If you follow me on social media, you’ll know my almost decade long journey with infertility is officially OVER. I am a two-time IVF success story with two beautiful little girls. Although the IVF story was a long and hard road, my second baby was a little easier than the first and happy to share my successful VBAC birth story today. Plus… some must have postpartum recovery items I have not seen anyone else talk about!
I’ll share this story in chronological order so you can get the play by play in the moment, but some things I did pre-emptively that I believe helped with my VBAC:
Now that we got that out of the way…
After four days of prodromal/early labor contractions after a membrane sweep in my OBGYN’s office that went from 15 minute apart to 3-5, I went to the hospital triage to check on dilation. At my last OBGYN appointment when they did my membrane sweep, I was 3cm and over 90% effaced.
I was discharged from triage at 5pm because although my contractions were coming in every 3-4 minutes and I was 100% effaced, my dilation was just not budging and I was still stick at 3/4cm. They wanted me at 5 or more.
My husband, Blake, said to the nurses, “We’ll be back in less than 12 hours,” because this was just what happened with my first baby.
I went home crying in such pain but took a warm bath to try and relax/subdue the contractions and try to get some sleep.
At 12:24am that night, I shot out of bed and said to my husband that we needed to go back to the hospital because I couldn’t speak through the contractions anymore but wanted to get there early enough to get my epidural and rest a little bit without pain before I had to push.
Luckily, we live less than ten minutes from the hospital and triage took me in almost immediately because I was in audible pain as we arrived.
1:45am… The nurse checked me and I was 5cm and 100% effaced. When she told me they were admitting me, I cried because I was so happy to finally get pain relief after days in pain and not sleeping. It was a miserable week.
3:30am… after a bag of IV fluids and bloodwork, my epidural was in and my doula arrived.
Not even 20 minutes later, they checked my cervix and I was complete – a full 10cm dilated, 100% effaced and baby was at a 0 station!
My midwife arrived and she broke my water and then she told me to go to sleep for a couple hours to rest before I’d start to push.
Hiring a doula was a game changer during this time in particular – GAME TIME.
While I slept, she used the peanut ball to adjust my legs every 30 minutes or so to ensure I was moving positions (even with an epidural) so baby could keep descending down into my pelvis.
I learned anatomically, my pelvis is not in an ideal position to push babies out, so having the constant adjustments helps make space for movement.
6:30am… my epidural was wearing off and I was feeling the contractions again enough that I couldn’t sleep anymore. I asked to get a little more medication to top me off before pushing began because I worried if I was in pain, I would tire out too quickly since I was already so behind on rest all week.
Anesthesiologist returned and topped me off a little bit around 7am…
8am… go time for pushing!
Again, having the doula alongside an amazing NP/midwife from my practice, an on-call OBGYN I never met before, and two nurses ALL SUPER SUPPORTIVE of my VBAC was so motivating and comforting.
The doula continued to help me adjust and change positions every 3-4 contractions. We had me push on both sides, and on my back, with knees both in, and knees out… again, to continue to make space for the baby to move down and out.
With my first daughter, I definitely was pushing wrong and busting blood vessels everywhere. Having the doula help me correct my breathing and push properly was so helpful.
Personally, visualization during pushing REALLY helped me. I was focusing on this baby coming out and using my core muscles to imagine pushing her *DOWN AND OUT*… like wringing out a sponge if that makes sense?
In between each push/contraction, I would power down and basically try to put myself into sleep mode. I would take aa few sips of water and totally relax to conserve any and all energy for the next contraction.
The doula (Dana) would help relax me by massaging my feet, hands or head to disctract from any pain I was feeling.
After two hours of pushing, the midwife came in and aided in a few more pushes by pressing on SOMETHING ‘down there’ to help me focus my pushes and really get baby to come out. Before I knew it, she was suiting up in her paper gown and asking the nurses to get the OBGYN because I was having a baby!!
I couldn’t believe how fast things went from just pushing every 3 minutes to… IT’S TIME SHE’S COMING OUT RIGHT NOW!
During the two hours of pushing, the team kept telling me I was doing well but I didn’t really know if I believed them because of my first labor experience. I thought, “Eh maybe they’re just being nice and positive but this isn’t going to work…”
When baby girl came out, it was a wild feeling. Sort of like a fish flopping out of you 😉
But mostly, all I was thinking about was how my infertility journey was officially over. I did it! I had the VBAC and gave my first daughter her sibling.
Over eight years of tears and pain was over. Completed with a beautiful gift of this baby girl and my redemption VBAC. It was very healing.
But then the fun of delivering the placenta. At this point, there wasn’t much worse pain I could have experienced but pushing out the placenta is just as NOT FUN as people tell you it is.
I also tore. I had a second degree perineal tear and a labial tear. I didn’t even know that could happen. See more re: my recovery items below for help on this stuff 😉
However, the recovery from a VBAC versus my C section was incredibly better. It was a night and day recovery. I felt amazing.
I credit the recovery to seeing a chiro the entire pregnancy, having had rested before pushing, having the doula make sure my body was continuing to move, resting in between pushing and an amazingly positive, patient and supportive team of medical providers. Also, big advocate for taking supplements to support healing, the immune system and nervous system. See more on that here.
Lastly, total cherry on top because I am a firm believer in ‘fed is best’ and we have used formula both with this second baby and very early on with Savannah because of supply issues… but…
I believe getting to have skin to skin with this second baby for two+ hours after birth, in addition to the VBAC helped my breastfeeding experience. I am now two months postpartum when writing this, and we are still exclusively breastfeeding. She nurses from me every feed except if I’m not home or the middle of the night when I let my husband feed her pumped milk from a bottle. I had SO MANY challenges with supply, latching and feeding with my first. I didn’t get skin to skin with her… just so much was so different.
Overall, I’m incredibly grateful, proud, blessed and content with how my entire VBAC experience went.
That’s the successful VBAC birth story of little Penelope Hope was born at 10:09am on June 24, 2023 (one day ahead of her due date).