What was the reason for your initial Cesarean birth?
My firstborn was footling breech at 39 weeks.
Why did you choose a VBAC?
Honestly, I was much more afraid of having another needle in my spinal cord than of giving birth naturally. Also, I had a mild allergic reaction to the morphine in my spinal, and my memories of the first few hours after my son's birth are hazy, at best. I did not want to repeat that experience.
What were your fears and concerns (if any)?
My biggest fear was that I wouldn't be able to have a VBAC. Since I hadn't "given birth" before, I was worried that I wouldn't go into labor and that I'd end up having another Cesarean. I think I walked around 300 miles the last week of my pregnancy trying to jump start contractions!
What was the biggest challenge during pregnancy and then during labor and birth?
I was sick throughout my entire pregnancy. By 40 weeks, I was so tired of throwing up that I was eagerly anticipating labor and birth. The biggest challenge the night my daughter was born was finding an open entrance to the hospital at 1am (funny story now - not so funny at the time!). My labor was very quick, 5 hours total, and I was already at 7 cm by the time we got to the L/D floor, so it would have been a natural birth even if I hadn't wanted one!
How did you prepare for your VBAC?
I found a doula that I really liked and also talked to my OB/GYN about it at every appointment.
Fortunately, my OB/GYN is VBAC supportive. He performed my C-section and knew the circumstances surrounding that experience, so he was very encouraging about my VBAC request. He also shared that one of the reasons he supports VBACs is that the hospital where I was going to deliver has an anesthesiologist on site 24 hours a day (versus just having one on call), so he knew that if things started to go badly for whatever reason (fetal distress, rupture, etc.) he could do an emergency C-section very quickly. It was also comforting to me that my OB delivers all of his patients' babies instead of rotating nights with the partners in his medical practice. Thus, I knew that I wouldn't have to do battle with one of his colleagues (who is less VBAC supportive) when I went into labor.
What would you say to a woman who's considering a VBAC? How would you encourage her?
Do it! I had a very easy recovery from my Cesarean (didn't need prescription pain meds, just Motrin for a few days afterwards), but the recovery from the VBAC was still so much better. It is truly a night and day difference. Also, my daughter was so much more alert immediately after birth, and she latched on and breastfed for a half hour right away. The VBAC was such a better experience all around (for both my daughter and me) that I would strongly, strongly encourage it. Finally, I would recommend doing some research to dispel the "once a C-section, always a C-section" myth and put concerns about uterine rupture in their proper place.