Women have the most amazing gift to be able to grow another human being inside of their bodies and have the honor of birthing new life into this world. It TRULY is a miracle! One that I definitely don’t take for granted. 

Learning From & Letting Go of My Previous Birth Experience 

I had my son, Venice 7 years ago. I was a different person then than I am now. I have grown in so many ways. I’ve worked really hard on my physical, mental, and emotional health over the years. While I am grateful that nothing went “wrong” during my first birth – we were both “healthy” and had no major complications- it did not go how I imagined, planned and hoped, and certainly wasn’t what I now envision for my second upcoming birth.  

My first pregnancy was actually a breeze…compared to my current (second) pregnancy. I felt pretty amazing, with minor pregnancy-related symptoms. Now, 7 years later, this pregnancy is VERY different. With the nausea, reflux, fatigue, all the aches and pains… I realize how easy I had it the first time around! 

My son was breech the entire second half of my pregnancy. He found his cozy spot – propped up with his head under my ribs and his but down toward my pelvis, and he stayed there and did NOT want to move. His little ear flapped down on the top tip when he first came out from being stuck up under my rib for all that time like a little baby dumbo! It was actually pretty adorable. I tried all the things I knew to do back then to get him to switch positions – yoga, acupuncture and even the version procedure where they manually tried to force him to shift in the hospital, but after three excruciating, highly stressful attempts, he still wouldn’t budge. I really wanted a natural, vaginal birth for him as I knew the health benefits of a vaginal birth for both mom and baby.

These include:

  1. Faster recovery 
  2. Reduced risk of infection and blood loss
  3. Early exposure to beneficial bacteria for the baby 
  4. Lower risk of allergies and eczema
  5. Better bonding and breastfeeding success, etc. 

I really didn’t want to undergo major surgery! Unfortunately, I was made to believe by my doctor that my only option was a scheduled c-section. So I accepted my fate at the time, put my son’s birth date on the calendar, and waited to meet him. There was no need to educate myself on labor or delivery (or so I thought), because they’d just go in, slice me open, and hand me my baby, right?! I am grateful that everything went smoothly the first time around. However, in hindsight, I didn’t love that my birth felt very medical and surgical and out of my control. And, I regretted not further educating myself on birth and all of my options. 

Moving Forward Mindfully

Venice is now 7, and I’m in my third trimester with his baby brother or sister. And I’m bound and determined to have a VERY different birth experience this second time around. I am 

WAY more empowered and informed and supported on this pregnancy journey. My goal is to have an unmedicated, undisturbed VBAC (Vaginal Birth After C-Section) with ideally no interventions! I want to experience labor, contractions, and ALL of the beautiful feelings, sensations, and emotions that come along with birthing a baby as nature intended. 

Concentrating on What’s Within my Control 

Apparently I’m considered “high risk” and “advanced maternal age”  as a 40 year old woman with multiple autoimmune conditions and SSA antibodies which can impact the baby’s heart rate in a small percentage of pregnancies. So, my husband felt most comfortable with me birthing in a hospital. I would’ve preferred to birth at a birthing center with a midwife, but I compromised considering his strong concerns for my health. I now know that hospital births are more likely to lead to interventions which are more likely to lead to additional intervention, and ultimately higher chance of a resulting c-section. I also now know that there is SO much that mama’s can do to prepare when birthing in the hospital by knowing their rights, what to expect, what to ask for, what to decline, etc. to set themselves up with the best chances of having their birth go according to their own plan.

Collecting my Birth-Prep Crew

I knew early on that I needed to arm myself with ALL the support, tools, and knowledge to be able to feel confident in birthing this baby on MY terms. Having an empowered birth to me meant first getting my support team in place. Fortunately, my OB is on board with a VBAC, and I’ve had many conversations about my plans, wants, needs, and expectations for this birth. I know that most conventional docs don’t really provide much education on how to prepare for birth or the process of labor or what to do throughout pregnancy to proactively support an unmedicated, low intervention natural birth. I trust him to ensure the health of my baby throughout pregnancy and to me his main job is to be there in case anything goes wrong. But I now know and understand that everything I need to birth this baby is already within me as a strong, capable, powerful woman. And this time around, I intend to listen and trust my body and to birth this baby in a way that feels intentional, authentic and natural. 

I hired a doula early on with the goal to help me prepare for birth and advocate for me every step of the way from pregnancy to postnatal. Knowing I have an experienced, compassionate birth-worker in my corner who has my birth unique birth goals and preferences at the forefront of our relationship and who understands and fully respects my birthing beliefs helps me feel supported and cared for during what can often be a very stressful season in life. Every expecting mama deserves the love, attention, and support that my amazing doula has provided to me throughout this pregnancy. She also teaches my prenatal yoga classes, does beautiful sound baths, gives massages, makes meals for her mamas, and SO much more to be sure all the needs of her mamas-to-be are not only met, but exceeded. I know she will be instrumental in doing everything she can to help ensure my birth goes according to my plan.

I also chose to hire a pelvic floor physical therapist. I am on a healing journey with Interstitial Cystitis, and one concern I had was having flares during pregnancy, even though I have been able to put my bladder symptoms into remission prior to getting pregnant. I also wanted to prep my body as best as I can to physically birth this baby as smoothly as possible, while lowering my risk for tearing, keeping my bladder functioning properly, and reducing the possibility of a repeat c-section due to positioning of the baby, etc. My PT has also been very helpful in educating me about the power of my pelvic floor and how to relax it, strengthen it, what to expect as my pregnancy progresses, and stretching and birth positions to support my goal of a successful VBAC.  

I’m also very grateful to have a good friend who is a Hypnobirthing educator and an RN. We met at a mommy and me class when our boys were newborns, and they now go to the same school. And she generously offered to teach her 5 week class to me right when she found out I was expecting baby #2, and I’m SUPER grateful for her! This education from another mama friend, has had 2 of her own births (one using the Hypnobirthing methods), and someone who knows the ins and outs of the hospital has been invaluable. Her class addresses all aspects of what to expect throughout pregnancy and how to prepare for birth both physically and emotionally.  I love learning that we don’t have to fear birth and being reminded that birth doesn’t have to be super painful and can actually be pleasurable and is very beautiful.  When I learned that you can actually breathe your baby out, my mind was BLOWN!!! And now one of my goals is to breathe this baby out!

Additionally, I’ve been seeing my chiropractor regularly who keeps my body aligned and as comfortable as it can be throughout all the stretching and expanding that takes place. I’m practicing prenatal yoga regularly and taking classes taught by pelvic floor physical therapists to help stretch and strengthen my rapidly growing body and to prepare for a vaginal delivery. I’m also prioritizing acupuncture and prenatal massage to help with relaxation and to ease pregnancy discomforts. Both my doula and Hypnobirthing educator taught me the importance of visualizing in order to manifest the birth experience I desire.  And the power of breath in labor and birth has also been emphasized by my doula, Hypnobirthing educator, and pelvic floor physical therapist. So, breathing exercises are a non-negotiable daily part of my birth prep! I’ve been reading books about pregnancy and birth and listening to podcasts of like-minded birth-workers, and hearing stories from other mama’s who have had successful, unmedicated VBACs has been so inspiring. I’m prioritizing my nutrition, walking daily, and doing my best to get good quality sleep. Also, I’m surrounding myself with positive, supportive people while setting boundaries with those who question my pregnancy and birth preferences and plan. 

All of the tools I’m learning about how to manage my feelings and what my body is innately capable of during labor and delivery through mindset, physical and mental preparation, and effective communication with all members of my birth support team have been so VITAL in helping me feel empowered and confident as I approach my due date. 

I have one last thing to tackle in my birth prep… Prepping my husband!! Ensuring he’s not only aware of my birth plan and on board with my preferences around labor and delivery, but also setting him up to support me to the best of his ability every step of the way! I know how much he loves me and wants what’s best for me and our growing family, but we’re not always aligned,  and he doesn’t always understand or agree with my perspective or decisions. At the end of the day, this is MY body, and MY birth! Yes, he is the father, and this is HIS baby…and while I respect his opinions, if I disagree with what he wants in this birth, I’m going to advocate for what I feel is best for me and my baby. I guess the only thing I haven’t yet done to prepare for this birth is couples therapy!

Wish me luck, Mamas!!

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Juliet Tabbara
Juliet was born in and raised in St. Louis, MO. She moved to Southern CA in 2008 after surviving a long distance relationship with her now husband, who she met in college. They now live in TO and have an incredibly strong-minded, smart and silly 5 year old son named Venice (we honeymooned in Italy!) and a fur-pup named Pepper. She is a certified health, wellness & nutrition coach and currently has a private practice (Nourish Within Wellness) offering 1:1 coaching. Her love language is quality time, and she enjoys being with people she loves by sharing yummy food, cocktail, or coffee and a good chat. You can find her at the farmers market in Westlake every Sunday, practicing her yogi skills at Westlake Yoga Co, at her fav. family friendly happy hour spots (101 North & The Landing), or at home baking gluten-free, plant-based, refined-sugar free goodies.


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