When we get pregnant, or even before, a lot of us have this idea of what our labor and delivery will look like. At least, I know I did. It probably includes calming music, a supportive spouse, deep breathing, pain under control by yourself or an epidural (thank you, modern day medicine), a few pushes and a beautiful baby is born.
Sometimes it goes exactly like we want. Other times, it doesn’t.
6 Tips to Achieving the Birth You Want
This picture is of me giving birth to my now 4 year old daughter, Kaelyn. After 30 hours of labor and 2 hours of pushing she was born through an emergency cesarean. It was not at all what I imagined. I was 24, healthy, exercised throughout my entire pregnancy, no complications whatsoever. I was told all along it would be a super easy delivery, but it was far from what I imagined. I’m sure a lot of y’all have been in this position, too.
Fast forward 4 years
This is the birth of my son, Pierce. I wasn’t exercising like I was with Kaelyn. I had a complicated pregnancy with a first trimester diagnosis of Gestational Diabetes, and Pierce had a heart defect noticed in-utero around 22 weeks. I was told I wasn’t able to go beyond 40 weeks gestation due to the risks associated with Gestational Diabetes. Apparently after 40 weeks, it’s much harder for the baby to process sugars. Anyways! The silver lining? I had an induced vaginal birth after cesarean, VBAC for short!!! I was seriously so pumped, I wanted to shout it from the hallway for everyone to hear.
I HAD AN INDUCED FRICKIN’ VBAC.
I want to share with you a few things that helped me achieve the birth I wanted the second time around, in hopes it helps you, too.
6 Tips to Achieving the Birth You Want
- Read, read and read some more. And when you think you’ve read enough, read more.
Educate yourself. Not only on the birth you desire, but on other birthing options. Be well versed. Read personal experiences, read statistically valid articles. The more you know, the more informed you’ll be. As your pregnancy progresses, keep researching. Know the statistics, the medical concerns with different diagnoses’ and how they affect labor. I never took the time to do this with my first pregnancy, and I genuinely feel as a result, I wasn’t prepared when complications arose during delivery. In retrospect, there were multiple things I could have done to try and prevent my cesarean that weren’t presented as options from the medical team.
- Find a provider that supports you.
Remember, your doctor works for you. Even if you’re receiving state assistance with your pregnancy, they are still working for you. There’s this wonderful thing called the internet these days, and you can easily consult Dr. Google for reviews, experiences, medical backgrounds of each professional. I know it sounds like a no-brainer, especially if you have an uncomplicated pregnancy and are healthy beforehand, as I was. But it matters. Being supported by a provider who is confident and willing to help you achieve your goals is important.
- You are your own advocate.
Your body. Your pregnancy. Your choice. I know how hard it can be to be sitting on the doctors table, half naked, listening to a professional offer advice or tell you their opinion regarding your labor — It’s intimidating. They’re the ones who have been through the schooling, they’re the ones with the experience, they know best, right? Well, not always. This is where being well versed comes in handy. I went to the same office for both pregnancies; it has 5 doctors. During my pregnancy with Pierce, 3 of the 5 flat out refused my VBAC aspirations. They were scheduling my repeat cesarean when I was 20 weeks along! It took a lot of reading, hard work, and advocating to get 2 doctors to agree to my VBAC. It also took strength and confidence, to look a medical professional in the eyes and tell them what you think. Which brings me to my next point.
- Be firm, but kind.
I genuinely think doctors have your best interest in heart. So when you’re expressing your opinions to them, be kind. Treat them with respect. They’ve worked really hard to get where they are, don’t diminish that. Women who are educated about their options should also be smart enough to know that kindness goes a long way. Going in there throwing around statistics muddled with curse words may get you where you want to go, but I imagine it’d be a much longer, harder road to travel. And ain’t nobody got time for that mess when you’re carrying around a bowling ball, your ankles have disappeared and you may or may not be peeing yourself every couple hours.
- Don’t be stupid.
Be realistic. Your health matters. Your baby’s health matters. It’s as simple as that.
- Give yourself grace.
Plans aren’t etched in stone, they can change on a whim. I think this is the most important piece of advice I can offer. Don’t be hard on yourself if things don’t go the way you want.
If you’re educated, you’ve advocated for yourself, found a doctor who supports you and you’re aware of the risks vs rewards of your choices, and things still aren’t going the way you had hoped — It is okay!!! You have every right to feel sad, or grieve a loss. I know I did after the unexpected way my first child made her entrance into the world. Go through whatever process you need — feel your sadness, embrace your frustration, cry. Just always, always remind yourself that you’re an amazing mother, who did an amazing thing.
Have a cesarean? You’re a badass for handling a newborn afterwards, that is NO easy feat. I mean that’s major, major surgery and I don’t think people give women who have gone through this enough credit. And then you STILL have to deal with all the postpartum bleeding, nursing around your incision, not being able to lift things for weeks. I mean, how the hell does that work with all the doctors appointments and heavy ass car seat? Now on top of recovering from surgery, you may be stuck in a logistical nightmare. You seriously rock.
You’ve just pushed a baby out of your vagina? KUDOS to you. I’ve seen what the aftermath looks like down there, and holy hell — Women are amazing. Squirt that peri bottle with pride. Rock that postpartum waddle. You’ve earned it.
Whatever happens, you’ve done an amazing job. I can’t stress that enough.