If you had a c-section that was physically or emotionally traumatic, you may be wondering if you will ever heal from your birth trauma. You may hear stories of "healing birth experiences" and dream of this for your next birth.
As you create your VBAC Birth Plan you imagine a magical moment of healing when you achieve your birth goals.
While it is great to dream of your VBAC as a positive and beautiful experience, it is crucial to start healing from your c-section BEFORE Your VBAC.
This episode of theVBACpodcast will explain why planning a healing VBAC is dangerous and what you SHOULD focus on for a positive birth after cesarean.
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If you had a C-Section that was physically or emotionally traumatic, you might be wondering if you're ever going to heal from that emotional birth trauma. You probably hear stories of healing birth experiences and just dream of experiencing that healing amazing birth for your next birth.
As you plan your VBAC you are imagining a magical moment of healing when you achieve that amazing wonderful goal that you just can't get out of your head of that wonderful VBAC. While it is so great to dream of your VBAC as a positive and beautiful experience, it is critical to start healing from your C-Section before your VBAC.
In this episode of the VBAC podcast, I'm going to explain to you why planning a healing VBAC is actually kind of dangerous and what you should focus on for a positive birth after cesarean.
Welcome to the VBAC podcast I'm your host, Jamie Zaki and I am a licensed practical nurse International Board certified lactation consultant and birth doula. I'm also a mama to four little bears and a three time VBAC mama. My mission is to help you cultivate confidence for a positive and peaceful VBAC
This is a disclaimer that any of the information experiences, opinions and stories told on this podcast are with the intention of inspiring educating and informing parents. This information is not intended to treat or diagnose any medical conditions. If you have questions, you must consult your provider, Jamie's Zaki does not accept liability for any decisions that you make After listening to this podcast.
VBAC With Confidence Complete Birth Prep Program
I do just want to remind you about the VBAC with Confidence Complete Birth Prep Program that is enrolling right now.
When I was on the operating table during my C.Section, I remember thinking I need to have a VBAC next time. From that moment on I was constantly researching and learning everything I could to make sure I understood what I needed to do to improve my chances of achieving my dream feedback. Well after three successful VBACs: one in the hospital with an epidural and two at home; and after supporting countless women through pregnancy and labor, I've learned there's so much more to a positive birth experience than just understanding data and science.
Inside the VBAC With Confidence Complete Birth Prep Program, you will learn how to balance physically working with your body and God's design of your body with how to emotionally safeguard yourself for a better birth.
You'll also learn how to understand what can be sometimes confusing information about birth.
You'll learn how to strengthen what I call the three pillars of confidence for a more peaceful and positive VBAC.
If you're ready to get started reframing fear and reclaiming your power for a better birth.
The VBAC with confidence. Complete birth prep program is for you.
If we did this course, one on one or in a classroom with other people, it would take weeks to cover all of this information and it would cost probably over $600.
But right now you can take this class with your birth partner whenever you want on your terms for just $147.
Your birth is worth investing in.
What are you waiting for mama bear?
Your Traumatic Cesarean Birth Experience
So this one's probably sounding a little controversial to you already.
Um I have used the term healing birth before, especially when talking about my second VBAC and there's nothing inherently wrong, obviously, with having a positive and healing VBAC experience.
The problem is when we put too much pressure on our VBAC to be what heals our birth trauma from our C sections.
So what exactly do I mean by this?
so you had a traumatic c-section,
You are emotional about it.
You feel broken.
You feel like why didn't my body do what it was supposed to?
Why did my body fail me?
Why couldn't I just give birth the way women have been doing for centuries?
You just don't understand it?
You can't work through it.
You feel very heartbroken about it.
Every time someone mentions a natural birth, you're happy for them, but you kind of cry a little bit inside or tears actually flow.
Um when somebody mentions a C section being positive, you cringe inside.
Or if you're like me and somebody says something about how wonderful C sections are, you fly across the table at them because you're completely unstable because you are so freaking broken from what you experienced.
Now, I fully acknowledge that not everybody who had a C section had a traumatic experience and still wants a VBAC. I think it is amazing and wonderful that there are so many women with a positive experience.
If you are one of those women, this episode probably isn't for you,
I love you and you're amazing and I'm so glad you are here with us and you're welcome to keep listening. Um but this episode probably just isn't for you because you don't have that extra layer of um emotional trauma to deal with.
But for those of you who either had an emergency cesarean that really left a lot of fear in you or you feel broken, you feel like um something wasn't, you know, you just feel like something's missing and you just can't get past that feeling or you're like me, you had a planned C section and you thought everything was going to be smooth, Easy, simple and it wasn't and you are resentful of that and you can pinpoint exactly why it wasn't, but there was it was so far out of your control because obviously you're lying paralyzed on an operating table cut open.
Like you feel so out of control and everything just went the way it wasn't supposed to,
this is probably for you, you probably need to hear this because I made this mistake.
And I think that while I had an amazing VBAC, I told you a little bit about my hospital VBAC last week, while there were so many great things about it. I do think that I made this mistake and I think my experience could have come with a lot less pressure if I hadn't made this mistake.
And that mistake was that I was so focused on planning my VBAC and achieving my VBAC with such stubbornness and zale zale zale zeal zeal,
that's the word,
that I put so much into planning for my VBAC, I completely neglected to heal from my C section.
I put so much into planning for my VBAC, I completely neglected to heal from my C section.
And I don't mean physically, I mean emotionally, I completely neglected that.
In fact, I didn't think it was important at all because I thought, well I have to achieve a VBAC so that I can heal otherwise. This is like life and death, right? It's like I have no option other than achieving my VBAC. Otherwise I'm never gonna heal from my first traumatic C section and then I'll have a second traumatic C section and I can't experience that again.
So I have to have this VBAC.
And at first I really believed that that was um you know, using pain as a catalyst and a great motivation to achieve my goals. But looking back, I realized how dangerous that was Um how truly dangerous that mindset was and I don't want you to do this, I don't want you to do this.
And I'm going to tell you why during my C section,
Understanding the Third Pillar of Confidence: Surrendering in Childbirth
there were times where maybe this, I'm sorry, not during my C section, during my VBAC,
there were times when this mindset might have been kind of helpful. Um I actually remember I got I.V. Pain meds at one point and 10 out of 10 do not recommend just based off my own personal experience.
Some people love them.
Oh my gosh,
it was awful for me.
The I. V. Pain meds were awful for me.
Um and I just remember thinking during each contraction, I need to have a C.
Section, I need to have a C section, but if I ask for a C section, that's failure.
And while I think that mindset kind of stopped me from asking for something I didn't really want and making an emotional decision.
Also -- like -- what horrible language I was talking to myself with?!
I acknowledge that and I recognize that now, and it's like the way I spoke to myself was so unsupportive and disrespectful and it's fine if you feel like a C section is a failure, if that's what you feel like for yourself, that's fine, but I think you're going to experience a lot more pain.
And I think that if my first VBAC had ended in a second C section, I would have been so mentally unstable afterward, because I didn't learn how to heal from trauma.
I didn't learn that. I didn't learn it until afterward.
And I firmly believe that if I had gone into that birth and felt at peace with my C section and with my previous birth experience, I would have gone into that birth with much more peace.
And I would have been able to accept an undesirable outcome much easier.
I would have learned to surrender because I I did not learn that third pillar of surrender.
I did not fully learn that and fully understand that Until my 3rd birth.
So my second VBAC... during my first VBAC, I did not understand that pillar.
It was not strengthened and I would have I would have been in such an awful place if I had had a C section, a repeat C section, because I didn't understand surrender.
HOW TO START HEALING FROM YOUR TRAUMATIC CESAREAN BIRTH
So that's what I want you to do today. I want you to start taking steps toward healing from your C section.
And this is not a linear process.
It's not an easy process.
It takes time.
And the truth is, you might not be fully emotionally healed by the time you walk into labor with your VBAC.
But I think if we're at least taking steps in that direction, it will benefit you so much because of the fear cycle, the fear cycle. We can also call a stress cycle.
Um And your body remembers fear.
Your body remembers stress it holdsit holds it within and subconsciously your body knows things.
So if you're afraid of another C section to the point that it's like, I mean okay you can be afraid of it, you don't want it.
But if it's like that next level fear like I described before, where it's like I have to have this or else I'm literally going to die.
Like I'm going to kill myself because of having a repeat C section. Like if that's where your mindset is, um we have a major problem and we can't take that energy,
We can't take that mindset into birth because even if you keep convincing yourself it's fine,
it's fine. It's fine. If you haven't truly done the work, your body is going to subconsciously go to that fear and start pulling on that fear.
o what we want your body to do is subconsciously go to a state of peace.
If you check out, we want your body to default to peace.Not panic.
Healing From Traumatic Cesarean: STEP ONE
Okay,so the first step in healing emotionally from your C section is to talk about it and it can be really painful to talk about, but it is so important.
You need to get that out.
You need to start releasing it,
Talk about it as often as you can with whoever will listen.
Um Be careful,
be careful with who you talk about it with because some people will not give you supportive positive feedback,
some people might make you feel like,
give you that. "Well at least you're alive, healthy mom,healthy baby.All we want".
But the truth is,
you're not healthy,
not mentally anyway,
you're not healthy,
you're in pain and that shouldn't be minimized.
So if you're going to talk about it, talk about it with somebody safe who,you know,
it's just there to hold space for you and listen to your experience and understand that it was painful for you and you feel like you missed out on something and those feelings are not wrong.
And I think sometimes there's this idea that like,oh I feel like my C section was terrible,
and if I tell people that they're going to perceive it as, I think they're a terrible person for having a C.Section.
And I do think that happens,
but it's wrong.
It's wrong. You being upset about your C. Section is not casting any kind of judgment or shame on another mother.
And if she takes it that way, if she takes your personal feelings about your C.Section as an attack on her having a C section, that's a sign that she has mental and emotional work that she needs to do surrounding her birth, that means nothing about you.
Um So don't be afraid to share your story because you're afraid it's going to offend somebody else um That said, if you think it's going to offend the person you're sharing it with,
like don't share with them, that's just common sense,I guess.
But the first step is going to be sharing your story.
If you don't feel comfortable to talk to somebody or you don't feel like you have somebody you can talk to.
I mean I do a lot of work with mom's processing their birth stories and processing this.
So I'm here for you.
But if you're not ready to talk about it and you're not even ready to get those words out of your mouth.
journal write about it,
write about it as often as you need to.
HEALING FROM TRAUMATIC CESAREAN STEP TWO
And then the next step I think is to talk with your significant other whoever your birth partner was for that birth,
if it was your mom,
whoever that person is that was there,
you need to talk to them about it,
You need to talk to them about your feelings and you need to hear their feelings and hear how they experienced it because birth while this is happening to you and your body,
it is impacting your family.
Birth is not a one person thing.
I'm probably going to upset people when I say this,
but birth is not just about you and you know that you know that deep down um it's not just about you,
it's about you and it's about your baby and yeah,
it's about your birth partner,
whoever that person is,
because that's your support person,
that is your family.
That is who's going to be raising this baby with you.
That is going to be who is walking beside you as you heal from any physical and emotional pain.
That's who's going to be celebrating with you when you achieve that back.
Or that's the person who's going to cry when they hear your baby's first cries right along with you.
Birth is about a family,
So you need to bring that person in,
whoever your birth partner was,
you need to bring that person in and talk to them and understand their experience and understand their fears too.
And it can be really hard.
It can be really hard to have that conversation in a way that's not projecting feelings and hurting each other,
um or scaring each other or making somebody angry,
but just being able to sit there and listen to those feelings.
Um and a lot of times husbands don't even want to have that conversation,
it's hard for them to talk about because they had emotions that they either are not used to having or that were so big,
they don't want to talk about them and it's important to create an environment that it's safe to talk about those emotions and let them know that they're not responsible for fixing anything about that.
And like you're not responsible for fixing anything about it,
we just need to identify it so that we're not taking it into the next birth.
HEALING FROM TRAUMATIC C-SECTION STEP THREE
Um so once we kind of do that,
what's really important is to understand why your C.
And this can be really,
We talked about this with Abby a couple episodes ago when she shared her birth story.
It can be really hard to understand exactly why your C.Section happened because sometimes there's like this version of Stockholm syndrome with your C.
Section where um certain medical interventions created a perfect storm that resulted in an emergency.
That wouldn't have happened without those interventions,
but then your doctor like saves you and your baby's life.
So you feel like forever indebted to your doctor because they saved you.
But they failed to recognize how they put you at risk pushing interventions that were not needed.
That's not always the case.
I understand that.
But sometimes it is sometimes the provider just didn't want to manage your labor appropriately.
It was inconvenient for them to do so,
and they passed it off as an emergency and used the dead baby card on you.
So you feel a sense of um like you trust them when maybe you shouldn't and that's again,
that's not always the case.
Sometimes they really did save your life and wow how blessed we are to have that,
But what I want you to be able to do is really dive into how your C.
Section played out with somebody who's not that provider and see if maybe maybe our perspectives of what happened are not the same as what actually happened.
And that's not to say that your memory of what happened is wrong or anything like that.
But what if what if it was just mismanaged?
What if there was a problem?
It was just mismanaged and ended up in a C. Section?
What if there was something else that could have been done?
Another option that was not presented that could have stopped you from having a C.
Section when you understand that you can kind of use that understanding too influence how you create a birth plan and how you approach difficult situations and curveballs for your feedback.
Um Sometimes I mean you know exactly why you had a breech baby and you couldn't find anybody to flip your baby,
you couldn't find anybody who was willing to support a vaginal breech birth even though you were willing to have one.
And so you decided to have a C. Section and you know that and there's not much to break down about that, but you might have to break things down about how you felt and how it was managed because people mismanaged things like taking your baby to the nicu unnecessarily and then keeping them there because they couldn't get in touch with a doctor, like admin issues um like if that's where your trauma comes from, Like me then that's really important to discuss because then you can create a game plan with your providers for the next time.
Um Okay so we talked about you have to start talking about your birth.
You have to start processing it whether that's writing,
talking about it with somebody safe.
Just go through those feelings and emotions.
talk about it with your partner,
experience their emotions along with them.
And then let's start breaking down what actually happened,
what we could have done differently.
Maybe just understand there was nothing anybody could have done.
It was nobody's fault.
Maybe your C.Section was nobody's fault.
And that's where we started having to understand surrender.
And just because it happened last time doesn't mean it's going to happen again.
If it does happen again,
how can we make it a better experience?
And for some of you this work might come down to VBAC is not the right option for you and you would prefer a repeat C section. And that's okay. That's okay.
I don't necessarily identify with that and understand that perspective. But it's okay.
If you are ready to start reframing your fears and reclaiming your power for a better VBAC and you want to work with somebody to Break down those emotions and process that C section before you ever even get pregnant again.
Way before you have your VBAC.
I'm here for you.
I'm here for you.
I do this kind of work with mom's postpartum.
I have done this with moms immediately after they had their babies.
They're like three weeks postpartum and they're feeling all the things and we do this work.
I've done this work with moms who are pregnant and ready to give birth soon and we have to,
it's crunch time.
We might not have as much time to process everything,
but we can get that process started and then you go into your birth,
your VBAC, your labor for your birth for your feedback.
With less fear.
Because we've learned how to reframe a lot of that fear.
We've learned how to create contingency plans to manage that fear.
So you're walking into it with less fear knowing under what circumstances you're okay with ending up with a repeat C section.
Very specifically understanding that um a lot of times I ask a mom like,
so when are you okay with having a C.
And they're like,
well if my life or my baby's life is at risk?
And that seems like an obvious answer,
but it actually is so much deeper and more nuanced than that.
why would your baby's life be at risk,
why would your life be at risk?
What situations would you and your baby's life be at risk and what situations are you being told your lives are at risk when maybe it's not,
that's what needs to be differentiated so that we can approach each situation.
And it's hard because there are so many variations,
variables like so many ways everything can play out.
You really cannot prepare for it all.
But there are some big ones that we can prepare for and understand.
So if we can address those and create game plans for those,
you're more likely to be able to accept those situations if they come up because you already processed it and what you would do ahead of time and you don't have to process it in the middle of that kind of,
in the middle of labor,
you're just in that labor mindset of being,
trying to surrender,
trying to just be in a mindset where you don't want to get into a fight and flight and as soon as you start having to make decisions and hard decisions,
you throw yourself into fight and flight that throws you into a fierce cycle.
So things are already kind of going bad and you throw yourself into a fear cycle.
Like we got a real that in real quick because even if you end up going into a C section,
you don't want to go into a C section in a full out fear cycle and I fully acknowledge there are things that are just fully outside of our control,
fully outside of our control.
And that does not mean that it's going to be easy to accept a repeat C section under circumstances of a catastrophic uterine rupture for example,
nobody is saying that's going to be easy to process that it's not going to be traumatic to some degree.
But there's so many other traumas that happened much more frequently and unnecessarily that we can soften.
So why not try?
That's all I've got for you today.
That is why I say,
it's really important that we process your C. Section beforehand and we don't put all that pressure on your VBAC to be the healing elixir to be,
the antidote to that awful birth experience because first of all that birth was special and it was sacred.
Your C section was sacred even though it felt awful.
That was still the birth of your child.
And to spend years associating the birth of your child with negative emotions just creates more negative emotions.
It makes it worse because I did that for far too long.
I associated the birth of my first child as being just nothing but negative emotions.
And it was it's sadly to say it was it was not the happiest day of my life.
I cannot say that his birth was the happiest day of my life.
But I now can talk about his birth and I can talk about what I learned from it and he knows that it was a very difficult experience for me and he knows he was the best part of that experience.
And he knows how important it was for me to have a v back and why it was such a wonderful experience for me.
And he knows that it doesn't take away from this specialness of his birth or the specialness of him,
but I wish that I had worked through that so much sooner,
So much sooner because it wasn't fair to him for me to associate his birth with such negative feelings for as long as I did.
And that's another reason that we,
because then you start to have this feeling of like I called my second son's Birth my redemption birth.
My VBAC was my redemption birth.
I called it that for so long and in many ways it was I learned that I could trust God,
I could trust myself,
I could trust my body.
I felt so renewed and that is a good thing.
That is a good thing.
And it really did pave the way for me to comprehend and process and work through my C section better.
But what if it had ended in in a repeat C section,
what would I have done?
Where would I have been?
How broken would I have felt?
Because I was speaking to myself so negatively,
I feel like I'm becoming a broken record now and I really want you to have a positive vibe back.
But if it ends in a C section,
I want that to be a positive experience too.
I don't want you hanging every ounce of your worth on achieving your feedback.
I don't think it's fair to you.
I don't think it's fair to your baby.
And I think it makes it harder to achieve your birth because you might achieve your back.
But is it going to be achieved peacefully and positively or is it going to be achieved with a constant in and out of this fear cycle and battling your internal emotions and fears.
really hope that this episode is encouraging you to do some of that hard,
I hope that you realize how important it is to do this work.
And I want you to remember that your birth was sacred.
Your next birth will be sacred.
Birth is sacred.
Even when it feels super traumatic and scary and challenging and difficult.
And I want you to have hope.
But you can work through those feelings.
That you can work through those feelings and I want you to know that you are not alone.
You are not alone mama.
You're not alone.
Stop trying to carry this on your own.
That's what I have for you guys today.
I already said that once and I am going to stop because I'm just going to keep repeating myself.
And while that may be encouraging for you.
Um I don't think you need to hear me saying the same thing over and over.
You can just play the episode over if you need to hear it again.
It was so fun to hang out with you today,
even though this was a heavier subject.
I look forward to hanging out with you next week and as always,
please remember to subscribe to the podcast so that you can get notifications of every new episode weekly on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
And if you are finding value in this podcast,
go ahead and make sure to leave me a review and let me know because that's the only way that I know you're liking what you hear and that's the only way that I can touch on more subjects that you want me to touch on.
If you would like to share your own VBAC story on the VBAC podcast or you have a question that you would like to have featured in an upcoming Ask Jamie episode of the podcast.
Hop on over to Little bear lactation dot com slash podcast to submit.
I look forward to hanging out with you again next week,
thank you for joining me on today's episode of the podcast.
I hope you feel seen supported and inspired.
If you haven't already,
make sure to check out the free I said free combatting fear during the back class at little Bear lactation dot com slash links.
And real quick If you could take a moment to leave a review of the podcast,
I would so appreciate it,
reviewing the podcast.
Can let more VBAC mamas to be know that I can help them the same way I'm helping.
Can't wait to hang out with you again soon.