Cesarean sections are major surgery. They are way more invasive than say, an appendix or gallbladder removal, and can have consequences that can complicate or even prevent the birth of future children. Sadly, even though the accepted rate of c-sections is around 10-15 percent, our country has a disturbing overall 33 percent c-section rate -- that's one in every three babies born via surgery.
But the problem is, our country has this idea that once a c-section mommy, always a c-section mommy. But if you want to aim for a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) here's what you can do.
- Wait to get pregnant until your body is healed. This can honestly mean a couple years between pregnancies, but it's worth it. Yes, there is an increased risk of uterine rupture with a VBAC, due to scarring. However, this risk is much lower than it's made out to be -- around 2 out of every 100, maximum, though other organizations report significantly lower rates, such as 0.9 percent (less than 1 in every 100). One of the major differences in women who experienced a uterine rupture and other complications was time between pregnancies.
- Contact your local International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN) group and find out what your state laws are, what hospitals and doctors are VBAC-friendly, and get good resources of people who will help you.
- Aim for an intervention-free birth -- in all the studies about VBAC, the women who had the best outcomes were the ones who went into labor naturally and were allowed to control their pushing as well. Many a study also shows that being induced in any way also majorly ups your risk -- not surprising either, since it forces unnatural and often incredibly strong contractions.
- Talk to other VBAC moms to learn from their experiences. They may have good relaxation tips and coping methods for birth having been there and succeeded.
Now, of course, everyone understands that there are situations when a c-section is necessary, life-saving, but at least 4 out of 5 women who have had previous c-sections can go on to have vaginal births. Sadly, it's not a practice that is sufficiently promoted as much as it should. One surgery does not have to beget another.
Have you had a VBAC or are you considering one?
Image via sohrab arora/Flickr