Having gone through a belly birth (ie. c-section) doesn't mean you can't aim for a vaginal birth for your next baby. Read on for some tips on how you can prep for this...
Did you have a prior belly birth and you’re now thinking of a vaginal birth for your next baby? First up, I like to call it a belly birth and not a cesarean, as it gives women a more empowering connection to their baby and not look at it as just a surgical procedure. After all, it’s still a birth of a baby into the world, just from a different perspective – the belly!
More and more women are opting for a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) these days. Simply because the recovery journey is much faster, mothers are able to move around freely, breastfeed without discomfort, and bond more with their babies. Most importantly, they can play an active role in caring for their newborn and their other kids.
So if you are planning for VBAC, I applaud you and commend you for being so courageous. It does take a lot of guts to make this decision! Here’s how you can build up your confidence and plan toward a fulfilling VBAC experience.
1. Choose the right doctor!
You wouldn’t go to a massage parlour and ask for your hair to be cut right? Similarly, you want to choose a care provider who is supportive of VBAC births. Do the groundwork and research – ask around in the community who are the doctors willing to support VBAC experiences. I encourage you to speak to a few doctors before committing to one (if you can). The Singapore VBAC support group is a great platform where women share their VBAC journeys, tips, and recommendations.
A VBAC-friendly care provider does not limit the length of your pregnancy or restrict a vaginal birth based on the baby’s estimated weight. Instead, they allow labour to progress naturally (as long as mother and baby are safe) and are supportive of working with doulas. Here are some questions you can ask your care provider to gauge if they are VBAC-friendly:
- Would you support my VBAC experience if I go past 40 weeks?
- How do you manage going past due dates?
- Under what circumstances would you induce labour?
- What do you classify as a “big baby”?
- What is your view on cervical dilation? Do you expect labour to progress at a certain rate?
- Do you work with doulas?
2. Positive preparation
Let’s face it, labour and birth is very much a mental game. Your mind is the strongest muscle in your body, so invest your time in preparing yourself mentally and emotionally. This can help you build mental endurance and emotional stamina to champion through labour and self-doubt. You can start by:
- Releasing past birth trauma – Reflect and journal on your previous birth experiences, and speak to professionals if you need to. Gifting yourself compassion and finding someone to hold space for you to release these stored emotions can be really helpful.
- Surrounding yourself with positive birth stories – Listen to positive stories, watch empowering birth videos, and surround yourself with friends and family who are SUPPORTIVE of your birth choices. Never be afraid to draw boundaries with people who make you nervous about your choices. Here are some great podcasts to keep you company on the go: The VBAC Link Podcast, VBAC Birth Stories, The VBAC Podcast.
- Creating a daily, consistent routine – Set aside some time each day to dive inwards. Incorporate breathwork, meditations, visualisations, and affirmations to tap into your subconscious mind. Get your partner involved too! Connect and be playful as you both prepare for the journey ahead.
3. Read up on optimal fetal positioning and maternal bodywork
In labour and birth, it’s all about creating space and pelvic mobility to help baby rotate and navigate through the birth canal. Understanding optimal fetal positioning and the exercises to help create that balance can increase the chances of a successful VBAC experience. Spinning Babies and MamasteFit offer really good resources that you can check out.
Preparing the physical body is another important step. Pregnancy causes misalignment in the pelvis, aches and tension in the muscles and ligaments. Getting bodywork done can help create more space in the pelvis for baby bringing balance and mobility, at the same time helping a woman feel more relaxed. Add these practitioners to your prep team: chiropractors, osteopaths, physiotherapists, and prenatal masseuses.
4. Find a VBAC-friendly course
Informed knowledge is key to an empowering experience. Invest your time in taking an antenatal class that’s specific to VBAC preparation. This is where you’ll learn all about the medical interventions and routine procedures, how to advocate for yourself, manage labour discomfort, as well as how to incorporate partner support.
5. Envision your birth plan
A birth plan acts like a blueprint for your birth experience and it also serves communication tool with your care provider. Most importantly, your birth plan serves as a clear affirmation of the birth you want to have and helps you work towards it. Spend some time drafting up your birth plan and really envisioning your experience.
6. Consider hiring a doula!
There’s a quote by Pam England, a former nurse-midwife, which goes, “Asking your husband to be your sole guide through labour is like asking him to lead the way on a climb of Mt. Everest. He may be smart and trustworthy, and you may love him, but in the Himalayas, you’d both be a lot better off with a Sherpa!” A doula is like a birth coach, someone to cheer you on and most importantly, she has navigated the terrain of labour and birth. She is able to provide mental, emotional, and informational support to you and your partner on your VBAC journey.
With these tools in your pocket, I hope you achieve the VBAC you hope for!