Whether you are a first time mom hoping for a vaginal birth, a VBAC - aspiring mama, or any shade in between, there are key ways you can help improve the outcomes of your birth plan.
In the United States, 99% of births occur in the hospital, with the remaining 1% of births being at home or birth centers. With these statistics, 30% of births are cesarean sections.
Here's the kicker - hospital birth has only been popular in the US since approximately 1930. Prior to this, the majority of births occured at home, and the cesarean rates were within the still-recommended <10% of births range.
Now, of the 1 in 3 first time moms that have their babies surgically, only approximately 13% of them normally go on to VBAC. This is despite the evidence that vaginal birth, including routine VBAC, results in healthier moms and babies at birth and later in life.
Here's how you can help ensure those benefits for you and your baby.
#1 - Just Stay Home
Okay, I know we say this A LOT, but I promise there's a solid reason for that. Seriously.
When you birth, or even labor, in the comfortable familiarity of your own home, it's generally easier for your mind and body to relax than being in an unfamiliar space with random people around. Birth requires this state of relaxation so that your intricate birth hormone matrix can unfold, optimizing your birth process.
Being in your own home also frees you from clock-timers, observations, distractions, and interventions that you may be trying to avoid. The longer you stay home, the longer you are allowing your birth to unfold in it's beautifully unique way, softening and opening your body in rhythm with your baby's readiness - and any support you wish to consciously invite into your home "labor space" can be there for you when you decide you want it!
#2 - Choose a Your Provider Wisely
An OB, nurse midwife, licensed midwife, birthkeeper and doula serve different roles in the spectrum of birth care! Who you choose to attend your medical and holistic wellness will be detemined by the type of birth you want, the interventions you're comfortable with, and your access to a variety of providers as determined by your location & budget.
It's always worth it to point out that if you're trying on one provider, and it's just not feeling like a good fit, IT'S NEVER TOO LATE to try on a different provider in the same practice or switch models of birth care completely.
"Where there's a will, there's a way." – G. Herbert
#3 - Hire a Birth Doula or Birthkeeper
No matter your final decisions for health care providers, a doula or birthkeeper can be an amazing & important asset to your birth team.
A woman in this role works for you, not the medical industry, and serves to ensure that you are communicated with thoroughly, that your autonomy is preserved, and that you have adequate emotional support throughout your birth process.
A doula & birthkeeper are available to provide continuous support from pregnancy through postpartum, and offer a variety of hands-on and ethereal tools to support your mind and body through the birth portal and beyond.
#4 - Balance Mobility & Rest
Your body needs both free intuitive movement and rest to ride through the waves of birth. Maintaining bodily autonomy, decreasing tubes & wires for monitoring & IVs, and consciously curating a birth environment that serves the needs of your body and psyche can help you balance these two key factors for a positive vaginal birth outcome.
Early in labor, you may find that walking around, bouncing on the birth ball or sleeping feels best, whereas later in labor you might favor hands-and-knees, a deep squat or lunge, and succumbing to heavily resting eyes between contractions. An attentive birth companion can help guide you to positions and breathwork that feel good and support your needs.
#5 - Eat & Hydrate
Birth is a tremendous feat! On top of rest, you need quality nourishment and hydration. Many hospital policies restrict food and drink to ice chips or a light snack in combination with intravenous fluids, but women teach us that this is not adequate.
During your labor, you should be able to eat to satiate your appetite, and have continuous access to hydrating, electrolyte replenishing drinks. I recommend having a warm carb-rich food ready to serve during labor (like porridge or an energy ball- see recipe below) and a protein rich food on hand (like steak). Spring Water, Adrenal Cocktail, Coconut Water, and Labor-Aide are all awesome choices.
Eating & Drinking during your labor increases stamina, supports your muscular function, and sustains a clear outlook on the events of your birth process.
You've Got This!
Every birth is unique, and under the influence of a multitude of variables. The key elements that I've shared with you here can support you in retaining control of some of those variables and by doing such, allowing yourself space to surrender to your body's wisdom. Supporting your vaginal birth - or VBAC- can look many different ways, and I encourage you to explore all of your options, honing into the path that feels most aligned with you.
Schedule a Birth Planning Session with me for intimate, individualized support in preparing for your birth.
No Bake Energy Bar
1 cup Dry Oats
1/2 cup Peanut, Almond, or Sunflower Butter
1/3 cup Local Honey
1/2 cup Chocolate Chip, with high cocoa content (I use Enjoy Life)
1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
Pinch of Sea Salt
Optional Spices: cinnamon, cardamom.
Simply mix all ingredients together and shape into bite-sized balls.
Store in air-tight container overnight before enjoying, so the oats have time to soften.
Use your judement on how long these keep, as my family eats them within days!
Lynnea is a birthkeeper, ayurdoula, and mom of 2 passionate about supporting mothers through the layers of birth and guiding them home to their intuition. Lynnea serves the western upper peninsula of Michigan, northern Wisconsin, and all women virtually.