Do you know what all these women have in common? You may have already guessed that they are all women who work in birth. This group includes a Unit Director, Clinical Specialist, Midwife, many Labor & Delivery Nurses, Unit Secretary, Test Nurse, Unit Assistant’s to our inpatient and outpatient facilities and a NICU Nurse.
But would have guessed that they have all had cesareans? Believe it or not, there are even more women that I work with (including myself) who have had at least one cesarean birth. A number of women in this group have also gone on to have successful VBACs.
Indications in this group for c-sections:
Fetal Intolerance to Labor
Failure to Descend
Failure to Progress
Persistent Category II Tracing
Attempted Home Birth
When I care for women labor, there are often times that they ask if I have children of my own & how I birthed them. When I share that I have had two births by cesearan, they primary reaction is surprise. “Really? You’ve had a c-section?” Yep. Just because we work in birth does not mean we all have vaginal deliveries. Have you guys ever heard of the “nurse curse”. Just kidding… kind of.
While there are a number of reasons for why we have cesareans, we as birth workers work so hard to avoid taking you there. According to the International Cesarean Awareness Network, “Researchers estimate that almost half of the cesareans performed could be safely prevented”. Advocating for our patients and educating them of their choices during labor and birth can help reduce the amount avoidable c-sections. It’s not enough to just inform our patients. It’s also important that we work on removing our own biases when it comes to cesareans. ICAN is a great resource for birth workers to use as a resource for ourselves and guide our patients.
We also know from our experience in birth that there are cesareans that are necessary and can save the lives of birther and baby. The emergency cesareans, the cesareans for anatomical differences, cesareans for babies who cannot rotate out of a malposition despite all the hard work by the birther, cesareans for previous birth trauma, and the list goes on.
It is so important for birthing people to be able to process their cesarean birth. Birth workers can help them be heard by asking and listening. That is all. It is their choice whether or not they would like to share or not, but we can always offer an ear.
Women who have cesarean births have a very different road to recovery comparatively to vaginal births. We can help support them through and educate them on what to expect in the early days, months and coming years.
Having open discussions with patients and birth workers regarding vaginal birth after cesarean is also instrumental in preventing future avoidable c-sections.
Have you had a c-section? Would you like to share your story?
For more information and resources check out below…
Do you love birth? Heck yeah you do!
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In 2011, I delivered our first baby girl via Cesarean. After twelve hours of labor and getting to 3 cm dilated, I was told that I needed to go to the OR for “failure to progress.” I was really sad but trusted in my provider that a cesarean was needed.
We became pregnant again in 2013 and I wanted to have a VBAC. My same provider said that he was supportive and seemed to be on board. At 36 weeks I had a weird feeling when I met with him but was too scared to switch or do anything about it. March 2014, my water broke just like it did the first time and after eighteen hours my body had not yet kicked into labor. My provider came in and said that it had been long enough. Even though the baby and I were not showing any signs of distress or infection, the chances of infection were high and we needed to go to the OR. Once again heartbroken, I agreed and walked down to the OR.
When we found out we were pregnant again in 2015, I knew from the get go what I wanted for this pregnancy and birth. I felt most everyone would be skeptical of my choices to go for an unmedicated VBA2C and at times, I can admit I was nervous. I gathered all my records from Lainey’s and Lyla’s births and took them with me to each Doctor. I read them over and over again myself trying to catch any REAL reason for my last two cesareans. I was told by most that they felt it was safe for me to have a VBA2C. A few said they didn’t believe I ever really had a chance to labor and I just didn’t find anything I felt really should make it so I couldn’t try. I found an amazing provider (Dr. Sean Edmunds) who was supportive and I felt very comfortable with him. But something still just didn’t feel right to me about birthing in a hospital.
After meeting with a midwife that I attended a birth with over the holidays something told me that’s where I needed to be. It took some prayers and lots of time, but at 24 weeks pregnant we made the final decision that I was not going to birth at a hospital. Even with my history. I didn’t share this information with people because it was something my husband and I felt was right. I was worried that I may get negative questioning about it and I didn’t think I could really take any of that in. Anyway, I started seeing a midwife who I absolutely adore at 24 weeks. After meeting with Danielle Demeter I knew that she was going to do everything in her power to help me achieve this goal. I hired a team of doulas (yes multiple doulas) who I knew would be exactly what we needed in this birth. My husband, Ric, was so supportive; he thought I was crazy but he supported me all along.
Fast forward to 40 weeks and 4/7 days. He was four days overdue, but I was very content being pregnant; I was in no hurry to get him out. The pregnancy was already different in a positive way. No kidney stones, very little heartburn, chiro visits, special herbs were taken, I was able to stay active, etc. I began getting anxious for the day to come.
June 28th I had this HUGE burst of energy and I couldn’t understand where it came from; it was a great day playing with the kids, hanging out with friends, and just enjoying being pregnant. June 29th I woke up at 3:00 am miserably tired but wide awake for some reason. I took a bath, played on my phone, did all these things to make me tired and nothing worked.When I was in the bath I had all the lights off except for my phone flash light. I looked down into the tub and noticed little pieces of my mucous plug. I finished the bath and got out. I finally fell asleep at 7:00 am and woke up an hour later ready to be a mom for the day.
All day I felt nauseous and sluggish. I didn’t know what my deal was. I continued to see mucus throughout the day. Some of it was pink tinged. I was excited since this was the first sign that something was happening inside. I knew it could be days still so I didn’t get my hopes up. We went to bed around 11:30 pm and I woke up to a powerful Braxton hicks contraction at about 1:00 am. I was able to go right back to sleep but kept being woken up by these “powerful” contractions every 10-12 minutes.Finally at 2:30 am I realized these were not Braxton Hicks contractions, they were real contractions. I was in awe. I kept falling asleep but an hour later something changed. Suddenly the pressure of the contraction was making it way too hard to lay, let alone sleep. I got up and started walking around, pacing. I decided that I wanted to maybe get an idea of how long they were lasting and how far apart they were. They were 45-60 seconds long and 4-5 minutes apart. I was so excited. This had never happened to me before. I couldn’t believe I was feeling contractions.
I kept it to myself and just labored on alone in baby boy’s room and the bathroom, really anywhere I could get comfortable. I was feeling them up front but also had a strong pressure very low in the rectum area. Around 6:00 am things had picked up a little and I felt a small leak. I believed my water had broken. This was a fear of labor I had all along, because it’s what happened with the girls. I kept going but things started to slow way down. I was bummed. I showered and got ready and only had a few contractions. After Ric went to work and things started picking back up. I had this unreal pressure in my bottom that never went away and intensified when I had a contraction. Ric came home later that morning and drove me up to Park City to meet with my chiro and my midwife as I already had my normal weekly visit scheduled.
I was checked and was told I was 1 cm dilate and 90% effaced. I was excited but also a little sad because I felt like I worked so hard all morning and to only be 1cm. But we went home and I kept on going. One of my beautiful doulas, Robynne Larsen Carter, and cousin/sis/doula Hillary came over and did some Rebozo stuff and essential oils on me. We had realized that baby boy was posterior which made sense with how things were going. That evening things had started picking back up a little and Ric and I met my midwife and chiro at the birth center to get checked. I was told I was 2 cm dilated at that time. We decided that a foley bulb would be something to try and help me get to 4 or 5cm. It gave me some real motivation. We got home and not even 10 minutes later the foley popped and came out. I knew that it happened for a reason. I was meant to do this on my own, I was meant to figure out what my body and baby needed to get him out.
Ric went to sleep around 3:00 am after my adorable doula Hillary came back to take over. She held me, tickled my back and helped me cope through all of the contractions. At daybreak, we took a walk. I suddenly had this energy again and I didn’t know where it came from. I was so exhausted. On the walk the contractions pretty much stopped again. Then finally something changed. I started really feeling the contractions; they were way more painful and consistent. I wrote my team and we decided to meet at the birth center at 9:00 am to assess things and come up with a game plan.
My mom took the girls and we drove over to see what the plan would be. I was checked and I was 4 cm dilated, 100% effaced and baby was +2/3 station! Meaning LOW!!! But he was still posterior. Which explained my rectal pressure I was still having. She said, “well I think we are good to go upstairs, labor and have a baby.” I couldn’t believe my ears!!!!! I kept laboring on and on, changing positions, eating, drinking, doing everything I could do to get comfortable.
Hours later I was checked again and I was 6 cm dilated. I was starting to doubt myself a little even though I’d never been past 6 cm before; I was feeling like I couldn’t cope much longer. Ric, Danielle, and all my doulas kept reminding me that I was doing it and it would be okay. As the day went on I got more and more tired. I just wanted a break but there was not going to be a break until he was here and I knew that. We needed this baby to flip anterior.
Around 5:00pm or so we did an NST on him and I got all worried. Everyone seemed to be doing things around me, but not really telling me what was happening. I looked at Ric, started to cry and told him I was scared. He looked me right in the eye and said, “I’M NOT SCARED! It’s going to be OKAY!” Right then I gathered this new confidence, remembered his words and sat there straddling the toilet waiting to see what was going to happen. Baby looked great on the monitor and then I suddenly had an urge to push. I didn’t know if I should be pushing so Danielle checked me. She didn’t really say much and just walked away. I was so confused. She knew that she couldn’t tell me where I was at. I was obsessed and getting way into my head the entire day. Not even five minutes later, she walked in and started putting chux pads all over the floor. I looked at one of my doulas and said, “What is she doing? I’m confused.” Then she brought in a squatting stool.
My eyes apparently opened wide; I knew what that meant but I didn’t think I could be ready. I turned to my doula again and said, “what is she doing?” And she said, “getting ready, I think it’s time to have a baby.” Danielle invited me over to the stool and set Ric up behind me. She checked me again and thought I was about 9 cm dilated, then said I was more like 7 cm dilated, but could stretch me to 9 cm. She told me to hold on through the next contraction and then I was COMPLETE!!!! Words I always wanted to hear but never did.
She looked at me and said, “your baby is coming, it’s time to push!” I was so ready! Contractions felt good now and almost hard to recognize. The next contraction I pushed three times. I don’t feel like I ever held my breath, I just ROARED like a lion. She said, “Meagan feel your baby, he is right there!” I reached down and could feel his head!!!!!! This was happening! I looked all around me and saw the excitement on all my doulas’ faces and I got a rush of adrenaline. She said, “okay, next contraction, push again.” I took a deep breath and told myself you CAN do this! You’re strong! I pushed and felt an incredible amount of pressure. I was told not to push, hold right there. So I took a deep breath and just held still as best I could. She told me to give her some grunts. I did two and I then one more small push and she said, “Meagan, GRAB YOUR BABY!!!” I reached down, felt his head and made my way down to his shoulders where I could grab him. I pulled him out and lifted him up on my chest! I couldn’t believe it!!!
Ric held me and we looked down at our baby boy. I looked all around the room and everyone was crying, I couldn’t believe what just happened. I did it, I actually did it! I pushed him out in 7 minutes. I kept saying, “YOU GUYS!!!! I DID IT!!!! YOU GUYS!!!! I DID IT!!!!” I held him and held him and he just chilled. He didn’t cry, he just had his hands open wide and looked around. I rubbed him and he started crying, the emotions were overbearing. After 38 1/2 hours of hard labor, our sweet 6 lb 15 oz baby was here safe in our arms. Ric told me he was so proud of me and held me tight as we cried.
Later on I was told I had no lacerations and was ready to head into the bedroom whenever I wanted. We walked in 25-30 minutes later and he started nursing right away. It was amazing! I am so grateful for the constant reassurance. Although I questioned myself many times, I had Ric and my team there to remind me I was strong and I could do it!!!!
I don’t know if the shock and excitement will ever wear off, but as of right now I just want to share my story with everyone and talk about that moment over and over again. It was the most incredible experience. I want to tell the mommas who may be preparing for any VBAC to please believe in yourself. Study, do your research, talk with multiple doctors and go with your gut. Good luck to any VBAC mommas out there!
Do you love birth? Heck yeah you do!
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