If you are preparing for a VBAC and want to find out exactly what it takes for a successful VBAC from a mom who has done it twice keep reading!
When I was pregnant with my second child I knew that I was going to do everything possible to deliver vaginally. I did not want to have another unnecessary surgery.
After my first birth I didn’t trust doctors or anything surrounding birth that was remotely medical.
I felt cheated out of my first birth experience that ended with an unnecessary c-section.
I was young (well, I was 20) when I had my first baby. Honestly, it wasn’t until much later that I realized how wrong it all was.
I was barely given a chance to labor with my first baby (less than 12 hours). No one ever suggested I shouldn’t get an epidural so early.
Then the next morning (on a weekend) an unfamiliar doctor came in and said I was too small to deliver this baby so I better go ahead and have a c-section.
I bet he was home by dinner time to eat with his family that evening while I was in the recovery room waiting to see my baby.
But it’s not all his fault. I barely thought about how I wanted to or planned to give birth.
I vowed to never make that mistake again.
My second pregnancy I researched EVERYTHING.
I knew that I wanted to attempt a VBAC. When I asked my OB about it he was hesitant and was uncomfortable with the idea.
He gave me a lot of BS reasons it would be safer for me to have a c-section and said “well, we’ll see when the time comes.” Basically, I knew that if I wanted to have a successful VBAC I was going to have to figure out how on my own.
That being said c-sections are necessary and they are not the ” easy way out”. Trust me they are harder, I had one and it’s exactly why I didn’t want to go through that again if I didn’t have to.
I wanted to feel respected and supported, not bullied and manipulated.
So I started pouring over stories of other women who had successful vaginal births after c-sections. I wanted to know exactly how they did it.
Here is what I found.
These are the best tips that helped me to have my own successful VBAC.
1. Find a supportive birth provider.
THIS ^ ^ ^ I cannot stress this enough. Often, this is going to make or break a birth experience. So many times, physicians will tell you they are VBAC friendly before using the ol’ bait and switch on you.
Basically they tell you they are on board with letting you attempt a vbac until the very end of your pregnancy when they list all the reasons it would be unsafe and why you shouldn’t do it. Really, they weren’t planning on letting you VBAC in the first place.
When you chose a healthcare provider make sure you look up their statistics of vaginal births vs. c sections and try to find people who have birthed with them to verify if they are in fact VBAC supportive.
Make sure you are aware of the hospital VBAC policy of the hospital you intend to birth at as well.
If your healthcare provider isn’t knowledgeable about VBAC and does not know how to support you during a TOLAC (trial of labor after cesarean) it is going to make it very difficult to be successful.
If your hospital or healthcare provider is hesitant about supporting a vbac find another provider!!
This is a story of one woman who switched providers in her third trimester!
2. PREPARE, PREPARE, PREPARE
I devoured every birth book I could find. Countless Youtube videos about natural birth were watched. I asked every woman I knew for their best tips and advice.
One of the best books I have ever read was Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth. She helped me understand exactly what would happen to my body during labor. The book pointed out the best things to do for labor and what to avoid while in labor.
It was full of stories and first hand accounts of moms who had successfully given birth naturally.
It’s like this, if you were going to run a marathon you wouldn’t start getting ready for it the week before would you?
You need to prepare for birth. Birth is not a sprint, its a marathon.
3. If you plan on getting an epidural, don’t get it too soon.
Many times when women get their epidural too early it can slow down labor or even stall it. Make sure you are having steady contractions and in active labor before you get it.
This means you will need a plan to get through labor pain.
If you go into labor without a plan on how you are going to handle the pain it will be a big mistake.
Look into local classes you can take or you can try this online prenatal class to prepare you for how to get through labor pain like a champ!
The creator of this online class is an experienced labor and delivery nurse, Hilary, who walks you through :
- when you need to come to the hospital
- natural labor relief and relaxation
- delivery time
- and MORE…
- 10 lessons to prepare you for the BIG DAY!
This class is affordable and you can do it in your pj’s on your couch. You never have to leave the house (it doesn’t seem like we ever will these days anyways)
4. Stay Active
Ina May Gaskin is quoted in her book as saying ” Squat 300 times a day and you will give birth quicker.”
I was prepared to do whatever it took for a successful birth this time around. I made it a priority to take walks every day, do lunges and of course squat.
Exercise during pregnancy can shorten labor, require fewer medical interventions and prevent exhaustion.
That was all I needed to hear to adopt a healthier lifestyle. I think its one of the main reasons I was able to successfully VBAC the first time around.
5. Have Birth Support
Birth is tough. You can’t do it alone.
You may want only your husband with you during labor. Maybe you want your mom. Perhaps both.
Consider hiring a doula. They can be invaluable in helping to support and advocate for you during a stressful and vulnerable time.
- education about birth options
- support during pregnancy
- provide hands on comfort measures during labor
- support your spouse/birth partner
- communicate with healthcare providers and hospital staff
- create a calming environment so you can relax
Make sure you practice your pain relief techniques BEFORE labor with the person you chose. That way everyone is on the same page about what works best to relax you.
6. Labor at Home as Long as Possible
This may seem obvious but its true. Often first time mothers are told to stay home as long as possible to labor.
This decreases the number of interventions a women experiences early in labor. Which, we know, once the interventions start they tend to keep coming (cascade of interventions). This increases the risk of complications and the risk of needed another cesarean.
This is especially true for a VBAC who requires being monitored more closely, therefore having more opportunities for interventions.
Hilary’s Online Prenatal Class guides you through when you need to go to the hospital. You won’t have to guess when the time is right!
7. Work Through old Birth Fears
One of the hardest things I had to overcome when I prepared to give birth for the second time was fear.
I had a bad birth experience with my firstborn. Yes, my baby was happy and healthy and that was everything to me.
But, I felt like the experience of birth had been ripped away from me. No one listened to me. They talked at me instead of to me. I was THE LAST person to hold my baby.
I wanted to put my baby skin to skin and breastfeed right away but the nursery fed my baby a bottle because I was taking to long to recover after surgery. It took my a long time to bond with my baby. I felt very disconnected from the whole experience.
All because of convenience. By the way, I was told I would NEVER give birth to my first born because I was “too small” and my baby was “too big”. My firstborn was 8lb 1 oz.
My next two babies were born via VBAC and were 8lb 10 oz and 8lb 8oz.
Control. Fear. Insecurity, Doubt. I had to learn how to trust that my body was not a failure and let go of the huge need for control. I was scared that I would still end up in needing a c section again.
Learning how to process that experience and accept it was tough. It was not an overnight thing. However I did learn how to heal from it.
Some things that may be helpful :
- Process your experience: journal about the experience. Write down how you felt, what you wished had gone differently.
- Get the facts: Talk to your doctor and get your medical records. understand why things happened the way they did. It might put things in perspective and answer lingering questions.
- Mourn the loss of the birth you wanted and face it. Let go of any feelings that you “shouldn’t” feel this way. Your feelings are real and valid.
- Look at what went well. Its easy to see the negatives and things that didn’t go the way we planned. It may be helpful to remind yourself of what did go right to gain a new perspective. We will never change the past but we can change the way we look at it.