If you’ve been reading the blog or staying connected with me via social media lately, you’ll know that Miss S made her appearance a few weeks ago. We’re so thrilled that she’s here with us, and we’re absolutely thrilled that we were able to have a successful VBAC!
For those of you who don’t know, VBAC stands for a vaginal birth after cesarean. More accurately, I had a VBA2C, since both A-Man and Baby M were born by cesareans. Now, I will likely share a post about my birth story sometime soon, this is not that story.
This post is going to be for the moms who had a cesarean delivery and are petrified of going through it again. It’s for the mamas who feel like their bodies are capable of giving birth without interventions, but they aren’t sure if that’s absolutely crazy. This post is for the women who have been told “once a cesarean, always a cesarean” or that their hips are too small or their babies too big.
To you, mamas, I say that you can have a successful VBAC. Now a few disclaimers. I am not anti-cesarean. My c-section with A-Man absolutely saved his life. Also, there are always unexpected circumstances with birth. Not everyone will have a successful VBAC, but these are my top tips for giving it yourr best try!
Top Tips to Have a Successful VBAC
Research Like Crazy
Poor Chris had to listen to me reciting facts and statistics to him for months during my pregnancy with Miss S, but it was all for good reasons. If you don’t do the research yourself, how will you really know you’re making the right decision? Some doctors are well educated on VBAC’s and truly want what’s best for the women they care for, but others are more concerned with their bottom line and the risk of being sued.
Fact is, VBACs are generally safe, and in a lot of circumstances they’re safer than repeat cesareans. Read the statistics for yourself. You’ve no doubt heard that the biggest risk associated with VBACs is the risk of uterine rupture, so find out how often that happens and how often it’s serious. Once you’ve researched enough to make your decision, research how to improve your chances!
Find out your doctor’s cesarean rate and how many successful VBAC’s they’ve done. Find out your hospital’s policies regarding VBACs. I found the only hospital allowing VBA2C’s within several hours of my house, and I had a meeting with someone at the hospital to discuss all policies. The more that you know, the more confident that you’ll feel.
Get a Doula
This one is actually a funny bit of advice coming from me because my doula moved out of state two days before I delivered, and we never ended up using the backup doula. That said, I still think having a doula is incredibly important and that everyone, not just VBAC mamas should definitely have a doula at their birth.
When you’re trying to have a successful VBAC, you will want a doula who has experience with VBACs or at least other high-risk deliveries. Your doula will help advocate for you during labor, but she will also be a sounding board your entire pregnancy. You can go over statistics with her. You can have her help with your birth plan (we’ll get to birth plans, I promise!). She will support your decisions and help you feel safe and confident through the entire pregnancy, labor, and birthing process. Seriously, get a doula!
Read or Listen to Affirmations
Okay, you may feel pretty silly doing this but I swear it makes a difference! I tried out a program called hypnobabies this pregnancy, and one of my favorite discs that it included was “joyful pregnancy affirmations”. I loved listening to it as I fell asleep. The track was really simple, just short and simple statements affirming that I was healthy, safe, and capable of handling my pregnancy, labor, and delivery.
I also wrote up some cards with my favorite birth affirmations and Bible verses and had them available in my labor bag. You never know when you might need a pick me up! Search “birth affirmation” on Pinterest and you’ll find tons! They really help you to stay confident and sure of your ability to have a successful VBAC.
Go In With a Plan
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. It’s cliche, but it’s totally true. If you go to the hospital with no idea what kind of birth experience you want short of “I want a vaginal delivery” you’ll very quickly be lost. Doctors and nurses typically do want what’s best for you, but unless you speak up and advocate for yourself and your choices, they will simply do what they always do.
Have a plan in mind for how you want to deal with pain management. Who do you want in the hospital room? Do you want the lights and sounds kept low? Do you want to move around as much as possible or would you rather stay in bed? Having these things planned ahead of time helps you to feel more confident, and it helps your birth team to better advocate for you.
With a plan ahead of time, you can also get things approved by your doctors ahead of time. For example, my hospital typically only allows one person in the OR in the event of a cesarean, but I was able to get them to allow two (just in case, it ended up not being needed) because I have a fear of surgery. Trust me, you don’t want to be arguing with your doctor about policy while you’re having contractions. Plan it in advance!
Hold the Plan Loosely
If your birth goes exactly according to your birth plan, you are one lucky lady. Chances are that it won’t happen that way, unfortunately. Birth can be incredibly unpredictable, and when we are birthing at a hospital we can face interventions and things that we never planned on.
In my birth plan I wanted absolutely no pitocin, no pain medications, wireless monitoring, constant movement, and the use of the tub and shower. I ended up with pitocin, an IV pain medication and then an epidural, wired monitoring, almost no movement, and no water. Things may not go according to plan, and it’s best to accept that.
Why even bother making a plan then? Because any time the plan changes you are informed. You are respected. My doctor spent lots of time discussing with us whether trying an epidural would be the best option for me and making sure I was comfortable with the decision. Had I never had a plan in the first place, all of the decisions likely would have been made for me by hospital staff.
Focus On What’s Important
I won’t ever tell you that your birth experience isn’t important or that “all that matters is a healthy baby” because that simply isn’t true. As someone who’s suffered from birth trauma, I know that while a healthy baby definitely matters, it isn’t the only important thing.
That said, take some time to decide what’s important about your birth experience to you. For me, I obviously wanted to have a successful VBAC, and I also wanted a natural delivery. However while talking to my doula a few days before delivery (see, you need a doula!) I realized that more than anything I wanted to have a voice in my own birth. I didn’t want decisions made for me, I didn’t want to be lied to, and I wanted to be respected.
Once I realized that, it was okay with me that we needed to use pitocin because they left the decision up to me. It was okay that I got an epidural because I was respected and fully informed. After previous deliveries where I felt completely out of control, I was given full control over my birth, and that is what I really needed to have a successful VBAC.
Trust Your Body
One final note to have a successful VBAC is to simply trust your body. We were designed to make, grow, deliver, and feed our babies. When you start to doubt, remember that you are fearfully and wonderfully made, and no mistakes were made. Your body is not a lemon, your body is not broken, your body is strong, and your body is capable. Trust that this is what you were designed to do and that your body can and will safely deliver your baby, and you will be more likely to have a successful VBAC.
Have you had a VBAC? I’d love to hear your tips! If you’ve had a cesarean delivery, have you considered trying to have a VBAC or are you more comfortable with a repeat cesarean? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
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