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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Guest post: surprise unassisted homebirth VBAC with classical incision scar birth story

by April Hager

I wrote this up for the Special Scars Group that has been sooooo wonderfully supportive and encouraging for the past nine months. My 1st 4 were unmedicated birth center births. #5 was an emergency CS at 26 weeks with classical (vertical) incision.

This first week with our new little blessing has flown by, but the thrill of it all will stay fresh in our minds for a long time to come! Like all special scars mamas, from the start I’d been reading, researching, and praying to make the most informed choice about a VBAC. When I found an OB willing to be on call for my delivery and a midwife in his practice who agreed (although not so willingly) to attend my birth, I felt a plan coming together. I tried to think of everything I could do for a successful delivery: exercise, excellent diet, a natural protocol to ensure that I’d be GBS negative (and my labor would not be slowed down by antibiotics required if a positive GBS test) having my favorite homebirth midwife act as my doula in the hospital, taking Gentle Birth herbal formula the last 5 weeks of my pregnancy to make labor go quicker (less chance of rupture, right?) and not go over my due date with a larger baby that might be more stressful to push out. 

I was due Sunday, June 26th. On Saturday, the last shoe of my plans dropped. My oldest daughter was finished with her job at a summer camp for the week. I picked her up that morning so she could take part in her sister’s birth. She joked that I could go into labor just as soon as she took a nap! She got her nap and I still wasn’t dilated beyond the 3 cm that I had been for several days. 

My Braxton Hicks contractions seemed to have lessened even though I’d been pushing acupressure points (especially BL 32) all day. I finally took a walk around our yard and got one hard contraction to happen. I started dinner at 5:00 and seemed to be having good contractions every 30-45 minutes. I was beginning to need to breathe through them, but still only dilated to 3 cm at 10:00 pm. I just knew that I’d be in labor in the wee morning hours and exhausted from not getting any sleep, so I thought I’d lie down for awhile and perhaps the contractions would taper off and I could sleep a little? I anticipated making the one hour trip to the hospital in a few hours when (as the OB instructed) contractions were closer together. By the time my husband came to bed at 11:00 he noticed that I was breathing constantly and asked if we shouldn’t be thinking about going?

I was having bad back labor pains (still pushing BL 32 to alleviate them) and felt like I’d better get out of bed and perhaps use the toilet. Contractions were so intense that I worried I’d be stuck on the toilet. My water conveniently broke before I made myself get back up and I checked to find that I seemed to be fully dilated! I tried sitting on the birth ball while my husband called my doula to tell her that we were going to the hospital. As soon as I was somewhat in between contractions and could talk I told him to just tell her to come to the house that there was no way I was going to get in a car the way I was feeling. I asked her if it was possible for a baby to come that fast and she said that it was. She instantly turned back into my midwife and said she was on her way! 

To relieve my back labor I knelt beside an ottoman in the living room and immediately felt like I needed to push. Hubby later told me he was scared to death at this point, but I felt like since we had no choice in the way things were going and if God allowed it to be this way, it must be going to turn out OK. I felt no pains in my upper abdomen where I’d imagined my vertical scar to be. Hubby asked my girls to get a towel to put under me and then called them over to help him catch the baby. I had her head out in a couple pushes. Tremendous relief followed but no immediate contractions to help me push her the rest of the way. I was waiting on another contraction to keep from tearing (I’d had episiotomies with the previous 4 natural births) but when hubby saw her breathing he encouraged me to go ahead and push. Out she came at 11:37! 

The first part of her I saw was her tiny little feet, a visual I’ll never forget, as I flipped over to get her on my chest. Every inch of her was beautiful-so perfect. I thought about that signed birth plan in the diaper bag. All my picky little details that I was prepared to ask for at the hospital. And now I could do whatever I wanted! I had so much energy because it wasn’t even my bedtime yet. I felt like I’d just run a quick sprint. My girls were crying tears of joy, hubby was still in shock I think, and the midwife was just coming through the front door. I was just amazed that my little girl was there in my arms on my living room floor. I got the homebirth that I’d wanted since seven years ago when my son was taken by emergency CS at only 26 weeks. God knew what I really wanted and gave me the desires of my heart without my even asking. Caroline had a peaceful, beautiful entrance into this world. I shudder to think of what it would have been like for her if I’d given in to the fears of others and had a RCS. I believe that God understood my wanting to ensure the safety of myself and my baby by choosing to birth in a hospital, but in his omniscience He also knew that it would be just fine for me to birth at home and unassisted at that! He worked it all out and used all of my prior preparations in the perfect way that only He can and I’m so grateful!

April, her husband, and their 6 beautiful children


  1. That was a great story, I'm currently 16 weeks pregnant, I have a 2 year old born by c-section and badly want this baby to go vbac. I've been greatly considering a homebirth, but I often feel I have little support this can be done. In some ways when I labour I want to tell no one but my husband and do it at home until the baby is coming out. I have midwives also this time around, so I hope for the best. I feel having no one around will create a stress free environment for me to birth.

  2. Hi Anonymous, thank you for sharing your story. I'm sorry you feel unsupported. I don't know what the best option is for you, but if you want resources for information to weigh VBAC vs. repeat cesarean, I'm happy to connect you with online resources. If you PM me (wellroundedbirthprep at gmail dot com) with your email address and general location (state, province, metropolitan area), I can ask around to see what your VBAC options are, which hospitals, birth centers, and care providers are VBAC friendly who could go over your charts with you and help you assess your options based on your individual circumstances.

    Here's a link to help you and your hubby decipher the latest research published by the National Institutes of Health regarding relative risks/safety of VBAC vs. repeat cesarean:

    ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) is a great organization for cesarean support, healing, recovery, awareness, research, VBAC info, and more.


    Here are their research papers on a variety of cesarean & VBAC topics. Their message boards are a great resource for support from other moms who have been in your situation. If you have an ICAN group close to you, it may be a great support for you as well, regardless of what you end up choosing for your birth. ICAN ladies may also be a great source for a recommendation for a VBAC-friendly provider in your area (whether for hospital, birth center, or homebirth).

    I wish you a peaceful pregnancy and joyful birth, no matter what you choose. Best wishes.


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