Let’s talk about c-sections. VBAC’s in particular. Here’s what we know: The c-section rate has escalated in the last 40 years from a lowly 5% to our current 32%. This means 1 out of every 3 woman are getting their babies surgically removed from their bodies. All the while costing 50% more for each c-section in comparison to a vaginal birth. How did we get here? What has taken place to lead us to this point? Some of those questions are answered in the documentary above.
I’d like to take the opportunity to discuss why VBAC’s aren’t more prevalent among our nations birthing mamas?
First, what is a VBAC? Vaginal Birth After Delivery. Which means…..you have 1 baby, most likely your first baby, via c-section your likelihood of having another c-section delivery goes up by 90%. WHAT? I almost couldn’t believe this statistic. That means only 10% of woman after giving birth surgery go on to have a normal vaginal birth. Why is this happening? What is taking place in our current society that we are labeling c-section woman to the mantra of “Once a c-section, always a c-section.”
I’d like to be clear that I believe c-sections to be very needed at times and a lifesaving mechanism that can help a mama and baby in crisis deliver healthily and safely. The largest concern I have over this matter is with the rate of c-sections and truly weighing the options of who really needs that c-section and who doesn’t.
Here’s 3 of the main problems that I can see that are preventing women from having a vaginal birth after a c-section. I must add here that I believe EVERY woman chooses her birthing options mostly based in what she believes will be safest for her and her baby. What she is taught and educated upon particularly by health care providers, carries the BIGGEST weight on what options she will inevitably choose. To be clear, I don’t believe any woman would choose a birthing option that might harm her or her baby.
Because of the mantra “once a c-section, always a c-section, woman are placed into a space where understanding they have options or choices is lost. This belief has seeped into her psyche in such a way that it can feel almost impossible to let herself believe otherwise. This type of thinking is a common social fallacy that is currently being passed from woman to woman through all forms of professional or otherwise relationships. She can believe it so concretely that she struggles to let herself even consider a VBAC, especially when she believes the risks of a vaginal birth now outweigh the risks of a c-section.
I think it’s almost near impossible to find a medical care provider that will support a woman’s choice to have a VBAC. There are potential liability issues at stake for each doctor or obstetrician. I believe every care provider entered their profession with the intention to care for the safety needs of every delivering mama and baby. Unfortunately, we tend to live in a very sue happy nation and for a doctor, I can only imagine the demands placed on them to not make a mistake. There quickly can become a very fine line between what the recommended protocol is to follow and what actually might be best for mama and baby. Let me tell you, I wouldn’t want to have to make that choice.
Most often, once a woman has had a c-section, especially an “emergency c-section” (which is 98% of the time) she is left with an experience that can feel mild to severely traumatizing. Often woman leave the hospital carrying the weight of a broken heart and broken body that couldn’t afford them the birth they truly longed and hoped for. These physical, psychological and emotional wounds can bind a woman to the same future birthing fate only to have the pattern repeated until she is told by her care provider her body is officially broken and can no longer handle major surgery for delivery. Even if she wanted more children, that option is no longer viable. The psychological/emotional aspects that aren’t professionally and properly dealt with can leave lifelong scars.
With all this being said, how does a woman find the education and support to follow through with a VBAC? Here’s 3 solutions to those problems.
The internet can be a great resource for educational materials about c-section, the emergency benefits and the risks. The website www.childbirthconnection.org has a wealth of current research, resources and educational materials. There are written sources as well. One book called “Cut, Stapled and Mended” written by Roanna Rosewood speaks of her travails after her c-section and how she went on to accomplish her goal of a VBAC. Educate yourself on your options after a c-section. Know the risks and benefits. Make an informed decision that will ultimately give you the birth experience you are wanting.
I’m a firm believer in doctors and obstetricians and their ability to save the lives of mamas and babies. What a blessing! Though why not consider the option of a midwife? Midwives have comparable safety outcomes when it comes to VBAC’s. Midwives approach and philosophy of birth also feeds the understanding and empathy a post c-section mama might need to work through the trauma of her previous birth experience while giving the physical means and knowledge to help prepare her body for a safe VBAC. OR if you feel a midwife is not for you, find a doctor who will really listen to your desires while striving to work with you. Know the questions to ask your doctor in order to feel safe and comfortable enough to make the needed requests for your birth. Stick to your guns and don’t let down until your find the RIGHT person for YOU!! Always remember Rachel’s birth mantra…….”You do not work for your care provider, your care provider works for YOU!!” You pay the big bucks to have the birth that you want. Without education, you are doomed to be disempowered to repeat the same situation. Your voice matters, SPEAK UP!
Just get a doula!! What is a doula? If you still don’t know, it’s time to enter 2016. 😉 Google it! This is the NEW revolutionary way to give birth that has been around for 100’s of years until it’s crept back from almost extinction recently. A doula is a person, most often a woman, (I’ve actually never met a male doula) who helps a laboring woman achieve her birth goals. Doulas are taught and trained to foster, educate and empower a woman and/or couple to give comfort measures and labor support throughout pregnancy, labor/delivery and postpartum care. A ACOG report from March 2014 states, “Published data indicate that one of the most effective tools to improve labor and delivery outcomes is the continuous presence of support personnel, such as a doula.”