I thought I'd try something new here. I've been reading so much for GentleBirth certification and now for the VBAC class I'm taking too, I thought I'd pass on my take on a valuable book available here.
Birth after Cesarean by Jenny Lesley and published by the volunteer group Association for improvements in the Maternity Services is a very encouraging and positive book about normal birth. It’s full of snippets from women and beautiful birth stories. It’s truly a book that understand the emotional reasons why women choose VBAC and fits with the GentleBirth philosophy.
After an introductory chapter about why women choose VBAC and really why women should be encouraged in that direction, the rest of the book is all about the numbers and dispelling myths surrounding VBAC.
Chapter 2 focuses on risks of cesareans and how those risks go up with each cesarean. Our maternity system seems to focus on the risk of VBAC and gloss over the risks of cesarean. This happens for a variety of reasons not the least of which is because doctors often feel more in control of a surgery than they do in a normal birth. The risk that’s most often talked about in VBAC is a uterine rupture. This is the focus of Chapter 3. This is a real risk but as is pointed out, a small one even with multiple scars and it’s not limited to women with surgical history.
Some women wonder if they should even bother trying for a VBAC. They fear that they will just end up back in surgery. Chapter 4 addresses this. Most women who try for a VBAC get their VBAC. There are some situations where that doesn’t happen, of course, but even then, the repeat cesarean is often less traumatic because the birth woman knows what to expect and she was part of that decision.
Chapter 5 weighs the risks and benefits of VBAC vs. an elective repeat cesarean. This is important. Risks on both side of this equation are low. There is not a black and white right answer for every woman. Every one needs to make a decision based on information and their own particular situation. There are real risks and benefits on both sides.
Chapter 6 dispels the myths that are often brought up about why women might be told they “can’t” have a VBAC. As a mom who has had more than one cesarean, I particularly appreciated the positive portrayal of vaginal births after more than on cesarean. But really, even if you are told your baby is too big, you are too old, your baby is breech, it’s too soon, you have the wrong kind of scar, you’re having multiples, the numbers are still in your favor. Women have options!
Chapters 7 & 8 are about planning for and making VBAC more likely and include beautiful birth stories including the author’s own HWBA3C (home water birth after 3 cesareans). Choosing care providers and birthing locations carefully and making sure the necessary support is in place increase women’s chances significantly. To birth normally, women need to be comfortable and relaxed in their chosen place of birth.
No book on VBAC would be complete without information about repeat cesareans and this is the topic of Chapter 9. They are a reality and sometimes the solution. A positive birth is possible even in the event that a cesarean becomes the best option.
I really enjoyed this book and I’ll be recommending it to women who are making decisions about future births after a cesarean. The one limitation is has is that it’s written primarily for the UK and the medical system there. The process of transferring care and moving from home to hospital just isn’t as fluid here as it is there and that needs to mentioned.
On March 25th, I'm hosting my first GentleBirth Meetup! We'll talk about positive birth and all things baby and parenting related. I'll be demoing the GentleBirth app as well. This program has the potential to really change birth for women and make it something they are anticipating. So excited to share this unique program! You can RSVP via the Facebook event here.
I'd love to see lots of people there! If you are a birth worker a more specific birth worker information session will be happening soon!
Yesterday was a special day! Nine years ago yesterday, I started my doula journey with the birth of my oldest daughter. I blogged about that last year here. This year, yesterday marks the beginning of something new. I officially completed my certification to be a GentleBirth instructor!
I am so excited about this new opportunity and this new option in childbirth education that I am privileged to bring to Indiana. I’ve not come across anything quite like it. It’s based in the latest brain science. Incorporating mindfulness, hypnosis, sports psychology, and CBT, it applies that all to birth! All you athletes out there, this will be familiar. The brain training skills GentleBirth moms are learning are real, science based, and incredibly powerful in such a positive way. This is not a program where you have to be “crunchy” to get.
GenteBirth teaches women that birth is exciting! That it doesn’t need to be feared for endured. Their baby that they’ve carried for months is about to be in their arms and that’s a wonderful thing! We’ve always looked forward to the baby but often we think of the birth as something to get through. This program gives women the tools to change their thought patterns and change their brains in relation to birth. How incredible is that?!
GentleBirth gives women the information and skills they need to navigate a less than perfect system with protocols and rules that don’t necessarily benefit the laboring woman. It doesn’t set them up to be antagonistic but rather to be collaborative and encourages women to choose good providers (or change) and good places of birth (or switch) and work with those people to have a positive experience.
While GentleBirth certainly gives women the tools they need to have a positive, all natural birth, it also gives them the flexibility to change their plan when it’s necessary for their and their baby’s health and well being. There is no “failed” GentleBirth. Every birth can be a GentleBirth. The focus is on controlling the controllable and acknowledging that are things about birth that are unpredictable.
When I was looking for a childbirth education program, this last bit was incredibly important to me. No woman should feel shame if their birth plan goes sideways. It was important to me to find a program that gave families the tools they needed for a natural birth but also the decision making and communication skills they needed to feel good about their decisions. I found that in GentleBirth!
Yes, I’m excited. I’m sure you can tell ;). I’ll be announcing class dates as soon as I get locations finalized. If you are outside the Indianapolis area and interested in hosting a workshop, please contact me here! In the mean time, download the app for a 7 day free trail.
Adina Nelson, CD(DONA)
I am a birth & postpartum doula and chlidbirth educator practicing in North Idaho.
She was there every step of the way for me and my husband...I thank Adina for everything she helped us with. She truly is a special person and we will be forever grateful for her! ~Erin