Liam Bradberry: My Natural VBAC Birth Story

And the midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women; for they are lively and give birth before the midwives come to them.”
Exodus 1:19

BIRTH STORY SUMMARY

That scripture is mind blowing and it’s the exact prayer that I prayed for my birth. The birth of Liam from the beginning to the end was nothing short of supernatural! I keep replaying the day in my head over and over again because I can’t get over how fast and dare I say “easy” everything was.

I struggled to write the word “easy” because let’s face it – there is nothing easy about birthing a baby. However, I used the term “easy” because in comparison to how challenging I thought things would be as I prepared for this birth – it was nothing like that. I am so excited to share my natural VBAC birth story with you!

BIRTH PREPARATION

3 years ago I had my first baby, Judah via an emergency C-section. When I found out I was pregnant again with our second, I knew I wanted to do things differently. Ironically, I prepared myself as much as possible for a natural birth with Judah – but things didn’t go as planned.

This time around, I knew I wanted to do things a bit different. Below is a list of things I did differently this time around and things that were absolute non-negotiables.

  • Switched over to a midwife team vs. an OBGYN to care for my pregnancy and deliver baby
  • Hired a doula to support me and my family through the pregnancy and during birth
  • Started going to therapy for my emotional health and to address birth trauma from my first pregnancy
  • Learned more about hypnobirthing and regularly practiced meditation
  • Learned and practiced breathing exercises to manage pain
  • Used essential oils regularly to help relieve stress and anxiety
  • Joined a natural birth Facebook Group for tips and positive natural birth stories
  • Took a birth prep tincture starting at 35 weeks to prepare my uterus for labor

Reflecting on my pregnancy and birth experience as a whole, I recognize how much “soul” and mindset work I did throughout my pregnancy. I focused a lot of my attention on learning to manage myself and with that came me going through healing in many other areas of my life.

EARLY AND ACTIVE LABOR

It was about 7:30am and I started the morning like any other morning. However, I woke up feeling like I was on “Day 1” of my period. You know that feeling. Slight cramps, but nothing too crazy. By this point with my period, I would’ve popped a few ibuprofens to avoid cramps. I knew that something had shifted in my body so I texted my doula around 8:30am.

After I texted her, I went about my morning like I usually would. We made a plan in the case that I was in labor and I told her I would follow up with her within the hour to see if things had progressed.

So, I made breakfast for Judah, turned on some worship music and went to get Judah out of his room. By this point, I was definitely feeling the pattern of my contractions, but still wasn’t fully convinced that I was in labor. Haha. After all, I was having Braxton Hicks off and on for the past week.

An hour went by and I was still noticing I was having this pattern of contractions – still wasn’t timing them. It was about 9:30am and Cornell had just woken up. I let him know very calmly, yet extremely excited that I believe I was in early labor and he was like, “Okay, great!” I just remember the both of us being super calm and excited in that moment.

I told him that I was going to take a shower and just kinda get myself together. I also wanted to run to Target real quick and exchange some headphones that I purchased because I wanted to use them for my labor. So I went in the bathroom, greased my scalp (my scalp was dry. lol!), put my hair up in a bun and took a shower. Contractions were still coming, but they weren’t intense at all.

When I came out the shower, I noticed that my contractions were way too strong for me to go to Target so I asked Cornell to just go to Starbucks for me and grab me a breakfast sandwich as well as some fruit and veggies from the grocery store for me and the girls to munch on as I was in labor.

By this point it was about 10:00am and I let my doula know that I was for sure in labor and I also reached out to my videographer.

By this point my doula and my videographer were on their way to my house. Both of them were about 45 minutes away, so I took the time to lay on the couch and sleep. However, the contractions were so strong (not painful, just strong) that I couldn’t sleep through them.

So I continued listening to worship music, sitting on my birth ball and started diffusing my Lemongrass essential oil. The reason why I chose this oil is because Lemongrass always refreshes me and reminds me of a clean start. I know a lot of women like using Lavender essential oil during labor, but Lemongrass is my jam!

By this point, I finally started timing my contractions and they were coming once every 3-4 minutes lasting about 30-45 seconds long. My midwife told me to call when my contractions were 5 minutes apart lasting 1 minute long for a consistent 1 hour.

My videographer showed up at 11:23am and my doula showed up about 12:00pm. Cornell and Judah got back to the house about 11:40am and I ate my breakfast sandwich and continued laboring on the sofa.

As I was laboring the thing that helped me get through the contractions the most was to take deep breaths through the contractions and also moaning through them. After the contraction passed, I was good! I was able to talk between them. I didn’t have my doula bring out any of her tools or massages because I felt like I was managing the contractions pretty well on my own.

Cornell had stepped out for a moment and Judah was hanging with us in the living room. I remember Judah wanting me to play basketball in his room and also him playing his guitar loudly in my ear as I was having contractions. Haha. Omg. This is life with kids!

My contractions were picking up, but once again – they were not unbearable at all. I imagined things to be way more intense than what they were. With every contraction I kept reminding myself to lean into the contraction, to relax my body and let my body do what it wants. I felt most of the contractions right in my belly.

I also used Mel Robbin’s 5 second rule and counted down “5-4-3-2-1” in my mind with every contraction. This exercise helped redirect my mind into thinking that the contraction was almost over – and it helped a ton.

There was a point in my labor where I started getting the chills so I had my doula throw a huge blanket over me to warm me up. The intensity of the contractions were definitely picking up. I also realized that my breakfast sandwich from Starbucks was sitting right in my chest and I needed to throw it up. So my doula grabbed the trash can, and thanks to my first trimester – I am a “professional thrower upper”. All it took was for me to lean into the trash can and out it came. Lol!

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CALL THE MIDWIFE

It was about 1:30pm and by this time my contractions were very consistent and we called the midwife. After hearing how consistent my contractions were, they told me to head into the hospital. I remember asking them to fill up the birth tub, so I could labor in there, but they told me that they will not be able to fill up the tub until I actually arrived at the hospital. Good thing they didn’t because I wouldn’t have been able to use it anyways!

So Cornell called his mom to come pick up Judah and we started preparing to head out the door as soon as she came. My contractions were lasting longer than a minute by this point and also more intense – but not painful. I don’t remember being in actual pain. I do remember feeling intense pressure.

My doula packed up some fruit and veggies and we headed out the door. It wasn’t until I stood up off the sofa that I remember having to reaaaally breathe through the contractions. It was almost like as soon as I stood up, it sped things up to like the 10th power. Haha.

I even had a contraction as I was walking to the car. I had to lean against the car and my doula put some pressure right on my lower back and encouraged me through the contraction. I then got in the car and realized I didn’t have my phone. Gah! Cornell ended up running back into the house and finding my phone and then off to the hospital we went.

My doula and videographer both hopped in their own cars and met us at the hospital. They both already had the address and the floor to meet us on.

ALMOST TOO LATE

It was now about 2:35pm and I am swaying my head all around as we’re heading to the hospital. I literally felt my body wanting to push Liam out, but I knew I had to wait until we got to the hospital. I kept feeling like I had the urge to poop and quite honestly, I was ready to poop and pee on myself because the feeling was so intense to get “it” out. Not realizing that “it” was actually Liam’s head!

We pulled into the parking garage and immediately I got nervous because there were so many cars in this garage and NO parking spots. Like, why in the world did this hospital not have a designated area available for women who are in labor?! I almost had Liam in the garage!

By God’s grace, someone was pulling out and Cornell pulled into the spot and we started walking to the elevator. As we’re waiting for the elevator, once again – I feel the urge to poop and to push, but I kept “sucking” it back in. As soon as we got to the level that we needed to, I sat down in a wheelchair and Cornell wheeled me through to Labor and Delivery. When I sat down in the wheelchair, I was still kinda holding myself up on the sides of the wheelchair because I couldn’t sit all the way down. My doula and videographer were right there by my side. It was now about 2:55pm.

When I got to registration the girl says, “Oh wow, it looks like you’re in labor!” I didn’t even pay this girl any attention. Like, DUH I’M IN FREAKIN LABOR! I kept yelling, “He’s coming, he’s coming!” We literally had no time to show my ID. I gave her my name, Cornell signed a paper and he rolled me into triage.

Once in triage there were about 5 nurses in there and they got me to sit on the bed. As I’m sitting on the bed I’m yelling that I need to poop. The nurse kept asking me to get up on the bed so she can check how far along I was dilated, but I couldn’t even get my body on to the bed. She ended up checking me with one leg up on the bed and the other leg still down. Right before she went to check me, my water broke and Liam was already crowning.

Someone took my pants off (one pant leg was still on. haha) I was finally able to get up on the bed and I just started pushing. No IV, no hospital gown. Just me in my t-shirt and yoga pants half off. My midwife hadn’t even walked through the door yet, but my body couldn’t resist the urge anymore. One of the nurses ended up delivering Liam and within the next 6 minutes Liam was in my arms. It was 3:06pm. I couldn’t believe I did it! I kept yelling, “Omg, I did it! I did it!”

I was so shocked that I couldn’t believe I had the VBAC that I wanted! In came my midwife about 2 minutes later and she helped me deliver the placenta. I allowed them to give me a shot of pitocin to help deliver the placenta and to stop any excess bleeding. Soon after they rolled me into an actual room and my midwife began stitching me up as I did tear. However, I did not care! Haha. I can’t believe I just had a successful natural VBAC!

Everyone in the room and even on the floor were so shocked by how fast everything went and you can say that Liam’s birth definitely brought some excitement to their afternoon as everything happened within 10 minutes.

REFLECTIONS

Looking back now at how everything unfolded, I just can’t believe how “controlled” the entire day was. Like, everything went very, very smoothly and calmly. I remember saying that I wanted to labor at home as long as possible and I wanted to be able to eat – something I wasn’t able to do with Judah.

What helped me the most during my labor process was the breathing exercises and the essential oils. Those two things helped me get through my contractions. I believe what helped my labor go so fast was the birth tincture that I mentioned earlier.

Literally all of the reviews were of women who had really short labors and how the tincture helped prepare their uterus for birth. I’m a witness that my testimony is the exact same thing. My labor was not hard and I would even do it again.

My prayer was that I would give birth like the Hebrew women in the Book of Exodus and that I did. It was fast, powerful, and supernatural. Even now, I don’t know how far I was dilated throughout my labor. It seems like I just went from 1 to 10 and then had a baby. Haha. The rest is unknown!

I really hope my story encourages women who are pregnant, but especially those who had a C-section and are weighed down with the torment that sometimes comes with that experience. I just want to let you know that having a natural birth VBAC is possible for you and that labor does not have to be hard. I know that if I can do it, you can do it too!

Thank you to Kaitie Leist Photography for the beautiful photos!

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