November 4, 2020

149 Jill’s VBAC + Birth Support Coaching

Jill from Alberta, Canada. She is a homeschooling mother to 3 children, a birth doula, and a recently certified birth support coach through the Birth Coach Method. She is excited to use her newly learned coaching tools to help her clients achieve their desired birth experience even if they cannot have a doula attend their birth. Jill works with pregnant women in their last trimester to coach them around their desires for their birth, their current reality, and circumstances and closes every coaching session with an action assignment designed to reach their goals.
Aside from sharing her incredible VBAC story, we discuss:
-What birth coaching is and how it is different from childbirth education.
-How hiring a birth support coach can help you, even if you can't have a doula attend your birth.
-How birth support coaching places the pregnant parent as an expert on their body and their birth.
Find Jill and learn more about birth coaching on her Instagram page: @jillmcknight_birthdoula

Episode Sponsor:

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Meagan: Happy Wednesday, women of strength! It is Julie and Meagan. We have Jill with us today. She’s in Canada and we cannot wait to hear not only her stories, but we want to dive in a little bit more on birth coaching-- something that she has gone into during her journey. She actually has three kids. She had a C-section and then two VBACs. We can’t wait to hear that story. She is a certified birth coach and a birth doula. 

We’re really excited to hear more about the coaching, what that entails and how we all can learn more because I know as a doula, for me, I think that would be something really fun to add to my offerings and my skills. I can’t wait to hear that. Julie has a review of the week, so we’ll turn the time over to her. 

Review of the week

Julie: I’m Julie and I have a review of the week and I’m also interested in learning about birth coaching. I’m just really excited. I’m not going to start asking questions and things because it’s the very beginning of the episode. But at the end we might just pick your brain a little bit, Jill. 

This review is from Apple Podcasts and the reviewer name is Khuxx. The review’s name is “Success.” Khuxx says, “This podcast helped me in so many ways. I had my VBAC baby in the early morning on Thanksgiving four days past my due date. I was religiously listening to this podcast in those three days leading up to labor as I felt my chances of my perfect labor were being ripped away. Putting my headphones and pushing play on The VBAC Link when I would start to doubt my ability my whole pregnancy was honestly my lifesaver. I told my midwives that this was helping me stay positive and I recommend it to EVERYONE. Thank you SO MUCH for creating the perfect podcast for all pregnant moms, not just moms wanting to VBAC. If I would have known about this with my first, maybe the outcome would have been different.”

Thank you so much, Khuxx, for that review. We were just talking about that before we started recording. We wish this had been around when we were having babies. And Jill, same thing. It always makes me feel really good when we hear that we are helping people and that our stories that we share on the podcast are helping others as well. 

Thank you, Jill, for sharing your story today. And thank you to everybody who has ever shared their story on our podcast and in our Facebook community and in our Instagram stories. We wouldn’t be The VBAC Link without every single one of you. So, thank you. 

Episode sponsor

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Jill’s story

Meagan: Okay, you guys. It’s podcast Wednesday and Jill has an awesome episode for you. Jill, we’re going to turn the time over to you to share your amazing story and then let us pick your brain at the end. 

Jill: Great. Thank you so much, Julie and Meagan. Thanks for having me. I am a VBAC mom. I had my first child in 2009. I didn’t have a doula. I didn’t really have a birth team set up. I went into it to see how it goes, kind of thing. I felt like an absolute goddess being pregnant, I’ll tell you that. But I always felt really deflated every time I left my prenatal appointments with my obstetrician. I felt like it was so run of the mill, going through the motions. I always felt really sad afterwards. I felt like, “Hey, I feel really great. I feel like I’m glowing. I feel amazing.” If I had a doula or if I had someone to talk to and download about it afterwards, that would have felt really nurturing to me. 

So I went along and my pregnancy was actually really great. I was healthy. I was strong. I never considered that I would have a C-section. I remember going through the hospital for the tour and the last stop was the operating room to show us expectant moms where it is and things like that. I was like, “Yeah, sure. I’ll look at it. But there’s no way. I’m just not going to have one.” My mother didn’t have one. My grandmother had ten babies and I just thought, “It’s not happening,” so I didn’t have any information about how to prepare for a C-section.

Meagan: A lot of times in these prenatals, there isn’t really any education given on C-sections. First time moms go in to have this baby and they’ve heard about a C-section but they don’t really know what it entails. That’s something that could be added to prenatal care. 

Jill: Yes. I think so for sure. Based on conversations that I’ve had with women throughout the years, it’s the same thing. At least to have had it as part of the prenatal, that would have been helpful for sure. 

I guess I can just skip to the birth. Pretty uneventful pregnancy, it was fine. My baby was late. The first time around when you go over the 40 week mark, it’s like, “Oh my gosh. When is this going to happen, right?” I did end up going into spontaneous labor at 41 weeks. We just had my in-laws arrive from Scotland. They had planned their trip to come for when the baby was born. Since baby was late, they showed up on the day that I started going into labor. So I had a house full of visitors. 

I started in the middle of the night feeling the early signs of labor. I did some of the things that I learned in my prenatal classes-- moving around when I could, trying to lie down when it felt comfortable. I ran a bath. I sat in the bath for a little while and then the contractions started to get a little bit intense. My husband and I decided to go into the hospital, which was just around the corner, so really close. I got checked into triage.

The part that always sticks out in my head was that the nurse that was there didn’t look at me. She had her head down and asked, “Are you having an epidural?” I was like, “Uh, I don’t know.” She was like, “Well, you don’t need one. But if you don’t get one now then the anesthesiologist might be busy so I would suggest that you say yes.”

Julie: Oh my gosh, I hate when they do that.

Meagan: It’s added pressure in a vulnerable moment. Even if you didn’t plan on that, you feel vulnerable and think, “Well, what if I end up wanting one and they’re not here?” I don’t like that. 

Jill: There was another woman that was laboring in the room and it was quite intimidating. I could hear her. She was pretty close, I think, to giving birth. The nurse then said, “So that woman there, that’s not her first baby. You can hear she’s going through some painful contractions. So if she’s feeling pain, what do you think you’re going to feel?” So I was like, “Wow. Okay.” 

Julie: Labor and delivery nurses-- I don’t think they mean ill intent when they say these things. I think they’re really trying to be helpful. But there should be a class about tact in the birth room. Maybe not. But I’ve heard things like that in the birth room. What are you supposed to say as a parent and you’re a first time mom? It’s so frustrating. 

Jill: Yeah. That’s it. All of those things led to me getting an epidural, but I was only at 4 centimeters. Knowing what I know now, that was quite early. But for me, at that stage, it felt really painful. I had never felt anything like that before, so it felt like, “Oh yeah. I want this pain to go away. I want to be more comfortable.” I got that epidural administered and then was hooked up to the IV, the machines, and all the things. I was strapped in and lying down on my back. From there, I continually was progressing and I did dilate. 

I don’t have the notes with me right now, but long story short, eventually, I got to the point where baby was going into distress. They had to insert that fetal scalp electrode. I just felt like a rag doll. At the beginning, when the epidural was administered, it worked really well. For some women it doesn’t work really well and they still feel the contractions. But I felt nothing and I thought, “Oh, this is cool. I’m going to lie here and the baby is going to come. Wow!” 

I just had no idea. Then there were more interventions. There was the fetal monitor, then baby was in distress. They were giving me oxygen, then there were several doctors, students, nurses, and more students coming to observe me. That moment is so clear in my mind when I’m lying in the bed with the oxygen mask and I have what felt like eight people surrounding me. I’m freaking out and my husband’s like, “It’s okay,” but we’re like, “I don’t know what’s going on.” That was quite scary. 

But I did get to the point where I was 10 centimeters and was able to push with directed pushing. I didn’t feel anything, so I was going based on what the labor and delivery nurses were telling me to do as my feet were up in stirrups and still lying on my back. I spent hours doing that. Eventually they were able to lift me up and put me over one of those bars where I was sitting upright to try and get some gravity on my side. 

Then they started talking C-section at that point because I was pushing for about two hours and because he was in distress. I kept asking for more time. I asked for another hour and then after that third hour, they could see his head. I remember them bringing a mirror and you could see the head, but he wasn’t far enough down that they could use a vacuum or forceps. That led to that moment where I had to sign off for surgery. I still feel quite emotional just remembering.

Meagan: That was a hard moment. 

Jill: Yeah. Then wheeled into surgery. As C-section moms, we all know that feeling. It feels really cold when you go into that operating room and everything is very quiet, very eerie. Everybody’s in their full scrubs and it’s a scary place. I was shaking at that point. I think there was something about the drugs they administer to you and they have to strap your arms down. I remember shaking and I felt very nauseous. When they did the surgery, it was quite a weird feeling. Because my son was descending down the birth canal, they actually had to pull him out. So his head came out in that cone kind of way.

Julie: You kind of had to recover from a vaginal birth and a Cesarean at that point.

Jill: It was almost that way, right? He was very large. He was 9 pounds, 4 ounces. Knowing what I know now, birthing a 9 pound, 4 ounce baby on your back, for 18 hours…

Meagan: It doesn’t leave a lot of room for baby to get down in the right spot. 

Jill: I didn’t know much about birth until after that moment and I did my research. I was like, “What was that? Why did that happen?” I blamed myself a lot and I went through a lot of really negative emotions. I felt very disappointed. I felt ashamed. I felt really ashamed. I didn’t expect that I would have a C-section and I didn’t like that I felt ashamed to tell people that. It was really confusing. 

It was a crazy start to motherhood. I absolutely adored my son. Thankfully we bonded well with breastfeeding and skin to skin, but I remember those nights that I stayed in the hospital. It was really quite traumatic. There are lots of other details, but I think that’s mainly the gist of it. 

After that, it really drove me to research and find out why. I got a hold of my records of my birth to find out what actually happened, what led to it. 

Megan: Which is such a good idea to do. It’s really important to get those records. We encourage all of our personal clients to do that.

Jill: Yeah, I found it really helpful. Then you can research and you can find out what all these terms mean. In the moment, you’re not really absorbing all the terminology that they’re throwing at you. You’re just scared. There’s the shock that takes over and you can’t absorb anything. Even in a straightforward labor, you’re not taking in information. 

I did a lot of work with the resources that were available at the time. It was 2009. I ended up stumbling into home birth which wasn’t anything I would ever have thought I would get into. I didn’t know anybody who had home births. I was actually quite intimidated by the thought of a home birth. But my research led me there. I started to really get into that world, which is quite an interesting place to be and a lot to learn there. 

I guess that’s what led me to want to be a doula because I’m reading all of these amazing books written by midwives and I thought, “I would love to be able to support somebody in a way that…”

Meagan: The way you wish you had been able to be supported?

Jill: Exactly, because I know exactly what I would have done for myself back then. That was part of my healing too. Like I said earlier, I really beat myself up a lot. It’s so common for moms who have unplanned C-sections or planned C-sections as well. As I did my research and I learned more, I started to forgive myself. I thought, “I did the best I could with what I had.” I didn’t know anything about epidural other than that it takes the pain of labor so I’m like, “That can’t be bad.” 

After I learned what I did in my doula training, I’m like, “Oh, so maybe 4 centimeters was a bit early.” If I had somebody there to support me for a few more hours to get to seven or eight centimeters,  maybe the epidural would have been a great thing for me. So I was able to slowly heal from some of that negativity that I was holding onto and that shame and that disappointment. I could see my C-section as the catalyst for change in my life that helped to guide me towards birth work. I’m thankful for it in that way. 

Meagan: I feel you. It’s kind of the same. I had two C-sections before I landed into the birth world but even though they were not my desired birth or my desired choice, I would not have changed anything because it led me to where I am today. 

Julie: Me too.

Jill: Then for my first VBAC, I waited 18 months because that was the recommended time. I don’t know if there is one recommended time, but for me, it was the 18 month wait after my first C-section to then try and get pregnant with my second child. I did that and then thankfully we got pregnant easily. I set myself up right away with midwives. In Canada, we have a public healthcare system which is great, but also stressful because you have to get your care provider the day you pee on the stick. You cannot mess around. I got myself into a really great midwifery practice right from the beginning. 

I was planning a home birth. I felt that was the best place for me. The midwives at this practice were  supportive and actually really loved working with VBAC moms. I was in really, really good hands. Just the way life goes, my husband got transferred to Melbourne, Australia for work. So when I was six months pregnant with my second child, we moved to Australia. 

Julie: Oh my gosh! I love Australia, but what a horrible time to move to another country. 

Jill: I know. We had actually been there already temporarily before my pregnancy and then we came home for a bit. I knew it was coming so it wasn’t completely out of the blue at the point, but I did have to navigate a completely new healthcare system there in Australia. 

Julie: Australia is completely different for Cesarean, VBAC and birth in general. It’s a completely different mindset even from the United States. Different parts of Australia have different birth cultures as well. It’s something I’ve been interested in learning more about, actually. When Meagan and I upgrade our VBAC van to a VBAC jet-- we’re dreaming really big right now. We’re going to have a VBAC Link jet and then fly to Australia and figure out the Australia birth world, VBAC, Cesareans, all that. And maybe we’ll go doula some people in the Outback. That would be awesome. I’m dreaming big. This is like, 50 years down the road if we’re still kicking around. 

Jill: That’s great to dream big. 

Julie: I’m going to stop talking now. Go on with your story.

Jill: I’ve never lived in the States but I can imagine Australia’s system to be a mixture of the United States and Canada because they do have public healthcare and private. It’s a nice little hybrid which was good for us because we weren’t residents of Australia so public health care, we still had to pay for anyway. We actually went private and I actually hired private midwives because the midwives there at that point weren’t covered under public healthcare like they are in Canada. 

I found some great midwives supporting my VBAC home birth. Everything was great. Totally crazy that we now lived down under. We were in Melbourne. It was a great city and I was in good hands. My husband took a little bit more time to get adjusted to the home birth, but we managed to come to an agreement.

We planned the home birth and there was a concern that I had a front lying placenta early on in the pregnancy, so I just needed to get an ultrasound at about 36 weeks to check on that. I got some more interesting news at that ultrasound which was that my baby was breech. 

Meagan: Not always a fun thing to find out. 

Jill: No. And that’s the thing from my experience with my second child. I went to the ultrasound by myself and my husband was at the pool with my son. It was like, “Oh, you know. It’s all good. You go play with him. I’ll go to the ultrasound and meet you later.” Oh God, could I have used somebody there with me. I obviously did not expect that either. Breech? What? I was a complete hot mess after finding that out. But my midwives were totally cool and they were like, “That’s okay. You’re only 36 weeks. Lots of babies are breech. They do somersaults. They go all around. It’s no big deal.” 

They were able to help me calm down and explore options. Then I was into a whole other level of not just VBAC, I was then looking into breech which is a little bit more frightening when you look on the internet about breech birth. This was in 2011 when breech was considered very high risk and almost always a C-section. I was quite devastated because I was so scared of having another C-section.

So I did all of the things. Spinning Babies-- I was lying down every day with my ironing board propped up on my couch. You lie down on your back with your head down and your feet up. 

Julie: The Breech Tilt, yes! 

Jill: Yep. Lots of hands and knees, doing all of the cat-cow hands and knees positions. I did everything. I did handstands in the pool which got me some pretty weird looks at the public pool. I did chiropractic care specifically for breech. I did Moxibustion, an acupuncture procedure where they put these needles in your pinky toes and then they have this charcoal cigar-lit thing that lights up and heats up the needle in your toes. I did all the things. She was not having it. 

She remained in the breech position. 

Julie: That’s frustrating after you do all that work. 

Jill: I know. The private/public system actually worked in my favor because I ended up getting in with an obstetrician in Melbourne who specializes in high risk. He does breeches, twins, VBAC’s, so he took me on as one of his patients. He was really great. I still had my midwives too but they weren’t able to be my primary care providers in the hospital because of the breech. It was more like she was a doula to me which was really great too. 

With breeches, the rule for my obstetrician was an eight hour labor or less but if it goes over eight hours then there is probably something going on. 

Julie: Well, that’s not fair. Lots of labors are longer than eight hours.

Jill: Yeah. That was scary and no epidural. There were a bunch of other rules, but eight hours was the limit. She was late too. She was about six days overdue. I started to feel the discomfort in the evening. I went to bed. I woke up sometime in the middle of the night, sometime between midnight and 2:00 am. I thought, “I’m going to get up now. We’re going to move around.” My husband was making oatmeal. We called the midwife to let her know I was starting to feel the early stages of labor. 

By about 3:00 am, I said to my husband, “You have to call the midwife NOW.” She was asking him, “Ask Jill to rate between 1 and 10 the intensity of the contractions.” It was literally, “7. Okay, no 8. Okay, no 9. No, 10.” It came that quickly. I got into the shower. Then interestingly enough, there was meconium coming out of me because my baby was in the breech position so bum down. 

Julie: That way baby doesn’t get aspirated.

Jill: It’s crazy, right? That was freaky. We still had to get to the hospital because I still wasn’t having that home birth. It was very fast. That was 3:00 in the morning, then we had to rush off to the hospital. I was that woman. No seatbelt, I was holding myself up with my hands, my arms fully straight, like, “This baby’s coming!” She was coming. 

When we got into the maternity ward, the nurses welcomed me. I remember them talking to me so sweetly saying, “It’s okay, honey. You’re just having a contraction.” I’m like, “Ugh, yeah. Okay.” When they checked me, the bum and the legs were coming. They were coming. They had to get me to wait until the obstetrician came because she was breech. So they had to wait for him to come. He lived about a five minutes drive away. We had the breathing and the “look deep into my eyes”. I think everybody was a bit panicked. This was a two hour labor. It started at about 3:00, then about 5:15 in the morning, I was directed to push. I really wanted to stand up. That was my urge-- to stand up, but I did have to go on the bed. Everything was moving. Everything was coming anyways. It didn’t really make a difference. But I think for me, with my first birth, I just was like, “I don’t want to lie down.” 

She was born bum first, then legs popping out. Then you see that the body is there and the head is still the last to birth. When she was born and they placed her on my body, she was upside down. It was the feet up at my chest. So that’s the way she was born.

Meagan: That’s awesome. I didn’t realize that your first VBAC was breech.

Jill: Yeah. She was a breech baby. That was that birth. It was a healing birth for me. It was a stressful birth. The lead up to it, with it being a VBAC and with being breech-- but I could see what my body was capable of. That’s what really healed me. I was quite surprised with how quick the labor was, just the two hours, really. 

Julie: That’s super fast for a first time vaginal birth and for a breech baby. That’s super speedy, as my four year old would say. 

Jill: Yeah. But it’s funny because I think the personalities shine through. My daughter now is going to be nine and I’m like, “Of course you were born breech. Of course you were born the complete opposite way than most.” 

Julie: I agree 100 percent with that sentiment, I really do. 

Jill: She’s our cannonball. She bursts into the scene all the time. I’m like, “Well, that’s how you were born.” It makes sense. Then my son, who was the C-section, we have to drag him out everywhere. So I’m like, “Oh yeah, you wanted to stay. You were good. We had to pull you out.”

Meagan: That’s so funny how they all fit their births.

Jill: For sure. Then for my third birth, we stayed in Australia for a couple more years after that, almost three years after my daughter was born. We got transferred back to Canada, but to a completely different part of Canada. As you know, Canada is a huge country. I was then home kind of, but still a four hour plane right from my home. Still quite foreign, but the same healthcare system and things like that. I planned a home birth again for my third birth and had really amazing midwives again and very supportive and really, really loved working with VBAC moms. I think I always shock people when I tell them about my birth story of my second child. They’re like, “Hold on, what? A VBAC and a breech? Okay, wow.” Then they knew about me having a really quick labor for my second child. So they were expecting another quick labor. 

For my third birth, she completely surprised me and came ten days early. My first was seven days late. My second was six, so I thought she was going to be five days late. I don’t know, I just couldn’t think any other way, but she was ten days early. Completely different scenarios. We have two kids now, almost six and three, planning a home birth so we didn’t have anywhere to go. It was Easter Sunday. We did the Easter egg hunt in the morning. At about 10:00 in the morning I said, “I think, maybe, could you send the kids over to the neighbors to play?”

Because I thought I might like to have the kids there for the birth, but then when I got down to it, I said, “I think I need to just not have to think about that so let’s send them over to the neighbors to have some space.” 

Contractions got pretty intense at about 11:00 in the morning. I was pacing up and down in my bathroom. Again, similar to the first birth, I said, “Contractions are getting pretty intense.” I said to my husband, “You’d better call the midwife.” The midwife was like, “Well, what’s going on?” And literally, as she was on the phone, my body just couldn’t help itself and I went straight into pushing. My husband was there on the phone. 

Meagan: Wow. 

Jill: I know. He had had a shower earlier and left his towels on the floor. Which, we get so upset with our husbands for doing stuff like that, but I’m like, “Oh wow, so you left the towels on the floor,” and that was where our daughter was born, just right on those towels in the bathroom with the midwife on the phone. She was able to hear her first cry. She knew it was good. She didn’t have to call the ambulance or anything like that. She just said, “I’m going to come over as soon as I can.” She was coming from the hospital from another birth just ten minutes away. 

So she came and showed up. She was so cool. She was so calm. She was so like, “Everything is great. Everything’s fine.” She ran my bath for me. I had my daughter with me and my placenta was still attached. I still hadn’t birthed the placenta yet. She got me through that. It was just amazing. It was another very healing experience for me. Very shocking. 

Meagan: It sounds amazing though. Sounds like a lot, but amazing. 

Jill: Yeah. Unplanned, right? Not expecting that. That was a one hour labor from start to finish. 

Meagan: You have an amazing cervix. Your cervix is like, “Listen, I’m ready and when I’m ready, I mean I’m READY.” 

Jill: We’re done now. I said to my husband, “Listen, if we’re going to have another baby, it’s going to be a Walmart baby. Seriously, I won’t even make it home. I don’t want that. We’re good.”

Meagan: That is crazy. And then there’s a cervix like mine that takes days and days and days. I always told my husband that we should have another one because I want to know what my cervix would do now that it’s done it. 

Julie: We are still holding out hope that there will be another Heaton baby. 

Meagan: It’s not looking like it. 

Julie: I know, but I am still hoping. You know my plan for you. 

Meagan: Oh my gosh. So C-section, breech, VBAC, unassisted, unplanned home VBAC for your second VBAC. Holy smokes, what a ride. Well, thank you so much for sharing. 

I know we have a few more minutes. I would love to talk more about the coaching. Tell us more about what you’re learning, how people could find that or how you found that, how people can find you and all of the things. 

Julie: And how that’s different from doula support. 

Jill: I trained with the Birth Coach Method, it’s called. My teacher was called Mary Life Trauma. She was a doula for years and then trained to be a life coach. She’s merged birth support work with life coaching. It’s different from what a doula would provide because it’s not about giving information about birth, although you can if your client requests that, but it’s more about getting to her belief system about what she holds true about birth. 

You’re using coaching tools and asking really strong questions to get to planning your most optimal birth experience. Normally, a doula would offer maybe two or three prenatal visits and one or two postnatal. I’m not sure. There’s a range. 

For coaching, it would be six prenatal visits of one hour long and two postnatal. We’re really getting a full picture of where she is in her pregnancy. Things around relationships, with support systems, nutrition, health. Just getting a full picture of where she’s thriving and where there’s challenges-- ways that we can come up with establishing goals for how she can be at a 10 in a certain area as opposed to a 5. How can we get her feeling empowered? 

Also, there is a component of understanding her reality-- what sort of health conditions she has or if she has any personal issues or anything that’s getting in the way of her reaching her goals. Then you can work on finding different options to reach her goals and then, just like with life coaching, there’s always action steps. There’s always a way forward. The coach is helping the client to stay accountable to their goals. 

When you’re working with your client, most likely in the third trimester, you’re giving an action assignment and then you’re checking in with them saying, “How are you doing with XYZ?” It’s just really about empowering and inspiring the client as opposed to teaching or educating. It’s not about giving more information. It’s about pulling back the layers of yourself to see what you hold true within you.

Julie: That’s interesting. Do you attend the birth or not?

Jill: Either way. 

Meagan: Can you extend that option? Can they be like, “Okay, I really want to have you attend my birth?”

Julie: But it’s not necessarily a part of what a birth coach would do unless you’re specifically requested for that, right? Or is that what I’m understanding?

Jill: Yes. That’s it. I think it’s an interesting time right now because of COVID. Some hospitals can have doulas, some can’t. There’s so much confusion, right? So I think it’s a nice alternative at the moment to then get all the support that you need to feel ready even if the doula cannot be there to attend your birth. 

Julie: It sounds like a really valuable toolset to have even as a doula. I’ve heard it said by one of the midwives that have been on our podcast before that two prenatal visits as a doula is not enough. It’s just not enough. I usually end up spending a lot more time with my clients than the two one and a half hour prenatal visits because, especially with VBAC, there’s just so much to do. I’ve been trying really hard to know how to reconcile that. 

Anyways, I’m not going to brain dump right now on you, but it sounds like this could be a way to supplement that and help add value to what you’re bringing to the birth community and your individual clients. Maybe they don’t want a doula at their birth but they do want some help in figuring out what birth looks like and feels like to them and how to gain that confidence. It sounds really cool. 

Jill: Yeah, it is really cool. I think it’s like 20 years ago or whatever when people didn’t really know what a doula was and they’re like, “What’s a doula?” It seems like it’s that kind of way with birth support coaching. People are like, “What is that? I’ve never heard of that.” So we’re just working on trying to get the word out so people know that it’s available. It’s just in the early stages, but I’m really excited. 

Julie: That’s really cool because you could technically take clients all over the world. I just supported, informally, somebody in India last night to have her VBAC because she knew all of the doulas in her area and she didn’t feel comfortable having one of them be her doula. I was on Facebook Messenger helping her feel supported until her team got there. Maybe I’m saying too much information because it’s illegal to have a home birth in the country that she’s birthing in. I think I already said the name of the country. 

So it was a really cool experience to be able to be involved that way even though she is halfway around the world from me. It sounds like something that can be done virtually as well where you don’t necessarily even need to be in person. Is that right? I don’t know if that’s part of the program. I know there’s a specific training. 

Meagan: That’s really cool. Super, super cool. I’ll have to check that out. Awesome. 

Well, thank you so much for sharing all of your amazing stories. 


Julie: Questions! 

Meagan: Oh yes! Guess what. I always forget. We have questions for you. We asked in your submission when you submitted. I don’t know if you remember answering them, but one of them is, what is a secret lesson or something no one really talks about that you wish you would have known ahead of time when preparing for birth?

Jill: For my first birth, it’s definitely the importance of a supportive birth team. Hands down. For sure, that would be my answer. 

Meagan: Awesome. Then the other one is, what is your best tip for someone preparing for a VBAC?

Jill: My best tip is really sitting with and naming your emotions that you have about any emotional scars that you have after your C-section because I think the emotional healing is unexpected. I think it takes time. It takes quite a lot of time. Really pointing out those negative emotions, naming them, really sitting with them and being able to really talk about your birth story-- and be held and validated in all of your feelings, not rushed off by the classic, “Healthy baby. That’s the best outcome.” You know?

Megan: Definitely. I think working through all of those things prior can really help the next birth just in general to go smoother. Because for me, there was actually a lot of stuff I didn’t realize I hadn’t worked through and then I had to work through it right then in labor. It was really hard to have to backpedal a little bit to work through all of that. 

Alright, well thank you, thank you. You are just darling and we are so glad that you were with us today. 

Jill: Thank you so much. It was nice talking with you. Thank you for having me, Julie and Meagan. 


Would you like to be a guest on the podcast? Head over to and submit your story. For all things VBAC, including online and in-person VBAC classes, The VBAC Link blog, and Julie and Meagan’s bios, head over to Congratulations on starting your journey of learning and discovery with The VBAC Link.

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