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VBAC Cubby - vaginal birth after cesarean

Hopeful VBAC Moms Who Are Fearful of Birth #2
~ a message board archive
From oz's mommy ~ My first birth was going to be all natural. I was psyched, I was educated, I was confident. I ended up with a (most likely unnecessary) c-section on a Friday afternoon (got to get those Docs home for the weekend). It took a long time to get my body healed. I'm still healing emotionally from it 2 1/2 half years later. I sat on it for a long time, but now that we are expecting baby #2, it's all starting to come out of me. I don't want another c-section; it was horrible. The only thing that made it bearable was my new baby son.

After the birth, I didn't get any assistance from my family - just my husband who had a great paternity leave - and a little help from some friends. I wanted to smack all of the people who heartlessly said, "At least you have a healthy baby - that's all that really matters."

I was wondering if any other moms have gone through this, and what they are doing to cope, and to heal. I'm reading "Rebounding from Childbirth: Toward Emotional Recovery" by Lynn Madsen. It makes me cry - but it's helping. I've been looking here on StorkNet for resources, and I've been to the ICAN website. I also have an appointment with a birth counselor/educator who deals with this kind of thing. No one I know around here has been through this, but I know I'm not the only one.

I've changed practices with this baby - where I am at now has midwives who work with the hospital. They say there is no intervention, unless there is a problem, and everyone is there at that hospital on call immediately. They call themselves the "VBAC Queens" and are pleased by their high success rate. But my confidence in my ability to birth is still shaken. I want to trust them.

I don't think my husband realizes how freaked out I am right now. I can't even talk about this without crying, and I cry everyday. I spoke with one of the midwives two weeks ago, but she misunderstood some of my fears. She told me I might be angry at my son for the circumstances of his birth. I'm not angry at him; I'm angry at the midwife who was there and emotionally unavailable, and the docs who talked sports while birthing my baby and said "Oh, **** !" when they were sewing me up after. I asked him about that later; he made some joke about losing his watch. Very funny.

Any resources would be appreciated. And I recognize I need some kind of support. We also intend to have a doula again for this birth. I realize a natural birth is probably the safest thing for me and my baby.

From JackieD ~ I had a surprise c-section with my first baby too (breech presentation) and was very upset about it too. I guess I even obsessed about the birth process for my next child. This was a mistake - the obsessing part. Yes, I had a successful VBAC, but I was way overdue and had to have some help from pitocin, that was really painful, and I gave in and had the epidural, etc. I had my heart set on doing it naturally, but it just didn't play out that way. I did manage to make them wait for me to push my 9+ pounder out, and not get jumpy with the vacuum or forceps. I also failed at breastfeeding after this, so I was a wreck after this birth, even though I should have been happy not to have had a c-section. Anyhow, I guess my advice is not to get too wound up in having things go a certain way. If it works, and you can mange through it, that's wonderful, but please don't set yourself up to feel like a failure if everything doesn't go exactly to your highest ideals. Ultimately it IS true, that the most important thing is a healthy baby and a healthy you. I think the doula idea is terrific. I am also getting a doula for this baby (due next month). Doctors are way to quick to intervene, and husbands (God bless their little hearts) tend to get a bit clueless under pressure and just parrot the doctor.

Talk to your doula about exactly what type of support you want her to give you, especially how far you want her to go with holding out on certain interventions or pain controls. She can also help with the respect issues. I would also have been deeply offended by the jokes you referred to. You can have her set ground rules perhaps about how you would like your "caregivers" to relate to you at such a sensitive time. Personally, I'm at a point in my life now that I won't take that kind of **** from anyone, even with my legs in stirrups.

From Miche ~ I highly urge you to sign up for the ICAN support group email list. To do that, visit ICAN's to subscribe.

The "At least you have a healthy baby - that's all that really matters" makes me almost homicidal! OF COURSE I am grateful that my baby was fine, but it is also just fine for me grieve over the loss of a vaginal birth.

The women at ICAN offer support - true support and a safe environment to express yourself and recover. Sometimes tensions rise - there is a friendly debate with lots of emotions right now on what to call it...a c-section, cesarean birth, surgical birth, surgical delivery, being sliced in half, etc. Some women describe their c-sections as akin to assault or rape. I've never been one of those and there are others there who aren't as well. But these things really make you think. There is also a ton of practical birth advice!

As for my advice right now - other than signing up for ICAN...

  • Find a care provider who is really supportive of vbac and confident in a mother's ability to birth naturally. One that doesn't rely on interventions and won't do the bait-and-switch ("yes I support vbac, but I won't 'let' you go past 40, or I only take vbac clients who . . . ") You say that you want to trust your midwives. That makes it sound like you don't. Ask them for references from former clients. Talk to women wherever you can, LLL meetings is often a good place to informally find out about care providers. See if the experiences of other moms match what the midwives say their care is like.

  • Hire a doula. Choose your doula carefully. Some doulas are trained to work within the "good patient" hospital mentality (I interviewed a few of those)

  • Read and learn - I have heard the book you are reading is excellent for dealing with your past birth experience(s). To prepare for the next birth I personally loved Henci Goer's books. Also many people love Pam England's Birthing From Within. I personally got some from it but didn't get a lot, but I generally don't go for that kind of thing. It's worth a look. Check out this link for a long list of books that were recommended to me for vbac.

  • go to the StorkNet VBAC cubby. It's new and not as packed with information as I hope I will get it to someday, but there are some great articles so far and some good links for more information, including birthrites and vbac.com.

  • Definitely make a birth plan and discuss it with your doctor as well as your support people (husband, doula, anyone else who will be there). Be sure that they are on your team. My doula really helped me with it and during the labor she reminded me of things I wanted but that I was too out of to think of.

  • allow yourself to relax a little as well. This sounds very contrary to everything else, but it is important as well. If you read my pregnancy journal and birth story you will see how I spoke with a friend (Catherine again) a few days before Sean was born and she "gave me permission" to do what I needed to have this vbac. Next birth she said would be my perfect birth; this was just going to be my vbac. I know it sounds hokey, but it meant a TON! And that is how I looked at it from that point on. There are a lot of things that I now wish had been different. Some things were in my control and others weren't.

From CatherineS ~ I too knew many people who had absolutely zero understanding of why I had so many negative emotions regarding my c-section. I had so much grief. Thankfully, I did have friends online and a great midwife during my pregnancy, to listen to my fears, encourage me, and care for me. Miche and I went through our pregnancies together, and she was one of my most cherished supporters. I don't know what I'd have done without her.

Two of my favorite books to recommend are Silent Knife and Open Season. My favorite resource during my pregnancy was the HBAC list on Yahoo Groups. And the ICAN list that Miche posted information about is also wonderful and priceless resource. I was on the ICAN list from the time Jonathan was born up until my pregnancy when I switched to the HBAC list. I read Rebounding from Childbirth too, and it is very good.

I remember being 38 weeks and pretty much having a meltdown, sobbing so hard I couldn't breath and Scott had a really hard time understanding what I was saying. I was verbalizing my fears. I mean, saying *exactly* what they were, putting them out on the table, in detail, in between ragged breaths and sobs, to someone else (my husband is the only person I'd trust with something that deep). I think that night was the healing point for me. And I also felt like he had a better understanding of why I had the feelings I did. It was cathartic. I wasn't healed, but the healing process began there and it's still in motion. I don't think many people realize the emotional damage that can come to some of us with the c-section. But there are many of us, who have hurt, really hurt, over our c-sections. Otherwise, the ICAN and HBAC and other lists wouldn't be so busy!!

Ditto on Miche's post, and keep posting here. You'll find much genuine support on this board.

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From babsalaba ~ I am fearful of this next birth, but not for many of the same reasons as some of the other ladies here.

I am going for a VBAC this time around, but what I'm afraid of is that things will get out of control again and that I might start suffering panic attacks during the L & D.

My situation was quite different than many others; my C-section was a crash section to save my life and try to save my baby's. At the time that they were wheeling me to the OR, I was going into hemorrhagic shock from the blood loss from a placental abruption. As the anesthesiologist tried to give me a dose of gas to knock me out, I started fighting her, because I honestly believed that I would die if I went unconscious. I started to shake uncontrollably and she was able to knock me out.

Unfortunately, the abruption I had was total. My doctor said that when she made the uterine incision, the placenta popped out first, and then they delivered my son, already gone.

My issues with this next birth stem from what is really going to be the best situation: will I be able to cope with the emotional stress of labor again; should I just elect for a scheduled c-section so I don't have to go through the trauma of a general anesthesia; am I going to have another panic attack, etc.

This has really been on my mind a lot lately because last week, I had a scary episode when I started bleeding. Just as I was going in for the ultrasound, I could feel the panic attack coming on, and I had all the same symptoms I had felt when I was going into shock during my last labor. So it got me thinking that it's not simply a question of being attuned to your body's signals--because of the panic, I couldn't tell what was really an issue with the baby and what was related to the anxiety. KWIM?

I'm just afraid that once I'm in L & D, I will be hit by a wash of emotions and deja-vu that might spark a similar reaction. Obviously, I can't labor drugged up on Xanax, so I have to come to terms with this in some other way.

From Andrea_G ~ I second the suggestion of signing onto ICAN. I was a list member until just about 6 weeks ago. It is a high volume list, I just had to cut back on some things. I read that book too - 7 years after my traumatic (vaginal) birth of my son and it really did help me.

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