Every woman needs the same thing to have a positive birth experience: unwavering support and faith in their ability. Women preparing for a VBAC, or vaginal birth after cesarean, are no different than any other woman. VBAC women crave companionship and support for their birth.
This is where the presence of a doula can be so powerful. While doulas often possess skills and great knowledge about birth, a more important aspect of their presence is that they simply believe that you can accomplish what you are planning.
Here are 7 ways a doula can support your VBAC.
A doula can help support you in your VBAC. Women who plan a vaginal birth after a cesarean are generally incredibly successful IF their care provider is supportive. Sometimes women have very few people around them who even believe they should attempt a VBAC, much less that they can accomplish one. A doula can honestly offer this invaluable faith.
Cameo, a doula in Bowie, MD says,
“One of the most important factors to achieving a VBAC is having a support team that believes in you and your body’s ability to birth your baby. This can include your partner, family members, and a doula. Having a doula not only can help reassure and comfort you in pregnancy and labor, but also has a working knowledge of childbirth and can help prepare you mentally and physically for your birth.”
Supporting your VBAC doesn’t require any special tricks or book knowledge. It is simply an unwavering confidence in you. We all need this for challenging life situations. Birth is no different.
2. Sounding board-
Have you ever been knee deep planning a huge life event and just needed someone to talk to, someone to bounce ideas off of? This sounding board, really just advanced listening skills, is invaluable and is part and parcel of what a good doula does.
A doula listens. She steps back while you work things out for yourself, offering only when asked.
A human being who can talk me through previous and deeply affecting life event to help me move forward and accomplish a goal? Sign me up! This is one way a doula can support your VBAC.
A good doula is often trained and knowledgeable. She may have a wealth of information and skills about positions, labor patterns, movement, and more. But sometimes all a VBAC mom needs is her doula to just be there.
Melissa Kosloski, a doula and childbirth educator in St Cloud, MN and a VBAC mom herself says,
“My doula didn’t use any special skills to help me achieve my VBAC. It was her unwavering support and trust in my body that allowed me the space to do what I knew deep down I could do. Just her presence was all I needed from her during labor!”
A doula for your VBAC can be as simple as that- someone who is there, a quiet presence who believes in you.
4. Hold space-
The concept of “holding space” is one deeply important to doula work. What exactly does that mean? Someone who holds space is present, without judgement. They support, but don’t give unwanted advice. They help you remember your strength.
Kate, a VBAC mom and doula in Nebraska, tells how her doula filled this role,
“My doula was instrumental in helping me navigate the uncharted waters of a homebirth VBAC in my state. She helped me discover what I really wanted and gave me the strength to voice my desires. In the birth room, she “held my space” – truly being the gate between me and the outside world. Steady, calm and unwavering support was her special gift to me. I can’t believe I waited until my third birth to use a doula!”
The concept of “holding space” just makes us think that everybody needs a doula for every part of life! How incredible is the person who can be there to witness your power and support you in it?
5. Knowledge of Resources-
A good doula is a wealth of knowledge, and not just about birthing positions and comfort measures. She often knows which care providers will support the kind of birth you want, and can recommend various other professionals too, like childbirth educators and chiropractors.
A doula is most effective if she isn’t a lone wolf, but part of an incredible birth team.
Jillian Freeland’s doula experience for her VBAC illustrates this (and many other doula benefits) perfectly.
“I know for sure I would not have achieved a natural VBAC if it weren’t for the support of my doula. She called my chiropractor and he came to my home and adjusted me after being in prodromal labor for 5 days. She visited me each of those days to check on me and did a few exercises to prepare for optimal baby positioning. And when the doctors wanted to c-section me (because they assumed my baby was large and were afraid of a second shoulder dystocia), she continued to encourage the birth I desired.
When my labor stalled at 10cm for multiple hours, she brought me to the bathroom and within 1 contraction my water broke and my precious girl was crowning. Her presence was a safety perimeter to my birth experience – there were many fear inducing things going on that I was unaware of because she was protecting my labor space. Having a doula at my VBAC is probably the only reason I had a VBAC!”
Many women feel like Jillian above who credits their doula as a major reason why they accomplished a VBAC. Lauren, a birth teacher in Bowie, MD quoted below didn’t even want a doula for her VBAC!
“I honestly didn’t really want a doula, because I wanted to believe I could do it on my own. And I could do it. I did do it! But having a doula sent a powerful subconscious message that I was worth it.
I also benefitted from the confidence that comes with the presence of a wing (wo)man.
Post partum is more fun with a doula, too. It made the celebration of my baby’s birth, and of my VBAC, more like a party.”
Lauren is right- you CAN have a VBAC on your own! A doula just makes it that much better and boosts your confidence when the road gets tough.
Women have the power to VBAC. A doula just helps you find that power and strength so it is easier to draw upon. Kelli, a childbirth educator, doula and VBAC mom in DFW, TX says,
“I am so thankful I had a doula for my VBACs. For my first VBAC, my OB was extremely supportive but it was clear when we got to the hospital that the rest of the staff was not. My doula, a VBAC mom herself, kept me encouraged and grounded and focused on my goal. She helped my husband and I advocate for ourselves. She didn’t give me the power to do that, but she helped me find the power within myself.”
When it comes to VBAC, there are probably hundreds of ways a doula can help support this decision. These 7 just highlight the value that a truly supportive companion and birth expert can bring to vaginal birth after cesarean. We all need things like a listening ear, support, kindness, and knowledge for everyday life situations.
We especially need these qualities in those around us at the time of birth. Reach out. Find a doula near you who can offer you this.