Five months ago, I had the awe-inspiring, unforgettable experience of giving birth to my daughter via an epidural-free VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). This was a hugely empowering experience for me, and I would love for every woman who has the inclination to have a VBAC to be able to enter this experience feeling as knowledgeable and passionate about having her intended birth experience as possible.
Here are 5 things I did to prepare for my VBAC that I found immensely helpful:
1. Get informed.Do your own research, and get all of the facts and figures you need to feel comfortable with the fact that you are not doing something abnormal or harmful for yourself - or your baby - when preparing to have a VBAC. You are merely preparing to have a normal birth experience. There are very few circumstances where a woman should truly not attempt VBAC for health reasons. Every woman deserves the right to pursue the birth experience she is hoping for.
Resources that I found helpful are: - TheUnnecesarean.com - VBAC.com - ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) - Peaceful Parenting's VBAC, HBAC & VBAMC Resources post
2. Create a birth team that is 110% on board with your VBAC decision.Unfortunately, having a member of your team that is anything less than 110% supportive can be enough to make you question your decision in a day and age when VBAC is still oddly considered outside of the norm.
These people were essential to my experience:
- My husband:He did not feel nearly as strongly as I did about having a VBAC, but since he knew it was extremely important to me, he backed me all the way. I could never have gotten through my birth experience without my husband's support.
- My doula:Jennifer of Mama-Born Doula Services was the next most essential person on my birth team. I honestly have no idea what I would have done without her, and I can't recommend having a doula enough. Jennifer was the person who I regularly had the most birth preparation discussions with. Her unwavering support throughout my pregnancy (Hire your doula as early in the pregnancy as possible!) and mental, emotional, and physical strength during my labor and delivery was nothing short of a godsend for me.
- Midwives:No matter how VBAC-friendly a OBGYN may be, I feel like it is more typical for midwives to embrace and support the VBAC experience. The midwives who delivered my baby girl were not the midwives I saw throughout my pregnancy. I had never met them before, but they were completely on the same page as me from the minute I stepped into the hospital. I gave birth at a major metropolitan, highly regarded hospital, and throughout my labor and delivery, the midwives regularly said things to me like: "Just so you know, this goes against hospital policy, but we personally agree with you, so it's okay. You just might have to sign some extra paperwork later." (I never had to sign any additional paperwork.) These women were amazing, and I am so thankful to them.
3. Create a birth plan.Be specific and clear, and make sure everyone on your team is completely familiar with it. Almost every woman wavers about her birth plan at some point during the duress of labor. This is where your birth team steps in and reminds you of your commitment to your plan.
If you are planning to give birth in a hospital, you can make sure that the birth plan has been scanned into your hospital records beforehand. My preferences were never questioned in either of my hospital birth experiences because my intentions were clearly stated in the record that every single midwife, doctor, and nurse came across.
4. Take a private, natural childbirth class if possible.My husband and I took a private class with my doula, Jennifer, and Kathryn of Mother Baby Doula Services. This was a really wonderful and supportive experience because the class was so tailored to my specific pregnancy and birth intentions. Every woman, pregnancy, and birth experience is different, and setting aside time to honor your unique journey is incredibly empowering. It's kind of like having a really exciting pep rally before the big game.
5. Believe.You can do it. You were created with the capacity and strength to do this. Visualizing the birth experience that you want, and believing in yourself are by far the most important factors in making your VBAC plans a reality. You deserve to have a normal birthing experience. You are planning on nothing other than creating the safest and most beautiful experience possible for yourself and your baby. Believe.
Charise Rohm Nulsen blogs at I Thought I Knew Mama - a window into the adventures of stay at home mamahood, natural parenting, and green living. Charise is the proud mama of her toddler son and baby girl. As a special ed English teacher turned SAHM, she is now living what she considers to be the ultimate life as she spends her days mothering and writing. You can find Charise on Facebook, Twitter, Google +, and Pinterest.
This post is linked up with Natural Living Monday, Frugally Sustainable, Simple Lives Thursday, Your Green Resource, Wellness Wednesday.