Mental Preparation for your VBAC: a doula’s perspective

Concentrated young man with his head melting in tangled lines

So you have decided to have a VBAC.  Lets assume you’ve found your supportive OB and maybe you’ve already hired your doula.  You’ve visited the amazing ICAN website and had lots of your questions answered.  With your birth team in tact and only your EDD between you and baby, you might wonder how else you need to prepare for this opportunity for a “Trial of Labor.”

I have already documented that I believe that unmedicated birth is more about mental preparation and mental determination than it is about some magical skill that you posses, but this post isn’t about deciding to go unmedicated.  Yet the same principal for mental preparation applies.  This post is for anyone out there wanting a VBAC. And I’d like to point out one of the biggest mental road blocks that may come up along the way.

As I’ve worked with many clients facing the exciting and sometimes unknown territory of their trial of labor, they begin to hit the “Wall of Comparison.”  Unknown-1

  • “This is exactly where I was with my last pregnancy when ____________”
  • “See, I remember doing this last time.”
  • “I just don’t think it’s going to be different since my body did this before.”

This wall of comparison can happen during your pregnancy and rear its ugly head while in labor.  Every time you reach a milestone in labor (dilation, station of baby, hours of pushing) you may be tempted to hit the wall.  And mentally when you hit that wall you have to break through or you may become defeated and possibly lose hope in your desire for a VBAC,  But I believe that a mental “flip the switch” is in order.  Adopt this simple phrase and philosophy: “Different day, different baby’

The one thing I would never want to do is assume I know the future.  I don’t know how your trial of labor is going to turn out.  But I am pretty confident in this: your body is not broken.  And each pregnancy is different from the last.  Each labor will be different from the last.  And mentally recognizing that whatever your pregnancy or birth looked like the last time does not mean it will automatically happen again this time: different day, different baby.

Think about that: Different day, different baby.

Different Day: Each and every birth comes with its own unique variations of normal.  Or even anomalies.  You are literally giving birth on a different day.  Hats off to you if it happens to be another Wednesday, sunny and a red car passed you on the way to the hospital “just like the last time.”  You need to buy a lottery ticket on your way back home.  But overall, you may have changed doctors, hospitals or even learned so much more about birth in between your last birth and this one.

Different baby:  Each and every baby comes with their own unique variations of normal and intricacies.  This time your baby could be in a completely different position, tolerate labor differently or even decide to show up faster or slower. And just as you will soon realize as you raise these babies, no two are exactly alike.  The same is true in birth.

My hope for you is that you will see the beauty in this pregnancy, even as you process the last one.  I hope that as you approach your guess day, you will be able to marvel in the variations of normal as you learn afresh how to trust the process of how your body is made to birth your baby.

When you hit the wall of comparison you can push through it (see what I did there)  as you focus and repeat to yourself:

Different day, different baby.

***Please understand that there are times where chronic health issues, as an issue of genetics, are what prevent a trial of labor and in those circumstances I would never glibly assume that it will just be completely different subsequently.***

Happy Birthing!

Rachel Garcia