Yesterday I described 5 ways to help make your VBAC birth dreams come true. There are many other things I could have added. Sometimes I help a mom process her Cesarean birth experience by talking about it and looking at the birth record from her doctor. I can often assist her making sense of the doctor’s jargon.
Sometimes we discuss her cesarean birth and her lingering feelings about it. Sometimes I encourage her to use crayons (or pastels) and make a picture of her birth — or of her ideal birth. In other words, there are many ways to support a mom. I tailor my support to her needs.
What is wonderful, though is that sometimes, after all the discussions and preparations and attempts to make this new birth experience better, the second baby is just born vaginally without a lot of worry. It just happens! That is lovely to behold. Everyone is excited and in awe of what the mom just accomplished. That is when she begins her journey to realize that — she could do it! Her body was capable of it all along.
Here are 5 things you can do to increase your chances of a vaginal birth after you’ve had a cesarean birth:
- Choose your caregiver by their VBAC success record. It isn’t enough for them to say that they will support your VBAC. Find out how much success they have had and what aspects of your pregnancy and previous birth make that make a VBAC favorable for you.
- Find a doula to support your labor. Sometimes a doula will come to your house in earlier labor to support you so that you won’t get to the hospital too early. Getting there in a well-established labor greatly increases your chances. That is just one way a doula can help. Support is beautiful!
- Invest in your VBAC. Write a birth vision, we show you how to do it in my book: Doulas’ Guide to Birthing Your Way. Go see a chiropractor who works on pregnant women. See a nutritionist. Do pregnancy yoga. Choose whichever of these works for you.
- Find out your birth options and do everything you can to support your VBAC. Then, if you have a cesarean birth again, you’ll know you tried everything. Knowing that you needed to have a cesarean birth is one of the keys to recovering from it.
- Visualize your gentle vaginal birth. Seeing is believing. Visualization is practice for your actual birth.
As a doula I always work to help my moms avoid having an unnecessary cesarean birth. That still leaves necessary cesarean births though. If you have had a cesarean birth, at some point you need to incorporate this into your life. It doesn’t happen all at once. Here are some pointers to help you:
1. Call it a cesarean birth. You gave birth with obstetrical assistance. Believe me, they couldn’t have done it without you!
2. Try to evaluate the medical necessity of your birth. Give it a scale of 1-10. Ask your caregiver for assistance. Then look at was it a medical necessity for your baby, for you or a combination of the two (such as CPD cephalo-pelvic distocia = baby didn’t fit).
3. Evaluate the cultural necessity of your birth. Most women give birth where they live. Most do not fly off somewhere to a more congenial place to give birth. Therefore, the birth culture of where you are living will make a difference. Ina May Gaskin has claimed a cesarean rate of 2% in her community on the farm. Pittsburgh’s is closer to 30%, but most Pittsburgh mothers can’t go to Ina May’s farm to give birth. After you evaluate the cultural necessity, give it a scale of 1-10.
4. Define the moment you realized you needed to have a cesarean. Call it your cesarean moment. Then learn to accept it. Use can use artwork. Nursing your baby also helps.
5. Try thinking of your cesarean birth as part of your gift of mothering. We all give things to our children we never expect them to repay. Cesarean birth is one gift.
6. Define what issues made it a C-birth and then explore your VBAC possibilities. The Bishop Score can help as well as this VBAC score.
7. Write your birth story with you as the heroine. Give yourself credit!