When my husband and I found out we were expecting our third child, we were ecstatic. My first two children were born in Louisiana where my husband was stationed with the Army, so I was really excited to be able to deliver in my hometown of Waterloo this time, with my family nearby.
I really wanted to try for a VBA2C with this baby, and after consulting with my OB, we decided I was a good candidate.
My OB that I saw for my prenatal care was very supportive and informative about the medical aspect of a vaginal birth after cesarean, and I felt comfortable with her overseeing my medical care. Around this time, I had been going to monthly ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) meetings. ICAN offers support for those who have previously given birth via cesarean or for those who are planning to deliver via cesarean. I had spoken with a few women there who have had VBAC deliveries and they highly recommended that I look into hiring a doula for my upcoming birth. I had no idea what a doula was so I did some research and after a lot of reading, I decided that maybe it would be a good idea.
I began researching the area doulas. It wasn’t long before I found a doula who was the perfect fit for me and my husband.
We met with her for the initial consult and secured services shortly after that. She guided my husband and I as we came up with the ideal birth plan. She helped us understand how we could advocate for ourselves and our baby and explained how she would be there each step of the way supporting us through every decision we make throughout my labor, birth, and postpartum period. There were a lot of things we didn't know about hospital policies and procedures and she helped us better understand informed consent, and empowered us to make the decisions we felt were best for me and our baby.
Finally, after about 41 loooong weeks, I went into labor. My doula met us at the hospital and was very reassuring throughout each part of the labor/birth process. She made me feel comfortable, safe, and eased much of the fear I had. The OB on call, (who was not the same doctor I had for my prenatal care) did not support my choice to have a VBA2C, to say the least. I felt patronized and judged for my birthing decisions by her, and this was the exact opposite of how I felt under the care of the other OB’s at that practice. My doula stood by us without interfering but supported us. She also she gave us the confidence to advocate for ourselves and let my husband know that it was okay to speak for me when I wasn't able to speak for myself.
My labor was 55 hours long.
My baby flipped sunny-side up and I stayed at eight (8) centimeters dilated for what seemed like an eternity. I had denied any pain relief and really wanted to do this birth with no medications. Seeing my mental and physical exhaustion, my doula gently suggested seeking some sort of pain relief. In my birth plan, I was adamant about not having an epidural, but like most people know, birth plans are just guidelines and not everything goes as planned. I went ahead a got an epidural placed about 53 hours into labor so I could rest. We tried changing positions multiple times to hopefully encourage baby to get in a better position, but baby decided she was comfortable in the position she was in. It had been about 2 hours since I got my epidural and started Pitocin when my nurse came in to check my cervix.
I was still at eight (8) centimeters and baby was still face up.
At that time, I decided I wanted to have a c-section as I was not comfortable being on Pitocin for a long time since I have had two previous c-sections. I was worried that my doula might think I was weak and that I was taking the easy way out, but that couldn't have been any further from the truth. She was so supportive. She told me over and over how strong I was, and that she would be there for me and my husband not matter what, and that she completely supported our decision. She talked with my husband and I about our preferences for our cesarean birth and educated us on the options available. She could tell how nervous I was and was very reassuring and provided so much comfort.
When the OB came in to discuss our cesarean birth plan, we expressed our desire for a family-centered cesarean.
I wanted the sterile drape to be lowered so I could watch our daughter enter the world.
I requested that both of my arms remain free throughout the surgery.
I wanted to be the first to hold my baby skin-to-skin while still in the operating room.
It was also extremely important to my husband and I that my doula be allowed into the operating room to support us throughout the entire birth.
I delivered my beautiful baby girl via family-centered cesarean at 11:26PM. I got to watch her come out, and I was the first to touch her and the first to hold her. She was stunning! After a few minutes of getting my baby snuggles in, I had a complication with my epidural. It was wearing off on one side while the doctor was still closing me up. The anesthesiologist had to sedate me. My husband and my baby girl were together on the other side of the room while I was getting the care I needed. During this time, my doula never left my side. She was right by my head the entire time. As the sedative was wearing off and I was coming back to, I was loud, obnoxious, and quite out of it-- but my doula was there holding my hands reassuring me of her presence and that everything was okay, while my husband was standing nearby holding our daughter.
It was the only birth where I didn't feel alone after baby was born.
After the OB finished closing me up, I was taken back to my room for recovery. Unfortunately I was not able to nurse right away due to the medication I received in the operating room. The nurse asked us which formula we wanted to give baby, and this was not an option I was comfortable with if it could be avoided. I had breastfed my other two and it was very important to me that my new baby be breastfed as well. My doula saw my husband and I both hesitate as we were thrown into unknown territory with the question of formula. She reminded us that there was a milk bank at the hospital I delivered in. We requested the donor milk and it was brought up right away. I watched my loving husband be the first to feed our baby, just like he was the first to feed our other two babies.
My birth experience did not go exactly as I had planned.
However, even though I did not have a VBA2C, I felt empowered.
That. Was. Huge.
During my other C-sections, I did not feel empowered and I did not feel I could make any decisions regarding my care throughout any part of the birthing process. All decisions were made for me.
I had the choice this time and I was an active participant in my birth experience.
My doula made me feel like a badass for being able to have the power to make my own choices and supporting me through each choice along the way.
She made me feel like a badass for enduring a long hard labor.
She made me feel like a badass for choosing the c-section in the end, and she made me feel like a badass for being the mom that I am.
Authored by: Amanda Perkins, Waterloo, IA
Client of Northeast Iowa Doulas