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Second Child Prep - VBAC Mamas & Older Child Expectations

Martha needs tips on adjusting her child to the arrival of a new sibling:

I have a delightful little girl who will be two in August and am expecting another child on her birthday. We've done a bit of talking/reading about new babies, but I'm not sure how much she really gets. She has been rather whiny and emotional of late and I'm not sure how much is being a toddler and how much is knowing that something is going on. Any tips for how I can help her adjust to the new screaming addition we are about to welcome into our lives??

Betsy has a question for any mamas who've had VBACs and preparing for the big day:

I'd be interested to know what other second-time (and beyond!) mamas did with regard to childbirth prep the second time around. I'm trying for a VBAC, in-hospital birth with an OB/GYN, but due to the "C" in VBAC, I didn't get a chance to actually use most of the stuff we learned the first time around, so I can't really say I've been through labor and delivery, yet I have. I'd especially like to hear from VBAC mamas. Any advice on prepping for the big day?


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Congrats on your choosing to VBAC. I did so much prep, actually before getting pregnant. I joined the online group for ICAN http://www.ican-online.org/ and then read every day all the stuff they shared.
Then after interviewing providers chose one who had the most experience and support for VBAC, in my case was a homebirth midwife. Optimal fetal positioning was key for me b/c my babies regularly went breech or posterior, saw my chiropractor regularly to keep the baby in the best position,(hurray for Dr. Jason Lindekugel on 33rd and Killingsworth, he's the BEST) I did affirmations, read Birthing From Within, did birth art and took a Healing Your Birth class (I think Wendy Foster has one going around now...anybody got a link? I couldn't find it)
Hired a doula, visualized my perfect birth, practiced practiced and more practice of relaxation (i did kind of a hypnotherapy, deep breathing combo)
There is a lot you can do to prevent an unneccesary cesarean, but it is up to you to do the research and make the best choices for you and your baby.
I wish you blessings as you birth!

I have no real advice, but I find myself in a very similar situation. I am pregnant with my second who is due just days before my daughters 2nd birthday. I am also attempting a VBAC with the blessing of my midwife.

Again, no advice, but I am curious to hear other people's responses. I just had to say hi since our situations are so similar!

I do have some suggestions for parents getting ready to introduce a new sibling (and they are probably things you are already doing!):

1. Read stories about babies and becoming a big brother/sister
2. Get your child a babydoll with accessories, e.g., bottles, blankets, etc. (For those dads who have a problem with their boy having a doll -- get over it.)
3. Play and talk with your child about babies, i.e., how to feed them, change them, etc.

If your child doesn't seem too interested, don't worry about it. Follow their lead.

When the baby comes home, little ones are generally interested in the beginning and then the honeymoon wears off (babies aren't much fun for them in the beginning).

The REAL hard part for older siblings is when the baby is able to move and touch their stuff...that's when it becomes personal.

No advice regarding the VBAC. Pushed and ended up having a c-section with the first (9lbs12oz). Was planning on a VBAC until the doctor did an ultrasound and said the next one was probably going to be over 10 lbs. (10lbs14oz thank you very much). Upon hearing that, I told him to schedule the procedure...

Good luck!

Oh, as for planning for the new baby, sibling-wise, we actually are planning to buy a baby doll for our son's second birthday coming up. He's not much interested in stuffed animals or creatures, but I figure it's worth a shot.

We've been reading "I'm a big brother" to him a couple of times a week, but keeping it low-key. We point to my belly and say there's a baby in there, etc., but don't hammer the point.

One thing Penelope Leach writes, and I've heard affirmed by wise parents, is that it's a bad idea in most cases to talk about "the new baby will be your responsibility! I'll need a lot of help!" or "We love you so much we wanted to have another!" If you think about it as though your husband was saying those same things about getting a new wife...you get the kid's perspective.
The good thing for us is that over summer break my husband is spending a ton of time with our son, so as I am more occupied with the new baby, it will be a little easier (I hope!).

No personal experience with VBAC, but after 2 hospital births, I've got to say that if I were to do it again, I would hire a doula.

I don't have anything against hospital births, but I do realize that nurses/docs/midwives there won't be able to give the kind of individual attention that a lot of women want. Being left on my own for long stretches was dispiriting, and though my partner is great, I don't think he was as much help as a doula would have been. All my friends who've had them - usually for second births - have been really glad they did.

well. having *tried* to VBAC unsuccessfully, and *tried* to prepare my son for his future sibling, all I can say is, my prayers and good vibes are with you.

a couple of things stand out from my experience:
-- definitely have a doula, and if possible, another woman or two, at the birth. I had a doula for number two (plus my mom and my friend larissa) and, while I ended up having a second VBAC (same reason as the first: tilted head, push push push push and he didn't ever move) I felt much more satisfied about the outcome. with Truman (#2), I went without drugs until the c-section was announced, I pushed in every imaginable position, I visualized, I meditated, I yoga-ed. when it got to be 2.5 hours of pushing with no progress, I accepted my surgical fate with grace and perhaps a few "please hurry"s and never felt jilted, as I did with Everett (#1)
-- go ahead. do the yoga, the meditation, the visualization. read the birth stories. buy the Ina May books and Birthing From Within.
-- it seems silly, but reminding people to bring a present for the older child to the hospital, or to your home, when they first visit the new baby, and make a big deal out of his/her new role as big brother/sister seemed to help.
-- don't feel badly if your older child isn't progressing on the developmental timetable you'd hoped for; my smart strong beautiful boy potty trained *very* slowly and had lots of behaviorial issues. nothing earth-shattering, but I tried not to push him or feel like a bad mom b/c he wasn't wearing underwear like so many of his friends. he adjusted, slowly, and now he's potty-trained and sleeping through the night without a diaper and sometimes? we go days without a punishment. it can happen to you.
-- oh, finally, most of the books that purport to relate to older sibling who's about to welcome a new baby? suck. most of them have the mom going away and magically re-appearing after three days, while the older sibling sulks and says how horrible the baby is. i mean, sure, adjustment is hard -- and hospital births are common -- but let's not put any ideas in our children's head that aren't there! my favorite book (actually, the only one that made it through my considerably critical filter) was Welcome With Love, which showed a home birth. I knew no home birth was in my future, but it was a great treatment of what *actually* happens, without mucking it up with lots of sperm and eggs and things (two year olds, SO not ready for sperm and eggs)

good luck and let me know if you want me to stop by the hospital and snap some photos... i love new babies!

(oh, p.s., my son everett received a baby doll for his 2nd birthday. it stayed in the toybox for two years, through the birth and first year of his brother's life, except for the occasional infatuation for 20 minutes. last week? he suddenly is caring for his little "baby sister," and a couple of other imaginary babies as well. huh.)

about the VBAC, I was talking to my husband about having a doula and the added expense, and without hesitation he said "ok. I had a thought that I don't understand why you aren't just planning to have another c-section, and then I thought about how I would feel if there was a way to avoid being cut open like that twice, so I figure it's totally your call. Whatever we need to do." Good man.

VBAC: As co-founder of ICAN and a doula (Mother Tree) and mother (2nd on the way!) , i can say that the preparation journey is very different for every woman. But here are some of the helpful gems that I've seen work over time.
1. Make sure to choose your provder carefully. Check their success rates, philosophy (and that of their entire team since it's likely you can get the on-call OB or midwife). How confident do they seem in you and in VBAC in general?
2. Join the local ICAN group to process as much of your 1st birth as possible. This is an incredible group of supportive women! e-mail: icanofportland@yahoo.com call 503-245-1678 or ican-online.org. They meet on I think the 3rd Tues of the month.
3. Hire a doula (The stats back this up even if I am biased ;> ) ). A doula's support of the mother and her partner can reduce chances of a cesarean birth by 50% and increase her sense of overall birth satisfaction and feelings of support.
4. Stay at home as long as possible. Staying home keeps your body in it's natural "safe zone" and ensures that your labor will be well established before heading to the hospital thus reducing interventions.
5. Trust your body. Good news, your body has a memory for this. You are a second time mama and your body knows it! Do things to experience trusting your body. Take a class (Birthing From Within or Lamaze are great for this), journal your strengths, explore your own pain coping style. Listsen to your bodies signals. Remembering that your body has a biological and physiological map for laboring just as it has for helping grow and create the baby. AFFIRMATION: If my body knew how to grow this baby, it knows how to birth this baby.
6. Trust your baby. visit www.spinningbabies.com to learn about optimal fetal positioning. Talk to your baby. Remember that in labor, your baby responds to your signals and is still connected to you. If you are calm and supported, so will your baby be calm and supported.

7. Let go. Your baby has it's own life path and as you already know as a mama, letting go of our expectations is the greatest key to being present to our children's needs. We often don't know the rewards that come with adversity, especially in the shaping of our lives, until it is behind us. So, it is even more in birth.

And last of all, to tell you a few success stories from my practice as words of encouragement to you that it can INDEED BE DONE.

1. Mama client of mine last week was a successful VBAC after a Cesarean birth due to breech (planned, no labor). The baby came so quickly (under 4 hours from 1st contraction to birth) that the hospital staff said it was the fastest birth they'd seen. Baby was born minutes upon arrival at the hospital.

2. Mama last month turned a posterior baby (move, move, move is her advice) and succeeded in a successful VBAC with Emanual Midwifery Group and Mother Tree doula after switching to their care last minute when her OB ultimately sounded less than enthusiastic about VBAC success calling it "trial of labor".

3. Mama had a second successful VBAC, stayed home as long as possible until she was in full active labor and her water broke. Baby came fast enough that she was able to avoid even some of the standard interventions such as continuous monitoring and IV.

I hope that you have a satisfying birth, no matter what the journey entails and I can see already that since you are seeking, you'll do very well!


Jesse Remer Henderson, CD, LCCE
Mother Tree Birth

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