VBAC: How to manage your VBAC fears

  • Nancy Wainer Cohen, co-author of Silent Knife

  • Get to know women who have had VBACs, as well as other people who will support your goal. Although every year more women in the United States have VBACs, it's still not the standard. In our Western culture, most women who give birth after a cesarean have another cesarean. So it's no surprise, therefore, that most friends, family members, and even health-care providers have negative programming where VBACs are concerned. It doesn't matter if they know anything about them or not. Try to avoid the worries and concerns of uninformed naysayers.

    "I was so emotionally distraught after my third birth I did not know what to do. I had been disappointed about all my births, but I truly believed in my heart I was going to do it this time, the third time, and when it didn't happen, I just did not know how to handle it. I wasn't sure what was wrong with me. All I would do is cry and felt this tremendous amount of guilt. I finally remembered this VBAC group I had heard about and decided to call. The group really knew what I was feeling. They let me cry and let out all of my feelings where other people kept telling me I should just let it go because I had a healthy baby. I kept going to that group, not even knowing if I would have another child. The VBAC group helped me to become more educated about birth than I had ever been before. They showed me I had options and choices in just about every aspect of my labor and birth. So when I got pregnant for the fourth time, I knew attempting another VBAC was the only way for me, even though everyone other than the doctor, my husband and the VBAC group was telling me I was crazy for trying it again -- and hadn't I suffered enough in my three last labors and c-sections? I had my VBAC with a supportive doctor, my husband and two doulas."
    Dina C, Illinois 

  • It's normal to feel that you will fail in your VBAC attempt, even though many women have succeeded. The trauma of having an unexpected cesarean, and then perhaps failing once at VBAC, can imprint itself deeply in your mind, leaving you believing that a vaginal birth is just impossible for you. But many women in this situation have succeeded at VBAC. A positive attitude and advance preparation don't guarantee success, but they have made a profound difference for some women who have had VBACs.

    "It's worth it to try. A big concern is that we know that we can labor and still end up with a cesarean -- we've been there, done that. I had two cesareans before I had my VBAC. So why bother going through all that again? Women need to know that there is a physiological benefit to both them and their babies to go into labor. That even if they have another cesarean, most, many women -- all the women I've worked with as a doula -- don't regret trying. They have a good chance -- as good as any other woman -- of having a vaginal birth." Kathleen F, Ohio

  • Read and reread VBAC stories, and gain from their strength. Many women who've had VBACs say that reading other women's stories made a big difference. It kept them going, knowing that women like themselves, or even women who had more cesareans or more pregnancy problems, had given birth vaginally. Some women suggest that viewing birth videos can be helpful as well.
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