Jan 10-2015 was the day my first baby was born. It was in a maternity specialty intitution in Coimbatore. I was an active mom throughout my pregnancy – doing all sorts of workouts, activities and dance of course. Around 8.30 in the morning of my 38th week + 5 days my water broke when I woke up from bed. We reached the institution around 9.30 am. I was immediately made to sit in a wheel chair and waited for the healthcare provider to check me. I had an internal check (which we are not supposed to after the water breaks as per evidence based guidelines) and I was told “baby is still high, head is not fixed so we will try inducing now”. I was very scared about the internal check at that time. It was a painful process and when I showed my fear towards it one of the healthcare providers said “If you can’t bear this pain how can you ask for the normal delivery?” I decided to act normal – thinking that they might decide I’m weak to go through a normal delivery. They waited till 3.30 pm and finally said ‘there is no progress so we will have to do an emergency C-sec.’ Our baby was born by 3.45 pm.
I was eagerly waiting to have a normal delivery but then the whole process I went through was very disappointing and left me heartbroken. I was made to believe that my body had failed to progress and support me, and so that’s the reason for the C-Section. It was then I decided – if I have my 2nd one I’m going put my best effort for a normal delivery.
The Birthvillage Journey :
When I became pregnant with my 2nd baby, I was in UK. So I thought I’m going to try for a VBAC. Around 20 weeks or so, we came to know that we have to return back to India and I might have my delivery here. I was aware about Birthvillage about a year after my 1st delivery through social media. I had read birth stories of moms who had natural birth, and successful Vbacs at Birthvillage and was so impressed.
Now that I had to be in India for delivery, I thought of giving it a try. I shared my thoughts with my husband. His first reply was, “Don’t be impractical. Going to India and shifting to a new city for delivery is not going to happen. Let’s try with some healthcare providers in Coimbatore itself.” But I didn’t stop reading the birth stories from their FB page. In fact I even contacted a few moms to know about their experience at Birthvillage.
After reaching India by the 27th week of pregnancy, we decided to consult with 4-5 healthcare providers in Coimbatore to see if they support VBAC. But it’s a harsh reality that I didn’t get any support. My husband, Vinoth didn’t oppose the idea of me looking for VBAC. He thought we will be getting it in Coimbatore itself. But then we heard the following words from a senior and reputed healthcare provider:
“Why keep baby more than 36/37 weeks in belly? First was C-Section, so it will be C-Section this time too. So you either set an auspicious date and come, and we will fix a date for operation. Also this is your 2nd – so we will do family planning operation as well. So it will be easy for you to recover from both the operations at one time.”
I cannot express in words the feeling I had at that moment. I was angry, furious, tensed, broken, worried everything of that sort. But Vinoth just held my hands and asked at me to be calm. Vinoth said “You already mentioned Birthvillage, let’s go there and try to make things happen in right way for you”. Both our families were very supportive about this.
At the first skype call, Priyanka was the first person to say to me “Yes, we can try for a VBAC if you change your lifestyle, food habits and exercise. It was at that moment I was so sure that I’m in the right path with the right people. After a visit to Cochin for our first appointment at Birthvillage, we attended our Lamaze couples classes in mid January. I was so happy that I made the right decision and Vinoth was very happy seeing me happy. By end of January, around my 36 weeks me, Vinoth, my elder daughter Mahima and my dad moved to Cochin.
My VBAC 2nd baby :
On the very first day in Cochin, I had Donna’s workout class. I thought it would be the usual yoga, breathing and stretching exercises for pregnancy, but I found it was such an energetic, enjoyable one – with a lot of physical workouts along with lovely dance moves. I’m sure most pregnant women will not be doing the exercises we did this class. She made sure that we did the moves and stretches at our comfortable pace and cleared off all the doubts and myths that I had during workout.
We wanted our stay in Cochin to be our wonderful vacation. So every evening we used to visit places like Lulu mall, Subash Bose Park, Fort Cochin, Cherai beach, museums, palaces etc. I was told on the first visit itself that I would have to follow a strict diet pattern. I was to have more of salads, fruits, water, juices and less intake of rice along with 45 minutes of walking and 200 stairs minimum. I had regular check up every week since week 36, where my midwives would clear all the doubts I had on vbac –(even the most silliest ones, they handled with patience.)
As I was nearing my due date, I started to become a bit anxious at this point about baby’s head not being fixed, no signs of labour etc. My midwife had always told me – the more the anxiety, the more delayed labour would be. She also said, as a 2nd time mom, we don’t expect head to be fixed earlier. It can all happen at once after the labor has begun also. My husband and dad were my constant support through all this.
I had 3 main fears.
1. Uterine rupture that can be fatal for mom and baby – was the only thing that was said by the healthcare providers in Coimbatore to me. Somehow, my midwife understood that I had this fear and told me that only if I could overcome it 100% would it be possible for me to proceed to next level. I then read about the facts and experiences of other vbac moms and came to know there is only 0.2% risk factor for this, and not all women who try VBAC will be at risk.
2. Internal examination. It was a very normal and routine check up to every women who is pregnant. But the way it happens is most important. My midwife helped me in a very smooth way to overcome that fear by well informing about the process, why and how it happens and everything.
3. The delivery pain. Since I couldn’t experience it personally the first time, I had heard from moms who had gone through it and always had a fear if I can manage it. But the workout classes not only gave us physical strength but also boosted our mental strength with constant reminders that – if our mind is stronger we can overcome and manage any pain that we go through.
I started to have contractions since my 40th week and a mucus discharge. I immediately contacted Birthvillage, and was asked to visit the centre. After checking I was told this was false pain – and just the way of my body preparing for actual labour. Though I had a baby already, this felt like my first delivery. I had never experienced this natural pain and the changes that the body goes towards the end of pregnancy. So I was equally excited and anxious at the same time. My midwife comforted and encouraged that it’s all happening good, so just relax and don’t be anxious.
We had regular checkups; the baby was descending down but head was still not fixed. I was a week past my due, about 41 weeks on a Tuesday afternoon, after finishing the workout class I came back home and had my lunch. From 2.30 p.m. I started getting contractions. Since I had been having false pain for a week I didn’t bother to check the time immediately. But then I found it to be happening intensely, so started to keep track. The contractions were repeating for every 20 minutes, lasting up to 30-40 seconds for half an hour. Soon it started coming closer together gradually. Till around 7 pm in the evening the contractions were coming for every 5- 3 minutes which lasted for almost 80-90 secs. When the contractions came every 3 minutes, Vinoth decided to call the centre; I wasn’t sure if I was dilated enough to go to Birthvillage, but still would like to get checked once. So we visited the centre around 7.30, where my midwife was waiting with a smile, and asked “How are you feeling Sowbhakya?”. I remember saying ” I don’t know… should I feel happy my labor has started or sad coz it’s paining now?”. We found out I was only 3-4 cm dilated, and so I would need to go back home and come back later. When Vinoth asked – “how do we know if she is 6 cm dilated enough?” she said “you will find a bloody discharge and also you will see a new Avatar of Sowbhakya who can’t , smile, eat, drink, sleep or speak ( coz I’m a chatterbox). It is by then you will have to come back. I was told to have food and rest for a while as the contractions would increase in time. We came back home and I immediately felt like having a bath in very hot water. Vinoth was very supportive by massaging and comforting me in all the ways he could. I continued the bath for almost 2 hours and then once I was out of the bath, my contractions were very strong.
Then, all of sudden, by elder baby started crying hard asking for her dad to put her to sleep. I didn’t let go my husband, as I was myself in severe pain. All the while, it was my dad who was managing my daughter. But then she cried so badly that Vinoth decided to leave me in my dad’s hands and went to put my baby to sleep. I very well remember I wasn’t able to even speak a word to stop my husband because I was in that much pain. My dad came, took the hot water bag and started massaging my back. He was so calm, confident, and comforted me at the time of severe pain.
Later I came to know that I was given in the hands of my dad during my transition stage of labor – when the cervix is dilated from 8-10 cm. He hadn’t gone to any classes, or not had any prior knowledge about labor or the intense pain that any woman goes through. But he handled the situation so well and it was at that moment I realized he is not just my dad but also my Mom. I don’t know how many dads can see their daughter going through the delivery pain. Not just see but also comfort her through the painful period. My dad and my husband are the two pillars of my life. By the time Vinoth returned, we decided to go to BV.
When we reached BV, it took time for me to get from the car to the room. Soon after reaching I felt like using the toilet, and did. But then when I started to push, my midwife said “You don’t want to have a baby in the closet right? So gather all your strength and walk back to the room.” I managed to somehow walk back to the birth stool and was trying hard to push. My midwife guided me to use more movements and comfort postures so I would not just sit in one place and keep pushing. My other midwife arrived and said with a big smile – “Finally Sowbhakya, this is what we have been waiting for.” I managed to smile back and we had a quick check. I was already 10cm dilated and she could feel the baby already. I gathered my fullest strength and walked back to the rope. I remember asking to hear some songs, and she happily played the songs we used in workout classes. Both my midwives continuously guided me by reminding me about breathing techniques, keeping my mind calm and strong. I didn’t leave Vinoth’s hand even for a minute.
I had about 10 strong pushes, and suddenly my midwife asked for my hand. When I gave her my hand she made me touch baby’s head. I was scared and it felt magical at the same moment. I even remember screaming after the touch. After 1 or 2 strong pushes, our little princess emerged, screaming out loud. That moment was a heaven on earth feel. Heart and mind filled with happiness and serenity. After few minutes the placenta came and I walked back to bed to hold my little princess skin to skin. The Golden hour was given with the baby, the first crawl was experienced and it was all like a dream come true. All this while I have only read stories about it but I was able to experience it there on that day. Soon, the refreshing special hot chocolate was given, followed by delayed cord clamping. I had my once in lifetime experience and was left to rest with the baby peacefully for the rest of the hours.
I can never thank my midwives enough for the support they gave me all through my pregnancy and delivery; and Bincy for giving the postnatal care. I also thank Remachechi who gave me a wonderful bath before leaving for home. I must mention that the postnatal bath that I took from Remachechi, after I reached back home also, helped me a lot in the recovery process. I Thank you to the admins Ginju and Smija for all the help – fixing the appointments and checkups. My experience with Birthvillage is something that will remain fresh and I will cherish it forever in my mind. Thank you to each of the team!
When this mum called in, she had all the intentions right… She felt a calling within her after her first birth that something just didn’t feel quite right.
But strong rooted conditioning and repeated lines of “It’s just not possible!” “Your body won’t expand”, “Your pelvis just isn’t cut out for this ” had wounded this mum so deeply that she struggled to come out of it. And its wasn’t an easy task as she would compare herself with others in the same boat so on and so forth. Her biggest reckoning came when she realised that second time around its wasn’t anymore about VBAC, it was about choices, it was about informed decision making, it was choosing to birth with dignity and it was about being listened to…..
We are so proud of her birth team – her husband who was super calm throughout it all, and a dad who massaged during trying times and held her spirits high while she was transitioning in labor.
So may lessons at many levels for families in our community!
Well done and congratulations once again!!