In Part I of Planning Your VBAC, we introduced the background information for a vaginal birth after a cesarean section (VBAC). Now, we’re ready to share some concrete steps you can take to prepare your body, mind and support system for a trial of labor after a c-section (TOLAC) and VBAC.
Step 2: Prepare
Prepare your mind
First, make sure you educate yourself not only on the general evidence-based guidelines and research regarding repeat cesarean birth and vaginal birth after a c-section, but also make sure to fully understand your own medical history and personal risk factors. Every person's body and every mother's experience is different, so general statistics won’t necessarily tell you your risk factors or lack thereof. Talk with a trusted care provider but don’t let “projected success” statistics be the be-all, end-all of your decision-making process since you are a unique individual -- not a statistic.
Then, prepare your mind with the goal of building confidence in yourself, your body and your birth process. Choose a positive affirmation (such as “I trust my body” or “I feel safe and secure”) to repeat to yourself during difficult moments of pregnancy and during labor. If it’s helpful, seek out positive stories and people who will support your choice with respect and optimism.
Prepare your body
As one doula and birth educator aptly described in her recent article about VBAC, “You may have heard it said that we were 'made to birth.’ And I do agree with that statement. Our bodies are incredible and were made for birth! But, we live in an artificial environment. Our bodies do not move the way that they were intended to move.” So mindfully and intentionally preparing your body for a vaginal birth, especially after a cesarean birth, is very important. Staying active and taking regular walks will help to keep your muscles strong and your body aligned. Prenatal yoga is also an ideal, typically low-impact exercise to prepare your body for birth; find out more about the benefits of prenatal yoga here. Another great way to prepare your body for birth is through chiropractic care.
Prepare your birth team
Everyone involved in the birth of your baby needs to have the same goal in mind: supporting you as the mother and your choices to bring your baby into the world in a safe and healthy way. This means sharing all relevant information, respecting your decisions and supporting you fully. For more resources and ideas about who should be part of your birth team, check out our blog What is a birth team and do I need one? When choosing your care provider, it’s very important to make sure that he or she is actually supportive of VBAC in practice and not just telling you what you want to hear. Find out more about how to tell if your care provider is really VBAC friendly in our article here. There are many benefits to hiring a doula no matter your birth preferences, but having continuous support during labor is especially important for a TOLAC and VBAC.
Your TOLAC and VBAC
You may sometimes hear VBAC births referred to as “successful.” The problem with this descriptor of course is what the implied alternative is, so we want to very clear: no birth is a failure and no mother is a failure. Life, like birth, is unpredictable. No two birth experiences will be the same; yours is yours. “Success,” if one wants to call it that, will be found in respect for the mother and her baby, respect for the birth process, an environment where all actions are rooted in evidence-based practice, and the absence of regrets.
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Jennifer Stutzman, Freelance Writer
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