A girlfriend asked me about sending over my link to my birth story for her niece who is going for a VBAC any day now…this inspired me to write this post to encourage those who stumble across this site and are looking at wanting a natural birth after cesarean.
Here are some tips that helped me personally in achieving my VBAC after 2 C-Sections (VBA2C) in hospital, I will list them collectively in this post and then will follow with more in-depth posts individually:
1|Believe in Yourself: I know this probably sounds airy-fairy and “motivational” and all, BUT SERIOUSLY…I had to come to the realisation personally that deep down I honestly believed that I could do it, that my body could do it. I was driven to go for a VBA2C because something within me just “knew” I could do it… I chose to listen to it. Believe you can do it and you’re already 90% there!
2|SUPPORT SUPPORT SUPPORT! Choose your caregiver/s wisely!: For me, this was a big one! Probably the most crucial significant factor for me personally. When I attempted a VBAC first time around with my second baby, this was the element that broke me! My Private Ob was not supportive of a VBAC in my case (large baby small mum), and right at the end of my pregnancy, he scared my husband and me into an elective Cesarean without even at least trying! He told me that I would have all the same problems that I had the first time around with my son so I shouldn’t bother, that I could end up with my uterus ruptured and a dead baby or baby could end up Cerebral Palsy due to lack of oxygen if my uterus ruptured!
Third time around I hired an independent midwife Betty Vella for all my antenatal/postnatal care and to support me at home and then in the hospital. My reasons for hiring a midwife over a Doula was that for my peace of mind at attempting a VBAC after already having had two cesareans meant I knew my risk of uterine rupture was slightly higher. I wanted to labour at home for as long as possible therefore I wanted someone medically experienced around “just in case” but many women hire Doulas.
What is a Doula? Doulas are specially trained labour support that supports you in every facet of labour! Emotionally encouraging you and helping you to keep your mind on track of what you are doing. Physically supporting you during labour – massage, heat packs, hand to hold etc. – Many are experienced in assisting VBAC births or may have even experienced their own VBAC and trained to be a Doula to give back what they so lovingly experienced in their own positive birth.
3|Supportive Hospital: if you have the option of travelling to another hospital that is more supportive of VBACs. THEN DO IT! You don’t want to be fighting hospital systems/politics while trying to facilitate a natural and progressive labour. I am in Sydney, and my closest hospital was only 10 minutes away… I went with the most supportive hospital of a vba2c which was the Royal Women’s Hospital at Randwick; this meant that instead of a 10-minute drive to the hospital – I was looking at 40-minute drive across town! And that wasn’t factoring in possible Sydney peak hour traffic! Lucky for me things worked out…again if you are in Sydney I highly recommend this hospital if you can get in as an “out of area” patient. The head Ob Dr Andrew Bisits was my care provider, and he is supportive of VBACs, breech births etc. They even have a clinic, especially for VBACs.
If you had a really traumatic time in hospital previously- then perhaps you are considering a homebirth? I am not experienced in this myself but there are plenty of women who are and many wonderful and very experienced homebirth midwives that would be fully supportive of a VBAC homebirth! To be honest if i knew what i know now about birth I would have opted for a homebirths from the very beginning! Homebirths are becoming a much more popular option, especially with celebrities! Check out the homebirth network as a starting point.
4|Calmbirth Course : This course helped me to learn relaxation techniques and also guided positive meditation. It’s not for everyone (in all honesty my husband didn’t really get into it), but it really did help learning about focusing on breathing and understanding the actual physiological aspects to pain and how fighting the pain makes your job as the Mumma WAAAAAAY harder during labour. Fighting the pain can burn more energy reserves and even prolong/stall your labour! My first labour was easily a good 48hrs from the start of prelabour to the ultimate finish of an “emergency” cesarean with at least 20hours of that actually spent in the hospital. I had every drug they offered – stoned out of my mind on gas and freaking out pretty much the whole way through until I was utterly exhausted and had an epidural. Doing the Calmbirth course this time around didn’t give me a silent labour as i calmly pushed my baby out…but rather in the moments of panic my midwife was able to bring me back very quickly into a more controlled state to focus on the my breathing and pushing. If you are in Sydney, I highly recommend my Calmbirth teacher – Julie Clarke
5|Look after Mumma : Look after yourself. Look after your mind… take time out, especially during the last trimester. I recommend prenatal yoga – I found a fantastic prenatal yoga class with an amazingly encouraging teacher, it was wonderful to take time out during the week and just be quiet and focused on myself and my growing baby. Even though I was tired, I never regretted dragging my sorry butt to prenatal yoga! If you are in Sydney I highly recommend Amanda Vella @ Illuminate Yoga! Her prenatal class rocks!
6|Chiropractor : I basically lived at my Chiropractors during my last pregnancy! She kept my back pain away throughout the pregnancy and at the end she kept my pelvis nice and straight – I was seeing her twice a week in the end! Why would you want to keep your pelvis nice a straight? well, WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO MAKE THE EXIT OUT OF YOUR BODY smaller and more difficult to get out of! The baby comes through your pelvis, and I think that it can be common to have your pelvis out – especially if you are already a mama (think holding your little ones on your hip, and its usually the same hip!). An even slightly twisted pelvis may make all the difference in how your baby settles into its comfy position, lots of babies may stay breech due to this and a few simple visits to a trained Chiro can even help your baby turn from breech to head down, and from posterior to anterior. If you are in Sydney I highly recommend mine…Justine McDermott @ Back to Balance – she has a clinic in West Hoxton (Sydney South West) and Cronulla (Sydney South) – she is trained in the Webster technique for pregnant women and she treats Mumma-to-be’s all the time.
7|Optimal Fetal Positioning : This theory is based on the easiest route a baby takes out of your body! This gem of a website gave me pretty much all the info I needed – check out this really information website Spinning Babies for more in-depth information. This is really important during pregnancy, you want to keep bubs in the best position for labour. It involves watching you’re posture and taking care of your physical body. It’s simple and involves things you can do yourself.
8|Read Inspiring Birth Stories : I found this really important…and inspiring! Knowing that there are plenty of woman who have gone before you and travelled the exact same journey as you are on now and they did it! Stalk the mother’s online forums as the birth stories seem to be all over the place – try these following Australian websites with online forums that real women post their stories. Click for a direct link to the VBAC section : Belly Belly, Bubhub, Essential Baby.
9|Resources : Books, DVD’s, Medical studies (if you are into that!), current stats on VBAC outcomes. I highly recommend the book/cd 25 Ways to Awaken Your Birth Power. Towards the end of my pregnancy along with the Calmbirth cd’s I listened to this cd – and also whilst I was in prelabour which i credit to helping me dilate 3 cm’s and turn my “soft but closed” cervix into 3cm and paper thin all before established labour! After my VBAC experience, i really do believe in the power of your own mind… it’s sort of a guided meditation of imagining your cervix relaxing and opening. Also researching the latest facts/statistics when it comes to natural birth, especially in a hospital, VBACs etc can be helpful for you to keep positive. If you don’t know then you will be easily swayed by hospital staff that push their own agenda’s and sadly sometimes do not have your BEST interest at heart.
10|Movement / Active Birth : My birth was active and the only time i spent on the bed was for checks to see position of baby, a scan during labour (Ob suspected that bub may have been presenting FACE first…OUCH!) and when i actually birthed since i needed a little extra help from a vacuum since i had been pushing for quite a while (but i remained on my side!). I used the bath which established my labour, and i remained upright leaning forward, kneeling forward on the floor against the bed for most of my labour. Make gravity your friend – it will help the baby down!