VBAC vs C-section: Solange’s Birth Story

vbac vs c-section: Solange's Birth Story

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If you find yourself debating about a VBAC after a C-section, know that you’re not alone. I’m here for you, as I recently went through that same experience. VBAC vs C-section, is one better than the other?

Having now taken both paths: a C-section and a VBAC birth, I understand the weight of this decision, and I want to share my firsthand experiences, the positives and negatives, the ups and downs—providing you with a new perspective. Your concerns, and your hesitations matter, and I’m here to offer you the knowledge and insight I’ve gathered along my unique path.

I hope this helps bring some clarity as you weigh your options and make the right decision for you and your precious journey ahead.

Giselle twinning with her new baby sister Solange on the couch at our home in Minneapolis

Some of you might know that Noah and I just had another baby girl. Solange Lydia was born on December 1 and came into this world just 13 months after our Giselle Mademoiselle. Someone told me the other day, “Wow, Ukrainian, yet, such Irish Twins.” And they are so right! 

Noah and his daughter Giselle who's one year in this photo, a month before her sister was born via VBAC

Giselle was breech, and I had no other choice but to have a cesarean birth (C-section), where Solange was positioned head down from the beginning, and I was able to ask my new doctor from Haugen OBGYN to allow me to do a VBAC. Since my first pregnancy had no other complications, and the only thing that led me to the C-section was the position of the baby, my doctor was willing to let me deliver vaginally while making me aware and strongly emphasizing all the VBAC risks I could face.

VBAC Risks:

  1. Infection in the uterus. 
  2. Blood loss, and most likely needing a blood transfusion.
  3. Tearing your scar or rupturing your uterus during labor. 
  4. Traumatic birth experience.
  5. Higher likelihood of emergency c-section.

Benefits of VBAC Birth: 

  1. Avoiding a major surgery
  2. Shorter hospital stay
  3. Much quicker recovery
  4. Ability to lift your toddler after coming home
  5. A more natural approach to birth
  6. Better chance of starting breastfeeding sooner
  7. Decreasing the chances of hysterectomy
  8. Decreasing the chances of blood transfusion 

The main recommendation for a VBAC birth is to have at least an 18-month gap between babies to ensure that your body is fully healed after surgery and uterine rupture doesn’t happen. Well, this was not my case. We were barely going to have a 13-month difference between babies. 

Minnesota is one of the states where VBAC is not restricted, and I wanted to take advantage of that opportunity. And so many of my friends shared that the healing process is faster after vaginal delivery, which I was very excited about. 

Part of me felt deprived that I couldn’t have Giselle vaginally, and there was nothing I could do to help her flip. Cartwheels at 37 weeks, chiropractor visits, burning Chinese medicine by pinkie toes, acupuncture, and forward-leaning inversion exercises all combined did not help. All these great efforts didn’t pave the path to triumph, and I want to be honest with you, I was disappointed! 

VBAC vs C-section, which one is better? Giselle, pictured here with her parents, Noah and Anya walking in the park in Minneapolis ready for her sister to come into this world.

Looking back, I do realize now that my c-section experience was beautiful. My water broke the day before my due date at 11 pm, and as soon as we got to the hospital, things started progressing quickly. I dilated to 3 centimeters pretty rapidly, and the doctor and nurses, being aware that my baby was breech, were not wasting any time. 

After running some tests, both Noah and I were prepped and headed to the operating room, where the anesthesiologist was waiting for us. I didn’t have one contraction, and there was no pain or waiting leading us to meet our baby. Giselle was born at 2:04 am on Oct 29th, 2022, on our due date.  

And that’s why a lot of women choose to have c-sections. 

C-section Advantages: 

  1. Comfort and convenience of knowing when exactly the baby is coming. 
  2. Not going through painful contractions and endless labor and still needing a C-section at the end. 
  3. No risk of uterine rupture. 
  4. More controlled and relaxed atmosphere with fewer unknowns. 
  5. Going through a familiar path of c-section. 
  6. Not being offered an option of VBAC by a provider.
  7. Safe delivery of a transverse or breech baby. 

Giselle as a baby, either one or two months old, being help by Anya with the friend Sam taking a photo over Anya's shoulder. Giselle was just born via C-section

Events that preceded my labor and meeting Solange were very different from the ones that led to Giselle’s birth. 

My condition from the doctor to have a VBAC was that my labor starts around my due date. I didn’t qualify for induction because the risk of my uterus rupturing was still there, and it was pretty high, so unless my body showed signs of labor at a proper time, my doctor would need to switch gears and prepare to have a c-section to keep it safe. 

I knew there were no exaggerations or unnecessary anxiety that my doctor was communicating, and I was preparing myself for the worst while still expecting and praying for the best.  

My pregnancy was smooth and easy. My only complaint was my daily heartburn, but after I made friends with Pepcid Complete, even that inconvenience was quite insignificant.

I swam a lot during those 40 weeks; I was working, Noah and I went on trips, and I had enough energy to take care of Giselle and live my everyday life: no gestational diabetes, no protein in the urine, and no problems with sleeping.  

Noah and Anya posing together in the park with beautiful fall color leaves in the trees, Noah has his hand on Anya stomach, who's 8 months pregnant with Solange

My contractions with Solange started on my due date, and they felt very painful. I realized that whenever you hear someone describe pain, you might have a certain level of empathy because we are all human; however, if you didn’t go through the same physical pain, you can’t fully understand what that might mean.

It is similar to when people ask me if learning a foreign language or moving to another country was challenging. Unless they tried learning a foreign language or traveled abroad and were inconvenienced and entirely out of their comfort zone, it is pretty hard to have that conversation.

So when my friends were talking about contractions, I thought to myself, how painful could they really be, and isn’t epidural what you can get to forget about them all together? Let me tell you, they were BAD! I couldn’t find a comfortable position, I couldn’t regulate the length of those contractions, and there were no pain meds at my house to soothe me.

I called my clinic, Fairview Health in Edina, and my doctor wasn’t on call that night, but someone else was, and they wanted me to come to the hospital as soon as possible. My first and only question was, “You are not going to send me home after we come, are you?”

The answer was, “I really don’t know unless we check your cervix and know if your water broke or not.” 

Solange's birth story, Noah and Anya sitting on a beige blanket in the park with the backs to each other, looking at the camera, Anya is holding a small pumpkin in her left hand

Hmmm, not the answer I was looking for, but we had no choice but to get in the car and drive. After calling and texting around, we found a friend (Gigi’s godfather) who came to our house at 11 pm to watch her while we went to the hospital to possibly have another baby.

My doctor delivers babies at either Mother Baby Center or Fairview in Edina. We were heading to Fairview. 

Noah drove fast, and we got to the hospital in no time. The nurse was very kind and explained what the steps of the visit would be. Unless the test would show that my water broke and I dilated, we would need to turn around and go home. That was the verdict. She said if I wanted a C-Section, that was available there and then. 

The scariest thing during both pregnancies for me was the procedure when a doctor or a nurse would try to check my cervix. I was terrified every time, and most times, when asked, I would just politely decline.

Unfortunately, finding out if I was dilating this time was crucial. My contractions were 4 minutes apart, I was anxious, and I knew this procedure would only cause even more pain. I was very unprepared for how much pain it would cause. 

The nurse had much bigger hands and kept searching for my cervix and didn’t seem to know how to find it. After almost a minute and sinking in pain, I had to tell her to stop and try and fetch someone else who could locate it effortlessly, as I had experienced in the past. 

I am not a medical professional, but I was on the receiving end of this procedure four different times, and it took seconds for other staff to check and be ready with an answer, but not this time. 

The second nurse was gentle and fast. I dilated to 1 cm. It was 2:30 am, and we were told to head home. Solange is not ready; it’s not the time. 

vbac advantages, photo of Noah with his hand on Anya's stomach, just before Anya deliver Solange vaginally, 13 months after Giselle was born via C-section

The next day ( November 30th) started with no pain, the contractions went away, and I was able to go and get a prenatal massage that Noah had booked for me. Contractions returned later in the afternoon and got worse as the sun went down. I kept trying to wait them out until they were about a minute apart. 

I realized that I was in a way more pain, but at this point, all I thought about was I couldn’t go to the hospital because they would either insist on a C-section or send me home again. Noah later told the doctor that he could hear the painful moans from the bedroom and knew that there was no way that I was going to make it through the night.

I remember him asking me if we should attempt another hospital trip, and I said no. Finally, I had had enough of the pain and asked God to give me a sign if I was supposed to go to the hospital. Eventually, my Minnesota mom, Tami, messaged me saying I should go, and I took it as a sign.

My Minnesota parents kindly offered to grab Gigi, and we were on the way to the hospital, hoping to meet Solange. 

The whole family, Solange being in Anya's tummy, everyone is color coordinated in beige fall colors and the green leaves are begging to turn shades of red behind them as they're all holding hands

As we were driving to the hospital, I kept biting my fingers as contractions came, and then I would press against my car seat to elevate my body a little. I have no clue if it was relieving or if it just made sense in my head. 

I was thinking if they sent us home this time, we would have no idea when to come in and would most likely have the baby at home, which was terrifying.

I dialed the number of our clinic as I was informed to do and was suddenly told to come to the Mother Baby Center in Minneapolis instead of Fairview in Edina. Noah and I were perplexed about why. The doctor said unless I wanted to have another c-section, I should head to Mother Baby Center.

Since I wanted a risky procedure (VBAC), no one would be able to offer it but a doctor from the practice who was caring for me during pregnancy. So, since a doctor from my practice was tied up with several c-sections at Mother Baby Center and couldn’t leave, I had no other option but to head there.

I wish this had been previously communicated to me.  So we were off to Mother Baby Center.

We got there and quickly found out we were going to have a baby, this night or the next, and we were checked in and not going back home. It was becoming more and more real. Our little Solange was coming. 

The staff was excellent, understanding, sympathetic, and kind. They have been doing it for a while and I felt so grateful. 

One of the nurses said that many babies were born on November 29th and 30th, so they were swamped. It was around 11 pm. 

At midnight I asked for the epidural but the anesthesiologist was busy caring for women who were having c-sections and I was told I had to wait. I don’t think I had anything left in me to wait. If you were pregnant for 40 weeks or so, you understand that anything on top of those weeks is too much.

I absolutely can’t wait. My capacity for waiting left me. It is drained, and I am running on empty. And the pain I was going through, didn’t help. 

I couldn’t sit anymore and walking beside the hospital bed while hooked up to vitals that were slowly going through my vein and fetal monitor heart rate belt on my stomach made me feel constricted and even more uncomfortable. 

I knew that they would ask me to sit still for the epidural which I started to doubt I could accomplish. There was a moment when the pain reached an unbearable point and I asked if a c-section would get me an epidural faster and if that could be arranged because I needed some pain relief right there and then.

My nurse looked at me very confused and asked if that’s what I really wanted. My husband quickly stepped in and said, “Honey, we both know that’s not what you want, you have to wait, you can make it, you’re the toughest person I know.”

Eventually, the door opened and my anesthesiologist was there. I felt relieved & overjoyed at the same time, as if I saw an angel of the Lord. This pain would be over so soon.

I looked at the clock and it was 2 am. We didn’t sleep for two nights, the last meal I ate was some soup 7 hours ago and all I could think about was what if I couldn’t push this baby out after all this pain and they would need to perform an emergency c-section. 

The anesthesiologist was a beautiful woman who came off as gentle but forceful. She wanted me to sit on the side of my hospital bed and lean forward, which shouldn’t be a difficult task, but since my contractions had been going strong for almost two days now, they didn’t have much time apart, not even a minute and I was terrified to sit down because it felt like the pain got even more intense when I wasn’t wandering by the side of my bed. 

The first flow of epidural came with a pleasant cooling sensation in my back and I was very grateful. Eventually, I started feeling itchy, which I was told is a side effect of any opioid, alongside low blood pressure. 

I finally was lying comfortably on that hospital bed and one of the nurses said, ok, she is talking again, so she can answer those questions. It was almost 3 am and I was exhausted but they kept waiting for me to come back to my sanity to complete the forms. 

Solange was born at 11:43 am on a sunny December 1st.

Solange Lydia just a week or two after she was born (VBAC) she's wearing a matching white swaddle and hat, monogrammed with Solange Lydia and flowers and a plaque laying next to her with her name, birth date, weight, heigh, and length written on it.

I overheard one of the nurses telling another one at a shift change, “She did great. She only pushed for an hour and 20 minutes”. I thought to myself, “Whatever!”, after I heard that, but then I just realized that the inside language of each field is just like that: confusing and foreign to any outsider.

Solange minutes after being delivered under the heat lamps, she's crying and confused and the nurse at Mother Baby center is holding her up to the machine that says her birth weight, 7 lbs 3 oz.

To a nurse who sees people pushing for hours at a time and, more often than not, finishing with a c-section, my one hour seemed like a piece of cake.

To me, who was just going back and forth to the hospital, enduring awful contractions, going through labor, and being stitched up afterward, an hour and 20 minutes of pushing sounded like World War II, but no one was really asking me what I thought about that, so I kept my speculations to myself. 

Solange hours after coming into the world, feeding from Anya's breast, while Anya sits in the hospital bed at Mother Baby Center in Minneapolis Minnesota

VBAC vs C-section: 

One size does not fit all, and here is what you need to consider: 

  1. What led to your c-section? 
  2. Do you have some serious health conditions? 
  3. What would be the likelihood of a successful VBAC for you? 

As one of my friends said, I already know what C-section is and feels like and I am not willing to find out anything new. Are you open to finding out something new or would you rather not? 

There is no easy way to birth a child, and it will be painful and uncomfortable regardless of the path you pick, but it will be beautiful, and you will get a darling baby out of the deal. 

Solange birth story, she is at her home in Minneapolis, days after birth, laying on her comfy cushion taking a snooze

Also, being pregnant for almost two full years, I read a lot about labor and delivery essentials and bought and tried many things. Some of them worked, and some of them didn’t need to be purchased. So, I am putting together a list to save you time and energy and help you narrow it down to the most effective, good-quality item list. I hope it helps your recovery and saves you some money.

Our favorite labor and deliver essentials made up on a canvas with affiliate links available below

  1. Silver Nursing Cups | 2. The Honey Pot Super Pads | 3. Motherlove Organic Nipple Cream | 4. Breast Therapy Packs | 5. Spectra Portable & Rechargeable Breast Bump | 6. Postpartum Hair Growth Supplements | 7. Postpartum Recovery Care Bath Soak 8. Knix Super Leakproof Bikini | 9. Tucks Medicated Cooling Pads | 10. Disposable Nursing Pads | 11. Momcozy Nursing Bra | 12. Postpartum Underwear

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This does no harm to you. Thank you for supporting our small business. 

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4 thoughts on “VBAC vs C-section: Solange’s Birth Story

  1. Awwww! Thank you for saying that! There are definitely a lot of unknowns around every labor and you never know if you may end up in an emergency situation with a scary heart rate of the baby or uterine tachysystole or something else, but by God’s grace my vbac worked and I am so grateful.

  2. Studies show it is better to have a VBAC than do repeat surgeries. (Even after two c-sections)

  3. I’m so glad you advocated for yourself! I hope readers will know that they can always say “no thanks” to cervical checks or any other procedure. (You can also eat if you want!) Good job with all the self-advocacy.

    VBACs are very very low risk for most. Ive been to several home VBACs! Our American medical system has over-medicalized births and bred fear. After a terrible hospital expense, I ended up having my other babies at home. You did soooo well!

    Doulas can really help couples have beautiful, informed, and well supported birth experiences.

    Thanks for being so open about your birth experience! You’re a rockstar! Welcome Solange!

  4. Thanks for sharing – I didn’t realize that you could have a regular birth after C-section.

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