11 Tips to Have a Successful VBAC

11 Tips to Have a Successful VBAC | Baby Chick

11 Tips to Have a Successful VBAC

Every month I get a call from at least one or two families telling me that they want a VBAC (vaginal birth after a cesarean). They share their previous birth story with me, how and why it ended up in a c-section, and that they really want to have a VBAC but aren’t sure what to do to improve their chances. They ask if there are any secrets or tips that I can give them to help, and you know what… There are things that you can do that are in your control to increase your chances of having the VBAC that you want.

Many people may think that it’s all about the health of you and your baby to have a successful VBAC. While obviously health is important, there are many other factors than can determine the outcome of your delivery. For example, who you choose as your care provider, where you choose to give birth, what tests and procedures you have during your pregnancy and labor, and many more. All of these choices make a difference. By being an active participant and making informed decisions, you lower your chances for having a repeat cesarean.

Now before I get a bunch of people saying that I’m “shaming c-section births”, I have to say that I’m not! There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a c-section (they are needed and at times necessary), however there are people that look at the benefits of having a vaginal birth after a c-section and want to try having a VBAC. Because of those people, I want to help! If you are one of those people, this post is for you. Here are some important issues to consider to help you have a successful VBAC.

Disclaimer: There is no way to 100% guarantee a VBAC because, unfortunately, there are no guarantees when it comes to labor and childbirth.

1. Choose a Supportive Care Provider

Midwife-takes-patients-blood-pressure-on-home-visit-000061052232_Medium

The number one thing that you can do to improve your chances when planning for a VBAC is to choose a care provider that fully supports and believes in VBACs. When you’re interviewing different care providers, an OB might say that they are supportive of VBACs, but it could be a different story on your big day. This is why you need to choose someone with a history of successful VBACs and someone who is prepared to do everything they can to make your VBAC a success. (Be sure to ask what their cesarean percentages are as well as their VBAC percentages and be willing to change providers if you don’t have confidence in them.)

There is also another option available that many women in the United States don’t consider… midwives. Evidence proves that for healthy low-risk pregnant women, care provided by professional midwives reduces the risk for cesarean sections when compared to care provided by physicians. I highly recommend that if you are low-risk (your only high-risk condition being a VBAC), you should consider meeting with a midwife or two to ask her some questions. Your chances for a VBAC will be much higher choosing a midwife and you will be surprised to discover how much experience and training they have, especially helping women who want to have VBACs. So I encourage you to do your research and find access to midwifery care and accredited birth centers in your community that accept VBAC clients.

2. Choose a Supportive Place to Give Birth

laboring

Woman in labor

Something important to know is that there are hospitals and birth centers out there that absolutely do not accept VBAC patients and will not allow women to attempt/have a VBAC. This surprises some people that their care provider may approve, but the birth location may not. This is why you need to make sure that your care provider has privileges at a location that does allow VBACs and is also going to be supportive of you during your labor.

3. Ask Questions

A question that you should ask your care provider is, “how long will you allow me to go past my due date?” You need to ask this question because since you previously had a cesarean section, scheduling an induction (more than likely) is not an option for you. If you do not go into labor spontaneously around your due date, your main option is to schedule a c-section. 🙁 This is why you want to ask so you know how much time you have before they are ready to schedule you for a c-section.

If you are wondering why inductions are normally off the table for VBAC mamas, the reason is the drug that they use to induce women (pitocin) increases your chances for uterine rupture. Uterine rupture is a serious matter that every care provider takes extremely seriously. For more information on potential gentle inductions for VBACs, read this.

4. Join A Mother’s Support Group

Sharing their hopes and fears

Whether that’s an ICAN group in your area or even a Facebook group/ online support group. Finding other women to talk to about what you are going through and hear their success stories of how they have been able to do it can really help.

5. Do Your Research

If a VBAC is what you really want, you need to be aware of the facts behind it and do your research. This includes reviewing studies and articles on the internet, watching videos (DVDs and YouTube clips), joining/visiting online and in person support groups (point made above), reading books, talking to medical professionals, as well as meeting with other hopeful VBAC mamas (to know what steps they are taking) and successful VBAC moms (to know what they did).

Here are some books that I recommend reading:

All in all, the more you understand and know about VBACs, the better prepared you will be. Just remember that you can do this! 60 – 80% of women who attempt VBACs are successful and the American Congress of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) supports attempting a VBAC.

If you’re nervous about being your own advocate during labor, my next point will help tremendously…

6. Hire a Doula

birth doula

If you’re in the hospital, it can be difficult to speak your mind when you are going through contractions and trying to rest in-between each. The hospital staff can and do (sometimes) make medical decisions for you, even when they may not be necessary. (And yes, I have seen this happen.) This is why a doula can be a vital component for a successful VBAC. Most partners (if you have a partner or family member or friend) do not know what to expect during labor and delivery and won’t know how to advocate for you if things are going in the wrong direction. A doula does just that; she is trained to help you labor, make informed decisions, and advocate for you if necessary. Also, women who birth with a doula are 28% less likely to have a c-section and have more satisfying birth experiences. The knowledge and support a doula offers could be the difference between a successful VBAC and a repeat c-section.

If you’ve chosen a midwife as your care provider, a doula might not be necessary but she can still be extremely helpful. (The more people that are around you that have experience helping women have VBACs the better.) Start interviewing some doulas in your area. They book up quickly!

7. Go to a Childbirth Class Outside the Hospital

Taking a childbirth class (whether that be a one-day course or a 12-week course) is a great option! I recommend taking your class outside of the hospital so that your educators aren’t withholding any information from the class. Outside of the hospital, those educators can also give you some valuable information about what to expect from each hospital or birth center. Unfortunately in hospital classes, doctors can and will tell the educators that they cannot talk about certain topics or cover certain options since they don’t want their patients knowing things that they don’t feel comfortable with. It shouldn’t be about what’s easiest and most convenient for the doctor, it should be what’s best for the laboring woman.

8. Stay Healthy

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This is obvious for any pregnancy. Continue to eat right and stay active because the healthier you are, the greater your chances are for having the VBAC that you want.

9. Speak Up

It’s important that you communicate with your care provider and support person(s) about the experience that you want. Start these conversations from the very beginning so that everyone is on the same page.The more that you make your desires known, the better. It’s also a great idea to write a birth plan. Your doula can help you with this if you have questions. Your birth plan will then give your entire birthing team (doctor, nurses, etc.) a better understanding of what your goals are when you get admitted into L&D.

10. Avoid Screening for a Big Baby

Once you start approaching your due date, your doctor may recommend measuring the size of your baby. Based on the measurements, your care provider then determines whether or not your baby is “too big” to be born vaginally. I want you to know that these measurements are usually inaccurate since this isn’t the most reliable way to determine the baby’s weight and size.

I always tell my clients that an ultrasound screening has an error margin of 10% to 20%. Sometimes it’s accurate, but a lot of times it’s not. There are women that have been told that they are going to have a big baby and their baby came out weighing only 7 pounds. I’ve also seen very petite women deliver 10+ pound babies vaginally with no issues so when people say your baby is too big to be born vaginally, I think of those women. It’s not true! So avoid having this screening done because they may just want to convince you that your baby is “too big” and want you to schedule a c-section when you may be able to have the VBAC you want.

11. Give Yourself Grace

As I stated at the beginning of this post, nothing is guaranteed when it comes to labor and birth. And after all of the preparation and research that you’ve done, even if it doesn’t happen exactly the way you wanted, don’t beat yourself up. It’s okay. Even if you have another c-section, that’s okay too. Whatever happens you did all you could, and at the end of the day, you just brought your new daughter or son into the world. You carried, labored, and birthed life. That is a miracle. Always give yourself grace, mama, because you are amazing.

Have you attempted a VBAC? What advice would you add?

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About the Author /

Nina is The Baby Chick® & CEO of Baby Chick®. She is a baby planner, birth doula, postpartum doula, childbirth educator, newborn care specialist, and a mother. With over eight years of experience, she has supported hundreds of families during their pregnancies, births, and postpartum journeys.

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In our culture, it is common for women to feel nervous and even fearful of childbirth. We've all heard scary horror stories from other people about their babies' births. But something that people aren't as willing to share is how much of a turd toddlerhood can be. 💩 Don't get me wrong. I LOVE and ADORE my crazy toddler. But he is the true definition of a sour patch kid. Sour one moment and then sweet the next. He keeps me on my toes almost every minute of every day. 🤪 When I think about the day I gave birth to him, I think, "Psssshhh, that's child's play compared to what this kid puts me through on the regular." Why aren't more people acknowledging that, yes, childbirth can be tough, but wrangling a toddler isn't much easier? This is just my personal experience, but some mothers might agree. Here is why I believe childbirth is easier than parenting a toddler. {Click 🔗 in bio to continue reading!}⁠
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When I think back to when I gave birth to my son, When I think back to when I gave birth to my son, I do remember the surges of the contractions, the release of being in the water in the tub, and the pushing. So much pushing. 😓⁠
But I also remember the relief I felt when I first saw Mary Alice, one of my midwives, walk into my master bathroom while I was laboring in the tub. I remember my doula holding my hand in between pushes giving me encouragement, and my husband gently stroking my hair as I came down from the height of contractions.⁠
After giving birth, I remember how my midwives made my bed with fresh linens and with me in it feeling comfortable as I nestled with my newborn son. I remember how a meal was brought to me in bed and how everything was cleaned up and looked as if nothing happened -- not like I had just given birth to a baby. (I had a home birth, by the way.) And I remember how they were all with me by my side every step of the way.⁠
I felt the love, the patience, and the respect that I needed. Those are the memories that I hold with me when I think about the day my son was born. It's how I was cared for and how my birth team made me feel that stays with me.⁠
For expecting women out there, be intentional with the people that you invite into your birthing room. That includes your doctor, your midwife, and your support people. I know that things look very different right now with hospitals only allowing one support person, but you can still receive good support. Take an online birthing class with your partner and practice how they can help you in labor. Speak up to your nurse and ask for what you need and what you want for your experience. Be your own advocate! And if you feel like you can't speak up, hire a doula and receive virtual support during your pregnancy, birth, and immediate postpartum. Feeling supported, respected, and truly cared for is just as important as having a successful birth with a healthy mom and baby. 💗
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One day a pregnant client of mine started having a One day a pregnant client of mine started having abdominal pain. She called her OBGYN's office and they had her come in to check on the baby to make sure everything was okay. Everything looked fine and well with the baby so they sent her home saying that it was probably something that she ate and that it must be gas or indigestion pain.
Days went by and the pain not only continued but it got WORSE. I encouraged her to continue reaching out to her doctor, which she did. She would call the office and the nurse and doctor would tell her that everything was fine. They told her what meds she could take that could help, and that if she wanted to come in again the next day, she could.
The next day she went in and they looked at the baby and the baby was still perfect. They told her to go home and said to her, "You must have a very low pain tolerance because everything is appearing normal." Little did they know that she had labored for days and delivered her first baby withOUT any pain medication. (She had a different OBGYN with her first baby.) This client of mine is a strong woman and definitely does NOT have a low pain tolerance. I would know because I was her doula for both of her babies.
The pain she experienced only got worse the next day. She was in agony. She did her own research and thought it might be appendicitis. She decided to drive herself to the hospital this time without calling and told the nurse that she was in severe pain and that she thinks she has appendicitis. The nurse said, "there is no way that you could have appendicitis. You wouldn't be able to stand or drive yourself here or even talk if you had appendicitis." My client demanded that she see a doctor to get evaluated. Once a doctor was available to see her and examine her safely (since she was 34 weeks pregnant) they realized that, in fact, she DID have appendicitis & that it was so bad she needed immediate emergency surgery since it could be life-threatening. The surgery then caused her body to go into labor. Just hours after her surgery she pushed & delivered her second child.
I tell this story because I have seen & been told countless stories like this. (Continue reading in the comments.)
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The Ultimate List of Grandpa Names⁠ 👴⁠ .⁠ The Ultimate List of Grandpa Names⁠ 👴⁠
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{Click 🔗 in bio to continue reading!}⁠
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As soon as a woman becomes pregnant she will hear As soon as a woman becomes pregnant she will hear ALL kinds of unsolicited advice from everyone around her. 🤰 Friends, family members, even strangers will tell her what they went through and what they think she should do with her body and her baby. 😑 And this unsolicited advice continues long into parenthood. ⁠
Something that I think ALL mothers should know and learn is that you do NOT have to own or accept any information or stories someone tells you if it does not serve you. If it's unhelpful and not inline with your choices, hopes, and desires as a mother, then as soon as it was received immediately discard it. Don't harbor any information that does a disservice to you. The mind is a powerful thing. When we are told war stories and how terrible, awful, or painful things were for them (pregnancy, childbirth, or parenthood), that can live and stay with you. You do not have to own someone else's story. It may have been told with good intentions, but if you do not find value in it let it go. Release it and surround yourself with positive talk, uplifting stories, and happy, respectful, and supportive people.⁠ Be bold enough to go against the grain if you must and do what is right for you and your family.⁠
Ultimately, listen to your intuition. And if you're unsure of what your intuition is telling you, seek counsel from people who you admire and trust.⁠
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As a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit occupational therapist, I find that I take care of the mothers just as much as I take care of the babies. ❤️ Many, if not most mothers, are prepared with the tangibles: a place for the new baby to sleep, clothes for the new baby to wear, bottles, and diapers. But it is impossible to fully prepare for the emotional transition that takes place. New moms are met with not only a little baby who is completely dependent but also a barrage of new and different emotions that you may not fully understand.⁠ {Click 🔗 in bio to continue reading!}⁠
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Let me just stop you right there! *pew pew* 🔫🤱
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📷: @hallmark
When you become a mother you realize how much your When you become a mother you realize how much your mother did (or didn't do) for you. 💗 Sending love to all of the mothers, step-mothers, mother figures out there.
Happy Monday, mamas!⁠ 👋⁠ ⁠ Lately, with e Happy Monday, mamas!⁠ 👋⁠
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Lately, with everything going on, I've been thinking a lot about mothers with newborns. 🤱 As a postpartum doula, I get the pleasure of supporting new families in their homes and helping them navigate the winding roads and highs and lows of early parenthood. But right now I know that families are bringing home their precious babies and are feeling alone more than ever. They have less physical support, which can feel like they have less emotional and informational support as well. This breaks my heart. 💔 I wish this wasn't happening to families or to our world and I wish that I could be there for these moms.⁠
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That's why today, I am hopping on our stories and answering YOUR questions. Since I can't be there PHYSICALLY to help you with your pregnancy and newborns, I want you to know that I am here virtually for you. How can I help?⁠
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{I've left a question box in our stories. Have a question about your postpartum recovery? About your newborn? About breastfeeding? Bottle-feeding? You name it! I've been helping mothers as a birth doula and postpartum doula for 10 years and I am here for you.💕}⁠
📷: @creativeclicksphotography
Okay, grandma. 🙄⁠ 📷: unknown Okay, grandma. 🙄⁠
📷: unknown
To the mamas, papas, dreamers, visionaries, SAHMs, To the mamas, papas, dreamers, visionaries, SAHMs, etc. out there, kudos to you! For going so hard, for not quitting even on the worst days, even on the tired days, even on the days you don't know how you're going to do it, or don't feel like you can. You know it's okay to have some patience, grace, and forgiveness with yourself, right?⁠
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Our children are the future. I had to learn to give myself some grace. Sometimes when I evaluate where I am in life and see that I'm not exactly where I want to be or could've been frustrates me, or gets me down. I'm so hard on myself. But then I realized if the ONLY good thing I've done or successfully done is raise great children, I am in fact doing well!! *Parents, it's so important how we raise our children, and many of you KNOW that is not an easy task.⁠
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There are so many different aspects on this one topic. First, their confidence, self-love, etc. is so important. They need to know who they are, so when they encounter times and people that aren't so kind they are not completely crushed.⁠
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Secondly, think about who you're putting into the world. Do you remember your heartbreak(s), or some of the sh*%$y people you've come across and thought who raised them? Or even when you encountered a child that needed a hug or just some TLC. It's important!⁠
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Thirdly, but not least, for the dreamer or the visionary . . . Yes, we are working so hard for our dreams and goals. And one day we may achieve them, but our building and growing may also be in the building for our children. As we are building a future for them. Show yourself a little love. ❤️"⁠
Words & 📷: @tanishasnell_
"On my headstone, I hope they write, 'Here lies a "On my headstone, I hope they write, 'Here lies a devoted mother who suffocated under her enormous laundry pile.' #kiddingnotkidding⁠
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I'm trying to be more mindful about laundry and use it as a meditation practice (my main squeeze Thich Nhat Hanh talks about washing your dishes like you're bathing baby Buddha. 😊) Sometimes I can do it and feel grateful and grounded (I find cloth diapers particularly soothing for some reason. 🤷‍♀️) And sometimes I consider just turning our living room into one huge laundry pile and letting everyone forage for their clothes each morning. #wildstyle⁠
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So tell me, wise women of the world--how do you do laundry? Are you a load-a-day type or do you wait until it piles up and tackle it all at once?"⁠
Words & 📷: @spiritysol
It's called balance. And motherhood. And it's the It's called balance. And motherhood. And it's the weekend. 💁‍♀️🤪 Cheers!
Want to jazz up breakfast or lunch for the kids (o Want to jazz up breakfast or lunch for the kids (or yourself 😉) in an easy way? Animal Face Toast! 😍⁠
Pop an emoji for your favorite animal!🐱🦉🦊🐻🐷🐵⁠
📷: @weelicious