I have been attending ICAN meetings
over the last year in an effort to be a better educator. I want to hear these women’s stories: what
led to a cesarean in the first place, what has helped them have a VBAC, why do
some of them have a CBAC, what are their perceptions and experiences of the
birthing options available to them after a cesarean, what kind of support do
As I mentioned in last Tuesday’s post
about the "cesarean epidemic", I am not going to
write a lot on how to avoid one in the first place or the specifics of a
Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (“VBAC”) since there is already a wealth of
information at the International Cesarean Awareness Network (“ICAN”) and
Childbirth Connection websites. For a
good list of how to avoid an unnecessary cesarean, see the link list
below. I have also included VBAC links
in today’s post.
Here are some snippits of conversation that gave me points
- In response to some moms saying they went to the hospital
for the safety net, one VBAC mom asked “Is going to the hospital really “safe”
if it increases your chance of having a cesarean by 33%?”
- “Having a cesarean means that you are going to fight for the
right to birth vaginally for every birth thereafter.”
- “I don’t understand why my body failed me.”
Here is a collection of recommendations from women at the
ICAN meetings and the East Valley Birth Circle who had successful vaginal
births after cesarean (VBAC):
The answers you get to these questions are a good indicator
if you are making the choices to reduce the likelihood of having a cesarean the
first time. To reduce your chances of
having a cesarean with your first birth:
your care provider’s cesarean rate
your care provider’s VBAC rate
the same information for the person who does back-up for your care provider –
if they don’t match, keep looking!
the cesarean rate at your birthplace
the VBAC rate at your birthplace
are the conditions under which your care provider recommends a cesarean?
long is “too long” a trial of labor in their practice?
If you already had one cesarean and you decide you want to
have a VBAC, here are the recommendations to set yourself up for success:
- Surround yourself with people who believe in you
and trust your ability to give birth.
If there was anyone with something negative to say, one mom would ask that person, “Do you really think
that I haven’t looked into this? And
knowing that I have done my research, do you believe that I would do anything
that would potentially harm our child?”
If after asking them these questions, the doubter did not back off, she
simply told them that the topic was no longer up for discussion because she had
done her research and she trusted that she was making the right decision for her
- Find a care provider with a proven track record
of supporting VBAC moms.
knowing their facts and figures, not just the lip service so that you don’t
change care providers.
- Be okay with changing care providers to get the
support you need. As many moms pointed out, the loyalty usually
only goes one way. We feel attached to
our doctors out of a sense of obligation.
For most doctors in a traditional setting, we are just one in a number
of patients that they visit with for 15 minutes at a time. On the other hand, being willing to change
means getting the support you and your baby deserve to have a VBAC.
- Prepare for a marathon. Eat well, exercise for
strength and stamina, stay healthy and low-risk. Dedicate your pregnancy to doing everything
you can to make sure you can have all your options available during labor.
- Find a good birth team to support you. Having
a prepared coach and an experienced doula were high on the list for the VBAC
moms. The more support mom had, the
better she was able to move and manage her labor to avoid the repeat cesarean.
- Trust your body. It is important to realize
that your body is not broken and to “process” your cesarean. For some moms, that meant going to therapy. Others sought counseling, attended ICAN
meetings, or wrote on a blog or in a journal about their experience. Some of them did all of these things – the
point is, find your way of starting the healing process and find a way back to
belief that you can trust your body to give birth.
- Trust your intuition. One of the common denominators in cesarean stories I have heard over the last year is that mama's wish they had trusted their instinct. It is there for a reason - your baby and your body generally have to work labor and birth out on their own, the less interference, the better. IF IF IF mom is okay and baby is okay, it is okay to ask for more time. If there isn't time, you will know the difference and you make different choices.
The trust in yourself and the complete support of your
coaches and your care providers are a good start down the path towards a
VBAC. It is possible and you can give
yourself a fair opportunity with preparation and planning.
Want a little inspiration? Here is one ICAN mom's journey post-cesarean, through her subsequent pregnancy, and her VBAC:
VBAC or Repeat C-section: what you need to know
ACOG position on VBAC – your care provider should know this
if they belong to ACOG
More information on cesareans and related topics:
Things you can do to avoid an unnecessary cesarean:
VBAC Research & Blog
ICAN Facebook page:
ICAN Phoenix Facebook page
material included on this site is for informational purposes only.
It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical
advice. The reader should always consult her or his healthcare provider to
determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation. Krystyna and Bruss Bowman and Bowman House,
LLC accept no liability for the content of this site, or for the consequences
of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided. This blog contains
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not the official website of The Bradley Method®. The views contained on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of The Bradley Method® or
the American Academy of Husband-Coached Childbirth®.