Pregnancy & Birth

Preparing for VBAC with Our Birthing From Within Keepsake Journal

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This post is part of a blog series, 31 Days of Preparing for VBAC: my story of purposeful pregnancy, beautiful trial of labor after cesarean, and the healing repeat cesarean birth of my second child. To view all of the posts in this series, check out the landing page. To receive all posts in the series by email, subscribe here.

At the end of my first trimester, I purchased Our Birthing From Within Keepsake Journal. {This product is no longer available for purchase from it’s original retailer, but it can be found on Amazon, eBay, and It is the companion journal to the book Birthing from Within, which is still available. I have not read Birthing from Within.}

The journal falls more on the new-age side of things. However, I was very pleased with this purchase, because I feel like It set me on a path of purposeful, intentional birth preparation.

With Ezra, I was all about one thing: having a natural, unmedicated birth. Which, obviously, didn’t happen. When it didn’t, I was left with overwhelming disappointment and feelings of failure and inadequacy.

Going into Little Brother’s birth, I knew that I wanted to have a VBAC. But I was very afraid of heading down the same road – becoming obsessed with having a natural, unmedicated birth because I felt it was the “best” or the “right” way to have a baby.

While this journal definitely has a natural childbirth bent to it, it asked a lot of questions which helped me look honestly at both my past experience and my pregnancy and find out what I REALLY wanted. It helped me sort through fears and how to deal with whatever outcome happened.

The first chapter asked questions and gave prompts such as “What do I think is true about birth?” “What do I need to know or learn about?” and “From where am I coming?”

And then, “What is my deepest question?”

“Knowing your personal question is central to conscious birth preparation. You might have lots of questions, but there is one deep, heartfelt question. Hold your question in your heart. Ask it silently when you wake, during ordinary day-to-day activities, and as you fall asleep. Leave no stone unturned. Ask your question often and look at it from every angle until your conscious mind is exhausted and your heart is open to answers.”

I mulled over this prompt for several days before I was able to express what my deepest question really was:

“How can I experience healing (emotional, spiritual, and physical) through this baby’s pregnancy, labour, birth, recovery, and new life?” (13 weeks, 1 day)

The journal prompted me to ask myself the hard questions about what I believed about natural birth, and the result of those beliefs when it was not achieved. Looking back, I love what I wrote here:

14 Weeks, 5 Days

Because I viewed birth – natural birth – as expected, normal, designed by God, the way it should be, the right way…complications were both unexpected and unprepared for. I assumed that birth complications were the result of ignorance or error. Therefore, when complications arose in Ezra’s birth, I felt as though I had failed or done something wrong, or that someone else had. I looked to assign blame.

Now…I recognize that birth is designed to be natural and functions best when undisturbed by interventions. Choices can by made by the mother to lower risk of those interventions. However, complications happen. And they can be beyond the scope of our control. We must not assume that we are above them. We should prepare. Natural birth can be visualized and planned for, but must not be assumed.


The journal had a whole section to work through “coping with an unwished-for surprise.” This is where I wrote a lot about things I was scared about, mainly having to use Pitocin and being overwhelmed by contractions. I wrote down all of the things I would use to cope: “breathing, rocking, praying, loose jaw, open mouth, remembering to surrender, holding and squeezing hands, speaking truth to myself, utilizing water (shower), doula and husband encouragement, moaning, resting side-lying, peanut ball, and changing positions.” ALL of these things I utilized in my labor!

There were a lot of “art therapy” projects and prompts in the journal. Some of the assignments I did, others I modified. This also gave me the idea for other projects that I ended up working through on the side (which I’ll be sharing over the course of the series).

Instead of drawing and sculpting, I used a lot of word art. (That’s the writer-artist in me!)

IMG_5140 blog
“Creating a Birth Space That Will Help Me Open”
"Envision birthing-in-awareness, even if drugs or epidurals are part of your birth. Let images and words surface and form a symbol that will remind you in labor."
“Envision birthing-in-awareness, even if drugs or epidurals are part of your birth. Let images and words surface and form a symbol that will remind you in labor.”

I only used 10%, maybe 20%, of the content in the journal that I could have used. There are sections for fathers, coping with pain, postpartum, parenting, bonding with baby, and the prompts go through the baby’s first year.

If you can get your hands on a copy, I definitely recommend it. Even if you only use a few of the prompts, it will get you thinking about birth in ways your probably never did before. It will encourage mindfulness throughout your pregnancy.

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