So you’re planning on having a VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean) and the whole process seems to be so confusing and you are completely out of your depth and aren’t sure where to begin or even what you may need to do (or not do) or take into consideration (or not) when planning your birth. Or maybe you’ve already got the basics down pat but you don’t know what comes next or if there is something else that you need to do to help increase your chances of having the birth you want. Or maybe you’ve only just realised that this is actually an option at all and you want to know more about it before you make a final decision about HOW you will give birth.
Regardless of what has brought you to this point where you’re reading this article I feel that you NEED to know this right now before we get started on the step by step nitty gritty stuff – YOU ARE AMAZING AND WILL ROCK YOUR BIRTH REGARDLESS OF WHAT HAPPENS! Yep, that’s right I’ve just said it and I will say it again, REGARDLESS OF WHAT HAPPENS, whether you have your planned VBAC or have another caesarean, even if the shit really hits the fan and everything is changed or things go wrong, YOU WILL ROCK YOUR BIRTH! Why? Because you will have the support that you need to rock it and help to keep you sane afterwards.
As someone who has been there before, twice actually, I will tell you now that the most basic thing that you need to do when planning for a VBAC is just to say, in your mind or out loud, “I’m attempting a VBAC”. That’s it, nothing special, no mumbo jumbo or special secrets, rituals or dances necessary, just a plain and simple statement of your intentions.
Now, going a little bit more in depth: tell your care provider/s “I’m attempting a VBAC” AND “I need you to support me in my attempt”.
Still pretty simple, but from here it starts to get a little bit more complex.
Your care provider/s may not support VBAC, or they may have reservations, or may adhere to hospital policy or may have had a negative (read bad, awful, terrible, life-threatening, traumatising etc etc) experience with a VBAC patient before, or they may be somewhat supportive, but only if you do it on their terms and conditions. Or you may be one of the lucky ones who has found an absolutely amazing 200% supportive care provider who trusts you and your body, accepts that you call the shots, knows all of the research (and follows evidence based practice) and knows that you have just as much of a chance at achieving a vaginal birth as any first time mother who is given the time, the space and the support needed to have her baby vaginally (in the absence of complications at least anyway). If you haven’t yet found a care provider/s or have found a care provider who isn’t that awesome amazing 200% supportive of you kind of care provider then it’s time to find a better one – your local ICAN group, the main ICAN page or one of the many VBAC Support Groups (for Australians I highly recommend the VBAC Australia Support Group, for those who live internationally I highly recommend the AWESOME HBAC, VBAC, V/HBAMC, UBAC, FBAC Support Group) can help you find a supportive care provider in your area or within easy travelling distance.
Once you have your care provider sorted out it’s time to think about your support people – student midwife or private midwife, family member or friend, maybe a doula?
Or maybe all of the above? You can have as many or as few support people as you like with you while you are in labour, just make sure that they are 100% supportive of you and won’t make your labour a negative experience from their actions and/or words. When choosing a midwife, student midwife and/or doula make sure that you “mesh” well with him/her – it won’t matter how experienced they are or how much they know if you don’t feel comfortable with them, and your comfort with the people around you is paramount! The same goes for family members and/or friends – don’t invite them if you are having doubts about having them there! Trust your gut instincts on this, they know more than your brain when it comes to being able to trust people who will be with you during one of the most important, life changing, days of your life.
You’ve got your care provider sorted, your support people are lined up, now you have to decide where you will give birth – hospital? Home? Birth centre? Start in one place and then move to another or spend your entire time at one place only? What about your backup plans for if circumstances change and you’re at home or at a birthing centre or if the hospital you originally chose doesn’t meet your expectations or is determined to go against your wishes for your birth?
Getting this part sorted out is equally as important as finding the right care provider and having the right support people with you. You will need to work through the pro’s and con’s of each option that is available to you to find the one that you feel the most comfortable with – and you can change your decision at any time even when you are in labour, and the same goes for your backup plans.
After this all you really have to do is wait – wait for labour to begin which could, on average and in the absence of any complications, be any time between 37 weeks gestation and 42 weeks gestation (or even up to 45 weeks gestation if you are one who gestates for longer than average like some wonderful women that I know do).
During this waiting time there are other things that you can do that may (I say may because without knowing your individual circumstances or the reason/s for your primary caesarean/s I cannot say for sure if they will be of use to you) help to increase your chances of having a successful VBAC – acupuncture, chiropractic care, massage, women’s health physiotherapy, red raspberry leaf tea from the 3rd trimester onwards (try to avoid using evening primrose oil as there have been some queries raised that it may soften the internal scar on the uterus although I am yet to find any real proof of this occurring, when it comes to VBAC however erring on the side of caution when it comes to something that may seriously impact the integrity of the internal uterine scar can only be a good thing, definitely speak to your care providers about it though as one of them may have more knowledge of what I am writing about than I do), also using a fit ball that is sized to your body, spinning babies exercises and making sure that you remain hydrated and eat a well balanced diet can help with preparing your body, and by proxy your baby, for your upcoming birth.
During labour, whenever that eventually begins (baby chooses the day when he or she is ready so there is no way of accurately predicting exactly when it will happen), following your instincts is essential – when your body tells you to lay down then lay down, when it tells you that you need to rest then rest, hungry – eat, thirsty – drink (yes you can eat and drink during labour despite any hospital policy that says otherwise, you are free, legally and ethically, to make any decision you wish to during your labour even about eating and drinking), move – move how you need to to make your body happy.
Likewise, if your body tells you that something is wrong then follow your bodies lead and don’t let any care provider tell you otherwise – no one knows your body or your baby like you do (it’s not their body and they don’t live in it, you do!), no matter how much training they have had!
From here it’s all up to you and your baby and there’s not much else that you can do other than go where your body, and baby, leads you.
Remember that you have the right to accept or refuse any and all medical treatments, you have the right to just say no and have that respected, you have the right to get up and walk out of one hospital AMA to go to another one if you wish to, you also have the right to choose – whatever you wish, including having a repeat caesarean, an induction, an epidural, other pain relief, going past 42 weeks gestation if you wish to and whatever else you want to do!
Do you want 1-on-1, 100% focused on YOU support during your pregnancy and birth? Do you want someone willing to listen who really HEARS YOU? How about a source of unbiased up to date information? Someone who doesn’t have a hidden agenda? Who trusts in, and believes, in you? Who doesn't pretend to be someone that they aren't? Someone who will give their all in supporting you to the best of their ability and beyond?
If your answer is a resounding YES!!! and you live on the North Side of Brisbane send a message TODAY to arrange a no obligation interview.