I’ve received so many questions (many via my Instagram account) about my VBAC experience, and so I put together this post to answer them! It’s a bit lengthy, but I wanted to give each question the best answer I possibly could. Enjoy!
How did a VBAC feel compared to a C-section?
Honestly, they were both tough, but in different ways. I had a scheduled C-section the first go around, and didn’t experience any labor whatsoever. So in comparing my two experiences I would say that with a scheduled C-section you skip out on the pain of labor and delivery, but then you have a rather miserable recovery period. With a VBAC, I went through twenty-four hours of painful labor, and had a second-degree tear, but the recovery was MUCH easier than my C-section recovery. As one of my nurses told me: “there’s no easy way out of this corner”. I think birth will always be painful in one way or another, but I would choose a VBAC a million times before choosing a repeat C-section.
I just personally felt A LOT more empowered after having a VBAC versus having a C-section. I, also, loved that I wasn’t recovering from major abdominal surgery (a C-section) after having a baby the second time around.
Is there anything you would’ve done differently?
I asked my midwife why she thought my water started leaking so early without me going into labor, and she said she believed it was because I was GBS+. I did try really hard not to be GBS+ this go around (I took probiotics, garlic capsules, and vitamin C for months, and let me tell you, the garlic capsules weren’t pleasant), but I was still positive. My midwife suggested a specific probiotic–that targets the GI track–and I’m going to start taking that for next time, and add homemade kombucha and other fermented foods back into my diet to try to really wipe out any bad bacteria in my gut.
Other than that, I honestly can’t think of any decisions I would’ve made differently. It was a weird string of events (my water leaking a week before I was induced, having to get induced, back labor, etc…) and as one of my nurses said, it was a perfect storm of issues that lead to me having to be induced, and eventually decide to get an epidural.
Sometimes you just have to work with the hand you are dealt!
What was the most unexpected thing about a vaginal delivery after a C-section?
How much counter-pressure made such a HUGE difference in regards to my pain while laboring. The nurses would come in and push on my back or my knees and it lessened the pain considerably. Next time, I want to prep Saia and myself a lot more for pain-coping techniques.
Also, that she actually came out that way. I am still in awe of my body for pushing out an 8 lb 7 oz baby. Women’s bodies are crazy amazing.
What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of how much I stood up for myself. I am a people pleaser, and a conflict avoider, but with all my research behind me, I felt strong in my belief that I wasn’t in any danger, and I could do this.
My nurse told me, just when I was about 8 centimeters, that she believed the baby was too big for me to birth her naturally. She believed the baby’s head was too big, and said “I mean, look who you married!” while gesturing to my hubby. Even when she told me this, it didn’t rattle me in the least, because I knew from all my research what an outdated belief that was! That women’s pelvises are MADE to birth babies–even big babies–and that unless I grew up in a third world country, and experienced malnutrition as child, that it would be an extremely rare occurrence for my pelvis to actually be too small for a baby. And that nurse was happily surprised when she watched me push that big-headed baby out.
What statistics were specifically helpful for you as you fought for your VBAC? – like when you came across the provider who was anti-VBAC, what thoughts helped you stand your ground and stay strong in your resolution to try for the VBAC?
The main statistic is that I only had a 1 in 240 chance of rupturing. And that the majority of ruptures are detected early on, and the mom and baby are totally okay after a C-section.
The chance of a baby dying because of a uterine rupture is only 6% of that 0.4%. So the odds of a baby passing away because of a rupture is only 0.00024%. This post is really helpful in breaking down all the risks.
Those odds sound pretty dang good to me.
Most doctors don’t like doing VBACs because it takes so much longer than a C-section, and there has to be a doctor in the hospital at all times in case there was an emergency. But just because it doesn’t fit the doctor’s schedule doesn’t mean you should consent to undergo major surgery! Remember, YOU are the one who hired the doctor and chose the hospital. The doctor works for YOU! And while you want to work with them, and not be too combative, don’t let anyone bully you into doing something to your body that I don’t choose for yourself.
Honestly, I never once feared having a rupture while I was laboring or delivering. I was more afraid of a repeat C-section, then I was of a rupture. This chart by ICAN shows why! Look at those risks!
Doctors tend to highlight all the risks of having a VBAC, but don’t inform you of any risks associated with a C-section.
What were your favorite books/blogs/articles for prepping for your VBAC?
Books: I really liked Birth Without Fear by January Harshe–she has had C-sections, VBACs, and home births–and I loved how empowering she was in that book. She really encouraged me to work with my provider, but also stand up for myself. Secondly, I liked Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth by Ina May Gaskins (although I took my friend’s recommendation to read the second half first, and just skim through the first half–the second half is labor/delivery tips, and the first half is all birth stories, some of which are a little bit too crunchy for my taste). I, also, appreciated Birthing From Within it helped me prepare mentally, and really work through the fears I had about birth.
Podcasts/Blogs: I linked a bunch of my favorite blogs and podcasts in my post How to Prepare for a VBAC!
Online Course: Saia and I worked through Mama Natural’s Birth Course, and I found it really helpful! It was awesome, because it really sparked a lot of conversations between him and I, and especially prepared him for what to expect.
Was it your midwife that recommended the red raspberry leaf tea and date bars- did she say to not start this until 35 weeks?
Yes, the dates she said I could start whenever, but the RRL tea she recommended not starting until 35 weeks, but then every midwife is different. Some recommend drinking one cup a day based on what trimester you are in (1 c for first trimester, 2 for second, and so on).
I am not a huge fan of dates, so I made homemade Larabars, and just figured out how many dates were in each bar. My toddler loved the date bars too, and I found that combining nuts and dates in a bar really helped them not spike my blood sugar.
What red raspberry leaf tea did you drink again?
I’ve ordered RRL tea in bulk from both Amazon or the Bulk Herb Store. I have liked them both, and usually order based on price. Right now, I believe the Bulk Herb Store has a better price. I order the loose leaf tea, because it is so much more economical than the tea bags, and it tastes better to me.
Was the back labor thing because of your babies position? Does it have to do with where the placenta is in your uterus (posterior vs. anterior?)
Yes, back labor is caused by baby’s positioning. When baby is sunny side-up (looking towards your belly button rather than towards your spine) it is a lot harder for your body to birth him/her, and causes a lot of back labor. I don’t believe it has anything to do with the placenta placement, but more to do with where baby has settled into your pelvis. A lot of people believe that there are more posterior babies these days because we sit a lot more–in the car, at work, etc…and that encourages the baby to settle into a posterior position.
My midwives suggested trying the Miles circuit to get baby to move into a better position, and I know other people who have had success with Spinning Babies and/or chiropractic care! I did a few things to try to keep baby in the right position, but didn’t focus on it too much. Next time I might try to do a few more exercises to try to get baby in a good position for birth.
What would you tell a mom wanting a VBAC?
You can DO IT, mama! And you don’t have to do everything right in order to “earn” a VBAC. I see so many women who spend thousands of dollars in chiropractic care, books, courses, doulas, acupuncture, therapists, etc…in order to “increase their chances”. I, too, felt like if I didn’t do everything right that I would end up on an operating table.
Your body was designed to birth a baby. I truly believe that if we just get out of our own way, 99.9% of women would be able to birth babies vaginally, because your body is an incredible thing and knows what it is doing! Your body is not a lemon.
Find yourself a doctor or midwife who will let your body do what it does naturally. Find yourself a safe birth environment. Eat good food, and move your body (being in shape will definitely help any labor/birth). Do the birth prep that feels right to you whether that is reading books, talking to a therapist, listening to podcasts, talking to other mamas, or printing off printables. Pray about it.
And remember–the doctor isn’t the one “letting” you VBAC. You are the one letting the doctor watch you rock your VBAC.
If someone doesn’t believe you can do it, just let that add to your determination to prove that you can.
Will your next birth(s) still be considered a VBAC? Or will you have less restrictions?
Yes and no. This varies greatly–depending on the state you live in, but here’s my experience in Nebraska.
After I’ve had one VBAC then I have a “proven pelvis” (I loathe that term, I don’t like the fact that I have to “prove” that my pelvis can work as it is intended, but that’s the term doctors will use), and it IS a lot easier to find someone to support you, because you have done it once.
In regards to the midwives/birth center: In Nebraska, there is only one freestanding birth center, and–unfortunately– home births attended by licensed midwives are illegal. At this time, the birth center does not allow VBACs, but the midwife assured me that she is fighting hard to get that right, and is hoping that by my next VBAC she will be able to let me birth there, if I choose. So that’s still up in the air.
In regards to the hospital: At the hospital, once a VBAC you are always a VBAC, but they will let you get by with intermittent monitoring rather than continuous monitoring which would be FABULOUS. I really hated those monitors, so much. There was no way they were going to let me go without the monitors, and I had hoped to show up pushing, and thus avoid the monitors completely, but that’s not what ended up happening.
So, yes, it is a lot easier in some ways, but you still don’t have the freedom (within a hospital) to labor however you choose. Which kinda stinks. But I’ll report back after my next VBAC. 😉
What is your number one tip (or top three if it’s hard) to choose to prepare physically for a VBAC?
- Embrace the fresh start: this is a new baby, a new birth. It will be different from your last! I think VBAC moms tend to fear–most of all–that everything will end up going the same way as it did last time. That is a valid concern, because you’ve only been through one experience before, but I can tell you that my two pregnancies and births were night and day different. I was terrified of even getting pregnant a second time, because I was so afraid of another C-section. My bestie told me to embrace a fresh start. She told me that this is a new pregnancy, and to enjoy the fact that can start over! You can too!
- Put all your effort into interviewing providers, and find the MOST supportive person you can! Choosing the right provider cannot be emphasized enough, and don’t be afraid to switch providers if yours all of a sudden wants to give you a C-section at 40 weeks.
- Walk, walk, walk: all I did those last few weeks was walk. I walked 2-4 miles every single day. I really think it was a big reason why I was carrying my baby so low. I think going into the birth being as fit and healthy as you possibly can be is awesome for any birth.
You can do this, mama!! I believe in YOU!