Many in the blogosphere are familiar with Lindsay Meehelis’ beautiful video about her VBAC journey. Lindsey recently sent her video to ICAN saying, “I am a HUGE supporter of ICAN and believe that it was a great resource for helping me achieve my VBAC that I recently had. I have made a video about my journey to my VBAC that is circulating around online. I would LOVE to invite ICAN to use this video if you feel it is appropriate for anything you would like!”
We decided to take Lindsey up on her offer by posting the video here, along with a brief interview. Enjoy the video and Lindsey’s reflections:
ICAN Blog: There seems to be an increasing trend of women posting their birth stories via videos like yours on YouTube and Vimeo. What motivated you to share your story this way?
Lindsey: I love the increasing freedom women are feeling to share their stories and make their voices heard… it creates a portal for others to develop a sense of comfort and security to know that they, too, can have the same positive type of experience. The Internet really is fascinating; when something becomes “viral”, it has the capability to touch thousands of women in a matter of minutes. In creating my own video I really got a chance to share both of my birth experiences as well as my own personal passion to help empower other women. Most importantly, I think this venue gives women confidence to have a voice when sometime their voice wasn’t heard.
ICAN Blog: Your video has had a lot of play around the Internet, with many other birth-related blogs posting it. What have you learned from sharing your story so publically? Have you heard from other women about their own birth experiences? What kind of feedback have you received in this process? Have any responses from others surprised you?
Lindsey: When you open yourself up on such a vulnerable level (giving birth) you have to expect you’ll receive different types of response. You also have to recognize you can’t take anything personally. When I uploaded this video, within a few short days I had hundreds of women emailing me from around the world (Israel, Australia, Sweden, Mexico…) telling me about their own VBAC experiences or hopeful future ones. So much of the feedback I received was amazing… a lot of women telling me that my video had re-sparked a buried passion and that they were going to go to school to be a Doula or Midwife. Some asked me if they could use my video to show others in their medical communities why VBAC’s are so important. Some of the feedback actually had negative tones as to how a Cesarean saved their life and their babies, or they should have had a Cesarean because they tore so bad or that I am lucky because my previous incision didn’t open killing myself and my baby. Not everyone realizes that birth trauma comes in many different shapes and sizes, and sometimes seeing positive experiences before you have had one brings up really strong emotions. While my video by no means tried to minimize the necessity of emergency life saving Cesareans, I tried to show my own ignorance when I had my daughter and how I ended up entangled within the cascade of interventions that are so common today resulting in my unnecessary Cesarean, and how through education and empowerment I was able to have a beautiful sucessful VBAC at home. I was actually surprised by the amount of tissue boxes I was told were passed around for this video. I think that was the most common reaction… a real tear jerker.
ICAN Blog: You mentioned that ICAN played a significant role in your journey to VBAC – how so? How have you been involved with ICAN? What did you gain from your involvement?
Lindsey: ICAN is definitely an AMAZING avenue for women to find support while seeking out alternative birth options. While my actual involvement in ICAN has been limited due to the fact that I am a full time mommy, apprenticing Midwife & full-time student at Nizhoni Institute of Holistic Midwifery, I can honestly say that the hours upon hours I spent on the website helped me in the psychological healing from my the birth of my first child. It also provides a wonderful resource for my clients.
ICAN Blog: What’s your best piece of advice for women seeking VBAC?
Lindsey: The best piece of advice I can give to women considering a VBAC is to educate themselves and surround themselves with positive people who believe in them. Women must cultivate their own inner strength to be true advocates for themselves. Unfortunately, this is really hard to do in a traditional hospital based setting. I have seen the scenario replayed over and over again; women broadsided by strict restrictions and limitations which makes it almost impossible to have a successful VBAC, which is sad because the research shows over and over again how much safer a VBAC is than a repeat Cesarean. Ultimately, the main reason I started Midwifery school is because I wanted to provide women with choices while not providing any false hopes. I really think the most important components to a successful VBAC are a knowledgeable Midwife, a supportive Doula, family & friends.