I’ll start with giving you the 2 ways to know your vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) choice is not supported by your chosen “care” provider.
Take a deep breath….
Your VBAC choice is not really being supported if your doctor or midwife recommends:
(1) An induction, and/or
(2) An epidural.
You see these are two of the worst things a woman choosing to birth vaginally after one or more cesarean surgeries can allow to happen.
ALL inductions create hyper-stimulation of the uterus. ALL. OF. THEM. Yes, even the “natural” induction methods. There is nothing natural nor inert in forcing a natural process to start.
All pain relieving options will keep you from feeling your uterus rupture, which places both you and your baby at greater risk.
So, WHY do doctors and midwives even agree to “let” you “attempt” a vaginal birth after cesarean surgery?
You may not like the answer because I know that I don’t like the answer. They say “yes” initially to keep you as a patient/client. They’ll tell you that accepting both options is the best way for them to be able to be fully “in control” of the situation AND get help quickly if a rupture does happen.
What they don’t tell you is that these two things — induction and epidural — interfere enough with your physiological birthing process as well as emotional/mental states that a repeat surgery is almost guaranteed.
Epidurals are a catch 22
Epidurals actually slow down the birthing process, which makes pitocin necessary in order to keep things “going.” Pitocin’s hyper-stimulation of the uterus makes contractions exponentially stronger — and therefore more “painful” — than normal unhindered contractions thereby making an epidural more appealing. Both create serious issues for your baby which will show on the external fetal monitor as “distress” because your baby will be struggling to catch his breath between these very unnatural contractions.
Another thing no one tells you is that, to your body, your vaginal birth after cesarean surgery will require some adjustments to the typical “normal” vaginal birth. Now these adjustments are made by your body and no one — not even you — will be able to control them. Most doctors and midwives don’t like it when they are not “in control” of your birthing process. They’ve been taught that there job is to be “in control” of your birthing process all the time.
You see your body is actively aware of what’s going on and what has happened to it. It knows exactly how to handle the situation, even though you nor those around you do not know exactly how to handle the situation. It knows when to take things slowly. It knows when to crescendo into stronger and longer contractions and when to decrescendo back to less strong and shorter contractions. It knows how to carefully exercise your uterus in preparation for birth. It knows exactly how your baby and you are responding to what’s happening. It reads not only where you are in regards to nutrition and hydration but also will slow things down so you can eat, hydrate and rest.
Your body is in total control and when you allow an induction and medication, you take away it’s control. There is a natural ebb and flow to the birth sequence. Unlike what you’ve been taught about the “stages of labor,” we’re not dealing with a manual transmission vehicle here. It does not shift from one gear to the next with one well defined move. Birth is a type of dance complete with it’s own rhythm, repetitions, chorus and bridges. It flows best when it happens unhindered.
How you can succeed with your choice to VBAC
(1) Vaginal birth after cesarean surgery happens best when those around you understand this is your event and your body will lead the way. Your body is truly amazing and takes whatever time is necessary for you to work through past emotional/mental blocks in preparation for you being the mother your new family will need once this new tiny human is in your arms. So, expect stops and starts. Expect this birth sequence to feel different. Expect it to be a “long” process.
(2) Only allow those into your birth space who understand how incredible your body is and that it absolutely can birth vaginally after a previous surgery. You see your uterus is a muscle and it heals like all of your muscles do after they’ve been cut into. Braxton-Hicks contractions are all about strengthening the muscle you cannot exercise and strengthen at the gym.
(3) Know that you absolutely can birth vaginally at home after one or more cesarean surgeries. There are many who will support you. There are also many who have chosen to do so “unassisted.” Remember, “unassisted” doesn’t mean you’ve gone rouge. It does mean you’ve chosen to take your life back and birth on your own terms. There are lots of women who have birthed at home after one or more cesarean surgery and they are more than happy to share their stories with you. In the moments, hours and days after bringing their tiny human into the world at home, they rediscovered their inner strength. No one will ever be able to take that from them again.
Three VBAC stories
The first VBAC mom I supported had hired a “supportive” OBGyn and planned to birth in the hospital. Her OBGyn informed her there would be no induction and no medication offered unless an emergency cesarean became necessary. So far so good. Confirmation that her OBGyn at least knew those things.
She and her sweetheart had come through my childbirth education course. She was excited about all that she was learning. He didn’t understand why they were even bothering. In his mind she was just going to “go for” the surgery again. He had come to believe that she was not strong enough — emotional, physically nor mentally — to give birth vaginally. Because of his lack of belief in her, she hired me to support her as her birth doula.
The day arrived. She labored at home for a time and was in constant contact with me. I hadn’t met her doctor yet and wasn’t really sure exactly how “supportive” he was. While he had prepared her for the fact there would be no induction and no medication offered unless emergency surgery was indeed required, I still prepared myself emotional and mentally to give the support she might need. I also knew that her husband would be physically present and most likely uninvolved. Sadly, I was right about that.
Everything was going very well. This sweet mom who had experienced two previous cesarean surgeries was doing a great job with each contraction. The nurse was in the room and didn’t like what she was seeing on the external fetal monitor. She made some comments that began to scare my client and then left the room to get the doctor. I prepared myself for the bullying to begin.
The doctor came in for the very first time since we arrived. He sat down and quietly watched the external fetal monitor. When the nurse showed him what she was concerned about, he looked at her and said, “That is normal and everything looks great. There’s no need to scare her. She’s doing an amazing job.” In that moment, I knew this doctor was truly supportive of my clients choice to birth vaginally after two cesarean surgeries.
A little while later, this strong mom went into the bathroom. I asked if she’d like her husband or me to go with her. She declined. I took the opportunity to chat with her sweetheart a bit. His responses were short. He was still waiting for this time to be just like the other two times.
When she came out of the bathroom, I spoke to them both about spiritual things. I knew we all belonged to the same church. I encouraged him to lay his hands on her and give her a blessing. He didn’t think he could do that. I encouraged him to pray with her. He stood silent. She looked at him and shared that all she wanted in that moment was for him to pray for her. So he did.
It was the one of the most beautiful prayers I’ve ever heard a man pray on behalf of his wife. Within moments, her uterine sensations became stronger and her birth process moved into the next sequence. Her husband continued to stand a distance away from her. I moved close to her and supported her physically, emotionally and mentally as she birthed their son into the world. I witnessed as her sweetheart discovered for the first time his wife’s real strength and as he discovered exactly what had been taken from them when they allowed the first cesarean to happen. This family in the that moment had been reborn.
The second VBAC mom I supported hired me shortly after I surrendered to being a home birth midwife. She also had experienced two previous cesarean surgeries. We spent many long hours getting to know each other during her prenatal visits in her home. She had lots of questions and was very clear about how she wanted things to unfold. One of the things she knew for certain was that — regardless of what she said — she absolutely did not want to end up birthing at the hospital unless it was a true emergency. She knew that if she walked through the door of the hospital, she’d be taken straight in for another surgery.
Her birthing day arrived and after many hours of contractions she called me to come be with her and her family. Her contractions were present and would build into wonderful birthing contractions and then stop as the sun rose. She experienced this pattern for two full days. In the mid-afternoon of the third day, she asked me to check her cervix. You see her two cesarean surgeries happened because her cervix “wasn’t dilating.” I agreed to check her cervix as long as she agreed that it was only a number that had no bearing on anything. She agreed and I checked.
Her cervix was dilated and I could feel her baby’s head. His head was not fully engaged with the cervix. The cervix will get its job done whether or not that baby’s head is fully engaged with it. It just takes a bit longer. In that moment, my apprentice, Laura, and I began to share with her some things she could do to help get her son’s head fully engaged with the cervix. She agreed to try some of them and discovered how different the contractions felt when his head was fully engaged with the cervix. NOTE: it’s okay to use whatever words you need to use when birthing tiny humans. ;-)
Once again things slowed down as dinner time approached and the busy-ness that happens in homes with soon-to-be older siblings. This night, however, those two sweet boys didn’t want to miss anything. They were excited to welcome the baby. Their little brother knew better and things continued to move slowly until late into the evening. In a magical moment, we all knew this mom was ready to welcome her little one into her arms as her smile became one that screamed, “I’m doing this!”
She was in and out of the birth pool beautifully responding to the desires of her body. Her final step back into the birth pool was after her membranes ruptured and uterine contractions were very intense. She worked with her body and her baby and masterfully released him out into the water and brought him up onto her chest in what seemed like one fluid motion. The look on her face in that moment is one that no one present will ever forget. She had done it! She had birthed her baby vaginally after two cesarean surgeries and she had done so at home.
The third VBAC mom knew from conception that this baby was to be born at home. She had already experienced seven cesarean surgeries. She located an OBGyn in a neighboring state who would support her in this choice and sadly the hospital changed its policy shortly after his agreeing. He was no longer allowed to support VBACs for women who had experienced more than four cesarean surgeries. She didn’t know what to do, so she prayed.
In a very short time, this sweet pregnant mom of seven was introduced to a woman who had birthed vaginally at home after three cesarean surgeries. This new friend was apprenticing with the midwife who supported her choice to birth vaginally at home after those previous surgeries. Introductions were made and the midwife was hired.
Toward the end of this pregnancy, the midwife had invited me to join her practice and I was invited to attend this birth with her and her apprentice. I was happy to do so and on Mother’s Day weekend the magic happened. Everything was going very well. The mom was in her room while we were all napping in her living room. I felt drawn to see how she was doing. I entered her room and she proclaimed, “I was just about to call for you.”
While she was certain her baby was to be born at home, the only thought traveling through her mind was what she was told during her first pregnancy that began her journey with cesarean surgery. She had been told that her pelvis was not big enough to birth her babies vaginally. Knowing this to be a common tactic of the man-made baby delivery system™ in an effort to convince women to give away their body autonomy, I handed her a small sample bottle of essential oils and walked her through an Aroma Reset.
The Aroma Reset allows you to bring together all the pieces of a memory, breathe in the aroma of the essential oils to disrupt the memory and release the stuck emotional energy. Once the memory has been disrupted and the stuck emotional energy released, the body is able to easily resolve and file away what happened.
She placed the essential oils on the palm of her hand, rubbed her hands together and began to breathe in the aroma of the oil while thinking about that very first conversation that led to her first cesarean surgery. Within seconds the stuck emotional energy was released and her contractions began to intensify. About five hours later she was holding her newest tiny human. About 30-minutes later, she realized that she had successfully birthed her little one at home after experiencing seven cesarean surgeries.
To learn more about the birth sequence, purchase my book/workbook, Embracing Birth: wholistic childbirth education (a home study course) or enroll in the online course by the same name. CLICK HERE to join my email list.