Yesterday, I got a lot of messages/comments about the c-section that is very likely in my future. I mentioned that if I don’t make any progress by Thursday, we will schedule it for early next week. I realized that many people may not know how my hospital and medical team roll, so I figured I’d answer some questions.
First, in case you are unsure of it: VBAC stands for vaginal birth after ceserean. Women who have had a c-section with their first pregnancy and try for a vaginal birth in the next pregnancy are trying for a VBAC.
I get the impression that VBACs didn’t used to be too common. Once a woman had a c-section, that was it – it was the preferred method of delivery. VBACs have become a lot more common, it seems. Not all patients are eligible, though, at least at my hospital. Women must use this calculator to input their history, etc. and it will spit out a percentage (which could be arbitrary). My “success rate” came out to 80% mostly because I didn’t even labor last time; they just thought I was a tad bit to narrow to pull it off. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be able to try and see what happens, though, and that is why elected to try for the VBAC.
The thing is that there are a lot of stipulations for most women when it comes to having a VBAC, and that’s where I have gathered the questions to provide some answers. Note: This isn’t medical advice and shouldn’t be taken as such. I am not a doctor or health professional. All doctors and hospitals do things differently. This information is based on my specific situation.
QUESTION 1: Why can’t you be induced?
My doctor (and many others) feel that the risk of the previous c-section scar ripping is too high during an induction. Most of the time, prostaglandins are used during inductions, and these can cause the scar to rip open. I’m not sure what the numbers are, but I believe there is at least a 1% chance.
However, my hospital will give me synthetics to help move labor along. If contractions are uneven or if there’s very slow progression, pitocin is an option.
QUESTION 2: I thought you *had* to have a c-section in future pregnancies since you’ve already had one.
As stated earlier, it depends on a lot of variables including the reason for the previous c-section. In my case, no one knows what would happen if I labored and tried to have a vaginal delivery. I’m also only 31 years old and in good health/shape – so it’s an option for me. Other situations such as failure to progress (and more serious situations) may be destined for future c-sections. It depends on the doctor’s perspective and practice.
QUESTION 3: Why would you want to go through labor?! It’s TERRIBLE!
I am sure that it’s no walk in the park! Either is a c-section, though. There are pros and cons to both. Obviously, vaginal deliveries can take quite a while and can merit stitches. If baby comes out too fast, there can be issues with your pelvic floor. It doesn’t sound pleasant. However, the healing is typically shorter and there are more options regarding pain management.
When it comes to a c-section, it’s a major surgery. You are awake as a doctor cuts the abdomen and uterus open and sets your organs on your stomach to get the baby out (they put them back – don’t worry). The options for pain management after surgery typically include narcotic grade medication (and trust me, it’s necessary). However, the delivery process – sans any complications – takes about 30-45 minutes. The spinal injection is scary, but you are not bound to a bed with a catheter in your back for hours the way you are with an epidural. It’s tough to walk around after, and the healing takes longer than I’d like to think about – but you do heal and things go back to normal
Bottom line: Bringing a tiny human into the world isn’t fun either way, but the reward is worth it, right?
QUESTION #3: Will you be upset if you end up having another c-section?
It isn’t what I planned, but I won’t be upset. I have to do whatever is best for me and my baby. The risks associated with a VBAC go up the more time past my due date goes by. I choose to think of all the perks of having the c-section, honestly, if that is what has to happen:
- My crotch stays intact (seriously, it’s a perk to me)
- I can schedule it which allows me to plan better with the rest of my family and my other children
- I know when he will be here – light at the end of the tunnel!
- I have done this before so I know what to expect and likely won’t make some of the same mistakes I made last time, like walking up/down steps too much and being too stubborn to accept help around the house
And I am sure there are others.
What it comes down to is that women are powerful creatures. We are badasses. Bringing a child into the world, no matter how it happens, is some serious and tough shit – and we should applaud ourselves for doing it. Laying in a hospital bed for hours and pushing a baby out or being awake for a major surgery? Both of those sound pretty legit and badass to me. No matter what happens, it’s for the best.