After having two C-sections, Kara pursued a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) and with the help from a supportive doctor, Kara was able to have a successful VBAC despite multiple challenges.  

Listen to this birth story as Kara shares her journey of advocating for her birth preferences, finding the right supportive provider, and ultimately achieving her dream birth experience. 

Whether you're pursuing a VBAC or simply interested in empowering birth stories, Kara's story will leave you feeling inspired and empowered.

00:01 Introduction and Background

00:57 Guest Introduction: Nutritionist Kara Swanson

01:34 Kara's First Two Birth Experiences

03:43 The Struggle for a VBAC

04:55 Finding the Right Doctor and Preparing for VBAC

08:46 The Labor and Delivery Experience

17:22 The Joy of Successful VBAC

26:50 Reflections and Closing Thoughts

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Trish: [00:00:00] My name is Trish Ware and I am obsessed with all things pregnancy and birth and helping you to navigate with the practical and the magical seasons of this journey called motherhood. I'm an all day coffee sipping mama of seven. I've had the amazing privilege of delivering many babies. In my 15 plus year career as a labor and delivery nurse and as a mama of seven, I'm here to help you take the guesswork out of childbirth so you can make the choices that are right for you and your baby. 

Quick note, this podcast is for educational purposes only and does not replace your medical advice. Check out our full disclaimer at the 

Kara': bottom. of the show notes. 


Trish: everyone and welcome back to the birth experience. So I just recorded [00:01:00] an episode with Kara Swanson who is a nutritionist and she shared all the insight about changing your diet if you're struggling with anything related to inflammation. And it was such a good show. I wanted to do another episode with her because she has a pretty incredible birth story. 

So we're going to talk about your birth story, 

Kara': Kara. Yay. I'm excited. I am 

Trish: too. So we're just going to dive right in. So tell me your pregnancy and birth journey and how you ended up pursuing a VBAC. 

Kara': Yeah. So I think it starts, obviously with my first two. So I had two girls, two C sections and I thought I was being an advocate. 

My first one, I was young, didn't really know what I was doing, but it ended up basically in a an emergency C section. And I was disappointed because it wasn't what I wanted, but I was okay with it. And then my second one, I was like, okay, I am getting a V back. This is [00:02:00] going to be awesome. 

And I thought I found a doctor who wanted the same thing, who was for it, and encouraging, but it wasn't that way. I had to see, it was a, like an office where you had to see a bunch of different doctors. And so each one told me different things. And so I was just confused, but still hopeful. 

But then when it came down to it they told me I needed to schedule a C section and I was like crushed. 

Trish: And what was their reasoning? 

Kara': Why? They told me that when I, after 42 weeks, if I, or 40 weeks, I don't remember if it was 40, they would only let me go to 42 weeks or 41 or something, whatever it was. 

But if I wasn't any showing any signs, they were just going to do a C section. No reason. Honestly, and I was just, I didn't know at the time that I had more of a voice. Because I would have left or I would have found like, I would have just been like, I'm finding someone, to help me, but I even went in, I remember three days [00:03:00] before my scheduled C section was just like, can you check me? 

Is there any possibility? Please let me. And they just said no. And so that was really hard. Just because I just felt like I thought I was doing things right, but it wasn't and I was just frustrated with my body that it wasn't going into labor either, but it was a more gentle c section. 

I would say I did ask, for skin to skin right away. I asked them to wait, to cut the cord. And so that felt better. And just a lot more recovery was better with my first one. I got a horrible infection. I was hospitalized. Realized for two weeks. So it just was like a lot of trauma with the first one, and then the second one was better, but still not what I wanted and still just felt just disappointed. 

I'm thankful, obviously for healthy babies, but just wanted that, that birth experience, then I got pregnant again and we I immediately called all the doctors, my old doctor, they were like, nope, not doing it. And I called just a bunch of different places. I [00:04:00] think 10, 12 places, do you like, will you take me? 

How many C sections have you had? And I was like two. They're like, no, we only do it after one. I was like, oh, okay. So I finally, somebody finally was like, no one in the area is going to do this for you. And they're like, but there is a hospital, there's, in Iowa city, it's two, almost two hours away, one way. 

And they're like they will do them. And so I was like, okay. So I called and the nurse was like, yeah, we do them all the time. That's no problem. And I was like, wait, what? Like she just was so kind. And I'm like, okay, I think this is, my place. Because 

Trish: you understand that in your city, women's bodies can not do it, but two hours away. 

They are capable of doing it. You just didn't know that. 

Kara': I know. I know. I was shocked that just I just had to go two hours away. It was so frustrating. So frustrating. But I was just so grateful that I at least, there was an option, and so [00:05:00] I went to I called him, made an appointment and immediately I was just like, this is the place. 

My doctor was incredible. She, not only did I feel like. She was okay with it. It was like she wanted it for me, every time. Yes. It was just like, she just holds such a special place in my heart. I think about all the time because I'm just like the fact that I would come in and she'd be like, Kara, I thought about you this week, a gal came in, she was in labor and she had a C section scheduled, but we just asked her if she wanted to try. 

And she ended up having a V back after two C sections. And I was like, wait, what? You like actually let gave her the opportunity, and it was just a cool relationship. And yeah. 

Trish: And that shows the difference for you guys listening. I have a free form that you can get. 

That's our provider questionnaire. We'll link to it in the show notes because it's really Life changing, birth changing, if your [00:06:00] provider is VBAC friendly compared to VBAC tolerant. Because there's tons of doctors who say, oh yeah, I do VBACs, but when push comes to shove, they and they do a repeat C section for every, you sneeze wrong, you really need to have a C section. 

It doesn't matter and a VBAC friendly doctor who really wants it and is like your provider. If it comes to a point where a C section is a better option for you, you trust them. You know that it's true. That is huge. And that is just as huge as being supported is to be able to trust that they're not leading you in a way that's convenient for them, but really is the best path for you. 

Okay, so go ahead. 

Kara': Yeah, made all the difference. And one of the big things, I always had a huge list, especially the first. I was more, when I went into the first appointment too, it was different is because I felt like I was interviewing them. Are you a good fit for me? I'm not just blindly going to go with you [00:07:00] this time. 


Trish: should though. That should be the norm for even a first time mom. 

Kara': Yeah. Oh, a hundred percent. And so I had all these questions, would, if it comes to this, what are you going to, are you going to make me go to have a C section? Can you induce me? That was a big question because my first I went to 42 weeks, my second, I believe it was only 41 weeks that they let me go, and so I was like, I think my body just takes a little bit longer, would you allow me to go longer? 

And if I don't, would you induce? And thankfully they would, there was two options that they said that I would have, they would do Pitocin, but they would start at a very low dose and then gradually increase. And then they would do a Cooke catheter. And so I was like, okay, great. Like that just gave me even more hope that like I have a backup. 

If my body, 

Trish: I love that because when you were first talking, you said that with your second, you were really disappointed in your body. And I'm thinking in my head, I'm disappointed in your doctors. Like your body was doing its thing. And it's. Perfect. And you've learned that now, but we're so more [00:08:00] like we're just much more likely to mistrust our body than our provider. 

Like I, it's really sad, honestly, but okay. So now you're with the right doctor, you're on the right path. Was there anything you did like that or that your doctor recommended to prepare for your V back? Or did you just do the normal things that a pregnant mama does? 

Kara': Yeah, I was very healthy, I was running, still working out, trying to eat healthy, trying to do everything I could do, lots of dates, pineapple bouncing on the ball, walk, sex, acupuncture, chiropractor, like all the things but my body didn't go into labor naturally. 

But I still felt okay cause I just, I knew I was in the right place and I knew we had options. We we were going to be induced, if I didn't buy 41 weeks and so the day came, we woke up I think at 4 a. m. to get to our 6 a. m. induction time because the two hour drive, but it was, they just, once I got in there, [00:09:00] they just started, on Pitocin right away of really low dose. 

And just monitored me and I walked around and just try to get things going. But it took a long time, even with the pitocin in nothing was changing. And that was a really mindset game for me as well. I know in our previous, podcast, we talked about mindset and it was such a mindset game for me just during my labor and just wondering and trying to fight honestly the fears of, is this going to work? 

Will my body. work, right? Will it do what it's supposed to do? And so I had to constantly like push that aside and just trust, the process, but I still wasn't dilated for a really long time hours. And then they were finally like, let's go ahead and try the cook catheter. And at this time I was unmedicated. 

That was honestly a goal of mine was to go unmedicated. Because I don't know if this is completely true, but I had heard that getting an epidural, would can slow things down. And so in my mind, I was trying to do 

Trish: everything. I'm not doing anything that can [00:10:00] slow 

Kara': this down. Yes. I was like, I will like, if I didn't do it, I will endure it, they put the catheter in, but I didn't realize that. It really escalates very quickly with the catheter. They did not explain that to me. 

Trish: It doesn't always, it doesn't always, I would say your body was probably on the brink of taking 

Kara': over. Okay. Yeah. It kicked in and it was excruciating contractions and one on top of the other. 

And I, we finally went to the tub and the tub helped a little bit, but, I like to say I was breathing and trying to like, moan and through it nicely. But my husband says I was screaming and I looked over at him at one point and he had who's just, who's to say the difference. He had his hands over his ears and I was like, okay, maybe he's right, but I'm going like this. 

I'm trying. But anyways, they were like, okay, like she's been laboring in the tub for hours. pain in there. It just was on top of the other. I just couldn't get, catch my breath. And the nurse and my [00:11:00] husband had a conversation and they just were like, I think it's time for an epidural. And that was really hard. 

And I was just like, I don't know if I, I don't want that, because in my mind it was again, if I get that's like a check against me almost in my mind, that this would slow things down, but I got out of the tub and that's when it just got even worse. I just honestly couldn't even breathe. 

Like it just was so bad, but so we decided through tears that I would get an epidural and definitely, obviously a lot of relief from that from immediately from that. And I just had to trust cause I knew I could, but it was just. Can I sustain this for if I had to go for hours and it was just so painful. 

But we decided to do the epidural and after the epidural, they checked me again and I was only one centimeter dilated after like hours again. This I think was five hours. And so again, I was just like, what is happening? Is my body going to be able to do this? I just labored for hardcore for quote unquote nothing. 

But the whole [00:12:00] time and what I loved about my doctors and the nurse is that They never said Carrie, you only have you only have until 10 p. m. If you don't, if we're gonna there was never 

Trish: this pressure. Which is also a mind game that messes with your head. 

Kara': Yes. Yeah, they just kept telling me, honestly, you have plenty of time. 

You have plenty of time. And so I was just like, okay, I have plenty of time. Like I wasn't, and maybe they were talking in the back. VBACs are 

Trish: slow. Like I, I have this in the VBAC lab all, I wish you had taken the VBAC lab so bad. And even while you're talking, because one of the things that truly sets me apart from anyone else is that I offer my virtual doula services, which I have three doulas that work with me. 

And. Once my mama's hit around 35 weeks or sooner, if they want, they can add the virtual services membership to their birth classes. They do have to have, they, whoever does virtual services to have the labor bat signal, which is what I'm going to talk [00:13:00] about. They have to have taken my classes because. 

We're going to be navigating their labor and birth with them. And we don't like during birth, you don't have time to explain all the things. So we want to make sure they've learned it from my style. And so we offer it's 39 a month and they get access to what we call the labor VAT signal, and that starts at 37 weeks, unless there's something else going on. 

We don't care. They can start it earlier, but. When they're in a situation like that hey, I am, and a lot of times it's the partner who will send out a signal. They can send a message to me or one of the doulas and be like, listen, this is what's happening. Baby is at this station. She's been one for six hours. 

She's had Pitocin. She's had a Foley. what do we do? And then my doulas really are magical with positioning, but we're like, okay, let's try, the abdom, tucking abdominal lift and let's do this because I can hear what wasn't happening is your [00:14:00] baby was not farther enough. Into the pelvis to put pressure on the cervix. 

And so when we hear those things, we say, okay, this is the position you need to get in, do this, let's move that baby lower. And unfortunately, a lot of labor nurses, even if they're amazing, they're not. taking classes outside of what their hospital provides. And so it's going to be a very limited training. 

And so when you have nurses who are spinning babies certified, or they've gone above and beyond to learn how the female body works, it's just like what you said with nutrition, same thing. But when you work with your body, because here's what happens when you are induced, The stars are not aligned per se, unless they are, because sometimes they are, but the whole labor process does not just begin with contractions, it begins with the baby coming down and putting pressure on the [00:15:00] cervix telling the brain to produce the oxytocin squeezing the, the uterine. 

So that's why we add this because you can get so defeated. during labor when things aren't moving or doing or whatever. And so we're able to say no, let's try this. Let's do that. And the other thing about like the amount of pain you were in ahead of time, I always say it's like, trying to like shove a door open that has a dresser on the other side. 

And you're pushing the dresser and the door. So your body was like the Pitocin, the Foley was doing all that extra pushing and it's exhausting and it can be painful. So a lot of people are like, and I'm teaching a workshop tonight. on inductions. A lot of people are like, I've heard inductions are worse. 

It's not so much that the inductions are worse. It's that [00:16:00] you skip all that slow go at home that you don't even know that's happening. So by the time you're actually in full blown labor, your body's done all that work by itself without telling you. And now when you're being induced, you're having to do all of it at once. 

And it's exhausting. It's mentally exhausting to do that and be back on top of it. It's slow because we can't be aggressive. So anyway, all that to say, I, all of that. All of that to say whatever, I don't know. 

Kara': No, I think it would be, it would have been so helpful. That's something that I think about, what would I have changed to have someone in my corner like that? 

To be like, oh, get in this position, 

Trish: do this, to have a doula, yeah. And doulas are, I am such a fan of doulas, but that's another reason and I have a lot of students who have an actual in person doula and are virtual services. But. We're giving those moms who maybe can't afford to spend 2, 000 for a doula access [00:17:00] to a dual. 

Now we're not 24 seven. So if this is happening at three in the morning one of my doulas might be up breastfeeding, but other than that, it's, but it's a really insane service because we are all so passionate that all women should have people supporting them and cheering them on. And it just doesn't happen. 

It's not happening. More often is it happening what happened to you the first and second time then what happened with you the third time like it's Very unusual for a provider to be like you're so kudos to her 

Kara': Yeah, and that's why I've shared it so much and I've had women reach out and say I went to your doctor or what doctor specifically did you go to or they've gone, you know drove the two hours sometimes even further you know because I and I love that because I want them to know you have a choice, you can advocate for this, and you can do this even though other doctors aren't willing to do it. 

Your body's 

Trish: not broken. And you weren't just a name on a list. Like she thought about you. She [00:18:00] thought about your birth. I love that. I love that so much. So you're now you have an epidural. You're relaxed. Did you rest after you got your epidural? I did. Yes. That is number one advice. If you're going to get an epidural, take advantage of the rest. 


Kara': Yep. I rested. And my sister came, my, my husband was there obviously. And then my sister came, I had asked her to take, I wanted her to take pictures. Because I didn't have any, I couldn't even do that, there wasn't an option before. And so I was like, if I'm having a V bag, we were having pictures, so she came and we just relaxed and rested, chatted. 

And then I felt a little pop between my legs and I remember, I wondered if my water had broken, but I remembered that they said, is it a cook catheter? Am I saying that right? You called it something else. Yeah. 

Trish: It can be a Foley or a Cook. Okay. So 

Kara': I, so they said it would come out on its own if you're dilated around five to six. 

And so I was like, [00:19:00] okay, is this it? So they came and checked me and I was out of five to six, I was 90 percent in face and my bag of waters was sitting really low. And I just remember being super excited because that's the farthest I'd ever been. In labor. So I was like, okay, I think my body can do it. 

Yes. Yes. Yep. Lots of happy tears throughout this, like in sad tears of Oh, just a lot of emotions, but no, I was just super excited. And we had talked about, after two hours, We kind of reassess if my water hadn't broken and so it hadn't broken and so they went ahead and broke the water for me and I kept feeling, a lot of pressure and I remember it was like 3 a. 

m. and I remember feeling down over like my pubic area and feeling like a big bump. And I was like, what is going on? I was like that's the head. The head is moving down where it needs to go. So I was really excited. And then an hour or so later, my doctor came in and checked. And I just kept telling her, I'm like, I'm [00:20:00] feeling just a lot of pressure, like going on down there. 

And she said, she was like, wow, like your baby's head is right there. Like it's time to push. And I just remember being like, I remember asking her like, really wait, like you mean it's time. Like I can actually, I get to do this. Like just so excited, but shocked too, and she was like, she laughed and she was like, yes, like it's time. 

So there was actually a lot of nurses, and this wasn't my doctor and we had mentioned this before, but. Another doctor had come in but my doctor was in the room like right there next to me and a lot of other nurses I think everyone wanted to watch this happen and it was just 

Trish: really exciting cheering you on. 

I love that's how it should be if you guys are Listening and you are going for a V back and you do not feel that support like your provider should be your cheerleader and your provider should want it for you because It's a good thing. It's a good thing. I love it. Okay. So we're ready to [00:21:00] push. 

Yeah, we're 

Kara': ready to push. And they told me they would were treating me as like a first time labor delivery. They said it would take around two hours. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And so I was like, okay. And I just remember this moment just being like, really just surreal that I was like, actually. 

being able to push like that. I got this far, and just what a dream that it was. Cause that's I just really wanted to experience it. I'm so thankful for the babies and the C sections that got them there. But I was like, I just want to experience it. Naturally, in this way. 


Trish: yeah, I want to read something to you because I have my class slides pulled up for tonight's masterclass. And while you've been talking, I keep thinking of Katie because I added her story to this class and Katie. in here says, I can't remember when it fully sunk in that I was going to be able to deliver my baby vaginally. 

I think perhaps when I was almost ready to push, it just seemed too good to be true. And [00:22:00] I keep thinking of you it gives me chills because that's what I love about, I have such a special little corner of my heart for my VBaccLab mamas because they go through such a range of mental, health things. And a lot of it is just thinking their body failed them. And their body isn't my body's not like hers. My body's not my whole life I've thought about having a baby and delivering my baby vaginally, and then my body can't do it. And so that moment when they're like, Oh my God. I'm about to do it. 

And you're like, yes, body. 

Kara': You're awesome. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. It's amazing. And even to that point, I remember thinking it was like this constant, like battle still, even while I was getting ready to push, or even, even while I was pushing, I w I remember feeling just. just an incredible calmness and like extremely focused. 

Like my husband [00:23:00] is you were just like zoned in. Like I am getting this baby out. I'm doing this. But even, yeah. Even then though I was thinking, what if they tell me to stop pushing? I still had that in the back of my head. That's why I was like, I got to do this as fast as I can. I'm pushing as hard as I can, because I'm not, yeah, I was like, I'm not letting them stop me. 

And I remember something, I don't even know for sure what went off there were all the doctors were looking at something. And I remember my doctor saying, she's fine. She's fine. Just and I have no idea what it was, but just they were like, Nope, she's good. Let's let her keep going. 

So I bet 

Trish: it, I bet the baby was having a deceleration. It's probably what happened. I don't know. 

Kara': But I was just like, it was, so I just started pushing. And I remember they were like, they told me that the head was right there. And they asked me if I wanted to feel the head. And I was like, heck yeah, I want to feel it. 

So I reached out and that was just really cool. You 

Trish: know, it's amazing, right? That is an amazing feeling. Like you're Oh my God, that is A person's head right there. 

Kara': Yeah, that's what [00:24:00] my body was supposed to do, so yeah, it was really cool. And yeah, I just kept pushing and I actually looked at my doctor and I was like, just tears. 

And I was like, I am doing this. I'm actually doing this, and she just cheered me on and I pushed for another 15 minutes. I actually only pushed for 30 minutes. Yeah, not the two hours and we'd actually didn't know the gender. We decided to wait and it was a boy, which I 

Trish: knew that was coming 

Kara': with two girls and just the cherry on top, just all of it, it was just sweet. 

And I, yeah. It was just the best experience. I just remember thinking, and still even now, if I was going to have another kid, I was like, I want to do that again. That was just like the best moment ever. It's that 

Trish: oxytocin flowing. I love that so much because that provider from your hometown could have stolen all of that from you. 

And so many do. And you could have probably experienced that with your second baby [00:25:00] if you would have had a supportive provider. And it's such a shame that like, even thinking about like your body and my body labor is completely different than anyone I've ever labored. And the thing is that. We're all different, we're all individual and to think that we're all going to go into labor at the same time, we're going to do this at the same time and our babies are going to weigh the same and all of that is so limiting and it's so frustrating and that's why I'm so passionate about changing this culture to the birth culture has to change. 

Like we put so many limitations on ourselves when our bodies are so capable of doing so much more and it's frustrating. Thank you so much for sharing that. And I'm so glad we did it in two extra little episodes. So much fun. And for those of you guys listening, I as Cara was talking, I was thinking a lot about my mamas who have not experienced a vaginal delivery and who may, maybe won't [00:26:00] ever be able to. 

I just want you guys to know that your body is incredible and we have cesareans for an amazing. Reason and thank God we do because it's life saving. The problem is when it's done out of convenience for someone else, or we're, they just aren't giving our bodies an opportunity. So if you're listening and you haven't had the this experience, we're so proud of you and. 

Thank goodness we have caesareans, like really truly, because there would be a lot of really horrible, tragic births if we didn't. This may not be everyone's journey and that's also okay, so thank you so much for coming today. 

I hope you enjoyed listening to Kara's birth story as much as I did. I am so obsessed with birth stories. You think I'd be over them now after 16 years of birth? [00:27:00] But no, I'm not. I love them. And of course, I have a special little place for my VBAC Mamas. If you're interested in joining the VBAC Lab, hit the link in the show notes. 

And if you have any questions, send us a DM on Instagram. As always, leave a review and subscribe. Do it now. And I will see you again next Friday. Bye for now.