Three years ago I gave birth to my second child through VBAC (Vaginal Birth After C-Section) using the Lamaze method of delivery. It was very successful and I could not believe I made it through without epidural! The pain of natural childbirth is immeasurable, I was so humbled.
A little backstory, my first born son Dylan was delivered via c-section in 2010 and I have been told by my doctor then that my next children will most likely end up delivered the same because of the risk of uterine rupture. I’m a petite woman with a height of 4’ 11” and a narrow pelvic bone (identified by pelvimetry), so if my next baby happens to be too big or that if I get past my due date, then chances are I will be candidate for a C-section again.
My first C-section experience was quite traumatic (Yes, I’ve had two but I’ll save it for another post). At 41 weeks in my pregnancy, there was no early sign of labour. My doctor’s order was to get myself admitted at the hospital for labour induction. I was given Oxytocin via IV drip and while it did kickstart the contractions a little bit, 12 hours later they were still weak hence declared failure to progress.
I was then talked into delivering the baby via c-section. I was scared but I already knew then that it was a possibility. We were asked to sign a waiver, my husband was told to get a a couple bags of blood from Red Cross while I was being prepped for the operation. The operating room was too cold, my back hurt so bad while I lie down on the operating table like a frog waiting to be dissected. I didn’t know what to expect. I started shivering after the spinal anesthesia, and without my husband in sight, I just closed my eyes and asked God to comfort me. I thought I was going to die. I’m not a religious person but at that point, I had no one to turn to so I uttered a prayer and told myself whatever happens, it’s His will.
Fast forward to 6 years later and I got pregnant again and was able to successfully give birth vaginally to healthy baby boy, Gavin. So, maybe you wonder how did I make VBAC possible for me? Isn’t once a C-section always a C-section? This is my story.
We’ve been trying to get pregnant for months but nothing and so the day I found out that I was positive came as a real surprise for me. Immediately the thought of having another c-section sparked the fears I’ve had in the past. I decided that time I don’t want to be cut open again and so during my entire pregnancy I did a lot of research and educated myself – whether or not the risks were real in my case and what I can do to avoid it. It’s true that when you arm yourself with knowledge nothing is impossible and you have the power to turn things around.
I spent months of research to understand what VBAC is and what my chances are. I read a lot of articles and experiences of other women who have had a successful VBAC delivery and I was really inspired by their stories. From then on I had made it my mission to do everything in my power to deliver my baby naturally. I gathered my thoughts and the takeaways from everything I’ve read and I started creating my birth plan with a more holistic approach.
A birth plan serves as a checklist of all your requests for your doctor, your pediatrician and the medical team. It will be their guide on the kind of birth experience you want to have and you need to discuss it with your medical team to ensure they understand perfectly what you want to happen. Some of your requests may not be granted depending on the hospital and your doctor. Do your research and find out everything you can so you know what to say when your doctor tries to talk you out of it.
So our first preparation was to attend a childbirth class. My wonderful doctor, Ma. Lora Tupas suggested that I attend Ms. Pia Uygongco’s Lamaze class to learn more about natural childbirth, breathing techniques and everything else we need to know to prepare for the D day. It was a small class, only one couple were with us at the time so the environment is really relaxed and the approach is very personal.
At 38 weeks my due date is fast approaching so I’m starting to get anxious and worried about early labor signs not yet present. By this time I have been drinking Organic Raspberry Leaf Tea which I have purchased from Baby Mama, and taking my Evening Primrose Oil 500mg 2x daily. The Raspberry leaf tea is supposed to help make your labour easy while the Evening Primrose Oil softens your cervix hence making its dilation much faster.
At 39 weeks, I went to an acupuncturist to try to naturally induce labour. I have already been having false labour this week so I thought we’d give it a little more help. I have also been regularly walking morning and afternoon and doing squats for exercise.
On 16th of Feb at around 9:30pm I started having contractions with 7-10 minute intervals. The pain was tolerable but I was too anxious to sleep so we were still up and anticipating. The contractions started growing closer together and at 3am, it has progressed to 4-5 min intervals and is becoming more and more painful. At 4am we decided it’s time to go to the hospital.
I was only 3cm dilated when I arrived at the ER so I was transferred to the labor room for monitoring. The gaps in between contractions became irregular but it never stopped.
At 6:15 am I was only 4 cm dilated but thankfully, the nice staff at Qualimed Iloilo had allowed to transfer me by this time to the birthing suite which we have prebooked so that my husband (and technically my birth coach), can be with me and help me with my breathing techniques.
Around 9am my doctor arrived in the suite, I was at 5cm and she said it might take a little more time before I’m ready so she will be back in 2 hrs to check on my progress. After she left, things started to get interesting. The pain became more intense and I was already having trouble keeping up with my breathing techniques. The assistant OB checked and I was already 6cm dilated. She called my doctor to get back quickly as I was progressing really fast. A few more contractions and I whimpered, I just don’t think I can do this and at this stage I freaking begged for an epidural!
They had to find an Anaesthesiologist for me since this was not part of my birth plan, so I’ll have to wait. Meanwhile, my husband kept on coaching me while the assistant OB tried to talk me out of getting the epidural since it could stall my progress (bless her heart) and I might actually end up getting a C-section. That was when I came back to my senses. All the preparation we’ve done would have been wasted. So I said, ok I will try to manage and focus back on my breathing.
A few minutes more I was in transition phase, from 6cm it jumped to 7 and shortly after to 9cm. This was the most painful part but lucky for me, the fastest! My doctor just made it in time to catch the baby. At 10cm, I was screaming to push, and after about 4-5 pushes, our healthy little bundle is out!
Since our Pediatrician was not present to catch the baby, my OB made sure my birth plan is strictly followed, she ordered skin to skin protocol right away, waited a few minutes until the cord stopped pulsating before asking my husband to cut it and healthy baby boy latched on immediately.
My OB made sure that our baby will not leave the room, so when the nurse said she needs to bring Gavin to the nursery for weighing, she requested that they bring the weighing scale in the room instead. We were so happy that everything was done according to plan.
Gavin and I stayed in the birthing suite for few more hours before moving to our private room in the afternoon and by evening time, I was already up and about. No groggy feeling, I was hyperactive, breastfeeding, went to the bathroom, sit and eat by myself. Everything felt normal except for the pain in my stitching.
I have to say this journey was a great learning experience for us. All the research, preparations and the childbirth class made the natural birth I was hoping for become possible. And the best part in all this? Leaving the hospital with happy pockets. Although we opted for the most expensive package for NSD (Normal Spontaneous Delivery), we paid exactly just that plus doctor’s PF. No surprise fees, miscellaneous etc. The hospital also provided very nice and complete supplies for both me and the baby, we didn’t have to use our own.
Why I wanted to share my experience is because I’d like new mothers to know that just because you had a C-section from previous birth, does not necessarily mean that you can never have a normal delivery with your next children . Even my own mother thought that way and that is so not true. So how do you know if you are a good candidate for VBAC?
Your chances are high if:
- You’ve had a past vaginal delivery
- Low transverse uterine scar type
- At least 18 months or longer in between pregnancies
- In a healthy weight range
- healthy pregnancy in general, no complications and your lab test results are normal.
So if you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant and wanted to try vaginal birth after c section, I hope my story gives you the encouragement you need to try it. I’m happy to answer any questions and I’m interested to know your birth experience too so leave them in the comments below!
P.S. If you are in Iloilo and is interested to attend a Child Birth Preparation Class, you can register at 9 and Beyond, they have an upcoming class on Saturday, 16th March 2019, 10am – 12pm. For more info please click below: