In March of 2019, I gave birth to Rory Patrick via hospital VBAC. Read on for my VBAC experience and what helped me become one of the success stories.
Disclosure: This site contains affiliate links for products and services I recommend. When you make a purchase through an affiliate link, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. Read our full disclosure here.
I may be biased but my VBAC birth story is one of my favorites to tell!
After an unplanned c-section with my older son, I felt less than empowered with how things turned out. When I found out I was pregnant with Rory, being able to VBAC and be one of the success stories was an immediate, palpable thought.
Many assumed that I’d have to schedule a repeat cesarean because of how my first birth stalled. Others assumed that even if I went into labor, I’d be pressured into a c-section by my doctor or the hospital.
In the end, I got the birth experience I always wanted and was able to VBAC because I was determined, asked the right questions, was healthy, and had great medical support.
I’m sharing my VBAC birth experience and what helped me become one of the success stories including:
- Why I wanted a VBAC
- What was the experience and recovery like?
- How to feel supported in a hospital setting?
- Resources and statistics that helped me feel informed.
- What questions to ask if you’re thinking of a VBAC.
Please know that this post is simply to share my VBAC experience and what worked for me. I’m obviously not a doctor. I trusted my OB through both of my pregnancies and I’d never place anything before actual sound medical advice.
My VBAC Experience
On March 25, 2019, Rory Patrick arrived via VBAC. It was the absolute most empowering, peaceful experience of my life.
Why Did I Want a VBAC?
The recovery from my c-section was a b*itch. Enough to make me decide I’d do everything in my power to avoid it again. Especially with a toddler to run after.
I also felt mentally and emotionally robbed of my first birth experience. You can read Caelan’s Birth Story here but the TL;DR is this: I never dilated, my son’s vitals dropped, and I was sent for an unplanned cesarean.
Honestly, I wanted a do-over. I wanted to feel like my body didn’t fail me and my baby this time.
Was I A Good VBAC Candidate
Because my labor stalled, I wondered if I’d even be a good VBAC candidate. Would it stall again? What are my chances of this baby’s vitals dropping? Will I just end up with another c-section?
In my case, the fact that I went into labor on my own with Caelan was a check in the right box. Second births, I also learned, are faster. I could possibly dilate quicker with Rory.
My doctor also reminded me that I had a choice. Given the fact that I was healthy and had a typical, uncomplicated pregnancy, my choice mattered.
So yes, if I wanted to try, my doctor was on board and completely supportive of helping me get there.
I was not, however, a candidate for induction. My body doesn’t tolerate pitocin (the typical induction drug) so I’d have to go into labor on my own.
It’s standard procedure for a repeat cesarian to be scheduled by 41 weeks. Mine was scheduled at 40 and a few days, guaranteeing my children wouldn’t have the same birthday.
We now had a deadline.
My Hospital VBAC
My VBAC birth story starts with locking us out of the house. Pregnancy brain is real.
My c-section was scheduled for the next day and I hadn’t packed a hospital bag.
Up to that point, I tried everything to start labor. I ate a bunch of pineapple, walked every day, got acupuncture. But there I was, standing outside of my apartment, 9+ months pregnant, crying over a surgery I still had to pack for.
Eventually, we called a locksmith so I could pack my dry shampoo and watch a hundred episodes of Family Feud.
Was there hope for VBAC success or would I have two funny yet disappointing birth stories?
I don’t remember what I ate for dinner (probably pineapple) or what I did with my son on his last day as an only child. But I remember my contractions started around 5:30pm.
Honestly, I didn’t even tell Andrew because I thought it was false labor. He should worship the ground I walk on because I let him sleep until two in the morning.
Oh, and around 10pm my super showed up to unlock our door. There I was, mid-contraction on my couch.
With each contraction I told myself, just one more. My birth plan was to labor at home as long as possible to minimize intervention.
Proudly, I made it over twelve hours on my own before we headed to the hospital.
Arriving at the hospital, I learned I was 7cm. Hearing that was one of the most validating moments of my life.
Within two hours I was fully dilated. I barely made the cutoff for an epidural. My second labor really was faster.
A flagship program at the hospital provided me with a volunteer doula. The entire nursing staff cheered me on. Despite one unit doctor not being VBAC supportive, my entire room was filled with women advocating for me and keeping my space a safe haven.
I credit my VBAC to those women and my amazing OB.
Six minutes before my scheduled repeat cesarean, Rory was born and placed on my chest. It was the single best moment of my life.
What Was the Recovery Like?
For sure, a world of difference from a cesarean.
I didn’t need support every time I walked to the bathroom. There was no struggling to hold my own baby. But there were no incision checks. No bandages to change.
In one word, I’d say I felt human.
That’s not to say the recovery wasn’t nothing. Trust me, there were tears, struggles with nursing, post-partum underwear, and discomfort. Even pain.
Mentally, I felt healed. I think the birth experience helped me feel more connected to Rory and helped with post-partum anxiety.
Have You Been Searching for VBAC Tips and Success Stories Because You Want A Similar Experience?
I’m frequently asked about my VBAC – both in real and blog life. What tips and advice would I share? Where can someone find VBAC support and resources? What questions should someone wanting a VBAC ask their doctor or hospital?
Please remember that this my story, my birth experience. I’m simply sharing where and how I found support so you can start a dialogue.
How I Felt Supported for a Hospital VBAC
While I have heard of – and personally know – women who have VBACed at home, it’s typically recommended to VBAC in a hospital. Hospitals are equipped in an emergency, should the VBAC fail.
Personally, I’d never want to give birth anywhere outside of a hospital. I’m too paranoid.
Still, I knew arming myself with information and support would be key in avoiding the “cascade of interventions.”
These are the support measures I had in place to ensure a balance of traditional medicine and birth advocacy. I personally believe the two can coexist.
Finding A VBAC Supportive Practice and Hospital
First, there are key differences between supportive practices and tolerant ones.
I felt my practice was truly supportive, not just tolerant, for the following reasons:
- My OB brought up my choice in a VBAC before I needed to
- She scheduled my repeat cesarean at 41 weeks (I chose to do it a few days earlier to make sure my kids had different birthdays!)
- Other doctors in the practice did not try to pressure me to change my mind
- The risks of repeat cesarean were discussed in the same conversation as the risks of a VBAC
- There were no “requirements” such as my baby being a certain weight or dilating by 38 or 39 weeks
- She recommended I labor at home, away from potential intervention as long as possible
Having a supportive nursing and hospital staff was crucial, as well. Nurses can and will advocate for you and ask questions if you vocalize to them your birth plan and wishes.
It’s also beneficial to ask about the practice’s and hospital’s VBAC statistics, if they’re a “baby friendly” hospital, and what your choices are for pain management.
Consider Getting a Doula
While I didn’t hire a doula myself, the delivering hospital initiated a program using volunteer doulas to help patients.
She helped guide my breath and easy the pain through contractions. Experiencing birth with a doula helped me to understand why so many women wanting a natural birth hire one.
Doulas can also advocate for you and your birth plan.
A Supportive Partner
My husband knew our birth plan, took an active role in forming it, and articulated it when I couldn’t. He advocated for me and asked questions when I was in too much pain to speak.
VBAC Statistics and Resources
Having necessary information is the first essential resource when considering a VBAC.
Here are some interesting statistics that my doctor and I discussed:
60 to 80 percent of VBAC attempts become success stories.
That means that over half to three quarters of patients who TOLAC will go on to have a successful VBAC. With the stigma around VBAC safety, this was higher than I assumed.
It gave me confidence, especially considering I had no other complications or contraindications.
The risk of uterine rupture is .2 to 1.5 percent.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, there is between a .2 and 1.5% chance of a uterine rupture. The risks associated with a repeat cesarean are much higher in most typical pregnancies.
This risk increases after two cesarean sections or with induction.
What resources and information are available to patients?
What Questions Did I Ask?
Asking tough, but necessary questions is the first step to discussing a VBAC. I believe birth should be a dialogue between medical practitioners and mothers.
Find some of questions and discussion points I spoke to my doctor about.
- How far our would the practice schedule a repeat cesarean? 40 weeks? 41 weeks? What leaves you enough time to go into labor on your own?
- Will the practice induce? Induction via pitocin increases the chance of uterine rupture but gentler options exist. Will your doctor do a cervical sweep? Use a foley balloon?
- What other factors may impact your ability to TOLAC? Think weight, blood pressure, placenta previa, etc. I don’t claim to know all of the factors, but I do know the discussion should be fluid and open.
- How long should you labor at home? My OB was candid with the fact that I should labor at home as long as possible to avoid potential intervention. While the hospital was VBAC supportive, my home was ideal to move things along.
- What is the VBAC success rate for the hospital and practice? Since 60-80 percent of patients who TOLAC will have a VBAC, I went on the assumption that a truly supportive practice and hospital should at least match this.
My experience with a VBAC finally gave me the birth I always envisioned. I no longer felt like my body failed me or my baby.
Rory’s birth healed me.
I love hearing birth stories so feel free to share yours with me below!
Are you considering a VBAC? If you had one, what would you share with others wanting the VBAC experience?
Save to Pinterest: