5 Helpful Tips For Planning Your VBAC
Despite my dream of having a water-birth, my first birth experience ended in an emergency Caesarean Section. Afterwards, I remember a few well-meaning people telling me that I would need another C-Section in the future. Luckily, I knew that this wasn't necessarily true because my mother had experienced a Vaginal Birth After Caesarean or VBAC (vee-back). I hoped that I could also have a VBAC for my second birth and in the process of preparing myself, I picked up a few things that I think you should also bear in mind when planning yours.
1. You don't HAVE to have another C-Section.
From my interactions, I have discovered that many women simply don't know that having a VBAC is an option. There are some cases where another C-Section would be necessary e.g. Placenta Praevia, medical conditions like heart disease or diabetes, pre-eclampsia and so on. In my case, I had an emergency C-Section because my son was in distress and had done his first stool (meconium) inside, which meant that he needed to be brought out quickly. The likelihood of that recurring was small and I had no other health complications so I was a good candidate for a VBAC. So do your (extensive) research and speak to your caregivers. Some are more supportive of and more experienced with VBACs than others. In the UK, the NHS is largely pro-VBAC but I know that this is not the case in so many other countries so you might want to consider that too when choosing your care giver.
2. Educate yourself. Know the facts.
Knowing all that there is to know about VBACs is really important so that you can make informed decisions. For example, uterine rupture is cited as one of the major risks of having a vaginal birth after caesarean but the statistics show that the chances of that occurring is 1 in 300 deliveries (NCT). This is the kind of information you will only get by doing your research. Classes are usually organised by the hospitals and in my case I was also offered a couple of one-on-one sessions with a midwife specialising in VBACs. I also read books, watched videos, talked to other mums including my own, joined forums and groups for tips and encouragement. There's very little I didn't know when labour and delivery day came and I encourage you to do the same. I'll include links to some of my information sources at the end.
3. You need all the support you can get from family and caregivers.
At some point in my pregnancy, I got scared and really doubted that I could have a VBAC but my midwives, doctor, friends and family were very supportive. I shared my fears and the fact that I was considering just going for another C-Section with them and they kept encouraging me to stick to the plan. One of my lovely friends who is a Doula gave me books to read and some CDs to listen to. Knowing that everyone important to me had my back was an amazing and empowering feeling.
4. Prepare for an alternative.
This may seem counterintuitive but I promise there's a logical reason. If you're planning a VBAC, then you're most likely invested in your overall birth experience being as gentle and positive as possible. So I really recommend preparing your mind for the possibility of another C-Section. Many women who end up with emergency C-Sections often report it as a traumatic experience. So I believe that mentally readying yourself for it may make it less traumatic. It'll also give you a chance to discuss the possibility of a gentle caesarean with your care giver. Read more on Gentle Caesareans here.
5. It's OKAY if things don't go quite as planned.
I believe that everything happens for a reason. You can read every book and follow every rule and yet unexpected things can happen. For the second time, I came close but didn't get the water-birth that I really desired and some things didn't go how I pictured them. However, rather than dwell on the negatives, I remain very grateful for mine and my baby's good health and remember my experience fondly.
There's more I could share on preparing for a VBAC but these are the major points that come to mind. My successful VBAC and indeed my entire birth experience was beautiful and empowering. My midwife on the day was amazing and my birth partners (my husband and mother) did a fantastic job. You can read the birth story here.
So to my dear mama considering or preparing for a VBAC, don't stop believing that it is possible!