Giving birth in Japan

Successful VBAC – Tomoko’s Birth Story

Tomoko gave birth to her second baby just a few days before me, and she had a successful VBAC! I was so thrilled to hear this wonderful news and was so excited when Tomoko offered to send me her birth story. Congratulations Tomoko and thank you so much for sharing your story!


My Birth Story – Successful VBAC, 2 years and 6 months after my first C-section

The reasons why I would like to try VBAC this time

Since after I had a C-section for my first baby, I was strongly willing to have VBAC for my next baby. There are four reasons:

  1. I would like to wait until baby is ready to come out. I had emergency C-section for my first baby when I was on 37week of pregnancy. My baby was big enough numerically, but I felt that he was not ready to come out at that time.
  2. I would like to have virginal birth instead of C-section. I understand that it doesn’t matter how I give a birth if baby is okay. However, once I knew about VBAC, I strongly thought that I would love to try to have virginal birth. I’d love to believe the power of birth, both of my baby and myself.
  3. Anxiety of recovery. Since I needed a long time for recovery last time, I really worried. I could not spend so much time for recovery for this time because I have 2.5 year old boy.
  4. Big fear for having surgery. I had 6 surgeries before – for appendicitis, meniscus repair, breast cancer, C-section, and 2 surgeries for miscarriage. It was already too much for me, and I would love to avoid having another surgery in my life.

When I found that I got pregnant again, I started to research the hospital that agrees to have VBAC. However, most of hospital said “No” for VBAC. The Red Cross in Hiroo was the only hospital which accept VBAC positively in Tokyo Area. My place is far from Hiroo, so that it was impossible to make a reservation for birth. My husband and I called several hospitals near our place, and finally found Mirai Women’s clinic who said that they could let me try VBAC if my condition was okay.

The conditions for successful VBAC at Mirai Women’s clinic

The doctor explained about the risk of VBAC, and also the conditions that allow me to have VBAC.

  • Baby should not be in breech position
  • Baby should not be too big
  • Labor should start naturally before 42 weeks
  • Mother should not be hypertension in pregnancy

Also, the doctor recommended having an epidural. He said allows to switch to C-section smoothly if an emergency happens. When use pain killer drug during labor, it may slow down the labor. However, I cannot take any drug to accelerate the labor.

At 37 weeks, my baby was bigger than the average. So the doctor said that it’s better not to wait until 42 weeks. I agreed to schedule C-section at 40 weeks, which was May 21st, 2014.

Things I did for inducing labor before scheduled C-section

I really wanted to have my second baby by VBAC, so I tried as many things as I could to induce labor before May 21st!

  • Walking (2-3 hours daily)
  • Squat exercise
  • Maternity Yoga every night before the bed
  • Yakiniku (Japanese BBQ) and Oronamin C (, and Curry rice and Oronamin C (These are widely believed among Japanese pregnant mothers to induce labor! Just like “good-luck charm”, no scientific evidence for those, unfortunately)

I started those when I was 36 weeks. At 38 weeks, I felt that my baby had dropped down, however, the doctor said that there were no symptoms for labor. So I was very disappointed! False labor had already begun, I thought it’s sign to have true labor soon. At the check-up on 39 week, on May 13th, there were no symptoms and uterus was still 0 cm opened… Big disappointment!

Something happened on full moon day

On May 15th, in the early morning on this full moon day, I felt the strongest pain I’d ever felt, and the contractions were about 10 min apart. It lasted about 2 hours, and then it was gone suddenly. I was so disappointed because it was false labor again, but it brought “bloody show”! YAY! I was so excited!

I felt stronger contractions during the day, and on the next day, May 16th, around 4 am, it happened. The contractions were much stronger than before, and I felt backache A LOT. It was about 15 min apart, but I could tell that it was something different from the others. Around 7 am, I still had the 15 min contractions, so I called to hospital. For VBAC, the doctor told me to call to the hospital as soon as I had true labor, even if it’s only 15 min apart. Normally, it has to be about 5-10 min apart.

8am – my husband and I took taxi to the hospital,

8:30am – doctor found that my uterus was 2 cm dilated! YAY!

9am – I was placed to labor room (Not a delivery room. This hospital has separate labor room and delivery room)

My husband and I were so excited because we thought the baby would come out soon. Not really yet though, this was only the beginning of long labor…

The contractions got a bit weaker when I came into the hospital. So I did squat exercise and twisting my hips between the contractions.

How my labor proceeded

11am – The contractions were about 7 min apart

12 pm – Had lunch, and it made the contractions a bit stronger.

1 pm – 2.5 cm dilated. Only 5 mm proceed, so disappointed!

3 pm – 3 cm dilated, the doctor suggested to have epidural. I asked him to wait until my uterus open 5 cm dilated, but he said that it’s better to have epidural sooner because of VBAC risks.

5 pm – I had epidural, and pain killer drugs. It was a big difference!!! Most of the contraction pain was gone! So nice to have epidural! I should lie on the bed, and could not go to bathroom (so nurse took my urine). I needed to ask nurse to add more pain killer drugs every 1-2 hour. It was so nice to have painkiller, I could sleep during the contractions!

Midwife said that baby would not come out today, so that I asked my husband to go back to home to take care of our little boy staying with my mother.

9 pm – 4 cm dilated

May 17th,

2am – 5 cm dilated

5am – 8 cm dilated

7am – moving into delivery room, so I called to my husband and he came to the hospital to stay with me.

8am – my water breaks, and the doctor found that baby’s face was down.

He said that it would cause turning problem when baby came out, and if it happened, I had to have C-section to save baby. Normally, baby’s face is up at the entrance of birth canal. Baby is turning through birth canal, and baby’s face is down at the end and comes out.

The doctor asked nurses to prepare for C-section. There was a operation room next door, and we could see the room light turned on and people was busy for preparation.

I asked midwife “Is there any possibility to prevent having C-section?!” She said that it’s hard to say. She also tried to turn my baby by her hand, and also gave massage on my tummy to lead my baby in the right position. I was praying for having natural birth. I spend so much time to research about VBAC, to find the hospital, to discuss with the doctor, and to make big effort to keep my pregnant life in the good conditions. Those are all for having a successful VBAC. I suddenly felt so sad and could not stop crying when I thought about the fear and pains of C-section. “I don’t want to have C-section, I really don’t”, I said to my husband. He said, “Please don’t cry. When mother cries, baby may get nervous.   It should be okay. I can feel it. Everything will be fine. Believe yourself and our baby. “ His words saved me a lot. I tried not to think about C-section, and imagined to have successful VBAC.

11am – doctor found that baby’s face was down! So relieved!

1 pm – everything was ready to welcome our baby girl. Doctor, midwife, 2 nurses, and my husband were in the delivery room, and the final phase of delivery has begun.

The delivery bed was in position, and everyone watched the NST monitor screen. When the big contraction wave was coming, doctor said “PUSH! PUSH now, PUSH, PUSH, PUSH!” I hold my breath and pushed. “Okay release and relax now. Good job, Tomoko. Baby will come out next!” And as doctor said, at the next contraction when I pushed, I felt baby was coming out. “Okay, she came out! It’s 1:52 pm” And then baby started crying. When I heard baby crying, I also cried. So many different feelings mixed together – happiness, joy, relief, proud, glory, and fulfillment! I thought my husband would cry when he saw the baby, but he had big smile on his face and got so excited! Shortly, placenta came out. My tummy looked slimed-down, and I felt so refreshed and relaxed. This part was very different from C-section.

Even though I had an epidural, after my uterus was 8cm dilated, I still felt so much pain. I could not imagine how it would be without painkiller…

Anyway, it was not an easy delivery – spending more than 30 hours suffering labor pain, having episiotomy, and also forceps, but for me, it was a great experience and I was absolutely satisfied with my delivery!

2014-05-17 15.34.24 2014-05-17 15.34.28 2014-05-17 15.34.37 2014-05-18 16.21.40 2014-05-18 18.14.28

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7 thoughts on “Successful VBAC – Tomoko’s Birth Story

  1. Kazu says:

    Congratulation Tomoko-san on the safe arrival of your lovely baby girl! Thank you so much for sharing such a wonderful experience. I wish I can have a VBAC too next time, my C section was really painful and it took 3 months the incision to heal. Now my baby is 6 months old and I’m really enjoying my new life ^_^)/

    1. Tomoko says:

      Hi Kazu-san, Thank you for your comment! Glad to hear that you enjoy your life with your baby 🙂 I totally understand the pains of C-Section, and long-time recovery. This time, with virginal birth, I could eat snacks 30 min after my baby girl was out, and I could walk from delivery room to my room by myself. I could hold my baby girl and breastfeed, and also change her diapers right a way. So, compare to C-sections, recovery was much quicker, smoother, and easier! So, if conditions are okay, I really recommend VBAC. As I mentioned in my birth story, many hospitals would say “No” for VBAC. You may need to spend a lot of your time for research and discussing with your doctor, but it worth to do it. Good luck!

      1. Kazu says:

        You meant vaginal birth, right? ^_−☆ Yes I can’t forget how painful was not be able to hold my baby soon after the surgery. Anyway, thanks to the high level trained Staff of the Clinic, I could receive all the support needed. Thank you again and I wish you all the best with your Family ❤️

  2. Michelle says:

    Hi Tomoko!
    Congratulations on your successful VBAC! Can I ask you a question. Was it important for your doctor to measure the thickness of the previous C-section scar? If yes, how thick was yours? My doctor says that he would allow me for VBAC depending on the condition of the previous incision scar, so I am worried.

    1. Tomoko says:

      Hi Michelle,
      Yes, it was important to measure the thickness of scar of womb, and it was big discussion point for me and the doctor. The doctor said that it has to be thicker than 2mm, but mine was about 1.5mm. So, he refused to try VBAC for me at the first time. However, I found the article about the successful VBAC report, and it said that scar thickness for VBAC has to be more than 1mm at least. I discussed with my doctor again about this, and he agreed to try VBAC when my scar thickness was more than 1mm. He carefully monitored the thickness, and at 39 weeks, it still had 1.5mm.
      Hope this helps!

  3. Rulan says:

    Hi Tomoko-san,
    Congratulations on your successful VBAC, I am really happy for you.

    I have similar case, I am 32 weeks in , and I had a C-section for my first child. I want to do a VBAC, in my area I had very few hospitals that perform VBAC. therefore , I had to go to a hospital that doesn’t perform VBAC. Now I found a new hospital that can perform it. Can I switch to this hospital now ?

    1. Tomoko says:

      Hi Rulan-san
      Thank you for your comments.
      It is very difficult question, and I cannot answer because I am not a doctor. If I were you, I would visit the hospital which can perform VBAC and see the doctor. Asking if it’s possible to switch the hospital at 32 weeks.
      I was in Bangkok when I got pregnant, and stayed there until 30 weeks. It was when I was on 31 week to see the doctor in Japan at first time. I also switched the hospital, but I had made phone call to them and ask if they can accept me or not when I was on 25 weeks, because we had already decided to move back to Japan for having birth. My case and your case is different, so there is no guarantee, but it’s worth to give a try. Just call them to check! Wish you all the best. Good luck 🙂

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