Trigger Warning: This birth story discusses trauma, topics discussed include c-section, VBAC, fourth-degree tear and haemorrhage. If you are triggered by these topics you may wish to skip this blog or read it once you have support available. If you are seeking support for your birth trauma, you may wish to contact our Peer Support Service.
My name is Kylie and I am a wife and mother to three beautiful young children. James is six, Charlotte is three and Thomas is fourteen months old.
My obstetric history is quite extensive and even my Obstetrician joked that I’ve experienced every chapter of the text book.
In February 2016 I was scheduled for a c-section as my first child was discovered in the Frank breech position late in pregnancy. I went into spontaneous labour when my waters broke 24 hours before I was due to attend the hospital. I laboured drug free for approximately six hours while waiting for my surgery and was approximately 6-7cm dilated when I was finally wheeled into the operating room. My midwife and mother (registered nurse) were quite surprised at the progress made considering he was bum down.
My emergency surgery went well, there were no complications and although it was a bit of a wait to get things happening, I felt things went smoothly. My biggest challenge at that time was missing out on quality skin to skin that I was so desperate for. I had an awkward two minutes with him on my chest while I shook from the drugs and then my husband did the rest while I was put back together and sent to recovery – it broke my heart to be away from my new baby for that time and it was the main reason I was adamant for a VBAC with my next baby.
In 2018 I had a successful VBAC with a 4th degree tear and a major haemorrhage (that’s a story for another time) and because of the emergency situation and three hours of reparative surgery I again missed that quality time with my baby. On top of the physical trauma from the birth of my daughter I was again emotionally traumatised to be separated from my baby for the first four hours of her life.
When it came to having my third baby in 2021, I was extremely nervous and had a lot of tough choices to make due to my history. I knew that to make the right choice for myself and my baby I needed to gather as much information as possible. I spoke to doctors, colorectal surgeons, obstetricians, women’s health physio and my mum and husband about the risks and the best option for me in terms of protecting my already badly injured perineum for the long term. I researched risks and benefits online and more importantly I listened to my ‘gut’.
I decided to go with a private obstetrician this time rather than the lovely midwife I had used through the public case load program for my previous births. As much as I trusted her, I felt my needs would be better met by someone who could support me medically and emotionally as well as give me the time I needed to vent my concerns and reassure me.
I stumbled across my Obstetrician, Sophie, by chance, when in week 6 of my pregnancy I was rushed by ambulance to the local emergency ward with a heterotopic pregnancy. She performed an emergency surgery to save my baby and I as his twin was ectopic and had caused my tube to rupture! She was calm, kind and so reassuring that I asked her to continue my care through pregnancy and deliver my baby. Not only was she honoured to do so but I felt that she was truly invested in my care and that was so important to me. I felt extremely supported by my private obstetrician to go ahead with a scheduled c-section.
I spoke with her regularly about my concerns which mostly included going into spontaneous labour early and not getting my skin-to-skin time. She took on my concerns and was supportive and understanding even when I felt some worries I had may have seemed silly. I asked her if I could take my baby to recovery with me this time and although the answer was no due to hospital policies, I felt like she would do her upmost to keep my baby and I together for as long as possible.
My scheduled c-section was incredible, obviously still a challenge, but so calm and emotionally healing! I arrived at hospital early in the morning feeling excited and ready. My husband and I sat quietly in a waiting room after gowning up and before I knew it may baby was in my arms. Oh, it was beautiful and I have tears in my eyes now thinking about it.
I was clear with the rostered on midwife before I went in that quality skin to skin was my priority and she went out of her way to ensure that (I made sure I wrote to thank her several weeks later). Baby Thomas was weighed and measured and then put straight on my naked chest for the most rewarding experience I have had during all 3 births. He stayed there right up until I was taken to recovery and even had his first feed.
I have been through some challenging and traumatic times in the last 6-7 years but the caesarean birth of my third child really helped me heal and feel whole again. My postnatal recovery was also very smooth, and I healed much faster than my natural delivery. I will never forget how my birthing team supported me and made that happen!
After my experiences with pregnancy, labour, birth and beyond I found the ABTA Facebook support group and it helped me in recognising, accepting, and moving on from my trauma. I was inspired to help others talk through their stories and find some closure, so I became a Peer2Peer mentor. It’s a role that I am honoured to fulfil, and I am so proud of the women who speak up about their experiences and help spread so many important messages about birth trauma.
If you would like to connect with a person who has experienced birth-related trauma, please contact our Peer2Peer Support service to connect with one of our Peer Mentors.