Birth of a Doula Pt 2 of 2 – Hannah Gill
"Ten minutes and a few contractions passed and Julie asked if I would feel comfortable moving to the squat bar. In my head, I thought she was crazy. There was no way I could support my body in a squat but with help from Scott, Julie, and our nurse, I repositioned and it was the best decision I made."
My second birth experience was as different from my first as night is from day, both physically and mentally. I spent over a year preparing, I hired a doula, and I healed from the trauma of my first birth. Therapy helped tremendously in working through my postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, and birth trauma. Simply having my experience and feelings validated lifted weight from my chest. Fear releasing and hypnosis practice also helped me prepare my mind. I knew it would be necessary to forgive myself and be at peace with my cesarean before I could fully surrender to birth again.
I woke up at 40+2 weeks with heavy bleeding. After talking to my husband, doula, and OB, I decided to head to triage for monitoring. Upon arrival, I was 3cm dilated and having irregular, unnoticeable contractions. My OB wanted to see if the bleeding was caused by a placental abruption or an intense bloody show. Luckily baby and I were both in stable condition and the bleeding eventually stopped. We had planned to return home because I wanted to labor there as long as possible but I had already dilated another centimeter and my contractions started to become more regular, so we stayed.
Once admitted, I got my first round of IV antibiotics since I was positive for Group B Strep. My contractions quickly grew in intensity and frequency and my water broke as I dilated to 5cm. While I was still in the right mindset, I sent a quick text to my doula, telling her to head to the hospital. At this point, I felt that I had to go to the bathroom. Laboring on the toilet felt like the most natural position to be in and after 45 minutes it was clear that I was transitioning. I began shaking and sweating as Scott massaged my shoulders and used a wet washcloth to cool me down. Out of breath, I told him I wanted an epidural but he knew how badly I wanted to stay unmedicated and encouraged me to wait for Julie to arrive for support.
When Julie finally walked into the bathroom I immediately told her I needed an epidural but thankfully, she suggested a position change instead. I moved to the shower and hung around Scott’s neck as Julie sprayed warm water onto my back. I felt the need to bear down as my body instinctively pushed. Julie suggested I go to the bed and get on my hands and knees. Still pushing, I positioned myself on hands and knees, holding onto the incline of the bed. It was a relief to be able to rest my head between contractions. Ten minutes and a few contractions passed and Julie asked if I would feel comfortable moving to the squat bar. In my head, I thought she was crazy. There was no way I could support my body in a squat but with help from Scott, Julie, and our nurse, I repositioned and it was the best decision I made.
In five intense minutes, our daughter was born, just under five hours from the first contraction I
felt. She came down and through the birth canal so quickly, there was no time for head molding so her head was perfectly round. Every bit of pressure and discomfort I felt disappeared as I pulled her to my chest with tears of pure bliss streaming down my face. I had done it. I had the unmedicated VBAC I so badly wanted and it was the most rewarding and beautiful thing I have ever done.
After the pregnancy and birth experience I had and the relationship I developed with my doula Julie, I knew I had to become a doula too. Through training I was able to experience birth from a completely different perspective, one that opened my eyes to how unique each person’s experience is. So now, not only can I help educate women on their options in pregnancy, birth, and postpartum, but I can also help support them as a doula during labor.
Many people may be shocked to hear that I am thankful for the way both of my births unfolded. Although extremely difficult, my first birth brought me my son and a learning experience about taking charge of my health choices. My second birth brought me my daughter and helped me find the strength and power I have as a woman and a mother. Both experiences together lit a fire for a passion inside of me that I never knew existed.
Hannah Gill is a VBAC mom of two, birth and postpartum doula, birth educator, and owner of Ebb and Flow Birth Co. She has a passion for helping support women through cesarean and VBAC births and throughout the postpartum period. She believes women deserve to be respected and supported in their pregnancy, birth, and parenting choices. You can find out more about Hannah and her services at ebbandflowbirthco.com and over on Instagram@ebbandflowbirthco.