My first child was welcomed into the world under bright lights and surgical masks. My memory of her is vague: I remember hearing her first cry. I remember my husband, with tears in his eyes, exclaiming, “She’s beautiful.” After she was born, my memory went black.
“Failure to Progress” was my diagnosis after 23 hours of Pitocin-induced contractions, oxygen, anxiety meds, and a re-do epidural. Almost two weeks beyond my due date, I believed that not only was my body unable to go into labor on its own, but it couldn’t deliver a child either. A miscarriage later bolstered this view.
Two months before my scheduled c-section with my second child, I met a brave soul that would ultimately change the course of my entire birth plan. After gardening, I began having pain in my hip and went to see Dr. Daniel Hackney at Hackney Chiropractic. He sensed my interest in a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), and my distrust of my body. Dr. Hackney suggested an idea to me that at the time sounded totally absurd: change hospitals and doctors, hire a doula, and go for a VBAC… two months before birth.
And, that’s just what I did.
Long story short, I bore my son into the world by successful VBAC with tears and joy.
Because of my experience, I wanted to offer interested moms the best advice I could for preparing for a VBAC, especially after a diagnosis like failure to progress.
1. Hire a Doula
My doula was a cornerstone in navigating labor and birth, helping me to prepare mentally, emotionally, and physically for my journey. My doula served as an educator and partner, offering resources and guidance for all of my options before, during, and after labor.
During labor, she was my rock. While medical staff is in and out of the room, a doula remains with you for the duration of labor, offering support and acting as an advocate for your birth plan. Studies show a reduction of cesarean sections, instrumental vaginal delivery, use of oxytocin, and epidural anesthesia when a doula is present. Studies also show an increased satisfaction with the birth experience and greater attachment to baby.
2. Find a VBAC-Friendly Doctor and Hospital
You will want to tour a VBAC-friendly hospital and find a doctor. OU Medical and Mercy are the two VBAC-friendly hospitals in the Oklahoma City metro. There are several doctors to choose from, and your doula can help guide you through the process of choosing the right one for you. My doctor helped me understand the risks and benefits of a VBAC, make informed decisions about my birth plan, and prepare my body for labor and delivery.
Labor is the most intensive workout your body will go through! As long as your doctor has cleared you to do so, exercise. For mothers who exercised through pregnancy, studies show a decreased risk of preterm labor, lowered fetal stress during labor, shorter active labor, reduced risk of c-section, and better pain tolerance. Also, your recovery should go much smoother!
Certain exercises help baby move into the optimal birthing position and engage into the pelvis. Be sure to check out the Miles Circuit exercises for turning baby, and these exercises to engage baby!
4. See a Chiropractor
Choose a chiropractor that is certified in the Webster Technique and has extensive experience working with pregnant women. Chiropractic care plays a key role for women trying to conceive, for pregnancy, and for postpartum care. In pregnancy, chiropractic work assists women to structurally prepare for labor and birth and helps alleviate growing pains. Additionally, chiropractic care shows very promising success at resolving intrauterine constraint that obstructs fetal movement.
5. Try Acupuncture
Acupuncture was suggested to me by my doula, chiropractor, and OB/GYN. During pregnancy, it can help relieve sciatic, painful hips and joints, headaches, fatigue, and nausea. Acupuncture helps prepare the body for labor and delivery, and shows promise in shortening labor, especially the 1st stage of labor. Also, like chiropractic care, acupuncture assists in turning breech babies, especially when combined with moxibustion and electrical stimulation.
My acupuncture appointments were often one of the most relaxing parts of my week. During my treatment, the lights were dimmed and I listened to guided labor meditations. These moments became powerful cornerstones in learning how to relax my body, relieve pain, and believe in myself. I often “brought myself back” to this place during the most painful contractions.
6. Have a Birth Plan
My viewpoint on birth plans changed dramatically after the birth of my daughter. Although you cannot and will not be able to plan or predict what will happen during your labor, you can set parameters for quick decisions. Questions regarding important decisions during labor can be distracting. Instead of leaving your nurses and doctors in limbo about your preferences, voice them in a birth plan.
My son’s birth plan included everything from reminding the doctors of my own and my child’s health concerns, to stress-relief and comfort preferences, as well as postpartum care.
Each of our bodies are different. Can you be successful only using one method from above? ABSOLUTELY! And, you can try everything and still have a repeat c-section.
Do you have any tips for VBACing?
*Baby and Family Photography by Haley Kinzie
*Birth Photography by Candace Williams
This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider before beginning a new medical routine.