How I prepped for my HBAC/VBAC (home/vaginal birth after cesarean)

Let's just get right to it...

  • Supportive Provider - This is obvious, I am sure but surprisingly difficult for some birthing people in certain parts of the world. I chose to use a midwife for a homebirth but interviewed multiple and chose someone who was truly supportive of a vbac. Find and OB, midwife, or birth freely in a truly supportive environment best fit for you.

  • Hypnobirthing - I knew right when I got pregnant I wanted to practice hypnobirthing during pregnancy and for my birth. It was more helpful than I could have imagined during pregnancy because I also was battling HG (hyperemesis gravidarum). Also, during labor, I used the Freya App and really loved the guided breath during surges.

  • Prenatal Yoga - When I could stomach it, I did it. Nothing crazy, just 10-20 minutes of stretching my body 3-4 days a week via a video in my living room (pandemic yoga).

  • Walking - So important to move your body and also a great way to encourage labor. I made a big attempt to go on a nice walk every day.

  • Scar Massage - This seemed to be more mental prep than successful vaginal birth prep. I have a lot of emotion packed into my scar (I'm sure you can relate), so I would massage it, gently, as my belly grew every few weeks. *As a side note, it is incredibly beneficial to do scar massage after cesarean surgery, I wish I would have taken that more seriously.

  • Chiropractor - This is the popular one you will hear from everyone to have a successful vbac. We don't have 'proof' or 'studies' to back up chiropractic care and vbacs, but I did enjoy my visits. I went monthly in my 2nd trimester and then bi-weekly in the 3rd Trimester and then weekly in the final weeks leading up to my due date.

  • Epi-No - Epi what you ask?! You do not need a device to do perineal massage prenatally. You can use your hands, a partner's hands, or whoever has hands and consent from you! My c-section took place after 4 hours of pushing and a lot of my trauma lived in those moments. I mentally needed to do stretching. I started using the epi-no every night around 35 weeks. (I either played a hypno track or watched an episode of The Great while stretching.) We do not have physical evidence that stretching makes any difference in whether or not you will tear or birth slower/quicker. It was all mental for me, and that was enough. *If you do want to try out the device you can find it here.

  • Borage Capsules - Per my midwife! She had me place a borage oil capsule near my cervix every night starting around 36-37 weeks. This is similar to the Evening Primrose Oil recommendation that birthing people often get. I also enjoyed this each night because it allowed me to check in with MY cervix with MY fingers (until I got too huge to reach).

  • Spinning Babies - Starting in my 3rd trimester I did the 3 sisters maneuvers weekly. Even more frequently if I was having sciatica or pelvic bone pain. If you are wondering who the heck the three sisters are, here you go. (she does sifting on the belly in her video, I liked it done on my booty) Also, check out the spinning babies site for amazing positioning info and a great resource for breech babies.

  • Doula - Get a doula. This is actually one of the few things that has evidence behind it to reduce cesarean. My doula didn't do much and didn't need to. She showed up. She held my hand as I laid on the floor of the shower. And she said all the right things to me during transition that kept me from running to the nearest hospital for an epidural. *I understand that a doula is an essential luxury and may be an issue of cost. In most areas, you can find a doula in training or someone new if low cost is crucial.

Lastly, I want to mention a few things I didn't do but that are often recommended:

  • Red Rasberry Leaf Tea - The exact amount suggested is different depending on who you ask. Drink up!

  • 6 Dates a Day - Weird, yes. But there is a tiny bit of evidence to back this up. The study showed that women who consumed 6 dates a day had more a more favorable cervix. It was only a couple hundred women in the study, they began consuming around 37 weeks. Eat Up!

*I don't believe you actually have to do anything at all to have a successful VBAC. For me, I felt the desire to prepare, to train for the adventure ahead. It gave my mind ease, that if I did all of these things and my birth ended in a repeat cesarean then there was nothing else I could do. (Photo by Stephanie Entin)