“The VBAC Link” – with Meagan Heaton

On this episode of Healthful Woman, Dr. Fox speaks with Meagan Heaton, co-founder of the VBAC Link and host of “The VBAC Link” Podcast. The VBAC Link offers evidence-based information regarding delivery after a previous cesarean section. After undergoing 2 cesarean sections and a VBAC, Meagan now loves to share her knowledge about the birthing process.

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Dr. Fox: Welcome to today’s episode of “Healthful Woman,” a podcast designed to explore topics in women’s health at all stages of life. I am your host, Dr. Nathan Fox, an OBGYN and maternal-fetal medicine specialist practicing in New York City. At “Healthful Woman,” I speak with leaders in the field to help you learn more about women’s health, pregnancy, and wellness.

All right, Megan, welcome to the podcast. Thanks for agreeing to come on. How are you doing today?

Meagan Heaton: Well, thanks for having me. I’m doing great. So great.

Dr. Fox: This is like in basketball, when one team comes to one court and they play, then they go to the other court and play, this is… You know, I’ve been on your podcast, and so now you’re coming on mine. It’s a fair trade.

Meagan Heaton: It’s so fun. And we’ve had you on multiple times, and everyone just loves your podcast. We always get emails about it.

Dr. Fox: Oh, that’s so nice. Thank you. Thanks for saying that. True or not, I appreciate it.

Meagan Heaton: No, it’s like, really good. It’s really true, and it’s like, really good stuff. They love you.

Dr. Fox: Aw, that’s very sweet. Well, you are the lord of the VBAC Link, right? I don’t know what your…what are you? You’re the founder, the director…what is your official title there? You’re everything? You are the link?

Meagan Heaton: I’m the link. Yeah, I’m the co-founder of the VBAC Link, and I’m the host of “The VBAC Link” podcast.

Dr. Fox: Amazing. And you yourself are also a VBAC mom, and you’re a birth doula, and an educator.

Meagan Heaton: Yeah. Yeah, so I had two cesareans, and then went on to have a VBAC, and then actually became a doula inspired by, actually, after my second C-section. So I’ve been doing the birth doula stuff for about 10 years now, and I just love talking…talking about VBAC, talking about birth in general. Birth is so amazing.

Dr. Fox: Birth is cool. Birth is good stuff. It’s amazing.

Meagan Heaton: Yeah.

Dr. Fox: So tell us just on a high level, and then we’ll get into the details, what is “The VBAC Link,” if you were to describe it to somebody, or all of our listeners?

Meagan Heaton: Yeah, it’s a one-stop shop for you to come and find, like, evidence-based information, positive stories, a positive circle, which can be sometimes hard during your VBAC journey. And just honestly getting all the evidence-based information that you need about VBAC, because there’s so much you can google out there, and then, you know, spiral down really quickly. And so we wanted to try to provide, you know, all the information about VBAC, and also repeat cesarean. Because we know that sometimes VBAC isn’t the best choice for someone, or the desired choice, so learning just your options in general for vaginal birth after cesarean, and then how to also reduce cesarean.

Dr. Fox: And how long have you guys been running?

Meagan Heaton: Since 2018.

Dr. Fox: So what’s that, five-plus years, five, six years?

Meagan Heaton: So…yeah. Yeah.

Dr. Fox: Wow. And what’s your engagement like? I mean, you have people from all over the country, all over the world? How do you even sort of measure that?

Meagan Heaton: Yeah, literally all over the world. We have listeners, and even doulas. So we also train doulas on, like, knowing what it’s like out there in the VBC world, and like, what the stats are, and you know, the evidence. And so we have doulas and listeners from, like, Kuwait to Saudi Arabia to Nevada to Chicago to Utah. I mean, all over the place.

Dr. Fox: That’s amazing. Tell us your story, how did you get into this business?

Meagan Heaton: You know it all started with the first C-section. I honestly was just a mom. I was young, I was kind of young when I started having babies, and I just kind of downloaded, you know, the What to Expect app, and went from there. And every week I was like, oh, my baby is this size, and I should be expecting these symptoms, and that was about the education that I got. Whatever that little app told me, I was like, okay, cool. All right, maybe I’ll get this, maybe I won’t. And I ended up my water broke early on, and I kind of just rushed right to the hospital, which was fine, but I wasn’t really in labor, and we tried to get labor going, and it was starting… But about 12 hours into my labor, I was told that I probably couldn’t do it, and my baby wouldn’t come out, and I had my beautiful baby girl via cesarean.

Dr. Fox: And what was the reason they said the baby wouldn’t come out? Was it a function of time, like, oh, your water’s been broken for X-hours? Or were you, like, stopped dilating? Or what… Was there something that made sense to you?

Meagan Heaton: Yeah… You know, again I didn’t really know what I didn’t know. So now, no, none of it really made sense to me.

Dr. Fox: Okay.

Meagan Heaton: It was 12 hours water broken, so okay, 12 hours water broken, but I didn’t really have any infection, baby was doing super great, I was doing fine. I had dilated to a three, so I was going.

Dr. Fox: Right.

Meagan Heaton: And so they just said failure to progress, and that my pelvis…they diagnosed me with a CPD on my op reports. The didn’t say that at the time, that my pelvis was too small, they just put it in my op reports. And so, you know, I was failure to progress, and I didn’t know, and I…you know? I don’t know. It was just like, okay…okay, if he says that, great, you know? And so off we went to the OR.

And it wasn’t necessarily traumatic by any means, it was just not what I desired, and very different, right? Not what I expected birth to look like. Which again, I didn’t have very much education, so I don’t really know what I really expected, it just wasn’t that.

So I started kind of, you know, researching other options when we started trying for our second, and I learned that there was, you know, VBAC after a cesarean, or you know, VBAC, and I was like, oh, cool, maybe I should try that. And I talked to my doctor, and he said, yeah, that’s fine. We can totally let you try it. It’s no problem, so I was like, okay, cool, and I honestly didn’t, again, get a lot of education. Like…

Dr. Fox: Same doctor?

Meagan Heaton: Same doc, yeah.

Dr. Fox: Okay.

Meagan Heaton: Which coincidentally was the doc that delivered me via cesarean in 1988.

Dr. Fox: Wait, really?

Meagan Heaton: Yeah.

Dr. Fox: Whoa…Okay.

Meagan Heaton: Yeah. So he was my mom’s provider for my sister and I, and my aunts, and my cousin…you know? You know, it’s pretty common to be like, oh, go to my OB, and then that’s just who you’re with, or go to my midwife, and that’s who you’re with, right?

Dr. Fox: Okay. Yeah.

Meagan Heaton: And so I was like, cool, so I ended up staying. At 36 weeks, I had a pretty deep intuition feeling that I should research switching. But I literally told people this, I said I don’t want to cheat on him. I don’t want to cheat on him. Like we were in some relationship, right?

Dr. Fox: Yeah. Yeah.

Meagan Heaton: And I was like, he’s helped me so far, and he says that he’ll support me, right?

Dr. Fox: Right.

Meagan Heaton: And so I just kind of stayed, but I had this feeling like, oh, I don’t know, you should switch. There were some things that were said and done that I was just like, ehh, I don’t like that they’re talking about those things. So anyway, so I didn’t switch, and then I found out about a doula, and I was like, oh, I’m going to hire this doula. And my husband was like, ehh, no, you’re not. No, we’re not. That’s not cool, we’re not doing that. So he wasn’t really on board with the doula thing.

Dr. Fox: Because of the cost, or because it was like, hokey? Like, what would be the downside?

Meagan Heaton: Yeah… He just said he felt like he was going to be replaced. Because he’s like, why do you want someone, and I was like, I just want someone that has some deeper education and knowledge, and can support me, and because I need…

Dr. Fox: Right. So you’re basically saying I want to replace you. Which is fine…

Meagan Heaton: Yeah, I did.

Dr. Fox: I would think most men would want that. Like, really? I get an out? Like, I can…you know?

Meagan Heaton: Yeah, right? Sign me up. Yeah, no, we just were…

Dr. Fox: I get a co-worker in this endeavor? That’s amazing. All right…

Meagan Heaton: Right. Yeah, and he was not really up for spending money, which I get.

Dr. Fox: Okay. They’re expensive, potentially.

Meagan Heaton: Like, weren’t super well-off….yeah. I mean, back then they were like, nothing. But anyway, so he was like, no, and I tried to explain, I’m like, they’re there for you, too, you know? But he just wasn’t on board, which I was like, okay, cool. Whatever. I’ll stay here, won’t hire a doula, all will be well, I’m going to do this VBAC thing… And I started, like, diving in to, like…you know, the little short time I had, I’m like, literally 36-and-a-half weeks, diving in, and I’m like, oh, my gosh, there’s so much scattered information to the point of like, this is the worst thing you could do, to this is the best thing you could do.

Dr. Fox: Right.

Meagan Heaton: And like, I couldn’t figure out where that happy medium was, or if there was, and it was really emotional, and just hard, so hard. And so, yeah, so at 38 weeks, 4 days, my husband was out of town, because he was like, you’re not going to have the baby, you’re 38 weeks, you’re fine, and sure enough, my water broke. So [crosstalk 00:08:54.996]

Dr. Fox: My doula would have been in town, buddy!

Meagan Heaton: Right? I thought that, I was like, I could have had a doula right now, as I’m like, frantic… Not really frantic, but I was like, oh, my gosh, like this is happening way sooner than I expected, my husband’s in Texas, we don’t even know if he’s going to make it… But I also kind of felt this sense of, like, peace, of like, I’m good. I’m fine. Like, water color’s good, there’s no infection signs, I checked my temperature, I’m looking good, I’m sort of cramping, but not really. And anyway, he got home, and him and my mom kind of like, ganged up on me, and were like, we have to go to the hospital, they talked about dry birth, and I was like, what? I don’t even know what that means. But my mom was like, you’re going to have a dry birth. Have you ever heard of…I’m sure you’ve heard of this.

Dr. Fox: A dry birth?

Meagan Heaton: A dry birth is what she said.

Dr. Fox: I don’t…I’m not familiar with that term.

Meagan Heaton: She said when your water… This is… She said when your water breaks, everything else inside dries up, and it’s bad for the baby.

Dr. Fox: Hmm… Well…

Meagan Heaton: Well, what do we know? We know that babies keep peeing and all things, right?

Dr. Fox: Yeah, I…yeah, okay, no, that’s not…#fakenews on that one.

Meagan Heaton: Exactly, right?

Dr. Fox: Okay.

Meagan Heaton: But again, I was only like, a week into like, education, honestly.

Dr. Fox: Right.

Meagan Heaton: And so I was like, oh, okay, sure…I don’t think that’s real, but okay, fine. So we go to the hospital…

Dr. Fox: Right. The most agreeable person ever, by the way. Just listening to you, you’re like, oh, yeah, it’s all good, everything…

Meagan Heaton: I was. I was, and I am not now.

Dr. Fox: Okay.

Meagan Heaton: It’s funny, if you hang out, like, my husband’s like, oh, she is the most stern person. If she wants something, she’s going to get it.

Dr. Fox: All right.

Meagan Heaton: So I’ve changed my ways a little bit. But I’m a very, like, non-confrontational…like, I don’t want to cause havoc, you know? I just want to be liked, and okay, and not cause argument…I don’t know.

Dr. Fox: Okay.

Meagan Heaton: So I was like, okay, cool, so we go to the hospital, and they’re like, you are a whopping one centimeter, and I was like, sweet, and I’m like, totally positive about it. And my husband’s like, ugh, we have a long time, I’m like, well, we could be at home, but…you made me come here.

So anyway, so I started laboring, slowly laboring as I’m, like, contracting every 20 minutes, you know? And my husband was exhausted. I think he just crashed from the hype of getting home, and not sure if he was going to miss his baby’s birth. And so he passes out in the corner, my mom’s gone with my toddler, and I’m just hanging out with a nurse who coincidentally enough was also a doula, and we just had the best time. And I was like, starting to like feel it, I’m getting into my groove, and all was well, and anyway, it was like, I don’t know, it was probably 10 hours later, I was still, like, one centimeter, like, not really contracting. And I started begging for Pitocin, which who begs for Pitocin?

Dr. Fox: Right.

Meagan Heaton: Right? I was like, literally like, just give me Pitocin. Give me something, give me something… And the provider just said, no, you can’t. It’s a contraindication, we can’t do Pitocin with a VBAC, and… [crosstalk 00:11:52.356]

Dr. Fox: Was it your understanding that it was his thought, or that the hospital had, like, a policy? Because I mean, some hospitals don’t allow…

Meagan Heaton: Do have that policy, yeah.

Dr. Fox: Yeah, it just depends. I mean, yeah, do you have a sense of what it was?

Meagan Heaton: Well, the nurse… He wasn’t in there at the time, but the nurse said, the OB said he’s not able to. And so that could have completely been the hospital, but…

Dr. Fox: Right. Who knows.

Meagan Heaton: I mean, since then, I know that they do…

Dr. Fox: Mmm. So who knows? Yeah.

Meagan Heaton: Like, as I… So anyway, so at the time though, right, could have been, 2014, that’s a long time ago, 10 years ago.

Dr. Fox: Yeah. Yeah.

Meagan Heaton: So anyway, so I was like, okay, and so I was, like, moving, and like, trying and then the nurse just happened in, and she was like, hey, we’re going to prep you for a cesarean. And I was like, what? No, that’s not what I want. And she’s like, yeah, like, it’s been too long, your water is broken, you’re not progressing, we can’t give you anything… And I was like, no, I want to talk to my doctor.

So my doctor came in, and he kind of just put some fear in my husband. He just said, like, it’s not going to happen, you’re putting your baby at risk, kind of said some not so nice words to me, and…

Dr. Fox: Really?

Meagan Heaton: Yeah, he was just telling me things like wake up and smell the coffee. Like, give it up, like, this isn’t going to happen for you, you know? Like, not, like, building up things…

Dr. Fox: Not ideal. We’ll leave it at that.

Meagan Heaton: And I felt really put in a corner, because my husband was, like, yeah, babe, like, it’s your baby’s health. Like, no, we’re not going to do this all just so you don’t have to have a C-section. I’m like, ugh, okay… So anyway, so I asked for an hour. I said just give me an hour, let me walk, and I never experienced a contraction after that, like, that I felt confident, you know, that like, I could tell you that I had.

Dr. Fox: Right. Yeah.

Meagan Heaton: I think just, like, everything just tensed up. And I said okay, fine, let’s go down, and walked down to the OR, and yeah, had a repeat cesarean. And it was good. Like, I got to watch it, which was really cool. I got to really be part of my birth, and they talked to me, and we played music, and like, you know, in an undesired birth, it was the most desired it could get, if that makes sense?

Dr. Fox: Right, right. Meaning they were being kind, they just weren’t really on board, obviously, with the idea of a VBAC. Right.

Meagan Heaton: With my original plan, yeah. Yeah. So I was grateful. I was really grateful. So anyway, so we got into the postpartum, like, PACU unit, and it was pitch black, you know, I’m nursing the baby, and like, I couldn’t even focus on my baby, I was googling how to become a doula. Like, it was the weirdest thing. So I, like, felt fire inside of me, and signed up to become a doula before I even left the hospital.

Dr. Fox: Wow.

Meagan Heaton: And that’s when I knew, I knew for sure that I was going to be going for a VBAC after two cesareans. So that’s literally, like, where “The VBAC Link” started, is…

Dr. Fox: Did it start before you actually had your VBAC?

Meagan Heaton: It didn’t…it didn’t quite start. I guess I should say my partner at the time was eyeballing me. She’s like, I was, like, thinking of who I wanted to start this thing with, and it was, like, you, you, you, and then you had your VBAC, and it was like, definitely let’s do it.

Dr. Fox: We got you.

Meagan Heaton: Yeah.

Dr. Fox: Yeah. So how did you achieve your VBAC? What did you have to do?

Meagan Heaton: So I got my op reports. I really wanted to have a better understanding of really, why they said I had a C-section for both of those babies, right? And kind of ruled out the fact that I was like, okay, failure to progress both times, and CPD, essentially. I was like, okay, I believe that I can do this. Like, I believe my babies are small… I mean, they’re seven and six pounds. Pretty small.

Dr. Fox: Right.

Meagan Heaton: And so I ruled that out, like, okay, cool, and then it was the hunt to find a provider. And you know, we talked about this on our podcast, like, there are going to be providers out there that just aren’t on board or aren’t comfortable with it, and it’s not up to us to force that upon them, like, our desire on them. And that’s kind of what I was finding. I would go and I’d interview one, and they would kind of say some things, and I’m like, okay, cool, you’re not going to be on board. I appreciate your time, I’ll move on, you know?

Dr. Fox: Right.

Meagan Heaton: And then there were some that I was like, oh, you’re potential. This is good. And so I finally found… I did a lot of interviewing, and I did it before I was pregnant because I wanted to be in a different space emotionally, just prepping, not like, pregnant. And anyway, I found a…

Dr. Fox: Well, also, you have time when you’re…you know?

Meagan Heaton: Yes.

Dr. Fox: This is, like, one of the biggest themes of, like, everything I talk about on this…not just for VBAC, but for all… If anything for the pregnancy or prenatal care is going to be different in any way, and you have an opportunity to prepare before you get pregnant, it’s so much better.

Meagan Heaton: It is.

Dr. Fox: Because you have time, you have an opportunity to ask questions, you can shop around, so to speak. And that way, when you get pregnant, and you’re nauseous, and vomiting, and tired, and…logistically, and doing all these other things, you’re not at the same time trying to sort this out, you already have a plan in place. It’s like if you’re going on vacation, you know, you could say all right, I’m just going to fly to France, and I’ll figure it out when I get there. And people could do that, but most people are like, all right, what hotel am I going to stay at, you know, let’s make a dinner reservation, where do we want to go on these days, let’s get a tour booked… Like, most people are going to plan for that in some capacity, and if you can do that for your pregnancy, why wouldn’t you? I mean, you don’t always have an opportunity to, but if you can, it’s like, so much better logistically.

Meagan Heaton: Oh yeah, 100%. And so many people are like, what? You’re not even pregnant. Like, why are you talking to people about this? And I’m like, because I’m in a different headspace, and why not?

Dr. Fox: Yeah.

Meagan Heaton: Like, exactly what you were saying, like, sure, yeah, go on a vacation, you’ll probably have a great time, and you can have some bumps in the road… But why not prepare before, and feel a lot more prepared and satisfied with, like, your plan? And knowing that sometimes bumps can happen.

But yeah, that’s how I was. And I actually interviewed 12 providers.

Dr. Fox: Wow. Okay.

Meagan Heaton: Which is a lot of providers. But I wanted providers in different hospitals, I wanted to feel the hospital out, I wanted to feel the midwife versus…you know, versus OB, versus like, family care. I wanted to know, like, literally I wanted to know what was going to be best for me. And I found a provider and was like, okay, you’re it. You are incredible, I cannot wait. When I get pregnant, I’ll call you. And so yeah, so I got pregnant, called him…

Dr. Fox: What was it? What was it that… You said him?

Meagan Heaton: Yeah, it was a him.

Dr. Fox: What was it that made him the one? Like, was it just a sense, like a gut feeling? Or did he say something, did he have experience…? You know, what was it about him that made you choose him?

Meagan Heaton: Yeah, I took my op reports to all of those visits, and the providers that were like, yeah, no, I don’t really jive…they would like, scowl, or be like, hmm, mm-mm…mm, yeah, mm…you know? Like, kind of, like, doing that thing. Or they would pull that, “Well, if you were my daughter or my wife…” And like, that’s when it was like… And he didn’t really say that. He was reviewing, and he’s like, “Okay, cool.” He’s like, “So it looks like, you know, they diagnosed you with a smaller pelvis, and that your body, you know, didn’t progress.” He’s like, “But really what I see is just you weren’t allowed the time, and I don’t see anything here that tells me that you shouldn’t be able to go for a VBAC, and I feel very comfortable in supporting you.” And it was just that simple.

But I was like, yeah, that’s…okay. Yes! And then we talked about the hospital, and he was like, this is how the hospital would work, this is their policy, he’s like, this is the reason why I would suggest a cesarean, these are the reasons I would say why don’t we induce? And it was like, just all of the…just the way he spoke to me, everything that I had learned, you know, at this point that was like, okay, you’re following evidence-based care, and I like this. I like…I like this. You feel like my guy that I want in my corner.

And so, yeah, so I started care with him, and it was wonderful. I felt absolutely supported every time I went. And then I hit around 20 weeks, and you know, things were looking good, but I attended a birth as a doula, I was a doula at this point. And it was an out-of-hospital birth, which I had attended, but not many. And anyway, it was Christmas Eve, and it was so amazing, and this midwife just…something about her, she just blew me away. I was like, ooh, I like you. And I left, and all I could think, it was like, Christmas Eve night, I’m like, hanging out with my kids, but all I can think about is like, you should go talk to her. But that’s like, completely opposite of my plan. And like, you know, usually it’s if you don’t have support, go find a provider. But I did have support, so it was confusing me why I was thinking this, you know?

So the holidays finished up, and I was 24 weeks, and I went and interviewed her, and I was like, I think I need to switch. And it just didn’t make sense, but it just felt right, you know?

Dr. Fox: Okay.

Meagan Heaton: And so because at this point I had both a professional, like as a doula relationship with this OB, and a personal, I did feel comfortable in going and saying, hey, this is going to be my plan. Can you be my backup? Can you be my, hey, if I need to transfer, you’re my guy? And he let me know he was uncomfortable with the idea of me birthing out of hospital, which I completely understood, but something felt right about it, so I did. So I switched, and he was like, yeah, I’ll support you. Which I think also says a lot in him, you know, someone leaving his care for an out-of-hospital birth, and a VBAC after a two cesarean birth? I just think he’s…I think the world of him to this day.

So anyway, I did, I had my… I went on, and I actually did dual care, so I kind of like, stayed with him too, like through pregnancy a little bit, and ended up going, and I had a 42-hour long labor. So it was a little long.

Dr. Fox: Was your husband on board with this?

Meagan Heaton: So at first he was like, I don’t really know…this seems like a weird route to go, and I was like, I know. I was like, but I feel really good about it, and he was like, uh… And I was like, listen, I have always just said, like, fine in the past, and I just need to know that I followed my heart in this birth, and he was like, okay. He was like, you’ve done way more research. If you feel more comfortable, and you have a plan A, you have a plan B, and I even had a plan C for if it was like, true, true emergency, and I didn’t have time to just, like, lollygag to the hospital, I had like, an out-of-hospital network with a provider there that I established care with.

Dr. Fox: Mm-hmm.

Meagan Heaton: So like, I had all the plans, and he was like, okay, cool. It’s fine, whatever. I was like, okay…

So anyway, so yeah, so my water broke, just like my last three…or my last two, like early on, kind of annoying, but we did it. We did it. I had a beautiful VBAC, and I really didn’t have any complications, or tearing, and so it worked out in, like, the best way possible. And I know that sometimes an out-of-hospital birth doesn’t, right? It doesn’t work out like that…or it’s not suggested, or it’s not right. And I know a lot of people wouldn’t suggest it for me, but it did happen, and it was beautiful, and I’m very grateful for it.

But it definitely oomphed my passion for VBAC even more, and just helping people navigate, and also feeling safe in hospital.

Dr. Fox: Right. I mean, I was going to say, yeah, I was going to comment and I was going to say that, you know, listen, I would not have been a big fan of you laboring at home after two sections either.

Meagan Heaton: Right.

Dr. Fox: It doesn’t mean something is going to go wrong, but I just…I would have concerns, like your doctor did.

Meagan Heaton: Yeah.

Dr. Fox: But the thing is, the unfortunate part is it’s almost as if you were pushed to that, and you weren’t… Because you know, the doctor, again, was going to do it for you, but you felt that because of the experiences of your first two births, which were it sounds like unfortunate. I mean, it doesn’t sound like you needed a C-section the first time around, or even the second time around. It maybe would have ended up that way anyways, maybe not, who knows? But you certainly… It doesn’t sound like you were given a fair shake. And you certainly had that impression, whether it’s true or not, that you didn’t feel like you had a real chance, and so you’re turning to another option. And I think that that’s really, like, the fortunate part when I knew this…

Meagan Heaton: That’s the hard part, yep.

Dr. Fox: I’m, like, argh, like…you know, like, this… Again, everything worked out great, so it’s not like a bad situation. But like, I would have felt like, oh, my God, like, I have this…you know, this woman is trying to do her second…a VBAC after two C-sections at home because she didn’t really have an opportunity to deliver vaginally safely her first two times around, and I think that’s where we drop the ball medically.

Meagan Heaton: Yeah, and I think that that’s something that we focus a lot on our podcast. Like, we just started…or I just recorded a podcast today, talking about, like, unmedicated VBAC in the hospital, like, and she had the most beautiful experience, and I’m like, this is 100% possible.

Dr. Fox: Right.

Meagan Heaton: And it does, it breaks my heart. I mean, we have a lot of people, I see people, like, I have to go unassisted, and I’m like, ahh, ehh…you know? It’s not necessarily what I support as a person, as me as a person, just like you were like, I don’t know if I’d…I’d cringe a little bit, you know, going out-of-hospital. But unfortunately, a lot of the times, people feel so desperate to have a different experience, to have someone believe in their capability of giving birth, and so we turned to routes.

And again, like, I’m so grateful that my experience was good and positive, and all was well, but yeah, I think one of the reasons why I felt so impacted, like, looking back, was my provider was good, but I kept getting comments from the nurses, like hey, like, have you called the hospital? I don’t know, they’re not going to support this. And so I started having doubt about that. And then, you know, 42-hour long labor, and 36 hours water broken, like, ehh…I don’t know if I would have had a VBAc.

Dr. Fox: Right. Fair.

Meagan Heaton: Like, I don’t know. I don’t know.

Dr. Fox: Yeah. Yeah…yeah, fair. Wow.

Meagan Heaton: Because it took me a while, right?

Dr. Fox: Yeah, yeah…yeah. It’s hard to know.

Meagan Heaton: And so that’s hard. But the biggest thing I think, you know, in our community is we’re going to educate on all the options, on all the evidence, and then encourage our community members to make the best choice that feels right and safest for them, you know, by providing. And so I think that it’s super important to note that, like, hospital birth is beautiful.

Dr. Fox: Right.

Meagan Heaton: It is beautiful. And it can be safe, and you can be supported.

Dr. Fox: Right.

Meagan Heaton: And yeah, like you said, there’s a lot of people, including me, that didn’t feel like I would get that.

Dr. Fox: Wow. In your community, what are the biggest sort of questions you’re getting, or the biggest comments, or sort of the engagement that you’re getting? What are you find are the common themes that are coming up in the people who go to VBAC Link?

Meagan Heaton: Yeah, so biggest thing is people being too scared to VBAC in general, scared of uterine rupture. A common theme is that providers are putting out really high, crazy numbers that aren’t necessarily evidence-based. And so people come, and they’re like, we want to learn more about this uterine rupture thing, right, and what are the real stats? Then people come to our community looking for providers, looking for people telling their stories, and listing providers, because they want support. So support is really desired. And then induction. Those are like, some of the three things. It’s like, my doctor said I can have a VBAC, but I can’t be induced, or my doctor said I can have a VBAC, but it has to be induced by this day…

Dr. Fox: Hmm…

Meagan Heaton: Right? And it’s the same thing with, like, epidural. We’ve got, like, my doc said I can VBAC, but I have to have an epidural, or my doc says I have to have VBAC, but I can’t, and then, like, I’m scared of going unmedicated, and I really want a hospital birth, but I’m, like, scared of the epidural, or I’m…you know, all the things. But those are some of, like, really the most common, is like, looking truly for support in their area. I mean, if you were in our community, it would probably break your heart to see how many people are just so desperate to just find support. And there’s so much out there, right?

Dr. Fox: Right.

Meagan Heaton: There’s so much out there, sometimes we just don’t know all the names.

Dr. Fox: Right.

Meagan Heaton: So they come, and look for support, and that includes their families. Sometimes our families aren’t supportive, because they say things like my mom, like you’re going to have a dry birth. Like, what? Again, #falseinformation, what?

Dr. Fox: Right.

Meagan Heaton: You know, and so they just don’t know what they don’t know, and then really just wanting to know their ability, like can I be induced? What are my options? Honestly, so many people saying, like, at 37 weeks, tell me all the things I can do to induce my body, and that kind of breaks my heart.

Dr. Fox: Right.

Meagan Heaton: Like, why are we pushing our bodies at 37 weeks, you know, to do…I don’t know.

Dr. Fox: Right. Where do you get the information that you pass on as evidence-based? How do you glean that? Do you go through websites? Do you go through talking to people, through your own experiences? Like, how do you find what you’re going to share with your community?

Meagan Heaton: Yeah. Well, like ACOG is a big one. So because we have a large, like, U.S.-based following, ACOG, or we’ll go through, like, the midwives groups and studies, we’ll look at Cochrane reviews… Evidence-Based Birth we think highly of. We really love them, and they help us, like, turn studies into English a little bit.

Dr. Fox: Yeah.

Meagan Heaton: Like, podcasts like yours, evidence-based, you know, other OBs that are out there, like, sharing, and midwives that are sharing studies. So our evidence base isn’t just like, oh, well, in 367 births, I saw this, like, creating my own study. It’s like, hey, like, we want to make sure we’re giving you solid, concrete evidence so you can make the best choice, you know, for you. Like, this is what the evidence says about induction, this is what the evidence says about an epidural, this is what the evidence says about these interventions, or uterine rupture.

Dr. Fox: Right.

Meagan Heaton: We really want them to know, because again, like I was, I was cramming, trying to cram a whole bunch of information in, and finding the scariest thing to, like, you know, the total opposite.

Dr. Fox: Right. I imagine you get a lot of positive feedback from your members, you know, thank you for helping me, thank you for helping me find this, I really love this. Have you gotten pushback?

Meagan Heaton: Yeah. There’s here and there, some people will kind of push back. Like, especially for if we share, like, you know, an out-of-hospital birth story.

Dr. Fox: Right.

Meagan Heaton: Because in our community, we share VBAC stories all over the world, in all shapes and forms, right?

Dr. Fox: Right. It’s a story. People tell their stories, yeah.

Meagan Heaton: It’s a story. It’s their story, and it’s their story to share.

Dr. Fox: Right.

Meagan Heaton: It doesn’t mean that their story is the right choice for any individual, it’s just their story.

Dr. Fox: Right.

Meagan Heaton: Right? Just same thing with me. Like, my story was right for me, but that doesn’t mean it’s right for the person down the street.

Dr. Fox: Right.

Meagan Heaton: So yeah, so once in a while, when we have some home birth stories, we’ll get some, like, oh, my gosh, why are you advocating for home birth? And it’s not necessarily that we’re even advocating, we’re just sharing the information.

Dr. Fox: Right.

Meagan Heaton: Or yeah, we had, like, a twin VBAC, and it was like, that’s not safe! I’m like, well, that’s not necessarily true. Like, she was in the hospital, and in a controlled environment, with a supportive provider, and gave birth vaginally with twins after a cesarian.

Dr. Fox: Right.

Meagan Heaton: So it seems to be where someone may not agree, or where someone may have unprocessed trauma…

Dr. Fox: Mmm…

Meagan Heaton: …and then they’re reactive.

Dr. Fox: Yeah, fair.

Meagan Heaton: Right?

Dr. Fox: Yeah.

Meagan Heaton: Yeah. So like, we’ll share, like, a healing CBAC, cesarean birth after cesarean, and it’s like, well, I didn’t come here for CBAC stories, I came here for VBAC stories. But why would we not share a CBAC story, you know?

Dr. Fox: Yeah. Yeah.

Meagan Heaton: So yeah, or yeah, like sometimes, like, you know, studies can vary, especially for, say, uterine rupture. There can be, like, one study that’s like, slightly off from another study, they’re not, like, exactly the same… And so we make sure one study that we feel has pretty good evidence, but like, someone’s pulling from another one, saying that we’re maybe…they push back, right, that we’re not sharing the full information.

Dr. Fox: Right.

Meagan Heaton: So yeah, so we get pushback here and there, but most of it is pretty positive. Again, because we’re not, like, advocating for any specific, we’re just advocating for you to know the options, and make the best choice.

Dr. Fox: Amazing. Yeah, listen, I love what you’re doing. It’s really a very similar mission to what we’re doing here in this podcast. Yours is obviously a little bit more focused, which is great, and ours is a little broader in terms of, you know, with this, which is also…you know, there’s room for both, obviously.

Meagan Heaton: Amazing. Yeah.

Dr. Fox: But no, listen, I think that it’s about education, and like you said, there’s a lot of weird stuff out there on the Google, a lot of rabbit holes, a lot of places that aren’t applicable, that aren’t correct, that whatever. And it’s important for people to have places, spaces to find information that’s helpful, that’s relevant, that’s valuable, that’s unbiased, and really to just get it, and you know, to start taking control of their health, and making choices for themselves, you know? With the help of their doctors and midwives, but to really think about this, and education is the key. So I love that you’re doing this.

How do my listeners find you?

Meagan Heaton: Well, thank you so much. I agree. And yeah, we’re everywhere. We’re Instagram, Facebook, on all the podcast platforms, and you can just find us by searching The VBAC Link, or The VBAC Link, and you’ll find us. And VBAC is V-B-A-C.

Dr. Fox: Wonderful. Meagan, thank you so much for coming on the podcast, and for having me on your podcast. I enjoyed it, I appreciate it. You asked great questions, it was a lot of fun. And this is great, and I look forward to working with you many times in the future.

Meagan Heaton: Thank you so much. It was an honor.

Dr. Fox: Thank you for listening to the “Healthful Woman” podcast. To learn more about our podcast, please visit our website at www.healthfulwoman.com. That’s healthfulwoman.com. If you have any questions about this podcast, or any other topic you would like us to address, please feel free to email us at HW@healthfulwoman.com. Have a great day.

The information discussed in “Healthful Woman” is intended for educational uses only, and does not replace medical care from your physician. “Healthful Woman” is meant to expand your knowledge of women’s health, and does not replace ongoing care from your regular physician or gynecologist. We encourage you to speak with your doctor about specific diagnoses and treatment options for an effective treatment plan.


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