Friday, February 20, 2009

Share your VBAC stories here!

In light of the recent Time article on the difficulty of obtaining a VBAC, I'd love for my blog readers to share their VBAC stories (including those who wanted a VBAC but were unable to attain one for whatever reason, or those who are currently planning a VBAC). How hard was it to find a hospital and/or provider who would attend a VBAC? Were there certain conditions you had to meet, such as going into labor on or before a certain gestational age, continuous EFM, or having to have the baby during daytime hours? How far did you have to travel to find a VBAC-friendly provider? What were your biggest challenges in planning for a VBAC? What were some of the supportive or not-so-supportive things you heard from your providers about VBACs? If you were ultimately unable to have a VBAC, what happened?

Please share your stories!


  1. My first birth was an emergency c-section under general anesthesia due to fetal distress. It was a horribly scary experience, to which did not fully comprehend until my second child was born.

    My second son was born via VBAC 18 months after his brother. I was on the fence between repeat c/s and VBAC until about 36 weeks. My OB remained neutral on the issue, but she would not induce me or let me go more than 1 week past my due date - which happened to be December 24, 2007. Do you know how tricky it is to have a scheduled "holiday baby"? At my 39 week appointment (5 days prior to my due date & delivery), I was neither dialated nor effaced, and I seriously thought I wouldn't be able to have a VBAC. I made a post-date appointment of 12/26, knowing that at this appointment my OB would have a scheduled c-section date chosen (she had to consult with the Charge RN at the hospital - to "rearrange the schedule for me"!)
    Lo and behold, on December 24 at 1:00 AM, regular contractions started on their own! I labored at home for about 11 hours, taking time to eat, shower, rest, and make arrangements for my 18 month old son.
    We checked in to the hospital at 12 PM, met our nurse, and was reported to be 2 cm dialated. I was put on continuous montioring and an IV and labored continued laboring for several more hours on my own. The OB broke my water around 2 PM. At 3 PM, I was 3 cm. I received pitocin. At 7 PM, I was still 3 cm - and frustrated. I agreed to an epidural, though I had though I'd be able to go natural. But I was exhausted, and could not fathom the idea of another 12-14 hours of unmedicated labor.
    I received my epi at 7:30 PM, and was a NEW WOMAN! I was able to joke, laugh, talk, smile, and enjoy my labor so much more.
    At 10:30 PM, I started feeling pressure and some awkwardness - but no pain. I was 9.5 cm. At 11:10 PM, I was complete and cleared to push. 11:32 PM on December 24th, my second son was born! He was 8 1bs, 13 oz & 20.5 inches long. It was the most amazing experience of my life, one that I will NEVER forget. I was so grateful to be a part of the birth this time around. And the recovery was a million times easier than the c/s - even with caring for a toddler and newborn - on top of a vacuum delivery & an episiotomy!

    I look forward to VBAC #2 in September of this year.

    Thank you for allowing me to share - I love your blog!


  2. My first was an emergency due to distress after 36 hours of labor and 2 hours pushing...we later found out his cord was "too short" ...

    I've shared my VBAC birth story here -

    I've also been sharing my birth journey - how far I've come from finding out about my first pregnancy through c/s through natural VBAC... -

    I look forward to reading the experiences of others!

  3. My first c-section was due to a preterm labor that couldn't be stopped and a transverse baby. My OB said he would give me a "trial of labor" (if I made it that far) with my second. He and my husband also had a very involved conversation during those prenatal visits about how his malpractice insurance had skyrocketed and several of his colleagues had been forced to quit OB-ing. When birth-day came, He said my daughter was "pushing through my scar" and I needed to have another ceasarean. The hospital was very quick in prepping me. I think they were trying to get everything done before my doula could get there.

    With #3, I knew that any doc that saw my previous records would cause the same anguish and I had heard awful stories of our local hospital and their "rules" regarding VBACs. It's not technically banned, but in all practicality it should be. I found a midwife with whom I connected and who trusted my body and helped me to trust it as well. I have since had 2 HBA2C that were much more empowering than *any* of my hospital births.

  4. I had a c-section last July because I was (and really needed to be) induced at 18 days past my (medical) due date and prolonged ROM (several days). Baby didn't like the Pit, and after giving me close to 15 hours to labor, we all agreed that the c-section was the thing to do.
    I'm glad I'm insured with Kaiser because I'm pretty much guaranteed to be allowed to VBAC for my next wee one, whenever that will happen. :)
    My friend Jen from shared her c-section and VBAC birth stories on that site, so go read! :)

  5. With my first baby I was induced at 41 weeks and 5 days, for no other reason than being "late". (Yes, I wish daily I had had someone supportive telling me to give it just a liiiiiittle longer, alas...) The induction lasted two days, my body hated pit and didn't open at all for it, and honestly I think they almost hyperstimulated my uterus.

    After four hours pushing (they were good enough to try to help me into other positions, the epidural was good and had worn off, but they were so clueless they couldn't set the bed up properly or even bother adjusting so I was comfortable) and still seeing only a silver dollar portion of his head, we tried the vacuum (popped off) and then did a c-section. He was 10 lbs and asynclitic, but I firmly believe in better circumstances (mobile labor/pushing, no AROM, no induction!) I could have done it.

    Now I'm 7 weeks along and already found a midwife (who lives wonderfully close to my new home) that is supportive. Even the OB that did my c-section (I had a family practice doctor up to that point) said at my 6 week PP visit that I was a good candidate for VBAC, and I didn't even ask her! I do miss her a bit, but I'd much prefer birth at home anyways. So here I am, due in october and for now, planning my HBAC!

    (I think even in a hospital I wouldn't have too much trouble finding someone supportive in San Diego!)

  6. My first was a c/s for double footling breech. I had SROM (in my DH's office at that!) at 36+2 and had an 8lb 3 oz baby.

    My second c/s was at 39+2. I drank castor oil to avoid the ominous AROM induction for a big baby. 18 hours after SROM, I had a c/s to deliver a 9lb 15oz baby who was malpositioned with a nuchal cord x 2. Not ideal, but probably the best thing.

    I found myself pregnant with my third. My OB said no way to a TOL. I went to the other OB docs in town and they said no. Maybe if you could grow an 8lber the doc said. My DH would not agree to homebirth, so I asked every partner in my current OB's practice about a TOL. The older docs agreed that the risk of 4 or 5 c/s down the road was comparable to the risk of a VBA2C. So, I got the green light for a TOL (as long the baby wasn't looking big at the end). My OB was not a happy camper, but I did not care! At ~37 weeks, I had an US to determeine baby's size. Only 7,12. At 39+5, I drank castor oil (staring down the scheduled c/s I stupidly agreed too at 40+1). I had SROM at 1:15 am. Sometime in the morning, the OB palpated my abdomen and said only 8.5 pounds. Big, but doable. He left, new doc arrives. At 10:10 am, I pushed out (with no epidural!) a 12 lb even baby girl! Yeah, every bit of that hurt, but was so worth not having that scar across my belly. I did receive an episiotmy that tore into a 3rd degree. I was pushing on my back and the doc was a little nervous about sticky shoulders. I later found out that everyone in the OB's office "studied" the video of my US!! lol The joke is, do we want a 14lber?? Nah, I hold the record at the hospital for the biggest baby born vag.inally there!

  7. Do you want Canadian stories too? If yes, I'll add to the pile.

  8. Yes, please, Canadian stories always are welcome!

  9. My first birth was an emergency c/s due to severe pre-eclampsia and advancing HELLP syndrome. I didn't get a TOL or induction or anything because I was so sick. There were like, nope, now. I had a pretty awful experience, however the c/s was needed, and I've come to terms with it.

    My second birth, I again became pre-eclamptic, but was being watched much more closely for it (BTW I only eat minimal meat, I gained 35 lbs both times and I'm nowhere near overweight, my body just likes to become pre-eclamptic for no good reason). My husband is in the military so I got a new OB every appointment. At my 28 week check up, I had a VBAC discussion appointment with an OB. He was all for it, said no one was going to push it either way. It was the only time I met this particular OB. When I became pre-eclamptic again, he was the daytime OB on call (which is amazing, since there's something like 50 OBs). He said it was completely up to me wether I wanted a repeat c/s or to be induced. At first I said I wanted a repeat c/s because I was worried about getting induced (everything says you shouldn't induce a VBAC). But was totally thinking I didn't want to be like Brittney Spears, 2 babies and never been in labor. I said forget it, let's get induced, if it doesn't work at least I'll know what labor feels like and I'll have known I tried. The OB was completely fine with it. Got induced (I'm also an RN, so everyone gave me more leeway, I'm not in maternal care at all though). The night-time OB didn't like my decisions (I also refused magnesium sulfate, which they give for pre-eclampsia), but whatever. I was walking around and after 30 minutes of walking with the walking EFM I was told I couldn't walk anymore because they were worried about the pre-e and the scar. So I went in the bathtub, but I had to be on con't EFM and after a while he said I had to get out of there. I didn't listen to him so he keep on saying it (I wasn't fond of the nighttime OB). The next day, I got stuck at 6 cm for a few hours and the daytime OB I liked said if something didn't start, I'd get a c/s. But then I had an AROM and dilated quickly. Pushed for 25 minutes and out she came, 8lbs 4oz. Yeah!

    Oh and for my second I was planning on having an unassisted homebirth (it was/is a secret and that's how I found your site) as long as I didn't become pre-eclamptic. But yeah for pre-eclampsia (complete sarcasm). For my prenatal care I really wanted a midwife, but no midwife would touch me due to my first birth. I tried everywhere, homebirth midwives, military midwives, other midwives, so I had my prenatal care through OBs. I did hire a doula who was completely supportive. She had never had a patient with pre-eclampsia and she got educated, so she knew how I needed to be supported. I also read everything I could (probably a hundred books and lots of studies) while I was pregnant on birth, VBAC, pre-eclampsia, natural birth, and unassisted birth.

  10. I had a VBA2C. My first 2 were c-sections and my last was a VBAC! It is a long story and I'm still 16 months later processing it. I ended up having my VBAC in a hospital and there were things that just weren't right to me. I am planning an UC this time! :-)

  11. I just found your blog off of (your sister-in-law?) Megan's blog. We grew up together. I'd be more than happy to share my VBAC story because I think VBACs ROCK!!

    My water broke with my first child at 36 weeks. After 17 hours of serious back labor, the doctor told me the baby was "stuck" and I'd have to have a c-section. The baby was doing fine but the nurses had already had me pushing for 1/2 an hour and then resting for 1/2 an hour over the course of 5 hours. I was so upset when they said c-section was the only way to go because the doctor also informed me at that time that having one would limit the number of children I could have to three at the most. (Totally NOT true, by the way!) Anyway, we went through the surgery and the whole thing was surreal. They showed me the baby, all bundled up for a moment before he was whisked off to be checked. Even though he was deemed perfectly healthy, I didn't see him again for hours after that.

    When I was pregnant with my 2nd, I did a lot of internet research into VBAC-ing. I was a little worried about the rupture risk but new that I wanted to give it a try anyway. Finding a hospital that would allow a VBAC was tricky, though. We were living in Kansas City at the time and I tried 3 or 4 hospitals before I finally found one that allowed it. My due date was Dec 29th and they technically were going to start offering VBACs on Jan 1st when they hired a "Laborist" but my doctor personally vouched for me he would attend every minute of the delivery if he had to (his wife did 5 VBACs!) and they gave me the OK. I went into labor on my own a week early and everything progressed well. The experience was 100% different from my first birth. The nurse I had was an EXCELLENT coach and made all the difference. She knew I was hesitant, having "failed" at labor before, and she was so encouraging. After 1 1/2 continuous hours of pushing, my son was born and put directly into my arms! It was the most beautiful moment ever and I cried for having never experienced that the first time around. For that single moment, I encourage everyone I meet who's done a c-section to do the research on VBACs.

    Having had both experiences now, I can pick out several problems that led to my c-section the first time. One, nobody should push for half an hour and then rest. It is fruitless in that you lose the progress you've made while you're "resting." Second, the first time I felt the natural urge to push was when they were wheeling me into the OR. I felt like if they didn't hurry, the baby would come out on his own. I think now that a big factor in my first c-section was the doctor's impatience.

    My advice to VBACers: LEARN about labor before you go in. Know what to expect and what your rights are!!

  12. I had a c-section in October 2004 and a VBAC in 2006. It was not difficult to find a provider -- there is a great midwife who is very VBAC supportive, and I believe that the other midwives here in Pittsburgh are as well. I did switch from my previous OB/GYN when it was so clear that they would not support VBAC other than only in words.

    I don't think that there were any restrictions on how long "late" I could go; I was certainly not under restrictions about what time of day. I did have continuous EFM, and this is where having a midwife in the hospital was so pivotal... we were able to negotiate a LOT of time off-monitors for going to the bathroom, etc. I was also able to labor out of bed or kneeling in bed the entire time, regardless of the monitors. I also only spent 2 hours in the hospital before I started pushing because I could go to the midwife's office and be evaluated without being admitted to the hospital.

    I feel very fortunate that there were no obstacles (other than of course my own brain... but even that was thoroughly addressed prenatally). The most supportive thing - the one that stuck with me - was my midwife telling me that the VBAC success rate was 60-80%, which gives me the same odds as a first-time mom.

    It was a great day. It was very healing and empowering. I was able to clear up the "what ifs" from my previous birth -- and I know that even if I had wound up having a cesarean again, I would not have had a doubt about the choices I made because I made informed choices throughout my second labor.

  13. I had my first Cesarean in 1996 after a 3-day induction due to supposed pre-eclampsia (which was nothing more than whitecoat hypertension ::;sigh:::). This surgery was complete with inadequate anesthesia and months of grieving for the birth that did not happen. My second Cesarean came in 1998, when the CNM told me that "some women's bodies simply were not designed to give birth. You should be thankful you didnt live 100 years ago, or you would've died trying." So I had my elective (aka. coerced) repeat c/section. My 3rd Cesarean was in 2001, after months, years of soul-searching, praying and believing that I could birth my baby. I planned a HBA2C that ended up in a CBA2C due to malpositioning, maternal exhaustion, tachycardia, etc. Then in 2007, I had my life-changing, amazing, triumphant HOMEBIRTH FOLLOWING 3 CESAREANS. The story of Aidan's birth can be found at:
    and the slideshow which chronicles our journey is at:
    Because of my VBAC experience, my life is forever changed. Twenty-two months later, and not a day has gone by that I havent thanked God for blessing me with this perfect birth.

  14. I posted this blog entry right after you posted the article, but it's rather succinct (

    Long story short, I had a csection in 95, due to severe preeclampsia (I was young, stupid and had a BAD midwife). I was three weeks overdue, bp was 180/140, and while i had no seizures I was lethargic and grossly swollen when they finally sent me to the hospital for induction. Failed obviously, after 14 hours of vomiting and hallucinations, my bp was 220/180, and the attending said enough. Talk about birth trauma!!

    My second was born in '97, and we had the best OB ever. Back then, there were no regulations about vbac, and I was induced on my due date, with cervadil the night before, and pitocin bright and early in the morning. It went perfectly smooth, and we were 'proven'. Had another vbac with a different OB in '98, same story, almost exactly. Had a hbac in 2000, and then went back to OB in 2001 with my fifth, and by then it was iffy.

    The OB warned me that this would probably be the last vbac I'd have, because of the changes in insurance. I was pretty confident though, she was pretty cool about stuff, but we did have to say to the staff that we'd had several vag births, and that we would NOT accept IV, flat on the back, constant monitoring, and they did pretty good. In fact, at one point we told the nurse to go ahead and take care of the other patients, we'd call her when we were ready. And we did! When Rachel was descending dh called the nurse and said it was time to push. I think she was mostly relieved because of the screamer next door ;-)

    Next two were unassisted births at home, in 2003, and 2005. We're planning on last birth, unassisted, in the next three weeks. ~happy dance~ Oh! And the preeclampsia? Never saw it again due to the Brewer's diet. Every time I start to swell, we plan a protein surge and that takes care of it!

  15. Just found your blog and I love it! I love all these VBAC stories . I really wanted one but it didn't happen. I'm kind of tired telling the story, but i'll make it short: I went overdue, so no VBAC. That's it. Isn't that ridiculous! I was 8 days past due and so we scheduled the repeat. I was very vulnerable, discouraged, and just wanted to meet my baby. I knew it was the wrong decision, but I had no support to conitnue waiting. My midwife wouldn't induce, as if a c-section is any better. I was crying the whole way. I knew the risks of a c-section and I knew vag births were safer for mom and baby. Well, guess what? My baby had the complications that come becuase of c-sections. She had respiratory problems, including PPHN (Persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn) which has about a 50% mortality rate. So literally, we weren't sure if she was going to make it that first day. I do believe Heavenly Father spared her life and she is totally fine today, but it was such a horrible experience. The only good thing to come out of it is I am now really passionate about the sad state of maternity care we have in the US. I am even in the process of becoming a doula so I can help other women. I have been doing tons of reading and research since then and am considering an HBA2C next time. There is one hospital in the chicago area that does VBA2C, so I could try that as well, but I realize now I have to have a provider that actually believes in VBAC and wants me to be able to do it. I feel that my CNM was very jumpy and I could only get my VBAC if everything was picture perfect. I think she got what she wanted--a scheduled c-section.

  16. I had a scheduled section for baby #1 because he was frank breech. My dr referred me to an OB who tried to do an external version to flip him around but this was unsuccessful. After my surgery at my OB's office she told me there was absolutely no reason why I couldn't have a vaginal delivery next time around and encouraged me to try.
    Baby #2 was ABAC [adoption after cesarean! my version of a very bad joke! :)].
    Baby #3 was born by VBAC five years after the birth of my first. I wanted to maximize my chances of having a vaginal delivery with #3, so I chose a midwife, refused EFM and routine IV placement, and had my mom as a doula, my sister, my husband, and my oldest son for emotional support, and 2 midwives to do the catching.
    I laboured as long as I could at home, and then went to the hospital (I love the idea of homebirth but since I was an untested VBAC I felt 1% more comfortable in hospital than at home for #3...if I had another I would plan a home birth). My labour was 9 hours and intense, powerful, and VERY empowering, and I pushed for 3 hours. My son was born at 5 o'clock in the morning after a beautiful drug free, intervention free, fully supported labour. He weighed 10 lbs, 2 oz. I recieved no negative feedback from medical personnel regarding having a VBAC. My mother in law was difficult to convince, mostly I think because she had 3 cesarean births and didn't understand (a) the low risk associated with VBAC, and (b) the high value I placed on vaginal birth.
    In the end she wrote me a card and said she was very proud of me for working so hard and achieving my goal.
    I likened my experience of giving birth to my third baby to running a marathon and creating art...the hardest physical endurance test I've ever known, and the most beautiful, spiritual, creative act I've ever performed.
    I am grateful for having had the opportunity to give birth in the manner and place of my choosing, and for having 3 beautiful boys.

    Thanks for asking for our VBAC stories!

  17. p.s. I'm the canadian

  18. and i didn't mean i had the sugery at my OBs office, of course! that was my post op visit! too bad we can't edit after we post comments!

  19. p.p.s. i was surprised to learn reading the other womens' VBAC stories here that U.S. hospitals 'can' refuse to do VBACs?!!?! Here in Canada, at least the part of Canada that I'm from, you can refuse anything you want. The staff simply documents that you refused and then you go about your business. Refusing to allow a woman to choose to accept/refuse any intervention seems like a violation of a very basic human right. however, in Canada a document indicating patient refusal of an intervention would be enough to halt any litigation on behalf of the injured party. Plus, we have a public system so it is unethical for any medical person or facility to refuse anyone medical treatment, so perhaps this is the origin of this difference between CDA and the USA medical systems?
    Obviously Americans are ethical ppl and would not want to refuse anyone treatment either, I just wondered if the 'we will treat you but only if you agree to have repeat section/continuous EFM/etc ' comes from this [medical] philosophical difference between public and private systems? The US system seems to lend itself towards a more paternalistic, you must do as we deem best type of attitude.
    Though I haver certainly met CDN women who have been bullied into surgical births by paternalistic doctors, or outright lied to: such as you are 'not allowed' to have VBA2Cs, etc...
    anyways, i LOVE your blog. keep it up!

  20. Melissa,
    In theory all US patients have the right to informed consent (which implies a right to informed refusal). But in practice, especially in obstetrics, that right often gets overlooked as women are told the "have" to X,Y,or Z, anything from "mandatory" IVs or EFM, having to have an induction at X weeks gestation, having to have a RCS rather than being able to refuse such a surgery, etc. When I was doing calls for ICAN, one of the questions we asked to hospitals who banned VBACS was "what would happen if a woman with a previous CS showed up in labor at your hospital and refused a repeat cesarean?" Some of the charge nurses told me that if they refused to give consent, they could not be forced to have surgery. But several also told me that they would still have to have surgery or that it would be up to the doctor to decide, even if the woman clearly said she did not consent to the c-section. Now THAT is scary! In sum, it seems that Canada has a lot stronger set of protections for patient's rights and also physicians (as in, if a patient refuses a procedure and then sues, the physician is protected if the refusal of consent is documented).

    Great questions, and I'd love to hear from more women on both sides of the border about this issue.



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