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You Have A Choice

August 11, 2010

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I received an email earlier today from a mom whom I’ve never met. Two things broke my heart . . .

#1 – She had a repeat cesarean section because she was told she had no choice.

#2 – She didn’t breastfeed either of her children because her family told her it was selfish because she would be the only one who could bond with the baby through feeding.

The good news: she doesn’t want things to be the same if she’s blessed with more children. She wants more information. And I’m ALL ABOUT giving information to women who need it.

I’ll explore #1 today. We’ll get to #2 later this week.

I am so bothered by the fact that this woman was told she had no choice but to have a repeat c-section. I am even more bothered because I know it happens every day. I’m hopeful it won’t happen as much in the near future because of ACOG’s newly released statement on VBAC’s. (VBAC = Vaginal Birth after Cesarean)

She is not alone in wanting to deliver a baby vaginally. Many women who have had c-sections feel a sense of loss due to their birthing circumstances. We grow up dreaming of having babies much like we dream of getting married, being a ‘blushing bride’ and having an unbelievable wedding. We don’t expect everything to go horribly wrong. And if something does go wrong with our dream, whether in birth or at our wedding, there is a very valid sense of loss.

It’s interesting to me that when a woman’s dreams of having a baby ‘normally’ are shattered, she often hears others say, “Well, at least you have a healthy baby.” If  the wedding of your dreams was ruined and you still were able to get married, very few (if any) people would say, “Well, at least you got married.” Certainly a mother is thankful that she has a healthy baby and of course the bride is glad she was able to get married but when dreams are lost, it’s disappointing at best and grievous at worst.

Let the emotions run free. It’s ok. And look forward to your attempt to realize the dream of vaginally birthing another baby. Because even if you’ve had a c-section (or two) you CAN attempt a vaginal birth AND be successful! In general, you’ll find that a woman has the best chance to give birth vaginally if she is committed to a drug-free, intervention-free birth. Yes, some women have an epidural and have a VBAC. I said you have the BEST chance without one, and without other interventions. What other interventions am I talking about? Augmenting labor with Pitocin and/or amniotomy (breaking the water), using an IV (even if it’s just saline, it can dilute your body’s natural hormones and chemicals), induction, constant fetal monitoring which tethers you to a hospital bed, among others. (In the future you’ll see a whole post on why medical intervention is sometimes – often – the problem, not the solution.)

So where does a woman start if she wants a vaginal birth after a cesarean (or two)? Start by fully educating yourself. Watch The Business of Being Born. Get a couple good books on childbirth. I’d start with The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth. I also love Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth and Dr. Sears’ The Birth Book. Check out the ICAN website (Int’l Cesarean Awareness Network). You’ll find a lot of information and forums where you can chat with other women about VBAC.

I have never had a cesarean section, but I have done a lot of reading on the subject of cesareans, the prevention of them and VBACs. I trust the small amount of information I’ve provided here would help other women in making a decision whether or not to attempt a VBAC.

Have you had a VBAC? Please feel free to comment here with any other additional information you think would be beneficial to a woman who has had a cesarean?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Amy permalink
    August 12, 2010 8:26 AM

    I’ve had a Cesarean and a VBAC and would be willing to talk to anyone about it if you want to pass that along.

  2. Trebor permalink
    August 12, 2010 8:56 PM

    Thanks for sharing Christy. I am among those women who have been put through the traditional hospital system, without knowing any other options. It was after 2 preventable C/S that I began to discover what those options truly were. For me, it has been a journey of healing, trust, and change. I have had a Challenging hospital VBA2C and my last birth was at home. Out of all of my births, my homebirth was the most amazing and empowering. Finally getting to feel everything I had missed, and learning to trust my body and how it was created to birth has changed my life forever.

    • August 12, 2010 9:06 PM

      I had a ‘not-as-planned’ birth with my first. My water broke first, no significant contractions for 18 hours, then endured Pitocin contractions for 8 hours, chose to have an epidural because of exhaustion, pushed for 3 hours and finally delivered my baby 33.5 hours after my water broke. My second birth was close to perfect, although I never want to ride in a car again while I’m laboring hard. THAT was not fun. I did have a natural birth and was amazed by my body and my brain. It has also changed me forever. I can’t wait for the next one (Lord willing).

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