I want a VBAC - now what?
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Sweet Peas, Pods & Papas: All About Birth, B@@bs & Babies

I want a VBAC - now what?

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 they need?
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 to ponder:
  • 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:
  • Know your care provider’s cesarean rate
  • Know your care provider’s VBAC rate
  • Know the same information for the person who does back-up for your care provider – if they don’t match, keep looking!
  • Know the cesarean rate at your birthplace
  • Know the VBAC rate at your birthplace
  • What are the conditions under which your care provider recommends a cesarean?
  • How 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 family.
  • Find a care provider with a proven track record of supporting VBAC moms. This means 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 Information
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
Support Groups
ICAN Facebook page:
ICAN Phoenix Facebook page
The 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 information about our classes available in Chandler, AZ and Payson, AZ and is 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®.
Bradley Method® natural childbirth classes offered in Arizona: Chandler, Tempe, Ahwatukee, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale

2 Comments to I want a VBAC - now what?:

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Jacqualine on Monday, May 21, 2012 8:56 AM
I was 16 when I had my daughter. I never gave is a though that I would end up having a c-section. After 10 days overdue (if you can really pinpoint when you baby is supposed to arrive) I was sent to the hospital for an induction. I received my iv I was told to lay in bed. The pit drip was started at about 11pm and by midnight the Dr advised me that it was going to get way worse and it was an epidural or nothing. I understand that I was only 16 but no one ever tried to help me labor without drugs. At 7:45 the next morning I hit 10cm. The Dr rushed in checked me and proceeded to tell me I needed and emergency c-section. He wouldn't let me try pushing- Not once!!! By 8:03, I delivered a 7lb11oz baby girl and the Dr was back at his office by 9am. Fast forward 12 yrs later we were expecting again. I was in a different state, more educated, and knew I was going to have a VBAC. My midwife was confident that I could do it. As my due date past the midwife had a serious talk with me about the size of my growing baby. She knew from yrs of experience that he was going to be a bit larger than my daughter and knowing that I wanted a VBAC suggested that we induce at 10 days past. I didn't have to and she would support me and assured me that we would do everything possible to deliver without a c-section. We attempted natural ways of inducing that were not successful :( On a Tuesday morning at 7:30 am I was given the dreaded pit drip. At 5:25 pm I was pushing and at 6:09 I delivered a 9lb2oz baby boy. Not without a 3.5 degree tear but I did it!!! The nurse in the room asked me which way I would deliver next time now that I have experienced both-I shouted "I'll push my baby out a 100 times to choosing a c-section". I understand that c-sections are sometimes needed but get educated and make an informed decision. Don't let yourself be bullied.
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Krystyna on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 6:17 AM
Jacqualine - thank you so much for sharing your story. It is so encouraging to read about mamas who advocated and had a positive VBAC experience. Best wishes to you and your family
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