Once you’ve had a Caesarean, it can feel a little daunting and difficult to face a VBAC.
However, it’s important to know that for many women a VBAC is a safe way to deliver your child. Of course, women who are thinking about or planning for a VBAC should know the benefits and problems, which is where this article comes in.
But, first things first…
What Is A VBAC?
A VBAC is a vaginal birth after caesarean. Quite often, women who have had to have a caesarean birth in the past are physically capable of having a vaginal birth with their next child. This process is called VBAC.
At its core, the VBAC is much the same as other vaginal births, except for one thing. When you’re in labour, doctors, nurses and midwives will be monitoring you more closely than they might monitor a women who has never had a caesarean. This monitoring might include special equipment to keep a close eye on your and your child’s health, to ensure that any issues are picked up on quickly.
Not all women who have had a caesarean section will be able to have a VBAC. There are some medical reasons that your doctor might recommend a planned caesarean for your next child, including high blood pressure and placenta praevia.
Choosing A VBAC
For women planning to have a VBAC, it is important to find a doctor or midwife who is supportive of your decision. Unfortunately, not all doctors think VBACs are a good idea, and they might not believe its right for you, so it’s ok if you have to look around for a while before finding one that suits.
You’ll also need to think about the hospital that you choose, and ensure that your choice does allow VBAC, as not all do.
Outside Of Hospital Births
If you’re thinking about having a VBAC and you also have an interest in having your baby either at home or at a birth centre, it’s important to talk to your doctor or midwife. Even if you have a supportive doctor, health professionals generally uphold hospital birthing suites as the safest choice for a VBAC. The reasoning for this is that it’s better to be in a hospital if there are issues with your scar tearing and other complications. Discuss all your options, and your birthing history, with your doctor to ensure you have all the information prior to making a decision.
Benefits Of A VBAC
There are a number of benefits for mums who choose to have a VBAC. Not all mums will have these, as each experience of vaginal birth is unique to the individual woman. However, all vaginal births, including VBACs, provide common benefits. For more women these include:
- recovering faster from birth and labor
- experiencing a shorter hospital stay
- being less likely to attend hospital again in the weeks after birth
- have less need for strong pain relief following birth
- be more likely to touch and cuddle baby, including skin to skin contact, after birth
- have a better chance of starting and continuing to breastfeed their baby
- be less likely to experience complications with subsequent pregnancies
- be more able to physically care for children
Women often report feeling happy after a vaginal birth, and satisfied with their birth experience. Research also indicates that babies born vaginally spend less time in special care nurseries, and may develop stronger immune systems with less allergy sufferers reported.
Things To Consider With VBAC
Now, as with any birthing situation there are some things to consider with a VBAC. These aren’t all necessarily disadvantages, but it’s important to know them so you aren’t surprised during labour.
For women having a VBAC, the baby’s heartbeat is monitored more closely during labour. In order to do this, mums need to be fitted with special equipment, which can make moving during labour more challenging, and can make water for pain relief difficult.
There is also a risk of tearing along the C-section scar associated with VBACs. The risk of tearing is very small, around one in 200 women experience it during a VBAC. However, the tearing can happen with little warning, and can have serious implications for both you and your child. In some cases it can be repaired, in others a hysterectomy is required if the bleeding is too severe. It is this tearing risk that necessitates close monitoring by health professionals during labour. .
At the end of the day there are a lot of individual elements coming into play with a VBAC, and it’s important for mums and their partners to talk openly and honestly with their doctors about all potential scenarios.
Did you have a VBAC? What was your experience?