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 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!

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.


Second part here!