Preparing for a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) isn’t a whole lot different than planning for a natural birth. Tell people you want to push a baby out of your vagina without drugs, they may look at you like you have three heads…the same goes for VBAC. There tends to be a lot of fear surrounding VBAC and a woman who is planning one may unexpectedly invite opinions from dozens of people around her, most of them negative. People often want to spread rumors about the very worst scenario because it’s far more interesting than what is normal.
There are some things you have to take really seriously in order to accomplish your goals. Below is a list of some of the most important steps you should take when planning your VBAC. Read more
Babies are truly amazing. They bring much joy into our lives. Babies have the ability to make you experience a love deeper than you have ever felt was possible. And given the fact you and your partner are responsible for this tiny and precious new life, makes the experience even more special.
However, with all the joy and love of welcoming in a new baby, often comes difficulties and challenges of which can be stressful and tough on any relationship. The keys to keeping a relationship strong during major life transitions, such as babies, work transitions, moving, illness, etc., are the same as those needed for a healthy relationship in general.
Anyone who has experienced the joy of pregnancy knows that as soon as that little blue line appears, so too does a seemingly endless list of expenses.From the fun things, like decorating the nursery and buying baby clothes, to the more serious preparation for childbirth, everything just seems to add up.Which, of course, begs the question, “Must I really take a childbirth class?”
Well, we might be a little biased, but we would answer with a resounding YES!You should take a birth class. Here are five simple reasons why the money spent on a great birth class is money well spent. Read more
After the thrill of discovering you’re pregnant, most women’s high quickly drops when the first trimester pregnancy symptoms roll in. Let’s face it – bloating, constipation, nausea, indescribable gas and much more can leave you wondering, what exactly is baby doing to me? But I’ve come to realize, even in the most uncomfortable moments, why I want to experience pregnancy in my life even after it is over.
I’ve always secretly been a nap lover but was too ashamed to admit it to my fellow worker bees. I’d wonder why do I need more sleep than they do? When we are children, we are forced into naptime – but when and why does this fade away? As we grow we still eat, we still cry, we still want to be told stories before we fall asleep. Why would it be any different with naptime?
Now I proudly smile and say, rubbing my kangaroo-forming belly, “I need my sleep.”I’m not necessarily using baby as my excuse – baby has just helped me see that I have permission every day to rest and slow down – even if it’s just closing my eyes for a moment. When I slow my breath and mind, and place my hands on my belly, I experience a sacred moment with just baby and me. In that moment, no one can take away our private bond as together we drift off to another world.
My husband and I like routine… even with our food. We had grown accustomed to eggs for breakfast, salad for lunch and chicken or fish for dinner, but pregnancy cravings have left me laughing and allowed us to share some fun memories. When I craved pizza, we hosted a homemade pizza bake off – while my husband topped his pizza with spicy sausage and jalapenos, baby and I munched on turkey bacon and pineapple cheese pizza.During Easter, we made my childhood favorite – homemade eggs benedict (making sure the eggs were thoroughly cooked of course). Sundays have now become our family day in the kitchen whipping up exotic meals together.
Kinder to Myself:
Along with different food choices and more rest, I’ve found this is an important message to the mind. I’ve become more compassionate toward myself. In the past, I’d “push-on” figuring out a way to convince myself I could find a bit more energy to get through the day. I’d feel guilty when I treated myself to a cookie. Now, I’ve noticed how much more enjoyable the day can be when I listen to what my body needs and acknowledging without judgment, shame or guilt. This does not mean I’m eating endless cookies during my pregnancy. Instead, I’ve softened to the acceptance that we cannot always be perfect, but we can have a positive mindset and an attitude of gratitude during the process of life forming within us.
More than Just Me:
When my family was just my husband and I, we focused so much on ourselves that at times, it became detrimental. We’d knit-pick every little detail about one another, we were self-absorbed with goal after goal, achievement after achievement. While our personal goals are still important, we’ve gained more perspective that there’s more to life that just us. Carrying a spark of light inside me that the two of us have created reminds me of such a wonderful focus other than my own ambition-oriented desires.
My poor husband immediately noticed the impact of pregnancy in our love life. I never got the rush of hormones to leap wildly to the bedroom. Instead our decreased “pinch-and-tickle” time has left us with some new insight – it has allowed us to communicate more often and check-in as far as how each of us are feeling and what we can do on an intimate level. Although I’m not constantly eager to fully share my body while bloating, nausea and heartburn have been the first things on my mind, I don’t mind hubby rubbing his hands on me for a nice massage or treating him to some hot and steamy time in the shower together. We’re continually exploring the importance of providing what each of us needs in order to maintain a happy and fulfilling intimate marriage.
In a busy world full of distraction, it’s easy to miss some of the most memorable moments in front of our eyes or even within our own bodies. Experiencing the miracle of pregnancy has blessed me with the ability to become more mindful of the beautiful changes inside and out. While the term “Each day is a new day” sounds cliché, it is definitely the case with pregnancy. I’m amazed at noticing how different I feel each day and don’t want to miss any of it. I have grown increasingly grateful at the ability to fully notice and witness every part of the journey rather than miss each day. After all, this is one thing you will never experience again the same. No matter how many more pregnancies you have, each one is unique, just like each child.
Nesting – The Time is Now:
When it came to house projects, my husband and I would always say, we’ll get to it next month. But when each month matters with pregnancy, there comes a time you can push it off no longer. Discovering we were going to have a new addition to our family, I’ve become quite the nester – or as my husband calls me – project manager. I’ve assigned him to paint the walls – done, build the bookshelves – done. We’ve finally purchased the furniture and storage we needed, and our cozy place has now evolved from a place of inhabitance to a delightful little family den. Thanks to baby, we remembered that eventually procrastination must be put into action if you really want to make something happen.
Less Physical Competition – Discovering My Own Routine:
It’s my mother’s fault. She was a workout-aholic, and because of that, I’ve caught the addiction too. But sadly, rather than simply working out, I’ve turned it into competition.I have to be the fastest, strongest, and try my best to beat my husband. While I’d successfully achieved high physical attainment, my body has decided to ease up. No more throwing 100 pounds over my head –maybe we’ll just try 50. Baby has helped me see that I can still get a good sweat and have a good time without almost killing myself.After all, baby wants mommy around. So sprinting? Maybe a powerwalk will do.
While there are helpful standard pregnancy signs to monitor, the tiny print at the bottom of many of the things I read states, each person and each pregnancy is different. If you’ve been surprisingly entertained with unwanted birth stories, you’ll see the variety of joy, pain and length of each birth. This is the same with each of us in all aspects of our pregnancy and life. No, I’m not craving ice cream like my twin sister – I want endless amounts of blueberries. No, I’m not running to the bathroom to throw-up like my friend – I wish I could go to the bathroom sometime, but constipation has another plan. While community is beneficial and supportive, it is my wish that I can carry the mindset of individuality throughout my entire pregnancy, labor and child raising. It is my hope that we all may stop comparing and start enjoying the purity of the personal experience of pregnancy.
Jessica Latham’s writing has been featured on NPR’s Perspectives series, Tiny Buddha and Thank the Now. She has written a variety of health articles for Tabata Times and various CrossFit Blogs. When not happily preparing her life as a first-time mama, Jessica, nestled in beautiful Sonoma wine country, writes about daring to live with passion and love. To read her poems, articles, and interviews, visit Rowdy Prisoners.
Women are often considered of an advanced maternal age if they are delivering their baby after their 35th birthday. While there is some increased risk in pregnancy and birth over 35, most women can look forward to a wonderful and positive birth experience.
Does being 35 make me high risk?
While some research concerning birthing of 35 does show increased problems, the truth is much less clear cut. Actually, for older women there are many things that are not a higher risk for them.
In fact, one large study done in 2005 found:
“No statistically significant differences were noted among the groups [of various aged women] for threatened abortion, gestational hypertension, pre-eclampsia, preterm labor, preterm PROM, and assisted vaginal delivery.” ¹
According to this study, many of the things that women over 35 worry about, such as gestational hypertension and pre-eclampsia, are, actually, not statistically more likely for them.This knowledge alone can make a woman feel much less fearful and more capable of achieving the birth she wants.
The researchers go on to say that:
“In summary, the majority of women of advanced maternal age deliver at term without maternal or perinatal adverse outcomes.” ¹
One thing that does appear to be more likely as a birthing woman gets older is the risk of stillbirth.Even this risk, though, when examined carefully is still incredibly low in developed countries.This review of numerous studies found that:
“However, the absolute increase in risk was relatively small in studies from developed countries, with crude odds ratios varying from 1.20 to 2.23 on top of baseline stillbirth rates varying from 1.55 to 17.89 per 1000 total births” ³
Even though there is a small increase in stillbirth, it is still very low even for women considered to be of “advanced maternal age.”
Chromosomal abnormalities also show some increase as a woman gets older, but this alone shouldn’t preclude a natural birth. 6, 7
Why are women 35 and older experiencing more cesarean sections?
Women, who happen to be 35 or older at the time of delivery, have higher rates of cesarean section birth.In fact, women of this age or older are actually three times more likely to deliver by scheduled c-section.²
Researchers point out that women of this age may simply be birthing surgically more often due to their age alone (and not need), despite the relative safety of natural or vaginal birth.
“Nonetheless, maternal age alone may be a factor influencing physician decision making.It is uncertain whether the increased rates of cesarean delivery are due to a real increase in the prevalence of obstetric complications or whether there is a component of iatrogenic intervention secondary to both physician and patient attitudes toward pregnancy in this older patient population.” ¹
In essence, the researchers believe that it may be the attitudes of the physician and the patient regarding maternal age that increased these surgical births, not necessarily need.(Iatrogenic refers to an intervention or illness caused by medical treatment.)In fact, some studies found that the increased “surveillance” of these older mothers may even cause iatrogenic prematurity or babies born too early due to medical induction.²
How can I increase my chances of natural birth if I am over 35?
Just because you are over 35 doesn’t mean you can’t have a great natural birth!Research shows that this is true.
“…most will achieve a successful pregnancy outcome. Best outcomes appear to be linked to pre-existing maternal health, and pregnancy care at tertiary centers may also contribute.” ⁸
Being healthy before you get pregnant, no matter your age, can improve outcome and possibly increase your chance of having the birth you want.For example, one common risk for older women is gestational diabetes.Gestational diabetes however has other risk factors independent of maternal age that contribute to it, including pre-pregnancy weight, health, and nutrition before and during pregnancy.Another risk factor for women over 35 is chronic hypertension, but research shows that advanced age alone is not responsible for these complications.Simply having a healthy blood pressure pre-pregnancy can be helpful. ¹
Leading medical groups point out that simple choices, such as eating well, exercising, and getting prenatal care, can be helpful in creating a healthy pregnancy over 35 or at any age.If you desire a natural birth, a comprehensive natural birth class will prepare you best.Look for one that includes instruction on both staying low risk and navigating common hospital procedures and testing.These issues are especially relevant to women over 35 who are often encouraged to test excessively.
Can a woman over 35 achieve a natural birth?The answer to this question is a resounding yes.Being healthy, educated and aware can help you get what you want from the birth process.Are there some risks to birthing over 35?Yes.But many of them can be minimized with a healthy lifestyle or do not prevent a natural birth.
1. Cleary-Goldman J, et al. Impact of maternal age on obstetric outcome. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2005;105:983.(If you would like to view this entire study, copy and paste the entire title into your search bar.)
2. Advanced maternal age and pregnancy outcome (British)