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My positive HypnoBirthing VBAC birth story - Daisy's birth

Happy, powerful woman and newborn baby after VBAC birth
Me and Daisy seconds after birth. I felt so empowered!

When we found out that we were expecting our second child (Daisy), we were so excited!

Our first birth, Forest's birth, was a long labour followed by an 'emergency' c-section. By the time I was pregnant with Daisy, I had been teaching HypnoBirthing for 2 years, and I found myself aching for a vaginal birth.

I really wanted to experience a vaginal birth. Not only did I want to enjoy a calm birth for myself, Nik (my husband), and our baby, but I also wanted to know exactly how it feels to birth this way. To really feel those downward surges and get to experience the whole thing.

I knew I had to prepare if I wanted a positive VBAC birth. A VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) wasn't going to come easy. So it began with practising my HypnoBirthing techniques...

Nik and I practised every night. One night we would practice a deepening exercise together, followed by a fear release. The next we would practice an instant relaxation technique together. It became a bedtime routine, a ritual. It helped us both stay connected. I think it really helped Nik to feel connected to our baby too. I love those evenings lounging on our big bed, talking and preparing together.

Every day I practiced my breathing techniques, listened to my affirmations, fell asleep to the Rainbow Relaxation hypnosis audio. I enjoyed this precious relaxation routine. It helped me focus on my baby curled up inside my belly. Every day I gave my full attention to 2 year old Forest, and my work (I was teaching HypnoBirthing in a hospital), so this time set aside for practice really helped me stay grounded and connected to the baby and the pregnancy.

I knew that we ended up having a c-section with Forest because of his position. He wasn't in the best position for a vaginal birth (although I didn't know that at the time). So this time, being pregnant with Daisy, I just knew I had to prepare my body, and help her get into an optimal position for the best chance for a VBAC. I found a wonderful pregnant yoga class and would go along to that twice a week. I also did lots of research into baby positioning and discovered Spinning Babies, and followed their yoga sequence every evening. Daisy was head down and I wanted her to stay that way.

Oh, and it was so much fun teaching HypnoBirthing to lots of pregnant ladies while I too had a big bump! It felt different to be teaching the sessions while pregnant too.

We were living in Singapore at the time. It was hot and sweaty, and my huge bump was getting uncomfy. Cycling around on my bike gave me the breeze that I craved, or I would walk around the shopping malls for hours in the freezing air-con.

Pregnant woman on bicycle
36 weeks pregnant with Daisy, with little 2 year old Forest

A week before our due date I felt a bit unwell during the day. I thought I might be getting a cold or flu, I felt a bit achy all over. That night we put Forest to bed at 7pm, and I did my usual daily yoga routine, and we went to bed early to do some practising.

About 2am I woke up with some cramps in my lower tummy. I went to the toilet as I thought that I had an upset stomach. Maybe something I'd eaten? No, everything was fine. So I got back into bed and went back to sleep.

Pregnant woman doing yoga in Singapore
My evening yoga in our sweaty Singapore house

An hour later I woke up to some more cramping. This time they were regular cramps. I knew then that this was the start of labour! Eeeeee! So exciting! I stayed in bed, in the dark and began my surge breathing. Belly breathing with every surge. I changed positions and got on my hands and knees on the bed, and started moving forwards and backwards in a relaxing rhythm, breathing through my surges. I went totally into my zone and focused inwards. The rocking really helped. I felt relaxed and comfortable.

I didn't want to wake Nik up as I felt good and coping well on my own, but after a while Nik woke up. I told him that I think it's time. It was now about 6am and I could feel my surges becoming longer, and closer together.

I remember that I really want to stay in our bedroom and give birth there. It felt like the most comfortable place for me, I felt safe and happy there. But Nik reminded me that homebirth in Singapore wasn't possible. I was actually thinking about not contacting the hospital, and letting it just 'accidentally' happen at home. I don't know why I didn't!

Nik called the midwife who said to head into the hospital. He then called our babysitter, who was on standby (we didn't have family close by as we were expats). Our babysitter turned up about 6.30am, and as Nik was giving her instructions on when to wake Forest and give him breakfast, I was still on the bed, on my hands and knees and really focussed inwards.

I wasn't experiencing any pain at all. Really! Zero pain. Just tightening and pressure with each surge. I felt wonderful. I felt strong and capable. Nik did some light touch massage on my arms and gave me my phone to listen to hypnosis with my earphones. I wanted to stay there in my dark bedroom and birth.

Nik grabbed the hospital bag and helped me down the stairs. I stopped a few times to breathe through my surges. I said hello and goodbye to our babysitter and got comfy in the backseat of the taxi. This was the part that I was worried and nervous about the most. Nik and I had used fear release scripts to help me manage this. My experience of Singaporean taxi drivers during pregnancy wasn't good, with their swerving and on-off-on-off acceleration making me feel sick. But the taxi driver was really great. Nik sat in the backseat with me and I cuddled into him. I had my earphones in listening to the hypnosis, and Nik held me and stroked me. I remember keeping my eyes closed, even though the sun hadn't yet come up. I wanted to stay in my zone.

We arrived at the hospital and made our way to the labour department where the midwives took us straight into the birthing room. I remember one nurse asking me if we wanted to a room with a birth pool and that it would cost an extra $100! I remember feeling a bit irritated by this. I felt a bit confused why she would ask me. It seemed like such an inconvenient and strange moment to be talking about money!

In the birthing room, Nik dimmed the lights. The midwife asked if she could give me a vaginal exam and put a monitor on to listen to our baby's heart rate. I had agreed with Nik beforehand that I didn't want to know how open my cervix was at each check, but at this moment, I was desperate to know! I KNEW I was far along in the first stage, I could feel like. I was so excited to hear that my cervix was nicely thinned and open to 7cm! This gave me a massive boost. I was so happy. The midwife left the room and Nik used some light touch massage to help me release lots of endorphins. I could literally feel it working, my body tingled and I felt so calm. He was really encouraging, using a very calm voice telling me how well I was doing.

At one point, Nik was multi-tasking with one hand giving me light touch massage (I wouldn't let him stop!), and with the other hand he was texting our friends to let them know I was giving birth. We were due to meet them for breakfast, which wasn't going to happen.

I sat on the bed with Nik in front of me and he reminded me to relax the whole of my body, as he could feel muscles in my shoulders tense with each surge. He was so in tune with what I needed. It felt like I didn't need to ask him for anything.

Nik asked me if I needed the toilet so we went to the bathroom together where I sat on the toilet for a while having surges. The midwife popped in to check if we were ok, and left the room again. I was actually so relieved to be left alone with Nik, I felt that we were a team, and I didn't need anyone else. I didn't want anyone else in the room, just us two. Maybe the midwife sensed this?

I remember Nik feeding me dried apricots and water, to keep my energy levels up.

The midwife filled the bath and I climbed into the warm water. I was leaning over the side of the tub, as I breathed into my tummy, during every surge. I was imagining that I was in the ocean snorkelling with Nik, and with every surge, the ocean was taking me out and then back to the shore. This visualisation gave me huge strength, and really helped me.

Suddenly my surges started to feel different. I felt a pushing down and a pressure in my bum towards the end of the surge. I remembered that this was the amazing signal that my baby was now ready to move down and out! It was my sign that I was moving into the 2nd stage, and to start my birth breathing. I told Nik and he had a huge smile on his face. I remember feeling suddenly quite negative. I said to Nik "I can't do this anymore!!". I felt an overwhelming desire to go home! I wanted to stop the birth, I didn't want to continue! Nik said gently "Miranda, you ARE doing it!". Wow, his words were like magic! He really helped me keep going. He reminded me that this is the transition and it's normal to feel this way, to feel negative or anxious. That feeling passed not long after.

The midwife came in and I didn't want to tell her that I was in the second stage. I didn't want any fuss or any intervention. I wanted to stay in my bubble. I wanted to get out of the pool, and so I climbed out and made my way to the bed. I got onto my hands and knees and started swaying. I could feel my baby moving down with each birth breath. I started visualising the opening blossom, imagining my body opening for my baby. It was funny as the opening blossom technique was my least favourite during practice, but at this moment in my birth it really helped.

Nik told the midwife that I had started my birth breathing. She placed a mirror under me, so that I could watch my baby's head crowning. I was so excited by this! She didn't say much at all. She was a quiet presence, not interfering or asking anything of me. She stayed in the background, leaving Nik to comfort and support me.

My legs started to feel tired, so I laid down on my side. The birth breathing was incredible. I could feel it working, helping to nudge my baby down with each surge. I felt really relaxed and knew there wasn't long to go. The midwife had again left the room. Nik continued with the light touch massage, just on my arm this time. I kept drifting off into what felt like sleep.

I could feel something pop out from between my legs. I said to Nik to check to see if it was a baby's head. He didn't really want go down that end, but he looked and said no, that he didn't know what it was. He called the midwife into the room and she looked and said that its the membranes coming out (my waters hadn't released at this point and Daisy was still in the intact sac of membranes). Our baby's head was nearly crowning! Her head was right there!

The obstetrician was called and he came quickly, and when he entered the room I felt a strange change in the room. I didn't want this new person here. His presence disturbed my safe bubble. I decided to ignore him and stay focused inwards, reminding myself that Nik was there to protect me. It's funny because during pregnancy I had had all my prenatal appointments with him and I liked him, but suddenly when he entered my birthing room for the first time, his rushed attitude made me feel unsafe. It was almost like his arrival was like "TA DA! I'M HERE! DON'T NEED TO WORRY ANYMORE, I'M HERE TO SAVE YOU!" I really felt like I didn't want him there, like we were all doing ok before he arrived. Unfortunately, an obstetrician needs to be present at a birth in Singapore, so I didn't feel like we could refuse him.

Just then, my membranes released and there were signs of meconium. He asked me to lay on my back and push into my bum. He said that there was an urgent need to birth this baby, and that I needed to push. Nik stayed close to my face whispering "just breathe our baby down Miranda, you're doing so well". I wanted to block out the doctor's voice and decided to listen to Nik, and carried on with my birth breathing but I could feel my body doing some amazing instinctive pushing. Like the whole of the surge was a push. I groaned and moaned with each push, directing the power down. I wanted to get upright, I didn't want to be on my back. I felt vulnerable somehow.

The doctor said that the baby needs some help with the ventouse (suction). I remember thinking that I don't need that. I couldn't mentally figure out how to say no. Suddenly my feet were up in the leg rests, and the suction cap was placed on our baby's head. The doctor said that if I don't push hard while he pulls, I'll be having another c-section. With two pushes, Daisy was born!

I realised then that I had had my eyes closed for the whole thing! I opened my eyes and Daisy was placed onto my chest with a towel covering her. I looked down, into that sweet red face and cried my eyes out!! We did it!! We had a vaginal birth! Nik and I were both crying so much we couldn't talk. What a feeling!

I said to Nik "I want to do that again!". Yep! they were my exact words! I felt like a superwoman. I felt so empowered!

I knew that I had breathed Daisy down without help, right until her head was sitting on my vagina. I knew that I had done all that with the help of Nik, really listening to my body sensations. I hadn't experienced any pain at all. There were moments of strong surges, really intense surges, but I changed the way I viewed them and kept telling myself that this is POWER. I felt the surges as pressure and tightening, this building up and peaking and releasing. At point whatsoever did I feel like I wanted any pain relief.

I felt amazing. I felt a huge surge of new love for Nik. My soul mate.

Mum and dad with their newborn baby after their VBAC birth
Me and Nik with Daisy just minutes after birth

After the placenta came away (I don't remember how long it took, as it's all a blur!) the doctor told me that I needed stitches. I didn't know that I had a little tear. While I had skin-to-skin with Daisy, he placed some stitches.

I held Daisy to my breast and she started to suckle. The midwife and doctor left the room. The doctor said he needs to get back to his office appointments. Nik and I were left alone for about an hour to bond with Daisy. This hour was so lovely. It was our time together to get to know each other, without medical staff around. The room was dimly lit, quiet and warm.

Nik took Daisy in his arms and I couldn't stop crying. Watching Nik have skin-to-skin with our baby girl was the most wonderful thing to see. My heart felt like it was bursting.

Woman breastfeeding her newborn baby daughter
Daisy's first real feed. We named her Daisy Dyson as she had a strong, efficient suck right from the beginning.

The midwife came back into the room and helped me up. She offered a wheelchair to move up to our private room. I told her I could walk. She laughed and said that it's a long way and we have to take the elevator and walk along some corridors. I really felt like I could do anything! But he said that I could feel dizzy, so I sat in the wheelchair and Nik pushed me.

The next few hours passed by in a blur of breastfeeding, skin-to-skin cuddles, and getting to know one another. After a few hours, Nik went to pick Forest up from our friend's house. I took that time to rest with Daisy and nap together. When Nik and Forest turned up, Forest was super excited to meet his baby sister. I don't think he really knew what was happening!

Dad and newborn baby daughter having skin-to-skin cuddles
Nik and Daisy having lots of skin-to-skin together at home

What a journey!

Daisy's birth was just what I needed and wished for. It was almost healing in a way. I didn't know that I needed healing from my first birth, but after Daisy's birth, I felt something change. I felt like I was sure of myself and my power. Having a VBAC always felt like a huge accomplishment. I knew I had to choose an obstetrician who was familiar with HypnoBirthing, who was pro-natural birth (in a country like Singapore where birth at the time was very medicalised). The midwife who was with me during birth was just who I wanted her to be. She was quite hands off, and only monitoring baby intermittently with a handheld doppler. She only gave me one vaginal exam. She gave me freedom to listen and trust my body. She gave me and Nik space to be alone in our bubble.

I do often wonder if the ventouse/suction could have been avoided. The obstetrician did seem to be in a rush and I have my doubts as to whether the assistance was necessary. Maybe I could have moved into an upright and forward leaning position, maybe gravity could have helped Daisy's head come out. There was no sign of her being in distress at that point. Why the rush? These questions have whirled around in my head for years, and this is why I decided to become a birth doula. A doula often thinks outside the medical box. A doula might have helped motivate me into changing position in that moment. She might have helped me find my voice.

These questions don't in any way dampen the amazing positive feeling I have about Daisy's birth. I still want to repeat that birth, even now! It was the most incredible experience I've ever had. The most powerful and transformative thing to ever happen to me.

I feel very lucky to have experienced two very different births. Two birth experiences that changed my life forever. Two births that firmly cemented mine and Nik's relationship. Two births that I'm so very proud of

2 year old boy and baby girl.  Brothers and sisters
Daisy and Forest

Sending you all much love and positive birthing vibes, wherever you are

Love Miranda x

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