Tammy : from traumatic birth, to empowering VBAC

tammy butterfield

“It has brought Derek and I closer – he was so proud in the delivery room instead of being scared like he was at the first.”


Tammy attended Birthtalk “Healing From Birth” meetings, and various VBAC Antenatal Sessions, as she processed her first child’s birth, and planned for a better experience with her next baby.

New pregnancy 
“I started to attend Birthtalk meetings when I fell pregnant with my second child. I had a hard time getting on top of things after the birth of my first son who was delivered by emergency c section. I had trouble bonding with him and found the toll on my own body hard to cope with. At the time I was in auto pilot just trying to get through and didn’t really give the birth or how I was treated during labour any thought. 
It wasn’t until I was pregnant again that I realised that I definitely did not want to go through what I had experienced with Jack. So I enrolled in some yoga birthing classes and one of the instructors there gave me a brochure to Birthtalk after hearing what my first birth was like.

Facing the truth 
It was like a big smack in the face – ‘Healing from birth – dealing with a traumatic birth’ – I had never thought of my birth as traumatic!. I went onto the website and realised that this is how I had been feeling. I was astonished to realise the depth of feelings about the birth and how let down I had felt.

I went along to Birthtalk to help work through my feelings and also attended the Birthtalk sessions to learn about what happens in birth and how I could approach it differently the second time around.

My first pregnancy
Like a lot of my friends, I found the idea of birth very scary. I wanted to know as little as possible about it and thought that all I would need to know the hospital would provide me with. I had the misconception that the hospital staff would help me through my labour and that the class that the hospital provided would prepare me for birth.

I felt like I needed to have an obstetrician and that during the visits leading up to the birth I would be told what I needed to know. When trying to talk to the obstetrician about how I would handle the birth he basically told me not to worry about things. So with ‘don’t worry your pretty little head over things’ advice from the professional I promptly stuck my head into several well recommended books which told me nothing about how to birth and everything about how many envelope neck jumpsuits I would need. 

The aftermath of my first birth 
When I arrived home with my new born son I was so happy and relieved to be out of hospital. But over the coming weeks I started to feel more and more like a failure. I had trouble breast feeding, trouble bonding with Jack. I was having panic attacks when trying to get out of the house. I was hyper vigilant checking in on him two or three times while he was napping. I just felt like a failure…my husband could not understand what was going on…I also had this feeling that something wasn’t quite right with my body…I kept getting infections and it felt like my body kept letting me down.

Healing from birth
It was great to talk to other women [at Birthtalk] who have experienced the same thing. Sometimes when you hear another woman tell her story you would swear she was telling yours. It is hard to put into words the relief I felt when I attended my first Healing from Birth meeting… to hear Melissa & Deb say that Birth matters.

A different approach 
Birthtalk made me realise the importance of birth and how it can affect you postnatally. It definitely increased my knowledge base about birth and made me realise that your entry into motherhood can, and certainly was in my case, be affected by your birthing experience. It totally changed the way I approached my second birth. I was not aware about the different models of care that were available and through meetings I was able to explore what would suit my husband and I best.

I ended up losing the obstetrician and decided that my best option of having the birth that I wanted, given the stage of my pregnancy, would be through the public system doing a shared care arrangement with my GP and have a doula supporting me. 

Welcoming William
The birth of William was so different to Jack’s. It was certainly not your text book birth but through all that I had learnt at the Birthtalk meetings I was able to trust my body and question the doctors when they did not offer options. I think this is the biggest thing about the birth of my boys that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. Not to take the first advice that is given, explore your options, trust your instincts and seek a second opinion, do the research and make educated decisions. It has brought my husband, Derek, and I closer – he was so proud in the delivery room instead of being scared like he was at the first.

Bonding with my boys
Funnily enough the birth of William has brought me closer to both of my boys. I have been able to bond with Will and Jack, feeling competent and strong about my capabilities as a mother. Breast feeding was a breeze the second time around. Don’t get me wrong – it has been hard work, but my outlook on it has changed. Instead of feeling frightened when something comes up that I don’t know how to handle, I get the info I need and deal with it.

Recommending Birthtalk
I would just like to thank you guys for giving up your time so generously. I think what you are doing is so valuable, so any way I can help would really be my pleasure. And in answer to the question of would I recommend Birthtalk to anyone…simply yes…these are the classes that I thought the hospital would provide!!”