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First water HBAC (home birth after cesarean) in the Western HSC Trust

Updated: May 26

This is Gill's birth story in her own words. After a previous traumatic cesarean birth, she explored firstly the possibility of a VBAC (vaginal birth after c-section) in water and eventually decided that a home birth was her best option. To the best of our knowledge, hers was the first planned water and home birth after a cesarean (HBAC) in the Western Trust.

Having been induced with our daughter due to being “overdue” at the start of Covid, which ended in an EMCS at 40+13, I was determined that this birth would be different but nervous about whether I would go into spontaneous labour. I had no braxton hicks or niggles leading up to either labour and was convinced I would be waiting until closer to 42 weeks again. However, thankfully and without warning at 40+5 this time it happened.

I woke around 3am wondering if I was having cramps or pains but not really sure. They were irregular and not strong enough to know if it was anything or not. Around 5.30 my husband woke to me moving around uncomfortably still unsure if it was anything and making normal plans for the day ahead. But by 6.30 I realised it was the real deal. I asked my husband to call my mum to collect our daughter and then I contacted our doula, Sara.

Shortly after I had the bloody show and panicked at the amount, and brightness, of the blood because I knew blood loss was a sign of scar rupture and I had been well warned of the signs. I asked my husband to call the MW. Thankfully it was just the bloody show.

Meanwhile he blew up the pool and was trying to fill it, but because we have low water pressure it took forever and we ran out of hot water. My husband then spent the next 3 hours boiling kettles and saucepans and ferrying them back and forth while Sara and the MW supported me through every wave and kept me calm.

I asked for entonox and the MW explained it would not take the pain away but would help me focus on my breathing, which it did. I was glad they explained that as I found it useless in my first birth but I think that may have been because I had different expectations.

Sara and the MW talked me through everything and encouraged me so much. The MW were respectful of my wishes if I declined any checks and were just incredibly supportive. At 10.05am our daughter was born in the water with placenta delivered shortly after. I had a second degree tear and was unsure if I wanted stitches as I was scared of what that would be like. There was no pressure from the MW. They explained the pros and cons of both and gave me space to decide. Eventually I decided to go ahead and they explained everything to me and kept me informed as we went along. It wasn’t as bad as I was expecting and I recovered well. After a quick shower I got into bed and fed our baby while the tidy up went on downstairs. Again Sara and my husband were fantastic. Later that evening my husband brought me dinner and a glass of non alcoholic fizz in bed while we watched Yellowstone. It was just perfect.

It still feels surreal that we achieved our HBAC and I hope it gives confidence to anyone else considering something similar. I am extremely grateful for all the support I had this time, which made a HUGE difference.

Firstly, my husband who was never in any doubt from the moment I mentioned a home birth that it was the right thing for us and did whatever I asked of him. He has continued to take great care of us as we recover.

I am so glad that we hired Sara as our doula. She gave us so much support during pregnancy, helping me process my last birth trauma and refocus for this birth, helping me advocate for what I wanted and providing me with information and evidence when I asked for it without ever pushing an opinion on me. She was entirely there for me during the labour, birth and afterwards to hold my hand, talk me through it and keep me calm. Postnatally she has continued to check in with us. I couldn’t recommend her highly enough, especially if you are planning a birth outside of ordinary policy.

We were incredibly fortunate with the MW who attended us. They were nothing short of exceptional and I couldn’t have asked for better!

I would also like to mention The Mother Sphere by Claire who delivered fantastic hypnobirthing sessions to help my husband and I prepare for the birth. We really enjoyed them and learned so much. I tried hypnobirthing with my first birth but the Marie Mongan method just didn’t resonate with me. Claire’s course was more informative about physiological birth and breathing which I found more practical and better suited to me. She also provided invaluable advice and support.

A lot of research, thought and preparation went into this birth. There were many meetings with the consultant midwife, consultant and head of community midwifery with various iterations of my A, B and C birth plans and I am so glad my wishes were supported and we achieved our plan A in the end. I hope this helps give confidence and reassurance to anyone else in a similar situation.


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