December 9, 2020

154 Bec’s VBAC + Evidence on Due Dates

Meet Bec from Sydney, Australia! 

 

Though her first birth was very much dictated to her by hospital policies and unsupportive providers, Bec fought and researched relentlessly to make sure she was involved in every.single.decision. during her next birth. When hospital VBAC policies and outside opinions tried to prevail, Bec stayed steady and determined. 

 

She built a birth dream team, and at the center of that team was the most important member of all—her baby. 

 

Bec describes her journey from feeling inferior, inadequate, and controlled to becoming informed, empowered, and respected in every way. Her hard work paid off beautifully and she finally got the birth of her dreams. 

 

We also discuss the most up-to-date evidence on due dates. Why do so many providers refuse to allow a VBAC past 39 weeks? Why do so many providers refuse to induce for a VBAC?

 

The most important piece of information that we want you to have during your search for a VBAC supportive provider is this:

 

There is no evidence to support the hard-stop deadline of giving birth at 39 weeks or 40 weeks for a VBAC.

 

Do not let an unsupportive provider dictate your birth. Keep fighting for that birth of your dreams, Women of Strength. You can do this!

 

Additional links

Evidence on: Inducing for Due Dates

VBAC After 40 Weeks: Is it Safe to Go Past Your Due Date?

How to VBAC: The Ultimate Preparation Course for Parents

 

Episode sponsor

This episode is sponsored by our signature course, How to VBAC: The Ultimate Preparation Course for Parents. It is the most comprehensive VBAC preparation course in the world, perfectly packaged in an online, self-paced, video course. Together, Meagan and Julie have helped over 800 parents get the birth that they wanted and we are ready to help you too. Head over to thevbaclink.com to find out more and sign up today.

 

Full transcript

Julie: Good morning, Women of Strength. It is Wednesday, December 9th and it is a very special day for our guest today. It is her VBAC baby’s birthday, which is so exciting because-- I sent it out in an email a little while ago and I think we’ve talked about it a little bit before on the podcast, but Meagan gives me such a hard time. Not a hard time. She just teases me, or giggles, or whatever, because it always seems like whenever we air the podcast, the date has a special meaning.

 

Meagan: It’s without fail. It has never not happened when you are like, “Your episode will be airing on this day,” and they’re like, “Oh my gosh, it’s my anniversary!” “Oh my gosh, that’s my child’s birthday!”

 

Julie: “That’s my mother-in-law‘s birthday!”

 

Meagan: Yeah. It’s so funny how it happens.

 

Julie: So, Happy Birthday to VBAC baby. We’ll wait and let you decide if you want to share her name or not, but something even more exciting about our guest today is she is from Sydney, Australia. 

 

We were chatting a little bit before the show and it’s been my dream since I was a kid, ever since I could learn to say the word “Australia”, it’s been my dream to go there. When I was growing up, I always dreamed I’d marry someone from Australia, so I could listen to their dreamy accent all day telling me that they love me. I had this huge fantasy and then I married Nick from Sandy, Utah. Don’t get me wrong. Nick has many, many, many other strengths, but he does not have an Australian accent. 

 

So, I’m really excited to talk to Bec today. Bec is really, really just an amazing person. She lives in Sydney. She’s married to her husband, Phil. She works in PR for a motoring organization. Wait, what? Motoring?

 

Bec: Yeah. I think in America, you guys have the AA. It’s sort of the equivalent over here. Not Alcoholics Anonymous, the Automobile Association.

 

Julie: Oh, the AAA.

 

Bec: AAA. There we go.

 

Julie: Lost in translation, clear over my head. Alright. She has a hobby sewing business and makes baby stuff, like bibs and nappy wallets. She loves the beach and beers with her neighbors, “on the front steps of our homes while playing with the kids.” 

 

And that sounds amazing. Except for me, instead of beer, it would be Red Bull or Pepsi.

 

Meagan: Yeah, I was going to say, Pepsi.

 

Review of the week

 

Julie: We are so excited to hear Bec’s story. But first, Meagan has a review of the week for us.

 

Meagan: Yes, I do. This is just a short and sweet one, but I love it. It is from Apple Podcasts and it’s from snrrrrr. Her title is, “Obsessed.”

 

It says, “Thank you for bringing facts to my ears as I prepare for my VBAC. I love hearing all the stories from my fellow women of strength. I feel so inspired and encouraged.”

 

I just love that. It’s short, sweet, and powerful. These types of reviews, as you all know, Julie and I just love. We love hearing your reviews. We love hearing what you think about it and we would love for you to tell us what you think about it, so head over to Apple Podcasts, Facebook, Google, wherever you listen to your podcast, or wherever find us, which is everywhere, and leave us a review. We would love to read it on the podcast.

 

Episode sponsor

 

Julie: Do you want a VBAC but don’t know where to start? It’s easy to feel like we need to figure it all out on our own. That’s what we used to do and it was the loneliest and most ineffective thing we have ever done. That’s why Meagan and I created our signature course, How to VBAC: The Ultimate Preparation Course for Parents, that you can find at thevbaclink.com. It is the most comprehensive VBAC preparation course in the world, perfectly packaged in an online, self-paced, video course. 

 

Together, Meagan and I have helped over 800 parents get the birth that they wanted and we are ready to help you too. Head on over to thevbaclink.com to find out more and sign up today. That’s thevbaclink.com. See you there. 

 

Bec’s story

 

Julie: Alright. I am so excited for today. Bec deserves a special shout out because she is in Australia and in Utah, where we’re recording, it’s 9:30 in the morning, but in Australia, it’s 2:30 in the morning.

 

Meagan: We’re nice and fresh.

 

Julie: She literally woke up at 2:30 in the morning to come and record this session with us. I was just saying, nothing gets me out of bed at 2:30 in the morning, unless I’m getting called to a birth.

 

Meagan: That’s dedication.

 

Julie: My kids, no. My husband deals with the kids at 2:30 in the morning. Like, nothing. Earthquake-- I will stay in my house and let the ceiling fall on my head. Nothing gets me out of bed at 2:30 in the morning. So I was saying, she must really love us if she gets up so early to share her story with us.

 

I’m really, really excited. We’re going to talk after her story about due dates because she went to almost 42 weeks with her VBAC. I know that a lot of people have pressure from their providers to induce even before 40 weeks or to just schedule a Cesarean. We’re going to talk about that a little bit at the end.

 

But before we do, we are going to have Bec share her incredible story, and just sit here and swoon over her really fun Australian accent.

 

Meagan: I know. It’s so beautiful.

 

Bec: The pressure’s on. I feel like I should be a Hemsworth talking to you if you want the sweet nothings.

 

Julie: No, it’s beautiful. Well, we’ll channel our inner Thor vibes while we’re listening to you, but yes. You’re great.

 

Bec: Oh, very funny. So I guess I’ll start with my first birth. Jack was a breech baby. I found out he was breech at about 34 weeks. Everything had been quite smooth sailing up until that point. 

 

I’m somebody who, as soon as I find out something’s going my way, I throw myself into the research. We joked that by the end of this pregnancy, I could have nearly been a breech expert. I could’ve stood up and given a lecture on the breech term trial papers, everything about the system, and why the system wants us to have a Cesarean for breech babies-- which is kind of bitterly ironic because he was a Cesarean. 

 

I had three unsuccessful ECVs. I did handstands in the pool. I had all the smelly stuff that you’re supposed to do. I did absolutely everything I could possibly do to try to turn him. But he was, and still is-- he’s 3 1/2 now-- very stubborn, and wanted to stay wedged in my pelvis with his bum down.

 

My labor started pretty much on his due date and I went about a day. I went for a walk. I tried to move through contractions. It was a really uncomfortable day, but it was really manageable. That was on a Monday night. Tuesday was that manageable day. 

 

By 6:00 p.m. on the Tuesday night, my midwife said, “Okay, I think it’s time to come into hospital. We’re just going to monitor you.” I thought, “Okay, no worries. That’s what you do.” I now know that I should’ve just stayed at home for a bit longer.

 

As soon as I was strapped to the bed, I felt like that was it. I wasn’t allowed to move. I had a particularly-- I don’t know how to put it politely, but a midwife on shift whose vibe just didn’t work with me. Every time I moved and tried to move through a contraction, she would say, “Get back on the bed. The monitors are going to fall off. What do you think you’re doing?” So, if the monitors did fall off, obviously, then the doctors would come in, “What’s wrong? What’s wrong?”

 

The silly thing was, everything was fine on the monitors. The baby was fine. I was fine. I just needed to move like a woman does in labor through those contractions to get everything going, but I felt like a caged animal. I was just being pushed back and trapped. I couldn’t do all of that. I remember saying to her, “This is just so hard. This is so hard,” after a contraction and she said, “Yeah. Well, you chose to do this.” 

 

Words like that to a laboring woman who needs to feel very safe-- you know, for that labor to progress. No wonder it wasn’t progressing.

 

Meagan: Well, and feeling trapped and confined like you were. That is not going to bring a relaxed cervix. Like, a relaxed body to let the cervix open. Comments like that only makes it worse.

 

Bec: Exactly. I felt like a naughty, little schoolgirl. I felt like it was this flashback to sitting outside the principal’s office.

 

Julie: That’s so funny.

 

Bec: All I was trying to do was have my baby my way. My body was trying to do that, but I had these external forces pushing me, telling me, “No, no, no.”

You shouldn’t be doing what my body was trying to do. Which was really unnatural.

 

That was a long night. I remember my husband sleeping on the floor. I went to turn the music down and then I thought, “Wait, hang on. I am the one in labor here. Why am I turning the music down to make him comfortable?”

 

By about 4:00 or 5:00 a.m., I said to the midwife, “Look. Can you just give me some guidance or direction? What’s happening here?” And she gave me the most excruciating internal in the middle of a contraction and I thought, “Oh gosh, you cruel woman.” She said, “You’re not even in labor. You’re not even in labor. You’re about 4 centimeters. That’s not labor.”

 

Julie: Oh my gosh. How defeating. I would feel like Meagan said, “Cervix closed.”

 

Bec: Exactly. Exactly, and I just felt like I totally failed. I’m like, “Wow. I’ve been through all of this. It’s now been more than 24 hours and you’re telling me I’m not even in labor.” I just felt sort of stupid that I had been there and if that wasn’t labor, what was the labor? But I now know, I was in labor.

 

By the time the day started and the obstetrician came in-- who is the head of department who I was seeing. I was under the care of the midwives, but if anything sort of falls out of the norm, they bring in one of the obstetricians. This particular obstetrician is a really big vaginal breech birth fan. He even speaks at international conferences. He’s amazing. He’s Mr. Breech Birth, but because he was being given the information from that particular midwife-- and I don’t really know what that information was. I’d love to know. 

 

I’d love to go back and get her out of the room, but I didn’t know you could say, “I don’t want you.” I felt like it was all being dictated to me, which is really sad looking back. So he came in and said, “Look. I’m going to recommend a Cesarean. How do you feel about that?”

 

I burst into tears. My husband burst into tears. He knew that my number one fear of anything happening in birth was a Cesarean. I wasn’t scared of dying, but I was scared of Cesarean, which is the gravity of the fear I had for that because I was just so determined that this was not going to be a Cesarean.

 

I was wheeled into the theater absolutely bawling and when I was lying there, they checked me and they said, the obstetrician said, “Oh wow, good. You’ve made it to about 6 centimeters. Well done, that’s really good.” And so I thought, again, I felt like it was the principal said that I did a good job. It was that whole sort of-- they were telling me how I was going with it, which played on me a little bit later on. 

 

Anyway, so Jack was born. I specifically said to one of my midwives in an appointment, “I want to find out the gender first,” but nothing was written down. I said that I wanted immediate skin-to-skin, but that wasn’t written down.

 

When they pulled him out, a random voice said, “Here he comes. It’s a boy!” I thought, “Oh, that’s not my husband‘s voice.” But anyway, then a little baby was sort of-- a crying baby was shown to me and then taken away. I remember lying there feeling like, “Oh my god, all of this is happening to me. There’s a baby in this room. It just is a baby.”

 

There was no connect that that was my baby. They wiped him down, wrapped him up, and brought him over to me. I remember holding him and shaking so much from all the drugs, which a lot of people do, but just feeling a real disconnect like they just handed me a baby. I didn’t really have that immediate rush, and that bond, and everything that— I think a lot of unplanned Cesarean moms probably feel that way.

 

Julie: Yeah, I felt like that too. A lot of my clients do. The most important thing is just getting to hold their baby right away, first thing.

 

Bec: Yeah. But I wanted that slimy skin-to-skin. I wanted my baby on me, with me. As soon as they took him away, wiped him down, and started doing all the weighs and checks and measurements, that was taken away from me. You can never give a woman that back. It’s gone. To some women that’s fine, they don’t really want that, or it doesn’t matter. But for me, it was something that I really yearned for. I told them that. And it was still taken away from me. That was hard for me to get over for the years afterward, always reliving that baby over in the corner of the room.

 

Anyway, we had a beautiful, very healthy baby boy. Because he was breech, I had to get his hips tested at about six weeks. I took him back to the hospital and actually ran into the supervising obstetrician in a corridor and I said, “Hi. I’ve been thinking, remember in theater, you said I was about 6 centimeters? If you knew that before you gave me the spinal, would you have let me continue to labor?” And he said, “You know, we probably would have.”

 

Julie: Oh my goodness.

 

Bec: And I felt like-- yeah. I felt like my world just fell out from under me. He must have seen the look on my face and he said, “But you were very exhausted.” To try and make up for what had happened. So I lived with that for a few more years, trying to understand that, feeling so much resentment and a massive lack of control over what had happened to me.

 

I was determined to have a VBAC the next time. I did end up bonding very beautifully with Jack. We had a lovely breastfeeding journey. Everything‘s been wonderful.

 

By the time the second pregnancy came around, I was just so determined. I had started my chiro appointments really early to make sure my pelvis was in great shape, to make sure positioning would be good, to try and avoid having another breech baby if we could.

 

I practiced all of my HypnoBirthing breathing from the start of the pregnancy. I did a lot of yoga and Spinning Babies® exercises, meditation— I just tried to do everything to get myself in the right position and mindset for a really good, smooth pregnancy and to have a successful VBAC.

 

I found my hospital’s VBAC policy, staff procedures, and guidelines online. I went through all of this paperwork with a fine-tooth comb. My approach to this birth was that these are the recommendations, and I have the choice to make informed decisions based on these recommendations. I am the customer in the hospital. It’s not something that’s going to be dictated to me this time and I was very, very determined.

 

In the policy and guidelines for the hospital-- I did hire a doula, and she laughed because I printed it out and I wrote next to almost every single line, “No thanks. No thanks. Not for me.”

 

I went to the Evidence-Based Birth® website and that was such a good resource for me. I found an answer to almost every one of those guidelines that worked for me. That helped me write out my birth preferences. I took those back to that obstetrician and it took three rounds of edits before he and I were both happy with what was to be the final birth plan. He said to me, “Look, I’m okay with all of this. It’s my hypervigilant colleagues who won’t be, and I don’t know who’s going to be on shift when you come in.”

 

Julie: Oh my gosh.

 

Bec: I really respected that. I respected that he was on my side and that he was being honest about the system, but it also made me angry, because why should it take a really bad birth to become so aware, that you have to be so educated to fight the system to get what you deserve? Every woman deserves the birth that is right for them. 

 

You shouldn’t have to have a bad birth to have a good birth.

 

Julie: Yes. Exactly. I agree, 100%.

 

Bec: Yeah. It makes me so sad that there are so many women-- you stand at the playground and every mom in the playground says, “Oh, my birth was this,” or they’ve got negative stories. You might find a very rare mom who says, “My first birth was amazing.” 

 

It’s because we have to go through the system where it’s dictated to us, and it’s so sad, and it’s so wrong. But it’s why education is so important as well, and things like your podcast, so that we know that these are choices and that we should be making those informed decisions.

 

So anyway, the pregnancy was quite straightforward. My doula, Erica, who was quite amazing-- she told me the most important tool for me was my mind, and that the best way to achieve this VBAC was to labor for as long as possible at home.

 

At 20 weeks, I did test positive to GBS. Under the hospital policy, that meant antibiotics through a cannula on admission in labor. After my first experience, I didn’t want any cords and cables. I didn’t want the monitors. I didn’t want to be strapped like a zoo animal again. 

 

I went and read the most recent Cochran Review, which found that no evidence exists to prove that antibiotics on admission really protects the baby from infection. I discussed that with the hospital and again, the doctor was like, “Yes, that is the most recent research and I agree with it, but hospital policy isn’t yet up-to-date with that research.” Which is, you know. It’s just another little bit of frustration.

 

Anyway, he took a look at my veins and he said, “Look. You’ve got big veins. They’re pretty easy to find. I think if something happens and we really need to insert a cannula, we can do it at the time.” He signed off on me not having cannulas. But again, it was only because I went and found that research to then present back to the hospital. I’m not a health professional. I am a mom. It’s not my area, whereas they should be the ones saying to me, “Hey, this is the latest research. But they don’t.”

 

Julie: I agree. Do you know what? I went off the other day. On our Instagram page, it was like, why does the burden of proof lie on the parents? Why is it that when you disagree with your provider that you have to be the one to show the current research and evidence-based practices? Why don’t providers have this information? And why aren’t they the ones looking it up to make sure that they are providing the right level of care? I mean, I’m sure there’s a complex answer to that. But like, it really frustrates me that the burden of proof lies on the birthing person. It’s frustrating.

 

Bec: Absolutely. And do you think that applies to like-- if you’ve got cancer and you go to your oncologist, you’re not going to be presenting them with the latest research. You’d feel really silly doing that. That’s why I think a lot of women would feel the same in pregnancy. Like, you’re telling the experts how to do their job and it’s a really uncomfortable thing to do. But if they can discuss it with you like this amazing obstetrician--

 

Anyway, my doula said, “Soak in a bath of diluted apple cider vinegar for a few days and you’ll test negative to GBS,” and I did. So that was good. I got to avoid fighting the system anyway.

 

Meagan: How much did you put in the bath?

 

Bec: I put 2 cups, or I think it was 2 cups. Maybe one cup of apple cider vinegar in a bath that was up to my belly button. So, quite diluted.

 

Meagan: Nice. That’s awesome.

 

Bec: I have no idea if it was a coincidence but hey, we got the results.

 

Meagan: It worked!

 

Bec: Exactly. Through this pregnancy, I did start to feel-- I’ve never had any mental health issues and I did start to feel-- I think the trauma from my first birth was manifesting itself in a lot of anxiety and it was really, an odd thing for me. That made it scary. 

 

I’d be waiting on the train platform to get the train home from work and I’d have really shocking images of my son on the-- I know it’s a bit brutal. You might want to edit that out. My son wouldn’t even be with me, but I’d see him lying on the train tracks when the train would come, and things like that. It was so graphic and horrible. I would have panic attacks and break down and cry, and have to leave the train station, and think, “Oh my god, how am I going to get home?” 

 

But things that were never going to happen, because my son wasn’t even with me. I’ve since learned they’re called intrusive thoughts and they’re really, really, really common, especially with moms. I was too scared to-- even when the baby was born, I was too scared to cross the road, because I was certain that cars were going to hit all of us and that the kids would be taken. They were unreasonable because there weren’t even cars on the road when I would be crossing. I think that all of these overwhelming thoughts in my mind and this trauma was manifesting itself in this new form of mental health that I hadn’t dealt with before.

 

I started seeing a psychologist who specializes in perinatal mental health and it was wonderful. She helped me so much. She gave me so many tools, but it’s something that I’m still-- to this day, I’m learning how to deal with that. 

 

It’s something that I think is important to talk about because we don’t realize just how common mental health issues are. Again, we don’t talk about it enough, I don’t think. Women think they’re alone and they suffer alone, but really we just need to talk. Talking it out is amazing. Having a cuppo with your neighbors, having a chat with girlfriends can help so much with that. But that was a big part of this pregnancy because it was just unexpected. I’ve never had anything like that happen before.

 

So probably about 33 weeks, I had an unexpected bleed. I went to the toilet and went, “I’ve got my period.” And then I went, “Oh, hang on. I’m pregnant. I’m not supposed to have my period. Oh, wow.”

 

Meagan: You’re like, “Wait a second.”

 

Bec: I rang my midwife and she’s like, “Yeah. You need to come straight in.” I just bawled because I had worked so hard to have this VBAC. My mind was on one path and then all of a sudden, I got thrown this curveball.

 

We went in the hospital. We monitored. I stayed for a while. I stayed overnight, but they couldn’t find anything. They couldn’t find a cause. I actually think I was burning the candle at both ends. I was stressing myself out a little bit. My head had told my body to chill and I ignored it, so then my body overrode that, and then I just needed to rest. So at 33 weeks, I finished work and I went to the beach every day. It was so lovely.

 

This was November, December in Sydney. It was just before the bushfires started that you guys would have seen in the news last year. The beach every day was quite spooky. The sky was getting darker.

 

Julie: Yes. That was scary.

 

Bec: Yeah, it was. The day after my baby was born, I walked down into the hospital corridor and the whole corridor was like out of a movie. It was like someone had turned a smoke machine on from a party. The whole corridor was just thick smoke. It had come through the hospital air conditioning and everything. We thought that was a scary time to give birth. Little did we know, COVID was to hit a few months later. 

 

So I would go to the beach every day, and every day I would put a little story up on Instagram. My friends would say, “Oh, you’re still pregnant.” Yep, still pregnant. I got to 37, 38, 39, 40 weeks. Yep, still pregnant. 41 weeks. Yep, still pregnant. I had people say things to me, “But why are they letting you go so long? Why haven’t they induced you yet?”

 

I’d say, “I don’t want to be. I feel fine. The baby will come when the baby is ready.” 

“But how are they allowing you to do that?” Even my mum would say things like that. My mum would say, “What are the doctors saying? Isn’t this-- the baby’s going to be like a shriveled up little raisin. We can’t have this happen.” And I’m like, “Oh no, Mum. The baby’s fine. The baby doesn’t know the date on the calendar. The baby is okay.” But as much as I was okay with going “late”, it was the pressure around me. As much as you might say, “I’m okay with this,” it’s those little comments every single day.

 

“Oh, are you sick of it? Oh, that baby must be so big. Are you sure that baby is okay?” I went in for a scan at 41 weeks just to check everything was okay and the sonographer said to me, “You do realize you are seriously increasing your risk of having a stillborn by choosing to go over your dates with this pregnancy.”

 

Julie: I hate it when they use that. Like the statistics are there, yes. It does increase. But it increases— I mean technically you could say it doubles, but it goes from .02% to .04%, so it’s still a really, really small percent risk. But when you say it like that, “Oh, your risk of stillbirth doubles,” then it’s way scary sounding.

 

Bec: And also, is that a sonographer’s job? Or is that a midwife’s job to tell me that?

 

Julie: For real.

 

Bec: Yeah. I did tell my midwife. I said, “I’d like to complain about a sonographer,” because I’m going in there with all the education. I know the stats because I research everything, but a lot of women don’t. If she’s going and saying things like that to women, they’re probably leaving there petrified that the baby is not okay. It’s totally not her job to do that. To her, that was just a flippant comment and off she goes and has a cup of tea or lunch break. It doesn’t-- you know, there’s no consequences to her. 

 

People in these jobs have to be so careful with the language that they use. Even like in my first labor, “Oh, you’re not even in labor.” Or, “You chose to do it this way.” All of those little comments can stick with you and keep niggling in your head for years.

 

Meagan: Oh yeah. Totally. I had that happen with my birth when my doctor was like, “Oh, I’m so glad you didn’t VBAC. You for sure would have ruptured.” So then what happened when I was going to VBAC after my two C-sections? I’m in labor and in my head, I’m hearing that. You know? It’s just, Ugh. Like you said, they say things and they probably never think about it again ever, but it sticks with us.

 

Bec: It’s something that keeps turning over in your mind. At about 40 weeks-- we already know that I went towards the end, but at about 40 weeks, I did go and have some Chinese foot reflexology. I said, “Could you hit all of the trigger points? I want this baby out.” 

That night, I woke up to contractions and I was like, “This is it.” They were about 8 to 10 minutes apart. They were really full-on. I was listening to my HypnoBirthing tracks. I was trying to rest. I was trying to breathe. I couldn’t-- I thought, “Oh, yep. We are on.”

 

And then of course, by 9:00 a.m., they were gone. I thought, “What was that?”

 

Julie: Prodromal labor is the worst.

 

Bec: I just went into labor and I stopped. What the hell? Another week went past. I knew the pressure was coming from the hospital. Depending on who I saw, some of them were okay with me, but some of them were like, “You know, once you hit 40 weeks-- even though we are signed off on you going to 42, once we hit 40,” And I’m like, “Well, you’re not doing what you just signed off on by saying that are you? You’re putting that pressure on.” 

 

So I said to my midwife, “Alright. Let’s have a talk about having a sweep,” because it’s the only type of intervention I was comfortable with, especially if that was going to help me avoid more induction pressure closer to 42 weeks. I know if I was going to be induced, then I was going down that slippery path of heading more towards another Cesarean and I was just so scared of touching anything that would go down that path. So we did a sweep, didn’t really do anything. Three days later, we did another one. It didn’t really do anything.

 

Then on a Saturday afternoon, I had a bit more foot reflexology. I’m like, “Well, it triggered something last time. Let’s give it another go,” and then I went for a sweep. I don’t know which one it was, but in the car on the way home, I started to feel that heavy period pain come back and it was fading in and out.

 

That was Saturday afternoon. By midnight, I could not sleep anymore. I was timing the contractions. They were about five minutes apart lasting about 50 seconds, so I thought, “Yep. We are on here.”

 

In the morning, I said to Phil, “Can you take our son to my parents’ house?” He got halfway there and realized he forgot something. He rang me in a panic, “Have you got time? Have I got time? I’ve got to turn around. I’ve got to get his bag that I forgot.” I’m like, “Oh, I think you’ve got time, I guess. I don’t know. Just hurry up and do it.” 

 

Anyway, we did not know that the day was going to go on and on. We spent all day trying to help me move. The contractions were really paralyzing, so we thought, “We need to get it going.” But, we went for a walk. Every few steps, I’d have to stop and just hold onto a tree, hold onto my husband, hold onto people’s fences. So, this is Sunday afternoon. This has been going on now for about 24 hours.

 

That night, it just continued and I thought it was ramping up. I got in the shower. We had the TENS machine going. I got in the shower. Our bathroom wall is a shared wall with the neighbors and it’s the side of neighbors that we don’t know very well. I’ll never forget that night at about 10:00 p.m. bellowing like a cow, just roaring. It was a full-on zoo. There was a zoo happening in our house. And thinking, “These poor neighbors next-door must think something really freaky is going on.”

 

I got out of the shower and I went, “Call Erica. We’ve got to call the doula. And of course, she came over and she made me feel calm and safe.” They sort of subsided a little bit. She came over at midnight on Sunday night. She was still there the next morning. We knew that the midwives clocked on at 7:00 a.m., so we waited until 7 and called the midwives. One of them came and did a home check, and she’s like, “Yeah, you’re about 5 or 6 centimeters,” which is great because I knew I was already still at home at the point that I was lying on the operating theater table a few years earlier.

 

That was good, but as the day went on, they were still about five minutes apart, but they weren’t getting any closer. So by Monday afternoon, Erica said, “Okay. Let’s call in some other people. Let’s see if we can get maybe some acupuncture or-- what can you think of?” And I went, “My chiro. I remember listening to a VBAC Link podcast where a chiro did an adjustment in labor. Let’s give it a go.”

 

I texted my chiro. She came over and she didn’t do a lot. She did a little-- a few feels around my hips and adjustments and she said, “I think you should do some side-lying releases, the Spinning Babies® exercise.” So we did that. We laid down, and as soon as I sat up, I went, “Whoa.” This gush. My waters had broken. It was so incredible that just a little bit of feeling around recognized that there was tension in my right hip. Once we released it, labor kickstarted. 

 

This is still Monday afternoon now and it started on Saturday afternoon. So I had been going for a long time. There was a lot of vomiting. There was a lot of—yeah. Everything else coming out of my body.

 

I went into hospital, and it was the most excruciating car ride-- like I know everybody says, but we got into hospital and Erica was behind us in the lift. She said she knew it was happening because she said I was just shaking. She said that involuntary shaking means you’re there which was really cool. 

 

So we got in. My midwife said, “Would you mind? Do you want a check?” All of her language was really good, which was cool. She wasn’t telling me, “I’m going to check you.” She was, “Would you like me to?” And I said, “Yeah. I want to see how far along I am.” And she said, “Wow. You’re a good 8 centimeters.”

 

I had done all of that on my own at home, which I was really pleased with. So she then put some monitors on. She said, “I know you don’t want these, but we just have to see.” And I had, of course, envisioned this beautiful water birth like everyone wants, but she said, “Look. Baby’s heart rate is decelerating after contractions. If you don’t want to be hooked up to the machines, the wireless monitors are a thing that we can do, but it means you can only get into the shower and not in the bath.” I thought, “You know what? I just need that water. If I can move and if I’ve got this amazing circle of really cool supporters around me, then I don’t really care. I could be in the corridor. I don’t really care where I am. I felt so safe in this circle.” 

 

Erica had told me, “Every time someone comes in, even in appointments before labor-- if someone comes in and makes you feel like they’ve got the wrong vibe, just stretch. Pretend you’re stretching, but put your hands up and do a circle. That’s your forcefield.” 

 

It’s so funny because it worked and I imagined that every time. I imagined this little bubble around me and I had those protectors around me and my God, that was so different to the first time. It was so powerful to have these people around me that I loved and trusted. It was my midwife, my favorite student-midwife, my doula, and my husband. It was our team. It was the A-Team and at the center of that team was my baby. We were all there for her, which was really cool.

 

I was on the floor in the shower and contracting. The baby was crowning and my midwife said, “The registrar-- the doctor on duty wants to come in and make herself known to you.” I’m like, “What? What do you mean?” She said, “You can say no, but if you do, they’re going to be knocking and knocking and knocking. So, up to you.” I went, “Fine. Just let her in. Say hello, but she’s not doing anything to me, and then she can go.”

 

So, I’ll never forget. I’m on the floor in my zone. I look over and I see this little clicky pair of plastic heels. I look up and there’s this doctor wearing scrubs and she bent down and looked at me and she said, “I need to tell you about the risks of what you’re trying to do. A VBAC is very dangerous.”

 

And I kind of, I wasn’t laughing because I was in the middle of a contraction probably, but I thought, “You’re so pathetic.” She didn’t even penetrate my little forcefield that I’d visualized around me. She just-- it was like a little fly coming in that we could just shoo off and Phil said, “Not now,” really loud and really firmly. I was so proud of him because he’s not that kind of-- this was all not his zone, so it was really cool that he did that. She just sort of backed off and she went.

 

Meagan: That’s awesome.

 

Bec: It was so good. And I, I felt-- I was on the floor and I knew something was happening but I didn’t know what was happening, but I needed to get in the corner. I wanted it to be dark. I didn’t know what was going on, so I said, “Can you lower the bed onto the floor?” My midwife was like, “Okay, why?” What do you think? I don’t know? I needed to be somewhere safe that wasn’t that hard shell floor. We moved over and she’s like, “Yeah. You are ready.”

 

I pushed for a half an hour. I didn’t want coached pushing but I did want whatever help I could get to not tear. And so the girls would help teach me how to breathe down through each contraction and then to hold off a little bit. It was a little bit funny because every time a song changed, my midwife would say, “This is a good song to be born to.” I go, “Okay,” and the song would change and she’d go, “This is a good song to be born to.” And about the fifth time, I went, “You just say that to every song!” She goes, “Okay, yeah. I do.”

 

Meagan: You’re like, “Any song is a good song for this baby to be born to!”

 

Bec: But I knew that when my husband’s favorite songs came on, he’d squeeze my shoulder and say, “This is a good song to be born to.” And I’m like, “Not you, too!”

 

Anyway, Tilly was-- she did come out. She was born at a quarter to midnight on the eve of 42 weeks. She was fine. She was a beautiful little girl. Her head was out and the midwife said, “Do you want to feel her head?” which was so cool as before the head came out, putting my hand down there and feeling this little, slimy, hairy head was just such an amazing feeling because we had made it. I knew by that point we had made it and we had done it all together. We didn’t need anybody or anything else. It was really hard and it was really tough, and I went for a really long time, but I just trusted that bubble of safe people around me and we did it. 

 

She came out. I did want to lift her out myself, but she was-- the girls said something about my cord not quite being long enough maybe, so I picked her up but they handed her to me. She was straight on me. I got my skin-to-skin and I got my slimy baby girl that I really wanted. I had requested to wait, to have that golden hour, to have all of that skin-to-skin to wait for my placenta. 

 

We waited for the cord to stop pulsing and then after a half an hour, my midwife came back in and she said, “Hospital clock says we have to get placenta out. How do you feel about giving it a tug yourself before we give you the injection?”

 

I was like, “Yes.” It was so cool. So with one hand on my baby, the other hand down between my legs, I gently pulled on the tug and it was like a giant tampon string. I just pulled in and my placenta flopped out. It was so cool and it wasn’t painful. It was just-- I mean a baby had just come out. For me, the placenta was just, and I was scared of-- you know, women say, “Oh, they don’t tell you how painful it is when the placenta comes out.” It wasn’t actually. I think because I had just left it and let my body do its thing and I only just assisted a little bit with a little tug. So that was really cool.

 

And then I clamped the cord and I cut it myself. That was important to me.

 

Meagan: Oh my gosh. That’s awesome.

 

Bec: Yeah. It was so beautiful because to me, it signified the end of our internal connection and the start of our external connection. It was all about her and I doing that together.

 

We didn’t know we were having a girl. I hoped, of course, that we were having a girl because we had a boy, but she was on me for a little while and then someone said, “What is it? Have a look.” And seeing that it was a girl-- it was just so beautiful. Everything was just so lovely.

 

So we got there, and we got there without the system dictating it to me. It was so wonderful, but it still makes me so angry that people have to fight the system to get what they deserve.

 

The notes on my discharge form after Jack’s birth said that the Cesarean was due to a failure to progress. It had nothing to do with his breech positioning, but failure to progress. That labor was half the length of time as the second labor and the notes on the second labor’s discharge form say, “No complications.”

 

So what does that tell us about hospital clocks? Hospital policies dictating what Mother Nature can take care of herself? If we are educated and determined, then we can get what we deserve. But I know I keep saying, “You shouldn’t have to have a bad birth to get a good birth.” We know that my body just labors for a really long time. Some people are like, “Why did they let you labor for so long? Why did you want that to happen?”

 

Julie: Oh my gosh. Why did they let you? What do you mean let you? Oh my goodness.

 

Bec: Who’s they? I said, “There’s nothing wrong with that. That’s my body and that’s the way my body labors. It’s not fun. It’s pretty ordinary, but that’s the way my body does it.”

 

Failure to progress, for me, is something that infuriates me when women tell me, “Oh, I had to have a Cesarean because ‘failure to progress,’” I just feel sad. And I, yeah. My whole journey was very draining, but it was very much full of growth as well. I’m really passionate about people knowing that they can have that birth, not the birth that a policy or an opinion tells them that they should be having. They should be having the birth that they deserve. 

 

So yeah, that’s my story. The VBAC rates in Australia-- they’re 12%. I was just looking this up. People use that as a reason for not having a vaginal birth, but I think of those who attempt a VBAC, 87% are successful. So when you say only 12% of women will have a VBAC, that’s not because they’re failing. It’s because it’s dictated to them that they have to. We really need to change that. That success rate of attempt at 87% is really high. That’s a really cool figure. We need to be working with that, not the 12%. So, yeah. I just feel so passionate now after going through that, that we are all so cool, aren’t we? Mother Nature‘s got it. Our bodies have got it.

 

Julie: Yep. That is so true. The rates are similar here in the United States actually. The VBAC rate is anywhere from 10 to 12% every year, but the studies show that only 60 to 80% of women who attempt a VBAC will be successful at that attempt. But I say that more would be successful if they had a provider that was truly supportive instead of just saying, “Okay well, we’ll have a VBAC as long as you go into labor by 40 weeks and as long as it is spontaneous because we don’t induce VBAC, and as long as—" You know, all of this list of criteria.

 

So I think we have probably a lot more providers in the United States that are not supportive when women make that choice, but also, just like in Australia their providers just aren’t giving them the option which is why only 10% of women will have a VBAC.

 

Bec: Exactly.

 

Evidence on due dates

 

Julie: So it’s just super frustrating and very can be very confusing to a parent after having a Cesarean. But what I want to do really fast before we get off the phone, is talk about due dates for VBAC.

 

Now, Evidence-Based Birth®, we love them. They are incredible. You can go onto evidencebasedbirth.com and find anything about anything. They have a really, really lengthy blog about due dates and induction. They talk about the ARRIVE study and several other studies that have come up about induction at 39 weeks versus spontaneous labor or inducing later on in the pregnancy. 

 

They have a section specifically about people planning a VBAC and I’m just going to go ahead and read what she wrote here. It’s not too long, but I love it because Rebecca Decker, the owner of Evidence-Based Birth®-- her and her research team are so good at digging deeply into the studies and unveiling what the studies really say and what they mean. 

 

I’m just going to go ahead and read this. We’re going to link to the article in the show notes, so if you are wondering how to find this article, you can just click on our show notes or you can Google “Evidence on Due Dates” and it’s just right there-- the first response to show up in Google.

 

And so, I’m just going to read this. She says:

 

“What about people who are planning a VBAC?

 

“Many people who are planning a vaginal birth after Cesarean (VBAC) are told they must go into labor by 39, 40, or 41 weeks or they will be required to have a repeat Cesarean or induction.

 

“Research has shown that only about 10% of people who reach term will spontaneously give birth by 39 weeks (Smith, 2001; Jukic et al., 2013). So, if a hospital or physician mandates repeat Cesareans for people who have not gone into labor by 39 weeks, this means that 90% of people planning a VBAC with that hospital or physician will be disqualified from having a spontaneous VBAC. Also, some hospitals and providers will not provide inductions with VBACs, which means some people who reach the required deadline will only have one option– repeat Cesarean.

 

“There is actually no evidence supporting hard-stop ‘must-give-birth-by-39-weeks’ or ‘give-birth-by-40-weeks’ rules for people planning a VBAC.

 

“In 2015, researchers looked at 12,676 people who were electively induced at 39 weeks for a VBAC, or had expectant management for a VBAC (Palatnik & Grobman, 2015).”

 

Expectant management, just a little side note here, means either spontaneous labor or inducing if there is a medical reason, or electively beyond the arbitrary deadline which, in this case, is 39 weeks.

 

“Elective induction at 39 weeks was associated with a higher chance of VBAC compared to expectant management (73.8% versus 60-62%). But there was also a higher rate of uterine rupture in the elective induction group (1.4% versus 0.4-0.6%).”

 

So it’s almost three times more likely a uterine rupture at 39 weeks elective induction than the expectant management group.

 

“For people who chose not to be induced, the risk of uterine rupture was fairly steady at 39 weeks (0.5% uterine rupture rate), to 40 weeks (0.6%), to 41 weeks (0.4%).”

 

So, right around there. Not a statistically significant difference in the rupture rates no matter how far you go gestationally as far as labor is spontaneous or expectant management.

 

“The first large meta-analysis to specifically look at the link between weeks of pregnancy and likelihood of VBAC was published in 2019 (Wu et al. 2019).” 

 

Which is really exciting, because it’s very recent.

 

“It included 94 observational studies with nearly 240,000 people attempting labor for a VBAC. Interestingly, they found that gestational week at birth was not linked to having a VBAC— whether someone gave birth at 37 weeks, 39 weeks, or 41 weeks—it didn’t make a difference to whether someone had a VBAC or a Cesarean birth after Cesarean.”

 

Basically, what that is saying is that this huge comprehensive study shows that there’s no change in your chances of having a VBAC related to what week gestation you are, but there’s this other study that shows-- a much smaller study with a lot less people if you compare 240,000 people to 12,676 people. Significantly fewer people. It shows that elective induction at 39 weeks triples your chance of having a uterine rupture. The expectant management of labor in that group showed that there was a higher chance of VBAC success at the 39-week induction group. 

 

But this much larger study shows that there is no difference. So I would definitely go with the larger study, just because you have 20 times the amount of people in that study, which gives you a more definitive look. It doesn’t talk about the risk of uterine rupture, though, in that larger group. So, we have those two.

 

Apparently, Meagan is writing a blog right now on this.

 

Meagan: I am writing a blog. So, by the time this enters, we too will have a blog and it will be titled “The Success Rate After 40 weeks for a VBAC”. Check it out on our blog.

 

Julie: Meagan, there’s a study right there.

 

Meagan: I know.

 

Julie: Go ahead and Google “Evidence on Due Dates” and scroll down. There are several studies linked. Go back and look through our blogs, go back and look on the Evidence-Based Birth® website. But this is the thing that I just want to highlight. Really important— double emphasis, bold, underline, exclamation points:

 

There is no evidence to support the hard-stop deadline of giving birth at 39 weeks or 40 weeks for a VBAC.

 

There is no evidence to support that. And, your likelihood of having a successful VBAC at 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, or even 42 weeks does not change. Your odds of having one does not change, no matter what week gestation you give, if you go into this expectant management protocol, which again, is either waiting for spontaneous labor or waiting for a medical need for induction.

 

So, yeah. Any questions?

 

Meagan: No.

 

Julie: We should do a live podcast one day. I wonder how we could do that, or people could just ask questions while we were recording. That would be super fun.

 

Meagan: That would be amazing. Yeah.

 

Julie: Alright. Well, Bec. We are so grateful for you and Happy Birthday to Tilly today.

 

Bec: As I was saying to you guys earlier, the name Matilda means “strength in battle”. So, she is a woman of strength from day one. Happy Birthday to her today.

 

Julie: Happy Birthday today. Alright well, we are going to let you go and snuggle your sweet little baby of strength. Although, it’s 2:30 in the morning, so you should probably just go back to bed.

 

Bec: It’s 3:30 now. I’m going back to bed.

Meagan: I was going to say-- it’s 3:30 now.

Closing

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.

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