Written by guest contributor, Maria Yakimchuk:
If you are a C-Section mama pregnant with another baby, you’re probably tossing around the options of having an RCS (Repeat C-Section) or VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean). They both come with their own risks and benefits that only your provider can help you to personally assess.
There are always risks involved in pregnancy and childbirth regardless of VBAC or not, but make sure you are fully aware of the process before you select it. Some moms are fearful of that small 1% chance of uterine rupture, while others weigh the positive experience of having a natural birth without surgery as a no-brainer to give it a try.
Preparing for VBAC Delivery
If your provider feels that you are a good candidate for a VBAC, that may be your best option. When preparing for VBAC delivery, there are a few things that you can do to increase the chances of it being successful.
1. Find a VBAC-friendly provider
While ACOG (The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) has updated its guidelines regarding VBACs, not all providers are on board. There are many hospitals and providers that still cling to the idea that a VBAC is too dangerous and will not allow a mother to attempt one.
Therefore, a mother may receive erroneous information about risks and benefits of a successful VBAC and be told that an RCS is the only option for her. There are also providers that are tolerant, but not particularly supportive of VBACs. These types of providers would not be a great fit for a mother hoping to VBAC either.
So how do you find out if your provider is VBAC supportive? You discuss the possibility of a VBAC with them and listen to what they have to say. You can use this handy chart from ICAN to determine whether your provider is VBAC tolerant or VBAC supportive.
If you discover that your provider is not likely to support your VBAC, you should look for a different one. You can do it at any point in your pregnancy.
There are cases when a provider appears VBAC supportive on the onset, but then starts discouraging you from having one as the pregnancy progresses. So if your provider is discouraging you from preparing for VBAC delivery, not because your pregnancy has become more complicated, but simply because of baby’s size (always a red flag since they can’t accurately estimate it) or some other unsubstantiated reason, feel free to look for someone else.
You want to choose a provider who is on your side and will give you the most positive experience when preparing for VBAC and during and after the birth. A physician who is hesitant may just put more fear or worry in your heart and mind which will not make for a successful VBAC.
2. Consider your birth location options
Once you have found the right provider for you, make sure the hospital they practice at also allows for VBACs. Some hospitals do not allow VBACs.
If you are considering a delivery at a birth center, do some research to see if there are birth centers near you. Then contact them to find out whether they are equipped for a VBAC mama (many are not).
Lastly, some women feel comfortable attempting a VBAC at home (also called HBAC). But I would personally caution against that choice because immediate action is necessary in case of uterine rupture. The time to get you to a hospital could be an extra few minutes that you don’t have.
3. Educate yourself and your partner about a VBAC
Now that you settled on your provider and your birthing place, it’s time to educate yourself. If you did not take childbirth classes the first time around, now is the time to do it. The more you know, the more empowered you are during birth.
You and your partner should also get yourself familiar with the specifics of a VBAC. I can’t stress enough that your partner should be involved in the education process.
So many times the partners don’t take an active role in learning about pregnancy and labor preparation, and instead of being a support, they become fearful and easily swayed by others’ opinions. You need all the support you can get as you are preparing for VBAC delivery.
4. Hire a doula
As I mentioned before, you need all the support you can get to achieve a successful VBAC. A doula is the right person to provide you with this support.
A doula is there to provide emotional and physical support for you starting in pregnancy and carrying on into labor. A doula is not a medically trained professional, however, and should not be the one to deliver your baby.
However, having a doula by your side greatly decreases your risks of interventions, needing an epidural, or having a C-Section. Read more about doulas and their benefits in-depth here.
5. Prepare Emotionally for your VBAC
Any pregnancy and labor is full of unexpected twists and turns. No amount of preparation you do can guarantee any sort of result. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to do everything in your power to increase your chances of success.
When you are a VBAC mama, you always have a nagging voice in the back of your head, ‘What if my body fails me again? What if I have to have another C-Section? What if, what if?‘ Let me say that I absolutely understand. I had that voice my whole second pregnancy and labor.
I stopped believing that I could birth this child the way I wanted. On one hand, it allowed me to make peace with the possibility of an RCS, but on the other hand, I wish I wasn’t so negative. It wasn’t emotionally helpful for me to be so defeatist.
As you’re preparing for VBAC delivery, start your day with gratitude. Either do it in your head or write in a journal, but make sure you get at least one thing you’re grateful for this day. Nothing fancy, but even being grateful for making it out of bed on your own will help set the intention for the day.
When the voice of doubt creeps up, acknowledge it. Let it know that it has every right to exist, but let it know that you choose to not listen.
Prepare yourself emotionally that your labor may result in either a VBAC or RCS and either way is fine. It doesn’t mean that your body is broken or something is not right. It just means that this is the way it’s meant to be.
6. Prepare physically for VBAC
Now that you know how to emotionally prepare yourself for a successful labor, let’s talk about what you can do physically. You should engage in physical exercise every day. It’s good for you and the baby.
Keeping mobile helps with aches and pains, metabolism, blood circulation and mood. If you are not feeling strong enough for extensive exercise, walking is a great option.
I also encourage doing prenatal yoga, as it helps mentally as well as physically. Just make sure you are doing pregnancy safe exercises, as not all yoga poses are suited for pregnant women.
Don’t forget to visit Spinning Babies for exercises to ensure the right position for your little one. When it comes to easy labors, baby positioning is of utmost importance. Spinning Babies will help you encourage your little one into the best possible spot.
7. Keep your eye on the prize
No matter what happens, keep reminding yourself that you will meet your baby at the end of this ordeal. They will be warm, squishy and adorable in your arms. Good luck, mama!
Hello, my name is Maria and I’m the founder and owner of Parent on Board. I am a mental health professional and a mom of 2 rambunctious boys, 2 equally rambunctious dogs, and a very peaceful elderly cat. I write about all things related to motherhood, child development and mental health. Follow me on Pinterest.