Vaginal birth after c-section or VBAC, is a topic that has been discussed at great length. Mostly by mother’s who couldn’t give natural birth themselves, and would like to try natural birth thereafter. My own births were first vaginal and then c-section. My good friend Janine, has however successfully had a VBAC with an amazing story. It moved me. She has graciously allowed me to share her story to encourage or motivate any mom who might be considering this too.
Janine’s first pregnancy was a difficult one. At 24 weeks she went into preterm labour, had a low lying placenta and low fluid. To add to this little Zak was breech from 24 weeks, Janine underwent an ECV (A manual turning of the baby from the butt and feet.) in an attempt to turn him. She did various other exercises on the Spinning Babies website – handstands in the pool for example. This determined lady then visited a chiropractor, who specialised in the Webster technique. Zak however, was a stubborn baby. Janine’s obstetrician and midwife encouraged her to try a vaginal breech birth, as they were both experienced in the technique.
Although she laboured well, the fear that Zak would get hurt during this process caused her to psychologically not cope very well. There is very little chance of a baby getting stuck or even suffocating during this process. Janine hadn’t done enough research into it before going into labour and wasn’t aware of that. As a result of this fear, her contractions became ineffective. Eventually after pushing for 3 hours…
Janine was told she needed to have an emergency c-section and Zak was welcome into the world!
When Janine found out she was pregnant with Grayson, Zak was 10 months old. Immediately she knew that she wanted a VBAC with this pregnancy, if at all possible. With this in mind she started her preparations early, this included fortnightly chiropractor sessions to get him into a good position. This also ensured also that her body coped better with this pregnancy. Janine saw a psychologist who specialised in trauma to help her overcome her first birth. Including any negative connotation surrounding that experience. By sticking to monthly massages and dates with her husband, she kept her mind and body in good shape.
In order to have a healthy baby, her body and mind needed to be healthy too, and subsequently her pregnancy with Grayson was much smoother.
To ensure a successful VBAC Janine (and hubby) read and practiced, Juju Sundin’s Birth Skills and found them invaluable. She prepared for the environment, knowing from her previous experience, exactly what it would be like. By packing battery operated candles, relaxing music and hydrating fluids and snack to prevent exhaustion and to give her surroundings a relaxed feel.
Grayson was born one day short of 19 months after Zak’s birth, in an uncomplicated, drug free natural birth!
Although during Grayson’s birth Janine pushed for 2 hours and was exhausted from pushing for so long, she describes the experience as “Incredibly emotional, and healing from my previous birth”. She admits that there were times when she thought she couldn’t do it – but that her husband encouraged her by reminding her that this is what her body was made to do, and that the pain was healthy. It really helped her get through those moments!
Janine’s birth plan specified that she didn’t want to be informed of any possible complications, that this should be communicated to her husband. Part of this also meant no feedback on how she was progressing, delayed cord clamping and newborn exams to be done in her presence – which all added to the beautiful experience she had.
Janine is a 32 year old mother and wife, living in Canberra Australia. I met Janine whilst she was living in Port Elizabeth and we have stayed in touch. She remains a great friend, and constantly inspires me. One of the biggest reasons I have breastfed as long as I have, is this amazing woman. Janine would reply to messages I’d sent at 3am. Crying and struggling! She helped me by encouraging me and giving me tried tips and tricks for which I will be eternally grateful. I hope her story has inspired you as much as it has me! The mind is a powerful thing, and when you put it to something – you can achieve whatever you want!