pregnancy

THE MIDWIFE MAMA: 11 things I want you to know about having a vaginal birth after caesarean.

Once upon a time, you had a caesarean birth for your first baby and then another caesarean section for your next baby and then another for any subsequent pregnancies. The end.

Thank god that was 'once upon a time' and not standard practice for every pregnant woman today.  

Fortunately, we have come a long way in the world of birthing and obstetrics and most women are now offered the opportunity to try a 'vaginal birth after caesarean section' (VBAC), all depending on previous reasons for a caesarean section.  

Watch: Questions about childbirth, answered. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia.

But at least there is room for discussion to begin with. It’s all about choice, right? Something that we, as females carrying the baby, deserve. A choice. A say in something. A hope that we can potentially have the birth we wish for. 

Or perhaps you are content with another caesarean section, and that is absolutely fine too. 

Either way, a happy, healthy mum and baby is all we wish for. Truly.

Something that is becoming more apparent though, as I spend hours on end answering desperate pleas from pregnant women in my Instagram inbox, is their fear of not being able to have a VBAC.

Listen to Leigh Campbell's birth story. Post continues below.

Messages along the lines of 'I wasn’t offered the opportunity to have a VBAC', 'Have I missed the boat?', 'I never had this discussion with my midwife or doctor?', 'My doctor isn’t encouraging regarding me wanting a VBAC', or worst of all, 'I just had a repeat caesarean a few days ago and a VBAC was never discussed to begin with.'

Here's the hard part. It comes down to many things, like education (or lack of) regarding VBAC, and your true wishes as a patient: how much do you want one? Have you done your research finding a care provider supportive of this? Have you done research at all regarding VBACs in general?

There are so many things to weigh up and research prior to even committing yourself to one.  

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If I can offer any advice regarding achieving a successful VBAC, it's this:

  • Get antenatal counselling PRIOR to falling pregnant. This is your opportunity to discuss the reasons behind your previous caesarean section and if you are a suitable VBAC candidate for your next pregnancy.

  • Do your research into whether you will be going as a public or private patient to try to achieve your VBAC. Does your public hospital support them? Does your Obstetrician support this mode of birth for your second delivery?

  • Check out up-to-date statistics on VBACs.

  • Educate yourself on the pros & cons.

  • Join VBAC groups that offer empowerment and realistic experiences and expectations.

  • Make a VBAC friendly birth plan whilst staying realistic at the same time, as they are considered high risk.

  • If you feel pressured to have a VBAC but do not wish to have one, PLEASE state this to your ob/midwife. It is their position to also support and advocate for you.

  • Find a care provider that is on your team; someone you trust and feel will empower you.

  • If you aren’t satisfied with your care provider's opinion, seek a second one.

  • This is an important one – please remember that your doctor/obstetric team really do know best. Their opinion may not satisfy yours and this is when a second opinion is recommended - if it will help you make a better, well-informed decision.

  • If that second opinion is the same as the first and they recommend a subsequent caesarean section, please take their word for it and try not to be disheartened (easier said than done, I know).

Lastly, for those of you who have been advised that a caesarean section is the safest option for you and your baby, ask if you are able to have a Maternal Assisted Caesarean Section.

This means that you will be able to assist in birthing your baby out of your stomach with the assistance of your doctor.

It really is the most wonderful, empowering and positive experience, and from the few that I have been a part of, the mothers get to be more hands on in surgery than a vaginal birth.  

If this isn’t an option at your hospital, then I highly recommend skin-to-skin as soon as your baby is born, and uninterrupted for as long as possible.

From a midwife to a patient, I want to let you know, from the bottom of my heart, that caesarean births are just as beautiful as vaginal births. It all comes down to having a positive experience where everyone has a good outcome.  

Stay positive, stay educated, stay empowered and stay realistic. What will be will be and I am certain, at the end of the day, when you are enjoying your beautiful oxytocin love bubble with your baby, nothing else in this world matters. 

You've got this mama.

For more from The Midwife Mama, follow her on Instagram.

Feature Image: Getty.

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