In Support of VBACs

After reading this Time magazine article about just how uncommon VBACs are in the United States I was saddened at just how difficult it is for women to have true choice in their birth experience. I had a successful VBAC with ETot’s birth (then referred to as EbonyBaby) and soon after found out the OB group I was with in Atlanta was one of the few remaining that would even allow patients to attempt VBAC. The hospitals here in Dallas are unfortunately bound to the same litigation and insurance fears the Atlanta doctors face, but I was still stunned to find that one of the top hospitals in my area has a 2% VBAC success rate. Thankfully I won’t be giving birth at that particular hospital, but my heart truly goes out to the women who give it their best only to wind up with another cesarean (not that anything is wrong with cesareans, the healthy baby at the outcome is by far the most important thing).

I have multiple friends who are pregnant and the majority of us have had previous cesareans. Of the single previous cesareans only 1 friend (other than myself) is attempting a VBAC. Most have been firmly convinced by their doctors that their uterus is going to rupture if they even attempt it, which is not necessarily true. Others remember the severity of the pain of their previous labors and have no interest in repeating that process. But what so many don’t realize is while labor hurts, induced labor with pitocin takes your body’s control over how much and how often to contract and instead of gentle progression you get maximum compression (and pain) with each contraction. The excruciating experience of pitocin contractions in my first birth in no way compares with the natural nonmedicated labor I experienced with my VBAC.

My own experience recovering from the cesarean of my first birth was even more painful than the pitocin contractions, so VBAC was definitely an option I was very determined to make have happen. The nurses turned off my pain medication immediately after the surgery but didn’t bother to give me anything to reduce pain for another hour afterward, so I sat crying and waiting for someone to help me as my entire midsection burned in pain. I also had severe back spasms and wound up in physical therapy, which in some part was thanks to my botched epidural (it took the anesthesiologist 4 times to place the epidural needle correctly and yes I was in the midst of painful pitocin contractions at the time). My VBAC recovery was so much faster and less painful than the cesarean so going for a repeat VBAC this time is a no brainer.

I’ve still got quite a ways to go when it comes to preparing a nursery and gathering everything together for bringing my newest little EbonyBaby home but I have a very clear birth plan and have thoroughly discussed my concerns with my doctor. Another key thing that encouraged my choice of hospital for this birth is the fact that each room has a gliding rocking chair (which was my favorite thing during ETot’s birth) as well as birthing balls.

For women who do read this seeking VBACs I want to encourage you that it is fully possible. Research and know exactly what you want to have happen. Get in touch with support groups to further your knowledge and get encouragement. If possible try to labor at home as long as you can and I can’t recommend highly enough employing a doula to make sure your needs are met. I used aspects of the Bradley Method and Hypnobirthing for my VBAC birth as well but a supportive doctor and partner are huge benefits to the process. I hope to share a brand new VBAC story in just a matter of weeks- hopefully in the future more women will also be able to share their own positive experiences.


[...] Barryfitzgeraldsd’s Blog added an interesting post today on In Support of VBACsHere’s a small readingAfter reading this Time magazine article about just how uncommon VBACs are in the United States I was saddened at just how difficult it is for women [...]

Comment by Topics about Magazines » In Support of VBACs | March 25th, 2009 1:52 am | Permalink

Thank you for posting this! More women need to be encouraged to attempt VBAC. There is a lot of fear-mongering by the medical profession. I know several moms who have had successful UNMEDICATED VBACs. It is possible! Good luck! I can’t wait to hear about the delivery.

Comment by Elita | March 25th, 2009 8:02 am | Permalink

Ebonymommy, I so agree with your recommendation on having a Doula! I had one at all three of my births and I had natural deliveries with quick recovery afterwards and alert babies because of it. With the support of my husband and the caring techniques of the doula I had very positive experiences that I share with everyone who is considering a doula and needs that extra input. :)

Comment by Madeleine Ederson | March 25th, 2009 9:11 am | Permalink

I am so glad you posted, too. I have had two cesareans and am saddened by both of them. My first one was painful and I probably needed it the most because he was surverely wrapped up in the umbilical cord. However, I really pressed and insisted my second be a VBAC and she refused and pushed more fear into my husband than me. I feel if I choose to have another child, I am stuck with a cesarean. Thanks for bringing awareness to this subject.

Comment by African American Mom | March 25th, 2009 10:23 am | Permalink

*standing and CLAPPING* Thank you for posting this. This is EXACTLY how I feel. Thank you for explaining it in an eloquent way an adding informative links.

You are SO right about the c-section recovery. Amira will be 7 years old and parts of my tummy are still numb from her c-section. My remaining 3 children were all VBAC’s. I had NO medication with any of them and the last two were born at home. I was up and walking about literally HOURS after I’d given birth. I too was angry with myself AND my “doctors” who tried to “fear” me into having another c-section. Needless to say, I found medical professionals (read MIDWIFE) who encouraged what I WANTED and not what was convenient for them or what would put more money into their pockets.

(sorry for making a post in your post - this subject is close to my heart)

Comment by aly | March 25th, 2009 2:57 pm | Permalink

I agree with you for having a birth plan. I had one, too for my daughter and it really put us (the family and the medical staff) on the same page. Also, a great read is Pushed by Jennifer Block. After reading the book you’ll really think twice about getting drugs unnecessarily.

Comment by Christine Mills | March 25th, 2009 3:23 pm | Permalink

Hi, I have a friend who attempted a VBAC and thankfully everything went ok, but it was so hard for her to find a doc who would do it! There was one lone doctor who helped her…
This fear that the med profession instills in women is just wrong. And it’s not just even in VBACs but birth itself. (of course there should always be precautions) It takes away a natural born feminine power. Grr…very upsetting.
But we build that power when posts like this remind women that there ARE options out there.

Comment by Chaya | March 25th, 2009 4:21 pm | Permalink

Glad I live in Canada. Whereas I know VBACs are controversial everywhere they are at least somewhat more common here. I actually had an HVAC (Homebirth after cesarean) with midwives. Everyone thought I was crazy but I did tons of research on it and felt very comfortable with my choice. It is far less risky than the docs tell you, but they have to tell you , as did my midwives, what *could* go wrong. But a woman is more likely to need a cesarean (30% of us do get them!) than have her uterus rupture during a VBAC (less than 5%). But they tell you about the rupturing thing to scare you into going into the hospital and then once you’re there, well it’s downhill from there if the fetal monitor freaks out an over-anxious nurse fearing litigation. For moms who want a VBAC, I’d say at least do it with a midwife with hospital priveledges. it can be done. Also, contact ICAN (International Cesarean Awareness Netowrk) for more info and support.
Thanks for writing this!

Comment by Melodie | March 25th, 2009 6:12 pm | Permalink

This is such an important post. I remember how empowered and happy you sounded after etot’s birth. I hope that your pregnant readers will see this post and at least consider vbac if they previously had sections and vbac is a viable option for them.

Comment by Dee | March 25th, 2009 8:08 pm | Permalink

Of course you had a doula! You are so fabulous! I am sure this birthing experience will be exactly what you want! I am so happy to know you (even if it is only through your blog). I feel a connection. Peace sis. You are in my thoughts.

Comment by adiaha | March 25th, 2009 10:05 pm | Permalink

I wish many moms would educate themselves and not try to take the ‘easy’ way out which isn’t easy on their bodies at all.

I had a c-section with my first child and with my second I told my doctor that I would like to try for a VBAC…he didn’t like that idea too much at all and went as far as to almost tell me that it wasn’t a choice for me. I told him as long as I am healthy and things are good. I will be having a vaginal birth. Of course he had to tell me all the cons about this decision.

Surprisingly when I went into labor he wasn’t in the hospital. I hadn’t prayed that he wouldn’t be there, I just prayed that I’d have the chance for a VBAC.

So I had my daughter vaginally and healed so quickly it was amazing.

With my C-section I was sick in the hospital for two weeks! Still to this day no one has any idea what was wrong.

I can only hope that hospitals don’t take away womens right to choose and that women will research and know their options and also what is best for their health and what is myth.

Congrats on your pregnancy and goodluck.

Comment by JamericanSpice | March 26th, 2009 5:53 pm | Permalink

Okay. This is a tricky one in my opinion. While I completely agree with you that the American medical community is far too quick to encourage CS (actually I posted about that months ago) I don’t necessarily agree that all women who have had CS can go on to VBAC. I’m a prime example and I consulted multiple doctors locally and abroad. One of my OB/GYN is European and he’s been the OB/GYN to my family since prior to moving to the US.

I think as women we need to be informed. We need to educate ourselves and have a clear understanding of the medical reports, medical conditions, medical processes on our body and all potential outcomes. We need to seek multiple medical advice. My doctor knows I don’t take his word exclusively and he is okay with that. We need to consult only with doctors that encourage us to research our possibilities outside of themselves. I’ve dropped many doctors that didn’t appreciate that I wanted to consider advice outside their office. They weren’t for me because, will not take one medical authorities sole advice. There isn’t a perfect medical professional in my opinion, only medical professionals that want you to be perfectly happy. I’m truly blessed to have an OB/GYN that only wants my happiness.

Comment by Quiskaeya | March 27th, 2009 8:02 am | Permalink

Ya know I had to come back to my response because after thinking about it I realized that it might have sound as if I disagree with you that women should consider VBAC. Again, I do agree that women should definitely consider it. It does frustrating to me, though, that as women we don’t always do our own due diligence and research, instead of just taking at face value information that is given to us by the first doctor we consult.

Comment by Quiskaeya | March 27th, 2009 8:16 am | Permalink

I have had two c-sections. The first was an emergency and I was really sad because I prepared a lot for a natural birth. The second was an attempted VBAC. I pushed and struggled for two hours and finally had a c-section. I was devastated.

I am happy to be getting a c-section this time. I have come to terms with going through labors for hours only to have things end in a C-section. My children are healthy, smart and happy. I am no longer going to try to impose they way I think things should be over the way things are.

I hope women find encouragement in your post, but as for me I will happily make an appointment and get another c-section. I look forward to skipping labor.

Comment by jewelryrockstar | March 29th, 2009 8:48 am | Permalink

Thank you for posting about the many available options out there.

Comment by tanyetta | March 29th, 2009 7:53 pm | Permalink

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