Erin's Birth Choices: VBAC or Planned Section?

09:30 Pippa Ainsworth 0 Comments

Today I'm welcoming Erin from Yorkshire Tots who is going to share her birth choices around her second child's birth. Yorkshire Tots is a fab blog which features days out, events and activities in West Yorkshire. It's a one stop shop for the area and always an entertaining read.

After months of sorting through websites, conflicting advice and mummy guilt surrounding any choice I made, I decided to try for a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Caesarean) with my second birth. In doing so I changed hospitals, read books, dove into hypnobirthing, got serious about prenatal yoga and carried my baby almost a full extra month. After all of this I had a planned second c-section ten days after my baby was due. Still, I don't regret preparing for a VBAC at all. In fact, planning and preparing for the VBAC that didn't happen made both my pregnancy and my birth a more positive experience.

From the beginning,I found planning for my second birth much more stressful than planning for my first. With my first baby, my birth plan consisted of going to the hospital when it 'was time' and letting things progress as they would with (hopefully) minimal intervention. Two weeks after my due date my waters broke and after 24 hours and numerous attempts at induction, the progression never happened. I didn't dilate, not one little bit, but my baby was in distress. The minimal intervention plan turned into an emergency c-section. Although the emergency c-section was pretty straight forward as far as they go, it wasn't an experience I was looking to repeat when I found myself facing a birth plan again sixteen months later with my second baby.

I suddenly had a decision to make. To VBAC or not to VBAC. I did my research and I diagnosed myself as a good candidate. I assumed I would get nothing but support from the medical community as I had heard from friends and acquaintances that they had been pushed towards VBACs when they hadn't even really wanted them. To my surprise, both my doctor and midwife suggested a scheduled c-section at 38 weeks. They both seemed to think that because I didn't dilate the first time, I was unlikely to go in labor the second time. In fact my midwife told me that I would be putting my baby under undue stress by trying for a VBAC as a scheduled c-section is preferable to an emergency c-section. Guilt kicked in and I started to doubt myself. On my next visit to my midwife I told her I would schedule in a c-section.

Later that very day I went to a baby group where I told a friend how disappointed I was. She listened and then told me about another friend who had gone to a neighbouring hospital where they were very supportive of VBACs. I went home, did some more research, got in touch with the hospital, and a few weeks later I found myself with a very supportive midwife talking about my VBAC options.

If I was going to try for a VBAC I wanted to make sure that I gave it my best shot. A friend lent me her hypnobirthing CDs and I ordered a special 'Hypnobirthing for VBAC' CD from Amazon. The first part of the CD has a 'letting go' section with visualisation techniques for releasing fear or stress about the last birth. Before I listened to it I would have said that I felt fine about my first birthing experience, so I was surprised to find myself crying and even more surprised at how much better I felt after a good cry. The second part of the CD, preparing for a birth, became a daily listen and soon I found it would put me to sleep almost instantly. During my first pregnancy I had trouble with insomnia but the second time around I would listen to my hypnobirthing track in the middle of the night if I woke up.

I also became more focused on doing regular pregnancy yoga in order to be better prepared for the birth. I think this is the reason I didn't have sciatic pain in my second pregnancy and also why, even though I was chasing after a one-year-old, I was more relaxed.

While I (mostly) can't complain about the care I was given during my first birth, I far preferred the approach of my new hospital. However, a week after my due date, I was having lots and lots of Braxton Hicks contractions and no longer sleeping well, with no sign at all of dilation. It was starting to look like my first labour (or lack of labour) all over again. I decided with my midwife to schedule in a c-section at ten days after my due date if there was no sign of baby. There wasn't.

On the morning of the c-section my husband and I dropped my daughter off with her aunt, walked calmly into the hospital and soon I was using my hypnobirthing relaxation techniques while they fitted the epidural (I can't say I love needles). Soon after little Leo was in my arms and it was such a calm, gentle experience compared to the first time around (minus a bit of throwing up from the anesthesia but at least I knew what to expect).

I found I recovered much more quickly from my second c-section even though it was only eighteen months after my first. I think this was partly due to having a less stressful birth but also partly due to preparing more for the birth this time around.

Erin and Leo

Am I disappointed that I wasn't able to have a VBAC? Of course I am, but only to a point. I feel lucky that the birth went so well and I am also really glad that I did what I felt was right for me. In taking control of my birth experience and preparing for a VBAC, I made choices that helped both my baby and myself have a healthier, happier birth even if it wasn't the birth had I planned.

I'd like to thank Erin for sharing Leo's birth on my blog. Do head over to Yorkshire Tots to read more of her writing.