This is the place where I want you to be inspired from what other women have done! Reading great birth stories will empower you to fight for and achieve the birth you deserve!
(These stories have only the initials for the names for the privacy of the families who were so gracious to share.)
This first story is one where I was in the role of doula for a hospital VBAC. This momma was a perfect example of knowing what you want and WORKING to get it! I am so proud to call her my friend and to have been part of her birth team!
VBAC Birth Story
I was 40.5 weeks pregnant with our 1st child. The pregnancy had been going wonderful. I didn’t have back pain or a lot of the other aches that can accompany pregnancy. So I was shocked when my doctor sent me for an ultrasound because I was past my due date and it revealed that our son was in the breech position. We tried everything we could (moxibustion, chiropractic adjustments with the Webster technique, walking on my hands in a swimming pool, acupuncture, etc) to try to get him to flip, but he didn’t. It was too late in my pregnancy and my doctor didn’t want me to go past 42 weeks. Of course, my doctor would not deliver a breech baby vaginally and it was too late to try to find someone who would, so I was forced to have a C-section. My wishes to have a natural birth without interventions were lost.
Over the next two years I learned a lot about the value of chiropractic care (even when one isn’t experiencing back pain), acupuncture treatments and nutrition. Two years later we were expecting our 2nd baby and my body was much more prepared for a healthier pregnancy. I deeply desired to have a VBAC and wanted to do everything possible to keep baby in the vertex position. I visited my chiropractor regularly for adjustments, did the exercises at home that she recommended, had acupuncture treatments, and hired a supportive doula. My husband was committed to being my coach and would help me practice relaxation for labor. (He found the book Husband Coach Childbirth by Dr. Bradley extremely helpful.) Most importantly, we trusted in God and asked Him for a safe and natural delivery.
Baby continued to stay in the vertex position and I had a great pregnancy. Two weeks before my due date, I began having Braxton Hicks contractions. A couple of days before my estimated due date, I lost my mucus plug and began having a few stronger contractions. As the contractions came a little more frequently, I was feeling excited and energetic. I was a little afraid of getting too excited, thinking it may be Braxton Hicks again. At this point they were coming about every 15 minutes apart and I felt them mostly on the lower end of my uterus. It basically felt like mild cramps.
Although I was feeling too excited to sleep, I knew I better try to get some rest. My husband, N and I spent some time together and he rubbed my back as I settled in for sleep around 12:30. About 15 minutes later, a strong contraction woke me up and I felt some fluid coming out of me. It was not a huge gush, but felt more like liquid than mucus. I called for N, thinking my water may have just broke, but we decided that it would be a lot more fluid if that had been the case. I returned to bed, but didn’t think I’d be able to go back to sleep. N started timing my contractions and they were coming about every 2 minutes apart now. Each contraction only lasted about 30 seconds. It would start out at its most intense level and then die down until it was completely gone.
N stayed by my side, reminding me to focus on breathing deeply and not to tense any part of my body. He also gently massaged my scalp, which I found extremely helpful and relaxing. With these contractions, I began shivering. It was like I was so cold and could not get warm no matter what. N helped put on my thick robe, but I was still shivering. My legs were also shaking during the contractions. N called our doula, Sabrina, and she started the hour and a half trip to our house.
After a few minutes I decided to get into a hot shower. The hot water really felt good through the contractions and was very relaxing. I finally decided to get out of the shower and see if I could lie back down to rest. The contractions were getting stronger, but still coming about every 2 minutes apart and lasting about 30 seconds. Nick continued to stay by my side, helping me to relax through the contractions. I found lying on my side to be the most comfortable position.
Soon, Sabrina arrived and watched me to see how I was handling the contractions. We all decided that we needed to start the 40 minute drive to the hospital. During the car ride, my contractions came a little further apart, but were still were growing in intensity. This was one of the most uncomfortable parts of labor, because I couldn’t move around very much in our car. I also found it difficult to reach that deep relaxed state, relaxing every muscle, as I had been able to do at home. N continued to rub my arm and remind me to breathe and relax through the contractions. Thankfully there wasn’t much traffic and we made it to the hospital in record-breaking time!
After a short check-in process, we finally arrived at the room where we would meet our baby!
I was able to lie down on the bed, on my side. The nurse put the monitors on me and I told her Dr. Potts had agreed to only do intermittent monitoring. She said they needed to get a good 20 minute read on the baby and then she could take them off. Dr. Potts came in to say hello and (thankfully he was on call that night!) and he told me that since there had been some decelerations in her heartbeat, he wanted to keep me on the monitor a little longer.
As labor progressed, I tried to do whatever was most comfortable. I sat on a big birthing ball, placed closed to the bed and leaned my head and arms on pillow on top of the bed. This felt really good and helped me progress more than just lying on my side. I also walked to the bathroom to pee several times. Sitting on the toilet felt pretty good and N would stand in front of me, allowing me to lean on him through the contractions.
After moving around for a while, Sabrina about suggested that I might want to try to get some rest so I could make it through the pushing stage. I decided to return to the bed, lying again on my side and I would fall asleep for a few minutes between contractions. Sabrina suggested that N try to take a nap and she took over his job for a while.
After a while, I felt like I needed to get up and move around again. I paced around the room, stopping to lean on Sabrina when a contraction hit, and sat on the ball and the toilet. I told Sabrina that it felt like I needed to have a bowel movement, so I just wanted to sit on the toilet. During one of these trips to the bathroom, I asked Sabrina if she would just take the monitors off of me. She did and we both expected that the nurses would quickly come in to tell me to put them back on. No one ever mentioned anything about it! I felt much more comfortable without those belts around my abdomen.
N woke up, as I was making louder sounds through the contractions. He came into the bathroom with me and soon I started sweating and the contractions were very intense at this point. Sabrina wiped my face with a cold washcloth and said I was going through transition. I remember wondering if I could be at the point already. I had lost all track or time and refused to look at the clock. I didn’t want to know how long everything was taking, nor think about how long it may take. I also kept telling myself that I may still have a long way to go and that I could handle these contractions, as there were more intense ones to come!
The nurse returned to check me and I was an 8! The last time she checked I was a 3, so I was very encouraged by this news! Only 2 more to go! They told me it wasn’t time to push yet, so if I felt the urge, I should try to relax through it. These were the most intense contractions yet. At first, I found it difficult to relax through them and would tense up some of my muscles. Nick continued to work with me and help me to focus on relaxing the muscles I was tensing. I remembered the horse-lips technique from Ina May Gaskin’s book and began doing that during the most intense parts. N picked up on this and would start to do it when the contractions would begin. This helped me to remember to breathe this way, especially as I felt the urge to tense up as the intensity increased.
I had picked a happy memory to focus on during the contractions. I thought about the being at the cabin with N, sitting on the back porch swing, looking out over the Lake of the Ozarks. I had used this memory over and over, from the time the contractions had started at home. This was very helpful for me to keep my mind off of the intense rushes. But as I was going through transition, this memory wasn’t able to keep me as relaxed. Sabrina said to think of myself riding waves and at this point, I no longer needed to ride them, just let myself give into them. This imagery helped. I also would pray through the rushes that the Lord would help me through this one. I tried to only focus on getting through the current contraction, not allowing my mind to think about the next one. I also thought about my good friends who have gone through multiple natural childbirths, as well as all the women I read about in Gaskin’s book. This gave me courage to get through. If they had done it, so could I!
After a while, my new nurse, Jennifer, told me that if I was feeling the urge to push, than I could start pushing a little. I did this a few times while lying on my side. However, I didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere by lying down, so I sat up on the bed, Indian-style. The nurse and doctor suggested removing the foot of my bed, attaching the squatting bar, and foot supports. During a contraction I could pull myself up into a comfortable squat. I really liked this position and felt I could really push without my legs getting tired.
My support team helped me to focus my breath and energy down and into pushing, instead of pushing it out my mouth in loud noises. In between contractions, I would sit back and rest against the bed. N was encouraging me and telling me that this was what I wanted and that I was doing it. He would tell me that we’d be holding our daughter soon. I would keep reminding myself that my body was made to do this, that I would have her in my arms soon and then I’d be able to see L (my son) again soon too.
I wasn’t sure how forcefully I should push during contractions. Whenever I felt a burning sensation, I would back off of pushing because I thought that meant I was going to tear. Dr. Potts told me to push through that feeling and I thought I should, if I wanted to get her out.
With one contraction Dr. Potts told me he could see her head and N was able to see it too. After one or two more contractions and pushes, Sabrina told me that I could reach down and feel her head. I was able to feel it, but I was expecting to feel a hard little head. Instead it felt mushy and wet, of course! I just hadn’t thought about it feeling like that. Dr. Potts laughed at me as I made a face and wiped off my hand.
After a few more pushes, I heard N say, “She’s here; she’s out!” I looked down to see our precious daughter! I quickly scooped her up and put her against my chest. I couldn’t believe that she was actually out and in my arms! I felt a little like I was dreaming. N was standing beside us, kissing her head and touching her. As we requested, they didn’t clamp the cord until it stopped pulsating and N cut the cord.
Soon, Hannah latched on and nursed for the next 2 hours! I got to hold her that whole time, skin to skin. None of the staff attempted to do anything with her or take her from me. This time was invaluable and I was in euphoria. I couldn’t stop staring at her and I loved the way she felt against my skin, even covered in vernix!
We had a wonderful birth experience! Everything went better than I imagined it would be and I was able to have Hannah by VBAC!
When it comes to birth, things may happen that are out of our control and despite our best efforts, sometimes our wishes are not met. However, I learned there are many things a woman can do to have the best chance at the desired outcome. I found that surrounding myself with a good support team, especially my husband, doula, and supportive doctor, and being as prepared as possible through chiropractic care, acupuncture, and relaxation practice were the things that I could do to help me reach my desired goals.
Birth is not just something that happens to you. You are the most important participant! Preparing throughout your pregnancy can help you achieve your desires for birth!