There is a misconception that I have encountered with many patients who walk into my office. The misconception that hiring a VBAC supportive provider is the answer all to everything that went wrong in their previous birthing journey. I talk with my patients that preparing for your birth is like preparing for a marathon. Marathon runners do not just decide one night that they are going to go out and run 26 miles in the morning. There is weeks and months of training with diet, exercise routine, supplements, head space etc. The same is true for preparing for the birthing day. You need to train and prepare to help obtain the birth you desire.
So how do you train for your VBAC journey? There is a number of things that could be addressed, but I want to focus on something that I think is critical: self care. Focusing on you and preparing your body for the healthiest journey possible is huge for your VBAC journey.
Here are my self care recommendations that I routinely recommend to my patients to help them train for an optimal birth.
- Nutrition. It is well known that what we put in our mouth can dramatically impact our health. I have seen in my own practice implementing a diet that cuts inflammatory foods can turn a potential high risk condition completely around and being able to have a beautiful home birth. Food groups such as dairy, grains, and sugar are known to cause inflammatory reactions to the body, and taking them out can turn things around if you are sensitive to these food groups. I also encourage aiming for 80-100 grams of protein a day in pregnancy and half your body weight in ounces of water at a minimum. All these things can help keep your pregnancy low risk and to grow an appropriate sized baby for your body.
- Activity. Move your body! You are training for labor, which is one of the most physically active experiences you will go through. If you aren’t used to regular exercise, I encourage my patients to begin implementing a combination of walking, yoga and swimming. All three activities are gentle and low intensity for the body and help build your endurance and strength for labor. Regular activity is also known to help decrease the chances of hypertension issues in pregnancy.
- Supplements. Supplements can be great to add what the diet is lacking. Look at your history. Did you battle any conditions in your previous pregnancy that we are trying to avoid? Or anything in your regular health history that added supplements could help? I usually talk with patients about fish oil, b complex, vitamin c with bioflavinoids, d3, calcium magnesium, alfalfa, probiotic, and garlic just to name a few. Research and consider what supplements might benefit you at keeping you low risk for a vaginal delivery. You definitely want to speak with your provider on this and find their take on adding supplements.
- Scar Reduction. It is interesting to me to find out not just how many women don’t understand how scaring can impact their deliveries, but how many providers don’t give credit to how scaring from a previous cesarean delivery can impact a VBAC. I recently was working with a lady who was desiring a VBA2C. Her labor went well, but she stalled and couldn’t progressed. We moved the birthing journey to a VBAC supportive hospital to continue the journey. A couple hours after our arrival, the baby started showing signs of distress and a surgical birth was decided on. While in the OR, the surgeon discovered the problem. This patient’s scaring from her previous deliveries was so extensive her uterus was adhered to her bladder. I wrote an article on how to reduce cervical scar tissue at the end of labor that can be very helpful.
- Optimal Fetal Positioning. Many, many times when I receive a surgical report to review with a patient planning a VBAC, the most common thing I notice is that most of these babies are in a posterior position. Most women think baby being head down is enough, and that is another misconception. It is also important which way that head is facing. This could be a blog post on its own. I would encourage you to research daily and weekly exercises that encourage optimal positioning, as well as consider hiring a provider and doula who think optimal positioning is an important topic to address prenatally to make labor an easier journey.
- Chiropractic Care. I have found that chiropractic care can play a huge part in keeping the body in good alignment, in turn helping the baby stay in a more optimal position. I encourage seeking out chiropractors in your area that are known for working with women during their pregnancies and who are webster certified.
- Healing From Birth Trauma. I think if I had to pick one item off this list that would be crucial, it would be this right here. The healing journey from a traumatic birth is not an easy journey, nor is it quick. My experience working with women is that it has a lot of ups and downs. Pregnancy can cause a lot of unresolved trauma to come boiling to the service. I would encourage finding what works for you in helping you process. Spending time in prayer, journaling, meditating are all good things to do on a daily basis in getting out the thoughts and clearing the head space for a new, healing journey. I strongly recommend to my clients to read the book “Birthing From Within.” If the trauma is too deep, do not hesitate to seek a good therapist who understands birth trauma to help you process.
I could spend so much more time addressing these topics, but I do hope this is a starting place to help you as you train for this healing VBAC journey you are on.