My VBAC, or, My Name is Jennifer and I Had an Orgasm During Labor
I did, I did! But I am going to save the orgasm part for later. First I want to talk about the fact that I had a VBAC, otherwise known as a Vaginal Birth After Cesarean section. I want to tell you all about it, because it seems like a lot of women who have had a c-section believe that they have to have another c-section for subsequent children. It’s just not true! There is a lot of information flying around out there, and not all of it is exactly true. For instance, many women I’ve spoken to have been told that their uterus will rupture if they try a VBAC. The chance of uterine rupture during a VBAC for women with a low transverse incision (low and horizontal) is actually somewhere between 0.5% and 0.9%. That’s lower than a 1 in 500 chance. This is according a recent publication by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
The reason I had a cesarean section for my first delivery, is that, unbeknownst to me, a cyst was growing on my right ovary. That jerk of a cyst also managed to glom onto one of my fallopian tubes and kill it. I woke up with my husband to see him off to work at 545 one morning. By the time he left the house around 615, I was leaning against the doorway for support. Within another thirty minutes, I was unable to stand. David got permission (this was in his Marine Corps days) to come home and take me to the hospital. When the hospital staff stopped accusing me of being a malingerer and exaggerating the pain (I get all ragey when I think of the nurse who said, “You’re in pre-term labor, honey. You just need to deal with it.”), they figured out what was going on after almost a full 24 hours of giving me drugs like morphine and doing scans and ultrasounds and voodoo dances. My severe pain could not be managed, and they could not get to the cyst without delivering Aiden, so to the operating room I went. Pre-surgery, they didn’t know about the cyst attaching it to my fallopian tube. You guys, they found necrotic tissue in there. Gross. Now if all that isn’t a reason to have a c-section…
Recovery from the c-section was pretty horrible. I think it must have been worse than a normal c-section recovery due to the extra cutting they had to do in there. My cyst turned out to be the size of a large peach. I stayed in the hospital for five days. Three weeks after surgery, I still needed help sitting up first thing in the morning. My stomach was so sore, I even had to switch off one of my favorite TV shows, ‘Yes, Dear,’ because the laughing hurt so badly.
Fast-forward four months later-I got pregnant again. Surprise! To review: I have one functioning ovary. We had unprotected sex one time. I may change my name to Fertile Myrtle. And I was breastfeeding! Word on the street is that it’s hard to get pregnant while breastfeeding, but I am here to tell you: that is a bunch of hooey. I feel like I should go around to high schools and give speeches.
One thing I knew more than anything else: I DID NOT want another cesarean section. I found a VBAC-friendly doctor who was pretty amazing. This is key, ladies, if you want a VBAC. Don’t just find a doctor who says, “Sure, I will ‘let’ you try for a VBAC,” because often what they really mean is, ,”If your labor stalls at all, I am giving you pitocin. If that doesn’t work, I’m sectioning you and that’s that.” Ok, ok, that is my interpretation. I have several friends whose doctor claimed to be VBAC-friendly, but then cut them open at the first sign of difficulty. Find a doctor who is as committed to your VBAC as you are, who won’t resort to a c-section unless there is a real reason.
I went to 41 weeks and 1 day with my second pregnancy. My doctor and I agreed to induce at that point, because, though I wanted a drug-free birth, having a VBAC was more important to me than avoiding pitocin or an epidural. The contractions were really strong with pitocin, and I ended up asking for the epidural (just like it happens on TLC’s ‘A Baby Story’). The good and the bad of it is that the epidural didn’t work at all. I pushed for two hours, which isn’t too bad compared to the 43-hour marathon labor stories we hear. I was pretty vocal; mostly pissed that there was zero pain-relief from the epidural. I think the contractions were more painful because I had the expectation of pain relief, but since there was none, all I could think about was the pain.
The good part of the epidural not working is that I felt every bit of James leave my body, even his nose. It was pretty amazing. My doctor was yelling encouragement for me to push while he delivered James’s head with one hand and did perineal massage with the other. I felt an intense burning situation and then, holy cow, I had the strongest orgasm I had ever had. I faltered mid-push because, well, I had no expectation of having an orgasm during birth. Who does?? I was embarrassed-orgasms are for the bedroom, not the delivery room. To this day, I haven’t even told my husband. The only reason I am telling you, Internet People, is that you can’t see me blush as I type, and because my fellow Livemom contributors said I HAVE to share this with you, awesome Livemom readers.
A quick Google search of “orgasm during childbirth” yields a plethora of links to sites with information. The first link was to an ABC News story from 2008. There is a short article along with a video about women who have experienced orgasm during birth. It was an interesting video; I encourage you to watch it. Most of those women are far more uninhibited than I am, I certainly didn’t make out with my husband during labor, but I love the idea that women are taking control of their labor with the knowledge that childbirth does not have to be this horrible, painful experience that is only worth it because you get an adorable baby out of the deal.
In closing, I offer a small bit of advice to all women: your body was made, among other things, to have children. You CAN do it, even if you think you can’t. If you prepare for childbirth, educate yourself on breathing and mechanisms to help you deal with the pain ahead of time, labor will be easier. Make this your mantra: “I CAN do it.” You can, you can! For more information on vaginal births after cesarean sections, please check out the International Cesarean Awareness Network.