Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Preparing for a Hospital VBAC: My Top 10

Welcome to the March Carnival of Natural Parenting: Natural Parenting Top 10 Lists

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared Top 10 lists on a wide variety of aspects of attachment parenting and natural living. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


I'd planned a homebirth for my first baby. As sometimes happens, things didn't go to plan. The baby turned breech late in pregnancy, and I ended-up delivering via cesarean. 

Now I'm pregnant again, and this darn scar on my uterus has meant I'm planning my next delivery at the hospital with an MD in attendance. But I'm trying once again for an unmedicated, instinctual birth.

I cannot say that this is the way to prepare for a hospital VBAC, but it's how I'm preparing for it.

  1. My first choice was to find a midwife to attend my birth, but when I was unable to find a homebirth midwife who was both available around my EDD and who was comfortable attending a primary HBAC (homebirth after cesarean), I turned to MDs. I interviewed several doctors and finally chose a Family Practioner rather than an Obstetrician. I've learned that Family Practice docs (who don't themselves perform surgeries) tend to have fewer patients who "need" cesareans than those who see an OB as their labor attendant. It's not a guarantee,  but after several interviews I did find an MD I'm happy with and who seems truly supportive of VBACs and unmedicated labors.
  2. I've hired a doula to assist me during labor and for any immediate post-birthing breastfeeding guidance I may require. (If you're not familiar with why hiring a doula would be on my list of "Top 10" you can click here to see DONA International's list of how doulas make a positive difference in births, including the reduced use of pain medications, less need for tools like forceps and vacuum extractors, and mothers feeling more positive about their births.
  3. I'm researching the best pushing positions that may help reduce pain, allow my pelvis to open, and help me to avoid tearing.
  4. I'm practicing my squats
  5. I'm reviewing my workbook and notes from the Bradley Method natural childbirth class I took during my first pregnancy. (I cannot say enough positive things about that class!) 
  6. I'm reading and re-reading books about natural childbirth. My favorites are Ina May Gaskin's Guide to Childbirth, Birthing from Within by Pam England and Rob Horowitz, and Henci Goer's The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth. 
  7. I'm preparing a birth plan that will describe my labor wishes to the L&D nurses while keeping in mind the environment in which I'll be birthing. (As my doula told me, "You'll be walking in there with a doula and a Family Practitioner and a birth plan---believe me, they'll know what kind of a woman you are!")  HERE is the finished birth plan. 
  8. I'm trying to focus on eating well to avoid diet-related complications (toxemia/pre-eclampsia) that would affect my and my baby's health and thus the delivery itself (see the Brewer's Diet for a description of a healthy pregnancy diet and click here for checklists with omni, lacto/ovo and vegan variations). 
  9. I'm exercising regularly I'm planning to exercise. This is by far the preparation I've been least successful with, even though I know how important it is to both my baby's health and my stamina during labor. But wintertime in Wisconsin is not an ideal time to go strolling about the neighborhood for a brisk walk, and I was so tired during the 1st trimester I had a difficult time staying up past 7pm much less exercising. However, now in my 2nd trimester I'm starting to get my energy back and have dug out my prenatal yoga tapes and can see a hint of Spring (and the return of evening strolls) around the corner. I will exercise!
  10. Finally, I'm keeping a positive outlook. There's every reason to believe that all will go well. After all, I'm mentally and physically preparing myself and will have emotional support both during and after labor. I will have a VBAC, I just know it!


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:


Becky March 8, 2011 at 10:06 AM  

Good luck to you! It looks like you've done a lot of research. I want to go for a VBAC, too, so thanks for the links to peruse.

Lauren Wayne March 8, 2011 at 1:24 PM  

It sounds like you're doing everything right to prepare for your VBAC! I wish you the best in your goal, and I believe in you! I've been having trouble exercising, too (darn winter!), but I'm starting to get into more of a rhythm as it's not as terribly cold. I've been practicing my squats, too, but I love that link you provided. Definitely trying out that plan!

Lindsay March 8, 2011 at 3:00 PM  

Good luck!! I love seeing this list-I'm not pregnant right now, but my son ended up being a c-section so next time (and all the times after that) I'm hoping for VBACs and it's great to see how other people prepare. And I'm totally with you on the exercising-I'm in the Midwest too and it's so hard to get motivated to do exercise...unless you count trudging through snow while holding a 25lb squirmy toddler in one arm and a bag of groceries in the other.

Tat March 8, 2011 at 7:54 PM  

I hope it all goes well for you.

Adrienne March 8, 2011 at 8:10 PM  

I'm so excited for you! You'll be great- you're very prepared! And I agree- doulas make such a difference in an excellent birth experience!

Kat March 8, 2011 at 8:21 PM  

I am also a VBAC hopeful and I really enjoyed reading this! Thanks for sharing all these wonderful resources as I had heard of some of these, but not all, I am going to look into them now :-) I too have a hard time with exercise, partly because I have an irritable uterus and I start contracting {mildly} whenever I do. And with my history of PTL, well, it's not a good combo. But I need to find something that's gentle yet effective. Like you I can see the VBAC in my future, I just can!!! Best of luck!

Dionna @ Code Name: Mama March 8, 2011 at 9:27 PM  

I'm keeping everything crossed that you have your VBAC! Education is powerful, take comfort in the fact that you are doing everything you can.

Kristin @ Intrepid Murmurings March 9, 2011 at 9:37 AM  

This list sounds great for everyone, not just VBACS! I loved Ina May and Birthing from Within, too. Exercise, dang it, it's so hard to tackle! I was not great with this in either of my pregnancies (beyond yoga with my first) -- just too miserably sick the first tri, and tired/sore/busy in the latter two. But I know its a great idea, and can be so helpful!

Wishing you a great, smooth VBAC!

mrs green @ littlegreenblog March 9, 2011 at 1:40 PM  

You've done so much research and I think number 10 is one of the most important points. What a great list; thank you so much - this will be a great inspiration and comfort to others too. Hoping you have a wonderful birth!

Maggie @ From the Heart March 9, 2011 at 5:48 PM  

I'm so glad I found this post! I had a c-section and still have issues about it. I've been meaning to post on my blog about dealing with c-section. I'm not planning on getting pregnant any time soon, but I am already researching VBAC's. Good luck to you! I look forward to hearing how it goes!

Laurie March 9, 2011 at 9:00 PM  

My other suggestions: be prepared to labor at home as long as possible and look into optimal Fortaleza positioning techniques!

G Colby March 10, 2011 at 5:28 PM  

I am hoping for a much better experience for you this time around...and that little Propson #2 is more cooperative :) But you are prepared, you know what you want, you have a good support system to help you get as much of it as you can. Wish we could be there to help!

Anonymous March 11, 2011 at 9:08 AM  

Hi--I am visiting from Code Name: Mama. I am really enjoying these top 10 lists!

I wanted to suggest something for exercise. During my second, and especially third, trimesters, I did a lot of pool exercise. Mostly, I just walked back and forth through the water. Sometimes I swam a little. Being in the water felt SO. GOOD. because a lot of the weight and strain was lifted. I got to stretch and move gently. It was so refreshing. If you can find a local gym, YMCA or school with open pool hours, I highly recommend this as a great late-pregnancy exercise! I attribute a good part of my fast, drug-free labor, as well as my fast recovery, to it!

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