I’ve shared SO much about my first birth story and my experience giving birth on my Instagram. If you’ve followed my journey and the emotions I’ve felt and sadness/fear I’ve experienced after learning I was pregnant, you know this is a huge topic of discussion right now. I’ve tireless researched how to prepare for a successful VBAC. Now it’s my turn to share what I’ve learned with you.
How to Prepare for a Successful VBAC
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or midwife. This post or information does not serve as medical advice. As always, seek guidance from a professional care provider before making the decision to have a TOLAC or VBAC. This is just how I’ve prepared, and my experience thus far.
WHY I WANT A VBAC:
I’m not going to share my first birth story, but I am going to say that I felt like I did not research labor and delivery nearly enough when I was pregnant with Gracie. I was very adamant on breastfeeding, so I did tons of research about that, and even read newborn books like Happiest Baby on the Block. But I had NO idea what I was doing when it came to navigating birth, interventions, OB appointments, or birth in hospitals. It makes my head spin to think about how much I wish I could change my focus of research during pregnancy.
I’m going to be honest though. I read the Pregnancy: Week by Week, and What to Expect When You’re Expecting, thinking I had my bases covered. I was so completely wrong. It wasn’t until after my nightmare of a labor and delivery experience that I realized how unprepared I was. Those books were great for explaining how my baby was developing, and what my body was going through, but they didn’t prepare me for giving birth.
I want to try for a VBAC because I wasn’t given a fair chance the first time around. Giving birth was something that happened to me versus something I did.
The common pitfall of “failure to progress” that consisted of having my water broken, then being administered pitocin, which led to horribly strong contractions, then eventually an epidural, which slowed things down, and made it so I couldn’t feel ANYTHING…. is why I had a cesarean (which led to other birth complications) is something I refuse to go through again. I’m speaking up for myself, my baby, and my family this time. I’m determined to have my redemptive birth experience.
THINGS TO DO WHEN PREPARING FOR A VBAC:
I am going to start with this statement. Preparing for a VBAC is a lot of work. I don’t know it it feels like more work because this time around I’m actually researching birth (and how to have a natural birth), but I have read countless books, listened to so many birth stories, watched videos, and listened to tons of podcasts, and I still feel like I have more information to take in. I’m sharing a list of my favorite books and other helpful resources below, but here are the steps I’ve taken to begin and carry out my research.
First and foremost… allow yourself to be free from your past birthing experiences. When I first started studying, I came across this quote:
“If your previous birth experience was not a good one, you need to resolve feelings from the past so you can free yourself to be in the moment, fully present at your new birth.” – Natural Hospital Birth
I can’ tell you how healing this was for me to read. I really needed to read it, and I needed to read it in the beginning of this journey so I could fully prepare and understand what I needed to do to prepare for this next birth.
Find a supportive care provider.
I talked with moms in my area who had had successful VBAC’s and asked them to share their experience, then share who their care provider was. I ended up going with a midwife. There are OB’s that are very supportive of VBAC moms, but midwives (at least the ones in my practice) typically help mom have a great VBAC success rate because they traditionally aren’t as hung up on unnecessary interventions.
Find a supportive birth place.
The first and second tasks go hand in hand. Wherever you decide to see your doctor or midwife, make sure that the place they deliver…hospital, birth center, etc. allow and support VBAC’s. I’ve found out the hard way that some hospitals have better natural birth and VBAC success rates than others.
Read lots of books.
I mean, lots. I’ve probably read around ten books in the last three to four months. I have a comprehensive list of books below. The first few were my favorite, so start with those if you can’t read them all 😉
Hire a doula.
This is one of the first things I did after finding my care provider. I used doulamatch.com to find a doula in my area, but also talked with other moms to see who they used, and ended up going with someone who has been a doula for several of my friends.
Listen to birth podcasts.
Listening to podcasts has become a type of therapy for me. I love hearing redemptive VBAC birth stories. I have two podcasts recommendations listed below.
Talk with other VBAC moms.
I loved asking other moms about their VBAC birth stories. They’re actually quite common, so you’d be surprised to find that there are several successful VBAC moms in your life. If not, follow the next recommendation.
Join VBAC support groups on Facebook.
Join the VBAC support groups on Facebook! I love this one and find that reading others’ questions and successful VBAC stories is very helpful and encouraging. Plus, if you have questions you can ask them there!
Take prenatal yoga classes.
Prenatal yoga has been SO good for my mind and body. I love doing yoga physically because we practice positions for birthing, how to handle/breathe through a “tightening” muscle for 90 seconds, and different positions to keep baby head down. Plus, the mental state I am in after my prenatal yoga class is just blissful. We practice meditation at the end of each class, and all I do is lay there and focus on how I want to keep my mind focused, and eye on the prize.
Take childbirth education courses.
As I’ve mentioned on Instagram quite a bit, I’m taking a five week Hypnobirthing childbirth course. It’s a great tool to have in my labor toolbox. So far we’ve learned about breathing through “surges” (another name for contractions) and how to use terminology that is positive and uplifting when it comes to birth. I’ve LOVED working with Tara from Organic Hypnobirthing. She is seriously so knowledgable, and I feel so good about my potential birth experience using this method.
Join your local ICAN chapter.
ICAN is the International Cesarean Awareness Network, and it’s a safe place for moms to get information about VBAC’s, and find local ICAN chapters, meetings, and support. I was able to check out almost all of the books I read about natural birth and VBACs from my local ICAN library so that I didn’t have to purchase them.
BOOKS TO READ:
The books in bold are ones I read in the past five weeks, and really loved. Both for VBAC reasons, and for empowering myself to have a natural VBAC birth.
Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth
The VBAC Companion: The Expectant Mother’s Guide to Vaginal Birth After Cesarean
Hypnobirthing: The Mongan Method
*These books I put an asterisk by are supposed to be “therapeutic” reads for VBAC moms. I personally didn’t read them. I had been through enough, and didn’t really want tot relive anyone else’s story
PODCASTS TO LISTEN TO:
The Birth Hour (I have LOVED hearing all of the inspiring VBAC birth stories. It really is so empowering to hear tales of moms who got their redemptive birth experience.
Hypnobirthing Hub (Hypno isn’t for everyone, but this really helped me get an understanding of what hypnobirthing is and why I wanted to try it for my VBAC.
BIRTH MOVIES TO WATCH:
More Business of Being Born (4 VBAC Stories)
I found both films to be very helpful and eye opening, especially since what happened to me during birth as far as interventions was pretty textbook. It’s frustrating, but I’m comforted to know that I am not the only one affected by these common pitfalls.
I’m pretty much crying at this point. I have truly made it a point to be as diligent as possible. I am prepared for both scenarios, another cesarean and the birth of my dreams. I know that in the end a healthy baby and mom is the goal, believe me, I do know that. But that doesn’t mean that since it’s possible for me to try, that I won’t. I hope that makes sense.
I hope this post about how to prepare for a successful VBAC was helpful to you! Let me know if you have any questions. I’m happy to answer them <3
Hi! Thank you so much for sharing these great tips. I’m hoping for a VBAC this time around and am trying to be prepared as possible. My first was a big baby (10lbs!! And I am a small woman…), so I ended up getting to 7cm and then “failed to progress” because of his size and posterior position (and the epidural, Pitocin, and not being able to move from the same position in bed). I am determined to have an unmedicated birth this time, but of course the baby’s size will play a big role. In your opinion, do you think I should avoid induction at all costs (if my OB suspects another big baby), or would it possible to be induced and then not get an epidural? Just curious what your thoughts are! I went into labor on my own with my first at 40 weeks 5 days.