My first child was born via cesarean in 2006. It was not what I had planned - I had studied the Bradley Method and was hoping for a natural childbirth. Towards the end of my pregnancy my OB's were warning me that the baby was big and that they may want to induce me at my due date. I think the stress of that was causing my blood pressure to rise - which was another concern of the OB practice I was with. My water broke three days before my due date (contractions starting soon after) and my son was born 2 days later via c-section (a 39 hour labor). The c-section was for "Failure to Descend" and I had a "large" baby. The OB's called him large, but he was 23 inches long and 9lbs, 3ounces and did not look chubby at all! That c-section left me feeling like I had missed out on the birth experience - when it was time to push with my son the OB had told me it was already looking like a c-section as the baby was too high. There was no encouragement from the OB. Instead of my husband announcing the sex of my baby, someone else in the operating room did.

When I became pregnant with my second I knew immediately I wanted a VBAC. I consulted with Dr. T at 9 weeks and he told me he'd let me attempt a VBAC and wouldn't put any restrictions on that attempt (such as large baby, going past my due date, continuous fetal monitoring). With the practice that delivered my son, I was finally able to see an OB at 20 weeks. I asked that OB what their VBAC policies were - I was told that two of the three OB's were open to VBAC, and they'd be welcome to it but we'd reevaluate closer to my due date. The OB said that they wouldn't recommend attempting a VBAC if I went past my due date and/or if they expected I was having a large baby. The OB also said that I'd be required to have continuous fetal monitoring at the hospital.

Immediately after that 20 week visit I made the decision to switch to Dr. T. Though his office and the hospital he delivered at were much farther from my house than my original OB, I felt it was important to have a supportive doctor who trusted the birth process.

With this pregnancy, I was doing everything I could do to avoid another c-section. With my first pregnancy I had gained a lot of weight...with this pregnancy my weight was more in line with what it should have been. I started attending ICAN meetings immediately after becoming pregnant. I started seeing a chiropractor. I hired a doula to assist with the labor process. I read as many books about the birthing process as I could.

40 weeks came and went. I was not anxious about going past my due date but it seemed like everyone around me was. At 41 weeks I had a non-stress test and an amniotic fluid level check. Both turned out great. Dr. T was not concerned I was 41 weeks along and still had no signs of labor. I was so thankful I had switched practices as if I had stayed with my original provider I would have been fighting with them about going past 40 weeks.

Finally, the morning I was 41 weeks and 5 days I woke up at 5 AM and had a crampy feeling. I knew that I was finally going into labor. Since my first labor was 39 hours before the c-section, I knew it was going to take a while. I was handling the contractions fine most of the day. Around 6 PM labor began to pick up and at that point my doula and a doula-in-training came to my house. Together they helped me cope with the contractions. At one point my husband came into the bedroom and asked if my labor had slowed down. The doula told him it had actually picked up but I was more relaxed and able to handle the contractions better.

Around 11 PM we packed things up and headed for the hospital. Arriving at the hospital shortly before midnight I had the first internal check of my pregnancy. I was 8 cm! With my son I had only reached 6 cm on my own and then the OB had urged me to use pitocin since my water had been broken for so long. With this pregnancy I had made it to 8 on my own! Two hours later I was 10 cm and was ready to push. At this point I had not had any drugs at all.

With my first push, my water broke. It was such a great feeling knowing that my water broke on its own. I pushed...and I pushed...and I pushed...I pushed for 3.5 hours in several different positions, but the baby was not descending any farther. Throughout the whole time I was pushing Dr. T was encouraging me and telling me that I was doing it and that I was going to get the baby out. It was so great having a supportive OB instead of one telling the nurse to get the c-section paper work ready before I was even pushing.

After 3.5 hours of pushing, my husband and I made the decision and agreed to have the repeat c-section recommended by Dr. T since the baby was not descending and contractions were slowing down. I had done everything I could to push the baby out. However, one thing I had learned in ICAN was that if a repeat c-section was necessary - make sure that the repeat cesarean was on my terms and not the OB's. I requested that my doula be allowed into the OR after the baby was born - there's nothing worse than having your baby then having your husband and baby leave you in the OR by yourself. I heard the nurses talking that I was able to have this request granted because "she�s one of Dr. T�s patients". I also told everyone in the OR that I wanted my husband to announce the sex of the baby since we had both missed out on that experience the first time around. It was great being able to hear my husband say "It's a girl" instead of a scrub nurse. My daughter was 9lbs, 2ounces and 21 inches long. There was a spot on her head that was swollen that indicated she was mal-positioned.

Physically, the second c-section was much harder than the first. The epidural caused some blood pressure issues going into the c-section and the anesthesiologist dosed me up so much that I couldn't move my arms and I could barely speak. I was shivering during the whole operation and for about 4 hours later. Emotionally though this c-section was MUCH better than the first. I was in control of the c-section. I had a supportive OB. I had hired a doula, I had been visiting a chiropractor. I kept my weight gain at the recommended level which seemed to help me avoid the complications I had with the first pregnancy. I pushed in several different positions. I accomplished my goals as much as possible - a drug free birth with no interventions.

And even though I had a repeat c-section with my second child, I would go through the whole process over again in a heartbeat just knowing I had the chance at a fair vaginal delivery with a supportive OB. There's no way I would have signed up for a repeat c-section for going past my due date or for having a "large" baby or just because my first child was born via c-section.

About ICAN

The International Cesarean Awareness Network, Inc. (ICAN) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve maternal-child health by reducing preventable cesareans through education, supporting cesarean recovery, and advocating for vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC). Learn More About ICAN