Episode 206 Ana's VBA2C + Induction


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When Ana found The VBAC Link podcast, it was Meagan’s VBA2C that inspired Ana to go for her own! Though VBA2C is thought to be possible only without medical interventions, Ana had a nice, gentle induction, an epidural, and only pushed for 20 minutes!

Meagan and Ana discuss different VBA2C induction methods including some non-traditional ways that could be just what you will need. Make sure to listen closely because providers are not likely to offer them unless you ask!

Additional links

The VBAC Link Blog: VBAC Induction Methods

The VBAC Link Blog: VBA2C

The VBAC Link Facebook Community

How to VBAC: The Ultimate Prep Course for Parents

Full transcript

Note: All transcripts are edited to correct grammar, false starts, and filler words.

Meagan: Good morning. Good afternoon. Good evening. Whatever time it is where you are listening, welcome to The VBAC Link. This is Meagan Heaton and as always, I’m excited to be with you today and share another story. A couple of months ago when my kids went back to school in August, I asked out on The VBAC Link Facebook and Instagram page what people wanted more of. What that was was vaginal birth after two Cesarean specifically stories.

I am going to deliver that to you today. Actually, Ana is going to deliver that to you today. We have a guest sharing her VBA2C story with an induction which is also something that a lot of people don’t know. A VBAC after two C-sections can also be induced. We are excited about her story and so grateful for her for being with us today.

She even wants to be a doula here in the future, so I’m so excited to talk with her more about her journey, her story, and her desire to be a doula.

Review of the Week

Meagan: But of course, we have a review of the week so I don’t want to miss that. Today, we have EmilyRessman and this is from Apple Podcasts. She posted it back in June, so not too long ago. She says, “Prepping for my VBAC in August.” Oh, that’s actually right now when we are recording, guys. “I found this podcast and it is so inspiring. Hearing facts from experienced doulas and successful VBAC mamas has given me the confidence I didn’t know was possible. I now feel comfortable talking to my OBs as well as my family and friends about why I want to VBAC and feel informed about the risks. I also love hearing about the CBAC stories as well so I will be able to find healing however my next birth plays out. Thank you for all you do.”

Well, thank you, Ms. Emily. There was another review. Hopefully, I didn’t just reread this review, but there was another review that was also talking about loving hearing the CBAC stories and I love that. I love that you guys love that. It’s something that can be triggering and hard to hear, but it is really good to listen to because sometimes birth ends in a Cesarean birth. It may not be desired, but it can still be healing and beautiful. My second C-section, although not desired to be a C-section, I really found it healing and it was nice. It was peaceful to be a part of my birth and to know those options.

These CBAC stories are beautiful and I’m so grateful for all of you guys who have shared them. We welcome all stories here. VBAC, even uterine rupture, CBAC, VBAC after multiple Cesareans, you are welcome here. So if you haven’t and you want to share your story, feel free to apply. We are sharing both on podcasts and social media because we have so many wonderful submissions. We want to try to share all of your stories. So if you haven’t had a chance, head over to thevbaclink.com/share and submit your story today.

Also, if you haven’t had a chance, we would love your reviews. We are in need of more reviews. So if you wouldn’t mind pressing pause right now before we get into Ana’s beautiful story and leaving a review on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, or wherever you are, you can just Google The VBAC Link and leave a review there as well. Or on Facebook, or send us a message at info@thevbaclink.com. We would love, love, love to read your review on the podcast.

Ana’s Story

Meagan: Okay, Ana. I am so excited for you to share this story. So excited because I think the induction is something that makes me really excited because we don’t have a ton of induction VBAC after multiple Cesarean stories, and so I’m excited to hear about how your induction went and how you navigated through that, where you were, and all of the fun things.

So if you wouldn’t mind, I’m going to turn the time right over to you.

Ana: I have to say that I can’t stop smiling because it feels surreal. I’m such a big fan of the podcast.

Meagan: Oh! That makes me so happy. Seriously, we are so grateful for you and all of the listeners and all of the stories shared because we wouldn’t have this. We would not have this without you. When Julie and I were together, we could sit and probably talk VBAC until we were blue in the face because we love VBAC. We are passionate about VBAC, but the stories. These stories are what make this podcast, so we are so grateful to you today for being here.

Ana: Yeah, so I guess I’ll start with my first birth. I was 18. It was a long time ago. I was very, I would say, uneducated about birth. It was also an induction at 41 weeks.

Meagan: Okay.

Ana: That’s important to know because it’s the same as my VBAC story, how it started.

Meagan: Mhmm, yeah.

Ana: I went in for my induction. I was 1 centimeter, 50% effaced. Again, same as my VBAC.

Meagan: That’s kind of funny, same stats. Same stats.

Ana: Yeah. Yeah, so that was a battle in my mind, actually, for my VBAC because I was so nervous. But everything went well up until a certain point. They started with Cervadil which I hated. It was super intense with super painful contractions as soon as they started it. I got an epidural because of the Cervadil before even Pitocin or anything.

I stalled at 5 centimeters for about 12 hours. There was no change. I don’t know. I was super upset. I remember when my doctor was like, “Okay. Well, you haven’t made any progress. It’s been 12 hours.” It was just so devastating to me. I did not want to have a C-section at all. During that first C-section, I was really young. I was 18. It was traumatizing for me. I felt so scared and I didn’t have, I had my boyfriend but he was also 18, so we had no idea what to expect or anything.

The worst part of that one was that they actually had my boyfriend leave with my baby, so they left me alone in the OR to be stitched up. I’ll never forget that. It was horrible. I wanted to see my baby and they left with him. It was terrible.

Meagan: Yeah, you can feel abandoned sometimes.

Ana: I did.

Meagan: And you don’t know anyone around you. I’m so sorry.

Ana: Yeah, it was definitely something hard. So fast forward to my second birth. Originally, I planned for a TOLAC for this birth as well. That was with my current partner now. I should have said. I had a boy and then another boy. So this is my second son. Yes, anyway backtracking all over the place. I wrote notes and everything and I’m still all over the place.

Meagan: That’s okay.

Ana: So my second birth, I planned to TOLAC, but I did not really prepare as I should have. I think I went into it just like, “It didn’t work the first time. What are the odds it’s not going to work the second time? I’m going to be fine. I’m just going to wing it.”

That did not go well. I think I had prodromal labor.

Meagan: Oh yeah.

Ana: Yeah. I didn’t know what it was at the time though. I just had really intense contractions. They started at 39 weeks and 4 days with him. They didn’t cause any cervical change at all because I went to the hospital two nights in a row because they were so intense. I’m like, “What is happening?” And I couldn’t get any sleep. So they did medicate sleep for me which was nice.

Meagan: Oh, really?

Ana: Yeah, so I could get a little bit of sleep. But when they told me that nothing had changed after that, I just felt ready to meet my baby. I was tired of being in pain and nothing was happening. I had no idea what prodromal labor was and I had no idea that it could have been the positioning of the baby or The Miles Circuit. I didn’t know what any of that was.

I just was like, “I’m done. I want to meet my baby. Sign me up for a C-section.” It was actually healing. It was much more peaceful. They never separated us. I got skin-to-skin in the OR. That experience was healing for me because I did get a much more peaceful and better experience, but it was not a VBAC.

Meagan: Right. It’s not that it wasn’t the birth you desired, but it was still great.

Ana: Yeah.

Meagan: That’s how it was for me too. I didn’t desire another C-section, but I still was able to make it healing and positive for the birth that it was.

Ana: Right, exactly.

Meagan: Yeah.

Ana: So my VBAC after two C-sections. Honestly, when we were trying to get pregnant, I was still thinking about options, but I really was considering a repeat C-section actually because of the prodromal labor. I didn’t know what prodromal labor was still at this point. I was just very ignorant of it all, I guess.

To me, I was like, “Oh, well. You know.” I didn’t even know that VBAC after two C-sections was an option. So actually, what happened was that I looked up VBAC on the podcast and this VBAC Link came up.

Meagan: Aww.

Ana: Meagan, I heard your story and I was like, “Oh my gosh. This is a thing. I can do that too.”

Meagan: Yes. I love it.

Ana: And then I think I listened to every story probably a million times my whole pregnancy.

Meagan: There’s something about having those stories when you are prepping that heals you.

Ana: Oh yeah. It’s huge. It is for sure. And then I feel like you learn so much too from other people’s stories.

Meagan: Mhmm, absolutely.

Ana: So thankfully, the hospital I deliver at is very VBAC friendly. I didn’t even have to fight for a chance to TOLAC at all. It was so supportive which is so great because battling with yourself mentally, at least for me, was a huge part of my journey, so I’m happy I didn’t have to fight with somebody else to get what I want.

At my first doctor’s appointment, my midwife asked me, “Do you want a TOLAC or do you want a C-section?” I was like, “Oh wow. I want a TOLAC.” I originally told her that my plan was to, if I went into spontaneous labor, I would TOLAC but I didn’t want to be induced again because of how the first experience went which is ironic. I was like, “Before 41 weeks, I’ll try and if I get to 41 and I don’t go into labor, I’ll just have a scheduled C-section.”

The whole time until the last month, that’s what I thought, but obviously, that changed. To prepare this time, I just completely absorbed everything I could find about birth and VBAC. I took The VBAC Link course actually, too, which was super helpful. I read Ina May. I think I read all of her books. I read, I think it was, How to Heal a Bad Birth.

Meagan: Such a good book.

Ana: Yes. Yes, it was huge. I just realized from my second birth that I had a lot of things that I needed to work on to be able to believe in myself. Also, a huge part of my story too before I get into my birth story was that my mom had all C-sections and then my older sister had four C-sections herself. So to me, there was a huge belief with my mom and my sister that, “Oh, we just can’t do it. We just can’t give vaginal birth. None of us can. That’s just how it is.”

So when I told them that I wanted to have a VBAC after two C-sections, they were a little taken aback like, “What? Why do you want to do that? You’ve tried twice. Why do you want to do it again?” Especially my mom, I would say. I was actually a TOLAC, so she was trying to have a VBAC with me.

Meagan: Oh really?

Ana: Yeah, and this was the ‘90s so that’s when it took off. It was in the ’90s. She was induced though. She didn’t progress and she had another C-section. She really believed that “My body doesn’t work. It’s broken,” and then she thought that it was genetic. We got into some arguments actually. I love my mother, but it was hard to work through.

That was another thing I had to shut out with my mom and my sister. I was kind of like, “I know. I understand and respect your concerns, but I don’t want to talk about this with you,” because it was that negative voice that was like, I know when I’m going into labor that’s what I’m going to think about. I had to really tone that down.

Meagan: Yeah.

Ana: Coming into my birth story, I hit 40 weeks, and then it just kept dragging once I hit my due date. I’m like, “I really thought I’d go into labor by now.” I actually decided– I think it was my 39-week appointment– that all of a sudden, I did want an induction at 41 weeks. That was actually because of The VBAC Link Facebook Community. There are a lot of stories there too that I thought were super helpful.

When I was looking up VBAC after two C-section stories, I came across quite a few that were induced. I talked with a midwife and I decided that was something that I wanted to do. So 41 weeks came and I was scheduled for my induction. My partner and I got there and they completed all the intake. It took a while. We started with the Cooks catheter. That started at about 1:30 in the afternoon. They placed it.

That went well. A little bit after, I started contracting. It was manageable and then it got really uncomfortable, so that’s when I was looking for relief. I got into the shower which was amazing. Hot water is amazing for contractions. That went on for a few hours. I tried the TENS machine. I did not like that. I tried the nitrous. That made me nauseous. I was like, “Nope.” Those were the three things I wanted to try were water, nitrous, and the TENS machine.

I was like, “Okay, now I want an epidural.” I was like, “I can’t do it anymore.” I was just so tired because obviously I have two kids at home and then I was there all day. This was probably at 8:00 or 9:00 p.m. at this point.

I was just really ready to get rest. I knew I had a long way ahead of me. At around 9:30-10:00, I got the epidural placed and I felt amazing at that point. I immediately got some sleep and then the Cooks Catheter didn’t come out on its own actually. But when they took it out, I was a 3 or a 4.

Meagan: That’s great.

Ana: Yeah, so that helped a lot. They started Pitocin at around 3:30 a.m. and then my water broke on its own with one contraction which I was really proud of because it never happened before. Then I started feeling, I think after my water broke, that was at about 6:00 a.m. I think.

I started to feel more pressure and the contractions were coming back. I got more medicine for my epidural. The nurses were amazing. I have to say that was the best thing about the hospital I delivered at. It was just amazing and all of the nurses were great. My nurse was coming in switching sides. I had the peanut ball which I think helped so much in making the difference between my first experience with induction and this experience.

Around 3:30 in the afternoon, that’s when I was experiencing a lot of pressure that I’d never experienced before. It wasn’t pain. It was just pressure.

Meagan: Was it vaginally or rectally?

Ana: Everywhere.

Meagan: Everywhere.

Ana: Yeah, it was really intense pressure. My midwife came in. She checked me and said, “You are 8 centimeters.” I was like, “What?!” I stalled at 5 centimeters with my first so right there, I felt that feeling of, “Okay, my body is not broken. It made it past 5.” That was the big moment where I was like, “Oh my god. It’s happening.”

At that point, it was the waiting game. Waiting to be complete because she was at 0 station, so she was coming lower. That’s what all the pressure was. She was starting to come down. I remember that this was such an out-of-body experience from this point on. My epidural just stopped working that well. I started to feel everything again. I was at 8 centimeters hitting transition. I didn’t know what to do to cope. I remember my partner and the nurse were just like, “Just breathe. Just breathe.” I got the sweats. I was like, “I can’t breathe.”

Meagan: It’s hard. Yeah.

Ana: I was trying to stay calm, but I was like, “Oh my goodness.” That was another moment in my head when I was like, “Why did I sign up for this? Why am I doing this to myself?” Even though it was what I wanted, it was such a mental battle every step of the way. My partner was such a huge help in bringing me back to reality. He was like, “You can do this. You can do this. I believe in you.” He was great.

At about, I remember I was complaining about more pressure, so actually, at this point, it was probably at 5:00 p.m. Every time I had a contraction, I was actually bearing down. Unless you’ve had the feeling of the fetal ejection reflex, it’s hard to explain. It was an uncontrollable bearing down just like when you poop which, the nurse was telling me–

Meagan: I always tell my clients that it’s the cutest poop you’re ever going to take. Just embrace it. Embrace the feeling.

Ana: Yeah. I was right. I was like, “Oh shoot.” I had that feeling. I was complete when the midwife came in. They got everything ready for me to push. Baby was having a couple of late decels that they had been monitoring. They were monitoring the whole time. It was starting to get, I think, to the point where they didn’t really like it as much. I felt the pressure in the room change.

They were telling me to push, teaching me how to push, but after a couple of times, the OB that was there explained to me what was happening. She said, “If you can’t get her out in the next couple of contractions, you have an option. We can do a vacuum delivery or a C-section.” She said, “A vacuum delivery is going to be much faster to get her out.” But her heart rate was not what they wanted. So that part was intense. It got a little scary there for a minute, but I only pushed for 20 minutes.

When she told me that, I just gave it all I had. I pushed her out and it was the most intense thing I ever felt, but also as soon as she was out, it was all worth it. They put her on me for the first time and I never experienced that before. It was amazing to be the first person to hold your baby. She came out perfectly healthy, so that was good. I will never forget it.

After they put her on my chest and I looked over at my boyfriend, I literally was just like, “Why did I even want to do this more than once?” My nurses started to laugh. They were like, “Because you forget it all.” I felt like I just could not, I couldn’t believe it. I just couldn’t believe I did it. I just kept saying over and over again that I did it. I did it.

I did end up having a second-degree tear which was not fun, but I’m actually kind of grateful. I felt like it could have been worse with how hard I did have to push to get her out because of the heart rate decels that were happening. I mean, my first vaginal delivery and only pushing for 20 minutes is really good. It was pretty fast.

Meagan: Yeah, I was going to say for stalling, not progressing and all of these things, it was pretty quick. It makes me think that with your first, “Oh, it’s been 12 hours.” But the same thing with me. My first was also 12 hours where he was like, “Yeah, it’s been 12 hours.” We’re first-time moms. My body had never done this before. It just seems like the first time, we weren’t given a chance. And look, it took time. This induction took time, but amazing. You just needed someone to trust your body and its ability and your ability to do this.

It is hard when it comes down to it and they are like, “Hey, we’re talking about all of these inductions. We’ve got to get this baby out fast.” That’s a lot of pressure on you. It can be scary, but you went it and you did it. You totally did it. Oh, I love it.

For the Cook’s catheter, in some places, they call it a Foley. In some places, they call it a Cook. That is such a great way to induce. A lot of people say that it’s contraindicated, but we see it happen all the time. It does have success.

Ana: Yeah, definitely. My first birth, I should add, was at a different hospital. That’s why I did not go back there because I felt like the team you have around you plays a huge role in your birth outcome. The experience was night and day at the hospital I delivered at this time. Actually, I had my second and third birth at the current hospital. They both were amazing experiences.

Meagan: They really sound supportive, loving, and encouraging. It really helps when they educate and tell you their options like, “Hey, we’re going to do this. These are some options, but we don’t want to do that. Let’s just get this baby out.”

Ana: Right. They never did anything without talking to me which is huge. Because sometimes, I know in my first birth, I definitely felt that things were just happening to me. I didn’t have a say. It was very like, “Oh, we’re going to break your water now. We’re going to do this to you now.” This time, it was not like that at all. I was a part of my care which I think is really important.

Meagan: Mhmm, absolutely. That’s one of the things. Even if the birth doesn’t end up exactly how you wanted or envisioned, I feel like being a part of your care and being an advocate in your space and having someone talk to you as though you are someone making these decisions because you should be. It really makes a difference in the overall view of birth.

I’m not saying that it totally takes away from any sad feelings or anything like that, but it makes a big deal when you are a part of your birth and you are helping to call the shots in making the decisions versus having people just say, “We’re doing this. We’re doing this,” or “We did this.” Not even like, “We’re going to do this.” It’s, “We’ve done this. This is what we did.” That happens too.

Ana: Right. I didn’t realize how much it did happen until I went on this journey of reading everything I could and reading stories and watching documentaries. I’m happy that a lot more women are educating themselves so now I feel like we are taking back our power with birth.

Meagan: Absolutely. We are taking back our power with birth. I love that. Oh my gosh. I love that.

Okay, let’s talk a little bit about– so you kind of mentioned a few of them. How were you induced with your first?

Ana: They did Cervadil and then Pitocin.

Meagan: Cervadil and Pitocin, okay. We know that Cytotec, Cervadil, and those types of things are usually not used with VBAC because they are contraindicated and there’s a whole history with that. That’s probably why they didn’t do that with this baby. But sometimes, the cervix isn’t soft enough, open enough for a Foley or a Cook. They can’t get it in. That’s where a lot of people feel stuck. They feel like they don’t have any other option other than scheduling a C-section.

I also just want to say on a side note that scheduling a C-section is okay too. That is not a bad thing. If that’s something that someone desires, that is okay and we encourage everyone to follow their heart. If they are like, “Okay. In my mind, I’m going to do everything I possibly can on my mind and if my baby doesn’t come by this date, I’ll schedule a C-section.” That’s similar to what you were thinking. That’s fine. That is totally okay. But there are other ways to induce.

Like I was saying, sometimes the cervix isn’t in a prime state for those balloons. There are other things that they can do. They can actually start Pitocin on a really low, slow drip. The thing about Pitocin is that it’s not something that is going to open your cervix. It’s got to cause contractions and do its work. But it can get your cervix just enough where you can get a Foley or a Cook catheter.

A long time ago, Julie had a personal client who was a VBAC after three C-section mom. In fact, I think she’s on the podcast. It was kind of that way where nothing was happening with her cervix at all. They were like, “No. We really suggest a C-section.” She was like, “No. Just start me on Pit.” She was on Pit for a really long time, but it got her open. It got her a catheter and went from there. You can start and you can do that where you get a low dose of Pit. These aren’t things that are normal. They are not as common, I should say. These are things that you are going to have to request and really talk to your provider to see if they are on board with doing this and if they can help you in that way.

Sweeping membranes is a softer VBAC induction method. Sometimes scraping the membranes can stimulate, evening primrose oil, or nipple stimulation. Quite frankly, sex is a great, great tip to start softening that cervix. But if you’re past that point, yeah. Slow-dose Pit before a catheter is really wonderful. Sometimes providers are like, “Oh, we’ll just break your water right off the bat.” That’s fine too. It’s called artificial rupture of membranes, but it’s not necessarily as ideal because if you have a high baby or baby is in a wonky position or labor is not ready to start, then we still have Pitocin and things to come after that.

I love how you were like, “My water broke on its own this time and I was so proud of my body.” It’s awesome. It’s more ideal for us to wait for our water to break spontaneously, but sometimes, artificial is the answer. Doing what is best for you and what is the most comfortable thing for you in that state.

Going through this now, having had an induced VBAC after two C-sections, are there any tips that you would give to the listeners out there walking into that space?

Ana: I would definitely say that an induction can take a long time. Do not feel pressure because even this time, it was 28 hours from start to finish. That’s a long time but everything was going fine. I mean, it doesn’t matter how long it takes as long as you are healthy and your baby is healthy. It can take days to be induced.

Meagan: Mhmm, exactly.

Ana: Don’t go in with the expectation, “I have to have a baby in 12 hours or 24 hours,” because that’s often not the case especially if it’s your first vaginal delivery. Pushing, usually, the second stage in your first delivery can take longer as well. I also would say to educate yourself on every method of induction even for VBAC specifically just so when every step you get to, you are educated and you can make whatever choice is best for you.

Meagan: Absolutely. Absolutely. Again, whatever choice is best for you. Exactly what you were saying, that is how you find what choice is best for you. You get the education. You learn about VBAC. Learn about CBAC. You learn about induction. Learn about all of the things and then you are able to take charge and make the choice that is best for you, your family, your baby, and your experience.

I love that so much. I’m so proud of you for going in and going for it and taking charge of your care and learning, listening, watching the stories, and all of the things so you could feel prepared. I’m so glad that you had a beautiful experience.

Ana: Thank you. When I think about it, I’m still like, “I can’t believe I did that. I did that.” I’m like, “If I can do that, I can do anything.”

Meagan: Right? Don’t you feel untouchable?

Ana: Yeah, it’s so empowering.

Meagan: Yes, it really is. That’s amazing. Birth should be empowering. Birth should be empowering. This is a big deal in our life. You might have little details fade, but you will never forget the day. I will never forget the day that each one of my kids was born. Our family was growing. Our family was transforming into this beautiful family of two, three, four, and five. It’s just something that I won’t ever forget. I want those memories to be happy and positive.

Like I said, I didn’t desire either of my two C-sections, but I still can find the positive in them and have found healing. I’m so grateful for them because I wouldn’t be here probably today. I honestly wonder. I always wanted to be a labor and delivery nurse but I even wonder if I didn’t have those two C-sections if I would be here with you today and be so passionate about VBAC and understand VBAC the way I do. I don’t know if I would or if I wanted to be a doula. I don’t know. I wonder.

I know you mentioned maybe wanted to be a doula one day. Do you feel like these births have inspired you from that or have you always wanted to be a birth worker?

Ana: It’s actually kind of funny because when I was a little kid, I had a million baby dolls and I always would pretend to be a mom. I think that I was always drawn to being a mom and motherhood. Through my birth experiences and discovering all of the different aspects of the birth world, I think that came from my desire to just be with women. I’m so passionate about women and being empowered. Every woman should be educated and should never feel like they had no options or no choice.

I think that’s the part that makes me so passionate. Definitely, experiences like my first experience in birth were traumatic and that definitely lit a fire in me to seek out all of the education and other women with like minds who had gone through similar things. I stay at home now, but I was a nail tech, so I would talk to women all of the time, all of my clients, and held their hands through them getting married and having babies. I’m always the person when they get pregnant, I tell them everything. I’m like, “You need to get this book. You should do that. Oh, do this.” They always say, “You would be so good at that. You would be a good doula. You would be a good nurse. You would be so good at that.”

Meagan: It’s coming your way. It’s coming. You’re going to do it. You’ve got the passion. Oh, well thank you so much again for being with us today. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story. I know that just like everybody else you’re going to touch someone out there. There is going to be someone that connects to your story so much and listens to it on repeat because they are trying to do the exact same thing that you did. So thank you so much.

We will have the induction blog in the show notes if you want to learn more about those methods of induction. Feel free to check that out and then we will also have a link for more about VBAC after two C-sections as well.


Would you like to be a guest on the podcast? Tell us about your experience at thevbaclink.com/share. For more information on all things VBAC including online and in-person VBAC classes, The VBAC Link blog, and Julie and Meagan’s bios, head over to thevbaclink.com. Congratulations on starting your journey of learning and discovery with The VBAC Link.

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