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professional labor support

What's a Doula and Why I Recommend One

Art by Amanda Greavette

Art by Amanda Greavette

Happy WorldDoulaWeek! This is a week initiated by a doula in Israel to empower and support doulas around the world to improve the emotional and social health of birthing and postpartum women and their families; this is so needed in modern times, with the breakdown of community and resulting lack of sisterhood mothering, along with the prevalent fear and lack of exposure to birth, and the medicalization of childbirth. Says Dr. John H. Kennel MD, "If a #doula were a drug, it would be unethical not to use it."  When I think of the many #doulas I have been blessed to work with, I am reminded of strong, beautiful, kind, passionate, dedicated, fun-loving women who have found their calling supporting other women - these women rise by lifting others. Hug your doula this week; and if you don't have one, find one to hug, and research the many proven benefits of having a doula, especially if you are giving birth for the first time. 

I do love my vintage office bumper sticker.

I do love my vintage office bumper sticker.

What is a doula is and why do I recommend one when you don't have that kind of support around you?

A doula or a labor support person like a doula is must - someone calm and nurturing to mother you, who knows how to help mamas in labor, birth and postpartum and trusts the process. Women were surrounded by homebirth and supported other women in labor through history and around many parts of the world still today. In the US and many parts of the modern world today, many mamas don't have this, and it negatively impacts their birth and postpartum. My transfer rate is ~ 7% and it's mostly first time moms with prolonged labors, exhaustion and with a common theme - they did not set themselves up with doula or doula like labor support, despite what I said, now documented by solid research. I want mamas to optimize their chances of having an empowered, deeply positive and healthy birth experience. See if your midwife knows great doulas with a sliding scale. An awesome one is worth every penny.

I could talk for hours about this, but here are the main reasons I believe pregnant moms, especially first timers, those planning to VBAC, and those who have an obstetrician as their provider, should hire a doula. Doulas and midwives compliment one another even in out of hospital birth settings, and preserve rather than interfere with partner & family support & privacy.  Often dads are grateful they do not have to learn to be a labor coach.

In many cultures today, and throughout history, until relatively recently, when birth was moved into the hospitals in the 1920s to 1940s, and people dispersed away from their villages, women supported women through childbirth and postpartum. Doulas fill this void, and are trained to provide emotional support, comfort measures, reassurance, encouragement, empowerment, advocacy, and basically mother the laboring and postpartum mother. Most doulas go through a short training and certification process, although many take continuing education and serve childbearing families in other ways such as facilitating pregnancy and postpartum support circles, doing birth photography, creating mother blessing ceremonies, encapsulating placentas, and becoming childbirth educators to teach childbirth classes. Doulas are not medical providers like midwives and obstetricians, responsible for the actual maternity and newborn care - although midwives are more likely to provide doula like care which is integral to authentic midwifery, that is not their main role.

There is an impressive body of research on the many benefits without risks, of the continuous support of an experienced doula during labor, such as improved coping, self confidence, esteem and empowerment, enhanced satisfaction and positive feelings about their childbirth, shorter and easier labors, an easier time adapting to motherhood with enhanced skills, longer breastfeeding, more positive feelings towards their baby and even improved relationship with their partner! Scientific evidence from gold standard medical studies also reveals less pain and fear, less childbirth interventions including cesarean, vacuum and forceps deliveries, less episiotomies, medication for pain and stimulating labor, less babies in poor condition needing intensive care and longer hospital stays, and all the associated risks to of above interventions, and less postpartum depression. This is HUGE! It's having a personal coach so that you have the most healthiest, wonderful experience possible. All successful professional athletes, performers and most leading businesses and entrepreneurs have a coach of some sort.

Photo by Julia Sywers.

Photo by Julia Sywers.

This is doula love, given by my amazing birth assistant, doula and childbirth educator, to a superhero mama having her second homebirth. "The wisdom and compassion a woman intuitively experiences in childbirth can make her a source of healing and understanding for other women." - said the beloved Steve Gaskin. I want to honor all doulas this happy world doula week, and all superhero mamas who have given birth anyhow, anywhere.  Photo by Julia Sywers.

For personal questions and need for individual guidance you can schedule an online consultation with me- this is one of passions and areas of expertise. Many mamas ask to consult with me about their personal fears and concerns and what to do about them. I love helping mamas in person, and now with this global IG community, via Skype or phone conversation. You can also take my unique online ROCK and LOVE YOUR BIRTH course, which basically guides you through your pregnancy to birth and postpartum journey, as I guide the families in my midwifery practice - without the hands on care, to prepare and plan for an experience of their dreams.

Do you need supplements for preconception and pregnancy? Here are some of my favorite I recommend to mamas in my practice, along with my favorite herbal tea recipe for your journey. 

Flora

Make your Red Raspberry Leaf and Nettle herbal infusion.....rich in needed nutrients and specifically nourishing for pregnancy, birth and postpartum. Place 1 oz of dried red raspberry leaf, 1 oz of dried nettle leaf in a quart-sized glass canning jar with strainer, fill it with boiling water, cover and steep for at least 2 -4 hours at room temperature. Strain and place in a covered pitcher. You can make it in larger quantities and store in the fridge. For taste, dilute with water or steep for less time (but no less than half an hour), add lemon or lime juice, mint leaves or a teaspoon of honey. Drink 1-4 cups daily hot or cold.

I am passionate about changing lives. This 44-day course is changing lives. Vital Mind Reset is a program that will hold your hand and help you heal your life without a prescription. It will also introduce you to a community of people just like you – all working to transform their lives and revive their power and joy. Be a part of this community. Be a part of something greater and get yourself back! This course is a must, by renowned holistic psychiatrist Dr. Kelly Brogan, author of NY Times best seller 'A Mind Of Your Own', a dear friend and trusted colleague I can vouch for personally and support whole heartedly.  

Get a 10% discount on your Sleepod purchases at askrembla.com -use the code SWEETHOME to get your discount. 

Get a 10% discount on your Sleepod purchases ataskrembla.com-use the code SWEETHOME to get your discount. 

Below are some supplies to help you Rock your birthing experience! For more details check a recent  blog I specifically devoted to my recommended top 10 must haves for your birth - to make it easier and so much more wonderful.

The Strength of A Woman

@mikalacatherine

@mikalacatherine

"Today, along with every day since this day, I am so proud to be a woman and a mom." wrote inspired mama @mikalacatherine. "I had the incredible opportunity and privilege to carry my little boy for almost 41 weeks. But what I am most proud of is the fact that I was able to give birth to him. It's something I think about literally every day. I did it. Women every day do it. It blows my mind because the frequency of births makes it seem common. But let me tell you, it is not common. It is quite literally the worst and best thing I have ever done. Having given birth has made me so proud of all moms because now I know what each and every mom has had to go through with pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum. None are easy. All are important and meaningful. I know I risk seeming conceded with this post, but I am so dang proud of myself for doing it. Some days I am in awe of that fact. So today, I am so proud to be a woman and to stand with other women. With all mommies and caretakers. With all moms whether they have carried their babies physically or in their hearts instead. I am honored."

I honor of the billions of strong women who have found their strength and birthed (majority at home, naturally) since the beginning of time. Billions. Something to remember in labor, to encourage and empower. 

I saw the exam table and thought what a great place for warrior - because women are warriors, period - no matter where and how they birthed, whether they had babies or not.  In all these years I have met so many amazing women, women who have faced and dealt with a range of serious life challenges, many many women who grow, birth, feed and raise little humans, and those who were unable to even get pregnant or carry their pregnancies. The warrior pose is in honor of all women who find their strength at times when it seems impossible - and those are the women I have been blessed to know and learn from. 

Warriors are not born and they are not made…Warriors create themselves through trial and error, mistakes and limitations, pain and suffering, being upside down, wide open and vulnerable – and that is strength. Warriors get up and try again in spite of all of it. “Strength doesn’t come from what you can do. It comes from overcoming the things you thought you couldn’t.” Ashley Greene. We women are stronger than we know, and we find that out when we have too. And once we tap into that power, we birth our babies, we handle the challenges, we birth ourselves...each and every day, with the little hardships and the mountains that seem impossible to climb...until we do.

Art by Catie Atkinson @spiritysol.

Art by Catie Atkinson @spiritysol.

"Behind every man stands no woman. There is no greater man than the man that can acknowledge the woman standing right next to him." ~ Rachel Wolchin. Women rock! Mothers rock! We are strong because we had to be, wiser because we learned through our powerful experiences, always doing our best with what we know, have and are faced with at the time; we are admirable warriors of honor because we stayed the course, did not give up despite the challenges and struggles, and had the courage to plow forward irregardless of fears. Our blessings are that we have a fan club - the little ones we grow within us, birth, nurture and take care of, who adore us without caring about the mess, the laundry, our to-do lists. They are the little ones we adopt or foster. They are the people we deeply care for who are not our babies. We are beautiful to them no matter how we look or dress; we are perfect to them even when we make mistakes. They want our time and loving attention more than any material gift. I would love women to be treated and to treat themselves like the goddesses they are.

Photo by Megan Hancock Photography

Photo by Megan Hancock Photography

Let Me Help You Create The Happiest Birth Experience Of Your Life...

Whether you're a first time or experienced momma,

Or a midwife, doula, or birth professional guiding mommas..

Regardless if you are planning a birth at home, a hospital, a birth center or need a cesarean section, or if you are taking another childbirth education class…

You Really Can Create The Delivery Of Your Dreams.

And have a blissful birth wherever you are.

More Precious Than A Wedding...A Birth Should Be A Celebration!

Let me show you how to…

  • Understand the sensations of your body and connect your intuition with how your body is communicating and leading you towards what to do during labor
  • Tap into your inner calm to deeply relax yourself,letting go of busy, stressful and fearful thoughts on demand for the health of baby
  • Speak your truth from your heart in a way that deepens your relationships, sets clear boundaries, and has people listen to you and support you before, during and after pregnancy
  • Trust yourself, connect with your body wisdom andcommunicate with baby in belly
  • Connect with natural time and sync your body and mind up with your unique biological clock for ease from pregnancy to postpartum
  • Reprogram negative patterns, stories, and beliefs that undermine your confidence, strength and self trust so you can rock your birth

Physicians and midwives around the world recommend my teachings to their pregnant clients and many Doulas across the country learn the secrets of blissful birthing from me to supplement their Doula Training & Certification process!

To learn more, visit:  LOVE YOUR BIRTH Online Childbirth Course!

It is based on my years of experience, as a midwife and yoga teacher, helping thousands of women tap into their calm and live and birth from a place of grounded relaxation and joy. 

Educate and inspire yourself, ready your body, ready your mind, ready your heart with my list of TOP BOOKS of every category you can imagine listed  - with links on where to get them as books, listen on audio, or read them on kindle. The better prepared we are for a situation, the better the outcome will be. I feel passionate about empowering and educating women to get the most out of their womanhood, pregnancy, birth, postpartum, breastfeeding, mama, yoga and life journeys!

I am excited about this course is by a best selling author whose personal story, insights and life changes after recovery from terminal cancer and a near death experience are beyond inspiring and riveting. Not only is it such a testimony to her strength, I feel it can help moms with many of the physical, emotional and psychological challenges associated with pregnancy, postpartum and beyond, also help all women and the professionals who serve them, and really every human being....to find their strength that is already within them.

“Dying to be Me” by Anita Moorjani emphasizes the importance of YOU. She discusses positive ways you can radically alter beliefs about yourself, your purpose on earth, your health, your relationships, and your life. These lessons may help you in recognizing and dealing with the various challenges you face, and may aid as a tool or a resource to be used for you to learn about YOU and reconnect to the best parts of you – Featuring lessons in Loving Authentically, From Surviving to Thriving, From Fear To Freedom, Finding My Purpose and Creating a Magnificent Life with special dear guest Wayne Dyer. Anita will also inspire you to radically alter your current beliefs about yourself, your purpose on earth, your health, your relationships, and your life;  and she can help you transform your life by living more authentically, discovering your greatest passions, transcending your deepest fears, and living from a place of pure joy. 

Jet Arlo's Birth Story

The 1st of August 2016, at 39 weeks and 1 day, Jet Arlo Sheedy graced us with his presence Earthside.

Baby photos by @lanicarterphotography.

Baby photos by @lanicarterphotography.

On top of the normal pains plus ‘vagina shocks’, over the weekend I experienced some interesting sensations further down in my pelvis, which felt like it was right near my cervix - also experiencing a different emotional state, quite calm and at peace, and my senses were heightened - especially my sense of smell. At the time I didn’t know, however now I’m taking this as my pre-labour. It was a beautiful weekend that my husband and I were able to have some quality time with plenty of it spent at the beach. The next day was a productive Monday day for me, while I had a tight stomach and uterus for the past 8 weeks and bub had been engaged for most of that, I was determined to get a few things ticked off my to-do list. With a trip to the shops and catch up with a friend where we chatted about birth, I went over my affirmation cards and birth plan. I had planned a home-birth however also felt comfortable and open to the need to transfer if required. I was starting to feel excited about the rite of passage before me, this was a nice feeling as previously I had been feeling quite anxious with not knowing when the time would come and also what life as a mum would look like.

Just before 3pm, I had sat down to do bits of emails on the computer when after a while I felt a little release of fluid and then 2 seconds later a bigger release of fluid. I stood up to go to the toilet not putting two and two together until I leaked ample water along the way. My body started to tremble and shake from the adrenaline. I rang my midwife (Deyna) to let her know, she reassured me and wasn’t too worried that it was going to happen quickly as I had no pain, not even cramping. She said she would touch base in a few hours and see how I was doing. I rang my husband (Paul) who was in Beerwah finishing a job, I said not to worry and to keep working, as had no pain so may even be tomorrow when it all starts.

At 3:17 I started to feel cramps like period pain to which I text Paul to say I’d actually like him to be home with me, he advised he was already packing up and on his way.

I spoke to a close friend (Teagan) who had been very supportive through my pregnancy and also a huge homebirth support for me. She expressed excitement, also calmness and confidence in the journey that was upon me. This helped to ground me knowing the support was there if needed.

After speaking to her I thought I best just make up the herbal for a client that I had meant to do all day and make my parsley green smoothie to help hydrate me before things really kicked off. I got maybe 6 steps away and had to return to the day bed to focus on relaxing and breathing.

3:40 the cramps had increased to surges and were taking up all of my attention, I tried timing them but it was too much to think about. Instead called in my dog Meeka to keep me company while I was still at home by myself.

3:55 I rang Deyna again to let her know things were getting intense, she told me to relax and that my body was trying to find a rhythm. She talked me through a surge, which was helpful. She also said she was getting organised and would be on her way. This slowed down my surges thankfully and headed to the kitchen to grab a coconut water.

4:05pm during the next surge I noticed I was unconsciously groaning with pain and couldn’t breathe through the contraction, only groan, I was not in control at all with what was going on. This is the point I realised the incredible downward pressure and took myself to the bathroom. It felt like I needed to push so I tried to keep my legs tightly together when possible. I felt everything was happening a little too quickly and unless I wanted to deliver my baby myself I needed to calm down and slow down what was happening. I leaned forward dropping my head between my arms with hands on the bathroom sink. I was sweating and shaking so stripped off and put my hands under the cold running tap to get some relief.

I rang Deyna at this point as thought it would be best to have her talking me through this, especially if I was to be alone for the actual birth. She was getting in her car in Peregian and heading for me in Coolum. This helped just knowing she was on her way. Interestingly while I was conscious with the reality of what was happening and being alone I still didn’t feel fear. Fear was something I wanted to be aware of and not fall into during the lead up of the birth and was thankful that it didn’t overtake my senses through the birth. Trying to bring focus I attempted to recall my birthing affirmation cards, there was no way I’d make it out to the kitchen to get them. The only cards I could reach my mind to focus on was that women in Africa are giving birth at this same time in the middle of the desert (thanks Katie for this one) and Embrace…. something. I couldn’t remember what the rest of the card said but I got to EMBRACE, which was still an important word. Looking at the cards now it was EMBRACE THE ESSENCE OF MY BIRTH, funny as Embrace the Essence is the catch phase of my business, yet I couldn’t for the life of me remember ‘the essence’ part haha.

 

4:20 Paul and Deyna both arrived at the same time, thankfully. The feeling was a whole body sensation of gratitude once they were both with me. I felt inner strength and confidence that I was ready to birth my son. Deyna got me down on my knees and with the next surge could see him crowning. I lent forward on all 4’s for the following surges and felt my hipbones and pubic bones starting to open. This was truly a mind-blowing feeling to be present enough to acknowledge what was happening. A lot say that you go within and zone out during birth, which I was looking forward to, however perhaps with it all happening so quickly and initially on my own I needed to stay present.

In this short period of time Paul was a machine and was able to get towels, a wet washer (that felt amazing like no other washer had felt before!), get me the fitness ball so I could rest on between surges, give me kisses that were the best pain relief ever (definitely recommend this to support their birthing partners) and set up the video camera on the tripod – truly love that man.

The next surge I had was again incredible yet intense, I tried to focus on the action of what was happening so I didn’t get lost, I could feel everything opening, while there was crazy pressure, burning, stinging I knew this was normal and Deyna helped talk me through the surge as my baby’s head came out. WOW! What a feeling that was.

 

Deyna asked if I was ready to catch my baby with the next contraction, Paul sat on the toilet behind me and I moved back to kneeling hoping to catch him. The period between contractions is total bliss, the hormones that flood your body are incredible, two total opposite feelings to experience within 60 seconds of each other.

The next surge begun to birth the rest of my baby and while I tried and wanted to catch him it was too much for me to do and due to the speed he came out it was great that Deyna grabbed him and put him straight on my chest at 4:32pm. My little speedy angel was born and in my arms. He had a little spatter to clear his airway and then just nuzzled into my chest. Meeka came in to see us and gave him a sniff, to which Jet let out a little cry, oh the cuteness is overwhelming and still is.

 

That feeling is truly powerful and indescribable, I now understand what mum’s are meaning when they are trying to explain that moment in life.

He was so beautiful and first thing I said was that he looked like an old man from being all squished and that he looked like his Dada. We had skin on skin for the 5 hours which passed like it was 10mins.

Jet weighed 3.3kg and 50cm long.

From the birth experience I was overwhelmed with gratitude for how it all worked out. I will be forever grateful for having a homebirth with no medical intervention, instead allowing the natural body and hormones journey us through an incredible experience. My faith for nature has been elevated to new levels and the trust I will continue to have for the process of life and how the less we intervene the more it works out, this is huge for me to acknowledge the process of letting go and surrendering to the journey that has already been laid out for us. As I sit there with my little life in my arms that my husband and I created in just 9 months my view on the world would never be the same.

So much gratitude.

Welcome to the world my little man xxxx

By Talita Sheedy @lahlita_natural_medicine.

 

ROCK your pregnancy, birth and postpartum with my  online childbirth course  - whether you give birth at home, in a birthing center or hospital. Educate yourself with my favorite  books  and  movies .  And here is a list of 10  b  irth supplies  to really help you.

ROCK your pregnancy, birth and postpartum with my online childbirth course - whether you give birth at home, in a birthing center or hospital. Educate yourself with my favorite books and movies.  And here is a list of 10 birth supplies to really help you.

Our Gentle Home Water Birth

Our baby’s birth is an answered prayer.

I was in great physical pain for days but, incredibly, there was never a doubt in my mind. I had faith that we could do it.

I was at home, surrounded by my family – the people who love me most, by caring midwives dedicated to give me a safe, gentle, positive birth experience, and a sweet lady who documented the whole thing in these beautiful photos.

VBAC - A Hot Topic

PHOTO CREDIT - THE UNISON PHOTO CNM
Subscribe to Ask the Midwife: bit.ly/askthemidwife

Correction - ACOG is the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; ICAN is the International Cesarean Awareness Network

What is a VBAC?

A VBAC is a vaginal birth after cesarean.

If a woman has had a cesarean and wants to plan a vaginal birth for her next, it would be considered a VBAC.

Cesarean Surgery

Cesarean section is major abdominal surgery that involves serious potential risks for both a mother and her baby.

When medically necessary, it can be life-saving. I am very grateful for this. And it is still of course a birth to celebrate.

Unfortunately, cesareans have become so routine. I believe women are not given the opportunity to explore all their options and are not offered education and empowerment to have a vaginal delivery after a previous cesarean, other than a repeat cesarean birth, if that is their choice.

Statistically, the United States ranks among the highest in the world among cesarean rates. It’s approximately 30% and rising.

It’s as high as 40-50% in some areas near to where I live, and this is absolutely unacceptable.

Benefits of a VBAC

There are many benefits to a VBAC. These are physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.

These are only a few important benefits on the long list:

  • No risks from major abdominal surgery. This is huge.  Unfortunately, a cesarean can lead to trauma to the internal organs or reproductive tract, risk of hemorrhage, complications with scar tissue, long term post operative pain, wound infection, blood clots, stroke, and possible respiratory problems for the baby. High rates of cesarean section contribute to high rates ofmorbidity and mortality – and this is occurring in modern countries such as the US, which ranks among the bottom of them in terms of outcome stats.

  • Easier postpartum healing and recovery.

  • Baby receives needed bacteria for optimal health, from mother when passing through the vaginal birth canal.

  • Breastfeeding may be more successful

  • No potential harm to future fertility.

  • Feeling more positive about the birth experience

  • Increased sense of empowerment.

  • More involvement of family and support people.

  • Less risk of postpartum depression and emotional birth trauma.

Image by midwife @lindseymeehleis after mama's triumphant and healing VBAC.

Image by midwife @lindseymeehleis after mama's triumphant and healing VBAC.

Major Health Care Regulators and Advisory Organization Support VBACS

Most major health care regulators and advisory organizations like the World Health Organization encourage VBACS.

“The World Health Organization recommends that the caesarean section rate should not be higher than 10% to 15%. According to the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada (SOGC), vaginal delivery represents the safest route for the fetus and newborn in the first and subsequent pregnancies” – World Health Organization website, http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/85/10/06-039289/en/ This is generous, as when cesarean section was originally implemented, it was intended to serve 5% of the birthing population – those with serious complications who really needed surgical intervention.

Also encouraging of VBACS are the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) (link to their website: http://www.acog.org/ , The National Guideline Clearinghouse https://www.guideline.gov/  ,  Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the American College of Nurse Midwives

No words can describe this amazing mama's feelings after her VBAC, captured by  @skyla_walton

No words can describe this amazing mama's feelings after her VBAC, captured by @skyla_walton

“The AAFP strongly recommends that clinicians inform women who have had a prior vaginal birth, either before or after a prior cesarean birth, that they have a high likelihood of VBAC. Unless there are specific contraindications to a vaginal birth, these women should be encouraged to plan a labor and VBAC and should be offered referral to clinicians and facilities capable of providing this service, if it is not available locally. (Quality of Evidence: High)” – Source: The National Guidelines Clearinghouse website (insert link: https://www.guideline.gov/summaries/summary/49115/clinical-practice-guideline-planning-for-labor-and-vaginal-birth-after-cesarean?q=vbacs

In most cases, a VBAC is a safe option.

I share the opinion of many concerned with improving maternity care and reducing our rising rates of maternal and newborn death and serious health consequences from the interventions in childbirth, that a woman should not be forced to have a major surgery against her will, rather provided research and empowered to make her own decision, considering she is having a healthy pregnancy.

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AAOG removed the previous unreasonable restriction requiring immediate availability of a surgical staff for an emergency cesarean, as most hospitals around the country, let alone free standing birth centers and home settings, do not meet this criteria. Most hospitals are not able to have a surgical staff at all times and cannot perform an emergency cesarean in under 30 minutes.

Despite this, research is showing that far too many obstetricians do not offer VBACS. They routinely recommend repeat cesareans because they may fear law suits, succumb to scheduling pressures, have restrictive hospital or malpractice insurance policies, and/or feel pressured to uphold certain standards among their colleagues who are not supportive of VBAC. The hands of a midwife whose collaborative obstetrician and hospital do not support VBAC can often be unnecessarily tied as well for these reasons. Most repeat cesareans are not actually medically necessary, and are commonly recommended due to various non-medical reasons. This is very concerning.

What also concerns me is that the risks of a VBAC are magnified in conversation with women, while the risks of a repeat cesarean are downplayed, so women may feel forced, afraid and powerless.

I want women to feel like they have a voice.

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Some women who want to VBAC have limited options and local doctors in the area are only offering cesareans. Some feel they have no option other than having an unattended homebirth, or labor alone at home until the last minute without any monitoring, or not be truthful with their providers about their previous cesarean birth – all of which can increase the risks for her and her baby.

A trained and experienced midwife who is continuously with the woman in active labor, can detect concerning signs and symptoms before they can become a crisis, and she be transferred and treated in time to save her and her baby’s life and heath.  A midwife wears many hats, one of which is protecting the space so the natural process of birth can proceed with ease and grace, and another is a lifeguard – to know when and how to intervene to prevent problems or manage emergencies.  There are many wonderful obstetricians supportive of VBAC who have this training and style of practice as well; they are just harder to find.

What are the chances of having a successful VBAC and who is a good candidate for a VBAC?

The stats range that 60-80% of women, who have had previous cesareans, are candidates for a successful VBAC. In actuality, most healthy pregnant women carrying healthy babies are candidates.

The chances of a successful VBAC are higher if a woman is using a midwife, even higher in free standing birthing centers and home settings.

Above photos of rockstar mama's VBAC are by  @karinariveraphotographer

Above photos of rockstar mama's VBAC are by @karinariveraphotographer

Going to a hospital and working with an OB/GYN with high cesarean rates, will increase the likelihood that a woman will have another cesarean.

In some hospitals, there are a lot of restrictive procedures, like continuous electronic fetal monitoring, confining a laboring woman to lay in bed, not allowing her to eat or drink, routine IVs and time limits, which increase the risk of a cesarean.

What is the main risk of a VBAC?

The risk of separation of the prior uterine scar is approximately 2 in 1000 VBACs, but often it is a mild superficial dehiscence (slight separation of some layers of the surgical wound) that has no clinical significance and does not impact the health of mom or baby. The risk of severe life-threatening emergency from a partial or complete uterine rupture of all the scar layers is significantly lower – a highly unlikely occurrence, significantly less than 1 %.  The main risk is of a VBAC is this rare catastrophic rupture of the previous uterine incision. This rare total disruption of the uterine scar risks both the mother and her baby, and can lead to catastrophic outcomes. It cannot be ignored and must be monitored for appropriately; but it cannot be exaggerated or make the risk of repeat cesarean less alarming.

Although every decision has risks, a VBAC is a reasonable, appropriate and safe option. If a woman panning a VBAC decides to give birth at home, I highly recommend working with a well trained and experienced midwife and consider the distance to a hospital (30 minutes or less driving time is ideal).

There are risks and benefits to every kind of birth and in every setting. I provide women with evidence based information, encourage each family to dig deep and look at the pros and cons to having a VBAC in a hospital setting, free standing birthing center or home, vs a routine cesarean and have informed consent for her birth.

Are there benefits to a cesarean?

A planned cesarean is in a controlled environment, and some women find great comfort in that knowing. Perhaps a woman has had a previous traumatic, long labor the first time and they just don’t want to go through that experience again. Some women are very anxious about that and they just feel safer knowing they will have another cesarean.

I take that seriously, because she won’t labor well if she doesn’t feel safe.

Like I mentioned before, the serious risks for a VBAC can be often prevented, treated or transferred to surgical care in time, with a skilled midwife or obstetrician who is attending to the laboring women, aware and mindful of the symptoms that lead up to that.

Thankfully some hospitals are now at least allowing more time for baby to get the cord blood from the placenta, skin to skin bonding, and her partner or main support person in the operating room. Some hospitals and providers are performing “gentle cesareans” – cesareans that are family and woman centered, and try to provide the environment of a natural birth as much as possible. This is a wonderful attempt to restore humanity to birthing in the operating room.

Last tips:

If a woman knows she wants to have another baby, I would start with research and education. Ask yourself: “What do I want and why?”

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A woman should get the support she needs. Most women who have had a prior cesarean have issues they need to discuss. There are therapists who specialize in this.  One of my dedications and areas of expertise is creating space so a mom can debrief, process and heal from her previous upsetting or traumatic birth experience, as well as plan for a better one next time around. Schedule a consult with me here. http://homesweethomebirth.com/chat-with-anne/.

I tell mamas to do what they can to educate and empower themselves, and know they do have a voice, build their circle of support, and include in their birth team advocates to speak for them when they are in the heat of labor. I tell them to prepare for a vaginal birth. The mind, body, heart and spirit can prepare for a vaginal birth - and a deeply positive, beautiful and empowering one. This is one of my passions and main focus of my online childbirth course.

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PHOTO CREDIT – THE UNISON PHOTO

A woman is more likely to have a vaginal birth if she has a natural birth. Although this is not in all cases, a woman who is educated, empowered and prepared for a natural birth has a greater chance for having one.

Things a woman can do to prepare for a vaginal birth:

  • Take an excellent childbirth course! My online LOVE YOUR BIRTH course is available here. 

  • Check out www.vbacfinder.com to find VBAC rates for local hospitals.

  • Check out ICAN (http://www.ican-online.org) for more information; seek out VBAC groups in your community, on Instagram and on Facebook, to connect with other women who have had successful VBACS.

  • Watch movies of women who have had VBACS… inspiring stories of healing, beauty and empowerment.

  • Create your tribe, in your pregnancy, of like minded women who have gone through what you’re going through.

  • Interview providers, and choose one that aligns with you the most – one that has high rates of VBAC and low rates of repeat cesarean. It is very important to ask them their rates, and if you are planning a hospital birth, research the hospital rates here (link to http://www.cesareanrates.com/2015/01/what-is-my-hospitals-cesarean-rate.html

     Most midwives, especially those who practice out of hospital settings, have the highest rates of VBAC and the lowest rate of repeat cesarean, but plenty of hospital midwives and obstetricians have similar stats – they just may take some work on your part to seek them out.

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I also recommend hiring an awesome doula, as those who have a doula are less likely to have a cesarean.

A doula is amazing because they offer the mothering comfort and support that our ancestors had.  When women would give birth in their tribe or village, and they were surrounded by mothers, aunts, sisters, grandmothers, and the other women of their community, they received that mothering support by women who were comfortable with birth and relaxed around it. Fear has no place in birth, and a doula provides needed calm and loving support.

Lastly, I recommend drawing and journaling , mediation and visualization – which tap more deeply into her intuitive self. A woman can imagine how she’d do it differently or what she wants for herself. And she can face her fears head on, which often lessens them, or she can be with them and plow forward with courage in spite of them.

Remember, In the end it’s not in our control, and we let go and surrender,

If you do all of these things and end up having a cesarean, it’s not a failure. There is no failure in birth. It is a birth, a belly birth, and it’s the birth of your baby and you as a mother. It is the birth of your family and your partner as a parent. Stay present, stay involved and keep a positive mindset. Focus on the blessing, that you did all that you could, and thankful for modern medicine, which saved you and your baby’s life and preserved health. Also, you can ask for a gentle cesarean, which restores humanity to the operating room by doing such things as allowing your support people in with you, enabling baby to emerge from the incision simulating as much as possible a vaginal birth to help baby clear his/her own lungs, enabling you to participate by lowering the drapes so you can see your birth, giving you sterile gloves to receive your baby, delaying the umbilical cord clamping so baby can benefit from the cord blood, encouraging immediate skin to skin bonding and early breastfeeding.  

Image by  angiebeehotz

Image by angiebeehotz

Healing can occur afterwards, and may take time and lots of support. But there is no place for shame and negative self judgement here.

Image by Megan Hancock Photography

Image by Megan Hancock Photography

Let Me Help You Create The Happiest Birth Experience Of Your Life...

Whether you're a first time or experienced momma, planning a VBAC

Or a midwife, doula, or birth professional guiding mommas..

Regardless if you are intending to birth at home, a hospital, a birth center or need a cesarean section, or if you are taking another childbirth education class…

You Really Can Create The Delivery Of Your Dreams, ROCK your VBAC

And have a blissful birth wherever you are.

More Precious Than A Wedding...A Birth Should Be A Celebration!

Let me show you how to…

  • Understand the sensations of your body and connect your intuition with how your body is communicating and leading you towards what to do during labor

  • Tap into your inner calm to deeply relax yourself,letting go of busy, stressful and fearful thoughts on demand for the health of baby

  • Speak your truth from your heart in a way that deepens your relationships, sets clear boundaries, and has people listen to you and support you before, during and after pregnancy

  • Trust yourself, connect with your body wisdom andcommunicate with baby in belly

  • Connect with natural time and sync your body and mind up with your unique biological clock for ease from pregnancy to postpartum

  • Reprogram negative patterns, stories, and beliefs that undermine your confidence, strength and self trust so you can rock your birth

Physicians and midwives around the world recommend my teachings to their pregnant clients and many Doulas across the country learn the secrets of blissful birthing from me to supplement their Doula Training & Certification process!

To learn more, visit:  LOVE YOUR BIRTH Online Childbirth Course!

It is based on my years of experience, as a midwife and yoga teacher, helping thousands of women tap into their calm and live and birth from a place of grounded relaxation and joy. 

Some other resources:

In the end, how a woman births is her personal decision and the more informed she is and empowered to play a large role, the greater the likelihood is she will have a positive birth experience.