18 answers

Interested in VBAC Information

I'm not pregnant now, but the next time I am (hopefully this year), I will have to consider what sort of delivery I'll have. My first baby was born cesarian because after 21 hours of labor, I only dilated to 5 cm and his heartrate was dropping to below 100 bpm. It was a very long, very exhausting and very painful process and recovery. After the birth, I was unable to hold him for hours because I could not move my limbs and I was vomiting from the anesthesia. This is not to say that I was upset at my doctor, in fact I appreciate that she let me try so hard and for so long to have him vaginally. My regret was that I didn't choose to have the c-section sooner, leaving me with more energy to be close to my baby as soon as he was born.

Anyway, lots of people have asked me if I'd try for a VBAC with my next baby or if I'd just schedule a c-section. My husband and I have kind of decided that we'll set ourselves a "limit" of how long I'll labor. If I'm not dilating normally by, say, 8 hours, then I'll opt for the c-section. But, is that realistic? Will my doctor even let me try that way, or would she encourage me to just schedule the c-section because I'll probably need one anyway? (I haven't asked her - I know I should).

I read so much about moms who have had c-sections because their baby is breech or the cord is wrapped around the neck. Those are instances where the baby needed some extra help. My instance is that my body just didn't want to have that baby. This makes me really sad. I kind of feel like I've failed somehow as a woman, not able to have a baby the "normal" way, not having worked as hard as other women do to give birth. I know this sounds silly, but it's a regret I'll always have. And I'll especially always have it, I think, if my next (and last) baby is born as a scheduled appointment.

Has anyone else had an experience like this, where their c-sections were performed due to reasons like mine? Have you had other children? If so, how, and how do you feel about it? I don't know why this is such an issue for me, but I need to know that I've done all I can to have my babies the way I was supposed to. I'm just still figuring out what that way is. Thanks :)

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you all so much for your stories and your advice. I agree that I have to come away from this experience with the belief that whatever kind of delivery brings a healthy baby into this world is the right delivery.

To answer some questions, I was just over 41 weeks and was not dilated or effaced. My son was estimated at 8 1/2 lbs. (and ended up being 9 lbs. 7 oz.). My doctor offered induction as an option, but did not pressure me. My husband and I decided to schedule the induction because Thanksgiving was later that week, and if we didn't do it on that day we would have to wait another week, since they don't do inductions on holidays or weekends. Also, my husband's twin brother's pregnant wife was scheduled to be induced two days later and we didn't want the babies to have the same birthday, if we could at all help it. He shared a birthday his whole life and we didn't want to do that to our son on purpose. Maybe that's being silly, but it was honestly a consideration for us. Finally, since it was my first child, I didn't know what to expect and I was already so uncomfortable and couldn't imagine feeling like that for another week.

So, we packed up and went to the hospital to be induced. I got in my gown and just after they strapped on the fetal heart monitor, I had a HUGE contraction. They hadn't started the induction process, I just went into labor on my own. As I was contracting (I didn't even know what was happening - I hadn't had *any* contractions, not even Braxton-Hicks), my baby's heart rate dropped to 60 bpm. Five doctors and nurses ran into the room, started massaging my belly and put an oxygen mask on me to help deliver more oxygen to the baby. It was scary. I have to believe that God meant for us to be in the hospital when that happened because my son needed the extra care. I don't know if that's a normal thing to happen, but I feel better that we were already in the best place possible.

Before I had gone into labor, they were planning on putting a gel on my cervix to soften it overnight before they'd start the pitocin. But, since that causes stronger contractions than normal and my son was already responding poorly to a natural contraction, they decided to hold off and try to dilate me with a foley bulb (is that what they're called?) - the balloon they insert in the cervix. I got to about 3 cm with that, and the baby's heartrate went back up, so they decided to start pitocin a few hours later. After about 6 hours, the doctor broke my water. Then I got an epidural. Overnight, I was having regular contractions, but I wasn't dilating any more. The next morning, my son's heartrate was being stressed again so they took me off the pitocin. The contractions got markedly weaker. I made it to *barely* 5 cm after 21 hours, I had gotten no sleep, I hadn't eaten anything for more than a day, and I was exhausted. Even if I had been progressing normally, I couldn't imagine having the stamina or energy to push a baby out.

So, we all decided that a section was the best way to deliver my son. He was born perfect, huge and extremely healthy. My only regret, as I said, was that the surgery prevented me from holding or nursing him right away. I always imagined being completely focused on my baby as it was being born, but the surgery left me feeling like I was hit by a train - I'm not joking. I could barely pay attention to him, and that makes me sad.

Because I went into labor on my own, it's hard to say if the pitocin led to the c-section. I didn't seem to be progressing without intervention, but the pitocin stressed out my son and that wasn't good. It took my grandmother days to have each of her children. She was not progressing and she said it was the worst, most traumatic experience of her life. If that is hereditary, I have to believe that without the c-section that would have been my fate and maybe I'm a wimp, but that's just not for me. I would like to try for a natural birth next time, but I guess I have to be prepared for the same results. Thanks for the opportunity to reflect and share my story. I think this was therapeutic and I'm ready to move on and look forward to my next birth. You've all really helped me a lot :)

Featured Answers

I had my first child via c-section and my second VBAC. I had the c-section because my baby was breech. I wanted to tell you though that my c-section also sort of "tramatized" me. Some people don't have a problem with them, but I am not one of them. My daughter is 6 and I still hate to think about it. I guess I just wanted to tell you I understand how you feel. Good luck!

More Answers

Hi E.!
I had a c-section w/my son(who will be 9months old in 2 weeks). My situation sounds very similar to yours. My water broke and after 18 hrs they performed a c-section. I was told his heart rate was going down so they would stop the petocin for a while, give me oxygen, and see if my body would contract on it's own. It would not. I was not dilated or efaced. My OB finally went and manually got me dilated to 4 but my body didn't do anything after that and his heart rate kept going down.

I completely understand how you feel. I feel the same way... that my body failed me. I REALLY would like to experience a vaginal birth someday so I will make sure my OB will support me on this. I don't know of anyone who has had a VBAC so it does make me wonder how possible they are and why Dr.'s are so quick to do C-sections.

Recovery was very hard on me as well. In fact I ended up getting a fever 2 days after birth due to an infection from my incision, and I was already on antibiotics! So I had to stay even longer in the hospital. I can say though that I did appreciate the length of time in the hospital since I had so much help with nursing(the lactation consultant was across the room from my room). By the time I left the hospital, I was pretty comfortable w/the nursing.

I wish you luck w/getting pregnant w/your next and hope you are able to have a VBAC!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi E.,

Wow! I see you have gotten lots of reponses and I am pressed for time at the moment, but I always have to put my two cents in about VBACs. I too had a c-section with my first. It was fetal distress...however I was not in labor when I got to the hospital, I went due to my water breaking. They started my labor and then the news about the heart rate and the surgery. I too felt I failed and knew the next time around it would be important for me to bring a child into the world vaginally. I have VBAC'd twice now. My 2nd was a long draining labor also but I finally got an epidural and the pitocin on lower dose and that did the trick. It was considered my first labor so they were expecting it to be long. My 3rd was super quick! I could not believe how quickly I dilated and I blinked and she was out. I guess I got lucky but my point is that just because you had a rough first labor doesn't mean you will the 2nd time around and I found they monitored me very closely being a VBAC patient. Hope that helps! S.

I did not read any of your responses so not sure if anyone else said something like what I am going to say....I have had 2 c-sections and my 3rd will be in the beginning of October. Mine were due to breach positioning and my first had her head stuck in my ribs. Anyways, my point was really that with both of my c-sections I was able to be with my babies immediately. I nursed them both and they stayed with me. My legs were numb for a while, but my arms were fine. Not sure why your arms were so weak that you could not hold the baby. Maybe from so much work in the labor process and lack of food. I would discuss this all with your Doctor. I know my doctors are very receptive in hearing my concerns.

Good Luck!

As many of the other women here mentioned, I, too, can totally relate to your feelings. With my daughter, now almost 3.5, my water broke at 34 weeks and despite attempts at the hospital to stall, I went into labor about 10 hours later and was in labor for 42 hours. Things went very, very slow but I had a doula and I was determined to try to do it naturally (no epidural, etc). The doula was a tremendous help. Nevertheless, I had excruciating back labor and after 38 hours, I couldn't bear it and got an epidural and pitocin to speed things up. 4 hours later I was ready to push and it turned out that she had somehow turned so that she was presenting nose forward. Since she was a preemie, they felt it would be too risky for her neck and we went into c-section.

I did feel disappointed in myself for a while and every time there was a challenge during the first few months (breastfeeding, sleep, etc), I did wonder if it was because we didn't "bond" immediately after birth. But eventually I realized that it was the right thing to have happend for our situation and,as someone else on here had said, ultimately its about bringing a new life into the world. In the end, when it comes down to it, it really doesn't matter how - just so long as everyone is safe and healthy.

But I really wanted to try for a VBAC the second time around. I took a much more relaxed attitude the second time around. Rather than put this huge pressure on myself to go all natural, etc, I decided that I was going to give it my all in trying a VBAC but if I ended up c-section again I would be ok. I found that a lot of OBs simply will not do a VBAC. Its a huge liability issues for them in the extreme chance that something goes wrong. Because I went into preterm labor with my second pregnancy at 25 weeks, I was seeing all kinds of specialists and OBs and many would not support a VBAC. I was really surprised by how many would not even consider the option. I ended up staying with the same OB who delivered my first by c-section and she was a tremendous support (Dr Ray with Women's Comprehensive Center, delivers at St Alexius in Hoffman Estates - I highly recommend the group.) I think that is the biggest key: If you decide to try for a vbac, find an OB who will support you in that attempt.

Our now 16 month old son was born by VBAC after only 4 hours of labor - completely naturally, no meds. I arrived at the hospital 10 cm dilated (!!) and he was born an hour later. It was such a completely different experience. Yes, I did feel totally grateful that he was on my tummy and trying to nurse within seconds of birth which ofcourse I didn't have with the first, but in the end, the most important thing is that each was delivered in the way they were meant to be delivered that is the healthiest and safest for them.

If you do decide to explore the vbac option, there is a ton of solid research out there that does support it in most situations. Many doctors do find it just easier not to even attempt it, but if you have an OB that is supportive in your decision, you're half way there. I also found it very helpful to attend a VBAC prep class. Many hospitals offer them, we took ours at St Alexius.

I wish you the best. Whatever you end up doing will be the right thing.


I had my first child via c-section and my second VBAC. I had the c-section because my baby was breech. I wanted to tell you though that my c-section also sort of "tramatized" me. Some people don't have a problem with them, but I am not one of them. My daughter is 6 and I still hate to think about it. I guess I just wanted to tell you I understand how you feel. Good luck!

Hi E.! First, try not to feel like a failure for the way your baby was born. you tried and you did good. I know alot of women feel the way after a section like you are feeling. I am a labor doula and I have experience with vbacs. I have had many clients who have had successful ones. In my opinion, I would try to have a vbac with the next child and you may be able to set up a time frame to see if things happen. It does depend on who your dr is and all. Alot of times, if you leave it is in the drs hands they will just say lets do a section. So, I would really decide what you want to do and then go with it first. If you would like some more info, please do not hesitate to email me back.

S. Bailey CLD

I had my Daughter C-Section and my son (2nd) was a VBAC. I wanted a VBAC for the same reason as you. My daughter was breech so I had to have a C-section, but my son was in the perfect position. Although their was merconium (don't know if I spelled that right) in the water and I was only dialated 1cm for almost 9 hrs, the nurse called the Dr and they were about to get me ready for a C-section and all of a sudden I dialtated fully and out he came! I was so happy, as was my husband! I did not want a C-section especially with a 3 yr old to take care of. I'm glad everything worked out and I was able to experience the birthing process and be able to walk on the 3rd day without being doubled over. Good luck to whatever you choose to do.

M. J

Oh my Gosh! It's as if you just explained my own daughter's birth! SAME exact thing. I labored for 22 hours and essentially "stopped" dilating (only made it to 5 as well). My docs were wonderful and really encouraged me to keep going, but once I developed a fever, that baby had to come out (also because of a dropping heartbeat).

I felt like a complete failure--or better yet, I felt as though my body "failed" me. I just kept saying "WHY?"!

Well, a beautful healthy baby was born--and it didn't matter how was how I rationalized it.

I am going to schedule a c-section with my next child (even a less than 1% chance of uterine rupture is still not good enough for me!!). I thought about a VBAC, but honestly, it's not about the birth--it's about the BABY!

Good luck with whatever you decide.

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