Can I have a vaginal birth if I already had a c section?
The short answer is, “YES! YOU CAN!” While the long answer requires a conversation about various risks – risks of a VBAC, or vaginal birth after cesarean, AND risks of repeat surgery. Unfortunately, it is the second set of risks that are routinely left out of the conversation when you speak with a hospital provider (OB or CNM) about it. And, also, unfortunately, these same providers often offer the VBAC and then find a reason at the end of the pregnancy that either induction of labor is ‘necessary’ (not the best plan for a successful VBAC) or a repeat surgery if the pregnancy goes beyond 39 or 40 weeks.
Where can I have a successful VBAC?
This drives many women to seek an out-of-hospital birth provider for their planned VBAC, even though everyone agrees that the hospital is the best place due to the easy and quick access to emergency services. Since VBAC is prohibited in Birth Centers, this leaves home birth as the only option. And home birth is not for everyone. It is certainly not the best idea for someone whose main reason for choosing it is to avoid the hospital. It is always better to run towards something rather than running away from something. In other words, the choice to have a home birth should be driven by the desire to have your baby in the comfort and safety of your home, not by the fear of the hospital.
Successful home birth requires dedication and preparation
We have seen a situation like this where the client chose to have her baby with us because of her fear of having another c section and her inability to find a hospital provider who would support her decision to birth vaginally. She did not have a doula or take a birth preparation class. (These are 2 of Midwife360’s 3 keys to successful, efficient birthing. The 3rd is using the birth tub.) Consequently, she was unprepared and unsure when her labor did start, and did not request the midwife presence in a timely manner. She birthed on the toilet and her baby actually went into the toilet! They had the midwife on the phone throughout the process and she was able to guide them verbally (the part about the toilet came out later!) and everything turned out well.
This is an example of how normal the process is for most people – even those who have had previous c sections – and for most babies. Babies are resilient and born to survive and know how to start breathing with little to no help in most cases.
Most predictions by OB providers are wrong
“Your baby is breech, and even if it turns, your pelvis is too small to push. There’s an 80% chance you’ll have to have a c section if you try, and then it would be an emergency surgery, which is more dangerous. So let’s just schedule the c section as this will be safer.”
I’ve heard this same speech from many clients over the years. This particular client told us this story of her first birth – the baby turned out to be 5#5oz. When she got pregnant the second time, they said she would have to have another surgery – it would be safer, they said. “But my mom had a c section and then pushed my brother out right after – he was over 10# – can’t I at least try?” “No”, they said, “it’s not safe”. There was no discussion of the risks of surgery, all focus is on the risks of trying a vaginal birth.
You can do it!
When this woman got pregnant a third time, she knew that she could birth her baby vaginally. She drove an hour away from her home to find a provider that believed in her and would support her. And although she did not take advantage of the 3 keys to success, (she used the birth tub only), she was so determined and dedicated that she was able to adequately prepare herself mentally for the big day. She was able to birth an 8#3oz baby vaginally in the birth tub with her sisters, husband, mother-in-law, and daughters all present and cheering her on! She pushed for over 2 hours, but barely tore and the baby came out quickly with no problems.
Our bodies and our babies are made for birth
When will OB doctors and other birth providers stop telling women what their bodies cannot do? Women are created with the social imperative to create life and deliver it to the outside world. Among many other things, we are very well designed birthing machines! If you didn’t know this already, then you do now!
Be empowered, be informed, stand up for yourself and your baby!