Sweet Pea Births

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Breastfeeding After A Cesarean

Posted on April 12, 2013 at 4:39 PM Comments comments (61)
Breastfeeding rates are definitely affected when a mother has a cesarean birth.  These are the factors I can think of off of the top of my head: initial separation after birth, introduction of formula or pacifiers if mom has a long recovery, milk production may be delayed if there were complications during surgery, pain at the incision site makes it difficult to get comfortable...the list can go on and on.  



Even if a couple has done all the right things to prepare, there are babies who are born via cesarean for a Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby outcome.  On Tuesday, I wrote about how a Family-Centered Cesarean can provide the benefits of a vaginal birth while still doing what needs to be done for mom and baby to be well.

I have heard the sentiment expressed by our cesarean mamas, "Nothing else went according to our birth plan.  Breastfeeding HAS to work out."  These women have persevered, sought help, and drawn strength from their support system to go on to have the breastfeeding relationships they wanted with their babies. 

Here are some resources I pulled together for a mama who had a cesarean and wants to or feels that breastfeeding HAS to work out.

First, HERE is a blog post from one of our cesarean mamas that will hopefully shorten another moms learning cure about breastfeeding after major abdominal surgery:

After having both babies via cesarean births, there were some things that I had to take into consideration while nursing.  Here are the lessons I learned with Jasmin, my first baby, that I was able to use again with Leila: 

POSITIONING:  I learned quickly that nursing while lying down was extremely beneficial since I had to let my body rest.  So I propped her up on a pillow parallel to me and had my head on the same pillow, so my top breast was at her level.  I curled my body around her, which prevented her from moving, and had a pillow between my legs and one behind me, which prevented me from rolling either way.  I would let the baby nurse for a long time on the one side, then I'd have my husband help me switch the pillow to the other side.     

Not only did this allow my body to heal, it also encouraged our bonding and eventually led to co-sleeping, which I did not think I'd do prior to having kids.  I learned that it is the best way for everyone in our family to get rest and also helps the children learn how to sleep.
...read more...

Here are some excellent resources you can refer to:



Breastfeeding after a cesarean birth IS possible.  I promise you will not be the first person, nor the last, who wants to breastfeed even though your baby was not born through your vagina.  With the belief in yourself and your baby, support from your Coach and other loved ones, and help from qualified individuals, you CAN surprise yourself.

Did you breastfeed after a cesarean?  Who/What helped you?

Link List
Breastfeeding After Cesarean
http://www.bestforbabes.org/booby-traps-series-the-c-section-rate-is-at-a-record-high-what-does-that-mean-for-breastfeeding

In Their Own Words: Shara
http://www.sweetpeabirths.com/blog/2012/08/31/In-Their-Own-Words-Shara.aspx

Dr. Sears
http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/breastfeeding/rightstart-techniques/breastfeeding-after-cesarean-section

KellyMom: Breastfeeding After A Cesarean
 http://kellymom.com/ages/newborn/newborn-concerns/c-section/


Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, PaysonDisclaimer:  The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation.  Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House, LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.  This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®. 

Planning Your VBAC – Where to Begin

Posted on April 2, 2013 at 4:02 PM Comments comments (8)
I open today's post with the reminder that April is Cesarean Awareness Month. The World Health Organization and evidence-based practice only supports a cesarean rate of 15% or less.

While a cesarean birth can be life saving and necessary, and we are so grateful for the technology when our students need this intervention, we encourage you to know the difference between a variation and complication. Is Mom okay? Is Baby okay? If yes to both questions, asking for time can spare both Mom and Baby from an "unnecesarean". 

The current cesarean rate in the US is around 32-33%, so our wish at Sweet Pea Births is that by raising awareness, only the necessary cesareans are performed, and that over time we see our national cesarean rate back down to at or under 15%.

If a VBAC is not an option you want to explore, I encourage you to explore the ideas and additional readings HERE to learn more about a family-centered cesarean that may be a gentler experience for both mother and baby.  With time and planning with your care provider, these are possible and a beautiful option for families that want and/or need a repeat cesarean.

On to the topic:  Where do you begin if you want to plan for a Vaginal Birth After Cesarean?  

These notes are from an ICAN meeting presented by ICAN of Phoenix chapter leaders Stephanie Stanley and Jessica Franks on January 23, 2013, hence they get the author by-line on this one.  Thank you, ladies, for your constant support of the cesarean community in the Phoenix area.  Here are the steps that Stephanie and Jessica identified in hindsight of their VBAC journeys.

Step 1:  Find a supportive care provider
Your options for finding a supportive care provider in Arizona include an obstetrician in a hospital setting, a Certified Nurse-Midwife in a hospital setting, and Naturopathic Doctor who also holds a Certified Professional Midwife license in a home setting.  In addition, you an interview at Women’s Birth and Wellness Center in Mesa, Arizona, to see if you are a candidate for a VBAC at their birth center.  If you are in the Phoenix area, you can check the ICAN Phoenix provider list HERE to see which care providers have been supportive as per first-hand experience from VBAC mothers.

Step 2: How do I know if someone is truly supportive?
The only way to really know if a care provider is going to go along with your choice for a trial of labor that you hope is going to lead to a vaginal birth is the interview them.  Schedule an appointment with them and meet them face-to-face.  Here are some questions you can ask – you want to keep them open-ended so that you hear their spontaneous answer.
  • How do you feel about letting a VBAC mom go to forty-two (42) weeks gestation?
  • How do you feel about natural birth?
  • What are specific protocols and what is the timeline you follow with a VBAC mother?
  • Which pushing position do you support when a mom is attempting a VBAC?
  • How do you feel about doulas in the labor and delivery space?
  • What are my options if I should need a repeat cesarean?
  It is important to get out of the mindset that the obstetrician or care provider as the authority over you.  You are the consumer.  You are hiring a person to care for you and your baby.  A big red flag warning is the statement, “Well, we’ll deal with that when we come to that.”  That usually means that, “When we get there, we are doing it my way,” so consider it a sign that it may be time to move on to the next person on your list.
Step 3: Be Healthy, Starting Now
Your nutrition is vital to your health, your pregnancy, your baby and your birth.  Maintain a healthy diet and exercise on a regular basis.

Krystyna’s note:  A comprehensive childbirth education class, like The Bradley Method®, prepares mothers over the course of the twelve week series to eat well to build a strong body and a strong baby, and we have a pregnancy exercise program that builds stamina as well as the three major muscle groups that support pregnancy and labor: Back, Belly, and Bottom.

Step 4: Mental Health
Your mental health plays a significant role in your pregnancy and birth.
A childbirth preparation course can educate you on the course of labor so that there are *less* surprises – all labors have an unknown factor and you can’t be “completely” prepared.
  • Work through any fears you had going into your last birth, or that have arisen as a result of your previous birth.
  • Strive to reduce stress and tension in your daily life.
  • Surround yourself with supportive, positive, and helpful people.
  • Be honest with yourself and with your partner – you need to address how both of you are feeling in regards to your past birth and the preparations for a VBAC.
  • Identify what your needs are, and what needs to be addressed.  Do the same for your partner.
  • Evaluate your mindset: are you going to go along with what your doctor tells you to do, or are you going to educate yourselves as a team so that you can make informed decisions?

Step 5: Take A Childbirth Education ClassThere are several options for birthing families these days.  Here are some of the classes mentioned in the meeting:
  • Birthing From Within
  • The Bradley Method®
  • Hypnobirthing: might work better if you have a yoga background
  • Hypnobabies: some consider it a more “user-friendly” version of Hypnobirthing
  • Private Comprehensive Class taught by a doula or independent childbirth educator

Krystyna's Note:  The Bradley Method® is fabulous as a comprehensive preparation course. You can click HERE to see what is taught through the  course of the 12-week series.  However, we do not do anything in-depth to address any past birth trauma or fears that you may be bringing to the birth space.  If you are interested in The Bradley Method®, please contact me to discuss some additional resources I recommend for VBAC couples enrolled in our course.

Step 6:  Plan To Hire A Doula
Doulas are an essential part of your birth plan.  A doula is a woman whose only role is to support a family through their labor, birth and the choices they want for their birth.  They may offer ideas for labor positions, moral support and hands-on help, among other things.  Typically people hire their doula between 24-30 weeks.  There is no “right time” to hire a doula, so even if you are earlier or later than this window, you can make phone calls and find the right person to support you and your partner through your birth experience.  Some insurance companies cover the doula fee, so call them and ask!
Step 7:  Get Family Support
The support of the people closet in regards to your decision to VBAC is very important. 
  • Educate your family – invite them to come along to a cesarean support group meeting, such as ICAN.
  • Honestly express why this is important and what led you to this decision.
  • Understand that if something or someone is not helpful, supportive or positive, then it or they do not need to be a part of your birth.

Krystyna’s Note: My favorite line of conversation I have heard at an ICAN meeting, and that I know share with our students in regards to birth choices is this: 
“I have taken the time to educate myself and make the right choice for our family.  Do you really think that I would make a choice to intentionally harm myself, or our child?  If we cannot come to an understanding, or at least agree to disagree, this topic is off the table and no longer up for discussion.”


Step 8: Educate Yourself
Knowing the facts about VBAC will give you more confidence in your decision, as well as prepare you to educate those who may question the safety of your decision.
  • Read, read, read.
  • Read positive VBAC birth stories
  • Talk with your care provider – know their VBAC numbers
  • Ask questions and research the information you are finding

 Step 9:  From a Birth Plan
A birth plan is a great way to organize and prepare your goals.  It is a tool to help you articulate the vision you have for this birth.  Birth plans are typically written around 30 weeks, but there is no “right time” to write a birth plan.
  • Write your VBAC plan
  • Consider writing your cesarean birth plan
  • Talk with your care provider about your birth plan.  If your care provider is not on board, talk with them to explore if there is a way to make it workable.  What are your absolutes, and are your communicating them effectively?
If you are absolutely confident that other care providers have supported the choices you are making, then it may be time to interview other care providers.

Step 10:  Breathe
It will be okay!  Your body knows how to have babies.  In the swirl of activity, remind yourself to relax and enjoy your pregnancy!   
Krystyna’s Note:  However this birth is going to go, your body is still in the midst of the miracle of creating an entirely new human being over the course of the pregnancy.  You are an amazing, creative goddess – enjoy the glow and revel in your growing baby bump!
 
Are you planning/have you had a VBAC?  What is/was been important to you?
 
Please leave us a comment - it will be moderated and posted. 
*I think* that the amount of traffic you so generously generate has led to a lot of spam posting.  In an effort to keep the spam to a minimum, I am taking the time to moderate comments now
Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Payson
LINK LIST
Family-centered Cesarean
http://blog.ican-online.org/2012/04/14/the-family-centered-cesarean/

ICAN of Phoenix Provider List
http://icanofphoenix.weebly.com/valley-resources.html    

Bradley Method Course Outline
http://www.bradleybirth.com/krystynabowman?Page=5

Disclaimer: 
The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation.  Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House, LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.  This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.

Meet the Doula: Nikki

Posted on January 13, 2013 at 5:51 AM Comments comments (4)
Our "Meet the Doula" feature is back in 2013.  

This month we meet Nikki Ausdemore.  I first met Nikki at an ICAN meeting - her spirit and her candor impressed me.  Not only is she very knowledgable about birth, she is also an inspiration for many a mama along their VBAC journey - she had her vaginal birth after 3 previous cesarean births.

Mini-Bio:  Nikki is a doula, student midwife, and placenta encapsulator.  She has been doing birth work for more than 6 years and has attended over 110 births.  She has 4 children and has a very supportive husband.





When was the first time you heard the word, “doula”? 
  In my first pregnancy while reading a birth related book.

How did you decide that becoming a doula was part of your journey? 
  I knew I wanted to be involved with moms and babies after having my first 2 kids.  However, I also knew going back to school with 2 young children was not in the cards, so I opted to go the certified doula route to see if birth work was for me.

Are you a birth and/or a postpartum doula?
  Birth

How long have you been a doula?
  I have been a doula for 6 years - DONA trained (no longer certified), certified through Nurturing Hearts Birth Services (NHBS).  In addition, I am a childbirth educator and a student midwife.  

What do you enjoy the most about being a doula?
  Having the opportunity to help moms experience the excitement and empowerment of birth.  Seeing a new life enter the world.  It never ceases to amaze me.

What is your philosophy when you go to a birth space?
  Her body, her birth, her choices. I am there to support the mom in whatever choices she makes.

How do you work with and involve the Coach? 
  We often work as a pair to support mom.  I offer suggestions and encouragement for the coach in how best to help the laboring mom, and I support the coach (ensuring he/she eats, sleeps, etc.) throughout the birth process.

What is the toughest situation you have ever dealt with? How did you handle it? 
 The loss of a client's baby would be the toughest situation I've dealt with. Along with the midwives who attended her, we continued to support and encourage her, hold her up spiritually and emotionally while she birthed her perfect little baby, and I was available for support and encouragement after the birth.  

What keeps you working as a doula? 
  My love for the process, the awe of the experience of birth, and the love of the moms I serve.
 
What does your fee cover – how many visits or hours? Is there a
different charge for a shorter labor or longer labor? 
  I offer 1-3 prenatal visits (whatever mom and dad require), services the day of the birth, and 1-2 postpartum visits.  My fee is the same regardless of the length of labor.

Do you offer any other services to your clients? 
  Placenta encapsulation, use of a tub to labor and/or birth in depending on birth location.

Just for fun, what do you do when you are not doula-ing? 
  Watch my 3 boys play baseball, run my 4 kids to and fro, study midwifery.  :)      

Nikki's Contact Information:
480-628-6730  Cell

Disclaimer: 
Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, PaysonThe material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.
The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation. 
Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House, LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.  This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.

In Their Own Words: Shara

Posted on August 31, 2012 at 3:02 PM Comments comments (20)
This post was written as part of Sweet Pea Birth’s "In Their Own Words" series. For more info on the ITOW or if you want to participate, contact Krystyna Bowman: krystyna{at} sweetpeabirths {dot} com. Today's post is about breastfeeding after a cesarean.  The breastfeeding ITOW series runs through the month of August.    

Shara Cohen-Sandhu is fun-loving, red-headed mama to two lovely girls and wife to one busy Coach.  She is an advocate of breastfeeding, co-sleeping and attachment parenting, and she is active in the Phoenix-area ICAN chapter.   

 There's something magical about looking into your baby's eyes for the first time while nursing.  Nursing my second little girl shortly after having her was amazing.  It came so naturally, like we had shared years of experience, but it was also so new and exciting.     

 Leila was my second baby and second cesarean section.  She was my second attempt at a natural labor; this time I thought I was so much more prepared.  The hurt of still not being able to bring my baby into the world the way I was made to was lingering.     

 However, nursing my little Leila was so very healing.  Looking into her big brown eyes helps to heal my disappointment even today because I know that regardless of how she came out of my body, her body is beautiful and healthy thanks to the breastmilk I provide for her.  Other than healing emotionally, the beauty of breastfeeding is that it helped to heal my body faster by shrinking the uterus naturally.   

 After having both babies via cesarean births, there were some things that I had to take into consideration while nursing.  Here are the lessons I learned with Jasmin, my first baby, that I was able to use again with Leila: 

POSITIONING:  I learned quickly that nursing while lying down was extremely beneficial since I had to let my body rest.  So I propped her up on a pillow parallel to me and had my head on the same pillow, so my top breast was at her level.  I curled my body around her, which prevented her from moving, and had a pillow between my legs and one behind me, which prevented me from rolling either way.  I would let the baby nurse for a long time on the one side, then I'd have my husband help me switch the pillow to the other side.     

 Not only did this allow my body to heal, it also encouraged our bonding and eventually led to co-sleeping, which I did not think I'd do prior to having kids.  I learned that it is the best way for everyone in our family to get rest and also helps the children learn how to sleep.     

BABY CARRIER: With my second, I didn't have much down time because my first needed my attention, too.  So I found a baby carrier that I could nurse in easily.  This allowed me to be able to still have the same interaction with my first, while having the same bonding with my second.  It also was a lot easier on my body because I didn’t have to carry the heavy and clunky car seat.     

SUPPORT GROUPS: With my first, nursing didn't come so easily.  I found a breastfeeding support group and it made the difference for us.  I was determined, yet I needed help and encouragement. At the weekly meeting I learned that I could share my accomplishments and struggles with other moms and learn from them as well; all while watching our babies grow, and become playmates.    

 I decided to attend the same support group with our second baby.  Today Leila is 5 months old.  Nursing couldn't be better.  We nurse on demand and she is happy and healthy, and so am I.   

 I also had the aid of my encapsulated placenta after my second cesarean.  I noticed it helped bring my milk in faster, helped with postpartum weepies, and the lochia (postpartum “menstruation”) stopped after only 3 weeks. 

Parting thoughts:  There are so many beneficial things about breastfeeding.  Regardless of what struggles a mom has, if there is a will there is a way.  I've learned through trial and error while having wonderful support.  I have to say there is nothing in the world as rewarding as giving my babies what they need: love, nourishment, and security in mom's arms.         

Find a list of breastfeeding support groups click here

Read more about placenta encapsulation here and here

Visit the ICAN-Phoenix Chapter website   

Disclaimer:  
Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Payson  The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation.  Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House, LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.  This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®. 

Cesareans As Bradley™ Outcomes

Posted on July 13, 2012 at 12:42 PM Comments comments (1)
Some of our heros
Some of our heros
The B. Family
Some of our heros
Some of our heros
The M. Family
Some of our heros
Some of our heros
The M. Family
Bruss and I decided to teach Bradley Method® classes because we loved our birth experiences.  We wanted to share the same information we used to have healthy pregnancies and good communication in the birth space with other families.  We strive to impart this knowledge without interjecting our opinion – just the facts so that each family can make an informed decision that is right for them.  Above all, we wish for every couple to take responsibility for their child’s birth, and to enjoy the journey to a Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby outcome.

I have read comments in on-line forums by former Bradley™ students.  They say they feel like failures because their birth story ended with a Cesarean birth instead of a vaginal birth.  This disheartens me to no end.  Although I grieve for the struggles some of our VBAC students may face, as a Bradley™ instructor I am always grateful for the medical technology that is used appropriately and that serves as a tool when there are complications.

There are many labor paths our students travel to their baby’s Birth-Day: some are completely “textbook” natural, some use an epidural as a tool, or they choose a cesarean birth as their path to a Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby outcome (plus other variations in between!).  All of these children have been born Healthy.  No matter how our student’s babies arrive earthside, they are born ready to nurse.  I am always grateful to hear that these babies generally have great APGAR scores.  Coincidence?  I do not think so. 

These babies are the best testimony to the benefits of Bradley Method® classes.  The parents learn how to have a healthy, low-risk pregnancy.  They learn about the Brewer diet and the importance of exercise.  The knowledge and the preparation offers couples the best prospect to have a positive outcome.

We cannot know a family’s birth story when they register for our classes.  Even if we did know, I believe that education provides the highest opportunity for a Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby outcome.  Here is why:  Besides healthy habits, diet and exercise, Bradley™ students are encouraged to trust their intuition.  They learn to ask questions and communicate with each other and their birth team.  They learn how to use various techniques and labor positions to facilitate their labor.  They learn about “many” of the options available to birthing families.*  They learn how to evaluate the risks and benefits of accepting a drug or procedure, and they also know to evaluate the “doing nothing” or “wait-and-see” option. 

Thanks to the education from the Bradley Method® classes, I feel our students are well-equipped to make decisions that reduce the possibility of going down the path that leads to an “unnecesarean”. ** They are with a birth team that they trust.  They know how to identify true complications.  And, if and when they are faced with the possibility after considering all the other options, the couple has decided together that a cesarean is the correct path for their child’s birth.

To me, that last statement to me means that even a cesarean birth is a Bradley™ birth and a Bradley™ baby.  Two parents, deciding together, that a cesarean is the best path for a Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby outcome.  And if you disagree with me, that is okay.  Because no matter the label, all of the babies who come through our classes are celebrated – we believe in celebrating every Sweet Pea and their birth

Thoughts? 

A post on cesareans isn't complete without a shout out to one of my favorite advocacy groups: ICAN - International Cesarean Awareness Network.  ICAN is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve maternal-child health by preventing unnecessary cesareans through education, providing support for cesarean recovery, and promoting Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC).

*I don’t say “all” the options or variations because that’s impossible – there are not enough hours available in class and anyone who says differently is selling you something!  While we definitely advocate for parents to do a lot of outside reading, and the parents who read, read, read and research will be prepared for their birth, there is no way to cram all the information available in books and on the internet into the 2.5 hour sessions for twelve weeks.

** A comprehensive class like The Bradley Method® has the potential to empower a couple so that their family can have a Healthy Mom, Healthy Baby outcome.  I would like to think that our students are not part of the “unnecesarean” epidemic that has our country’s cesarean rate (32.8%) at twice the WHO recommendations (<15%). 

LINKS:
Brewer Pregnancy Diet:
http://www.blueribbonbaby.org/brewer-diet-checklists/

Exercise and Pregnancy:

Disclaimer:  
Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Payson  The material included on this site is for informational purposes only
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation.  Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House, LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.  This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®. 

I want a VBAC - now what?

Posted on April 24, 2012 at 9:29 AM Comments comments (100)
I have been attending ICAN meetings over the last year in an effort to be a better educator.  I want to hear these women’s stories: what led to a cesarean in the first place, what has helped them have a VBAC, why do some of them have a CBAC, what are their perceptions and experiences of the birthing options available to them after a cesarean, what kind of support do they need?
 
As I mentioned in last Tuesday’s post about the "cesarean epidemic", I am not going to write a lot on how to avoid one in the first place or the specifics of a Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (“VBAC”) since there is already a wealth of information at the International Cesarean Awareness Network (“ICAN”) and Childbirth Connection websites.  For a good list of how to avoid an unnecessary cesarean, see the link list below.  I have also included VBAC links in today’s post. 
 
Here are some snippits of conversation that gave me points to ponder:
  • In response to some moms saying they went to the hospital for the safety net, one VBAC mom asked “Is going to the hospital really “safe” if it increases your chance of having a cesarean by 33%?”
 
  • “Having a cesarean means that you are going to fight for the right to birth vaginally for every birth thereafter.”
 
  • “I don’t understand why my body failed me.”
 
Here is a collection of recommendations from women at the ICAN meetings and the East Valley Birth Circle who had successful vaginal births after cesarean (VBAC):
 
The answers you get to these questions are a good indicator if you are making the choices to reduce the likelihood of having a cesarean the first time.  To reduce your chances of having a cesarean with your first birth:
  • Know your care provider’s cesarean rate
  • Know your care provider’s VBAC rate
  • Know the same information for the person who does back-up for your care provider – if they don’t match, keep looking!
  • Know the cesarean rate at your birthplace
  • Know the VBAC rate at your birthplace
  • What are the conditions under which your care provider recommends a cesarean?
  • How long is “too long” a trial of labor in their practice?
 
If you already had one cesarean and you decide you want to have a VBAC, here are the recommendations to set yourself up for success:
  • Surround yourself with people who believe in you and trust your ability to give birth.  If there was anyone with something negative to say, one mom would ask that person, “Do you really think that I haven’t looked into this?  And knowing that I have done my research, do you believe that I would do anything that would potentially harm our child?”  If after asking them these questions, the doubter did not back off, she simply told them that the topic was no longer up for discussion because she had done her research and she trusted that she was making the right decision for her family.
  • Find a care provider with a proven track record of supporting VBAC moms. This means knowing their facts and figures, not just the lip service so that you don’t change care providers.
  • Be okay with changing care providers to get the support you need.  As many moms pointed out, the loyalty usually only goes one way.  We feel attached to our doctors out of a sense of obligation.  For most doctors in a traditional setting, we are just one in a number of patients that they visit with for 15 minutes at a time.  On the other hand, being willing to change means getting the support you and your baby deserve to have a VBAC.
  • Prepare for a marathon.  Eat well, exercise for strength and stamina, stay healthy and low-risk.  Dedicate your pregnancy to doing everything you can to make sure you can have all your options available during labor.
  • Find a good birth team to support you.  Having a prepared coach and an experienced doula were high on the list for the VBAC moms.  The more support mom had, the better she was able to move and manage her labor to avoid the repeat cesarean.
  • Trust your body.  It is important to realize that your body is not broken and to “process” your cesarean.  For some moms, that meant going to therapy.  Others sought counseling, attended ICAN meetings, or wrote on a blog or in a journal about their experience.  Some of them did all of these things – the point is, find your way of starting the healing process and find a way back to belief that you can trust your body to give birth. 
  • Trust your intuition. One of the common denominators in cesarean stories I have heard over the last year is that mama's wish they had trusted their instinct.  It is there for a reason - your baby and your body generally have to work labor and birth out on their own, the less interference, the better.  IF IF IF mom is okay and baby is okay, it is okay to ask for more time.  If there isn't time, you will know the difference and you make different choices.
 
The trust in yourself and the complete support of your coaches and your care providers are a good start down the path towards a VBAC.  It is possible and you can give yourself a fair opportunity with preparation and planning.

Want a little inspiration?  Here is one ICAN mom's journey post-cesarean, through her subsequent pregnancy, and her VBAC:
 
VBAC Information
VBAC or Repeat C-section: what you need to know
 
ACOG position on VBAC – your care provider should know this if they belong to ACOG
 
More information on cesareans and related topics:
 
Things you can do to avoid an unnecessary cesarean:
 
VBAC Research & Blog
 
Support Groups
ICAN Facebook page:
 
ICAN Phoenix Facebook page
 
 
Disclaimer: 
The material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation.  Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House, LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.  This blog contains information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.
Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale