Pat got pregnant with her first baby, Liam, a couple of months shy of her 40th birthday. Despite the anxiety that the statistics for her age made her feel, Pat had a healthy pregnancy. Due to an OP baby and lack of support, a difficult five-day labor lead to a cascade of interventions. After getting stuck at 6cm and having the baby suffer decels, the birth ended on a c-section–– something far from the unmedicated birth she so much had prepared for and dreamed of. During her labor and stay in the hospital, she felt unheard and mistreated by some of the residents, which added to the trauma she carried from the birth.
When she got pregnant with her second son Oliver, she made sure to hire a doula and surround herself with the support necessary to try to have a different experience this time. This was also an uncomplicated pregnancy, despite being 42 this time around. She also switched providers to a specialist in VBACs. When the labor began, Pat recognized some of the same patterns in this labor (baby was also OP) and triggered some of the trauma, but with the help of her doula and rockstar husband, Pat headed to the hospital after two days of labor and she was already at an 8, which made her feel so proud of herself. This time, no residents were allowed and she had an incredible midwife, Rachel, who was a blessing. Although the birth ended up with a VBAC, something she had dreamed of and makes her feel proud of herself, Pat once more has struggled with the treatment received, this time from the OB, and is trying to process the experience and coming to terms with it.
Pat Santana Bio
Pat Santana was born in Barcelona and moved to LA in 2013 to pursue the love of her life, her now husband Jesse, who he met at film school. They both work in the film and tv industry and have two kids–– Liam (2 years old) and Oliver (5 months old)–– with her dog, Yuna. Connect with her via Instagram- @patsantanaf or on Facebook- facebook.com/patbzz.
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Hannah is a mama of two that recently experienced an empowering and redemptive VBAC birth. Her daughter is two years old and was born via unplanned cesarean section at 37 weeks due to some last minute complications. She was determined for the years to follow that she would have an unmedicated VBAC with her second baby and that’s exactly what she did. Her son was born at 39 weeks weighing in at 9lbs 14oz and 23in long. She experienced 18 hours of unmedicated labor including an hour and a half of pushing along with some complications near the end due to a vaginal septum and extensive tearing. In the end, she felt birthing her son the way that she did was the proudest and strongest thing that she had done in her entire life.
Hannah Wildhaber Bio
Hannah has two children, a daughter that is 2 years old and a son that just turned 6 weeks. She is an emergency department nurse at a busy hospital in Oregon and married to her husband who works in agriculture sales. They live in a small town with their 2 kids and their dog named Harold.
The Birth Hour
Expecting Better by Emily Oster
Evidence Based Birth website Rebecca Dekker
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Allison gave birth to her third baby at 42 weeks via a planned induction. This was her second VBAC and the birth was a beautiful experience. She was induced with pitocin and had a short, epidural-free labor and birth of her 9 pound 12 oz daughter, Ivy. Allison and her husband enjoyed two restful and quiet days in the hospital and arrived home to their older children two days later. Allison’s postpartum took a turn when she and her whole family developed COVID just days after her daughter was born.
Allison Lynch Bio
lives in Madison, WI with her husband Jesse and their three children. They love spending time outdoors and exploring parks around the area. Allison is passionate about VBAC education and empowerment. She overcame a traumatic birth experience and feels strongly about supporting families through these experiences. Feel free to connect with Allison via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Instagram @AlliLynch14.
This episode is sponsored by Ergobaby. Founded in 2003, Ergobaby has pioneered the gold standard for comfortable, ergonomic soft structured carriers. Their commitment to providing parents with the foundation to thrive has launched the company into creating a broad range of award-winning products that fit into families’ daily lives seamlessly, comfortably, and safely – where function and quality are not compromised. In 2020, they launched Everlove by Ergobaby, a first of its kind baby carrier buy back and resale program, a sustainability effort to support families and the planet. Check out Ergobaby’s Embrace in Soft Air Mesh that we discussed on the podcast!
Despite feeling prepared, Amanda’s first birth experience ended in a cesarean birth when her baby started struggling with heart decelerations. Before the doctor even made the cut, she already knew she wanted a VBAC experience with her next birth. The postpartum experience with her first was challenging, but things settled after a few months.
When Amanda became pregnant over a year later, she did everything she could to prepare for a VBAC. She went into labor at 41 weeks and had an amazing labor but experienced a complete uterine rupture after one hour of pushing. She was rushed into emergency surgery. Once delivered, her baby was rushed to the NICU and remained there for 9 days. While recovering in the hospital Amanda experienced chest pain, and a CT scan revealed a pulmonary embolism. Postpartum had other challenges related to low breastmilk supply and she had a physically and emotionally painful recovery.
Amanda Jamison Bio
Amanda lives near Denver, CO with her husband Jonathan and two kids: Rowan (2.5 years old) and Aria (8 months). She can be found on Instagram at @amanda_moves or on Facebook under Amanda Jamison.
Today’s episode is sponsored by Ergobaby. Founded in 2003, Ergobaby has pioneered the gold standard for comfortable, ergonomic soft structured carriers. Their commitment to providing parents with the foundation to thrive has launched the company into creating a broad range of award-winning products that fit into families’ daily lives seamlessly, comfortably, and safely – where function and quality are not compromised. In 2020, they launched Everlove by Ergobaby, a first of its kind baby carrier buy back and resale program, a sustainability effort to support families and the planet. Check out Ergobaby’s Embrace in Soft Air Mesh that we discussed on the podcast!
Rafa, October 2017: Emily was diagnosed with cholestasis at 35 weeks, and as a result her midwives scheduled her for an induction at 37 weeks. She was induced with Cytotec over a period of 24 hours. At the end of the 24 hours, the baby’s heart rate started to drop. She was taken to a pre-op room for monitoring where it was quickly determined that the baby was not tolerating the induction well and she needed a C-section. The doctors put her under general anesthesia because she had just eaten (due to an outdated, not-evidence-based hospital policy). She met her son about two hours after he was born.
Joaquín, July 2021: Emily really wanted a VBAC after her traumatic C section birth. Around 25 weeks she learned that her baby was measuring small, in the 11th percentile. His percentile continued to drop and he was diagnosed with intrauterine growth restriction. At 37 weeks he was measuring in the 4th percentile. As a result, Emily was scheduled for an induction at 38 weeks. This time she wasn’t eligible for cervical ripening meds like Cytotec so she was offered a Foley balloon. After 48 hours, 3 different Foley balloons, an epidural, and some Pitocin, she had a successful VBAC.
Emily Taylor Bio
Emily lives in Northeast Washington D.C. with her wife Sofia, her sons Rafa and Joaquín, and their many, many houseplants. She works as a product manager for an education tech company. Emily loves baking projects, swimming laps, city adventures, and that 8 p.m. moment when both kids are finally asleep. She dislikes diet culture, the American healthcare system, and when people put bananas and melon in fruit salad. Feel free to connect with her via email at email@example.com, especially if you live in the DC area and are looking for mom friends!
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Victoria’s first pregnancy with her honeymoon baby went smoothly. She watched “The Business of Being Born,” and decided that an intervention free birth was what she wanted. She chose a hospital with certified nurse midwives and the lowest cesarean rate in town. She believed she was all set, and decided not to hire a doula or pursue comfort measure classes. Labor started at 40 weeks and 3 days.
After seventeen hours of labor, most of it with an epidural, she consented to a cesarean and met the newest love of her life under a large blue drape. The meeting was shortened when she started feeling pain during suturing. Her son was whisked away to be measured while her husband and the nurse anesthetist tended to her. Once the suturing was completed, and the cocktail of drugs took effect, she was back in bright spirits and was able to breastfeed during the golden hour, before introducing her son to his extended family.
Second pregnancy and birth
Despite an emotional first labor and birth, and a Graves’ Disease diagnosis four months postpartum, Victoria and her husband were eager to add another baby to their family. They found out about baby number two on Black Friday, when their oldest son was nine months old.
This time they hired a doula, saw a pelvic floor therapist, and was involved with their local ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Network) chapter. She decided to continue prenatal care at the same hospital as her oldest son’s birth, hoping for a redemptive birth. Around 24 weeks, she received a letter from her medical insurance saying that this hospital was no longer in network and she needed to find care elsewhere.
Shortly after receiving that letter, Victoria and Jeff met a well-known, VBAC supportive doctor at an ICAN Q&A meeting. They decided that night to switch to his care.
At her 40 week and 5 day prenatal appointment, Victoria and her doctor had “the talk” about options. She expressed her recent feelings that she was supposed to have a cesarean, and he advised her to call her husband and to pray about it. After a short phone call in office, they decided to go ahead with a repeat cesarean, and scheduled it for that evening. Their family centered cesarean was the healing birth she hoped for. At a day old, her son was diagnosed with sagittal synostosis, a birth defect where the suture lines of the skull fuse prematurely. To further complicate things, Baton Rouge and surrounding areas experienced a 1000 year flood only two days after his birth.
Third pregnancy and Birth
Two years after their second son was born, Jeff and Victoria felt the time was right to add to their family, and got pregnant on the first try-again! Sadly, their pregnancy ended in a miscarriage two and a half weeks later. Eleven months and one more early miscarriage later, they were finally pregnant again. This time, they saw the very first heartbeats of their baby girl at five weeks and five days, and found out that she shared a due date with her oldest brother.
They wrestled with the decision to hire a doula and ultimately decided to take a comfort measures class at 38 weeks instead and to keep their labor as a bonding moment between the two of them. Labor started at midnight at 40 weeks and 4 days. Fifteen hours later they were holding their sweet VBA2C baby!
Victoria Lero Bio
Victoria is a stay at home mom from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Her husband, Jeff, is a firefighter and they’ve been married since 2014. Their three incredible kids bring so much joy and laughter to their lives! Victoria is a self-proclaimed birth nerd and hopes to one day support families through pregnancy, birth, and postpartum in some capacity (be it through doula support, midwifery, or a podcast).
She loves to connect with others, and you can reach her through Instagram @LoveLero or Gmail firstname.lastname@example.org
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