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Monday, July 15, 2013

So You're Thinking About a VBAC?

{Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net}

***This post should not be taken as medical advice. I am not a doctor.
Please consult a professional with any medical questions/concerns***

Sixteen months ago I had the amazing experience of delivering my youngest child naturally...at home...after two previous cesareans. Before I go any further, let me say - choosing a VBAC is a very personal decision, should not be made lightly and every woman has different reasons for wanting/not wanting a VBAC. I am not writing this post to alienate or offend anyone. Feel free to skip this post if you are not interested - no hard feelings, I promise :) I had two c-sections and do not consider those births a failure - I also do not hold any judgement against anyone who has had a cesarean. However, I do believe that every woman should be educated, weigh the risks and compare her options.

You can read my full {50 hour!} birth story here {there's a video too}.

Firstly, a VBAC is a Vaginal Birth After Cesarean. You may also see terms like VBA2C (after 2 cesearens), HBAC (home birth) and so on. There are a lot of myths and misunderstandings about them, but a VBAC is possible and many women have had successful VBAC's in the hospital, at birth centers and at home. In July 2010, The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology unveiled new VBAC guidelines stating:

"Attempting a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) is a safe and appropriate choice for most women who have had a prior cesarean delivery, including for some women who have had two previous cesareans, according to guidelines released today by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists."

Now that we know it is a safe option - let's get into HOW to have a successful VBAC. 

1. Pray about it. I wanted a natural birth from the beginning of my first pregnancy, but ended up with a c-section. For my second pregnancy, I planned a VBAC, but my doctor squashed that plan at the last minute. When I got pregnant with baby number three, I did not know if a VBAC was even possible for me or if I could find a doctor. I also had an interest in homebirth - but my husband and I both felt that it was too risky. I made it a matter of prayer and months went by without an answer. I continued to seek God's wisdom and he led me to Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will show you which path to take." I gave my complete trust to God and within a month we had received good news from my surgery report, a check in the mail to pay for my homebirth and found an amazing Christian midwife. VBAC was the right decision for me - because it was completely a God-thing. I encourage you to prayerfully seek God in this decision. 

2. Educate yourself. Do not rely on your doctor, midwife or anyone else. If you are interested in a VBAC - research. There are tons of resources online including vbacfacts.com and plus-size-pregnancy.org has a great section on VBAC for all sizes! Join your local ICAN (international cesarean awareness network) group and online support groups - there are some great ones of facebook! Read VBAC birth stories on Birth Without Fear and watch VBAC birth videos on youtube. Also, here is a list of statistics I put together. Arm yourself with the facts because there will probably be some opposition. 

3. Find a Supportive Care Provider. This one can be tricky. As I stated earlier, there is a lot of misinformation when it comes to VBAC and some doctors and midwives are the ones spreading the myths. The best way to find a VBAC supportive care provider is word of mouth - talk to other moms in your area who have had VBACs and ICAN is a great resource for this as well. If you are not sure whether your provider is supportive or not, here is a list of questions to ask them and a list of VBAC sabotage

4. Prepare for a Natural Birth. A natural birth is your best chance for a successful VBAC (there are times when intervention and pain medication is necessary). I recommend that you read Ina May's Guide to Child Birth and watch The Business of Being Born (on netflix). There are tons of other great natural birth books. There are also methods like hypnobirthing and husband-coached childbirth that you can consider. Water birth is another great option for a VBAC. Eat a healthy, high protein diet. Take whole-food prenatal vitamins - plus there are some other great supplements you can take (ask your provider). Do pregnancy yoga (or other excercise) and drink red raspberry tea. Take evening primrose oil (you can use insert vaginally) to soften the cervix. Write a birth plan. There are many more things that you can do - just google :) Once you are in labor REST as much as possible - take that advice from someone who did the opposite. 

5. Surround Yourself with Support. You want to make sure that you have supportive people around you during your birth. Help educate your husband - he should read everything you read (read to him)! Talk openly about what you will need from anyone who will be in the room. Have a code-word for if/when you need help. Hire a doula - a labor coach (provides support & encouragement - plus lots of wisdom!). Go over your birth plan with everyone who will be involved. Play soft music (make a play-list), light candles, write scripture and encouragement on cards or have scrolling on laptop/tv. You want to create the most positive, supportive environment that you can. Birth-fright is a real thing, and happens to many women. If you do not feel safe - your body will go into protection mode and you will not progress.

6. Let Go of Fear. You can do it. Your body was created to give birth. It is natural and normal. Millions of women have gone before you. You cannot hold on to fear of "what if". There are always risks to anything in life - but we continue to live. You have to believe that you will have a natural birth. Trust your body. Trust your instincts - if you feel like something is wrong, don't hesitate to tell someone or seek help. Be patient - birth takes time. Birth is a beautiful blessed experience - a moment where heaven meets earth. Enjoy it!



I hope you found this post helpful. If you have any other questions, please leave a comment. If you have had a successful VBAC, I would love to hear your thoughts and advice!


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15 comments:

  1. So proud of you sweetie! Love and prayers

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  2. Great post! I had an emergency c-section for my third, and The Lord blessed me by allowing me to have my other 4 children VBAC! Yes, it does make people nervous (especially doctors) and I chose to have them in the hospital, but everything worked fine!

    I especially like your point about praying about it. While VBAC is not for all, it may be for some, and The Lord is able to lead us in His direction, whichever way that may be, if we pray.

    Found you on The Better Mom!

    Lisa
    www.thecourageousjourney.com

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for sharing! I love hearing other VBAC success stories :)

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  3. I had 3 boys via C-sections, in 2003, 2005 and 2010. Last summer (2012) I had my first girl... and my first vaginal birth! Many said I couldn't do it... but by educating myself, praying, attending a VBAC support group & hiring a doula, it definitely happened! It was an amazing feeling to finally know what a "real" birth was like, even though I don't REALLY feel like my other births weren't real... I just felt like I'd missed out on an important female ritual :) Oh, and did I mention she was 10 lbs! My section babies were all around 7 lbs... it just felt like an extra blessing knowing I could push that chunky princess out on my own!

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    Replies
    1. That is awesome! Congratulations :) My VBAC baby was 8lbs 15oz - yay for big babies! Thank you for sharing.

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  4. Thank you so much for this! I am pregnant with my 2nd, and had an emergency c-section with our son, and I really want to try for a VBAC. Thank you for the encouragement to research and pray and plan with my husband!

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    Replies
    1. Congratulations on your pregnancy! I will keep you in my prayers, Katie, as you make this decision. Blessings to you!

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  5. Emily - I'd love for you to link up this post to the Babies & Beyond Link-Up!

    http://www.myjoyfilledlife.com/search/label/Babies%20%26%20Beyond%20Link-Up

    Oh, and I love the new look of your blog!!

    Blessings!

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  6. My 1st was an unplanned C-section and I went on to have the next 3 as VBACs. Last June, I delivered #5 via emergency C-section. We have been feeling the call to expand our family yet again, but I am terrified of being told that I will not be allowed to attempt a VBAC. Thank you for sharing the resources you did. I am building up my courage and increasing my knowledge so that I can approach my OB (whom I absolutely love) about it. I am also preparing myself to seek out a midwife who WILL support a VBAC, if my OB says no.

    The Happy Wife/Danielle Garcia
    Ldsmom2201 (at) yahoo (dot) com
    http://juanshappywife.blogspot.com
    Twitter: The_Happy_Wife

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    Replies
    1. Congrats on all your babies! I have heard of women having VBACs even after 4 and 5 c-sections! You are a great candidate considering you have already had successful VBACs! Blessings to you as you make the best decision for your family <3

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  7. This is a great post, thanks for sharing -- I love "let go of the fear, your body was CREATED for this!" I loved Ina May and was blessed to have two Homebirths -- you can read them here : http://wildflowerramblings.com/home-birth/my-son/ and http://wildflowerramblings.com/home-birth/the-water-birth-of-my-daughter/



    Amy

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  8. Emily, you handled this with such grace. What a wonderful blessing how your 3rd labor worked out for not only the VBA2C but also the homebirth. Truly God had to put all those pieces in place. My twins were born via C-section after 7 vaginal deliveries. I have no idea what plans the Lord has for our family, but reading this gave me hope that if we should ever be so blessed again that it won't me I am absolutely stuck with a section! Bless you, friend!

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  9. Hi Emily I have had 2 c.sections in 2008 and 2010 and em blessed with 2 boys ALHUMDULILAH...now em going to ve my third baby in June 14..INSHALLAH..and I ve already made my mind for the third operation ..coz here in Pakistan u can not even think about the vaginal delivery after a c sections...but by the grace of Almighty I have discovered this pin and after reading all this I am really making my mind for the VBAC2... :). But my both first c sections were not planned I ve had pains of normal delivery both times for almost 7 to 8 hours ...but the doctor said that ur vaginal bone ur is not designed for a natural delivery..can u plz guide me on this...I will waiting for ur reply...

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    Replies
    1. Hello Sadia,
      My best advice for you is to get in touch with ICAN (http://ican-online.org/) and someone there should be able to point you in the right direction. As for what your doctor said, there have been a lot of studies that have found that most women are capable of delivering vaginally - very few are physically unable to. The pelvis expands during labor and delivery (especially if you are in an upright position - let gravity work for you!). If you are on facebook, you can join this group and find great support and answers to your questions (https://www.facebook.com/groups/vbacfactscommunity/). Blessings!

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