After having been through a C-Section and traditional VBAC with epidural, when I learned I was pregnant with Anayah, my third, I wanted to explore all my options. I had already been previously told my OB/GYN that if I ever had a third baby it would have to be a C-section no matter what, as malpractice laws would not allow her to perform another VBAC. I feared this was the case, but hoped that since so many years had gone by something might have changed. So, I was absolutely delighted to hear that another VBAC would be possible after all, now 8 years later.
Although the change of heart on my OB/GYN's part was music to my ears, it did spike my curiosity. I wondered, how many mothers who have previously been told that they must have a repeat c-section would just give in and not question? And how many dare to think otherwise or keep asking?
Did you know that in the state of New Jersey alone, the no-trial repeat cesarean rate is an alarming 82-83%? That's the percentage of moms who've delivered via c-section who don't even try for a VBAC.
Why is this alarming? Because about 70-75% of mothers who labor for a VBAC have a safe VBAC and avoid the complications of a repeat cesarean. This means that only about 25-30% of repeat cesareans are actually necessary. And I actually think that number may be even less. Keep reading to find out why. So exactly why are 83% having repeat cesareans without even trying for a VBAC? Are their OB/GYNs telling them it'll be safer to just schedule another c-section since they've already been through one and are they just not questioning this?
Hard to know to know for sure, but let's think about this for a second... How well do OB/GYN's know healthy pregnancies and healthy deliveries? Most of their education, training, and career is focused and spent on worst case scenarios and what medications or interventions apply to each case. So again, I ask...how well do they really know healthy deliveries and pregnancies?
If we're to consider the amount of training hours and experience each have with HEALTHY pregnancies, labor, and deliveries, that of midwifes by far surpass OB's. Sure this can be a topic of debate, but what's not really up for debate is the incredibly low rates of C-section rates among midwife assisted births.
According to Time Magazine, the last major study that looked at midwife assisted birth centers was published in 1989, when the national C-section rate was 18%. That year, women delivering at such birth centers had C-sections 4% of the time; that number grew to just 6% in the current study, which relied on figures from 2007 to 2010 from 79
midwife-led birth centers in 33 states. So to sum it up, midwife assisted c-section rates remain below 10%!
It's no wonder some progressive hospitals are now bringing in midwives to train and share their knowledge and expertise with physicians. Some even allow midwives to deliver babies in their hospitals.
I was fortunate enough to have a midwife assisted VBAC in a hospital for Anayah's delivery and it was an ABSOLUTELY DIFFERENT AND INCREDIBLY AMAZING experience!
First off, prenatal care with the Midwives of NJ was WAY more attentive than traditional OB/GYN prenatal care. They offices had a homey feel and they spent TONS of time with us making sure all our questions were answered and even talked through fears and 'life issues' that may impact my outcome. It was truly what I would call WELL-ROUNDED care. I didn't just feel like a patient, it felt like I was family and the care they gave was like a very experienced and knowledgeable mother figure who also happened to be a certified nurse midwife. They didn't just check vitals and sizes and statuses. They checked feelings and prescribed doses of encouragement and support which they provided plenty of. Some things you just can't get from a doctor's office.
Secondly, their birthing prep classes were not your average hospital class. They provided me with Ina May's Guide to Natural Childbirth to read and we would often discuss it during visits. It was like book club for the birthing mother. It was great! That book really helped prepare me. It's truly a must-have for any expectant mother.
The third thing, they educated me on everything that would happen and what my choices were and they advocated for me like my mother or sister would.
And the best part was the actual delivery of course. As I mentioned due to my prior c-section, having the baby outside of a hospital was not an option for me. But thank God, they deliver at my local hospital. The experience was unlike any other. There was no one else in the room besides, Anayah's father, the midwife and midwife assistant and the hospital nurse. There was no team of doctors, interns or what have you coming and going checking machines, or anything else. The lights were nice and dim and there was no unnecessary poking or prodding, which often leads to a slow and stalled labor. Not that that was an issue for me this time.
I labored at home as long as I possibly could. I rested and had my good dose of carbs as the Midwives had instructed me to do, in order to get ready for the 'marathon' I was getting ready to go through. When I couldn't rest any longer, I walked around, I danced, I took warm showers, I even went to run a couple of errands. Yes, I was in pain and contracting consistently every 5 minutes or so, but I did what I could do to keep my mind off of the pain as long as I could. I prayed with each contraction, repeating with each breath "Lord, with YOUR strength, I can do this."
When the time came that I felt tremendous pressure, we headed to the hospital. I can't even tell you how happy I was to see Lisa, my midwife! Once she checked me, she told me that I was ready to push but they had to monitor me for about 20 minutes as per hospital rule before I could get in the tub. And so she helped me through every contraction and even held my bottom for me remind me not to push. That was SO HELPFUL! Seriously. Probably one more thing someone other than midwife might not do, but something that was SO NEEDED for me not to push.
When the time to get in the tub came she instructed me on everything and encouraged me along. I was able to, with her guidance, birth my daughter myself which is an experience unlike any other. You can watch the video below. And after Anayah was born, she didn't have to be whisked away and be poked and prodded. We were able to delay cord clamping, nurse and enjoy uninterrupted skin to skin time, all which is SO BENEFICIAL for baby and mother! Read more about the benefits here.
I'm so grateful for this experience. But the benefits of having my baby with a midwife didn't end there. They provided 4th trimester care for mother and baby and helped ease me into my new role as a mother of 3 with their support group for moms lead by a licensed counselor. They gave Anayah her first photo shoot and even made this incredible video of the birth with the exact song that we had playing as Anayah was born. When I truly reflect on the experience, I'm just filled with gratitude. There are really no words to describe how incredible it is to live an experience like this. An experience where you abandon all your sense of control and just tap into a deep turst. Trust in God the creator and his design, his power, his strength. Allow life to flow effortlessly through you.
Like I said, it was truly an AMAZING experience and the recovery was way better than I imagined. I had abosolutely no tears or need for any stitches.
I pray and hope that the 83% of moms destined for that 'no trial repeat cesarean' birth are given the opportunity to at least learn that there are other options besides what OB/GYNs are trained to inform them on. So moms...EDUCATE YOURSELVES & make informed decisions. Don't be afraid to question.
Here's a couple other things that really helped me prepare for my Super Natural Water VBAC:
Child Birth in the Glory- It's available on amazon and I listened to this ALL THE TIME! In the car, at home, EVERYWHERE! It really helped prepare my mindset and spirit for what was to come. Listening and reciting the scripture verses and prayers helped me just put my trust in God's incredible and amazing creation and strength. He made us for this! =) Click here to hear samples.
Webster Technique Chiropractic Care - Be sure to use someone who is gentle and specializes in This. I saw Dr. Tami, Dr. Bret, and Dr. Stephanie at Total Wellness of NJ from 34 weeks on.
Jay Breathing - This is something I practiced often (especially when going #2). Watch this video here for an explanation.
Young Living Essential Oils - I used a few throughout my pregnancy for various needs, but they really came in handy during labor and delivery. You can find out more about which oils to use and how in my Gentle Babies class or by clicking here.