For those of you who are new to this blog, my first son's birth was a long, difficult labour ending in a rather traumatic emergency Caesarean section. My second son's birth was a quick, textbook vaginal delivery.
Since Baby J’s birth, a lot of people have asked me for advice on how best to prepare for a VBAC. Aside from gaining the support of my midwife and consultant, there were a few things I did to help me prepare, and I would really recommend these to anyone else planning a VBAC.
Go through your previous birth notes
The last time I’d seen my notes was the day after Little N was born. I had them at home until I was discharged from the midwives, but I hadn’t been emotionally capable of reading them. When I met with the consultant, we went through my birth notes and there was so much that I have absolutely no memory of. Finding out that Little N had turned back-to-back during labour was a huge shock. For over a year I’d been blaming myself for not being able to push him out in time, but of course if he was back-to-back it would have been impossible for me to have delivered him quickly enough. Learning this was empowering: it wasn’t my fault, and it would be different this time.
Read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth is a fascinating book to read. Ina May Gaskin is an American midwife, and the founder and director of the Farm Midwifery Center. Women who give birth at the Farm have incredibly low rates of intervention compared to hospital births. The book has a big section full of amazing and inspiring birth stories. It then goes on to explain why the human body is so effective at giving birth and it teaches you: how to create a safe, comfortable environment for birth in any setting; tips for maximising your chances of an unmedicated labour and birth; and, the risks of anaesthesia and caesareans. Reading this book filled me with confidence and knowledge, knowledge that became very useful when I had to argue for some of my birth choices. I still have the book now; I’m not sure that I’ll ever be able to part with it.
Listen to the Natal Hypnotherapy VBAC Preparation CDs
The Natal Hypnotherapy VBAC Preparation is a 2 CD set. The first CD helps you to overcome and let go of any negative emotions relating to your past birth experiences. This was a something I really needed. The second CD takes you on a guided visualisation through giving birth vaginally and increases your confidence, courage and ability to communicate effectively. I kept falling asleep whilst listening to the CDs and would wake up at the end when the narrator would say “you’re wide awake” (or something to that effect). It was very strange, but it was all sinking in. My confidence increased each time I listened to the CD and I felt completely calm and in control during labour, even though I was alone for most of it! http://www.natalhypnotherapy.co.uk/
Attend Daisy Birthing Active Antenatal Classes
I attended Daisy Birthing classes throughout the final trimester of my first pregnancy. I loved the classes and was so excited about doing them again during my second pregnancy. Second time around I started going to the classes at 20 weeks, although you can attend from 14 weeks, and continued right up until birth. The classes include pregnancy yoga but also teach you active birthing techniques as well as traditional antenatal information. Their birthing techniques were what helped me to get through each of my contractions without pain relief. I used the breathing techniques to cope with the pain, whilst using the “rotate to dilate” technique in between contractions. I’ve also made a few friends there, which is lovely! http://thedaisyfoundation.com/
Write a birth plan
With Little N, I didn’t write a birth plan. I thought birth was just so unpredictable that whatever I put probably wouldn’t happen anyway. For Baby J though, a birth plan was very important. Yes, birth is unpredictable, but I needed to make clear what I was and wasn’t willing to do. For example, I didn’t want continuous foetal monitoring, but the consultant did, and I wanted to use the birth pool if I could. So I compromised with the supervisor of midwives about using wireless monitors, which are also waterproof, and this went onto my birth plan. Having a plan and knowing that my wishes were going to be adhered to meant I felt that I was in control this time.
Believe in yourself
“My body is amazing.” “It was designed to do this job.” “I can do this.” These are things I kept telling myself throughout my pregnancy and even during labour. At the peak of each contraction I could hear my voice inside my own head saying, “you can do this.” I did do it, and so can you. Good luck, and don’t forget to come back and tell me all about it.
Little N’s birth story here
Baby J’s birth story: here