My first child was born as naturally as could be with no drugs and very little medical intervention. And let me tell you: It was hard AF. My second child was born after an emergency C-section. That was also hard, but for different reasons than you might assume. I felt like I missed out on the magic of childbirth because I was heavily drugged and couldn’t see, feel, or truly understand what was happening. I went home with a perfectly healthy and absolutely beautiful baby who I fell madly in love with.
I know there’s no reason to feel shame over any birthing method, and I do not, but that C-section hurt my heart for a long time. So, for this, my last pregnancy, I plan to attempt a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC).
VBAC is not a guarantee, of course. There are risks involved and a C-section may still end up being the exit strategy should something go wrong. According to Web MD, women who attempt VBACs will first go through TOLAC (trial of labor after C-section), which is like a test run leading up to the big moment. If during labor a woman is doing well and there are no problems, then she may proceed to the pushing phase and attempt to vaginally birth her child. However, for 4 out 10 women, a planned VBAC will still result in a C-section.
The main concern and reason for monitoring a mother during a VBAC is the risk uterine rupture, which is as scary as it sounds. The scar tissue left over from a C-section can very rarely rupture, causing serious risk or even death to the mother. Fortunately, for women with a low transverse (side-to-side) scar — which is the medical standard now in the United States — a uterine rupture is very rare. In fact, less than 1 out of 100 women will be at serious risk for a uterine rupture.
The symptoms of uterine rupture are especially frightening because there is no way to predict or diagnose it before it happens — so you won’t know if you are having a rupture until you are literally in the middle of having it. According to healthline.com, some symptoms that doctors have observed include:
– excessive vaginal bleeding
– sudden pain between contractions
– contractions that become slower or less intense
– abnormal abdominal pain or soreness
– recession of the baby’s head into the birth canal
– bulging under the pubic bone
– sudden pain at the site of a previous uterine scar
– loss of uterine muscle tone
– rapid heart rate, low blood pressure, and shock in the mother
– abnormal heart rate in the baby
– failure of labor to progress naturally
Despite the risks involved, which are rare but certainly terrifying, I am still electing to attempt a VBAC under the guidance of my OB. I trust her implicitly, and she thinks I’m a great candidate for attempting a VBAC. I trust that she can determine when and if my baby or I start wandering into the weeds and need help. This is possible with any method of birth — sometimes interventions are necessary and I am completely open to that.
I feel encouraged and rallied by the VBAC success stories I’ve found posted on sites like Birth Without Fear Blog, where women share incredible details about how they overcame obstacles to birth their babies despite their fear or prior negative experiences. When I read these stories, the idea of VBAC becomes normalized and like something I can envision for myself.
Every mother has complex and sometimes inexplicable feelings around the nature of her children’s births. For many women, a C-section is exactly what they want or need and they are okay with that. No judgment here! But for me, for this pregnancy, my heart is pulling me toward as close to a natural birth as I can muster.
And so with deep breaths, my OB and I have developed a plan and an emergency backup plan, and I will go into that delivery room with my husband where he will support me in trying like hell to push this child out of my body. I just feel that this is the best route for my baby and me this time around.