With her first baby, Aubria had gestational diabetes that wasn’t diagnosed until she was 37 weeks. She ended up having a Cesarean and birthing an 11 pound, 11 ounce perfectly healthy baby girl. Aubria was determined to have a different birth outcome the second time around. She was proactive with her diet, switched providers at 38 weeks, and stayed as patient as possible even when she was approaching 42 weeks.
After six long days of prodromal labor, Aubria had a beautiful, redemptive HBAC. Aubria talks about how she trusted instincts she didn’t know she had and found healing through postpartum pelvic floor therapy.
We also discuss how imperative it is to find a provider who is an expert in your type of birth. Our discussion is based on this quote by Lauralyn Curtis:
“If there is one thing you can do right now to ensure your best birth experience, it’s this: Choose a care provider who is an expert in the type of birth you are planning...When you find the right care provider, they will understand your birth plan before you even show it to them because it’s what they already do every day.”
This episode is brought to you by Nourisher. Whether you are in the prenatal, postnatal, or nursing stage of motherhood, Nourisher bars have your nutrition covered without sacrificing flavor. Their delicious flavors include Blueberry Coconut, Chocolate Banana, Maple Walnut, Papaya Turmeric, Spirulina Ginger, and Strawberry Rosehip. Check them out at thevbaclink.com/go/nourisher.
VBAC Link Courses:
Julie: Good morning. This is The VBAC Link podcast. We have me, Julie Francom, and my co-host, Meagan Heaton-- owners of The VBAC Link podcast-- here with you today, and we are so excited because this is our 150th episode. I’m a little excited about that because I am a numbers girl. I just spent a long time updating all of our podcast episode numbers this past weekend so that they would match because we changed how we number episodes about 70 episodes in. I’ve been going through and making everything consistent.
To have our 150th episode feels so surreal. It feels like yesterday that I was talking to Meagan, and I’m like, “Hey, we should start a podcast. It’s not going to be hard at all. I’m going to do a test recording to try it and see. It’s going to take no time, and it will be so easy.”
She’s like, “Okay, but I think you’re crazy, and I think you’re underestimating how much time it’s going to take, but I’m totally in.”
I’m like, “Let’s do this.”
We did a quick test run and uploaded it to a podcast hosting service, and I’m like, “See? That took me less than an hour.”
Now that we’re doing full-blown episodes, it’s a lot more time-consuming than I had expected it to be, but what a journey. Meagan, what a journey. 150 episodes. Can you believe it?
Meagan: I know. It’s been super fun. I’m excited.
Julie: I’m excited too. But do you know what I’m even more excited about?
Meagan: My review of the week? Because it’s a good one.
Julie: No, but that too. I’m excited that we have Aubria with us. We met Aubria at The VBAC Link’s first birthday party over a year ago and her mother-in-law. Her mother-in-law is so awesome. She was there, and she has been doulaing Aubria, all of her children, and children-in-law. She’s just a really incredible person.
Meagan: She really is.
Julie: Aubria and Lenna are really incredible people. I didn’t even realize that Aubria was going to be our 150th episode until this very moment. I’m really excited. We should do something to celebrate. I don’t know what we should do. I’m going to order cookies.
Meagan: Okay, you can order cookies.
Julie: I’m going to order cookies to celebrate.
Review of the Week
Julie: Anyways, the second thing I’m excited about is Meagan reading a super awesome review of the week for us.
Meagan: It’s really sweet. It’s a long one, so we’ll see if I can do it without stuttering.
Julie: Oh, I have confidence. You can do it pretty well.
Meagan: I am not that great at reading. It’s like my brain goes ahead of my mind or my eyes or something. This is from Apple Podcasts. If you have Apple Podcasts, please do us an awesome favor. Pause this episode right now. Head over there and leave us a review. We would love it. If you don’t have Apple Podcasts, that’s okay. You can find us on Facebook or Google. We would love to read your reviews on the next podcast.
This one is from erind39. Her topic is “Essential resource for any woman hoping for a VBAC!” She says, “I started listening to this podcast during my first trimester, in the very beginning phases of planning my VBAC. I was immediately hooked and binged all of the episodes. These amazing women gave me the confidence to find a supportive provider and reject my local hospital that has a VBAC ban. I felt so prepared for every barrier that I encountered because of Julie and Meagan. I felt empowered by the stories, facts, statistics, and mantras shared. Listening to these empowering stories made me confident in my ability to have the birth I hoped for. I am so happy to say that I was able to have my successful VBAC, and I feel that my ‘car doulas’ (where I always listened) were an integral part of my success. Thank you so much!!”
Meagan: We’re car doulas, Julie!
Julie: I really like that title.
Meagan: I love that. Thank you so much, erind39.
Julie: Do you know what? Something else about reviews that people might not know is that when you leave us a review on Apple Podcasts-- or you can “like” and “favorite” us on Spotify. I think Google Podcasts is revamping its system now for reviews. But when you do that, even if you drop a five-star review and don’t even make any comments on it, it lets Apple Podcasts know that what we’re doing is helpful for people. In turn, it makes it easier for people to find us and for us to help more people as they prepare for their births.
So, if this has made a very big impact on you as you prepare for your own birth or if it’s helped educate you as a birth worker, then doing something so simple as going to Google, Facebook, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to podcasts and can leave a review-- dropping that review helps broaden our reach. As Meagan said, if you can pause the podcast right now, go drop us a quick review. We would appreciate you from the very bottom of our hearts.
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Julie: Alright, Aubria. We absolutely love her story. We were both little teeny parts of it as her mother-in-law supporting her from far away and updating us. I’m not going to tell her whole story because there are a lot of really, really fun details. Aubria has two boys. She has grown up in Utah and Texas, but currently, she lives pretty close to us. She lives between us, actually. We’re really excited to hear your story. So Aubria, why don’t you go ahead and share your birth stories with us.
Aubria: Okay, awesome. I’m super excited to be here. Thank you for letting me share my story. My little boy, Calvin, is now one year old, and he is my VBAC baby. I can’t believe it’s been a year already. He’s a year. A few weeks ago, he turned a year. It’s so crazy.
With his pregnancy, because of the trauma that happened with my C-section, I decided to do a low-carb diet. With my first baby, my little Rory, we had gestational diabetes. It was not discovered until I was 37 weeks and super swollen and big. He was super swollen and big. We thought there was a problem, so that’s why I had my C-section. They thought it was an emergency-- that he had a condition called hydrops-- which could cause heart failure if he goes through the birth canal. He didn’t end up having that, but he did turn out to be really big. He was 11 pounds, 11 ounces when he was born.
Julie: Whoa. That’s a big baby.
Aubria: Yeah. He was really big. I had gained about 80-90 pounds during his pregnancy. No one caught it. None of the medical professionals went, “Hey, you’re gaining weight.” I had no idea I had it; then, at 37 weeks, they were like, “Oh. We’ve got to check that baby out.” It was pretty traumatic and really last minute.
I had already done so much work. I had gone to HypnoBirthing classes, talked to my mother-in-law, who is a doula, and my mom, who had seven kids. I was so ready to have a natural birth and have it all amazing. It all went out the window, out the door in five minutes. That was pretty crazy. It was so wild. With Calvin, I was really determined to keep my weight down, his weight down, keep my sugars good, and I was low carb.
As I did that and was working with that, I heard about all of the negative things about what could happen with a VBAC. I was super getting nervous, and then my mother-in-law found The VBAC Link. I got to meet Julie and Meagan. It was so cool because their course was amazing. It taught her. It taught me. She bought the doula one. I bought the parents. It taught my husband. It helped us gain the confidence to talk to our provider and see if he was actually VBAC friendly and talk to our hospital. These guys really know their stuff.
As I was asking my doctor these questions about, “Hey, are you VBAC friendly? Will you let me do a VBAC? What’s your VBAC rate?” He was like, “Yeah. I let VBACs happen and all these things.” Then as my pregnancy progressed farther and farther, he started saying, “Well, I don’t know about VBACs. I don’t know if I can support you in this. I really want to.” He’s a really friendly guy, and he’s a really good doctor. I got out of him eventually, with the questions I learned to ask from Julie and Meagan, that he cannot induce me because if something happens if he does that like if I was to have a uterine rupture, he would not be able to be covered by his insurance if something happened to me.
Julie: What?! That exists still?
Aubria: Yeah. He’s a family doctor and an OBGYN.
Julie: Interesting. Offline I’m going to have to find out who this is. I think I might have an idea, but I just want to confirm.
Aubria: That’s not exactly what he said. He kind of said that, but he was like, “I won’t be covered if something happened to you.” I was like, “Oh, wow.” So he was like, “I cannot induce you.” But he was willing to let me go to 42 weeks, which was amazing because a lot of doctors don’t do that. So he was willing to let me go to 42 weeks, but he wouldn’t induce me, and my mom takes three days to labor on her own without Pitocin. So I was like, “Well, if I take after her, then I’m doomed.”
It was really last minute. I was 38 weeks, and I called our family-friend midwife. I was like, “Hey, will you do my birth for me?” I would do it at my mother-in-law’s house because that’s where we were living. And she’s like, “Yes. I’d love to!” I was like, “Really?” Because she’s still certified, but she doesn’t practice with many people anymore. The fact that she was doing it for me was a really big deal.
At 38 weeks, I switched providers. I didn’t tell my doctor because I really liked to keep my options open because I didn’t know what would happen. I didn’t tell him. I just got a midwife and went to both of them for check-ups until I went into labor. If something happened, I would have the hospital for an emergency, and if not, I was going to have my baby at home.
Then I hit 40 weeks. I was having tightening and cramps. I was like, “Yeah! My body is working. It’s going to happen.” A few weeks later, nothing happened. My due date was August 9th. That came and went with nothing. Then on August 15th-- so I’m 41 weeks at this point-- I wake up at 1:00 a.m., and I actually have really hard, steady contractions that are a few minutes apart. I’m like, “I think this is it. This is awesome.”
I waited until 5:00 a.m., and they didn’t stop. I’m like, “I’ve got to get my whole team together.” My mother-in-law was out of town, and she’s my doula. She was out of town, helping my sister-in-law. So I call my mom because she’s also helped with birth, but she’s not certified. I call my midwife. My husband-- I wake him up. My father-in-law gets his room ready because that’s where I was going to have the baby. They set up the pool, and nothing happens.
At 9:00 on the dot, my contractions stopped. I was so confused. I had my midwife check me. I was 90% effaced. I was dilated to a 6, but then it stayed there. We tried everything to naturally induce. We tried sex. We tried the membrane sweep. We tried walking, being in different positions, getting the baby into a different position. We tried a few different Spinning Babies moves because we figured he might be twisted a little. We tried blue and black cohosh, which is an herbal medicine, under my tongue.
We tried mental and emotional fear releases. Julie can vouch for that because I was three days in, and I was like, “Julie, nothing’s happening.” She was like, “Make sure you do this emotional release and fear release. I’m sending good vibes out for you.”
I was living with in-laws at the time, and there felt like there was to be some tension, so we talked to everyone in the house and found out they were really supportive of me. That helped. We tried our birth prep supplement. We tried nipple stimulation. We tried pumping. This was for days. Nothing helped. But every day, at 1:00 a.m., I’d start my contractions, and then they’d stop at 9:00 a.m. every day. I’d have 18-hour rests. I’d be able to sleep in between, which was really nice.
But other than that, nothing helped. I just had to wait. I was so determined to wait and let my body do what it needed to. It was really hard, but it was good, and most people came to me and were like, “You are the queen of patience. How do you do it?” I’m like, “I am determined to let my body do it. I am not going in for another C-section because I know my body can do it.”
By day three or day four, I was super discouraged. I’m texting Julie, and I’m like, “Hey. Do you know of any people in our area that will induce a mom at 42 weeks?” She actually connected me to a doctor. I got his number, and they gave me an appointment. I didn’t actually have to go in. My appointment was set for my 42-week mark, and the day before that, August 20th, I had my baby.
It felt pretty much the same as any of the other days. This was my sixth day of prodromal labor. It did feel a little different. My contractions were a little stronger, but they were not much closer together. But my labor kept going after 9:00 a.m., and it was getting more intense. Then it was getting closer and closer together. I got to a 9, and I was so excited. I stayed at a 9 for a few hours. My midwife kept checking me. She realized I had this cervical flap, which is where the baby’s head is trying to open it up all the way, and it can’t quite get there. She had to reach in and help me dilate to a 10 so that the baby could come through.
I loved being in the birthing tub. It was my favorite. I sat in the tub and breathed in my breathing, and was relaxing. Around 2:00, he was finally in a good position that I could start pushing. I thought because I had labored like my mom, I’d be like my mom. Once she was ready to push, the baby’s head was pretty much out. I was like, “That’s totally going to be me. I’m only going to do one push, and the baby’s going to come out.” That’s not what happened.
I was pretty tight, even though the baby’s head was through. The baby’s head was coming. It was going down and hitting the cervix. It was really hard for me to push. I am sitting in the tub, and my midwife’s trying to tell me to push. At this point, they have my mother-in-law, who is a doula, on a video call, and she’s telling me that I’m doing a good job. I’m breathing. I think I was pushing for about an hour or two, which I know is short for some women. But for me, it was long because there had been six days of labor before that. I was super worried because I was like, “What if he won’t fit? What if he’s big like his brother?” And I had this final panic attack thinking, “Oh no. What if it’s not going to work, and I’m going to have to go to the hospital?”
My midwife-- she instinctively said, “He is in the birth canal, and he can’t stay there for much longer. You need to push harder.” I was like, “I’m going to rip. I know I’m going to tear. I’m going to tear. I’m going to tear. It hurts.” Because I was feeling a pain every time, I would push. I was feeling pain on the sides. I’m like, “I’m going to tear if I push.” She was like, “I know. But you need to push.”
So I was like, “Okay. That’s it. I’m getting this baby out.” I’d push as hard as I can, and he came out. I was so floored that I had done it.
Sorry. I’m really emotional. I was so floored that I had done it and that my body did it, and that he did it. We did it together. I was sitting there holding him in the tub, and my husband was behind me. He had helped me the whole way. It was so strange because I was holding him and he was covered in vernix. I was almost two weeks late, or two weeks past my due date. I was like, “Wow. Maybe he was early. What if my due date was totally off?” We’re rubbing him down. I’m holding him. Later, my placenta was delivered just fine. My husband kind of freaked out. After the placenta came, a ton of blood came, and he was like, “What?!” But I was fine. I probably lost quite a bit of blood, but it wasn’t very bad.
I was holding him and rubbing him down. He was this perfect little ball of butter because that’s what the vernix looked like. As my midwife was checking my placenta and checking him, she was like, “No, he actually was late.” He was showing more mature signs of being able to bend in ways that early babies shouldn’t. He had lines on his wrists and hands that he shouldn’t have had if he was early. My placenta started looking pitted. So it was late. He was just covered in lots of protection. I thought that it was pretty cool that my body did that.
He turned out to be 8 pounds and 8 ounces. He was much smaller than my 11,11 baby. When I was born, I was 7,7. I guess I go for the double numbers. Isn’t that funny? After that, I was just holding my baby. I actually got to breastfeed him, which with my first one, I couldn’t. It was very healing for me, all the things that I got to do with my second that I didn’t get to do with my first. I did wind up tearing, but it was just a first-degree tear.
Meagan: That’s not bad.
Aubria: Yeah, it wasn’t bad at all. She didn’t have any numbing, though, and she had to stitch me up right then. I was just holding my baby like, “Any pain is fine!” I healed very well, and he grew very well.
But then I guess I have time to tell this part. As I healed and got better, I learned that just because you had a VBAC doesn’t mean you don’t have healing to do. Even though I only had a first-degree tear, I healed so tightly that I felt I was in more pain than I was before marriage. I couldn’t have intercourse without pain. I was like, “Maybe it’s just too short to tell if I’m really healed or not.” Then six months later, I’m like, “I should be better by now.” I found out eight weeks later; I should have gone and gotten help. Don’t wait six months, like me.
I contacted Julie and Meagan again, and I was like, “Who was that pelvic floor specialist you guys talked about? I really need to talk to her.” I went to a different OB that was more specialized, and he was like, “I don’t know what to say. Just do all these exercises, and we’ll see what happens.” I’m like, “That doesn’t sound right.”
So I went to see Valerie Schwalbe. She’s amazing. She has a new physical therapist at her office named Katelyn, and they’re both awesome. They helped me relax and get stretched, and do proper exercises for my body. Now, I’m in no pain at all. So that’s what I did.
Julie: Plug-in for pelvic floor specialists!
Aubria: It’s so true. They are amazing. She’s helping me figure out things that I’ve had for years, like back problems that I didn’t connect to the pelvic floor. It’s been so cool. She helped me heal and stretch out my scar.
Overall, I was very empowered, and I learned a lot. I listened to my instincts that I didn’t know I had. My body was able to do it, and I got the VBAC that I wanted.
Julie: I love it. I love that story so much.
Meagan: I’m so proud of you.
Julie: That’s hard to go through so much labor. Whenever someone asks how long my labors were, I’m like,” My first one was a day. My second was 23 hours, but maybe 12 hours. My third was 15 hours. Then my fourth was 24 days.” Because prodromal labor, right? Every night, just like you.
Every night, after dinner, as the kids were getting settled into bed, I would start contractions. They would be regular. I would get in the tub. They would keep going. I would get out of the tub. I’d go to bed. Then around midnight or so, they would fizzle out. Every night for 24 days. And it wasn’t a positional issue. Usually, prodromal labor is positional, hydration, we’re thinking nutrition-- things like that typically help tone prodromal labor down. I was seeing a chiropractor. I was drinking plenty of water and taking regular magnesium Epsom salt baths.
Aubria: Oh yeah, and I did chiropractic too.
Julie: By the time I realized it was really labor, my labor was only four hours long. But if you count the prodromal labor leading up to that, it was maybe 11 hours long. But if you count all of the prodromal labor, then it was 24 days. I just don’t know.
Aubria: I don’t know how to count it either. I thought it was real labor, but maybe it wasn’t.
Julie: I don’t know. She’s here, and that’s what matters.
Julie: I have been writing a very, very, very, very long blog. A very, very, very long blog. It’s actually published right now. It’s actually called VBAC Stories. It’s on our blog. It’s longer summaries of some of our favorite podcast episodes. It’s taken me quite some time to, first of all, choose the episodes and second of all, remember enough details to write them out, then align and link everything, getting all of the images ready-- it’s been very, very time-consuming.
Along my way, I found this quote that popped into my head while you were telling your story. We’re going to talk about providers that are experts in the type of birth that you want. This quote is actually by Lauralyn Curtis, who is a local HypnoBirthing instructor. She created her own method of HypnoBirthing called The Curtis Method. She’s a pretty powerful force in our community here. I found this quote from her. One day I’m going to make it a social media post or maybe even write a blog about it. It’s very, very inspiring. It speaks exactly to what Meagan and I have said about finding a provider that is good at VBACs, that likes VBACs, and that does VBACs a lot.
I’m going to go ahead and read the quote because she says it better than Meagan and I have ever said it. This is what the quote is.
She says, “If there is one thing you can do right now to ensure your best birth experience, it’s this: Choose a care provider who is an expert in the type of birth you are planning. If you’re planning a safe, skilled Cesarean birth, you should hire someone who is an expert at Cesarean sections. You wouldn’t hire a doctor to perform that procedure who said, ‘Well, actually I’m not really comfortable with that type of birth, but I’ll let you do it if you want, I suppose.’
“But if you’re planning a safe, natural, unmedicated birth, you should hire someone who is an expert at supporting natural birth. A doctor with a 30% C-section rate is not a natural birth expert. Neither is a doctor who does routine episiotomies or doesn’t understand how to catch a baby unless mom is lying on her back. A doctor who says, ‘Well, most of my patients do end up getting an epidural. But if you want to go natural, you can do that,’ is not an expert in an unmedicated birth. When you find the right care provider, they will understand your birth plan before you even show it to them because it’s what they already do every day.”
Goosebumps, right? I have goosebumps. It’s impactful-- that statement by Lauralyn. This is going to be somewhere on our social media sometimes because of how powerful it is. You could replace the word unmedicated with VBAC or with out-of-hospital birth because, again, as I was writing this long, forever blog, I’ve stumbled across a lot of really cool things.
One of them was about home birth. A lot of OBGYNs in hospitals don’t support home birth. They don’t know how to support home birth, so they think it’s bad. They think it’s dangerous, and they think it’s not safe.
So if you want to find out about home birth, don’t talk to an OBGYN who isn’t skilled in home birth. You would talk to a home birth midwife who is trained, skilled, and prepared in home birth and to handle all of the unknowns that come up when you’re in a home birth location. Just like you wouldn’t ask a midwife about how to birth in a hospital or what hospital birth is like.
It’s really interesting because, on our Instagram page a few days back, Meagan had written a blog about VBACing with an epidural. There was a person who said she was a midwife, still yet to be determined whether that’s accurate or not, but the midwife said that getting an epidural is a selfish decision, and if you cared about your baby, you wouldn’t get an epidural.
First of all, that statement’s completely false because there are so many other things that go into deciding whether to get an epidural or not. There are risks and benefits to everything. It really made me sad because how would she know? She’s an out-of-hospital midwife. She’s not an expert in epidurals. She doesn’t see them or do them every day. So how can she make a blanket statement like that applying to every single person who has ever had an epidural?
It’s the same thing vice versa with in-hospital providers. What is that saying? “You don’t go to a brickmaker for advice about diamonds” because they don’t know about diamonds. They make bricks. They don’t make diamonds. Well, I guess that would make sense. I mean, I guess you can make diamonds. But, you don’t go to a brickmaker to ask for diamond advice.
So don’t go to a hospital midwife to ask about home birth advice. Don’t go to a provider that has a high Cesarean rate and ask them about VBAC. You need to find a provider who is an expert in your type of birth.
It’s the same thing with doulas. It’s really funny. I think Meagan and I may have talked about this at times. I’ve talked about it with a few other doulas. When I have a client that wants an unmedicated VBAC, I already know all of the things that they’re going to want. I already know all of the things that are going to be important to them because that’s the type of clientele that I always support. If you want a natural birth, if you want an unmedicated hospital birth, I know already exactly what your plans are. I know what you’re going to face based on what hospital you choose. If you want a home birth, we already know what your preferences are because they’re very, very similar for people wanting that particular type of birth. Right, Meagan? It’s all pretty much the same.
Julie: Hire your provider that feels like that, that knows you are going to want that immediate skin-to-skin because it’s so important to you because you lost it last time when your baby was taken from you by Cesarean. We know that you want to breastfeed right away. We know that even if you want a Cesarean, you want things to be different. You want to feel like you’re in control, and you want to make choices. We already know that you want to go as long as possible without getting the epidural if you don’t want to go unmedicated. We already know all of those things because we do and support those things all of the time.
That’s my tangent about expert providers. As you VBAC, hire a provider that is an expert in VBACs because they do them all of the time. Don’t go to a provider who’s known as “the quilter” because of his expert stitching skill in the operating room. I mean, hypothetically.
Meagan: Hire a provider that you trust wants the same thing that you want for your birth. They want what you want, and they want to help you in every way.
Julie: Agree, 100% obviously. Aubria, it was so fun to listen to you tell the story because while we were communicating in it, I don’t think I’ve ever heard the whole thing. It was really fun. We always love having people that we know on the podcast as well. Your picture is beautiful.
If you guys want to know more about finding a VBAC supportive provider, head on over to our blog, thevbaclink.com/blog, and in the search bar, type 3 Things You NEED to Know About Your VBAC Provider, and the blog will pop right up for you. If not, you can find it in our show notes. We’ll have a link right there to it.
If you want to know exactly what Aubria is talking about in our parent and doula courses, we’re going to have links to those courses in the show notes as well. You can check them out. They’re also on our page at thevbaclink.com under the tab called “Courses.” Head on over to our Instagram page and our Facebook pages today. Find Aubria’s post and tell us what your favorite part about her story was, and look at this gorgeous picture of her holding her VBAC baby. It’s a really, really cool picture.
Would you like to be a guest on the podcast? Head over to thevbaclink.com/share 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 thevbaclink.com. Congratulations on starting your journey of learning and discovery with The VBAC Link.