“Whenever and however you give birth, your experience will impact your emotions, your mind, your body, and your spirit for the rest of your life.” -Ina May Gaskin
Giving birth is beautiful, miraculous, and at times, unpredictable and disheartening. In the words of my previous OBGYN, speaking of my first birth “you had the worst experience with the best outcome.” Healthy baby, but taken via emergency C-section after a tumultuous labor and while mommy was unconscious. Read more about my first birth here.
Before my incision had even healed, I began researching “VBAC” everything. I literally read every tip, every statistic, and every blogger’s personal VBAC account. With each successful VBAC story I read, I was given another dose of hope that my next birth could be different. Maybe next time I can hold him as soon as he enters the world, and clearly see his sweet face, without the haze of anesthesia. Maybe I can walk within the first two days and get a shower by myself. And maybe, just maybe, I won’t have to be drugged for weeks because of a painful recovery. I promised myself that if I was able to have a VBAC for my second birth, I too would pay it forward and write about my experience for another mom whose first birth didn’t go according to plan and who wants another story for her second. So here goes…
Where you birth and who you have by your side are two very important decisions to make before the birth. Due to a high-risk pregnancy and our little guy being growth restricted we chose a hospital birth (St. Vincent’s South in Jacksonville) and a practice with multiple midwives and an OB that was known for being VBAC friendly (Full Circle Women’s Care). You want to know that your nurses, midwives, OB’s etc.., are on your side AND have a history of supporting safe, VBAC deliveries. Don’t be afraid to ask for their VBAC statistics.
Take A Class
My first birth I had more of a “wing it” mentality. This time around I knew I wanted a drug-free, completely mobile birth. So I knew I would need some form of natural pain management. My husband and I took a Hypno-birthing class that focused on keeping your mind and body calm by using certain relaxation and breathing techniques. We also gained a great deal of knowledge concerning the natural processes of labor and the amazing capability of a woman’s body.
What helped me the most during labor was counting, rocking, and using breathing techniques during contractions. Example: breathe in deeply for 4 seconds and breathe out slowly for 8. I still use this technique when I’m in traffic or dealing with a tantruming toddler–works like a charm. I knew I had to keep my mind busy so I wouldn’t just focus on the pain. I may have looked like a crazy person rocking and counting, but you do whatever feels right to you at the time. Another bonus of not having an epidural is that you can switch positions. I actually ended up delivering our baby in a squatting position because it was the most comfortable one to be in during contractions. And I hate squats, go figure.
Get A Doula
I knew if I was going to try the all natural route, I wanted someone specifically there to help me with the pain. Blessed be all doulas! They are there for YOU- so when you’re getting stitches and everyone else leaves you to peek at the new baby, she stays and lets you squeeze her hand. Or maybe, like me, you hit a mental wall when baby starts to crown (perfect timing) and you need someone to remind you how badly you wanted this and how close you are to achieving it.
Keep A Balanced Mindset
You’ll notice that I titled this post “One Mama’s Guide”… this was purposeful because there is no magic formula, no perfect book, and no amount of squats that can ensure a VBAC delivery. While I was very determined to do everything I could to increase my chances for a VBAC, I also kept reminding myself that there were no guarantees and a safe delivery was my highest priority. I wanted to go into this birth with a realistic mindset so I wouldn’t be emotionally blindsided by another birth that didn’t follow my plan. Sometimes doing what’s best for your baby, means letting go of something you want. Hello motherhood! Your birth will affect you, bit it doesn’t define you or your bond with your baby.
Oh Happy Day
So as you can see, I got to hold my sweet baby as soon as he entered this world. I was actually able to be the one to bring him from my body, and place him on my chest. No drugs were blurring my vision or my emotional state this time around. I clearly saw every sweet little detail. I was even able to take a shower within an hour of giving birth! It was amazing! Although I still had some recovery pain (it’s still labor) it was nothing in comparison to my first birth. I left that hospital in a state of bliss and ever so thankful to have been able to have a VBAC!