Are there any moms who wouldn't love a complimentary photo session with their baby? Well, you may be in luck if you've had a successful Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC). Launched by Amy Wehner, PhD, a doula with Opet Childbirth Services, the VBAC Project set the goal of collecting one million photos of VBAC moms and babies. The movement is gaining momentum by offering free photo sessions this Labor Day weekend.
More than one million cesareans are performed in the US each year. For some moms, a traumatic C-section experience grabs them like a choke-hold; they mourn the loss of control over their birth experience, suffer from feelings of inadequacy, and feel an overwhelming desire to reclaim what they lost in the operating room. The VBAC Project was designed to give power back to those moms.
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"Many of the women I work with had an unplanned C-section," said Wehner. "The reasons they were given weren't really an emergency. They put their faith in a system that let them down."
The World Health Organization states that Cesarean births are necessary about 15 percent of the time; in the US we hover around 33 to 35 percent. Further complicating our high C-section rate are hospital bureaucracies. In 1,200 US hospitals, a woman who has had a Cesarean in the past faces mandatory surgery for her second delivery -- whether it's medically necessary or not.
"There are a huge lack of providers who are willing to perform VBACs because they feel more in control when they do a repeat C-section," said Wehner. "They're concerned about liability. But VBAC is a safe, empowering choice for many moms."
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The VBAC Project has a network of professional photographers who have offered their services this Labor Day weekend. Photographers are available in three countries. Visit The VBAC Project's website for a list of available sessions. Moms get to keep a professional photograph from their shoot ... and will be encouraged to share their stories to inspire women who are considering VBACs. Wehner believes it's all a crucial part of healing for moms who dealt with real feelings of sadness and loss after a C-section.
"When a mom is researching doing a VBAC, she visualizes the birth, she puts together a supportive team," she says. "She is actively engaged and involved in her birth experience, and that can repair some of the damage that was done during her C-section. For some women, the research alone makes them feel empowered. Even if they wind up with another C-section, women feel they regained control. That's what VBAC is all about."
Have you had a successful VBAC?
Image via Amy Katherine Photography