My name is Emily, I’ve been married to my husband for almost two years and we have two beautiful children together. This is my birth story.

I fell pregnant with my first child in 2011. I was fit and healthy and super excited about having a baby! My husband and I did all the ‘right’ things; I had private health cover so engaged the services of an obstetrician, took my multivitamins, ate right, exercised and attended birth classes. I was so confident in my ability to birth ‘normally’ that I paid little attention to the part where they discussed c sections.

I was feeling so great that I’d been to the gym the day before I went in to labour. I woke the next morning at 5:30, with mild regular contractions. I remember thinking at the time “beautiful, I’ll have my little boy in my arms by lunchtime!” I was so wrong.

By lunchtime I was at the hospital, getting more and more terrified with each contraction. Cue first intervention, a well-meaning midwife disregarding my birth plan and offering pethidene, telling me ‘better to have it now before it’s too late’. I took her advice and spent the next hour or so on the bed. After that and an examination it was decided that I was ‘failing to progress’. It was about 6pm when I was hooked up to syntocin drip to ‘speed things up’. Speed things up it did, with contractions then coming on top of each other. I was tired, scared and in pain. My natural, drug free birth plan had gone out the window and I begged for an epidural.

My ob showed up at 8:30, took one look at me and said ‘Your baby is stuck, you need a caesarean’. I didn’t argue. And at 9:30pm my son Vander was born via c section.
I remembered being on the operating table and hearing my ob say “yes such a small pelvis, no way would this baby have fitted”. She said this again at my 6 week check, telling me that I would ‘never be able to give birth naturally’. I wasn’t overly bothered by this at the time as I was still trying to come to terms with how everything went so pear shaped. I wasn’t the first person to hold my son. Or even the second or third. It was hours before I got to feel his skin on mine.

I fell pregnant with our second child in 2014. I was much less fit this time around!! However I wasn’t overly bothered by this as I assumed that due to my ‘tiny pelvis’ I would be booked in for another caesarian anyway. My sister also fell pregnant shortly after which was one of the greatest things that could’ve happened for either of us. We were both support people at each other’s first births so being pregnant at the same time was fantastic. Funnily enough, my sister saw the same obstetrician and had a birth very similar to mine, also ended in a c section. Neither of us were overly happy with our first births but weren’t really sure what to do about it. We weren’t even sure if natural births would be an option for either of us second time around.

I was around 32 weeks when we came across a post someone had shared on facebook advertising some information sessions around positive birthing, ran by a group called ‘Bendigo Positive Birthing’. We decided to go along and it was the best decision we could have made.

These sessions made us feel like there were more options out there for us; made us realise that we didn’t just have to accept the choices that were made for us. These sessions made us aware that it was not only our right but our responsibility to take an active role in our pregnancy and births and question the decisions that were made about our care. After the very first session I came home and began researching births that were similar to mine and was astounded to find that having a ‘pelvis too small’ was almost an impossibility. I became aware, both through my own research and attending the other information nights, that the system wasn’t necessarily geared towards woman having successful, natural births and was more of a one-size-fits-all approach. Which didn’t actually seem to fit that many woman at all.

I decided that this time I was going to arm myself to the teeth with knowledge. I was going to be in control of my own birth this time. And I was.
I went in to labour spontaneously 1 day over my due date. While hospital policy was for women who had had previous c sections to come in immediately for constant monitoring, I was not comfortable with that and knew that my best chances for a vaginal birth was to stay at home as long as possible. So I did. When we got to the hospital I was asked to be hooked up to the monitors. I refused as I knew that being stuck on a bed immobile would be a contributing factor to my labour possibly slowing or stalling. My midwife found wireless monitors for me so I was able to move round freely and then followed me around holding them on when they were playing up.

I stayed upright for almost the entire duration of my labour, moving around the room and into different positions as I needed to. By doing this and using some of the Hypnobirthing techniques I had read up on I was able to labour using only a bit of gas for pain relief for almost twelve hours. By that stage I was struggling to concentrate on the techniques I was using and fear and doubt began creeping in. I asked for an epidural and got one about an hour later. After an examination it was determined I was fully dialated however the baby was still quite high. There were some concerns about the wellbeing of the baby due to meconium being present in my waters; however after a discussion with my midwives and obstetrician we came to the agreement that I could have a chance to push my baby out before they would remove her through another c section.
My husband and I were suited up for a caesarian and we were taken down to theatre. The obstetrician told me I had ‘one chance’ to get this baby out and to push with the next contraction. And that’s exactly what I did. With two pushes and the help of some forceps I pushed my beautiful daughter Florence out in to the world. It was the single most amazing moment of my life, there literally are no words to describe it.

Was it the birth that I had dreamed of? No. It probably is not even what a lot of people would classify as a natural or positive birth. But it was for me, and that’s all that matters. I felt in control and in charge the entire time. I had researched all my options and had actively worked to achieve the birth I wanted. Options that I wasn’t even aware existed until I attended the Bendigo Positive Birthing information nights.

So while there were a few differences between my births, the biggest difference would have to be not necessarily the ending, but my role in it. My first birth I was a spectator, just along for the ride and relying on the guidance of everyone else. My second birth I was in charge, an active participant with ideas and opinions that I made sure were heard. The difference was astounding, and I only have the Bendigo Positive Birthing group to thank for making me aware of my own personal knowledge gap and a birthing revolution I didn’t even know existed.