Preparing for and experiencing a VBAC / TOLAC is a long, arduous journey that you simply can’t take alone. The more support you have, the higher your chances of having a positive, healing experience will be.
I have a whole post coming on how I chose my doula, so I’ll just touch on this briefly.
A doula is worth every penny you will spend. My doula poured into my life during my pregnancy, offered SO much physical support during labor (hip squeezes!!), coached me through positions and vocalizations. My doula also took some of my pictures during my labor (as well as all of the pictures and videos in the OR!), and accompanied me to the OR during my surgery when my husband didn’t feel like that’s something he could do (more on that coming as well).
I look back on the whole experience and honestly don’t know what labor and birth would have looked like without her. But it definitely wouldn’t have been the experience that it was.
Your Webster-certified chiropractor
I’ve been under chiropractic care since childhood, but I believe that pregnancy is a time where chiropractic becomes paramount, if not a complete necessity. Chiropractic helps you deal with muscle aches and pains, alignment issues (such as symphysis pubis pain), and helps to keep your body and baby aligned for the BEST birthing position. The Webster technique is incredibly important to help prevent (or fix) breech and malpositioned babies. (I will be going into this further in upcoming posts in the series.)
I chose my initial chiropractor (Tracey) by searching for Webster-certified providers when I moved to NC in 2013. It was THAT important to me. I saw her monthly pre-pregnancy, in spite of the 35 minute drive to her office. Once I got pregnant, my visits increased to every two weeks, then weekly.
Due to Tracey having both a serious injury AND a baby herself during my pregnancy, I switched to one of her friends and associates (Kim) who has her own practice when I was about 30 weeks, and saw her weekly from then on out, bi-weekly the last few weeks, and daily the last week. Kim is a cesarean mom herself and was heading up our monthly local cesarean and VBAC support group. Kim also has a service whereby she will actually go on-call and attend your labor and birth to provide chiropractic services in labor and after birth, much like a doula would. Having this additional person on my team was such a relief for me, as getting adjusted during labor can help baby descend better and prevent stalled labor.
Kim’s support during labor was so invaluable. She wasn’t just a chiropractor – in many ways she acted as a second birth doula. She brought along some essential oils (peppermint helped me with congestion and focus during the unmedicated portion of my labor), sat with me and operated my pump while I was trying breast stimulation to keep contractions going, and ran the camera the rest of the time, capturing SO many beautiful moments for me.
To find a Webster-certified chiropractor in your area, go to icpa4kids.org and select “Webster Certified Chiropractors” from the “Search for” dropdown menu.
See also: Chiropractic Care During Pregnancy
I have a whole post dedicated to how I worked with my husband during my pregnancy, labor, and birth. While he didn’t always understand the specifics of what I was going through, he was there. He was one of my biggest supporters and offered me a lot of physical support during labor, (holding my hand, squeezing my hips, helping offer resistance during pushing).
Your BTDT VBAC Moms
Make friends with other VBAC moms who have BTDT (been there, done that). There’s just something about a VBAC pregnancy that is different in levels of emotional intensity. Having friends who have gone through this and come out on the other side is so incredibly encouraging on days when you are wondering if you can do this, if you have what it takes.
Your “stand in the gap” encouragement people
It’s not just VBAC moms who can be there for you. My shortlist of encouraging people I turned to on the worst of days included several other moms who had had natural births in non-VBAC pregnancies, a friend of mine who is a doula, my chiropractors, and my two best friends who have had all cesarean babies. This was a very shortlist of people who I would message on the worst of days, who were there for me in early labor when I was staying off of social media, and cheered me on during my entire pregnancy.
Kristen Burgess, a blogger and podcaster from Natural Birth and Baby Care, spends a lot of time reminding her followers of this concept…that your baby is an ACTIVE participant in pregnancy and birth. He or she is your team-mate. You have to work WITH your baby, and that needs to be the focus of both pregnancy and birth.
No matter your choice of support people, the important thing to remember is that you have to have support. You cannot do this alone!