VBAC Series – Part Two

Hi guys,

Thank you for checking out part two of my vbac series.  Today I’m going to talk about dealing with past birth trauma, childbirth education and how to find evidence based information and then I’m going to share a little bit about my exercise routine.

So, let’s talk about trauma.  I found my first birth was pretty traumatic.  My birth was almost the complete opposite of what I had planned.  The last thing I want to do going into my next birth is carry with me the ifs and buts from my last birth, so here’s how I’m working on it.  Firstly, I’m working through this book – Home birth Cesarean.  This book is particularly relevant to me because I planned a home birth and ended up with a cesarean birth but generally, I think the process that it follows really deals with coming to terms with an experience that was not what you had hoped for.  I would recommend this book or something like it if you’re feeling in any way anxious about your upcoming birth and feel that you have some residual trauma from a previous birth.  The process has been really helpful to me in realising what I am actually struggling with and it’s been very eye opening for me as I hadn’t even acknowledged one of the key issues I have with my previous birth.  Whilst not all the exercises resonate with me and I’ll confess there is one part I skipped because it’s just not ‘me’ rather than I didn’t want to do the work, on the whole it’s been an amazing way for me to come to terms with things and shed some of the baggage I’ve been carrying.  Another way I’m trying to approach this is by going through my birth chart with my midwives and doula to fill in the blanks I have about my first birth as my memory is a little hazy in places.  I’m really looking here to understand why each thing happened in the way that it did and reflect on whether I feel I made the right decisions at the time.  My reason for this is that if I’m presented with the same or similar circumstances I want to ensure that I’m making the right decisions based on the circumstances at the time rather than the bits I’m carrying from my last birth.  I’m also seeing a perinatal counsellor who is helping me work through things that arise as my pregnancy progresses and helping me to unpick things and deal with them appropriately.  So, there you have it, this is how I’m trying to come to terms with my previous birth to communicate possible triggers to my whole birth team and go into my next birth, confident and happy that I can handle whatever is in store for me, as birth after all cannot be planned.  So when thinking about making the right decisions, it’s important to have an education around birth.  

Education is key in understanding all the options that are available to you from an evidence based perspective.  For my first birth my husband and I undertook a 10 week birth course to really know our options and this served us well in my previous birth.  At one point in my previous birth my husband saw I was getting overwhelmed with the circumstances and he remembered what we had learned in training and managed to clear the room politely so it was just the two of us and we discussed how I really felt about the next steps and he slowed everything down for us.  Also, having this education meant that when certain interventions were discussed with us we were not bewildered about what it was and what it meant for the birth.  I don’t think I can stress what an important point this was for us, when someone presents you with an option it can feel like the only option and saying ‘no’ can feel like it’s not an option, when it always is.  Having a birth education, not only provides you with an up to date birth education but it arms you with the confidence to advocate for yourself and feel good about your decisions.  Also, a good birth education will not only give you the facts, but it will also show you and your partner birth positions and comfort measures to help you cope with the intensity of labor, along with how you can relax throughout your pregnancy and prepare effectively for your birth.  I would also recommend researching your options.  I stay up to date on the subjects that matter most by listening to podcasts (there are so so many birth podcasts) which not only share birth stories but also discuss evidence based information on everything to do with birth.  Some of my favourites right now are The VBAC Link and Evidence Based Birth.  They also have websites with great information for you so definitely check them out if you haven’t already!  My only piece of advice when it comes to choosing a birth education is to make sure it is independent.  What you’re after is an evidence based offering that presents the facts so you can make the best decisions for you.

So finally, onto my exercise routine.  Exercise in pregnancy has been really important to me this time around, mainly as my first birth showed me just how physical labor can be.  This time around I’m keen to maintain a healthy balance of exercise and rest.  It can be so difficult to work out, especially in the early months so let’s start gently.  

Walking – I try to walk 1-2 miles a day.  I definitely didn’t achieve this in my first trimester because frankly getting out of bed took everything I had and running around after a busy toddler with nausea and fatigue was pretty much all I could do.  However, as I’ve started to feel better I’ve been able to do this more and more often.  Right now in sunny Texas the weather is extreme so walking early in the morning is key as it’s not too hot and it sets me up nicely with some energy for the rest of the day.  I intend to build up my miles as I get closer to my due date which luckily for me is this winter.  I find walking regularly helps a lot with my sciatica and my mental health.

Before I got pregnant I was fairly active on my peloton bike, my chiropractor isn’t too keen on me doing this as regularly through this pregnancy as I’ve had a lot of trouble with sciatica and my hips rotating so I no longer do a 30 minute class and have cut this down to 15 mins every other day.  I do feel able to do more so I jump off the bike and add on a 10 minute arm & shoulders work out and a 10 minute legs and gluten work out.  This helps me to get a good work out without putting too much stress on my body and I’m really enjoying toning my body.  I know I’ll be relying on my whole body to help me bring my baby earth side, however it happens so feeling my arms and legs getting stronger is great.  As I mentioned in my last post, I’m also doing the spinning babies daily essentials as much as possible, which still isn’t daily but I’m very familiar with the exercises now so I’ve been doing them whenever I get a spare minute or after I’ve been sitting or standing for a long time or feeling discomfort.  

Now, please don’t take anything I’ve said as medical advice or a checklist in achieving a vbac.  Birth is an unpredictable business so there are no guarantees.  It’s also so important to keep in touch with your care providers and talk to them about what’s appropriate for you.  

So thank you for listening and in my third part to this series I’ll be talking about Doula Support and C Section recovery.  To make sure you don’t miss it, head over the link in my bio and sign up for updates!

See you next time!

VBAC Series – Part One

I’m 19 weeks pregnant with my second child and preparing for a VBAC. I wanted to share how I’m preparing with you!

1. Finding a VBAC Supportive Provider

When interviewing prospective care providers, be sure to have a conversation with them about your plans for a vbac.  Simply asking ‘are you vbac supportive?’ is not enough.  There are not many providers that aren’t comfortable with vbacs. Their comfort levels, however, will differ greatly from one provider to another.  Having a full conversation is so important, not just to confirm your expectations match theirs but also to start building a trusted relationship.  This conversation will help you to evaluate whether this provider is right for you. Some things to consider are;

– How well do they listen to your needs and answer your questions? 
– Do you feel comfortable enough with them to be vulnerable?

Some questions to ask to get a good sense of their ‘vbac friendliness’ are;
…if my pregnancy remains healthy;
– How many weeks post my estimated due date will you continue to be comfortable with me labouring and having a vbac?
– How long would you be comfortable with me labouring before you feel it would be safer for me to have a cesarean?
– How many vbac clients do you have that go on to have successful vbacs?  Get the statistics! This is so important. Words like ‘many’ or ‘most’ can be defined differently by different people. Many might mean 80% to you and 50% to them. Statistics give a much clearer picture on things.
– What kind of complications have arisen that have prevented your clients from having a successful vbac?  On this question, you’re really looking to hear about exceptional circumstances that require a cesarean rather than answers like ‘failure to progress’

This should give you a great start to an open conversation with them to build from.  Bear in mind whilst having this conversation, it’s not meant to be a challenge to them.  Care providers do have your interest at heart but have different comfort levels based on their experience and you have your set of expectations.  This helps you to see if these  two things meet.  Having this conversation also gives you a foundation to refer back to if things change down the line and you feel like the understanding has changed.  

So now we have a supportive provider in place, let’s talk about how we can start to physically prepare our bodies for this wonderful day. 

2. Chiropractic Care
Whether you’re planning your first or 5th baby, having chiropractic care in my opinion is essential.  My reasons for making this a part of my regular care has been to help my body adjust to my rapidly growing bump and see off those aches and pains that I usually would suffer through and renew my energy.  I often walk into my appointments feeling sluggish and lethargic and wondering how much longer this pregnancy is going to last and I walk out feeling almost new with the energy to keep up with my lifestyle.  Another reason I’ve been having chiropractic care in this pregnancy is because I want to ensure that I’m preparing my body as it grows to make a good space for baby both whilst I’m pregnant and also for birth.  This type of care helps to reduce labor length and unnecessary interventions which is everything I’m looking for. I’ve learned so much about my body through having this care too. Discussing any aches and pains that I’m experiencing with a chiropractor has helped me to identify the root causes of those pains and how I can modify this to feel better for longer.

If you decide that chiropractic care is right for you and you’re currently pregnant, please make sure you look for a provider that is Webster certified.

3. Daily Essentials – Spinning Babies
Another thing I’m making part of my routine is the Daily Essentials from Spinning babies.  This was recommended to me by one of my wonderful midwives when I mentioned that I was going into full rocky mode in order to prepare for my vbac.  This download has been amazing.  It is essentially a video that advises you on how you can get your body ready for birth.

The first section breaks down a series of yoga postures and explains how each posture/movement will benefit your pregnant body with advice on how to make adjustments to suit your comfort level.

The second part breaks down everything you can do for a comfortable pregnancy from how to sit comfortably to how to get in and out of the car safely. These tips are not only useful for day to day activities but made me realise that the position I was sitting in on my sofa will promote a posterior position for baby. This was so ground breaking for me as my first baby was posterior and got stuck in my pelvis so something as simple as sitting in the right chair may have altered my labor.

The third part, takes the series of movements from the first section and puts them into a yoga routine for you.

I must admit I’ve struggled to make this a daily routine. The Covid restrictions mean that I’m with my son Max from the minute he wakes up til he goes to bed at night by which point I’m pretty exhausted and just want to collapse. However I have slowly added one more day to this so I’m currently doing it 3-4 times a week. I do a work out if I’m feeling up to it and do this to wind down afterwards. Combining this with a warm shower with very dim lighting really helps to settle me for a very comfortable sleep and I’ve managed to get an extra 1-2 hours per night by doing this, mostly because I haven’t looked at a screen for a good 90 mins before I go off to bed so I’m more relaxed and ready for sleep.

That’s where I’m up to so far. In part two I’ll be covering;

– Dealing with past birth trauma
– Getting a childbirth education & finding evidence based resources
– Exercise

Please feel free to get in touch with me, I’d love to hear from you about how you’re preparing for your vbac or what you felt lead to the success of your vbac!