Category: vbac

What is Natural Childbirth Really Like? A Mom’s Perspective

The two most common reactions I get when I share that I had an all natural birth with my daughter are, “Why would you choose NOT to have pain medicine?” and “That’s cool, but I could never do that.” As her birthday draws near, I’m reflecting on the choices I made surrounding her birth and the beautiful experience it was. I’ve only birthed two children, but because of the choices I made each time I’ve experienced both a very clinical, controlled, medicated birth and an all natural, no medication, no intervention birth. Spoiler alert: the all natural birth was by far my favorite for many reasons. Because of these experiences, today I’m sharing what all natural birth was like for me and why I preferred it to the medicated version. No two births are alike, and you have the right to choose what is best for your body and your baby. I’m just a mom sharing my experiences.

What is Natural Childbirth Really Like A Mom's Perspective


Trying for a VBAC: Eleanor Pearl’s Birth Story

Eleanor came into this world just three months ago, but it seems as though she has been a part of our family forever.  Her story begins with my journey towards a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) even before she was a twinkle in my eye.  After the Bear’s traumatic birth, I knew I wanted something different, something better, for my next child and for myself.  I started researching like crazy and reading everything I could about birth.  I joined my local ICAN chapter (International Cesarean Awareness Network) and read blogs like Birth Without Fear on a regular basis.  You can read more about from my Trying for a VBAC series here to get the whole background story.  I found a supportive OB, hired a doula, and wrote my birth plan.  I visited a chiropractor, read many books, and practiced my coping techniques.  I prepared myself to go past my due date because induction brings unnecessary risk and my previous birth was “late.”  I was as ready as I could be.  I posted my 39 week update and was sure I’d have to share a 40 week blog post soon.  Eleanor had other plans.
Sunday morning came, four days before her “guess date”, and we attended the baptism and celebration of our sweet little friend Grace.  We had a fun day and that evening I felt a little off, but chalked it up to a big day.  I was already dilated to between 3-4 centimeters and completely effaced, and had real and Braxton Hicks contractions daily for weeks.  At 2 am I woke up with real and steady contractions.  Because I am the best wife ever, I dealt with them on my own for four hours without waking Jed up.  I bounced on my birth ball, used my Spinning Babies positions to relieve the wicked back labor, got in and out of the tub and shower, and reheated my rice sock heating pad over and over.  I texted and talked a few times with my doula, Erica.  She was such a trooper, having arrived home from a 24 hour birth just a few hours before.  She talked me through positions over the phone and helped me decide when it was time to wake up Jed and call our babysitter.  I had been throwing up consistently, but that is how I’ve always dealt with pain so it wasn’t that abnormal.  At 6 am I woke Jed up and told him he wouldn’t be going to work that day because we were having a baby.  I also wished him a happy birthday and was excited and overwhelmed that our daughter would most likely share her daddy’s birthday.  We decided it was best to head to the hospital to beat rush hour traffic, because we live in a northern suburb and Baylor Hospital is downtown.  Our awesome friend Raychel came over to take care of Bear when he woke up, and we took off for the hospital.

{Unfortunately we only have phone photos from her birth because of a computer crash.}

The ride to the hospital was rough, but faster than we’d hoped with early morning traffic.  We arrived at the hospital around 7 am.  I was checked and still not 4 cm, but was still 100% effaced and at a 0 station.  Erica (my doula) arrived at 7:30 am and got straight to work positioning me to relieve the back labor.  The pretzel position really helped, with one leg crossed over my body and up as high as I could get it.  Dr. Lawson asked that I be monitored for an hour, and if I had not progressed be allowed to leave and walk around.  I prayed hard for progress and doubts began to creep in reminding me of my previous birth trauma.  I labored in my own clothes which was a powerful way to feel less like a sick patient and more like an individual working towards a healthy birth. I used our DIY heating pad scented with lavender essential oil to help relieve pain and help me relax. Ocean wave sounds played on my phone to help my mind focus.

The nurse checked me at 9:05 am and I had reached 5 cm.  Yay for progress!  They moved me from the labor and delivery triage over to the real labor and delivery wing.  We were able to settle in for a few minutes before my pressure waves really cranked up a notch.  At a little past 11, my doula called my chiropractor and asked her to come in and adjust me to help with the back labor.  Dr. Denisa Weber arrived at 11:40 and adjusted me which really seemed to help.  I was officially in labor land and things got really fuzzy after that.  Later I realized it was because I had moved into transition, and was floating through it.  There was pain and hard work, but I wouldn’t change a thing.  Baylor requires VBAC mamas to be continuously monitored, but most doctors and nurses will allow you a 15 minute break every hour to “go to the bathroom”.  For me this was time to get up and move around, try to empty my bladder, and try new positions.  My amazing nurse gave me lots of grace with the time limits, and even held the monitors in crazy positions while I moved through contractions.

I labored hanging over the bed, on the toilet, hanging on Jed, pushing on the bed, and on the birth ball.  Kneeling backwards over the bed was my favorite.  After several adjustments by Dr. Denisa, I felt the baby move down more and felt intense pressure and the sensation of pushing around noon.  I continued to labor her down and was checked by a nurse at 12:36 pm who thought I was between 8-9 cm and possibly even complete.  Transition happened while being adjusted and I really believe that the chiropractic help made it much easier to deal with.  A resident came in and checked me, confirming that I had reached 10 cm at 12:45 pm.  At 1 pm my nurse, Julie, confirmed that Eleanor had reached a +1 station.  This was HUGE for me because the Bear never got past 0 station.  I wept with pure joy and a sense of victory, but the battle was far from over.
Dr. Lawson arrived at 1:10 pm, even though it was her day off.  I cry just thinking about how crucial she (and the rest of my birth team) were to the birthing process.  She decided to break my bag of waters after a bit of observation, hoping that it would help bring the baby down.  After that I worked harder than I’ve ever worked in my life to get my daughter to move down into the birth canal.  She was stuck behind my pubic bone, just like my son before his cesarean birth.  After and hour and half of hard work, at 2:39 pm we added a squat bar and changed positions multiple times to try and get her to move down.  Pushing was the hardest work of my life, but the most rewarding by far.  I struggled with self doubt and began to feel that maybe my body was broken, was a lemon, and I couldn’t do this.  Dr. Lawson saw the look in my eyes and told me that I could do it, was in fact doing it, and to keep going.  Her words pushed me past the pain and helped me to keep going.  Erica continued to encourage me and provide counter pressure to my hips and back as she had done throughout the day.  She was incredible.

Someone brought the mirror over so I could watch the progress, and it was incredibly motivating.  Such a change from my first birth where I wanted no part of the mirror.  Jed watched and held my hand as out beautiful daughter came into the world at 3:56 pm after almost 14 hours of all natural labor.  She had the cord wrapped around her neck and was a little blue.  After greeting her for a few minutes the nurse had to suction her for a while to get her to breathe well.  Dr. Lawson stitched my 2nd degree tear, which I hardly noticed.  I couldn’t believe my girl was here and my body was able to do what it was designed to do.   Ina May Gaskin’s words rang so true in my mind, “Your body is not a lemon!”

Eleanor Pearl weighed in at 7 lbs 15 oz, and was 20 in long with a beautiful head full of hair.  We were able to nurse as soon as her little lungs cleared out, and she stayed with us the entire time we were in the hospital.  We waited to bathe her until the next day and Jed and I both helped with her first bath.  We got so much support from the Baylor Hospital staff with the birth process, breastfeeding, and rooming in.  I didn’t have to fight for any part of my birth plan and the whole experience was incredibly healing.  I am so thankful to have had a healthy, normal, natural birth.  Every piece of the postpartum process was easier because of the VBAC.  Healing, recovery, breastfeeding, adjusting to life with a newborn, all of it went so much smoother.  My daughter is such a joy and a healthy, happy little girl.
If you have had a cesarean section, I would strongly encourage you to do your research, find your local ICAN chapter, and consider trying for a VBAC.  It is worth it.  Your body is not a lemon.

My Birth Team:
If you are in the Dallas area and looking for a VBAC supportive OB, I highly recommend Dr. Lawson at Madewell OB/GYN.  You can find her here.
If you are in DFW and in search of a doula who will support you through labor, Erica Sosa is your woman.  She has personally experienced c-section and VBAC and supported many clients through their births.  You can find her here.
My Webster certified chiropractor is Dr. Denisa Weber.  She is also an experienced doula and played a critical role in Eleanor’s birth story.  I would definitely recommend her services.  You can find her here.

Trying for a VBAC Guest Post: Carson’s Birth Story

While I’m on a little bloggy maternity leave, I’ll be featuring a few guest bloggers.  As part of my Trying for a VBAC series, some of my guest posters will be sharing their own birth stories with y’all.  Today’s guest blogger is Holly from My Everyday Adventure.  Thanks for sharing your beautiful VBAC birth story with us! 

My name is Holly Faske.  I am 25 years old and have been married to my husband, James for 4 years.  Our first son is named Aiven and he is 19 months old.  He was breech, so we decided to have a c-section instead of try for a vaginal breech birth. Our second son was born January 18th, 2013 and we had a natural home birth.  
We live in Denton, TX and attend Denton Bible Church.  We have a wonderful husky-lab mix dog named Hudson (who is in some of our home birth pictures) and a beautiful cat named Cider.  
I am a stay-at-home mom and enjoy it very much!! 
The night of Thursday, January 17th I went to sleep at 10 pm and woke up at 12:30 am to go to the bathroom. I came back to bed and as soon as I laid down I felt pain and pressure really low for just a few seconds and then a big release of water! I just kind of laid there in shock! Right then James was coming to bed (because he was on call for work) and I said, “Babe, my water just broke.” His reaction was, “What?! Are you sure?!” I got up to go back to the bathroom and I texted my midwife, Donnellyn. She wrote back immediately asking how much came out and if it were clear. Contractions hadn’t started yet, so she said to lay back down and try to sleep till the contractions started. But I didn’t get a chance to do that. We called our parents to let them know we’d have a baby in the next 24 hours! Then I had James wash our sheets 🙂 By 1:15/1:30 am I started having small contractions only lasting a few seconds. We had all of our supplies for our home birth that we needed, but we were still caught off guard with going into labor at 38 weeks! So James started making the bed and picking up! By 1:40 am the contractions were coming closer together, getting a bit stronger, and lasting 30-45 seconds. By 2 am we were ready for Donnellyn to come and she was on her way! James started getting the birthing pool ready. In between contractions I was brushing my teeth and putting out all the birth supplies on our dining table. Aiven was sleeping peacefully in his room and we were going to have my Dad and Peggy come get him only if he woke up. Donnellyn got there at about 2:30 am and 2 of her students got there about 15 minutes later. I was so glad when she got there. Every time I had a contraction she would stop what she was doing and rub my back and talk me through it. I would just lean over a table or chair with my hands on the surface and sway back and forth – breathing and relaxing my body. If there was anything that looked tensed up, Donnellyn would point it out and tell me to relax it. It was so very helpful to relax through each contraction, allowing my body to do what it is supposed to. Once James was done filling up the birthing pool he was able to be there rubbing my back through each contraction.    
 At about 3am, Donnellyn took my vitals, listened to the baby’s heart beat and checked me – I was at 9 cm! She said I’d be having this baby soon and that was so exciting to hear! After that I got in the birthing pool which felt SO amazing!!  
 After I got in the pool I’m not 100% sure on all the timing but I don’t think I had very many contractions after that till I started feeling the need to push. Once I started wanting to push is when things got painful. I kept pushing through the contractions, thinking it was soon over only to have Donnellyn say that I need to bare down and get him down through my pelvis.  
 In between contractions I felt very relaxed and extremely tired – just wanting to sleep really. James was right there with me, holding me, kissing my forehead and telling me how much he loved me, how amazing I was doing and how we would soon be holding our baby boy…I couldn’t ask for anything more. Oh, and he also let me squeeze the crap out his arms 🙂 Best.Husband.Ever. Then I guess not too long after that he was crowning and I was pushing him out! It felt like I didn’t do that for too long and then he was being placed in my arms! During the stage of pushing him out that’s really all I was focused on. Yeah, it was painful, but my mind knew that he was almost here and all I needed to do was focus and push! Donnellyn was such a great coach, telling me how to breath, to vocalize in a low tone and not to waste a contraction by crying! I said “I can’t do this” only once and I think it was mostly to hear from them that I could do it and that I was doing it!  
 Once he was out and in my arms I felt so wonderful. I had done it and I was holding our sweet baby boy! He was born at 4:47am on Friday, January 18th – just about 3 ½ hours after contractions started! We stayed in the water for maybe 10 minutes, just soaking up our sweet baby boy! Hudson was pretty interested in what the heck just happened as well 🙂  
 From there me and baby got up and wrapped ourselves in towels and went to our bedroom to lie down. Aiven slept through ALL of this (which is crazy because I was pretty darn vocal!) and didn’t wake up till he heard his baby brother cry for the first time 🙂 Baby boy latched on immediately after we got in bed. James went to get Aiven up to meet his baby brother. He looked so sleepy and confused but when he saw the baby, he kept saying “baby, baby” – it was so sweet.
Then baby and I both got in a herbal bath that they prepared in our bathtub. It was so nice and relaxing.
After that we went back to our bed and Donnellyn did the newborn exam right on our bed while James, Aiven and I lay there together watching – and Aiven eating cheese, haha. J He weighed 8.2 lbs. and was 21 ½ inches long. I was so shocked by how big he was since I was 2 weeks early – but good thing I was or I would’ve had like a 9-10 lb. baby!!
After the exam, at about 6:30am, my dad and Peggy arrived with breakfast! Once Donnellyn was done doing the newborn exam, taking my vitals, and the students were done cleaning up and emptying the birthing pool – we all piled in our room and Donnellyn prayed for our sweet baby boy. It was such a sweet moment and I felt so thankful and blessed.
Then they left by 7am! We all ate breakfast and then my dad and Peggy took Aiven with them so James and I could get some sleep 🙂 It took us until Sunday, but we finally named our baby boy – Carson Ray Faske. My dad had suggested the name a few weeks back and Ray is my Dads middle name. The birth of our son was so sweet and was everything we wanted. It went so smoothly and quickly, I couldn’t have asked for a better birth! Yes, it was painful, but so worth it knowing that, to me, I was doing the best I could for my baby and for myself. I loved being at home, because I felt so comfortable. I loved not having to pack up and get in a car during contractions! I loved holding my baby till his newborn exam and even then not being separated from him. I loved crawling into my own bed immediately after giving birth. I loved not feeling drugged during and afterwards, but being completely present in the birth of my son. I am so thankful that the Lord allowed me to have a vaginal home birth after having a c-section with Aiven. If we ever have another child, we will definitely plan to go this route again, Lord willing!
Carson Ray Faske
Friday, January 18th, 2013
4:47 AM
8.2 lbs.
21 1/2 inches
Thanks again to Holly for sharing her incredible birth story with us.  Read more from my Trying for a VBAC series here.  

Trying for a VBAC Guest Post: Josiah’s Birth Story

While I’m on a little bloggy maternity leave, I’ll be featuring a few guest bloggers. As part of my Trying for a VBAC series, some of my guest posters will be sharing their own birth stories with y’all.  Today’s guest blogger is Andrea.  Thanks so much for sharing your beautiful birth story with us, Andrea!

Andrea has been married to Tim for almost nine years, and together they are homeschooling parents to Lydia (6), Benjamin (3) and newbie Josiah. They also remember their son Jonathan in their hearts. Andrea has been interested in all things related to pregnancy, birth and motherhood since high school, and sometimes calls her first child “well-researched.”

Here is my birth story, about 99% complete. Most of this story is from what I directly remember, but there are parts that I was told about afterwards, from my midwife and doula and a friend that was there, filling in the blanks when I was too out of it to fully realize what was going on. I don’t yet have my midwife’s written notes, but it’ll be a little while before I get those, and she and I have talked about the birth, so I’ve included those bits in here and am going to call it good for now. 

I also mention my Christian faith a few times, so if that will offend you, just be aware that it is there and an important part of my life. 

And the final disclaimer, this is my narrative story and should in no way be taken as medical advice. 

The birth story of my fourth child starts with the birth of my third. Jonathan, my third baby, was an emergency c-section at 25 weeks because of complete placental abruption (which followed my premature rupture of membranes at 23 weeks). He was with us for 27 days before we lost him due to complications from an infection. 

Even if Jonathan had lived, Tim (hubby) and I would not have felt that our family was complete at only three children, but now I was a complicated case. I was sneaking up on “advanced maternal age,” I was a hopeful VBAC, I had a history of a preterm birth (even though my first two births were nearly textbook). Tim and I consulted with several people to see when we could try to get pregnant again and still have a reasonably good chance at a VBAC. The delivering OB and another one both said we could try in three months (putting 12 months between the surgery and the next birth). Other opinions wanted us to wait 6 or 9 months. We decided to start trying at 4 months, never dreaming that we would get pregnant on the first try. 

I have to admit that I was more than a little nervous at first. I’d read birth stories and talked to people who had a short time span between their c-section and their VBAC. I’d also talked to people who had a full-term VBAC after having a premature c-section. But all my searching came up mostly empty when I tried to find people who had both of these factors in the same pregnancy. I didn’t know what would happen. 

I saw an OB for my whole pregnancy, taking P17 shots this time, and I saw an OB all the way up until the week before I delivered. I also saw my midwife for prenatal visits that last month (but had kept in contact with her throughout the pregnancy as well), unsure until the very end whether I wanted to go to the hospital or try for another homebirth. (My second child was a homebirth, and my third child was supposed to be a homebirth as well before my water broke so early and I had to transfer out of my midwife’s care.) 

I was officially due on 12/27, and in the couple of weeks leading up to that, I’d been having fairly decent Braxton Hicks off and on for several weeks, very similar to the way it happened with Benjamin (my second baby, 3 years old at the time of this birth). My due date came and went. I was a VBAC this time, so I didn’t want to be induced. I just had to wait it out. I had an appointment scheduled for 1/2 for a NST and ultrasound since I would be turning 41 weeks the next day. Then if I made it to 42 weeks, the OB was recommending induction at that time (which I was agreeable to, but still praying that I wouldn’t make it nearly that far). 

With both of my other full-term labors, I had light bleeding throughout the whole active labor, so I kept waiting for that to show up to indicate that I was finally in real labor, but it never did. I also was waiting for a loose stool, which could indicate my body cleaning itself out in preparation for labor, but that never happened either. (I did, however, have two separate solid BMs during labor, once it finally started.) 

On 12/28 and 12/29, I was losing teeny tiny pieces of my mucous plug, but nothing to make me say, “This is it!” I just kept monitoring it throughout the weekend, and it would come and go as the days passed. I had an appointment with my midwife on 12/28 and my blood pressure had spiked a little bit, and she said that it might be an indicator of labor starting soon. She estimated his size to be at about eight and a half pounds. She also made the comment that she likes doing baby-size estimates on women with my body type because it’s easy for her to be fairly accurate. The afternoon of that appointment, I made some eggplant Parmesan using a recipe that is “famous” for putting women into labor within 48 hours. A friend of mine had made it with one of her babies and had gone into labor that same night. I made the recipe, but it was deliciously ineffective for that first night and the second night. 

On 12/30, I woke up having lost a lot more of my plug the night before. I was having contractions that could still be called BH, but they were coming close enough together for me to think that they could easily turn into something more later. I texted our doula to see what time she was going to be in church, and to give her a heads up about the plug and that something might be happening later on. Tim and the kids and I went to church as well, and were there from about 9:00 to 11:30, where I continued having contractions. 

After church was done, I got Tim’s attention and told him that he needed to get the kids in the car (i.e. don’t dawdle and visit with people) and that today was probably going to be the day. He grinned at me. 😀 One of our friends who was going to come to the birth to help with chores or whatever else we needed came up to me before I could get outside and asked if I was in labor, and said that when she saw me when we first got there that morning, that it looked like I was. I told her that I don’t know but that she should come over after lunch. On the way home, I called our doula and our photographer and midwife and made plans to have them all come over at their various times that they could make it (from being out of town or whatever). 

My midwife got to the house first and we talked about what was possibly going on, and I went ahead and had her check me, and I was at a 3, 50% effaced, and very squishy. My bag of waters was intact but she could feel the baby’s head through it. He was floating, though. Since I was still in very early labor, my midwife stepped out to grab lunch with her hubby and then run another errand. 

Throughout the afternoon, the rest of my “birth team” arrived, and we were lighthearted and chatty since my labor was also lighthearted. 😛 The birth supplies were assembled, but I couldn’t find the little hats that I had crocheted, so I spent a little time in early labor making one more hat, just to be sure we’d have one. I also had some music on with a portable stereo, and Benjamin was laying down on the floor, directly facing the speakers, singing the familiar church songs on the CDs that I had picked out. It was so heartwarming to watch him do that. Lydia (my first baby, 6 years old at the time of this birth) played games on various electronic devices (like our photographer’s iPad and my Kindle). We eventually let Benjamin take a long nap, but Lydia stayed up the whole day and all the way through to the birth. At some point, we blew up the birth pool (but didn’t put any water in it yet) and the kids were enthralled with their new “toy” and kept playing over the edges of it. At one point, they managed to flip the pool on top of themselves, creating an air-filled cage. 😀

I got checked early in the afternoon when my midwife first got there, and I was at a 3, 50%, and very squishy. Since labor was still so light, she went to eat lunch with her hubby and run another errand. I gradually dilated to a 5, and at that check, my midwife was able to stretch me to a 6, but then I never dilated past that because my bag of waters was keeping the baby’s head from putting direct pressure onto my cervix. (My midwives called it “bag of water dystocia.”) I did a round of nipple stimulation, which helped the contractions get stronger and closer together, but it still wasn’t enough to move the baby onto my cervix and finish dilating. She suggested maybe breaking my water in an hour or so if there’s been no progress (and if baby was not posterior). 

I wanted to go ahead and fill up the pool first, though, so we started to do that. When Tim and I had made preparations for this birth, we got a hose and some fittings to fit it onto the shower head, because our washing machine spout wasn’t easily accessible. We hadn’t run any water through the hose, though, and instead had just seen if it would screw onto the shower head prior to birth day. Once it came time to actually fill the tub, Tim had a little trouble getting the fittings tightened properly, and it kept leaking, so we had a lot of stop-and-starts when trying to fill the pool. He finally got the fittings finished and then turned on the water. About a minute later, he called down the hallway, “Here comes some water!” to make sure that someone was holding the hose at the other end. It was a humorously delayed warning, but someone had been holding the hose anyway, so everything was good. 

I was in the pool for an hour or so, but the contractions slowed down, so I continued the nipple stimulation. They picked up, but again, not enough to do what they needed to do, so I got out and agreed to have my water broken. It felt like a gallon came out of me (but was really only about two cups), and it kept coming out in several spurts as I continued laying there, but as soon as she broke it, I was at an 8.5. She said that since I was so soft, it would probably be only an hour or so after she breaks my water and then the baby would be born. My amniotic fluid was meconium-stained, so it was yet another thing to keep an eye on during this birth. My doula had had a “streak” going where all of her clients had started labor with their water breaking, so I was glad to break her streak and have my water intact for so long. It took her some effort to break my water since my sac was so strong this time, which was such a change from my third pregnancy. 

My contractions picked up in intensity, but not frequency, after my water was broken. I was back in the pool but couldn’t get comfortable. I started vocalizing and screaming through the contractions, and at one point, they suggested that I go to the bathroom to get my full bladder out of the way (everyone had been giving me sips of Recharge and water throughout the day). I did that, and had a few contractions on the toilet and felt pushy. I wanted to get to the bed so they could check me, but I had to time it just right because the contractions were finally coming pretty close together. 

I felt the contractions so low that it felt like they were running down the side of my thighs as well. It was quite the odd sensation. While still in the water, I started needing some counter pressure applied to my low back/hip area, which Tim did for me. He was amazing through my whole labor, just doing what I said I needed instead of what he thought I needed. :p Overall, I’m glad that I gave water a try, but I don’t know if I’ll do it again. It didn’t really feel like it was the “magical pain relief” that people have made it out to be.

I got to the bed and was checked, and I just had a lip that moved back and forth as the baby tried to find his way down. I was complete, but my cervix kept slightly shrinking back with the contractions. My midwife checked the position of his head, and he was asynclitic (with sort of a front “corner” of his head trying to come out first instead of the back of his head). She spent a few contractions trying to push the lip over his head and at the same time get him to rotate. Even with no water, there was room for him to do all that. Both of those techniques were incredibly painful. Throughout my contractions and especially during the pushing phase, my midwife never stopped praying for us, out loud. I greatly appreciated this as it helped keep ME focused on who was in control of the situation as well. Since I was GBS positive this time, they also gave me a chlorhexidine rinse every so often, which was cold! Brrr!

During an incredibly painful contraction, I asked if I could push, and they told me I could. Because of his presentation, I never did get the uncontrollable, “my body’s going to push whether I want it to or not” urge like I’d had with my other vaginal births. My midwife was inside me trying to show me where to push (but I had thought she was holding my lip out of the way), which was also pretty painful. She also was still trying to turn his head in between contractions to a better presentation, but then before the next contraction hit, he would turn right back. I couldn’t feel it, but Tim kept seeing the baby flip back over as he watched my belly. She told one of my friends later that I had a pelvis that could birth a 10-pound baby and that the baby just had too much room in there since he kept flipping back. 

I was getting tired and weak by this point and kept saying and thinking, “I can’t do it, I can’t do it,” over and over. But I was also aware enough to realize that his heart rate had gone down into the 90s and stayed there, so they were getting nervous about a possible cord problem. I gave it my all. They didn’t know what was causing the drop in heart rate, but my midwife knew from my previous birth records that I could push a baby out fast, so she wasn’t as worried as she might have been if I were a first-time mom or having my first vaginal birth. We didn’t have the luxury of taking an hour or more to push with that declining heart rate. Tim was trying to help me push better/faster/harder by yelling, “PUSH!” several times at me, with increasing volume, but that wasn’t helping and before it started to bother me too much, the midwives told him to stop.

At some point, I was on my hands and knees trying to get the baby to a better position, but that wasn’t working, so I ended up on my back. I have NEVER had a pushing phase hurt like this one did. I had various people giving counter pressure on all four limbs to give me traction. I wanted to scream from the pain, but I knew if I did, it would make my pushing less effective, so I tried to be quiet and just let all the energy go into my push. From Tim’s point of view, there was one point where a big portion of the head was visible, but then when I stopped pushing, it slipped back. At one point, they invited me to feel his head, and based on the pain I’d been feeling, I thought I was going to feel a huge portion of it, but it ended up feeling only like a half-dollar-sized amount of head. The video is a little blurry because of the low lighting, but it ended up actually being a significant portion of head that I was feeling and not just a tiny little bit. 

When the head finally came out all the way, he was looking down towards my left leg. Before the shoulders came out, he rotated clockwise, looking directly at my left leg, then up to the ceiling, then finally straight over at my right leg, and THEN the shoulders came out. 

He was neither breathing nor trying to (but did still have a pulse, which my midwife monitored with her fingers on his chest while they worked on him to get him breathing). They kept him right at my feet where he had come out while they worked on him, leaving the cord intact. They suctioned him (getting a lot of watery blood out when they did this) and gave him oxygen. His one-minute APGAR score was only a 6 (but his five-minute one was 9). My friend told me that my midwife was crying at one point. After quite a bit of suctioning and some oxygen, he got a tiny spot of pink on his head which nearly immediately spread to his whole body, replacing the purple that he had been upon first arriving. He started crying and they put him on my chest. His cord (which was two feet long) ended up being wrapped around one of his feet, but that was the only place it was wrapped. And remember that 8.5-pound estimate from a couple days prior? The first thing I noticed when they laid him on me was how dense and heavy he felt. This baby was not an 8.5-pound baby. When we finally got around to weighing him, he was 9 pounds and 6 ounces, my heaviest baby so far. 

Another thing I noticed about him was that he had absolutely NO vernix on him, not even in his little neck folds or anything. He was a very well-cooked baby. 😀 I cut the cord this time, and was surprised that I had the strength to do that since I didn’t even have the strength left to fully lift my head to see where to cut, and had to rely on others to move my hand into the proper position. And 36 or so hours after the birth, I had a sudden realization, “Oh, yeah, I cut the cord this time,” like I’d forgotten that I did it. The assistant midwife and my friend were looking at the placenta later, and that midwife pointed out the few calcification spots in there and said that it wasn’t a “bad” placenta, but it was definitely done and time for the baby to have been born.

One more thing I noticed was a “scratch” on his abdomen that looked like there had been a cat inside me with him that gave him a good clawing. It ended up being just a weird arrangement of dried blood, though, and came off in the bath, revealing smooth and unblemished baby skin. 

Sometime earlier while I was still in the birth pool, I was nauseous, and threw up all the fluids I’d taken in in the previous hour or so. They wanted me to keep taking more fluids, so I kept trying, but the nausea never went away, and I also threw up all those additional fluids along with the few bites of eggs that I’d tried to eat as my first postpartum meal. This loss of fluids combined with the loss of blood made me incredibly weak and lightheaded, and I came very close to passing out many times, and actually did pass out once, later, after my herbal bath. Baby was born at about 2:24 a.m. and it wasn’t until noon that I finally felt able to walk a few steps by myself and got my appetite back. I didn’t even try to carry the baby before then, either, because I felt that bad, and instead just kept him near me in the bed and had Tim change all the diapers. And even after feeling better, I still had another few sporadic incidents of lightheadedness where I had to stop and bend over, and these incidents reminded me even apart from bleeding intensity that I needed to get back into bed or into a semi-reclining position. 

It was a little while before I delivered the placenta. They kept checking to see if it was ready to come out or where it was. I had lost a lot of blood beforehand and they were wanting to make sure I didn’t have a bunch behind the placenta as well. When it was finally ready to come out, I didn’t want to push it out since the baby had been such an effort. But everyone reminded me that the placenta had no bones, lol, and I pushed it out and that was that.

He nursed very well, once we finally got around to it. It ended up being about an hour and a half after the birth before we were able to successfully latch. From the loss of blood and fluid, I was too weak to do it lying down (though I did try with what little strength I had) and too weak to sit up without help. I was also too out of it mentally to ask for help sitting up and to realize how much time was actually passing. 

When we finally did sit up, my midwife asked us if we were going to circumcise him, and we said no. She said “Yay,” but I didn’t quite understand what she said, and she had a weird look on her face and said it in a weird tone of voice. I thought that she was upset at our decision until I asked her to repeat herself. Tim and I had had that discussion while pregnant with Benjamin and had left him intact as well. 

I did not tear at all, but I had some bruising. It felt like I had been trying to climb out of an above-ground pool but that I was repeatedly dropped on the edge of the pool, with one leg in and one leg out. In addition, I was swollen so much that I couldn’t pee within the time that my midwives wanted me to (even with the assistance of some peppermint oil), so they did end up cath-ing me. After that, the assistant went home but my primary stayed and dozed on the couch and wanted me to try to pee again after an hour and a half or so. I was keeping fluids down again by then so I thought I might be able to go when it was time, and I did, and didn’t have any further issues in that regard.

They offered an herbal bath for me and the baby afterwards (and they also thought I might try to pee in the bath as well, but that didn’t work either), which I took, but I got increasingly lightheaded during that, and hindsight said that they probably should have skipped it. I had to have a ton of assistance walking just to the door of the bathroom, then they had me sit in our wheeled office chair to wheel me to the bed, and I think I might have passed out for half a second. I remember sitting down in the chair, then the next thing I know, they were calling my name and I realized I was leaning on the door jamb with my eyes closed. I woke up from whatever state I was in, and then they wheeled me across the hallway and to the side of the bed. 

Baby is a champion nurser. He latches beautifully and just knows exactly what to do, as if he’s been waiting his whole life for it. 🙂 He had a bit of a “click” that first day or so, and after some investigating, I found out that he was turning in his bottom lip instead of turning it out, so I’m working to help him develop a better habit there. Other than that, he is a great nurser, easily handling my gigantic letdown. At three days postpartum, he was two ounces under his birth weight, but at five days old, he was two ounces over his birth weight. 

Tim changed all the diapers that first day, including the first meconium diaper, which had a HUGE pile in it for him. Tim made the comment of “nothing wrong with that system,” lol. 

He smiled in his sleep within the first few hours, and then on Tuesday (I’m still wondering what happened to most of the rest of Monday), I saw him smile while he was awake and in a quiet alert phase. 🙂 

One odd thing I noticed early postpartum with myself is that my uterus seemed almost cylindrical when it was freshly empty, instead of shrinking in a rounder fashion. My midwife mentioned this to me at my postpartum visit and said that she and the assistant midwife had noticed the odd shape even from when they broke my water. I don’t remember the shape of my postpartum uterus with my pre-c-section births being anything remarkable like that. 

The kids just love him to bits. Benjamin was sleeping when Josiah was born, and when he woke up this morning, I was in the bed and I asked him where my baby is. He indicated my now-shrunken tummy and said, “In your tummy.” I told him that he came out, and Tim helped him climb onto the bed so he could see the baby. Benjamin promptly squished him in a hug and said that “he’s sleeping” and gently touched his tiny hands. 🙂 Lydia was still awake for the birth, and when he came out, she said that he was “so cute.” 😀 A good friend of ours took our kids for the first 36-ish hours after birth, so that was nice, since one of the things that first made me consider a hospital birth this time was the postpartum stay without having my big kids around. 🙂 

We sort of have a “theme” going on with our names and our kids’ names – three-syllable names from the Bible. (My name is Andrea, which is the feminine form of Andrew, so I’m counting my name as a Bible name as well.) Then Tim is legally Timothy, and there’s Lydia, Benjamin and Jonathan. What WERE we going to name this baby, to keep with our theme? We chose the name Josiah Nathan, which means, “God has healed, God has given.” We couldn’t think of a more appropriate name and are just so happy that he is finally here.

What an incredibly beautiful birth story God wrote for Andrea and her family.  Thanks so much for sharing Josiah’s story with us, Andrea.  You can find more from my Trying for a VBAC series here.   

Trying for a VBAC: Choosing Your Hospital or Birth Center

Our second baby is due at the end of April, and we are hoping and trying for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean section).  This is one of a series of posts about Trying for a VBAC.  There are many reasons why we are heading this direction and I hope to share them with y’all over the next few months.  You can read the Bear’s full birth story here to see what our first child’s birth entailed.  If you read that story you will get a little glimpse into why we are now on this journey to VBAC and a normal birth.  This process has been all consuming for me and this blog is my space to express the way I feel about the whole situation.  Many folks have strong opinions about VBAC vs. repeat cesarean, and I hope that whatever your opinion might be you will respect mine.  VBAC is not the right decision for every c-mama, and it doesn’t always work out no matter how you prepare.  Our hope and prayer is that we can have the best birth possible for our little girl.  
Because we are trying for a VBAC and lots of people have lots of questions about what that entails, we’ll be live tweeting as much as we can during the birth.  You can follow along on Twitter or on the Bare Feet on the Dashboard Facebook page for those updates when labor begins.  You can read my other pregnancy 2.0 updates here, and read all my pregnancy posts here.


One thing I have learned on this journey is that all hospitals are not created equal.  Did you know you can find the c-section and VBAC rates for most hospitals online?  It’s true.  I so wish that I had known before what I know now.  I would have chosen a different hospital and OB for my first birth for sure.  I really like my first OB as a person, but do not like that she did #3,4,7, and 8 of the “Top Ten Signs Your Doctor Is Planning to Perform an Unnecessary C-Section On You.”  The hospital where I gave birth to the Bear also has one of the higher c-section rates in our area at 44.8%.  That means I only had about a 55% chance of normal birth at that hospital!  Scary.  Whether you are a 1st time mama or a mama considering a VBAC, please take the time to look into your hospital’s c-section rate.  The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends no more than a 15% c-section rate for hospitals, meaning that c-sections are used only in cases where they are truly needed and interventions that can lead to c-sections are eliminated.  Unfortunately in most of the Southern U.S. (Texas included), NO hospitals have c-section rates in the healthy zone.

When we first decided to try for a VBAC, I looked into hospitals and birth centers in our area.  Jed was pretty nervous about the idea of a home birth, so we decided not to go that route.  I called several birth centers in our area, but the one I really wanted doesn’t do 1st time VBACs.  If we get our VBAC this time around, I could birth there next time.  They did recommend the OB I chose because she is a big supporter of natural birth and VBAC.  She also practices at a hospital with one of the better VBAC rates in our area.  This is HUGE.  In the whole DFW area there are only 4 OBs who are known to be pro-VBAC – Dr. Lawson (my doc), Dr. Cummings (Denton), Dr. Downey (Richardson), and Dr. Weinstein (Frisco).  The hospitals where each of them practice have significantly higher VBAC rates than all the others.

So, why is it such a big deal to find a VBAC friendly hospital?  I want a hospital where the nursing staff is familiar with VBAC, and knows that it is safe and what protocols apply.  A staff that is not familiar with VBAC can sabotage your birth without meaning to, because they don’t know how a VBAC works.  I’ve read so many stories through the International Cesarean Awareness Network about women who have had no choice but to show up at the hospital as late in labor as possible so they won’t be forced into a repeat c-section.  I did not want to end up in that situation.  At Medical City (my former hospital), only 15-16 VBACs are performed every YEAR.  That means about 1 VBAC happens every month, sometimes 2 per month.  With those numbers, it is highly likely that some nursing staff have never seen a successful VBAC.  At Baylor (my new hospital) over 60 successful VBACs happen every year, which means they are seeing 1 per week, sometimes more.  That greatly increases the chances that the nursing staff will be familiar and comfortable with the VBAC process.

Here are the stats for my former hospital and my new hospital:
Former Hospital:
Medical City’s Cesarean Rate: 44.8%
Medical City’s VBAC Rate: 2.82%  They do about 15-16 VBACs per YEAR at Medical City.  That’s about 1 per month, 2 a few months.
New Hospital:
Baylor Medical Center’s Cesarean Rate: 38.6% Sadly, this is one of the lower rates in our area that is covered by our insurance.
Baylor Medical Center’s VBAC Rate: 10.74% They do 60+ VBAC births every year, averaging out to one per week, with 2 a few weeks.

VBAC Rates for Texas Hospitals
Cesarean Rates for Texas Hospitals

VBAC Rates by State – Find your hospital.
Cesarean Rates by State – Find your hospital.

How does your hospital rank with c-sections and VBACs?

You can read all of my posts about Trying for a VBAC here.

Trying for a VBAC: Our Birth Plan

Our second baby is due at the end of April, and we are hoping and trying for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean section).  This is one of a series of posts about Trying for a VBAC.  There are many reasons why we are heading this direction and I hope to share them with y’all over the next few months.  You can read the Bear’s full birth story here to see what our first child’s birth entailed.  If you read that story you will get a little glimpse into why we are now on this journey to VBAC and a normal birth.  This process has been all consuming for me and this blog is my space to express the way I feel about the whole situation.  Many folks have strong opinions about VBAC vs. repeat cesarean, and I hope that whatever your opinion might be you will respect mine.  VBAC is not the right decision for every c-mama, and it doesn’t always work out no matter how you prepare.  Our hope and prayer is that we can have the best birth possible for our little girl.

Because we are trying for a VBAC and lots of people have lots of questions about what that entails, we’ll be live tweeting as much as we can during the birth.  You can read my other pregnancy 2.0 updates here, and read all my pregnancy posts here. *UPDATE* We successful had a VBAC with our daughter, and you can read our full birth story here.

This week I’m sharing our birth plan with you.  We worked out the details with the help of our doula, Erica Sosa.  She has attended many VBACs and has worked with our OB on a number of occasions.  We know that every birth is different and things rarely go according to plan.  We still think it is best to have a plan and to share that plan with our birth team so that everyone is on the same page.

Birth Preferences for our VBAC Birth
Becca and Jed Eby
Due Date: 4/24/13
Before Labor Begins 
– As long as my baby and I are healthy, I want to reach as close to 42 weeks as possible.

– If some induction method is needed, I prefer to try these first: natural induction methods

– If my water breaks before I go into labor, I want to wait as long as possible before coming in to allow labor to start on it’s own.
– I would like to labor at home as long as possible.
– I wish to have spontaneous rupture of membranes.
Upon Arrival / Admittance 
– If I am less than four centimeters dilated, I would like the option of going home to continue laboring there.
– Upon arrival at the hospital, I prefer to have my husband Jed Eby and my doula, Erica Sosa with me at all times.
– As long as my baby and I are fine, I want my movement during my delivery and stay to be completely unrestricted.
– I want to remain IV free unless it becomes medically necessary to start one and am fine with a saline heplock.
– I prefer to limit vaginal exams unless I request one.
– I am aware that pain meds are available and will ask if I feel the need. PLEASE do NOT mention or ask otherwise.
– If a situation arises and we need to make a medical decision, please allow my husband and I time alone to discuss it.
– I may be wearing my own clothing to labor and birth in.
– I understand that upon arrival I need to be monitored, I ask that I be able to do this in the position that I am most comfortable in as I am wanting this birth to be unmedicated. Thank you.
– I would like as much intermittent monitoring as possible.
– I will use a heating pad, massage, and lavender essential oil aromatherapy as needed.
– Please do not allow any other visitors into my room without my consent.
– I want to have my door closed, lights dimmed and I prefer for people entering the room to speak softly.  I appreciate your cooperation in helping make this the birth experience we want.
– I want the freedom to use different positions and equipment during my labor such as: birthing ball, squat bar, shower etc.


– IF I request pain relief, I would appreciate some private time to think about which pain management technique or medication I would like to use.

– I would like to use a mirror when I am pushing and may touch my baby’s head when crowning.

– I would like to be in the position for delivery that is most comfortable to me at the time. I.E. Squatting or on my side
– I would like my Dr. to guide my breathing and pushing for slower crowning.
– I would like olive oil/coconut oil that I will provide, used and gentle perineal massage at crowning.
– Please allow the umbilical cord to pulsate 1.5 to 2 minutes before it is clamped.
– We will be taking our placenta with us.
– As long as my baby and I are healthy, I want to maintain skin-to-skin contact until after my baby has successfully breastfed on both breasts. (at least 2 hours and all routine procedures done ON me)
– If a tear occurs and repair is needed, please use local anesthetic for repair.
– As long as my baby and I are healthy, I want to maintain skin-to-skin contact and do not wish to have baby removed from me unless medically necessary.


– AFTER 2 hours has passed I DO consent to all routine newborn procedures such as weighing etc. I wish to waive the Hepatitis B vaccine.

– I would like a pulse ox screening after for our baby girl when she is 24 hours old to rule out congenital heart defects.
– If my baby’s health is in jeopardy, I want to be present with our baby at all times, breastfeed or express my milk for my baby and have as much bodily contact with my baby as soon as possible.
– My baby is to be exclusively breastfed; please do not offer my baby any formula, pacifiers etc without my consent.
– I am aware that there is guidance available for nursing and would like to consult with a lactation consultant to ensure there are no breastfeeding issues.
 I prefer that my baby’s first bath be done at my bedside and I may want to help with her bath.
– I want the shortest hospital stay possible.

What was/will be most important to you during the birthing process?  How did you communicate your desires to your birth team?

Trying for a VBAC: Preparing

Our second baby is due at the end of April, and we are hoping and trying for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean section).  This is one of a series of posts about Trying for a VBAC.  There are many reasons why we are heading this direction and I hope to share them with y’all over the next few months.  You can read the Bear’s full birth story here to see what our first child’s birth entailed.  If you read that story you will get a little glimpse into why we are now on this journey to VBAC and a normal birth.  This process has been all consuming for me and this blog is my space to express the way I feel about the whole situation.  Many folks have strong opinions about VBAC vs. repeat cesarean, and I hope that whatever your opinion might be you will respect mine.  VBAC is not the right decision for every c-mama, and it doesn’t always work out no matter how you prepare.  Our hope and prayer is that we can have the best birth possible for our little girl. *UPDATE* We had a successful VBAC with our daughter and you can read her full birth story here.
This week I’m sharing what we’ve done to prepare so far for a VBAC.  I’m not an expert by any means, but I’d love for others who are on this path to one example of how to prepare.
1) Do your research.  Read, read, and read some more.  Talk to your OB.  Talk to another OB.  Talk to the ladies in your local ICAN chapter or online.  Talk to your partner and get on the same page.  Watch The Business of Being Born together. If you come to the conclusion that you want to try for a VBAC, go for it!  The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology has come out recently in favor of most c-section moms having a trial of labor after cesarean.  If your doctor says anything to the contrary they are going against their own governing body.  That being said, there is a small percentage of women who do not qualify for VBAC.  If you have found a doctor who is known for supporting trial of labor after cesarean (TOLAC) and she says you are not a candidate for a particular reason, that is important.
2) Find a supportive OB or Midwife.  My former OB is awesome and I love her as a person, but she just doesn’t do VBACs.  She told me that I was a good candidate but that she just didn’t do them.  I started looking for a new doctor soon after that appointment, long before I was even pregnant again.  My first choice was a midwife run birth center, but the one I like only does 2VBACs, not first time VBACs.  They recommended my new OB, as did my ICAN chapter.  The first time I met her I knew she was a great fit.  She loves natural labor and backs up the birth center I researched.  She read through my records and told me I should have at least an 80% chance of successful VBAC and she would be happy to support my birth choices.  Such a relief.  She doesn’t induce without medical reason, and won’t talk about induction for a VBAC mama until I hit almost 42 weeks.  Yay!  She even recommended I hire a doula, and gave me several cards of doulas she likes to work with.  This is not normal for OBs, but is sure does rock.
3) Hire a Doula.  A doula is a birth assistant.  They don’t take the place of your partner or your OB/midwife, but they can help coach you through labor and achieve your birthing goals.  Rates of VBAC drastically increase when a doula is part of a birth team.  Doulas cost anywhere from $250-over $1000, depending on the experience of the doula and the rates in your area.   I interviewed several doulas until I found the right one.  She will meet with us to create our birth plan and also work with us to teach us natural child birth techniques.
4) Take a Natural Child Birth Class. We took the natural childbirth class offered by our former hospital, and it was a joke.  This time I’ve taken some classes online, read several books, listened to Hypnobabies cds, and will have a private refresher course with our doula.  There are Lamaze, Bradley, Hypnobabies and Hypnobirthing classes in most metro areas.  If you live far outside a city, get yourself on Amazon and order some books.
5) Practice Relaxation Techniques and Positioning Exercises.  If you want to use a certain technique for labor, practice it now.  I’ve been working on my breathing, relaxing tense muscles, and repeating my positive birth affirmations (cheesy, I know, but people swear by them).  Bear was in a poor birthing position, so I’ve been practicing the exercises from Spinning Babies and using my birth ball instead of slumping on the couch. I prepared a DIY heating pad using rice and a sock, and scented with lavender essential oil for calming and relaxation.
6) Create a Birth Plan and Share It with Your Team.  I’ve worked on mine and have it narrowed down to what I want and don’t want for the most part.  I’ll flesh it out with Jed and my doula next week, then discuss it with my OB.  Last time I had a birth plan but I’m pretty sure none of the doctors or nurses ever looked at it.  I was so wishy-washy about what I wanted that I ended up with none of it.  This time around it may still go off course, but at least I will have made informed choices about my preferences.  I think this step would be especially important if your mom or other family members will be in the room.  They may get totally thrown off by delayed cord clamping or the squatting bar. You can read our complete birth plan here.
7) Make Sure Your Birth Location Lines Up with Your Plan.  If you plan to birth at home, this one is a little easier.  Most birthing centers and hospitals have policies in place that aren’t flexible.  You need to know what those are before you are there in labor.  Can you move around during labor?  Will you have access to a shower or birth tub?  Are birth balls provided? Can you eat or drink? Can you wear your own clothes? Can your baby stay with you for several hours after birth?  Whatever it is that is important to you, make sure you have peace of mind about it long before labor starts.  We were so relieved after our hospital tour because so many of the things we thought we might have to fight for are normal practice there.  Yay!
8) Trust Your Body and Your Instincts.  Your body was MADE by your Creator to do this.  You were given all the instincts you need to birth without assistance.  Technology is great, but it can also convince us that we are helpless without it.  You are not helpless.  You are an amazing woman who is carrying a life inside her and trying to do what is best for that baby and your own body.  Trust that.
More on Resources for VBAC Preparation:
From Growing Slower
Hiring a Doula
Find a Doula in Your Area
Find a Lamaze Class
Birth Boot Camp Classes
Spinning Babies
Click here to read all of my Trying for a VBAC Series.
Looking for resources and information about VBAC and cesarean recovery?  Try these:
International Cesarean Awareness Network
Birth Without Fear
VBAC Facts
The Unnecesarean
How did you prepare for birth (of any kind)?


Trying for a VBAC: Risks vs Benefits

Today I’m addressing the most common question about our quest for a VBAC: What are the risks and benefits of a VBAC vs a repeat cesarean? A little about this series: Our second baby is due at the end of April, and we are hoping and trying for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean section).  There are many reasons why we are heading this direction and I hope to share them with y’all over the next few months.  You can read the other posts in my Trying for a VBAC series here.  You can read the Bear’s full birth story here to see what our first child’s birth entailed.  If you read that story you will get a little glimpse into why we are now on this journey to VBAC and a normal birth.  This process has been all consuming for me and this blog is my space to express the way I feel about the whole situation.  Many folks have strong opinions about VBAC vs. repeat cesarean, and I hope that whatever your opinion might be you will respect mine.  VBAC is not the right decision for every c-mama, and it doesn’t always work out no matter how you prepare.  Our hope and prayer is that we can have the best birth possible for our little girl.  I am not in any way a medical professional, just a mama who loves nerding out over research.
Risks VS Benefits of a VBAC or Elective Repeat Cesarean Section
First lets look at the risks of both, lined up together.  I’ll start with what I like to call the “Big Scaries”.
Big Scary #1: Risk of Baby Dying
VBAC – 0.2% vs C-Section (ERCS) – 0.1%
Both rates are very low, but slightly higher for VBAC.
Big Scary #2: Risk of Uterine Rupture
VBAC – 0.4% vs C-Section (ERCS) – 0.2%
Did you know you could have a rupture with an ERCS?  I didn’t either.  The next facts really shocked me.  Let’s look at the risk of uterine rupture for 1st time moms in natural births vs those induced and augmented with pitocin and/or prostoglandins.
Natural, spontaneous labor – 0.012%
Spontaneous labor augmented (prostoglandins, pitocin, etc) – 0.9%
Induced Labor – 1% (WHAT???)
When I read those numbers from multiple scientific studies, I was seriously angry at my previous OB who mentioned none of the risks of induction.  If you were induced or had augmentation during labor, did your OB mention the more than doubled risk of uterine rupture?  I’d really like to know.  I’ve asked a lot of mamas and across the board I’ve not heard of anyone being told this by their OB.  Not cool.
Big Scary #3: Risk of Mom Dying
VBAC – 0.02% vs C-Section (ERCS) – 0.04%
Both rates are very low, but slightly higher for c-section.  The problem is that this rate increases greatly with each repeat c-section, limiting the potential of family by putting mom at risk.
The other risks of VBAC are the same as normal first time birth, but many other risks increase greatly with a repeat c-section and continue to increase even more with a 3rd, 4th, etc c-section.  I’ve found that most women are told the risks of VBAC I mentioned above but not the risks of repeat c-section. Why is this? Many birth professionals believe it because of 2 things: 1)the bad rap VBACs got during the 1990s when it was common to use drugs like Cytotec to induce labor, greatly increasing the risk of uterine rupture and 2)because a c-section is easier to control for the physician, takes less time, and makes more money. A VBAC or other vaginal birth costs around $3-5000 while a c-section costs upwards of $25,000 for the patient.  I support every woman’s right to choose the birth that she feels is best for her baby and herself, but I believe we also have the right to know the risks and benefits of each choice.
Risks to Baby that Increase with Repeat C-Section:
being cut during the surgery
premature birth (and all the risks that come with that)
respiratory problems at birth and lifelong
readmission to hospital or NICU time
risk of death in first month of life
Type 1 Diabetes
problems breastfeeding
Risks to Mom that Increase with Repeat C-Section:
unintended cuts or damage during the surgery
major infection
emergency hysterectomy
blood clots
ICU time
complications from anesthesia
depression and other negative psychological issues
problems breastfeeding
future pregnancy issues including placenta previa, stillbirth, low birth weight, and ectopic pregnancy
There are plenty of benefits to both choices.  Let’s take a look at them.
Benefits of Repeat C-Section:
scheduled birth – easier to have support network and preparations in place
controlled situation
time to prepare a support network for post op
much faster method for emergencies that threaten the life of baby or mom
less liability for the doctor and hospital
Benefits of VBAC:
faster recovery
better immediate bonding with baby (lack of drugs, etc)
better breastfeeding results
avoid major abdominal surgery and all the risks that entails
birth the way God created our bodies to function
much less expensive
less hospital time
fewer complications for mom and baby
Every mama has to weigh these risks and benefits and come to a decision with their partner and an OB they trust.  My former OB told me I was a great candidate for VBAC but that she didn’t do them, so I looked to my local ICAN chapter to find recommendations for VBAC friendly OBs in my area.  I found an awesome doctor and am so happy with the prenatal care I’ve received.  The information that helped me make my decision to try for a VBAC is the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology’s (governing body of OB/GYN) recent statement on VBAC.  The most important quote is below and you can find a link to the full statement under the resource links at the bottom of the post.
“The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) agree that that most women with a history of one or two uncomplicated low transverse caesarean sections, in an otherwise uncomplicated pregnancy at term and with no contraindications to vaginal birth, are candidates for and should be counseled about VBAC.”
If your OB tells you differently, they are going against the policy of their own governing body and you should probably question their motives.
Looking for resources and information about birth, VBAC, and cesarean  recovery?  Try these:
ACOG Statement about VBAC vs ERCS
International Cesarean Awareness Network
Birth Without Fear
VBAC Facts
The Unnecesarean

Trying for a VBAC: Why?

Our second baby is due at the end of April, and we are hoping and trying for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean section).  There are many reasons why we are heading this direction and I hope to share them with y’all over the next few months.  You can read the Bear’s full birth story here to see what our first child’s birth entailed.  If you read that story you will get a little glimpse into why we are now on this journey to VBAC and a normal birth.  This process has been all consuming for me and this blog is my space to express the way I feel about the whole situation.  Many folks have strong opinions about VBAC vs. repeat cesarean, and I hope that whatever your opinion might be you will respect mine.  VBAC is not the right decision for every c-mama, and it doesn’t always work out no matter how you prepare.  Our hope and prayer is that we can have the best birth possible for our little girl.
Why try for a VBAC?
After a ton of research and prayer, we feel it is the best option for the health of our baby and my health.  I want a normal birth because it is the way God designed my body, and He made me this way for a reason.  I struggled with the trauma of Bear’s birth for months afterward, and breastfeeding was a HUGE battle.  I’ve since learned those issues are typical with c-section.  If you have had a cesarean and fought through the emotions of losing the birth you hoped and planned for, you are not alone.  C-section is meant to be an emergency last ditch option when the life of mom or baby is in jeopardy.  There are many occasions when it is completely necessary and in those cases we thank God it is available. Having had a prior c-section is just not always one of those.  It turns out that induction without medical reason increases your chance of a c-section by up to 75%.  My previous doctor failed to mention that when she tried to schedule Bear’s birth around a holiday.
C-section can be a literal life saver, but it does not come without cost.  Any c-mama will tell you that recovery is a beast.  I don’t remember the first few weeks of Bear’s life because of the pain medication.  The only things I could do were sleep and try to nurse.  It was rough, people.  I’m hoping this time around will be very different.  C-section babies have higher rates of asthma and allergies, as well as many other risk factors.  I’ll go in to those in another post.  Even if Mini Bear’s birth does end a c-section because of medical necessity, at least I will know that is a possibility going in and be prepared for that alternative.
I hear a lot of the same questions over and over about this road we are on. Why not just schedule a repeat c-section?  Aren’t you putting yourself and the baby at risk?  What do you have to do to get a VBAC?  I hope to answer those here on the blog over the next few weeks.
You can read more about our breastfeeding battles here: Breastfeeding Part 1 and Breastfeeding Part 2.  The great news is that even though it was a battle at first, we fought through and Bear nursed until he was a little over a year.
Looking for resources and information about VBAC and cesarean recovery?  Try these:
International Cesarean Awareness Network
Birth Without Fear
VBAC Facts
The Unnecesarean