Mother holding newborn baby after successful VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean), illustrating VBAC strategies for a positive birth experience.

No matter how much you prepare, childbirth can surprise you! When it came to my daughter’s birth, I had my heart set on unmedicated delivery, but I mentally prepared myself for the possibility of a c-section if things took an unexpected turn. Little did I know, upon arrival at the hospital, I’d have a major surprise—she was breech, despite previous assurances that she was head down. The result? An unplanned c-section.

My recovery journey was long and painful. C-sections are major surgeries demanding substantial recovery time. Balancing post-op healing with the demands of a newborn was exhausting, and it took nearly a year before I felt like myself again.

Because my first pregnancy and labor were otherwise uncomplicated, I was eligible for a TOLAC (Trial of Labor after Cesarean) and VBAC (Vaginal Birth after Cesarean) for my second. I took the time to research a VBAC vs. scheduled repeat C-section, consulted with my OB and midwives, and weighed the pros and cons with my husband. Ultimately, I decided to pursue a VBAC.

The main reasons behind my decision? A potentially speedier recovery and the ability to resume regular activities, including holding my daughter, more quickly. I felt the risk of uterine rupture was low enough (<1%), while the risks of major complications with a repeat c-section were higher (~4.3%). So, I wanted to try everything I could to have a successful VBAC.

From there, I knew I’d have to prepare mentally and physically for birth. Here are the ten key strategies that helped me navigate this journey.

Mental Preparation

1. Research and Education

I dedicated time to understanding the VBAC process and potential outcomes. Additionally, I read Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth and Siobhan Miller’s Hypnobirthing.

2. Communicating with my Baby

I had lots of conversations with my baby, working on our bond and envisioning a positive birth experience for both of us.

3. Emotional Readiness

Focusing on positivity, I visualized a successful VBAC and cultivated a mindset of confidence and readiness. Through daily affirmations and positive self-talk, I reinforced my belief in my body’s ability to birth.

4. Prioritizing Mental Health

Mindfulness, meditation, and relaxation techniques became integral to my routine. By managing stress and anxiety, I fostered a calm and centered state of mind conducive to birthing.

5. Visualization Techniques

Using visualization exercises, I mentally rehearsed the labor and birth process, envisioning each stage with clarity and positivity.

Physical Preparation

6. Acupuncture

Regular sessions with my acupuncturist provided the energy I needed for birth. Additionally, there is research that supports acupuncture combined with moxibustion can help turn a breech baby.

7. Chiropractor

Collaborating with a Webster-certified chiropractor, I addressed pelvic imbalances and tension through adjustments and therapeutic exercises. Incorporating exercises like Figure 8 movements at home helped promote pelvic alignment and flexibility.

8. Birthing Ball Exercises

I incorporated regular sessions on the birthing ball and engaged in gentle movements such as hip circles, figure 8s, and pelvic tilts. These exercises aimed to encourage optimal fetal positioning and support pelvic mobility.

9. Spinning Babies Techniques

Using resources from Spinning Babies, I integrated inversions into my routine to encourage optimal fetal positioning and pelvic alignment. Additionally, Spinning Babies has resources for flipping a breech baby.

10. Prioritizing Rest

I recognized the importance of rest in pregnancy and birth preparation. I napped a lot with my daughter, we watched more TV than I would have liked, and I leaned on my family for support.

My son’s arrival was a humble reminder that babies have their own timelines for entering the world. I experienced what’s called a precipitous labor—from the first contraction to his arrival, it was a whirlwind of 2.5 hours! When I rushed to the hospital, I was already fully dilated, leaving no time for any pain relief except the breathing exercises I’d been practicing from my hypnobirthing book. My VBAC was a wild ride, but I’m grateful for the preparation that helped me navigate it.

Whether you opt for a VBAC or schedule a repeat c-section, remember that you’re an amazing mama bringing a beautiful child into the world. I share my experience with the hope that it helps you feel less alone in your decision-making journey. Trust yourself, mama—you’ve got this!


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