One year ago, I had a first in my life as a doula. I supported my first VBAC or vaginal birth after Cesarean. I remember the day vividly for a number of reasons. I won't go into all of the details here, as that birth and all that transpired that day are another woman's story to share. Suffice to say, the experience was pivotal and memorable for me.
Since that time, I've had the opportunity to support more women that are seeking a VBAC and VBA2C. In working with each of these women and their families, it's clear to me that though the reasons for their first births by Cesarean vary, each of them wanted the freedom to choose something different for their next birth.
I've also supported women who've given birth via Cesarean and choose a
repeat Cesarean (RCS). As a doula, I support women in the birth they
choose. What matters is that
the woman is making the choice that is best for her baby and for her
specific situation. For some, this is VBAC and for others it is RCS. While I am a very big supporter of VBAC, I am not
anti-Cesarean or RCS birth. What I am not okay with is when women don't
have the option to choose or when they are coerced into a RCS with fear based information from their care provider or other source.
I'm thankful that I live in an area that has hospitals that are staffed appropriately to accommodate VBACs (24 hour on site anesthesiologists) and even more so, that there are a handful of doctors who are committed to supporting their patients' wishes to give birth vaginally. I'm also thankful that there are some skilled midwives that attend women who've chosen to give birth at home and are seeking out a VBAC at home or an "HBAC." I'm quite aware that there are areas around the country and even here in California that simply "do not allow" VBACs. The lack of options and freedom to choose is frustrating, especially when ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) issued
this statement as part of their latest VBAC guidelines released in July
"Attempting a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) is a safe and
appropriate choice for most women who have had a prior cesarean
delivery, including for some women who have had two previous cesareans..."
You can read the press release on ACOG's website here and the full Practice Bulletin on ACOG's site here
It is also covered in this statement from the National Institutes of Health
There are a number of organizations that are working really hard to bring awareness, advocacy and change to the state of maternal child health care in this country. A few are focused on Cesarean awareness and the need for VBAC to be made available as an option to all women who are seeking one. Here are a few of them:
International Cesarean Awareness Network- ICAN
American Pregnancy Association
Birth Without Fear (an online community dedicated to supporting women's choices in childbirth- whatever they may be)
I'm a part of San Diego's ICAN Facebook group and have thoroughly enjoyed reading women's stories and journeys they've shared. There have been dozens of VBAC stories shared, as well as some who've chosen RCS. I've asked a few of these women if they would be wiling to share their VBAC birth story with me, so that I can share it with you. I felt like it would be helpful for others to read women's
experiences of why they chose a VBAC and what the process was like for
them. I'm excited to share these stories in this series: Why I Chose VBAC.