How can I best support my wife’s VBAC?
In this day and age if a pregnant woman wants to have a VBAC she is climbing a steep hill. While you might find a sympathetic obstetrician and hospital that will support this choice or find a midwife to have a home birth vaginal birth after a cesarean, it’s quite challenging to just say: ‘I want a VBAC’ and have everyone support that choice. If she doesn’t have your support then you can just add one more nail in the coffin of her dream. Any pregnant woman seeking a VBAC wants her partner to have her back AND know how to actually help her achieve a vaginal birth.
Being frank with men
It’s a heck of a lot easier to be direct with fathers-to-be than with mothers-to-be … for several reasons:
- Pregnant women will be ‘doing’ the birth and ‘want’ a certain type of birth and want everyone to give her want she wants. In other words, she wants others to know how to help her. She might not be so focused on what she needs to do for herself and therefore hard to reach.
- Fathers-to-be really want to help and haven’t found out how-to which means your pregnant partner may not really think you can help effectively.
- Pregnant women wanting a VBAC often have a strong ideological belief that ‘vaginal birth’ is best which means having any discussion can be challenging particularly if she feels she is doing everything possible to achieve one.
So here’s your bottom line: You need birth-coaching skills. You need to know how to help her prepare her pregnant body to become a birthing body with the right skills that create space inside her body to let a big 3-dimensional object out of her body. Then you need to learn birth-coaching skills that work alongside her birth skills and use those skills to work through the hard work associated with the natural occurring pain of contractions. In other words, you have quite a bit of work to do during the last 16 weeks of pregnancy.
The conventional father’s role
You’ve been taught that the role of a father-to-be is to ‘support’ your partner. This means dads are standing around, being hung on, rubbing a back or wiping a brow but both you and your partner KNOW that is not enough.
You must learn the skills to be a great birth-coach in order to help her achieve her vaginal birth after a previous Caesarean. In other words, you need to support and be able to help her navigate the natural occurring pain of labor pains.
VBAC is the wrong phrase
To get to a vaginal birth your pregnant partner must do the labor first and that’s where women have trouble. The pain hurts, she tenses up, can’t cope, gets tired (and so does your baby) and eventually one thing leads to another and she’s had a Caesarean. The primary cause of c-sections unless there is an incredibly obvious medical issue is that women are not coping with labor pains. This tells you … she lacks birth skills!
So here’s another bottom line: To help her get to the vaginal part of birth means you have to help her stay on top of and in control of the pain of contractions ... one contraction at a time. you need the skills to help her particularly when she looks and sounds as though the pain is over the top intense.
Men and women have the same body
We all blink, cough and can tighten up our rectum. This similarity brings us together under a common set of skills that should (yes … should) be learned by all expectant parents.
So here’s what you need to do:
- Help your pregnant partner to prepare her pregnant body to become a birthing body … she needs to learn to open her body and let your baby come down, through and out her body. Your baby has a head about the size of a grapefruit. Get real and put the time into doing this.
- Together you need to learn a simple set of skills. She’ll use the skills to ‘do’ the birth. You’ll use the same skills to help her … by learning to observe and listen to how she is responding to the messages your baby is giving her throughout your baby’s birthing process.
- Together you must use those skills as pregnancy transforms into the labor activity … DO NOT WAIT UNTIL SHE IS HAVING TROUBLE COPING.
- Together you must use these skills … because you are parents and that’s your role … to use these skills in whatever birth your baby experiences.
Here’s your final bottom line:
- You and your partner got pregnant to have a baby not a ‘birth’. Birth is how your baby is born. You can always work with your baby’s efforts to be born so always enjoy preparing for your baby’s birth and work with your baby’s journey no matter how your baby comes into the world.
Your pregnant partner really wants to feel connected to the birthing process and she feels that was denied her by having a Cesarean. This tells you … neither of you had the skills to continue to work with your baby’s birth journey. Once you become skilled and use them both of you will feel engaged and empowered.
The skills in Birthing Skills Specific for VBAC take you through all the skills to:
- Prepare her pregnant body to open up, stay mobile and internally soft
- Cope, manage, work through, stay in control and on top of all the internal sensations as well as all the external fiddle that comes with the assessments, monitoring and procedures (AMPs) that will most likely occur in a hospital VBAC
Choice is NOT going to get her the birth she wants. She has to do the hard work first and that requires skills. It’s that blunt. You are willing, now you’ll be able to help her achieve her VBAC.