Even With Low Pain Tolerance, Unmedicated VBAC Birth is Possible

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by Geminesse Gonzales Andrade

I’d like to finally share my dream unmedicated VBAC story which is longgggg overdue. I assure you, it is written to the best of my memory! 🙂

19 Feb 2016 – Gentle VBAC of Erika Martina (3.6 kg, 54 cm)
OB: Dr. Menefrida Reyes of St. Luke’s Medical Center, Quezon City
Doula: Velvet Escario-Roxas
I spent my first 34 weeks of pregnancy in Singapore where we were based, and decided to give birth in the Philippines because of Doula Velvet and Dra. Reyes.


Transferring OB at 38 weeks

A lot of pregnant mothers have asked if it’s too late to transfer doctors once you reach 30+ week. And I say, “It’s never too late, lalo if you don’t feel comfortable sa OB mo.”

I transferred to Dra. Menie on my 38th week because I didn’t feel connected with my first two OBs, who I met for check-up when I went back to the Philippines. When I met Dra. Menie for checkup, it was love at first sight. Ang pleasant pleasant ni Dra. Menie; very motherly and passionate with what she does. Alam mo she doesn’t do this just to earn money… ganong levels… that’s how I felt. Our consultation was roughly an hour long, but it was all well worth it. We discussed our birth plan and I handed her my records from SG.


Now at 40 weeks

Fast forward to 40th week plus 3rd day (40+3) on the 18th of February. We went to St. Lukes QC for a check-up because it appears I’ve caught a stomach flu. I had diarrhea and I’ve informed Velvet, asked her what I can do, or take so I can feel better and to get rid the bug.

I also sought the medical advice of Dra. Menie, of course.  She was my textmate this whole time (I love that very responsive sya!). I got worried too, when I noticed less movements with my baby, so just to be very sure, I went to Dra. Menie for a check-up na.

At the hospital, baby was fine but I was told na kelangan habulin yung sugar ko kasi medyo bumababa. This was weird kasi controlled diet ako for borderline diabetes. Nasobrahan ata sa pag-control, so may IV ako for backup just in case. I was also being monitored with my contractions and it came out mild and not consistent.

Since andun na kami we mutually agreed na mag pa-admit na sa Birthing Suite so my husband and doula can be with me during labor. Because of my stomach flu I needed additional monitoring.


My Admission

I was admitted at 2 cm! Not exactly what I planned kasi gusto ko sana active labor na. But for the safety of baby and peace of mind, go na kami.  So, andun si ever-loving and caring Doc Menie checking on me, making me feel reassured at nakabantay sa fetal heart and contraction monitor. Doc Menie is well aware I’m going for VBAC and I vividly remember her double checking with me what I had specified sa birth plan ko na unmedicated birth, and I confirmed it again. Doula Velvet naman, was ready to follow sa hospital any time I say I need her.

Unfortunately, my contractions were not progressing that time pero happy ako kasi I can move freely. I can do sway-sway sa yoga ball ko, and I did some squats to help the baby descent. Also, I felt so relieved na hindi maya’t maya ang IE sakin ni Doc Menie. From noon til evening parang until 4cm lang ata inabot ko, so ine-enjoy ko lang ang food sa birthing suite. Ang saya ng unmedicated, walang restriction sa diet. Full meal ako nun, ang sarap sarap ng adobo na dinner ko nun with egg.

Velvet asked James to buy coconut water for me and she had honeysticks ready pag active labor na ako. Basta ang gaan gaan sa birthing suite ko nung naglalabor ako kasi I did whatever I wanted. Hindi ako naka-strap sa bed unlike nung 1st emergency CS ko with my eldest son 5 years ago. So… there I was, tuwad here there and everywhere… sway sway sa yoga ball… kain nang kain… squats to sawa. Come midnight, the ever-calm Velvet suggested we do nipple stimulation, lights off tapos rest ako in between, then tabi kami ni James sa bed ko magkapulupot para mag umapaw daw ang oxytocin! And you now what… siguro parang few more hours later… umusad yung contractions ko and I dilated to 6cm!!! MAGIC!!!

And sobra akong touched kay Doc Menie kasi para sya na-jackpot sa lotto sa next IE, s’ya pa yung tipong “PRAISE GOD GEMMMM!!!” with matching clap clap pa ng hands!!! “YEHEY, MALAPIT NA YAN!!!”

Soooo morning came, lamon na naman ako!  Super nakaka-motivate si Doc Menie. I love her! Si Velvet punong abala din sya! S’ya ang taga instruct kay James what to do, tapos reassuring and soothing yung boses ni Velvet na kaya ko ito and that kahit anong mangyari, wag akong mag-epidural kasi hindi na naman bababa si baby.  Eh ako naman, ngayon pa ba ako aatras?! Ay sus, syempre hindi di ba?


Balik exercise na naman ulit ako. Chika chika here, there and everywhere, while sway sway sa yoga ball and squats. Last thing I knew is that bandang mga after lunch I think sobrang ganda na ng contraction ko. Getting stronger and stronger and more consistent na… If my memory serves me right, transition na ako mid-day and feeling ko hihimatayin na ako sa sobrang lakas ng hilab!


Do not fight your contractions

Velvet, my female knight in shining armor, was massaging my back and during contractions, she was supporting buong katawan ko. Sorry Velvet ule ha! Feeling ko napilayan ka nga nun sa sobrang bigat ko. Imagine how will I be able to get through that active labor kung wala akong kinain!



During active labor, lalo surges ng contraction, Velvet was giving me honeysticks and coconut water in between. Salitan sila ni James sa pagsalo sakin while laboring. Mga positions to help the baby go down and make contractions more comfortable habang andun yung wave ng contraction pati breathing exercises which I learned through Binhi Childbirth Preparation Class, Velvet was there to remind me.

Tapos tinatanggal nya yung kulot sa noo ko kasi somehow it’s like I was countering yung surge ng contraction instead of riding/surfing it. To expound further, you should not fight the wave of contraction instead ride it because for every wave of contraction, rest in between, it just means you are one stop closer to meeting your baby. The more you fight the wave of contraction, the more painful and unbearable it gets! So imagine, during strong wave of contraction, Velvet asked me to do supported squats. Sa loob ko, suskupo ano ba itong pinasok ko!!!! WAHHHH!!!! But Velvet, the rockstar doula, knows what she’s doing and I trust her, so sige ako ito! Deep breaths, while Velvet continues to massage and soothe me and empower me with affirmations.

Maybe an hour before I delivered Ekang, I felt the urge to push na kasi for every wave of contraction I’m supposed to do breathing exercises pero umiire na ako! NAKAKATAWA! Alam mo yung feeling na, “Ay grabe, di ko mapigilan na yung ire kasi may something na down there!” I felt even more motivated when Doc Menie ordered her staff to prepare the things because she felt I am ready na to deliver when she did another IE.


This is the Moment

WOOOOO!!!  I could hardly believe it when Doc Menie said I was fully dilated na and baby was ready to come out any moment now. There I was with both my legs spread like there’s no tomorrow, tapos may spotlight pa down there kasi dim light naman.  Wala na ako kebs basta I can remember also James proudly telling me “Bebeng, kita ko na ulo ni ekang, unti nalang.”DITO PALANG NAIIYAK NA AKO, NO TURNING BACK NA TALAGA… LALABAS NA SI EKANG!!!


Pushing was relatively easy. Deep breaths with Velvet beside me, guiding me.

First PUSHHHHHHHH… whew… Doc Menie continues to motivate me malapit na, “Gem, isa pa.”
DEEP BREATHS… 1-10…  Second PUSHHHHHHHH… wala pa rin… Naka 3rd push ako, wala pa rin.

This time, Doc Menie politely asked me, “Gem, you don’t want episiotomy right based on your birth plan”? This time, I was so exhausted pushing, I gently replied, “Yes doc, pero if it would help po for her to get out… ok lang po.”

Doc Menie knew what to do. She cut a little down there… hindi ko naman naramdaman ito and…

4th PUSH – EKANG WAS OUT! When she came out I remember the words coming out from my mouth were, “THANK YOU LORD, HI BABY!!!”

Then, medyo nagkaron ng kaunting panic kasi Ekang didn’t cry loudly, I think. She had to be stimulated pa before she cried. Natakot ako because she came out parang medyo purplish so feeling ko napagod din sya in and out dun sa V-canal ko. Then finally, she cried and was placed on my chest to latch. Shoot agad! Ang galing galing nya!

We did delayed cord clamping, James cut it. Tapos, of course, Unang Yakap and she was latched the whole time lang while I was being stitched up.


My Birth Team


Until this very day, I still can’t believe how I did it. But I guess, when you have the best birthing team around you it makes everything so easy and achievable! Forever indebted to you my birthing team: James my husband, Doc Menie and staff, Doula Velvet, Doula Pat; and Laura and Escie for being my inspirations and to the Gentle Birth Philippines FB Community. Like what I’ve posted when shared the good news there, isa ako sa taong may pinakamababa ang pain tolerance pero kinaya ko. So I’m sure kaya n’yo lalo! Do your research, prepare mentally, emotionally, spiritually, read positive birth stories to keep you inspired! It’s been said so many times but I’d say it again…  HINDI PORQUE CS KA SA 1ST MO, CS KA NA FOREVER!

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