HBAC: The Difference For ME

My first daughter’s birth was a scheduled caesarean section. I was told by my obstetrician that the less than 2cm distance between my cervix and the baby’s placenta was not safe for a vaginal delivery. Being a first-time mum, I took his advice and we booked the caesarean.

The operation went smoothly. Both my baby and I came out of it healthy. It didn’t affect our bond. It didn’t affect our breastfeeding relationship (which lasted for almost four years). The minor (though unpleasant) complications I experienced in the first few days were quickly resolved and I had no ongoing issues or pain.

I have no trauma from her birth. But I always felt a nagging doubt on two fronts. One, that the operation was really not necessary, given I’d had such a healthy pregnancy and the baby appeared to be engaged for vaginal birth. Two, that a vaginal birth would surely be much better, immediately and thereafter.

HBAC

Researching Alternatives

Thanks to my daughter’s caesarean birth, I began to research alternatives. I developed more trust in my body and nature through a more gentle approach to breastfeeding and parenting than that which I had envisaged pre-parenthood. When I planned to conceive my second daughter, the extra restrictions and less-than-ideal statistics on hospital VBAC had me sceptical. This time, 1 wasn’t taking advice unquestioningly. After conceiving, we met with two independent midwives, as well as our obstetrician. By allowing my partner to assess the two options side-by-side, it was clear to him that my preference for a home birth was the better option for us.

Again, I had an uncomplicated, healthy pregnancy. This time though, we put a lot of effort into preparing ourselves for a truly natural birth, emotionally and physically. Our midwives were a great support but, ultimately, we made all of our own decisions. I was empowered. Our whole family was involved.

There are no words to describe how we all felt after our second daughter and sister was born. The emotional high was unbelievable. I wanted to shout about her birth and my experience of labour from the rooftops for weeks. My partner and our first daughter bonded with our new baby immediately and still tell stories about her birth. There was nothing clinical about this birth at all; it was pure, raw, spiritual, life-affirming.

It made me look back on our first experience very differently:

Caesarean:

  • HBACSo nervous before the operation — delayed; cold in the theatre, all skin-to-skin plans shelved.
  • Separated immediately afterwards — me by myself in recovery, my partner and on their own with no support in another room.
  • Our first night as a new family —we all slept in different locations (me in my hospital bed, our daughter in the nursery, partner at home).
  • Our first few days conflicting advice from midwives, not-always gentle physical treatment of both me as a new breastfeeding mum and baby (unnecessary physical expressing, needles, et cetera).
  • No trouble bonding with my baby, but a lot of problems learning to work together as parents and a lot of anxiousness about a second birth/child.

Homebirth:

  • Completely prepared and in control before and as labour began
  • Support arrived as soon as it was requested and was constant throughout the pregnancy, birth and antenatal periods.
  • Whole family involved in birth, with things to do during and afterwards.
  • Support and focus was on me
  • I felt loved and encouraged.
  • First night together as a family of four, all in the same room.
  • Our first few days — we were all together, just getting on with life and getting to know our new baby. Blissfully normal.

HBAC

Now:

With a surprise pregnancy when our second daughter was 16 months old, both my partner and daughter embraced the news with enthusiasm (they talk about the upcoming birth with the ease of pros!). -While I’m a bit concerned about juggling even busier family life, I’m very excited about the opportunity to give birth again! I can’t wait to meet my newest daughter with home birth. I am so very thankful for both of my birthing experiences, because undoubtedly without the experience of a caesarean birth I would never have been inspired to find such a wonderful way of giving birth: at home.

HBAC

Page published on 14th January 2022

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About the Author

Jennifer Loronce is a proud parent to almost three beautiful daughters with partner, Anthony. In her formal working life, she is a sustainability consultant to multi-national companies. She uses some of her so-called “spare time” to help out as website administrator for HAS.

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