For many women who have given birth in the past via C-section, VBAC is a great way to return to vaginal birth if desired. As you may have imagined, this is a process that will often require some physical preparation to ensure the mother is in the right physical condition to take this approach.
At The VBAC Link, we’re here to offer numerous VBAC resources, doula training and other services that directly relate to VBAC for upcoming mothers. What are some of the general tips we offer on how to prepare physically for VBAC? Here are several basic areas.
Why Physical State Matters for VBAC
Before we move any further here, it’s important for us to underscore why being in the right physical state is critical for VBAC. The reality is that C-section and vaginal births are two very different things from a muscular perspective. Childbirth involves a lot of pushing, which can place considerable strain on the muscles and other tissues down there.
As a result, many women who have only given birth via C-section can find themselves feeling weaker in this area. The goal with physical preparation for VBAC is to work on rebuilding and toning the muscles that will be used during childbirth.
This, in turn, can help make the entire process much easier for both mother and child while also shortening recovery times afterward.
Basic Exercise During Pregnancy
Finding ways to stay active during pregnancy can be valuable for many reasons, and one of those reasons is preparing for VBAC. Pregnant women who engage in regular physical activity often have an easier time during labor and delivery than those who don’t.
As always, it’s important to check with your doctor before starting or changing any exercise routine during pregnancy. However, many simple forms of exercise — such as walking, stretching, yoga, swimming and light weightlifting — can be great ways to stay active during pregnancy and help prep the body for VBAC.
Another area that’s important for all pregnancies, not just VBAC, is nutrition. Eating a healthy, balanced diet during pregnancy can help ensure a smooth and successful delivery, no matter what type of delivery you’re planning.
Many women who are preparing for VBAC find that certain dietary changes can help them physically prep for vaginal birth after cesarean. These changes can include eating more fiber to help prevent constipation (which can be a common issue during pregnancy), staying hydrated and avoiding foods that may cause heartburn or indigestion. As always, it’s important to talk to your doctor about any dietary changes you’re considering during pregnancy.
Pelvic Floor Exercises
During pregnancy and delivery, the pelvic floor muscles — which support the bladder, uterus and rectum — can become weakened. This can lead to issues such as incontinence, which is often a concern for women who have previously had a C-section.
Pelvic floor exercises, also known as Kegels, can help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and prepare the body for VBAC. Kegels can be done anywhere, at any time, and don’t require any special equipment. To do a Kegel, simply tighten the muscles you would use to stop urinating, hold for 10 seconds, then release.
For many women, Kegels are most effective when done on a regular basis. Try to do them several times a day, and you should start to notice results within a few weeks.
We had Valerie Shwable on the podcast and she talked more about Pelvic floor therapy and the importance not only after but before birth
One of the largest categories of exercises that can help prep the body for VBAC is stretching. Stretching can help increase flexibility, improve range of motion and reduce the risk of injury. All of these benefits can be helpful during pregnancy, labor and delivery.
There are numerous ways to stretch, and many different types of stretches that can be beneficial. Some examples include:
- Simple back stretches: These stretches can help relieve tension in the back, which is common during pregnancy.
- Hip openers: As the name implies, these stretches help open up the hips, which can be helpful during childbirth.
- Quadriceps stretches: These stretches target the muscles on the front of the thigh. They can help with things like balance and stability, which can be important during pregnancy.
- Pelvic Tilts: Doing pelvic tilts during pregnancy can reduce stress to the pelvis and create more space for the baby as they grow inside.
As always, it’s important to talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise or stretching routine, especially during pregnancy. But for many women, simple stretching exercises can be a great way to physically prepare for VBAC.
Seeing a Chiropractor
Another great way to physically prepare for VBAC is to see a chiropractor during pregnancy. Chiropractic care can help align the spine and pelvis, which can lead to a more comfortable pregnancy and an easier delivery.
For many women, chiropractic care is most effective when it’s done on a regular basis. However, even just a few visits can make a difference. If you’re considering chiropractic care during pregnancy, be sure to find a practitioner who is experienced in treating pregnant women.
Start Early and Stay Consistent
One of the most important things to remember when physical preparing for VBAC is that it’s best to start early and be consistent. The earlier you start, the more time you’ll have to build strength and flexibility. And the more consistent you are with your exercises, the better your results will be.
Of course, it’s never too late to start physical prep for VBAC. Even if you’re already in your third trimester, there are still things you can do to get ready. However, the earlier you start, the better.
For more on this, or to learn about any of our VBAC services or related programs, speak to the staff at The VBAC Link today.