I compiled a list of all the tips I followed to achieve my completely natural, drug free, incredibly fast vaginal birth after TWO c-sections. If you’re hoping for a VBAC or an all-natural delivery, these tips are a can’t miss!
And guess what?!
It all paid off!!
In April of 2018 my third baby boy was born via VBAC (vaginal birth after c-section). My first vaginal delivery (and with no epidural!!! more on that later) and probably my biggest personal victory to date.
A Brief Background
When I shared my stories of my c-sections I talked about how a VBAC was always my goal. Well, let’s be honest, vaginal delivery was always my goal. My first labor (with Bubba, my oldest) ended in an emergency c-section after 34 hours!
When I was pregnant with Nugget (my second baby) my doctor was fully supportive of a VBAC. Until we discovered I had a condition called placenta prevue. At which point a c-section was inevitable.
When I found out I was pregnant with number three my first thought was “This will be my VBAC.”
And I was right! But it took some serious prep work.
The VBAC Story
I had been feeling like labor was close for a few days. Quite frankly I was miserable during most of my pregnancy and was hoping baby boy would be making his appearance before his due date. So when I started feeling like labor was close I was having a hard time deciding if that was mother’s intuition or wishful thinking.
I remember texting my mom one day telling her I had been having some cramping and I thought labor might be happening soon. It turns out I went into labor 4 days later!
That morning we had gone to church. Of course I had told everyone at church I thought that baby was coming early, so when we showed up everyone had these consoling looks on their faces and people kept saying “Still pregnant, huh?”
Side note: if you’re looking for things NOT to say to a miserably pregnant woman, that tops the charts!
Anyway, after church I finally decided that labor must not have been as close as I
thought hoped. I told myself “This baby will come when he’s ready” and then I proceeded to take a four hour nap!! And it’s a good thing I did because I didn’t get any sleep that night!
After we got the kids to bed my husband and I settled in on the couch to watch some TV and relax. I was laying down while my husband rubbed my head (pretty great hubby, amiright?!) and juuuuuuuuust as I started to drift off into a peaceful sleep I felt a…….
My eyes shot open and I sat straight up….either the baby had just kicked me unbelievably hard or………yup my water broke!
You know how in the movies when a woman’s water breaks it’s this huge gush of fluid? And then people always tell you not to expect the huge gush because that’s just dramatic effect for the movies?
It turns out sometimes you get the huge gush!!
From there we called my parents (who were going to babysit our older boys) and put them on alert. We had read online that often times a woman’s water can break and she won’t start having contractions for hours. So we decided to settle in on the couch and try to rest before labor got going.
I don’t think we had even pressed play on the TV before I had my first contraction.
Now here’s the thing about labor. It’s very deceiving. Those first few contractions, they come and go quick, and they barely feel stronger than menstrual cramps. And they’re so far apart you have plenty of time to rest and think about things like what the baby will look like, how much you love your husband, if you packed your toothbrush, and other ideas that will very quickly become completely irrelevant.
And then labor started to pick up.
Within two hours my contractions had gone from mild and sporadic to strong and regular.
This baby was coming fast!
I called my parents around midnight (2 hours after my water broke) and told them to start heading our way, but not to rush.
Why would I say that? In what world does labor = take your time? I don’t know what I was thinking!
By the time they arrived at our house my contractions were four minutes apart and were
very strong unbelievably intense. Now here’s the part where we all go “you haven’t left for the hospital yet?!”
Yeah, no. We definitely overestimated how long it would take for labor to progress.
As soon as we turned out of our neighborhood I considered telling my husband to go home and call 911. I knew the baby was coming soon!
I did not know if we were going to make it to the hospital in time and I was damned if I was going to end up on the news talking about how I had my baby in the front seat of our SUV on the side of the road!
So I told myself to keep that baby in and I told my husband to drive like a bat out of hell! (don’t worry, he didn’t listen)
From there our dramatic, Hollywood-esque labor continued as my husband raced to the hospital with me screaming with every contraction. Grabbing my husband’s hand, writhing in pain, and begging him to run every red light (don’t worry, he only ran a few…..it was 1 am for crying out loud!)
I remember telling him not to get pulled over because we had to get to the hospital, to which he responded “If we get pulled over that officer won’t be writing a ticket he’ll be delivering a baby.” Ummmm yeah, pretty much.
Also, what’s the etiquette in that situation? If we name the baby after you will let us off with a warning?!
Anyway, long story short, we made it to the hospital with about 40 minutes to spare!
Once we were in the hospital it was a whirlwind. The contractions were unspeakably intense at this point and I honestly don’t think I could have told you my full name if you had asked. But I remembered I wanted a VBAC. I just kept saying “VBAC, VBAC, we’re going to have a VBAC” over and over in my head.
At one point the doctor told me I was going to have to push harder because the baby wasn’t progressing. I freaked out and said “I DON’T WANT A C-SECTION!!” Her response: “Oh honey, you are way past that, no push this baby out!”
And after some screaming, some crying, some begging for pain meds (baby came too fast), and about 10 minutes of pushing our baby arrived in all of his glory and I had achieved my goal.
I had managed to achieve an all-natural VBAC, in under 5 hours!!!
I’m still in awe of what we went through that night and the fact that I was able to have a VBAC. VBAC’s are not easy and even less likely to happen after TWO c-sections. Of all the things I’ve worked for and achieved in my life, my VBAC is my favorite.
It is, by far, the most empowering moment of my life. And the fact that I was able to do it without any pain meds (even though that’s not how I planned it) just makes it even sweeter.
As my labor and delivery nurse (Miami, like the city) said: “A VBAC without an epidural? You’ve got bragging rights for life.”
Hell yeah I do!
Ok, so how did I do it. How did we get there? I’m going to tell you exactly what happened and how I achieved this goal!
My VBAC Plan
From my very first prenatal visit I was very open and honest with the doctors that I intended to have a trial of labor (this is called a TOLAC, trial of labor after cesarean). I was very clear that I knew it was not a guarantee that I would achieve a VBAC but I wanted to try.
And basically the response I got was something along the lines of “well we can’t stop you from laboring, but …….” And even though nobody every officially told me “no”, I always took the lack of support as a polite way of saying “We’d prefer it if you didn’t.”
I knew I wasn’t going to have the full support of my doctor, but I was determined anyway. In some ways, their hesitance drove me to achieve my goal. Every time they hesitated and said “I don’t know about this.” I replied with “Just watch me.”
I considered switching doctors, which was highly recommended in all the research I did, but for many reasons this wasn’t an option for me.
My husband and I interviewed a doula, which was also recommended in my research, but something just didn’t feel right and we never booked her. Now I know it didn’t feel right because she would have never made it to the hospital in time to support me- my labor was less than 5 hours from water break to first cry!!
I knew if I was going to manage a VBAC it was going to be 90% because of the effort I put into achieving a vaginal delivery before that first contraction. The other 10% was up to God and my husband’s support.
When I was 32 weeks pregnant I saw an OB who was supportive of my VBAC and he gave me the best advice. He said “The less we do for you, the better off you’ll be. If you want a VBAC you’re going to do all the work and we’re just here to catch the baby.”
Ah-ha! That was the ticket, come to the hospital ready to push.
Here’s why: in labor and delivery there’s something called the cascade of interventions. Which means one intervention leads to another which leads to another and so on. Many VBAC hopeful women believe that once one intervention is in place you’re more likely to need other interventions. And the more interventions you have the more likely you are to need a c-section.
***note: this absolutely does NOT mean that just because you have one intervention, or even several interventions, that you will for sure need a c-section; but remember that VBAC hopeful women are trying to increase their odds of achieving a vaginal delivery, which often times means avoiding interventions as much as possible***
So the goal is to stay away from interventions. And the best way to do that is to labor at home as long as possible, and then come to the hospital ready to push.
I knew if I was going to be able to labor at home my labor would need to be quick.
Like lighting fast!
Of course fast labor usually means an extra intense labor but I reasoned that a few hours of intense pain would be worth it to meet my baby.
The Three Keys to a Successful VBAC
After months of research and talking to doctors I had finally narrowed down the three keys to achieving a VBAC:
- A fast labor
- Labor at home as long as possible
- Show up to the hospital ready to push
Now I just had to figure out how to make that all happen. How in the world could I set myself up for a fast labor? Could I really control that? Of course not, but I could certainly try to help it along. The fact that this was my third baby certainly played in my favor, but was there anything else I could do?
How was I going to stand the pain of labor at home with no doctors and no medicine. Just me and my husband, and two very curious very worried Great Danes?
I knew what I needed to do, but how was I going to get there?
After many, many, many more hours of research I finally found the tips that I knew would work for me and I put together my VBAC birth plan. And now I want to share these tips with you!!!
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