This is a very positive story about how a second birth can be so different, and in this case, so much better than the first one. It's about daring to give birth vaginally again after a 3b perineal tear from the first birth. If you have had a difficult birth and want to have a positive story to inspire you for your next one, this is the story for you!
I got pregnant with Hilma when her big sister Astrid was only 9 months old. We knew we wanted more children, but it was for sure a bit earlier than we had planned. I had a rather large perineal tear giving birth to big sister Astrid (read the birth story here) so throughout this pregnancy I was constantly weighing pros and cons of having a planned c-section or a vaginal birth. In the end I decided I wanted a vaginal birth, because I wanted to experience a good one and in a way heal the mental wounds from the first one. We lived in Taiwan at this time, and we were enjoying a covid free year when the rest of the world was battling the lockdowns and chaos. But just a couple of weeks before my due date there was a small outbreak and Taiwan locked down in line with their zero covid policy. So we made rash decision to go back to Sweden where I’m from to avoid getting stuck in a lockdown with a newborn and a toddler.
In Sweden it was fairly smooth to get into the system, and because I had a perineal tear from my first birth I got to meet with both midwifes and doctors to discuss my birth plan. We agreed that it was best to induce me a few days after my due date if she hadn’t already come by then to avoid her getting too big and thereby increasing the risk of a new tear. I had recovered very well from the tear and had no major symptoms left from the injury so I was afraid a new tear would not heal as well. During my pregnancy in Taiwan my fears had been neglected by my obstetrician and this had made me rather anxious. Luckily the very professional and caring doctors in Sweden put me in a better frame of mind before the birth.
My due date came and went, my first birth was induced at 42 weeks so I had little hope this one would start close to due date. Three days past my due date I had an appointment to get induced, but there was not a single bed available in any of the maternity wards in Stockholm so I was asked to call back the next day. It was a stressful start to the birth, as this scenario repeated itself four times before I could finally come in at nearly 41 weeks. It had been a very stressful week not knowing when I would get induced. But on Friday evening we were finally welcomed to SÖS, Södersjukhuset, in Stockholm. The induction method used was Cytotec, which is a very low dose of a medicine that starts the contractions. One dose every second hour until contractions start or until the maximum dose is given which would take nearly one day.
It was 8pm when I had my first dose and I was very excited. I didn’t sleep much that night since I was woken up every second hour for a check up and a new dose of Cytotec. At 05.30 in the morning I started having an uncomfortable sensation in the lower part of my belly, but no contractions. Two hours later after some breakfast and another dose of Cytotec I stared feeling weak contractions, but they weren’t uncomfortable or painful. I didn’t even know if this was real contractions or just me imagining something because I wanted it to start. I got a couple more doses of Cytotec and I was starting to loose hope that this would work.
We watched Netflix all day and in the afternoon at 4pm a doctor came in to examine me so we could make a decision on what next step to take. She had very good news! I was open 3-4 centimetres and she said I had regular contractions. But since they weren’t painful I didn’t dare to believe they were really contractions. The doctor broke my water to increase the intensity of the contractions and - boy, did they! An hour later the contractions were painful and I asked for laughing gas/nitrous oxide as pain relief. It was heaven! I could stay in control and breath through the contractions with the help from the laughing gas. The midwife helped me move around in different positions so that Hilma would come down further in the pelvis, many upright positions and altering between leaning forward and leaning back.
They told me that if I wanted to get an epidural now was my best chance, because the anaesthesiologist was in the ward. I accepted and he came in to put the epidural. It went quickly and the pain relief kicks in after only 15 minutes. The pain in my belly is almost completely gone and after a very short while I suddenly start to feel a different pain. Moving around in all different positions has paid off and Hilma has obviously found her was down in the Pelvis. I start to feel contractions that urge me to push. It’s evening and a new shift of midwives have started. We ring the bell asking them to come and when the midwife wants to do a check she just throws a quick glance and says she’s almost on her way out - you’re giving birth now!
I was very relieved this part of the birth went so quickly because this is where Astrid got stuck in my first birth and why I needed forceps to help get her out, then causing the big perineal tear. But Astrid must have paved the way for Hilma and just knowing how close it was now made me so motivated I barely felt any pain at all. I was lying on my side with my husband William in front of me, holding his hands tightly. I was in control and I felt very strong, I could feel how she moved further down in every contraction. It was the complete opposite of my first birth where I pushed as hard as I could but nothing happened. It was so rewarding to feel how she moved when I pushed. I loved the feeling so much I even started talking to William and the midwifes about when we would have out next baby - I wanted to experience this a thousand times over again! To prevent any tearing I didn’t push at all when her head was crowning and it wasn’t very painful, so we let her head glide back and forth a few times to really make sure the skin and scar tissue stretched slowly and without breaking. In total I pushed for about 15-20 minutes and I loved every second of it. I got to feel her head with my hands when her head was out and finally at 21.51 on 12th of June 2021 her body followed and Hilma was born.
They immediately put her on my chest and we cuddled skin to skin for at least an hour before they examined her. We didn’t clamp the cord until all blood had been emptied and the cord was white and stopped pulsating and the placenta then came out quickly with no problems. She was a perfect little baby, 48 cm long and 3270 grams. I felt instantly in love with her and it was such a relief that the birth had gone so well. I wan’t exhausted or traumatised like I was the previous birth, instead I could enjoy every second of this first encounter with my baby. I’m so grateful for this and I hope everyone will get to experience it.
We moved to the postnatal ward for one night, had a few routine check ups and went home the next day in the afternoon. After just a few days I felt almost back to normal and I was once again stunned by how fascinating the female body is, going through such a transformation as a pregnancy and birth.
I’m so happy I dared a vaginal birth this time after a traumatic first birth. And with this story I want to inspire everyone who has had a difficult first birth, believing in how good and different the second one can be! So much love to all pregnant mummies out there!