. It is not intended to replace medical advice. Should you have any concerns during your pregnancy please always consult your healthcare provider.

Please connect with us on Facebook or Instagram: @vbacbirthstories

Sep 3, 2020

19 | COVID-19 Birth, Doula restrictions - Jessica's VBAC with an epidural following emergency caesarean after induction for high blood pressure; Public Hospital, Private Hospital, Meconium in waters, Hypnobirthing 

In this episode we chat to Jessica who lives with her husband and two children in Torquay at the start of the beautiful great ocean road in Victoria.

Jessica reflects on how she made the decision to not make a birth plan for her first birth and just go with the flow, but knowing what she knows now she wished she had prepared herself a bit better- a sentiment that rings true for many of us.

Her first birth ended in an emergency caesarean following an induction at 40 weeks for high blood pressure readings.

For her second birth, she knew she wanted to do things differently and hired a doula to support her in a private hospital setting and this time made a birth plan. However, things didn’t quite go to plan. With the emergence of COVID-19 during her pregnancy this meant that her doula was no longer able to support her in labour while in hospital. Although disappointing at first Jessica didn’t allow this to deter her spirits and she decided to keep her doula on to support her in labour at home alongside her husband until it was time to head into hospital.

Jessica’s story is a great example of how birth can still be an empowering and positive experience, even if your birth goes in a different direction to what you had intended it to.

~ Notes ~

Post Natal Depression/Anxiety support: If you or anyone you know is affected by PND symptoms particularly at this time of COVID-19 please don't hesitate to contact the following support networks:

The Gidget Foundation
https://gidgetfoundation.org.au/get-support/,

PANDA
https://www.panda.org.au/info-support/pandas-national-perinatal-anxiety-depression-helpline

Beyond Blue
https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/get-immediate-support

Cope
https://www.cope.org.au

**VBAC Birth Stories features women's lived experiences. It is not intended to replace medical advice. Should you have any concerns during your pregnancy please always consult your healthcare provider.

Please connect with us on Facebook or Instagram: @vbacbirthstories

Aug 26, 2020

18 I The Birth Map - Rethinking the Birth Plan with Catherine Bell 

This week we chart the high seas with birth cartographer, author and artist Catherine Bell. A former marine biologist Catherine is now completing her PhD on ‘Birth Mapping’ which looks at how health care providers can work with birthing women to pursue mutually beneficial pathways in all birth settings.

We cover:
- What the difference is between a birth plan and a birth map
- The importance of your birth partner and support person in birth
- How to ensure your care provider is on board with your VBAC pathway
- How we can facilitate true women centred care and decision making in birth

We hope you enjoy our second bonus episode and find it a useful compass on your birth journey.

~ Notes ~

Catherine Bell -

Catherine Bell on Instagram -
@birthmapping

Midwife Thinking Dr Rachel Reed -

Dr Sarah Wickham -


Post Natal Depression/Anxiety support: If you or anyone you know is affected by PND symptoms particularly at this time of COVID-19 please don't hesitate to contact the following support networks.

The Gidget Foundation
https://gidgetfoundation.org.au/get-support/,

PANDA
https://www.panda.org.au/info-support/pandas-national-perinatal-anxiety-depression-helpline

Beyond Blue

Cope


**VBAC Birth Stories features women's lived experiences. It is not intended to replace medical advice. Should you have any concerns during your pregnancy please always consult your healthcare provider.

Please connect with us on Facebook or Instagram: @vbacbirthstories

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