Have you been eagerly awaiting how Laura and her family prepared for a vaginal birth after cesarean or VBAC? Well, here’s Part 2 of her birth story and today, we choose how to give birth with Laura and prepare ourselves mentally, physically, and spiritually for the upcoming birth.
If you haven’t read Part 1 yet, click here.
Our Journey to VBAC and How We Prepared for It
By: Laura Lyn Magat
Each woman is different and each has a right to decide what kind of birthing experience she’ll have. We have heard so many scary stories on vaginal birth after cesarean or VBAC—the cases of uterine rupture are the most popular.
In preparation for our VBAC, we read stories of those who actually experienced it, background and statistics, and risks of a repeat caesarean, to the point that I got crazy thinking about all of these! Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to be informed, it’s just that I have a hard time when I let it get to me.
We wanted a VBAC. We prayed for wisdom. We know that we will be having a medical/birthing team present to take care of the pregnancy and birthing. When we had that confidence with the team, we laid everything on God’s will.
Pregnancy and birthing is a partnership between the mother and the baby. I embraced this and made this my truth, which made the experience a lot easier. Instead of asking why the baby is making this experience difficult for me, I tried to see it as our journey together.
We prepared like there’s no tomorrow. Although I have given birth twice before, it felt like this was our first time. We were set on writing a different birth story this time, one in which we are at the core. Having US as a family, in a birthing journey as ONE.
1) Hire a doula. We like it when we are heard and when we are not being told what to do. We prefer hearing the options, solutions and information for me and Jonathan to decide on. We found that in our doula, Velvet. She was heaven-sent for us. We love the way she was always there patiently answering every question and offering help we needed. We felt her care for me, the baby, our family and the birth itself.
2) Look for a supportive OB. We painstakingly looked for an OB/Gyne who gave us a positive response with our desire for VBAC (vaginal birth after a caesarean). We weren’t just rejected once or twice–but five times! Five different OBs said no and we felt broken-hearted. Velvet has always brought up the name Dr. Menefrida Reyes of St. Lukes Quezon City.
We were hesitant at first since we live all the way from Parañaque. It was the Christmas holidays and the traffic was horrible when we finally decided to see her after holding off for so long. I was already on my 29th week.
At the first meeting, we immediately felt the warmth of Dra. Reyes’ support. After our birth, I told my doula, “I love it when the doctor treats you like an intelligent person.” Yes, we might live in Parañaque and her clinic is all the way in Quezon City and the trip from our home to the hospital and back takes a big chunk of our time and effort. But Dr. Reyes was worth the trip, because of the feeling of empowerment and positivity. That was how much we want for this VBAC to happen.
3) Attend a Pregnancy Preparation and Childbirth Class. Our doula held a special class for her doula clients. Even if we were still on our first trimester, I attended the class. We wanted to be educated and informed as early as we can. There were five of us in that class and all of us have five beautiful stories to tell. One of them was someone who had two previous caesarean births and a vaginal birth with Velvet as her doula.
4) Get your previous post-operative report. Acquire your post-operative report from previous caesarean birth/s. It helped our Dr. Reyes assess the situation better.
5) Read. Read, read and read about VBAC and natural birthing. We love the book “Birthing from Within: An Extra-Ordinary Guide to Childbirth Preparation” written by Pam England and Rob Horowitz. We received a great deal of emotional support just by reading it. It tackles a mother’s fears and doubts and it gently showed me on how to cope with these challenges. It didn’t sugar coat the reality of the pregnancy journey, nor the labor pains. The book guided me through everything I went through. It had a whole chapter on labor pain techniques which changed my whole perspective of pain which later on helped me a lot during the actual labor. One of my favorite parts was learning how to be powerful during birth, rejecting the many unnecessary fears instilled in the minds of mothers by some (hopefully not most) doctors.
6) Exercise. I religiously followed my prenatal exercises. My doula always said that labor is work and birth is a marathon that you need to prepare for. You don’t go into it unprepared. I could always feel some tension and pressure on my back and the exercises of Miles Circuit and Spinning Babies alleviated these muscle cramps.
7) Acupuncture. We had placenta previa totalis and Velvet had it too. She experienced bleeding and went to an acupuncturist. She asked us if we are open to alternative medicine and recommended her acupuncturist, Sr. Regina Liu. Our sessions with Sr. Regina, helped migrate the placenta upward and somehow it helped my nausea, back pain, and other discomforts.
8) Healthy diet. This part is tricky. During the first trimester, it was emotionally painful that I could only take sparkling water and camote juice.For the second trimester, I found out that I could only tolerate pizza and burritos. I had to stop with the burritos because of the rice it had due to my GDM. But, of course, I needed the energy so I have at least 1 to 2 slices of pizza a day. This lasted for a week or so.
Once I learned I could already have solids,I tried different vegetable dishes every single time. I could only eat small portions of brown rice and whole wheat bread because white rice raises my blood sugar level so high.
During the latter part of my pregnancy, I craved for sweets. I sometimes indulge to keep my sanity but we had to keep my sugar levels in check. We had to use the glucometer to check blood sugar before and after every meal. I had to eat very small frequent meals once I was able to tolerate solids. Each time I ate, I create a mental picture that the food goes straight to my baby’s stomach. I ask myself, “Do I want my baby’s delicate body ingest this?” This idea may not be true but having that mindset helped me be conscious of what I put in my body.
9) Financially prepare for the worst. We prepared for a VBAC but we were financially prepared for the cost of a caesarean birth.
10) Spiritual and mental preparation. We had mixed emotions when we learned that we were pregnant with our third. We were generally excited and honored that God entrusted us with one of His children. With this in mind, we prayed for guidance and wisdom.
My husband and I discussed what to do next.Do we go to our previous OB? Try VBAC? Repeat CS? It really is hard to decide by ourselves. It’s hard to rely on logical or emotional decisions, because either way, we will just stress ourselves with what to do.
We continued with our quiet time with the Lord, believing that this is a part of God’s plan for our family’s journey together. We received these challenges it with open arms, believing that He will deliver us from all difficulties we will experience and that He will give us a pregnancy and birthing experience that will glorify Him.
As time went by, things got clearer and clearer.It started when I attended the child birthing class with Velvet. From then on,it was a moment by moment decision. Up until the last day, we lifted this pregnancy and birth to Him.
11) Psyche up your hubby. Everything I learned, I shared with my husband, Jonathan. The risks, myths, how to cope with pain during labor—everything. The main goal is for us to be in sync during the preparation. I showed him actual videos of natural births, which he DID NOT want to see because he is scared of his own blood. But he watched them anyway, and I appreciated that very much.
He helped me with my daily exercises, and would even join me sometimes. He learned to understand my irrational mood swing and my temper, which we learned to attribute to hormones. I also let him know that he is not entitled to feel hurt or pained with whatever words/expressions/actions I might do during active labor.
12) Discuss your breastfeeding plans. I breastfed my two children. With my eldest, I had two sleepless weeks because my daughter,Danielle, was restless all the time. She sleeps/wakes every 15-20 minutes and I was almost resigned to the idea that I didn’t have enough milk, and that she was hungry. My husband was so supportive that when I secretly bought a small can of formula, he threw it away before I got to use it. After two long weeks of latching, I had milk overload. It’s been a lot easier since then. We had the support of an online group called [email protected] We realized that having full support from family and friends, and most especially the husband, is a big factor in the success of breastfeeding.
Prior to giving birth, we informed all our family members of our decision to breastfeed. It may seem harsh but my husband and I did not allow the family to suggest the use of formula for our baby. We were blessed that no one contradicted our decision. We also looked for a real breastfeeding-advocate pediatrician.
We had some pedias who at first would say they are breastfeeding advocates but once they feel that my milk is not enough,they will suggest to give formula milk as supplement. We believe that mother’s milk is always enough, and we changed our pediatrician.
Our second experience with breastfeeding was a breeze. I had just weaned Danielle when I got pregnant with our son, Dyllon.With our third child coming four years after we weaned, I wondered if it will still be easy.
For fear of being complacent, I joined an online group again, the Breastfeeding Pinays. There are very supportive members and a lot of materials uploaded that can be used to educate oneself. Surprisingly for me, even after breastfeeding for a total of four years, I learned something new from my doula and peers. I learned how to properly hold a newborn for easiest latching position and how to hand-express which is much easier and less painful than using a breast pump.
Well there you have it. The list Laura and her husband made may be long but you can see that it covered all bases: from preparing mentally thru reading books, physically by doing her prenatal exercises, and spiritually by praying for guidance.
On our next post, Part 3 has Laura reflecting on lessons she learned from her two previous births as her birthing time comes nearer.