Having any birth after a C-Section comes with its rollercoaster of emotion. Wanting to have a vaginal delivery after one or more C-Sections when no one thinks you can/should do it? Phew. That’s a whole ‘nother layer of awesome. (sarcasm) All you need to be focusing on right now is finding the right provider, getting in touch with your body & baby, by relaxing and relishing in the beautiful fact of your pregnancy.
VBAC moms can get a little caught up in the birth prep process (I didn’t of course *ahem*), so here are some mistakes mothers working to have a vaginal delivery after Cesareans make all too frequently.
The four biggest mistakes VBAC – ers make and what to do instead
*Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that, at no added cost to you, I may receive compensation for products you purchase through links found on my blog. (Thank you, thank you!) This in no way affects the products I recommend (I only recommend the best)!*
*Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, so please consult your physician before attempting any of these suggestions. Use your best judgment. What worked for me may not work for you. Each body is different and unique. Do what you feel is best at your own risk. I am not liable for any consequences. I am a blogger. This is a blog meant to provide opinions, suggestions, experiences, and information. Not medical advice. I am human and make mistakes, so information may not be 100% complete or accurate. Thank you, and enjoy!*
1. Asking Everyone Their Thoughts on VBAC
You don’t need to ask your grandma, aunt, cousin, best friend, girl you met at the grocery store, or even your mother about their thoughts on VBAC. You are going to get a lot of “Once a C-Sections always a C-Section” and “Why would you put yourself/your baby in danger like that??” or “I know X person who had a VBAC and it went horribly.” AKA, a lot of ignorance, misinformation, and hearsay. You don’t need that negativity in your life (you’re getting enough of that from your OB).
What to do instead
If you want to VBAC, it means you know your options and have carefully calculated the risks and benefits. Repeat C-sections aren’t 100% safe and neither are VBACs. We have to weigh the facts, get accurate advice from reliable sources, and follow our intuition. We care about the safety of our own baby MORE than anyone else. Be confident with your decisions, and don’t look for external validation. You don’t need it.
Solution: Don’t talk about it with just anyone, especially naysayers. If it comes up and they are downers, say “I’m so grateful you care. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. This baby is in excellent hands. Any fun plans for the weekend?” (smooth topic change)
2. Needing VBAC to Happen Before 41-42 weeks
OBs, OBs, OBs. Ya gotta love ’em. Obstetricians are usually excellent people who care deeply about delivering healthy babies. However, many like to have those babies delivered in neat little packages on a predictable schedule. Unfortunately, that’s just not reality. Babies come in their own time, and most come after their due dates. Even VBAC babies. If not especially VBAC babies. There is probably a reason you had a C-Section, and it is quite likely related to not following the exact timeline OBs set for moms.
Mothers who are induced for no medical reason at or before 40 weeks have MORE than TWICE the likely-hood of having a C-Section (26.5% vs 12.5%). Mothers who had augmented labors for no medical reason were even more than twice as likely to have a C-Section (18.5% vs 7.5%). Check out this study for the official numbers.
What to do instead:
If Baby and Mom are healthy and happy (even if there has been a “previous Cesarean”), there is no reason to plan that C-Section. If your doctor insists on getting one on the books, schedule it for the day after you hit 41 or 42 weeks (whichever sits better with you). It’s worth all the NSTs in the world to have that baby come when they are ready. But in the end, a gentle induction is miles better than an automatic C-Section. If your OB does not induce VBACs, find a different one. They don’t know some magical secret thing other OBs don’t know. If other OBs induce VBACs, and ACOG says it is an option, then why doesn’t yours?
3. Not Preparing Enough For a VBAC
During my first attempt at VBAC, I had pretty much the same mindset as my first pregnancy. My body can do it, I need to be safe in a hospital, my OB knows things other OBs and I don’t know. With my first baby, I had a failed augmentation 10 days overdue- 24 hours after my waters ruptured. 12 hours later, I was at 4cm, and they didn’t want to risk an infection going past the 36-hour mark. They labeled it “failure to progress” with possible cephalopelvic disproportion (giant head, small pelvis).
With #2, they told me I could not be induced because they didn’t induce VBAC moms (#uterineruptures). I was fine with this. I hated my time with Pitocin the first time, so I was glad to avoid that heck. Online, I saw other VBAC moms were induced and thought “Man, I’m so glad my OB isn’t risky and actually cares about my safety.” womp womp. I had a CS.
Birth Prep Second Time Around (1st TOLAC)
I thought chiropractors scheduled too many appointments just to swindle you out of money and did more harm than good. So, I didn’t go to a chiropractor- just a(n excellent) massage therapist.
I had gestational diabetes so I ate a loosely paleo diet and had perfect sugars. To keep them even more level, I went on regular walks.
I wanted to be better prepared for labor, so I took a hypnobirthing class. Afterward, I was like “Okay, now I’m gonna labor at home and only go into the hospital when I am crowning.” The OBs said it was the only way they would let me VBAC anyway. Red raspberry leaf tea was a part of my daily routine, and when I went into labor I even drank the disgusting “labor day tea.”
I thought I was ready. I fought hard for my OBs to “let me” go to 42 weeks. They wanted me to pop her out by 39 or 40 weeks, but I insisted the likelihood of that happening was zilch since my first baby had been 10 days overdue. Even though I hated my first induction, I had a nagging feeling that I should be induced at 40 or 41 weeks. My OBs didn’t induce VBAC, so no matter how much I brought it up, they shot me down.
Nine days past her due date, I labored for 12 hours and was at 1 cm before we decided Baby was in too much distress to continue labor. Her heart rate was dipping below 90 and taking too long to recover. Guess what it was labeled again? Yep. Failure to progress. Apparently, my body just didn’t know what to do and couldn’t push a baby out properly. I had “an iron cervix.” They joked I took too many prenatal vitamins.
How to Actually Prepare for a VBAC
Firstly, go to a chiropractor. This is so important. Second, sit exclusively on an exercise ball chair (more about ball chairs here). Third, hire a doula.
And keep doing all the other things pregnant moms are supposed to do. Go on walks, do Pilates, eat 75-100 grams of protein daily, drink at least 10 cups of water (80 oz) every day, etc.
It is really helpful to have a provider who believes in your VBAC more than you do. This was crucial for me, but not as vital for some moms. I switched practices 3 times during my VBA2C pregnancy and talked to at least 10 medical providers before I found my soul-mates for that pregnancy. I found a hospital midwife first, but she was in a practice with rotating providers and the OBs had to approve everything, so the likelihood of her being the one in charge when I actually went into labor was slim. At 34 weeks, I found a birthing center/homebirth midwife who could administer IVs, had plenty of VBAC and gestational diabetes experience, and had no qualms transferring (she would even stay in the hospital with you as a glorified doula). All of this soothed my husband’s worries and ensured me she was the one. I made the official transfer at 36 weeks.
If your OB refuses to induce, references the VBAC calculator, insists the baby must be out anytime before 41 weeks, and/or repeatedly says “I guess you can have a VBAC, but keep in mind, you’ve had (a) prior Cesarean(s).” Save yourself a boatload of heartache and just get a new provider. It’s worth driving an hour or 4 to get someone who will make it happen.
4. Obsessing too much about VBAC
I know we just talked about all the things you need to be doing, but another thing that is super important for birth is trust and relaxation. After all you can do, your efforts are only 90% of the equation. At least 10% is on God/fate/the universe. To prepare for the unexpected, we need to trust the team we’ve built and let go of perfection.
After all the many things we need to do to prepare physically, we also need to prepare mentally. What do you do to relax and de-stress?
If you’re like, “Relaxation? You mean that thing I make sure to do at least every week or every day if I can?” Then you are set. Don’t worry about this part. Skip it and read on.
If you are thinking, “Relaxation?? Why waste my time on that???” Then you probably have anxiety. I used to think relaxation meant you were being selfish and your time could be better spent folding laundry or doing any of the other million things to do. I learned the hard way that being able to decompress and let things go is an incredibly important skill. Especially for birth. For me, it took a few medical professionals before I was able to actually slow down, smell the roses, and be grateful for the smallest things.
What to do to relax for your VBAC:
C-Section surgeries don’t come without their troubles. Preparing for another birth can bring up a lot of stress, anxiety, and possibly even PTSD. Here’s a secret I wish someone had told me after my first birth (something I didn’t learn until after my 3rd): schedule an appointment with a maternal specialized therapist. Simply Google “local Postpartum therapist” or “local Maternal therapist,” give them a call or schedule it online, fill out any pre-appointment forms they might have, and show up for your appointments. Bam. Life changed. They are amazing. I used to believe therapy was for people who had lived through horrible things like sexual assault and chronic mental illness. But they are not just for that. There are literally people who specialize in helping moms with birth trauma and self-confidence.
C-Sections can cause a lot of disappointment and doubt in your body. It can even make you subconsciously angry with your baby. Having a professional to talk to who won’t judge you and will skillfully guide you through your feelings is invaluable.
Ideas on how to relax at home
Even though you might feel like you are doing a lot of self-care to prepare for VBAC (like going to the chiropractor, getting a ball chair, going on walks, etc) these might not help you sharpen your skills of letting go and trusting in God. So, while you’re waiting for your next therapy appointment, here are some ways you can relax at home:
- Take a bath with a bath bomb (or Epsom salts and essential oils)
- Get a massage with a massage therapist (husbands are great, but…)
- Listen to guided meditations
- Read or listen to a fiction book
- Listen to inspirational conference talks/ ministries
- Read or listen to your scriptures
- Write in your journal (dust that thing off and update it on the past 5 years)
- Listen to affirmations
- Write down all of your fears, then counter each one with one small thing you would do if it happens.
- Have a girls night or a Blessingway instead of another baby shower
Recap of Four Ways to Prepare for VBAC
- Focus on gaining knowledge and confidence. You don’t need to know other people’s opinions on your well-educated decisions.
- Don’t try to rush it or let anyone pressure you into getting that baby out before their time. If your baby looks peachy perfect, and you are healthy with no red flags, there is no reason to induce or C-Section early. And if there is a red flag, ask if a non-VBAC mom would be induced. If they say probably, then make it happen. A gentle induction (foley for a day, then Pitocin maxed out at 10ml for another day with no cervical exams) is miles better than a straight-up C-Section.
- Learn about natural birth because it is safer to go into labor naturally and progress naturally (for VBAC moms as well as every other mom). And it keeps OBs from riding your butt if you are well-informed, ask questions, and make evidence-based decisions.
- Stay calm and relaxed. Stressing and worrying about how everything will go and making sure to have everything perfectly prepared will more likely delay labor, lead to rash decisions, and potentially result in more trauma or disappointment in the end- even if you do have a VBAC. We want a positive, empowering experience regardless of the outcome. For that to happen, you need to remain flexible, trusting, and at ease.
Now You Know 4 Common Mistakes VBAC Moms Make
I’m so excited for you to continue your VBAC journey. Click here to get a free VBAC birth plan.
You are incredible, and remember- it’s your baby and your birth. Follow your intuition and trust the process.
Lots of love,