Updated: Jul 5, 2022
Three Tips for Achieving Your VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean)
As a VBAC mama and doula, I’ve been asked the question, “What can i do to get my healing VBAC” quite a few times. The truth is, you can’t guarantee anything about birth. But what you can do is learn how to implement the Three Pillars of Confidence in Childbirth for a better overall birth experience.
The most important preparation you can do for your VBAC is not go for a daily walk or see a chiropractor (although those things are great!!) It is to prepare your heart and mind. There are three things you can start doing right now to improve your birth experience
SKIP TO A SECTION
Tap into your Womanly Wisdom
Womanly Wisdom is the First Pillar of Confidence in Childbirth. When you have learned how to connect with your womanly wisdom, you will learn how to differentiate fear from intuition. The problem is, modern society has starved us of opportunities to connect with this inherent wisdom. We no longer have close-knit communities of women supporting each other through pregnancy and motherhood, so we lose the opportunities to witness what “normal” can look like and how to effectively navigate challenges in pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding. We now have to create our own opportunities to foster this connection with our femininity. First, we need to find SUPPORTIVE women to connect with. Thanks to the internet, social media helps us share stories and find women with inspiring or similar stories to our own. Sharing these experiences can help us learn about questions to ask and topics to discover.
Next, we need to replace the education we have lost out on. The truth is, your OB or even your Midwife, will not teach you certain things about pregnancy and labor, it’s just not their job and there isn’t enough time for them to do so. The problem is, many women assume their provider WILL teach them, so they do not take the initiative to educate themselves. When you are planning a VBAC, this assumption can destroy your chances of achieving your VBAC birth goals. It is critical, then, for you to connect with women who can inspire you and support you. You could listen to podcasts that talk about VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean), HBAC (homebirth after cesarean), and even CBAC (cesarean birth after cesarean; often after TOLAC, trial of labor after cesarean). You could join Facebook groups or follow VBAC Moms and Birthworkers on Instagram and TikTok. Next, the value of taking classes that specifically educate on VBAC can not be underestimated. While there is a lot you can learn from other women’s stories and googling your questions, there is a lot you don’t know you don’t know. When you take a class geared toward pregnant women planning VBACs, you will probably be introduced to concepts you haven’t even heard of, and those concepts will be introduced in a way that helps you understand how to discuss them with your healthcare provider.
Which brings us to the next tip for achieving your VBAC:
Become a Fierce Self Advocate For your VBAC Birth Plan
Self-Advocacy needs to begin from as early in pregnancy as possible. From the moment you choose your provider until years into your little one’s life, you’ll be advocating. Some people find self-advocacy easy, but where they struggle is knowing WHEN to advocate for themselves. Others struggle with knowing not just when to advocate, but HOW to do it. When we’ve been taught to see doctors as an authority figure, it can be difficult to learn how to trust our own intuition (see womanly wisdom). Even when we do learn to do that, it can be hard to express and communicate our need to follow that intuition.
Thankfully, Self Advocacy is a skill that can be learned. The first step toward learning self advocacy is, of course, self-education. When you are informed, you can discuss. But even when you are not informed, there are special communication tools you can use to advocate for yourself. The most common is the “BRAIN” method: Benefits, Risks, Alternatives, Intuition, Now/Never. Using this tool for asking questions can help you feel more informed and encourage your provider to offer information they might have skipped over in their rush. One of my favorite parts of helping moms prepare for their VBAC is practicing self advocacy. We come up with scenarios they are concerned about and role-play the various ways they can discuss their concerns with their doctor. But at the end of the day, some of you will tell me that during your first birth you were extremely educated and prepared, you advocated fiercely, but something completely outside of anyone’s control caused your cesarean (for example, a prolapsed cord, placenta issue, etc). And this brings us to the third tip for VBAC mothers…
Learn to Surrender to Birth
Surrender is the third pillar of confidence that I teach pregnant women. And it’s the most difficult to wrap your mind around because it’s the most difficult to tap into.
Surrender is not “giving up” but rather “giving in”. Surrender is controlling what you can and releasing the rest. Being able to surrender is how women can have everything go wrong during their birth, but still feel positive and hopeful at the end of the day.
There is a special peace in knowing you’ve done everything within your power to set the stage for the “perfect” birth. There is peace in not having to go down the road of “what if”. While your birth may not work out exactly as you dreamed, you may feel deep disappointment with an outcome, you can still feel peace when you know that you were not bullied into a decision, but rather made the best decision with the cards you were dealt.
Learning to surrender takes a lot of personal, internal discovery. Discovery of your faith system, how you connect with the world, and how you connect with and manage your fears. This is why I always have the parents I work with do an exercise where they have to identify fears, then dig into those fears. We look into WHY we have this fear, the likelihood of it becoming reality, if there is anything we can do to prevent it, and if it does occur, how can we handle it? This exercise has helped me and so many other women come to a level of acceptance about birth not going as planned.
When we’re talking about VBAC, the most common fear I hear is uterine rupture. And that’s when I love to dig in DEEP to this exercise. Most women come through the other side of this exercise, less concerned about Uterine Rupture and more concerned about their ability to self-advocate through their PROVIDER’S fear of Uterine Rupture.
That’s when we see how beautifully these three pillars do work together. When you build strong pillars of Womanly Wisdom, Self Advocacy, and Surrender during your pregnancy, you can improve your VBAC experience dramatically, and help set the stage for a beautiful, healing birth experience.
If you are planning a VBAC either in the hospital or at home, I invite you to claim instant access to this Free VBAC class! You will be introduced to some questions and topics to help you take the first step in connecting with your Womanly Wisdom, learning to Advocate for yourself, and finally surrendering your to Birth.