We tried a VBAC with a double balloon induction

We tried, we failed, but we got the same result - a baby!

When I fell pregnant with baby number two I knew that I wanted to try for a Vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC) so when when the consultant said she would be more than happy for us to go down that route I was so excited. So as the weeks went on, and I went overdue without baby even engaging I started to get a bit nervous. Would I be allowed to try for a VBAC or would they just want to plan a c-section?

To my relief I was booked in for an induction on October 11, at 12.30 pm. I will admit at this point I had assumed I would have a baby on the 11th. 11.5 hours would be more than enough time for an induction to work? Right?

We got to the ward at 12.30 pm and were told there was no bed for me and to come back in a couple of hours. Cue a few hours of sitting in the hospital cafe waiting to go back to the ward.

When we went back up to the ward (and ended up in the same bed that were were in after we had had M) we were informed that we would be getting a double balloon induction if my cervix was unfavourable (which I knew it would be) or have my water broken if that was possible. Yup, I had no idea what a double balloon catheter was either!

As suspected my cervix was unfavourable (after much poking and prodding to find out and a sweep to boot) and at 7pm I went down to the labour suite to have the double balloon catheter inserted. It was soon apparent that I was not the only person who had not heard of this procedure as our midwife, who had moved from our next nearest maternity hospital, had never seen it done either. I was also asked if another doctor could come in an watch as they have never seen it done.

To put it simply a double balloon catheter is when a catheter is inserted into the cervix and two balloons (a uterine balloon and vaginal balloon) are inflated with saline. One balloon is used to push the babies head up to release hormones and the other is used to mimic the weight of babies head to open the cervix.

The catheter is taped to your inner thigh and left in for 12 hours to work its magic.

I won't lie. It was unpleasant. Actually it was horrible and almost instantly my back started to ache.

To make sure baby was not stressed from the procedure we had to get a heart trace done but, being the cheeky monkey that baby was, the midwife and doctor could not find a heartbeat (no panic though as we could all quite clearly see baby kicking the life out of my tummy!). Due to paperwork needing ticked we ended up getting an ultrasound scan to try and locate baby's heart so they could get a paper printout of the heartbeat but that also proved impossible as baby would not stop moving. 

After an hour the midwife and doctor were beginning to get a bit concerned as baby had not calmed down but luckily it did and a heart trace was found, paperwork was completed and we went back to the ward to wait. At 10pm this meant hubby was meant to have to go home but we were put in a private room so he could stay and saved the 45 minute drive home.

During the night I had regular contractions in my back which were incredibly painful but at 4am they eased off and I got a couple of hours sleep.

After the 12 hours were up we had to wait until there was a bed free for us to go back to the labour suite to see if the balloons had done their magic. 17 hours after insertion we got taken down to labour suite (and into the same room that we were in when we had M 20 months previously) and the balloons were drained and removed. They had not done what they were meant to and I was only 1cm dilated rather than the 3-4cm they had hoped. It did mean they could break my waters but it was not easy and was not pleasant.

The doctor left us with the midwife for a couple of hours to let labour start and although I got some minor contractions they decided to start the drip.

Pretty quickly contractions started to become more regular and painful but they did not last not long enough. After a couple of hours I got excited as I had a few long contractions, one after another. This excitement didn't last long when the midwife explained that they were not long contractions but rather it was two contractions in one. Darn! We were soon taken off the drip as the contractions were coming too fast and I was only getting 20-30 seconds between them. Sadly even when the drip was stopped the contractions did not slow down.

Eventually the consultant came in to check progress and found I was... 1cm dilated still!!!!! So he said that I would need to go back on the drip and he thought the best course of action would be to have an epidural so that they could create as much pain in me but I wouldn't feel it. Reluctantly I agreed. Having been in the hospital for 34 hours I was tired, sore and emotional.

Here is when things really went downhill.

The anaesthetist came and started the epidural, saying she would do it between contractions. What between contractions??? I wasn't getting a rest between contractions!! The first time she did it she hit a nerve in my back. I jumped and she told me to stop moving. Easier said than done when you are having strong contractions and having nerves hit at the same time! I just couldn't do it.

The consultant said he was going to up the drip so I could think about getting an epidural or just see how I got on with the pain, There was no way I could cope with the pain. I felt every bone in my back was breaking with every contraction.

She started again and this time hit a nerve that went from my back to my big toe. I will admit I screamed. I panicked. I cried and I just wanted things to end. Unbeknown to me the consultant I had seen only 5 minutes before was now off duty and the consultant, who gave me the go ahead for a VBAC so many months before, was now on duty and had been in the room for a few minutes. My hubby said she came in and winked at him so he by now knew there was some good news. Her words "we could continue but I think a section would be the best course of action" were the best words I had heard all day. The only thing was I could have cried as I now had to wait longer to get through to theatre for an epidural so would have to endure more pain. Or so I thought.

Within seconds of agreeing to the section my husband was taken away to put on his scrubs and I was being wheeled across to theatre.

Quickly I was given the epidural. I have never felt so relived to feel my legs going numb. For the first time in hours I was pain free! Perfect!

At this point I heard some annoyance from the doctors that the paediatrician could not be contacted so I knew something wasn't well and then I was given an oxygen mask to wear which I never got last time I had an emergency section. I never noticed but my hubby said things went from calm to manic at the click of the fingers.

I was told that the doctors would talk me through each step of the operation, much like they did when I had M, but very quickly I realised something was wrong as the doctors did not say a word. No-one said anything. Everyone was very serious. I kept asking if baby was okay and was told that it was but I just didn't believe them.

After much tug-of-war in my tummy the doctors decided to use forceps to try and remove baby as it had turned into an awkward position. I watched as they worked with such determination.

I then got what I never got with M. I got to see my baby (though I will admit all I remember is looking for HIS genitals and that he had dark hair) before they took him away to be checked. He did not cry. I panicked again but the nurse saw that and got the midwife out to see me and reassure me and yes he was crying I just had not heard him.

I then got my second wish. To get first cuddles. Something I never got with M. It was wonderful. Every ache, pain, worry, concern was washed away as I gazed into my babies eyes. Welcome to the world Fraser!

When we got our discharge papers so we could transfer hospital units I found we ended up with a Cat 1 section which is performed due to an immediate threat to life of woman or foetus! I knew it was serious but had not realised just how serious. We also found out we were lucky as majority of Cat 1 sections are done under general anaesthetic which I would have struggled to come to terms with. 

Training Mummy

Training Mummy is a 30 something mum to two beautiful children - a girl born February 2014 and a boy born in October 2015.


  1. gosh - sounds like a scary experience! Glad all ended well though xx

    1. Ended in the best possible way! Whole experience made me feel much more at ease with M's birth so in a way it was therapy in the worst possible way lol

  2. It sounds like you had a horrible time of it, glad all turned out well and you have your beautiful boy x

    1. Wouldn't want to do it again (planned section all the way next time) but I am certainly glad we did it and got our boy in the end!

  3. Congratulations - birth can be really scary can't it ? Glad all went well and he is healthy x

    1. It certainly can be but as you say, he is healthy so all is good now!