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How to have a happy belly birth

VBAC attempt | Your Birth Helper Trained

Brandi and Jeff began the prep for their happy "birth" day journey with our Charlotte Your Birth Helper team months ago.  With her first daughter, who was born in California, Brandi felt bullied and a great lack of respect for her wishes and was adamant to not repeat that scenario a second time.  As a nurse herself, the way in which she was made to feel during her first labor was highly disappointing.  She of all people understands the necessisty for medical complications and interventions, because she works as a Cardiac ICU Nurse.  What she found to be lacking was general support of "her birth wishes" as a healthy mom.  I have explained to many medical professionals over the years, its not that educated couples will refuse intervention period, its that they want to be left alone if there is no medical reason for the intervention to start with, as in routine interventions just used on the masses. Couples who seek low intervention natural birth, often are very aware that when used properly, those same routine interventions, can serve great purpose, but they want the opportunity as healthy moms/ healthy baby's to also have support when they choose to be left alone to endure the normal progression and path that each individual labor brings and further more receive encouragement to labor naturally.  They know pain management exists and if they change their mind or other decisions have to be made for mom or baby's best interest they welcome informed consent to make the decisions necessary.  I usually write the birth story from my perspective and help to educate in the process, but this story is special and I have very accurate photo's that properly express the level of work mom endured trying to bring her second daughter into the world vaginally, often referred to as VBAC. I asked Brandi a series of questions and I found her answers to be quite self explanatory. Therefore, Brandi will take it from here...

As a second time mom, I knew 100% without a doubt that we made the right choice with choosing a doula.  Even in the first few days of postpartum, I still questioned myself, whether I did everything in my power or if I did anything wrong that produced my outcome (much of which may have been hormones).  At the end of the day, I'm able to sit down and recall all of the knowledge I've gained that prepared me to the fullest: the books/articles, exercises I did, foods I ate, herbal supplements I used to prep, positions I practiced, questions I asked, even switching providers and to a practice and hospital who would support my wishes, etc... all because I first had a great doula team to guide me in the right direction.  I trusted my OB the first time to help with similar guidance and never received it.  I am not saying my outcome could have been different, but I would've had someone working with me to support my wishes.

(Brandi shown here in active labor leaning in over her bathroom counter)

Leaning in during contraction | Bathroom labor positions

Second, thing I learned is, during L & D, picking the right doula is VERY important. For me, it is the most vulnerable time ever and to let someone in, so up close and personal, is hard.  I could tell this important work is not just a job for YBH it's their passion. That matters! 

(Contractions were lasting between 120-180 seconds long each five minutes apart when we left for hospital.  Shown here, Brandi relaxes during contraction and attempts to empty bladder.)

Mom labors on toilet | Dad on birth ball

As for my relationship, I will say that I am glad I know no matter what is going on inside my home when push comes to shove,  Jeff has my back and is there 100% and I him! God has a funny way of things happening at certain times. I'm grateful to have someone ilike him in my corner, all the rest can be worked out!

(Brandi with husband Jeff, helping support her as she sinks into her contraction.)

Dad helps support mom during hard labor

(Brandi shown here with Doula, Allison TerMeer applying counter pressure to her S.I. joints to relieve back pain while supported by her husband.)

Charlotte Doula Allison TerMeer applies back pressure

As for the labor and birth experience itself, potential c-section vs. VBAC, we knew from the beginning that a repeat c-section was a possibility, but as you taught us, there is a difference between someone else controlling that and pushing you into it and you doing everything you can to have a successful VBAC, including having a team on board who honors our wishes and helps steer us in that direction. There is also a very important aspect of being medically necessary or not.   We gave it our all!

(Brandi utilizing birth ball and leaning into dad for comfort during contractions while nurse, Nancy Cook, checks baby's heart rate.)

Nurse Nancy Cook | EFM while on birth ball

Having a doctor who gave me extra time to labor and consider options was the icing on the cake.  He did not press us to make a decision as if it was emergent and for that I am grateful.  The back pressure and strength of contractions was challenging for sure.

(The moment when you realize the head has not decending and you must consider other options.)

Late Labor Crossroads | head not engaged

Although, it wasn't our first plan, knowing the surgery was truly medically necessary and having the c-section on our terms, laboring as long as we did with support, having so many people by our side to help us try to accomplish VBAC, etc. has made a world of difference!!!  Even my postpartum is better!!  I felt great leaving the hospital!  I had amazing nurses, doulas, midwives, and docs every step of the way!! The experience was amazing and the number one priority was accomplished, I brought home a healthy beautiful baby girl to hold in my arms!!  Brandi Smith Pusateri 

A brave VBAC attempt ends in medically necessary c-section

Brandi worked from when we first met with her in preparation for her redemption day. She controlled her gestational diabetes through managing her diet, she switched practices to a better fit for her and her sweet baby.  She met with me on several occasions to talk about her concerns and when it got closer to baby eviction date, we walked and talked, ate yummy Mediterranean food several times and sought out tips and advice along the way from our team.  Brandi rocked her birth. She got her redemption! Her body did exactly what it was supposed to do.  Allison TerMeer, YBHD

Prepped for repeat C-section | Your Birth Helper supported

VBAC - Vaginal Birth After Cesarean is worth attempting!  Brandi & Jeff would agree, the sense of accomplishment and benefits to the baby of the natural labor process alone is worth trying.  Let me briefly explain, the stress of labor is a "good stress" for babies. The "good stress increases blood flow" to the baby.  Stress hormones send more blood to brain, heart and baby's kidneys.  The hormones mom's body produces during labor can help to stimulate baby's adrenal glands.  The "good stress increases baby's immunity" as the white blood count increases after secretion of adrenal hormones.  The "good stress produces catecholamines" they help baby make the transition to new life outside of the uterus.  The "good stress hormones produce increased levels of surfactant which also helps baby keep its lungs expanded". As this occurs, baby can easier clear amniotic fluid from its lungs. And, thats just to name of few!  

Big sister meets little sister | Your Birth Helper

 Kudos to this amazing power couple for their John 16:21 Labor marathon well run!  Brandi and Jeff did everything in their power to achieve a healthy pregnancy, prep her body for labor, and get that sweet baby engaged in her pelvis.  In the end, her surgery was medically necessary for CPD cephalopelvic disproportion (small pelvis) and poor baby wedging her head behind the pelvic girdle.  We describe Symbiotic Birth as the best of the normal process, coupled with the best of medically necessary interventions.  Hands down Brandi & Jeff were thrilled to have experienced their own #SymbioticBirth!  

Special thanks to Piedmont OBGYN midwives and CMC Pineville nursing staff for their continued VBAC encouragement throughout her labor! And, an extra special thank you to Dr. ALvarez & our own Nancy Cook! Welcome to the world, Baby Alivia Gray Pusateri, you have mom and dad to thank for your 31 hours of "good stress" aka labor stimulation and best start to life!  

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