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VBAC BIRTH STORY: Jennifer Tamayo

Stories from fellow women are the best way to learn about birth; and it is positive birth stories that we need to hear to lift our confidence in our ability to give birth. Read about Mommy Jennifer Tamayo's own account of her VBAC journey and be inspired!

Thank you Mommy Jennifer for sharing! ================================== BIRTH STORY Jennifer Tamayo

=== My First Birth === My firstborn was conceived almost nine years ago. All throughout my first pregnancy, I had no complications; that’s why I set my mind on delivering my first baby vaginally. I had several friends who were pregnant and gave birth that same year. I thought that information sharing with them was enough to prepare me for the birth of my firstborn.

My husband bought me a book that time but I didn’t seriously read through it. I just flipped through the pages and scanned for the information about the growth of the growing baby inside me.

At 40 weeks, I started to get impatient while waiting for the arrival of my baby. At the first sign of pain, I hurriedly told my husband and off we went to the hospital. Since I wasn’t in the active phase of my labor, of course, they did not really pay much attention to me. Eventually, they admitted me and started to prep me for delivery. I was really anxious and excited then. I came unprepared but I was ready to “push” at galingan ko daw just like what my friends told me. To make the long story short, my labor was induced but it didn’t progress well. I ended up having a cesarean delivery. The first delivery was painful and traumatic to me since I experienced prolonged chills until the next day. I felt that I failed and I carried this postpartum anxiety with me until my firstborn was about four years old. I vowed that should I have another baby, I will make sure to have a normal delivery.

=== My Desire for a VBAC, My Preparations === In those years, I kept my desire to have a Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC), and I researched online about it in my free time. Eight years after and with the aid of science, we were finally blessed with our second baby. I am not in my young years anymore, and I will be 37 by the time I deliver my second baby. Despite this, I didn’t lose that strong desire to go for a VBAC. According to one of my researches, there are 7 ways to prepare for a successful VBAC:

1. Choose a supportive provider 2. Consider hiring a doula 3. Research, research, research 4. Be healthy 5. Make your desires known 6. If you’re delivering in a hospital, wait as long as possible to go 7. Give yourself grace 1. Choosing a supportive provider

Being a member of the FB group “Gentle Birth in The Philippines”, choosing a supportive doctor was quite easy. The number one name that came up as a VBAC supporter is Dr. Menefrida Reyes. As soon as I was cleared by my fertility doctor, I decided to visit Dr. Menie’s clinic. We waited for a long time as each patient consulted with her for at least 30 minutes. But the long wait is worth it. She was the very gentle doctor that everyone raved about. After knowing my pregnancy and delivery history, she laid out the game plan for my VBAC. My diet, nutrition, activity, tests to undergo--she guided me with everything. I thought, “Okay. Let’s just follow it!” I came home with new information and a checklist to follow.

2. Hiring a Doula This one was quite tricky. I’ve decided that to be successful, I need someone to be my guide. But, at the beginning of my pregnancy, I have not opened this idea yet to my husband. (For the ones hearing about doulas for the first time: A doula is someone who provides guidance and support to a pregnant woman during pregnancy and labor) I researched and inquired with Pinay Doulas Collective. I was already in touch with Doula Ros and I met her once before having the courage to tell my husband. “Doula” is actually quite new to him. So in the next meeting with Doula Ros, I made sure that my husband came with me. Although informed, he was not really buying the idea-YET. Even so, I signed an agreement and was hopeful that he would not disagree. I thought I needed another meeting with the Pinay Doulas to completely convince him.

3. Being Healthy I am in my late 30’s and I am not as strong as I was eight years ago when I had my first baby. Thus, I needed to be more careful with my diet, and needed more time to strengthen myself. I followed Dr. Menie’s guide of consuming 1800 calories per day; did stretching and yoga exercises from 12 weeks until the last trimester.

4. Making my desires known – Through a Birth Plan This made sure that my and Dr Menie’s VBAC plan is conveyed to everyone attending my birth. I am so thankful that Dr. Menie is supportive of it – in fact she even handed me a birth plan sample to adapt to. After finalizing it, she signed and I made copies for the delivery team.

5. Giving myself grace If anything else fails, be ready for the worst case scenario – to me, that was another cesarean delivery. This second pregnancy gave me time to prepare. The eight years of waiting for my second pregnancy also gave me the time to heal and accept that, despite the preparations, I may not end up with the birth that I initially planned to have. To refresh me and my husband, I signed us up for a childbirth preparation class. We attended the Binhi Childbirth Preparation Class by Pinay Doulas Collective.

This was very informative and helpful for me and my husband. I learned about the breathing techniques, positions to minimize pain during labor, exercises during pregnancy, among others. Husbands are also taught how they can support their wife during labor. Although it’s our second pregnancy, the information shared to us was very enlightening and empowering. And the best news after this seminar: my husband was finally convinced that we should hire a doula! My husband is based overseas (off-shore) and works on a fixed schedule of 30 days on, 30 days off. The estimated delivery date might be his day-off but knowing that I may labor earlier or later, I did not have an assurance that he will be with me during that time. This situation convinced him more that we needed to hire a doula, in order for me to have a trusted person beside me during his absence, and to achieve the safest delivery I could possibly have. On the last check-up leading to my due date, I learned that Dr. Menie was scheduled to attend several conferences on my estimated delivery date. I sought the advice of Doula Ros and she suggested I contact Dr. Joanna Rey-Matias, also a VBAC advocate. I quickly arranged to meet her so she can review my medical condition and check the results of the latest tests done. I also informed her of my birth plans and she acknowledged it. Without hesitation, she accepted my request to have her as my back-up doctor and assured me that she will be there if Dr. Menie fails to attend my birth. With everything falling into place, I think I may be ready for the delivery!

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