A VBAC Story

I recently had the experience of helping a wonderful couple achieve their goal of a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Caesarean). When they hired me, they explained that for their first birth they had not taken any classes and had not prepared for the birth, trusting that the hospital staff would tell them what to do.

The thing is, that isn’t really the staff’s job. They are supposed to keep mom and baby healthy, which of course is extremely important. But they won’t necessarily suggest positions to help baby move down, offer ideas for staying comfortable or strategies for making make labor efficient, although some do all that and more.

So when this first-time laboring mother told the nurse she was feeling uncomfortable and anxious, the nurse advised her to get an epidural, even though it was very early in the labor and the mom wasn’t then able to be up and changing positions to help move baby down. Next, when the mom was fully dilated and couldn’t feel any urge to push, no one suggested to turn the epidural down. Almost inevitably, a C-section followed.

This couple felt that perhaps the surgery was avoidable and so to their credit, when they became pregnant a second time, they spoke with their doctor about a VBAC, took classes, read books, and hired support.

She went into labor a few days before her due date and after a few hours at home contractions were close enough to go to hospital. When we arrived, the couple’s doctor was not on call. The doctor who met them was more conservative and told them that he thought she was not a good candidate for a VBAC and that they should just do another surgery.  They talked about it and because they had done lots of research and had spoken at great length with their OB, who thought they were good candidates, they felt strong enough to say they wanted to proceed with trying for a vaginal delivery.

The mom, who thought she had a low pain tolerance, handled contractions beautifully without any medication and gave birth in 5 hours. The first time she said she didn’t really push because she couldn’t feel any urge and didn’t really know what to do. This time the baby was born with about 20 minutes of pushing that she instinctively did perfectly. After the birth, the doctor told them they had made the right decision.

Being a doula is amazing because I get to help people do the things that they didn’t believe they were capable of doing. With a little bit of support and education couples can access their own strength and realize that they are capable of much more than they might have believed – and that can help them on more than just their labor day.

The Path

At a birth recently, the doctor asked if I’d had unmedicated births myself. I was surprised that I hesitated in answering “yes,” even though I did.

Right after the births of my children, I would have wanted to shout my accomplishment from the rooftops. And then as a inexperienced doula, I felt like everyone could and should follow the same path I did.

But over these 17 years of watching women’s experiences vary in length, in intensity, and in levels of anxiety, I now feel like it is not the avoidance or acceptance of an epidural that defines her accomplishment but the way that an expectant mom experiences her path.

My job at the end of the day is not to check the box that says “unmedicated, vaginal birth” but to help comfort and empower all women with whom I work to make on their own best journey.

Praise for “Deliver!” from a Childbirth Educator

Deliver! Books

We just received this five star review for “Deliver!” on Amazon from childbirth educator .

“Just finished reading “Deliver!” in preparation for a childbirth class I’m teaching. As a parent educator and birth and postpartum doula, I am very impressed with the content and its concise nature. It was easy to read in one sitting and it provides a lot of information for the partner of the laboring mother, primarily, on how to ‘be with’ her during labor and birth. Well done, Julie!”

Thanks Sandra, we always appreciate feedback from prenatal professionals and our hope is that our book can be a useful addition to all those who work with expectant mothers.

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Birth Story from a (repeat!) “Deliver!” Mom

Deliver! Books

“Your book and previous advice still helped us so much this time around. Thank you! I am going to make a little “pregnancy pack”, including your book, and give it to every friend who gets pregnant. ” – Julie M.

We couldn’t be more excited to hear this in an email from Julie, who recently shared with us the story of her second V-Bac. Julie is a woman of amazing determination and faith and we are so glad to have been part of helping her welcome a new member to her family.

You can read all about her latest birth on her blog. Julie says Deliver! was “succinct and easy to review again before each birth. I want to buy it for every pregnant woman.”

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Reading “Deliver!” a first time dad “learned so much in a very short time.”

Deliver! Books

We just noticed this new five star Amazon review of “Deliver!” from earlier in the fall. Reader Nmat83 said:

“This book is simply great. As a first time father to be, I learned so much in a very short time. This book was a short, easy read with great information on every page. I felt much more at ease and knowledgeable after reading. I also got major kudos for dropping facts I learned from my wife! I definitely recommend this book to any father to be!”

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The Peanut Ball: A smart labor tool

Deliver! Books

I just supported a couple where the doctor was very doubtful that the mom would be able to deliver without a C-section. Based on my experience, I had to agree, but the mom really wanted to avoid surgery and so we did everything we could to help her to achieve that goal.

It was a long labor, but she did it (yeah!) and here’s what I think tipped the scales in her favor: The peanut ball.

More and more hospitals are providing these inflatable, peanut-shaped cushions for moms with epidurals and I have found them to be amazing tools for shortening labors and helping babies turn and descend when nothing else has seemed to help. They are especially good for moms who have to be in bed because of an epidural or other health concerns.

Here is an article with pictures and details if you are interested in seeing how…

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