VBAC Planning Checklist

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Here are some tips for increasing your chances of a having VBAC:

q  Hire a doula.  Doulas reduce your chance of having a Cesarean birth by 50%.  Doulas can help you avoid the interventions (pain medication, induction/augmentation) that make you more likely to have a Cesarean.  Doulas protect your birth space and your desire for a VBAC.

q  Eat well.  It sounds facetious but it’s true: smaller babies fit better.  Eat a healthy and varied diet and talk with your midwife about an appropriate weight gain plan. 

q  Exercise.

o   Aerobic exercise (walking, swimming, or any other aerobic exercise you are accustomed to doing) increases strength, endurance, and your sense of vitality

o   Stretching & flexibility exercises will help you be mobile in labour

o   Back stretches (cat & dog stretches & knees-to-chest) prevent the baby from going into a posterior position        

o   Kegels strengthen the muscles of the birth canal

q  Plan at least 18 months from birth to birth.  Likelihood of a VBAC increases with the length of time between births.   

q  Surround yourself with positive, encouraging people.  Avoid people who don’t support your plan.  You do not need to be around people who undermine your confidence.  If you can’t avoid these people, ask them to keep their comments to themselves. 

q  Don’t be afraid of your fears.  Naming your fears and talking about them with your partner, doula, or midwife can be enough to disarm them.  Researching your fears until you feel informed about them can also take away their power.  Don’t wait until you go into labour to discover what you’re scared of. 

q  Find out everything you can about your last labour and why you had a Cesarean.  Request your previous charts and review them with your midwife.

q  Visualize yourself in labour, pushing, and delivering the baby every day.  Do this when you feel very relaxed and safe.  You may want to play special music or wear a particular essential oil.  When you are in labour, the sounds or smells will remind you of your visualizations, and your feelings of safety and relaxation.

q  Talk with women who have had successful VBACs.  If you don’t know anyone who’s had a VBAC, ask around until you find someone who knows a woman who has.  Get her number, call her up, and offer to take her out for lunch.  Read as many VBAC stories as you can.  If you have access to the Internet, there are lots of chat rooms and bulletin boards where you can ‘talk’ with other women. 

q  Know your options.  Educate yourself and take an active role in your care.

q  Avoid interventions.  Your best chance at having a VBAC is if you go into labour on your own, and labour as long as you can without an epidural. 

q  Wait for the pushing urge to be overwhelming before pushing.  Let your body tell you when to push.  Push in an upright position (standing, squatting, dangling from your partner or doula’s arms), which lets you use gravity to your advantage.

q  Don’t allow yourself to believe that VBAC equals success, and Cesarean equals failure.  If you are as informed as you can be, you will make the right decisions for this particular labour.  Sometimes, a Cesarean is the best decision.  A Cesarean birth is still a birth, and it is never a failure.