After having my first baby via c-section because she was breech, I switched provider practices to one I originally thought was more VBAC friendly. Unfortunately, as I was about to enter my third trimester, I realized that some red flags caused me to feel that this office was saying one thing, when in fact, they were prepping me for a repeat c-section “just in case,” which I was not okay with.
What were these red flags, you may ask? For one, they scheduled a c-section for me at 39 weeks without even telling me. I only noticed one day when I was looking at my medical portal online, and I was horrified. When I asked about this, they said it was just in case they needed to reserve the surgical room. This response did not sit well with me.
At my prenatal appointment, around 28 weeks, I met the last doctor of the practice and discussed that I really wanted a VBAC and did not want to be on the “schedule.” I asked her if I could go past my due date and was told that they would only allow me to go 2-3 days past my due date. When I asked why, she said it was because statistically, if I did not go into labor by then, I would likely not have a successful VBAC.
What? This is a lot of pressure for any woman hoping for birth without major surgery.
After my research, I again did not find this answer satisfying—plenty of women who have had c-sections go into labor past their due date. The only reason I had a c-section with my first baby was that she was breech. I had no other high-risk factors that might cause a problem with a VBAC, as far as we knew. I was not happy to be just another statistic without considering how I was doing at that time or how my baby was doing. It just seemed like a typical routine response, which I was not okay with.
Their practice also did not communicate other things with me, which again were red flags to me. After all of this, I decided to start searching for a new “supportive” rather than “tolerant” VBAC provider. A great resource that I used to learn more about VBACs and determine what questions to ask my next provider was the ICAN – International Cesarean Awareness Network.
Before I found out I was pregnant, I knew I wanted a VBAC after my first baby. I also knew that I wanted to hire a doula to help support me in this birth experience. Doulas are expert labor coaches who can help the birth mom advocate for herself, learn relaxation coping techniques, stay focused towards your goal, and help keep you calm if and when the unknown might happen. Doulas also tremendously help spouses by taking the pressure off of them a bit and helping them enjoy the birth experience.
When I got pregnant this time around, in the time of COVID, I was informed that I could not have a doula with me at the hospital where I was originally scheduled to give birth. At first, I was okay with letting this go. Still, after seeing the signs of a practice that said one thing but did another, I decided to give the doula route another try and contacted a number of them as I searched for a new supportive VBAC provider.
Doulas are a wealth of birthing information and often know who might be a supportive VBAC provider.
I got a few names from some of them and looked into many of them. I also reached out to my mom groups and got some names for those groups as well. I scheduled at least three different appointments, one which included using midwives at a birthing center. However, while I liked this birthing center, I was nervous that it was at least an hour away from me, which made me a bit nervous given that my body had never actually labored before and if I was planning to labor at home for as long as possible until active labor started, how would I feel about sitting in the car for at least an hour while laboring. The thought was a bit unsettling to me.
I met with one doctor, who said he would be fine with letting me go past my due date, but he seemed a bit put off that I was even searching for a new provider so “late” in the game. I asked him about membrane sweeps as a way to induce labor, and he said they did not do them since his doctors were “too busy.” Hmm, I thought red flag. I also asked him about a natural birth without medication. He said while he was okay with it, some of the other providers in his practice would probably feel more comfortable with the use of medicine. His practice was one of eight, so the chance of me getting him when I went into labor was a crapshoot. I felt a little unsettled after meeting with him and continued with my search.
Finally, I met with another provider, who I heard was the VBAC whisperer, and he was a breath of fresh air. We talked, and I immediately felt comfortable with him. He said he would let me go past my due date and would monitor the baby and me without scheduling me in advance. He was fine with me not using medicine if that was what I chose and informed me that all the other providers in his practice were similar to him.
I should mention that I am not opposed to the use of medicine during my labor but did not want it as the first response, which I communicated with him. He encouraged the use of doulas and told me that they often help moms and their spouses. But perhaps the most striking difference between him and the other providers that I met with was that he did not rush and provided me with enough information to make an informed decision. I left that appointment and immediately called my husband and told him I found my new provider.
While I have not had my VBAC yet, I feel much more supported by my new provider and by the doula that I hired shortly after learning that this hospital that I would be giving birth at does allow me a support person, in addition to a doula.