Megan : a much better vaginal birth

Megan after her second (much more empowering) birth

Megan after her second (much more empowering) birth

A better experience this time around
(Megan came to Birthtalk to understand and heal from a disappointing vaginal birth. She then came to our Antenatal Sessions, and had a Private Consultation to go over her notes with Deb from Birthtalk, to prepare for her second birth. She has kindly also included her first birth story, to share the differences between both births, and the impact each has had on herself and her family. To read her first Birth Story, SCROLL DOWN to the end of this page)

Megan shares the Birth Story of her second child

That night I had a show at 2am. I tried to relax and get back to sleep to no avail so ended up listening to a meditation CD instead. Over the next couple of hours I had several contractions and by 4am it was too uncomfortable to lie down. I needed to sit up on the edge of the bed to breathe through each contraction. At 6am I woke my husband and called my sister-in-law to come and get Katelyn as we had arranged.

From there on I lost track of time; I was focussing my full attention on each contraction as they came quite close together and I didn’t have time for anything other than a brief instruction in between. Katelyn had woken up about 7am and my husband was busy getting her dressed and fed. He came in occasionally to check on me and ask if I needed anything but I felt quite happy being on my own though the contractions were becoming quite intense. Katelyn wandered in a couple of times and I was able to manage a smile and briefly talk to her before Michael came in to scoop her out of my way. FINALLY my sister-in-law arrived about 9:30am – I remember being quite impatient for her to arrive so we could get going.

Although the plan had been for her to take Katelyn while I was in labour, by the time she arrived I just wanted her to stay right next to me. I was so occupied with getting through each contraction that I didn’t feel like I could move from the edge of the bed (I had barely moved since 4am!) but somehow they managed to coax me to the shower and got me dressed and into the car for the half hour trip to the hospital.

I ended up kneeling on the floor of the front passenger seat, facing backwards and with my head buried in the seat. My sister-in-law was in the back seat with Katelyn and my husband drove… as fast as he could while still being careful, with his hand on my back bracing me for the corners and describing each turn as it approached!

We arrived at 10:30am and after managing to extract myself from the car I rushed inside, pausing for one contraction on the verandah. Standing up and walking just felt wrong! I had to hunch right forward while walking to get inside, then it was straight down onto my knees in the birthing room. It was nice to be so familiar with the rooms and to feel comfortable to barge into where I wanted to be. I needed reassurance from the midwife that it was okay to push (I was worried that I might not be dilated or still have a lip like the first birth) and then I was straight into it. I don’t remember anything other than the instructions for pushing from Katelyn’s birth, but this time I could feel Ben moving down, and slipping back just a little at the end of each contraction.
Ben was born at 11 am exactly, just half an hour after we arrived. My husband was the one to say ‘It’s a boy’ and it was just the two of us kneeling over him in fascination and awe. My husband told me afterward that his overriding feeling was of amazement that I had
done it ‘all by myself’. The midwife was just behind us ready to help, but to him I had done it all and he couldn’t believe that it could be so simple, straightforward and natural.

The bath tub had been filled but I never had time to use it. Katelyn had been in the waiting room just next door playing with toys for that brief half hour and came in soon after Ben was born to meet her baby brother. I loved the fact that she had been with us for most of the
time and wasn’t in the least concerned except for one brief moment in the car when I guess I was particularly loud (I remember explaining to her that I was ‘mooing like a cow’ to push the baby out).

We had a few visitors and a beautiful peaceful overnight stay and then left the next morning when Ben was exactly 24hrs old.


Impact of the second birth?
Second time round I feel much more emotionally attached to him. I’m not sure if it is the result of such a positive birth, or whether it’s just because I’m more relaxed with a second baby and he sleeps so much better!

Physically I felt SO much better than the first time; I left the hospital after one night and we went straight to the shopping centre for an hour to buy some blue clothes while we didn’t have our toddler with us!! I had similar perineal tears to the first birth but they weren’t stitched this time which was so much more comfortable. I think the fact that I gave birth in a kneeling position rather than lying on my back meant there was less impact on my body so it has recovered so much faster. I just can’t believe how fantastic and normal I felt almost immediately after the birth.

I also feel so much closer to my husband because we both had such a positive experience together and felt that it was our experience completely.

©Megan & Birthtalk2008

Megan’s first birth story:
Katelyn was born in a private hospital by a private obstetrician in Brisbane. I was very positive about birth, and confident in my body and the process of birth, but not at all comfortable with the private obstetrician I had chosen and her views of birth.

As my due date loomed closer I was increasingly frustrated and upset at my antenatal appointments and in desperation seriously considered changing obstetricians at 38 weeks! In the end I just pinned all my hopes on the fact that the obstetrician wouldn’t be there at the birth (that’s the way it works out most times, right?)

I had my first contraction at 6pm on a Thursday night and somehow knew that it wasn’t just a Braxton Hicks, but didn’t want to admit to myself that I thought it was starting. The second contraction followed at about 8pm, followed by a few more over the next couple of hours. At 11pm I had a show and the contractions were about 10mins apart and by midnight they were around 5 minutes apart and requiring my full attention. Around 2:30am they became closer – about 2 or 3 minutes apart and we finally went into hospital around 4am. I had wanted to stay home as long as possible, but was becoming increasingly worried about how I would make it into the car for the drive if I waited any longer.

I was given an examination at 5am (by my obstetrician who was already there for another birth unfortunately) which showed that I was 4cm dilated. I was reasonably happy because I felt I had at least made it into established labour. However when I was again checked at 7am I was only 5cm dilated, and more than three long hours later I was still stuck at 5cm at 10:30am.

My obstetrician had artificially ruptured my waters at 7am and after the next check she suggested either a syntocinon drip to speed things up, a combination of the syntocin drip and epidural or to opt straight for a caesarean. She recommended the syntocinon in conjunction with the epidural, but after discussing it with my husband (more like me saying ‘tell me what you think we should do – I don’t know and I’m exhausted!’) we decided to just have the syntocinon drip. I think I must have stayed up on the bed after the examination so the midwife could put the drip in and I didn’t move from the bed after that.

All I remember after that is contraction after contraction, and waiting for what seemed like forever for the obstetrician to come back and tell me if I was making any progress. Somewhere in there the midwife offered me gas and I don’t think I ever put it down again! I guess I must have finally got close to 10cm; at around 1:30pm the obstetrician examined me again and announced that I had a large anterior lip and she was going to try to push it back over the baby’s head. The process was successful and she told me it was now time to push – legs up; hand under thighs; chin down on my chest and push out my bottom; not tensing my arms or anything else! Gradually the baby’s head started showing, but I couldn’t seem to get her out – she kept slipping back at the end of each contraction. The obstetrician suggested using vacuum extraction and said that she would be out in two more contractions if she could use suction. We agreed and finally after almost 2hrs of pushing, Katelyn was born at 3:50pm on Friday afternoon.

The impact of the birth
I think the caption ‘Birth Matters’ on Birthtalk’s brochure really caught my attention. I still had mixed feelings about my first birth, and had trouble discussing it with my husband. I had convinced myself that my experience really had been fine, especially compared to many other stories I’d heard, but couldn’t shake a nagging sense of disappointment. I wondered why everyone else seemed satisfied with their births and why I was still frustrated about mine. I think I was looking for validation of my feelings, and someone to listen. The ‘Healing from Birth’ meetings are unique in this way – it is the only environment I can imagine meeting other women and feeling truly understood in whatever feelings you might have.

My confidence had been somewhat shaken by my first birth and I felt like I would be carrying more fears and doubts into any subsequent births than when I had started! Most of these related to particular events in the first birth – I wanted to understand why things had happened and would it occur again and what I could do to make it better next time.

I did feel quite disconnected from her for quite some time – I remember thinking that I knew I factually ‘loved’ her, but I didn’t feel it emotionally. I was never sure if that was simply the result of sleep deprivation or it was just me or it was somehow related to the birth. I also had trouble talking to my husband about the birth and my disappointment and felt I needed someone to be able to talk it through with.