Some thoughts on my VBAC

11 09 2013

After going through a successful VBAC (you can read about it here) my thoughts are these:

  • I worked hard in preparing myself for this. I do not think I could have gone through physiological birth otherwise.
  • It is very doable. In no moment I felt it was impossible or beyond me. I never thought or felt I needed pain relief. If you think you can live with the pain during the recovery after giving birth, you can totally cope with the contractions!
  • If you feel comfortable and safe, labor as much as possible at home, one doctor praised us for this saying it had been the key to a successful and fast labor. Heck, if you have a good knowledgeable team *and* you feel safe about it, have a home labor! I did not want to deal with it really, the risk of a uterine rupture, the cats, the cleaning up, etc.  It was tempting once I was in labor, but then, I had not prepared for it.
  • The doctors and nurses were impressed and all had words of praise about me not using drugs, so know that they will respect you for that. I just wish they were more outgoing and supportive of it before and during labor, though.
  • I did not feel pain during active labor, which is the longest stage. Even when I did feel pain later, there is pain at the peak of the contraction and then you have resting periods in between, the total time of pain is very little. I fell asleep several times between contractions, giving me much needed rest.
  • In fact, I loved active labor, it is kind of trippy and it was a wonderful bonding moment with my husband.
  • Marissa, my doula, says physiological labor is addictive. I wouldn’t say I am addicted to it, but surely enough I would love to experience it again!
  • I hated pushing, but you might like it, in fact many women have told me it was their favourite stage… go figure! They say it gives them relief.
My sweet little boy.

My sweet little boy.

  • If you think you can raise a toddler and a newborn, you can totally tackle a VBAC! It’s a piece of cake compared to what comes next!
  • You will hear mothers tell you “I was in labor for SIX hours!!!!” with a horror expression and as if that was super long. My labor was about 10 hours, and it is still below the average of 12 hours or so. It really did not feel long, let your body lead and you lose sense of time, and remember it is not 10 hours of sustained pain, most of labor is “time between contractions”, so it is very manageable.
  • The birth was not “all I ever envisioned”. I tried to keep my expectations reasonable, I tried not to focus too much in details and I tried to define what things were important for me. I wanted no drugs so my baby would be born with no drugs in his system. I wanted to be ready to go home to my oldest child as soon as possible, therefore I wanted to avoid a C-section at all costs. With these things in mind I was ready to stand my ground about some things, and to negotiate and even yield others.
  • I hold myself responsible for everything that did not go as I wanted, even that asshole resident doctor hurting me during his examination. After all, I could have always refused treatment and done it my way, but I didn’t. I was aware, I was in full possession of my faculties, but I did not refuse certain things, nobody forced me to do anything.

How is your perception of your labor? Did you enjoy it? Would you do anything different?





My VBAC experience. Part 2

27 08 2013

This is the second part of my VBAC story. The first part is here

Transition
After some hours of active labor, being taken care of by Marissa and Greg, I started to feel different. We asked Marissa, my doula, if it was time to go to the hospital and she suggested to wait a bit longer. Maybe give it time till four AM, and then decide.
By four I was certainly feeling like things were moving along quite nicely, I was still not really tired and I had lots of energy in me. But contractions were much more intense at the peak and my deep vocalizations sometimes would reach a high pitch that meant that I was not keeping control so well; Marissa and Greg would remind me to keep it low and breath, and I would bring myself back to a controlled state. When we made it to four O’ clock I asked Marissa if she thought we should head to the hospital, I definitely thought I was entering transition and I dreaded the idea of going down three flights of stairs and the car ride. She agreed and we got ready to leave.
I was right… going down the stairs was very painful, I did not want to vocalize loudly because it was 4 AM and my neighbours already were putting up with enough (they got “thank you for putting up with the noise and I’m sorry about it” candies some days later) and that made it harder to deal with the labor. Outside it was so cold!! I really did not want to go in the car, I did not want to ride in the car and I wanted to go back to the warmth of my room… but c’est la vie… I placed a towel on the car seat to absorb leaks and off we went.
The car ride was very difficult. The pain was intense and I could do nothing about it but moan/scream, try to breathe and think to myself that it was actually a short ride because the hospital is not far and thanks God that there is no traffic at 4 AM. We arrived at the hospital and checked in at triage. That took a while… all the time I was chanting through contractions, holding on to Greg’s neck and hanging a bit to help release the pressure. I almost died when the check in lady said only Greg (and not Marissa) could go in, but then someone else stepped in to say doulas were allowed in the L&D area. Yay! I was offered a wheel chair, but there was no way I was going to sit through contractions again, so I chose to walk to my room so I could lean against walls or Greg when I needed.
Once I got in they helped me on a bed and they started asking questions. Greg answered as much as he could and I chipped in when he didn’t know the answer. I rejected the IV but accepted to have a port in my arm (not my hand so I could move better) got half undressed, which took a lot more strength that I would have thought of! (incidentally, I couldn’t gather myself enough to take my socks off, which looked really funny, I was that lady in a blouse and socks!) and the resident doctor came in, he needed to see how dilated I was. I asked if I could stay kneeling and he said no, I had to lay, I also asked him to be gentle (remember, I cry during paps?) and he answered “I will only be as forceful as I have to” making him the recipient of asshole of the year worse beside manners award. The examination was as painful as you can imagine, with me screaming in real pain (no contraction would compare to that!) and asking him to stop. I remember screaming “Enough! Enough!” and finally Greg saying in a very angry, low voice “OK, that was enough!” and the guy leaving.
I got back on my knees and tried to gather myself again. I asked if they knew how much I had dilated and Marissa said she thought she heard “seven”. I wanted to cry. For the first time since labor started I just wanted to cry. On one hand I was happy because my objective was to arrive to the hospital at least at 6 cm, however I was sure I had gone through transition for quite some time and I didn’t know how I was going to cope if I had to open four more cm, or how long it was going to take. Marissa saw my posture, heard me muttering “Oh, God!” and realized I was discouraged, she started telling me that she thought I was more than that but that the examination had tighten me up because of the stress, to keep thinking “ten cm”, that soon I was going to meet my baby and that I should keep doing a good job breathing and chanting. I just nodded, regathered myself and kept laboring.
At some moment they passed me to L&D and connected me to all kinds of things. They asked me if a wanted pain relief such an epidural and all I could say was “not now”, honestly I never felt I needed anything to control pain because the pain was bearable as long as I was off of my sacrum and I could move when the contractions washed over me. I did ask for wireless fetal monitors because I wanted more freedom to move, a nurse took off to place an order, but they never came (I think it is because my labor was shorter than bureaucracy, Greg thinks she never meant to bring them… but remember, I tend to think everybody mean their best) so I was plugged to the wired ones. I was not expecting the pressure cuff and the finger heart monitor they put on me, I asked if hey were really needed and of course they said yes, so now I was connected by three different points to monitors, which made moving freely challenging. I found the way to go on my knees again and kept trying to focus on laboring.
As Marissa kept encouraging me I had an image of my Infinity Lotus Knot burnt in my brain, I did not try to see it, it just was there. Somehow it made its way there, being a perfect representation of my want to open like a flower for the baby to pass. Suddenly I heard inside me a noise as if old wood was put in tension, a “crack”, like an old ship in the ocean, and I just had to push. I felt panicky. I could not push at 7 cm, that would make me swell up or tear! “I think I have to push!” I remember saying. I realized we were alone, and Marissa exited to find the nurses. The L&D doctor came in he asked to see my dilation and I felt I could cry. Marissa explained how the triage doctor had hurt me and  he promised to be very gentle and allowed me to stay on my knees. He was fast and I barely felt him before he declared “yes, 10 cm, you can start pushing”, I laughed of happiness, it was such a relief!

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Right after giving birth, so happy! (again, the nighty is courtesy of Photoshop)

Pushing
I started to push as the contractions came, and then the doctor told me that I needed to lay down because the fetal heart monitor did not perceive the heart rate as I was on my knees. I really did not want to lay down but this was one of the things that I had discussed with Greg and I was ready to compromise. I knew that by then the baby was going to come out, labor was not going to stall and I was not going to be offered drugs, I also knew beforehand that it was going to be more than likely that they were going to push for me to lay down at this stage, so I was ready to do so.
I hated being on my back still, but the pain on my abdomen and sacrum was nothing compared to what it had been before, now the contractions were working different and I just felt like I needed to bear down. I was terribly afraid of having a bowel movement in front of everybody but I just pushed when I needed to. Soon the doctors started to tell me when and how to push, I just wanted to not tear and I wanted to push as and when I wanted. Then an oxygen mask came on to me and I hated it. They all said that the baby was doing much better now, but the thing was too large for me and too loose, it would keep moving around my face and it was one more thing connecting me and making it hard to do my job. They placed the squat bar in the bed but I had a very hard time reaching it during contractions, so they took it away. I remember breathing in the mask, and taking it off while I was pushing, to then put it on back again and breath. I was very frustrated at it and getting rid of it for a few seconds helped me to focus… it is not like you breathe in while you push anyways.
At one moment one lady doctor placed her fingers on me as if she wanted to go inside me, it was uncomfortable and painful and I told her not to, she later touched me again and I remember shooing her hand away “Don’t do that!” I think I was more bitchy than during transition, to tell the truth. Eventually I felt the famous ring of fire, I felt I was going to be torn opened in half and that I was becoming undone pulled inside out… which if you think about it that is what happens. I can truly say I did feel a lot of pain during this stage, but still all the time it felt manageable. The problem with the pushing stage is that the pain does not subside once the head starts crowning, I mean, it is there and it stays there as you wait for the next contraction, unlike the rest of labor, in which you get a lot of rest in between contractions. Despite the doctor telling me how to push more effectively I couldn’t get myself to do it, when I did follow his instructions I thought I was going to tear up quite badly, so I pushed in a not so efficient way, allowing the baby to come out slower; there was one moment in which I started panting to pass the contraction without pushing because I really felt I needed time to let the skin stretch a bit instead of going all out as fast as possible. After a particularly painful moment in which I thought for sure I was going to be hurt beyond repair I shoved my hand between my legs to guard the area and I could touch the head of my baby! Talk about surreal! Soon after that, the head was born and they pulled the baby out, which I wish they didn’t because it hurt a lot! I pushed my baby out in less than an hour. Santiago was born soon before 7 AM, not even two hours after checking in at the hospital.

birth02

Soon in our room, asking for an early release.

Afterbirth
They put the baby on my chest, which was exhilarating. I couldn’t stop thanking everybody: my husband for his support, Marissa for the great job she did helping me through this, the nurses and doctors for not trying to push drugs on me and doing their best to let me do things my way. Santiago was born alert, happy and hungry, he latched fast and nursed for fifty minutes straight; he was robust and with a head full of hair, almost no vernix on him.
One of the doctors started to pull the placenta out and asked me to give one more final push, the afterbirth was more painful than what I thought it would be, after all I had just passed an almost eight pounds baby, bones and all, and the placenta is soft and boneless… but at the same time, I had just passed an almost eight pounds baby, bones and all, and I was hurt. Then came the stitches, the doctor assessed me and declared that I “had been lucky” because I had torn very little needing only one stitch (I rather think I knew what I was doing to protect the perineum), I have to say that the stitches were probably the most painful part of the whole process. I rode the hormones surge for many hours and crashed at about 2-3 PM.





My VBAC experience. Part 1

22 08 2013

I have been asked several times by people to tell how my VBAC resulted, and since when I was pregnant I did feed my self confidence from other VBAC stories, I thought it would be a good idea to share mine for other women to read. It seems I am unable to write a short story 🙂 so I will divide this very long post in a couple of shorter (still long, though) posts.

The days before
I started experiencing contractions that would wake me up at night months before Santiago was born. My doula reassured me that my body was doing its job, getting everything ready for the big event. Contractions continued to progress slowly and steadily and the baby positioned himself head down by week 30-32. As I mentioned before, I was doing yoga and keeping very active with all the running after a 20 months old and going up and down three flights of stairs daily.
Because I knew labor was going to likely be an endurance test, I prepared for it as if I was preparing for a long distance race. As I felt birth was coming close, I started to eat larger meals and load up in carbs. You can read about many things I did to prepare here.
My sister was arriving on February 16th and each day that we got closer I could feel the baby really wanting to be out sooner than his due date on February 24th.

Getting ready for having a baby! Only a few weeks to go!

Getting ready for having a baby! Only a few weeks to go!

Pre-labor
On the 20th, after dinner, I started to have contractions that felt like menstrual cramps but I paid no attention to them because I’ve had been having mild cramp-like contractions for a few days, they would last one or two hours and go away. By the time I put Ignacio to bed, though the contractions were actually regular and I told my husband and sister about them. We decided to go to bead early just so we could get some rest if I would go into labor the next day.

Contractions were coming every ten minutes. I was not tired enough to sleep but I wanted to catch some rest. I started to hear some gurgling and asked my husband if it was him, he said that it was me “What do you mean it is me? If it was my guts I would feel them! Could it be the cat?”, and then I heard a “pop!” and with the next contraction I heard a louder “POP!” and a gush of amniotic fluid came out of me. I had broken waters! It was 10:15 PM.

In my imagined labor, I saw myself emailing friends and family in the early stages “Hey, contractions coming every 10 minutes. Oh, they are now 8 minutes apart, this is happening!” but my water breaking made the next one came too fast “That was not ten minutes!” I said, “No, it was seven” Greg answered. Right after that “That was not seven minutes!!” I was a little panicky. No, it was four. My contractions started to come consistently every four minutes, and they were so much more intense! I then remembered a trick I had read about in some books, and went to the ground in knee to chest position, that puts gravity working against your contractions and slows them down. In my imagined labor I would not have wanted to do that, but in reality I needed some time to adjust to what was going on. Each time a contraction would peak I would kneel up and let it go through me. I was not in pain, but they were very intense.

Contractions every four minutes. We took advantage of the time

Contractions every four minutes. We took advantage of the time in between to give birthday presents to my sister!

Active labor
I kept laboring, moaning with each contraction. I never imagined I was going to be the vocal type, I am rather quiet in my life, so I thought I would just breathe and be silent. But I was moaning with each of them, I was able to talk between contractions and even when they were coming every 6-4 minutes I still didn’t feel in active labor. After a couple of hours though I felt I needed to get my doula, Marissa, with me, I thought I was in active labor now and I really wanted her home. My nose started to bleed copiously (scaring my sister!) while I was talking to Marissa, I was still feeling very well, but I was having a hard time keeping my thoughts coherent for a long time, couldn’t quite keep track of what I wanted to say. She heard me moan through a couple of contractions and then I told her I really would feel better if she was with me, she agreed to come soon.

I went to the bathroom and checked for blood (if your uterus breaks along the C-section scar you will bleed copiously) but there was only a bit of pinkish tinged fluid, so I felt at ease. After that I headed to the bedroom to keep laboring there.
My moans turned into chanting sometime during active labor, I can’t pinpoint when, but it was actually quite powerful. I found a low pitch that helped a lot to ride each contraction, making it bearable. From outside the bedroom, my sister says that it sounded like Greg and I were having a great marital time (!) but that it later turned into “Oh, dear, she is dying there!” Truth to be told, I felt really well and relaxed all the time, and there was no real pain so far, just a very intense feeling taking over my whole body.
At about one O’clock Marissa arrived. When she entered the room she smelled so good! It was lavender and other herbs, it really was wonderful… I should mention that the chemicals being released in your body during physiological birth make your senses wild. The light in the room was golden and our dull green speckled carpet was bright green in my eyes. It really is trippy! Marissa encouraged me to keep going saying I looked great and that I seemed to be handling things nicely. I remember riding the contractions, tucking my pelvis under my body each peak and doing cat-cow sometimes.
There still was no pain except in my sacrum area, my lower back really hurt, but it was not back labor. My sacral bone was risen because of the baby passing so Marissa suggested counterpressure, but it was really painful when they would even just slightly touch me. At some moment she brought in the exercise ball, which I always imagined I would like, but as soon as my belly grazed the surface of it made me hurt, so I pushed it away.
Marissa suggested to stop doing knee to chest, and to actually put my pelvis lower than my shoulders to keep labor advancing. I did so, using the bed to recline my body against something and rest. Greg climbed on the bed and I used him as my anchor, holding his arms and raising up and back each time a contraction would come and peak. He says I looked serene and beautiful, very goddess like (God bless good husbands! How sweet of him!) I just know that at the peak of the contractions, gazing into his eyes helped me feel calm and collected.
At some moment I felt the baby dropping. It was amazing to feel the sound and the actual shock of him falling against my bones. I told Marissa and Greg, I was so excited about having felt it! Many times I fell asleep between contractions, which helped me feel rested during the whole time.

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Second part here!





Preparing for a VBAC

1 08 2013

My first child was born via C-section. When talking with the doctors about future children I expressed my wish of having vaginal births if possible, they did give me an incision that would allow this. Thirteen months after Ignacio was born we became pregnant again, and after I found out that everything looked great to give birth vaginally I started to get ready. A friend of mine wanted to know what and how I made it, since she is getting ready for a VBAC too, and I thought I’d share with  you all what I told her.

Know your possibilities and limitations.
Having a VBAC implies a bit more risk than a vaginal birth without a previous C-section. There is a 0.5-0.7%  risk of uterine rupture along the C-section scar, which can lead to excess bleeding, posing a risk for the mother and the baby, and it would require an emergency C-section to get the baby out as soon as possible before there is brain damage, plus mom might need a transfusion and surgery to repair the uterus. This is why some hospitals would not allow a water birth for a VBAC. Some hospitals may even refuse to do a VBAC because they are not ready for the emergency C-section that it might require. Know what the rules are in your area before attempting a VBAC in the wrong place.
Know too that this risk is lower if your labor is not induced or augmented with pitocin, and that you  do have after all, 99.5 chances of not having a uterine rupture. The probability of a successful VBAC will also depend on your age, if you had previous vaginal births, and your attitude, but these are not about uterine rupture but about the same factors that would count for a woman with no prior C-sections.
Going for a repeat C-section implies higher risks than a VBAC, such as higher chance of perinatal death for the mother and child (it is a low number, but much higher than with natural birth), respiratory complications for the baby, etc. You can read about this in any medical website.

Prepare.
I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to prepare both mentally and physically for birth, especially for a VBAC.
Read, educate yourself about birth. No matter what you choose, drugs, no drugs, epidural, water birth, home birth, etc. make sure you know how labor works. I did a lot of reading during both pregnancies, I tried to put aside the strong opinions from both doctors and midwives, and keep the facts of birthing. The best way of not being afraid is to know as much as you can, do not let other people decide for you because you did not learn enough, you have nine months to get ready, use them well.

Do talk to your doctor about what you want, he is there to help you birth a healthy baby but also to help you achieve what you want.
As soon as I knew a VBAC was possible I started a long conversation with my OB, I told him I wanted to have a drug-free birth, I asked lots of questions, he expressed concern about me not wanting an epidural or IV and we basically talked about this for five months. Having an epidural in place during labor would make things easier if a repeat C-section was needed, but I wanted to have the freedom to move around and change positions if needed, besides there was no way I wanted to have a needle stuck in my spine again! Each time we had a visit and a talk I would go home, think about the conversation and write down more questions. After a while it was clear that if there was a uterine rupture they would put me under total anesthesia to take the baby out as soon as possible, so for me there was no point in having an epidural in place.
Be ready to compromise. If your doctor will be too nervous about what you want to do it is not a good situation. Ask where you can find a solution? I wanted no IV, but I compromised to have a port in my arm in case an IV was needed.

One month to go!!!!

One month to go!!!!

Do hire a doula!
If there is one thing that I think was crucial for my successful VBAC was the presence of a doula. A doula is a labor assistant, basically she has more experience than you in births, she is knowledgeable about the stages of birth and what to expect at each moment, and she can be a great support for your partner too. Bonus points if your doula has experience in VBACs. We hired a great doula: Marissa Evarts, if you are in the Pittsburgh area I cannot think of anybody better to coach you.

Keep a positive attitude.
One thing I had a hard time with during the intense reading I did was dealing with the negativity in many books and websites. I am of the idea (maybe naïve?) that most people are doing their best, nobody is out there to get you, so reading books and blogs with strong opinions against doctors or midwives was exasperating. I mentioned this to Marissa and she helped me to find very positive videos of mothers giving birth beautifully, this was great for me because it helped me to keep centered and focused on the good things and not in the negative.
There are a bunch of videos on youtube that you can watch.
I also read a lot of VBAC birth stories and focused on positive affirmations. One of the most significant ones I read was “your contractions cannot be more powerful than you, because they are coming from you” which was a real eye opener, our bodies are made to do this, it cannot be beyond us women to do it.

Be active during pregnancy.
If your doctor allows exercise do your body a favor and exercise, the more you move the better chances you have that your baby will go head down and that labor will go smoothly. Plus you will need strength and flexibility for the endurance test you h ave ahead of you! Do listen to your body and don’t do anything that does not feel right, though. Walking and prenatal yoga are two things I can recommend a lot. I blame climbing up and down three flights of stairs daily for my baby being positioned right and low from the 30th week.

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Nothing like running after a toddler to keep active and fit!

 

Learn breathing and meditation techniques.
You will realize how much it helps you to keep calm during labor. When you feel you might lose it, breath and come back to your center, you will be ready to ride the next contraction. You might want to learn different techniques as Hypnobabies or Hypnobirthing, these are not so much hypnosis, as the name suggests, but tools to learn to relax. Yoga can help achieve a good relaxed state too.

Do give yourself a pep talk!
You are a strong woman, there are a lot of things you’ve been through successfully. I know that for sure, after all you did go through a C-section: you were cut open, stitched closed, and were taking care of a newborn before you could recover. This is just one more challenging thing to go through.
My husband, if at any moment I started thinking I could not go through with it, was in charge of reminding me of a bunch of things I tackled that were very hard and I didn’t know if I could go through them. One of my motivations was that I did run a 5K having gotten shin splints a few days before the event. Running the whole thing was excruciating, but I made it and I did enjoy the beautiful landscape. Labor was not as bad 🙂

Attend a local ICAN meeting.
I did not get to, my schedule did not allow, but it is a good idea. You will meet like minded people and learn from their experiences.

Acknowledge your fears.
Do not let fear take over you, but acknowledge what you feel, talk about it with your partner, doula, doctor or a good friend, keeping things inside will only make it worse. Many times we just need to say things out loud.
I was of the idea that I could deal with the contractions just fine, but I was terrified of pushing and passing a baby through my vagina. After all, I’ve cried during pap smears in the past. Talking about it made me realize that by the time the baby would be about to come out there is no way any doctor would accept to give me an epidural. The epidural would take longer to catch than the baby to come out, so knowing that I was doomed made me feel at ease that I was not going to cave out.

And remember, labor and delivery will be a few hours of your life. You are in for a much more challenging experience, which is mothering two (or more) children for years to come…. labor is a piece of cake compared to that!





Giving natural birth a second chance.

20 09 2012

As you know I am the proud mother to a 16 months old toddler, and I am four months pregnant, which explains a lot of the long silence that went on for the first trimester. First trimester is bad. First trimester is nausea, low energy, severe sickness. At least in my case.

When I was pregnant with Ignacio I was so excited! And I was terrified of birth, I was scared of the pain, of the passing a head through the birth channel; I really literally have cried when going in for a pap smear, so passing a child through there scared me silly. We used to joke with my husband that I always had the option of a C-section, but then I also did not want to go through major surgery. I started reading, learning about birth, and a lot of what I read made me more scared, and now I also knew the risks of C-sections, so I was less than happy.

The notion of episiotomy, tearing, scarring, having a baby locked or having his collar bones broken during birth, the possibility of going through hours (days!) of labor for it not to work, scared me so much! I was terrified, so I turned to real women, not the book hard facts, not the statistics, but real women that I knew had delivered their babies. I got their stories of how labor was painful, and yes, the birth was painful too, but in a different way, it was a lot of work but nothing you cannot do and how women really are made for this. It made me really consider that if they could do it, I could too, after all, we all are women, right? Some of them told me about their amazing experiences with no drugs and that got me thinking I needed to learn more about it.

Us two during the cesarean. They gave us a the cutest little burrito! They were still working on me at that moment, and soon after that I started to feel bad.

So I went ahead and bought books, read online forums, blogs, webpages. And I got to the conclusion that I really wanted a drug free birthing experience. I wanted no induction, no epidural, I wanted to labor actively and I wanted to prepare my body to do so. I got me some yoga videos, I had a plan to go jog regularly to keep in shape and to do everything in my power to be a fit mom that could deal with labor on her own. Why? because when you use an epidural you lose the capacity of standing on your legs, which makes you have to assume a laying back position, this goes against gravity, so your body not only has to push a baby out, but also work against the gravitational field. I also react strangely to drugs, not always getting the desired effects, and I would rather not to put anything in me; and of course I would rather my baby to get started in life with no chemicals in his body, if possible. There are other reasons too, that you can read in any book that explains natural birth.

Of course my first trimester I was unable to eat anything but crackers, tea and some broth. And most of what I ate came out by the end of the day, sometimes three times a day, undigested. I was so weak that I could barely work and function through the rest of the day, so exercising was not an option. Then, after the fourth month was well under way I started feeling better. I went for a jog and actually made it, I did some yoga and started taking care of the house, but I would feel this nagging lower abdominal and pelvic pain. I didn’t pay much attention to it, but I mentioned it to the nurse that saw me when I went to my next visit.

After an ultrasound we found out I had complete placenta previa. It was my fifth month and that meant that I was not allowed to do anything physical, I could not work out, no yoga, no swimming, just go to work and remain quiet, because the problem with placenta previa is that your placenta is laying before the baby over your cervix. If you do something that detaches the placenta the consequence can be that you bleed and possibly deprive the baby from oxygen, and if the hemorrhage is too big the mom is also at risk. Bummer. Gone were my dreams of being the fit mom. Worse, gone were my dreams of a natural birth. But my doctors were hopeful and knew from experience that the placenta moves as the uterus grows, and that there were fair chances that I would be OK in the future and we could deliver vaginally.

I was excited about the possibility of delivering vaginally, but now I was anxious too about the reality that I was not preparing myself for it. I was happy that I was still allowed to have a normal life. The problem was that almost by the end of the second trimester, but before the baby had a chance of surviving if things went wrong, I got my first bleeding episode. It was scary. To make things short, the placenta did not move, I ended up in the hospital three times over the remainder of the pregnancy. I was finally put in bed rest and told only to leave the house to go see the doctors and that we had to get the baby out of me as soon as it was considered less risk to have him out than in, which meant that we needed to get him out before I could go into labor. This means a C-section was needed on week 37, because a lot of babies are born on week 38.

The C-section was horrible to me. I had a great team, and they took good care of both my baby and I, and thankfully we both are healthy and well. But it is something I would not want to go through again. I acknowledge that it was needed and because of it we are both alive, my baby has no brain damage because his oxygen supply was good and I did not bleed to death. So it’s all good. I did feel very sick during and after the surgery, I do not react well to drugs. I even felt pain during the cesarean, I knew when they pulled my placenta off and I knew when they were rearranging my organs. It sucked.

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Now I am pregnant again and because my doctors are so great that they really wanted me to be able to deliver vaginally in subsequent pregnancies, they gave me a low uterine cut, to give me that chance. I still don’t

Happiness is a healthy baby.

know how my placenta is laying, it is too early, but I have higher chances of having a problem again because I had both previa and a C-section in the past. However, I have very good chances that it all will go well and I will be able to have a VBAC. This time I could keep strolling all through the first trimester, even walking briskly, and now that I started to feel better I have jogged a couple of times. I am planning to start the prenatal yoga soon, if everything looks good, and I am really hoping that the next ultrasound shows that everything is normal.

I have talked to my doctor about not being induced, about laboring actively and he is supportive. He is a little afraid of not giving me an epidural in case we need an emergency C-section (There is a slight chance of a uterine rupture because of the scar from the C-section) but he also leaves the decision up to me.

I am really excited about having another chance to experience labor, contractions, of feeling my baby go through me out into the world. And I hope this time I get to do it.

Are you planing to or did you have a natural birth? If so, how did it go?