My VBAC Experience: Vaginal Birth vs. C-section
Ok ok this is hands down *the* most requested blog post imaginable. And at first I was like “yes yes of course – I can share everything”. Then as I just sat down to right this, I am feeling overwhelmed with how much info this blog post is about to have in it.
I have so many thoughts and feelings on my VBAC experience. I also recommend reading Ezra and Brody’s birth stories to get an idea on what went down if you want full details too. But to sum it up: I had a C-section with Ezra at 36 weeks because my water broke and he was breeched. Then for Brody I delivered at 40 weeks and 1 day vaginally and I am over here sharing my overall thoughts on each with you guys.
Neither birthing method is “better” than the other one in my opinion. They both have pros and cons and risks to them. And at the end of the day, all that matters is that you and your baby (or babies) are healthy and well and snuggling after!! For our next, I’m open to whatever the baby needs and am just so grateful to bring Brody and Ezra into the world. Call me a cheeseball – but it is true!
Note: I have to state the obvious here. I am not a doctor or HCP. I am just sharing my own thoughts and experiences here. Please don’t take any of this as medical advice.
- It is typically scheduled unless it’s an emergency C-section. If you are super type A and like to know when things will happen, this can be a huge pro. You know the date the baby is coming and this can make some feel more at ease and prepared. I personally like the element of surprise but it is also nice to know when to get your hair blown out and take your last solo shower 😉
- You pretty much know what to expect post C-section. They tell you it is like recovering from major surgery and it really is. Afterwards I wasn’t able to do much like bend down, pick things up, etc. but thankfully Jordan was home with me and able to help. Along with my family who comes over frequently. With my VBAC you’ll see below – I didn’t know what to expect in forms of recovery. I knew what I was getting myself into.
- You don’t feel any pain during delivery. Some may consider this a con since it is a really cool adrenaline rush delivering vaginally but with a C you don’t feel any pain. I just felt like tugging and I didn’t even feel the epidural or anything.
- It is on average 45 minutes. Ez was in and out in no time. My entire C-section was 45 minutes start to finish!
- You are recovering from major surgery. This means no walking, no bending down, moving very very slowly for a bit, etc. It is challenging to care for a newborn when you aren’t feeling your best. Thankfully I had a smooth recovery so tbh to me this wasn’t really a con but it definitely can be to some. I was wheeled around in a wheel chair in the hospital and wasn’t able to walk for a couple days besides gently walking to the bathroom when needed (and at 1 mph).
- Scar on your lower abdomen. To me this ins’t a con because I call it my warrior scar, but it definitely bothers some. Mine is also 2x larger than most because of how crazy of a position Ezra was in!
- No immediate skin-to-skin with baby. I didn’t realize how much this bothered me until I had my VBAC. I wasn’t able to cuddle and hold Ezra as quickly as Brody and had to wait. Such a buzzkill and I wish you could do skin-to-skin with a C. And I think this impacted Ezra’ initial latch onto my boob for nursing.
- Any risk associated with major surgery. There are always risks with any surgery and with a C-section, it’s not any different. You lose more blood usually in a C but I also lost a lot in my VBAC they said.
- Post-delivery hospital time is longer. With Ezra we were there for 3 days. With Brody we were there for 36 hours and headed back home.
- Can’t get induced for labor if you want a VBAC next time. This I didn’t know until I was asking to be induced at 39 weeks ha! My doctor said I had to be dilated on my own etc. and there are more risks of uterine rupturing if you are induced for a VBAC post C.
- Ezra had to go to NICU. Not sure how to label this con since it’s not something that happens for everyone. But Ezra swallowed some of my blood in the C-section delivery. So he had to go to the NICU the next night when he started coughing up blood everywhere. It was the scariest 2 days ever while they figured out what ws going on.
Vaginal birth thoughts:
- The overall birthing experience. Delivering a child is insane and intense and such an adrenaline rush. With Brody I was pushing without an epidural at 10cm +2 dilated and despite that it was the most intense pain of my life – it was the coolest rush of energy afterwards knowing what my body just did. Or it was the epidural I begged my doctor for 15 minutes before I pushed Ez out (ha!).
- Immediate skin-to-skin. This was so beautiful. I cried and smiled and laughed and felt so many emotions when I held Brody straight out of the womb. Covered in all the crazy stuff, the nurses handed him to me and it was beautiful. We had skin-to-skin for over an hour and I was the happiest human on the face of the planet.
- Delayed cord cutting. We didn’t get to do this with Ezra and we were able to delay the cord blood cutting with Brody. There are benefits to doing this for baby but wasn’t end of the world we couldn’t with my C.
- Mamas are typically able to function better physically after. Besides the insane pains in my tush and the taring, I felt like I was able to do more for Brody after than Ezra. Especially in the hospital right after delivery. I could at least stand up and hold Brody and not feel like my legs were going to snap. Granted it took me forever to get in and out of bed but it was so much easier to care for Brody right after.
- Labor can be LONG and you don’t know what to expect. You don’t know what to expect in terms of time or how long the whole process will be. Some of my friends pushed for hours and hours and some push for 10 minutes and that’s it. One of my apprehensions on doing a VBAC was that I’d push for hours and end up going into a C-section anyways. You don’t know what will happen until it is all happening in front of you (or really to you!)
- Taring and hemorrhoids. OK so I probably sound ridiculous but I wasn’t expecting the recovery to be as intense as it was post VBAC. I know this isn’t the case for everyone but damn! It was insane having 2nd degree taring (can’t even imagine women who have to heal from more!!) plus hemorrhoids to heal. I thought I’d be walking out of the hospital with soreness and some stitching etc. but it was a hell of a lot more painful for recovery than I thought.
- Bladder control problems. Sounds funny when I type it out but I already have peed my pants twice post labor. And this was an issue for me before my VBAC. Starting to work on those muscles to heal now.
My Postpartum Survival Crew:
- Mom washer– aka squirt bottle for down there! I use this every single time I go to the bathroom. And it has been really helpful with my hemorrhoids too and cleansing that area. I also find it weirdly refreshing to use cooler water if you can tolerate it.
- Cooling wipes – I bought these day 5 of PP and I wish I got them sooner. A few friends recommended them and I am beyond obsessed. They are refreshing and just feel so good on top of your pad in you underwear.
- Cooling ice pad liners – I full on look like I have a penis when I wear this but whatever. These ice packs are SO GOOD! I put one on then the cooling wipes above and it is heavenly on the stitches and has really helped me manage discomfort.
- Pads – I am not about the reusable pads here guys for post-labor. I got a bunch of maxi pads and changed them every single time I went to the bathroom.
- Hospital underwear – snag as much of this as you can from the hospital. I have worn it every day since having Brody. I personally find it comfortable too and the thought of using reusable underwear makes me want to actually gag with the amount of stuff going on down there. It isn’t the most eco-friendly but for a couple weeks, it is what it is!
- Nipple balm – I barely used this with Ezra but this time around my nipples have been in more pain. I think Brody’s latch is a bit stronger too so maybe that is why. I use this all day everyday.
- Hemorrhoid cream – WHY does no one tell you that hemorrhoids happen and they flat out stink?! Wow I was not expecting that at all. This cream has been great and I apply it 2-3x day. I also shower every single morning right after I go to the bathroom to make sure things stay clean down there and just manage the pain.
- Gentle soap – I have been using this baby soap to clean everything down there and it’s worked great. It is also what I usually wash Ezra with.
- Soft robe + towels – treat yourself! I bought a few different robes since I knew I’d be living in them. I love the soft one linked and the matching towels. After you nurse and shower etc, it feels so good to be in something cozy. Plus easy access to your boobs for the baby. Try code RACHELMANSFIELD20 for $20 off $100+ order (not sure when it expires).
- Cozy sweatpants + sweatshirts – I think I have 100+ sets of sweatpants at this point to the point where it is pathetic. But I still bought a new set for postpartum and I am living in them.