Two weeks ago, I posted a guide to pursuing a VBAC. I thought it only natural to write a story of a client who followed those tips and was successful in her VBAC journey.
The VBAC Choice
Ashlyn contacted me early in her pregnancy in hopes of exploring her options, not just in hiring a doula. She was not altogether decided about pursuing a VBAC. There is definitely something to be said about the somewhat predictability of a scheduled C-section. If you have endured a lengthy labor ending in a C-section before, you have to question if it's even worth it to try it again with the possibility of having a repeat cesarean. I have yet o speak to a mother who would say it isn't worth it, and there are so many reasons to try, but many of them are rather personal.
Ashlyn and I met for coffee early in her 2nd trimester to just talk, talk about her wishes, the pros and cons, her prior birth experience, and what my role would be if she decided to pursue a VBAC. Prior to that discussion, Ashlyn had had several candid discussions with her doctor about her concerns. Armed with information from her care provider, doula, and research, she and her husband were able to feel like they could make an informed decision, to pursue a VBAC.
Part of my individualized prenatal work with Ashlyn was to prepare her body for optimal fetal positioning and proper alignment and movement of her body. I prepared a lineup of exercises for her to do that was specific to what she encountered with her first birth experience and from observations and discussions we had. From that lineup we made adjustments as time went on and she encountered difficulties or needed to adjust the baby's position. I was inspired by her diligence with these exercises. When I would praise her efforts, she would say, "Well, you have to do the work if you want the outcome."
Factors Contributing to her Success
From the very beginning of labor, Ashlyn stayed moving. From the birth ball to walking to side lying to the shower, etc. I can honestly say that I have never worked with a client that has utilized nearly every laboring position like she did. Here labor was somewhat similar to her first except with this one, she had control. She could listen to her body, her doula, and nurse. She could sway, encourage her baby to dip below her pubic bone, and pivot through the birth canal.
Patient Care Provider
Her body needed to labor, needed time. Most care providers would have encouraged intervention to speed things up. Though her doctor presented them as options, she was completely okay with her patient asking for more time if she and the baby were okay. Not only did her doctor give her time but also encouragement in her pursuit if her goal.
An On-Board Birth Team
Her husband supported her decision and encouraged her unceasingly from pregnancy through birth. He was her cheer leader and primary support. Her doula (Me) was completely invested and 100% committed to her success. As long as it was in my scope of practice, I was there and doing whatever it took! Her nurses were amazing and backed her decision completely. One of her nurses rarely left our room and helped in position changes and suggestions. She was an absolute godsend in providing what we needed the last leg.
Ashlyn was able to go without continuous IV, so she was able to do things like move more freely and get in and out of the shower. She did not get an epidural, which would have restricted her ability to push effectively, not to mention move. She declined countless other medical augmentation efforts in lieu of giving her body what it needed, time.
She allowed labor to start on its own, which means better position and fewer interventions.
Believing in Herself
This last point is the most important even if it's the most trite. It would have been warranted for her to say, "I'm too tired" or "Enough!" Instead, she believed that her body was capable of birth. She believed also in her own mental ability to get through whatever discomfort she encountered. She believed in her own strength and resolve. Her pregnancy and birth journey were truly a wonder to behold.
Ashlyn was kind enough to answer some questions about her experience with me and her successful VBAC. You can read those here.