January 6, 2021

158 Hallie’s VBAC + Water for Pain Relief

Happy New Year! We are starting 2021 strong with today’s powerful VBAC story. Hallie is a two-time VBAC mom and birth photographer from New Zealand. This 5’0” tall woman of strength fought through a long, hard labor to deliver a 9 pound, asynclitic, and perfectly beautiful baby girl. Hallie talks about how using water as a coping technique was pivotal to her success. 

Later in this episode, we talk about the biggest barrier doulas face when trying to support VBAC/TOLAC parents. We surveyed over 200 VBAC doulas and almost every single answer was the same. The Birth Wizard herself, Emmy Howard, joins Julie today as her co-host to discuss what that barrier is and how to overcome it.


Additional links

How to VBAC: The Ultimate Preparation Course for Parents
Emmy, Birth Wizard: Website, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter
Hallie’s Instagram: @nz_birthstories
The Evidence on: Waterbirth


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
Note: All transcripts are edited to eliminate false starts and filler words.

Julie: Happy New Year, Women of Strength! Can you believe it? It is January 2021. We are recording this in the past and right now I hope our future selves in January 2021 are living in a lot better world than we are in right now, October 2020, because things are a little nuts right now. Let’s be honest, 2020 hasn’t been the best. I was going to say most exciting, but exciting could also not be a good thing. It’s definitely been a tumultuous year. We could say that.

So hopefully, 2021 brings us good fortune, lots of love, kindness, and health. For our first episode of 2021, I am missing Meagan again. Do you remember a couple of episodes ago when I told you that she was out with some family stuff? Well, this is the last episode where she will be out. But, I really like having our VBAC doulas co-host with us, so you’ll probably have some more VBAC doulas co-host in the future. Our co-host for today is the Birth Wizard herself, Emmy Howard, who lives in Phoenix Arizona, a.k.a., three feet above hell. I can say that because I’ve lived there.

Emmy: It’s the surface of the sun.

Julie: Can I say “hell” on the podcast? I know, right? I lived there for a year. I came to Utah to visit my mom during the summer. It was 90° and I was like, “This is so nice, this temperature.”

Emmy: That’s so funny.

Julie: Anyway, sorry. I digress. But the cool thing about Emmy is, she has lived on three different continents and visited over 20 countries. Emmy, I’ve got to ask you. What was your favorite country that you visited and what three continents have you lived on?

Emmy: I’ve lived in North America, South America, and then Europe. The favorite country is a really rough one to answer because you are essentially asking what part of my life I love the most. So, I essentially tell people I loved them all, just like children, for different reasons.

Julie: Good answer.

Emmy: So, the thing I will say is, I have a special place in my heart for when I lived in Poland, just because I got to travel the most when I was living there.

Julie: That’s awesome. I visited Germany once for Christmas. It was really cool. Germany at Christmastime is a really special place.

Emmy: Did you go to the Christmas markets? Sorry.

Julie: Dude, like three times. Because I went to visit my sister in Heidelberg. They have the Heidelberg castle and in the old castle courtyard, they have a whole bunch of shops. The Christmas markets were just crazy. I would go in and I’d eat like, six bratwursts every time. I’m like, “I am eating bratwursts in Germany at Christmastime.”

Emmy: I love Glüwein. That’s actually something I still do at Christmastime, even though we are not at the Christmas markets anymore, which is hot spiced wine. Let me tell you, that thing warms you up on the inside and feels like a hug from your drunk uncle. It’s great. And then freshly roasted chestnuts while you’re walking around. Man, it’s awesome. 

But you talked about how you moved away from Phoenix because of its heat. I moved to Phoenix for its heat.

Julie: No, I had joined the Army. The Army from Phoenix. I moved to Phoenix for my boyfriend. I got kicked out of the house two weeks after my 18th birthday. That’s a really long story.

Emmy: Oh, well there you go. Yeah, will get into that one later over a glass of wine. Later.

Julie: Much, much later.

Emmy: But I moved here because of the sunshine. I came from a place that had three hours of sunlight, so I was like—

Julie: Alaska?

Emmy: No, Poland. During winter you only get three hours of sunlight. So that’s part of the reason that got me out here.

Julie: No, I could not do that. No, no, no, no. 

Alright, before we get started, we are going to have the Birth Wizard herself, Emmy, read our Review of the Week.


Review of the Week

Emmy: Awesome. From JamJam1987 on Apple Podcasts. They say, “Inspiring. My first C-section was in August 2019. I recently found this podcast and I find these stories so healing and inspirational. I am so pumped up to get pregnant again and try for my VBAC! I hope I can share a successful VBAC story on the show in the future. Thanks for educating the world on VBAC.”

Julie: Aw, I love that. I love that. Do you know what? It’s so fun. I remember when Meagan and I first started the podcast and we would literally— I say we but really, it was just me. I would go stalking VBAC hashtags on Instagram, message people, and be like, “Hey, we just started a podcast. Will you share your VBAC story?” and begging people to record with us. I remember the first time we had somebody who had been listening to the podcast while they were pregnant with their VBAC share their story on the podcast. That was such a special moment for me. And so, I think that’s really cool.

Emmy: No, I totally get that.

Julie: Yeah. All these people that leave reviews, I love it. I want them to submit their story. I want to hear their journey. Sometimes if their name looks like it might look on Facebook, like it’s their real name, I’ll go look them up, see if they are in our community, see if they have had their baby yet, and how it went. Did they get their VBAC? What was their story? Because I like to have the full circle. It feels like coming full circle, right?

Emmy: Yeah. I do the same. I always do the same because I do a thing where people can contact me whenever and I’ll answer your VBAC questions. It’s a half-hour that I do and then if they don’t follow up with me, I just stalk them.

Julie: You’re just like, “What happened to you?” I need answers.

Emmy: Right, with love and care. I just want to make sure that you were okay, and that you got everything you needed and wanted. So, yeah. I completely understand that.

Julie: Alright, we love those reviews.


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. 


Hallie’s story

Julie: Alright. Speaking of world travelers, I think this is a great match up with the co-host and our guest because our guest today is Hallie Campbell from New Zealand. Let me tell you. Oh my gosh, I am so excited. I am going to mute myself, and sit here and listen to her talk because I absolutely love New Zealand and Australian accents. In fact, when I was young, I just knew that I was going to grow up and marry somebody from Australia so I could hear him tell me “I love you” in the Australian accent every day. I was 12 and in my little church group, we wrote a letter to our future husband, and then at the very bottom of my letter I wrote, “P.S. I hope you’re from Australia.” Like, no joke. I did that.

So, I don’t want to take too much of Hallie‘s time. Gosh, I should probably look up her information sheet. Honestly, My favorite thing about her is that she is from New Zealand. I don’t know that much about her yet. Let’s see. Mother of three boys and one little girl. She lives in Auckland, New Zealand and she has a birth photography business. Oh my gosh, I think I stalked you on Instagram actually, @nz_birthstories, and that’s your fifth baby. Perfect, I love that. You have such a passion for photographing— how hard is it for me to talk today? Let’s put that on a scale from 1 to 10— and being immersed in the birth world.

Do you know what? I’ve honestly really considered switching from being a birth doula to being a birth photographer just because it feels like it would be less of a work-out maybe but talking to some of my birth photographers here, they’re like, “I don’t know. We are climbing up on couches and doing all sorts of crazy things.”

Hallie: There is a bit of climbing, yeah.

Julie: Yeah. But I’m really excited to hear your story. I know that birth in Australia is a little bit different than it is here in the United States, but there are a lot of similarities, too. I don’t want to take up any more of your time because I like to do that. I like to talk and this is my adult interaction for the day. So Hallie, talk to us. Please, talk to us.

Hallie: Alright. So, my VBAC that I’m going to talk about today was my second VBAC. My first one was a hospital birth. My second one-- I decided to plan a home birth because the first one went really, really well. But this baby decided she did not want to come out. She was very, very naughty. So we got to-- I think it was 41 and 5, and I decided, “Okay, it was probably time to head to the hospital.” I discussed all with my midwife and she was very pro home birth, but obviously very pro my rights. We decided to go in and just see how things were going, possibly break waters, get things started, and head home.

But when I stepped foot in the hospital, I started contracting. It was like she was just waiting for me to show up there. I didn’t actually need any more assistance. I didn’t need to be induced in the end. We went about setting up the hospital room just as if it was a home birth. 

We were thinking to go home, but I then had a call from my mom who was looking after my kids while I was in. She said that the birth ball had been picked up from our house. Well, we had run out of time with it. So, we decided just to set up camp at the hospital. 

I walked about a zillion laps at the hospital, which really, really helped I think. The difference between that and my previous VBAC was-- yeah. I think just keeping active, keeping upright, and moving helped things progress a lot better. So we headed in. That was around 8 in the morning that we headed in there and walked for a good few hours.

Around lunchtime, we decided to jump in the pool. Well, I did. My husband was not very keen. I jumped in the pool and labored in the water for quite a long time. I had decided against continuous monitoring and just asked my midwife to check in on baby quite frequently. She was quite happy to do that. The water was such a relief. It was so, so great as a pain relief. With my previous labors, I had opted for an epidural very early on, but this time I was really hoping to push through that and use other methods of coping with the pain and the water was just amazing.

I spent quite a few hours in the water, but as I got into early evening, things were slowing down, which can be sometimes quite common when people jump in the water. So, we jumped out and I was a 6. Things weren’t progressing too fast, but we weren’t worried.

I spent quite a bit of time with my midwife doing a lot of Spinning Babies® moves. We did lots of hip squeezes. She got my husband in there and he said that really killed his arms doing it over and over again. We did loads of that, loads of hip rotations on the ball and that actually got me through a lot.

I started to feel quite pushy. I think coming into— I think it was around 8 at night, I started to feel like, “Okay, things are starting to feel like they are progressing.” I started to become very vocal. I think I even remember screaming, “Please, help me,” at one point, because my previous labors had been with an epidural, so I had never reached transition in all it’s glory naturally. That was an experience, but it was really great to be able to feel the need to push and to feel my body moving into that next stage of labor.

I did push for a little while and then as I started pushing, my waters broke. They hadn’t broken fully when they popped them the first time. She thought that she had popped them, but there was actually a second bag that ended up breaking. I just always hold a lot of fluid.

Julie: Yeah, there is a forebag and a hindbag. Sometimes, baby’s head can block the rest of the water from coming out. It’s pretty fun when people realize that or have that second gush of fluid come out.

Hallie: It was crazy. I thought, where is this all coming from? I’m a very small person. But anyway, yeah. When that broke, instead of her head coming down into the pelvis, her head shot out of the pelvis. So, yeah. That was just so great. When I was re-checked-- I had previously been checked before I began pushing and I was fully dilated. I was ecstatic to reach that point using other forms of pain relief, but when her head shot back out of the pelvis and I was rechecked, I was then 7 cm. I thought, “No, come on. We have come all this way.” I was stuck in this limbo of transition. We all had a discussion, and I could see some more doctors starting to file into the room. I just thought, “No. I know what’s happening here.”

I opted for an epidural at that point. I thought, “If I’m going to sit in this state of transition for quite a while, then I’m going to need to rest.” And so, I chose to have an epidural. It was the best decision I made. We opted for a bit of passive descent and used-- we call it Syntocinon over here. I think you guys call it Pitocin over there?

Julie: Yeah. Pitocin.

Hallie: We had that cranked up and got those contractions bringing baby back down. That went on for another five hours. So, I was so glad I got that epidural.

Julie: Oh my gosh, you poor thing. That’s a long time.

Hallie: She was a naughty baby. She still is. 

That really did do the trick. She came down and I began pushing at-- this must have been about 2 in the morning by this point. It was a very long labor. And then I still had a good 45 minutes of pushing. I was expecting, you know, fourth baby, one or two. No. About 45 minutes later.

But she was a bit bigger. She was 9 pounds. I am 5 feet and very small. The big baby thing never worried me at all. That never crossed my mind. But I just knew that I was really going to have to work because she had been in a funny position as well the whole time. So, I was really working to get her out. 

I was keeping an eye on these doctors that were in the room. I could see the little whispers and the C-section word getting brought up. As soon as I heard it come up once, I pushed and I’ve never pushed like that in my life. This big, chubby head emerged and I just saw the relief on my husband’s face because he was just as behind this VBAC as I was. We had obviously experienced Cesarean recovery, which was fine, but I had these other kids at home that I really needed to be able to pick up. So, we really-- I really dug deep in the end.

She was asynclitic, so her head did come down on a really weird angle, but then she was born at 3:30 in the morning. It was just so epic and I looked at her and thought, well you look massive.

Julie: I’ve seen 9 and 10-pound babies be born and they look like little sumo wrestlers, or like a toddler. You’re like, “Hey, congratulations. Here’s your two-year-old.”

Hallie: Oh, the head on her. She was just huge. My husband showed me-- he had taken a video. I really wished I had got a birth photographer. I really wish I had because this video is very graphic. But he-- her head is just so big. It’s just so big. But it was just, it was such an amazing birth. It was hard. I wouldn’t say it was the hardest, but it was a very hard, long birth. 

The whole time, I felt like I was in control of the decisions being made. I felt empowered because I had my amazing support team behind me. My midwife was behind me every step of the way. Over here in New Zealand, it’s predominately midwife-led and, yeah. She was just so fantastic. I put a lot of the way I felt after that birth and during the labor, down to just how I was treated and how I was made to feel. Yeah, it was such an awesome, awesome birth.

Julie: That’s awesome. So, your first three, were they-- was it two vaginal and then a Cesarean? Or were they all Cesareans?

Hallie: My first was vaginal. That was a very hands-on induction, very traumatic first birth. My second was an emergency Cesarean, failure to progress at 7 centimeters. And then a VBAC, then Daisy.

Julie: So, first vaginal, then C-section, then two VBACs, right?

Hallie: Yep.

Julie: Right? Okay. Just wanted to make sure that I got that right because all the letters, numbers, and everything gets mixed around. I think that’s really so important though, what you said just a few seconds ago, that choosing your care provider and making sure that they are 100% supportive of the type of birth that you want is one of the biggest things you can do to make sure that-- as you reflect on your birth, that you feel comfortable and confident. Not only with the outcome, but with how you were treated and how you were cared for.

I think it’s really, really important to note that. Find a provider-- if you want a VBAC, you probably don’t want to go to a provider that has a 30 to 40% C-section rate. That provider is probably not doing a lot of VBACs. You want to go to a provider that does a lot of VBACs, that loves VBACs, that loves supporting that, that believes in you, that trusts you, and that you can feel that confidence in you coming from them. And so I think that that’s really important to say. But Emmy, what would you say?

Emmy: I am going to echo basically what you’re stating there. We just heard an incredible story where you did a ton of work, Hallie, and why go to a provider that’s not going to work with you?

Hallie: Exactly, yeah.

Emmy: That’s my big thing with providers is like, yeah. Maybe they are 20 minutes from your house, but I would rather drive six hours to make sure the person I’m working with is willing to work with me. Right? So definitely a huge echo. I think also to throw out there with your story, is knowing your own limits and your own boundaries. You knew you needed rest. You can have really empowering stories with an epidural when the tools are used correctly. So, super awesome.

Hallie: Yes, that’s right. Yeah.

Julie: Well, I love that too. Because a lot of people are like, “Oh, I can’t have a VBAC unless I want to go unmedicated,” or, “Do I have to go unmedicated?” or, “What about an epidural and VBAC? Will it really decrease my chances?” 

I’ve seen sometimes epidurals slow labor down a little bit, but most of the time, I’ve seen epidurals used in birth just like Emmy was saying, as a tool and when they were truly needed. Because a pooped out body is not going to push out a baby. It’s just not going to happen. Your body needs rest and an epidural can be a very effective tool when it’s needed.

It sounds like you made the right call, your birth team made the right call, and everyone let you labor how you chose to. I really wish that the United States would do that-- have midwifery-led care unless you’re a high risk or need to transfer care for some other reason. I really, really wish that could be our model here.

Emmy: Here in the US though, we have about three-- it’s something like 13 OBs to one midwife, so that’s part of the reason we have that going on.

Hallie: Wow.


Water for pain relief

Julie: Well, yeah. That is true. That’s a very good thing to point out. I did not know that statistic, Emmy, and I love statistics. But no, that’s important. 

I could digress and go on a tangent on our maternity system, but I won’t because what I want to talk about is laboring in the water and water birth. I know you didn’t have a water birth, but you had an epidural. It’s really interesting because there’s been a lot of studies out that evaluate whether laboring in the water can be an effective pain relief tool. How effective is it? What are the benefits? Are there any risks to it? All of those types of things. 

And so, I just want to talk a little bit about that because it’s been a while since we’ve talked about water birth, but I also want to talk about laboring in the water even versus getting an epidural. I am going to dig deep into this article on the Evidence Based Birth® homepage or you can go to evidencebasedbirth.com/waterbirth and we will link that in the show notes for you to easily find.

It’s a really lengthy article. That’s one thing I really love about Rebecca Decker is she does such a great job of really digging into the research, the trials, the evidence, and tearing it apart and making it easier to digest. Obviously, I can’t dig into the whole article. You should definitely go and read it yourself. 

Basically overall, it showed that laboring in the water doesn’t show any extra risk for the mother or the baby and it does help relieve pain. It leads to a lesser need for pain medication or less need for pain medication. Does that make sense? “Leading to less use of pain medication.” That’s how she worded it. Another study found that mothers who labored in the water had less anxiety. This is labored in the water, not birth, okay?

“Mothers who labored in the water had less anxiety, better fetal positioning in the pelvis, less use of drugs to speed up labor, and were more satisfied with the privacy and the ability to move around.”

There’s a lot of water birth studies that they review in that Evidence Based Birth article, but I just love it when you talked about laboring in the water. How it just felt good. It felt natural to you. It felt like what you needed to do, but then you knew at the point when you needed more than the water. You knew there was a point.

Hallie: Yep.

Julie: Do you know what? Asynclitic babies are such stinkers. You’re right. She was being very naughty. That’s probably why, when your water broke, if her head was asynclitic, that’s probably why things kind of took a little bit longer to fully progress, because man, those asynclitic babies get nice and wedged in there.

My point is-- laboring in the water. Most hospitals won’t allow you to labor in the water. I think more and more hospitals are allowing that. There’s a couple here that will. Emmy, do you have any hospitals in your area that allow water birth?

Emmy: So they don’t allow birth in water, however, there is a good amount of them that do laboring in the water, which is pretty awesome. But as soon as you get pushy, you get pulled out of the water. However, we also, in our area, have access to about four or five different birth centers that allow you to birth in water. So, we are in a pretty magical area here in Phoenix where we have a lot of choices.

Julie: I’m sorry I said it was 3 feet above hell.

Emmy: You know, that’s not wrong.

Julie: But Phoenix is really— what did you say?

Emmy: You’re not wrong.

Julie: You know, I didn’t mind my time in Phoenix, but it was just super hot. Like, super hot. But then I went to Basic Training and lived in Georgia, which is just a whole different kind of hot. Sweaty hot. So, anyway.

Emmy: Yeah, yeah. I think it’s amazing to have access to water, to have access to an epidural. One of the other ones that I really love to throw out there to my clients to look up is if they would be interested in nitrous, which can also be a really good alternative because it doesn’t stay in your system. It doesn’t pass through the placenta or into baby, but you get that little bit of cutting off the edge of what a true contraction can feel like.

Julie: Yeah. Do most of your hospitals offer that? Or do you have to do it pretty much at a birth center in Phoenix?

Emmy: We have quite a few that also offer nitrous and only one birth center that offers it.

Julie: That’s so interesting because here it’s kind of opposite. One hospital offers it and most of the birth centers do have it in Utah, or at least in my area in Utah. Salt Lake City, Utah County area. So, interesting, yeah. I know that a lot— in England they use nitrous a lot. Australia, what about you, Hallie? Did you have that as an option for you?

Hallie: No. Nitrous?

Julie: Yeah. It’s like laughing gas, like at the dentist’s. I don’t know if it’s something different down there.

Hallie: Yeah, that’s really available to everybody here. Yep. Not everybody, but—

Julie: Good. That’s awesome. I really think that they need to make travel-sized bottles of nitrous and give them out by prescription for moms with anxiety.

Hallie: Totally.

Emmy: So if you want to go in halfsies on that business model, I am down.

Julie: Alright. So I am a student midwife. It’s slow-rolling, but once I get certified, I’ll see about the legalities of that. For sure.



Alright, Hallie. I want to ask you two questions before we go. Emmy, don’t go anywhere. Hallie, your questions. We asked you when you filled out your form, but it’s okay if you don’t remember the answers. You can just make new ones. But we try to ask two questions to our guests now. The first question 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?

Hallie: I think preparing for VBAC birth, I didn’t know that having an epidural was an option because of what I had read online. There was no epidural and there was no option of anything else. It had to be natural or C-section. So I was really, really happy to hear that I did have that option. Because it was such a big aid in my birth in the end.

That’s good. Yeah. No, I think you’re right. I think a lot of people just don’t know that it’s possible. There’s a lot of myths out there about VBAC. But, yeah. Cool. Good answer.

Alright, the next question is:

What is your best tip for someone preparing for VBAC?

Hallie: Yeah, it had to come down to your care provider. It’s finding somebody that fully aligns with the birth that you are planning for. To be able to put your best foot forward, you have to have somebody that’s going to be right in your corner. And not just be VBAC supportive, but a real advocate for you as well.

Julie: Yeah. I absolutely love that. I love what you wrote in your response. You said you didn’t realize it until the day you were giving birth, watching your midwife advocate for you over and over, standing at your door like a guard and ushering unnecessary people away. Everybody’s care provider should be like that. She was like a sentinel at your door. Just like, standing there.

Hallie: She was like a guard dog. She was, though. She was just barking orders and telling people to step back. It was just incredible.


Doulas supporting clients with unsupportive providers

Julie: That’s amazing. I wish everyone could have that kind of support. It makes me sad that— I don’t know. Sometimes the stories we share, or witness even, of providers— I am working on an email series for birth workers right now and I asked in our community of VBAC doulas— we have almost 200 VBAC doulas in our community on Facebook now.

Hallie: Wow.

Julie: It’s just mind-blowing to me. Yeah, it’s crazy. I love our community of doulas. They are a really great group of people.

Emmy: Yeah, we are.

Julie: I asked them, what is the biggest barrier that you face— yes, you are. What’s the biggest barrier you face when supporting or trying to support VBAC or TOLAC parents? And almost every single answer, I’m telling you. Almost every single answer was from doulas saying, what to do when your client has a provider that is not supportive, and you know they’re not supportive, and your clients know their provider is not supportive, but they won’t change providers.

It’s really, really hard as a doula-- clearly for many doulas-- to sit there and watch a parent go through a birth experience that could have gone differently had they chosen another provider. It’s really kind of a fine line.

Emmy, maybe you have some opinions on this because I’ve been talking back-and-forth about this with Meagan for some time now, but birth advocacy in the birth room. Ahead of time, obviously, we try to educate our clients as much as we can about what makes a supportive provider and what the red flags are.

Sometimes your clients see the red flags and they choose to stay for whatever reason. Sometimes it’s hard to come to terms with that as a doula, even though you don’t know why that client might be staying with that provider.

Emmy: Yes.

Julie: Who knows? Maybe the universe, or God, or whatever you believe in has a plan and that person has to stay with that provider for whatever reason.

But watching them struggle through a birth with an unsupportive provider that everybody knew was unsupportive beforehand is a big struggle. Where do you advocate? Where is the line as a doula? Because I know that as doulas, there’s this big call right now for doulas to be advocates in the birth space, but I feel like we have to really be careful because you can’t go in there with your hammer and your chains saying, “No! Don’t touch her cervix! Turn that Pitocin down! We’re not going to get an epidural! Blah, blah blah. Fill up that tub!”

Because that type of advocacy— I mean, there’s a time and place for it, and it’s not in the middle of the birth. Like, obviously yes. If your client is saying, “No take your fingers out of my vagina,” while the provider is refusing to stop doing a cervical check, you can jump in. You should jump in, I believe, anyway. And say, “Hey, she said stop.”

There’s a difference between that and trying to navigate through an unsupportive supportive environment. Like, I don’t know. Emmy, what are your thoughts? Where is the balance?

Emmy: How I treat it is just like how you treat your friend who’s in a crappy relationship. You just keep bringing it up. Right? Like, “Oh, how is Joe? I’m sure he is— oh, he did that again? Weird. So, I have a guy that you could talk to.”

Julie: He’s really cute.

Emmy: Or an OB. You could talk to him. The midwife is great. She’s awesome. How about you just do the free meeting? And because they did your well-women’s check does not mean that they should give birth, like, be a part of the birth of your baby, right? And really comparing it. A lot of my clients finally give over once they realize, would you bring your Tesla to a Ford mechanic? No.

Julie: I love that.

Emmy: Because that’s not their purpose. Their purpose is daily check-ups, that kind of thing. Not a car with a battery. So, right now, you’ve got a car with a battery. More specialized. It’s going to be more expensive, probably. Let’s just get real. This is tougher stuff. So, let’s get someone who is prepared for that and actually can be with you through it. 

Of course, I get people who don’t listen. And I have to understand why they feel comfortable in that space. That’s where— I think it’s important on our side not to let our biases come through.

Julie: Yeah.

Emmy: That does happen with me on occasion. I’ve even had it where someone’s like, “Well, I want continuous monitoring and I want movement.” Okay. Those don’t go together.

Julie: I mean, it can if you have-- (inaudible)

Emmy: Right. So the conversation we had, and then she was like, “Well, my provider said it was possible with the wireless monitors.” I was like, “Oh, now I understand why you’ve been set up with this notion.” 

Now I can come off of my own biases and like, alright. We have a different tool that I didn’t realize was in the tool bag. And really, that provider was trying to bring comfort to that person while also skirting the lines. So I think that’s also important on a doula level is, remember that providers are also humans trying to do their best, right?

Julie: Absolutely.

Emmy: Those are the balls you juggle. Treat it like a bad relationship, but also realize maybe they’re also human and they are doing their best to also juggle the balls.

Julie: Oh, I love that advice. Juggle the balls. Juggle all the balls. I think that that’s really good advice. Honestly, most of my VBAC clients now, if they have a provider that I know to be not very supportive of VBAC, I intuitively spent a lot of time prenatally. We go over a lot about what a supportive provider looks like, what evidence says for X, Y, and Z, and send them a lot of information. We talk a lot about their plans, what they want, and then before too long, they realize that their provider is not in line with what they want. And then I am ready right there, like you said, with a list of recommendations for new boyfriends, or new providers, new relationships, new car, whatever you want to call it.

Emmy: Yeah, exactly.

Julie: They end up switching. I can think of so many clients that-- especially VBAC after multiple Cesarean. There is this one provider in the area that everybody recommends and he is not VBAC after multiple Cesareans friendly. He is not. For some reason, everyone refers to him. 

I even had a client he told once, he sighed a little bit and did a little side-eyes and said, “I don’t know why everyone refers to me for VBAC after three C-sections. He told that to my client who was going for a VBAC after three C-sections. She ended up going with a different hospital and having her VBAC after three C-sections at 41 weeks and 5 days. Had she stayed with that provider, she would not have had her VBAC after three C-sections. I can say that with confidence. And so, I don’t know. It’s just this dance.

Emmy: It’s incredible. Incredible.

Julie: It’s just a dance to go on and play around because you have to be respectful of the birth space and the staff because the nurses and the obstetricians-- they’re all just trying to do their job the best that they know how and the best that they can do. Sometimes they’re tired and sometimes they’re having a bad day. But I think-- yeah. I don’t know. It’s just a struggle. I’m going to ask Cristen Pascucci from Birth Monopoly to come on the podcast and talk about advocacy, knowing your rights, and things like that.

Emmy: Well, there you go.

Julie: She’s going to just knock it out of the park. We’re going to all have answers to our questions.

Emmy: But that’s a big thing of mine is-- my purpose is to guide you to know how to be an advocate for yourself, right? I am not here to make decisions for people. So, yeah. That’s the hope, right? That would give them the skill of advocacy? Because that’s going to be important for their baby that just arrived and to make decisions for.

Julie: Yes, absolutely. Alright, Emmy. Well, it’s about time to wrap up. How can people find you if they are in the lovely Phoenix, Arizona?

Emmy: I am Birth Wizard on everything. I am birthwizard.com. I am Birth Wizard on Facebook. I am Birth Wizard on Instagram. I am Birth Wizard on Tumblr, Twitter, and Pinterest. Like literally everywhere .com, I’ve got it. Yeah.

Julie: Awesome.

Emmy: So, just shout out an email. You can summon me and we can talk about VBAC or whatever birth you need to have.

Julie: Summon the Birth Wizard. I love it. Alright. Well Hallie, thank you so much for sharing your story with us. It was great to listen to you and I am so glad that you had the support that you needed for your VBAC.

Hallie: Thank you so much for having me. It was really great.



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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